Tuesday, November 29, 2005

For the Record

I do solemnly swear that I DID FINALLY see chromosomes today. The GVs made it into the slide wells and under the scope could be seen four honest-to-goodness chromosomes. (Ideally there ought to be many more, but we'll ignore that for now.) To where they vanished during centrifugation and staining, I have no earthly idea. But they were there, hang it all.

By way of explanation, I've been trying since the end of October, following on the heels of the previous rotation student and the PI before that, and this is the farthest I've gotten.

The small victory, it can feel so intoxicating...

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Book Bleg

Whilst I sit here reading about nonsense mediated decay (NMD), my thoughts stray to the literary prospects afforded by Christmas break--which will be ushered in by exams all to quickly. Therefore, friends, I am seeking recommendations as to a few books to read during that time, either fiction or nonfiction; I guess the reading will be apportioned along with the eating, walking on the beach, family/puppy time, and--I hope--visiting friends. Anyhoo, I'm hoping to start with The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (oh, and I see there are multiple Popper works listed...should probably read those too...), but I'd love to hear to hear opinions on other works!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

A Moon Battery?

Every so often, one feels a bit of neighborly concern...especially when one's neighbors come up with things like this*:

A former Canadian Minister of Defence and Deputy Prime Minister under Pierre Trudeau has joined forces with three Non-governmental organizations to ask the Parliament of Canada to hold public hearings on Exopolitics -- relations with “ETs.”

By “ETs,” Mr. Hellyer and these organizations mean ethical, advanced extraterrestrial civilizations that may now be visiting Earth.

Personally, I'd be a smidge more worried about the *unethical* ones, not to mention how on earth we'd classify them under the Geneva Conventions and such, but whatever hovers your craft.

[...] Mr. Hellyer went on to say, "I'm so concerned about what the consequences might be of starting an intergalactic war, that I just think I had to say something."

Whoa, dude, dude, breathe...there are more than enough nasty sorts here on our own wee planet...and we know they exist, which is an awfully helpful attribute. Plus, we just assumed these other guys are "ethical" and "advanced," no?

Hellyer revealed, "The secrecy involved in all matters pertaining to the Roswell incident was unparalled. The classification was, from the outset, above top secret, so the vast majority of U.S. officials and politicians, let alone a mere allied minister of defence, were never in-the-loop."

Hellyer warned, "The United States military are preparing weapons which could be used against the aliens, and they could get us into an intergalactic war without us ever having any warning. He stated, "The Bush administration has finally agreed to let the military build a forward base on the moon, which will put them in a better position to keep track of the goings and comings of the visitors from space, and to shoot at them, if they so decide."

Now, my friend, I don't like to be a purveyor of monkey wrenches, but 1) I can't help but think that a military base on the moon would be kind of a tricky secret to keep; and 2) even if we assume, arguendo, the administration has made such plans, I'm having a bit of a difficult time imagining the odds of our purportedly ethical extraterrestrial visitors seeing the business end of a supercool weapon are higher than their getting an invitation to Crawford for some BBQ and maybe even getting to hold Dubya's hand.

Hellyer’s speech ended with a standing ovation. He said, "The time has come to lift the veil of secrecy, and let the truth emerge, so there can be a real and informed debate, about one of the most important problems facing our planet today."

And all this time I'd been pondering how to increase individual prosperity and opportunity around the globe; preserve the principles of free speech and limited government for posterity; improve the dismal state of American education; end human trafficking; and stop regimes who oppress those who live within their borders while their leaders amass large sums from international aid monies. I'm a silly girl, what can I say?

On October 20, 2005, the Institute for Cooperation in Space requested Canadian Senator Colin Kenny, Senator, Chair of The Senate Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence, “schedule public hearings on the Canadian Exopolitics Initiative, so that witnesses such as the Hon. Paul Hellyer, and Canadian-connected high level military-intelligence, NORAD-connected, scientific, and governmental witnesses facilitated by the Disclosure Project and by the Toronto Exopolitics Symposium can present compelling evidence, testimony, and Public Policy recommendations.”

[...] The Disclosure Project, a U.S.– based organization that has assembled high level military-intelligence witnesses of a possible ET presence, is also one of the organizations seeking Canadian Parliament hearings.

Vancouver-based Institute for Cooperation in Space (ICIS), whose International Director headed a proposed 1977 Extraterrestrial Communication Study for the White House of former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who himself has publicly reported a 1969 Close Encounter of the First Kind with a UFO, filed the original request for Canadian Parliament hearings.

Ahhh, Jimmy...

The proposed Decade of Contact is “a 10-year process of formal, funded public education, scientific research, educational curricula development and implementation, strategic planning, community activity, and public outreach concerning our terrestrial society’s full cultural, political, social, legal, and governmental communication and public interest diplomacy with advanced, ethical Off-Planet cultures now visiting Earth.”

You know, I'm awfully tempted to forward this to the senior scientist who harangued me the other day about lack of federal funding, &c.... (OK, it was a general harangue, but still, I think they forget what they're up against, sometimes.)

Those bits of neighborly good fun aside, I wish our friends in Ottowa well with their project in interplanetary diplomacy. Even if I do think the taxpayers' money could be better spent, I'm sure it's an admirable effort. And if the ethical extraterrestrials do exist, you will have beaten us all to the punch. Naturally, you may refer the unethical, belligerent ones to the then-President Rice. Cheers!

(h/t The Corner, of course)
*Er, Ben, is this just bitter-cold-induced Canadian humour that I don't get?

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Thanksgiving Quizzie

You Are The Stuffing

You're complicated and complex, yet all your pieces fit together. People miss you if you're gone - but they're not sure why.
(Rather fitting, given that Mom's stuffing is definitely the most important part of my family's traditional Thanksgiving foods...followed not infrequently by the pumpkin cheesecake.)
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Another Person Grade-Blogging

No, really, this is newsworthy. Or, more specifically, the fact that I may actually be doing OK in one of my classes is extremely newsworthy. The grades from our latest Mol* exam are up, and I've clocked in around what looks like a firm B on the exam. If I didn't have another exam tomorrow, I'd break out the ice cream and have a little celebration.

However, keeping the proverbial head above water is still a BIG task: the last weeks of the semester will be, starting tomorrow, a massive campaign to maintain the decent Mol standing, eke out something in Biochem, and beat the remaining Cell quizzes and final into bloody submission; all the while still showing up in lab and maybe actually accomplishing something. (Though the latter may be too much to ask for.) Thank Heaven for Thanksgiving...4 entire days all to myself to do nothing but study and offer up prayers that Minnesota will see the light and convert to the Princeton Final Exam Period Model!

Ah well, I still maintain I'm marginally better at this than at being a law student. Except that Paulsen is offering a seminar next semester on Lincoln & the Constitution, and I entered the law lottery solely because I do rather want to take it. Naturally there's a goodly bit of sadism involved: it's a senior writing seminar, which means 5 short papers (they only sound easy) and a final 25 page paper. Who wants to take that at the same time as Genetics and Development? Ooooh, pick me!!! Oh yes, and there's also an Innovation Law course being offered...quick, stop me now!

I guess the other item on the agenda is to generate and execute a million-dollar idea in order to buy The Chauffeur a faster car.

*Strangely, I don't actually know the full course name off the top of my head, although I suspect it might be "Regulation of Molecular Processes."

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

One of Those Days...

...definitely. Doctor's appointment that could not be rescheduled ended up taking the entire class period for Cell. I'd emailed the prof ahead of time explaining this conflict (which I was unable to resolve) and asking for an excused absence and hadn't heard anything back from him. Still haven't. Did put the signed note in his box, so hope he'll see it and not penalize me (yes, it's back to high school). Got Cell midterm grade back--I was right--it went rather poorly. F^#%. Now must do brilliantly on the remaining quizzes and even more freaking brilliantly on the final to still end up OK. (Must also find time to get through the day-to-day work and start studying for Biochem exam on Monday, on which must also somehow do brilliantly.) This was supposed to be a low-key week with time to study. So far, that hasn't happened.

Then, was doing great in lab until forgot a key reagent which set me back an entire hour and somehow during the very last step ended up with ridiculously low yields. Absolutely no idea how that happened, so I get to do it again tomorrow. As I was cleaning up, checked the voicemail and found a "please call us back" message from my bank, with no details. Now, I'm sure that's probably because of some regulation barring them from mentioning your private information over the phone or something like that, but it's also an outstanding way to give a girl a minor heart attack while she immediately starts imagining every dire scenario which could leave her with an empty vault at Gringotts. Fortunately, it turns out they were just calling to let me know I won a compilation CD. Phew!!

Nevertheless, I just want to finish tonight's work as quickly as possible and hope tomorrow will bring improvements.

At least the first snow of the season is coming down outside...

Monday, November 14, 2005

Scary Moment of the AM

In Biochem lecture on protein folding:

Prof: "And if we think back to P-Chem..."
Cot's inner monologue: *panic* Wait...I was supposed to take P-Chem?!? When did that memo go around? See, Dr. ___, I didn't take it because (a) the title involves "physics" and "chemistry," neither of which I do; therefore (b) I would have promptly failed out of school. And as we all know, I adored our little Gothic country club and didn't really want to depart in ignominy. I mean, physics is very sexy (I guess chemistry is too, kind of), except when I touch it: then it's just a disaster.

Sigh. That's OK, I'm not here to be a biochemist, I'm here to play with Genes 'n Cells & Co. and will make sure not to do any hardcore biochemistry without adult supervision. ...just have to make it through!

But still, scary!

{Evening edit because I had to write on a Mac this morning}

Friday, November 11, 2005

Could You Make That a Chocolate Martini?

You scored as James Bond, Agent 007. James Bond is MI6's best agent, a suave, sophisticated super spy with charm, cunning, and a license's to kill. He doesn't care about rules or regulations and somewhat amoral. He does care about saving humanity though, as well as the beautiful women who fill his world. Bond has expensive tastes, a wide knowledge of many subjects, and his usually armed with a clever gadget and an appropriate one-liner.

James Bond, Agent 007


Batman, the Dark Knight


Neo, the "One"




Lara Croft


Captain Jack Sparrow


Indiana Jones


The Amazing Spider-Man


William Wallace


El Zorro


The Terminator


Which Action Hero Would You Be? v. 2.0
created with QuizFarm.com

My payback for this post, I guess...
(h/t TigerHawk)

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Your Honor...

It was daunting to be a mere student arguing last year in front of an experienced litigator who took seriously his duty to tear our arguments apart. It would be doubly so to argue before a federal appeals court judge (at least for Yours Truly, who cringes at the thought of the whole courtroom thing*). So one can't help but grin and feel for these Wake Forest students who will be facing...that's right, the new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. One wonders if this will prove to be an effective method for reducing the probability the poor mock judges will be subjected to ridiculous arguments by nervous students shaking in their heels (or tie). H/T The Corner.

*Hence the Best Brief finalist and not Best Oralist!

Further Up and Further In

My current rotation PI is fantastic: he kindly agreed to let me have today off from lab to study! This is rather generous indeed. I didn't start studying quite as early as I'd intended today, but doing OK so far, I think--I hope! Covering RNA stuff right now (aka rekindling the old love affair)...devilishly complex. Strangely enough, I'm studying in the law library. *scary music* Or mayhap not so strange: I'm pretty sure I wrote more than one Con Law or Civ Lib paper down in dear old Fine.

Here's the really funny thing that keeps percolating among the gray cells: as I work in the lab, it feels like the right thing to be doing. All right, not 24/7, mind you, but right on the whole. A little explanation is in order: since my very first visit to campus, with a stop at LTL, I was always fairly certain I wanted to be MOL. (This was reinforced by the unfortunate realizations during high school that things like physics, engineer, and math genius didn't quite seem to be in the cards.) And apart from a momentary flirtation with the idea of Comp Lit, everything was pretty straightforward. But I was always absolutely certain the lab rat life wasn't the way to go. Fortunately my advisor coaxed me into giving it a try; the rest of the story is evident. Now, the more I see and the more I learn, I realize that the components of an organism might be tiny, but the functional "world" they organize is immense. It's not enough to know that these things exist: I want to be a part of the search for understanding.

So, what do you think, friends? How does "Dr. Cot" sound? Or is this just temporary insanity...

...In other completely unrelated happenings, I am now signed up for broomball! (Minneapolis rec league)

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A Cautionary Tale

We're on notice, folks: should we ever be appointed to a high office, our theses may also see the light of day. I'm only twenty-odd pages in thus far, but it's actually pretty interesting--interesting if you have a passing interest in comparative constitutionalism and governmental structures and the like, anyway.