Saturday, June 28, 2008


I couldn't sleep so decided to get some busywork done. I ordered "10,000 BC" on PayPerView as background noise while I worked...and indeed, that's all it's good for. 109 minutes I'll never get back.

Wooly mammoths were used to build the pyramids, need I say more?? Talk about schlock.


Got my Mac back, better than ever. Super fast, new operating system, newest version of Office. I'm a happy camper.

And, I've got some catchin' up to do on the blog. Clark Spencer Larsen visited us from OSU for two days, to work with the students on their projects and provide some lectures. With the added benefit of providing an excuse for some excellent meals with colleagues. Sadly, there are no pictures of the later, but here are a few shots from his class time:

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Life Has Lost All Meaning

I am without my computer again, and starting to go crazy. No skeleton action figures, difficulty blogging and checking Facebook -- I was actually forced to read a book last night to fill the time. Oh the humanity!!

On a completely unrelated note -- I wanted to point out several new blogs listed in the "Links to Friends" section to the left:

Robert Schick -- for the Albright and/or Jordan readers, he's just started blogging about his research. He's now back in Germany and is getting ready to head to Saudi Arabia.

Jenny Ebeling -- just finished enjoying crabcakes in Maryland and is now in Tel Aviv. Don't read her blog when hungry, as she has a very yummy looking falafel as her icon.

Mary DeAgostino -- is currently doing research in Tanzania for the summer. Pictures are promised soon.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Lost Icon

NPR produced a nice remembrance of George Carlin today that aired several times. Here's the link:
Remembering George Carlin

And in honor of his passing, here's perhaps his best known piece: The 7 Things you can't say on television. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Bigfoot Hunting

I think we need to send Alicia on a field trip to check this out (it's on the border of Bangladesh):

On the trail of the 'Indian yeti'
By Alastair Lawson
BBC News, Meghalaya
17 June 2008

Saturday, June 21, 2008


I finally broke down and joined Facebook. I still think I'm more a blog-type person, but have to admit, I did manage to waste an inordinate amount of time today setting things up. And I can see how it will likely be a great way to keep in touch with all the NSF-REU students (as well as friends far and wide).

I can see however, that some serious computer time self discipline is going to be requited...

Random Bytes

Good news for coffeeholics
By Tia Ghose; ScienceNews; June 16th, 2008

What does gay look like? Science keeps trying to figure that out
By Regina Nuzzo; LA, June 16, 2008

The Coolest Coasters From Around the Globe; June 16, 2008

Coffee's Aroma Kick-starts Genes In The Brain
Jun. 16, 2008

Humor Shown To Be Fundamental To Our Success As A Species
ScienceDaily, Jun. 16, 2008

Scrubbing Out Sea Life - Exfoliating plastic beads feel good—unless you live in the ocean
By Hillary Rosner;, June 16, 2008

June 19, 240 B.C.: The Earth Is Round, and It's This Big
By Randy Alfred, June 19, 2008

by Olivia Judson, June 17, 2008

The Pros and Cons of Sushi
by Anna Gosline
Inkling, November 27, 2007

Science’s Beef With A Beard
by Anne Casselman; Inkling, March 5, 2008

Friday, June 20, 2008

Hey Past NSF-REUers

Check it out -- I was catching up on posts from the Neuroanthropology blog when I came across an article by a previous REUer. Our very own Dr. Anne Holden!

After graduation, she went to Cambridge University with a Gates Foundation Fellowship to study anthropological genetics, then to Berkeley for a post-doc, then to the National Center for Science Education and writing for a very fun magazine that is worth checking out: Inkling. Now she's working for a genetic testing company called 23 and Me!

I've put a link on the sidebar under "Favorite News Sites" for future reference.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Super Fun Birthday #2

The day started out incredibly well -- NPR came on and the first words I heard were "President Bush has left the White House." For some reason there was a pause after that comment, then continued with his current location. It was a happy moment, albeit fleeting...for another 215 days that is.

In class today, we had a great guest speaker talk about the archaeology of burned bone -- may not sound exciting, but indeed it planted the kernel of a potential post-doc for Jaime. It was terrific. Picture below.

Then to dinner with Michael, Doug and Jaime. With a stop first in Niles to listen to the Oblates of the Blues (the band is composed of good friends, it was a great way to start the evening). Then to the Carriage House for a yummy dinner. We closed the place down, and the owner took us out to the gardens to see the grounds. Very pretty, a nice finish to a fun day!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Class Party

Fun party in class today. The students had a cake (with femurs) and made up a modified birthday ditty for me:

Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Your epiphyses are fused,
And your sutures are too!

As are your clavicles... (sung to "and many more")

As they pointed out, it's not so easy to come up with osteological lyrics...

Yay Me!

According to my on-line longevity test, I'm at the halfway point today. Time for a mid-life crisis. I'm getting my house painted and bathroom refinished - that's comparable to a flashy new sports car, no?? I went to Antarctica in January...sort of like a (really) southern Club Med vacation, n'est pas??? And apparently I'm now writing kinky posts (see below)...albeit, unwittingly.

On that note, Mike H. pointed out a website called (I'm not making this up) - - where you can purchase themed tee shirts, baseball caps, etc. The story giving rise to said merchandise is also linked. Apparently my cat's head/butt switch-a-roo isn't so unique an occurrence after all. Pretty funny story (the diagrams help)...tho it does beg the question as to how Mike knew about the site in the first place...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Who Knew ??

So...I had some interesting traffic to the site this morning. When checking out referral sites for the high level of traffic over night, I learned that there's a bit of a 'community' of "enema fetish" folks out there.

I don't know what's more disturbing -- that someone actually typed the words "squirting enema" into Google as a search...or that I wrote a blog entry that satisfied said search.

I guess I've lived in the Midwest too long, I had no idea. I will be titling my posts more carefully in the future...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Pet Enema

Read with caution: One of my cats has been a neurotic little thing since he was a kitten, scared of his own shadow. A veritable 'appendage' once he knows you, but until then, he hides curled up in a tight little ball in a closet.

As he's aged, this has translated into regular constipation. We've gotten this under control with meds over the years, but every now and again, "mom" has to administer an enema. He's not a fan of having plastic items shoved up his butt and today he pulled a new trick -- I had him wrapped in a towel, ready to administer said 'treatment', when his head appeared where his butt had been. I don't know how he did it, but he nearly got an enema in the eye.

At last we had success, or so I thought...until he started squirting enema essence all over the bathroom. And me. Little does he know how close he came to having essence of lunch all over him...

Below is an xray, lacking internal organs because all you can see is how full of doo-doo he is:

Oldest Church ??

I forgot this in the 'Random Bytes' on Saturday. Pretty cool discovery, tho' in need of much more work. While I would not pick Steve Pfann as the first person to interview for this, the article does raise some interesting points:

"Oldest Church" Discovery "Ridiculous," Critics Say
by Mati Milstein
National Geographic News
June 13, 2008

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Intelligent Design as Science

I got up early (in Sue-land) to watch today's "Meet the Press." Had a few minutes to kill, so watched "Face the Nation" and saw the following drivel.

I guess, if they say it with enough conviction, often enough, and on TV, then it must be true. And since this guy was a biology double major in college, he must be an expert... Lord knows we wouldn't want to call into question his grasp of the subject, or whether he was taught by reputable scholars. No, we'll just say that those who don't think intelligent design should be taught in a science class are being politically correct and brush it off as liberal thinking.

Let's hope McCain is smarter than to pick this boob as a running mate. Not that I plan to vote for McCain, but because of the message siding with these anti-intellectuals sends to the nation.

Jindal: ‘The best science’ includes intelligent design
By David Edwards

Happy Father's Day!!

Friday, June 13, 2008


Today was exam day. Big lab practical that they have to get at least a "B" on or they're out of the program. Got to pick up my computer following its surgery, nice to have it back, new hard drive 'n all.

Then Jaime, Lesley, and Shannon came over for the mid-season finale of "Battlestar Galactica." Apparently the final 10 episodes won't be on till 2009 - hopefully they are better than the first 10 (this season has been a bit of a disappointment I must confess).

What's happening to the world??! My Mac breaks AND "Battlestar" is less than excellent this summer. I'm so confused.

Time to Kill ??

Methinks the boys at "The National Review" might have too much time on their hands (amongst other things - like the myopia manifest in one of their reporter's comment today on the Dian Rheam show that "America doesn't create terrorists." But I digress...) Here's an article to prove said point:

Does Google Hate America?
By Chris Thompson, June 13, 2008

Because I'm using an older computer while my 'baby'undergoes 'brain surgery' today, I can't link the website to this posting, so here it is:

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Food for Thought (Literally)

John Spencer's lectures have kept the students chatting since he left. Exactly how it's supposed to work, like we planned it that way or something... He kindly talked to them and answered questions for 6 hours (this is a REALLY interactive group!) Clearly we don't pay him enough!

The pictures below are from our Ethics lunch at Tippacanoe Place (the Studebaker Mansion). Every year they give us our own room, invariably the former nursery.

After coming home for a bit of a break, we went to dinner with Doug and Jaime at a new restaurant in town called NOMA. Same owner as Siam Thai. Very fun evening, which allowed me to pay my on-going icecream debt to John.

For those who don't know the story -- several years ago we were on a hike, since named the "Wadi Kadesha Death March" in Lebanon, that was all downhill and pretty intense. Since I don't have depth perception, I had to follow behind him to see where to step. This was compounded by the fact that we were told it would be 3 hours - turned out to be 6 and no one had enough water with 'em - by the end I was a muddy tired mess with some pretty huge bruises to show for several missed steps. But alive. As payment, John requested two ice creams every night for the rest of his life. I'm a little behind in payment...

Monday, June 9, 2008

1st Guest Speaker

John Spencer is currently visiting, giving the NSF students a series of lectures that hopefully throw several of their assumptions about what science is and science does into question.

John, Jaime, Lesley, Shannon and I headed off to the Bonefish Grill for dinner last night, whose logo handily enough serves as a skeleton action figure as well as a moniker for a fun evening. As always, it's been an enjoyable visit, great set of lectures, and explains my absence from the blogosphere for the past 2 days.

Saturday, June 7, 2008


This caught my attention because of the oh-so-popular sheep/goat classification found in Near Eastern zooarchaeological discussion. But in truth, it's kinda humorous in its own right:

Genetic Scientists Develop Sheep With Brain Of A Goat

What WAS He Thinking ??!

This is exactly the sort of pandering that turned me off of Hillary despite the desire to see a female president -- if Obama really said "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided" to AIPAC last week as claimed in this article (I haven't seen the video), then he deserves every bit of grief he's being given.

An undivided international city is one thing, "the capital of Israel" quite another. This is most definitely the 'politics as usual' he claims he's trying to change.

Obama 'softens' Jerusalem stance
June 6, 2008

Random Bytes

On a Short Leash -- Did you hear about that Buddhist couple who're never more than 15 feet apart? Well, we tried it
By David Plotz and Hanna Rosin, June 2, 2008

West Virginia, Incest Virginia? How the Mountain State got a reputation for inbreeding
By Juliet Lapidos;, June 3, 2008

Website Lets You Send a Post-Rapture E-Mail to Friends 'Left Behind'
By Kevin Poulsen
June 03, 2008

Secrets of the 7 Basic Blog Posts
By Lore Sjöberg;, June 3, 2008

Zombie babysitters: Not-quite-dead caterpillar victims do child care for their killers
By Susan Milius
June 3rd, 2008

The Science of Sarcasm (Not That You Care)
By Dan Hurley;, June 3, 2008

How Sugar Changed the World
By Heather Whipps,
02 June 2008

Domain of the dead
By Bruce Bower;, May 29th, 2008

Court Claim: Chimps Are People, Too
By Jeanna Bryner
29 May 2008

After millennia, Baghdad Jews dwindle to a fearful handful
By Stephen Farrell;, June 1, 2008

Why Are Senior Female Scientists So Heavily Outnumbered by Men?
By Aaron Rowe
May 31, 2008

Talking Distractions: Why Cell Phones And Driving Don't Mix
ScienceDaily, Jun. 1, 2008

Audubon’s insect cafeteria
By Janet Raloff
May 23rd, 2008

Friday, June 6, 2008

Partial Return to Normalcy

Got my computer back, up and running, but it needs a new hard drive, so will go in for 'surgery' next week. Sniff. My first problematic Mac in 24 years -- not so bad I guess, yet I still feel somehow 'betrayed.'

Another eventful weather day. In the later afternoon we got notice from the University alert system that a tornado was headed toward campus, to get to cover. So we all headed to the basement (which actually has an old-style air-raid shelter) and the head of the Book Preservation department was still in the lab. She was working on an old letter from a Civil War soldier who described capturing a 15-yr old female Union soldier and releasing her after 3 hours (no further explanation as to why). Apparently an odd bit of Civil War history, and it was quite cool to see how the letter was being preserved.

The students enjoyed it - an unexpected 'field trip' adding a little excitement to the end of the week.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

A Bit TOO Eventful

Our second full day of class was hopefully a fluke. Jaime was giving a lecture this morning and one of the students got up to presumably go to the bathroom. They then heard two loud, terrible clunking sounds, and walked out of the seminar room to find the student face-down on the stair landing. She apparently passed out and went down head (face) first. Police, parametics, an ambulance ride, and an emergency room visit later, she was cleared and came back to the lab. Pretty bruised up and apparently looking forward to several forthcoming days of some notable pain from the fall but otherwise ok.

I wasn't there, Jaime handled this one on her own. And Shannon went over to the hospital and stayed with the student till she came back to the lab. Real testimony to what a good team can do. I'd better be careful....clearly they don't need me around anymore!

Most of the students stayed in the lab during their lunch break to "work on the stations," but I think it was really to make sure their new lab partner was okay. An encouraging sign of group cohesion so early in the program.

After lunch was my turn to lecture, and my computer crashed. Dead. Gone. A quite uncommon occurrance for a Mac, and one that I had a tough time equating with reality. I feel somehow betrayed. Fortunately we had a copy of the talk elsewhere and I gave it on another computer. But I have to say, I almost threw up my hands and said "go home, the Bab edh-Dhra' curse is in full swing today."

The dead computer explains the lack of an action figure with this post. Hopefully I can get it corrected tomorrow. We can't let the Gomorah-ites win!

To round out the day, there was a tornado warning for part of the evening, and south of us they reported softball sized hail.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Sleep Solution

Tonight's "Colbert Report" interview with George Will was surprisingly fun! Great sparing partner for Colbert. I'll embed it tomorrow when available at Comedy Central and/or RawVideo.

And he ended with a possible insomnia solution:

"Nothing helps you get to sleep faster than a warm glass of milk... especially if the cow is on narcotics."

UPDATE: Here's the George Will interview --