Saturday, April 26, 2008

Shuffle meme

Links added!! Like CAE I think I'm going to have to give more clues, it looks like my musical choice is too uncommon. But I still think that even the songs in Spanish should be recognizable by most people with some interest in latin music. Clues in RED.

I was tagged by CAE for the shuffle meme. She's tagged me a few times before, and no matter how much I promised I would do, I always postponed it, until I never did it. This time I'd better do it right away, with some necessary caveats. If nothing else, this post should demonstrate how eclectic my music collection is, and this is just the tip of the iceberg!

Step 1: Put your MP3 player or whatever on random.
Step 2: Post the first line from the first 25 songs that play, no matter how embarrassing the song.
Step 3: Post and let everyone you know guess what song and artist the lines come from.
Step 4: Strike through when someone gets them right. (I'll do bold)
Step 5: Looking them up on Google or any other search engine is CHEATING.

1. Since I don't have my iPod with me, I'm using iTunes in shuffle mode.
2. At first I was going to skip all non-English songs, but that made it almost impossible, since so much of what I listen to is not in English. I did have to draw the line somewhere, but I left some in. Good luck on those, it will be a fairly select crowd that can guess those. For #14 and 20, I had to actually look up the lyrics. I don't sing them, I dance them.

So here we go:
1. Gun down cold on a raw deal, home turf my battlefield.
This heavy metal band was one of my brother's favorite. It's a very intense song about the waste of young people being sent off to war.

2. You can dance, you can jive, having the time of your life
3. Stuck on you, got this feeling down deep in my soul that I just can't lose

4. Te regalo una rosa la encontre en el camino.
One of my favorite latin artists. This song was a HUGE hit in the eighties. He is originally from the Dominican Republic.

5. There is a rose in Spanish Harlem, a red rose up in Spanish Harlem.

6. Bomba! Un movimiento sensual.
Definitely a song to dance very provocatively to. I'm looking forward to link to the YouTube version of this song once it's been guessed. Multiple artists, anyone will be excepted.

7. Del caribe aflora, bella, encantadora.
Ok, I admit, there is no way I would have been able to guess this one myself. It's about a city in Colombia. Again, very popular and danceable.

8. Por alto esta el cielo del mundo.
Multiple artists have performed this, any one of which is acceptable. It's somewhat of a classic ballad.

9. Is this the real life, is this just fantasy

10. No hay dia que pase que yo no me acuerde de ti.
This artist is a popular singer/songwriter, originally from New York, but his parents were Puerto Rican. He used to be married to a former miss Universe, and is currently married to a popular female singer, and they recently enlarged the number in their household.

11. Toen ik van de week je brief kreeg na een lange tijd.
This is a song in Dutch, and it is unlikely that anyone visiting this blog would guess it, except those from a handful of countries.

12. Tu vida se parece a una novela.
This song is my favorite song from my all-time favorite Colombian band. They are very popular, but mainly because of some of their older songs. I dont know of any very recent songs that are so popular.

13. Let me tell you now all that's on my mind.
There is another song on this list by the same artist, and that song has been guessed correctly already. He was very popular in the 80s, you don't hear much of him these days, but a close relative of him is often in the tabloids.

14. Kijan zot fe m'pa ka kompran zot ka viv kon si pa ni pwoblem.
I had to look these lyrics up, because I didn't know how to pronounce or spell them. The group that performed this song is from the Caribbean and has defined the genre (I think). This song was wildly popular in the 80s, and describes how the genre is the medicine everyone needs (or something like that).

15. Man it's a hot one, like seven inches from the midday sun

16. Old pirates, yes, they rob I; sold I to the merchant ships.
Come on!! How could no one get this one? Very popular artist from the Caribbean, sadly diseased. He definitely represents the genre, and made it popular worldwide. A lot of songs had messages criticizing world politics, anti-war, anti-discrimination.

17. Joseph's face was black as the night Sorry, I couldn't find a good video of the original with Linda Ronstadt, this version is live with Miriam Makeba.

18. Procura seducirme muy despacio.
The artist that sings this song split of from the band that performed #4. He may not be quite as well known as the original band, but most people listening to latin music are likely to have heard this one. Great beat, my fingers itch to link to the YouTube video.

19. In the sunlight of your smile, in the summer of our life.
There are both a Spanish and English version of this song, it is part of a soundtrack. The movie is about two men from Cuba who move to New York (?), one of which is madly in love with a woman who stayed behind.

20. Takmis koluna elin adamini.
I had to look up these lyrics too. I don't know the words, or how to pronounce them. It is a Turkish song, nice beat. The artist makes kissing sounds in the song.

21. Acordate Moralito de aquel dia que estuviste en Urumita y no quisiste hacer parranda.
Folksy song from Colombia, nice beat. The artist is from Northern Colombia and his songs reflect the genres that originated there. This song is one of his more popular ones.

22. If blood will flow when flesh and steel are one.
The artist is from England (come on CAE, you can do it!), and the band he was part of was very popular too. This solo song was released in the mid-late 80s.

23. Without dreams of hope and pride a man will die.
The artist had a very popular album in the late 70s. His genre is jazz. According to Wikipedia he has released more than 30 albums since 1960.

24. When the lights go down in the city
25. Would you know my name if I saw you in heaven

Tags: If you read this, you have a blog, and you haven't done this meme before, consider yourself tagged. But don't feel pressured, I won't hold it against you if you don't do this. I can't be too judgmental, considering I don't do memes too often myself.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Say NO to violence against women

Please sign your name on the list of UNIFEM, the United Nations Development Fund for Women. Say NO to violence against women. It's enough! No more hitting, beating, punching, kicking, shooting, rape, burning, yelling, you name it. No more violence. I just signed my name. Now go ahead and add yours.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

That t-shirt is the wrong color!

When PZ posted this link, and I clicked on it, the title of this post is the first thought that came to my mind.

The guy in the cartoon looks way too much like Steve Burns in Blue's Clues (ask me how I know). The green-striped shirt is a dead giveaway. The only thing is, although Steve is kinda goofy, and he doesn't usually find the clues first, he strikes me as a very logical guy, a good scientist.

Picture credit

Steve patiently collects his data (the clues), doing all sorts of smart things while collecting the data (like counting to 10, matching shapes, recognizing colors). He takes careful notes in his handy-dandy notebook, writing down each clue (a good notebook is the scientist's bible). And then he sits down in his thinking chair and carefully analyzes the data: he thinks, thinks, thihihinks!!. He uses his mind, takes it one step at a time, and collaborates with subject matter experts (pre-schoolers) to figure out what the clues mean, and what Blue wants to do. And when he doesn't feel well, he concludes that eating Mr. Salt and Mrs. Pepper's vegetable soup will make him feel better, which seems much more intellectually sound to me, if not tastier, than prayer.

Steve's got this scientific thinking thing worked out much better than the guy in the cartoon. I propose to change the shirt color on the guy in the cartoon. It doesn't reflect well on Steve. And Steve is my son's hero. We demand Steve's name be cleared!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Managing references 2: The search

This is part 2 on managing references. Here is part 1.

So I needed to find some software to manage my references and citations that would overcome some of the recent changes in my computing preferences. The change to MAC and my adviser's and university's preferences resulted in a switch to Office for MAC, and this made reference manager obsolete.

I searched the internet, and eventually came on a Wikipedia site that compared several reference managers. I found this very useful, because it provided a lot of information on a single webpage, allowing me to narrow it down pretty quickly.

I first made a list of managers that would work on my MAC:
1. 2Collab
2. Aigaion
3. BibDesk
4. BibSonomy
5. Bibus
6. CitULike
7. Connotea
8. Endnote
9. JabRef
10. Papers
11. RefBase
12. RefDB
13. Zotero

Moving on to the next table on the page, I realized that I wanted to be able to share my database with my adviser and colleagues. This might not be necessary but I don't like to be restricted. The boss uses EndNote, so the software needs to export to EndNote. This cut the following options from the list: 2Collab, Aigaion, BibDesk and CiteULike. The import format options did not remove any additional programs. Nine programs left.

Citation styles. In my field several different styles for in-document-citations and lists of references are used. I'm not entirely sure which one I'd like to use, but again, more options are better than less. And if my style is unavailable, being able to define my own might help. BibSonomy, Connotea, and JabRef were scrapped. Because Bibus still allows user-defined styles, it's hanging in there. Down to 6.

1. Bibus
2. Endnote
3. Papers
4. RefBase
5. RefDB
6. Zotero

Not all of the table provide useful information for the elimination process. The next one that will help me bring down the number of choices is wordprocessor integration. That is a BIG plus.

The restriction that EndNote does not work on the 64-bit versions of Windows, is of no consequence to me, there is no information on Papers, and I'm too lazy to go find that out right now. If Papers becomes a serious option, I'll have to go back and look at that. But at this point we say goodbye to RefBase and RefDB. We have the following left:

1. Bibus
2. Endnote
3. Papers (keeping this Word-integration thing in mind)
4. Zotero

The next set of tables don't change anything to this list, so we go back to the first table where the prices are listed. Price is important, but I'm willing to pay some for great functionality. And as a student, I do often get deep discounts. That is why price only now comes into play.

1. Bibus-free
2. Endnote-Academic version roughly $100
3. Papers-$24-42
4. Zotero- free

I was really interested in taking a closer look at Zotero at this point. Free sounds great, but m ore than anything, the integration in FireFox, the browser I already use anyway, sounded intriguing. Clicking on the Bibus link, I read that Bibus' functionality of MAC is limited. It should probably have been eliminated quite a while ago based on this. Bibus is out. Papers was 29 Euro, not unreasonable, if it's good I'd be happy to pay that. Endnote, being the most expensive of the options, even as a student, was eliminated. So this left me with Zotero. I'm trying it out right now, and I reserve the right to hate it, and go back to the list to choose something else. But with free you can't go too far wrong. If it doesn't work out, I can simply remove it, nothing lost but some time, right?

To be continued....

Managing references 1: Background

In the past couple of weeks, I've started writing. No, I don't mean blog posts (as some of you may have noticed), but really writing. As in: dissertation writing. I figured that now that I've recently reviewed the literature for my oral qualifying exam, this would be a good time to start writing chapter 1, the literature review.

In the past I've used Windows/XP, and for as long as I can remember using wordprocessors, I've used WordPerfect. The Reveal Codes option in Wordperfect is, as far as I know, unmatched so far. It was particularly cheap when I bought the academic version for students. To manage my references and citations, I used Reference Manager, and last year I purchased the latest version of that too.

Things have changed. My laptop was 7 years old last year, and consequently a bit slow (read: maddeningly slow!). I bit the bullet and converted to MAC/OsX. What a joy! One tiny little problem, WordPerfect has sold out to Microsoft, and is no longer available for MAC. I got Parallels Desktop, and ran Windows on my MAC, just so that I could run WordPerfect and SAS (for statistical analysis). I did send an angry e-mail to WordPerfect about this. I've been a loyal customer since the late 80s (version 4.2!), and this is what I get in return?

Then problems arose, because my adviser wanted to go back and forth with different edited versions of an abstract I was working on, and this didn't work well if I worked in WordPerfect, and he worked in MS-Word. Luckily, I could purchase a license for Microsoft Office for MAC through the university bookstore for about $12. This had the added advantage that the editorial office hands out dissertation templates for MS-Word, so that would greatly reduce the time I had to spend on formatting. Only now, Reference Manager doesn't work on my MAC. I need a new way to manage my references.

I will need to keep track of several hundred references (books, journal articles, abstracts, and such), be able to integrate the citations seamlessly into my dissertation. This started off my recent search to a reference manager that would:
1. work on Word
2. work on MAX OS X
3. allow me to format my references according to several different journal styles
4. not cost a fortune.

To be continued...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

With apologies to Queen

Shamelessly copied from Stranger Fruit. It was simply too good. Originally from MartinC. All about the "movie" Expelled here.

Bensteinian Rhapsody

Is this stuff real science?
Or is it just fantasy,
That belongs in a place like
Bob Jones University?
Just close your eyes,
Don’t think, just accept ID
I’m a game show host,
I don’t know biology,
But this sleazy bunch, told me so,
It could be lies, how would I know?
So long as the check clears, it doesn’t really matter to me,
To me.

Anyone? I just filmed a sham,
Put some lies into your head,
Libelled Darwin, coz’ he’s dead,
Honor, you know I once had some,
But now I’ve gone and blown it all away-
Anyone? ooooohhhhh
Was it mean to tell those lies?
You’d learn more science by watching Rocky Horror-
Anyone? Anyone? My reputations now in tatters-

Too late, my crime is done,
Dembski told me I did fine-
Behe’s squirming, (he’ll be fine),
Goodbye science lessons-you’ve got to go
Gonna leave your kids behind and hide the truth
Adolf, oooooh (a shame he wasn’t atheist)
I’ll just have to lie,
I’ll just pretend that he wasn’t Christian at all-

- guitar solo -

I’ve got a little animation of a cell,
When in haste, copy paste, yes indeed that was the plan, though-
Copyright infringement lawsuit noose is tightening on me-
Sternberg’s ethics, (they’re a shocker)
How ‘bout Crocker, (off her rocker)
And what to say of Guillermo ? Guillermo-oh-oh-oh
I’m without tenure, and nobody loves me-
He’s just a headcase, embarrassing his faculty-
Spare us the whines of this mediocrity-
Please I pray – on my soul, Will you make it so-
Guillermo! No-, we will not make it so - make it so-
Guillermo! No-, we will not make it so - make it so-
Guillermo! we will not make it so – make it so
Will not make it so- make it so
Will not make it so – make it so
That Eugenie, she’s a meanie, but there’s much worse godless foe!
Beelzebub sent Dick Dawkins and his friend, PeeeeZeeee- PeeeeZeeee, PeeeeZeeeeeeee!

So you think you’ll teach children, maybe open their minds,
Study nature, alter stem cells for cures of all kinds -
Or maybe, stop Gods plan that’s HIV,
Well if I had my way, I’d close you all down out of fear!

Science it doesn’t matter,
Lets teach theology,
Just pray when cancer strikes you,
Just pray there'll come a cure from ID

I should have stuck to game shows…….

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Note to self

This post serves as a reminder to my self. May I return to it in 30-odd years and find that I've lived up to it. If not, may this post embarrass me and make me change my ways.

To love your children means to respect them. To respect them, means to accept their choices without comment. You may not always agree with the choices you make, but that is rather irrelevant. Although we may see children as little horcruxes, you have to let that piece of you live it's own life.

No matter what choice your children (or anyone else for that matter) make, it is theirs to make. And under no circumstances do you have the right to do things differently in their house. For example, if they use a dishwasher to wash and dry their dishes, and really prefer to do their dishes that way, you have no right to sneak into the kitchen early in the morning to quickly do the dishes by hand, and put them away before everyone gets up. It doesn't matter that you think using a dishwasher is wasteful, and for purposes of this discussion, it doesn't matter who is right. If you are asked to do thing their way or not at all, the right thing to do is to respect their wishes. No matter how much you think you're trying to help them, you're not helping by doing things differently than they are used to.

If their house is a mess, you can only clean it up if you are specifically asked to help out, or if you offer to help, AND the offer is accepted. If they say: "no thanks" they mean: "No, thank you for the offer, but we either prefer to live in the mess, or we prefer to clean it up ourselves. At any rate, if you clean it up I may never find my stuff again. No, thanks." This does not mean you're useless as a parent or grandparent. It just means that cleaning up is not what is expected of you at this point in time.

It might also not be appreciated if you tell them over and over again, how you do all your laundry by hand. It's not really fair to compare a single-and-retired-person household with one with three kids where both parents work full-time. But again, that's besides the point. If your children want to use a clothes washer for every piece of clothing they own, that's ok.

This is not to say we cannot have useful conversations about anything. There are ways of talking about things, and giving opinions, without being critical. And when you've giving your opinion, and your children find it a useful suggestion they will incorporate it into their lives. There is really no need to mention it ten more times to indicate that your way really is the best way. If your children do not change their ways, even after you have enlightened them about the best way, it doesn't mean they don't love you or like you.

The trick to getting along with your children is to treat them like you would any other adult. With respect, and this respect will likely be returned. Add a dose of true caring and love, and you can hardly go wrong. You can have intelligent discussions, and joyful reunions without strain. Isn't that the kind of environment you would want to see your grandchildren in, and the kind of example you want to set for them?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The week

Passing my orals was the beginning of a very productive week for me. Rarely have I been that motivated. Sadly, my productivity was ground to a halt by one of our cars breaking down on the weekend. It didn't help matters that some of the kids are home on Spring Break. Our car is still in the shop and it's going to cost a whopping $1200 to get it fixed. Another care is out of question right now, so we have no choice but to throw good money at a not so good car, in the hope it will last us for at least another year. We've had a rental car now since Monday, which we can no longer afford. It has to go back tomorrow, but our car might not even be finished yet by then.

This should highlight one of the problems of being a mother and a graduate student. Because P1 makes more than I do, and he has a (semi) permanent job, he cannot afford to simply take off some time to hang out with the kids. That is exclusively my job. If the kids get sick, or they are home for any other reason, I'm the one that has to stay home with them. It's not that I mind hanging out with the kids, but it is always my research that has to take a back seat. And that is incredibly frustrating.

Posting is light as a result of an overdose of kids and car trouble right now. If all goes well though, we'll return to our regular scheduled program soon.

Friday, April 4, 2008


When you do research, the outcome often depends on the questions you ask, or the way you phrase them. For example. This study that is mentioned on ScienceDaily. Thanks to Coturnix for pointing this out.

According to the study results sex lasting 3-13 minutes is better than longer sex. What struck me, was how they measured sex, and I quote:

"...from penetration of the vagina by the penis until ejaculation."

It isn't just me here, right, who thinks that this definition is a wee bit sexist, and mildly male-oriented? No, wrong. It is big-time sexist, and grossly male-oriented. Nowhere was the female orgasm mentioned. If the male ejaculates before the female has an orgasm, is sex over? I think you might find a woman or two (billion) who disagree with that. And I suppose, vaginal-penetration is the only activity that counts as sex.

And what about gay sex? I guess when two women have sex, it's not really sex, since there might not be any penetration. And when two men have sex, I suppose one can have an orgasm, and then it's over. Had the question been put a little different, the results might have been dramatically different.

I'm hoping that this is just bad reporting, and that the researchers had a better, more representative way of assessing the time sex lasts. But it sure sounds that at the very minimum, gay sex wasn't considered at all, and heterosexual intercourse was defined by decidedly male actions without any consideration of what the woman (who presumably makes up 50% of the interaction) experiences.

And I quote some more:

"Past research has found that a large percentage of men and women, who responded, wanted sex to last 30 minutes or longer."

You think that maybe questions were phrased better? It is likely to change the 3-13 minute range.

1 year

It's amazing! It's been a year since I started this blog. Twelve months and 134 posts later, I must say that it's been even more rewarding than I could have imagined. Thanks to all who stop by, be it occasionally or regularly, thanks to those who comment, and those who don't. Happy blogiversary to me!!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April 1

Note: I really did pass my quals. It was not an April fools joke. Although when the date was schedule some naughty thoughts of what I could do to my committee did occur to me.

This morning I told F1-1 that his science teacher had e-mailed me to remind him of his comprehensive exam today. He looked at me blankly. I stared back "What? she didn't tell you? You have this oral exam today, and all the science teachers in the school are going to be asking you questions and it will be 80% of your grade for this school year! You're telling me you haven't studied for this?" [put on really grim face].

I could literally see the blood draining from his face. It was quite priceless. Hey, at least someone was feeling the same thing I did. He was downright panicked. I let him steam in his skin for quite a while, but eventually could no longer stand it, and asked him if his teacher hadn't told him it was April 1st either.

The relieve on that kid's face. He was seriously sweating it, and I think he's going to school to play the same joke on a bunch of his friends, although I suspect the exam will turn in an all-topic, worth 95% of your grade kind of thing.

Oral exam.... again

This morning, I passed my PhD oral qualifying exam. After I failed on the first try, this wasn't an easy process. I haven't been this nervous since my high school final exams in another life time.

Do I feel elated? Not quite the right word. I'm relieved to have it over with, but more than anything, I have this incredible urge to run around and do all the things that I wanted to do the past 6 weeks, but couldn't because I was either depressed from not having passed the first time, or too busy preparing for today.

I have stuff to do! I have to prepare two posters to present at a national meeting this Summer, I have to write a paper to submit to a journal, I have 3 experiments to set up, two to keep going, one to analyze. I need to blog more, and spend time with my family.

Aaahh, my family, what can I say? They have been indescribably wonderful through it all. The kids, have driven me crazy, demanding my undivided attention in both good and bad ways. In doing so, they have forced my mind away from my failure, forced me to think about things other than oral exams. They have forced me to see, again, that getting this degree is the best thing I can do for them in the long run. That I need to do this for them as much as for myself. My husband, tried his best to keep the kids away from me yesterday. I had gone into our office to study in a quiet atmosphere, and instead of P1 and the kids being far, far away, they all congregated in my room, making me laugh, and happy, even though I had this big dark cloud hanging over my head. I wouldn't have been able to this without P1. He's the best. Most of all, because he would have loved me no less, if I had not passed today. He wouldn't have been critical of me. He would have lashed out at my committee members, without ever considering that I did something wrong. He is my rock.

My adviser. He was supportive from the start. He probably was too overconfident for my first exam, but he was visibly proud of me today. He's always been very upbeat, with nothing but good things to say about me. He protected me from other committee members, while making sure they could ask their questions. He told me to refuse to guess, and I did, and when I was pushed harder, I refused even harder, and said that guessing wasn't going to make me a better scientist. I wasn't about to allow anyone to laugh at my foolish guesses.

I could go on and on, but this is probably enough. I passed, and I have to go. I have work to do. Have a glass of wine on me this evening! I know I will.