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April 2010 Archives

April 1, 2010

frustration sets in

this was something i found last week that i had to save to watch over last weekend because i knew it would make me angry. i had to make sure i was in the correct state of mind before pressing the play button. it's annoying that people can have this kind of an effect on me. i don't mind opposing points of view with a healthy debate. however i don't appreciate people shutting others down, and not allowing them to get a word in. it's just common courtesy.

how do you debate someone who doesn't let you speak and doesn't have a basic grasp of logic? bill o'reilly vs. anthony weiner.

some of the new music (for me, since most of the albums have been out for awhile) i've been listening to lately include mat kearney (sounds coldplay-ish, but without the very noticeable rhyming scheme that is pretty prominent on X&Y which i find really distracting), sounds under radio, guster, and maximo park. everything's pretty good, though i haven't listened to a group and been blown away by a complete album in awhile. it's been a lot of solid tracks, but the other 4 to 6 tracks aren't all that interesting. so... any suggestions?

the leafs finally beat buffalo tonight. i wonder if this means that the sabres can beat the sens? i'm hoping this is the case. as we gear up for the playoffs, i was thinking about songs that mention or make reference in some way to the sport. two of my faves include the weakerthans 'elegy for gump worsley', and spirit of the west's 'williamson's garage'. as i was pondering this question, i then tried to think of songs that applied to curling. i could only come up with 'tournament of hearts' by the weakerthans. so does this mean the weakerthans are the most canadian band ever? well at least their album reunion tour should get consideration due to both elegy and tournament being on there. after all, how many albums have both a song related to hockey AND one to curling on it?

finally a funny video for the day. hope everyone enjoys their weekends.

April 4, 2010

easter and music from the 90s

hope everyone who celebrates easter is enjoying it, and those who are celebrating pesach also have a good last 2 days of passover.

the last couple months or so, i've put some old music back into rotation (stuff that i haven't heard in 7 or 8 years). a lot of it has withstood the test of time, and some of it hasn't. it made me realize how great the music scene was in the 90s. there seemed to be a lot of female led acts that could rock out at a pretty high level. not that there aren't any now, but it definitely seems different now. i think belly was probably my favorite of all those acts. anyways, here are a couple videos from the youtube of some old songs.

juliana hatfield three

belly

jale

i've also been following up with my friend bern who's out in southeast asia doing some volunteer work. sounds like he's having a pretty good time. he's blogging about it here.

hope your sunday weather is as great as it is where i am. i think i'll be hitting up anderson's for some custard this afternoon.

April 7, 2010

science, meet art

the cepa gallery is holding an auction of some photographs. this one in particular caught my attention.



p. vanouse

here's the link for the description of the piece and other associated information.

do you know what that picture's showing? i'll give you a hint, they're building blocks.

if you guessed dna, you would be correct. in order to get the result that is shown on the photo, samples of dna need to be fluorescent stained and cut by restriction enzymes and loaded into the wells at the bottom of the photo. after that they are run through the gel submerged in solution with an electric current applied. the current forces the fragments of dna to migrate through the gel from one end to the other. the distance traveled by the fragments give us information on how long the fragment is, which helps us determine the dna sequences of the fragments and sample*. as restriction enzymes only cut at certain sequences of dna. all those letters at each sample well are the different restriction enzymes applied to the sample. in order for the art/scien-tist to come upon the design, for those lanes that are symmetrical on the left and right sides, you can see the same enzymes were used. lanes 1, 13, 14 had no enzymes applied and no sample loaded. lanes 2, 12 are the same. lanes 3, 11 are the same also. you can see where there is a difference in lanes 5 and 10 which use completely different enzymes, thus getting different cut pieces which migrate at different rates across the agarose gel. if you're interested in the process of preparing the dna, read on... otherwise you can skip the rest and do something more interesting.

the whole process takes around a full day if we are working with a sample of dna that has already been purified and only needs amplification. we copied the dna by using an enzyme called dna polymerase through a process called the polymerase chain reaction (pcr). through heating of the double stranded dna (which seperates the double helix into single strands), we can also use and activate dna polymerase to copy each strand with the opposite base pair nucleic acid. the cooling action allows bonds between the strands to form again. the result from 1 double strand of dna is 2 strands of dna that come apart from heating pre-dna polymerase, and 4 strands of dna post-dna polymerase action. we can program a thermacycler to raise and drop the temperatures of the sample multiple times until we have sufficient quantity to run them through the gel. in my lab, we usually put the sample into the thermacycler at the end of the day and let it run overnight.

so the next morning (or afternoon), we'd come in ready for another fun day. we have a sufficient amount of sample now, and this is where we stain and cut the sample. we can use a hot water bath to activate the enzymes we place in our samples and leave that going while we prepare our gel. this whole process took an hour or more as the gel is prepared from a liquid mixture and allowed to cool and set (think jello but not edible and more ew). when everything is finally set, we can apply a large current if we're really rushed (though this is not a good idea, as the dna fragment bands can run off the gel and you lose all your work), or we can even apply a very low current and let it run overnight if we decide to go out that evening. usually though, we pick something in between so that we can check in every once in awhile to make sure things are all going as planned. after all this is done, we carefully remove the quite fragile gel and take it to our geldoc scanner for school pictures. usually this best case scenario was not what was played out. since dna does not show up unless it is stained with a fluorescent compound that glowed under uv light, this was always a scary time. the geldoc scanner's uv light allows us to determine if our results were what was expected. there were many times when the uv light went on and curses were shouted after a day's worth of work was for nothing.

i do have to say though, there are days when i miss being a grad student in my lab. the biotech department was a small department, and we were a pretty tight knit group always encouraging each other despite our many attempts at getting these damn experiments to work. i miss the solitude and clarity i had when i went into the lab late at night to culture or prep cells. i miss being able to use the name of some restriction enzymes on a daily basis. my top 3 faves are HindIII, BamHI, and EcoRI. i also miss the surprises and successes that came, such as seeing that clump of dna in 70% isopropanol (yes you can actually see the dna if you successfully amplify and purify it). i will say this though, i do not miss keeping a lab notebook and writing a long document about it.

*i want to point out that we have better technologies now to sequence dna, we can just put our sample into a sequencer. it uses the fluorescence intensity to measure what each base is as it passes through a reader. the use of restriction enzymes is the old and "cheap" original but time consuming way to do it.

April 8, 2010

kip drordy

this week's south park episode was hilarious. it's about facebook and also has a funny bit with chat roulette. totally dug the take on tron and jim cramer's mad money as well. probably the best sequence though was one with kyle, stan, and kyle's farm.

if you haven't checked it out yet, have 25 minutes free and want a good laugh, check it out here. or if those links don't work, you can check it out on the official south park studios site. the episode is titled, 'you have 0 friends'.

something i found interesting is how quickly things spread these days. kip drordy almost has 50,000 friends as of midnight friday april 9th 2010.

even though south park is still a cartoon, it's really good at poking fun of society and how we interact with each other. in fact, i think it's gotten better over the years as it's worked in more current events like the "updated" tiger woods video game.

April 9, 2010

remember lycos?

i was recently looking over a proxy form for the annual shareholders meeting of a company i own shares in. one of the things to be voted on is the "new" board of directors. as i was reading through the candidates profiles, i noticed that one of them had helped launch/grow lycos back in the day. do you remember that search engine? it's actually still around. after some digging, some of the old headlines of the deals that were struck during the dot-com boom came back. remember the hotbot search engine? lycos owns it. how about the web-hosting providers tripod and angelfire? both owned by lycos. they were the actually first search engine to go public with an ipo in 1996. on june 29 1996 lycos only had a market cap (the public's valuation of the company = share price * shares outstanding) of around $150 million. back in 1999, lycos became the MOST visited site in the WORLD! in 2000 lycos was purchased and folded into a subsidiary of terra networks for $13 billion. pretty crazy right? the competition was fierce back then with lots of entrants trying to battle each other. in addition to lycos, there was also and independent hotbot, infoseek, alta vista, excite, and yahoo. yahoo eventually became the dominant one of the group after some time battling, but google ended up challenging and usurping them. i seem to recall using alta vista a lot for my searches at the time, but yahoo has pretty much stayed my main portal for everything else to this day (though google is slowly taking over with all their web apps).

every once in awhile i like to look back at some of these headlines since they say that history always repeats itself. well, a couple years after that bubble burst, we had another one in the real estate market. while in both cases the boom-bust cycle (at the time as well as historically) were driven by greed, i would have to argue that the one in the late 90s was a more productive cycle. it was more like the industrial revolution except with electronic information. as i've said before, many of the ideas and innovations of the period were really ahead of their time. a lot of the companies just ran out of vc funding before they could turn a profit. meanwhile looking at the housing boom, i don't see all that much advancement of information as a result of constructing more buildings and houses. sure there is a spin off component to the generation of wealth through housing, but there's not really a direct advancement of ideas.

so i'll close with some questions i'd be interested in hearing about from you. what were the search engines you used back in the day, and when did you really start using the interwebs daily? what are some of the other sites you liked to visit or remember that aren't around today?

happy weekend.

April 13, 2010

going un-nuclear

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
The Big Bang Treaty
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

April 15, 2010

hucks, shapes, garbage, stuff and hockey

some links i've been saving up mixed in with recent stuff.

first i want to say that i do enjoy huckabee's appearances on the daily show with jon stewart, even though his positions differ from mine. when he's on the show, they usually have a healthy but civil debate, not dissimilar to most conservatives that go on the daily show. there are times when jon will interrupt, but it's done in a respectful manner (though i may be biased on that point). however when conservative christians start talking about certain issues where they become the moral judge of others, it really annoys me and i thinkit gives christians and christianity a bad image. it gets under my skin when people come out and make statements that dismiss gay marriage without understanding or even bother getting to know or listen to people on the otherside. as a christian, i know that i don't have all the answers, thus i should not be going out condemning other people for who they are. as a human, i really have no right to tell two people who love each other whether or not they have the right to get married. it really has no bearing on me, nor does it affect my life at all if two gay or lesbian persons in a committed relationship choose to marry each other. actually, whether or not they are in a committed relationship also really has no impact on me either. there are plenty of heterosexual couples who marry and then divorce, and though it may affect their offspring, i cannot say that it directly impacts my own life either. i truly believe that people who are gay, lesbian, bi, or transgendered don't have a choice. it's not something you can turn on and off, it's just how humans are made. every single day there are millions of biochemical processes going on in a human body. there are tens of thousands of genes activating different proteins. who knows how much of the untranslated region of dna actually plays a role in the cascading and switching on and off of other events which may be related to hormones. for those people who are heterosexual, you just know that you like people of the opposite sex. can you explain it? i certainly can't. why is it so unbelievable for people to find people of the same sex attractive? i also don't understand his position against adoption for same-sex couples. an effective parent is an effective parent. one can be a good parent whether they are gay or straight. if two parents are better than one, why would it be any different in these cases?

something else that confuses me concerning conservative christians are those who refuse to fund or impede teaching sex-ed. sometimes i forget how rural and conservative parts of wisconsin are. while the state generally trends to liberals and dems during elections thanks to cities like madison and milwaukee, it's still pretty conservative out in the sticks. it's been shown over and over, abstinence only education does not work. you can't expect people to abide by it. conservatives and republicans are all about individual rights, blah blah stop the feds from taxing me and taking my income, states rights and all that other stuff that they constantly preach. why don't they arm people with tools and information? i don't see how giving a person more information and more tools could hurt them when they decide whether or not to have sexual relations with another person? in a free market, you need information to make the best choices. stop going against your own beliefs.

shape wars. this is just brilliant. i can't really say anything more about it.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
A Farewell to Arms
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

they found a garbage patch in the atlantic to go with the one they found in the pacific recently. it's amazing to me that plastics really weren't used by the masses until about 60 years ago. i'm just thinking of all the crap we throw away these days, and it really horrifies me to think how much bigger these patches will be in another 60 years if we don't find some effective solutions now. an interesting development i found out about recently is that sun chips designed and is now using a compostable bag for their chips.

it's a good start to contributing to sustainable packaging, though there's a slight problem currently as the bag has to be composted. if it's thrown in a landfill, it will not degrade. i'm sure they or whomever developed it may have patents for the technology. to make composting worthwhile like recycling, there needs to be a critical mass of people who demand something of that nature. it would be great if all companies were to use these types of bags making it easier to separate them out from trash in refuse processing facilities. local governments with the ability to compost would be able to then use the broken down material for their parks systems or find other uses for nutrient rich compost soil. there are some municipalities which already compost, and by using this process for composting, we can use up less space for waste, and contribute to the re-greening of our environment.

i found this rather interesting. it's a list of books that people have the most issues with in terms of content. i just can't believe catcher in the rye, the color purple, to kill a mocking bird, and the chocolate war still get complaints. those books have been around forever, and to this day they still top the list. i was saying to my t.c. how i was really surprised that a clockwork orange was not on the list. in my opinion, that book has way more material that may be of an objectionable nature to some people. seriously though, those books were probably ground breaking and shocking when they first came out. do the same people just keep calling in complaints about them to this day? have they even read the books and tried to understand the context and what the author was trying to get the reader to see and understand?

well this turned out to be a long post. if you're still reading i commend you. here's 1000 bonus points. the sabres open up the first round tonight against the bruins. after a 3 year absence, playoff hockey is back for buffalo fans! there's nothing quite like spring time hockey. it's game time soon, so i'll wrap this up. enjoy your fridays! LET'S GO BUFF-A-LO

April 16, 2010

playoff beard

there is one thing about the playoffs that i've never been able to fully participate in, the growth of a good playoff beard. i'm one of those asians that would need a good half year to grow "enough" facial hair for a laughable playoff beard. that would mean i would have needed to start growing one in december, and well the sabres weren't a lock to get in at that time. so instead i figured i could have a virtual one. i have noticed that my facial hair has been growing at a faster rate after i passed my mid-twenties. instead of having to slice up my face every 3-4 days, it's down to every 1 or 2. maybe in the next ten years, i'll be able to fully participate in the full playoff experience before i hit my 40s. i think the best i can do now in real life for the playoffs is to go for a laughable mustache. the whole chin and cheek growth is way splotchy, unbalanced, and ridiculous looking. so anyways, i'm requesting permission to use this as my playoff beard for 2010.

the opening the organization made for the playoffs this year is a lot more aggressive than the one 3 years ago with the goo goo dolls. they went with an orchestra score with no lyrics. i'm liking the change.

i wasn't sure if we'd come out aggressive, we've had really bad starts and first periods throughout the season. plus it's been awhile since we've played the bruins in the postseason. the three teams we've face most in the playoffs are philly (8 series), boston (this is our 8th meeting), and montreal (7 series). i was sort of hoping to draw philly in the first round cause i knew it'd be entertaining from the start, and we've done well against them. with boston and montreal most of those battles came in the 80s and early 90s, so i figured it'd take two games or so to get interesting. well, i was wrong thanks to lucic and chara, that big oaf.

the first party in the plaza had really nice weather, not sure if i like the tent for this year though. it's nice if it's raining, but it won't/doesn't accommadate all the people who show up. it might be a mess for the 2nd game cause the weather won't be good.

anywho, should be a fun day coming up. it'd be more fun if we send the bruins back with a 2-0 series lead. gotta sleep soon, 1pm game tomorrow. gonna watch it with some friends, probably grab some fantastic subs from wegmans! everyone have good weekends! GO SABRES!

April 22, 2010

earth day and wth, fishing on tax day!?

happy earth day! despite the recent sad events with the oil rig off the coast of louisiana sinking and missing workers adding to the coal mine tragedy a little while ago in west virginia. it seems like i always come back to thinking about how our consumption habits move technology forward, but how our increased consumption also produces a whole lot more waste and pollution. it's an endless cycle that will keep spinning out of control until we all die (i know, very optimistic of me). was browsing around and this article with 7 little known ecological threats caught my attention. some of the things on it we all know are bad, but there were some others on it that i either didn't really think of, or never thought of. we all know the deal with mobile phones and batteries, and some may have an understanding with biofuels as well. i've never really thought of concrete, pets, and public parks though. however, now that they've been mentioned it does make sense that they can be quite detrimental to the environment in some ways. pets and public parks though i would think most people would give passes to, as the life cycle for both can certainly outlive any electronic gadget. additionally people (can) have an emotional attachment to each, which isn't the case for concrete (well at least i would think most people wouldn't).

i have thought about the environmental impact of the interwebs before, but it's possibly only because i grew up in a region where there's a relative abundance of hydro-power. when i was an intern for two firms in nyc, i had the opportunity to get inside of a couple data centers. one was an investment bank running their own data center down in the financial district, the other was a center which hosted other firm's servers. in both cases a person would be met by racks of computers stacked on top of each other, cables running all over the place, and cold temperatures. who knows what the electric bill was each day to keep the computers and monitors, hubs, switches, routers, modems, printers, lighting, and air conditioning. if i had to guess though, i figured the electric bill wasn't cheap... especially since they were also located on manhattan. seeing as how buffalo-niagara's been trying to reinvent itself for the last few decades as all it's industrial work has moved south, i've always felt that data centers could be a viable sector for the area with the main draw being cheap hydro-power from the falls. another benefit would be that because of the natural geologic formation of the falls in between two great lakes, it may be less detrimental to the ecosystem than if it were built in a place that depended on controlling the flow of a river as the regional source for agriculture and living as in the case of the colorado river.

on top of the benefits that the geologic environment affords western new york and southern ontario, there is also a big fat pipe of fiber-optic lines that connect america and canada running throughout the region. with the colder winters, cooling costs for data centers would also be lower. there have been inroads by some companies that have decided to locate data centers in the area, specifically citibank, hsbc, and yahoo. if new york state can reform its business development, government and get its act together, there could be future growth in this sector.

this next video was from the tea party protesters on tax day. i have no problem paying taxes for services the government provides, but like most people i do my best to find places where my tax burden can be decreased. if i can take a credit or deduction, i am sure going to do it. there are certain instances where taxes can get confusing, but i would think for the majority of people they're pretty straight forward. i wonder how they are in other countries? beside the gst and pst what are taxes like in canada? are your forms easy to fill out or confusing? anyways, this video is just... wow.

i wonder if these tea party people ever watch or listen to themselves speak? they never have any solutions whatsoever, and the only thing that comes out of their mouths are incoherent fox news talking points. the stuff that comes out from the commentators on fox news are a jumbled mess to begin with, but after being processed by the general population, and hearing their interpretation it just gets absolutely ridiculous. do these sheeple check any of their "facts"? it's pointless to debate with these people, how do you debate with morons? how were they even able to complete their taxes without noticing the tax credits? how do they expect to keep the illegal immigrants out without a governmental agency named customs and border protection under the larger agency named homeland security? nevermind the fact that this country was built by immigration and immigrants, there are just holes in everything these people are supposedly mad about. it would be absolutely wonderful if at his next public speech, obama were to just collect a bunch of these videos and play them for the nation. that would hopefully be enough for people to get behind what he is trying to do just based on the fact that the opposition is clearly supported by a bunch of imbeciles.

my favorite part of the whole video... banning fishing in america? really lady? wtf? where did THAT one come from?

the final thing i'd like to add is that the tea party has some really crappy musicians. no wonder they're so pissed off, i'd be pissed too if i had to listen to that, cause what the hell is that thing? it doesn't even sound like anything!

April 25, 2010

some short letters/pleas for monday night

                                                                                                                 April 25 2010


Dear Buffalo Sabres,

   Please don't take a lead into the third period and collapse like you've done two times already this series.

Sincerely,
-Jason

---

                                                                                                                 April 25 2010


Dear Tim Connolly,

   Please don't skate around with the puck and lose it to the other team, and please don't break. I appreciate your understanding.

Sincerely,
-Jason

---

                                                                                                                 April 25 2010


Dear Hockey Gods,

   I would very much appreciate it if you did not hate Buffalo on Monday, after all Satan is playing for the Bruins. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
-Jason

---

                                                                                                                 April 25 2010


Dear Satan,

   I understand you may still have some hard feelings from your time in Buffalo, and not being re-signed a couple years ago. However I urge you to look past that, as you just won the Cup with the Penguins last year. I know this letter probably won't do anything to stop your need to destroy our team since you are Satan, but I wanted to try anyways.

Sincerely,
-Jason

---

                                                                                                                 April 25 2010


Dear Chara,

   Please don't be a big oaffey douche Monday. I know that's not a real word, but just don't be one, you know what I mean. Thank you.

Sincerely,
-Jason

---

                                                                                                                 April 25 2010


Dear Milan Lucic,

   No. Just no.

Sincerely,
-Jason

---

hope you all had good weekends.

April 29, 2010

all $ort$ of awfulne$$ (this is what people listen to now?)

i was catching up on some snl a little while ago and watched this train wreck.

the "singing" is whiny, the lyrics don't make much sense, the choreography... if you can even call it that... is non-existent, the make-up, props, and costumes are a mess (what's up with the lasers? was she giving a nod to dr. evil?). i couldn't figure out a connection with the american flag. what exactly does a song about brushing teeth with jack have anything to do with america? i suppose her lyrics reflecting a consumerist-instant-gratification culture might have a connection with this country. i'm pretty sure she did not mean for the song to have such a deep meaning though. what's up with the glow in the dark face paint? stage presence is not her strong suit. the astronauts did not add anything to the first song. in the second one, the stage looked barren for a fast paced song. i felt bad for ryan phillippe. in both his intros, he looked resigned to the fact that the viewers would have to endure a really bad 5 minutes.

i started an entry about the buffalo & buffalo ex-pats biannual day of mourning. it's a little old now but the long and short of it is every year for as long as i can remember, there were always 2 days that most people associated with the city of buffalo are down. the first being when the bills are out of the playoff hunt (as in they have no chance of making the playoffs cause they're too incompetent to get in... a decade of futility), and the day the sabres get kicked out of the playoffs. the sabres lost to a boston team that was too physical. the power play was horrible, the penalty kill was bad, and the veteran players on offense were non-factors. my letters didn't work at all, in fact most of them ended up with the exact opposite result. satan ended up with the game/series winner. out of all the teams left in the east, i guess i'm throwing my support behind the underdog habs (sorry leafs fans, but you have to be impressed by their series against the caps though).

there's oh so many news articles i've saved up and want to do posts about (apple, bailouts, health care, building preservation), but i don't want each of my entries to turn into a tome. so i'm picking the oil disaster out in the gulf (mexico, not persian). while i understand our current energy and transportation infrastructure depend a large amount on oil, i don't think sarah palin's "drill baby, drill" plan is a good idea. the more we drill, the greater the chance we have of producing future disasters like this one. since we don't seem to be in a hurry to change over to an alternate source of energy, development of those substitutes are also slower. additionally we can only guess at how much oil is left that we are able to tap into. what happens if we don't have the next source in a long term usable form when we run out of oil? the damage could be great if the economies of the world all stopped functioning. i won't argue that at present oil is relatively cheap in terms of monetary costs to purchase for consumers compared to other sources, however as with all things there are other indirect costs associated which people don't always think about some of which lead to the prior ones i listed above. often we look for the simple solution, drill more, but that in itself has consequences. as with everything, we just have to realize that things aren't simple, you can't just get rid of federal agencies tea party people, we really need to work harder to find better solutions that are viable in the long term.

About April 2010

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