Thursday, December 30, 2010

I’m willing to bet she’d pass on you too.

While looking at the sidelinehotties website for the DVR macro blog entry, I came across this exchange of comments, which has to be the final word for nearly every guy who critiques the appearance of women in media.
Comment: Really, this is the best Mexico has? Her face is dog fence, she has fake boobs (probably more) and she is way over the hill. Pass.
Response: Ok, so she’s not the hottest, I agree. But I’m willing to bet she’d pass on you too.

Skip the TV sports filler with DVR macros

In my recent visit to see my family, my dad mentioned a WSJ analysis of US televised football showing that only 6% of the telecast is actual football plays. The details are here.

I'm waiting for macros for DVRs that you can use to see a subset of a recording. For a football game, a fan might note down the times during which the game is played, and write a macro that directs a dvr to show only those portions of the game. Another fan might have something similar, plus selected replays. And someone with an attachment to the sideline reporter of the day might post their macro to the sidelinehotties (not even kidding) website.

Once the broadcasters figure out a way to make it profitable, hopefully they would tag the different content, in which case you could use a general "show plays only" macro. As my sister noted, you'd also want to be able to pause the macro and, for example, listen to the commentators' analysis of a referee call.

Los Balcones Del Peru

I went to Los Balcones Del Peru for the first time last night. Apparently it was remodeled in August; all I can say is that it's lovely. It's a large open space with simple aestetics. We sat in a corner booth, which was too big for four. We actually had trouble hearing each other, and mostly talked in twos. The restaurant itself didn't seem that loud though.

The food was wonderful. The sauces in particular were wonderfully flavored without being particularly hot. I didn't take close notes while I was there, so I've augmented my memory with the descriptions from this LA Weekly article. For appetizers, we had the
tiradito (a sea bass carpaccio with a delicious sauce, reportedly made from the Peruvian yellow chile (ají amarillo)) and a quinoa salad with asparagus, a maracuya (passion fruit) vinaigrette and a poached egg. I love quinoa but find it dry; they were generous with the sauce, and it was great.

For entrees, I had the shrimp chowder. The LA Weekly article reports "Chupe de camarones (shrimp chowder) is red with panca chile and gets substance from rice, choclo (giant Peruvian corn) and a poached egg. This dish is from Arequipa in the south." I didn't see and egg, but the corn was delicious. I mostly forewent the rice. We all tasted nearly everything on the table. The seafood chowder was widely endorsed.


Yum. Michelada is a Mexican beer cocktail. I've only had it in bars, so I can't vouch for the ingredients of the ones I had. Here's the recipe I'll try when I make this at home:

Mango Michelada
1 drink

1/2 cup mango, peeled, pitted and pureed*
2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1 (12-ounce) chilled Mexican beer
1 lime
Coarse salt
Fresh mango for garnish
Hot sauce (optional)

Combine mango puree, lime juice and beer. Rub a lime wedge around the rim of a tall glass and then press the rim into coarse salt, coating the rim. Fill glass 2/3 full with ice and then add mango mixture. Add in a few drops of hot sauce if desired.

*1 mango yields approximately 1/2 cup mango puree

Monday, December 06, 2010

Serenity gate

I think this makes me an official fan-girl. But I've been one at heart for a long while.

Our neighbor's dog crashed through the baby gate we were using to keep the dogs from leaving the porch. I wanted a cheap replacement, so I spent $10 on some pre-cut plywood and a couple pieces of hardwood trim to serve as a handle and keep the plywood from bowing too much. And I couldn't just let a canvas like that stay blank. I had some glossy black outdoor paint and silver spray paint on hand, so I made a stencil. Here's the gate under construction:

And here's the gate in place. There may be a sliding mechanism coming, but don't hold your breath.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

iphone cases made by 3D printing

I came across a few lovely iPhone case designs today on the Shapeways website. Shapeways is a company that will 3D print a design you upload to them and, optionally, sell the product.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Los Angeles Opera's 'Rigoletto'

I got to be a last minute sub for some very nice tickets to Rigoletto at the LA Opera tonight. M and I had a great time. I was transported, absorbed.

Sarah Coburn was impressive as Gilda. I was floored by her control. But my favorite aspect of the production was the lighting and set design. Although it appears that the set was designed in 1997 for the production, then in San Francisco, I had never seem them before, and I loved them. The lighting was fantastic, and they had some nice effects that required precise positioning of actors, which was executed without apparent awkwardness. The simulated water-reflection effects were also nice.

photo from

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Involuntary corporate transparency

A great term for wikileaks' upcoming release of internal corporate documents.


Friday, November 19, 2010

CBS: watch us, ad block no one

Sometimes when I watch Hawaii Five-O by streaming it from the CBS website, I lose the show in the middle of the program. It usually happens between two commercials. I get this message:
The video you have requested is either unavailable or is being blocked by an ad blocker installed in your browser.
I went through my ad-blocker on two separate occasions to prevent it from blocking ads from the CBS domain. Apparently, it's not enough to allow ads from CBS; I have to accept ads from everyone. If I have to choose, I'll hold on to a tool that blocks the annoying, flashing, talking ads. Hawaii Five-O isn't that good. I'm not sure what would be.

I'm not the only hater.

Bing map wins (in Grand Rapids)

Maps from Google (left) and Bing.

I'm in the habit of using everything google, but that will pass with maps like this.

The difference in proportion, indicated by the less elongated blocks in the Google map, is also surprising.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Moving with dogs: the preview

I urge you to read this phenomenally funny story about moving with (neurotic) dogs by Allie at hyperboleandahalf. I expect I'll be torturing my own dog in a similar manner soon.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Pretty Hike

I had a nice hike this morning.

Contest to create visualization of firefox usage

Mozilla labs is sponsoring a contest to visualize browser usage data. They're releasing the source data November 17. Here's a lovely example (click to see full-size):

Ready to share

Johanna Blakley gave a great Ted talk fashion and copyright protection. She would argue that the freedom to copy in fashion creates an environment in which this spork dress (above; screengrab from her presentation) is created (and that's a good thing). I didn't realize how limited intellectual property law is in fashion. Here is her "good enough" picture of the logic of copyright in the US.

Read to share conference info.

Genius iPad stand

Monday, November 08, 2010

Dashing nerd and others say a large part of science is wrong

A genetics professor of mine used to tell his class, "Half of what I'm telling you is wrong, I just don't know which half."

I've heard variations on this sentiment frequently and fully believe them. I think there are many reasons that good research can be wrong, never mind the bad research.

John Ioannidis studies the phenomenon of inaccurate scientific conclusions. He is profiled this month in a readable article in the Atlantic (in which he is called a "dashing nerd"). Here are some excerpts from a scholarly article by John Ioannidis about identifying which science is most likely to be wrong.

The following characteristics predict that the research findings are less likely to be true:

  • Smaller studies
  • Smaller effect sizes
  • For a given set of data, more tests and fewer positive outcomes
  • Greater flexibility in designs, definitions, outcomes, and analytical modes in a scientific field
  • Greater financial and other interests and prejudices
  • Hotter scientific fields (with more scientific teams involved)
The article also uses the terrific term "data dredging" to talk about the phenomenon of trying elicit results that were not identified by the initial study design or analysis. Wikipedia calls it "the inappropriate (sometimes deliberately so) use of data mining to uncover misleading relationships in data."

via Derek Lowe

Visual Candy: Chart of Taxonomy of Rap Names

I love the choice of main groups: Wordplay, Physical and Metaphysical Characteristics, Crime, Titles/Honorifics, Alphanumeric, and Animal, Vegetable, Mineral. The subcategories are delightful too: audacious misspellings, similarity to cartoon character. In order to make it legible though, some connections have to be left out. For instance Brand Nubian gets to be connected to the Black and Fresh taxa, but not to Wordplay.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Dog bites and the lunar cycle

If you believe the scientific literature, you'd think that people receive more dogs bites during the full moon if they are in England, but not if they are in Australia. Absent other data, I'd say the best title wins: "Barking mad? Another lunatic hypothesis bites the dust."

3D <-> 2D sewing pattern conversion software

This software can take a pattern in two dimensions and virtually sew the pieces together and show you the result. I'd like to use it with bags, but right now it's clothing oriented, and the three dimensional finished piece is displayed on a custom model. Regions of strain are highlighted. You can also generate a two dimensional pattern from a three dimensional item. Here's an older article about this kind of software, and here's an even older one. Oh, and the price tag? Upwards of $10K. Anyone want to bet when it will come below $200?

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Insect visitor


Furniture for my future life

I've been thinking a lot about where I will live next. The chances are extremely high that I will have less room than I do now. Here's a nicely designed piece of space-saving furniture

Ms. Dr. / DRF

Shortly after I officially became Dr. Manduca, I whimsically used "Dr" as my title for an airplane reservation. I was immediately delighted by an unforeseen aspect of the choice: unlike men choices, a woman's choice of title connotes particular politics and identity (coarsely: Miss is conventional, Mrs is conventional and largely limited to heterosexuals, and Ms is feminist). I enjoy the freedoms of Dr, in spite of the implied self-importance. I've used it intermittently since.

Today I read something that dismayed me: Dr. Isis, the author of the wonderful blog "On Becoming a Domestic and Laboratory Goddess" noticed that her travel itinerary referred to her as "DRF. ISIS," which a contact explained is how that particular airline refers to female doctors. If that practice spreads, it will slightly diminish the joy I find in choosing Dr. Not only does choosing Dr free me from the sticky Mrs/Ms/Miss, but I can pretend I don't even have any opinions about Mrs/Ms/Miss. DRF highlights the fact that there are Titles, and Titles for Women To Choose From. I'll choose from the whole list, thank you very much.

Your humble servant,
Magnificent Rector Manduca

Friday, October 29, 2010

Journal of Serendipitous and Unexpected Results

There's a delightful piece at Byte Size Bio about an article in the excellently-named Journal of Serendipitous and Unexpected Results. The piece is called "But did you correct your results using a dead salmon?" and it uses the MRI of a dead salmon to illustrate the fallacious results possible from bad use of statistics. It also has a nice (simplified) explanation of the logic underlying multiple error correction.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Nicely done, SoCal Edison

I had the surprising experience of getting a smart automated call today. I called SoCal Edison after the power was out today for about an hour. They told me it was out for some 400 people in my neighborhood. I later received an automated call, asking me to press 1 if my power had been restored. It was a short, efficient script. Brilliant: they followed up with me, and they got a sense of whether their job was done.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Wheeled carry-on backpacks

After traveling to six cities and staying in nine different homes over the course of a month with my bargain bag, I've identified things I want in a travel bag.
  • wheels
  • backpack straps and hip belt
  • can be carried on and fits in the overhead bin (typically airlines limit carry-on luggage to 22" x 14" x 9")
  • can be checked. This means that I want to be able to cover the backpack shoulder and hip straps.
  • as big as possible
  • as light as possible
  • not hard to look at
Here are my candidates:
  • Rick Steves Autobahn 21" Rolling Backpack, $140, 7 lbs , 13 oz. I think it's ugly and the straps don't look very ergonomic.

  • Eagle Creek Switchback Max 22, $300, 9lbs, 6 oz, detachable daypack. It’s not horrible looking, reviewers like it, it has Eagle Creek’s fantastic warranty, and I like the daypack option.

  • Osprey Meridian 22”, $300, 8 lbs. 14 oz. Fantastic looking, technical reviewers love it. Zip-off backpack.

Not considered:
Victorinox E-motion 4.0 22" Trek Pack Plus. It's too deep (22" x 14.5" x 10.75").

So the products I like are in the $300 range. That seems like way too much to pay for something I'm not sure I'll like. Maybe I'll find that the combination of backpack straps and wheels takes up too much space to be able to fit my stuff in it. Maybe the combination will be too heavy. I'm considering buying a less expensive one to get a feel for the combination, but even a relatively inexpensive one will be a commitment. Hmm.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fried green tomato recipes


* 1 cup all-purpose flour
* salt
* pepper
* 1 egg
* 1/4 cup milk
* 4 cups fresh bread crumbs
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 4 large unripe tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices, ends removed
* 1/2 cup vegetable oil


Prepare three dredging bowls. Add flour to one, and add salt and pepper until you can taste it in the flour. Then add more.

Combine milk and egg in the second bowl and mix. Put crumbs in third bowl.

If tomatoes are too wet, the flour will be too thick or fall off--if this happens, you might want to pat them dry with a lint free or paper towel.

With fingers or tongs, dredge tomato through flour, then dip in egg mixture and dredge in bread crumbs. Pat breadcrumbs onto tomatoes, adding more if needed. I left the tomatoes sitting on top of the breadcrumbs until Mass K friend was ready to fry them.

Fry them in a non-stick pan with a few tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. You'll see the skin on the edges of the tomatoes pucker when the slices are cooked. Drain on paper towels.

I used two recipies as sources.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Maps maps maps

MapMyRun (or Walk, or Bike, or whatever) is generally the best tool for tracking this kind of stuff. However, the web page layout is spectacularly bad. When you view a route, look how much of the (1920 x 1176) page is dedicated to the map:

Also in this morning's map tool criticism category: Google My Maps. I love it, but it's bad when it comes to printing. However, there is a terrific 3rd party tool at that prints maps along with the titles and descriptions of places and, here's what's special, the titles and descriptions are keyed by icon to unique places on the map. When you print with google, you can't tell what description belongs where. Also, the taurich tool allows you to print the descriptions in columns, which helps a lot.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Extreme forecast disparity and weatherunderground have some explaining to do.

These are the results for the same zip code. I tried the neighboring zip code same type of difference. Naturally, I hope the cooler forecast is accurate.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Silly product names: Nostrilla

Popsicle Progress

After several rounds of faux-creamsicles (made from plain yogurt, orange juice concentrate, and water at 2:1:1), I've ventured into bananas. This is from Martha Stewart's blueberry pop recipe, but I used strawberries instead. And next time, I won't add 3 TBS of sugar. I think it probably doesn't need any sugar at all, actually. And that's using plain yogurt, not the recommended vanilla yogurt (warning: I like tart yogurt).

Monday, August 02, 2010


I'm nostalgic for these beets my roommate grew last year.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Salt, mostly a failure

MM and I saw Salt Wednesday night. I expected to like Angelina Jolie a little more. I'm not usually much a fan of her acting, but I've enjoyed her in action movies in the past. She's now too fragile-looking to be plausible as an actionista. Also, she doesn't look particularly good in any of it. If I have to stretch my suspension of disbelief to include this waif being an action hero, I think it wouldn't be too much of a risk to pretend that an action hero could also be attractive.

Clockwise from top left: Angelina as Scrawny Salt; Angelina as "lost in my corporate outfit and this weapon is too heavy for me" Salt; an earlier, buffer, Angelina; what a plausible female action hero looks like (and man did I miss Jennifer Garner in this movie); the best costuming in Salt.

Popsicle recipes I'd like to try

Many were found on a list at tip-nut.


Martha Stewart Banana Blueberry Swirl Popsicles

Melon popsicles with mint, honey, and yogurt

Homemade Fudgsicles

Grapefruit Lime Cilantro Popsicles

This method for swirling chunks into your popsicles, and a discussion on corn syrup

Here's a pretty result:

Cardamom Rhubarb Creamsicles (a woman after my own heart: "So, I left about 1/4 of the rhubarb sorbet in the ice cream maker & stirred in about 1/2 c of heavy cream."

Martha Stewart's Banana, Berry, and Buttermilk Ice Pops

Watermelon Slice Pops
(with chocolate chips as seeds)

And finally, funny pea-ice popsicles I'm not going to make:

Monday, July 26, 2010

No "barefoot and pregnant" in German?

The hipster-chick in line at the bank spoke so loud that I couldn't help but overhear. And soon, I was too repelled and fascinated not to actively listen:
[Speaking emphatically in german]...pregnant. Literally barefoot and pregnant...[More german]... I mean, come on...[Lots more german. Clearly still talking about the same person and not letting a word in edgewise]...Student loan...[More german]...White trash.

Clearly English is better suited for certain descriptions. Ironically, the phrase "barefoot and pregnant" might be ideologically
descended from the German phrase "Kinder, Küche, Kirche" ("children, kitchen, church") coined in the 1800s.

code-switching article seems to be the most relevant linguistic definition of this type of language-switching phenomenon.

Pen love: Uniball Vision Elite Bold

I bought a pack with a range of colors when I was editing my thesis. They write a smooth, sharp, fat (0.8 mm) line smoothly and don't leak in flight. Many people really like the blue-black color. I like it, but it's the other characteristics that send me.

Saturday, May 08, 2010


The dog and I came across a rattlesnake near the trailhead today. The
dog exhibited curiosity not fear. Time for a snake-aversion refresher?

Friday, May 07, 2010

What are you saying?

I'm somewhat mystified by this illustration titled "no drugs down the
drain." It looks more like a psa about the hazards of childhood pill

Saturday, May 01, 2010

When text mining goes wrong

Does this gene cause that dreaded decapitation disease?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Ceiling of Union Station in DC

I took more classical pictures on a recent trip.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

unwanted period in Latex acronyms list

Using glossaries package, I was getting an undesired period after the definition. I was using this code:
\usepackage[acronym, nonumberlist, toc]{glossaries}

(where the acronyms file contains the definitions). The results:

ABA Allen Mouse Brain Atlas.
AMPA α-amino-3-hydroxyl-5-methyl-4-isoxazole-propionate.
The fix:
\usepackage[acronym, nonumberlist, toc]{glossaries}

% Define new glossary style
% desired format:
% acronym is bold, no full stop after definition
\item[\glstarget{##1}{##2}] ##3\space ##5}


And got

ABA Allen Mouse Brain Atlas
AMPA α-amino-3-hydroxyl-5-methyl-4-isoxazole-propionate

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Cobbler v1.0

Used Costo pears (the only canned thing I actively like) and this recipe. Unlike the picture, the cobbler wasn't out of focus.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The database of useful biological numbers

The B10NUMB3R5 website: In its infancy, but a genius idea and a great start in spite of the excessive transliteration of numbers for letters. Wouldn't b10numbers or B1oNumbers have been sufficient?

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Nice industrial design

Sure, it's for slicing mouse brains, but there's no reason it can't have good aesthetics too.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Zipper rings from around the web

(clockwise from top left) me,, meganleone at etsy, forever21 (?!), and Doris Viñas.

I've been looking for a new way to make the ring part, but it looks like people mostly use elastic.

Monday, January 04, 2010

YouTube as evidence source for peer reviewed biology research

You can't make this up:

Video Database Analyses

The global database used,, is a video-sharing website consisting of tens of millions of user contributions from a wide range of people across the globe. Users commonly post animal behavior on YouTube...