Sunday, February 28, 2010


Comment posted over at VWXYNot?

Total heartbreak of a hockey game. After regulation, I thought momentum was on our side, and hoped that if we could at least get through overtime, Miller would make the difference in a shoot out. Alas, it was not meant to be. *sigh*

Congratulations Canada, and while we leave with the most medals, Canada certainly owned the top of the podium with a record setting number of gold medals. You hosted a fabulous Winter Olympics, and you should be proud.
Well, there's always next ye ... uhhh, Olympics.

Go for the Gold!

Canada has locked up the gold medal count for the Olympics, and a "Congratulations" is in order for them. However, that does not mean that we need to let them finish with another in Hockey. It's the 50th Anniversary of the US upset of Canada at the Olympics in Squaw Valley, and it's the 30th Anniversary of the US shocking of the world to win the Olympics in Lake Placid in 1980. It's time for another upset (even though they're all professional hockey players now). Come on USA! Win one more gold for the USA in these Olympics!

Natural Disaster Juxtaposition - Haiti and Chile

Good read here. How does the world ensure that such things cannot happen again? Do we pick up Haiti by its bootstraps and ensure that everything meets acceptable codes as the country rebuilds? Where does Haiti find the money and appropriate manpower to enact such rebuilding efforts?

I cannot see Haiti being anything but a mess going forward for a long time. It's also possible, IMO, that Haiti may wind up falling into total chaos and governmental collapse. Who steps in then? The United Nations? The United States? I think we simply cannot afford to "take over Haiti" though I would hazard a guess that a majority of Haitians are hoping that we do that very thing.

Haiti as the 51st state anyone?

And before people start claiming "The end times are here!", I came across this page at the USGS yesterday. The earth is rocked by at least one quake of the magnitude that Chile experienced a year. Over a dozen rock the earth at the magnitude of what happened in Haiti ... so the sky isn't falling.

Why I love astronomy ...

... it's because of things like this. Around 6 seconds in, you can see a couple of Saturns moons pass in front as well. Perhaps other people don't get geeked up about things like this, but I'm just amazed that we live in such a dynamic universe.

Video of the Week

This funk band is hilarious. Song isn't really suitable for children though.

Friday, February 26, 2010

I did not ...

... like reading this article. Why? Because it's too darn sobering.
Even according to the White House's new budget projections, the gross federal debt in public hands will exceed 100 per cent of GDP in just two years' time. This year, like last year, the federal deficit will be around 10 per cent of GDP. The long-run projections of the Congressional Budget Office suggest that the US will never again run a balanced budget. That's right, never.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Twenty political idiots ...

... most you'll have heard of, some maybe not. All are responsible for digging this country -- and all of us -- into a great big mess it'll take years, possibly decades, to dig out of.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Not a fan of the IRL

But I'd watch a few races to see this car in action.

Algae at the pump

Two to ten years away.
There’s a material divergence of opinion on the timelines for algal commercialization. Groups are generally in the 10-year camp or the 2-3 year camp. In the ten year camp we find researchers such as Ron Pate, but also companies such as ExxonMobil and Sapphire Energy. Sapphire’s commercialization path aims for 1 billion gallons in the 2020s, while ExxonMobil’s biofuels chief Emil Jacobs has candidly discussed algae in 10-year timelines. Although the National Labs have occasionally been chided for thinking in “elongated timelines,” there are major commercial players thinking in the same time frames.


Does anyone know of a core facility/commercial lab that does PLFA analysis?

Tap water safety

A study out of Canada is hypothesizing that tap water could be a source of at least one virus that annually plagues Canadians: Norwalk virus.
University of Toronto researchers, comparing Norwalk outbreaks to river water flow and lake temperatures, theorize that a near-endless "feedback loop" sends the virus from human waste to surface waters, then to water treatment plants that are unable to eliminate the bug, and finally back into household faucets.
How to stop the cycle?
The theory, if proven, raises the question of whether tap water should be treated with ultraviolet exposure, virtually the only way to kill the hardy viruses, the researchers say.
Yet another reason for me to eschew water and stick to drinking Coke Zero.

Monday, February 22, 2010


I simply cannot believe that this is my one thousandth post! It's hard for me to fathom that I've had this much to say in the past few years that I've been blogging. Additionally amazing is that over the past two plus years I've actually averaged over a blog post a day. Now, most of it is rather inconsequential ... but it's still a bit amazing that I've stuck at it for this long!

When I started this blog I was finding my way along in the agricultural/environmental sciences. Coming from a medical microbiology background I knew more about the Krebs Cycle than the Nitrogen Cycle (I still have a diagram I made my first week at work taped next to my monitor ... right next to a soil texture triangle) and I was more than a bit intimidated by my new surroundings. At that time I was also being transitioned in biofuels research, and this blog started out as Biofuels! to serve as a repository for links on the subject that I found interesting. During these couple of years I've found firmer footing in my research areas and I don't feel weird calling myself an environmental microbiologist at this point (though I'd stop short of calling myself a microbial ecologist ... that is going to take a lot more training).

So now, four years (I did start the blog at the end of 2006) into this "experiment" I'd say I'm entirely on a different road than I was when I started. Tenured, maybe a bit more mature, and definitely more seasoned ... I'm looking forward to continuing onward for as long as I can (I'm still considering my resolution to strive to post more relevant material).

I'd like to thank everyone who has come along and contributed to the discussion, I appreciate it ... and it has certainly helped me continue on this journey. Thank you!

Currently ...

Listening To

Here Come the Mummies
, a great funk band I just stumbled upon as I was driving to Omaha to catch an airplane.

I do not Facebook ...

... but if I did, I would follow this advice.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Do you need this guy to help you through V-Day?

He's based in New York.
Death Bear will take things from you that trigger painful memories and stow them away in his cave where they will remain forever, allowing you to move on with your life. Give him an ex’s clothes, old photos, mementos, letters, etc. Death Bear is here to assist you in your time of tragedy, heartbreak and loss.
I guess this is Death Bear's website. I don't think he travels cross country. Bummer.

Also see: Date with Death Bear.

ETA: This is Death Bears (aka Nate Hill) website.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Can you guess ...

... where I was this past weekend?


Tuesday, February 09, 2010

The Olympics are this year?!?!

I usually get excited for the Olympics. This year ... meh. There just doesn't seem to be a compelling storyline for me to latch onto to make me care enough to want to watch.

For reals?

Nice SNAFU here by the State Department. This woman has spent her life thinking she was an American citizen.
A State Department spokeswoman, Adriana Gallegos, declined to discuss Boneva's situation, citing confidentiality laws. She sought to clarify the overall matter in an e-mailed comment, saying, "We don't revoke citizenship; we revoke documents." But she declined to elaborate on what that means for Boneva.
What the heck is that supposed to mean? You don't revoke citizenship, just documents. Sheesh.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Just Shoot Me

The bullet-proof tailor. Interesting read and watch.

Hubble captures mystery object ...

What could it be?
The weirdest thing, however, is not only the prettyful X-shaped debris pattern, but the fact that its 460-foot-wide nucleus is outside the dust halo and separated from the trail. This behavior is something which has never been seen before in a comet or any other solar-system-swooshing object.
I wonder how far away this thing is ... to get that good of a resolution (capturing detail on a 460 foot wide object) is pretty impressive. Yet another reason to keep Hubble up and running.

Here is NASA's press release on the object.
At the time of the Hubble observations, the object was approximately 180 million miles from the sun and 90 million miles from Earth. The Hubble images were recorded with the new Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3).
Ok, so that answers my question ... a resolution of 460 feet (probably can go lower) from 90 million miles away. Makes you wonder exactly what spy satellites can do, huh? Probably read your text messages on your phone from outer space. You better shield your iPhone from prying eyes when you're outside!

Food for thought ...

How we access and store data is critical.
In 2008, for instance, it emerged that the US had "forgotten" how to make a secret ingredient of some nuclear warheads, dubbed Fogbank. Adequate records had not been kept and all the key personnel had retired or left the agency responsible. The fiasco ended up adding $69 million to the cost of a warhead refurbishment programme.

I'll see your humans, and raise you two turtles and a mouse

Iran *ahem* enters space race.
"The scientific arena is where we could defeat the (West's) domination," Ahmadinejad said in remarks broadcast live on state TV.
Launching worms (along with the aforementioned critters) into space is a step, I suppose, in that direction. I think they have a long way to go though.

Monday, February 01, 2010

The Mediteranean is a cesspool ...

... and it appears that organized crime has taken killing to a whole other level.
That African nation possibly holds clues to the kinds of health hazards Italians might face. “My committee heard from Somalians who said many people in that area had symptoms of poisoning and some died,” Scalia attests, referring to a stretch of highway along which Alpi and Hrovatin may have witnessed the offloading of toxic substances. The tsunami of December 2004 dredged up giant metal containers from the seabed and placed them on Somali beaches—proving that the country’s coastal waters had also received questionable trash. A United Nations report blamed fumes from these unidentified objects for internal hemorrhages and deaths of local people.

In April 2007 Calabrian authorities had temporarily halted fishing in waters off Cetraro (where the Cunski lies, according to a turncoat from the ’Ndrangheta mafia) because of dangerous levels of heavy metals in marine sediment. In the region around Amantea, mortality from cancer between 1992 and 2001 exceeded that in neighboring areas, a study found; just as worrisome, hospitalizations for certain malignancies have risen in recent years.
Why can't we treat the Earth better than we have?

It has begun ...

... my foray into P90X territory has started. I've been taking notes on my diet, have a shopping list for the next few nights dinner (very high in protein, low in carbohydrates), and a one hour date with my DVD player this evening. Wish me luck!

Haiti the 51st state?

I think a number of Haitians would want that.
"I want the Americans to take over the country. The Haitian government can't do anything for us," said Jean-Louis Geffrard, a laborer who lives under a tarp in the crowded square.

Currently ...


If you love strategy games, you have to try the Advance Wars series. Two Gameboy Advance titles, and two DS titles.

Listening To