Wednesday, February 28, 2007

I vahnt to be alone

My inner child takes over occasionally. Ordinarily, this can be considered a good thing -- being carefree, innocent, even silly. This is just fine. But my inner child has a long-held neurosis that my outer adult can't shake. And it drives me nuts.

I can't pee in a public restroom if someone else can hear me.

By myself in a public restroom? No problem. Big, busy bathroom with many people coming and going, toilets flushing, conversations going on, sinks running? Also, no problem. Small, quiet, two-stall restroom with a single other pair of feet in the room. Not happening. It's like my pee suddenly got really shy and decided to high-tail it right back up into my kidneys. And I run into this sort of thing almost every day.

I've tried everything -- clearing my mind, thinking of diving into an ice-cold pool, wearing my MP3 player and turning it up really loud so I can't hear the silence, waiting until I have to go so badly that I almost pee in the hallway. It don't matter, kids.

So, what do I do in these situations? My inner child plays all sorts of games to get out of them. Walk into the bathroom and see that other pair of feet? Easy. Pretend you only came in for the sink, wash hands, rustle toweling, leave and find another, empty, restroom. Someone else comes in once I'm settled but before the business at hand has been taken care of? Simple. Pretend I'm already done, get up, flush, wash hands, leave and find another, empty, restroom. Don't notice there's another person in the room until you're already in the stall? Ummmm. Pretend you're there for other feminine reasons, rustle around, lift lid of special little trashcan, repeat above scenario.

This is stupid. Oh, I know it.

So I've decided to try something new and novel to try to shake my inner child into seeing reason and just freaking peeing already. You guessed it, my new idea is to declare this insanity to the world in a fit of Blogging Therapy in hopes of curing myself via the innernets.

Hello. My name is Sus and I have peeing issues.

This is also stupid. Oh, I know it.

But don't you feel so much closer to me now?


Monday, February 26, 2007

Oscar Sus screws Morning Sus

Jerry Seinfeld used to have a bit about Night Guy always screwing Morning Guy. You'll go out on a "school night" to have a couple of drinks, but you need to leave at 10:00, so you can get eight hours of sleep before work tomorrow. But you start to have a really good time and someone offers to buy another round and you think, "I don't really need eight hours -- seven will be just fine", so you have another drink. Then you start dancing and another round comes up and you think, "Six hours of sleep is just as good as seven, really." This goes on until you stumble home at 4 am, and a couple hours later when you have to get ready for work, you really hate yourself. Rather, you hate Night Guy and his cockamamie ideas about screwing Morning Guy out of a night's sleep. Night Guy always screws Morning Guy.

Well, okay, nothing that dramatic happened to me last night. Morning Sus knew that the Oscars would end late, and she knew that the LIMO would probably take a while to pick her up from V's apartment. But Oscar Sus got home and wasn't tired. Oscar Sus was well pleased by the ceremony, thought Ellen rocked as host, was psyched that The Danish Poet, Helen Mirren, and Forrest Whittaker won their categories. She had enjoyed good food and a great time with New Friend Veronica, and though she missed sharing the awards with Missa as she had done for years, she was happy and content. But she was not tired. Oscar Sus was still "up". Oscar Sus was bubbly. Oscar Sus stayed up for awhile. Oscar Sus totally screwed Morning Sus. The alarm was a brutal enemy this morning. Today will likely be a struggle, especially the part where I have to sit in a darkened classroom and try to stay awake. Ah well. It's not like those stupid, stressed out all-nighters I was pulling a couple of weeks ago. I guess I really should quit my bitchin'.

Oh look, a snowflake! Much like it's four million quadrillion brethren that blanketed Milwaukee this weekend. Only not so cold. Or melty.

#25 from Leisure Arts' 99 Snowflakes

Now, Morning Sus is off to face the day!


Sunday, February 25, 2007

Predictions and progress

Earlier in the week, V and I went to the Times and saw all the short live action and animated films nominated for Academy Awards. Because I've never before had a clue about the nominees in the category before, I feel like doing something new. I'm predicting the winners. I'm not going to describe all the films; others have done that far better than I have. You're smart -- you can look them up if you want to.

Live Action Short Film Nominees:
Binta and the Great Idea
Eramos Pocos
Helmer & Son
The Saviour
West Bank Story

I liked all of them for their own reasons. I have a soft spot for The Saviour due to the fact that I have watched lots of movies made by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (they're free at CinemaNow). But I think The Saviour is a little too pat for the Academy members. My prediction is for Eramos Pocos, a story of a man, his son, and a grandmother where everyone gets what they need in the end.

Animated Short Film Nominees
The Danish Poet
The Little Matchgirl
The Maestro
No Time for Nuts

I'm a huge fan of Hans Christian Anderson's fairy tales and, while The Little Matchgirl made me bawl like a baby as I knew it would, my prediction in this category is The Danish Poet. It is simply drawn and tells a simple story of coincidences and sadness and love. It was not overbearing or overly cute. I found it to be just right.

There are no other categories in which I have seen all the films nominated, so I'm stopping right there.

I finished the Columns of Leaves scarf last night and I blocked it this morning. I'm very excited that it's completed. I enjoyed the pattern, but I'm ready for a change of pace. I'll knit dishcloths while I watch the Oscars tonight, then I'm seriously getting back into WIP cleanup mode. Projects need to be getting done. Of course, I have a wedding coming up this summer that will need a special gift and I've already made an afghan and potholders for this dear friend. This will require some thought.


I love how blocking transformed this scarf.

This picture does weird things to the color (it's deeper and richer than it appears here), but it's the best I've got where you can see the pattern at all. Though not really that well, huh? Oh well.


Saturday, February 24, 2007

Blizzard o' fun

This was the sky this morning, after last night's snowfall but before tonight's forecast blizzard conditions. A check of The Weather Channel shows SE WI to be in for 12+ inches tonight. A weekend to stay in and knit.

So far, this weekend has rocked. New Friend Veronica and I ate awesome Roly Poly wraps, we totally closed down yet another mall in the greater Milwaukee area, I found some perfume I really like (which is so difficult for me), I learned that there is a new Star
Wars novel
out that I might actually want to read (even though I'll probably cringe through most of it -- but these are old, well developed issues of mine), and I found The Shoes.

They are orange! They are cute! They are all technology-y and stuff! They feel like nothing I've ever worn before, and they feel goooood!! I'm very psyched. They even come with a DVD to teach me how to wear them, they are so advanced!

So, remember when I got pretty origami paper? I still totally love it, but today I found a folded paper activity that caused me to set that pretty paper right to the side. That's right, kids, I printed out, cut out, folded, and glued together a Bald Britney Paper Doll. Oh, the joy. She had a total meltdown and I was rewarded with a new, free crafting experience! It's the simple pleasures, I tell ya.

Now to curl up in the glow of my shoes and Britney doll, watch the blizzard happen around me, listen to old re-runs of This American Life, and knit, knit, knit. I know you wish you had my life. I know it.


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Never be afraid to ask

Yesterday Becky said:
I'm almost afraid to ask...What is a tetrahymena?

Well, maybe you should be afraid... Never ask a scientist about their research -- they'll totally tell you!!!

What I see with a light microscope (phase microscopy)

Tetrahymena thermophila (T. thermophila) is a protozoan, a unicellular ciliate that my lab uses as a model organism for genetic research. It has been used in some very important genetic discoveries, most notably the better understanding of the nature RNA interference and the discovery of telomerase. Here's a great little article about my cute little buddies:

What's Shaped Like a Pear and Has Two Genomes? Check The Pond

Fluorescently stained mating Tetrahymenae

If you could peer microscopically into the closest freshwater pond, you'd hesitate before dipping a toe. Amid the murky water, you'd probably notice an oddly furry, pear-shaped organism gliding along and gobbling up everything in its path. This tiny predator has a big name--Tetrahymena thermophila--and a big fan club among scientists, as a star organism for research into how cells work.

Scientists have now sequenced, assembled, and analyzed T. thermophila's macronuclear genome. Their work, reported in today's issue of Public Library of Science (PLoS) Biology, explains the organism's impressive versatility. Rather than dividing labor into several types of cells, as humans and other multicellular organisms do, T. thermophila divides its activities, either into different places inside a cell or by changing the cell over time. It is a master multi-tasker.

"This organism is a true generalist," says evolutionary biologist Jonathan A. Eisen, who led the Tetrahymena project while at The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) and is now at the University of California, Davis. "Whatever this unicell touches with its hairlike projections, it will try to eat. If it does not bump into anything, the organism will seek out food with diverse sensory systems. It can protect itself from radiation and other threats and also can fight back against competitors and predators. In short, versatility is its strength. Now, we can understand how this versatility works."

It takes plenty of genes. In fact, T. thermophila has roughly 25,000 genes, nearly as many as humans do. Although the organism is single-celled, it contains a genetic repertoire of seemingly more complex organisms. It shares, with humans and other animals, many genes and processes typically absent in single-celled organisms. That means Tetrahymena may be an ideal model organism for studies of the processes these genes encode.

In the new study, genome analysis showed that one way that Tetrahymena adapts to diverse environments via gene duplication, a process that allows organisms to diversify pre-existing genes and adapt them for new functions. In the case of Tetrahymena, duplications appear to be concentrated in genes involved in sensing and responding to environment. From a small number of proteases (enzymes that degrade proteins), for instance, Tetrahymena has built an eating machine that allows it to digest nearly any protein it encounters.

Among its most quirky features, Tetrahymena has, inside each of its cells, two distinct nuclei, each with a different genome. Inside one nucleus, the "micronuclear" genome is reserved for sex and reproduction, remaining genetically silent during growth. Inside the second, working nucleus is the "macronuclear" genome, which expresses genes that govern behavior. The current study sequenced the macronuclear genome, an impressively packaged bunch of coding genes, free of so-called junk DNA (noncoding sequences and other extraneous genetic elements) that litter the genomes of many organisms.

Electron micrograph of Tetrahymena thermophila

"Publication of the Tetrahymena genome marks the culmination of a remarkable collaboration within the research community," said Anthony Carter, Ph.D., of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), which co-funded the project with the National Science Foundation (NSF). "Tetrahymena has a long and eminent history in the world of cell biology, and publication of its genome is likely to lead to further fundamental insights into how cells work."

Throughout the project, Eisen says, collaboration between researchers has been critical, including work by co-author Eduardo Orias of the University of California-Santa Barbara. The team emphasized open access to data, providing the genome sequence data to outside researchers, without restriction, since the project began in 2003. As a result, Tetrahymena researchers have already published dozens of studies making use of the genomic data.

In addition to releasing the sequence data early on TIGR's website ( and via Genbank, the project also underwrote the creation of a major free community resource: The Tetrahymena Genome Database (TGD;, headed by Mike Cherry at Stanford University. The publication in the open access journal PLoS Biology represents a commitment to free and open access to scientific literature as well. Now anyone, anywhere in the world, can read about the genome of this fascinating organism before taking a dip in the local pond.

Source: The Institute for Genomic Research

That may have been more than you wanted to know. But, you know, you asked.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Late again, with screaming

#24 from Leisure Arts' 99 Snowflakes

Well, I was a day late with my sky photo this week, so I guess it should come as no surprise that I'm late with my snowflake, too. It's because of that crazy exam.

The professor walked into the classroom wearing a tie depicting Edvard Munch's The Scream. Ornery. The exam itself wasn't as bad as I'd feared, but it was long. I sat for two hours and I was only the third one finished. I believe at least one student was at least four pages behind me when I left. The professor said we could take as long as we needed, so I don't know how long the slowest person sat. There were a few of those frustrating questions where you know you read that information, but you just can't remember the specific thing being asked. That's the worst. All in all it was decent. But I was exhausted from studying all weekend, so I turned in extra early last night.

Today is Fat Tuesday. Happy Mardi Gras!! Fear not, kids, I shan't do anything ridiculous for some plastic beads. Actually, I'm not planning on partying at all, but I am planning on partaking in some of Hegarty's jambalaya special, and I'm looking forward to that greatly.

In hot Tetrahymena news, I had a great mating on Saturday, my best yet! Woot! My new system seems to be working! Now I just have to find a way to improve the staining system. Oh, how I miss the awesome staining tray at my old job. Unfortunately, my current boss is not as inclined to purchase new equipment as my old boss. Luckily I come from a rich background of "riggin' stuff up". I know there's some weird stuff in the dark corners of the lab I can cobble into something...

Eat hearty, kids! After all, it's called Fat Tuesday for a reason!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Exam blues

I spent six hours in the lab yesterday, but I didn't get any studying done for my exam tomorrow. The class with the eight papers per day. Yeah, that one. (Note to those who think that's a spiffy idea -- with this kind of volume, I'm learning next to nothing in this class. I'm just memorizing as much as I can until after the exam. When we focus more intently on less material, I learn tons. I'm just sayin'.) So guess what I'm doing today? Can't I just work in the lab more instead?? Oh well. I'm really honing my ability to procrastinate up here.

Since I didn't post a sky yesterday, here's a pic of dawn-ish from this morning.

There's really nothing else to say. Have a great Sunday!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Good news, good day!

Wow! Yesterday was a great day! Today is shaping up to be pretty nifty, too. Three things topped the making of my mood:

One: The summer after I graduated from high school, my parents sent me on a fabulous six-week tour of northern Europe which included The Soviet Union, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, England, and Ireland. It was an amazing trip that can never be duplicated, most notably because a couple of years later, the Soviet Union fell and I'm sure the country would be completely unrecognizable to me. I'd love to go back. But that's beside the point. While on this trip, I made a friend, B.R. who was cool, funny, and loved my cheeks. The ones on my face. Don't ask. Anyway, we went off to different universities, stayed in touch for about a year -- he even visited me once -- and then we lost each other. I always thought I could easily find him, knowing his hometown and alma mater, but then the years went by, many things happened, and the next thing I knew I realized I didn't know where he might have gone or what he might be doing. Looking at my trip scrapbook would bring him to mind and I tried to Google him but, unfortunately, his name can be construed as nouns, so the results were cumbersome and I had no luck. So, imagine my surprise when, yesterday, there was an email from him in my inbox. He was afraid I had completely forgotten him but I, of course, had not. I may have even frightened him a little bit with the enthusiasm of my response. But I was so thrilled! Reconnecting with long lost friends is a great pleasure of life. I'm eagerly awaiting more info from him as to what he's been up to and where he's landed. Exciting!

Two: Once I dated a guy. He was a musician and had a deep and abiding love of the band Rush. During our time together, I developed a love for the band as well. After a year or so, I decided he was not the guy for me. We went back and forth for awhile, but in the end I lost the guy but kept the band. I've never regretted the trade and I've been a rabid Rush fan ever since. My friend, Missa, and I go to concerts together every time they tour. Yesterday I found out they have a new album coming out May 1, Snakes and Arrows, and that they will tour this summer. Yay! Someday, this will no longer happen, so until then I shall savor every chance to hear new tunes from them and see new shows -- their shows are always well put together and well performed. Also exciting!

Three: Last night I decided to do the finishing on the Braided Cables Scarf, which I had completed the knitting for almost a month ago but had set aside because I wasn't in the mood for finishing. But I really wanted to wear the scarf, so I needed to buckle down and get it done. So, an FO! When I had been working on it in Missouri when I visited for Christmas, Missa asked if it was going to be a skinny scarf. It was somewhat skinny as I knitted it, but as you can see, blocking widened it by half again. It is a nice width now and the cables really pop now that they're not all scrunched up on one another. I fringed it this morning and it's all ready to wear! Totally exciting!

And, tonight, I'm going to the movies to see the Oscar-nominated short films, both animated and live action. It's the first time I've ever had the opportunity to see these films that always look so intriguing when I watch the small clips during the Oscar program. I'm stoked!

Now, I get to go see if my mating experiment worked -- I got all new antibodies so I hope my result is glowing! (Ha ha -- it's an immunofluorescence experiment -- science humor.)


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy sick day!

It started this morning as just a little grumbling, but it seems the gods have seen fit to help me celebrate this lovely Valentine's Day with a rousing full-blown bout of the stomach flu! Woot! I'm a lucky girl, indeed.

So, I don't feel much like talking except to say Arrrrrrgggggghhhhhh. So! Instead! Look at some of the fabulous gems I've discovered on the glorious World Wide Pants!

  • Oh, my geekiness has no bounds. I think this is ubercool. High resolution scans of important American historical documents such as the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, and The Constitution among others.
  • No, it's not me. Man. I will never think I am crazy again. Ever.
  • File under "Why didn't I think of this???" -- Really neato jewelry made with Barbie parts. I personally love the boobie necklace (in the portfolio).
  • Anatomically correct aliens, anyone? That is, if alien anatomy is just like rag-doll human anatomy. Which, well, who knows? But why would they want to probe us so much down there if they're made just like us? I'm just sayin'.
  • Just what I need -- a little panic to start the day just right.
  • When I get my perfect Stickley bungalow, I'm trading in my laptop for this.

Off to bed with me. Have fun with your respective 'tines!


Monday, February 12, 2007

Start the week with flakes and tunes

I have two flakes this week, mostly because the first one was so simple and quick that I decided I could get a leg up and pad my flake stash. I've made the first one before and i really kind of like it. The second one I had not made before, and I was a little afraid it wouldn't look very good. The pattern is written as a beaded snowflake, which I always think look really nice in pictures, but I can't figure out how you get the stiffener completely off the beads when you block.
Mine would look like crap, I know. So, I decided to make a picot everywhere they called for a bead. It turned out all right. I like the "arms", but the center seems a little dense for a snowflake. Or, I'm totally over-analyzing this.

Last Thursday, in the midst of hyper-presentation-preparation, I did what any good graduate student would do: I went to a concert. Now, to be fair to myself, the tickets had been purchased before my presentation was scheduled. So I went. New Friend Veronica had seen the band, Girlyman, before and had really liked them. I had not heard of them before, but I'm always game for a reasonably-priced live music experience. Some of my favorite bands-nobody-has-heard-of are the result of blind concert-going. They describe themselves as "Delicious Acoustic Harmony-Driven Gender Pop". It is, in fact, acoustic and harmony-driven, but I don't know what the other two descriptives mean. In terms of music, anyway. I hate to think that there might actually be something legitimately called "gender" pop. WTF?? I'm not going to start a tirade about the stupid use of words, I promise. Though I could really go to town on that one. But I'm not going to, because I really liked Girlyman. Their songs are melodic and the three-part harmony lends a complexity that makes their songs much more interesting to listen to than those of a lot of bands today. The overall mood is cheerful, but there are a few beutiful ballads that are sad and mournful. I would recommend them to anyone who enjoys new folk or tight harmony and to a few people who don't. But if your idea of a great new-ish band is Lamb of God or Avenged Sevenfold, they may not be for you (Hi, Sweetie!!)

You can check out some Girlyman songs on their MySpace page (I recommend "Speechless" and "Young James Dean").

And now, another week begins. Please send warm, sexy thoughts to my little Tetrahymena so they will mate well! They seem to need a little help, lately.


Sunday, February 11, 2007

Apparently well rested

Hello, again! My presentation on Friday went fairly well. Once I got home that afternoon, I laid down for a nap and woke up 12 hours later. One of these days I'll learn that I'm too old to pull all-nighters. Ah well.

I did take a sky picture yesterday even though I didn't get around to posting it. I call it Sky with contrails. It was such a vast blue expanse that this was the only thing that would keep the picture from just being a big blue square. That, and a wee bit o' courthouse.

Other than snowflakes, I haven't shown any project progress for awhile, but I assure you that slow advancement is being made on the Column of Leaves scarf:

I've been enjoying the pattern, but I haven't had a great deal of time to work on it.

New Friend Veronica and I went shopping so she could pick out yarn to make the Front Post Stripes Grocery Bag Holder and I had to pick up a couple of things for myself, of course. As you can see, I plan on getting back on the potholder bandwagon sometime soon. The brown and pink together remind me of a raspberry chocolate truffle -- yummm...

While at Michael's I also splurged on something pretty fun. My sister gave me an origami book for Christmas a couple of years ago and I hadn't ever gotten around to making anything out of it. Well, I bought some beautiful paper and decided to start simple:

Although I plan to try some of the more "extreme" things in the book, I can't help but imagine how lovely an entire flock of cranes made from different gorgeous papers would look hanging somewhere. I'm going to have to ponder it. Well, and probably buy more paper. I'm so in love with it.

I'm kind of tired, but now I'm afraid to ever take a nap again...


Monday, February 05, 2007

Still not chatty

I rooted for the Colts last night, but I really would have been pleased had either team won. I enjoyed the whole game. I knitted a hot pink dishcloth and ate way too many empty carbohydrates. All in all, a success, I'd say.

I'm pretty proud that I've stayed on top of the whole Snowflake Monday thing. Last year I fell off, but I really don't want to this year. I know I may have some huge test or project that makes me miss, but I want to stay on course even if I skip one or two. It's so nice to have all those snowflakes at the end of the year.

I don't really love this pattern -- it's kind of chunky or something -- but I'm trying to complete the patterns in Leisure Arts' 99 Snowflakes in order unless I really hate them (and they're over 2 1/2" in dia. and not 3D). And this one is just kinda eh. This is number 20. 21 is better. You'll like 21.

I have a big presentation this Friday, so you'll hear little from me until after that. Have a great week!


Saturday, February 03, 2007


Here's today's Saturday Sky, around 7:30 am. It's a blah day. And cold. Zero F as I write this. Tomorrow's high is supposed to be 1. Monday's -1. Welcome to the great white north after all. Thank the maker for that awesome down parka I got from the Eddie Bauer outlet for $30. Totally.

I haven't felt like writing lately. I'm sure it will pass and then you'll wish for these sane days of silence. You watch.