Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Gone Diving.

Well, finals are over and they went well (I think). Now we're off to the Caribbean for the next week. We'll be diving, snorkeling and finding out what this whole "irie" thing is all about. I'm excited to take a break. It's been a tough semester and I'm glad I made it through.

Have a fantastic Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, whatever. To be extra inclusive, to all of you Satanists out there, Happy Satan Day. (Does such a thing exist?)

Monday, December 19, 2005

Gone Fishin'

I've got finals exams tommorrow, so blogging will have to take the backseat.

Have a great Monday.

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Scientific Bubble.

I've said time and time again that I believe "hype" plays too large a role in scientific research. The general public typically hears about "good" science by reading the paper or watching the news. Often, such studies contain questionable practices and are lacking in scientific rigor.

One example is the current stem cell debacle in South Korea. Hwang Woo Suk is currently under fire for allegedly falsifying data claiming he has cloned human stem cells. Stem cell research, like nanotechnology, is a hot field. I've got people doing both types of research in the building I work in. In talking to students and faculty, I often hear a crap load of buzz words and very little actual substance.

What's the incentive to work in a hype filled field? Money. Funding abounds for flashy science. That begs the question, when will the scientific bubble burst?

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Call.

My wife's grandmother and my grandmother were best friends back in the old country. Their friendship continued as they grew. They stuck by one another through school, marriage and the challenges of raising children. In fact, my wife's grandmother used to babysit my father when he was a toddler. She was devastated when my grandmother died, years before I was born.

Naturally, everyone was ecstatic to hear that my wife and I fell in love. It was all rather random. I was reintroduced to my wife at my brother's wedding. Her grandmother was so pleased. I'd never known what it was like to have a grandmother. I couldn't help but feel simultaneously cheated that I never grew up around my grandmother and fortunate to have been adopted by my wife's.

Two days ago, at 8 AM, the phone rang. My wife's grandmother died.

She was a wonderful person and I am heartened to know that her suffering is over and that she has moved on to a better place. Becoming acquainted with the joy of having a grandmother and then losing her is painful. I will never forget her.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Jerk Sauce Caper.

Mrs. Vavoom and I have decided to go to the Caribbean during our holiday break. We'll be there during the last week of December.

Yesterday, we ate at a well known barbecue joint in the Boston area. I noticed barbecue beef, sauteed in Caribbean jerk sauce on their menu. It sounded pretty good. Besides, what better way to celebrate our upcoming trip than to eat some tasty beef loaded with Caribbean goodness?

When the food arrived I looked down at my plate. It was sopping wet with jerk sauce. Man oh man, did it look good. I immediately shoveled a pile of it into my mouth. Suddenly, I felt a rush of heat. This stuff was spicy enough to raise the dead. It was too good to pass up. I quickly devoured it. It was so good that I grabbed an extra order to go. Sure, my stomach was screaming for help. C'mon, it's Caribbean barbecue...

I was restless that night. I simply couldn't sleep. At 4 AM, I decided to get up and have more of my delightful bovine meal. I polished off another serving of the stuff.

I slept 3 hours. As I walked into work I felt a severe pain in my stomach and lower intestines. "Oh no," I thought, "I know what this means." I needed to get into work. Still, I knew a restroom break was in order. When I arrived to work, I went straight for the toilet. Never before have I wanted to yell out in agony. For whatever reason, my delicious Caribbean meal was coming back to haunt me. It was the spiciest expulsion I've ever produced. Sore and distressed, I retreated back to my desk. If I could write a BASIC computer program to describe my day, it would go something like this:

10 PRINT "Enjoy being reverse sodomized by Caribbean spices today, Vavoom."
20 GOTO 10

I swear, it wouldn't stop. I spent a total of 12 hours rushing to the restroom and then back into the lab. Finally, I decided I needed to hustle home. As I walked, I felt a painful gurgle downstairs. "It must be gas," I thought.

I thought wrong.

I quickly clenched up and caught it before any unfortunate accident occurred. I looked down at the ground. Yup, it's covered in ice. Imagine trying to hold 20 gold doubloons up your ass, while trying to navigate across a slushy, icy mess. God, my 25 year record of not crapping my pants is at risk. I felt like Payton Manning, going for 16-0. I can't make a single mistake. Not one mistake. What the hell am I gonna do? Shuffle. Yes, shuffle. That's what my faithful readers suggested. Besides, shuffling and clenching aren't mutually exclusive activities. "Oh God, please don't let my streak end," I whispered, "Why does this shit always happen to me?" I shuffled slowly across the slick ground. Could it be? Yes! A patch of clear asphalt! I'm saved!

As I hustled across the asphalt I experienced the wrath of the fabled "black ice." I quickly learned that it does, in fact, exists. While squeezing tight, I felt myself slip. I can't tell you how I did it, but I fell without letting any of my recycled Caribbean meal loose. Now there's a new problem -- how the hell am I going to stand up without crapping myself?

A young couple approached me from behind. "Oh my God, are you alright?" "He's not moving, get your cell phone." "No, no, no," I replied, "I'm fine, I... I... I just need to get up slowly. I'll be fine, really." The guy helped me up. Problem solved.

The pressure was building. I really had to go. I shuffled over to a nearby convenience store, the spicy mess was slowly threatening to destroy my undefeated sphincter record. "Can I help you?" the clerk asked. "I need to use the restroom. It's an emergency, please." "I'm sorry, we don't have a restroom," he responded. "Listen," I pleaded, "I know you must have to take a crap during the day... you must have a bathroom... please, I really have to go." Suddenly a loud gurgle came from my intestines. The clerk's eyes widened. He looked at me like I just showed him that I had webbed feet. "Sure. Whatever. It's, it's, it's in the back," he responded.

I made it to the bathroom. I frantically started unwrapping myself. "Damn layers," I grumbled. In one fail swoop, I dropped my drawers and immediately sat down on the john. I was there for twenty minutes. I was breathing heavily, the spiciness of it was overwhelming. "Hey, you okay in there," I heard. "Yeah," I responded. "You better clean up after yourself," he yelled. I did so and quickly exited the store.

When I walked outside, I desperately wanted to drop my trousers and sit in the snow. Even as I write this, it still smarts. Still, my streak has been preserved.

Remind me not to eat any Caribbean food when we go to the Caribbean.

Friday, December 09, 2005

White Power.

It's snowing here in Boston. It's absolutely gorgeous. Being a California boy, I really don't know how to handle myself well in the snow. Some examples:

1) I've fallen down once and have slipped about ten times trying to walk through this stuff. If anyone knows how to walk on compacted snow (ice), please let me know.

2) I decided I'd see what snow tastes like. While walking into work, I scooped up a small amount of the stuff and devoured it. Bad move. They had just salted the area and I shoved about ten million milligrams of salt into my mouth. Yummy.

3) While walking to work, I decided I'd readjust my scarf. The snow continued pouring down while I did this. Yet another mistake. The scarf ended up feeling wet and nasty on my neck. That's not much fun when it's freezing.

4) Do not ask fellow scientists to throw snowballs with you. Many that have done so with me end up throwing in a not so manly manner. You know, they lead with their elbow when they throw. Trust me, it's embarrassing.

5) You know my big winter jacket? You don't? The big green one? C'mon search your memory. Anyways, it really isn't very good unless I dress in layers beneath it. However, when I'm all bundled up, I can't even cross the street safely. It is absolutely impossible to turn my head to look at on coming traffic.



Thursday, December 08, 2005

Devolving Arguments.

Don't believe in evolution? Would you like to show everyone how magnificent God and creationism is? Hmmm, what to do... How about beating the living crap out of a university professor? Yeah, that's showin' them!

Are you as sick of the anti-evolution movement as I am? This is absolutely preposterous. If you're interested in learning more about evolution and debunking some of the ridiculous arguments made by anti-evolutionists, check out The Panda's Thumb. It's a fantastic resource.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Hot and Cold.

Question: Can hot water freeze faster than cold water?

The answer is here.

Now it's your turn. Do you know any counter-intuitive facts?

Friday, December 02, 2005


When John Patrick Shanley wrote the play, "Doubt," he had to know he was going to win the Pulitzer Prize. It is an absolute masterpiece. After another day of galavanting around Manhattan, we had the great opportunity to watch this magnificent production. I'm not sure how, but we landed front row seats. The acting was superb. I highly recommend you either watch or read this play.

Not convinced? Check out this review.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

News Flash!!!

Sea Lampreys scare the living crap out of me.

What sort of things scare the crap out of you?

(Sorry, I'm taking a break from the New York posts... I'll continue those tomorrow.)