Don't Shake the Flask

Because you don't know if it'll explode

Month: October, 2002

This week’s Tuesday Too:

1. What would you like the world to spend research money on (inner space, outer space, stem cell, you name it research), and why do you give it top priority?

I’m doing lab rotations this year so I could say that the world should spend money on the project I’m going to work on next year, but that wouldn’t really be fair (besides, it’ll probably be a drop in the bucket compared to other things).

Money should be given to basic biological research. It’s not that I’m saying to neglect other technology, but there are still some fundamental things that we don’t know. Sure, people are already throwing money at cancer and other disease research, but doesn’t anyone realize how complex those areas are? How can we even try to understand the mechanisms of cancer even when we don’t know all the details of the cell cycle or the genetics behind the disease?

2. Where’s the beef, Carmine Miranda, or what’s bugging you lately?

Caffeine keeps you awake, but it also makes you go to the bathroom more often.

3. Elliott would like to know, do you type without looking at the keyboard; in other words, are you a hunt and peek (in his case that would be hunt and claw), or a “true typist?”

I suppose you could call me a “true typist” although I don’t type too fast (although fast enough to suit my own purposes). I took a typing class in high school because it was required. The teacher was a short man with a funny moustache who claimed that he could smell gum across the room. He was also absent half of the time because he had a bad case of kidney stones.

My roommates keep on asking me what I do for lunch. They’re curious, I suppose, because I usually leave home early in the morning and get back late. I tell them I don’t have time to come back home so I stay at lab for lunch.

I’m sort of envious because they only have to go to three classes and they don’t have to go to lab. (Then again, I get paid more than they do so I guess everything works out in the end.) If I had as much time on my hands as they did, I’d start signing up for dance classes, planning trips to Boston and Montreal, going to the movies every weekend, and spending a couple hours each week checking out all the hiking trails around here. As it is, I come home feeling so tired I want to curl up in a ball on the floor and just sleep.

Rainy Day

Wet and squeaky. Except for lugging a bunch of CDs back to the library, I had a grand time walking out in the rain with my trusty blue umbrella that was torn at one end. It was a little chilly, but I walked with my coat open so that the air could sting my throat. The sky was a mutinous gray and the wind rattled yellowed leaves so that they fell on the ground in plops. The leaves were louder than the rain.

The rain drove many people inside so when I was at the library, every seat was crammed. Outside, fewer people were out. Most of those people outside were walking dogs. I met with someone I knew online for dinner. It was nice talking to another person from southern California who was also as eager to experience the seasons again.

A link:
Tom Lehrer’s “The Elements”. This little flash ditty is infectious. And it’s a great way for someone to memorize the elements in the periodic table.

I can’t believe I sympathized with a dog today. Ever been scared by someone who always seems unnaturally happy to see you? Well, in the case of the poor dog, she wandered in behind her owner until a post-doc spotted her and started squealing in excitement. “Fifi!” (The dog’s name is not Fifi though.) The dog took one look at the post-doc and ran the other way. This was not the first time something like this happened. On another incident, the post-doc wailed, “He likes you!” when a large hunting dog followed me instead.

Over-enthusiasm spooks animals. I’ve noticed that whenever I encounter a dog or a cat, I usually hold out a hand in a way of greeting and speak as if I’m talking to another person. I don’t hyperventilate and scream, “Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!” Either the animal loses interest in me (and in that case, I don’t go off chasing after it) or decides I’m a big fluffy pillow to sleep on.

Oh, and I think I accidentally spiked my own coffee with some white stuff that I thought was sugar cause I’m feeling a bit woozy.

Balderdash

Surprisingly, the first time I ever played this game was last night. (Then again, I’m rarely in a situation where I’m in a large group of people who are all amendable to the idea of playing one game.) I’m not nearly as competitive as some, but I was disappointed because the only word I knew during the entire game was succubus. (Of course, I thought it was sort of a cop out, for me anyway, because I was a big mythology and folklore buff during high school.) I was just lucky that everyone else (except for some of the PhDs) thought it was a clown or some nectar fruit drink. I really need to start drilling myself on vocabulary again.

Here are some words that I guessed incorrectly. Do you know them?

frendulum
cicisbeo
biffin
perqueer
pushkin
quean
bhang
zugzwang
miche
keech

Note: The correct meanings of all the words can be found at dictionary.com except for frendulum, perqueer, and pushkin which can be found on Google instead.

Hint: In this case, pushkin is not referring to a person.

Here’s this week’s Tuesday Too:

1. I know we’ve been here before, but perhaps you got a different one now. What’s your “must see” movie, and why should I see it?

The Red Violin. Yeah, yeah, it’s not a new movie but I haven’t seen any movies in a while.

2. What have you been procrastinating on, that you’ve just got to do, or finish up?

There’s this online lab safety test that I’m still putting off…

3. Are you wondering, what in the world is happening? Are you afraid to pump gas? Do you think the US media has focused too much on the Maryland sniper? Why, or why not?

To be honest, I have absolutely no idea what’s happening in the world today. I’ve been too wrapped up in working, studying, and planning for November to even think about checking out a news site.

Nice. I stay in lab after 7 PM and people here think I’m industrious. Back at Tech, I was in lab at one in the morning and people didn’t care.

The tea is not working. Must try something stronger.

Linkage:
Lost in Translation.
It’s definitely a fun thing to plug in sentences and get mangled words back.
Result after running the above sentence through ten times:
_ of me mangled decid the Gedrechselt of the D, the ristabilimento the expression of the connection and this abundance, with these marcature behind the word.
Strindberg+Helium: With Iron and Sulfur. A dark flash cartoon. You may think me a bit disturbed, but I thought it was very funny.

Some people say that they feel their teenage years were just yesterday. They say they can relate to a teen’s view. Or they act immature and attempt to excuse themselves by saying that they feel younger than how they look.

What’s with this obsession with youth? Are the teenage years supposed to be better? Or is it because teenagers are able to be self-abosrbed without being as harshly criticized as an adult because they don’t know any better? I may never understand–my own teenage years weren’t traumatic or even fun. I think I delibrately distanced myself from many things so that instead of going through the emotional roller coasters that my peers rode through every hour, I felt nothing.

Now this is not to say that I consider myself a responsible adult. I have a job. I pay rent. I pay taxes. But I don’t go to sleep or get up at reasonable times. I occasionally do rather stupid things. Sometimes I say stupid things. It’s just that I don’t relate to carefree devil-may-care attitudes usually attributed to youth.

When I’m not in class or in lab, I’m attending a seminar. Today’s speaker James F. Crow gave a lecture on population genetics. His talk was remarkably coherent considering that the only genetics lectures I attended before were undergraduate classes taught by quirky professors who had the knack of zonking me out one-third of the way through despite their surreal humor.

I found this interesting: He concluded that many diseases caused by mutations in offspring were the result of fertile old men. His rationale was that the gametes of older men had gone through more cell divisions. More cell divisions mean more mutations since it increases the chance that there is a mistake whenever the genome divides. For women, it’s different. By the time a female is born, all the eggs that she will ever produce during her lifetime are already present in the ovary.

A woman in the audience wondered about the social implications of this observation and inquired whether or not Dr. Crow was considering on pitching a proposal to Congress to discourage men 40 or over to not have children. Dr. Crow had no comment on that particular question.