Tuesday, December 28, 2004

club caltech

my asthma, which is worse in cold weather, was terrible when i was east. i was using my albuterol inhaler there. it helped, but i noticed that it had expired in 2003. on my dog walk this morning, i walked over to the student health center. leaving mac on his long leash outside the doorway, i walked in far enough to let the coordinator know what i wanted and asked if i could wait outside. she said yes. shortly, mac and i were visited by a nurse who handed me an inhaler, made sure i knew how to use it, and admired the loveliness of bad dog. i am sad that i will be leaving the shelter of student health centers when i graduate from caltech and cross the PhD threshold. i suppose this level of service is a type of concierge medicine. being able to bring the dog and incorporate health care into a dog walk is the mark of a high standard of care for me.

500 year tsunami

I am horrified by the consequences of the tsunamis in the Indian Ocean. The New York Times is reporting 50,000 deaths so far. It seems that some of the smaller islands moved as a result of the event. Another new horror is the unearthing of land mines:
A new danger emerged today: UNICEF said uprooted land mines in Sri Lanka threatened to kill or maim aid workers and survivors. "Mines were ... washed out of known mine fields, so now we don't know where they are," said Ted Chaiban, the Sri Lanka chief of UNICEF.
I'm afraid that we'll be seeing many more unexpected consequences of this disaster.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Yet another reason not to read the LA Times

Recently I've been willing to sound like a member of the so-called "liberal elite" and decry the newspapers published out West. I followed a link to the following article in spite of my reservations because the article mentioned a geographic change resulting from the tsunami in the Indian Ocean. In the second paragraph I found the following hideous sentence. And really, what does "recorded by scientists" mean? In my book, anyone who can record the magnitude of an earthquake is a scientist. Yeesh.
The quake was the largest since a magnitude 9.2 temblor struck Prince William Sound, Alaska, in 1964 and was one of the biggest ever recorded by scientists.

Friday, December 10, 2004


Thursday night HC and I went to see Dolly Parton in Orange County. We got dressed up in my finest clothes, like kids playing dress-up.

Dolly was in great form. Apparently she hasn't done this kind of tour in a while. It was all kinds of stuff, old, new, popular, more obscure. I've been reading reviews from around the country about it, and it sounds like she makes changes based on region. In Georgia, she is reported to have said, after singing (John Lennon's) "Imagine", "I don't want to imagine no religion." After playing some enormous number of instruments on "Thank god I'm a country girl," in Orange County she said "Take that, Dixie Chicks." She is reported elsewhere to have continued, "How do you think they liked the election?" It's funny because I think of her as being very plain spoken and straightforward, so I'm a little surprised that she modifies her patter based on her audience. Naive of me, I guess.

The other dissappointment was the pre-recorded singing. I noticed it in the first couple songs, and not much after that. It's so commonplace now that I can't really hold it against her. She's certainly got the pipes; it's not like she's Madonna or something. She's 58. Still, I'd rather hear her sing imperfectly than hear recorded vocals.

Disappointments aside, she was fantastic, and I'm so glad I got to go see her.


Sunday, December 05, 2004

better living through psychopharmacology

i was at ross to buy some clothes for my trip east. when i saw a man trailing a woman through the through the store while watching football on a mini portable tv, i knew it was time to head home and watch the game. i'm watching the broncos-chargers game.

saturday i played scrabble with one old person and 6 young people. the visit was part of a caltech program where students visit the nearby retirement home. it was a lot of fun, but seems a little pointless with so few old folks. but i liked the folk we had; she was fun and interesting. i also got to be the embarrassingly obsessive player, the one who knew that fo isn't a word but xi is. i was playing as a team with my roommate anne, so i managed to keep my competitiveness in check.

in the past week, i've come to the conclusion that my series of down moods have been part of a trend. it's such a hard thing to assess: is it just situational, etc. i've been really unmotivated for a while. i had a hard summer, but i attributed it to the house-buying pressure and taking time away from research to teach. other times i've attributed my foul moods to hormones. i think it's time to take an aggressive pharmacological approach to making some improvements.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Lazyweb request: wristwatch phone ringer/buzzer

I wish I had a device that I could wear as a wristwatch that would have a silent buzzer to alert me when my phone rings. There are buzzing watches for deaf and hard of hearing people. It would solve a couple of problems: 1) even if you put your phone on vibrate, it has to be on the right kind of surface to be silent. Even in my backpack it sometimes makes a racket. 2) If i silence my phone for a particular event, I usually forget to return it to its alerting settings. 3) At every group event, someone has forgets to turn off their cell phone. We all do it. With this device, it wouldn't be necessary to ever have the ringer on. With a wrist buzzing device, i could be alerted silently, without anyone else knowing; i could shut it off easily (if a repeated notification was even necessary); and it could be part of my daily outfit. In my perfect world, I imagine it as a kind of patch that I can attach to the back of any watch.

Philip Morris conducted and hid 800 studies on second hand smoke

this makes me mad too. i must be in a cranky mood.

The Philip Morris tobacco company quietly conducted extensive animal research in the 1980s that documented the toxicity of secondhand smoke while arguing publicly that it was safe, according to an analysis, published online last week by The Lancet, of thousands of industry and court documents. In a related move, the University of Geneva (UG) has raised doubts about more than 3 decades of tobacco-smoke studies authored by a retired UG environmental-medicine professor who coordinated research for Philip Morris. His failure to disclose that he was a "secret employee of the tobacco industry," according to a UG faculty commission, tainted his research...

[The] authors...reported finding more than 800 unpublished studies on secondhand smoke completed between 1981 and 1989 at a Philip Morris facility called the Institut für Industrielle und Biologische Forschung (INBIFO) in Cologne, Germany. In one key 1982 study in rats, INBIFO researchers showed that sidestream smoke, which drifts from lit cigarettes, caused severe damage to the nasal epithelium and abnormal cellular alterations called metaplasia sometimes associated with cancer and was up to four times more toxic than the direct smoke sucked from a cigarette. The data were not published.

The Lancet authors maintain that Philip Morris created INBIFO from the start to learn about the effects of tobacco smoke but concealed the work to reduce liability. For example, the authors say, the company situated the lab in Germany instead of the United States, funded it through a Swiss subsidiary, and told few employees about the tobacco-smoke research. The company contracted with Rylander [the UG prof] to serve as an intermediary between INBIFO and Thomas Osdene, a Philip Morris executive responsible for research and development.

Dan Ferber. TOBACCO WARS: Research on Secondhand Smoke Questioned. Science, Vol 306, Issue 5700, 1274 , 19 November 2004

Monday, November 22, 2004

sad/angry/annoyed: shooting hunters

I just read about the 5 hunters who were killed and the three who were injured Sunday in Michigan. Whatever the shooter's motivations were, I can't see how anyone could justify the end of the assault weapons ban. Still, the gun the shooter used, an SKS, would not be covered by the assault weapons ban; it was legally available even when the ban was in effect. It has a fixed 10 bullet magazine, and the speed and force of the trajectory can penetrate the soft armor most police wear (cite, pdf). If hunting is a sport, why does one need a gun with a large clip (that can shoot many bullets without manual reloading)? If one needs a large clip, why not also hand grenades?

Friday, November 19, 2004

Bridge over the Middle fork Snoqualmie

Wow do I love bridges. I saw this picture on flickr. I'm thinking about getting a higher resolution camera. Maybe I should learn to take better pictures first. Any reading suggestions?

Bridge over the Middle fork Snoqualmie
Originally uploaded by Abu.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

My dreams don't mess around with subtlety

I had a dream last night that some friends and I had pulled off a mountain road through a national forest. I had pulled the horse trailer in a small track that looped back to the road so I wouldn't have to turn the trailer around. We were walking around enjoying the cold and the nature. A bunch of Forest Service trucks started pulling up. There were many of them, and they blocked the road so we couldn't get out, so we hung around to see what they were up to. There was a huge electrical power line running nearby, with massive steel power line poles. The Forest Service guys (all men) were erecting a monument to the success the Forest Service had running electricity. The monument was a concrete power line pole, shaped just like the nearby real ones, but made out of concrete and so generally bulkier.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

yeah, i'm last minute like that

i worked on my fellowship application until the deadline today. i've been working steadily on it since friday; before that i already had rough drafts of the essays. the rest of the application was a reasonable amount of online forms to fill out. filling them out was a useful form of procrastination when i was too worn out to work on essays any more. the topics of the essays: proposed research plan, previous research experience, personal statement, and societal benefit. the personal statement was to let them know how you ended up being a scientist, and probably also a way for them to screen applicants who they might be especially excited about, like underrepresented people of color, and in certain fields, women. biology is not a field they feel they need to increase the presence of women in. sorry about these miserable sentences, but i'm not going back to try to clean them up because it feels like torture to do that.

in any case, i started this entry to share part of the receipt they emailed me to confirm my application submission.
Application Received On: Wed Nov 17 20:00:29 EST 2004
for those of you playing along at home, that means my application was 29 seconds late. i'm not remotely worried that it will be a problem. i'm even a little proud.

this is a phenomenally nice fellowship. for three years, they pay your fees plus a $30k annual stipend, and it's a great resume item. last year i was an honorable mention, so i think i'm a strong applicant. there are a few parts of the application i can think of improving, but not many. basically, i think at this point it's a matter of luck. writing the application was very helpful for clarifying my thought process though, and mary gave me a lot of feedback on the essay and my planned dissertation project, so it certainly wasn't time wasted. holly put in a heroic effort to help me. it was really helpful.

ok, now i'm going to do some laundry. clean the house. pay bills. you know the scene.

Friday, November 12, 2004

More from the fair

After being overwhelmed with hick-fabulous schwag, we decided that we had to see some actual animals. Here was our first victim.

From there, Holly and I joined the crowd that was filling the bleachers in front of the upcoming milking machine demonstration. A group of kids in front of us apparently decided it wasn't worth staying and started to file out. One of them, about twelve years old, was resistant and said "I want to watch the frigging cow being milked." He ended up leaving with his friends. It was a kind of urban wholesomeness. This dairy display was near the milking machine demonstration.

On our way out we found out what day it was.

Unfortunately, there were no donkeys in sight. Maybe on donkey day, the donkeys get the day off.

Friday, November 05, 2004

4 more years

inspired by sarah's trip to pennsylvania to rouse voters, i sponsored an event on election day at which people brought cell phones and we all made calls to likely democratic voters. i'm disappointed by the outcome of the election. partly i'm swayed by people's exhortations to work harder for a better outcome, partly i want to move new zealand.

holly's been reminding me to post some pictures of our trip to the LA county fair. that was fun! here are some pix.

Corn good

Corn very good

Did you notice that he's barefoot?

Special hat

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

rats and neuroscience

i had a dream that mac was a rat-sized rat. i was on a bicycle and he was on leash. he was running along with me, keeping up effortlessly. i could hear the clack of his toenails on the ground. i reached down and held him up by the back to see if he would stop running, but he still reached down to the ground and kept running along. i think this dream is stimulated by the conversations i’ve had with people about using rats in experiments. i have a picture of one of kj’s rats on my wall. i don’t think i’d get a rat for myself, but i am fond of them. there’s something i need to do in the near future that would probably make more sense to do with a rat, but i might use multiple mice instead.

i’m at the last day of the society for neuroscience conference. it’s been a great conference, as was the one i attended immediately before it. both were in san diego. i can’t wait to get home and be alone with my dog. so much time with other people profoundly wears me out.

i’m about to transcribe my notes into the computer in an effort to consolidate my memories of the talks. no, of course this isn’t procrastination. i don’t know why you’d say that.

i'm so irritable that i am feeling murderous toward the guy sharing the table with me who bounces the table as he types. i took my laptop off the table and left my notebook that i'm transcribing from on it. now my paper notebook is bouncing around as he types. wow, i really need to spend time alone.

roberta got me the most fantastic birthday present: tickets to see dolly parton. now, no one i know (besides roberta) is a dolly fan, so i'll have to take someone basically against their will. but i love dolly parton! it's a brilliant present, because i would be unlikely to buy tickets for myself. thank you roberta!

Friday, October 01, 2004

what happens when you play a country song backward?

You get your girl back, you get your car back, you get your job back, you get your dog back...
For anyone who has doubts that I've gone into a serious profession, just take a look through the 2004 Ig Nobel awards which were announced last night. The award for medicine was for an article that found that "the greater the airtime devoted to country music, the greater the white suicide rate." Other award gems were for patenting the comb-over, examination of the scientific validity of the 5 second rule about eating food that's fallen on the floor, a physics investigation into the dynamics of hula hooping, and the vatican for outsourcing prayers to india. The prize in biology was awarded for work on herrings communicating by farting. Which brings me back to the original topic of potty humor. Now that I've enriched your day, I'll be getting going.

potty humor

From a patient information leaflet:
YOU MAY NOTICE THE TABLET SHELL in your stool. This is harmless. This is only an empty shell. Your body has already absorbed the medicine.
This slayed me. Especially the caps.

In other news, I'm back from my trip. I hired someone to paint the guest bedroom and he did a great job, prepping 4 peeling doorways and repainting them as well as the entire bathroom. Mac was extraordinarily well cared for by all involved. I cleaned the apartment last night in a flurry before a roommate interviewee came over. She seems promising. It's nice to have the place clean. I feel so much better when I do things. I'm not sure it doesn't work the other way though: when I feel better, I can do things. In any case, I did something last night and I felt good about it. It's nice to be in a clean place. Now if only my bedroom were as clean and organized.

I listened to almost the entire presidential debate last night, a first for me. I typically get impatient listening to politicians and stop listening. It seems like they're rarely saying what they mean. I thought last night's debate was pretty good.

Ok, time to go to work.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

there's a new sheriff in town

"Hey, did you see that CXT truck made by International. Biggest pickup/SUV ever made! Dwarfs the Hummer. A beauty. Hey I always loved the Scout. International Scout II is my baby. Where can I buy one of those? Loved it. Company says it's NOT putting those back in production. Too bad." -fortune mag

"The bad news is that this truck is unlikely to have the square bolts that so many grew to love about the old 50's Internationals. That is, of course, if you measure love by the curse words thrown at them...It looks more like a rig than a truck. It carries six tons, tows twenty and is nine feet tall. Yes, it is all wheel drive. International has entered if not jumped ahead of the SUV highway arms race." -some mag i never heard of

I find this especially interesting given the news that many SUVs are actually illegal on residential streets in many California cities. The SUVs include Chevy Suburban and Tahoe, the Range Rover, the GMC Yukon, the Toyota Land Cruiser and Sequoia, the Lincoln Navigator, the Mercedes M Class, the Porsche Cayenne S, the Hummer and the Dodge Ram 1500 pickup (with optional Hemi), per http://slate.msn.com/id/2104755/.

On a different note, I'm leaving going East for a week. Mac will be in the good hands of my lab mate and her husband. I'm looking forward to taking time off work, although I feel perpetually behind. I've been looking at a book called Getting Things Done. I think my system for tracking things I need to do is pretty good; I'm just not good at doing the things. Maybe I need to be more brutal about not doing things I don't like to do. I usually have energy for things I'm excited about. I was thinking this morning about how both my parents seem to be people who have energy to get enormous things done. I feel like I generally have little energy.

Monday, September 06, 2004

tv makes you think

kj and i passed a poster for a tv show today while we were driving to the ice cream store. i mentioned that, like the name of the show, my grandparents' names were jack and bobby.

kj: the premise of the show is interesting - what are tomorrow's future leaders doing today.
me: i've been reading a little bit of the clinton biography. the stuff he did as a kid was amazing. he went to regular summer camps and special leadership ones that involved real world-type coalition building and such. if you met him when he was 14, you would have thought, this kid is going to do something.
kj: and if you met george bush at 14?
me: even if you met him now...
kj: you'd never guess he was the leader of the free world.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

1 H3art Junk Ma!l

harriet got me started on this project, writing a poem using entire subject lines of spam mail. here are her rules:

the only rule is that each line must be an actual spam subject heading in its entirety. repetition of the whole subject is permitted. [...]punctuation may be added for clarity (or what passes for clarity).

i get very little of the kind of spam that generates serendipitously lovely word combinations, so mine is many times over more pedestrian than harriet's.

lol, u just have a little little bro shanty bargepole

sorry you didn't make it.
u still angry me?
holdout, jive somnolent.
read about this
moravia. intensify pessimal raman
from mr. eli mast.

can you come check me out,
look at this
ecclesiastic dodecahedron?

see this

who cares?

look at this.

who cares?

[all sic]. i'll also share two of my favorite junk mail subject lines ever. the first is "viagra, it's for more than just sex." ok, what's it for exactly? increasing one's blood pressure? i would imagine marketing something directly connected to sex is pretty much the apex of the advertising job. sex is what everything else gets compared to. you're already there folks! you've already got the best tie in! i think they're only using this construction mindlessly (see entry below about what a tiresome person i can be, i mean about the inaccurate use of the word 'literally').

the other of my favorites is "go on a blind date with over 100,000 singles!" i think i've raved about this one online before. what could be a worse curse than to go on 100,000 dates, even if they weren't simultaneous? if i went on a date every day, it would take me 273 years to go on that many dates. if i lived to be a hundred years old, i'd still have to go over 4 dates per day to make it to 100,000 dates. socializing twice a week is enough to put a strain for me.

i went to gary and isabel's for a birthday dinner for gary, with kj coming as a surprise. it was lovely. i got to meet kj's squeeze too. i'm still feeling well. yay! gary and isabel have done many nice things to their townhome, and i'm feeling encouraged to do the same. first i must do some painting! that's next on my list.

Friday, September 03, 2004

homeowner needs

although i want to buy some tools for my house, this excavator is not one of them. make sure you notice the size of the cars and people right next to the machine. the scale is enormous.

i've been a bit blue lately, lonely. i think some of it is delayed/repressed frustration with the homebuying process, how hard it was and how most people do it with someone else. i have been intensely cheap since this process started, refusing to buy something at a price that i would be willing to pay if the seller weren't making so much profit. i think it's because i feel like i got such a raw deal in the homeowner process. i'm happy with the price i paid for my place, and i think it's a great home and a great investment. still, i feel that in many small ways i was undermined and misled. as a result i am especially mistrustful.

roberta and holly have separately informed me that i'm cheap (in a very supportive way, so much so that i know they must be quite serious). i know that i was raised by wolves and sometimes don't know how to provide myself with the necessities of life. i've gotten better over time. in college, julia told me about someone who wouldn't buy herself menstrual products. this kind of help is appreciated. holly and roberta convinced me that it's ok to buy a new refrigerator, that it's ok to buy a lamp, and gave me lots of other advice. i know i'm still cheap by their lights. at the same time as i try not to live like a depression baby, i'm proud of being thrifty. i do wildly detailed and extensive research before buying any product. i don't have a drawer full of string though.

today ended up being a nice day in spite of starting off blue like the last few days have been. i had a nice lunch with people from the lab. i learned a practical skill in the lab. i invited some people to go away for some unspecified future weekend, and they were excited. i interviewed two good roommate candidates. kj's coming tomorrow and we're going to a great dinner party tomorrow night. right now, things feel not so bad.

Monday, August 30, 2004

literally, an entry

i watched a lot of the prime time coverage of the olympics. one of my pet peeves was aired. one of the announcers, the guy who announced the diving, was talking about how strong the chinese fan presence was at the diving competition. he pointed out that you could see many red flags behind the platform. he said, imagine what it will look like in beijing olympics. "a sea, literally a sea, of red."

people have taken to using the world "literally" as some kind of generic word of emphasis. it makes me want to become a grammarian. i gaffe a lot, especially here, but it astounds me that people (professional announcers) don't know what they're saying.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

olympic remodeling

today i changed a deadbolt lock for the first time. hurray. i made some progress with the house (by which i mean home/apartment/place) in general. who knew putting in drawer linings could be so rewarding? and i love my new vacuum cleaner. i bought home improvement for dummies. witness the new leaf.

i turned on the tv today for the first time since i moved. i love watching the olympics. there’s cable reception here even though i didn’t ask for it to be turned on, so i get a good picture. without the cable, there's no picture at all.

it reminds me of when galen and i got fancy cable at my place during the 2002 olympics. he brought over his old tv. we set them side by side, tuned them to different events, and gorged ourselves on olympic goodness. i’m not sure what it is about the olympics that is so appealing. i really like hearing the stories of the athletes, although it’s kind of disappointing to hear so little about non-americans. it’s cool that they put olive wreaths on the medalists. the cycle road race event today was really cool – an unknown, sergio paulinho, came in second.

i’ve rearranged my bedroom so that there’s a desk area. now i’m looking for a screen to keep it out of view.

i took mac to the vet today to look at a sore on his nose and a lump on his chest. the lump turned out to be a harmless fatty tumor, and the vet wasn’t worried about the sore. so it’s good. he’s taken to the walk-in closet. it’s his den, his lair. it’s pretty cute. i send him there when he barks out the window, and he retreats there on his own. friday holly and i came to my place for lunch. it’s great seeing mac more often.

hiroyuki tomita, a male japanese gymnast, has funny hair. aren’t you glad you read this entry?

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Los Angeles, more alien than Mars

I guess one of the things I find odd about this is that they didn't know how to rotate the picture, so it looks like the rack is on its side. But what I find the most odd is this: "won on the Price is Right."
Brand New Wrought Iron Bakers Rack with wine rack - won on the Price is Right. 6ft x2Ft wide. Free delivery in Los Angeles or Orange County Area

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Pessimism, the other white meat

Don't get me wrong, I'm ecscatic about my new place. Still, there've been some hiccups. Sorry about my long gap of no blogging. Mac's birthday is Tuesday (and Dad's too); I'm having people over. I'm also corresponding with a few people about being my roommate. I'll be showing the place in the next few days, boxes and all.

hi gia -

i moved in on saturday. the key pickup went perfectly smoothly - thank you. unfortunately, there are still a few things that need to be worked out. will you do me the favor of sharing this with george? thank you.

there's stuff that was left behind here by the sellers that i assume is garbage, stuff like a half-filled peanut butter jar, a half-filled syrup bottle, garbage can lid, etc. i'm not especially happy about that or the inch-thick cat hair and crusty cat vomit on the carpet, but when those were the only things i'd seen, i wasn't planning on bringing it up with the sellers.

that changed. i have come across a few issues that need to be addressed. these are: the missing refrigerator, a missing garage remote, and stacks of bricks and paint cans on the porch. i'm not willing to dispose of 30 bricks and 5 cans of paint. it's my understanding that the air conditioners were also supposed to stay, but i don't really care about those. this was my understanding because the escrow agreement has added, not boilerplate, language that says that the sale includes "any and all appliances." i'm working without a refrigerator, and two coolers of frozen fish and meat have gone bad. this is an expensive inconvenience.

the drains were not fixed, they're still really slow. i thought they were going to fix them and some other thing that was brought up in the pest report. what happened with that?

to resolve these problems, i propose that the sellers pay to have the carpets professionally cleaned, either give me the fridge that was here before (which i saw - i don't want some other old fridge) or reimburse me for a new one, bring by the missing remote, and haul away the bricks and paint.

i imagine that it sounds like i'm picking out every little thing, but there's a fair amount of stuff that i'm omitting from this message. i know moving is a hectic thing and we don't necessarily get to accomplish all the things on our moving list, but these problems are outside normal inconvenience. these issues would have come to light when i had more bargaining power been if the walk-through happened after the sellers had moved out, which makes me feel a bit taken advantage of, especially given that i didn't charge them for staying those extra days.

can you drop me a line monday to give me an update?


p.s. there are also some things here that the sellers might want: two drawers in the built-in dressers in the walk-in closet, 4 large canisters of powdered baby formula, a large box of sweet 'n low packets and some cans of liquid baby formula.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

A new meaning to "elective surgery"

3 Accused of $97-Million Rent-a-Patient Scheme...Authorities say that more than 5,000 people, from August 2002 to April 2003, were taken to the Unity Outpatient Surgery Center, where they underwent procedures they didn't need, including colonoscopies and surgeries for hemorrhoids, pain management and sweaty palms.
Blogger's spellecheck wanted to replace 'colonoscopies' with 'salonkeepers.'

p.s. The self-loathing episode has passed. Phew.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

What computer pros listen to, by job type

developers are headbangers, microsoft certified pros are britney fans, and management goes for mozart. linux users tend toward electronica, and security goes for the dead.
via slashdot.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

lightening up with black humor

i was watching "i love the 90's" last night, a show that recaps the pop culture events of a particular year. the year in question was 1997, the year in which 39 members of the heaven's gate cult killed themselves in an attempt to rendez-vous with the spaceship they believed was trailing the Hale Bopp comet. all the cult members were dressed alike when they were found, including identical pairs of black nike sneakers. trey parker was commenting on this on the tv show. trey parker is the co creator and everything-er of South Park. i met someone who was a friend of his in high school who told me that trey had been my neighbor when i lived on brook forest road in evergreen colorado as a kid. so i was predisposed to like him. but his comment about heaven's gate slayed me: "what's tragic about that? dying in the hospital with tubes sticking out of you? that's tragic. go out in sneaks thinking you're going up in a spaceship? genius."

2 days, 18 hours and 22 minutes of self loathing

thursday i had class in the morning and the end of program banquet in the evening. i went home in the afternoon to buy dog food. i napped at home and woke up 20 minutes before i had to leave. i fed mac, did a few things around the house, and then left for school at around 5:40pm. i was headed east with rush hour traffic. i merged with slow traffic, which gradually sped up. i could see the traffic in my lane up ahead a little bit through the windows of the suburban in front of me. i watched the faster lane to my left in my mirror. when it looked plausible, i turned to see how fast traffic was approaching. it looked ok, so i sped up as i was turning forward and i hit the car in front of me hard. i'm guessing i was going 15 miles an hour and he was going about 5. the guy was really nice, although we were both shook up. my neck has been sore, but it feels much better today. i have a bruise the size of an orange on my leg. his bumper and back doors (it's the kind of suburban with two side-by-side barn doors in the back) are damaged. we've handed it off to insurance.

i feel like a complete idiot. when i rear-ended the little toyota (in february or march i think), the problem was a combination of impatient driving in heavy traffic and my miscalculation of scout's stopping distance. i was almost stopped by the time i hit the toyota. i felt like an idiot, but i could see what happened. here, i have no idea besides bad judgment. in hindsight, i should have just stayed in the lane i was in. i generally don't like to do that because there's lots of merging in and out of that lane because of the closely spaced exits through glendale. it's not one of the terrible highway areas that i am especially vigilant about on my regular drive - i don't usually drive that direction in rush hour. i'm immeasurably grateful that the other driver and i weren't hurt worse than we were (he said his neck was sore too) and that i'm moving across the street from school. did the stress of buying a home, firing my realtor, and teaching contribute? did the fact that i had a meltdown earlier that day about how disappointed i was about how the yess program was organized contribute? sure, but everyone has bad days and times of high stress. i really don't know what to do to address this. these are the only two traffic accidents i've caused in my life, and they are 5 months or less apart and they happened within 1/2 mile of each other, on opposite sides of the highway. they're both rear-end collisions while changing lanes. should i take a defensive driving course? in this case i don't think the collision would have been avoided if i wasn't in scout. scout was undamaged. i think if i had had a better seat belt i wouldn't have slid forward and banged up my leg. it's my experience that factory installed seat-belts keep you tightly in your seat. in this case i think the lap belt was a little high. also, it might have helped to have a higher headrest.

holly humorously suggests that the data supports my keeping scout. if i'm going to keep rear ending people, she says, at least only one car is being damaged in the process.

i'm really annoyed at myself, and it shows up in my dreams. the morning after the collision, i dreamed that i had a car that i couldn't control, and it rolled into people. i dreamed that in two separate dreams. this morning i had a dream that some guy (a stranger) didn't like my haircut. it's too long for you, can't you tell that? he said.

roberta suggested that i schedule a time for getting out all my annoyance with myself. not only was i not successful in postponing the onset of the annoyance, but i seem unable to shut it off. i guess it will pass in time. teaching is over, so maybe i'll start to feel less stressed. escrow closes next monday. i'm worried that everything won't be ready. ok, maybe stress won't decrease any time soon.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

My realtor, Lu Gordon

I realized that she reminds me of the fairy godmother in Shrek.

We thought you'd be interested because...

Roberta went to the Amazon site the other day. Here's what she read:
My Life was released today; We thought you'd be interested because you bought Tearoom Trade: Impersonal Sex in Public Places. An exhaustive, soul-searching memoir, Bill Clinton's My Life is a refreshingly candid look at the former president as a son, brother, teacher, father, husband, and public figure....
Tearoom Trade is a commonly assigned sociology classic about fieldwork on the phenomenon of men who have sex with men but mostly live lives of married heterosexuals, which is interesting enough. But what connects it to My Life? Impersonal Sex in Public Office? If it was a goal of Amazon to titillate or provoke, I think they succeeded.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Zuma Beach and Spiderman 2

sunday jason and i went to zuma beach. i had a crappy morning before that - holly and i had taken the dogs to the park and her kouzo attacked mac. i think beast is physically ok, since i couldn't find any cuts or anything on him. he was stressed and nervous. poor baby. then i went home and felt too exhausted to plan a beach day, especially if it was going to be crowded and traffic would be bad. i lay on the couch and felt sorry for myself. i had been playing phone tag with my realtor, planning to fire her when i talked to her. the suspense was killing me, and i was unhappy already, so i called her again. the conversation went as well as it could have from my end. we agreed that her manager would handle the rest of the sale. i called roberta, for the 40th time that weekend, and she commiserated. i started feeling better. jason and i made plans to go to the beach.

glendale was hot, but by the time we got to santa monica, it was overcast and cool. we went past malibu to zuma beach, and the weather was perfect. when we got there we went for the parking lot, but then decided to get some deli sandwiches. when we got back to the parking lot, it was closed. we crawled along a small road with a million other cars. we passed a very small space which the jason's subcompact car surprisingly fit in. so we parked right next to the beach for free. we laid around eating for a while, then put all the stuff in the car and went for a walk. around 5, we headed back into the city and went to see spiderman 2. we went to the vista theater, which is awesome. i didn't like the movie hardly at all though. it was heavy handed and slow. j.k. simmons stole the movie as the owner of the bugle.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

congrats to sam

when i was doing a rotation in richard andersen's lab at caltech, i was working with sam musallam. he published an article in science this week (subscription only, sorry), which he mentioned would also be covered in the wall street journal. but most importantly, it was mentioned on metafilter! here's an article in new scientist that's publicly available. sam's going to be looking for a job soon, and i think this will be great (flash) for him.

useful, hopefully

i have had a couple extra gmail invitations for a while. i heard about gmail4troops.com, which connects people with invites to military folks who want accounts. after i registered with them, i didn't hear anything for a while. yesterday i got two requests, and now i've sent off the invitations. the activity might be due to this article in the stars and stripes.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Homeowners Association Minutes

I'm reviewing the minutes from the past year's meetings. Here's my favorite entry:
Extracted over 100lbs of honey from outer stairwell - area was infested with swarms of bees.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Can you hear me now?

As were others, I was amused when Maria Sharapova couldn't get the cell phone to work when she tried to call her mom by cell phone immediately after winning Wimbledon. I'm waiting to hear who the provider is. It's crying out for a television commercial: Sharapova standing in the middle of the court on the phone, saying "Hi mom. I can hear you fine now. I switched to [brand]."

Geek Chic

on our hike, jason has been explaining that by studying math in college that he didn't get ahead in the way that one would be studying physics, but he didn't fall behind by studying biology.

me: this is the rating system in the weird geek-chic world?
jason: there's no need to preface that with "weird."
me: you're right, it's redundant.
jason: that's not what i mean.

format after mightygirl.

To do: Buy house

This is a reminder I scheduled in April. I'm so happy about the progress I've made and hopeful that completion is near.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Climbing Mt. Wilson

Jason and I hiked from Sierra Madre to Mt. Wilson today. I took this picture from near the top. We came didn't come up via the valley pictured, but a similar valley to its left. The hike was 7 3/4 miles, with a 4100 foot elevation gain. It was great and exhausting. I stopped a million times. The first hour and a half was hot and steep, with little shade and a fair number of people. The rest was varyingly steep, but often pretty, shaded and wooded. I had blisters on both heels, but they weren't too painful. I'll have to wear open-backed sandals for a few days. It took us 4 hours and 45 minutes. I sweated profusely and drank about 2 liters of water. My clothes and backpack are covered with salt from my sweat. It was sunny and in the low 80s.

Every day I see Mt. Wilson from campus. It looks huge and impossible tall and far away. Believing it was climbable was mentally challenging. I'm usually not one to do something because it's there, as if the presence of a challenge is inherently motivating, but in this case I was.

Before the hike we spend about an hour and a half shuttling a car to the top and then coming back down to the bottom. We agreed that this is onerous. Also, I generally don't like hiking on the Los Angeles side of the mountains, because the smog impairs my breathing and is ugly. Also, the view (at least for the first while) is the city. There were many reasons we didn't want to repeat this hike. Now we won't have to.

The hike is similar to the below link. It has a different starting place and travels mostly on footpaths, not roads. The views and flora are much the same.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

A fool's audience is soon amused

The below quote seems to have been written by a young white guy. Between his use of the term "pansy" and his assertion that he is a "red-blooded, masculine man of the male gender," we note that he seems a bit defensive. Nevertheless, we (lest you think I'm using the royal we, be assured that I mean my condo-approved (yes! It's true!) dog and I) are amused and impressed and may even contribute to the inevitable burn reconstruction fund.
Like any red-blooded, masculine man of the male gender, I love PVC weaponry. You should too. If the concept of heading on down to the local Home Depot and transforming $100 worth of random pipe bits into a killing machine doesn't appeal to you, you're a goddamn pansy. Also, you're probably sane and will live significantly longer than I will. Nonetheless you disgust me, and I take comfort in the knowledge that your obituary will be nowhere near as humorous as mine. For those of you who laugh in the face of hypersonic shards of plastic puncturing your spleen, here’s an intimate look at how I've kept myself busy for the past week: building a PVC flamethrower.

Friday, July 02, 2004

renaissance gastrulation

after a rough night, i stayed home today. i've decided that vomiting is like the body trying to undo gastrulation. gastrulation is the process by which a spherical embryo develops a tube which becomes the gastrointestinal tract. i'm not sure if it was stress or food, but there is some food i'll never eat again. being sick in that way is so unpleasant. i could never be bulimic. bad dog makes it look not so terrible. maybe he just doesn't feel sorry for himself the way i do.

mary carillo was talking about maria sharapova saying that she (maria) was a renaissance woman. with an implied preface of "i mean really," mary said, "she's 17 and she plays tennis and models."

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Dog? What dog?

i had a hellish day today on the real estate front. i went to the apartment for the inspection. it turns out that the sellers didn't know that my moving in was contingent on mac being welcome. it also was revealed that the by-laws limit dogs in the condo to one dog under 25 lb per condo. the by-laws also forbid children under 14 (of which there are many in the complex). the realtors had a fight over who had dropped the ball. luckily the sellers are smart and competent people and we negotiated directly. they found the vice president of the homeowners' association who has two dogs and another member of the HOA who has a large dog. i might not get the assurance in writing, but if i talk with these two and feel reassured, that will be enough for me.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Financing and Teaching

i'm in mortgage limbo. i feel pretty knowledgeable, and i'm in a good negotiating position, so i'm optimistic. mortgage folks prefer to do business over the phone so they can work their charming ways on me. i try to redirect them through e-mail so that i can evaluate their offers objectively. tomorrow is the inspection on the apartment. i'm excited about it.

the teaching is going great. the students are great. the teaching is exhausting, but i'm learning a lot and enjoying the work. it's disheartening how the girls tend to see biology as easier than physics. they say things like, 'i really enjoy biology, but i don't understand physics very easily.' i think that if they're going to try to avoid things they can't understand easily, they should avoid biology too. actually, i think that they can understand physics, and complex biology too, they just need persistence and confidence.

i feel like i have little to say because i'm so caught up in what's going on around me. i've been desperate for sleep. i've been napping in the afternoons. i think i may be back on top of it soon.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

shopping cart races

the costco in burbank has a long parking area that gently slopes downhill. on our weekly trips there, HC and i usually ride the cart from the store back to the car. the costco carts are large and heavy in themselves. with our typical cargo of water and dog food, they have great momentum. we have a variety of strategies. sometimes one of us will ride on the cart, and the other one will push and, to whatever extent possible, steer. the other day we had two carts. since HC is lighter than i am, i gave her the heavy cart and we raced to the car, running, hopping on the cart, and hopping off again to correct the steering and push some more. today we made a quick trip and only had one cart. we were both riding the same cart. between the laughing, shouting and cart ruckus, mac generally knows we're coming well in advance of our arrival at the car. HC concluded that the trip to costco is really all about the cart. it's definitely a reward.

i looked around the web for other people's shopping cart adventures, but the prevalence of the term "shopping cart" on ecommerce sites mucks up the search. still, i didn't find anyone who seems to have picked up on the excellent combination of environmental factors that costco offers. i did find these guys though. our carts did not flame. maybe next time.

my offer on the condo was accepted. i'm in escrow. i was really high strung the first two days, but i'm feeling a little calmer now. i'm downplaying it here because i'm trying to not freak out about it.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Vox Populi - Seen at Caltech

Car 1: Acura sports car. License plate: (decoded) metalhead2. Bumper sticker: "Re-elect Bush. We've waited for armageddon long enough."
Car 2: Honda Element with a dog crate in the back. Bumper sticker: "My border collie is smarter than your honor student."

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Credit Joy

I may make a bid on a condo! In preparing for this, I was talking with a mortgage person who commented that I had 'great' credit! Honestly, on some level I don't think this is a great achievement, since I have had money to fall back on when I came up short. On the other hand, I'm pleased with how many years I've made it through school without decimating my savings. Also, my worst financial characteristic is probably the tendency to forget to pay bills. The fact that I've simply paid my bills on time for long enough to have great credit is worth celebrating. I used to have miserable credit, due to my dealings with whats-her-name, and I have overcome that. Hooray!

My neighbor

As much as I like it when Maria brings her grandsons to give Mac treats, she makes me a little wary. She's just unpredictable and kind of brittle-seeming. I ran into a neighborhood guy on the street today. He's retarded and pretty friendly. I asked how he was, and he told me about going to a Shania Twain concert. After that conversation, I mulled over the idea that he might be my favorite person in the neighborhood. It occurs to me that he doesn't get to have as much conversation with people as he might like. Usually I avoid people who don't take cues about when you need to end a conversation, but this guy reads the cues perfectly. In this neighborhood, he's a gem. If you're looking for him, he's the one in the Shania Twain t-shirt.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Template and e-bay woes

Howdy all. I'm still working on a better template layout, so please be patient. I worked from home today, making good progress on the Phantom Limb lecture as well as the website I'm developing. I just picked up the mail and received some pants HC and I bought for her using my account on e-bay. Here's my note to the seller:

Hello - I received this item today. I'm disappointed because I don't feel that the rips were accurately described. You said, "Note these have been altered, a slit was cut up the sides for more fashion appeal." The slits were not cut, they were ripped. They are not on the seam; they are not symmetrical; they are ragged. I don't think 'fashion appeal' is a reasonable description of the rips. Additionally, the pants smell. I can't identify the smell, but it gave me a headache right away. Thanks in advance for your response."

Argh. In other news, I'm looking at an apartment tomorrow. Happy day to all!

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

All Hail Mimi Smartypants

Mimi Smartypants rocks the house. My favorite quote of today: "It is kind of creepy when the patriarchy works in your favor like that."

Monday, June 21, 2004


Holly is channeling the dinosaur mounted above the headlight. Maybe.

spell check woes

i've been flitting around different email programs. outlook is too slow. my outlook express went kludgy on me. eudora was cumbersome. i'm using thunderbird right now, and i'm pretty fond of it. i had an adaptation problem though: the keyboard shortcuts for the spell checker are different than the ones i'm used to. consequently, i've used Alt-A thinking it would _A_dd the word in question. Alt-A in thunderbird is Replace All. so "Claire" went out as "Ilaire", and "i'm" as "h'm". Alt-A is hardwired into my brain and it's a key combination that one can execute without much hand movement, so i still don't intercept the erroneous command consistently.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Big Mouth Dog

When I came home from hiking today, Mac, who usually picks up a shoe or a toy to greet me with, picked up two of my shoes. This was the best picture I could get of it.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Flash mob

about a week ago i noticed a young guy playing with a pit bull in the yard of the suspicious house across the street from me. it's suspicious because they have a huge solid metal gate in their driveway, no one person seems to consistently live there, and there are constantly different flashy cars in the driveway. i am curious about this house, but HC is consumed with curiosity about it. most of the people who come and go look armenian (in this neighborhood, in another neighborhood they might be italian or russian) and are usually fairly presentable in terms of clothes and behavior. the two giant meat-heads in white tank undershirts who were sitting on the porch one day were exceptional in that way. this guy and his dog are exceptional too. the guy, about 20, is sporting all kinds of street tough clothes and attitude, and i'm pretty sure the dog's ears have been cut back (which is done either for fighting, so other dogs can't grab them by the ear, of for the appearance of a tough dog). the guy is the only person i've ever seen around the house at night. the folks from this house stand out not only because their actions are different from any other house i see, but also because they seem so furtive. i've never seen the gate open, and there doesn't seem to be enough material coming in or out for them to be manufacturing drugs (with meth houses being the most common residential crime-house thing around here). there might be an invalid in the house, but the level activity seems higher and more purposeful than i would expect even of the household of a much-visited invalid. the house might be some kind of meeting place, but i the comings and goings don't seem regular or (usually) coordinated. suppositions welcome.

Friday, June 18, 2004


Beast, Holly, her woof Kozo and I went for a walk/jog today in Griffith park. I think Beast's feet are totally healed now. Here are pix from his convalesence.

Frog problems; man problems; a condo is seen

It seems that the mutant frog problem never really got cleared up.

There are two lily ponds near the building my lab is in. I haven't seen any young frogs in them since
my last frog entry
. Where do the adult frogs come from?

Yesterday I had a series of bizarre interactions with men. The first one happened when I was walking Mac. I walked by the house with the flowers Mac crashed through. I heard a greeting from the man I often see outside the house, but I didn't see him. Finally I realized he was sitting in his car in the driveway. I stopped and walked toward him, apologizing and asking if he got the note I left. He said, "I love you, baby." I stopped and said, "OK, thanks." He said, "the flowers are already growing back. I love you, baby." I said something innocuous and left. (Does one capitalize the first letter of a quoted sentence, as in "He said, 'The flowers …'" or not? Please leave a comment.)

The second bizarre interaction was with Abraham, the mechanic. He was telling me about his daughter, who sounds great. He was saying that he encourages her to go to graduate school and become an accomplished woman before she considers settling down. I loved his logic. He said, 'and then I said to her, when you are a successful lawyer and you own your own house and you pay your own way, you will know that a man who is interested in you is not looking for someone weak, for someone who will be dependent on him.' The odd part was when he was telling me about a boyfriend she had. They were together 2 years. According to Abraham, she told him she wouldn't have sex, and he broke up with her. He looked me in the eye and said, "if I loved someone, if I had waited two years and she wasn't ready, I would wait. I would want it to be her choice."

The third and extremely odd interaction was with the apartment manager, Ramone. He was turning onto Wilson from northbound Pacific and I was turning from southbound Pacific. I was in front of him once we turned on to Wilson. I walked by his parking spot on the way into the building. I said that I hadn't recognized him until he passed, I had recognized him in the rear view mirror after I had turned into the first driveway into the complex. Ramone said, 'Me too. I didn't recognize you until I saw you from the back. [pause, followed by an amused and slightly suggestive tone] I recognized you from the back! But weren't you wearing a red handkerchief?' We talked a little about my hat and parted ways. I was honestly surprised that he would make any kind of joke like that; he's always seemed to be a really respectful and polite guy.

Yesterday Holly and I walked to a nearby condo on the market. I wanted to take a closer look at the complex. When we got there, we saw that there was an open house. I was reluctant to buzz them, but Holly insisted, for which I am grateful. I attribute my reluctance to my general aversion to meeting people.

The apartment was huge. There were essentially two suites, each with a bedroom, hall and bathroom, all of which were separated from the main space by a doorway. The master suite had a lovely walk in closet. The apartment's character was typical Southern California Apartment Building Bland. The kitchen had ugly cabinets, there was ugly paint on one wall and ugly wallpaper on another. One wall was fake-wood paneled, which I hate, and it had popcorn ceilings. It was on the ground floor, and its fenced in patio was contiguous with the walkway between it and the next building. The interior hallway to the apartment was really dark and depressing. The front door of the apartment was a very odd and ugly double door, the kind where one side is usually stationary. The apartment was clean though, and aside from two walls, the paint was white and fairly fresh. Holly's analysis: she thought it was very utilitarian and would be great to rent to a roommate and easy to rent out (if necessary) after I leave.

The apartment seemed dark to me. I have fewer windows at home, but there's nothing between my apartment and the sky, so I get lots of light in. The building across the walkway from yesterday's apartment blocked direct light.

I haven't gotten enough of a sense of what's available to compromise on a place like that. The complex seems nice and it's right across the street from school. I've seen a few listings in that building, so hopefully more will be listed. I think a different apartment in that complex might suit me better, especially if it's not on the ground floor.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Least Publishable Unit (LPU)

I've come across an interesting phenomenon today. Two of the journal articles I wanted to see were not available through Caltech's library or online subscriptions. I could request the articles through the library for a fee. I don't have a sense of how good they are, but one of them sounds really interesting. This count of two doesn't include the several articles that are not translated into english. Caltech doesn't have the breadth library holdings of a giant university like UCLA, but still, it's well funded enough that we have good online access. These articles and the journals they are in are obscure. I've done a detailed reading of research in lousy journals and found some terrible stuff. I don't specifically remember finding good stuff, but it must be there. As you can see from my interest in obtaining these articles, I haven't given up on obscurely published work yet. Here are two schools of thought about poor quality research (from http://www.lib.lsu.edu/collserv/lrts/ST13.html):

MIT biology professor Richard Young was quoted as doubting whether the scientific enterprise would suffer if the bottom 80% of the literature would just vanish (Hamilton 1990).

Seglen (1992) was perhaps correct when he ascribed the skewed pattern of citations to the operation of a basic probability distribution. He theorized that the skewness implies that there will always be a large fraction of uncited articles that will be impossible to eliminate for statistical reasons. The zero [citation] class is probably a necessary part of the cost of doing science and technology

What is computational biology?

i highly recommend this article by arthur lander. it's a very nice discussion of computational biology and its potential uses. PLOS is a journal publishing group that's somewhat related to the open source software movement and creative commons.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Griffith Park

These pictures are from today's hike. I hadn't been this way before. I'm pleased with the new places I'm finding in Griffith Park. I was surprised to see the hill of pine (?) trees.

Golf ball injuries

driving by the golf course on the way to hike in griffith park this morning, i noticed how busy the links were and wondered how many people get whomped by a full speed ball and what the resulting injuries are like. some people are especially unlucky and die immediately, it turns out from articles on pub med. others have injuries more like what you'd expect: note the "acute extradural haematoma" in A. B is the same patient 5 days later, C is the fracture, D is 4 years after injury.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Mistakes were made

i miss the tard blog (link courtesy of the way back machine). i read the whole thing a few months ago, but it seems like the good material is all pretty old. the stories are realistic and cynical and heartbreaking and hilarious. and in that vein, i offer you a special tard entry here: i was looking at my data, wondering why i didn't have a particular subset of it. i'm looking at recordings of electrical activity in monkey brains. the recordings were made while the monkeys reached in various directions and other variables were changed as well. for one of the changes, i only had data for reaches in some of the directions. my first thought was that those experiments hadn't been done. after some searching, it turned out to be the simplest possible error on my part - i hadn't moved the data with those codes into my working dataset. lovely. as i write it out, i see that my description doesn't convey the headsmack-deserving idiocy involved.

in other news, holly c had a nightmare health care experience today. she's stressed but physically fine. it reminds me how important it is to explicitly ask your doctor how many times she/he has performed this exact procedure before. often doctors who are not regularly in teaching hospitals (and maybe some who are?) may only observe a new procedure before trying it; they may not have the chance or make the opportunity to try it first while supervised by someone experienced. someone has to be the first, but it should be an informed decision.

thanks to billmon for this item, paraphrased here (except the quotes which were lifted directly): Mary L. Walker is the leader of the team that authored of the torture memo that's been getting press recently. In an interview, she said "Making moral decisions in the workplace where it is easy to go along and get along takes courage. It takes moral strength and courage to say, 'I'm not going to do this because I don't think it's the right thing to do.' " In the report, she wrote, "Officials could escape torture convictions by arguing that they were following superior orders, since such orders 'may be inferred to be lawful' and are 'disobeyed at the peril of the subordinate.'"

I saw Saved! last night, and it was wonderful. A strong recommend. As art, it was pretty good. The acting was great. The ending and exposition were a little too emphatic. Still, it was very enjoyable.

Obviously, I'm not that kind of biologist

I saw little frogs in the lily pond for the first time. I guess it's that time of year. Or maybe I saw them before they're eaten by the starving graduate students.

SoCal Signage

I love the signs in Southern California. I think they're so prominent and so interesting looking due to the historical importance of cars and driving in Los Angeles. But that's just a theory.

DIY tour guide

there's an article in the nytimes about san francisco tour-guiding carts that use a GPS and pre-recorded audio clips to guide you around landmarks and tell you about them. i like the idea. it appeals to the side of me that sometimes prefers not to deal with people and likes to run on my own schedule. i think i'd also want more control over when the thing talked. if i were going to visit an unfamiliar city, i think i'd try it.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Gas Leak

for those of you who don't live nearby, i include an e-mail i sent out to local friends.

howdy all -

i have a dilemma. i apparently have a leak in my gas tank, and i need to get rid of most of the gas before they can work on the tank. it's almost full, so i've got about 30 gallons of gas to get rid of. my car is sitting in the north parking garage at school.

so, if you need any 87 (cheap) gas (or even just can fit some in your tank and want to do me a favor), let me know. i'd like to get rid of the gas thursday. my schedule's pretty open. just let me know and i'll siphon some gas into your tank.



Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Deciphering Los Angeles

there are a few telltale signs of decay in my neighborhood. one of them is what mike christened 'the air conditioner graveyard' under the stairs to my apartment.

Monday, June 07, 2004

San Diego by Train

after mike came to visit (friday), i went down to san diego by train to see roberta at a conference she's attending. the academy health research conference was held at the town and country hotel. they had a nice unheated pool. i swam in it yesterday morning, but this morning it was too cold. roberta laughed when a hostess at a restaurant asked if we wanted to sit on the heated patio. roberta said to me, why would you need heaters? i was glad for the heaters, and i am glad for the heated pool at caltech.

the train isn't quite as smoothly run as it is on the east coast, but it's cleaner and just as meditative. riding along the ocean made me miss the ocean. i loved going to the beach in san francisco. when i lived in pacifica and took mac to the beach almost every day, that was wonderful. i watched surfers on the way down, and i was more interested than i have been before. i'm not sure why. it may be the angle. from above, the maneuvers are more fun to watch. i'm not especially tempted to take it up myself though. i am inspired to get to the beach more. stay tuned.

another oddity of observing the world from a train: i caught sight of men in white out in the middle of a green expanse. i assumed they were farmworkers like the other people i'd see out in fields. closer inspection revealed that they were golfers.

i feel more exposed to southern california than ever before. i saw many barbies, but also more variety than usual. mike remarked that LA has more thin women than san francisco. i think LA might be even worse than the rest of SoCal. you could pick the californias out at the conference: they were wearing shorts, sandals and/or capri pants. speaking of which, i bought the second pair of sandals.

on the train on the way back, there was an amish family on the train. there were three girls in their late teens. they were wearing teal robes, black stockings black shoes. they and their mother all wore their hair parted severely and tied in a bun under a simple lightweight white cotton bonnet with strings down the sided. the dad was bearded and wearing a dark vest and pants. mom's wearing a large black dress. it's nice to be surprised.

In a few places the beach was empty and lovely.

The train goes along the beach for the last half hour or so. There were a lot of RV parks and mobile home parks right by the beach. Also places that look like you can pitch a tent.

People tending crops.

Further from LA, there were office parks.

Maybe this is what I saw when I was spacing out.

We passed a lot of train yards.

Still in LA.

This is blurry, but the scale is amazing. This guy is walking in the river. This is one of my goals as well.

The river and an overpass.

These are pictures from my train trip from Glendale to San Diego and back. This is LA.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Educational Television

i can't believe ensorcel is really a word. i heard it on a west wing rerun the other night.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Low tech

this is a great article about a very low tech way that fingerprint readers can be fooled. it sure undermines my interest in them. it's just like on alias!

Tuesday, June 01, 2004


A flower from the same hike (see below). Click on the picture to see the flower in more detail.

Strawberry Meadows in Angeles National Forest

I went for a hike this weekend with Jason in the Angeles National Forest. Incredibly beautiful. Amazingly, it's not that far out of the city, and we only saw a few other groups of people.


and this is just great news for me: Bad Air Causes Heart Disease, Heart Group Says. i think LA is bad for me in so many ways. i worry about whether i'm doing permanent damage to my lungs by exposing them to this sludge called air.

Learning & Memory Symposium

tomorrow brings an all day conference. i'll see a professor from san diego who i interviewed with last year. i'm looking forward to it, but i'm also trying to figure out how to manage it. these things make me so tired. happily i'm going with holly, and she's got similar issues.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Shrek, the Bad Influence

I saw Shrek last night. I like to read reviews after I've seen a movie. I was looking at user comments on IMDB. One complained that Shrek is full of subliminal sexual messages, asserting that Dreamworks and Spielberg are promoting a left wing sexual agenda, sexual depravity. He complains about a gay man in drag, as well as a wolf character dressed up as grandma and referred to as a gender-confused wolf. Apparently this reviewer missed the magazine the wolf was reading when prince charming found the wolf in the bed he expected the princess to be in. The magazine was a take-off of Sports Illustrated's swimsuit edition called Pork Illustrated. Or maybe that's acceptable. In any case, to the extent it's true, I say good job. In response to the claim that it makes references inappropriate to children, I say kids from a very young age know about gay people. Portraying them isn't age-inappropriate.

The movie is wonderful though. It was my first movie at the Arclight theater. I saw it with Matt in the Dome. It's an amazing theater. The screen is incredibly wide. In Shrek 2, I loved in the send up of Hollywood, but I think I'm slowly being seduced by LA. I sure do like the nice theaters.


I'm hoping to get to some Sparks games this season.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004


This is a picture the E-Bay seller took of my new cooler. I have an identical one that I use as a nightstand. Will I have matching nightstands? Will I affix it to scout?

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Actual weekend socializing

my lovely lab-mate andrew has decided to organize some lab outings. he's got us down for bowling next friday night. he had his eye on extreme bowling (seen above). we convinced him we didn't want to start bowling at 11pm, so we're going to regular bowling at 7pm. he's also setting up a team for the Caltech summer softball league, basically beer-ball. i'm glad someone's putting in the effort. leslie rounded us up for this last week, which was also lovely. now i need a mitt!

Saturday, May 22, 2004


i'm preparing a lecture on brain anatomy. looking at all these brain images is fun. there are lots of great ones. i also recommend some movies about unfolding the brain.


Commentators at a dog show talk about the dog's headpiece when they are referring to the dog's head.

Friday, May 21, 2004

My dog is a city mouse

These are the boots in beast's future.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Foot sore, but cute

These are pictures of Mac during recovery from his foot trauma.

Eaton Saddle hike

This hike was great, but it chewed up bad dog's feet. Poor baby.

Friday, March 19, 2004


i'm watching the first episode of the first series of the xena the warrior princess. the names of the people are wonderful: ilius, septum. i'm sure there's a whole study of anachonisms in the show.

the wifey kind

"i'm not the wifey type"
-gabrielle, of xena the warrior princess