Saturday, January 31, 2009

A wintry look

As the temperatures here finally start to warm up a bit (it's crazy, I want to start almost spending time outside) I thought I'd try my hand at a wintry landscape.

This one only took oh about 5 hours or so:Now to find a nice bright summer picture.

Picture a Day - Day 59

Last night we got a little visitor to our campus.

In one night she managed to sneak into every office, lab, classroom and hallway to leave behind a little something.

It took a trained eye to catch it (it only took me about three hours). See if you can spot the difference.

First up is my office:
Now the bathroom:And even the double wide hallway.Did you figure it out? That's right! We got visited by the Energy Sticker Fairy!

You only hear about it happening to other people who have strange government policies that won't really help in anyway and are good at wasting money printing up stickers.

In fact I think we even caught a picture of her just as she was leaving this morning:
Has anyone else been visited by the sticker fairy?

Friday, January 30, 2009

I suck at this

Okay so I got tagged by oh hundreds of people over the course of a week or so.


I'm being informed it was actually two (three is you include Amy's award) Rachel and Jen.

Make a list of things you can see without getting up:A polar bear, nerds, a huge pile of papers, a picture frame, and a black soul gem (you never know when it could come in handy).

What were you like when you were five? Hiding. In fact I'm right behind you! Ha ha, made you look.

What are you wearing now? A doublet, hose, cod piece, clogs, and an iron helmet (I think the mace and rapier are optional).

What story/book/novel have you read over and over again in your life? Lord of the Rings, The Count of Monte Cristo (I own three different versions actually, it was hard to find one that was unabridged), and the 1953 Report on water conditions in Lake Superior (it's just that fascinating).

What’s the last thing you read/are currently reading? A Sundial in a Grave: 1610. It's a bit like Dumas so lots of action that is so far fetched its got to be fantasy and characters that just when you're sure you know what will happen turn into crazed psychos.

Do you nap a lot? I am missing the nap genes. I fear whatever kids we'll have as my husband can't either.

Who was the last person you hugged? Willy Wonka, I was after the packages of runts in his pockets.

What’s your current fandom/obsession/addiction? Pie. I love anything pie related and will stand outside in the rain just hoping to get a glimpse of it.

What was the last thing you ate today? Cheezeits, but it's got to be the baked ones as they aren't as greasy as the regular ones.

What was the last thing you said aloud? Would everyone just stop talking to me!

What websites do you always visit when you go online? Hotmail, blogger, Destroy all humans, Tutankhamen for President

What was the last thing you bought? Paints and canvas, but I forget what they're for. I hope someone tells me soon.

What are you listening to right now? Mack the Knife, actually. Fun song to play.

What movie are (or were!) you most excited to show your kids? Nightmare before Christmas, a ton of MST3K, Ratatouille and when they get older all the Hepburn and Tracy I can get my hands on (also Lion in Winter).

If you could have any super power, what would it be? To control the weather. It'll always be sunny everywhere I go. We'd all undergo the worst drought in history.

What is your favorite weather, and why? Bright, about 65-70 F and a brisk wind. No wind is just wrong and creeps me out.

What time do you usually get up? When I gain conscious, usually around 7:30

What is your most challenging goal right now? To get my friend to stop talking to me so I can finish this thing. STOP TALKING!

Say something to the person who tagged you: Let's see, who first? Jen, your presence blogging has been sorely missed. I hope you start hanging out more soon. Rachel actually it's a bit the same though your new makeover looks really cool.

If you could have a house–totally paid for, fully furnished–anywhere in the world, where would you want it to be? Wouldn't New Zealand be cool? I could have my own sheep farm and teach them to raise goats.

Favorite vacation spot? Woodland areas. I like to follow paths til I reach the end. Scares the crap out of my hubby as there is a very good chance I will wander off when no one is looking.

What is your favorite children’s book? "Are you my Mother?" I still like to ask that at inopportune times. You should try it during a board meeting at some point. It's great.

Name one thing you just can’t resist no matter how bad it is for you: Internet surveys. Everytime I think I can give them up they just pull me right back in.

If you could meet anyone famous - dead or alive - who would it be? The MST3K crew, okay so I got to meet all but three of them on the honeymoon but man wouldn't it be cool to be trapped in an elevator with Mike Nelson, breathing heavy and freaking him out so he pries the doors open to try to escape and breaks his leg.

I guess I have to make up a question that I then have to answer. Seems rather foolish but okay here goes. So, Sabrina, what latest random celebrity crush have you picked up? Oh I'm glad you asked Sabrina. I've just recently realized that I have strange thoughts every time John Olliver shows up on the Daily Show. It could be his cute little british accent, it could be his little dimples or wavy dark hair (two traits he shares with my hubby). But it's probably his huge nose. I have a weird thing for huge noses.

I don't really want to tag anyone, as I think everyone I've ever vaguely known or visited has already been tagged and answered all these questions. So I guess if you want to do it go for it.

Beep Beep, Beep Beep

My musical tastes have always been a touch on the strange side. Oh sure I'll listen to the latest top 40 (if I have to) but I grew up with oldies. And I don't mean oldies in the sense of the Rolling Stones or Aerosmith.

Stuff from the 50's and early 60's. It was something I'd pretty much assumed I'd never hear again as radio stations have started to mimic Nick at Night considering songs from the 80's as Oldies (anyone else remember watching Get Smart or F Troop late at night? Can you believe they now show Rosanne?).

But then I found an internet radio station that plays those true old oldies and today they played a song that took me back to that wild youthful days of dancing in a circle while listening to a tape deck. Luckily I'm not the only one entertained with it as I managed to find a youtube video.

It's called Beep Beep by the Playmates and it's horribly addictive. Seriously you'll need a few hours at least to get it out of your head.

Picture a Day - Day 58

Yesterday I had to leave my nice and cozy building and head to the scariest part of the University's city campus: The Bursar's office (too bad it wasn't Discworld's Bursar, that would have been awesome!)

This involves three stages:

  1. To find a parking space in among the 500,000 or so students and 100 parking spots (it's amazing the pile you can get of cars).

  2. To not get run over by all the other students and buses (or students on bikes or students that are running late).

  3. To discover the golden falcon before anyone else finds it, steal it back and get out before the giant boulder smashes us to tiny bits.

See I wasn't kidding about the scary boulder:

It was almost a majestic day, with the gorgeous blue sky and slight wind. Too bad the state flag didn't want to cooperate. It shall be thoroughly punished.
All right, the administration building at last. Now to get in and get out with no one looking. Okay so the get in and get out failed miserably as it's nearing the end of the month and every weird student who only works in cash (we may or may not have some mafia influences in Nebraska -- the corn gang) decided to drop by and pay off their bill.

To make it even worse for some reason the Bursar's office decided to keep their cash box two rooms over so every time the rather elderly secretary had to shuffle off to the room to get a penny for change.

But since that's no fun way to end a story. May I present our capitol building which was easily photographed on the walk back to the car. You may know it better as its nom de plume "Penis of the Prairie."

We're kinda naughty in Nebraska.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Can't we all just get along?

The Internet is an amazing place. You can log onto your e-mail and find you got a facebook message from your old pal in high school about an offer to meet up at a place you can fin on mapquest and drop by a blog to see some reviews of the restaurant.

But there is a seedy side to the internet (and no I'm not talking about all the porn or Trekkies). What you had to do before in face to face you are more and more able to do hiding behind a screen and the words "anonymous."

Don't get me wrong, I am a big fan of discussion. Sometimes I like to play devils advocate just to see if I can understand better another persons view of life (though I do have my limits). I have an unquenchable curiosity and fascination with things I just can't experience (I annoy my poor husband to death trying to understand the male side of things). It's also rather boring to just see the same "That's great" over and over again when you were hoping for some discussion.

But there's a right way and a wrong way to offer up criticism. It's one thing if someone has created or posted something and needs honest opinions on how to tweak it or if they need help, it's another when he just make a simple comment on his life and dreams to have someone come in and piss all over it.

We seem to more and more forget that it isn't 1's and 0's on the other end of that Ethernet cable, but a real person. Someone with emotions that just got trounced all over because "anonymous" felt as though his opinion was more important than empathy.

Sure sometimes you may not realize you just crushed someones spirit by being a bit too blunt and misunderstandings take place (the written word can never replace body language especially when humor is involved), but when someone takes the time to log out so they can be "anonymous" to say something mean spirited they know what they are up to. Mr. "Anonymous" knows they want to cut someone down to size to make him feel better.

I had that recently happen in one of my comments (in the last post I would have ever suspect, I figured the cheese one would have brought much more bile from those anti-dairy pirates), but it wasn't about me. Instead it was about someone who had no way to defend herself as this is not her blog and I doubt she's much aware of the post I made for her. The fact that this person felt they had to hide themselves in order to state their hurtful opinion speaks volumes in my mind.

Some blogs enforce a comment policy. I really don't want to do that. About the only thing I go out of my way to delete are crystal clear ad posts (they've gotten rather creative as of late with some coupon site). I want to encourage anyone who is stopping by and doesn't have a blogger account to feel safe to leave something and know if won't get lost in the shuffle (I also had no idea I had that evil word verification turned on til Jenna pointed it out, it never showed up for me when I left comments. Go figure).

So this post is my little warning, play nice and get along or I shall be forced to get out the big stick.

And if you do have something mean to say, have some fortitude to link it back to your own blog and name. No more hiding behind a mask of "anonymous" because as much as we'd all like to think we're internet ninjas IP address are incredibly easy to trace.

Picture a Day-Day 57

What a glorious sunrise, right hunny? Okay you'll look later.
Well despite the joys of a frosted over windshield it was a wonderful day. I got to kill off some of my cells.
Cell culture is a strange thing, you spend so much time worrying and fretting trying to keep the cursed things alive that as soon as it's time to start the experiment you feel overjoyed finally being rid of the needy things.

So how hard is it to kill off some cells?

Well first you need the right tools:
The cells need a good bath before you can send them off to die. So they get washed three times with that clear liquid you see (PBS, no affiliation with the tv station that brings you 10 hour marathons of Ken Burns) and then they get their last meal.
Once that's all ready to go, time to kill them off. There are numerous ways for cells to die, this time it's pretty simple. I just have to add a specially grown bacteria to some wells, a heat shocked version to some and keep the last two as a control.

Then I sit back and watch the fun. I'd love to be able to show you the cool picture of cells surrounded by more and more little rod shaped bacteria, but sadly cameras don't work well through microscope lenses.

But this bacteria thrived so well in a few hours you could tell which wells were infected and which weren't by how cloudy the media got: And that, ladies and more ladies, is how we go about killing cells with bacteria. It was a bit strange hoping for a bacteria infection as that's usually a really bad thing and causes me to rip my hair out.

Oh well, one plate down. Just 3 more to go. I wonder what fun way we'll kill these ones off.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

We Can Do It!

It's the last 24 hours and Ms. Broke-Ass Bride Meatball needs all the help and votes we can give her.

She's in the midst of a hard fought battle for a honeymoon (the only way she and her future hubby can take one), so please just go here and fill in all this fun little information.

Name: Dana LaRue & Hunter Stiebel
Date: 5/24/09
Title of the Baptism Page?: A Tree to Honor a Baptism
How much is the value of the amex gift card on the Love story giveaway?: $250
Where are trees planted for a Bar / Bat Mitzvah?: Moshav Nehalim, Israel
Complete this based on title on our memorial trees page "Complete this based on title on our memorial trees page"THE FAMILY RECEIVES AN ELEGANT......CONDOLENCE": Tree

They're a bit behind right now but I have faith in our little wedding blog-o-sphere to beat out any church group any day of the week.

Picture a Day-Day 56

Only one food causes my heart to skip a beat every time I think of getting my little masticating jaws around it. One favorite that captures my attention every time I open the fridge.

It's Cheese!

I have been known to wake up in a cold sweat thinking about the last time I had a 10 year aged piece of sharp chedder (I love the cheeses that bite you back, especially blue). "Processed" is a four letter word for me when it comes to cheese.

While I'd probably always take all the chedder given an option, I do enjoy other semi soft cheeses as well (the only cheese I cannot stand is Swiss, it just tastes nasty to me). My Husband introduced me to these little wonders when we were courting. Babybel is a bit like mozzarella with a bit more bite. But the best part of the single serving semi soft cheese is the wax it comes in.

You can squish it in your fingers to mold it into whatever shape you want or put it up to your nose to breath in the heavenly scent.Mmm cheese!

Even my hubby will put up with me long enough to put on a cheesy wax clown nose.
Does anyone else have a small love affair with a specific food? Or are there any other cheese maniacs that were tempted by my little diatribe?
Man, I wish I had some right now in fact.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Picture a Day - Day 55

They often say that the best way to know a woman is to look inside her purse.

Well I don't have a purse (okay I may have one buried deep in the back of my closet) but there is one container that I think explains more about me: the bookcase.

So for this picture a day I thought I'd show off all the shelves of our bookcase and the books (and other knick knacks contained with in). Clicking on each image will bring up a larger version for deep perusing.

I love to read just about anything. I have no qualms with picking up a Sci-fi book to a Children's novel to a classic of literature as long as it's something I'm interested in and written well.
As you can see we have one who shelf devoted to just Terry Pratchett and Discworld and another one that is full of MST3K tapes from back in the day when people used to use VHS to copy things off the TV (ah the dark ages).

These are the current books that I just finished and haven't quite made it onto the bookcase of horrors:
I'm in a bit of a history mood right now, moving from two non fiction books about the mistresses of Kings and lovers of Queens (a fascinating look at a time when arranged marriage was the norm as mistresses were lovers and best friends and often had more power and jewels than the Queen) to a fiction novel putting Oscar Wilde in the detective seat.

What books compromise your shelves? Do you have one specific genre you prefer or are you all over the place like I am?

A Fun Family Day with Scientists

I recently received in my work e-mail inbox a weekly University announcement talking up a little getaway titled "Dinosaurs and Disasters: A Fun Family Day with Scientists."

That got me to thinking just what would a fun family day with scientists all entail? How does one easily capture the essence of being a scientist? I think it would go a little something like this.

Well first off you'd have to start out your scientific career as the lab gopher. You'll be elbow deep in every imaginable chemical as you clean it out of beakers and flasks doing dishes. Then when it comes time to say doing the most mind numbing job imaginable in lab (from pouring plates, to transferring colonies, to autoclaving tubes) you can move up to lab grunt.

A lab grunt comes in many flavors from a grad student to a lab tech and they live on the whim of their advisor/boss/maniacal evil genius. He can, if so choosing, order that grad student chained to their lab bench,never allowed to leave for anything aside from a quick five minute bathroom break once a day. Forget about sleep, sleep is for the weak. And you can be easily replaced by any of 1,000 other people looking for a PhD.

You may think that all that work (and complete lack of a break) would get you your degree quickly so you can move on, but you'd be wrong. You'll be doing so many other side projects that have nothing to do with your own research and before you know it you've been working for $12,000 a year for 10 years with nothing to your name but a ton of debt, ten almost accepted papers, and a horrible pipette callus.

But lets say you lucked out and got one of the rare laid back PIs and you actually did get out with a PhD. Guess what, you get to start all over again in the crap shoot as a post doc hoping that they don't require your soul as part of the job requirements because in science there are no Faustian moves to trick the devil by putting someone else first. For you will take the job by always putting someone else first and promptly be abandoned by everyone in your life as well as your house plant and Persian rug.

Now that your spirit has been thoroughly crushed and you are jaded to all of humanity you are offered a professorship complete with tenure track. All that human interaction you shunned since you began this science track suddenly comes to bite you in the ass as departmental meetings are more like vipers nests, each professor out for blood. They may want to cut you down because you got better lab space than you, or you got the better student, or possibly just because they also hate every single human on the face of the planet and rejoice in destroying dreams.

Not only do you have to fight off your colleagues that are baying for your head, there is also all that money you have to bring in now. If you hadn't already sold your soul to the highest bidder you certainly will now. Offering whatever data a company needs to go ahead and push a product and working the statistics to say anything just so you can get out as many papers and money in order to stay on your precarious tenure tract (because by this point you've completely forgotten how a beaker works and know you'd never survive the lab work).

But suddenly a ray of hope. After you've locked yourself off from anyone who has ever talked to you, chained your own grad students to their desks, and scratched the backs of so many big-pharm companies you can't sleep at night (all the better to get more grant writing done) they finally give you tenure. You're safe, you don't have to watch your back, no one can get rid of you no matter how much you screw up.

At your tenure party just as your having some cake and everyone's laughing you finally crack. All the decades of pressure and back bending turn you into a gibbering mess. You spend your final years hiding in your closet jumping out at any student that dares come to your office to ask a question and threatening to turn the department head into a small white rabbit with your magical powers.

And that kids, is a fun family day with scientists. Please ignore the sobbing head of biology on the way out.

Crap Crap Crap

Yesterday I took a lovely picture and had a great topic all ready at hand for you to read. I even ran it through photoshop to clean it up a bit and saved it on my computer.

Then I promptly forgot to upload it onto my photobucket account so right now I have no pretty pictures to show you (well til I get home sometime later tonight) or entertaining anecdotes about my life. I do; however, have some paintings to show off.

This first one I actually did sometime over the weekend. I had a great idea, couldn't wait to put it to canvas but once I was done I hated it. Hated everything about it. Hated the stupid way it didn't do what I wanted it to and hated how I'd wasted canvas.

Yet, after stepping back for a few days I'm starting to like it more.
It isn't by far my favorite, but it doesn't look like a determined inchworm painted it anymore either.

This last one was actually something I just pulled out last night. My best friend sent me a few pictures of nature (including one of a fish, I don't know if I can even do fish yet) and there was one I really liked.

So while my husband was busy killing large and scary things I sat down and painted this in about 3 hours or so.

Now I just have to decide what I want to do with all these paintings I've got flapping about. Maybe I should offer to sell one on the street corner. I could even throw in a folksy wood carving for free.

This embracing your creativity is nice and all, but it sure does make a big mess on the kitchen table.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Knot lost it

I am a big follower of professional disasters. Cake Wrecks fills me in on all those wonderful bakery messes and for the photo touchups gone horrifically wrong I frequent Photoshop Disasters.

Today they have one from The Knot that as sad as it is I can easily believe someone tried to pass off as human proportions.

That's right women. You may think you can just look like yourself walking down the aisle but oh no you have to reach anime proportions with a waist the size of a Bratz doll. Best get that steel corset down.

And people still take The Knot seriously?

Picture a Day- Day 54

I am a part of the generation that is supposed to be embracing each technological advance with open arms.

Remember that huge pile of cards at the library you had to flip through to find your book? Now you can just log onto the library's database and use a search engine. No more scraps of paper and tiny pencils as you hunt through the stacks.

Grade school we were acclimated to the joys of staring at a blinking screen and using a keyboard with that all around wonderful game "Oregon Trail." Though most of us never made it past Chimney Rock, we were all too busy out shooting rabbits and bear or getting killed so we could write naughty things on the headstones.

You were the cream of the crop if you managed to get in first and get the color monitor (I never did).

In this ever changing world I miss some of those old relics I remember haunting the place, the typewriter, the card catalog, and the phone booth (really, how does Superman change now?) So I still hang onto one that has been predicted to be a dinosaur for oh at least 100 years now: the newspaper.Every Wednesday and Sunday we get the paper delivered. While Wednesdays isn't too bad Sundays is jam packed with so many ads and coupon book things (as well as all the articles) we got into the habit early on of tossing each piece as we finished with it onto the floor just waiting til it was cleaning time and they all got to go bye bye.I can just picture a little newspaper fairy poking her head out of our pile asking for "more, please."

Does anyone else out there still get a newspaper? Or do you miss any of those old things that have become antiquated? But really, who doesn't love a little newspaper fairy?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Picture a Day- Day 53

Yesterday my parents randomly stopped by. There is one thing and one thing only that they cannot travel anywhere without bringing along, their dogs.

They'd throw a hissy fit (the dogs) if they had to be left behind at any time cause God knows what they'd be missing. So since they got to run around right in our parking lot I thought I'd try to get at least one nice picture of them looking all cute like.

Big mistake.Well okay, after being on the truck for a few hours I can understand the need to run around. But you have to calm down at some point, right?Okay, let's try the two of you together. Maybe that'll work.That's it! I quit!

(Aren't you all glad I don't have my own dog? You'd see 5 or 6 picture montages of him all the time. Okay probably 30 when he was a puppy.)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A wedding painting

Amy recently had a post about a company that does an oil painting of your wedding, to capture the memories in a canvas as opposed to a few pixels.

That got me a thinking, what if I turn my new little hobby back on that old thing that drove me mad?

While I could never in a million years attempt anything with people in it (I just can't draw people or animals well enough to my liking. I'm a picky bastard sometimes) I did have a thought of one object and addition that personified my wedding.

So I sat down with my brush and paint and attempted to recreate my dress complete with tail (but without me in it).I'm honestly rather impressed with how it turned out. It was just a whim idea but it looks a damn bit like what I wore (helped that I had so many pictures to go off of though).

It's also nice as we never did do a "dress" picture and now I got the chance to make my own.

So, what do you all think? Neat idea, or am I paddling up a creek with a few things missing?

Picture a Day - Day 52

"Man it's been a really long day in the lab and been a long 4 week as it is. I can't wait to get home and just enjoy the day. After all it was a gorgeous 58 yesterday, spring should be here soon."

*Opens door to outside world and first thing she sees is this*"That's it! I've had it!

"Old man winter, where are you? You have some explaining to do. Oh you think you're all clever eh, hiding behind me? Well I caught you!""We've put up with you more than usual this year. You've been there to wreck any nice Christmas planning and trips so many of us had.

"And never mind how much you obviously love destroying any dreams we have. Oh sure, lull us into a false hope that you've finally given up and Ms. Spring has taken over (I hear she goes by Nancy now) with false promises of warm days and clear streets.

"Then as the weekend starts to settle in and we're all free to actually relax and enjoy the outdoors, you hit us back like an errant puppy. Blizzards, ice storms, and sub zero weather all parts of your evil mischief we've had it up to here with. Hey, where do you think you're going?

"Get your frozen ass back here, you have whole lot of other inquiries to explain! Don't think I won't chase you down!""Fine, run away and hide you big chicken. I'm taking this straight to Mother Nature and we all know how much she can kick your miserly butt.


Friday, January 23, 2009

Ring Madness take three

No amount of medication or self deprivation (I did get pretty wrinkly floating in that tub for three hours) could keep me away from photoshop and pretty rings.

I give you my latest little addiction, er I mean creation courtesy of Melissa from M and M wedding (Isn't her hubby's ring so cool too?).
I really liked the way the first two plant ones turned out the most. I am kinda sad I couldn't make the M&M ones look cooler, but at least they look tasty.

But now I am faced with a horrific tomorrow. I have no more rings to photoshop and play with! No one else has any cool quick pictures they snapped where I could just get in and maybe make the diamond sparkle a bit more or the ring pop a bit.

What am I going to do?!

Please please, I beg of you if you have any pictures send them to me. Or if you know someone who does have them or if you have a great connection or if you see someone on the street. Just get me more pictures!

I'll even attempt cleaning up some wedding pics if there are no takers. Please?

Picture a Day-Day 51

As I was walking to my car yesterday I spotted a rather familiar sight in this state (we are all corn huskers after all, though I should probably update my husking training):In the middle of the lawn at the base of a tree outside my building sat a picked clean corn cob, probably drug here from a field by an enterprising little squirrel. I imagine there was quite a bit of bickering on his part with his neighbors over just who got to eat the corn and who got to watch the eating.

When I was younger my sister and I were sent off to an old corn field to look for any missed cobs of dried corn that my grandparents could put up to feed the squirrels, and seeing that took me back.

Getting home I whipped up a more usual simple Asian dinner that is made up of some meat, rice, some vegetables and various special spices and sauces (I love hoisin) but there is one thing that ties pretty much every dish we eat or make together.

From omelettes to spaghetti to spicing up hamburger helper I will always think it'll taste a lot better the liberal application of mushrooms. While we can shrug off milk and bread, it's a bad day when we run out of mushrooms in the fridge.

Basically what I'm getting at is that if you ever visit us for a meal expect lots and lots of tasty fungus in everything.

What's one of your staple food stuffs or flavors that you just have to add to anything (we are pretty notorious about cinnamon and nutmeg too)? Is there something that you didn't have much growing up but adore now?

And since the two pictures I already showed off have next to nothing to do with each other, here's one I snapped of the clouds and gorgeous blue sky yesterday:

Man do I miss summer and a bright blue sky.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Genetics Vs Free Will

I make no qualms or hidden behind the fact that I am a scientist, and more specifically a geneticist.

I've studied genetics and learned many techniques for understanding genetic experiments for about 4 years now. We have been researching genetics since the late 19th century when Gregor Mendel was playing with some peas in his backyard.

We were aware of transposons --special sections of DNA that move from one section to the next having an influence on the transcription of a gene and it's expression-- since the 60's. Breeding and artificial selection itself has been going on since we first became an agriculture society oh 12,000 years ago or so.

But there is still this hope, this dream that we can all overcome it. People assume all that genetic stuff in your cells is just an idea and that free will with lots of hard work you can defeat. There are dreams that we can easily rid ourselves of genetically predisposed diseases when in practice even the only disease that is caused by one gene (which is an incredibly rare thing, even hair color is at least three genes), Cystic Fibrosis, one we were sure to cure with gene therapy is alluding us.

Yet people, doctors, the media, and every arm chair dietitian in the world thinks you can completely overcome your genetic code and be as thin as you want just by "eating less."

Someone finally got in their head to do a little study to test this theory --it's so small I can't even call it an experiment-- involving thin people who are told to over eat and under exercise. It's the exact opposite of a diet which we all know, and even WW is claiming now, doesn't work.

There is a reference to an older study that I think people would find very interesting to learn about "In 1967, a medical researcher, Ethan Sims, carried out an experiment at Vermont state prison in the US. He recruited inmates to eat as much as they could to gain 25% of their body weight, in return for early release from prison.

Some of the volunteers could not reach the target however hard they tried, even though they were eating 10,000 calories a day. Sims's conclusion was that for some, obesity is nearly impossible."

People who could have gotten released from prison could not eat their way to obesity, yet people are expected to starve themselves down to a "normal" weight. Perhaps I am missing something here but doesn't that go against every rhetoric we've been fed since some diet company got in bed with the government to create the "Obesity Crisis."

Imagine if instead of pounds we're all being told is the enemy it's inches. Why just by eating this magical pill and standing in a small box for a few hours you could decrease your size in 10 weeks.

There's even a surgery you could do to decrease the size of your leg bones so you'd be as short as you always dreamed.

Seems insane doesn't it? Well height is just as much determined genetically as weight. We can affect it some with hormones but most parents who force their children to take growth hormone to get taller are frowned upon. But what about that parent who signs their child up for lap band surgery or puts them on alli?

For a better take on it all check out this article about the "Tall Epidemic."

Maybe it's all part of the mythical American Dream that we can overcome anything life throws our way and the idea of something as simple as the crap shoot of your parents DNA intermingling causing a greater affect on you than your own will power terrifies us.

And as sad as it is, I know I could spout all the statistics and data til I was blue in the face and still our world perception is that a person just eats themselves into obesity and it's all their lazy ass fault yet a person who is thin and can eat whatever they want should just thank Lady Luck.

Everyone wants to ignore their own little DNA sometimes to disastrous results.

Inauguration Day Unity

I have to admit I sort of approached this Tuesday a bit differently from a lot of other people. I was a bit more subdued, didn't actually watch the inauguration or the flub heard round the world.

There was just some random checking on-line but otherwise the lab got most of my attention.

I left a long rambling comment on someone's post about why I didn't really get into it or view it as this occasion to trump all over momentous occasions but somehow the Daily Show has summed it up better than I ever could.

Picture a Day-Day 50

Occasionally lab work requires you to crawl out of the lab or pull yourself away from your office and actually travel somewhere else.

If you're the professor in charge or a grad student with a fancy poster to present then it's to fun and exciting places. If you're a lab grunt like me then it's to places that barely contain a bar and a church.

Yesterday I drove two hours west deep into the heart of Nebraska's flat land (I swear regardless of what you may all think, hear, and smell we've actually got hills in other parts of the state. Actually one of our claims to fame are the sand hills so I have no idea why people think we're as flat as a pancake).
It was a pretty nice day for a drive, maybe a touch too warm so it seemed like a good idea to take a nap but over all not to bad. But most people; however, don't rent a University vehicle and drive just to take a picture and leave.

The whole crux of the trip was to pick up an important passanger. One that I will come to know very very well, I'd almost say obssesivly so. Here they are all bundled up ready for the trip:They were pretty good travelers too, didn't complain or make too much of a fuss. There were no spills, which we were all fearful of and they kept toasty warm in their little blanket.

I got them back and introduced them to their new environment where I hope they'll grow and flourish:So begins a new chapter in my life. A chapter devoted to the caring for and loving of some small little macrophages adhered to plastic wells. I get to restart cell culture.

If you've ever met or known someone who does a lot of cell culture you'll realize one thing right away, we're insane (especially if we do primary cell lines). Cells can become infected and all die right off if you look at them funny.

Officially they're sort of like having a goldfish, you just have to watch them to make sure they're okay every day and every other day or so feed them and clean out their tank.

Unofficially they are little walking time bombs. If you don't do your damndest to keep everything as sterile as possible (that means the hood, the incubator, the hall you have to take them down to get to the microscope, and that jerk from two labs over who keeps poking his head in there to take a look) they will become infected and die.

Every cell culture person I've ever met has their own special one way of doing everything and if you even so much as breathe on their stuff you will be dealt with in a horrible mind numbing way (usually involving a long talk about the importance of sterile techniques). If there were a Saint of Cell Culture, labs would have her picture up all over the place.

So wish me luck as I become obsessive over some little cow macrophages that need all the love and attention I can give them.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Attention Whore

Hi everyone,

I feel like I'm being a touch of an attention grabber right now but I really like this latest little painting and I wanted to share it:
P.S. apparently my ring got a feature on Wedding Bee's little running thing about ring pics. It's not as pretty as all the others, but I thought it was a rather fun picture. Or maybe going off the comments it's just me.