Thursday, January 21, 2010

Momentous Occassions

Two absolutely life-shattering things happened today at work (and it's only 3:00!). The first is that I finally figured out how to submit stories to Futures (science fiction published in Nature). The second is that, for the first time ever, my cloning worked the first time around! Well, to be perfectly fair it worked in 3/5 cases, but I the remaining 2/5 are less essential, and possibly toxic to bacteria. I'll work on that.

It's a rare day when the experiment that is supposed to take a week actually only takes a week and a half. And all of that just goes to confirm once again that thunderstorms are my lucky charm.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


At least two significant things happened at dancing tonight. First, I finished the accelerating waltz with my feet on the ground and some semblance of rhythm and/or grace (a personal first!). All credit should go to my partner, of course, for taking smaller steps and reminding me to hold on for dear life. Otherwise I almost certainly would have skittered across the dance floor like the ball-bearing in the pinball machine, causing dismay, mayhem, embarrassment, and possibly a few broken bones. Not fun. But as opposed to previous accelerating waltzes in which at the end my feet leave the ground either out of centripetal force, my own clumsiness, or my partner's idea of something funny/interesting to do at 370 bpm, this time I ended on my feet. A miracle!

Second was a "difficult" Zweifacher -- a dance composed of waltzes and pivots in a repeating pattern -- which we were actually getting (by the end of the dance). The pattern was hardly a pattern at all: Waltz, waltz, pivot, pivot, waltz, waltz, pivot, pivot, waltz, waltz, waltz, waltz, pivot, pivot, waltz, pivot, pivot, waltz, waltz, and repeat. When the repeating unit is 9 and a half bars long (and since it's 'and a half', it's not really a repeating unit -- you then have to do it all on the other foot, which is different enough -- so the repeating unit is really 19 bars long), it ceases to be a step and becomes, well, a choreography. The only difference being that you could really hear it in the music. But it was great fun and my partner was a very good sport about the whole thing and by the end we were totally getting it.

Oh! And that's forgetting the wonderful cross step waltz/schottische cover of "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds." That song made my night; the intro was 3/4, slow, and somewhat syncopated -- a cross step -- and then halfway through the first verse it switches to 4/4 and a bit faster -- a schottische. Besides the part where schottische is one of my favorite dances and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds is one of my favorite songs, I was lucky enough to have a partner who not only knew what he was doing, but had a fondness for pivots and the "role-reversal" schottische (also known as the "sex change schottische" because for the second half the woman dances the man's part); fun times!

It is perhaps worthwhile to note that the most dizzying dances (the ones listed above) were probably also my favorites. At one introductory lesson a woman asked the teacher how to avoid getting dizzy while waltzing, and the teacher chuckled and informed her that the point of waltzing was to get dizzy. I don't entirely agree with that, and in any given waltz I'm unlikely to get dizzy (and glad that I don't get dizzy easily! How inconvenient would that be?), but one of the things I enjoy about waltzing, and especially fast waltzes, is the almost-dizzy feeling of one too many pivots (or is it just the right number since it's almost-dizzy and not outright dizzy?). So I guess it isn't surprising that the dances I generally like best are the ones that leave me slightly out of breath and slightly dizzy. Well, those and the Bohemian National Polka. You've just got to love the Bohemian National Polka.

Although, given the number of pivots in the BNP, and the fact that I often subconsciously try to add pivots (I mean, who wouldn't want to do 16 pivots in a row?), perhaps that one could be classified with the above as well.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Inspired by the word-of-the-day; "Draconian", in addition to a conversation I had in lab today where someone asserted that a woman could get killed for committing adultery in the United States. I said "Um. No," although I was surprised to learn (thanks, wikipedia!) that some states have yet to decriminalize adultery (although it is hardly ever prosecuted anymore, and apparently there's at least one Supreme Court precedent that makes it difficult and questionable to apply any laws that still do happen to be on the books). The most amusing example was Maryland, whose punishment was a $10 fine -- which to me seems so very lenient as to be the worst of both worlds; it puts what is really a private thing between three people into the public, judicial, domain and it leans towards mocking the distress of the cheated-on. No good for anyone. And that sparked this:
You don’t seem to understand; I found her in bed with another man. In my bed, in my house, bought and mortgaged with my hard-earned money. With another man. I found my wife in bed with another man, she’s leaving me, and you seem to think that a ten dollar fine will just make everything better. Sorry for cheating on you, turning your suburban paradise into a twisted mockery of love and matrimony, how about I buy you dinner and we call it even?

Actually, you can’t buy dinner for ten dollars. That’s hardly even a cup of coffee anymore.
Clearly, my work today involved too many incubations/spins where I had fifteen minutes of empty time. Not enough to really read a paper, too much to just stare at the wall. So skimming wikipedia it is.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A drabble, off of the Word of the Day - "Torpor" - which I would have liked to be more rigid and angry but instead comes off instead as clinically depressed:
The dishes needed washing. The dishes needed washing, as did the laundry, and the bathroom should be cleaned, and the entire apartment was covered over by a fine layer of scrapbooking supplies. And the trash hadn’t been taken out. At the very least, she should get out. And instead, she sat, sheets smelling slightly of sweat, staring at the wall and then the ceiling and then the wall again. It was a peace-that-was-not-peace: if she didn’t acknowledge the outside world (or the mess), it didn’t exist. But she had never been good at isolation. And the dishes still needed washing.