sakura & sunshine

i hesitate to say it, but it seems like the weather in seattle has hit a turning point. it's supposed to hit 60 today, and the sun is shining. hooray!
and while the cherry blossoms in front of my apartment are now just a pile of pink petals (rapidly turning brown) on the sidewalk and the trees are leafing out, the trees down by the waterfront below the health sciences building are in full force. i stopped to snap a few shots yesterday on my way from one lab to another... data can always wait for sunshine and photography.
in other news... battlestar galactica! the season finale was a-fracking-mazing. i'm in the process of re-watching season 3 - just finished episode 4 last night - and in the interest of avoiding getting spoilerrific for my lovely readers who have not seen it yet, let's just say that information learned in that episode throws new light on many of the events earlier in the season. i'm not sure i'm super-stoked about the identities of the 4 cylons revealed at the end of the episode - but it's an interesting twist and i'm definitely holding my breath for season 4 (DAMN them for making us wait until Jan 2008!). i think i might get the miniseries and seasons 1 and 2 from netflix soon.... rewatch the whole thing to tide myself over.

and in other geeky news, i got my issue of Buffy Season 8 #1 yesterday and quickly devoured it. way too short. but hey, joss & co have figured out a way to get me to shell out $3.50 a month for the next couple of years, since you bet your ass i'l be reading the whole series.

in other, other news: t minus 72 days until graduation!! fracking finally.



i just realized that i haven't seen another person all day, at all. and i haven't uttered any words that weren't directed at my cat. reminds me of an everything but the girl song... "if no one calls and i don't speak all day, do i disappear?"

some days i thrive on solitude. i cleaned a good part of my apartment today, tidied up the kitchen and the dining area and the bathroom, just in case someone were to drop by. i got a good head start on the reading for this week (classes start monday) and watched a lot of buffy. i also blew my nose a lot - to the point where i ran out of kleenex - stupid sinus infection. i think my cough is getting better, though.

one more quarter. 77 more days. then i'll finally be done with my damn undergrad degree, only 2 years late.

what is wrong here
what is wrong here
where is your head?

do you ever get movies from netflix and then procrastinate on watching them? i do sometimes, especially if it's a movie that i've heard is really good, but depressing. i did it with hotel rwanda - i think i had that movie for a month before i watched it. i've had boys don't cry sitting on my coffee table for at least two weeks, but i just got around to watching it tonight. i'm glad i did, but damn! what a downer. though it's true, hilary swank really did deserve the oscar for that performance. she's so believable. anyway, if you haven't seen the movie, rent it, it's good. rent it and think about it, about what our society does to people who don't fit the gender binary. then think about all the ways in which you yourself don't fit the binary - things you do, or things about you, that are stereotypical for the opposite gender. no one fits perfectly into any binary - or at least, no one remotely interesting. and, well, i guess it's an understatement to say that brandon got hirself mixed up with the wrong crowd... especially if the movie portrayals of her "friends" are accurate... but still. no one deserves to die for being who they are. gender is nothing but a label society gives us. who are they to tell each of us who we are?

repeat after me: gender is a social construct. nothing more.

it's late; i should get to bed.

in which i refer to my cat's bathroom habits

So the Great Kitty Potty Training experiment is fully underway. I've had the citikitty doodad on my toilet for about a week and a half now, and I just took away her regular litter box on Wednesday, leaving her no option but to use the new litter box on the toilet. She's adapting pretty well... no accidents thus far (knock on wood). The only downside is that having litter at the height of the toilet means that she can throw it that much farther when she paws around in it. I think I've swept my bathroom every single day since Wednesday. But, she's using it consistently for both #1 and #2, so hurdle number 1 has been cleared. The next step, which I'm supposed to undertake on Wednesday, is to remove the innermost ring from the doodad so she has a hole to use. The hole gets gradually enlarged until there's just a ring of litter around the edge, and in the process, the cat is supposed to learn to stand on the seat, instead of in the litter, to use the potty. So, in about a month, we should be litter-free and fully toilet trained. I'll keep you posted on how it goes, because I know the internet is just dying to know what my cat's bathroom habits are.


afternoon delight

last night, the light from the sunset reflected off the safeco building in such a neat way. it's definitely spring. it'll be summer when the afternoon light bounces off the building and fills my apartment with warmth. but now, even though it's 50 and raining every day, it's definitely spring... and it's only going to get lighter.


work hard don't stop

so it's officially spring break, and i'm back from the Northwest Developmental Biology conference at Friday Harbor (hence the pictures earlier). It was fun, but I left right after my last final, and spent 3 days thinking about science. And now I'm home and ready for a day off before I get to work on my research over the break. I need to go buy food, but I'm running low on cash since I went out to dinner a few times this weekend, and I'm kind of stuck on the couch blowing my nose every 5 minutes. The cold is almost over, but it's left me with a lovely sinus infection. i don't want to have to get antibiotics, but I'm not sure what else can be done against a sinus infection. (And yes, I know it's an infection... I could share details here about the fluorescent color of my snot, but I don't think you want to hear about that...) Ugh! I feel fine except for the fact that my head is full of green gooey goodness.

So spring break means new quarter, and new quarter means new classes and new textbooks. I'm only taking 2 real classes, but they're not going to be easy, and I'm also trying to crank out some data for my project, mapping and characterization of my zebrafish mutant. That means that I'm going to need to get at least one pair of consistently breeding heterozygote pairs of fish, something I have had trouble with the last few months. Grragrh, the fish better start giving. My 2 real classes are 3rd quarter biochem and a genome informatics class, neither of which is going to be a walk in the park. Biochem is a ton of reading and memorization, plus 9 freaking quizzes this quarter (as opposed to only exams last quarter), and genome informatics is a programming assignment a week. Hopefully they won't be too difficult and I won't be too far behind in the programming aspect, since I haven't written even a snippet of code in probably 4 years. I think it's mostly Perl though, and from what I hear Perl is pretty easy to learn.

I think I'm going to give myself the afternoon to watch some Firefly and blow my nose some more. Cause I haven't done enough of that today.

half irish, full suburbs

Stanford is known for producing a lot of successful and talented people, in business, science, and engineering... hip-hop has not traditionally been one of their strongest fields. But graduating with the class of 2007 is K.Flay, a white girl from Illinois calling herself the Suburban Rap Queen. She's got a bunch of songs available for download from her website - you should check them out. My favorite is probably "Hey Ladies" - but I also like "Work". Definitely worth a listen.


friday harbor

more here, and more later.


ok, this is awesome

check this out: the moon's transit of the sun, as viewed from the STEREO-B spacecraft.
here's the explanation. I was completely unaware of the STEREO program, but it looks pretty cool. (found via this site)


more sakura


so it's sunday before finals week, which means it's apartment-cleaning weekend. (isn't it funny how it always works that way?) it's also laundry weekend... though at this point it's just all rounded up into the hamper and waiting by the door with the detergent; i'm considering putting it off until tomorrow in favor of... uh... studying.

the fun part of laundry day is always what you get away with wearing. i spent most of the morning in yoga pants (after doing hardly any yoga at all this morning), and when it was finally time to get myself to the grocery store, i rounded up the nearest pair of semi-clean jeans - ones i haven't worn in months. it wasn't until i had them on that i remembered just how flared these pants are. i've pretty much sworn off boot-cut/flare jeans, seeing as that's the word from On High, and in the last 8 months i've acquired about 4 new pairs of pants, all in the straight/skinny leg tradition. so it was weird to me to see my tennis shoes swallowed by gaping 14" maws when i'm finally getting used to seeing the skinny cuff all scrunched around the tops.

it must be finals week; i'm waxing prosaic on my wardrobe. god save me.

one more thing: go tell Starbucks that you don't like their decision to put Discovery Institute crap on their cups. for details, see pharyngula - he's got a good rundown of the situation.

meme time

ok, so you all know i don't do this stuff very often, but this one seemed cool: it's a list of the most significant scifi and fantasy of the last 50 years. in bold are all the ones i've read.

The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov
Dune, Frank Herbert
Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein
A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin
Neuromancer, William Gibson
Childhood's End, Arthur C. Clarke
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick
The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury

The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe
A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr.
The Caves of Steel, Isaac Asimov
Children of the Atom, Wilmar Shiras
Cities in Flight, James Blish
The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett
Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison
Deathbird Stories, Harlan Ellison
The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester
Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany
Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey
Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card

The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Stephen R. Donaldson
The Forever War, Joe Haldeman
Gateway, Frederik Pohl
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, J.K. Rowling
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams

I Am Legend, Richard Matheson
Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin
Little, Big, John Crowley
Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny
The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick
Mission of Gravity, Hal Clement
More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon
The Rediscovery of Man, Cordwainer Smith
On the Beach, Nevil Shute
Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke
Ringworld, Larry Niven
Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys
The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien
Slaughterhouse-5, Kurt Vonnegut
Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson

Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner
The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester
Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein
Stormbringer, Michael Moorcock
The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks
Timescape, Gregory Benford
To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip Jose Farmer

i would have guessed i'd done better than that... but i can't say there are any glaring omissions from my point of view. maybe a couple of gibson short stories, like the whole of burning chrome, but hey... i didn't make the list, i just posted the meme on my blog. (mad props to pz for his impressively-bolded list.)



listening: imogen heap, speak for yourself. the voice behind frou frou is equally strong on her own. i just love her voice, and her songs are perfect background music for studying time.

just finished watching: the season 7 - aka series - finale of buffy. it's a bit of a letdown to finish an epic, but since i know now that it's not really the end, just the end of the tv show, it's not as hard as it might have been if i'd been watching it on network tv in 2003. today also marks the 10th anniversary of the buffy tv show - it was picked up by the WB midseason in march of 1997. buffy was more than just another tuesday night drama - it was such a powerful story that has impact far beyond the realm of tv. joss whedon has said that he intended for buffy to live on in her fans, to become a part of every woman on the planet, and i think he succeeded at least a little bit. there were so few positive female role models on tv, especially tv geared at teenagers, before buffy came along. and it was a show that wasn't afraid to take chances. case in point: "once more with feeling" - the musical episode. "hush" - the episode where no one is able to speak. "the body" - the episode that chronicles the 24 hours after buffy discovers her mother dead on the couch. if ever there was a more influential tv show, i have yet to see it. so here's my advice for anyone who likes butt-kicking, funny quips, or hot girls, or for anyone who enjoys battlestar galactica, or serenity, or anyone who likes reading comic books or watching action-packed anime. start at the beginning - "welcome to the hellmouth" - and stick with it. those who are able to make it through the first season will surely not be able to quit after that - all 7 seasons come together as a fully fulfilling story, an epic tale of a postmodern hero, a female fighter we can all embrace.

and with that over, i am empowered and inspired to geek out on my textbooks for the next 4 and a half days. wednesday morning, it's all over. wednesday afternoon, i'll be in friday harbor, up in the san juans, surrounded by the beauty of puget sound and all the pacific northwest has to offer. and when i get back on sunday, i'll have an entire week off from school. woohoo!!!


a couple of awesome sites

first: brainmaps.org. Tons and tons of visual data from brains of various species, including our own. Zoom in to the cellular level on many of the images. Sweet stuff, plus it's all open access. (via cognitive daily)

second: the cochlea homepage. Lots of awesome images, plus a good primer on cochlear anatomy and function. (this one's via retrospectacle)




grr... arrgh

sigh. dark horse has pushed back the release date for Buffy Season 8 #1 until the 21st. this is the second time this has happened... it should have been out today. joss... what's the holdup?


home again, home again

trying to get back into the swing of things after a week off of classes is hard. trying to get back into the swing of things after a week in the most picturesque location in the world, with some of the most amazing people you've ever met surrounding you 24 hours a day, and coming back to the last week before finals, one or two lectures behind, and with a dose of apathy a million miles wide, is harder.

apathy's not the right word, either. it's not like i don't care about classes, it's just that i'm nearly completely caught up, and i'm sitting in a good place, if i just put in the work. i think i can 4.0 the quarter, but i'm having trouble focusing and buckling down due to other forces afoot.

focus. not on real ultimate britney, or plotting random acts of folly. especially don't focus on buffy. focus on biochemistry. your final is a week from today. focus for one more week, then for one more quarter.


and we're back...

so i'm back from my canadian sojourn, a bit behind in classes and with a stuffy, achy head and throat and general fatigue. if it's flu i don't want to know, i just want to keep plodding through this last week of classes without falling further behind.
this is the iconic mountain that is on all the postcards of Banff. it's not the one with the ski area (i was also surprised to learn that the Banff ski area is small and Lake Louise is far preferable to most locals), but right above the iconic Banff hotel. the name escapes me at the moment, but i have to post this picture of it because it is so amazing in person. the canadian rockies are incredible in general, but this particular mountain is especially cool because it is so easy to see how it formed. the whole area is formed of rocks that used to be seafloor in the Cambrian era, pushed up and broken into craggy mountains. see how one side is so smooth, and the other is a jagged series of layers? it's awe-inspiring to imagine what sort of a huge event caused this formation. so, so cool.
this is the view from the gondola from the base of the lake louise ski area. incredible view. amazing powder, good trails... a good day of snowboarding.
left to right: the weiglator (scott weigle, our mentor and professor, and all-around awesome dude), katie (testing her radio) and tim, not realizing i'm taking a picture and hiding behind his skis.
nels, ben and i on the gondola. good times.
as always, there are more photos on my flickr site.
in other news, insert vague reference to some sort of huge development afoot in my life. it turns out persistence, patients and guts pay off, occasionally. more later... maybe.