Category Archives: Adrienne

Stuff Adrienne writes

If You Lay Down and Cry You Get Tears In Your Ears

So it’s 11:54 pm on Sunday, May 10, 2009. It’s the last 6 minutes of mother’s day. It really was a great day, you know? I emailed students, I did a small organizational project I’ve wanted to do, and I spent all day with Dean. It was generally nice.

I called my mom, of course, and Dean called his, and we talked about presents and celebrations and all the goodness of the day. Every site I went to had a “happy mother’s day!” banner, adorned by flowers and cute insects; facebook had more baby pictures than ads; even gossip sites had features on famous mothers and children. I enjoyed reading it, I swear. That is, until I read that one blog about famous mothers’ favorite lines in childrens’ books.

Books are my escape. There are so many worlds to explore, characters to love and hate and fear and cherish. It what I do when I’m happiest; it’s what I do when I’m down. It’s where I go.

Reading a list of beloved lines from beloved books…my books, my havens, my happy places…and having them tied to happy moments with children broke me tonight.

The thing is, I will never, ever have a mother’s day. I will never have toddlers bringing me weeds in a boquet which I’ll proudly display on the table. I’ll never have surly teenagers reluctantly bring me breakfast in bed. I’ll never have a 20-something call me late in the evening pretending he hadn’t forgoten the date. I’ve seen it happen–I’ve even been on the kid side of that equation. I heard a thousand stories today, each sweeter than the last. My “I played video games and cleaned out the freezer!” story just doesn’t hold a candle.

There is no I-had-my-uterus-and-overies-taken-at-32-so-I-will-never-have-children-of-my-own day. If someone makes one, I hope it’s in August. I don’t have anything else to celebrate in August.


So, video games can ruin relationships? Wait, what?

Brigham Young University scientists have finally studied the obvious: people who play lots of video games don’t tend to have good interpersonal relationships. Really? This needed investigation? Have they ever tried having a relationship with someone who is addicted to a video game? I’m pretty sure there’s countless people out there who will happily lend antidotal evidence to this study.


Happy New Year! Time to look back on what we’ve accomplished.

Happy new year! It’s that time again–I’ve been asked by anyone and everyone what my resolutions for the year are, what I’m going to change, what are my plans. The thing is, I gave up making resolutions forever ago. I guess I figured that if I wanted to change something so badly, I may as well start the moment I thought of it, rather than wait for an arbitrary day (and invariably make it worse dreading the day I was to start). So instead of making resolutions, I take the new year as a time to reflect on my life goals, and see what I’ve accomplished. (Oh, and print out awesome pictures of my friends and family from the year to decorate my office :).

Back in 1996 I started a life goals list–a list that I update whenever I come up with a new goal, and a list that I go over every year to see what I’ve done. I never remove a goal, even if plans change. I like knowing what I once wanted; it keeps me in touch with my past. So, without further adeu, here is my newly updated goal list!

Adrienne’s Life Goals (List started December, 1996 and updated each year since then) I’ve bolded the ones that I accomplished since I last updated the list in 2006.

1. Rollerblade in every major city in the world (Don’t know if I want to do this one any more or not. I’m really not all that into rollerblading. Biking might be a more feasible option).
2. Win a Nobel Prize
3. Study insects in the Australian Canopy (I used to get a magazine as a kid that advertised scientist-led trips in the back. One was a trip to the Australian Rainforest where you’d get to help survey the insects. They said you’d probably find several new species. I have to get there).
4. Become fluent in Spanish (took it in high school, remember little)
5. Be written about in some major tabloid
6. Make a major discovery in cancer research
7. Breed some sort of animal (I finished this one in 1998–I bred crane flies, beetles, crickets, and whatever else my boss brought in for a year)
8. Get married and raise a family (Part one–done 9/3/00! Part two–um, read my other blogs. I’m thinking of redefining “family” in my head.)
9. Get a PhD in Entomology (Getting close now!)
10. Make a major entomological discovery (I’m really not sure what counts as “major.” I guess I’ll figure that out as I go along)
11. Become a college professor
12. Ear $20,000 a year with my harp (selling it doesn’t count)
13. Read the entire works of Shakespeare (did I mention I’m really into Shakespeare?)
14. Learn to ride a bike well (I’ve decided the tandem doesn’t count, but is a hell of a lot less scary than riding alone)
15. Study insects in Madagascar (the first day of my high school freshman geography class the teacher gave us the coordinates for Madagascar. I’ve wanted to go ever since)
16. Visit Kangaroo Island
17. Become the president of something major
18. Be able to give my Alma Mater something big, and have something on campus named after me
19. Rollerblade 10 miles (so, I didn’t have a bike as a kid. I taught myself to rollerblade instead. Don’t do it so much anymore, but for awhile there it was my only means of transportation)
20. Become fluent in sign language
21. Take a major biking or blading trip
22. Become very physically fit
23. Graduate from any higher education institution with a 3.0 or higher (I only got a 2.5 in undergraduate school…but I did have a 3.2 in my major courses. That counts, right? Finished my Master’s with a 3.46, currently have a 4.0)
24. Work at the Smithsonian
25. Lear how to spell “Smithsonian” (Done! 1996. Have I mentioned I’m dyslexic? Oh, man, in 5th grade we had spelling tests every week, and my teacher made anyone who failed go to detention after school on Fridays and copy the dictionary. I got through “C” by the end of the year. She was nice enough not to make me go right before Christmas break and the last week of school. After my year she stopped using that as a punishment for bad spelling. I am a liberator of 5th graders!)
26. Live to be 100 (This one will take me awhile)
27. Own a motorcycle (Done! 1999. It got stolen, but who’s counting?)
28. Fall in love (Done! Valentine’s Day, 1997. Can you guess who?)
29. Write a book (I’m writing a lab book now, so maybe this will be done by next year)
30. Visit Canada (Done! 2005. Our anniversary. We took a ferry from Washington)
31. Take a cruise
32. Become the best in Entomology
33. Be rich enough to buy my parents a cabin or car (Part of this list was written when I was a starving student. I mean, really starving…like ducking the landlord, saving up for Taco Bell starving. I lived on popcorn and oatmeal for most of a year. I was super thin)
34. Own a home in Australia
35. Travel the world
36. Own a large house with my husband (I also wrote a good portion of this list right when I met Dean, so “husband” and “love” are mentioned a bunch) (Done! 7/2008:  4 bedrooms is large, right?)
37. Have a large wedding (Done! 9/3/00)
38. Tour Iceland
39. Visit Greenland (Notice I don’t want to tour Greenland)
40. Know a song on the harp by every major composer (As soon as I define what a “major” composer is, I’ll get started on this one)
41. Meet someone famous (so, who’s gonna be famous so I can check this off? I’ve met a bunch of famous forensic entomologists, but I’m not counting them for some reason.)
42. Begin an Art, science and cultural center
43. Weigh 120-135 as long as it’s healthy (it stopped being healthy a while ago–right around the infertility time)
44. Create a cross stitch tapestry (Working on it!)
45. Learn to draw (Done! Spring 2000. I’m no Ivan, but it’s good enough for government work)
46. Learn to tango (Done! Summer 2000. I hated it)
47. Get a degree in something totally unrelated (Done! June, 2007. I have a degree in Emergency Prehospital Care. If you’re dying, call me! I’ll tell you to go to the hospital)
48. Own a company (I’ve owned small things, but I’m not counting this until it becomes profitable)
49. Maintain a very large garden
50. Arrange a musical festival
51. Go on an African safari
52. Be someone’s inspiration
53. Stay in the best hotels in the world
54. Backpack across America
55. Sponsor a Shakespeare festival
56. Throw at least 1 major formal party
57. Tour England
58. Visit every major museum in the world
59. Love wine (Done! I have no idea when this happened exactly….)
60. Become adept at herbal studies
61. Study at least 3 religions other than Methodist (Done! Mormonism, Judaism and Jehovah’s Witness. I ended up with a boyfriend in each religion, which really made the study easy. Mormons wear sacred underwear. Don’t tell them you know!)
62. Watch or be in every Shakespeare play
63. Organize 5 missions (So I grew up in a Methodist church, and Methodists are really into volunteering. All through high school I went on youth missions organized by the church–I’ve been to Mexico 12 or 13 times to work on churches and houses, I went to Yuma, Arizona several times and worked on the Indian reservation there, and I helped organize a huge mission to Alaska, but I couldn’t go. This is the one thing I miss about not going to church anymore. My old church went to Mississippi last spring to rebuild houses destroyed in hurricane Katrina. I wish I could’ve gone)
64. Study scarab beetles (they’re shiny!)
65. Visit Egypt
66. Never have to worry about money (once again, I was a starving student at this point….)
67. Become adept at rock climbing
68. Visit every state in the union (I’m working on it!)
69. Visit Easter Island
70. Perform in a large theater (Done! Christmas 1997 and 1998. I was part of a Christmas show playing in LA. I played the harp–3500 seats in that theater)
71. Visit Morocco (Ah…here comes my travel list….)
72. Visit Sri Lanka
73. Visit the Philippines (Earl? When we going?)
74. Visit Norway
75. Study cancer (When I add to my list each year, I sometimes don’t go back and review everything first, so there are a few duplicates. Apparently I really want to do these things)
76. Visit France
77. Visit the Eiffel Tower (just in case I was gonna miss it while in France….)
78. Visit the Statue of Liberty again (I saw it when my class went there in Jr. High, but I was a bit boy crazy and didn’t really care about the big green woman)
79. Visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa
80. Stay in a small Russian town
81. Go to a health spa (Done! I now do this as regularly as possible)
82. Win a major contest
83. Become a photographer (I don’t think I have much of an eye, but I can try)
84. Visit Dublin
85. Become monetarily comfortable (still hungry!)
86. Own a store
87. Learn to fence (Done! 2004. Hated it!)
88. Learn a martial arts (Done! 2004, black belt in kenjo ki karate–better known as kickboxing)
89. Visit a homeless family
90. Learn massage
91. Write a major research paper (Done! June 2007. It’s going to publication this year W00t!!)
92. Work in a vineyard (Done! Spring 1997, Cal Poly SLO. 1 year. It was fun)
93. Witness a controlled burn (Done! Summer 1998. We had to do several controlled burns in the orchard that summer)
94. Save an insect species
95. Discover an insect species (I like me some insect species)
96. Biologically solve a pest problem (I haven’t decided if I want to do this on a grand scale or not…if not, then done! I’ll leave it unmarked for now, though)
97. Read Moby Dick, A Tale of Two Cities, Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Hans Christian Andersen series, The Metamorphasis, The Fountainhead, It, The Lord of the Rings, and a book by Chaucer. (Some of these are done. The hardest so far is The Lord of the Rings. How do people get through this?!?)
98. Fall asleep in a hammock overlooking a beautiful beach and sea under a full moon (Aw! Aren’t I romantic?)
99. Learn to horseback (Done! Did you know that Dean’s grandfather raises horses?)
100. Take a trip to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
101. Be interviewed by the press (Done! 2005 FFAS conference. CNN interviewed me about entomology)
102. Go to England to see the Shakespeare Festival
103. Help to solve a crime (Done! I’m a forensic entomologist!)
104. Learn to belly dance (I keep meaning to do this one. Someone help!)
105. Discover the purpose of an insect and use those facts to save it from extinction
106. Write out the entire rocky scrip, block it and use it to get a show started (This is half done–I have the script.)
107. Plan an orchard
108. Read the Bible (This may end up harder than finishing Lord of the Rings)
109. Read the Book of Mormon (And this will be harder than the Bible)
110. Read the entire works of Edgar Allen Poe
111. Build my own harp (You can get kits for not that much and build your own lap harp. Want!)
112. Visit all the National Parks
113. Live in France
114. Design and build a custom lab for my work (Kinda done! I designed the lab I’ll be working in this spring. Does that count? If so, Done!)
115. Have a maid or cleaning service (I don’t do windows! Or any other cleaning, for that matter)
116. Visit all the amusement parks in the U.S.
117. Design a set (Done! Fall 1997. I designed the sets for a performance of Hamlet)
118. Be a main part in a show
119. Picnic on top of a mountain (Wouldn’t this be fun? Hint!)
120. Ride the trolly in San Francisco (Done! Summer 1998)
121. Try Sushi (Done! And I never looked back)
122. See 100 Rocky Horror Picture Shows (I’m at 41)
123. Plan a very romantic trip somewhere and take it with someone I love (Done! We went to Costa Rica for our honeymoon)
124. Help someone in need (I don’t think I’ll ever mark this one off, no matter how many times I do it)
125. Buy my own car (We’ve been given our last several, so I haven’t really had the chance yet. Not that I’m complaining…we’ll happily take anyone’s car off their hands! It’s what we do!)
126. Visit Alaska
127. Be loved by someone I’m not related to (Done!)
128. Don’t die lonely
129. Retire
130. Fall asleep in someone’s arms (Done!)
131. Have my own CD
132. Pass Music Theory 1 (Done! I got a B! Stupid class)
133. Figure out how to raise Jerusalem Crickets (Done! Those bastards are a pain in the ass to raise. And they bite super hard!)
134. Finance my education (Done! That was hard, and now I’m in debt forever, but done!)
135. Create a large folder of research on raising insects
136. Have something published (Done! July 2008, my very first article. Ask me and I’ll let you read it!)
138. Turn my car into a work of art (Done! You should have seen it….)
139. Get an A in Beekeeping (Done! Easiest A ever. I like bees)
140. Manage my own beehive (Just might happen soon…I have plans)
141. Have a webpage (Done! Ah, remember the early days of the web when webpages were novel and only geeks had them?)
142. Get into grad school (Done! For years and years!)
143. Learn to sew (Done! July 2008. I learned, now I just have to get good at it)
144. Finish the Chaos book (It’s a book about Chaos theory. I really only started reading it because I was dating this super cute math major who told me it was good. It’s sitting on the shelf with a 10 year old bookmark in it. I’ll get back to it eventually. I’ll probably have to start from the beginning, though. That’s gonna suck)
145. Create at least one of my clothing designs (So I took this design class for my minor–I had to design clothes. I based all of them on insects)
146. Get an award from a scientific association
147. Get certified in some aspect of entomology
148. Present an original paper at a scientific meeting (Done! June 2008. Presented “Seasonal Distribution and Abundance of Forensically Important Flies in Santa Clara County. It was well received)
149. Get my masters (Done! June 2007)
150. Save 1 million dollars
151. Buy a house (Done! July 2008, and it’s beautiful. Come and visit! We have cookies)
152. Visit every state in the nation (See what I mean about duplicates?)
153. Start a consulting business (Plans, again. Plans.)
154. Read every book in the library (Wanna watch? Or help? Join me!)
155. Visit every country in the world
156. Learn to ride a motorcycle (Yep, this is gonna be done this year. Someone teach me, please!)
157. Climb a mountain
158. Start a journal (Done! 2006. I now have blogs instead)
159. Volunteer somewhere
160. Write a book (I must really want to write that damn book!)
161. Be on tv
163. Create an intricate treasure hunt
164. See a musical on Broadway
165. Be self employed with an actual income
166. Own a cabin
167. Plant 100 trees
168. Read 1000 books
169. See an iceberg
170. Get rid of that dead place inside of me (Done! 2007 or 2008. Ask me about it sometime, if you really want to know)
171. Ride a snowmobile
172. Take a speed reading course (I gotta get through a lot of books, you see….)
173. Learn to surf
174. Walk across a swingy suspension bridge
175. Arrange a harp song
176. Learn Latin
177. Visit Walden pond (Then talk about it all snooty like)
178. Create a hedge maze (How cool is my house gonna be?!?)
179. Be a groomsman (You see, I’ve been every part of a wedding–Bride, bridesmaid, acolyte, harpist, flower girl, officiant, guest on the bride’s side, guest on the groom’s side, but I’ve never been a groomsman. That would complete my takeover of all things wedding!)
180. Have a grand library (With a fireplace and leather chairs and a secret door) (I’m so close!)
181. Have a cabin on a lake
182. Take a gondola ride (Hey! Another great date idea!)
183. Hold a hawk
184. Rehabilitate a wild animal
185. Fire a sniper rifle
186. Fire an automatic weapon
187. Fly first class across the ocean
188. Go hot air ballooning
189. Stay on a houseboat
190. Go hang gliding (But not by myself–with a trained professional so I won’t die. I want to live to be 100, remember?)
191. Do that thing with the parachute hanging off a boat (Doesn’t that sound like fun!?!)
192. visit the Bermuda Triangle (And not get lost)
193. Put $500 a month in my IRA (Up to $350 a month, as of now. See…I’m well on my way to saving 1 million!)
194. Go see the Ice Hotel (I love the Discovery Channel)
195. See Grand Central Station
196. Drive across America, coast to coast
197. Climb the highest mountain in California
198. Renovate a house
199. Cross the Panama Canal
200. Finish the world’s largest crossword puzzle (Don’t really know if I want to do this one any more, but there you are)
201. Go a month without TV (Done! 2008. I was super busy, and TV is the first to go)
202. Buy some aboriginal art in Australia (I blame Chris and Yanira for this–stupid HDTV showing Australia and stuff!)
203. Be married for 60 years (at least!)
204. Make a quilt
205. Go white water rafting
206. Own a sports car (A green RX-7)
207. Buy a house in Costa Rica (Love it there!)
208. Bike 1000 miles in a year
209. Create the perfect, craveable Thanksgiving dinner (I think I’m close! I shall see)
210. Ride the orient express
211. Stay in a haunted hotel
212. Be under 30% body fat
213. Be nominated for a teaching award (Done! Fall, 2008, distinguished teaching award at Texas A&M)
214. Visit the poles (The South and North poles you dirty minded people!)
215. Go sailing
216. Go on an Alaskan cruise
217. Attend a movie premiere
218. Spend over 2 weeks at a nice hotel just enjoying the grounds (I got this idea from reading The Shining. Maybe that’s where I got the haunted hotel idea, too)
219. Attend the Rockettes Christmas Show (I hear this is great!)
220. Celebrate Day of the Dead in Mexico (you know, after they figure out all the drug killings and kidnappings. Still wanna live to 100)
221. Adopt a toddler or baby (Decided this year we will not adopt. Gonna leave this one on the list just to remember, though)
222. Visit the Louvre (I wonder if that’s even close to how it’s spelled)
223. Kiss Dean in Paris
224. Do a food tour of the USA: Pizza in Chicago, Blue Crabs in Maryland, Cheese Steak in Philly, and a bunch of other stuff I haven’t come up with yet)
225. Learn how to write my name in Japanese
226. Celebrate Christmas in New York and London
227. Air Boat the Everglades
228. Pay off my student loans ($32,000 and counting….)
229. Become known for great Thanksgivings
230. Have an art show (Maggot art, baby!)
231. Live in the mountains
232. Take a trip in a motor home
233. See the great barrier reef (But there’s no need to scuba dive…I’m morally against going anywhere I have to take my own oxygen. We need it to survive, people!)
234. Create a secret garden (I love that book! And play! And movie!)
235.Drink mint julep in the French Quarter
236.Enter a cooking contest
237. Have a pool
238. Put all my photos/mementos in scrapbooks (Working on it! It’s very well organized at the moment)
239. See all the movies on AFI’s top 100 list (30 down, 70 to go)
240. Visit Alcatraz
241. Try real absinthe (Done! 2007. It tastes like licorice, and has no hallucinogenic effects)
242. volunteer at a homeless shelter or food bank
243. Look good in a 2 piece
244. Have $100,000 in my IRA
245. Paint a really big painting
246. Get certified with a handgun
247.Ride all the rollercoasters in the US (30 down, 602 to go!)
248. Work at Quantico
249. Get 5 articles published
250. Go back to London, at least once
251. Have a real office that I don’t have to move out of every semester
252. Pass my quals (really nervous about these)
253. Write my lab manual
254. Own some art by someone famous
255. Become a consultant (a final duplicate!)

Well, that’s it for now. Several done these past two years, which rules, and several new goals added. What are your goals? Happy new year!

All-you-can-eat may just cause obesity

Where do the grants for this come from? It has been recently reported that people who eat out often, especially at buffets or in cafeterias, and then don’t get enough exercise get fat.

The findings revealed that respondents who ate out often, especially at buffets, cafeterias and fast food restaurants, were more likely to be obese.



Kid's meals unhealthy. Wait, what?

So, just in case you thought the mini cheeseburger, small fries and a coke (with a toy!) constituted health food for your little one, scientists have decided to set you straight:

Only 3 percent of kids’ meals served at fast-food restaurants met federal dietary guidelines in the first study to examine the nutrient quality of such meals in a major U.S. metropolitan market.

Crazy talk!


Email Forward Question Answers

I have several friends who have not yet grown out of the email forward stage, and I’m conintually getting these questionarre type things (much like the ones that were so popular for a while on MySpace), and since I have a moral obligation to stop retarded email forwards at all costs, I’ve decided to post my answers here and simply send them the link. I will do my part to better this world! As I get more questions, I’ll put more answers.

Forward #1:

Welcome to the Christmas edition of getting to know your friends . Okay, here’s what you’re supposed to do, and try not to be a SCROOGE!!!

Just copy (not forward) this entire email and paste into a new e-mail that you can send. Change all the answers so that they apply to you. Then send this to a whole bunch of people you know, INCLUDING the person that sent it to you……Tis the Season to be NICE!

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper, although my aunt just taught me to sew cloth bags. One of these days I’ll make a bunch of those.

2. Real tree or Artificial? Real, totally.

3. When do you put up the tree? The day after Thanksgiving is Christmas Tree day!

4. When do you take the tree down? New Year’s day. Last year’s tree shouldn’t be up during this year–that’s just rude to this year’s tree!

5. Do you like eggnog? Meh. People keep telling me that’s just because I haven’t had good eggnog. I suppose then they should be giving me the good stuff, now shouldn’t they?
6. Favorite gift received as a child? That’s really hard to say. I got a pet tarantula one year, which ruled; I also got a brown pound puppy at one point, a huge bunch of glow in the dark stars (ruled!), a home planetarium thingy, a chemistry set, and a microscope (and the microscope had a projector on it so I could show my parents things for HOURS!). Recently, I got the very first Newberry Award Winning book. Woooo!
7. Hardest person to buy for? Hmmm…it changes every year. It matters if I happen across the perfect gift or not.

8. Easiest person to buy for? Once again, it matters if I happen across the perfect gift or not.

9. Do you have a nativity scene ? Nah. My mom collects them, so she has more than enough for everyone else in the family.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards ? Mail. I LOVE LOVE LOVE getting mail (it’s like a mini surprise Christmas every day! Except Sundays. Sundays kinda suck like that), so I insist on sending out physical cards so I can give that happy to other people, too.

11.Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Um, can’t really think of one. I love presents, so anything in a festive box rules.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? It’s a tie between White Christmas and A Christmas Story.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas ? January. Sometimes before. I have a closet of gifts that I collect throughout the year. I usually am done by October.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present ? Yep. Just because it wasn’t perfect for me (or I already had one) doesn’t mean it won’t be perfect for someone else. I highly encourage present recycling.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Finnan haddie!!! Best food in existence–smoked white fish drenched in butter and served with little potatoes and fresh fruit. I dream about it all year.

16. Lights on the tree? Oh, a rediculous amount of lights. I’ve found that an overly-lighted tree is an amazing site to behold.

17. Favorite Christmas song ? The Christmas Song

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Travel. 🙁

19. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer? You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid, and Donner and Blitzen, but do you recall, the most famous reindeer of all?

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? I haven’t found the perfect thing, so nothing at the moment.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas pajamas get opened on Christmas Eve, and then the rest of the presents on Christmas morning. That has to be the greatest day EVER!

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? All the manufactured stress that my mom inflicts. That’s why I hate traveling.

23 Favorite for Christmas dinner ? Cold Finnan Haddie.

24. What do you want for Christmas this year? Oh, I’ve got a list!

Forward #2
Here is a fun and quick way to stay in touch.  Let’s see how many I get back…

A) Four places that I go to over and over

1)  The Lab
2) Home
3) Square 1
4) The Fox

B)  Four people who e-mail me (regularly):

1) Mom
2) Dean
3) Jeff
4) Facebook

C) Four of my favorite places to eat:

1) Square 1
2) A really good sushi joint
3) Home
4) In N Out

D) Four places I would rather be right now:

1)  at home
2) at Disneyland
3)at a bookstore
4)at a good friend’s house

E) Four TV shows I watch:

2) Anything Reality
3) 90210
4)Countdown with Keith Olbermann

Forward #3:

A getting to know you questionnaire

…but are ya brave enough to answer the questions?

1. Tell me something obvious about you: I have strawberry blonde hair

2. Tell me something about you that many don’t know: I’m deathly afraid of making phone calls, but I force myself to on a regular basis.

3. What is your biggest fear? Just giving up because I’m afraid; not doing everything I can to get what I want.

4. Do you normally go the safe route or take the short cut? Depends. I like short cuts, but sometimes the safe route is best.

5. Name one thing you want that you can’t buy with money. The career I want.

6. What is your most treasured possession? My harp.

7. What is the one thing you hate most about yourself that you do often? I get sloppy with my stuff, and make a mess (just like mom!)

8. Tell me something sexually about you that I don’t know. I like B&D (can you guess if I’m a top or a bottom?)

9. Tell me something sexually about you that everyone knows: I really, really like sex.

10. What is your favorite lie to tell? Sorry I missed your call! My phone was in the car.
11. Name something you’ve done once that you can’t wait to do again: Gone to London
12. Are you the jealous type? I can be, it depends on my mood.

13. What is the one person, place or thing you can’t say no to? Disneyland.

14. What is the nicest thing someone has ever done for you? Bought me a harp.

15. If you could do something crazy right now, what would it be? Walk right out of my parent’s house and never come back.

16. When was the last time you cried? A week or so ago.

17. When was the last time you felt so good that nothing else mattered? Last week, when it snowed.

18. Do you feel comfortable in public with no shirt on? Matters the circumstances.

19. Name something embarrassing you did while being drunk. I do so many embarrassing things while NOT drunk, the drunken me is down right polite.

20. If you answered this questionaire, who else would you like to see answer it? I don’t really care.
21. If you lied on any of the questions, which ones and why? None

Foward #4

1. Egg nog or hot chocolate?

Hot chocolate, with Godiva white and dark chocolate liquor, vanilla, marshmallows, cinnamon, orange liquor, and a candy cane.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?

Wrapped of course! One of the best parts of Christmas is seeing a wrapped gift with your name on it, and not being able to open it until Christmas morning.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?

Colored. I love the sparkles!

4. Do you hang mistletoe?

No, but only because I don’t know where to get it easily. I’d love to have it everywhere. So much kissing!

5. When do you put your decorations up?

Day after Thanksgiving.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?

Finnan Haddie.

7. Favorite holiday memory as a child?

Waiting breathlessly in the bedroom doorway until 8 am, because we weren’t allowed out until then.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?

Don’t really remember.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?

Christmas pajamas.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree?

I start by wrapping the trunk with lights, then I wrap each branch with lights, then I put the shiny Christmas balls inside the tree so they reflect the lights, then I put the fun Christmas ornaments on the outside of the tree.

11. Snow: love it or hate it?

Love it! I don’t get to see it all that often, is why.

12. Can you ice skate?

Yes. It’s like slippery roller blading.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?

I haven’t had all my Christmases yet, so how am I to know what my favorite gift is?

14. What’s the most important thing about the holidays for you?

Sitting in front of the Christmas tree with friends and family and just relaxing. It makes my tummy happy.

15. What is your favorite holiday dessert?

Pumpkin pie

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?

Sitting in front of the Christmas tree.

17. What tops your tree?


18. Which do you prefer, giving or receiving?

Giving. I love the hunt for the perfect gift, then watching someone I love open it. It makes me so very happy!

19. What is your favorite Christmas song?

A Christmas Song and Silver Bells

20. Candy canes:

Love them, but they always taste best fresh off the Christmas tree.

21. Favorite Christmas movie?

A Christmas Story and White christmas

22. What do you leave for Santa?


Forward #5

1. Do you love Christmas, or just pretend to? I absolutely, totally, and completely love it, more than any other time of year.
2. Now that you know better, what do you say to sweet little kids who look at you with their wide, expectant eyes and ask you if Santa Claus is real? I say “of course!”
3. There will, at some point within the next six weeks, be an item in the news about a council or other government body “banning” some traditional Christmas item such as a nativity play, overtly religious carol or a dogmatic clergyman for suggesting that Christmas is a Christian festival, since this might cause offence to people who aren’t Christians. Do you care? Nope.
4. Would you work on Christmas day for double pay? No way.
5. What’s so special about turkeys? Aren’t they just fat, tasteless chickens? Have you had my turkey? (That’s what she said!)
6. Has the mere fact that the goose is getting fat ever specifically led you to put a penny in the hat of an old man? Nope. Do that all year anyhow.
7. Is anything more sinister than a merry gentleman at rest? Yes. An angry mother when you have to work during Christmas vacation.
8. (Brits) Do you feel incomplete if you don’t watch or listen to the Queen on Christmas Day? Not Brit.
9. (Americans) Do you feel incomplete without the Queen to give you your annual dose of platitudinous moral and spiritual guidance? (Ooo, vocabulary’s coming back, must be the rump steak I had for breakfast). Nope.
10. “A dog is for life, not just for Christmas”. But since the life expectancy of the dog is 12 – 18 years, unless you’re buying a dog for your Granddad (and don’t do that, he wants socks) this almost certainly is not the case. Who can we sue for deceiving us? PETA
11. In Australia, Christmas is in summer. Should this be allowed? Why not?
12. Will you be going to church on Christmas Day voluntarily? Nope.
13. Will you be doing anything on Christmas Day voluntarily? Eat and open presents.
14. It’s Boxing Day, 3pm. You’re in the lounge with your Grandma. Everyone else is washing up, or drunk. Are you old enough now to pretend to be asleep so you don’t have to listen to her blab on and on about how all she got for Christmas when she was your age was an orange and a punch in the face? Yes. And I’m probably drunk.
15. “Christmas has become too commercialised”. At what point was it just commercialised enough? I love Christmas just the way it is.
16. Given absolute power over an entire nation, how would you have Christmas celebrated? With friends and family, and no one telling me that I’m doing it wrong, or someone else is doing it wrong.

Head Banging Raises Risk for Head and Neck Injury. And for Stupid Science.

Apparently wildly swinging your head to a fast beat can cause injury. Who knew? (You know, other than all the head bangers in the world who wake up with a sore neck the next day. Other than them). Apparently scientists felt the need to take some money and study this:

The researchers attended hard rock and heavy metal concerts including Motörhead, Ozzy Osbourne and Skid Row, and identified that the up-down style was the most common head banging technique. They constructed a theoretical head banging model of this popular style to examine the effect the range of head and neck motion has on injury severity. A focus group of ten musicians was used to calculate the average tempo of their favourite head banging songs.

The authors found that there is an increasing risk of neck injury beginning at tempos of 130 beats per minute related to the range of motion in the head banging style.

Oh, the humanity.


I made a Zombie movie!

Well, ok, I was in sort of a zombie movie–you see, the entomology department at TAMU wanted a promotional video, and asked the on-campus film department to make it. They thought “hey, we could make a normal video, or we could make a zombie film!” So they did. I got an email sometime in August asking me if I wanted to be in the film, and if so, so please wear my steel toe boots. Intriguing! Anyhow, here’s the final result, cheesy lines, bad acting and all. Enjoy!

What a great Thanksgiving Day!

Ah, one of the best days of the year! Since we had such a good time (and since so many of our friends and family are far away) I thought I’d post our day here, with all the great pictures we took. Enjoy!

So the day got started rather early, as we still had a bunch of cooking to do. Actually, the day got started on Tuesday, when I was prepping for International Day of Baking Goodness (IDBG). Let me tell you, I don’t like mornings in the least, but there are 3 days of the year I happily get up during single digits: Disneyland Day, Christmas Day, and International Day of Baking Goodness. I had 13 things on the list to make this year, including prepping for Thanksgiving. So I began my prep on Tuesday, got up at 7:30 to cook on Wednesday (official IDBG) and only got through a few things. Ben, I miss you! We got through way more when you were in the kitchen with me.

Thanksgiving day also started rather early, what with all the cooking we had to do.

Morning in camo
Morning in camo

This is the morning cooking. Notice the pink camo. We live here now!

Dean flipping the turkey for me. It was 20 pounds!
Dean flipping the turkey for me. It was 20 pounds!
Yummy, yummy turkey. Raw, yes, but yumminess is immanent!
Yummy, yummy turkey. Raw, yes, but yumminess is immanent!

This is what we were doing so early in the morning. But don’t worry–it turned out most wonderful!

Oh, the lovely. It tasted so good!
Oh, the lovely. It tasted so good!

Here it is completely cooked along with the stuffing prep:

Crispy goodness
Crispy goodness
Slicing and Dicing
Slicing and Dicing
Thanksgiving stirfry
Thanksgiving stirfry

Then came time for pie! We used fresh pumpkin this year–those pumpkins are a bitch to get into at times. Dean had to break out the had saw when my sad little bread knife didn’t make a dent.

Fresh pumpkin puree
Fresh pumpkin puree
Nope, didn't work. Pumpkins are tough!
Nope, didn
Take that pumpkin!
Take that pumpkin!

The table is set, guests arrive, let’s eat!

My full plate of food.
My full plate of food.
View of the table from my seat.
View of the table from my seat.
Some IDBG results
Some IDBG results
Dean carves the turkey
Dean carves the turkey
Happier Martin
Happier Martin
Some afterdinner drinks
Some afterdinner drinks
Happy Paula
Happy Paula
Movie time! Thanks Ry!
Movie time! Thanks Ry!
Adie, Martin and Clay
Adie, Martin and Clay

And that was basically the night. Good times with good friends and some good food. Loved it! We missed everyone who couldn’t be with us, and we hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving!


Prions and Other Infectious Agents

Welcome Back! A year of research under my belt, and I’m back to answer some more GRE questions. Here’s today’s:

An infectious agent that appears to have no nucleic acid is a:
A) bacterium
B) bacteriophage
C) viroid
D) virus
E) prion

This is one of those basic fact-knowledge questions, although even if you don’t know the exact properties of everything on this list, you may be able to figure it out. So let’s get into what the question is asking.

What exactly is an infectious agent? An infectious agent is some sort of organism (we can debate whether a virus is a true organism later…) that invades another organism to utilize the host’s resources to some end. Pop culture types call these things “germs,” which is a term that encompasses anything that makes humans feel bad in some way.

Scientists have the annoying ability to break up these germs into like groups that act and infect in a particular way, which usually involves the anatomy, physiology and phylogeny of the organism. This question is basically testing your knowledge of microbial anatomy.

On to the second part of the question. What is nucleic acid? This is the “NA” portion of DNA or RNA. The D and R simply refer to the sugar groups attached to the nucleic acid. Most organisms have some sort of nucleic acid (either DNA, RNA or both) that they use to reproduce. After all, DNA is the blueprint for life. I say “most organisms” because as we get better and better at finding things, we’re noticing an exception to this rule. More on that in a moment.

Alright, so now that we know what the question is asking, how do answer it? This is simply a fact question, so you need to know a little bit about these organisms. Let’s start with bacteria.

Bacteria are single celled organisms that have a cell wall and the ability to live free. Most people know about bacteria after a trip to the doctor and a filled prescription for antibiotics. The main thing you need to know, though, is these organisms reproduce by DNA, and therefore have nucleic acid.

Viruses are also single celled organisms (although here is where every biologist begins the “what is an organism?” debate) that is rather simple–they consist of some proteins and DNA or RNA. In order to do any biological process, they must invade a host cell and take over the cell’s functions. So, while simple, these still have nucleic acid, else they wouldn’t be able to take cells hostage.

Bacteriophages are much like viruses–in fact, they are a form of virus that infects specifically bacteria (hence the “bacterio” portion of the name). Just like other viruses, these are made of protein and DNA or RNA, and they take over a cell’s function inorder to reproduce. Did you catch that? They have nucleic acid.

Viroids are along the same line, and just like the name suggests, are a lot like viruses. These are specifically plant pathogens, consisting of circular RNA and protein. Once again, an organism with nucleic acid.

That leaves prions. This is one of those things I alluded to earlier–a new form of what may be an organsim or may not, that causes infection. A prion is misfolded protein that is able to act as an infectious agent. That’s pretty much all we know about it now. We don’t know how it reproduces (because it doesn’t have DNA or RNA!) nor do we know how it forms. There has been a lot of researhch into prions lately, as people are beginning to think these buggers are responsible for a variety of nasty diseases. The biggest problem is because we have so little knowledge about the prion, we don’t know how exactly they are spread, or how to stop them. Ah, the mysteries of medicine.

So our answer is D, prions.