Showing posts from August, 2007

a Flat Iron you can eat

I was looking at the sale circular for Food Lion, a local supermarket chain here in NC, for something to cook up this weekend. One of the items on sale in the meat section was Flat Iron Fillets ($4.99/lb down from $5.99). I'd never heard of a cut referred to as "flat iron" so I googled it, of course. Here's what I learned from the Georgia Beef Board website:

The Beef Flat Iron Steak was developed through intensive muscle profiling research funded by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association in order to find cuts that can be better utilized to meet consumer’s needs. The Flat Iron is a very reasonably priced steak, from 4.99 to 6.99/lb, and is very flavorful, well marbled and very tender. In fact, it is the second most tender muscle in the beef carcass.

The Flat Iron, also known as a Flat Iron roast or shoulder top blade steak, which is taken from the shoulder clod just above the shoulder blade.

The Flat Iron has two halves that are separated by a thin section of tou…

wanna have bigger muscles?

Muscles. The thought conjures up images of Schwarzenegger and Venice Beach, not science geeks. So you might not associate Johns Hopkins Medical with muscle building--but that would be a mistake. Some of the most muscular mice in the world reside in a lab at Johns Hopkins. Yes, mice.

There's a press release from Johns Hopkins Medical Institute regarding this topic. Apparently when you change the endogenous levels of muscle proteins like myostatin and follistatin there's huge morphological changes. This news might keep those weight lifters away from steroids! Assuming they can find a way to modify their levels of these proteins.

Se-Jin Lee, the Johns Hopkins scientist who first showed that the absence of the protein myostatin leads to oversized muscles in mice and men has now found a second protein, follistatin, whose overproduction in mice lacking myostatin doubles the muscle-building effect. Lee is a professor of molecular biology and genetics at Johns Hopkins.

Check out that pi…

red and gold

This is one of those close up shots where it's hard to tell what the object actually is--but I love the colors. I took this shot in bright sunshine. The hole I was aiming the lens through was too small to use a flash so this is natural light only. The glowing colors are due to the sunlight flowing through--assuming the particle theory not the wave theory of light--the glass.

bad movies

Most of us have a few movies that we really like--if not now, at some time in our lives--that are really, really bad.

One of my favorites back in my 20s was on VH1 Classic tonight. Eddie and the Cruisers. It came out in '83 the year that I graduated college. Back then MTV and VH1 actually played music--what a concept! Music video channels that bothered to play music videos--and the Eddie and the Cruisers soundtrack was all over those channels. On the Darkside was played the most but Season in Hell was very good as well.

Watching it now, I have to admit the acting wasn't very good, maybe atrocious would be accurate, but I still like the songs. And the mood while overwrought was very good for that age. Early 20s is a time for being overwrought. The movie doesn't speak as well to me now that I'm in my 40s though.

Another favorite schlocky movie is Highlander and I still like that one. I just watched it a week ago, in fact. Christopher Lambert can't act as well as your a…

This past weekend

It was a pretty quiet weekend. Lots of rain and thunder on Saturday night / Sunday morning but it didn't interfere with any activities--at least not for me. I did stay up most that night reading Simple Genius by David Baldacci (of Absolute Power fame). I thought the book started a bit slow and awkward but that was just the first 10 pages or so. Other than that--and a few technical flaws particularly dealing with kayaks and river flow dynamics--it was a very good book. I started it on Thursday night and finished it on Saturday despite not being able to pick it up on Friday. It had to be good for me to read it that fast.

Chris and I watched a DVD on Saturday that was pretty good. As you can probably guess from that picture to the left, the DVD was Volver. The movie is in Spanish so if you watch it, you'll have to either understand Spanish or deal with subtitles. It's worth the extra bother 'cause while it's definitely quirky it's also a very good character study …

Don't bug me!

Is it time to call Orkin?

artic land grab and huntington's disease

There's an International war going on and it's SURPRISE north of us-- not in the Middle East.

This war is still over oil and natural gas--no surprise there--but at least this time there's no bullets, just lawyers and scientists with the UN having ultimate control over the decision.

There's the story over on the left. If it's too small to read, just click on it to make it bigger. Magic!

Apparently there's lots of petro type resources under the Bering Sea as well as the ocean floor beneath the polar region north of Alaska and Siberia. And that's a little sticky legally because under the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention, coastal states can claim the seabed beyond those economic zones, if they can show it connects to the continental shelf on which they are located.

In this particular case, the coastal states in question are Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the United States. They all have territory with the Arctic Circle so each controls an economic zone in the Ar…

comfort food?

My belly wasn't feeling good yesterday.

So my solution was to try different comfort type foods. I started off with some scrambled eggs as can be seen below. I just mixed 5 eggs, a few ounces of milk, and a pinch of sugar together and plopped them in a pan. About 2 ounces of sharp cheddar cheese was added just before the eggs were finished as well as a little salt. I like my scrambled eggs moist but with no wet parts. I understand many people eat them partially wet. Ewwww!

Up there on the left is what I had late at night while watching the end of a Braves game. Peanut butter and jelly-- but on a flour tortilla instead of bread. You can load more jelly that way without it leaking! And of course some sweet ice tea with both snacks.

Manoic and ancient diets

There's an article today on Reuter's newswire about a South American volcano eruption around 1,400 years ago.

According to the article there's a well preserved field of cultivated manoic buried beneath the lava flows. The article says that this is the first evidence that the nutritious crop was cultivated by the Mayans.

That's manoic, aka cassava, over there on the left. According to Wiki, Cubans use it for IBS. Maybe I should try it.

This keys into two books I've read in the past year. In Omnivore's Dilemma, Michael Pollan spends a third of the book discussing and trying to duplicate the diet of ancient peoples and Jared Diamond, in his book Collapse, focuses on how agriculture impacts the success and failure of current and ancient civilizations. This discovery of the manoic field helps explain how the Mayan civilization prospered in an area that was often getting sub-par rainfall.

"We have long wondered what else the prehistoric Mayan people were growing an…

...a couple of problems away

The title up there is taken from a quote by Craig Grimes, a professor of electrical engineering at Penn State University.

According to Grimes, his group is “only a couple of problems away” from developing an inexpensive and easily scalable technique for water photoelectrolysis (the splitting of water into hydrogen and oxygen using light energy) that could help power the proposed hydrogen economy.

As you probably know, methods of hydrogen production currently employed split hydrogen from natural gas in a process that produces CO2, which is a climate changing greenhouse gas. Since hydrogen is abundently available in water (H2O) it would be much better--and cheaper--if we could extract it from water at a reasonable cost. You can do it now by running electrical current through water but it's not very efficient.

The Penn State scientists speculated that by doping a TiO2 (titanium oxide, a common ingredient in white paint) film with a form of iron called hematite, a low band gap semiconduc…

lazy weekend

I just vegetated this weekend. Chris had some stuff she needed to do so I was on my own and I just chose to do nothing. Nada. I watched a few movies, watched some television, and did some cooking and baking. Nothing that involved going out into that damn heat. The weather folk had promised us a few "cool days" in the mid 80s but it was over 90 both days. Phooey!

I happened to catch a lot of Alton Brown this weekend. There was his Feasting on Asphalt show, which is in its second season, as well as a couple of his Good Eats shows that I'd not seen before, and I also watched an episode of Iron Chef America in which Alton Brown was sorta flirting with the visiting chef, Alexandra Guarnaschelli. She had cut her finger and Brown was making the situation quite dramatic--and Alexandra was working with him on the shtick.

The theme of this episode of Iron Chef America wasn't any one food but rather used a bunch of foods that could be garnered at a farmer's market. Guarnasc…

meme time

I got tagged with a meme by Tiff who runs an amusing blog named "No Accent Yet". The name refers to Tiff's move down here to the Southern USA--she lives near Raleigh around 40 or 50 miles from me--and her supposed lack of a Souther drawl. Since I've never heard her voice I only have her word for that tho.

Here goes, first with the rules and then with the answers and THEN with the tags.

1. You have to post these rules before you give the facts.

2. You must list one fact that is somehow relevant to your life for each letter of your middle name. If you don’t have a middle name, use the middle name you would have liked to have had.

3. At the end of your blog post, you need to choose one person for each letter of your middle name to tag. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

My middle name is Paul so I've got to come up with 4 facts --relevant ones, apparently-- as a result. Oh joy.

P: prickly. People tend to annoy me so I …

Wnt, aging, and the fountain of youth

You're not getting any older--just your blood is. LOL

The story is actually a lot more complicated than that but there's two articles in the August 10 issue of Science that indicate that the environment (ie blood) our cells are in is a lot more important vis a vis aging than the cells themselves. Further, that it's a protein referred to as wnt that is the big player in this.

Wnt has long been known to be a very important regulatory protein. The name is derived from "wingless" and "integrative" and dates back to early genetic work on fruit flies on the wingless side and vertebrate studies on the integrative.

As you can see to the left, the wnt pathway is complex. My research has dipped into the APC area quite a few times and one of the genes I'm working on right now is for a frizzled protein (the FRZ in the diagram) but I've never worked with wnt directly.

Back to the Science article. Thomas Rando, MD, PhD, associate professor of neurology and neuro…

Baseball, stats, and posting

My boss has really been piling on this work this Summer and it's starting to affect my posting here. Last month I was 31 for 31. I posted every day in July. But August is a different story. I'm 10 for 15 so far. Which reminds me of baseball.

I lived in Georgia for 15 years and Atlanta for 11 of those. Not too surprising then that I follow the Braves and not some other major league team. Locally, the Durham Bulls used to be a Braves minor league club so there's strong support for the Braves here though something like 10 years ago, in the AL expansion, the Tampa Devil Rays got the Bulls for their organization.

Tonight the Braves won their second game in the series against the Giants with the sweep possible tomorrow night. Barry Bonds did get a solo home run but the main story of the night was the uneven officiating which resulted in Ryan Klesko (former Brave and current First Baseman for the Giants) being ejected as well as both managers at varying times.

Bobby Cox, manager fo…

jarring details

Do you ever have moments, while reading a book or watching a movie, when you just cringe because you sense that a scene, or even just an isolated detail, just shouldn't be there? That happens to me a lot.

Last night I watched Speed for the umpteenth time. It's a very nice entertaining movie --despite Keanu Reeves typical wooden performance-- but there's this one scene that always annoys me. When the bus "jumps" over the gap in the highway the front end rises way up in the air right as it takes off. Now that's what you see when a biological critter jumps because just before you jump you spring upwards so you'll go further. I don't see how a bus could do that. LOL Buses don't pop wheelies all on their own.

A scene in The Last King of Scotland struck me the same way. Near the beginning of the movie, the young Scottish doctor, due to unusual circumsances, finds himself treating Idi Amin. While the injury is small--just a sprained wrist--the nearby bell…

Weekend odds and ends

Well, Chris left for home a few hours early due to needing to meet with her business partner. As a result I'm having to fill some time up with a little cooking and playing AofE on the computer.

The cooking part is just a mac and cheese casserole that I have in the oven now. I made one on Friday for Chris and she liked it a lot--but I thought it tasted just a little smoky, like maybe I'd burned the roux at the beginning just a little--so I'm trying it over tonight. In both I'm using a Cabot cheddar that I've never used before (called "Seriously Sharp") and maybe the smoky taste is just characteristic of that cheese.

It's a pretty simple recipe, you just make a roux with a couple of tablespoons of butter and a like amount of flour, then add a half teaspoon of salt and as much pepper as you like--I use white pepper instead of black. Then once that's all combined you add 2.5 cups of whole milk slowly, stirring all the while. Reduce the liquid by about h…

Beetles, a magnolia, and a butterfly

The weather is a lot more pleasant today. Lots of clouds and a bit of rain this morning and a relatively mild high of 94F. 10 degrees cooler than the past few days. *whew*

Here's two pictures I just took in my yard a few minutes ago. The title up above pretty much tells the whole story. I'm going to post this on my Nature Pictures blog also since I've not posted there in over a week.

Above, as you can see, we have a fading magnolia bloom that is providing living space for a few beetles. Not the guitar wielding type tho. And below we have a butterfly that's sipping some nectar just a few feet away from the magnolia tree.

Are you well traveled?

I caught a meme at Liz's Library Tavern and being a bit lazy today, I decided to post it myself. Just how well traveled are you?!

Your Travel Profile:
You Are Extremely Well Traveled in the Northeastern United States (86%)
You Are Very Well Traveled in the Midwestern United States (75%)
You Are Very Well Traveled in the Southern United States (62%)
You Are Well Traveled in Canada (60%)
You Are Well Traveled in the Western United States (42%)
You Are Mostly Untraveled in Western Europe (14%)
You Are Mostly Untraveled in Southern Europe (13%)
You Are Untraveled in Africa (0%)
You Are Untraveled in Asia (0%)
You Are Untraveled in Australia (0%)
You Are Untraveled in Eastern Europe (0%)
You Are Untraveled in Latin America (0%)
You Are Untraveled in New Zealand (0%)
You Are Untraveled in Scandinavia (0%)
You Are Untraveled in the Middle East (0%)
You Are Untraveled in the United Kingdom (0%)How Well Traveled Are You?

it's hot, hot, hot

Here in North Carolina we've been having some hot weather of late. Most of the US east coast has been hit by this heat. Here we've had a week in which we've gone over 100F almost every day.

Unfortunately for me, my A/C system decided this was a good time to fail. It must have died sometime Monday night 'cause Tuesday morning it was a mite humid in the house. I didn't think anything of it at the time though.

When I got home from work late that afternoon the temperature was up to 82 in the house. I generally keep it around 77-78 so this was a bad sign.

By the end of the evening the heat and humidity got a lot worse.

Of course it was still a lot better on the inside of the house versus the outside.

As you can see there, the temp outside was 103.1 at 6pm and was still climbing a little. *whew*

My grass needs mowing but I'll tell you--I'd have to be nuts to cut it in this heat! I'll wait until this weekend when I can cut it in the morning when it's only 80F.

homework from Chris

A couple of weeks ago Chris went to a family reunion. She didn't bring me. The gods weren't happy and struck down her deck umbrella.

An alternate explanation might be that she left the umbrella unfurled and vulnerable on a stormy weekend.

Toe-may-toe, Tah-ma-to. Y' know?

In any case that to the left is what is often referred to as the short end of the stick. Umbrella stick, in this case. As you can see, the wind (aka god's wrath) frickin' snapped that puppy like a twig.

Actually, I suppose in a way the umbrella pole is a twig like thing so it makes sense that it was snapped that way.

In any event, Chris asked me to load up the umbrella into my car at the end of last weekend and take it back to my house where I could have the pleasure of repairing it. Whee!

Here's more background, the umbrella was on her deck when she left for the weekend and was gone when she got back on Sunday. The next day she looked around a little and the part that snapped off had sailed right ov…


Chris likes giving little presents. So far she's given me chocolate covered cherries, a very pretty candle and some neapolitan Hershey kisses.

Now added to that list are 3 more items.

In the picture on the left are 2 of them. There's a 4-pack of little bottles of wine. The Riesling is my favorite wine and the small bottles are so cute. I'd never seen this wine packaged in the mini-bottles before.

Chris also gave me a container of special sugar for rimming glassware for mojitos. Do you think she's trying to tell me something with all these alcohol related gifts?

In any case, both gifts are very thoughtful and have such pretty packaging-as does Chris, now that I think about it.

I've not tried either gift out but I suspect the mojito sugar might get a workout either today or on Wednesday. I intend to pick up the fixings for mojitos on my way home from work today. And bread. I'm out of bread. Have to remember to pick up bread too...

The third present is these silk sheets…

The Bourne Ultimatum

I saw The Bourne Ultimatum earlier today with my girlfriend. She liked it more than me but we both thought it was very good. I still like the first movie the best but I admit this was a worthy sequel, and while Ludlum only wrote 3 Bourne novels--I'm not counting the ones completed by Lustbader--it's obvious that the creative team behind these movies fully intend to do at least one more. And that's an entirely good thing since all three movies so far are way above average.

Over on the Rotten Tomatoes site, The Bourne Ultimatum garnered a 94% rating from the critics and 92% rating by the folk visiting the site. Those are impressive numbers and this movie deserves them.

This movie takes up right where the second one, The Bourne Supremacy (2004), left off. Chris and I watched the first two movies on DVD Saturday and I'm glad we did. It really helps to have recently seen the second movie when watching this new one. In this installment Jason Bourne is still mourning the loss o…

one year anniversary

It's the one year anniversary of when I purchased my car.

I had a Nissan Frontier for over 7 years and was so glad to get rid of it. I bought it 2 months after I moved to NC 'cause it was so useful for moving stuff around but I hadn't planned on keeping it for so long.

Now, even after a year, I'm still quite happy with my little Hyundai Elantra. It's an amazing improvement over that nasty Frontier. And having a nice MP3 enabled stereo is great plus the leather interior. I really hated having the fabric bench seat in that truck. Yuck.

That was the only truck I've ever owned and I just never liked it much. I'll admit they're quite convenient --there's rarely a week that goes by when I don't think that it'd be a lot easier to do something with a truck-- but I hate driving trucks!