Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Dumb Things I Gotta' Do

My friend has a 'to do' list on a whiteboard at his lab bench. In the beginning of its existence it served a purpose - an actual list of things that needed to be done in the lab. It has now evolved into something with a much better purpose - keep those of us working in the lab entertained. Any time we have a random thought, we write it on the 'to do' list. Here are some of the highlights over the past few months:

  • Touch the puppet head
  • Dial N for nougat
  • Attack the rythm nation
  • Exhume the little rascals
  • Feed chocolate to the dog
  • Become the toast master general
  • Stir a witch's brew while doing the running man
  • Take time for tea and strumpets
  • Lay siege to the kingdom of Monaco
  • Double the population of Luxembourg in seven crazy nights
  • Grow genetically engineered crunchberries

I wish I could take credit for all of these, but the most random (and hence funniest) ones were thought up by my Polish friend.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Dream Weaver

It happened. A little earlier than usual, but it happened. I have a recurring dream about once per semester that always makes me feel a little freaked out when I wake up. In this dream, I am enrolled in classes, and about 3/4 of the way through the semester realize that I'm enrolled in a class that I haven't been attending for the entire time. The subject matter of the class varies, but it's always something other than Biology, like English or Statistics or something that would be easy to forget about if one were in the habit of never leaving the Biology building. Obviously it would be impossible to recover from missing class for the majority of a semester, so when I wake up from this dream I always want to check my transcript. I suppose it comes from feeling that I'm not making enough progress on something I should be doing (which is true - my research), but it could just be that I'm a big nerd that doesn't want to see my GPA slip (also true). Any of you psychologists out there have an interpretation?

Sunday, January 29, 2006

But seriously

I went to a basketball game at the Thomas & Mack Center last night. I believe it was as full as I'd ever seen it, yet by my estimates it was only slightly above half full (admittedly, my estimating skills are not very good - my friend said he thought it was closer to 3/4 full. Regardless, even if it were as full as my friend estimated there were still a LOT of empty seats). It's probably not a real good thing when that's the best crowd the team can draw.

My point is this, it's very rare for the people here to get excited about an event. There's just too much going on in this city. One can be entertained at any time of the day, any day of the week. As a result, people don't seem to be very interested in what is actually going on at the events they attend. I've been to a number of sporting events and concerts here, but it's not the same experience as the ones I've been to in other places. For example, during last night's game, the people behind us, in front of us, and off to one side of us sat and talked to each other or on their cell phones the entire time, not even stopping when something exciting would happen on the court. As my friend pointed out, it's almost like they were there just to see people, and to be seen, with no real interest in the game.

I've had the same experience at concerts here. This behavior might be expected at places where it's an unknown band, or if the place isn't very packed. However, even when I went to see John Mayer (who seems to be popular enough, although I don't really like his music that much - I went to the show because it was a free ticket and I had nothing else to do that night) I could hardly hear the music because of the murmuring of the crowd. People were talking to each other rather loudly so that they could hear each other over the music (so that the murmuring was actually more like a low roar). With everyone doing that, it got rather annoying (and I'm not even a fan).

I'm amused when I hear people talk about bringing a professional sports franchise to this city because I don't see how it would be successful. In order for a franchise to succeed, they have to put people in the stands. Those inflated contracts pro-athletes sign don't just grow on trees, they have to be paid for by the fans. That's not a hard thing to do when the team is a winner, but how many expansion teams start off as winners? I don't see the people of this city going to games year after year to watch a losing team. There are just too many other options. Now, I'm sure that the commissioners of the major sports could really care less what I think, and they'll end up putting a team here (it looks like major league baseball might be close), but if the experiment fails, I'll be able to say "I told you so." And after all, isn't that what's most important?

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Why'd you have to be so cute?

Is it possible to be dumped by someone, even if you never were going out with them? I'm starting to think that's happened to me. There's a girl I am very interested in, and have been for a while. I've told her as much, and she led me to believe that she was interested in me as well. Unfortunately, due to some reasons I don't want to get into here, and due to some that I don't even understand, nothing has really progressed with her. We've had a few lunches together, but have hardly even talked since the end of last semester. I don't know if that's because I spent so much time out of town over the holidays, or if it's because it got too inconvenient to talk to me. It's too bad because she's absolutely gorgeous, funny, smart and just cool to hang out with. I'm hoping to get a chance to see her again soon, maybe that will help me figure it out.

My biggest problem is that I'm very insecure when it comes to relationships. My divorce has left me scarred, there's no doubt about that. I don't know what it will take in order for me to be able to fully trust in someone again, but it's not going to be an easy thing. If something can fall apart after 8 years, I don't know that I'll truly believe that it won't happen again. My insecurity was partially to blame for the failure of my last relationship (although the distance certainly played a role as well). It's not necessarily a bad thing if kept in check since those feelings will prevent me from taking anyone (or anything) for granted again. The hard part is keeping those feelings in check. I need to get to work on that.

Friday, January 27, 2006


One of the problems in my department is that there are a lot of geneticists who can't seem to keep their study organisms under control. You really can't be anywhere in the building and expect it to be Drosophila free. It gets annoying to always have to swat these things away as they're buzzing around your face.

On top of them just being annoying, there is a risk to the science that I do. I work with DNA sequences, and you always have to be careful in order to avoid contamination of samples. I know it will upset me to no end if I end up getting a population of fish that is more closely related to fruit flies than to my other populations.

I can't help but wonder what the response would be if it were my fish that were flopping all over the halls, and slapping people in the face with their tails while they're trying to work. I'm pretty sure people wouldn't stand for that. I don't understand why they stand for the flies.


A few nights ago I went and saw a movie about the Coachella music festival. It was a one time showing, but I had to go because I've wanted to go to Coachella the past few years and never had the time or money. It certainly wasn't the same as going to the festival itself, for one thing, the music wasn't loud enough.

While looking around at the crowd I realized a few things. I was easily one of the oldest people in the theater (even among my group of friends). For a while I thought I might be the oldest, but then a few 50 year olds walked in and saved me from that. Maybe it's time to give up the dream and grow up a little (on second thought, nah).

A couple came in late and sat down next to me. I thought it was funny because they made sure it was the guy who sat next to me. I'm not quite sure what to think about that, but it probably means that I look like the kind of guy who would have hit on her throughout the movie. Who knows, maybe I would have.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Random Thoughts

My department has a seminar series where every Friday a person from another university or research institution comes in and presents their research. We have a small department with very wide research interests so sometimes the seminars are interesting to me and sometimes (ok, most of the time) they aren't.

Last week we had a microbiologist come in to talk about bacteria that live in hot springs. This is not a topic that interests me, so I had to come up with some of my own little things to keep myself entertained. At least then it would look like I was paying attention. Here are a few of those thoughts:
  • What temperature would the water in hot springs actually have to be in order for my skin to peel off if I were to jump in?
  • I need to come up with a research project that allows me to travel to remote forests and such, passing through places like Arches, Yellowstone and Yosemite on the way (oh wait, I already do).
  • Carbon Cycling - can they ride tandem bikes? is there a yellow jersey involved?
  • Do Correolus forces affect the direction in which the ends of one's mustache curls? If so, would one end curl up and the other down if one were to stand straddling the equator?

Monday, January 23, 2006

Warning: Crude Humor

Today my friend and I were sitting in our office when a couple of girls walked out of the classroom next door and passed by our open door.

My Friend: "You see those two girls? They're lesbians."
Me: "How do you know that?"
Him: "I had them in a class back whenever I was still teaching labs."
Me: "That was like three years ago."
Him: "Yeah, it's good to see lesbian love last that long."
Me: "Takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin'."

(Hey, I warned you)

Deadbeat Dad

Every now and again I wonder about the job I'm doing as a father. It's hard to feel very involved in your kids' lives when you live 6 hours away.

Then I read stories like this and I feel much better.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

A Rural Murder

Music is mostly about lyrics for me. Sure a song has to sound good, maybe have a bit of a catchy tune in order for me to like it, but nothing beats good lyrics. Having said that, I'd like to make a shameless plug for a friend's band. I think his songwriting skills are amazing, I just hope that sometime his music makes it into the right hands so he can get signed by a record label (for his sake, not just because he said he'd let me come on stage if he ever made it big).

Here are some lyrics of his that I absolutely love (of course I can't do them justice here without putting them into the context of the song, but oh well). Some of these I haven't listened to in a while, so there may be one or two words that aren't quite right, I hope he'll forgive me.

"stole a magazine from a store on second, wrote a note on the back of an ad for cigarettes, ripped the page out and mailed it to you, it said meet me where you think I thought you'd be"

"laying on my back starin' up at heaven, hoping that Jesus might save a place for me, but I'm not asking"

"I walked a tightrope with frayed ends, I tied the knot that broke my fall"

"we long for better places, we all want pretty faces, well I could use a pair of aces, but these eights will have to do"

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Slow News Day

My dinner last night pretty much sums up how pathetic I am:

  • French fries (my own this time, not leftovers from the table next to me)
  • Carrot sticks and hummus
  • Yogurt

No wonder I dine out a lot.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Revisiting Brokeback

I went and saw Brokeback Mountain last night. It's a very excellent film, the best I've seen all year (hey, I had to get a lame "it's only Jan of 2006" joke in somehow). I highly recommend it, but it's definitely not a movie for prudes.

I don't want to take away from the movie in any way, it's just that I seem to have attention deficit disorder, so during a few of the slower parts of the movie I had the following thoughts:

  • It annoys me how much grazing is allowed on public lands. Ranchers who graze their livestock on national forest land (or blm land for that matter) are getting a screaming good deal. They reap the benefits from having their livestock grow without having to buy feed, while the common taxpayer is stuck with the bill for repairing the damages done to the ecosystem by having their livestock up there. This may be something I have to revisit another time.
  • I'd forgotten about how windy Wyoming actually is. I don't think the movie was filmed there, but it definitely reminded me of that state. Aside from the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone, I don't care if I never set foot in that state again.
  • Seeing the characters of the movie made me remember what it feels like to be in love with someone (and I'm not just talking about the two main characters here either, I'm including their wives/girlfriends). I miss that.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Blog Comments

There are a few of you out there who read my blog from time to time, but are not registered users on the site so haven't been able to post comments (I know this b/c some of you have told me so). Just for you guys, I have changed the settings on my blog to allow anonymous comments. I'm not sure if I'll leave it that way for good. That depends on whether or not I start getting a lot of 'spam' comments. I do like to know who's saying what though, so those of you who are registered users, could you still leave comments while you're signed in? I'd also appreciate it if anonymous posters would let me know who they are somehow (that's for you Hoopsie).

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


I am originally from Utah, and while I love the state, I don't think that I'll be able to move back. By the time I was getting ready to move I was beginning to tire of the culture. Every now and again something will come up to remind me of this. Most recently, the controversy surrounding Utah Jazz owner Larry Miller and the movie 'Brokeback Mountain.'

For those of you who haven't heard the story (if there are any) allow me to summarize. Larry Miller owns many businesses in the Salt Lake Valley, one of which happens to me a movie theater (or a megaplex). One of his screens was going to be showing Brokeback Mountain, but he made the decision to pull the movie at the last minute. He didn't state a reason, but you can click on this link for more information regarding the situation.

Utah is a very conservative state (in case you're from another planet and didn't already know that), and it doesn't surprise me that something like this would happen there. I'm sure there are many in the state who are applauding Miller's decision, maybe seeing him as some sort of hero in taking a stand against immorality or something like that. I personally think he's a hypocrite. If he's going to take a stand with this movie, shouldn't he take that same stand against any other movie that has immoral subject matter? Since drug use, murder, even coarse language are all things that are against his religion (on top of sex out of wedlock, gay or not), shouldn't movies with any of that content receive the same treatment from him? If he is just discriminating against the movie because it's got gay cowboys, then isn't that an act of bigotry? If so, should the public just let it slide? (click here for more on that)

I should point out that I intend to see this movie, but in my own cowardice won't go until I find a girl who will see it with me. I have had enough enough experiences in my life where people have thought I was gay and tried to pick up on me (check my archives for the story about The Hungarian). I don't want to go to this movie alone lest someone see that as an opportunity to do just that. The difference between me and most of the people from my home state is that I'm not afraid of gay people. I've never been the kind of person to push my beliefs on others, but am still willing to accept those who may not share them with me. I find it somewhat ironic that a state where most of the people belong to a religion that is based on people's agency, or ability to choose for themselves, can be so intolerant of people who 'choose' something that they don't believe in themselves. It's that part of the culture that has ruined the state for me, beautiful as it may be.

Monday, January 16, 2006

A New Low?

This weekend I was hanging out with a couple of my friends. We went to a sports bar to get some dinner and watch some basketball. We ate as soon as we got there, but by the time we paid our bill I was starting to get a little hungry again. Then, as luck would have it, the game went into overtime . . . then double overtime . . . then triple overtime, with me getting more hungry by the minute. I wanted to order some fries, but knew I couldn't finish them all, plus I didn't want to hassle the waitress by making her open up a new bill.

There was a guy at the table next to us who had ordered a very large meal. (In fact, that's a large part of the reason why I wanted fries so bad). He paid his bill and left, and that's when I did it. I swooped in, grabbed his fries and took them back to our table where I ate a bunch of them along with one of my friends (I should add that my other friend seemed disgusted by my actions). I most definitely have stooped down to a new level.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Goin' on down to South Park

Ever wonder what you'd look like as a South Park character? Well now you can find out. Go to this site and pick the characteristics that resemble you from the options you're given.

This is me. As you can plainly see, I've been busy today.

Now that'd be more like it

While I was hanging out at my brother-in-law's flying service, he took me out and showed me a private jet that belonged to one of his customers. Now, I know you have to have a lot of money in order to own a jet in the first place, but this guy must have had a lot of money. Not only was the jet worth about $6.5 million, but the reason that it was parked out where I was able to take a look at it was because the guy couldn't park it in the hangar because that space was taken up by the 10 Lexus automobiles that he was giving as Christmas gifts. I can't even imagine having enough cash to be able to drop half a million on Christmas.

I meant to talk about this some time ago, but had limited internet access while I was gone for Christmas and didn't think about it until now. It goes along with a post by 'flies without wings,' or more accurately, one of the comments about that blog entry. Specifically that people don't tend to appreciate things as much if they have everything handed to them. I jokingly commented that I would love it if things were handed to me (ok - half jokingly) and that I was in the market for a sugar mama that could do just that.

I'm actually quite proud of the fact that I've made it to where I am today, but I'll be a lot more proud when I actually reach my next milestone (ie: graduate and get a real job). Let's just say that I've worked for a sufficient amount of time that I will still appreciate what I have even if someone comes along and starts handing me everything. Any potential sugar mamas that may be reading out there feel free to contact me.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Not So Long Ago, In a Galaxy Not So Far Away

First K-Mart fell, and I just saw on the news the other day that Toys R Us is going to start closing down stores. I'm not up to speed in the business world or anything, but it doesn't take a genius to figure out that it's most likely because those stores could no longer compete with Wal-Mart.

Then yesterday I came across an article on msn stating how Wal-Mart is taking over the world. It seems that the spread of this corporate giant is unstoppable (except maybe the new rulings that they have to provide employees with better benefits, actually give them lunch breaks or pay them for missed ones). I wonder how much longer until Wal-Mart controls everything and becomes an 'evil empire' complete with its own Death Star.

I should probably stop shopping there, but it's just so damn convenient.

A New Tradition?

I grew up in rural Utah, and as I mentioned before, feel very fortunate that I didn't end up being a redneck. However, there are certain things about redneck culture that I couldn't (or didn't) really avoid.
One of those things is that I enjoy shooting guns. I don't own any, but my dad does, and sometimes we'll go out shooting when I'm there visiting.

The past two years I've started something that may become a new tradition in my family. That is that we go to the store the day after Christmas, buy ornaments that are on sale, and go out into the desert to shoot them. It sounds like a very redneck thing to do. It is, but I think it's fun.

It brings to mind the lyrics of a Ben Folds Five song:

"if you're afraid they might discover your redneck past
there are a hundred ways to cover your redneck past
it's good to be back home"

Most of my friends now (that is those who didn't know me when I was growing up) are surprised by the fact that this is something I'd do. I guess that means I've done a relatively good job of hiding my redneck past. But as you can see from these pictures, I'm giving my kids a bit of a redneck past that they will have to cover up as well.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Yup, these are my students

At the end of every semester I have my students fill out a TA evaluation sheet where they are able to rate both the lab and me as an instructor. I always read through them to see if there are areas where I can improve, but most of my students seem to really like me. The same can't be said for the lab itself, but I have no control over that.

I just got my evaluations back from last semester (I can't see them until grades come out so that the students will feel free to say how they really feel rather than trying to suck up to get a better grade, or hold back for fear of getting a worse one, not that I would let a comment affect someone's grade anyway, but it's supposed to give them peace of mind). Here are some of the answers that I thought were funny:

What was your least favorite exercise? Why?
"The stinky grasshopper"
"The grasshopper, crawfish & earthworm dissections. I'm not a big fan of bugs. It's a good thing we didn't do spiders!"
"Looking at slides . . . very gay."
"Everything with plants. I hate plants, they are possibly the most boring thing on earth."

What was your favorite exercise? Why?
"Intervertebrates. It was a nice break from plants." (note: you may need to read this again to see why it's funny. You may even need to be a biologist, I'm not sure).
"Jumping jacks and the pig dissection"

How could he/she improve?
"Sometimes he gabs to other students about non-biology things."

What were his/her strong points?
"Good talker"

In general, how would you rate your lab instructor as a teacher?
"Very" (I don't know what that means either)

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Let me try and clarify (hey, that rhymes)

I got an email from a friend of mine regarding the 'I want to be an old hermit' post. She disagreed with me about my statement that what people think of as 'normal' is actually overweight. She thinks that in our culture what people think of as 'normal' is actually extremely thin. She brings up a good point that I thought I should acknowledge and clarify a little. I was talking about the way that people look at men in particular. People tell me all the time that I'm too thin, but I really don't need to put on any weight. Sure I could use some bigger muscles, but I don't need to gain weight just for the sake of not being so thin.

This is where our culture has a double standard, and I guess that was part of what I was trying to get at (that and the fact that I've heard enough out of Jared from Subway). In our culture it's ok for a man to be fat, but not for a woman. Most girls will still go out with a guy if he is fat, but most guys will not go out with a fat girl (probably because most men are shallow, but I digress). But I don't think that has anything to do with what people think is 'normal.' Rather, I think that has to do with what people think of as 'beautiful.' There's a big difference there.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

No weddings - just a funeral

Carol's funeral was today, thus ending my "vacation." It was a nice service, and it was nice to see everyone again (well except for one person, but we won't get in to that now). In fact, I had the thought as I was getting ready to leave that it could very well be the last time I see most of the people there. I'm no longer a member of that family, and with their mother gone there isn't any kind of uniting force that is likely to draw them all together again. At least not when I'll be invited, but that's ok, I figured I'd already seen them for the last time when my ex and I split up.

The service was nice. I thought the family did a wonderful job of honoring their mother. I did feel sorry for them all, but I felt the very worst for my son. He's really struggled with this whole thing and is very upset about it. He wrote his grandma a note when he first found out she was dying, and on her request, he placed it in her hand today so that she could be buried with it. I don't know anything that was in it other than "Grandma, I love you to the moon and back." I think it made him feel special to be the only grandchild that got to put something in the casket.

After the funeral (which was in Salt Lake City), we drove about an hour away for the burial. Carol had a granddaughter who was run over and killed when she was two, and she wanted to be buried next to her. They did another little service at the grave, and afterwards the family went to a nearby church for a luncheon. Everyone left the cemetery except for me and my son who wanted to say his last goodbyes in private. It was heartbreaking to watch, but I couldn't resist taking this picture. I believe it's the saddest picture I've ever taken. Eventually the burial crew came in and we had to leave. I told my son that he could come back after they had put the casket into the ground, but I left that up to my ex. I know that he'll get through it, it's just a sad part of growing up, and unfortunate that it had to happen to him at such a young age.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

I want to be an old hermit

There are certain people in my life that need to go away and never be heard from again. I didn't want to name any names and hurt any feelings, but I'm talking about you Jared from Subway. We get it, you were a fat slob, then decided to eat like a normal person and lose some weight, and it worked. Good for you. Now go away.

My question is this, at what point do people start to realize that they are indeed fat and ought to do something about it? I am lucky in that respect. I don't know if I've been blessed with a high metabolism or what, but I've never had to worry about weight gain. In fact, I never watched my diet at all until I found out my cholesterol was high about a year and a half ago. Most of the people that know me think I'm too skinny. That may be the case, but it may also be that we live in a country with an obesity problem, and what people think of as normal is in fact overweight. After all, that is what we're used to seeing.

My point is this: It shouldn't take a person reaching 400 or so pounds (like Jared from Subway) to realize that something needs to change. I can tell when I've put on a little weight, and when I have, I usually try to exercise a little more so that I can take it back off. I might be considered to be too skinny, but I still have a thin layer of fat preventing my six pack from peeking through, and I need to work that off. But I don't need you, Jared, to tell me that. I'm working on it myself.

Anticipation and Mortality

My ex-mother-in-law died last night. It's a really sad thing, but she reached a state at the end where I believe everyone was relieved to see her go. It's not easy to see someone you love in such a condition.

She was a trooper though. She held on much longer than anyone expected. The doctors told the family that she most likely wouldn't make it until Christmas, and she held on for another two weeks past that.

I had the dubious honor (I say that because it wasn't a fun experience, but I'm still glad I had the chance to show my support) of sitting at her bedside to make sure that she didn't need more medicine, or try to get out of bed if something startled her It was basically just to keep watch in case anything happened. While sitting there I had a little time to reflect on our mortality. That's not something I do often. In fact, I remember mentioning to my father a couple of years ago that I don't seem to be aware of the fact that I am mortal. Things that ought to scare me don't. There's only one time in my life that I can honestly say that I thought there was a chance I could die (when I was a teenager I hung over the edge of a 500 foot dam with some of my friends). As a result, I've done a lot of things where I probably could have died, but just not been afraid enough to refrain from doing those activities. Luckily, I've made it this far.

I was told the other day that people don't really start to think about their own mortality until sometime in their 40's - when they realize that it's coming up. It seems like the longer one lives, the more one wants to keep death at bay (There was a time when I thought I didn't want to be alive past the age of 50, now I want to live much longer).

It just seems to go against our nature to let go. We spend our entire lives doing everything in our power to stay alive. And for good reason, the world is a beautiful place. It's just terribly sad to see someone hang on a long time after their body has already quit on them. A time like this makes me realize how much I want there to be a God, so that the end of life is just us passing on to another phase. I'm hoping that I'll have a chance to see her again, just as I hope my kids will have a chance to see me again after my time finally comes.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

New Year's Resolutions

I wanted to post something about my resolutions for 2006, but I still haven't made any because I apparently suck. Maybe I'll just have to settle with trying to be a little bit less of a jerk. That's all encompassing, right?

Or maybe I could resolve to come up with some resolutions.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Music '05

Since I haven't really come up with any New Year's resolutions yet, but have no other ideas for something to write, I thought I'd list some of my favorite cd's from 2005 (in no particular order):

  • Cold Roses - Ryan Adams & the Cardinals
  • Hopes and Fears - Keane
  • Rebel Sweetheart - The Wallflowers
  • Face the Truth - Stephen Malkmus
  • You're a Woman, I'm a Machine - Death From Above, 1979
  • Howl - Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

I'm sure there are others that I can't think of right now, but these are the ones that didn't leave the cd player in my car for 2 weeks once I got them (unless of course it was to take them inside to listen to them in my room).

If you're looking for some new music (and you like the bands I've listed on my profile), you probably won't go wrong by picking up one of these.

You're welcome!