New Years

The last day of the year. I suppose it would be cliché of my to list new years resolutions here because who really cares about the promises I will most likely break within the first two weeks. Instead, I’m going to list the promises I made last year and let you know how I did.

1.       Read more

I guess I did this one…though not in the way I had hoped. I had imagined that I would be able to read a lot more about all the subjects I’m interested in. Instead, I read a lot more for work. Still good, its already given me a leg up in a few areas but I do wish I had taken more time to read myself.

2.       Say YES

This is more in the realm of that new Jim  Carey movie. I wanted to loosen up a bit and take things less seriously than I was prone to before. I’m not sure of my progress in this department but I think I’m definitely feeling more comfortable with where I am in life and looking forward to the future more than I have in quite a while. I’m also feeling quite a bit more liberated than I have in a while and free to pursue this particular goal well into 2009. I suppose the bitterness that followed the events of the fall are starting to slowly fade into optimism and excitement into seeing whats next both in relationships and of course in my career. For the first time in years, it seems that options abound and that my path is in no way laid out and contrary to my typical modus operandi…it feels good to have it that way.

3.       Work Out

This has been really just about as successful as I get. I’m going to pat myself on the back here and say…I’ve been pretty good about this. I’ve been getting consistently stronger, building a body closer to what I’ve wanted for some time and feeling ever so pleased with how its all worked out. In general, I think that I live a pretty healthy lifestyle. I’ve managed to eat well all year and maintained a constant weight while dropping body fat in the process. Less beer, less desserts and more activity have made me feel better than ever. I even ran a 5k for the first time and didn’t die (really my only hope…aside from beating my younger sister). Still some work to do in this department but given the limited efforts I’ve put into it my returns have been great.

4.       Be more patient

Ok…this one didn’t work out so well. My students can definitely vouch for this here. I’m still a bit to driven for everyones tastes and I have trouble turning it down even when appropriate. I want to push them hard and make them keep up. I suppose, I justify it to myself in that I’m helping them but in reality…I’m just judgemental and disappointed a lot of the time. I take it all a little personally sometimes and it really doesn’t work out. Maybe 2009 will be more relaxed but I’m pretty sure it will be the opposite. Hopefully, a few hardnosed students will follow that can take the bullshit that I throw out.

5.       Take more time to volunteer

I pretty much didn’t do this. I feel bad about it. It was my only resolution that didn’t focus on me and it was the one where I really didn’t accomplish it. I was hoping to add in some habitat for humanity work days and maybe something else to boot. I have my regular commitments that I kept up with fairly well but, I didn’t add anything for the year. I guess, I can renew this one and try and do it again.  


Cheers! Patrick OUT!!!

Watch yourself


Scientists Warn Christmas lights harm the planet


In light of my recent posts on the placing of Christmas lights, I would just like to say that not all scientists are TOTAL IDIOTS. There is something to be said for tempering one’s views for purely rhetorical purpose. As science struggles with the modern ethics of humanity, (i.e. stem cells, animal testing, cloning etc), we get these idiots who decide that now is the time to make an essentially political statement that is just unnecessary. I am all for preserving the environment and all, I think it’s a nice idea and something that people should take seriously. However, I also believe that PEOPLE and their HAPPINESS are far more important. If having Christmas lights out for a month a year makes people happy then they should do it. If they feel bad about the energy they are using (note: this is not wasting energy because this does serve a valid purpose…it makes me feel good) then they should unplug a couple of lights for the rest of the year or go camping for a week in the summer and live in the woods without any power at all, whatever makes them happy. But to threaten Christmas light users with the dire predictions of global warming is irresponsible science of the highest caliber. It is the fundamental flaw of science and academics in that we forget that with all the grand ideals of advancing society on an intellectual level, that society is just a collection of individuals who desire not much more than to be happy and that even in a twisted far off way, the goal of science and the intellectual advancement is really the satisfaction and preservation of humanity. Ideas and intelligence garnered through rational inquiry are a gift to society for the purpose of universal fulfillment. These people should remember that science does not exist in a vacuum. Merry Christmas. Patrick OUT!!!

Sometimes I wonder


So I get into the lab this morning and my advisor (boss) comes in a bit after me all in a huff. An experimental bioreactor (fermentor) has not been functioning properly and she is going crazy. I ask what went wrong, assuming it was a leak of some sort or an equipment malfunction…she wispers, “I’m not sure but I think its sabotage.” To which I reply, “Are you friggin nuts…that is the most ludicrous thing I’ve ever heard.” Ok, so I didn’t say that but I was thinking it. I chose to be more tactful and reply, “Oh bother…thats bloody awful (in my best English accent).” Ok, so I didn’t really say that, or anything for that matter, in favor of looking at her in stunned silence trying to hide my aching disbelief. I’m not sure at what point in a scientists career they choose to disregard logic but apparently she has reached it. Furthermore, she said this has happened before…RIIIGGGHHTTT. My goodness, I hope I never reach that point. I mean seriously, we work in a fairly secure building (card access all around), who is going to come into a random lab and a random room and mess with a particular knob MULTIPLE TIMES? The answer…no one. Because no one cares about this bioreactor nor should they. The only lesson I learn from this is that when my experiments don’t work now, instead of blaming myself for lack of ingenuity or insight…its going to be sabotage by malicious lab gnomes. Little gremlins hiding my Pasteur pipets and spitting in all my beakers after I wash them. Perhaps santa’s elves are secretly coming in and switching my regular sodium acetate with folger’s potassium acetate chrystals to see if I notice.   I bet that’s it…I could have been in the running for a nobel prize right now if it weren’t for those little imps screwing things up all the time. Remember, “Its not paranoia if they really are out to get you.” Patrick OUT!!!

The Spirit of Christmas

So I was cleaning out my bedroom the other day and of course I found all the things I didn’t know were missing until I started to clean up. Most notable was about $50 in already rolled change from who knows when (which of course will stay in that state unused for some time) and a pile of gift certificates and gift cards from birthdays and Christmases past. I wonder if I have already reached the stage of life where I don’t really have wants. I can remember being a kid and having wants for things…wants that were so strong they certainly felt like needs. Those things gradually became less and less and as I could begin to afford my own “wants” I  didn’t want anywhere near as much. Now, I accumulate acquisitive power in the form of gift cards that I don’t use because I can never decide what I might want or need. Sure, I buy books every so often and read them once or twice. I buy clothes too…but pretty much only when they have moved from being a want to being a need in the most literal sense. The internet has essentially negated my need for both music and movies. I don’t really play games anywhere near as much as I used to and I have only limited hobbies. I do like camping but I’ve reached a point there where unless I decide I’m going to summit everest or thru-hike the AT…I don’t need anything further unless something happens to break. I guess that means I’m the kind of person who that whole “ a donation has been made in your name to [insert name of favorite charity here]” kind of a gift is really pretty good. I think a small part of it is that I’m pretty particular about the things I spend money on. I buy very little for myself without research of some sort or another though I really don’t like shopping and I hate the feeling of buyer’s remorse. This means that I don’t buy things at all frivously and so a gift often feels foreign because its someone elses interpretation of what I might want but the silly thing is that I want so very little that most gifts would never match up. That makes receiving gifts always a bit unsatisfying and I worry that even the donation gift could leave me feeling the same way. Person A says “I didn’t know what to give you so we made a donation to the ASPCA.” I say “Oh that’s great…they do good work.” In my head I think, “Wow, helping animals is nice but we have people that need help too…a donation to Catholic charities would have been better because they have lower overhead and do a good job of helping people.” I suppose its all in the spirit of giving and I shouldn’t be so particular and I don’t want to totally withdraw from Christmas gift giving (though that would honestly suit me just fine). I do enjoy giving gifts when I have the means to but I run into the same problems…I insist on placing the same restrictive rules onto gifts given as I would place on items purchased for myself or items received as a gift. Carefully thought out to provide maximum benefit…trivial presents always seem worse to me than none at all. I know some of you are saying, “it’s the thought that counts.” I totally get that mentality…I just can’t do it. In my twisted Christmas world, I need it to work out both ways. I need the gift to match the thought…something that sends a message. Because even gift giving isn’t altruistic in its entirety…we as people do derive some joy out of making others happy and a crappy gift doesn’t allow me to reap that particular reward. I don’t wanted feigned happiness…I want the real thing and that’s tough to do. So with that said…my Christmas list is pretty empty this year. In case you are really desperate to get me something, I’m a big fan of the following charities and non-profits, a gift to them will make them happy, me happy, and you happy


Habitat for Humanity

Boston Foundation

Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust


Doctors Without Borders

Catholic Charties USA


Happy chrismahanukwanzaa! Patrick OUT!!!


Love Gone Bad

Love Gone Bad


So you need to read the story above for this to make any sense…and look at the pictures. When I first read the story, I thought the world had turned upside down. 35 year old man, refuses sex with 19 year old girlfriend who responds by stabbing him in the face. What??? Then I saw the pictures and I understood entirely. If that woman came to me looking for some action, I might just pull a Lorena Bobbitt on myself. Furthermore, what that woman could possibly see in that guy…I will never know? I don’t think this is a calista flockhart- Harrison ford kind of thing going on here. It did raise a question though, is it hard to clean blood out of the carpet in a double-wide. Patrick OUT!!!


Behind my Back

So it came to my attention recently in conversations with my advisor (read: boss) at work that her and other faculty friends of her’s (other people on my committee) talk about my personal life behind my back. Perhaps I’m over reacting a bit but I don’t think that’s really appropriate. Sure its probably my fault for divulging information to one of them but even so, isn’t it an unspoken rule that such conversations remain to some degree privelaged. The incident in question was in regards to the dissolution of the relationship between myself and a long-time girlfriend. One faculty member who was passingly familiar with my relationship status asked how things were going. Not wanting to be rude I gave her the unfortunate breakdown and she has now told another faculty member possibly more than that. Don’t these people have hobbies they could be attending to…better science to be coming up with. No, instead they concern themselves with my personal life and see it fit to bring up sore subjects at work. I have friends for a reason and I have a boss for a reason…they really don’t need to be the same person. If they were to be the same person…that’s really my choice. Also, if you’re going to talk behind my back don’t say things to me that make it totally clear that you have done so. Gossip all you like but keep it out of my earshot. Done. Patrick OUT!!!


So this is a delayed post because I’ve been really busy lately. Thanksgiving has passed…my favorite holiday of them all. I ended up spending it in Maryland with my family and my brother-in-law’s family. It was good to see my sister again (it had been quite a while) and to spend time with the two families together. I longed a little for my own families version of thanksgiving…though this was pretty similar…I guess most peoples would be pretty similar but I am such a creature of habit that even small perturbations can screw with my head a little. On thanksgiving morning, I ran a 5k for the first time…actually I had run that distance twice before the actual day but it was the first time competitively. I was a tad bit slower than I had hoped but I’m going to chalk that up to morning tiredness and cold air to start. I must admit though that I felt pretty good afterwards…I’m not sure if it was the endorphins released by the running or the cold cheap beer that found its way in to my hands within about 10 minutes of finishing…could have also been the second (or third or fourth) beer that did it. Either way, thanksgiving started out great. All in all, the rest of the day was pretty low key…just as I would like it. I did have to bite my tongue and sit on my hands a bit as dinner was being made. I can be a bit of a “back seat” chef at times and I was doing my best to not be critical of anything. On Friday we all went and saw the new James Bond movie (which I had already seen but was actually better the second time). Pretty enjoyable all in all…we then came home and ate some more and then a bit more. We had turkey croquettes made from the previous days leftovers which were really quite phenomenal and have inspired me to someday but a deep fryer if for no other purpose than making turkey croquettes and possibly deep fried oreos (which are truly about as delicious as they sound gross). After all the eating was finished I was pleased to also see that I had not gained more than a pound. I’m not sure where those calories went but I am glad they didn’t find their way someplace unpleasant. Bring on Christmas…and lights. Patrick OUT!!!

Why the internet was invented.

Nuf said

Patrick OUT!!!

Tree Lighting

So I was involved in a conversation on campus yesterday about the prospect of having “holiday lighting” in various trees for the holiday season. People of some authority for such things decided, in my presence, that they would not be putting forward any recommendation on the matter for fear of offending certain groups with the potentially religious symbolism of lights. WHAT?!?! I know this topic has been done before but seriously. Having lights on trees in December is to Christmas as a large bunny with chocolate eggs is to The Passion. In short, its not religious at all. And besides that, why do people continually have a right to not be offended by such things. I don’t believe in god so much anymore…ok really not at all but I do believe in things that look nice…like little lights in snow covered trees. Not once have I looked at such a tree (even one’s with angels at the top and present underneath) and reconsidered my faith or lack there of. By all rights, the Christmas tree was a tradition of Germanic pagans that was co-opted by Christians for their own far out symbolic purposes. Even so, if you are jewish muslim, bahai, hindu, buddhist, sihk, Zoroastrian, Rastafarian, or even if you believe in the church of the flying spaghetti monster like me…there would never be anything even slightly offensive about little lights hung in a tree on a cold dark winter night. I suppose it all boils down to me being the atheist that says merry Christmas…and happy hannukah, and all the rest of it because these holidays are no longer religious for most of us. They are a chance to exercise our credit cards and more importantly be with family and friends (because we need an excuse to do these things now). Lights in trees is a celebration of just that…a time of year when a good portion of the population should be just a little bit happier despite the bitter cold and bad fruit cake making the rounds. I for one am offended that there will not be lights in trees on campus…why don’t they respect my rights…is it because of all the faiths, mine is the only one that definitely doesn’t have a god on its side??? Patrick OUT!!!

Trivial Matters

So last night I went to my weekly trivia night in Cambridge. That Wednesday night has become the highlight of my week. Typically a Wednesday goes something like this…I get to work and think, “wow, I have not gotten a lot done this week.” And then I remember that on Friday I have my usual meeting with my advisors where I get to justify my existence through the presentation of data. (Astute readers will rightly surmise that I have actually gotten things done this week…hence the blog entry on a Thursday at work.) But anyways, Wednesday is usually that day where I put nose to the grindstone and try to churn something out that looks good enough to pass as science. The whole day, I’m really thinking about going to trivia in the evening. Something about it just really appeals to me…always has I suppose. Its like being on a trimmed down version of jeopardy with people that aren’t quite as smart (gives me a real shot at winning) and furthermore the addition of alcohol (also gives me a real shot at winning…assuming the drink is in someone else’s hand). Of course, my overly competitive spirit kicks in mightily but unlike other things even a losing night was still a night spent with friends so it is never really all bad. Lastly, the questions give me a mental excuse to spend my time on things less worldly…I’m not watching football and drinking beer…I’m doing research for next week. Watching reruns of mash…there might be a question about trapper john this week and I need to be prepared. Of course they never have any questions about the genetic engineering of neutraceuticals or the oxidative elicitation of secondary metabolites (my research topics for those not paying attention) so I probably shouldn’t waste my time with those things Thursday – Tuesday…of course they have never had a question on blogging either, Patrick OUT!!!

X-Mass Time is Here Again

So, I guess its appropriate that with the election of the Obamessiah, that one of my usual classic rock stations is already playing Christmas music. This is totally unnecessary. Why on earth would we want to listen to this musical dribble before even thanksgiving has reared its turkey laden head. Unfortunately, the station is one of my car radio presets and so now as I’m switching through stations on the way to and from work I am continually accosted by the sounds of jingle bell rock. Don’t get me wrong, I liked that song…when I was 6. Now, I have heard it at the very least (in bits and pieces) no fewer than 5 times over the last week. Add in some Johnny mathis and a little “You’re a mean one…Mr. Grinch” and I’m about ready to pull out of all holiday celebrations in general. I don’t want to come across as a holiday miser who is bent on destroying a joyous time for everyone else but it just seems that we should give each season its due. I don’t understand why we should devote 2 months of music to Christmas, a full 1/6th of the musical year. What if we had other holidays treated like this. How about 2 months of monster mash and giant purple people eater…or 2 months of lee greenwood and god bless the USA around every july 4th. Actually I take that back, we already have that on most country stations for 12 months a year. But seriously, the bunny hop for two months in april doesn’t sound too appealing but we can get away with frosty the snowman until the cows come home. I want holiday equality. Much like my definitions for equality in society, it means that we can all be equally miserable…thus a moratorium on Christmas carols more than 2 weeks from said holiday is in order. Two weeks is sufficient to get ramped up into the holiday spirit and toasted for all the holiday parties where said songs will be played on a loop as if we couldn’t get enough of them already. Ba Humbug and a happy new year. Patrick OUT!!!

Election Day

So its finally election day in America. After almost 2 years of posturing, campaigning, fundraising, debating and ass kissing, it comes down to what is looking like a major blow-out. I voted this morning…actually I didn’t vote…or maybe I did. I didn’t vote for president. I really wanted to…I even feel a little guilty about not filling in a circle. I just could not in good conscience vote for any of them. I really have an extraordinary apathy towards the whole thing. I don’t believe that the world would end regardless of which one of them wins but I also don’t think that either of them is going to be particularly strong. I will criticize whoever is in office without mercy and because but now I can never honestly say… “don’t blame me I voted for the other one (not barack obama here)”. I was truly more interested in our ballot questions in Massachusetts particularly the state income tax (which I voted to keep…though it doesn’t really matter and I kind of wish it was gone but only if they promised not to raise taxes elsewhere) and the decriminalization of marijuana. That one seems to be pretty much common sense…what kind of a country puts someone in jail for getting a little high but calls it a domestic disturbance when a drunk man or woman beats their spouse. Alcohol and Marijuana are the same in my book, similar dangers to over-use and similar though limited benefits. The difference is that one is illegal and the other is advertised more than any other product (except maybe politicians). Its time the state take a hard look at itself and end the prohibition era teetotalers control  on our existence. And don’t give me that “gateway drug” stuff either. A study by the RAND corporation (no hippy bullshiters here) found no causal link or gateway phenomenon to link marijuana use with increased incidence in the use of heroin or cocaine. I’ve also heard that the 1 ounce limit is too high. Well that may be a lot for some people and maybe even enough to consider selling it but we need to have a law that applies to everyone and that one ounce might not get  Tommy Chong or Snoopp Dogg through a summer afternoon. Plus, think of the economic benefit to vending machine suppliers and 24hr convenience store owners…lets vote pot in for them. Patrick OUT!!!

Douche OFF!

-Patrick Out!!!


Can't lose: Obama backs Rays, Phillies


So it seems Barack, once again, just can’t make up his mind. He has no endorsed both the Philadelphia Phillies and the Tampa Bay Rays…both present in swing states. This is the sports equivalent of voting “present” rather than taking a stand on the issue. While this is clearly not as bad as Rudy Giuliani endorsing both the red sox and the Yankees…its right up there. I that politicians should not answer questions of sports support any further. They should reply to all queries with, “I’m too busy saving the world to watch sports…but I hear the Yankees suck (and for the first time in quite a number of years…this statement was both emotionally AND factually true)”. In stead, they take a wishy washy stance on team support to try and appeal to everyone…no good. In America, we have teams we love and teams we hate and there is no getting around that. As a New Englander, its my job to hate the Yankees, the lakers, the colts (and jets) and the canadiens…I think I do it well. On a local level, a politician should be the biggest sports fan around…it shows he/she’s folksy and down to earth. On a national level, a politician needs to be beyond that. They need to be beyond that entirely and either take a firm stance against a universally hated team or not say anything at all. For Obama, a good choice in this matter unfortunately would probably be to voice disgust for the patriots…a team/coach not very well liked in the rest of the country. I can hear Rush Limbaugh though, “Obama hates the patriots…un-American, terrorist loving, liberal whiner??? You decide!” I guess that might be a bad move. You can always go after peyton manning…who really likes that guy and his hyper over exposed ad man persona...playing for a team without a winning record with a younger brother who is quickly proving to be a better QB than the old guy. I will do my part and not “vote present” and say…I hate the RAYS!!! If I ever run for office this might come back to haunt me but I just think it’s the right thing to do. Patrick OUT!!!


Spoiled Rotten

So as I was driving home yesterday listening to the red sox get beaten like a rented mule…I was honestly thinking to myself, what if they don’t win the world series? What if the patriots don’t win the superbowl? What if the Celtics can’t repeat their championship? Then I remembered…oh yea, then we would be like sports fans in every other city that just hope for that once or twice in a lifetime occurrence where their cities team will win the championship in maybe ONE sport. How quickly I was able to forget about the 86 years (granted I only experienced 21 years) of red sox misery and Ruthian curses. Or the days when the patriots looked like the JV squad of a high school in Alaska…days when people were embarrassed to say they were going to Foxboro on a Sunday. Now, we have championship banners everywhere, pat’s fans pay the highest prices in the league to see their team and have sold out every game since 1994, the red sox have more than 470 consecutive sell-outs at home (streak started in 2003) more than any other team EVER. Even the Celtics, who were actually respectable when I was a kid managed to channel former glory and win a title. All that being said…I’m still a bit disappointed this year in how things are turning out, I guess making the play-offs just isn’t enough anymore. There’s always next year, Patrick OUT!!!

Dirty Politics

I know I said I was done with the campaign but it has once again reeled me back in. I’ll admit that I watched the last debate, of course I’ve already decided to vote for Bob Barr but that’s besides the point. I was hoping that there would be some glimmer of hope from either side…ya know, some idea that the country couldn’t do without. I was sadly disappointed, from Obama we get more of the same, no game changer…no finishing move…no nothing. From McCain, an announcement that his administration would direct the treasury to buy up bad mortgages and renegotiate (i.e replacing ARMs with fixed rates) at a net cost to John Q. Public. So let me get this straight…the “conservative” candidate wants to take more of my money to bail out people who got themselves into irresponsible mortgages? Right. I’ve pretty much given up on the economy at this point and just thank my stars that I wasn’t planning on retiring any time soon and don’t have any of my personal wealth tied up in home values. On an entirely different front, news that ACORN has been fraudulently registering voters. Apparently dirty politics extends beyond the big bad republican party to a left-wing get out the vote group. Listening to the radio someone commented that just because the registrations were fraudulent doesn’t mean that votes will be cast because dead people can’t come out and vote but since these same groups also oppose the usage of ID checks at polling stations…I could go vote as a dead person. Actually, in casting a vote for Bob Barr…I am voting as a dead person. What a downer that is. My favorite thing about ACORN is their public platform of supporting the “living-wage” increases and the applying for exemption in California from having to pay their own workers minimum wage. Apparently, if their employees made minimum wage then they wouldn’t be able to empathize with the poor people they serve. Right. So what do we learn from all this…ACORN employees break the law and are apparently really stupid to be working for this organization in the first place. Well, I’m off to go register my great grand-parents to vote…they may not have been citizens and they may not still be alive but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t vote Barr in 2008 if they could…let their voices be heard. Si se puede! Si se puede! Patrick OUT!!!


No, not a movie review. Something far worse than a Mel Gibson production is on tap for the US. The mortgage and banking crisis has come upon us and the world is at stake. The questions become…what can be done and who is to blame. I suppose, maybe who is to blame is a bit vindictive on my part rather the question is how can we avoid this happening in the future. So we will address that first…in my opinion (as an amateur economist with no formal training whatsoever…except for one semester of college), the problem stems back to a fundamental shift in the secondary mortgage market way back in 1999 when the Clinton administration in its infinite wisdom pushed fannie mae and Freddie mac to take on more of the sub-prime mortgage market to make for more affordable housing for low-income families. Now don’t get me wrong…as someone of suitably low-income, I have at least a basic understanding of paying bills and wanting things that you can’t afford. I would love to own a home…but I know that I can’t afford that right now. Unfortunately, the democrats in this country don’t see the logic of capitalism in the sub-prime market. The fundamental idea is that these people were getting high interest rates to compensate for the highly increased risk that they would default on their loans and the underlying financial instrument would become drastically undervalued. The value being lost not only in the process of foreclosure (very costly for banks, loss of payments and interest, insurance etc.) but also in the absolute loss of value that occurs when a property is foreclosed upon (vandalism, surrounding property value decline, and increased crime). So we had a system where banks, rightly decided it was best to avoid giving loans to people who could likely not pay them back. But the government stepped in with a social engineering approach and said, we need to give money to people and allow for banks to make bad investments with implicit assurance that the government will bail them out. Well, as the Rev. Jeremiah Wright said…”America’s chickens are coming home to roost.” Now, I don’t mean to put this squarely on the shoulders of the Clinton administration, because on the other side of things are greedy investors who look only to profits and corporate success in the short term. Thus we have a perfect storm of interests coming together in a massive collision. They turned wall street into the LHC of finance. We have on the left, social engineering without mind for reality, and on the right short sighted greed also without mind for reality. Push them together and wait 10 years and we get a massive explosion of long standing financial powerhouses. Now the super sensitive detectors, (i.e. the public) have become aware of the fragile underlying particles…sub-prime mortgages. Unfortunately, unlike the elusive Higgs-Boson this will be staring us in the face for quite some time. With all these people worried about a black hole emerging from CERN, after watching the aftermath of this collision I now wonder if maybe they’re right. Patrick OUT!!!


NY Time 2003



Rev. Wright

A Long Couple Days

So it has come to pass after three years of work on a variety of topics that my thesis might not bear the fruit that we thought it would. This of course has been on my mind for some time and as such, I needed a back-up of sorts. In this line of thought, I endeavored to find a topic that was both useful and suitably interesting to warrant more of my time. Without getting into too much science, approximately 11-12 months ago I found a topic and approached my supervisors only to be told to put it on hold and work on my own things. Of course this was disappointing and I kept on with my old work all the while reminding them of the work that could be done. Just recently, the work that I had proposed the year prior was actually completed…by another group…who is publishing their work. Wouldn’t ya know…their results were just as I predicted they might be. Ugh, so the weekend was spent mostly being disappointed with the Patriots and racking my brain for scientific ideas that might constitute a suitable plan B that would allow me to earn a PhD without another 4 years of work thrown in on top. A meeting this morning did a little to get me on the right track but I still find myself frustrated at being scooped on account of the ineptitude of those above me. I suppose its par for the course sometimes but its really just not right. All in all, a rough couple of days over the past week that have truly tried my patience. Of course now, I have a lot of work to do in my attempt to right the good ship PhD. What I really need now is a muffin top. Mmmmm Patrick OUT!!!

Free Food

So for all the shit that we put up with in the life limbo we call grad school...we certainly do get a fair amount of free food. Granted its all left over food from department or company meetings but I'll take what I can get. Its not every job in the world where you get to feel brilliant on occasion and work with equipment that costs more than some peoples homes and then you get to scrounge for food like a homeless person all in the same day. I am at a particular advantage in the scoring of free food. Our lab lays nicely neighboring the most often used conference room in the building and thus the opportunity for superior surveillance. Someone always knows when food is being brought in and how many people there are to eat it...thus we get a good lay of the land. Today was breakfast, a bagel and cream cheese and a few muffin tops. I grabbed a corn muffin top and was thoroughly impressed...for WPI food, this was pretty damn good. It got me thinking, if muffin tops are so good then we do we even bother with regular old muffins. For those of you not in with the pre-noon pastry patter, a muffin top is exactly as it sounds...its all the goodness of the carefully caramelized conspicuously crisp muffin top without that boring cake like bottom portion to ruin it all. The tend to be pretty wide and flat and very delicious. Truly they are a superior gastronomic goody. So back again to why we even bother with the regular muffins in the first place...the only thing I can think of is tradition and a whole lot of regular muffin pans lying around. Imagine the stock piles of aluminum muffin pans that would result if everyone discovered these little luxuries. People would be giving away used muffin pans like grandma's fruitcake at Christmas. Of course even a muffin top pan has a little bit of a base sticking out beneath the sumptuously sweet snack above...if only we could rid ourselves of that bit o' boringness. Imagine, a muffin pancake combination that was the shape of a pancake but baked like a muffin...does such a thing exist...i don't know. If it doesn't I've just invented it and this post serves as proof of my intellectual claim to it from here on out. Off to work on a recipe...or maybe just get another bagel before the vultures arrive. Patrick OUT!!!

Alliteration count: 13

So maybe its not all bad

So its been a while since I last posted. I'm sure you'll understand that I had to recover mentally from the loss of Tom Brady for the season. It was is if all my hopes for a redeeming season with a super bowl victory to top off a flawless season were dashed in an instant of torn tendon. Then...the unthinkable...trusting Matt Cassell with guiding the team. While I wasn't ready to throw in the towel on the season quite yet...Cassel certainly did not inspire much confidence. What little I saw of him during the preseason made me wonder why they bothered keeping him around. Looking back I still wonder what was going on there. Was that bill belichek screwing up or was it genius? I guess there is a part of me that wants to continue the idolization of the great football genius. Perhaps he was just trying out all the plays he wasn't sure would work...maybe he didn't want to give his secrets away during games that don't count...maybe he wanted to instill a sense of humilty in a team that won 18 games in a row last year. I don't know...maybe he just played too many bench players and they didn't try very hard. I guess I really don't care because now Mr. Cassell seems to be working out OK. I guess its hard to really suck when you've got the kind of supporting cast that he does...including for the first time since correy dillon left that we've had a real running game. Certainly the game seemed quite a bit more balanced this sunday than we have grown accustomed to watching the brady era. Its better though...I think that now games will be interesting to watch...we will need a more complete game. Everything is in play now and no singular football savior is going to come from behind with a masterfully orchestrated two minute drill. 2-0 isn't a bad way to start...i just hope that this is the real deal and that we aren't destined to return to preseason form under the young one's guidance. Patrick OUT!!!

Conventions I'm Through with You

Its official, I have had my fill of political conventions and the media circus that surrounds them. I guess you could say that my political love affair with the presidential election has now ended. I am removing its number from my cell phone, ending my Facebook friendship, and erasing its birthday from my calendar. Of course, I know that in a few months after all the commotion has died down and the vote gets closer that the 527s will woo me back and I will rekindle this relationship that has done me nothing but harm and sapped valuable productivity from my daily life. So for now, we are done. I can't take anymore of the incessant nagging for votes, the hate speech and the yelling. All the while, there is this sinking feeling that these political parties are cheating on me. Now I know, I haven't always been loyal either but I just dont feel special anymore. I want to be loved for who I am and not forced into the mold of a perfect republican or democrat, one demographic or another. I think we just need some time apart, maybe I will vote green or libertarian this go around. Ralph Nader might be my rebound relationship. I need a couple of one-night stands with the communist party or the "Guns and Dope" party. Something to get my mind off where this relationship has gone. I know its been a long road and I stuck it through with clinton and now bush but I'm not sure I can take anymore without a little more respect coming the other way. So to you 2008 election I say, "Its time to go our separate ways...

So I'll be gone 'til November
Said I'll be gone 'til November, I'll be gone 'til November
Yo, tell my girl, yo, I'll be gone 'til November
January, February, March, April, May
I see you cryin', but girl, I can't stay
I'll be gone 'til November, I'll be gone 'til November"


Patrick OUT!!!


So John McCain finally picked a running mate and I couldn't be happier. Why? Because of the sheer novelty and intrinsic comedic value that both candidates are supplying. Obama says, "We need change, no more old school politics" and then picks an old senate warhorse whose was elected to the senate when nixon was in office and obama was twelve. Then McCain who says, "Obama doesn't have enough experience to be president" goes ahead and picks the 2 year governor of Alaska whose only other experience was being mayor of a town of 6200 people. There are high school principals that hold more sway than that. Ummm...don't these two listen to themselves. I understand that its supposed to bring them votes, Barack was having trouble with white males and McCain is having trouble with women (well actually I guess not seeing as how he married that fox Cindy and her inherited millions). But all that not withstanding doesn't it at all mater that today was McCains 72nd birthday and that a VP pick for him is all that more important. If not because, Palin would be a "heart-beat away" from the presidency but also because if he wins he would almost certainly only serve one term which would make his VP the presumptive nominee next time around. Ummm...let me get this mom, PTA member, small town mayor, small state governor, vice-president??? If that was reasonable then every cashier at wal-mart is only 4 years removed from executive VP in charge of cheap stuff. Let the craziness that will be the republican convention begin assuming they can let go of their guns and bibles long enough to organize themselves (Thanks Barack). Patrick OUT!!!

Bubba Speaks

So the CNC (the Clinton National Convention) has been underway now for 3 days with the biggest night of all tonight when we finally get to hear from barack. Up to now, we have had two nights of clintons and one night with Michelle. Michelle, I thought, gave a speech which was heavy on niceties and light on content. She came across as both affable, kind hearted, and also as a strong woman with a deep devotion to the dreams of her husband. This of course was in stark contract to my own image of her as a gun toting terrorist as depicted on the cover of the new yorker some weeks back...sometimes I can just be so impressionable as a member of the "unwashed masses". Next of course was Hillary who valiantly decided to put party before self and proclaim support for Obama both in her speech and also in putting forward the motion to proclaim Obama the nominee without vote. I know that people will see this as a mighty act of political heroism and sacrifice. Personally, I see it a bit differently. Hillary fought hard to gain the nomination (and in my opinion should have gotten the nomination) and now has acquiesced to the will of her party. She clearly still believes that she would have been better for the country than her recently crowned senate colleague. This being understood, she should have stood up for that ideal and made her voice heard. Make sure the country knew and her party knew that when Barack's lack of experience, nebulous social directives, and naïveté fueled foreign policy come back to bite us all in the ass...we might just wonder what Hillary would have done. In stead, she plays the good party loyalist and does what's expected...moving ever more in lockstep. Ugh! That being said...she had a couple of good lines in her speech that allowed her to lighten up her normally harsh and robotic tone. "Sisterhood of the traveling pant suits"...absolutely classic self-aware and self-deprecating humor. Bill followed last night with a speech of his own about "foreign policy." He, of course, got a long standing ovation for his work as president. Why though, would they choose him to speak on foreign policy? If his presidency was good for anything it was his domestic policy that I will freely admit helped bring about a wide degree of prosperity. His foreign policy on the other hand...ignored: the world trade center bombings, embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya, the attack on the USS Cole, and lastly the Khobar towers bombing...all of which were warning signs of what was the come eventually in the form of 4 hijacked airliners on one fateful September morning just a few years later. Furthermore, he was a strong believer in the presence of weapons of mass destruction inside Iraq...referencing on more than one occasion nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programs in connection with saddam husssein. Barack was against the war in the first place and has been a harsh critic of its motivations (mainly the former which were never found...except for the chemical weapons and the already found biological weapons materials in the form of anthrax, botulism toxin, and small pox...buts thats something for another post). Back to Clinton, who also twiddled his thumbs waiting for UN and NATO approval while 12,000 Albanians were killed and 800,000 forced to flee their homes due to a system of ethnic cleansing instituted by Slobodan Milosevic. In stead, we signed accords and watched as our "diplomatic approach" went up in the flames of thousands of Kosovo homes. But least the Europeans liked him. I guess that's why they picked Bubba to speak. Just like Barack...his policy is short sighted and reliant on multi-lateralism to a fault...I can't wait. Tonight we get to see the big O himself. Standing amidst faux-greek columns in a massive stadium. Again, this makes perfect sense...the republicans attack him for being a rock-star like, vacuous celebrity talking head. The democrats response...bring in rock stars, move it to a stadium, and erect and elaborate show around one man...good move. Patrick OUT!!!

Let the Conventions Begin

So the olympics are over. USA Basketball "redeemed" themselves well enough and will be taking home another gold medal this year, though not without a valiant effort on the part of the spanish. Now of course, we can return to the world of nightly political news and roundtable discussions of political rhetoric instead of Michael Phelps' records. Of course, coming up this week is the Democratic National Convention in Denver. I have been wondering what Obama and Biden might have new to say at this point in the race. I am also interested to see what becomes of all the hillary clinton supporters (a sizable portion of whom still say they will not vote for Obama). If I were Obama, my first order of business would be to thank my supporters (i.e. the media). Without them, he would be just another first term US senator with limited governmental experience and a slew of questionable acquintences. I also wonder if Obama's brother is going to make it there this year. I know some news groups found him living in a hut in kenya. Apparently he is a semi-militant muslim extremist, nicknamed Roy. Well one things for sure...i'm not trusting anyone named Roy any more. I'll add that to my list of terrorist names like Osama and Hussein. I could be wrong but I think that this relationship could be even worse than Clinton's(Bill this time) cocaine dealing half-brother, Roger. Come to think of it, I guess I'll add that to my list of bad seed names. Osamas, Husseins, Roys and Rogers of the world...I've got my eye on you. Anyways, something tell me that neither Roger or Roy were invited to this years convention...though I could be wrong and I hope I am because isn't family what the DNC is all about in the first place. Who would let politics get in the way of that? I'm also looking forward to hearing senatory biden speak so we can play the first round of my new internet game show, "Where have I heard this speech before?" The game is simple really, contestents will try to nail down the true source of Biden's speech from here on out. Options will include: talking points memos, meet the press appearances, previous speechs, and last but clearly not least...someone else's speech. I'm thinking about having life lines to the effect of Wikipedia and Google searches, and perhaps the proceedings from the british parliament. Bonus points for catching biden actively plagiarising. Of course in a week, we'll have our dose of the republicans which will likely inspire similar ire for your reading pleasure. Patrick OUT!!!

Roger Clinton

Roy Obama

Biden Plagiarism

Something light

So with all the political upheavel goings on in regard to the presidential election, russian invasion forces, and energy costs being turned upside down I am going to summarilly disregard these things...even put aside my scathing attacks on Joe Biden who I destest more than any other senator and talk about something a bit lighter. We are nearing the end of week two at the olympics and the redeem team has been in top form. They looked a little weaker in their last game against argentina (which I couldn't watch live but saw later in the day). Still though, they win by close to 20 points and showed strength down the stretch with key performances by bench players. They advance tonight to the gold medal game against spain who looked like amateurs against them the last time they met. Spain led by Juan Carlor Navarro, and Pau Gassol has some seasoned NBA players and some top tier European talent but they show no signs of being able to stack up against the "redeem team." On a side note, I hate that name. I know its a play off of the 1992 "Dream team." But still, we don't need redeeming. We had a little slide 4 years ago because USA basketball forgot that playing defense helps in winning games and that team work is not just 5 guys on the court at once. Even still, the United States has one 12 gold medals in 15 attempts with an additional silver and 2 bronze medals. They boycotted the 1980 olympics so we didn't medal there but they have gotten a medal in every olympics they participated in. The US is to basketball what the Chinese are to Table Tennis. One loss, does not make us ripe for redemption. I guess what it does do is make the US realize that they should take more seriously the high expectations that we have here for them to be the best in the world. Its a shame that we don't take the international game more seriously. I understand that there are big NBA contracts out there that get in the way of all that but every so often we need to remind the world that there is no need for redemption here. More so that every win over the US in a major competition should be considered an upset victory. So tomorrow morning (2:00 am for those interested) I hope that we utterly destroy the spanish national team and put to rest the naysayers who say that the US can't play the international game. Furthermore, I think that the US viewing public should make just as big a deal about the FIBA world championships as we do about the Olympics and make sure that we send our best every four years there too so we never have to hear about the redeem team again. As a side note, Spain is the defending FIBA world champion(we came in third, no Kobe, Kidd, Boozer,Prince, or Redd)...time to make them look silly. Patrick OUT!!!

Sweet Gig

"From the time Barack Obama was sworn in as a United States Senator, to the time he announced he was forming a Presidential exploratory committee, he logged 143 days of experience in the Senate. That's how many days the Senate was actually in session and working. After 143 days of work experience, Obama believed he was ready to be Commander In Chief, Leader of the Free World, and fill the shoes of Abraham Lincoln, FDR, JFK and Ronald Reagan. 143 DAYS. I keep leftovers in my refrigerator longer than that."

-Cindy McCain

Well dear Cindy has a point here. But lets not also forget that this took place over the course of just more than 2 years. That comes out to just more than 1 day in session/ week. Wow! How do they do it. I mean seriously, between raking in kickbacks and ripping off the taxpayer with "campaign trips" I'm surpried they have time for that 1 day/ week. I know that some of you are saying, "Oh patrick don't be so hard on them...they have committee meetings to go to that counts for something." If you said that to yourself turn on C-span and watch a committee meeting. Actually, watch anything on C-span. More often than not you will see either an empty room or a media circus that is supposed to be a committee meeting. Otherwise, you will see an empty floor of thje house with one person speaking. For some reason, every time I turn on C-SPAN (it happens more than you might think) its Rep. Dennis Kucinich speaking. The guy may be a nutball but he certainly does put the time in to get his voice hear by...NO ONE. Furthermore if you think that our erudite representatives and senators are actually spending their time drafting legislation, researching the facts, or anything else that might benefit the country then you have never met a "congressional aide." These are the workhorses of congress running all around trying to get signatures and draft important legislation while their "do-nothing" bosses live the high life. Now, our congress has set a new record for the lowest amount of legislation passed in the last 20 years. To put that into historical perspective, the so called "do nothing" 80th congress that Truman railed about worked almost 100 days more than our current congress. Its a sad thing to know that we put our faith in such a small group of people who claim to be devoted to public service who can do so little and have little more concern than being re-elected and scoring political points.

So what do I advise we do about all this. Well when election day rolls for the new guy. "When in doubt vote incumbents out." I was channeling Johnny Cochran right there. Patrick OUT!!!


So the UK's guardian newspaper (perhaps my favorite overseas source for news and a touch of gossip) recently asked the US presidential candidates to list their top 10 favorite songs. Normally, I would glance at such a list and then move on from the silly concept having gained nothing. BUT... McCain listed ABBA amongst his favorite song artists...TWICE! Thats a full on 20%! If you let me list my 500 favorite songs, ABBA wouldn't make the cut. Even when I'm all alone with nobody watching me, Dancing Queen still sucks. Obama might have reverened wright and (terrorist) fist bumps but now McCain has his own sweedish pop Willie Horton which seriously calls into question his judgement. I really hope that McCain pulls a Sister Souljah moment on ABBA and that he takes time at the convention to "denounce and repudiate" them. I just can't wrap my head around how a millitary man who spent years in a hanoi prison being tortured and beaten by the north vietnamese can come back and list Dancing Queen as his #1 song. I mean seriously, I would take "The Chicken Dance" over this. I think it might also be a sign that he has officially given up on the "black vote" and apparently the "not deaf vote" as well. For top 10 favorites (as I can think of them this moment) are below

1. Cocaine - Eric Clapton / J.J. Cale
2. Caroline in My Mind- James Taylor
3. Got my Mojo Working - Muddy Waters
4. The Weight - Grateful Dead (and many others)
5. Fools' Moon - Government Mule
6. Georgia on my Mind- Ray Charles
7. Aint No Sunshine- Bill Withers (Buddy Guy Cover)
8. Woodstock - Crosby Stills Nash and Young
9. At Last - Etta James
10a. House of the Rising Sun - The Animals (and many others)
10b.Amazing Grace - Blind Boys of Alabama

The tenth spot is shared because they share the same melody and so I can't really pick one over the other. Also I realize that the list includes no classical offerings. Perhaps I will make another list in the future of my classical and operatic faves for when the mood is right. Patrick OUT!!!

Diatribe and Dribble

So the conservatives (read: evangelicals) in this country are all crazy about this religion forum that McCain and Obama participated in over the weekend. I watched most of it and was largely unimpressed by either one. Actually, I wasn't just unimpressed by the candidates I was surprised that this pseudo political dribble even made it on air. Supposedly it was going to be a milestone in the campaign were both candidates try to sway the religious vote to their side. Obama went first with the pastor asking series of questions in particular subject areas interspersed with light hearted comments after the candidates answers. He really should have just shut up and let the candidates answer. It was like he was talking to a child trying to work their way through a math problem..."good job their little guy, you're almost there...don't give up." Either that or he was letting his congregation know when an answer had met his approval so they knew what to think without having to specifically decide for themselves. Obama was also asked to define what "rich" was. He said anyone making more than $250,000 per annum. Seems reasonable to me but what about his repealing tax cuts for the that only people who make more than that level. Or is he repealing tax cuts for the middle class the way his plan would suggest? Hmmm....a contradiction? He also quoted bible verse which beyond my usual aversion to such things from political candidates made me throw up in my mouth a little bit. I know why he was doing it but there is only so much pandering I can take in one sitting. Unfortunately, Mr. McCain is also skilled in such things and he was up next. He was also pretty dull and less than inspiring, though I could have guessed that was coming. He made a special point of mentioning his 25+ year pro-life record and that his would be a "pro-life presidency". Ummm...OK. While I disagree with that particular stance for more than a few reasons I can perfectly understand why it is so very important to other people with their own particular world views. But I started to wonder...why is it that the media always talks about the democratic party taking the black vote for granted and they don't talk about the republicans doing the same thing for the evangelicals. Instead, the evangelicals are the party "base." Why is it that the minority vote in this country isn't also the democratic party "base." Or even the notion that republicans totally pander to the evangelicals in this country and make it a one issue contest over abortion. I know its a big issue to a lot of very prominent and very religious people but surely they must also care about other things beyond abortion and gun rights. I was thinking about adding in the hastening of rapture through the rebuilding of the temple but I'm still not sure I believe that as a motive for the christian right. Besides the point, what it comes down to is that both political parties have sunken to the lowest common denominator and no longer try to persuade the middle of the road "swing votes" instead they try to "get out the vote." That is, they want to energize the people who already agree with them (because its easier than thinking) to get out there and just vote. How I long for a political debate in this country where parties and candidates spar over the issues with data and dialog rather than diatribe and dribble. I wish that november was next month so I could get my vote out of the way and then begin to recover from the depression that will inevitable accompany it. Patrick OUT!!!

Olympic Fever

I LOVE THE OLYMPICS. Just had to get that out there. I mean seriously, perhaps the best invention ever. Perhaps only following democracy and modern rational thought...hmmm, a greek connection. Wow, I should have been an ancient greek...i bet thats what I would have gotten on my aptitude test in high school (if we had to take those things). I wouldn't want to be a modern greek least not today, the US destroyed their basketball hopes in a mere 40 minutes. Back to the olympics, I was trying to put together why I like them so much. I think its because way deep down I am an overly proud american supremacist that really believes that we have something special here not easily found in the rest of the world. Of course, the olympics and the ubiquitous medal tables only serve to confirm that notion. Of course, my Americo-supremicist ideologies are not at all based on athletic prowess but sometimes its nice to just kick ass and take names. For all the shit we get from the rest of the world, every four years we can take a few weeks to shove it back down their throats with an F-U from the U-S-A. Ok, maybe that goes a little far but after watching the Men's 4x100 freestyle relay and their outstanding performance against the french...I have never been more proud of the US athletics. The novelty of having the french team say they were going to destroy the US was just beyond words. It was like they were playing into the worst french stereotypes meanwhile, the americans come from behind to snatch away victory in spectacular fashion. It was like watching a pro-US movie on the big screen but it was real. I mean this was the "Independence Day" of olympic sports and Michael Phelps was Will Smith, but in this one...the French couldn't blow up the white house. Gymnastics is another story of course, the US men were pretty much out of gold medal contention from the start...the women were a different story. After watching some of the competition it was clear that the US-CHINA battle was going to be tough. At the same time, it seemed that the two teams were getting along really well on the side lines. I wondered what they did in their off time. I bet the US team was listening to music, watching movies, just relaxing. The chinese team...maybe getting their training wheels off their bikes. Taking their baby teeth and hiding it under their pillow at night, or maybe being read a bed time story by the coach. Hmmm, 16 years old? Each one or combined? I guess it doesn't matter now, Silver medals are nothing to be scoffed at and I guess we'll never know the truth but it certainly seemed a little strange. Tonight, Phelps goes for #5...should be good. Patrick OUT!!!

Paris for President<>

You should all check out the link above and look for the paris hilton campaign video. Actually, its a response to, "that white haired dude" (John McCain) who used paris hilton in one of his ads against Barack Obama. All in all, I would say that this was the most effective satire of the campaign yet. Its a shame that it took Paris hilton to top the likes of letterman, leno, colbert, stewart, and even THE NEW YORKER. In brief, Paris declares her candidacy and threatens to "Paint the white house pink" if she is elected. She also gives an outline of a soundly reasoned energy, I'm not kidding. Signing off with, "see you at the debates bitches." If I were in charge that would be how all presidential candidates signed off from political ads. Of course, the other sad thing is that if she were to go to the debates she would already be doing better than some political candidates. Namely Obama, who, by and large, refuses to take questions from audiences whenever possible. This is in stark contrast to McCains townhall meetings where hours go by until all questions are exhausted. I wonder if the obama campaign is worried about the potential of dirtying the image of powerful public speaker. Apparently, Paris Hilton isn't worried about such things...OK, we all know that Paris really doesn't care what any of the "poor (making under 500,000/year)" people think. If she did, then she might be more like Obama and keep her mouth shut. Of course, then we might not have ever had the video above. With that, Paris for President '08. I figure if I'm going to throw my vote away in a state that doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of electing a politician I believe in...I might as well throw it as far away as possible. Patrick OUT!!!


So after more than two months, 16 flights, more miles than I can count and having slept in 6 different cities. I am finally home, more or less for good. The flight back from Memphis was thankfully uneventful and I was just so pleased to be back at home for what should be a good long time. I suppose I don't mind the travel so much...though airplanes and security lines can be rather tedious, its more the feeling of always being in transit or just slightly out of place. Never really established in that particular locale and knowing that it could be better elsewhere. Of course all the places I visited (save a few) would be great places to live its just that I wasn't living there I was only visiting and of course that comes with some problems of its own. But now, solid ground beneath me for some time, I feel even more appreciative of the place I am and where I came from. I'm not going to get all AMERICA is GREAT on you all because lots of the places I visited were in the US and I wouldn't want to live there either. I guess it just speaks to the fact that we are all very much a product of the place we grew up and that may be hard to change. It may be different if you live elsewhere (i.e you make your home someplace else) but I'm not really at that point yet and so i can't really say. It may also just be me or a product of the sheer amount of moving around I've done over the past 9 weeks...but of course I have no other frame of reference than my own. For now, this is the only place I want to be and if I never step foot in logan airport again...I wouldn't shed a tear. Patrick OUT!!!


So I saw this article today and I was kind of disappointed because this joker took my idea for a blog post. You can read it for yourself and I will try and not do too much recap

So, I'm writing a book..."Obama Goes to Europe!" Think fievels american tail in reverse and with throngs of germans in the streets. It is really a bit silly...200,000 germans came out to see our presidential candidate. Or let me put it this way...200,000 germans came out to see the junior senator from the state of illinois. Do either of those make sense??? Furthermore, besides the photo-op...why did he go? THESE PEOPLE CAN"T VOTE. Furthermore, while Obama may already envision himself as President...he will never be president of the world (thats what Bill Clinton wants...remember his "run" for secretary general). His speech was pretty much devoid of any real content and sort of sounded like a self-parody. It was so over the top with optimism and unity, I almost threw up in my mouth watching it last night on C-Span. Really, there was nothing controversial about it...that is fundamentally the problem...the only things worth discussing are those in which opinions differ. So, are we to vote for obama because Europeans like him? Are we to suppose that Europeans really do know whats best for us and want that? That they will be able to act entirely devoid of self-interest? When a country elects a president they should do so entirely in their own self-interest (not necessarily on an individual level but on a national level), and yet our candidates campaign outside our borders. Again...WHY? It seems to me that the risk he runs is the media catching up to the fact that this was his FIRST visit to europe as an elected official. So, we have John McCain who has been multiple times to Europe and spends time in the good ol' US of A thinking about our issues and apparently eating german sausage with lindsay graham (seriously, thats where he was yesterday).The final nail in the coffin was watching McNeil Lehrer News Hour on PBS. They wanted a European perspective on Obamania. The commentators in both France and Germany both essentially said that Obama was a symbol that it was ok to believe in the american dream again. Ummm...why did they need Obama for that. Nothing says american dream like being abandoned by your father, raised in foreign countries and becoming a corporate lawyer. I think not. The american dream is in the family that struggles for years to own their own home and eventually succeeds because the country allows it. The american dream is in China town where imigrants form a pocket of another country while at the same time being american in every sense of the word. The american dream is the huddled masses, and the suburban family not the lawyers and CEOS and certainly not the government...those things are all working very hard against the american dream...republicans and democrats both do it. The only difference is that one knows their doing it and the other has convinced itself its not. But who am I to tell the French anything of that. Do the french have a it the disenfranchisement and exploitation of foreigners pushing them to the point of riots and violence in the capitals streets. I'm glad they have something to believe in here in the US, because they aren't going to find it within their own borders. Patrick OUT!!!

So I made fried chicken last night which was pretty good. Only my second attempt and I think it came out OK. Chicken was moist and done all the way though and the crust was crispy and not too heavy despite frying in Crisco (I think my ateries are screaming today). I also butchered my own chicken (I butchered it here...not to be confused with slaughtering it...not quite southern enough for that) which made the meal cheap as all hell. Unfortunately, when I was thinking about making it I mentioned it to Pam who said, "Oh, I've got a lot of spices at the house you could use if you want them." So I didn't buy anything extra at the store which is good because they are expensive. I'm not sure what Pam makes all the time but her spices were litterally, Salt (a good start), cloves (both ground and whole), cardamon, ginger, all spice, and chili powder. THATS IT. If you were going to keep 6 spices in a cabinet...would cardamon make your list, and seriously, how often could you possibly use cloves? Wouldn't PEPPER be a good start? Maybe even paprika? Garlic Powder? Basil, Oregano, Thyme, Rosemary???? Of course, none of those things showed up in the cabinet. Ugh, it came out ok despite the complete lack of spices. Pam also tried to give me instructions on cooking and her little hints and tips that I quickly discounted because she doesn't know what she's talking about. After all was said and done she tried a piece (which I truthfully didn't want to spare) and said it was quite good..."of course", I thought. She then suggested that I could work for the colonel...I'm not sure if thats a good thing or not to hear from your it a harbinger of an upcoming termination??? Probably not...but still. She did make some corn and an avocado and cucumber salad which were both OK...actually the corn was really good locally grown and very sweet. The salad on the other hand could have been so fresh and light except that she drowned an already greasy avocado in about 20x too much oil and vinegar dressing. The best part, is that the house still (as of this morning) smelled like fried chicken. I was tempted to eat some for breakfast but decided against it and had a much more health responsible granola bar and yogurt instead. I'm hoping the oats and nuts will expunge some of the grease that is surely coating my entire interior right now. Delicious though, I wouldn't have my heart attack any other way. Patrick OUT!!!

Cross-cultural exchange

So I guess there has been a lot on my mind over the last few months in regards to cross-cultural exchange. These are things that I have always been hesitant to write about here for no real reason at all besides embarrassment. I have come to a certain understanding with myself that embarrassment is not a reasonable response here and that I should be more open in my particular inner battles. I guess I kind of only have myself to blame for the particular predicaments that I find myself in now. In retrospect, I was pretty content to blind myself to the problems I knew where bound to occur and it wasn't until recently that such things were really forcibly pushed to the forefront. Without getting to personal or too nasty (as I can be with these sorts of things), there is some pressure on myself and my significant other to move to hong kong (her home city...sort of) in the not too distant future. Having been there, I can, with some authority, say that it seems like a fine place to live...for someone else. Really its a busy metropolis full of both the super rich and the dismally poor and it embodies everything about the modern china both the good and the bad with just a sprinkling of european influence to make things interesting. The people of hong kong are markedly different than the people of the mainland but, just the same, they are grappling with becoming a first world economy and all of the changes that accompany such things. They are a city of gucci handbags and fine wines surrounded by villages and customs so old that no one remembers why they have them. A city of western religions (christianity predominates) that is still entrenched in ancestor worship, shrines, and fortune tellers. All those things certainly have their place in this world, I'm just not sure I would have a place in that world. Certainly hong kong could be called a city that had everything...and yet the things I treasure the most are likely not to be found there. I would be a helpless outsider in much of my life...clinging to what bits of westernization I could find. With that in my mind, I have enormous respect for those that come to US from foreign lands (particularly Asia and Africa). However, at the same time the US is somewhat unique in its ability to integrate enormous numbers of disparate groups into its society. This is certainly not done perfectly in all circumstance but the prevalence of thriving ethnic neighborhoods and communities is testament to this. China at large has yet to even come close to approaching this (fueled in part by years of maoist cultural hegemony spurned on by immense distrust of the western world, that effectively closed china off). Certainly Hong Kong as a city is better but they still maintain vivid separation of races both culturally and economically and are no where near immune to the sentiments of china as a whole. It would not be interesting or productive for me to make a list of the things that would be different (though if I started I would never have to think of another blog topic). I suppose my future lies in really fairly simple determination, to what lengths am I willing to sacrifice (and in some respects sacrifice on behalf of others I love) for another person. I suppose the fact that I even consider such things is testament to how serious this is for me but unfortunately such commitment does not solve the problem. The other truly unfortunate aspect of this particular problem is what it requires me to do emotionally. It is really no accident that I decided to become a wasn't a choice between pastel drawing, architecture, and science. They way I think, the analysis, the critical nature of my being is like an inborn destiny to be in science. This is not to say that I am gods gift to science but rather to say something more about my personality. I can't turn it off...whether in the lab or out of it I think the same way in almost everything I do. I make every attempt to break things down into their easily understandable parts and analyze them for what they are. It informs almost everything I do in life, reasoned analysis and logic guide me...choices are made by looking at all the conceivable outcomes and moving from there. I don't believe in chance or luck or leaving anything up to fate. These are things that I can not reasonably understate. Unfortunately, the emotions at play in this particular instance require much more of me and seem to transcend the usual logic. This of course leaves me at a bit of a loss, totally disarmed and turned upside down with no real way to learn any other way of being. For every effort to think logically about the problem, I am thwarted by emotion based in culture and heart rather than head. For certain, this is not to say that those are any less valid means of decision making...they are just rarely MY means of decision making. Of course, I can't really separate that two because while the vast majority of my life is directed through logic...the choice of who one's associates with and more so, who one falls in love with is rarely guided by such clear cut analysis. I can rant for hours on why moving to china is, with every amount of reasoned arguing...a poor choice for my future but that does not stop the fact that logic is no longer a part of the equation. So I suppose it becomes a problem of how much i am willing to surrender to the desires of the heart (someone elses in this case) at the expense of that which has guided me this far. While its "cliche" they say that "the night is darkest just before the dawn" and I certainly hope thats true because its starting to feel like midnight. Lighter posts to come. Patrick OUT

The Dark Knight

Soooo, I saw The Dark Knight (i.e Batman). In short, I give it my approval...wait, is that two good movie reviews in one week...i must be feverish...nope, just good films. Either way lets begin.
To start, the movie is directed by christopher nolan and stars christian bale, heath ledger, morgan freeman, maggie gyllenhall, and that guy from thank you for smoking (which also gets a healthy seal of approval). Obviously the movie focuses around batman and his associated dering-do in battling the JOKER. Heath ledger as the joker is really quite spectacular. It is further than I ever imagined he could go with a character and makes the old TV series Joker and even Jack nicholson's Joker, look downright silly. Seriously, this joker is flippin creepy. The plot has him pretty much appearing out of nowhere with no backstory whatsoever which was a little strange but I'm glad they didn't waste time with something really campy. Of course, the movie is two and a half hours long so whats another 30 minutes...but I digress. Anyways, the Joker appears and begins a not so sophisticated scheme of stealing money from mob bosses and pretty much scares them into believing that the real problem is batman. Of course, we the audience know this is only half way true but the mob bosses are fairly easily convinced and essentially hire the joker to kill now we have a movie. There is a somewhat convoluted plot with a chinese business man and shady business dealings that really felt like a relic of an earlier script but it did allow for some cool action sequences in the high rises of hong kong. Without giving too much away, lots of plot twists ensue and new enemies are made and other defeated. Among those defeated is one of the heads of the mob who is played by Eric Roberts (Julia's brother) who still sucks...this guy really can't act at all and should be barred from the studios at the first opportunity. Apprarently acting ability is not genetic...who knew??? Anyways, back to the movie itself. The acting was well done on the part of ledger, gyllenhall, and freeman. Christian bale needs some work in places but part of the problem was some really cliche dialogue for his character. In addition, he has a certain voice as bruce wayne and then another voice as batman. Unfortunately the batman voice just sounds like bruce went on an alcoholic bender the night before and has not fully recovered. That got really old really quick. Batman also has a lot of new toys to play with in this one...including a bat cycle (motoycycle with guns and really big tires), a new costume (still has pointy ears but not with projectile razor blades on the wrist), and a weird kind of sonar thing. Morgan freeman plays lucius fox who is essentially batman's R&D and makes all of the neat stuff for batman to use. At one point in the movie he threatens to quit over this sonar system thing saying, "this is too much power for one man and I won't be a part of it." OK...let me get this have no problem building, rocket cars, machine gunning motorcycles, bat grenades, razorblade projectiles, and other objects of mayhem but when bat sonar comes on the table, "oh no batman...thats going TOOOO far!" Please...that is rediculous...ok, so you need a reason to not have it in the second movie (and there will be another movie) but please don't let that reason be some half-assed moralizing. Along those same lines, the movie tries real hard to be really profound in its address of civic virtue, heroics, self-sacrifice, and public service. A little of that would be fine but they wanted more...and I wanted more too...more of batman pounding heads together that is and less talk about who is a bigger hero and guy in rubber bat suit, the DA, or commissioner gordon. Lets be simple here...the hero is the guy willing to go out in public and pick fights in a bat costume....ummm, thats bravery my friends. Overall, aside from those minor miscues, the movie is definately worth seeing...if you can get tickets...apparently it already setting records for attendance. Fandango is selling 12 tickets per second, ALL DAY. A blockbuster if I ever seen one...Patrick OUT!!!

New Favorite Blog

Just a quick new favorite blog on the subject of food science

Its really great...written by a husband and wife team who have cooked all over new england and new york. They have lots of neat posts on the science and experimental side of cooking and really do some innovative things with food. Also, their photography is excellent. I'm thinking about including a link-out to some other blogs here on this site and they would certainly be close to the top. Check them out

Patrick OUT!!!


So last night, I saw "There Will be Blood" directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and staring Daniel Day Lewis. My verdict you ask...awesome. For those of you looking for my usual scathing reviews...turn back now. For those of you looking for a good movie to watch...go out and rent it...either way its probably not worth reading much further.
The movie focuses around the slow descent into megalomania of a California oil man at the turn of the century and into the 20s and 30s. Day-Lewis is absolutely phenomenal...though I admit I set myself up to like this movie because I am such a fan of his...that not withstanding the movie did not disappoint. He was so consistent in his portrayal yet laying down that ever so subtle change from beginning to end that his very complex character demanded. Furthermore, the movie has strong undertones (is a strong undertone an overtone...i'm not sure) of revenge which culminate in perhaps the finest movie bludgeoning I have ever seen (not that I can name very many outside of fight club...but this is better than any of those...besides the first rule is you don't talk about fight club...or is that the second rule???). Anyways, there are also a lot of neat religious elements that really get me going because I am becoming more of an atheist every day and a movie that shows the corruptive power of religion has a not so subtle appeal to me. Of course, we can always extrapolate the movie a little further to say that its a battle really between two men who represent the worst of business and the worst of religion. Each of them is trying to capitalize on and take advantage of a generally ignorant population. Anderson is content to have them fight amongst themselves but is this an allegory for our modern situation...I tend to think the model still fits. Though I might vote republican anyways. The soundtrack while mostly scored is also great...really adding to the tension of the film at just the right moments and to exactly the right effect. My only gripe about the movie is the clear distinction between those who know and those who don't. In short, a few characters seem to be absolutely brilliant...most others are nameless faces in the crowd...and i'm not just talking about extras here. Characters with dialoge often come across as robotic without real need while other characters show such depth it makes their idiot counterparts all that much harder to tolerate. Either way, the acting of Day-Lewis carries the film...and its a good thing it did because he is in almost every scene of the film. Before I close out this review let me share a particularly good quote in relation to oil drainage.

Drainage! Drainage, Eli, you boy. Drained dry. I'm so sorry. Here, if you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and I have a straw. And my straw reaches across the room, and then I start to drink your milkshake... I... drink... your... milkshake! I DRINK IT UP!!!

I understand that all that might seem like a silly quote...but once you see the film you'll understand...until then, count the days until that happens. PATRICK OUT!!!

100th POST!!! and more about the Obamas

So the New Yorker has been getting some flack recently for a particular cover they did satirizing the false accusations against Barack Obama.

The image plays upon a lot of the things that have plagued obama over the past few months including accusations of him being a muslim, the fist bump with his wife (apparently a terrorist greeting...I always thought it was just something college kids did), and of course the ever present idea that he is somehow anti-american. In response both the Obama and McCain campaigns issued public condemnation on the New Yorker for I guess encouraging these negative images. So I suppose the thinking is as follows: most people are stupid, these people will see this cover, stupid people will not get the satire inherent, most people will therefor believe that this is a commentary on actual events on the part of the new yorker editorial staff. Now I don't claim to be the smartest guy in the world (OK, I have made that claim on a few occassions but not right now), but this cover seemed pretty clear to me. I can see why the campaign might be a little bit disappointed in it but at the same time to issue public condemnation is pretty lame. I think the real problem presented by this flare-up is not that the new yorker is going after barack or michelle obama, not that there are undertones of bigotry or racism, not even that the cartoon is in bad taste...its more that the cartoon is edging on that line of being too hard to interpret for the average person (in the opinion of the Obama and McCain campaigns). This of course suggests that these campaigns are counting on the votes of people who are less intelligent than me and, for that matter, anyone I know because I have yet to meet someone who interpreted this as anything different than I did, mainly SATIRE. Of course, the other problem is that many of the cartoons in the new yorker that are so lauded over, really are over the head of the average person (assuming you take my head as that of an average person). For instance the following cartoon appeared recently.

What does that even mean? Is this humor? Should I have laughed when I saw this? Is it social commentary on something I've never heard of. I would seriously encourage anyone to leave me their explanations of why this clearly elitist dribbel deserved to be published and what I as consumer should have gotten out of it. The New Yorker's humor pages, which they take great pride in, are absolutely useless. They far too often forget that if people don't get the joke...its not funny. That the fundamental requirement for writing, humor, and communication in general is that people understand. Language bogged down in obscure terminology or arcane references is not communication at all, rather it is boastful in its superiority to the desired reader. I believe that too many readers of the New Yorker are ashamed to admit that these things just don't make sense. Of course, after looking at the latest cover...I think I know why it all works out this way. For once, the magazine publishes a comic that is an effective satire of topical and familiar nation wide events...the response, public damnation. Go on New Yorker comic writers...keep on being obscure...its safer. Patrick OUT!!!

A Family Affair

So while I'm in Arkansas I'm staying with Pam, of course, we didn't really think these things out as clearly as we should have because she ended up having family over for the weekend. I'm going to blame it on the immense effort put into our NIH grant submission, the end result is that while her house is sizeable it is not quite big enough for her family (4 additional people) and another student besides myself already staying there. So while, could have taken the floor in a sleeping bag, I am opting to stay with friends in the area and be a bit of a bum. This is actually kind of nice because I always feel a bit weird about my schedule around Pam and the idea that I know she's lonely so I feel bad about going out a bunch plus the fear of judgement (which is likely totally imagined on my part). Anyways, with her family here...all those things are gone and things have been pretty good. Work in the lab has been a bit slow just on account of some supply issue that should be taken care of next week early when i can begin my more important projects in earnest. Tomorrow, at some point, we're going floating again which is something we did last year. Essentially, for those that don't remember, its drifting down a very slow moving river over the course of 3 hours or so on an inflatable raft. Not a bad time really and definately relaxing. I think it is being followed in short order by a BBQ of some sort which should be even better. After being back down in AR, I remember all the thing I found attractive about this place and its people and yet all the things that still are enough to drive a good yankee mad. For one, can you believe that the news doesn't cover the red sox. I don't know how they sleep at night...don't they understand that red sox nation is everywhere. I hear, however, that there is a nationally televised game coming up soon. It will probably be on ESPN or FOX which, of course, Pam doesn't get with her limited cable. Might have to find someplace else to watch that. Other than that, things are pretty much as usual in jonesboro. Patrick OUT!!!

Oh Jesse...

So, the media has been bombarded once again by people close to presidential candidates saying stupid things. This time, Barak Obama's campaign was actually just caught in the cross-fire as the Rev. Jesse Jackson declared he wanted to cut his "n--ts" off. At first I saw that headline and literally, could not figure out what the n--ts was supposed to represent. I was having trouble brining myself down to that level of political discourse and to believe that someone of such prominence and who speaks so often could only come up with that. Of course that was followed by the quick apology and return to full support from the reverend. This of course makes perfect sense because often times when I feel a need to support someone in something I will say, "Man, I would really like to limit your ability to have children!" or "Gee whiz, if only I could horribly mutilate your genitallia?" These of course, give the sense that I support that person and of course could never be misconstrued as anything other than that. Beyond the pure ridiculousness that this story embodies is the more profound point that the reverend jackson was making. For those not following to close...the question became...WHY does the Rev. Jackson want to tear away barak obamas testicles. Did Obama have a marital indiscretion? Did he refer to new york as hymietown? Did race-bait an entire community by supporting a stripper in her false accusations of rape? No...of course, none of those things...that would be just crazy. Actually, he wants to hurt poor barack because barack had the (pardon the pun here) balls to call out the black men of the community to stop acting like "boys" and start acting like "men." He wants them to stand by their familial commitments, raise their children and not lead them in a direction that says the only path to personal success is through thug life or the NBA. Now it all makes sense, the Rev. Jackson thought those remarks were aimed at him. "Be a man" says barack...what a horrible message for the black community or any other community for that matter to hear. Shame on you, obama for preaching of personal responsibility and community salvation...listen to the pastor who certainly knows whats best.