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Neuroscience Style

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2012-10-15_18

The gals at the breakfast place thought Matt and I were very well-dressed.

Some Settling May Have Occurred During Shipping

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Apparently I could have fit way more stuff into my suitcase. Who knew?

Site to help you vote smarter

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Ballot Measures Made Simple.

Learn, Vote, Share. On November 6th, across the state, Americans will be asked to weigh in on state policy. This process, known as a plebiscite, is a form of direct democracy. You have a say, but what will it be?

California <br />(11 Propositions) Florida <br />(11 Propositions) Alabama <br />(11 Propositions) Alaska <br />(2 Propositions) Alaska <br />(2 Propositions) Arizona <br />(9 Propositions) Arkansas <br />(5 Propositions) Colorado <br />(3 Propositions) Georgia <br />(2 Propositions) Hawaii <br />(2 Propositions) Hawaii <br />(2 Propositions) Hawaii <br />(2 Propositions) Hawaii <br />(2 Propositions) Hawaii <br />(2 Propositions) Hawaii <br />(2 Propositions) Hawaii <br />(2 Propositions) Hawaii <br />(2 Propositions) Idaho <br />(5 Propositions) Illinois <br />(1 Proposition) Kansas <br />(1 Proposition) Kentucky <br />(1 Proposition) Louisiana <br />(9 Propositions) Maine <br />(5 Propositions) Maryland <br />(7 Propositions) Massachusetts <br />(3 Propositions) Michigan <br />(6 Propositions) Michigan <br />(6 Propositions) Minnesota <br />(2 Propositions) Missouri <br />(4 Propositions) Montana <br />(5 Propositions) Nebraska <br />(4 Propositions) Nevada <br />(1 Proposition) New Hampshire <br />(3 Propositions) New Jersey <br />(2 Propositions) New Mexico <br />(8 Propositions) Ohio <br />(2 Propositions) Oklahoma <br />(6 Propositions) Oregon <br />(9 Propositions) Rhode Island <br />(7 Propositions) South Carolina <br />(1 Proposition) South Dakota <br />(7 Propositions) Virginia <br />(2 Propositions) Washington <br />(8 Propositions) West Virginia <br />(1 Proposition) Wyoming <br />(3 Propositions)

  Alabama    Alaska    Arizona    Arkansas    California    Colorado    Florida    Georgia    Hawaii    Idaho    Illinois    Kansas    Kentucky    Louisiana    Maine    Maryland    Massachusetts    Michigan    Minnesota    Missouri    Montana    Nebraska    Nevada    New Hampshire    New Jersey    New Mexico    Ohio    Oklahoma    Oregon    Rhode Island    South Carolina    South Dakota    Virginia    Washington    West Virginia    Wyoming  

Rachel and I were just talking the other day about needing something like this.

Wild Zones | Loma Linda University School of Medicine Student Blog

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At one point in my life I spent a lot of time mowing the lawn. We had a decently-sized area with terrain ranging from wide, flat spaces to steep hills and washed-out depressions. The ride-on mower was the closest I got to having a four-wheeler, so the chore wasn’t all bad. Even so, during the height of the summer, the grass had to be cut weekly, essentially pre-booking my Sunday mornings.

One area of the yard was especially treacherous––water runoff had formed a rocky stream bed, sycamore trees hid branches beneath bark pieces and wide leaves, and there were two wells to be avoided. This Wild Zone wasn’t highly visible compared to the rest of the yard, making it possible to leave that area for the next week’s mowing.

Each time I shifted the task to the right on my calendar, it became easier to do it again the following week. Eventually it had been postponed so many times it became part of the landscape. Nature continued to reclaim the Wild Zone, increasing the difficulty of the task and the inertia associated with completing it. And so the grass grew tall and went to seed, rippling with the breeze even as it concealed all manner of organic debris.

Containing the most egregious parts of the Wild Zone was easy enough: I mowed close to the edge and tossed stray branches further inward. Nevertheless, ulterior consequences of such a region are much harder to manage, encroaching into other areas in sinister ways. My dog began returning to house with dozens of ticks, mosquitoes diminished the enjoyment of the rest of the yard, thorns and locust saplings obstructed the wells.

This simply could not continue. I pulled on thick jeans and a hoodie despite the summer heat. I added safety goggles and tucked my earmuffs awkwardly beneath my hood. Thus armored, I adjusted the mower and plowed into the miniature wilderness. Almost immediately, I heard the telltale grind-snapping of a branch being destroyed by the blades, followed closely by stray pieces of wood and chipped rocks smacking into my face. Thorns pulled at my sweatshirt and snared my ankles, digging into skin. Disturbed insects rose to mix with the vast quantities of dust and pollen already filling the air.

This is a rather roundabout way of describing my life of late. It’s easy to carry on with the imperative parts, doing what is absolutely necessary to keep things moving forward. Dealing with the rest of it, however, requires initiative; it doesn’t have to be finished immediately, even if it should. And so life moves onward, visibly well-maintained while the more hidden, personal areas grow wild and unkempt.

Mowing the Wild Zone was every bit as difficult as I had imagined, but it had to be done. Similarly, as exhausting as it may be to continue “hanging in there,” it’s not enough. It isn’t fulfilling to merely keep pace with existence. There is a limit to how much of oneself can be sacrificed before the tangled undergrowth begins to choke even the non-negotiable tasks.

Take the extra time to truly focus on a loved one, to do something creative, to enjoy the outdoors is vital. Not mowing edges or tossing the branches farther in, but applying the same professional focus to whatever represents “the rest of life.” We ignore these things at our peril. For sure, isn’t easy to set aside the urgent to take care of something important. It’s hard to overpower the inertia and plow through the stress in pursuit of fulfillment.

That’s what it takes.

Tracking the Horserace

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Preparing to chop onions

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I want to be able to see later.

WE Built That (in pictures)

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Near-Field Possibilities

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Near-Field Communication (NFC) is one of those technologies that feels like the future – and not just because it’s  been used in Japan for a hemidecade. Through short-range wireless transmissions, NFC helps connect physical objects to the electronic world. Something as thin as a sticker can contain an NFC tag, allowing people equipped with devices to interact, antlike, with digital pheromones.

Since I recently got a phone capable of using NFC, I’ve been eager to try it out. I nearly always have my phone on my person, making it easy to use it as a meatspace bridge. There are certainly some cool uses for NFC tags in the home and office, but I’m especially fascinated by potential applications for NFC in the laboratory. 

Since starting my PhD, I’ve been looking for ways to help apply some of today’s cutting-edge innovations to the world of science. In the lab, it’s not uncommon to see a machine that can use mere microliters of solution to detect nanomolar concentrations of DNA connected to a Dell that that can barely run Windows XP. While working in the lab, I do a lot of traveling between the physical and digital planes, and my phone is perpetually nearby. NFC presents the tantalizing possibility that my phone could serve as a portable interface to communicate with the objects around me – many of which must be disturbed as little as possible.

These are the kinds of discussions I’ve been having with Omar Seyal of Tagstand over the past few months. He’s graciously sent over some of his tags so we can work together on applying the NFC model to the scientific research environment. I’m looking forward to trying it out and sharing what works and what flops, especially when I test some of these ideas on my boss and coworkers. And if along the way we happen to test if tags still work after being frozen at -80 ºC, well, that can’t hurt either.

Food for Thought

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In rare moment of clarity, Mittens gushes about Israel’s socialized medicine

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And they only spend 8% of GDP?

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