Friday, May 29, 2009

Science is sexy

or something like that...

The latest issue of Scientist magazine, has a bit of a blurb about how the most recent issue of GQ has a spread about the Rock starts of Science...putting popular musicians with top scientists for photo shoots. It was response to only 4% of people randomly surveyed being able to name any scientist. They want to make more people think about science...

Although I think it's great to create more awareness of science...and how we're not all (*cough*) complete nerds (*whistle*), and that it's a goal in life for future generations, what rubs me entirely the wrong way is to put them in a photo spread with rock stars. Cause that's what science is all about - fame and fortune and feeling sexy. Yeah, we wake up every morning and put on our sequined lab coats and think "Someday I'm gonna find out something that will make me FAMOUS! I'm going places baby!"

Yeah. Sure.

We all toil away in labs, doing meticulous work, to try and find links for disease prevention, cures and treatments, find better ways to test for impurities and bacteria to make food safer - heck even help students learn more about science...we learn WHY things are the way they are. It's not about fame and entertainment - and the few researchers who are in it for fame are nasty, venomous dicks who will undermine other researchers, refuse to collaborate and work their grad students to near death to have glory of the next big paper, and even skew or make up data for profit or recognition. The thing is - Nobel prizes are given to amazing accomplishments in research - they are not the goal of research, they just happen, because someone makes an incredible leap of knowledge that is so fundamentally enhancing to science that we are all better for it as a society and as a researching group. I'm not knocking music - it brings me great joy, but to compare Cheryl Crow to NIAID director Anthony Fauci ? Well...not a level comparison at all. That's like saying Charles Darwin's ideas could be equal to the incredible leaps ahead that Sir Issac Newton or Albert Einstein brought to physics....PULEEZ!
(sorry - just a little geek humour there...)

And yet, the more I muse over this, the more I realise that there are correlations of rock music to labwork:

Lypsynching a performance - when Principle Investigators go and present projects at conferences under their name and they've done none of the actual work - they're just spouting out their lab slaves data with just a shadow of their former ability.

Grant proposal times are a lot like Canadian Idol - a lot of talented people competing for a few bits of $$ and the ability to go forward...all of them pretty focused and talented and yet only 1 will be given the prize, based on the whim of a few people on a panel

Groupies - Doing cutting edge research in the current hot field of science? (right now-breast cancer). Well, you'll be beset on all sides by grad students and post docs wanting to work with you. Companies will offer you equipment to use in exchange for addition to your publications or patents so they can make billions off you. People will toss your name about at conferences, as tho simply knowing or collaborating with you makes them better workers too.

It all just amuses me in a slightly chaffing way. Putting fame into the mix is insipid and dangerous. We already have to fight the battles of rediculous patenting of ideas with no practical applications that inhibit the average joe researcher from doing new things. We have to all squabble after reduced funding. We have to try and take money from companies and let drug companies fund our research and yet somehow be unbiased and learn without always producing a marketable product.

And perhaps, most importantly: People need to understand that there is just as much value in the experiments that fail. Those teach us things too...we learn how things DO work by this kind of results...yet, noone wants to publish a negative paper. People will try and publish junk research to just get a publication. People refuse to collaborate, wasting money and effort in the quest for the scientific prize, instead of using their ethics to keep their work in check.

We have a long way to go in the field of scientific research in regards to bringing up anew generation of scientists who are willing to shed the crap and bureaucracy and move into the future of research - groups of like minded individuals pooling their effort to best use money and knowledge to solve ideas. Creating open source data like the human genome and online journals. Quality over quantity to increase the field of knowledge - to find cures. To help people live better bit of data at a time.


It all gives a whole new meaning to "I'm gonna rock the lab today". :)

I'm gonna get off my soapbox now and put on my sequins and get back to work...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sweet Cuppin cakes

I just finished my first attempt at minicupcakes
Chocolate banana...yum.
The recipe makes's that over there?

Nom nom nom...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Musical interlude

The pizza was delish. Anyone want good pizza? Venice House, in Sutherland. good.
I feel lousy, so rather than whine at you, listen to this instead. I'll be back when I have something constructive to say. Bye...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

mee hee

image: Bizarro

A Few Questions

I ran across this meme on Zhoen's blog and thought I would have a go. I'm always up for a meme:

What are your current obsessions? barbecuing things, trying new wines and bellydancing

Which item from your wardrobe do you wear most often? probably my jeans…and my brown zip up jacket with the white zig zag on it.

What's for Dinner? Pizza. It's a pizza party tonight as a reward for our team for fundraising for the Alzheimer's walk (we were the top fundraising team!)

Last thing you bought? Veggies and sour cream to make dip for our potluck today at work.

If you were a God/Goddess who would you be? The goddess of napping in sunbeams

Favorite holiday spots?Anywhere really. I can’t say I’ve had a holiday I didn’t like, as long as there is stuff to do and the odd sunny place for a nap when I am all tuckered out.

Reading right now?The Universe on a Tshirt-just finished it. Good laymans intro to string theory - not as detailed s I'd hoped on some things, but it has a recommended reading list so I think I'll hit the library to learn a bit more about subatomic particle theory (what? it's interesting stuff)

Who or what makes you laugh until you are weak? watching the cats run after each other and either into a wall or into the screen door, knocking it off and then running off madly after... and South Park can make me giggle no matter how lousy of a mood I am in...

Who's your Hero/Heroine? Noone specific…in real life I find anyone can be a hero-even the most unlikely little person. I see heroes at the cancer centre every day...

First Spring Thing? Getting the deck ready. It’s now powerwashed, all the stuff on it is clean and we’re set for a summer of living out on the deck. Now it's time to attack the jungle...

What's the funniest thing you ever saw in your life? Ever ever? I'll list the first few that come to mind. First thing one-When my nephew was 3 he picked up the garden hose smiled at me and then turned the spray nozzle at his face…then squeezed the handle…then sprayed himself…then cried until looked at us and he laughed, as we were all laughing at him with tears running down our faces. Second thing I can think of - honestly the scene in Undercover Brother when the skinny white guy (played by Doogie Howser) pulls a heart out of someone's chest. You have to see it other wise it sounds rediculous...but for some reason I laughed so hard my sides hurt...completely unexpectedly hilarious.

Favourite Film? Hard to choose…changes from day to day, depending on my mood. Amelie was fantastic. Pan's Labyrinth too...

Care to share some wisdom? Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Do what you need to be happy and give a little joy to the world. It's such a simple thing, but it really makes everything else worth it.

If you were a tree, which one would you be, and why?Birch. They look like they are on fire in the fall and I love the sound the wind makes when it blows through them.

Name fictitious characters who made a lasting impression on you. Dorothy and Ozma (of Oz), Alice in Wonderland, Fox in Sox, Gandalf, Sherlock I could go on and on...

Four words to describe yourself: Odd, Contented, Mellow, Geek

Monday, May 25, 2009

Peas and cheese

I love matar paneer.
I'm sure it says a bit about the thrill level of my current life, but at the moment, I'm thrilled that I'm going to go eat some yummy leftovers from last nights cooking adventures...I've learned to make my favourite indian dish. No naan left, but some yummy basmati rice to go with it...oh, and some steamed okra too. Yes, we do not go half way on our food experiments here at Casa Geo.
Yummy experiments indeed.

As for the rest of things...well, not much to say. Happy. Contented.
Things are good...and soon to be full of peas and cheese...

Friday, May 22, 2009

Planetary Intergalactic

Another dimension another dimension...

Lately I've been reading all the Planetary I can get my hands on. It's been cold and rainy and the other book I'm reading is a beginner's guide to string theory and the science involved in it (Universe on a TShirt: Quest for the theory of everything) so this is a light read with a cup of tea here and there to break it up.

A friend of mine (lucky guy) realised his dream this spring of opening up a comic store -very nice one too. He recommended the Planetary comics to my friend Magnus, who leant them to J who raved about them crazily, so I read them too.


The artwork? Well, one word -Wow. Incredible. Worth reading for it alone.
And the stories of it? Well, Planetary is "Archaeologists of the Impossible". Really interesting - the idea of a group of people with unusual abilities, coming across myths, characters and ideas from history and fantasy and other dimension and even other comics and trying to deal with them and protect us all makes for great stories. Anything from Mothra to giant ants to Dracula to Tessla is fair game. Funded by a mysterious Fourth Man, the field team consists of Jakita Wagner who is strong, fast and nearly invulnerable, The Drummer, who can detect and manipulate nearby information streams, computers and electronics (and is somewhat insane), Elijah Snow, who doesn't seem to age and can extract heat from nearby substances at will, and the former third man Ambrose Chase who can phase time and the laws of physics around himself.

There is also a crossover book, where the Planetary world meets other comic characters and we see how they interact...where depending on the dimensions, people are not themselves. Haven't finished it yet, but I'm enjoying it so far.

I would highly recommend them to anyone looking for an interesting read. I'm a fan, as is J who is not a comic guy- Planetary deserves a read if you like the idea of "Archaeologists of the Impossible". Each of the 3 volumes has 7 or 8 stories, and they are all really interesting and different. There is a master plot running through them all as well...I'm waiting for them to put out the last compilation to see how it all comes together.

Looking forward to more.

Have a good weekend all...I'm off on this rainy day to sequence part of my own DNA. Cool Huh?Yup, I get to be my control patient for a study. Me hee...

Oh, one last thing...:)
Intergalactic Planetary...

Thursday, May 21, 2009


I think the weather people have no windows, or they have no working weather satellites. Or both. It called for 70% chance of rain today.
Luckily for me, instead it is sunny, without a cloud in the sky & 12 degrees...only a slight chance of rain now. Sure it's a bit windy, but hey! Sun is nice. I'll take it.

This AM it was warm enough for some critters to be out. It was a beautiful bike ride to work this morning - Being a good little scientist I took notes: counted 26 pelicans by the weir, 12 geese, a duck, 2 chipmunks and 8 gophers, a robin, a chickadee, a falcon and 2 golden retrievers (with peoples). I have to say - this biking thing eats the bus hands down...:)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


People are silly.
I think the more you allow others to do things for you, the easier it gets. And I don't refer to laziness necessarily - just seeing it as something "other people" do. I constantly do things for people at work that I would never ask others to do for me -and am still amused at it all. I think there are advantages to asking others do some things (I mean I am infamous for trying to do EVERYTHING and then having a meltdown) but I think you do yourself a disservice if you *expect* them to.

It's an attitude thing.

While I would love to have someone come to my house every few weeks and clean it, I don't. Even if I could budget for it - I think you need to do things for yourself occasionally to remember what you *aren't* doing. So you APPRECIATE what others do for you, often, even when you don't ask them to. Yes, even when it's their JOB to do those things. Because you sure notice it when they suddenly aren't there to do it, or someone incompetent starts to fill in for them...or (gods forbid) you have to do it yourself.

While on holidays, we had a family movie night and found a film even my parents would enjoy - Bucket List. Pretty good film actually...the Jack Nicholas character in it really got me thinking. He had a lot of money and people to do things for him...PAs to order about and keep him looked after, but in the end, when left to fend for himself he found he couldn't do it...and he had to ask for help because he didn't know how to do some things. The people he had ignored or pushed away didn't HAVE to be nice to him...because he wasn't kind to them. This was an extremely minor thing to the story of the film, but it's really stuck with me.
Why? Well, I never want to make someone feel small or inferior because they are doing something I feel is "below me", and therefore *they* are somehow less important than they really are. Even if there are others (or handy dish robots) to do it for me I want to understand what they do, and how much effort and skill it takes for them to do it. The gratitude and appreciation I feel when I focus on these things really changes the focus of my mood. It reminds me to be focused on what is a big deal and what really isn't. Sometimes it is important to know that I'm just another person doing "my thing" and that I need other people doing "their thing" to do mine. To be reminded that not all things are fun or enjoyable, but someone has to do it...and do it well. To remember that when I give to others and it is noticed and appreciated that they see that kindness and give it to others as well. It passes from person to person. Things get better.

Where am I going with this? Nowhere really...just what's been floating thru my head this morning.
Thank you. All of you. For all you do.

Gratitude. Patience. Hard Work...Not just for chumps! :)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Deep thoughts

I think that the best way to start back to work after 2 weeks off is to bike uphill into gale force winds in frigid weather to a lab full of chaos...and jump back in with both feet, hoping you'll thaw out sometime before lunch.

Oh yeah.
I'm back baby.


LATER: Huzzah! It's raining now! *mumble mumble...*

Sunday, May 17, 2009


We just spent the day getting the deck ready for summer...all is pressure washed/mopped/whathaveyou and the furniture is all clean. As a bonus, J's aunt gave us their BBQ when they moved (along with a bunch of wine - woot) so we can actually barbecue, not just gently warm things on our crappy old bbq.
These are exciting times.

After a trip to the store I am all set for some tasty shishkebabs, tin foil potatoes and a beer. Then some more relaxing. Our neighbors invited us over to say hi for a bit...might go on over and visit...all I know is it's a day of "ah!" with another to follow.

The deck is my favourite place to be, and now I can live out there all summer.


Friday, May 15, 2009

Random trip pics

...just a few bits of the wierdest of the wierd from my 2 weeks away in Ontario on holiday.... It was glorious. Back later...must unpack :)

Saturday, May 02, 2009


The ever lovely and sarcastic Grapecat is coming to my house tomorrow. I can monopolize her time for the evening before I send her off on her next trek of her Canada explorations Monday morning...

I haven't seen her least 12 years. She moved to the UK a a looooong time ago, and I can't wait to see her.


Cunning Plans

 Life is wierd ya know. It seems a lot of things have been hitting me hard lately. Been distant from people, including my partner who is dea...