ase: Bad day icon (Bad day)
Hi all - cell phone MIA in Golden Gate Park, will be replacing tomorrow. Private message or email your number(s); comments will be screened if you want to reply to this post.

Also, happy Thanksgiving! Non-Americans, happy last Thursday of November.
ase: Computer and internet icon (Digital chained wretch)
Norton Internet Security recently reminded me (in a pop-up) that I paid for the privilege of dealing with its irritating pop-up messages, cycle-stealing "idle time" scans, and unforgivably bad GUI almost a year ago. Would I like to give Norton more money and renew my subscription?

Gentle readers, I would not, if there is a better option. CNET likes Avast, so that's my first choice. I would be pleased to read about your favorite internet protection software in comments. Anything free / cheap, or with high marks from reputable reviewing agencies, gets bonus points. Suggestions without links to the software and/or reviews will not be taken as seriously.
ase: Fake science icon (Fake science)
"Blah blah blah biochemistry (or whatever is at hand)."

"Now a historical example! [Researcher] was investigating [topic highly relevant to lecture] during [historical context]. S/he had a question: [why am I seeing this / what is this thing I am seeing]?"

"They hypothesized [blah, possibly with illustrative diagram / chalkboard doodle]."

"To test this, [famous experiment]."

"When the researcher did the experiment, they saw [results, with pictures / diagrams / charts / animations / chalkboard doodle]. This was [in line with their hypothesis, or surprising]! It turned out that [biochemistry]."

"Therefore, we know [biochemistry] because [keywords relating to historical example]. The take-home message is: [one or two sentences]."

Questions may be - even should be - solicited after any hard return, as well as any other time the teacher sees eyes glazing over.

The take-home is key: what is the core concept? Knowing what the teacher considers essential tells the student what is a colorful but noncritical aside, and what is a key detail necessary for their knowledge base (and passing the test).

The structure is also important: deliver different material in the same way, so students can home in on what you're looking for (context, hypothesis, experiment and results, conclusions, take-home).

This message brought to you by this week's ABO typing example, which managed to do all this except a succinct take-home. (I think it was something about haptens and epitopes, but I'm still confused on the biochemistry.)
ase: School day icon (Academic Happiness)
So once I've faithfully shredded many, many financial papers, what do I do with the fluff? Throw it in a dumpster? Loose it on the four winds? Sink it in a river? Set it on fire? I'm clueless here.
ase: Default icon (Default)
In a nearly unprecedented display of faith in humanity, I went to see fireworks with bio!J, her friend D, and D's roommate J, and crashed at D and J's afterward. (I hate changing my plans only slightly less than I hate imposing for crash space.) I am very pleased with my pictures of the fireworks, which came out very well considering I didn't have a tripod, and include some moments that are suitably Apocalypse Now. Sunday I drove home, napped, then got back out the door for the Nats-Braves game downtown and had the unusual pleasure of seeing the Nats not lose.

Yesterday I went to work and had the unique pleasure of being reminded that the annual safety video review is, in fact, annual and mandatory. For day two I intend to beg people to play hangman during choice moments of How Not To Die By Tripping Over Power Cords and Disrobing Your Coworkers After a Chemical Spill.

Locals, I appeal to your knowledge: I am supposed to make dinner plans for early next week with someone who's staying in Crystal City. What are the good restaurants in that area? Please keep in mind that it's possible neither of us will have a car, so anyone who suggests anything on the orange line will be mocked.
ase: Default icon (Default)
The logical thing to do, when you get your Zipcar membership card (convenient portmanteau: zipcard) is to reserve a car Friday night and make plans for errands the next morning. (The 1 AM slightly tipsy part? Let's pretend that it was part of the plan. Like Ron Moore's plans!) So instead of dodging rain-slash-mist and single tracking, I drove all over the place for four and a half hours on Saturday. It was fun, and more exciting, I can do it again. On weekday evenings! When I want to see friends who live 30 miles away! Or are really inconvenient to get to via public transit! Also, since I can reserve time on any vehicle in the Zipcar fleet, I get to try different cars if I want. I am super tempted to rent one of the Tacoma pickups for an hour and just drive it around the parking lot scaring myself silly.

I also live for the day I can drive a bass-booming monster sound system down the road, but that's going to be a different day: I had a base model on Saturday, and I bet the rest of the fleet is similarly economical. Now I know that a left-hand mirror I have to reeeeeaaaach across the car to adjust is kind of a deal-killer for any car I buy. Another no-go: speedometers organized so that the 20-40 mph range is hard to read or makes me take my eyes off the road. This may seem petty until you consider my problem with 25 mph zones and speed cameras. Also, eyes off the road? Not on.

One of my college friends called out of the blue this evening, and we killed her phone catching up. It is so cool to talk to people who you haven't seen in a while. Also, now I have an excuse to go to Ann Arbor this summer! (Because what I really needed this summer was more people to see. Augh. I can't take two weeks and a couple thousand dollars so I can couch-surf my way across the USA. Darn those pesky expensive plane tickets!) Someone should do a linguistic study of "anyway" as a bridge to a new topic; we were both doing it.

Oh! [livejournal.com profile] norabombay: DW money numbers. Just FYI. Also so I can find it again.
ase: Default icon (Default)
One of my coworkers lives pretty close to me; sometimes we carpool. Today she locked herself out, and her roommate won't be home until late. I told her to make herself at home, and then realized I'd left all my tabs open in Firefox this morning. If you think six completely random LJ-related tabs are work safe, you'd be right five-sixths of the time; #5, second from the top, was my incomplete rant on recent poor reading experiences. Yes, [livejournal.com profile] norabombay, that one.

Moving right along!

I had an idea for a Halloween costume that's completely useless anywhere but work, where it will be awesome; unfortunately, I need new pants to make it work. So I've been consignment shopping this week with erratic success.

My guide to consignment shopping:

1.) Zen.
You will walk in looking for shirts and walk out with a skirt. Your shopping list will be a lamp and a coat and you'll find a Foreman grill. You will never find the right handbag, unless you're trying to find a hat.
2.) Know your jeans: walk in knowing what fits and doesn't, or plan to try on 20 pairs of jeans and strike out on every count. There's always #21, right? This is not in disharmony with #1, unless you actually had plans for those three hours you spent trying on jeans.
3.) If you think your local Goodwill is fairly useless, you may be on to something.
4.) The difference between vintage and consignment is the rack time you put in to find it.

So I don't have the pants, but I do own a soup cup, a new handbag and a Foreman grill. I think grilling is on the menu for some point this week.
ase: Default icon (Default)
Tomorrow I'm doing the restaurant week thing and going to Poste with Perky K. I am wearing a skirt and strappy black sandals, so someone better appreciate the non-denim lengths I've gone to. (Things I love about my job #57: "well, you're cleaning your workspace with bleach solution" dress code! This leaves me with very little motivation to upgrade my clothes.)

Pursuant to shirts, this weekend I walked into Macy's looking for a camisole-type thingie and walked out with... a blue v-neck t-shirt. Yes, I know: you are all shocked by this break from tradition.

Also, shopping appeal: I'm breaking down and buying a digital camera. I'm soliciting opinions. HOWEVER, comma, I am on a budget. I'm looking in the $200 - $250 range, with an absolute limit of three hundred fifty dollars ($350) for the camera and basic accessories (second battery, larger memory card, etc). I really would like a digital SLR, but it's not happening this year. CNET has a real crush on the Canon Powershot series; does anyone else have nice or nasty things to say as I reach for the sales papers? I want instant gratification at high resolution, but I'll settle for decent warmup and shot-to-shot time, good picture quality, 7+ mpix, and an optical viewfinder.
ase: Music icon (Music)
Dear internet: headphones. Keeping in mind I am 1.) 1/3 of the way to my 2008 savings goal, 2.) working in a lab with approximately 7 fridges, one robot, three DNA extraction machines, a tabletop centrifuge and umpteen biddy - plus the thermocycler fans! - and rec accordingly.

Before tossing that favorite inexpensive and kind of scruffy purse into the laundry, it might be worth your time to ask, "hey, I wonder if this is so cheap there's cardboard in here?" This message brought to you by someone a little older and wiser, who spent time picking wet cardboard out of the laundry machine last night.

Last week I completely lost my head and bought four classical CDs. Hey, they were used! And if you'd heard the end of Saint-Saens' Organ Symphony on the radio - it's big. It's huge. It's amazing and splendid and the sort of thing that has to be played at volumes in excess of urban noise ordinances. So I had to run out and find it. I already had a copy, but didn't find it until later, which is an argument for turning my external hard drive into a wiki or something. But this other recording! This wonderful second example of awesome music! Boston Symphony Orchestra 1959 recording; Charles Munch conducting and Berk Zamkochian on organ. And I incidentally picked up a few more CDs, in that way you do. A Baltimore Symphony Orchestra recording of Copland's Rodeo and "Billy the Kid" made in '93; a cello concerto set of Dvorak and Saint-Saens recorded by the London Philharmonic with Mstislav Rostopovich in '77; and glory of glories, a two-disc recording of Rachmaninoff's four piano concertos and his Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini with Rachmaninoff playing the piano. I am super, super excited about this: my favorite Rachmaninoff played by the Man! The forecast is calling for lousy humidity all week; I think I will spend it lying on the floor wringing sweat out of everything I own maximum fidelity out of my lame sound setup. Especially for the 1929 Rhapsody recording, which - mmm, tinny much? Oh who cares, I think I'm going to start crying. This is awesome.

I also found the Beethoven I'd put "somewhere safe" in June. Speaking of the Man. You know how a lot of contemporary bands have their one fast song, one slow song, and then the other 11 tracks on the album? (Coldplay, I am totally looking at you.) Beethoven has more than two songs! Okay, he also has a bigger instrument section, but the point is - many songs! Classical's dynamic range is defeated on my work headphones - okay, the fans from the fridges, freezers, thermocyclers, and let us not forget the occasional mostly balanced quick-spin microcentrigue(s) don't help - but that just gives me something to look forward to after a day of mezzoforte rock and pop.
ase: Computer and internet icon (Digital chained wretch)
Recently got in a conversation with [livejournal.com profile] ashcomp and lj-free wife J. about Mozilla and add-ons, so I'm posting my current set of add-ons for the curious.

Most used add-ons bolded. )

So. What are your favorite Mozilla extensions?
ase: Computer and internet icon (Digital chained wretch)
Converter: highlight text and right-click to convert units.
Leechblock: blocks your favorite time-wasting websites for time periods of your choice.
Nuke Anything Enhanced: save your ink - stop printing ads!
Research Word: highlight an unfamiliar term and right-click to query Wikipedia or other sites.
Zotero: magic research bookmarking / collation tool. Still trying to figure out how this one works.

Bonus: IE Tab: switch the tab of your choice from Firefox to Internet Explorer. Perfect for those backwards sites only compliant with IE.

I want to say somethng about when private or intended semi-private throughts become public speech (see also Jo Walton does not respond to a review and mamadeb misses the start of Yuletide signups*) but it comes down to me gossiping about which authors' public faces I like more.

*Nota Bene I am not inviting people to re-open associated political or/and religious discussions. I am commenting on the phenomenon of semiprivate LJs going semipublic, or being invaded by the masses. Anyone who wishes to discuss fascism, Jewish holidays and American culture, or topics related is welcome to do so in their LJ.

Final thought: if you put cop buddy flicks, horror movies, and action films into a blender, then set the blender on "comedy", Hot Fuzz is what you'd get out.
ase: Excited icon (Science (less Murphy))
The time has come to encourage my grandparents to get a computer. Any suggestions for features or warnings specific to the older crowd? First pass consideration is a cheap-ish desktop with webcam and the biggest LCD they're willing to pay for.
ase: Default icon (Default)
Call me a bitter undergrad, but everyone's about to get the pedagogy lecture. (We know I've jumped the shark because I said "pedagogy" with a straight face.)

First: if you are writing on a blackboard, stop talking.

Second: if it's important, put it on the blackboard. Like this: "important term: means this." Corollary: no tangent should be longer than two minutes.

Third: if you are drawing a graph, label your graph, just like freshmen are forced to do in 100-level classes: title, axes, units. If you draw multiple lines on the graph, label the lines.

Fourth: if you put up an equation, put up what the pieces mean. Telling me that No/(Nt - No) = e^-[nF*(psi-psi0)/RT] is only useful if I know what psi0 represents, and also that No is Nopen, not Nzero.

Fifth: if you can't do any of these things, and it's a 400-level class, find your sub-discipline's equivalent of Albert's all-encompassing Molecular Biology of the Cell. Tell your students about it. If it costs more than $150, put it on reserve at the library. You should do this anyway, but if you're hitting your marks in lecture, a good fallback textbook is gravy, rather than essential.

Bonus: powerpoint is like salt. A little is a good thing, but a lot will kill you. Dump it at the door with the rest of the trash.

Bonus #2: I have never seen anyone go wrong with colored chalk, except by forgetting to bring it.

So perhaps I needed to let loose a bit. )

Good news: I wrote my rant! Bad news: I still don't understand voltage-gating in channels. Busted on the procrastination front.
ase: Default icon (Default)
I get to read the brand new, out-this-week sea urchin genome article for class. Life is awesome.

Not awesome: slow download speeds. A pox on dad's ISP.

Random science websites for the evening:
1.) The Codon Usage Database, which answers that burning question, "how often is GUG used in the Arabidopsis thaliana mitochondrial codon scheme?"
2.) PubMatrix: enhancing the PubMed search experience. If you spend a lot of time thrashing through the PubMed stacks, it might be a useful tool.
3.) Compound solutions: doing the math so you don't have to.

I need to stop spending Friday evenings on academics, but honestly, I sort of like it. It's a lousy time to do homework, but it's a great time to catch up (or even get ahead) on textbook reading.
ase: Music icon (Music)
Cheap/free mp3 ripping software: does it exist? Where can I get it?
ase: Default icon (Default)
So yeah, I am a netiquette nazi of the worst (slightly hypocritical) sort. Move-induced offline time dulled my awareness of certain painful quirks of the online world; now that I'm back, I'm wincing at every missed comma and abuse of netspeak I come across. So I'm going to break Rule Two (see below) and rant at the people who read this journal, who (on the whole) do this stuff right. I need to get this out of my system, but probably shouldn't e-mail offending parties with a detailed list of what's wrong with their netiquette, lifestyle choices, and journal color scheme.

So... the list.

  1. Spare all our friends pages. Master the lj-cut. Use it on long entries. Use it on entries that reveal crucial plot points of the movie that you saw the midnight premiere of. Use it when you're posting lists and memes. Use it on bandwidth hogging images. Use it on space-chewing quiz results. We'll all thank you.

  2. Trailing ellipses (... or .... or . . . .) used in quantity make you look uncertain and whiny. "Uncertain and whiny" is not an effective style... trust me on this one...

  3. There is no Rule Three. This is just here to mess with everyone's Fight Club vibes.

  4. There is no hard and fast rule, but in my experience there's an inverse correlation to time spent on LJ and IM and my interest in what you have to say. If you spend more than 1/3 of your waking life with your chat software of choice active and/or consistently update your LJ more than 5 times a day, there's a good chance you need to cut back.

  5. Spellcheck will catch many egregious errors and most proper names. It will not catch every mistake you make. It might therefore be a good idea to reread before posting.

  6. You are not e. e. cummings. Capitalize.

  7. Conversely, before typing, look at your keyboard. There's probably a light labeled "CAPS LOCK". If it's lit, find the caps lock key (often located on the extreme left of the keyboard) and turn it off.
  8. Repeat after me: paragraph breaks are your friend.

  9. Spellcheck is not grammar check. Parse before typing and edit prior to posting, so we have a clue which "s/he/it" from the last sentence you're referring to.

  10. You still are not e. e. cummings. Punctuate.

  11. Free users get one lj code. Unless you are their best friend in the world, you're probably not getting it. So stop asking free users for their codes. Especially if you've already got your own livejournal, and are angling for that code so you can set up a community. Get a paid account and use your own codes.


This is all, of course, just my own self-centered opinion. I can't tell you what to do in your journal, any more than I can tell you what to do in your house or car. I can say that, as a rule, I derive a lot more pleasure from journals that follow these guidelines, especially one and two. Especially, especially one. Words cannot express my loathing of misused trailing ellipses. It's up there with, like, Snape/Neville or fluffy Spuffy for stuff that makes me wince just thinking about it.

A lot of people do livejournal right. [livejournal.com profile] pegkerr writes absorbing entries about being a mother and author holding down a day job. [livejournal.com profile] lizbee's and [livejournal.com profile] tessfawcett's journals are great examples of fannish enthusiasm without an overwhelming "OMG character wuv!!!1!1!" factor. [livejournal.com profile] monkeycrackmary writes a giggly "well yeah we're acting like teenieboppers, but it's fun, so who cares?" journal. Anyone reading this can probably think of people who write absorbing journals and break most of the rules set out above. It's generally easier on everyone if people stick to common variants of common grammar and netiquette, though.

Just my two cents. Hope it hasn't ruined anyone's day.

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