Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Sex in Unusual Places

I went on a photography expedition back in September to Kelso Lake. It really is quite a magical place. So much so that I just laid down on the observation area for quite some time just taking in my surroundings before engaging in photography.

I noticed to my amazement that dragonflies started landing on various parts of me. I was quite delighted considering that I am fond of dragonflies and have even used them as photography subjects from time to time.

There was even a pair of dragonflies that decided to engage in mating while on me. First they mated on my arm, and then progressed to my hand as shown in the photograph.

It makes perfect sense that they would use me in their sexual encounter. The surrounding air had a bit of chill and the warmth of my body was rather enticing to them.

It was an interesting experience for me nonetheless. Certainly qualifies as sex in an unusual place, no?

A Participant in Heated Dragon Sex!

Who would have thought it?

Click on picture for a close-up.

Photographic credits to Thomas, my photography mentor.

Monday, November 27, 2006

A Nut?

I am in the mood to bake something. Yeah, anything to distract me from writing my grant. It is amazing how many things I can think of to do to distract me from writing my grant.

But seriously, I really am in the mood to bake something. I am considering making the famous Hungarian Dobos Torte. Now seriously, I know this is quite a task, but I since I am Hungarian, I have made this before.

However, I have always cheated and left out making the caramelized sugar top. But this time I want to go all out and make it authentic.

So, considering that I have not made the caramelized top, I decided to consult my various Hungarian cookbooks. The first two Hungarian cookbooks I consulted simply said to set aside one of the layers for the caramelized top. Yeah, that is helpful considering I have never made it before! I guess they figure that everyone knows how to make a carmelized top and that you are innately born with that knowledge. The final cookbook gave the proper ingredients along with the protocol. However, in the ingredient list it stated a "nut of butter".

Now, what the heck is a "nut of butter?" I assume it is a quantity, but how much? I assume that you put in a quantity of butter equal to the size of a nut. However, what type of nut? A peanut? A walnut? A coconut?

What kind of nut??????? Argh!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Of Men and strength

What is it with some men who don't know their own strength????

A fellow graduate student in my lab fits this category. He is one of those guys that makes a football player look wimpy!

I am attempting to do an experiment when I find that my syringe needles (that is custom made) is broken AND I can't open one of the nitrogen tanks that he tightened.

He had used my syringes and the gas tanks yesterday.

One needs to close the gas tanks after use, not tighten it to the point where no human can ever open them again!

I asked two men down the hallway to help me, but they could not get the valve to budge either!

I will confess that like any woman, I admire strength in a man. But this is overkill!

Really, some men should come with warning labels!!!!!

Cat Blogging

This should have me covered for this week's cat blogging. As you know, every day is a good day for cat blogging!

The music is a bit on the low side, so may need to turn the volume higher.

I advise the same warning as last time, this has serious high levels of cuteness.

Some people I know are behind in their cat blogging.

You know who you are...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Santa Claws--again

This year once again, I get to help out my favorite rescue organization with Santa Claws pictures at the local PetSmarts. This was an enjoyable thing last year for me to do and it helped get my mind off the more depressing things in my life at that point in time.

The head of the organization called me today to make tentative plans on which days I can help out. Last year I did most of the photography and I wanted to do the photography again. Considering my photography skills have improved, I thought this would be a good thing in many aspects. The head of the rescue organization told me that she was very grateful for my help and there were some days she is really lacking in people to help out.

That's when she dropped the bomb on me...

I may have to play Santa on some days while she takes the pictures...

Why me I thought? I am a petite woman. How the heck can I pull off being Santa? I mean really, I am petite, small boned, and have a soft feminine voice. Now granted, the pets won't care, but what about the kids? Sometimes the kids come along to see their pet get pictures with Santa. Sometimes the parents put the kids on Santa's lap along with the pets. I am not sure my petite structure can handle a couple of kids and an assortment of pets all at once! What are the kids going to think if they sit in my lap and interact with me? This is a rather bone-y Santa with transgender issues? Also, I am not "anatomically" correct with regards to Santa! There are some things I have that Santa doesn't! But perhaps some padding and pillows might hide that part?

I was just about to tell the head of the rescue organization why do I have to play Santa while she takes pictures? Why can't she play Santa while I take pictures?

Then I remembered two important facts:
Fact One: She is the prosecuting attorney for Lake County. Not someone I want to upset.
Fact Two: She is actually more petite than I am. For her to play Santa is actually more comical than me playing Santa. Ironically enough, between the two of us, I am actually the more logical choice to play Santa.

All I can say is that this year, Santa Claws photos at the PetSmart should prove to be interesting. Hope that I can pull it off.

This, even I have got to see...

Monday, November 20, 2006

Of Cats and Men

What is it with men and cats? I have met more men in my life that hate cats than not. Interestingly enough, those same men go ga-ga over dogs. It does not matter if the dog pisses everywhere, chews up everything in sight, and barks until no end, the dog still wins his heart over the better behaved cat. Go figure that one.

I have even been in a few relationships where the man gave me an ultimatum over my cats that I had long before he ever came into the picture. Let's just say the cats stayed. Besides, the cats kept me warmer at night anyhow...

I also made it not only a point, but a promise to myself to NEVER date anyone who did not at least seem to like cats. Usually when I hear a guy say "Oh, I hate cats." Or, "I like cats only when they are well behaved", that becomes a "dealbreaker" for me. That guy does not get through the front door so to speak.

So, in retrospect, I thought I would post this funny thing I found on the internet. Hey, men have always said that they wished that they had an instruction manual for women. I think that this comes close! At least with women who have cats!

...is through her cat

So, you're dating a gal who shares her residence with a cat. If your relationship is going to get anywhere, I encourage you to follow each of these suggestions:

Never, ever mention that you can (or can't) smell the litter box.

If the kitten wants to spend an hour untying your shoelace, let
him. When he gets it untied, retie it so he can continue playing.

Never make a big show of brushing the cat fur from your slacks.

Get in the habit of putting a couple of sardines in your pocket.
Slip them to the cat when she isn't watching. (Note: you may have to do this through the entire dating period, because the cat will likely go for your pocket each time you visit.)

Don't push the cat off the sofa if he's inserted himself between
the two of you. If he's still sitting between the two of you when
you get amorous, reassure him (mental telepathy is fine) that you
have no harmful intentions against his companion, and move him
gently to your lap. Try to keep one hand stroking the cat at all
times in this situation.

If you're spending the night, do yourself a favor and don't even TRY to sleep in the cat's favorite spot on the bed.

When you phone her, ask about her cat.

When she leaves the room to fix cocktails or check on dinner, ask
her if she's got a cat toy handy so you can keep the cat entertained.

If you're taking her out to dinner, ask her if it's okay to bring
home a "cat bag" of leftovers for the cat.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Mind Over Matter???

Sometimes I think that my advisor would have been well suited for a career in the military if he did not go into science. He is a hardened man that does not let anything get him down. And I admire this fact about him--even if it works to my disadvantage.

Just last year, the entire lab got sick around the same time. Those of us who had the misfortune of not having a current grant had to spend time writing a grant (myself included). Thus, those of us stuck writing a grant (about half of the lab) had no choice but to come into the lab to write/work in order to meet the grant deadline. At lab meeting, my advisor could not help but notice that the other half of the lab was missing at lab meeting. He wondered out loud why these people are not in. I told him that they are out sick. He then got a little irate and said that why be at home sick when you can be in the lab sick??? At least if you are in the lab sick, you can be doing something.... According to him, it is of no benefit to be at home sick.

Anyhow, for just a little over two weeks I have been sick with some persistent bug. From severe sore throat, larygitis, bad cough, dizziness, and fever, I have dutifully come into the lab with the exception of one day I was just too ill to really make it out of bed. Thus, I have followed his rule of "Why be at home sick, when you can be in the lab sick?"

Today my advisor walks by my bench as I am having one of my coughing fits. He mentions it to me what is it with all this sickness I have? I tell him that I don't know, I have been sick for a little over two weeks.

He then proceeds to tell me that he was like that earlier (now I know where I got this bug...). He then tells me it is a simple principal of mind over matter. I then mutter to him in between my coughs, that he should perhaps convince my germs of that fact.

Mind over matter. Yeah...right!

Cat Behavior

In honor of Friday Cat Blogging, I decided to also post a story of something that happened to me this week regarding my cats.

I have been rather sick the past couple of weeks battling a nasty cold virus. But I managed to drag myself to the grocery store and pick up a nice bag of rolls the other day. However, I was so tired that I just went home and went to bed without eating any of the rolls. I will have them the next day I thought.

So, driving home the next day, I was contemplating about dinner. Those rolls will go nicely with my dinner that I had planned. I came home and looked on the kitchen counter. No rolls. What the heck? How could a bag of rolls just vanish? By sheer accident, I happened to look down and see my rolls a soggy mess in the cat water bowl on the floor!

Now, mind you, my cats are fairly well behaved and don't do things like this. However, I saw that next to the water bowl, the bowl that contains their dry crunchies was empty. In my miserable state of feeling sick, I forgot to fill the dry cat food bowl that morning.

Now, there is an entire bag of opened dry cat food just sitting by the wall in the kitchen. Do you think that they would just simply get into the bag and much on the contents as my logic would dictate? Oh no! Why do that when you can open a bag of rolls, munch on those, and then dump the rest in the water as a means of revenge on thy human!

Friday Cat Blogging

I am in a "cute" mood today and decided to post something cute for Friday Cat Blogging. Check out this video.

Now, viewer beware. This has possible lethal levels of cuteness. Although it is nice to know that like love and music, cuteness transcends language...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

It is that time of year again...

Grant writing time that is. For me at least.

The last grant I wrote has left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth, so I am not entirely fond of going to work on another grant. Well, at least I have to reviewers comments from my last grant that I can properly address so that there is not much room to find fault with this new grant. Although "how will I know that my proteins have properly folded " is too lame to address because I am NOT going to do a crystal structure on all my chimeras. I will be in grad school forever then.

I am actually going to try and properly pace myself this time so that I can be productive in terms of experiments by day and grant writing at night. Yeah, right! Who am I kidding? Well, at least I can try and pace myself...

So, I can look forward to being sleep deprived, caffeine addicted (like I am not already?), crabby, and feeling like I am a worthless slug in the world of science.

On the bright side of things (like there is a bright side?), at least it will help me get my mind off things and help me make it through this miserable time regarding the holidays. I am just not so sure how I am going to make it through the holidays without having my mother anymore. Just thinking about it makes my eyes brim with tears.

So maybe writing this grant will be a blessing in disguise. I won't have time to think about anything else. This grant will be the perfect excuse to retreat and be a recluse again.

At least that is what I am telling myself right now...

Kissing Style

Your Kissing Technique Is: Perfect

Your kissing technique is amazing - and you know it.
You have the confidence to make the first move.
And you always seem to know what kissing style is going to work best.
Sometimes you're passionate, sometimes you're a tease. And you're always amazing!

Today I am in the mood for a fun post. I hope that the people I have kissed in my life feel the same as the outcome of this quiz!!!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Lab meetings once again.

Now that my advisor has finished writing his grants to NIH, it is back to having lab meetings again.

Argh. I hate lab meetings.

More often than not, my advisor seems to ask me to present at lab meetings. Dunno why. Maybe he is just one of those people that can smell fear. Really. I think that from now on I am going to keep a log of the times I have to present versus the other people in the lab and then casually point out the running total to him. No reason I should be the favorite presenter/victim, right?

Although too bad I could not prolong my larygitis until next lab meeting. But somehow, I get the feeling even that it would not get me out of presenting. I could just hear my advisor telling me that I don't need a voice to show my data. Just make some slides with proper captions and make sure my graphs are well labeled. Yep, I can hear that.

Anyhow, before asking me to present, my advisor looked straight at one of our postdocs and ask him to present his data. The postdoc blankly looked back at him and said, "What data?"

Now, mind you, I have seen this postdoc collecting data for weeks now.

Hmmm. "What data?" Maybe next time I should try that approach instead?


I am somewhat reluctant to admit that I am rather challenged in terms of navigating abilities.

More often than not, when trying to find a new place, I usually get lost. To make matters worse, I am very reluctant to stop and ask for directions. My rationale for this is that I will eventually find it and why not enjoy the new scenery in the meantime? At least that is what I tell other people.

To compound matters, I confess that at times I am absentminded when going somewhere. I blame this on the fact that I am immersed in the world of science. My mind is always thinking about something and hence focused more on "important" matters rather than where I am going. At least that is what I tell other people. Sometimes I even managed to convince myself of this as well. I suppose that more often than not, I am in my own little world.

I am doing my research in a large research institute. This institute is connected to a large hospital. I do not venture all that often into the hospital realm, but from time to time, I do. Usually it is to attend some seminar or go the cafeteria. I have to say that all the corridors look the same in the hospital. I have gotten used to navigating the identical corridors by the various artwork on the walls. This allows me to "not pay attention" to where I am going and think about other things while walking to my destination. So, the way this works is that I will turn left at landscape painting on the wall, turn right at the photographic print on the next wall, etc.

Well, this morning I have found that they removed all the familiar artwork and put up all new ones. Suffice it to say, I found myself a little bit disoriented this morning.

In the research institute, all the corridors for the labs are pretty much identical with the exception of the color scheme. Thus, each floor in the institute has a different color scheme. So, if you get off the elevator and find yourself surrounded by blue walls instead of the green walls, you instantly realize you got off on the wrong floor. I find this very helpful and so do other people I have spoken with at the research institute.

Considering that all the artwork has been changed, I just hope that next week they don't decide to change the color scheme. I just might have to start paying attention to where I am going...

Monday, November 13, 2006

My Accent

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Inland North

You may think you speak "Standard English straight out of the dictionary" but when you step away from the Great Lakes you get asked annoying questions like "Are you from Wisconsin?" or "Are you from Chicago?" Chances are you call carbonated drinks "pop."

The Midland
The Northeast
The South
The West
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

This is from Zeusie.

Chocolate Fantasy Gone Bad

One of my labmates was kind enough to point this one out to me.

Can one say that this guy really cooked his goose???

Certainly a chocolate fantasy gone bad, really bad...

Turkish Delight

This weekend had the delightful experience of being taken to a Turkish restaurant. The food was delightful and I had Turkish Coffee for the very first time. Turkish coffee is wonderful and I look forward to learning how to make it myself.

In addition to the wonderful gastronomic experience, something else happened that was also nice.

The waiter that was in charge of my table came over to me partially through the meal and told me that something smells absolutely wonderful. I looked down at my plate thinking that he was referring to my entree. Just before I could utter even a single word, he told me that he was not referring to my food. He went on to tell me how wonderful I smelled and asked me what I was wearing. I told him it was Black Raspberry Vanilla. He went on to explain to me that while I was there, he would pass my table and couldn't quite figure out before what it was that smelled so wonderful.

I noticed that throughout the course of my meal, I got impeccable service. The owner of the establishment even came over during the meal and made conversation at my table. I don't think he did that with any other customers. I will not deny that I felt a bit like the queen herself in the restaurant with the wonderful service.

I guess my penchant for fragrances has paid off. Now I know the secret to great service: Black Raspberry Vanilla!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Interesting Week

I must say that this week has been an interesting week in the lab so far.

The Xenon light bulb in the stopped flow has exploded.

We find out the hood housing our gas tanks is not working. We routinely use copious amounts of carbon monoxide and nitric oxide for our experiments. Both toxic gases to be breathing in certain amounts.

And I have come down with a case of laryngitis and completely lost my voice.

Anything else before this week ends???

When to change a light bulb

In my research, I often make use of an instrument called a stopped flow. In a nutshell, this instrument allows rapid scanning in order to measure kinetics of a reaction. This is sort of the bread and butter of our lab.

This instrument is also the bane of my existence. It is an old instrument. It still uses DOS software to collect and analyze data. It crashes and misbehaves more often than I care to count. From time to time I will even refer to it as "Satan".

Twice this year the Xenon light bulb exploded in it. One time it was even a bit dramatic in that smoke started to come out of the instrument. Fortunately, the Xenon bulb is in a metal encasement, but it is open in various places, so when it explodes, glass pieces come flying out. But, after all, there is a warning on it: May Explode.

Do to this fact, one always wears protective gear when working on this instrument.

However, now the running joke in my lab is:

How do you know when to change the Xenon light bulb? When it explodes!

Friday Cat Blogging

Here is a video for Friday Cat Blogging. The music goes very well with it, so turn up the sound. Although there is one clip in the video, erm, well, I have not quite decided what to make of it, the rest of the video is worthwhile. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

What is it with Graduate Students?

(click on to enlarge)

Just last week I met this man who asked me a question that I have not been asked in perhaps years...

"What time do you usually have to be in to work?"

I was dumbfounded by this question. Utterly dumbfounded. I took a moment to reflect before answering.

As you may well know. I am a graduate student. I keep what is known as "graduate student hours". Anytime during a 24 hour day is fair game for being in the lab or coming to the lab. Sometimes I come in the lab at 5am. Sometimes 6am. Sometimes I come in much later. Sometimes 9, 10, or even 11 am. It varies. It really is more crucial that I complete an experiment rather than the time I come in. Sometimes I stay until 6 pm, 7pm, or 10 pm. I sometimes have even stayed in the lab more than 24 hours in a stretch.

I stay late more often than not, so, as a result, I am less inclined to drag my behind in early in the morning.

From time to time, I try to dutifully drag my behind in early in the morning, but so often I fall back into the pattern of "graduate student hours". My advisor jokes about us being the second and third shift on the lab "crew". Now that weather is getting so crappy, I think I am going to try again this approach of coming in early and leaving at a decent time. We will see how long it lasts.

A few months back, my advisor decided last minute to have lab meeting one day. He announced it the morning of the day he had lab meeting. Notably, there were a handful of people missing in lab meeting. It was ALL the graduate students. Myself included. What did he expect? It was scheduled for 10 am!!!

Being asked this question made me realize something I have forgotten. There is a different world out there outside the lab. A world where people typically work 9 to 5 and/or have an 8 hour day. Something that has slipped back into the recesses of my mind. I will not deny that I long to have this type of schedule. Be home at 5-6 pm instead of 5-6 am??? Work an 8 hour day??? How novel! But I will also not deny that it is great to have the flexibility of not having a "set" time to start my day.

But I also long for normalcy.

I guess you just can't have it all. Especially when you have your sights set on a Ph.D. Sometimes, you just can't have normalcy.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The Kat's Pajamas

I came home around midnight Saturday night and upon entering my house, Mici (my cat) decided to sneak out. I was feeling rather tired and I was in no mood to try to retrieve her. Therefore, I decided she can just stay out until I decide to wake up in the morning.

Since I was feeling rather congested from yet another cold I managed to catch (courtesy of one of my labmates), I could not quite fall asleep until 6 am. Of course the strong Kenyan coffee I had a few hours earlier might have had something to do with that as well. Around 7 am I hear through my closed windows this pitiful mewing. Being half-asleep, I figured it was one of the neighborhood cats and did my best to ignore it and continue sleeping. But that was just not to be. The mewing continued and got even louder. Finally I recognized that it was Mici mewing. I figured that she had enough of her evening escape and wanted back inside. So, being the good forgiving human, I dragged myself out of bed to let her in through the front door.

So, I open the front door and called her. The mewing continued and no Mici. Again I call her. The mewing continued and no Mici. I call her again. Then I hear this scampering on the awning. Still not being fully awake, I had not quite put 2 and 2 together and went out on the porch and down the steps to investigate. I was still in my pajamas at the time. I look up and see Mici on the roof crying even more loudly upon seeing me. How the heck did she get up there? I then explained to her that it was to her benefit to come down from there. The mewing from her got only louder and more frantic after I explained this to her. It became obvious that she could not figure out how to get back down. Of course, I explained to her that she should come down the same way she went up. But sadly, my words fell on "deaf" furry ears. Her mewing continued to get only more frantic and she scampered about the roof very distressed. I realized that I must somehow get her down and I started to worry that she, in her distressed state, might fall and hurt herself.

I remembered that there was a ladder in the garage and decided to go get it. I figured that I would use the ladder to climb up on the roof and bring the cat down. Considering how distressed the cat was and my worry, I realized that there was no time to change from my pajamas to more appropriate cat retrieving attire. All I could think of was what the neighbors will be thinking of me on the roof in my pajamas on a Sunday morning. Great, just great. I could even envision myself on the local evening news.

In the process of getting the ladder, Mici somehow realized the proper method to come down and so she did. I thankfully never did have to climb up on the roof in my pajamas and make the evening news.

But at least I was wearing my pajamas and not Victoria's Secret...

Friday, November 03, 2006

Friday Cat Blogging

Here is something for today's Friday Cat Blogging.

Just goes to show you, size does not always matter...
my pet! Locations of visitors to this page