Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Friday, October 27, 2006

Bolton Landing or bust

During a lab meeting a couple of months ago, my boss announced that we would all be attending a biodefense conference at the end of October. I immediately perked up at the news, for one of the major benefits of being a scientist is the opportunity to attend conferences in faraway places...paid vacations under the guise of collaborative science. Immediately, visions of Brazil, Australia, or Amsterdam began dancing in my head. Even somewhere in the U.S., like Los Angeles or Chicago would have made me happy. He passed around the brochure, and full of hope, I eagerly looked at the location.....

Bolton Landing, NY.

Sigh of disappointment...it's about an hour north of Albany. Well, at least it will get me out of the lab for a couple of days, and the resort where we're staying looks nice. I won't be taking any ferry rides on Lake George, though.

So posting will be light until I get back, but I assure you I will have photos from the Halloween bash up at some point.

At the conference, I'm giving an oral presentation (get your collective mind out of the gutter, folks), so wish me luck.

and have a Happy Halloween, eveyone!

Poor Linus. He was always my favorite Peanut.

Can you spot the fake smiles?

Take this psychology quiz to see if you can tell the difference between genuine and fake smiles.
I got 14 of 20 correct.

Unrelated, but hilarious: Chuck Norris reads Chuck Norris facts.

Also unrelated, but intriguing: How many of the 300 million Americans share your name? Apparently, there are 5 of me.
via RT

Evidence of a twisted mind

Conversation I had yesterday:

Friend: I'm dressing up for Halloween with two other people and we're thinking of being Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell.
Me: How would you dress as Purgatory?
Friend: Wear all grey, maybe?
Me: Or you could be the souls of dead babies.

I am disturbed, people. Speaking of Halloween, Ern and I are throwing a huge costume party this Saturday. Here are photos of the award winners from last year. We're dressing up as something together, and it's RIDICULOUS. Although possibly not quite as ridiculous as the time we rented a two-person horse costume and wore it to a Notre Dame game on Halloween. Ah, college.
I am sworn to secrecy, but I'll give a hint...rivals, one blonde, one brunette.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


I got this as a forward, and even thought it's long, I thought I'd share it here for the enjoyment of all you lushes. Mine (Libra) is spot-on, except for the part about flirting with your best friend's beau. Fear not, Kim :)

ARIES (Mar 21- Apr 19) Drinking style: Impulsive Aries people like to party and sometimes don't know when to call it a night. Their competitive streak makes them prone to closing-time shot contests. They're sloppy, fun drunks, and they get mighty flirty after a couple tipples. Getting Aries people drunk is a good way to get what you want out of them, should other methods fail. Aries can become bellicose when blotto, but they will assume that whatever happened should be forgiven (if not forgotten) by sunrise. They can be counted on to do the same for you -- so long as you haven't gone and done anything really horrible to them last night, you sneaky Gemini!

TAURUS (Apr 20 - May 20) Drinking style: Taurus prefers to drink at a leisurely pace, aiming for a mellow glow rather than a full-on zonk. Since a truly intoxicated Taurus is a one-person stampede, the kind of bull-in-a-china-shop inebriate who spills red wine on white carpets and tells fart jokes to employers, the preference for wining and dining (or Bud and buddies) to body shots and barfing is quite fortunate for the rest of us. This is not to say that the Bull is by any means a teetotaler---god, no. A squiffy Taurus will get, er, gregarious (full of loudmouth soup, some would say) and is extremely amusing to drag to a karaoke bar when intoxicated.

GEMINI (May 21 - Jun 21) Drinking style: Gemini's can drink without changing their behavior much-- they're so naturally chatty and short-attention-spanned that it's just hard to tell sometimes. They can amaze you by conversing with finesse and allusion, then doing something unbelievable in an extremely advanced state of intoxication, like puking in your shoe. Gemini's possess the magic ability to flirt successfully (and uninfuriatingly, which is very tricky) with several people at once. They like to order different cocktails every round -- repetition is boring -and may create a theme (like yellow drinks: beer, sauvignon blanc and limoncello) for their own amusement.

CANCER (Jun 22 - Jul 22) Drinking style: Cancer is a comfort drinker-- and an extra wine with dinner or an after-work beer or six can be extra comforting, can't it, Cancer darling? Like fellow water signs Scorpio and Pisces, Crabs must guard against lushery. Cancers are brilliant at ferreting out secret parties and insinuating themselves on VIP lists -- and, in true Hollywood style, Cancers are never really drunk; instead, they get "tired and emotional" (read: weepy when lubricated). But there's nothing better than swapping stories (and spit) over a few bottles of inky red wine with your favorite Cancer. Even your second-favorite Cancer will do. The sign also rules the flavor vanilla, and you'd be adored if you served up a vanilla vodka and soda.

LEO (Jul 23 - Aug 22) Drinking style: Leo likes to drink and dance --they're often fabulous dancers, and usually pretty good drinkers as well, losing their commanding dignity and turning kittenish. Of course, they're quite aware they're darling - Leos will be Leos, after all. They generally know their limit, probably because they loathe losing self-control. When they get over-refreshed, expect flirting to ensue -- and perhaps not with the one who brought them. But Leo's not the type to break rules even when drunk, so just try to ignore it (try harder, Cancer) and expect a sheepish (and hung over) Lion to make it up to you the next day.

VIRGO (Aug 23 - Sept 22) Drinking style: Cerebral Virgos are compelled to impose order onto their bender. Their famously fussy quest for purity could lead to drinking less than other signs, sure -- but it could also lead to drinking booze neat, to sucking down organic wine or just to brand loyalty. They rarely get fully shellacked -- but, oh, when they do! Virgo's controlled by the intellect, but there's an unbridled beast lurking within, and they let it loose when walloped. It's dead sexy (and surprisingly unsloppy). As one Virgo friend used to declare, "I'm going to drink myself into a low level of intelligence tonight." A toast to the subgenius IQ!

LIBRA (Sept 23 - Oct 23) Drinking style: "I'm just a social drinker," slurs Libra, "it's just that I'm so damn social." Libra loves nothing more than to party, mingle and relate to everyone. Whether dipped in favor of Good Libra (with Insta-Friend device set to "on") or heavier on the Evil Libra side (they are little instigators when bored), the Scales can really work a room. Charming as they are, Libras are notoriously lacking in self-control, however, which can get them into all sorts of trouble --including wearing their wobbly boots waaaay too early in the evening, flirting with their best friend's beau or even blacking out the night'sevents entirely. Oops!

SCORPIO (Oct 24 - Nov 21) Drinking style: Don't ever tell Scorpios they've had enough, for they'll smirk at you and quietly but intentionally keep tippling till they're hog-whimpering drunk, out of 100-proof spite. Scorpios like to drink, and screw you if you have a problem with that. Most of them see the sauce as something to savor in itself, and not as a personality-altering tool - though if depressed, self-loathing Scorps seek total obliteration. But generally, they're fascinating drinking pals, brilliant conversationalists and dizzying flirts. They also remember everything -- especially what you did when you were blitzed. Only drink with a Scorpio who likes you.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov 22 - Dec 21) Drinking style: In vino veritas -- and, for Sagittarius, in booze blurtiness: When buttered, they'll spill all your secrets and many of their own. Tactlessness aside, Sagittarius is just plain fun to drink with. This is a sign of serious partying (what else would you expect from the sign of Sinatra, Keith Richards, the Bush twins and Anna Nicole Smith?). They're the people who chat up everyone in the room, then persuade the entire crowd to travel somewhere else -- like a nightclub, or a playground, or Cancun . Good-natured hi-jinks are sure to ensue (including a high possibility of loopy groping; spontaneous Sag is brilliant booty call).

CAPRICORN (Dec 22 - Jan 19) Drinking style: Capricorn is usually described as practical, steadfast, money-hungry and status-thirsty -- no wonder they get left off the astrological cocktail-party list. But this is the sign of David Bowie and Annie Lennox, not to mention Elvis. Capricorn is the true rock star: independent, powerful and seriously charismatic, not too eager to please. And if they make money being themselves, who are you to quibble? But just like most rock stars, they're either totally on or totally off, and they generally need a little social lubricant to loosen up and enjoy the after party, especially if they can hook up with a cute groupie.

AQUARIUS (Jan 20 - Feb 18) Drinking style: Aquarius and drinking don't go together that well(except for water, that is). They have an innate tendency toward know-it-allism, and if they get an idea while sizzled, they're more stubborn than a stain or a stone. If they're throwing a party or organizing an outing, however, they're too preoccupied with their duties to get combative and they make perfectly charming drunks in that case. Fortunately, they're usually capital drink-nursers. They also make the best designated drivers (if you can get them before they start raising their wrist) Aquarius is fascinated by drunk people and capable of holding interesting conversations with soused strangers while sober.

PISCES (Feb 19 - Mar 20) Drinking style: If you're a Pisces, you've probably already heard that you share a sign and an addictive personality-- with Liz Taylor, Liza Minelli and Kurt Cobain. Not only do Pisces like to lose themselves in the dreamy, out-there feeling that only hooch can give, but they build up a mighty tolerance fast. Who needs an expensive date like that? On the other hand, they're fabulously enchanting partners, whether in conversation or in crime. With the right Pisces, you can start out sharing a pitcher of margaritas and wind up in bed together for days. The phrase "addictive personality" can be read two ways you know.

Fraudulent scientist receives jail sentence

The New York Times recently published a (slightly lengthy) article on Eric Poehlman, a University of Vermont researcher who will become the first person to serve jail time for scientific misconduct. Poehlman, a Principal Investigator (PIs are at the top of a laboratory hierarchy) was found to have fabricated data that was published and used to obtain federal grant money over a period of ten years. Probably the most interesting aspect of the case is that he was brought down by a technician, the lowliest position in an academic hierarchy. Walter DeNino became suspicious after Poehlman, his boss, altered the raw numbers in a study on cholesterol so the resulting data supported his hypothesis. DeNino began his own investigation, working as a tech during the day and culling through old data at night. Once his suspicions were confirmed, he confronted Poehlman, who threatened to essentially ruin his career, but DeNino sought the help of a former post-Doc from the lab and eventually brought their concerns to the attention of the administration.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Movie Review: The Departed

Last night, I saw The Departed, and guess what? It's fucking awesome! Scorsese's latest is a remake of the Hong Kong movie Infernal Affairs about two men in opposite roles: one is a undercover cop pretending to be a mobster, and the other is a mob-backed cop serving as the mafia's own mole. Their respective organizations become aware of their existence, and they are assigned to discover each other's identities. The Departed takes place in Boston, and the head mafioso is obviously based on this guy. Here's a brief rundown on the actors:

Leonardo DiCaprio as the good cop.... Awesome. His best film since The Basketball Diaries.

Matt Damon as the bad cop....Eh. At first I didn't think his character showed enough depth, I mean, considering his role, he must have felt somewhat conflicted or guilty, but by the end of the movie, I hated him so much, that his performance became believable.

Jack Nicholson as the king of the Irish mafia.... awesome. I had heard that he was too theatrical, too "Jack being Jack," but considering he was playing Whitey Bulger, who by all accounts is a absolute monster, it's pretty much impossible to overdo anything. The portrayal of life in Southie under mob rule was accurate and hit a little too close to home for some people.

Mark Wahlberg as a detective....awesome. Brought so much authenticity to the film. I would put money down on him writing some of his own dialogue. For example, he calls DiCaprio "lace curtain," a term for snobbery I've only heard in Boston. When I moved from West Broadway to East Broadway, my former neighbors joked that I was becoming lace curtain Irish.

Martin Sheen as DiCaprio's police boss....Awesome, and somewhat presidential.

Alec Baldwin as the top cop....awesome.

Vera Farmiga as the police psychiatrist love interest of both Damon and DiCaprio...Liked the character, hated the TERRIBLE FUCKING FAKE BOSTON ACCENT. She sounded like an Italian from Long Island. Not quite as bad as Laura Linney in Mystic River, but still horrible.

Dear Hollywood,
Not everyone in Boston has a really thick accent. It's perfectly acceptable for some characters to lack an accent. No accent is much, much preferable than an awful fake one.
Everyone in Boston

So, only a couple of minor bones to pick with the plot. First of all, too much reliance on cell phones. Wouldn't the mob boss occasionally go through his people's recent calls? Wouldn't the cops look into phone records to see if they could determine who making the tip-off calls? Also, why did the police know everything about DiCaprio's past but didn't suspect Damon as the mole, even though he was also from Southie? Okay, enough nit-picking. Just go see it. Unless you're not a big fan of violence.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Weekend Report

Friday- A college friend, Pat My Ryan, was in town, so we held the Pat My Dinner Party in his honor. The dinner party included copious amounts of wine, intellectual debates (Were the pies in the pie eating contest scene from Stand by Me blueberry or cherry? My answer, blueberry, has been verified.), and culminated in a late-night game of asshole.

Saturday- Once the wine hangover wore off, I worked all day, minus a taking long break to watch Notre Dame squeak by UCLA on a last-minute play by my favorite college receiver, Jeff Samardzija.

Sunday- My soccer team had a double header and, without any subs, lost two close and very physical matches. After the beating, I rented The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada. The movie plot is very reminiscent of a Cormac McCarthy novel, in that it is a modern Western, set along the Texas-Mexico border. Tommy Lee Jones (who also directed the film) plays a rancher named Pete, who formed a close friendship with Melquiades, a Mexican ranch hand. When Melquiades get killed by a trigger-happy patrol guard, Pete kidnaps the guard, forces him to dig up the body, and the two of them travel on horseback to bury Melquiades in his hometown south of the border. I enjoyed the movie but it's definitely not for everyone; the violence and the rapidly decomposing corpse might be too much for some viewers. The scenery, acting, and realistic (if somewhat depressing) glimpse of life on the border combined to make a striking film.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Book Review: How Soccer Explains the World

I found a second non-fiction book that I really enjoyed: How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization, by Franklin Foer. Each chapter centers on a different country and attempts to link soccer to the cultural, social, and political climates of the nation. The book opens with a dark tale detailing the role of Red Star Belgrade, a Serbian soccer team led by a powerful thug, played in orchestrating many of the atrocities committed by Serbs in the Balkan War. The next chapter details the fervent religious rivalry between the Protestant Rangers and the Catholic Celtic in Glasgow. Foer then travels to England and spends time with an aging Hooligan, a hyper-violent guy who reminded me of Begbie. Violent fandom in Europe dwarfs anything we know of in the United States. Another striking note is the widespread underlying racism and anti-Semitism in European culture, which often rare their ugly heads at soccer matches. Despite FIFA crackdowns, fans throw bananas at black players and taunt them with monkey noises, and it's not uncommon to see swastikas and hear cheers that evoke the Holocaust. Seems like much of Europe isn't quite as peaceful and enlightened as they would like us ugly Americans to believe.
Foer also touches on the economics of soccer, highlighting the new and the old rich owners of two of Italy's most prominent teams, and traveling to Brazil, where rampant corruption prevents many of world's best footballers from playing in their native country. As far as globalization theories go, he never fully develops one, except for two chapters at the end of the book. One presents soccer as a potential catalyst for reform in clerical Muslim countries, and the finale explains Foer's ideas as to why soccer never caught on in the United States, and probably never will.
Even though I am a soccer player and fan, even non-aficionados would probably enjoy this book. Foer travels throughout the world for research and interviews, and the resulting narrative is a captivating look at life and sport in a variety of places.

From the internet

Holy crap, check out this Ask Metafilter question from a minister wondering how to react after a someone confesses murder. I smell hoax, but it's still an interesting read.

And now for something completely different....

Fraggle Rock movie coming soon! Produced by a Zappa spawn! Sweet.

The Intrepid Travelers Depart

Pat My Ryan is about to head out on a five month trip through Africa, and he'll be posting about it here.

Meanwhile, Kevin and Karen quit their jobs, rented out their flat, and are taking an 8 month journey through Asia, South America, Easter Island, and even Antarctica. Follow their progress on their travel blog.

Color me obscenely jealous.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Friday Fun

Best Furniture Ever:

Scrabble benches! Love them! I am not a very good Scrabble player, because I go for comedy over points. Why hold out for a Triple Word Score, when you can spell "gonads?"
via Boing Boing

Best Indian Remake of a Groundbreaking Music Video Ever: Thriller
via Meg

Blogtoberfest: Let the link orgy begin

Last night, I attended Blogtoberfest with Lisa and Meg. In a nutshell (I can never not think of Austin Powers when I use that phrase), a bunch of Boston area bloggers got together at Match to meet each other offline, and fun times ensued. Most of the blogs that I read regularly are not local, so I was a tad anxious that it would be this big clique of people who read each others blogs and I would be left alone, crying into my gin and tonic, and that's exactly what happened. No, just kidding. Everyone was really friendly, and it was nice to go out a bar and hear people chat about their blogs instead of the usual "So, what do you do? I work at Insert Big Financial Company or Consulting Firm Here." I met a ton of people, like the fabulous organizer Jenny (thanks!), Hooker, Jaynie, Tom, David, Abby, and Alyssa. And a bunch of other people I can't remember. I also met a trio of podcasters: John, Frank, and Karen from Rumor Girls, who were so entertaining I might have to check out this whole podcast thing.

The question of the night was "So, what do you blog about?" and I should have been able to come up with a better answer than "Um, I don't know, stuff. Nothing, actually." but I didn't. Oh well. I did tell a few people that I worked with anthrax, which I generally avoid mentioning for obvious reasons. And I told Nathan that I was one of the undead and my image could never be captured on film. Why am I so weird?

Blogtoberfest was a lot of fun, and I am looking forward to reading the recaps and looking at photos from the event on everyone else's blog. Thanks again to Jenny for organizing, and I hope we do it again sometime!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Restaurant Review: Orinoco

Caro and I recently translated a medical document and got paid $100 for our (well, 98% Carolina's) labor. We used the money to treat ourselves to a nice dinner at Orinoco, a Venezuelan restaurant in the South End. The food was fantastic! I tried the mahi-mahi and a polvorosa de pollo, which was like a puff pastry filled with chicken and vegetables. Both were delicious, and the mahi mahi came with a side of shredded beef, which seemed a bit odd, but it was mmmmm so good. If I go again (and I probably will), I'll definitely get a shredded beef dish.

Overall, the experience was extremely positive, but there's always a down side. In this case:
- No Venezuelan beers on the menu. What gives?
-The restaurant is very small and crowded, and the waiters are a bit too quick to clear your plate, so you can't help but feel a little rushed. I hate that.
-Portion sizes are on the small size, but maybe that's because I'm used to eating at the likes of the Ground Round.
- No Hugo Chavez sightings, but high potential for jokes involving devils remains.
- All the hot guys in the place are probably gay.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Survival of the mediocre

My departmental seminar went well and the thesis committee meeting was much better than the last one (which from this point forward, will be referred to as The Train Wreck in my head, because I will probably never refer to it anywhere outside of my head). Whew. Don't get any ideas, though. I'm not graduating anytime soon.

So, here's some fun stuff:

Put it in a cake, Jake. 30 Ways to Eat a Pumpkin. Methinks I won't be trying the "Pumpkin Dump Cake" anytime soon, but the rest of the recipes sound good.
link via Max

Check out this hilarious prank Mrs. V pulled on a coworker.

Boston Blogtoberfest is only one day away! Hooray, dorks!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Radio silence

I have my annual departmental seminar tomorrow and a thesis committee meeting on Tuesday, so it will be all work and no play for the next couple of days. Cross your fingers for me....my last committee meeting didn't go so well.

Weekend Report

Friday- Played soccer, and after the game the Snakes on a Pitch continued our Tour of Boston, our weekly post-game visit to watering holes in different Hub neighborhoods. This week, we hit Lucky's in South Boston. I like Lucky's but hadn't been their in almost a year, so it was nice to find that it hadn't changed. It's always fun going there with people for the first time. The bar has no sign out front and is located in the basement of a huge brick building in the Fort Point Channel area of Boston, which is eerily empty at night. The first time I went to Lucky's, I walked over by myself from South Station with the address written on a scrap of paper. The further I walked, the more skeptical I became....is there really a bar down here? Yes, there is, and it's a fun one. On Friday, the bar was packed, with most patrons in the 25 to 35 age range, posters of Frank Sinatra on the wall, and a live band playing a mixture of Stevie Wonder and Steely Dan. We snagged a big table in the back of the bar side, ate some tasty food, and drank some tasty beers. As I was headed home around midnight, a couple friends of mine called and ended up coming over my apartment to hang out. We ordered pizza, drank more beers, and stayed up late talking about how old we are and how mature we aren't.


Worked all day, went out to Salsa's for dinner (they have a liquor license now and serve margaritas. woohoo!), and then celebrated Nikki's big 20-10 at the Cask N Flagon. The remodeling seems to have increased business at the Cask. In the past, once the Red Sox stopped playing, it was all tumbleweed and crickets in there. Now, even after Fenway Park has emptied for the season, both the bar area and the "club" were full of patrons.
We had a lot of fun- Nikki drew a huge crowd of hometown, college, and work friends, and everyone was in the mood to party it up. Theresa and I even got to play DJ for a little while. I'm not sure if we were the biggest assholes at the bar, or the fun people everyone else wished they were friends with (yes, grammar Nazis, I do know that's a dangling prepositions), but I'll go with the latter.

I spent the day in Framingham for Kim and Mike's baby shower. As far as showers go, baby showers are much more tolerable than bridal showers- at least the presents are cute baby things and not boring dishes. I had a good time and ate like I was the one eating for two, but mmmm, how could I say no to pumpkin dip, homemade macaroni and cheese, and carrot cake cupcakes? I couldn't, that's how. I also enjoyed catching up with the friends who were there. I still haven't fully processed the fact that my best friend, who I've known since I was five, is going to have a baby (a baby! holy cow!), but I'm very excited for them and looking forward to being a pseudo-aunt.

I'll post some pictures later on. The pictures on my camera right now are hilarious. Half are of drunk people dancing at the Cask, and half are of people oohing and aahing over adorable baby outfits.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Weird Science

So, last night, I was working on my upcoming presentation, and, suddenly, the bacterial ribosome:

began to look a little bit familiar, as well as a little bit friendly and cartoonish. Each of the subunits reminded me of something from my childhood. Doesn't the shape on the left look a bit like Gumby? And on the right, Grimace? So, I spent about a half hour searching for images, and then enlisted a fellow grad student to help me with Photoshop (this is why it takes six years to get a Ph.D.), and here is the result:

You see the resemblance, don't you?

In other science news, Carnivorous Plant Eats Mouse.

"Botanists discovered a partially digested mouse inside the plant on Friday after several people complained of a horrible smell."

And lastly, but not leastly, grad school must have been a lot more fun during the 1970s. And by "fun," I mean "hallucinogenic drug-laden." Check out a large group of scientists at Stanford reenacting protein synthesis in the short film Protein Synthesis: An Epic on the Cellular Level. The good part starts around minute 4:00. It is one of the most bizarre and hilarious things I have ever seen. tRNA!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

In case the footage from that Pistons-Pacers brawl didn't convince you...

Stephen Jackson is teh crazy. I think the NBA needs to enact a No Guns policy.

On a somewhat related note, I'm headed to the Fleet Center today to buy some Celtics tickets. I'm going to skip opening night this year, but I'm hoping to get tickets for Philly (gotta see my boy A.I.), Phoenix, the Lakers, Cleveland, and Miami.


Watch Stephen Colbert interview Congressman Lynn Westmoreland, who sponsored a bill requiring the display of the Ten Commandments on the House of Representatives and the Senate. Frickin' brilliant.

P.S. I hope Google doesn't start charging for YouTube.

How's your US geography?

Quiz: See how long it takes you to identify 25 major cities on this map. I got 93% in 1:06. Great Falls gave me trouble (I thought it was in Missouri), and I accidentally clicked on Atlantic City instead of Philadephia.

via RT

Monday, October 09, 2006

Weekend Report

Friday- Played soccer and then headed out for beers at the Linwood Grill in Fenway. My teammates and I came up with a plan called the Tour of Boston. After every game, we will go to a bar in a different neighboorhood in Boston. Next stop, Southie.

Went to work, watched a bit of the Notre Dame vs. Stanford game, then headed down to southern Mass. with Ern, Maria, and Jenny for an.... ummm..... unusual sort of party organized by my friend Colann and her friend Steph. First, we met up at a Yoga studio where Steph works, and she taught us a hour long yoga lesson. I'm not much of a yoga person and I tend to avoid group classes at the gym, partly because I prefer to run, bike, swim, or lift and partly because I know that I would be the only true "beginner" in any beginner level class, and I'm horribly bad at synchronizing my movements with a roomful of people. I can't even do the electric slide. This time, however, I enjoyed the lesson. It was relaxing but a workout at the same time, and it was just our group, so I didn't have to worry about making an ass of myself in front of strangers. After the yoga, we headed back to Steph's house for a sex toy party. It was sort of like a tupperware party (not that I've ever been to one, but bear with me, people.) except with sex toys instead of tupperware. The first few products the salesgirl showed us were of the innocent variety: scented candles, lotions, beauty products. Then, she moved onto massage lotions, then edible massage lotions, and lastly, a frightening assortment of dildos, vibrators, and other naughty toys. (I hope this post doesn't unleash a torrent of nasty spam comments). Some of the products were hilarious, like remote control operated vibrating panties. For the record, I didn't buy anything scandalous.

Went to work (BO-ring), went out to lunch at Mike's City Diner, played soccer. Ern and I tried to go see The Departed, but it was sold out, so we had Thai food at Montien instead.

In the news

The L.A. Times recently ran an article on Trona, California, the small town on the edge of Death Valley where my dad grew up. I guess my dad wasn't exaggerating when he talked about the sand football field.

And now for something completely different...

Nicaragua has a new national drink, the Macua. Flor de Cana sponsored a contest for a new national cocktail, and the winning drink, made with rum, guava juice, lemon juice, sugar, and ice, was invented by a pediatrician from Granada.

Friday, October 06, 2006

The World Cup Trophy and the World's Most Unflattering Photo

The World Cup trophy is currently touring six cities in the United States, and one of them is Boston. Last night, Kim and I went to see it at Ipanema, a Brazilian restaurant in Framingham. It was a lot of fun! I thought it would be a madhouse, but we got there a little bit late, so the line wasn't too bad. I predicted the crowd would be all Brazilians, but most of the people in line were Italy fans. There were also a lot of families, which isn't a surprise, because so many kids here play soccer. And lots and lots of dudes. And free beer due to a Budweiser promotion, but for some reason, I was the only one who got offered it (maybe because Kim and I were the only girls in line over the age of 12). The trophy itself is smaller than I imagined (it's no Stanley Cup), but it's pretty darn cool. It's solid gold and guarded by a badass dude wearing a tuxedo and white gloves. We waited in line to get out photo taken on stage with the cup, but due to the unflattering camera angle, the resulting photo is most appropriately entitled The World Cup and The World's Biggest Double Chin:

The Herald says it's a replica, but I don't believe them.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Birthday Report

To celebrate my last year in my 20s, I went out to dinner with a bunch of friends at the Cactus Club, where we drank a lot of sangria and margaritas (well, at least I did) and ate Mexican food. The servers did an excellent job managing our large and loud party, and I would definitely recommend the CC as a good place to go for a fun, inexpensive group dinner. Afterwards, several of us went to Salsa Night at An Tua Nua. We got there late and missed the part of the lesson where they teach the basic steps, so we were a little bit lost on the more complicated turns. It was really hot in the room where the lesson was held, so one by one we all ended up moving into the front room, where karaoke was going on. However, once the lessons ended, the floor in the back room opened up for dancing. Most of the couples on the dance floor knew what they were doing, whereas I dance like Elaine. Good thing I have no qualms about making a fool of myself. I had a lot of fun, and would definitely go back. The $10 cover is kind of a pain, but I understand why they charge so much, because the majority of the people there don't buy a single drink, they just spend the entire night salsaing. The only complaint I have, aside from the fact the room was about 100 degrees, is that they didn't mix up the music enough. I would have liked to hear some more meringue, bachata, cumbia, and even reggaeton, and not just the same salsa beat. In my opinion, Boston sorely lacks a fun Latin bar. The couple of places that do offer Salsa Night tend to be a too formal and structured for my tastes. In DC, Miami, and San Diego, I've gone to really fun dance bars where all of the normal people dance (not just the salsa sharks), and the music is all Spanish, but with much more variety. Here's a photo of Ern and Toshi showing off their hot new moves:

Fall has arrived

Fall is my favorite season. I love the cool, crisp weather, the changing leaves, the holidays (Halloween), the start of the NBA season, but above all, I love the Dunkin Donuts Pumpkin Muffin. Mmmmm. I had my first one of the year this morning, and it was FREAKIN DELICIOUS.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

This just in

Framingham, my hometown, is mentioned in a new song by Bob Seger:
So long Massachusetts, so long Framingham
I need to face the promise of the Promised Land
Even though it doesn't seem complimentary (wait a minute, Framingham isn't the Promised Land?), Framingham should be proud to be mentioned by the legendary BOB SEGER!

Happy birthday to me

I turn 29 today. One year closer to becoming a weird old lady...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Congratulations, Craig Mello!

UMass Medical professor Craig Mello and Andrew Fire from Stanford won the Nobel Prize for their work studying RNA interference. They discovered the novel gene silencing mechanism in worms, but later realized that the system is ubiquitous in nature. RNAi has been developed into a powerful tool for silencing genes for research purposes and has the potential to be used theraputically for viral infections and genetic diseases. I went to a seminar given by Craig Mello last year, and he is not only a bright and a talented scientist, but also a genuinely nice and personable guy.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Weekend Report

Friday- Played soccer with a new team I joined, Snakes on a Pitch. Isn't the name great? We won handily and went out for food and beers to celebrate. After that, I stopped by a friend's party for a bit. Remember in college how I used to go out all the time all sweaty and gross in my soccer gear instead of going home and showering first? Well, if you didn't go to college with me, you probably don't remember. Anyways, apparently I have started doing that again.

- Worked all day. October is a busy month, work wise. I have my annual departmental seminar, a thesis committee meeting (the last one was a train wreck; I am hoping that this one will be an improvement), and a regional biodefense conference in which I planning to present some data on experiments that I haven't even done yet. Basically, this is my way of announcing that I might not be posting as much for the next couple of weeks. Oh, Saturday night I went to a party at my friend Meg's place and had a fun time, especially watching the antics of my drunk coworkers.

Sunday- Slept in and did some boring chores, then I went to my parents' house for my family birthday dinner (my birthday's on Wednesday). My mother even had a little surprise in store for me. I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but my mom is crazy. She called me to find out what time I was arriving, and then dropped this into the end of the conversation:

Mom: You can drive people home after dinner, right?
Me: People? You mean Grampy and Mommom, right?
Mom: Someone else is coming.
Me: foolishly thinking that it's one of my cousins Who?
Mom: Balan Frummond!

Let me fill you in. Balan Frummond (a pseudonym) is the son of a family friend with whom I suspect my mother is plotting to set me up. Last time he was in town, my parents were meeting him for dinner in the city and asked me to join them, then they cancelled at the last minute and were all like "well, why don't you two go?" Real smooth, parents. And now all of the sudden he's at my family birthday party? Groan.

Now, let me tell you about the other times my mother has tried to play matchmaker.

1. She went through this phase where she kept insisting that I take the family dog to the veterinarian. Or, she would invent reasons for me to stop by the vet's office. My suspicions were confirmed when she unsubtly mentioned "that Dr. Millsky is very cute!" My sister Eri, who knew someone who worked in his office, told her that Dr. Millsky is not only cute, but also very, very gay. My mom refused to believe her, until he got married. To a man. Legalize Gay Marriage: It's the only thing that will get your mother off your case about attractive gay male professionals.

2. Here is the most legendary of all of my mother's schemes: I was at a party, and I ran into my friend Kevin's brother, who informs me that several months prior, my mother saw him at church and passed him a note with my email address written on it. Can we talk about how ridiculous that it? She passed him a note? DURING CHURCH? With my email address on it? Um, ridiculous!

Book Review: The Rescue Artist

A few weeks ago, I posted about the recovery of The Scream, and one anonymous commenter *cough*Phil* recommended the book The Rescue Artist: A True Story of Art, Thieves, and the Hunt for a Missing Masterpiece, by Edward Dolnick. I borrowed the book and finished it a couple of days ago. I am an avid reader, but there are two categories of books that I do not enjoy. The first is Eastern European literature (sorry, Dostoyevsky and company do not do it for me, no matter how hard I try) and the second is non-fiction. Either it's too dense and technical (Guns, Germs, and Steel), too sensationalized and not technical enough (anything about infectious disease), or too smug (I'm talking to you, Malcolm Gladwell). However, The Rescue Artist suffered from none of these flaws- it kept me interested and entertained. The book is entirely non-fiction and delves into the world of art theft by focusing on one character, Charley Hill of Scotland Yard's art crimes department, and one painting, The Scream. The book rapidly dispels the notion of the charming and clever art thief so often depicted in the movies and enters a world of vicious criminals who steal art because it's valuable and because it's easy.

Blogging is the new black

The archbishop of Boston, Carndinal Sean O'Malley, has a blog. He even says LOL. (but not OMG). Comments are allowed, which surprised me, although I'm assuming that someone is closely monitoring them. Obviously, the content focuses on Catholic religion, but there are some more personal posts, like photos from the Cardinal's recent trip to Rome. I think it's pretty cool- we tend not to think of priests and other clergy as actual people, people who have real friends and take pictures of themselves in front of famous monuments.

Another blog I've been enjoying lately is This Is Framingham, all about life in my hometown. The author posts reviews about many local restaurants and businesses, even stopping in the Happy Swallow. It's very entertaining for natives like me, because she seems to make a point of stopping inside the hokiest looking stores, the ones I drove by for years without ever entering, like the stores in the "Sad Plaza."

On a somewhat related note, why did no one tell me that The Rock was filming a movie in Framingham? I so would have stalked him.