Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Picture Update: Enough Green to Burn Out Your Retinas

I went for a hike today in the beautiful rain forest of the north. Here are some resulting photos.

Geeky Pins

While on vacation, I decided to buy a few gifts for my parents, and ended up grabbing a few things for myself. I found a place that sells pins by WM Spear, a maker of enamel pins. He does a wide variety of designs, including animals, sports, science and medical. Here are a few examples of his geekier pins:

I bought the first three. I couldn't resist. His prices are also wonderful; the biohazard was only $5. His bigger pins, such as the DNA molecule, are priced at $14 to $20, but none are more expensive then that. I think I'll wear the biohazard and the lab rat pin on my lab coat. Biohazard, after all, is the unofficial symbol of the Med Techs.

My little soapbox.

First let me say, I am not an athiest.
I don't believe the popular athiest claim religion is an evil construct. Most religions preach peacefulness, but too many people use religion as an excuse to do unspeakable acts of hatred and discrimination. These acts would still go on even if religion didn't exist; religion just provides an excuse. People will still be evil.
Seeking spirituality is a fairly universal human trait. However, I think that people originally turned to religion to seek answers, like what makes the sun rise? The seasons change? A good crop grow?...as well as deeper questions such as one's purpose in life.
Science has answered a lot of questions that religions used to answer. We know why the sun rises, and what factors can ensure a good crop. Science has not answered all our questions, and maybe, one day, it will. I think a lot of people who claim science is destroying religion don't realize that both science and religion both originated from the same thing: human curiosity.
I don't believe in God, not in the Christian sense. For me, "God" is the immensely complex structure of sciences and statistics which have produced the world we live in. I think there may be worlds and dimensions we do not yet know of, and sometimes scientists themselves can be too close minded.
But, above all things, I believe in following the evidence, following the reason.
As an agnostic Buddhist, I don't care if there is a god or not, I don't care where I end up after I die. I don't believe in the concept of a soul. To me, the most important thing is to follow the facts, to embrace science and reason. The reason why I am a Buddhist is because they typically don't ignore scientific fact in favor of religious reasons, they tend to be peaceful people, and one of the few religions that hasn't used their religion as an excuse to start a war. And my branch of Buddhism (Soto Zen) doesn't have an offical stance on God, and most tend to be agnostic or athiest.
Whew. All that being said, I like the athiests. I have far more in common with them. I actually consider myself a humanist, and if given a choice to build a hospital or a church (even a Buddhist church), I would pick a hospital without a second thought. I am a staunch supported of gay rights, womens right, pro-choice, a strong believe in science and the scientific method (all are reasons why I left the Christian faith at 18).
I recently discovered a popular athiest writer, Greta Christina, who write some wonderful articles covering a variety of topics. I enjoy her work, and encourage anyone who randomly stumbles across this blog to go check her out:

Science News!

There has been a lot of buzz in the science world lately, from medicine to astronomy. Here's whats been up in the world of science:

- John Singleton made a device that allows radio waves to travel faster then light. Well, according to the article, it "abuses" radio waves until they travel faster then light. Poor radio waves. Maybe they'll form a union.
Check it out @ http://current.com/items/90301786_scientists-make-radio-waves-travel-faster-than-light.htm?xid=ch60

- AIDS experts released a new tool called National HIV/AIDS atlas, which highlights areas of the US with the highest concentrations of HIV and AIDS. After California and New York, the highest concentration of the virus (in the US) is located in the southern states. Some people may be surprised at this, but frankly, I am not. What else would you expect from states which favor abstinence-only sex education instead of comprehensive sex-education?
Check it out @ http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/06/26/hiv.aids.atlas.map/index.html

- Z and Vielpunkt, two male penguins at a German zoo who gained fame for adopting and incubating an egg, are now two proud parents of a chick. Both penguins are happily raising the chick. This is actually old news, as the baby hatched on April 25th, but they're still raising the baby, which is awesome ^_^
Check it out @ http://pww.org/article/articleview/16165/

- A new cancer drug, Olaparib, shows a lot of hope in fighting cancer without severe side effects that current cancer treatments are infamous for. Studies have reported success on treatment-resistant cancers, which excites researchers and patients alike.
For more information, go to http://www.technologyreview.com/biomedicine/22928/?nlid=2130

- In archeological news, the earliest known depiction of St. Paul was found in a catacomb underneath Rome. Well, they think it's St. Paul. But at approximately 1600 years old, they're excited with the find.
Check it out @ http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1196118/Pictured-The-sensational-1-600-year-old-icon-St-Paul-Roman-tomb.html

- The world of astronomy is abuzz with several bits of news. Recently the Japanese have reported on finding uranium on the moon, which would make for excellent mining opportunities and hopefully more motivation for advancing space technology and travel. They also claim to have discovered, using gamma ray technology, horium, potassium, oxygen, magnesium, silicon, calcium, titanium and iron
Learn more @ http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/090629-uranium-moon.html

- Also in astronomy news, Saturn's moon, Enceladus, has a geyser which is shooting salt water into space, quickly grabbing scientist's attention and hope for life.
Follow the excitement @ http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/03/0310_060310_saturn.html

- A quick little blurb from the world of neuroscience: Aerobic activity may help your brain young. So grab your exercise mat and work out!
For more information, go to http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090629132254.htm

Now, if you're a medical student, pre-med, med school graduate, or just medically curious, then you know that the medical field is overflowing with mnemonics. If you need help keeping track of them all, or just want to browse, then head over to http://www.medicalmnemonics.com. It's a nice little website worth checking out.

Diatoms are adorable. Freaking adorable!

Well, they are. I love any example of endosymbiosis, because lets face it, it's a pretty cool process.

I Stumbled Upon a little blurb from BBC.
"Diatoms, an ornate type of tiny algae, are known to have gathered up genes from red algae by "endosymbiosis" - simply absobing green algae within their cells. But researchers reporting in Science have found that 16% of diatoms' genes came much earlier from green algae, likely acquired the same way."

found @ http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/pop_ups/08/sci_nat_enl_1245931822/html/1.stm

Monday, June 29, 2009

Digital Microscope Camera

A month or so ago, I found a nifty digital microscope camera, which I really would like to get for my upcoming fall classes. But the only problem is that it only zooms into to 200x.
But, I have found a new nifty device, for $100 cheaper too. The Dino-eye AM423 Digital Eyepiece Camera. Its basically a little camera that fits on top of the microscope ocular, and takes pictures. The nice thing about this is that the zoom depends entirely on the microscope, so I am not limited to 200x.
The picture is at 1280 x 1024 pixel resolution. The seller website says it isn't Mac supported, but the Dino Eye website says it is, so we'll see. If not, I'll just use my back up computer to take the pictures, and transfer them to the Mac (which I have yet to buy), and organize them using the Macnification program. Either way, it looks like an awesome product, we'll see how it works ^_^



It's been a most amazing vacation! I love exploring the town here, and the rain forest is so beautiful. After a few days, I couldn't stand being camera-less (my old one broke), soI drove down to Wal*Mart and bought the cheapest name-brand camera I could find. I ended up with a $100 Polaroid, which while not the best point-and-click camera on the market, it certainly does the job.

Friday, June 26, 2009


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Geekery abound!

I am officially done with school for the next month, and am spending my evening studying microbiology and making flashcards...for fun.
Still stuck and student mode, I suppose.

I was browsing through thinkgeek.com with my friend Laura the other day, and found some great gift ideas for christmas/upcoming birthdays.

First off, the best wrapping paper ever!


And equations!!!

Awesome, no?

I plan to buy these for my dad this Christmas. I think he would appreciate them, especially the engineering one ^_^

This one I would like. I can't really think of anyone in my family who would like it, except maybe my mom, but I doubt she would ever use it. Its a UV Wand disinfectant wand! How awesome.
And if that's not cool enough, then how about a periodic table of elements shower curtain!

My little sister is really into marine biology, and I saw this and realized it is the perfect gift for her! They're called Triops, they have three eyes, and they are awesome.

And for my computer geek friend Ryan, I am thinking about this circuit-board business card holder.

My step-dad Lou will probably get this 6-in-1 utility tool

Monday, June 22, 2009


I finished my last exam today, Specimen Processing. I should get a low A or high B. My final grade for biology was a 87.5%, which I can live with. I would have rather an A, but the final was comprehensive, without notes.
It's good to be done with school, even if it's only for a month. I bought a few microbiology books at the student book store (not the ones listed in the previous post, much cheaper ones). Darlene told me that the Clinical Microbiology class I'm taking this fall is hard, and I want to brush up.

To sleep now. I haven't had any decent sleep for a couple of days.

Pretty Books!!!

Koneman's Color Atlas and Textbook of DIagnosic Microbiology. ($79.96)

Manual of Clinical Microbiology (2 volume)

Textbook of Diagnostic Microbiology by Mahon
($84.26, req.)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


...was unexpectedly busy.
I went to my biology class, where we had out last lecture and reviewed for the final.
I went to lunch with Dad today, and he asked me, out of the blue, if I would like to go visit his brother Guy in our state capitol city. Since Guy is my favorite uncle, and I've never been to the capitol city, I immediately said yes. So apparently I fly out next week, two days after my Specimen Processing final.
Pretty random, and pretty cool ^_^

I had last minute ice cream with Josh, and am going to go watch them play ultimate frisbee. I would play, but I plan to side on the sidelines and study.

Our city is currently having assembly hearings on whether or not they should include a law prohibiting discrimination of sexual orientation. I, of course, am in favor of such a law. But I live in a staunchly conservative state, and a lot of people are against it. I went to a rally yesterday, which was fun. But the hearings, which are held at the local library, were very depressing. I ended up going home early and crying.

I've really lost a lot of my faith in humanity this week.
Oddly, it was harder for me to loose my faith in humanity then it was to lose my faith in "God."

Sunday, June 7, 2009


Hanging out with David last night was amazing.
We went to dinner at the local diner. We rented movies (Season 1 of How I Met Your Mother), and had a romantic evening in cuddled up.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The little things

It's funny how the little things make you realize how much you love a person. Even better when those little things are completely random.
David left me a message on Google chat this evening:

"alli, I leave this message in hopes it will reach you.
Awfully ominous no?
I am running errands tomorrow morning with my mom, we both have reasons to go to the hospital (im just getting another inhaler, no worries)
And we will do some shopping and all that. I will call you once we get back.
I cannot wait to see you,

For some reason, after reading this, I couldn't stop smiling and thinking of him.
Quite peculiar, love is.

I had another Lost night with Ryan. I'm half way through season four! It definitely makes up for the slow third season. Poor Ryan, he pulled an all nighter last night, like me, and ended up falling asleep. I've estimated that in the past two days, I have had about nine hours of sleep total.
Time for bed!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Zombie phone

My phone kind of broke over the weekend. It sucked, and screwed up my plans with David, but I did get to see him last night, even if it was two hours late. We watched some Death Note, and then went to go see UP at the theater. It was such a cute movie, I cried twice during it. The writers really knew how to tug at the heart strings. David and I looked at each other during the movie and say the tears in the other's eyes, shyly wiped them away and blamed allergies.
Yeah, allergies.

When we got back to his place (for post-theater ice cream and one more episode of Death Note), I told him I loved him. He responded in kind. Yay!
He's so awesome.

Because of my phone was broken, my dad was panicked because he could not get a hold of me. He stopped by my apartment this morning on his way to work to make sure I was okay. It was pretty sweet. He offered to take me to the new museum on Friday. I'm so excited. On saturday, our museum (pretty much the only one in the city) reopened to reveal the extensions they had spent a year building. It got some pretty good reviews, and I can't wait to see it.

The cell phone people fixed my phone, but said it was reaching its end of life, and the problem may occur again. I will be getting a new phone in a few months, hopefully by September.

Atheist Commandments

I am a Buddhist. Buddhism is pretty nifty because there is no official stance on a higher being, so there are agnostic Buddhists, atheist Buddhist, monotheistic Buddhists, polytheistic Buddhists, Hindu Buddhists, Jewish Buddhists, etc, etc.

I don't consider myself an atheist, by definition I am more agnostic. I prefer the term humanist because I like focusing on the well-being and advancement of the human race.

However, while playing with Stumble Upon yesterday, I found a website listing "The Ten Commandments (Of the Ethical Atheist).

I like them. You don't even need to be an atheist to follow them. Even a Christian could follow these and still be a good Christian.

Anyways, here they are:

1. Thou SHALT NOT believe all thou art told.
2. Thou SHALT seek knowledge and truth constantly.
3. Thou SHALT educate thy fellow man in the Laws of Science.
4. Thou SHALT NOT forget the atrocities committed in the name of god.
5. Thou SHALT leave valuable contributions for future generations.
6. Thou SHALT live in peace with thy fellow man.
7. Thou SHALT live this one life thou hast to its fullest.
8. Thou SHALT follow a Personal Code of Ethics.
9. Thou SHALT maintain a strict separation between Church and State.
10. Thou SHALT support those who follow these commandments.

I like most of them. #10 feels like kind of a cop-out, like they couldn't think of anything else. But the list is pretty good. I particularly like #3