Sunday, February 28, 2010

Links: the sciencey, the silly, and the spectacular

Those of you who have worked in any sort of medical research lab are undoubtedly familiar with HeLa cells- the first human cell line that is still commonly used for in vitro studies. However, the story of Henrietta Lacks, from whose tumor the cells originated, is largely unknown. A new book by Rebecca Skloot aims to change that- here's an excerpt. Even thought I'm not much of a non-fiction reader, I found the article fascinating and will definitely pick up a copy of the book at some point.

Nothing's funnier than someone overreacting to a joke about concealed weapons! (thanks, cupcake)

Web-goddess extraordinaire Kris has outdone herself with the prize to this year's Oscar Contest....oh yes, Twilight-themed sock monkeys, complete with a sparkling and broody Edward. I really hope I win.

Friday, February 26, 2010


Apologies for the sparse blogging as of late- I don't have an internet connection where I'm staying and since I sit literally side by side with my boss (our "desks" are actually just one big table that we both sit at), I probably won't be doing much online tomfoolery at work. Which will likely do wonders for my productivity.

So yes, the first week of life in Australia has been good. On the upside, I really like my new job and new coworkers and especially my new boss. Yay! On the downside, I still haven't found a place to live- the Metafiler friend and her boyfriend who are hosting me are great, but I'm looking forward to getting settled in somewhere more permanent and closer to the hospital, as it's currently an hour-long commute. Little did I know that Melbourne is notoriously difficult when it come to apartment hunting, and I'm moving in right when all the students have descended upon the city for the start of the academic year (a la September 1 in Boston, although I'm definitely trying to avoid living in the Allston of Melbourne) so the whole real estate system is kind of a mess. I'm scouting out a few more potential places this weekend, so hopefully I'll get something (ideally with an internet connection!) lined up by next week. In other news, it's still warm and sunny and beautiful. People here love good coffee so there are lots of cafes (and they all offer soy milk! thank you lactose-intolerant Asians!), and an astonishing and somewhat mystifying number of hair salons.

In other news, about six months ago, I started getting a lot more spam comments on DCoE. I've been pretty vigilant about immediately deleting them, but after spending a couple of weeks in transit, they've started piling up. In the past, I've resisted using one of those verification tools for comments just because I don't want normal commenters to be disuaded...even though it only takes about 3 seconds and certainly won't dissuade the worthy commenters, right? RIGHT?

Coming soon:
A book review! Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann- it's fantastic.
A post on accents and how I ended up with a lettuce sandwich for lunch. (Which would have been the tragedy of the week had I not bought a summer scarf at the outdoor market and then lost it on the tram the very next day. SAD FACE.)
and some other, the killer whale story? I'm obsessed.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

DCoE: Live from Melbourne!

So, after a long-ass flight (BOS to SFO to AUK to MEL) I finally arrived on Friday. I flew most of the trip on Air New Zealand and thought they were good- everyone gets their own personal tv screens to choose from with dozens of free movies and shows (I watched The Last King of Scotland and whole bunch of sitcoms to lighten the mood). I also had signed up for a lactose-free meal, which was fun because I had totally forgotten about it until my meal arrived special delivery ahead of everyone else's. Yeah, suckers! Oh, and they serve nice New Zealand wines as well, so bonus points for that. On the downside, it's a 23 hour journey, not including layovers and time change. Gross. On the upside, it's hot and sunny and beautiful here and the people are quite pleasant and have cute accents. The driving on the left thing will take some getting used to- I've had occasional fleeting moments of panic when a car passes by and OH MY GOD THERE'S NO ONE IN THE DRIVER'S SEAT! oh wait that's the passenger seat.

I'm currently scrambling around doing all those things one needs to do when one changes countries- new phone, new bank account, and now I'm in the midst of the Great Apartment (whoops, Flat) Search of 2010. Although I'd prefer to live alone, it isn't exactly practical considering the fact that I don't currently possess anything other than a bunch of clothes, a laptop, a cooking scrapbook, and Old Spotty. So, apparently that life window of "sure, I'll live with strangers" that I deemed closed around age 27 has been reopened. Until I find something, I'm staying with an internet friend from Metafilter and her boyfriend- a situation way more normal than it sounds; they are super nice and the place is great. I haven't hunted for apartments since Eri found the old East Broadway digs back in 2003, so I've forgotten what a pain in the butt it is. I probably should have allotted a few more free days for the task, but I start my new job tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Australia Bound!

Well, it's been a hectic last few days in MA, with the highlight definitely being my going away party at Lir last Saturday night. You know how when you used to go out during college and you knew everyone at the bar? It was sort of like that, minus the lousy fake IDs. I don't want to get all sappy, but I feel very fortunate to have so many wonderful friends in my life. So thanks to everyone who stopped by for a drink or three, especially those of you who traveled from afar and also Ern for getting me an Edible Arrangement and a Croc-themed gift. Nothing says "goodbye and good luck" like your most hated inanimate objects! Here are a couple of my favorite pictures from the party- a group shot organized by Sue and, well, hair moustaches. Boom.

So, yep, tomorrow I'm moving across the globe for a new job (and my first ever Real Job...sayonara, stipends!) in a city where I don't know a single person. I suppose I should be feeling excited, nervous, and a little bit sad, but it hasn't really hit me yet. And in case you're wondering, DCoE will continue on from Down Under- it'll be sort of like Saved By The Bell: The College Years (not really). For now, I'll leave you with a song, because despite the Australian allure of sunny weather, strange animals, and adorable accents, Boston, you're my home.

The Standells- Dirty Water

Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday Song of the Day: a two-fer!

So I'm officially in Freak Out mode as I prepare for my upcoming move to the other side of the world. Bags to back, boxes to store, minivan to sell, people to see, grant proposals to finish...eek!

So how about some nice peppy music to get me (and you) motivated on a Friday morning?

A couple of people have asked me if I've heard Vampire Weekend's new album, Contra, yet. The answer is no, I don't have the album yet but I've heard a few tracks and I like them. They certainly get bonus points for the album's title- a nod to The Clash's Sandinista!- even though it carries unintended weight for people who happened to have lived in Nicaragua.

Vampire Weekend- Cousins
The Clash- Police on my Back

FYIF, everybody! Looking forward to seeing a bunch of you this weekend.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Minivan, megafun

One task I have left before I leave is to sell my old minivan. I became the official owner of the van in 2006, but it has been in my family since its creation in 1996, so we have a long history together. Oh minivan, even though you are missing a hubcap, your heat smells like gasoline, and you occasionally stall on right turns, I'm going to miss the fun times we had together. Like the road trips we took where all we had to listen to was Billy Joel's Storm Front and my mom's cassette tapes. Or the time the guillotine-like action of the sliding door almost killed my friend Kevin as he puked out the door on his 21st birthday. Or the ten thousand times passengers told me your clock was wrong and I patiently (okay, impatiently) explained that it doesn't continue to keep time when the engine isn't running. Sure, you don't have a cool reputation, but when it came to driving half my soccer team to a game, you were the perfect vehicle. Your book value is $750, but I know you're worth a lot more that that!

Monday, February 08, 2010

Feeling crafty

Despite my better intentions, I have never been particularly good at arts and crafts. However, I bought a Mexican bingo set a couple of months ago and had been meaning to do something with it. So instead of cleaning and packing, I spent the day on a framing project, and it was quite enjoyable. Fortunately for me, my new roommate (my cousin Myles) is a student at Mass Art and has all sorts of X-Acto knives and rulers. I went to AC Moore and picked out some frames (on sale! Then again, I've never been in AC Moore when they weren't having some sort of a frame sale.) and mat board- they didn't have the size I needed so I decided to cut my own...a risky endeavor as I am admittedly clumsy. However, after a few tries, I managed to cut the mat board to the right size without severing any digits. Woohooo!

Here's the finished product:

I always liked the heart card for being realistic and grotesque instead of a puffy cartoon heart. I ended up framing three different cards as a gift (oh hi I'm a surprise wrecker), so someone will soon get their very own Corazon, Mano, and Borracho (!). You've gotta love a children's game that includes The Drunk Man as an image.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Book giveaway!

I've finally started inventorying my possessions to figure out what I want to bring to Australia with me (not very much), what I want to keep here in storage, and what I want to get rid of (a lot). First of all, I own four wigs, which seems a bit ridiculous. I also found dozens of nail clippers- I keep buying them because I can never find one when I need one, and now all of the sudden there is one lurking in every single drawer or box I open.

Since I won't be hauling my books to Australia with me, I'm going to hold on to a few favorites and give away the rest. I figure I'd check with people I know before dropping them off at Goodwill, so if you want any of them, leave me a line in the comments and I'll figure out how to get them to you. Here's a list of titles:

Netherland- Joseph O'Neill
Dracula- Bram Stoker
Holidays on Ice- David Sedaris
Me Talk Pretty one Day- David Sedaris
What is the What- Dave Eggers
The Four Agreements- Don Miguel Ruiz
Lady Chatterly's Lover- DH Lawrence
Valley of the Dolls- Jacqueline Susann
Cloud Atlas- David Mitchell
Flowers in the Attic- VC Andrews
The Iliad- Homer
The Aeneid- Virgil
On The Road- Jack Kerouac
Pride and Prejudice- Jane Austen
Sense and Sensibility- Jane Austen
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings- Maya Angelou
The Sun Also Rises- Ernest Hemingway
Midnight's Children- Salman Rushdie
Blood Meridian- Cormac McCarthy
No Country for Old Men- Cormac McCarthy
The Road- Cormac McCarthy
One Hundred Years of Solitude- Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Water for Elephants- Sara Gruen
Selected Poems- WB Yeats
Angela's Ashes- Frank McCourt
A Town Like Alice- Nevil Shute
Ordinary People- Judith Guest
Heart of Darkness & The Secret Sharer- Joseph Conrad
The Barrytown Trilogy- Roddy Doyle
The English Patient- Michael Ondaatje

Thursday, February 04, 2010

A recipe, a movie, and a song

Recipe: 1. Last night I made this Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili. Easy, healthy, and tasty, although not particularly photogenic. It's pretty hearty for a vegetarian meal, too.

2. Movie: The Big Easy (1986). Set in New Orleans, this crime drama stars a young Dennis Quaid as a charistmatic police detective and Ellen Barkin as an assistant Disctrict Attorney investigating police corruption in his department. So it's sort of like an episode of Law & Order, only with steamy romance. The Big Easy is very entertaining and Dennis Quaid was fantastic, but hey, I'm a sucker for a tall man with a cajun accent. The soundtrack is excellent as well and captures the New Orleans sound with cajun, zydeco, and R&B music. I'm definitely going to order a copy before I move to the land of massive shipping fees.

3. Song: I've been on a big Kinks kick lately- there's so much more to them than songs about transvestites and kids beating up Santa. Here's one of my favorite tracks (right click and save as to download):

Victoria, by the Kinks.