Thursday, March 31, 2005

Unfocused Science

Am in Portugal at the moment and in a bit of a haze due to the sun having finally come out (and with a vengeance!) and also having to deal with several burocratic issues (which I can only handle by going into a semi-hypnotic state).
Still in the midst of all this have picked up a book by Roger Penrose at my father's house that I´ve been meaning to read for ages and have managed to leaf through the first pages.

And this prodded my memory onto two things:
a) Two fondly remembered brunch debates with Edwina, Alex and Noah - alas, little chance of some new ones until I finish my PhD...
b) my initial idea that this blog should have a sort of Science Cafe section to debate science questions.

So, since those two brunch debates were left unfinished due to time and friendship constraints, I thought I'd reintroduce these two issues here. For you to comment, either in the post a comment or in the Greetz sections.

1 - Is Mathematics real?

2 - The concept of mental health - revolving around the question if extremely selfish people are by definition mentally unhealthy.

Will give my own ideas and expand on this in the next post. Meanwhile feel free to start adding any thoughts you might have on these two themes!

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Gastronomical day in Cambridge

Am spending the weekend in Cambridge and it seems as if me and my friends with whom I'm staying (Maria Joao, Joao, Fred and Tamako) have spent the whole day either preparing or consuming food. A true Easter holiday day! Up until now, we have had pancakes, fruit salad and whipped cream, toast (brunch) and homemade tuna paste, quails' eggs, artichokes, sundried tomatoes, grilled halloumi cheese (starters) and stuffed vegetables and chocolate truffles (dinner). And that was all of today plus a one-hour walk through Cambridge. Discovered more beautiful nooks and crannies, but was also supported in the claim I made yesterday that I liked Cambridge more than Oxford because it was more surreal. Spotted a sign saying something like: 'Only College fellows may step on this grass'.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Mood of the day

Not good today.

But here's something that cheered me up a little bit!

!The new Wallace and Gromit trailer

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


Mood of the day

Ok, so I've been saying I was going to post about this for quite a while, but here it finally is. So, for those of you who I haven't bored to death with stories about the classes, I'm...

....Taking an advertising course!...

If you're asking yourselves what does that have to do with science, the answer is nothing and you should see the look of puzzlement of my classmates in the course when I tell them that I'm doing a PhD in science. Sort of 'what is a nerdy science freak doing in a cool thing like advertising' kinda look. Accompanied by a 'and how can she be not half-bad at it either' look as well (hey!advertising doesn't equate with modesty). Much, much better than the usual comment I get of 'Ohhh, you must be so intelligent!'.

So the course is 3h a week, it's called Copywriting and Art Direction, it's subsidised so it's cheap and near both my work and my house. I still had to take a deep breath and plunge in quickly to register after reading the ad, otherwise serious guilt twinges about taking time away from my PhD in this last lap would start setting in..

Oh, the reason? I've always been fascinated with advertising, especially after being in the UK where it's so good. And I still haven't decided what I'm going to do when I finish my PhD. And I'm loving it! Three hours a week discussing ads is my idea of bliss. Right in the first class, I had to put myself in the shoes (or skin) of a 30-year old van-driver whose hobbies are pubbing, clubbing and football. And then choose an ad that he would like.. That was almost too easy - thanks, Struan! Plus we have had to come up with ads for Tabasco Sauce and for a long-lasting light bulb. Both of which were fun and quite easy to do!

Still, if you're thinking you'll soon hear about these cool ads created by moi not a chance, as apparently the only way to get into the industry is by having good connections inside.

So back to my Materials and Methods section. Grooaaan....

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Mood of the day

It's a brilliant sunny day and am quite content with a mere change of weather uplifting my mood. However it's spoilt by my having to review a paper - it's amazing what bullshit people think they can get away with by assuming that nobody will look closely at what they're doing. And the sad thing is, they do get away with it most of the time.

I'm annoyed and it's sunny outside - the world is conspiring to create a perfect setting for me to go and do some retail therapy and leave science matters behind...

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Construction workers

Lucky Vanous, the Diet Coke Hunk

From that diet-pepsi ad in which all the female office workers stop to oggle a construction worker who at 11.30 takes a break by taking his t-shirt off and having a drink. I KNOW you all remember it. After that there was a spoof in Ally McBeal in which Ally and a female co-worker feel it's their lucky day when they manage to get trapped in an elevator with the hunky construction worker only to find that he stinks awfully. (As you would if you were in a job where you sweated all day and didn't wash your work clothes daily).

Well, this is all to introduce the theme. A Portuguese friend of mine visiting London some time ago commented how strange it was to see construction workers who looked healthy, normal, wore nice clothes and 'gasp' were even good-looking! Because Portuguese construction workers are none of the above. I'm not saying that there aren't some exceptions, but the norm is what you get if you take an illiterate under-nourished kid whose father beat him, put him to work at 10 years old so, have him chain-smoke since that age and drink 2 litres of wine a day from the age of 14, and work with no safety instructions on a badly-paid job. So, runted, with rotten teeth, drunk, under-paid, sick, possibly with a missing finger or two from a work accident, rude, etc. Not a pretty sight.

HOWEVER! They do come up with the famous construction workers' comments, which they throw at female passers-by (who very quicly develop selective hearing). An undiscovered literary talent, translated by me for your benefit.

Your mother can only be an oyster to spit out a pearl like you.

You know your face looks very well on you?

Lovely legs! What time do they open?

Hey, gorgeous! Climb my palm-tree and lick my coconuts…

You know where those clothes you’re wearing would look good? All crumpled on the floor of my bedroom!

Do you believe in love at first sight or do I have to pass by here one more time?

With you girl it would be to the bone!

And the literal translation of the ones you can’t translate…

I just wish you were chewing-gum so I could eat you all day long.

You have an ass like an onion! I'd eat it and cry for more!

Hey, sexy, with an ass like that you must shit bonbons!

One day I thought,
Of carrying you in my heart
But then I saw
That it was too much sand for my truck…

Hey spare-rib! Join the hot coals here!

And for the Portuguese readers, the ones that rely on puns and so make no sense translated…

És como um helicóptero: gira e boa!

Usas cuecas TMN?
É que tens um rabinho que é um mimo!

Ó joia! Anda aqui ao ourives.

Ó morcôna, comia-te o sufixo!
(esta parece-me muito inteligente para trolhas :p)

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Mood of the day

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

And to lighten up:

" ... the average sex session in the UK lasts 32.5 minutes and therefore burns 179 Kcals. Men from Bristol topped the charts with an average 44 minute session and 242Kcals burnt, with Cardiff ladies taking the lead for Women and clocking up an exhausting 78 mins and 429Kcals burnt per session. "

Anyone spot a posiibly intriguing discrepancy here?

Dark clouds?

Mood of the day

On the news today:

- China has passed a bill allowing it to take military intervention in Taiwan in case they continue to want independence

- Indonesia has sent military ships to an oil-rich region of its coast that it disputes with Malaysia. Malaysian military ships are already in the area

- Syria has withdrawn troops up to the border with Lebanon but the US is calling for complete withdrawal now to comply with UN resolutions.

- George Bush has just appointed an anti-UN official as the US ambassador to the United Nations.

Is it me being paranoid, or are things looking a bit (more) unstable at the moment?

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Head in the clouds

Ok, so I'm sure me and celebrities must have crossed paths several times before in London as I have lived here for over 3 years now. But as you all know, I don't usually see the world around me so only now am I reporting my first celebrity sighting! True to form, I didn't recognize him straight away (he is only a minor celebrity after all) and was just certain that I knew his face from somehere. Only today reading his interview in Metro did I remember where I had seen him!

I saw him at a show of a friend of mine who is studying performance arts. Presumably he has a son or daughter who was performing that night. Quite happy that such a serious but cool guy (read his interview) was my first sighting...