Thursday, April 29, 2010

But which picture to choose?

I think I'd like to participate in this project. There's a really fun picture of my brothers and I in a tree when we're little - I wonder if we could replicate that picture...

a new language?

Who knew there were so many abbreviations for texting, not wonder I take so long to text back!

I still think I'd prefer to write actual words, in actual sentences. I feel like we lose something otherwise.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Should You Eat or Drink Your Fruits and Veggies? An Experiment

Should You Eat or Drink Your Fruits and Veggies? An Experiment

Eat all the way!

I've been drinking water as my main source of fluid the past few weeks and really found I'm enjoying it. I incorporate milk every day (skim cow, almond or soy), and sometimes herbal tea, and on occasion start the day with a cup of hot lemonade (~40cal). I really don't miss juice and find that I really prefer to eat the apples, oranges, pears, and bananas we have at home, which pumps up the fiber in my diet and helps me avoid a surge of sugar.

I think it is pretty atrocious how common soda, juices and other random-sugar or 0-cal sweet drinks we consume as a culture every day.

I remember having sodas and juice in the house all the time - drunk daily instead of as a treat. I'm hoping to avoid perpetuating this bad habit, and am working on starting it now. :)

Pants on fire

There's a reason "Fox news" actually sells itself (to the courts, not to the public) as an entertainment show.

Bold-face lies make for good entertainment, but not good news.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Favorite quotation of the week

As heard from spot on the couch:

Scott (calling Dairy Queen): Hi, How late are you open tonight?

DQ: .......

DQ: .......

DQ: ....... (Scott laughing)

DQ: .......

Scott: Okay, thanks.

Apparently Dairy Queen ran out of ice cream so they had to close early. It was too funny. On the up-side it encouraged us all to go out to the local dairy (Meyer Dairy) for some delicious homemade ice cream!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Exercise is good, for everyone!

New research indicates that fewer than 1 in 4 pregnant women get the recommended amount of exercise each day (a measly 30 minutes).

This is quite surprising given how concerned most mothers are for the health of their children-to-be, and the fact that:

"Studies suggest that women who exercise regularly during pregnancy have better outcomes, including lower rates of gestational diabetes, hypertension, and depression."

dealing with kids

Here's an interesting perspective on how to communicate with one's kids, trying to get the desired result.

In my experiences with kids (working at a daycare for a year, and my nieces/nephews, friends kids), I really do think that kids can be quite open to discussion, and they do close off when backed into a corner; they yell when they are being yelled at, but tend to be much calmer and rational when approached with patience and respect.

Certainly this doesn't always work, as shown in the example above, but it's a good thing to keep in mind.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Exercise affects men and women differently

I could have told you this from experiences at home! In general, after Scott works out, he has no appetite, after I work out, I'm starving. Seems like this is the trend for men and women.

There is, as expected, a balance between both the exercise completed and the calories taken in, and one's weight. It is nice to see that over the years, women who exercise regularly every day (apx 1hr of light workout) were able to roughly maintain their weight.

So, to answer whether it is more important to diet or exercise: both!

It seems like it may be easier to lose weight by controlling ones diet, and better to maintain weight by consistent exercise. So, neither is a golden ticket, but together they work pretty well. :)

Friday, April 16, 2010

sometimes I forget how lucky I am to be strait

Thankfully some politicians are taking steps (very small steps, but moving forward nonetheless), to ensure equal rights for people of all sexual orientations.

It is only a memo. It should be more.

The memo from President Obama requests that the Dept of Health and Human services establish a rule to prevent hospitals from denying visitation by gay and lesbian partners.

Let's not even think about sexual orientation, but just family. Family has a different meaning than it once did. Friends, although not genetically related, may be as close, or closer, than genetic family, both physically and emotionally.

What I like about the suggested change is that:

He pointed out that North Carolina recently amended its Patients' Bill of Rights to give each patient "the right to designate visitors who shall receive the same visitation privileges as the patient's immediate family members, regardless of whether the visitors are legally related to the patient."

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Shouldn't everyday be Earth Day?

I think so, but to bring recognition to it, next week, April 22, is Earth Day.

Here at Penn State there are going to be quite a few activities going on all week. You can find many of them here, including a reference to the Community Garden - Yay!

At the community garden website you can see a picture of a beet (pink and white stripped), from my garden, and radishes and a bunch of other garden-y pictures!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

cage free

Help Penn State move to cage-free chicken eggs, and try to do so in your own lives!

If you must eat chicken eggs from cages, try to support local farmers who cage their chickens humanely.

Does size matter?

It depends. Generally, for sperm competition, species where sperm from many males must compete (polyandry and polygynandry) to fertilize egg(s) have significantly larger testes than in species where sperm from multiple males does not have to compete (monogamy or polygyny).

This doesn't say anything about phallus size.

Research in rodents indicates that phallus size is also correlated with the strength of sperm competition. These results, however, do not extend to either bats or primates (humans and chimpanzees are a great counter-example).

Alternatively, most birds do not have a penis, but a cloaca (an opening through which semen, and urine pass), similar to the females, but some birds, such as ducks to have a phallus. In fact, the Argentine lake duck has one of the largest phallus to body length ratios in the known word (2:1). Why have a phallus when most birds don't need it? Because many ducks engage in forced matings. The correlation found in mice, also holds in ducks, where species with more sperm competition have larger/longer phalluses, but the really cool stuff in ducks is that they also studied the females.

The female reproductive track is not only complementary to the long, corkscrew phallus of the male (to accommodate desired matings), but there are several "off-shoots" to prevent insemination by forced matings.

Neat stuff!

Monday, April 12, 2010


I need to go read the original research, but there is some potential for a vaccine (against tumor cells?) being used to successfully (16% full recovery, 28% tumors reduced by half) treat melanoma.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Does promiscuity prevent extinction?

Does promiscuity prevent extinction?

In a study conducted in fruit flies, it took only nine generations for the extremely detrimental effect of monogamy to cause 5/12 forced-monogamy fly lines to go extinct.

Sperm competition, it seems, may serve as a mechanism for females to help the species avoid extinction, not only by increasing the genetic diversity, but specifically by weeding out the deleterious allele.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A reminder to wear your seatbelt

Waiting for Kindergarten

Waiting for Kindergarten

Easter, Passover, and Charlton Heston

Easter, Passover, and Charlton Heston

think local...

I recently stumbled upon pizza dough at Wegman's, and have loved it, but in an effort to be more sustainable, I thought I'd grit my teeth and make one more attempt at homemade pizza dough (no plastic packaging, no refrigeration needed, no traveling). Well, each of the ingredients had to travel, like the flour, but they do for prepared dough also. This way I can buy the ingredients from the local natural store down the road, and the honey from a local farmer - Yum!

This recipe was super-easy, very healthy, and delicious!

  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey

It does tend to stick to the pan a bit, so the pan should be sprayed with a little oil (I used olive oil), and liberally sprinkled with corn meal.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Day two

Aro woke up every 2 hrs or less last night (first because my brother-in-law and his friends stayed up till 3 and the dog got upset everytime they'd walk down the stairs). Then, he woke up at 4:30 needing to go out to pee, which he did well on. Finally, at 6:30 (half an hour after his pain meds wore off) he tried to turn around in his kennel and slipped, landing with his back end (i.e. sore legs) on the cold tile and his back feet stuck underneath his front legs in the kennel. It was such a horrible cry.

I got him out, gave him his antibiotic and pain meds, then took both dogs out for their morning walk.

After a bit of attention, some doggy breakfast, then giving me a few minutes to brush my teeth and wash my face, both dogs are now sleeping: I picked Aro's bed out of his crate and he's cuddling in it next to Scott, and Chip is sleeping curled up on my outstretched legs while I check my programs and generally goof off on the internet this morning.

K, I need to move so Scott can roll.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

in case you wonder what I do all day...

this is basically it:

not quite home

We picked up Aro from the Vet this morning and headed out to Carlisle for the weekend. Poor little dog had to go on a bumpy ride to a strange place, after spending the night in a strange place. I'm sure he'll be happy to get home tomorrow night.

He's so pathetic right now. He physically cannot put any weight on his back two legs, so he walks around, well, stumbles around, on his front two legs to try and drag himself around to a more comfortable spot. His back two legs are pretty swollen. When he has to move his legs he whines.

He also gets quite anxious and vocal when he sees Chip running around and playing, and just looks so sad laying in his kennel.

Like the vet told us, it is going to be a long first week, but it will be well worth it in the end.

Friday, April 2, 2010


What do you know, activity level really does influence weight gain:

I like that the study reviewed above focuses on "activity" not specific exercises. It really highlights the importance of any daily activity. I like to run around the house with my dogs, but I don't know that on a survey I would consider that as "exercise".

We're hoping to be active with our nieces this weekend! It is going to to be a beautiful day for a walk to the park. The only downside - I might have to carry Aro there (if he had surgery on both knees - no news yet from the vet).

food for thought..

It's 21 min to 51 min since the time the Vet said they'd call (3-3:30), and still no news about Aro.

As if work weren't exciting enough right now - I finally figured out how to calculate lineage-specific, context-dependent substitution rates! - working on clearing the space on my server to be able to run it.

While the clearing is going on, I came across this article discussing research about the effects of subsidies on healthy food versus taxes on junk food. I'd encourage you to also read the comments after the article because they raise some excellent points.


After a very successful day teaching yesterday, I am super pumped about the possibility of teaching next semester.

The kids were so much fun, the subject matter (Molecular Evolution) was right up my alley, and we had plenty of time to get through the material even with my tangents.

I had one kid come up and thank me for all the tangents; he said that he has a hard time focusing on any one topic for too long, so by constantly switching it up, he was able to absorb a lot more.

I think this might be representative of the new generation. We get everything in bite-sized bits anymore that without constant change, students zone out. This is just my theory, I should probably check and see what research has been done about it.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Sunny day

karma |ˈkärmə|noun(in Hinduism and Buddhism) the sum of a person's actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences.informal destiny or fate, following as effect from cause.

I remember having a discussion about karma with my Hindu labmate a few months ago. He said, as surprising as it was to me, that the Western concept of karma wasn't too far off the mark. In the US, I've heard of, and think of karma as some amalgamation of "the golden rule", "what goes around, comes around", and "balance in the universe", and according to his concept of karma, this fit in pretty well.

How about that?

I was reminded of a particular reference to karma this morning. Walking back from getting a coffee this quotation popped into my head as I was taking a sip of frothy goodness and accidentally spewed foamy milk on my nose and shirt.

Scott's response to coming home to a destroyed house after the awards ceremony at the Graduate Exhibition:
"Well how about that for karma? Win a prize, come home to a pile of sh*t."

Maybe not so funny to most people, and not even here, because the delivery is half of the humor, but in my mind, it was priceless.

But really, karma? I think not, because any frustration at having to pick up shredded pieces of a book, and other doggy "gifts", certainly did not overpower the thrill of the awards, and even more so, provided me with this wonderful memory to brighten my already beautiful day.