October 31, 2002

Last night, on my way back to Berkeley, a moustached businessman in a suit sat down next to me on the train. He opened his briefcase to get out some papers. And (being the nosy bastard I am), I peeked inside. He had a holstered gun and a badge inside on top of his other papers.

I suppose that sitting next to a detective shouldn't be surprising. But for some reason, it was. I wanted to ask him about the cases he was working on. I wanted to know how many dark alleys he's chased a fugitive down. I wanted to know how many hard-nosed police chiefs he's been fired by because he was a loose cannon. I wanted to know if he could tell whether a white powder was cocaine or not just by tasting a bit of it on his finger. I wanted to find out how many suspects he's beaten a confession out of.

But instead I got off the train and walked home, leaving my Vain NyquilCopper all alone.

Posted on 12:11 PM
Rapier Wit

One of the people in my lab just made a zinger of a pun. In fact, it's such a zinger, that I almost couldn't believe I wasn't an unwitting pawn in an elaborately contrived set up for a joke. But it's a biology joke, so I'm willing to bet that only Doug and Lisa will get it....

A guy in the lab has been making these HUGE phylogeny trees in an attempt to find some kinesin within another organism. He's been at this for a few months, poring over sequence after sequence after sequence after sequence. I chatted with him about it today, and after hearing about the massive amount of data analysis, I snidely remarked, "Sounds like lots of fun."

"Yeah, it's a blast," he replied, with a twinkle in his eye.

I would have given him a standing ovation if I didn't have to go start a PCR....

Posted on 11:54 AM
October 29, 2002
Turkey Day in the Woods

What's that? You don't have any plans for Thanksgiving yet and you're worried that you'll be spending Turkey (or Tofurkey) Day alone? Well turn that frown upside down, cow(boy/girl), because here's something super-fun! A bunch of wacky first-year grad students are going to rent a cabin up in Yosemite....and you're invited!

If we can get enough people together, a 2-story cabin with jacuzzi included will be around $30-40 per person. In an attempt to get enough people for this super-cheap rate, I can bring one or two people with me. I promise that nothing sciency will be discussed, and it will just be good ol' fashioned fun up in the woods.

Email me at jcorn@uclink.berkeley.edu if you're interested.

Posted on 07:34 PM
October 22, 2002
I spy....

This is really, really cool. In case you're scared to click the link without a description, it's a site with photographs of the ENTIRE shoreline of Washinton (state). All 2,500 miles of it. My favorite parts are the absolutely uninhabited areas. Just miles and miles of trees, going right up to the water. Le sigh....

Clicking will only make it bigger.

Posted on 01:52 PM
October 21, 2002
God Bows To Math

Last night (technically morning, since it was around 4am) I was awoken by the cops again. This time, though they didn't come to the door and tell me that half of the windows in Brian's car had been destroyed (for the second time). Instead, they were talking with some guys directly underneath my window. I didn't catch the beginning of the discussion, but from what I pieced together the people having the discussion had called the police because a few people were hanging around the apartment looking awfully suspicious. When the cops showed up, the skulkers in question booked it, and a merry search ensued. When I fell asleep, they were still looking.

And through all this, Brian still hasn't moved his car from the dark and open garage.

Posted on 09:35 PM
October 20, 2002
Action Jackson

Speaking of movies, I just got back from seeing The Transporter, starring Jason Statham as Frank Martin, Qi Shu as Lai, and Ric Young as A Chinese Jack Palance. I wasn't expecting much; just lots of gunplay and fighting. And while there were one or two neat fight scenes, most of the action was just one cliche after another. Plus, the dialogue was even worse than I had expected it to be. To make matters worse, whoever was in charge of continuity wasn't doing their job. Things appear/disappear/turn into flamingos from shot to shot.

But at least Jack Palance was good for a laugh.

Posted on 09:58 PM
Give yourself a present

I was trying to catch Dianna up on the few episodes of Twin Peaks that she missed....and before I knew it half an hour had passed. It's amazing how much a good director can get done in the course of single season, provided they demand viewer continuity (e.g. - don't make every episode a stand-alone experience).

So which is better: feature films, or TV series? The former usually has a larger budget to work with and (sometimes) a higher-quality pool of acting talent to draw on. The latter can weave a very complex story that no one in their right mind would dare attempt to put into a 2-hour long movie. Does it really matter which is better, or am I just rambling?

Posted on 05:36 PM
October 19, 2002

I was flipping through the newest issue of "Arches," the sappy magazine for UPS alumni, when I came across a mention of Pint o' Guinness. Basically, they were The Pogues, but a bit more punk. And while they didn't really put a huge amount of thought into their songs, they were fun. That's when I hopped onto MP3.com. Because hey, if The A$$ Merchants can have an mp3.com page, so can Pint o' Guinness. However, while they've got some unreleased tracks up, there's nothing from the album. So I'm begging, pleading, and cajoling anyone who might have the tape to let me borrow it so that I can make with the copying.

Wow....that brings back memories. But now that I listen to it again, they were a hell of a lot better live than recorded. Jumping around to really fast "celtic punk" that's being played right in front of you is much more fun than sitting down and listening to a bunch of kids play "celtic punk" in a studio.

Posted on 01:07 AM
October 17, 2002
Willow switch

I talked to my parents (who were both on the same line) for quite a while the day before yesterday. We wandered over all sorts of topics, and then eventually got to how things were going in the lab. That's when I mentioned that I wasn't feeling very happy in the lab.

(This entire section is paraphrased, but you get the general idea)
"Did you like working in the last lab?" asked my father.

"They were fun people, but I hated the benchwork," I answered. "In fact, I've discovered that I dislike all benchwork. Doing the same experiments over and over and over again just doesn't excite me. I want at least a little break in the monotony. It's too bad that the field I'm in is nothing but unrelenting benchwork. Maybe I'm not working towards the right goal. Maybe I'll have to start all over to find something that makes me happy." I spat that last bit out in one breath, finally putting voice to doubts that have been worrying and depressing me for the last few months.

There was a few seconds' silence on the other end of the phone.

"Gosh, now wouldn't that be a tragedy?" said my mother, sarcastically.

That was a pretty big bombshell. I've been trying not to disappoint my parents for quite a while. In the past I've gotten the impression that they're not so keen on quitters, so I think I unsconsciously put big changes out of my mind, because to me it would seem like quitting. But suddenly, just by talking about it, I discover that they don't have that view at all. And in retrospect, it seems so silly that I thought they valued my perserverance over my happiness.

So during these next two rotations I'm going to try out structural and computational biology labs, which are radically different subfields of MCB than I've previously been involved in. And if I don't feel at home in one of those labs, maybe spending the next 5 years chugging away towards a Ph.D. in a field that I'm not totally happy with wouldn't be right. What a ground-breaking idea, eh? Sometimes my own stubbornness amazes me.

Posted on 11:52 AM
October 09, 2002
A kinder, gentler Skeletor

Is it me, or am I getting dorkier? While toiling away at the bench today (purifying some DNA, if you're interested), I found myself wistfully watching the clock, and wanting to be at home. Not outside running through fields of golden wheat, or frolicing in the park, but home working on a bioinformatics program. So not only have I passed over into programmer dorkdom, but I've entered the highly esoteric realm of molecular biologist programmer dorkdom. This can't be healthy.

For those of you who are interested, <jargon>the program I'm working on will (hopefully) pattern match large subsets of sequences upstream of genes that are co-expressed in an attempt to find new regulatory elements</jargon> And I'm doing it all in Perl, because Java can kiss my lazy non-object-oriented ass.

Hmmmm....maybe I should have ended that Jargon tag a little bit later in the paragraph....

Posted on 03:34 PM
October 02, 2002
Shippin' A$$ 'Round the Country Since 1999

I finally remembered the password to The A$$ Merchants site on MP3.com. CDs are now quite cheap ($7.98), and include super-special front cover and liner notes. Because you couldn't change them when we made the CD, a few other bits of the CD art is in generic MP3.com format. But that doesn't matter. What does matter is that you're going to buy our CD, and bring our $0.58 profits up to $0.70.

Posted on 12:16 AM