Showing posts from May, 2007

a meme

I rarely do memes but since Cravey was adament, here's one now:

What were you doing 10 years ago?

I'd been working at Emory for 8 years at that point and had been "horsetraded" to a molecular biologist for just over a year to get some work done on a new project for my boss. So that meant I had two bosses and one was a real ASSHOLE. He'd burned through 6 people in one year and Personnel would no longer send applicants his way, which is why I was elected to work with the dick. I was not happy about the situation!

What were you doing 1 year ago?

Pretty much the same thing I'm doing now. At that time I had a girlfriend so that was a difference but I have the same house and same job--I do have a new car since then.

Five snacks you enjoy:

1. Froot Loops
2. Pringles
3. Hershey Nuggets
4. Capn Crunch
5. Chocolate Covered Cherries

Five songs to which you know all the lyrics:

1. I have no functional memory. I can't reliably remember my own name all the time.
2-5. See above

Five …

More weekend review stuff

I did watch that last DVD, Infamous, last night and I'm very glad I did. It was very well written, even better acted, and a lot of fun.

If you're not familiar with the movie, it's about Truman Capote during the period in his life in which he was researching his book In Cold Blood. In the movie, Capote (Toby Jones) develops a relationship with murderers Dick Hickock and Perry Smith from the time they were first arrested right through their execution. Parallel to this is Capote's struggles to put the experience down in words. The use of his childhood friend, Nelle Harper Lee (Sandra Bullock), to define his struggle is inspired. Many of the statements each Lee and Capote uses about the other are mirrored in their own work and artistic struggle.

There's a lot of tongue-in-cheek comments and witty conversation along the way but the movie's poignancy is reflected largely in this small collection of people who are at their pinnacle of achievement and notoriety, two of w…

A long weekend

I didn't get much done this weekend. For some reason I've been extremely tired for nearly 3 weeks now. I've actually been sleeping for an hour or so each day when I get home from work and that's exceedingly unusual for me. Kinda freaky, actually. I just don't normally need much sleep.

As a result, I've slept a good deal of this weekend away and maybe that'll help. It's like I'm sick but I don't feel sick. Does that happen to anyone else?

As for what I am doing, tonight I watched about a third of that Borat movie. Just not my cup of tea. I didn't find it very funny and finally gave up on it. Last night I watched You, Me and Dupree and thought that one was pretty flat also. I'm having bad luck with movies from the library lately--but the last one should be better. It's one of the recent movies about Truman Capote called Infamous. I suspect it'll be a lot better than the other two movies.

I just started reading the new John Stanford bo…

The Scorpion's Gate

I'm a little late to the party on this novel. It was published in 2005 and is very much a testament to the times in which it was written. Unfortunately the times haven't changed much in the past two years so the insight within the pages is just as much valid now as it was then.

The author, Richard A. Clarke, has been in upper level government service since 1973 when he was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence. He served in the Reagan, GHW Bush, Clinton and GW Bush administrations. Now he's chairman of Good Harbor Consulting and no longer in federal service, no doubt due to his well publicized differences of opinion with the neocon politics at the heart of the GW Bush Administration.

That said, it should be no surprise that in Mr Clarke's book there's a lot of politics. There's also a lot of political action and cloak and dagger spy work. In many ways this reads like a trimmed down Tom Clancy novel--the part that was trimmed is the troop level acti…

Hell's Kitchen

Girls and boys, it's almost time for season 3 of Hell's Kitchen. Prepare your sensibilities to be shocked 'cause nasty ole chef Gordon Ramsay is going to hit the airwaves again Monday June 4 at 9pm (est) on FOX. I can hardly wait. Last season was quite good despite Ramsay's continual bad humor. No doubt Season 3 will be even better.

This time the winner (survivor?) gets the coveted title of Head Chef at a new fine Italian restaurant at the luxurious Green Valley Ranch Resort in Las Vegas. Green Valley Ranch is the sister property of the Red Rock Casino, where Season Two winner Heather West, pictured to the left, is currently working as senior chef at Terra Rossa restaurant.

Notice that Heather's not head chef--nor is she at the premier restaurant that she initially was assigned to. Apparently somewhere in the conditions of being on the show is a possibility of being demoted--even if you won the head chef spot.

Anyway, here's the list of the Season Three contestant…

3 day weekend

Here in the US we're about to start on a 3 day weekend due to the Memorial Day holiday. This is a United States federal holiday that is observed on the last Monday of May, this holiday commemorates the men and women who have died in military service to the USA. It began first to honor Union soldiers who died during the American Civil War and later was expanded to include veterans of all conflicts.

This is how I'll be celebrating. Me and a lot of Ben & Jerry's Creme Brulee ice cream. As I posted a few days ago, this is a recent find and I really, really like the flavor. *shiver* I also made some salsa-like filling for some tortillas I'll be eating. I also bought buns for burgers and I got a Wal-mart brownie on clearance. I hope it doesn't kill me--I don't really know why they wanted to get rid of it fast.

Other than eating, I'll be getting some reading done. Outside on my deck when it's comfortable and inside when it's too hot. I'll get som…

stomach ulcers and H pylori

Hanan Gancz, of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland, presented some interesting research findings at the recent General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in Toronto, Canada.

Apparently H. pylori, the bacteria that causes the majority of the ulcers in adults, is much more likely to cause gastric problems if the person has a high salt diet: High concentrations of salt in the stomach appear to induce gene activity in the ulcer-causing bacterium Helicobacter pylori, making it more virulent and increasing the likelihood of an infected person developing a severe gastric disease.

H pylori accounts for up to 90% of duodenal ulcers and up to 80% of gastric ulcers. Infection with H. pylori is common in the United States; about 20% of persons less than 40 years of age and about 50% of persons over 60 years of age are infected. Most infected people do not have symptoms.

Back when I was in college this relationship between H pylori and ulcers …

Creme Brulee and Ice Cream

Can you imagine Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream combined with the flavor of Creme Brulee?

Now you don't have to strain your imagination. LOL

This is a new flavor that they've brought out. I bought a pint last week and it's the best ice cream I've had in quite a while. I just love the flavor and suspect I'll be buying a few more pints over the next few weeks. It's really delicious. BTW, you'd best like sweet tastes if you try this out!

Those Vermont cows really know what they're doing. Maybe it's something in the water...

Are biopsies a thing of the past?

There's an interesting story on Reuter's today regarding a clinical study published in the May 21 issue of the journal Nature Biotechnology. Here's some tidbits from the Reuters article:

"You don't have to invade the body in any way. We can actually obtain this information in a noninvasive manner," said Dr. Howard Chang of Stanford University School of Medicine, whose work appears in Monday's issue of the journal Nature Biotechnology.

Chang and colleagues at the University of California, San Diego, compared images from radiology scans such as CT scans commonly used to track cancer with lab tools called DNA microarrays -- gene chips -- that screen thousands of genes at a time.

What they found was a way to translate the data from the images into a computer model that could predict what was going on with the genetic material within the tumors.

The researchers said the technique may help eliminate the need for a biopsy, a procedure in which a needle is injected i…

A Little Trip to Heaven

Yesterday I spent a fair amount of time in front of the tube while eating burritos made with sweet Italian sausage and drinking Sierra Mist. What a day!

What did I watch, you ask? Well, an indie movie titled A Little Trip to Heaven and the last 2 episodes of Season 5 of 24 and the first double episode of Season 6 of 24. I was very impressed with the writing of Season 5. I thought it was easily the most cohesive and well thought out of the 5 seasons I've watched so far. Season 6, on the other hand, isn't starting out very well. It's still quite interesting--don't get me wrong--but when the first episode already has huge credibility gaps you really have to wonder about the rest of the season. Of course since the last episode airs tonight --another double episode--I guess I can spend the rest of the week catching up and hoping that the writing improves during the course of the season. I've got 2 or 3 episodes missing but most were recorded.

A Little Trip to Heaven is a…

The Month of May

I bended unto me a Bough
by Thomas Edward Brown

I bended unto me a bough of May,
That I might see and smell:
It bore it in a sort of way,
It bore it very well.
But, when I let it backward sway,
Then it were hard to tell
With what a toss, with what a swing,
The dainty thing
Resumed its proper level,
And sent me to the devil.
I know it did--you doubt it?
I turned, and saw them whispering about it.

I don't know about you but I have emotional responses to months. They're generalized and somewhat effuse so like I associate February with being cold and not a good month to do anything risky. April is a so-so month which I associate with flowers starting to bloom. May, perhaps because my birthday is in it and so during my childhood was a month to look forward to, I associate with positive things and the coming of warmth (where I grew up usually still had some snow in early May).

This year is different though. April was a very good month for me. May's not doing so well. I received a birthday p…

Where diseases come from

There's an interesting review article on infectious diseases in today's issue of Nature (May 17, 2007). It's titled "Origins of Major Human Infectious Diseases" and authored by 3 researchers at UCLA, Nathan Wolfe, Claire Dunavan and Jared Diamond (author of Guns, Germs, and Steel).

There have always been opportunistic diseases of one sort or another. Even bacteria (germs) can get "sick" from viral infiltration. However humans have artificially created a situation today in which they get sick a lot more than they did in the distant past. You see, since the advent of agriculture around 10,000 years ago humans have maintained large stationary populations and also segments of the human population have stayed in direct contact with populations of other animals (chickens, goats, cows, dogs, etc). Both of these trends have culminated in a number of diseases that would not have occurred in hunter/gatherer societies.

This article explores the evolutionary stages …

Girls get the lime

So what's up here?

I've never liked Coca-cola and have always preferred Pepsi (and when I was a kid I liked Dr Pepper and Mr Pibb). That changed when they brought out Lime Coke. I love that stuff. Lime Pepsi, on the other hand, tastes like cat piss! Nasty!

Imagine my disappoiontment then when Coca-cola pulled Lime Coke off the market around 6 months ago. They're evil! But Diet Coke with Lime is still on the market. What gives? Only girls get the good stuff? LOL

I actually bought a 12 pack of the diet Coke with Lime this week just to see if I liked the taste of it. How can people drink this diet stuff? Not only does it taste bad, but it makes you thirstier after you drink it than you were before. What's the sense in that?!?!

I guess I'll be sticking to Pepsi.

BTW, in case you're interested, I found a few recipes for Coca-cola on Wiki. Here's the first of the three that they list there:

=== Recipe 1 ===

* Ingredients:

**1 ounce caffeine citrate
** 3 oz citric acid
** 1…

Boomsday and STFU

Boomsday written by Christopher Buckley. 318 pages. April 2007. $24.99. Twelve.

The protagonist of this book starts out in life with the name Cassandra Cohane, but after getting screwed--in the figurative sense--by two Baby Boomer men, one being her father and the other a junior congressman from Massachusetts--Cassandra changes her last name to Devine.

The respective screwings turned Cassandra against the Baby Boomer generation and therein lies the plot, such as it is, of this book. Christopher Buckley, best known for the book Thank You for Smoking, is an amazing satirist and his pen is quite sharp in Boomsday. It's his best book since Thank You for Smoking (TYS). Like TYS, this book involves Washington insiders be they K-street spin doctors, politicians, or the wealthy hangers-on of the political set.

It's a great romp. I started reading Boomsday on Sunday and finished it this morning. It was a great accompaniment to the movie I saw Sunday night, Man of the Year, due to all the …

Man of the Year

I watched the movie Man of the Year tonight on DVD. I wasn't really expecting to like it very much 'cause I'd seen a number of reviews reviling it for being so uneven. But I was curious so I picked it up from the library this afternoon anyway.

The reviewers had it right. This movie is quite uneven and can't decide if it's a comedy, a drama, a spy flick, or a conspiracy movie. And y'know--I really liked it a lot. To me, even if to nobody else, this movie worked from start to finish. I can see someone like Robin Williams working the room during the beginning of a pseudo-campaign and transitioning in just the ways shown here.

Barry Levinson, who wrote and directed this movie, is pitch perfect as he moves Tom Dobbs (Robin Williams), a comedy talk show host, through his paces on political, comedic and personal fronts. It is at times low key, at other times divisive, but it targets the political flaws in our system quite well with only rare sermonizing. Not a bad job b…

Happy Mother's Day

Mom taking a break, with Dad and one of her 3 kits by her side.

Casino Royale

I watched the DVD of the latest Bond flick, Casino Royale, tonight. I was hoping I'd like it but really didn't know what to expect. I saw the original version of Casino Royale when I was a kid and in general don't like the Bond franchise. I'm happy to say that I thought this was the best Bond film I've seen. I thought the middle dragged a little but I loved the opening of the movie and that first chase scene across the construction site. Hell, for the first time ever in a Bond flick I even enjoyed the background animation going on during the titles.

By the way, that initial chase scene used Parkour (similar to Free Running), an unusual physical art in which participants use buildings and other obstructions to facilitate their ability to move from one place to another. It has to be seen to be believed. I read several reviews online of this movie and I'm surprised that not one made note of this. It's the first time I've seen Parkour used so effectively in …

24 and the weekend

I'm watching the Day 5 season of 24 on TV, which is being shown on A&E Network 5 times a week, and recording the current season, Day 6, on FOX so I can watch it when I'm finished with the 5th Season. *whew* Anyway, the reason I mention this is that I just finished watching this past week's episodes and the tension is really mounting. That Jack Bauer is just something else. LOL

I'm sure it's no coincidence that both Season 5 on A&E and Season 6 on FOX are both ending on the same day, Monday May 21. Season 6, which started with two double-episodes last Fall is also ending with a double episode. So I guess I'll be spending all that week catching up on the 24 hours I've recorded of Season 6. 3 episodes a night during the week and then 9 hours on the weekend. Perfect! It really is quite a show though two people have told me that Season 6 isn't as good as Season 5. Damn.

I'm operating solo this weekend since Ren is bonding with her kids what with…

random thoughts regarding automobiles

I've read 3 items in the media in the past day regarding automobiles that piqued my interest. The first was in Newsweek and was a short interview with Chris Balish, author of "How to Live Well Without Owning a Car". The other two items were science articles regarding the feasibility of using corn stalks as fuel (as opposed to the ethanol processed from the corn kernals), and a new way to store hydrogen in a fuel tank to make it easier to use.

First of all, I've never liked cars. I was reluctant to learn to drive when a teen and I've never really become interested in them. To me they're just a tool that I need. According to Balish, almost anyone can use mass transit and end their dependance on cars and gasoline. He thinks that the money savings would allow for the purchase of a residence close-in to town where prices are higher.

Well, I agree that cars are expensive. I live 12 miles from town mostly due to the houses being less than half the price where I live a…

Destiny arrives on a bus from UNC

I read an article in the Durham paper today about a bus that UNC supports to aid applied science education here in NC. It really sounds like a great program and I've got a portion of the article below. Go to the address listed at the end if you want to read the entire article. You'll need to sign up on their page if you do that but it is free to do so.

This is the website for the Destiny program. The site is interactive and very well coded.

This program started in the Spring of 2000 with a 5-year grant for $1.6 million from Glaxo Wellcome. This money paid for a 40-foot bus, full of state-of-the-art equipment for wet laboratory experiments, Internet exploration and carefully honed curriculum materials as well as funding to run the program for the 5 years.

Since that original funding, the program has continued and due to the popularity of the program a second bus has been added. Additional funding has come from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, National Aeronautics and Space Adm…

How connected are you?!

I saw a survey on the PEW site. It's a survey to see to what degree the Internet and other forms of connectivity affect your life. Go give it a try.

In case you're curious or don't want to blindly go to a web link, the Pew Internet & American Life Project is a non-profit research center studying the social effects of the Internet on Americans. I presume they're safe--or at least as safe as any Washington DC group ever is.

Where Do You Fit?

Do you cringe when your cell phone rings? Do you suffer from withdrawal when you can't check your Blackberry? Do you rush to post your vacation video to your Web site? The questions below allow you to place yourself in one of the categories in the Pew Internet Project's Typology of Information and Communication Technology Users.

The graphic to the left is the resulting groups. I'm in the second group, the "connectors". Click on the graphic if you want it bigger so you can read it more readily.

Here's my res…

soy beans and weight loss

I saw an interesting article today on ScienceDaily. The article relates how increased soy consumption seems to have the effect of decreasing weight. The dateline was yesterday (6 May 2007) and the story originated from a University of Illinois press release.

The first thought that comes to my head is that anyone who's eating a lot of soy is going to lose weight because it tastes awful and you tend to eat less. Or maybe you just lose your survival impulse. LOL

However, according to Dr. Elvira de Mejia, a University of Illinois assistant professor of food science and human nutrition, "Weight loss is a complex physiological event. It's not always as simple as 'Eat less or exercise more,' losing weight is a cascade of many steps, beginning with the production of certain hormones and continuing with their action in the brain".

Who knew?

Dr de Mejia and Vaughn, a graduate student, noticed a significant weight loss in the group of animals that had received one of the in…

When do I die?

According to the site Find Your Fate, I'm going to die in 2049.

Despite their lovely questionnaire I think they have this wrong. I can't see my bod lasting much beyond 2022. If I do make it to 2049 it'll be a miserable existence. Too much stuff is breaking down now for me to have much left when I'm in my late 80s!

Right now I'm having some problems with an eye infection, my shoulder hurts, and both knees ache in the cold. And then there's that IBS stuff. This isn't the body of someone that'll nearly make it to 90.

According to the site:

Your Armageddon's day is 0 NaN 2049

Supposedly I have 15,335 days, 1 hour and 18 minutes left. Give or take a bit.

How long did the site give you to live--and do you want to stretch it out that far?

Cinco de Mayo

It's hard to believe but I forgot to buy sour cream and cilantro. Even so, the burritos were tasty and we watched some baseball and a few episodes of 24 as we ate our way through a number of tomatoes and peppers with some meat, cheese and spices tossed in for good measure.

Did I mention beer? A little of that too. What's Cinco de Mayo without beer? LOL I guess it's just the 5th of May.

I did avoid any contact with tequila. That stuff kills me! I hope I'm not flaunting tradition here...

what price this house?

I was reading an article in US News and World Report (May 7, 2007 issue) about Real Estate websites and decided to try them out by checking out the valuation on my house.

The article used 5 different websites: cyberhomes, House Front, Real Estate ABC, Reply and Zillow for determination of house prices. According to the article, the websites varied quite a bit as to accuracy of value and sometimes one or more of them didn't cover a geographic area at all.

For me, Real Estate ABC was head and shoulders above the rest in terms of the amount of information it gave as well as its accuracy. Unfortunately none of the websites gave me any feeling that I'm living on a goldmine. The value given for my house is approximately thesame as what I paid for it over 3 years ago. Sad, huh?

Here's my take on the 5 real estate sites:

Cyberhomes: The site generated an accurate map of my area populated with a number of other houses with generated values. There was no history of actual sales prices n…

genes for muscles or genes for running?

I read an online article today by Maggie Fox, a health and science editor at Reuters. The article is about a mutation in one breed of dogs that seems to enable the dog to run much faster. Here's an excerpt from the article:

A gene that helps control muscle development makes all the difference between an elite racing dog and a freak that is put down at birth, scientists reported on Tuesday.Racing whippets that carried one copy of the mutated gene were among the fastest runners, but those that carried two copies became unattractively bulky and were usually destroyed by breeders, the researchers said.The next step may be to look for this gene in human athletes to see if it helps explain what makes some competitors excel, said Dr. Elaine Ostrander of the National Human Genome Research Institute, who led the study.The gene controls a muscle protein called myostatin."Our work is the first to link athletic performance to a mutation in the myostatin gene and could have implications fo…

television roundup

Just some notes on what I've been watching this past week.

Last week's Heroes disappointed me so I was thinking the show might have started a decline. I'm glad to say that I really liked this week's show. The plot twist at the 45 minute mark was quite a shock to me. I didn't see it coming. While nothing huge happened in this episode it was very effective in setting up the plot line for the last 3 episodes. I expect that I'll really enjoy the way the show finishes the season. I just hope they don't leave too much on the plate for next season. That's why I stopped watching Lost 2 years ago. Too much prep and too little delivery.

I was disappointed in how Sunday's The Amazing Race ended. I was really hoping that Danny and Oswald would make it to the end. On the other hand, there's really none of the teams left that I strongly dislike. I was a little surprised by Oswald calling Charla and Mirna a "class act" and endorcing them for the win. …