Monday, September 29, 2008


I spent the weekend at a departmental retreat, the ostensible purpose of which was to discuss the latest biochemical and biophysical breakthroughs of the scientists with whom I work.

The real highlight of the weekend, however, was Trivia Night. My team, "Team Food Table" (so named for our not entirely random proximity to the snack spread) succeeded in not finishing in last place. As it turns out, despite my timeless hipness, a fivesome comprised of me, three native Chinese scientists, and an Austrian postdoc could barely compete in the realms of pop culture and know-your-faculty minutia. We managed to hold our own in the famous historical scientists and identify-the-obscurely-photographed-common-lab-item rounds, but tune (and artist and year) naming would be our achilles heel.

At the very least, Team Food Table was well fed. Like doing good, eating well is its own reward.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Proud to be an American

One visiting German student will finish his research experience in our lab at the end of next week. I asked him about his plans were for his last weekend. He told me that he had a few important American experiences to check off his list: an all-you-can-eat buffet, IHOP (not this IHOP--although it's a good one, too), and a legendary Massachusettian (!?) state fair.

Sounds like one giant meal. God bless America.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

What To Do With Dummies (for Dummies)

We celebrated the wife's birthday with a dinner-and-a-bookstore Saturday evening date. We had an otherwise delightful evening, but I must report that I was shocked and awed by a few of the titles on the self-help book shelves.

While there may well be some individuals for whom this world would be better off were they not to propagate, I am loathe to issue broad, sweeping decrees promoting the sterilization of any particular demographic.

The overwhelming technical difficulties of implementing such a policy notwithstanding, we must rise above the temptation to compromise the reproductive potential of even the least among us.

Some of the other volumes made nearly as offensive recommendations:

Where have we come as a people when we wish or plot such calamity for those of lesser intelligence?

Perhaps, instead of subjecting them to all sorts of diseases and afflictions, we should provide those with diminished brainpower more opportunities for support and uplifting experiences, such as the following:

If some strong parental figures, snuggly puppies, and good career advice don't keep the learning-impaired off the streets wreaking all sorts of dummy-inspired havoc, then there's always one last-ditch response that has, at the very least, kept yours truly from spreading dummy pandemonium far beyond the reaches of cyberspace: