Saturday, May 22, 2010

These songs are uncannily similar

I recently watched the movie Brothers, and recognized the theme song from the Oscars. Here is the beginning of the song.
Doesn't it sound a LOT like the beginning of the song July Flame by Laura Veirs? Here is how that song starts.
Uncanny. But both are good songs, IMHO.

I tend to like movies with scores by Thomas Newman; he did the score for American Beauty, my favourite movie of all time.

Friday, May 21, 2010

It's my tenure-versary

One year ago today, I walked to work with dress-pants, a dress-shirt, and a tie, ready to face the tribunal at my tenure hearing. In case you haven't read ALL my blog posts, you can find out more about the big day in my first post. As I walk to work today, I'm remembering the motivational messages that Trish and Fiona wrote on the sidewalk with chalk.

What an amazing feeling to have such support (not unlike the feeling of being thrown a surprise 40th birthday party).

Over the past year, I've allowed myself to grow in a number of directions (happily, none of those refer to my waistline... quite the opposite, in fact). I started my blog the day after I got tenure, and also embarked on a new major research project in computational neuroscience. A week from now, my grad student and I will be submitting a paper to NIPS (Neural Information Processing Systems conference). The research has produced some interesting results that might help to unveil the algorithm that the brain uses to learn.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

President's Run

On Tuesday, I took part in the UW President's Run (for the 4th time, I think). Here is a picture of the start (I'm number 34).

And here is a picture of me kicking some guy's ass as I sprint past him to the finish.

Totally a negative split!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Awesomerest birthday weekend

Last weekend was my 40th birthday (Friday May 14, to be exact). A bunch of families arranged to spend the night at Great Wolf Lodge. It has an indoor water park... totally awesome!

A little tube before bed never hurt nobody.

On the way there, Trish informed me that we were going out for dinner on Saturday night with Shannon and Rob. That sounded delightful (even though I can't stand them :-). Well, Saturday evening had arrived, and so had the babysitter, so we set off to Shannon and Rob's house to pick them up. Only when we got there, most of my other friends and siblings were there too. They yelled "SURPRISE!!" I pooed in my pants.

Rewind 10 years. Trish and I were going out for dinner in Gastown, Vancouver, to celebrate my 30th birthday. To the Spaghetti Factory, actually. But when we got there, a bunch of my friends were already seated, and they yelled "SURPRISE!!". I pooed in my pants.

How could I be so blind to let this happen two decades in a row?! I even joked with Trish, "Oh yah, we're going to Great Wolf Lodge... RIGHT." But I can say in all honesty, I was completely unsuspecting when I walked into that party. Trish, Shannon and Rob caught me utterly offguard. Well played, my friends. Here is me with Shannon and Rob (a.k.a. "the culprits").

And here is Trish in what I've dubbed her "Tina Fey dress".

I am extremely lucky to have Trish. In fact, it probably shows a lapse in judgement on her part. But I'm all the better for it. Thanks Trish, and thanks to all the family and friends that attended. GROUP HUG!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

She has such great spatial perception

This is Addie. She drew a picture for me, and showed it to me. But then she decided to add some more details.

What's interesting is that the extra people she's adding are upside-down for her, but she drew them right-side up for me. Maybe that means she has good spatial awareness. Her mom (Happy Mothers' Day, Trish) is excellent at knowing her way around, intuitively. Or maybe I'm just super-proud. Yah, that's probably it in any case.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Stiff: A book review

I listened to the audiobook version of "Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers" by Mary Roach. What a treat. Am I a sicko, or what?

In her explorations into how human cadavers are used, Mary tells us - in gruesome detail - about many of her site visits. These include a cosmetic surgery workshop (for anatomical education), a human-remains research "farm" (used to infer time of death), and a tissue digestion company (an alternative to cremation). She also outlines a lot of the history around early anatomists, and how they used to hire body-snatchers to supply corpses by digging fresh graves, or otherwise.

One of my favourite parts of the book is her chapter on head transplants. Umm, make that "body transplants". Not done on humans, but on dogs and monkeys. I even took the time to look up the 1971 Surgery paper she described, entitled "Cephalic exchange transplantation in the monkey" by Robert J. White et al, which is where this rather disturbing figure comes from.

Mary has a humourous candor that comes out effortlessly from Shelly Frasier's reading. I highly recommend this book, if you have a strong stomach and a fascination with the macabre.

Motivational posters for atheists

There's a whole gallery of them. These are my favourites

Monday, May 3, 2010

Why Women Have Sex: A book review

Listened to the audiobook version of "Why Women Have Sex: Understanding Sexual Motivations - from Adventure to Revenge" by Cindy M. Meston and David M. Buss.

The book is about the psychological and evolutionary motives for women to engage in sex. Their evidence comes mostly from a large survey they conducted in which thousands of women of various ages, socio-economic standings, and sexual orientations reflected on their sexual experiences. Their motives ranged from "I was curious to see how good he was in bed", to "I thought if I had sex with him, he'd stop pestering me", to "I wanted to make my ex jealous".

While the subject matter is acutely interesting, unfortunately I found this book a little dull. Much of the book was devoted to simply reading the comments from their survey. It didn't have the same evolutionary depth as David Buss' other book that I thoroughly enjoyed, "The Murderer Next Door" (you can read my review of that one by clicking).