tell me about it
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from freezer to oven
just like you and me!
Yesterday I was talking a little about lab coats, and it reminded me of this funny project Fermilab has online. They asked a visiting seventh grade class to draw pictures of what they think a scientist is like before visiting and after.
The "before" pictures are about what you expect -- almost all Einsteins and Dr. Jekylls -- but I was surprised just how homogenous they were.
"To me, a scientist is bald and has hair coming out of the sides of his head. . . "
"He would also have numerous white lab coats."
Numerous lab coats! Yes, it's true. If you look at all the kids' "before" images, there are numerous lab coats.
The "after" pictures are hilarious in their contrast.
". . . anyone can be a scientist. I saw people walking around in sweatshirts and jeans. Who knows? Maybe I can be a scientist." -- Amanda
"The scientists are really nice and funny people. I first thought of the scientist as a nerdy person or someone walking around with a laptop. Now after I visited Fermilab I know what a real scientist is like. They are just like you and me." -- David
"Actually, they are just people who ask and answer questions." -- Eric (whose "scientist" turned from a nerdy white guy to a black dude who says "sup, yo!")
". . . most of the scientists were in jeans and striped shirts. I even saw a person with a Bulls shirt on. . . . (Scientists are) interesting, smart people who dedicated their lives to what they like with many other lively endeavors, like kids or marriage." -- Kyle
That's right! Scientists can even wear shirts with sports teams on them! Science, contrary to what you might think, is not the opposite of sports.
"The scientists were smart but not like geeks. . . . The scientists were good with kids; they would talk to us so that we could understand them not in scientific terms. . . . The scientists were like me when I was little. The scientists played sports, hung out with their friends and also did not get straight A's in every subject." -- Pat
Again with the sports. Jock OR Nerd: you must choose!
"After today I learned that a scientist is more than a person doing experiments; he is a person with a life." -- Michael (Well, sometimes, Michael, but not always...)
These are Andrea's "before" and "after" -- I think the cool "after" guy looks a little like Bob - no?
And where's my standard-issue labcoat! It would protect me from spilling coffee on myself while I program.
Quite seriously, it is encouraging that some of the girls drew women, even for the "before" picture
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no lab coat, but...
Sometimes in my physicist day, I don't do anything really physicisty. I kind of sit in front of a computer and work on crappy C++ code and make graphs of stuff. On those days, it doesn't really feel like I'm helping Discover the Secrets of the Universe or anything. And I never get to wear a lab coat, so if I were on television, I don't think anyone would believe I was a real scientist. ;)
Other days, though, I do feel like I'm doing something interesting and fun, and sometimes I feel especially badass, like when I can solder things together. Today I had a funny moment of scientistness when I was writing an equation in my thesis and I wanted to put in a few numbers to make sure that it made sense. I started looking around for a bit of scrap paper and grabbed an envelope left over from some junk mail. Then I smiled. If you google "back of the envelope" there's 460,000-some entries describing "back of the envelope calculations" (a term coined by Enrico Fermi, says wikipedia) which are rough estimates you use to see if something's working, or figure out the basic idea. And today I did a quick "back of the envelope calculation" on the back of a real envelope.
It's not much, but somehow it felt cool. Sometimes working on computers makes me feel so far away from paper and it was nice to see my old friend, paper, again.
I'll put these up on flickr tomorrow, but this is easier -->
Those are some photos from last night's Pittsburgh Gallery Crawl. It was a fun night in downtown, that ended too early! Since it ended at 9, we hung out for a while at Gabe's house (cupcakes! thanks!) and then went to Silky's with the superfamousawesome singer from Selfish Jane.
Today was more laid-back, working on some projects at home.
crawling for art
I've most often heard the word "crawl" associated with "pub crawl," but in Pittbsurgh there's a "gallery crawl" tonight with free art and music and snacks! We're going to see one of HH's many side-project-bands called "Selfish Jane." (get it?) They're not on the schedule, but they're playing at 6 and 8 at the Watercolors gallery -- we should be there at 6, and then grab some dinner nearby and continue crawling... give a call if you'll be there!
Here are recipes for a few things we've cooked lately:
I heart hearty wintery desserts, like rice pudding. Feel free to use whatever rice you have around, milk instead of cream, cut back on the sugar if you like... it'll be good anyway.
Delicious Tunisian soup with meatballs: from P-Wo's Slow Mediterranean Kitchen. We used lamb from the co-op this time, which was good. It seems like a lot of paprika, but go for it!
Clafoutis! It's fun to say. This is from the Williams-Sonoma French cookbook. I used raspberries and blueberries from the freezer -- I think any fruit will work. Peaches would be good. Mmmm.
words words words
demographicize: This ReadyMade article made me feel totally deomgraphicized. I was looking for a recipe for this food I ate in Puerto Rico, called "Mofongo." Apparently other people who might be interested in a mofongo recipe read ReadyMade magazine (oh, me) and cook crazy vegetarian dinners (me again!) and also might like this cookbook called "The Grub Generation." (Recently recommended to me by a friend of mine who knows the author. Three for three!)
ballerina cohomology: spam subject line of the day!
decimate: reduce BY one tenth, or reduce TO one tenth? (That's a great "Usage Note" in the link. I want to be on the usage panel!)
digest: (from defective yeti)
Bush has moved his decision on the Iraq war to January, saying that he needs to digest all the information he has received on the subject.
Yes, this is the typical Bush M.O.: Ingest a bunch of reasonable suggestions from thoughtful and knowledgeable advisers, hunker down with Cheney and the rest of the inner circle for a week or two, and return with the end product of the digestion process.
(The photo at the top is from Puerto Rico - click on it to see the whole set of photos.)
726 days until 2009 inauguration
Watching the State of the Union tonight at the lovely home of pepperedjane and arh006 made me very excited to have only ... 2 years ... left of hearing Mr. Bush speak in public. Not only do I not believe a word that the guy says, but he's just such an awful speaker. Anyway, more on that tomorrow, maybe.
For 2009, another of our choices is Mitt Romney, Mormon businessman and one-term Republican Governor of Massachusetts. He and his wife are both Brigham Young-graduated Mormons, and has this to say on his own website:
"Last year the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court struck a blow against the family, as I'm sure you know. The court forgot that marriage is first and foremost about nurturing and developing children. Its ruling meant that our society is supposed to be indifferent about whether children have a mother and a father."
Yeah, so, not that guy.
Currently reading: What's the Matter with Kansas? It's interesting so far...
speaking of christmas...
Here are some representative photos from the Christmas travels.
These Christmas-colored foods are from dinner at my dad's -- the spinach on the left will be used in the Creamed Spinach recipe, and the red stuff is beet soup, which we served as an amuse bouche in a wineglass. It looked beautiful, and it tasted much of delicious beets, but not everyone seemed to be a fan of beets. (Huh?) People also seemed a little confused about drinking a soup out of a wineglass, but I liked the cognitive dissonance of expecting wine and getting brothy beety soup instead.
Don't you worry -- this Seagram's bottle at the spoons-family log cabin was filled with Bombay Sapphire for reasons I'll leave to your imagination. Gin + Christmas Cookies = Happy Holidays? We also got a bottle of Hendricks Gin for spoons' brother for Christmas, so quality gin was all around -- except in the new Bond movie. Gordon's, Mr. Bond? Really!
is it almost christmas time?
It's been snowing so much here that I feel like it must be time to make cookies and sing Christmas carols... wait. That part is already over? But ... I ... sigh. I'm so confused.
In the last post I was writing about Obama, and today we heard two more announcements of presidential wannabes: Hillary Clinton and Sam Brownback. I watched Clinton's video on her website and read a bit about her life and accomplishments. (Her wikipedia article has 87 citations, to Obama's 141, so I'm putting Obama ahead as the candidate favored more by geeks.) I thought Hillary's video was OK, but she just doesn't seem that comfortable. Too plastic? I feel like people will be looking at her as what a successful woman can be, and I worry that if she looks bad in commercials, interviews, debates, that that might hurt the next viable female candidate.
Brownback is running for the Republican nomination, and I already don't like him. He's already making a big deal about making sure there's no gay marriage. While I'll admit that there are lots of complicated issues: health care, foreign policy, education -- gay marriage is not one of them. There are absolutely zero rational arguments against gay marriage, and it's one of my political dealbreakers.
Also, I mentioned that O'Reilly and Colbert were doing a show swap, and you can see the show (at least you can see them right now) on YouTube: Bill O'Reilly on Colbert Report, and earlier in the day, Colbert on O'Reilly and a not-that-funny panel discussion on O'Reilly's show about why Colbert is so popular. Worth watching!
so, now, my chicken soups...
I've just returned from D's -- land of 1000 beers! Tonight I had Bell's Kalamazoo Stout, Magic Hat Circus Boy, Troeg's Oatmeal Stout. It was a wintery stout-y kind of day, I guess.
We talked a bit about Barack Obama -- I had just watched this video announcement of his presidential exploratory committe, and I was learning a bit more about him. He's had a pretty interesting life, born in Hawaii, lived in Jakarta as a child, had a Kenyan father and Kansan mother. He went to college in California and NYC, then Harvard Law School. His wife grew up in Chicago, where he's lived the last ten years. That's a lot of places -- seems like a lot of different perspectives in one person. Reading more about him made me more interested in reading his books, especially if he turns out to be one of the 2008 frontrunners.
Speaking of politics, I heard at D's that Colbert was on O'Reilly's show and O'Reilly was on Colbert's show -- sorry I missed that! Sounds like fun. I'm sure it'll be up soon online...
And, another good thing online: Making Fiends -- a flash comic that reminds me at times of South Park (with it's elementary school setting) Homestar Runner (for shear sillyness, though Making Fiends is not quite as quotable) and the PowerPuff Girls (Charlotte = Bubbles?). Here's a favorite episode of mine. Found on Ms. Peppered Jane's website.
picnic on these links
Today I made: one more chapter of my thesis, enchiladas, chicken stock.
Because I have written enough today, I offer you these delicious links:
Want to read more about the Universal Health Care discussion I went to yesterday? Read Moira's post.
Or maybe you want to read about scientists who made solid red oxygen? So hardcore.
Do you know how great Mimi Smartypants is? (Answer: Huitlacoche.)
get your fuel standards out of my uterus!
Tonight, I attended a panel discussion on Universal Health Care coverage on the Pitt campus. Many of the talks were overly PowerPoint-heavy and/or data-light, but I still learned a lot. For example, I learned what a single-payer system is, and some of the alternatives. I learned that the biggest two lobbying groups aren't oil or tobacco, but 1) pharmaceuticals and 2) insurance companies!
To get more health care coverage for people, most of the proposals fit into these two camps:
1) The government helps people get covered under private insurance, by requiring employers to provide it, or by providing vouchers that people can use to get insurance.
2) The goverment expands the services it currently has (Medicare and Medicaid) to cover more people, or reforms Medicare/Medicaid into something that covers more people.
There were many goals trying to be met at once: more coverage for more people, better care for people, more simplicity, cheaper health care... the whole thing is pretty complicated.
Afterwards, a bunch of us who were there went out for a drink to talk more about it. At some point, we were talking about the ability of pro-business right-wing groups to cooperate with Christian groups -- like those at the Wednesday morning meetings in DC. Somehow, Republicans can convince Christian groups to oppose fuel standards: "Don't you want the choice to drive what *you* want to drive?" While lefty groups can't get all their constituent groups to get together (hence, "Get your fuel standards out of my uterus!").
Currently reading: The Time Traveler's Wife (so good!)
Oddly enough, your post was immediately under Moira's blog post about the panel in my RSS reader. Funny! You both had clever titles to boot!
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Hey! If you've got 17 minutes, watch Martin Luther King's speech at the Lincoln Memorial:
If you don't have 17 minutes ... well, what are you really doing that's so important? I bet you have 17 minutes, don't you? It won't feel like 17 minutes once you get going.
Every time I hear it, I notice new things. This time I was surprised to see in the video how much he's consulting his notes (so much that they move the microphones down about halfway through the speech). But then, at the 12 minute mark, he goes from his notes to his memory and his confidence and power increase so much. It's the "I have a dream"/"Let freedom ring" part and it's short but so impressive.
I was also struck by the big words -- I don't know if a political figure could get away with such lofty rhetorical imagery today:
"One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. ... We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism."
I feel like political advisers might caution against words like "manacles" and average out a lot of the good stuff in a speech like this.
It was also sad to hear how many things haven't changed in 44 years: "We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote." At least everyone can vote now, but it is frustrating to think how few people (of any race) do vote. (64% in the 2004 election: 62 million for Bush, 59 million for Kerry, 68 million people for neither?)
where's stefan? he left some cookies in my pocket.
I am back in Pittsburgh, after being in Chicago to see many friends. The 23 hours that HH and I spent there were awesome, and we saw Elephant Larry. You can see them too!
Spoons has gone to France for a conference (I came from the airport to drive him to the airport so I spent a lot of time in/near/with/by/from airports today) and so I am home alone for another week of Awesome Thesis Writing.
When I got back from the airport (the second time) I went to see The 39 Steps at the cute movie theater down the street and it was great! Funny, well-acted, well-written, great to look at ... all those good Hitchcock things. Very worth-watching and it's hard to go wrong with spies, intrigue, handcuffs, stockings, and chase scenes. It's similar to the 1956 version of The Man Who Knew Too Much, and that one was even better, I think, but I recommend both! Your preference probably depends on how you feel about Jimmy Stewart.
Tonight, if you are in Chicago, check out Elephant Larry at the Chicago Sketchfest! That's their DVD in some girl's pants last year.
murder suspects and bearded ladies
I posted some old photos from a murder mystery party today... the genders of the people who wanted to attend the party didn't really match the genders of the people in the script, so hilarity ensued. See for yourself! Click on Marilyn to see the whole set of pictures.
Today, more writing in Pittsburgh, cooking tasty chicken and polenta, rocking out to Gogol Bordello. (Thanks, robots_suck!)
bam! executable binary!
So, I really enjoy reading my spam. Here's a bit of one that came through today:
"Had Emeril chosen to pursue a career in computer security, we're sure that he would agree."
I realize that a lot of spam messages are just cobbling together bits of the web that they come across, but I thought that particular sentence seemed so bizarre, yet I couldn't figure out where it had been broken in half -- if the two halves came from two places, it still wouldn't make much sense. So, I googled it and found the site it came from: Secure Coding: Principles & Practices.
Here's the whole quote:
That being said, dealing with the problem at the application level should probably involve some sort of input validation mechanism. Any parameter that can be passed to the script by way of a URL must always be subject to intense scrutiny. 'Cause I don't know where you come from, but where I come from, user input don't comepre-screened! (That's an Emeril joke. It's funny, trust us.) Simply placing blind faith in a URL parameter, especially when the user is able to specify a path to an executable binary, is typically not a great idea in our opinion. Had Emeril chosen to pursue a career in computer security, we're sure that he would agree.
So technical, and yet so Food Network at the same time. Weird.
In other news, I sent a piece of my thesis to my advisor, had lovely coffee with HH, and a very enjoyable Thursday evening (as always) at D's.
Other news you may enjoy:
Scorpions on a plane!
Warmest year on record! (AKA "Where is the snow, already?!")
"it's quite hard to destroy the Earth"
People keep asking me if I'm part of an international conspiracy to create mini-black holes that will destroy life as we know it. While that may or may not be true, we scientists want to assure you that "Any fears that such black holes will consume the Earth are groundless."
I know I'm going to be answering this question on airplanes, in line at the grocery store, and at birthday parties for years to come, so I'm trying to read up. The comments after this article are pretty rich.
Below, you can see circumference of the machine that may or may not make black holes which may or may not eat the earth.
It takes a special sense of humor to appreciate this. Or maybe it just has to be really late at night?
It's from Married To The Sea, a comic created with old and bizarre clip art by the Toothpaste for Dinner guy and Natalie Dee. They both post new stuff every day, much like the successful Album-a-Day, EP-a-Month, Song-a-Week, Novel-in-a-Month, Photo-a-Day variety of artists -- getting it out there where people can see, making themselves continue to get work done, to get to the good stuff. Like camels. And junk mail.
... oh, and, a few more that I like! hee hee.
neutrinos are so shy
It's good to know that sometimes when I'm writing my thesis, I actually learn things. It's true! Today I was reading a really nicely written article online about neutrinos and their masses and implications. I know you are all wondering about the trillions of tiny neutrinos that are passing through your body every second. What's their deal?
You can learn about neutrinos and their friends here. I particularly like this illustration of "Neutrinos meet the Higgs boson" in part 4.
What else? Yesterday morning we had the best blueberry pancakes with HH before she and spoons took off for band practice, and today was another day of reading and writing at home...
birthday feast 2006
I enjoyed JLQ's recent holiday manifesto parts 1 and 2, including a resolution (a re-dedication? a re-direction?) to spend more time on Days of Importance to her, including birthdays, over days that aren't really that meaningful to her, like Valentine's Day and Christmas. I say "amen" to that!
Since 2001, spoons has been creating his own birthday-holiday tradition, inviting over a few close friends (OK, there were 14 of us this year) for a sit-down multi-course dinner extravaganza. It's the kind of thing that takes a whole day to prepare and five hours to properly eat -- a holiday tradition that I can whole-heartedly support. In the past, we've been cooking fun things that we liked, but not necessarily with a unifying theme. Since he went to Brazil last year, and I went to Puerto Rico this year, we thought we'd try our hand at some caribbean/south american food. There were cocktail umbrellas with the guests' names on them at their seats, and as the evening progressed some of the umbrellas attacked the pineapple, and were left there until morning. (photo above)
The menu, below, has the name of each course with some teaser-trailer ingredients below it -- not necessarily the main ingredients. I should scan a better version...
I've been putting together a list of all the recipes, but haven't quite finished yet. When I do, I'll link it here.
The birthday dinner really is developing its own traditions, too. It's usually the first weekend in December. We start looking forward to it when the weather's getting colder and talking about what we'll cook. Every year, spoons has served a wintry squash soup in some form or another -- last year, inside a pasta, this year with coconut milk and curry. It's always been a vegetarian meal, because of the many vegetarian guests. We have copies of old menus, and I can imagine pulling them out for a "Best Of" in ten years or so!
It makes me think about my birthday, too -- what project do I want to do? How can I do it? Rather than waiting for people to do things for you on your birthday, what do you want to do with your day?
henry the hand wants to be *your* friend
Did you know that I have over 50 sad "draft" posts, uncompleted, awaiting now picnic fame? I really should post all these old links and tidbits.
For instance, check out this bizarrely creepy public service campaign for "Doin' the Handwash!":
Welcome Champion Handwashers!
TOGETHER we CAN make a difference in preventing any Pandemic.
Today was one of those days of acquisition: shopping for pants, using Barnes & Noble gift cards. (For a deliciously overanalytical gift card post, see jcreed.) For dinner, there was summer veggie soup from the freezer with grilled cheese and a Bell's Brown Ale. (Sorry, Chicagoans!)
And in case you thought your family was weird during the holidays, here's a glimpse of dinner at my dad's house.
On the menu was tableside caesar salad, a soup with beans and greens, prime rib and roasted potatoes with creamed spinach, cheese from the zing, and nutella and goat cheese empanadas, a la Alice. Delicious, as always.
Happy new year to you! I've been inspired by jcreed's tiny little daily posts to try to write more frequently, if not necessarily sesquipedalianly.
I'm enjoying being home in Pittsburgh after much Christmas and New Year traveling. Today, we did home-y things like cooking a yummy and simple pasta recipe from Rose's blog, and starting to watch season 2 of LOST on DVD. Good times.
I should post some California pictures soon, but I noticed that I haven't linked to these fun Chicago pictures yet -- check them out! I took them on a crisp afternoon with HPhil. As we were taking pictures, I got onto a number kick and a lot of my favorite photos of the day have a number theme: