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waltman (335)

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Journal of waltman (335)

Monday March 21, 2005
11:11 PM

What if...?

...the only thing that could save Terri Schiavo were medical marijuana?
Saturday February 19, 2005
11:45 PM


Here's yet another sign that science education sucks in the US:

I had to go to the card store this morning. The woman in front of me in line was buying some of those mylar Happy Birthday balloons. It was cold this morning, so the cashier warned the woman not to worry if the balloons seemed to deflate in her car, and that they'd be fine once they warmed back up.

The woman seemed quite concerned by this, and finally said, "you know, I've got to visit a few more stores in this shopping center. Could I just pick them up on my way out, so they don't have to spend as much time in the car?"

Thursday January 27, 2005
01:54 PM

You decide!

Information Theory, Inference, and Learning Algorithms vs Harry Potter -- You decide!
Monday November 08, 2004
08:45 PM

Difference of Opinion

There was a controversial play in Saturday's Penn-Princeton football game. Here's how Princeton's student newspaper, The Daily Princetonian, described it:

Determined not to roll over and give in to the heavily favored Quakers, the Tigers forced a fumble on Penn's first possession of the second half.

And here's how Penn's paper, The Daily Pennsylvanian, saw the same play:

Matthews moved the ball to the Princeton 42-yard line before the momentum of the game changed again.

McDermott threw what appeared to be a forward pass to Matthews, who dropped it. But the officials ruled it as a lateral, and Peter Kelly fell on it for the Tigers.

"I thought that was a huge call," Bagnoli said. "We had just had two or three first downs, the ball was right at midfield, we were starting to get a little bit of momentum...I didn't think it was close."

So who's right? The Penn paper, of course. The play was a screen pass to the running back. The ball was thrown a little behind him and he couldn't catch it. There was no one within 10 yards of Matthews when he dropped it.

Saturday October 09, 2004
09:24 AM

News flash

The Eagles have their bye this week, so it's a slow sports news weekend here in Philadelphia. Here's the banner headline in this morning's Inquirer:
Wednesday August 11, 2004
09:28 PM

Ask Fergie

Philadephia's foremost beer maven, Fergus "Fergie" Carey, now has his own weekly column in the Philadelphia Weekly.
Tuesday July 20, 2004
09:12 PM

Fun with minions

So I ask the kid who's working on "the database" if there's any way I can look up gene information using a few fields I mention as an key.

Blank stare.

"You know, in that database thingy you're working on."

He shows me a CGI screen.

"Umm, can't I can just send it some SQL?"

Blank stare. "Why would you want to do that, instead of just using the screens?"

"I've got a C++ program, you know, that app I demoed at the lab meeting last week?"

Blank stare.

Eventually after about 15 minutes of this I get him to show me a tab-delimited text file of what I want. "So you've got not one but two databases (don't ask), but you don't have a single table in either of them to store gene information?"

Blank stare.

Thursday July 15, 2004
09:20 AM

Misplaced Apostrophe of the Day

"Glady's Knight & The Pips"
Wednesday June 30, 2004
09:54 PM

Talking to biologists

For the past 8 months or so I've been working at the Wistar Institute, a smallish cancer research center at the University of Pennsylvania. I'm one of the few techies in a building full of biologists, which has taken some getting used to.

One thing is that people naturally tend to assume that I must be one of them, and that I'm at least familiar with basic biological terminology and lab functions. Hah! My last formal biology course was freshman year of high school. I've certainly picked up a lot while I've been at Wistar, but the labs themselves still sort of scare me.

So anyway, today I was walking down the hall when I saw a postdoc from the new lab that's getting started up across the hall. He was holding an orange plastic lid in his hands, and asked "do you know if this is autoclave-safe?"

Now, I didn't even know what an autoclave was 8 months ago. Now I've come to know it as the noisy, sometimes smelly oven-like contraption down the hall that the cute lab tech is always loading and unloading. But I don't have the slightest idea how to use it.

"Beats me," I replied. "Do I look like a biologist?"

"Well, now that you mention it..."

"No, I'm a computer programmer. I help the folks in this lab with their data analysis."

"Oh, cool. What languages do you use?"

"Mostly C++, and a little Perl to hold everything together."

"Perl? Never heard of it. Do you do any Java? I really like Java!"


Friday October 31, 2003
02:23 PM

Yin and yang

Last night, driving home from the movies, a black cat crossed my path, which of course is bad luck, especially around Halloween time. But then a little later a Krispy Kreme truck also crossed my path, which I figure balances things out at least a little.