cherry: (jellyfish)
I have to be at the airport in five four and a half hours to catch a plane to the States for what will hopefully be a productive scientific conference. I am almost totally all packed and everything.

In the pre-absence cleaning, I am also cleaning out my browser tabs. (This is totally a valid alternative to doing my dishes, or reading about the multiple plane accidents this week.)

You see, I do this thing where I accumulate tabs upon tabs of scientific stories with the intention of sharing them. I mostly talk myself out of posting them, or put it off until the tab disappears for some reason or another, but here is mini-link dump.

Pulling a fast one on viral infections: Scientists may have found a metabolic pathway to exploit to help deal with viral infections.

Our galaxy's heart may be so totally dark, man, like, MySpace is the only one who understands its poetry of pain. Excess gamma rays may be indicators of dark matter in the heart of the Milky Way.

BPA is a sneaky little bugger. BPA (which was recently declared a toxic substance in Canada) readily crosses skin to enter the circulatory system. Unfortunately, most store receipts are covered with BPA, so this means handling them may be a significant route of uptake for increasing internal body burdens.

And, to end on a more joyful note: Dolphins are teaching each other to walk on water. The really interesting thing about this one is that this is a recreational behaviour that is being socially transmitted. There are records of cultural transmission of behaviours used to obtain food (sea otters and rocks, chimps using sticks to get ants, that sort of thing), but there are virtually no previous records of social/recreational behaviours being transmitted like this. This is WICKED SWEET.

I lied, I'm not done: Winning images from the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year Contest 2010. Stunning images.
cherry: (Default)
Good idea: Writing stories.

Bad idea: Writing crossover stories because shows share an actor/actress.

Ray Kowalski is not a cylon just because he is played by Callum Keith Rennie.

Similarly, Kate from White Collar is not a demi god just because she's played by the same actress as Annabeth from Percy Jackson. Even if both characters are intelligent and even calculating, like the classics, carry out quests for rare items, and hang out in New York.

That would just be silly.

Quick, a distraction!



Why can't I be a normal fangirl who convinces herself that Lauren Cruz is an undercover Wendy Watson?
cherry: (Default)
My bus is running again! This is most excellent, because the other day I was tricked on my way back from campus by a 'modified' route. In this case, 'modified' was code for 'has the same start and ending points, but travels to them via completely different roads.' I suppose 'modified' was much shorter to say.

The pool is running again! This is most excellent because the roof of the pool suffered spontaneous existence failure. It has taken them until now to remove the ceiling from the pool. Unfortunately, this overlapped with the one time of the year when the second pool on campus was down for a 1.5 month maintenance.

There seems to be some sort of improbability field around that pool, as my swimsuit also suffered spontaneous existence failure during my afternoon swim. I thought I could get a little more life out of that one. I was wrong. Other patrons were saved from potential flashing by the presence of a shelf bra. If not for that, I fear that I would have suffered spontaneous existence failure.

In entirely unrelated (and much more awesome) news:

Darwin's finches learned to swim! Or, two types of killer whales found in UK waters. Their diets have diverged, leading to altered morphology and genetically distinct/non-interbreeding populations.

New Agers rejoice! Rare glimpse of the cave of crystals. A video tour of a crystal cave in Mexico, with crystals more than 10 metres long. It's absolutely breath-taking.

Dinosaurs were gingers. And punks. Dinosaur had ginger feathers. Electron microscope studies of preserved feathers allow study of fossilized pigments.

Photosynthetic seaslug! No, really. Photosynthetic sea slug. Not only does it acquire and scavenge chloroplasts from algae, it has incorporated at least 14-15 algal genes into its own genome.
cherry: (Default)
Guys, I'm not going to lie -- the only reason I remembered I have Twitter is because I wanted to follow CERN's progress with the Large Hadron Collider last year.

They're Twittering progress right now -- they are getting ready to capture the second beam. (ETA: They have it orbiting!) It's all quite exciting, even if you're not a particle physicist. (I'm not! Although I might not be the best marker for 'exciting and cool.')


For nostalgia: The Large Hadron Rap.
cherry: (seasonal)
CERN's Large Hadron Collider is attempting its first full injection tonight. Yaaaaay! I know far too many people who are staying up to watch the webcast of injection. This is because it is going to be monumental. If I had fewer things to do at 6:00 am tomorrow, I would be one of them.

In celebration, I would like to pass along the LCH rap. It is also awesome.



Tonight's xkcd is also relevant and amusing.
cherry: (Default)
I am not an excellent chef on the best of days.

This? Is why you should not attempt to cook when you have come down with the Peruvian Death Flu.



Twenty minutes ago, that was my only favourite pot, a vegetable steamer, and my lunch for tomorrow.
cherry: (seasonal)
My family, being from a farm, tends to maintain a pool of vehicles that oftentimes rotates between my parents, myself, and my two siblings. My previous vehicle, recently deemed to be unsafe at any speed (once my brother started driving it) has been rotated out of commission.

The other day, I once again swapped vehicles, also with my brother. It should be noted that the car in question had been in his possession for less than a week, and in no way belonged to him.

I provided him with:
One (1) well-cleaned car,
One (1) full tank of gas.

He, in turn, provided me with:
One (1) demon hell car, with:
One half (1/2) tank of gas,
One half (1/2) package of cigarettes,
One and one half (1 1/2) cups of cheezies, liberally sprinkled throughout the car and dash,
One (1) cup of trail mix, liberally sprinkled throughout the car and dash,
Twenty three (23) various papers and receipts,
Too many (!!) sunflower seed shells,
Three (3) unwashed socks,
Two (2) one-litre bottles of pop, empty,
One (1) package of "Blueberry flavoured roll paper" (DO NOT WANT TO KNOW)
One dollar fifty three ($1.53) in loose change, mostly pennies and nickles,
Various and assorted debris, and:
The unquantifiably nasty odour of cigarette smoking , complicated by the nauseating "fresh pine" odour of dime-store air fresheners. (Can we say 'EWW,' people?)

This car is much, much nicer than my old one, which burned more oil than gas, needed to be plugged in to a block heater any time the temperature dropped below -15C (which is large swaths of the year in Saskatchewan), had a non-functioning driver's window and almost non-functioning heater, accelerated too slowly to turn left in the city, and tended to die unexpected in intersections.

This car has temperature control! Acceleration! An alarm system!

And, gentle readers, it is in the alarm system that lies the rub. The car was purchased at an estate sale, as as such, didn't come with much of an instruction manual. I've been in and out of the car seven times today, for various reasons, and on six of these, the alarm has gone off. We don't know why it does so, but at random and frequent intervals, the alarm goes off as you unlock the door. As a crowning touch, it ate my phone, necessitating three of the in-and-outs as I searched for the beast.

You would think that at this point I would be anticipating it and braced for the sudden audible impact. In this, you would be mistaken as the demon hell car appears intent upon giving me a heart attack -- I have oftentimes been described as being as skittish as a hamster on speed, so I hope that you will see the danger inherent in this situation.
cherry: (summer)
Two birthdays today:

1) Canada is 141! (Fireworks, yay!)

2) The Theory of Natural Selection is 150! (Evolution and enlightenment, yay! I'm partly a biologist, do I need to tell you how much I think Darwin rocks? Origin of Species may be one of the most important books written, IMHO, but every time I open it, I am filled with an almost overwhelming urge to build a time machine, travel back through time, and hit him about the head with a sack of periods. Several of my peers would have handed him some of Mendel's papers, but I digress.)

In relation to 2) above, it should be stated that I love hanging out with engineers and scientists, and students of related fields. It should be noted that this is partially the same group of last year's "Wow, Ultimate Fight Club is gayer than gay porn," outing.

We were at the pub last night, and conversation, predictably, turned to wormhole physics, the nature of time, why we use base 10 and how other systems would be just as logical, how a structure as complex as the human eye degrades in the absence of selective pressure, the mocking of creationist propaganda (some of the videos are comic gold), frustration regarding "environmentalists" who know dick-all about environmental science, and a fairly measured discussion on religion, and how physicists, engineers, and biologists would be ranked in accordance to increasing levels of atheism.

The friends who you go drinking with to discuss science and religion are, I think, perhaps the best kind.
cherry: (summer)
This might be a long shot, but you never know:

Does anyone have any experience with digital SLR cameras? I took a photography class this past year that I quite enjoyed, but I've lost access to the dark room for obvious, term-end - shaped reasons. I have a point-and-shoot, but I just can't get the control or quality of image from it that I desire.

I'm looking at either the Nikon D60 or Canon Rebel XTi/EOS 400D, which I've found for within $20 of each other. Both are entry level DSLRs, 10.1 MP, which is more than enough for 8x10 prints, and right now I don't foresee wanting to print larger. The Nikon has a better lens (vibration-reduction), but the Canon has a few more features. At the moment, I'm leaning towards the Nikon, as the idea of getting a camera like either of these and then using the preset seems rather bizarre. On the other hand, the Nikon doesn't have a drive pin, so it can only auto-focus with lenses with their own motors. Fortunately, the kit lens does have a motor, but it limits my future options.

Does anyone have any experience with either brand, camera, or DSLRs in general? Any input would be greatly appreciated.
cherry: (cougars!)
My external hard drive has returned to me! It was, for some reason, crammed behind my bookcase -- a space I could have sworn was not deep enough for a mid-sized mouse, let alone an external. Ooops?

At least it wasn't in my freezer. I found a phone in there one time, which was even more confusing than the time I found a fork in my shower, or my work ID in the fridge beneath the spinach.

I... really have no idea.

In other news: For reasons that don't need exploring at this juncture, [livejournal.com profile] tellitslant sent me an email entitled "Vampires are sexy, or something." This in and of itself brightened up my day. What made it, however, were the ads.


Meet Vampire Males - www.GothScene.com - Meet Local Vampire Males Near You. View Profiles 100% Free. Join Now! (I would hate to have to pay to meet blood sucking fiends. Seriously.)

Sexiest Celeb Vegetarians: Find Out What Celeb Is The World’s Sexiest Vegetarian (The message here is somewhat mixed.)

And, my favourite:

Necked Girls: Bargain Prices. Smart Deals. Save on Necked Girls! (Save on Necked Girls! Pay full price for the ones that are neck-impaired!)


Oh, Gmail.
cherry: (cougars!)
I have somehow, in the throws of my brilliance, managed to lose my external hard drive. My old, full, not up to date one is accounted for.

My shiny new one, the shiny new one that holds all of my source, that has all of those in progress/near finished vids, their clips, their notes, and their project files? Is magically gone.

This is why I can't have nice things, people.

Just -- good grief. GAH.
cherry: (cougars!)
It was one of my good friend's birthday's the other day, and I was really at a loss as to what to get her.

"Hey," I decided. "Why don't I make her cookies? Pumpkin cookies. Yeah. I approximated a sesame noodle salad the other day, so I can totally handle baking cookies."

It should be noted that, as the next time I have a sandwich in my lunch I think I am going to set it on fire, I have been attempting to forage food. I prefer the term 'forage' to 'cook', as I only approximate recipes. "This looks good, but I think it needs more sweet peppers, and oregano instead of salt. That's about a cup, right? Ish? Wait, I have some carrots in my fridge I need to get rid of as well..."

As it turns out, this is the wrong approach to take with baking.

Things started to go down hill from the start. I had to, um, purchase every single ingredient except for cinnamon, ginger, and eggs. Baking is expensive when you don't own any of the ingredients.

"White flour can totally be replaced with brown, right? White flour is the devil. Oooh, bran. I can totally toss some of this in there without anyone noticing, right?"

"Oh, hey, I've already started putting everything together, but this recipe has oatmeal in it. They're mostly the same otherwise, right?"

"Man, there's no way I need that much oil. I'll just replace a cup of it with soy milk."

"I really wouldn't want to throw away the rest of this can of pumpkin. Into the batter you go!"

"... baking soda and baking powder can be used interchangeably, right?"

*dialing frantically* "Grandma, help! I just made cookie dough but I don't have a wire rack for cooling them ... Um. Or a cookie tray for baking them."


The upside is that they turned out to be edible! They are rather more like flat pumpkin-oatmeal muffins than cookies, but they are not entirely inedible. Plus, with the whole wheat flour, oatmeal, bran, pumpkin, raisins, and soy milk, they are actually very healthy.

A very healthy five dozen cookies. I don't even really eat cookies, people. I have five (well, three, as I've given away two) dozen pumpkin oatmeal cookies.
cherry: (seasonal)
I am seriously starting to think that I ran over the Computer God's cat with my car. My computer (which they claim to have repaired) now appears to skip half of the booting process, but somehow still start. At first, this appeared to be an oddity rather than a problem, as it still start. However, every time I try to render a file in FCP, it freezes, locks up, and has to be force restarted. (The Computer God is *stifling my creativity*. Let's see if I ever sacrifice a logic board to him/her/it again.)



GUYS. Romana is in my iPod, being staunchly secular!

Richard Dawkins is married to Lalla Ward. Did you know this? I've started listening to audiobooks while I run (just finished up Colbert's I am America and So Can You which made people look at me oddly as I ran about, laughing to myself) and I'm giving The God Delusion a go at the moment. It's something I feel I should read, though I find Dawkins to be somewhat abrasive. It should be noted that I find people who are this strident in their religious beliefs to be more than somewhat abrasive, so I'm not playing favourites. Those who actually know of my (religious-ish) leanings will back me up on this one. There is some really interesting information in the book, though, some very good food for thought

I'm moving on to some Orwell and L. Frank Baum when I'm done with Dawkins. I'd originally acquired Hawking's The Universe in a Nutshell but I've come to the conclusion it might be a bit heavy for while running.

Can anyone recommend something that might be a good read/listen?
cherry: (seasonal)
My paid account ran out the other day, and, seriously: Oh my goodness people, since when were there adds all over LiveJournal?

I'm taking a religious studies class this term to fill in a humanities electives requirement. I thought it would be a neat way to get my thoughts out of the scientific box. There was a Buddhism class I was really interested in taking, but it conflicted with one of my math classes, so I ended up in Taoism.

WORST IDEA EVER. There's a lot of really neat information in the course, a window looking out over the world view of a different culture, but the way it's taught drives me up the wall. There's no structure, we have no idea how we're going to be evaluated or what we'll be tested on, we were told flat out that the average would be 70, and our marks are going to have nothing to do with how well, objectively, we know the material.

Right now, I am working on a presentation for the class. Through a series of events which don't need reviewing at this juncture, I have ended up doing both a presentation and a paper on how Taoism is like physics.

Taoism? Is not like physics.

If physics was like religion, I would not be taking this as a complimentary studies elective.

taoism ≠ physics, people.
cherry: (summer)
I am looking back over my site, and it occurs to me that I really need to trim out some of the dead weight. I'm looking at some of the fic between my fingers, actually, what with the need to cover my face in shame.

It's rather interesting, actually, to see how my writing has evolved. I started writing fic when I was 15 (15! Gosh, I'm old now.) Some of my ideas were not entirely awful, aside from lack of logic, and I can see places where my writing style was beginning to develop. I almost want to go back, rip them to pieces, and try to insert a lower level of suck. I had no concept of pacing, and for some reason felt the need to describe everything that everyone did and every step they took. Oh, god, the prose. The horrible, awful, clunky prose, and my need to spell out everyone's accents phonetically.

I was so very proud. *dies*

SO MUCH BADNESS. I am cutting this to spare your brains. )

The stream of consciousness ones are the worst, though. No plot, just really, really emo reflection. People, seriously. I write fic where Emma Frost CUTS HERSELF. I had blocked this from my mind completely, to hold onto some shred of self-respect.

Monologues were never my friend, m'kay? )

Why on earth did this stuff seem to resonate with so many people, OMG?

Forgive me, please, for inflicting this stuff on the internet in the first place?

I think that today is a day where we should all share our shame.
cherry: (cherry (vintage))
Okay, people, seriously:

I just made ratatouille.

So maybe I haven't tried it yet, but it's cooling on my balcony to take for lunch tomorrow. And, okay, it looks like maybe I added the eggplant too soon and the zucchini too late, and then cooked it a bit too long, but.

Nothing is on fire, and I didn't even set off the smoke alarm.

Let me repeat that: nothing is on fire.


OMGYAY.


I made ratatouille. Seriously.
cherry: (presents)
I have only just started reading xkcd. I do not know why it has taken me this long, for lo, it is made of awesome. I think I might love it more than Dinosaur Comics, but this is a close thing. My opinion as to which is more win changes every time I read one or the other -- whichever is freshest in my mind wins my affection.

This, said, I'm a bit of a dork.

A couple of my favourites...

What is xkcd, you might ask? Well, my child, it is stick people and 'sarcasm, math, and language.' )
cherry: (cougars!)
It appears that prior to asking for recipe suggestions, I possibly should have asked for some idea of what basic things a person should have in her kitchen.

Right now, my supplies consist of:

  • Three-year old flour
  • Sugar
  • Honey
  • Olive oil
  • Miracle Whip
  • A RealLemon
  • Salt
  • Orange salt
  • Two sticks of cinnamon


I have a cookie sheet of doom (let's just say food goes on tin foil on top of it), a frying pan, a pot (sans lid), and a larger pot (also sans lid, which is basically just used for stewing rhubarb). I think I'm good for cooking utensil-type things -- I have flippy things and scoopy things and stabby things, and it turns out that the weird hinged thing that's been kicking around for several moves is a garlic press.

You're all laughing at me, but -- there is no early way to divine its purpose by looking at it, people. I mean, seriously. There is absolutely nothing about a garlic press that screams "Use me to strain garlic through this mesh!" The thing looks like the bastard child of a stapler, a hole punch, and a microphone.

Also, apparently I own both a spatula. Who knew? There's also a large, scary, double-pronged stabby thing. I have absolutely no idea what it could conceivably be used for, but it can't be anything near as bad as I'm imagining. I don't think any of my friends are ninjas, and even if they were -- I really don't think they'd leave any sort of weapon within stumbling radius of me.


The point of which being: If anyone could suggest some kitchen essentials/essential spices, it would be greatly appreciated.


Seriously, people, I've had food poisoning twice in the last year. There is no way I could do worse things to myself than the universe is doing to me.
cherry: (tea)
It is possible -- nay, probable -- that I have been heard many a time to proclaim that I have neither interest nor aptitude when it comes to all things domestic.

Seriously, people, I have set off the fire alarm while boiling water. I wish that was hyperbole, but, alas.

With my fancy new apartment, however, and this "taking lunch/supper" places kick I'm on, I am reaching out for help. I have decided that I am going to try to cook at least once a week.

What are your favourite recipes? Where do you find said things? What would you recommend to someone starting out?

Really, I'm very open. I don't eat red meat or bananas, but other than that ...

I adore vegetables and fruit and trying new things, but I appreciate classics. I enjoy both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. I am partial to fast and easy, but am stoked to try things that are a little more involved. I am especially willing to put in the effort for things that are a little different (read: non-North American fare).

I often take lunch and supper to my full time and part time jobs, so reheatable/cold foods are good, and I am also interested in your favourite sandwiches and any awesomely interesting sandwich/salad combos you've tried.

Please: Educate me, mock my ineptitude, it's all good.
cherry: (bike!)
Al Gore is a rock star. Seriously.



Couple of places he said things that jerked me out of the presentation, just because they're things that you really don't hear in Canada much -- religious references, a mention of "the evil of communism": hello, and welcome to Saskatchewan, land of medicare, co-ops, and credit unions.


Gore obvious cares deeply, and An Inconvenient Truth has been incredibly effective at bringing some sense of the scope of the issue of climate change to the masses.

I don't talk too terribly much about politics in this journal. I'm aware that my beliefs are not those of others, and that my academic background and social backgrounds have given me rather strong predispositions on a number of issues. Climate change, however, happens to be one of my hot-button issues. Climate change, global poverty reduction, and social equality, but I digress.

I had to write a neutral paper on climate change earlier in the year. It was difficult not because of my personal bias, but because I decided early on to limit myself to scientific papers -- to peer reviewed journal articles. For those not familiar with the process, it basically means that a group of academic peers have refereed the paper, and that it is reliable.

This became a problem, because there are no peer reviewed articles that dispute human influence on climate change. There was a paper in Nature (Oreskes, 2004) which surveyed almost a thousand (928, to be precise) abstracts in the ISI database with the keyword "climate change." Of these, 75% expressly or implicitly endorsed what has become the scientific consensus amongst those whose expertise is relevant: climate change has been directly, and dramatically, impacted by human involvement. The debate is in the media.

No one is saying that Milankovitch cycles aren't real, or that rotational wobble and axial tilt don't influence climate. 600,000 years of ice cores, however, say that there has never been as great an increase in temperature in as short of time. 600,000 years of ice cores shows a correlational relationship between CO2 and temperature. While this relationship between greenhouse gases and climate change is defined as correlational and not causational, the same is true of smoking and cancer -- and to ignore either would be incredibly foolhardy.


/soapbox

Oooh, and the lovely [livejournal.com profile] sprat vgifted me with a planted tree! Yay! Thank you, hon.

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