Friday, February 27, 2009

Research Theme Song? What do you think?

I think I may have a very special post for you soon (look over at the poll for a hint as to what it may be about). But in the meantime, I'm going to fill some space by sharing a potential new theme song with you. It turns out that on Neko Case's new album there's a song called "Red Tide."

Pretty awesome, right? If you follow this link you can here it. Turns out that the lyrics aren't all about the Red Tide, but at some point I think they say "The red tide is over, the mollusks have won."

I think that's nice. I also like it when science creeps into song lyrics. Like the Mountain Goats song "Autoclave." Listen here.

I would also like to take this moment to point out that NPR's music site is delightful (I was going to say awesome, but twice in one post seems excessive).

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Space: The Final Frontier

When I was in college the student activity committee used to organize all night movie marathons. If you stayed for the whole thing you got a t-shirt. Do you remember this Katy? The Harrison Ford movie marathon happened before I came, but I did go to the Disney one. I learned a couple of things from this experience. The first was that I really don't like to stay up all night and will fall asleep during the screening of "The Sword in the Stone" even though I kinda like that movie. The second is that you can convince me to do a lot of stuff for a free shirt.

This past weekend, I had a similar experience. Charles and I totally geeked out and watched three Star Trek movies in one day. Don't judge. It rained all weekend. Fortunately, this particular movie marathon was mostly during the afternoon/evening, so I wasn't forced to choose between Star Trek and sleep.

Anyway, Star Trek movies are always sort of disconcerting for me. I love The Next Generation TV show for the same reasons many people think it's boring. People are reasonable. They're thoughtful, and they get out of tricky situations by modifying the deflector dish to change the internal phase of the ambient resonance waves rather than blasting through with the phasers. When I was 14 I really, really wanted to live on the Enterprise. So far, that hasn't happened, but I still have a special place in my heart for Jean Luc.

The movies, however, involve a lot of phaser fire. And photon torpedoes. And, I think, something called a quantum torpedo, but since those don't exist in the TV show I wasn't sure what they were. The Enterprise in the movies is way to violent for me to live there. Which, honestly, is for the best - since I've seen no evidence that an anomoly in the spacetime continuum will allow me to relocate to the 24th century.

That said, I still had a lot of fun on Sunday. The only thing that could have made it better was a free t-shirt.

And then, on Monday, Charles got a package. Apparently the t-shirt he ordered had some sort of subtle mistake and he got a free replacement t-shirt. And since he didn't need two nearly identical shirts, I got one. Awesome! It's way better than the shirt I got for the Disney marathon.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I dream of everything

I was walking to work yesterday morning, trying to think of a blog post. My only idea was a post entitled "have you seen my hat?" in which I would have tried to figure out if anyone knew where my hat was. But when I got to my lab it was sitting on my desk, so the post was no longer relevant.

I use that story to illustrate how nothing is going on in my life. It's cold, I'm taking care of Jenny's cats and watching a lot of Star Trek.

I think to compensate for the lack of interesting things in my life I've been dreaming a lot.

I'm not sure why, but last night I dreamed that I looking at a translucent pancake under the microscope, and it was full of daphnia infected by parasites (Sara - I think this must be because of you). At some point Dr. Crusher and Wesley Crusher started analyzing the parasite infection (clearly related to all the Star Trek). Then, after we had inspected the daphnia we decided to eat the pancakes. I offered one to Astrid but she refused saying something like "I'd like to stay pretty." In my dream I interpreted that as a comment about me eating too much.

Other dreams I've had recently include:
  1. Me being unable to wake up my brother so that he wouldn't be late for a job interview.
  2. Luise yelling at me because I hadn't done my German homework.
  3. Julia offering Charles a post-doc.
  4. Carsten driving me somewhere in a car (I had this dream right after I told Charles about #3, and Carsten asked if I ever dreamt about him).
  5. Barack Obama having lunch with me and Jenny in Wagner (a cafe) and getting harassed by the Germans about US foreign policy.
If you'd like to be featured in my dreams, apparently all you have to do is ask, and I'll incorporate you. It may be sort of sucky though. I mean, where was I going with Carsten? A plot might have been nice.


The dreaming continues. I refused to get up when the alarm went off this morning, so I had two weird dreams in the meantime. The first is that I was in the bathroom (in my Mom's house in GA, for whatever reason) trying to put on make-up, but it turns out that my face was made of glass and so the make-up looked weird and artificial. Which, obviously, is what I was concerned about - not that my face was made of glass.

The other one was that there was a virus sweeping the Earth that turned people into jerks. No other obvious symptoms, just that people started being mean and treating each other badly. A few of us were immune. This includes my mother, my cousin Sherry, and me. We had locked ourselves in a house and were enjoying some sort of buffet style meal while the world went to hell outside.

Monday, February 16, 2009

3 things that have made me laugh recently

Do you ever find yourself browsing through Natalie Dee comics instead of, say, testing to see which RP cartridge is best for extracting domoic acid from seawater? No? Um, right. Me neither. But at some point when I wasn't supposed to be working I found this.

I think that it sort of describes my blogging philosophy. And, then, if that weren't enough - I found my perfect Valentine's Day comic.

It's funny 'cause it's true.

And hey, the other day I was hanging out on the indexed site, and this made me laugh for a long time.

Like whoaa, man. Right? 'Cause, like chickens don't have fingers. That just totally blew my mind.

Okay, that's all for today. Just thought I'd share.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Six word memoir

There's a story on NPR today about six word memoirs. I've heard about it before. Apparently Hemingway was once asked to write a story in six words and he said "For Sale: baby shoes, never worn." Anyway, so the idea is usually to write your story in six words, but since it's nearly Valentine's Day people are writing the stories of their love lives. Some of them are sweet, some are sad. Here are a couple from the article:
The results are sometimes romantic: "He sees the me I don't" ... sometimes devastating: "For the children, I remain his." ... and often hilarious: "Found Jewish princess. Good-bye succulent pork."
I went through and read a bunch of them in the comments. The ones I liked best (of the ones I read):
"I liked him, he liked men."

"New best man and bride needed."

"Gravity pulled down, humor held up."
I've been thinking about my story of love. It's sort of depressing (and perhaps after the last post I should try to be more upbeat) but here it goes:
"Maybe there is no such thing."
Anyway, if anyone is still reading this blog feel free to contribute your own. In German if you like.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


February is my least favorite month. By sort of a lot. It starts off with my sister's birthday, which is cool (although I was on the trip from hell back from Nice this year and couldn't celebrate it) and then moves directly to Groundhog's Day, which is sort of a novelty (although it seems to be only a North American tradition). But after that February is depressing.

You see, I'm so over winter. I knew it was bad for my psychological well-being to move so far north, and I was completely right. It had been sunny for a couple of days, but when I woke up today it was snowing Winter just drags on forever. You've got the post-Christmas momentum to get through January, but it's completely worn off by the time February rolls around. And then you're left trying to psych yourself up enough to get out of bed in the morning.

In a few day's we'll have my favorite holiday ever. Valentine's Day. I maintain that it's a stupid day (designed to sell candy, flowers, and jewelry) whether or not you're in a relationship. Although I'll admit that I have more data points for being single. The great injustice of it, it seems to me, is that while the Germans don't really do Halloween they do celebrate Valentine's Day (Halloween = Awesome, Valentine's Day = Not Awesome).

I realize that I'm sounding crazy and bitter, but it's not supposed to get above freezing for the next week. You people in Atlanta don't really understand - I checked. The high there is 69 (21) today. I need spring! I need sunshine! I can feel my soul withering here in the dark.

That's sort of all I've got for today. There's nothing to be done except to hunker down and wait for spring to finally arrive.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Naked Sunday

I have no pictures for this post, and after I tell you why, you'll either be relieved or disappointed. Actually, most of you might be relieved, which honestly hurts my feelings a little.

If I haven't told you how comfortable the Germans are naked, I've been remiss. But here's the thing - Germans think nudity is no big deal. Which is why you can see into the showers at the gym, there are FKK beaches, there are no paper gowns to wear at doctor's offices, and you can see pictures of breasts in magazines and store windows.

In contrast, I think nudity is a big deal. When I'm near naked people I don't know where to rest my eyes (look at his face, look at his face), and being naked in front of people is much worse. I'm not especially comfortable with that unless we have a *very* close relationship. What can I say? I'm an American. I'm a prude. The two go hand in hand.

My discomfort with the naked human form is a source of great amusement for the Germans. And, in an effort to cure us of our prudish ways, Kristina took Jenny and me to the sauna yesterday. The difference between German saunas and American saunas is that clothing is forbidden in German saunas. And they're co-ed. That's right. I spent yesterday sweating naked on a bench with my friends while other naked people lounged nearby.

Overall, I guess it wasn't so bad. After I hung up my robe the first time it got progressively easier. And at some point I was just too hot to care. There are two observations I would like to make. The first is that it's quite unsettling to fall asleep in a lounge chair (outside the sauna - I was wearing a robe) and wake up to a naked man stretching over you to hang up his towel on a hook above your head. Penises across the room are one thing. Penises dangling before your eyes are another. The second thing is that that naked men are funny. While I was drinking my after sauna milchshake I had a view of the pool outside. Every single man walking around out there walked with his hands on his hips and his pelvis thrust forward. Not being a man, I can't be sure, but it certainly looked like some sort of method to establish territory.

I'm a little worried about what it might mean if I get too comfortable with being naked in front of strangers. Afterall, I'm eventually going back to the US, where nudity is closely linked with sex. It could lead to problems.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Nice was, well, nice.

I've been back from the ASLO meeting in Nice for a few days now. I'm sort of readjusting to the cold, although part of me died a little when I stepped off the airplane in Berlin. Walking to work in the morning is a feat of strength - I almost fell on the ice twice today. Like, really almost fell. With arms waving and the "Whoa whoa" sound effects. I can't type it to make it sound adequately alarming. But the advantage is that the adrenaline burst that comes from just barely avoiding busting my ass is better than coffee for waking me up.

I digress. Here in list format are some highlights of the trip:
  1. The city is really incrediby beautiful. The sea and the mountains, and the winding narrow streets of the old town. Some people live there. How does that happen? I find myself constantly saying things like "Oh my God, I'm in Nice." Which I think may be annoying for the Europeans. Since they think of Nice sort of like Toronto. I mean, I've never been to Toronto, but I doubt I'd be overwhelmed if I ever went.
  2. My talk went well. Or at least I think it did. People came up to me and said "I enjoyed your talk" and then asked me questions about it. I guess it's unlikely that they would come up to me and say "I thought your talk sucked" so it's hard to judge.
  3. I saw some good talks that I'm sort of mulling over in my mind. Hopefully I'll be able to get some inspiration. I also saw some bad talks. It turns out that after you're famous you no longer have to prepare or have a coherent thought in your presentation. Rambling is totally acceptable. I hope one day I get to that level. Hundreds of people will come just to listen to my stream-of-conscious, unedited thoughts. Now only my friends do that, and even they get annoyed.
  4. I enjoyed my time with the lab. You guys are awesome! (According to Carsten, Americans think everything is awesome.) I didn't take pictures, but Carsten did and he was graciously willing to share them with me. Click the picture to see the rest.