Monday, September 27, 2010

And I thought the treadmills were cool

Found this in my daily design blog reading, oddly enough. Apparently a reader was reminded of this video thanks to a weekly "pets on furniture" feature they have. I love that pets on furniture feature. They all look pretty happy in their situations, and a lot of them look like rescue critters, too. From the slammer to the couch - what an excellent turn of events for them. Perhaps we'll take one of Chuck chilling when we get our new couch!

Anyhow - O.K. Go is the best, I've decided.

Also, some other things to make you happy -

Hyperbole and a Half: ever heard of her? Me neither. So I visited her about pageS and continued to die laughing. How completely, awesomely, unhelpful?

Seriously, the best -
Sneaky hate spiral. (this about sums up my last week.)
The alot is better than you at everything.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Looks like the FDA is about to approve the country's first genetically-modified animal. We've been consuming modified corn and soybeans for years, but never an animal, until now.

Before I get into the fish, let me back up to one of my favorite outreach exercises our education team has created here at work - G-MOD. High schoolers are given a lab in a box that contains everything they need to determine whether their favorite snack foods - Cheetos, Doritos, Oreo cookies and others - have been genetically modified.
  • Students break open popular snack bags, pulverize the contents,
  • Extract the DNA, amplify the DNA using PCR technology (which I like to refer to as a photocopier for DNA, giving you a larger sample of a specific part of the DNA to refer to)
  • And finally, use a flash gel to determine whether the product they are analyzing has been modified.
Why do I like this experiment so much for high-schoolers? News flash! Every. single. processed. snack. food. we. eat. was created using "Roundup Ready" corn, created by a company called Montsanto.

Scary modified.

The concept was great - rather than farmers tilling their land for weeds, they use this special corn, douse their entire crop with Roundup (a Montesanto chemical product), then watch the weeds whither away as the corn crop thrives. Fantastic! Until the weeds cross-bred with the corn, creating super weeds. No joke. Read about it here.

O.K., now back to the fish:
AquaBounty Technologies is in the process of introducing a modified salmon to U.S. grocery store counters. According to their Web site the AquaAdvantage
® fish -
Advanced-hybrid salmon, trout, and tilapia designed to grow faster than traditional fish. AquAdvantage® Salmon (AAS) reach market size twice as fast as traditional salmon. This advancement provides a compelling economic benefit to farmers (reduced growing cycle) as well as enhancing the economic viability of inland operations, thereby diminishing the need for ocean pens. AAS are also reproductively sterile, which eliminates the threat of interbreeding amongst themselves or with native populations, a major recent concern in dealing with fish escaping from salmon farms.
So, theoretically, they have all of the answers to the issues faced with Roundup ready crops. No worries! All problems solved! And apparently the FDA agrees, stating in pre-meeting documents that
the studies conducted by AquaBounty show that the gene is safe for the salmon, safe for humans and safe for the environment.

Oh my - an AquAdvantage salmon behind a non-transgenic Atlantic salmon sibling of the same age. (via)

Critics primary problems with the fish include food safety concerns - primarily to do with allergies - and, like the Roundup Ready crops, cross-breeding with conventionally grown salmon.

AquaBounty has answers to all of these concerns, but many scientists maintain that the data to back up these claims of safety does not yet exist.

So, what to do? This topic is so fascinating to me because I actually don't know where I stand on the issue.

We want to reduce our dependency on foreign oil. We want to be sure all of our population is fed and healthy. We want to keep our farmers solvent... but some become outraged at the idea of modifying our crops to grow faster, more efficiently and in more places. How do we expect to use corn or soy to power our vehicles if we are growing only enough to eat?

Same goes for animals - We have a seafood watch list a mile long of fish we are not to eat because we have over-fished and these populations are dying out. What if we could enhance the growing of these fish. What if this advance in science enhanced the diet of families in countries who eat only rice, because that's what they can afford? Hell, what if this advance offered families here the chance to eat fish instead of fast and processed food that are typically the only offerings they can afford?

I can definitely understand the looming risks of mega corporations pushing their brands of herbicides and perfected DNA strains for world domination in their products, pushing out the little guy and ruining the environment in the process...

But I can also see an opportunity for millions more mouths to be fed with corn that grows in harsher environments, due to genetic modification. I can see a faster-growing fish not only feeding hungry families, but feeding them a product that is not over-fished and endangered.

What do you think? Panic? Celebrate? Wait?

For now, I go with wait. See what FDA says about AquaBounty. And hope they decide to label the GMO salmon at the store so I, and others, can make the decision to consume for ourselves.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

so i guess this is growing up...

Channeling that Dammit this morning... it's an angsty, why won't anything go right, why can't I get a leg up, why don't the grown-ups understand me, Blink-182 kind of a morning.


Car is overheating... just had to take it to the repair shop. Looks like my trusty Camry may be biting the dust. As much as I'd love a new (to me) Mini Cooper, I was truly hoping that I could make the current car last quite a bit longer. You know, save up for something nice. Jonathan suggested holding off till we figure out where we'll be when he graduates in December. If the new locale is urban, we forget cars altogether and get a set of Vespas.

Also, if you'd like to call and commiserate, or perhaps to offer to meet for drinks to drown my sorrows (and yours, if you're having any) don't bother! My phone doesn't work either! That's right. iPhones malfunctioning are actually quite humorous. Very "Danger Will Robinson! Danger!" short. short. buzz. blink. flash. blank screen. I would be chuckling a bit more about it if I didn't actually need my phone.

So, anyway, here ends the whiny portion of this blog post. I've come up with a solution. I'm going to simplify my life.

If you would like to talk to me, please invest in a fire pit for your back yard and brush up on your smoke signals. I'll also be accepting telegraphs and telepathic messages.

If I need to get in touch with you, I will be using the Pony Express. Or telep
athic messages. Maybe I'll just show up at your house. I'll do my best to judge when you might be home, but if you're not there, I'll hang out in your neighborhood Starbucks. Or make friends with your neighbors. I've been meaning to be more friendly with neighbors, too...

I still plan to go to work, when I can hitch a ride, or when I feel up to biking. I've been meaning to take this getting into shape thing more seriously and biking 10 miles to and from work every day (weather and mood permitting) will really expedite this process, don't you think? The days I really can't stomach the ol' bicycle and nobody is headed my way on I-565, I'll just work from home. You know, with my quill and ink, since my personal computer is also from 2002 and going the way of the dinosaur.

I think that this plan should work out really well for me. Why do we need to constantly upgrade, anyway? What if all of these things breaking at once is actually a sign from above that I should slow down, simplify, be more green?

I'll start growing a garden with seeds that I'll take from my neighbors' plot (we'll be on speaking terms since I'll have taken the time to introduce myself after two years.) I'll cook like a locavore, i.e., I'll cook using what I can buy from Star Market (it's walkable!) and what friends bring to my house. I'll learn an instrument in my free time since I won't be rushing all over town to meet friends places. Hell, I might even save that gas money I'd have been using and take a big air trip every year or so. J can come too.

Well, good. It's decided then. Should my car cost more than, oh, $300 to fix, I'll just put my blinker on and turn out of the fast lane to start living my life as I've detailed above.

You'd all still be friends with me if I looked like this girl, right?

She's kind of cute in a "let's sing folk tunes by the fire" sort of way...

And again, if you need to contact me, please write down my coordinates for future reference:
34.745955,-86.555981. That is all.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Miss now Mrs.

"Are you sure you want to change your name to 'Melanie Sollid-Penton'?" says Facebook.

Guess so... The name change process has begun.

Happy birthday, baby. This is definitely a big step, not a baby step.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Well, this basically sums up my writing mentality...

I saw this via Frank Chimero via someone else on Twitter. I just read a few of his posts today and am already quite enjoying what he enjoys. And how he writes about what we both seem to enjoy.

Anyway, there was a link from a completely unrelated post of his (which contained someone else's description of a meal at el Buli, I don't even know what the post was about, I was completely beside-myself distracted by that description...
But I digress! Whyyyyy is the internet so convoluted? If you already struggle with tendencies that could be alarmingly similar to ADD, it's quite difficult to finish even one article or post (or, ahem, action item) without falling into a rabbit hole of other fascinating information.)

Here's the link that I liked. This is how I write, and I had been feeling sort of like a lazy grammar slouch for not caring more about keeping up on that stuff. But now someone on the internet has vindicated me. Post below:

‘That’s not what I was taught at school’ are words we hear a lot. We’re always using our unrules to undo the things people were taught to do (and not to do) in the classroom. It’s strange, writing at primary school is all about stories, being creative and enjoying what you write. By the time you get to GCSEs you're clinically unpicking why a poem works instead of saying why you like it (and you're living in fear of red pen). Writing at school should get your brain buzzing, not be a chore. So things are changing starting here.

Five Unrules:

5. Write short or ‘fragmented’ sentences. Ignore Microsoft Word’s green squiggly line. A sentence can have seven words. Or two. It’s up to you. Play with the length of your sentences to add pace and rhythm to your words.

4. Split infinitives. They can be clunky but they’re not grammatically incorrect.

3. Use contractions (eg that’s instead of that is). They’re a good way to make your writing sound more personal.

2. Don’t sign off letters with ‘Yours Sincerely if you know the person you’re writing to or ‘Yours Faithfully’ if you don’t. ‘Yours Sincerely?’ It’s 2010. You don’t need to use stuffy formality like this anymore (or start letters with ‘Dear Sir’ or ‘Dear Sir / Madam’ for that matter).

1. And you can start a sentence with ‘and’ or ‘but’. We just did.

And a bonus rule from Kurt Vonnegut:

‘Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you've been to college.’

I totally agree that you should write how you speak. That is, if people find you funny or interesting in the least. If it ain't broke, why fix it?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Nobody puts Baby in a corner!

But apparently Dancing with the Stars will be putting Baby in a spray tan and a series of increasingly sparkly (and flesh revealing) outfits. Who cares about Bristol Palin?! The original novice-turned-awesome ballroom dancer is going to see if she can recreate the transformation from ugly duckling to glittery swan she played in her one mega-hit...

This will be epic. And if it's not, I will be highly disappointed.

I hope they don't make Baby wear this:

Not even a super-uber hot Pussycat Doll can pull that shiz off...