Archive for December, 2011

Star Trek: TNG – Devil’s Due

December 30, 2011

I have a new post up at Minnesota Skeptics about a particularly skeptical episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation! Here’s an excerpt:

Upon the away team’s arrival on the surface, Ardra herself appears to the crew and the Ventaxian leader to claim “her planet”. Ardra is able to instantaneously change her appearance, to cause tremors to start and stop at her command, and she even makes the entire Enterprise starship disappear!  But Captain Picard smells a phony. He describes Ardra as being a flim flam artist to his crew, and accuses her of being a fake in front of the Ventaxians.

To read the rest of my article, please go here to the Minnesota Skeptics blog.

Oh, oh! But I also have to share a fabulous website that I found while looking for images of Ardra. It’s called Fashion It So, and it’s written by two people who are watching Star Trek: The Next Generation for the clothes. Well, I’m guessing they’re watching it because they geek on Star Trek: TNG, but the blog is all about the fashion.

They make off-hand horrifyingly blasphemous (to TNG fans) remarks such as the following in bold:

“We never see these aliens not on their ship (they had a name but I realized I don’t care and neither should you) so getting a great look at their outfits is pretty tricky, but I think we can all agree there’s nothing to see here.”

But since they were discussing the Pakleds, you have to agree with the fashion assessment. And really that’s all the writers are making claims about, so why stick it to them on nerd details? And I get the feeling that these guys do have some geek/nerd cred. I spotted one reference to X-Files, they make some horribly punny jokes, and the most recent entry (yesterday) is a repost of three TNG action figures filmed in stop-action to Beyonce Knowles’s Single Ladies.

As an aside, my favorite description of Ardra’s outfit was

“OF COURSE bitch looks amazing. She’s the devil! So she rolls up in a fucking LEATHER JUMPSUIT with some goddamn CHIFFON attached to just the back of her pant legs, like she couldn’t decide if she was racing dirtbikes or going to the ballet.”

Go. Visit their website. Enjoy.

Geeky Christmas to All!

December 30, 2011

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Season’s Greetings!

I’ve been enjoying my holiday week. I did have to go back to work yesterday and today, but I was starting to get that panicky Ohmigod-there’s-going-to-be-300-emails-in-my-inbox-when-I-get-back! feeling anyway, so it was time. And I do have Monday off, so there’s that.

This year it was a very geeky Christmas under the Biodork tree. I received so many nice presents from my family, and as always, I was blown away by the imaginative gifts that found their way to my lap on Christmas morning.

I inherited a Kindle from Mom, who had upgraded to the Kindle Fire. I haven’t owned an e-reader before; it’s pretty swanky. I also inherited all of her books, which for the most part I’m not too excited about because I don’t read a lot of mysteries. But she does have a copy of Sam Kean’s The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements which I’ve been looking forward to reading.

I also received a “Birds of the World” desk calendar that I had asked for, a vintage mixing bowl and hand towels, a fancy shawl and beret set, a couple of books, a makeup box, a framed handmade paper-art picture of a diver in an old-fashioned diving suit tangling with a giant octopus, some hand-made candles and soaps, earrings, and oh…so many neat things!

But this post is dedicated to the geekiest of the gifts I received, and to those who gifted them to me without embarrassment or question, and in several instances, without me even asking for them! My family rocks.

A. Three new additions to my geek/skeptical/science t-shirt collection. “Medicine is the best medicine” is a jab (<— ha! See what I did there?) at alternative medicine. “Starfleet Cadets”…well, do I really need to explain a Star Trek shirt to this crowd? And “Peace, Love, Science” is pretty decent life motto for me, if I had to sum it up in three words. Thanks, Mom and Hubby!

B. I lumped together three new toys in this section: A dashboard zombie, two Skeptics Guide to the Universe pins from Skeptical Robot, and a CD/DVD of Tim Minchin’s Ready for This? I’ve already introduced three n00bs to the genius of Tim Minchin this holiday (go visit his YouTube page to be indoctrinated). Thanks, Aunt Di, Erin and Hubby!

C. My sister, Erin, found these glass test tube gauged earrings from Infinite Cosmos Glass. They’re size 00 and fit nicely. The black o-ring sits behind the ear to hold the plugs in place. The little corks even come out, so I could put stuff in them! Little seeds, glitter, dead insects…stuff. Thanks, Erin!

D. Oops! Almost forgot Zelda! Mom got me a copy of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess for our new Wii. I started playing it last night and may regret requesting it; it’s one of those RPGs that has the potential to be a major time suck. Luckily I have self-control! Right? RIGHT??? Thanks, Mom!

What were your favorite Christmas gifts that you gave or received this year? Did you get or give anything geekier than my new toys?

Cross-Country Connections: Together

December 29, 2011

Cross-Country Connections is a Biodork weekly blog entry dedicated to telling stories in pictures of three family members – me, my sister and Mom – living in very different locations across the country. Every week we choose a different theme and then take or contribute a personal photo that fits the theme. This week’s theme is Together.

This week is a little bit different. First – it’s late. Last Friday the Hubby and I left on holiday and didn’t get home until Tuesday. I started editting photos yesterday, and finally have my #$%@ together for CCC today.

This year we drove down to Woodstock, Illinois for the third annual Christmas Gathering At Aunt Leigh’s House. Aunt Leigh has a beautiful house with lots of rooms – enough to put up 14 of us on our busiest night!

Second, Mom, Erin and I didn’t take photos. Instead, we had the Hubby take a group photo of the three of us. We brought the CCC gang to one living room in a completely new location.

From Mom, me and Erin in Woodstock, Illinois:

Mom, me and Erin in front of the Christmas tree in Aunt Leigh’s living room.

And one more bonus shot. I was pleased to have remembered my tripod (I’d be more pleased if I hadn’t forgotten it in Woodstock when we came home to Minneapolis). We were able to take a group shot of everyone who made it to Christmas this year.

First Row: Aunt Leigh, Cousin Haley, Uncle-in-Law Greg, Cousin Sidney, Aunt Diane, Grandma Betty, Mom
Second Row: Me, the Hubby Aaron, Brother-in-Law Ralph, Sister Erin

Leigh, Haley and Greg live in Woodstock. Sidney and Diane came up from Springfield, Illinois. Grandma Betty is from Vienna, Illinois. Mom is from Carbondale, Illinois. Me and the Hubby are from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Ralph and Erin are from Bellingham, Washington.

Hooray for family, and for making these Cross-Country Connections in person.

Happy Holidays.

Married People Conversations: Dream House

December 20, 2011

Sunday was gorgeous. The sun was shining, all of the snow had melted away, and it was a balmy 40F. The Hubby and I decided to walk up to Calhoun Square to make some much-needed Vitamin D, and to stop at Jimmy Johns for sandwiches (well…a sandwich for him and a gluten-free lettuce wrap for me).

Along the way we ran across a nice-looking 2.5 story house for sale, which sparked the time eternal husband-wife Dream House Conversation. The Hubby and I have radically different views on what the ideal house looks like. I want a house with lots of hidey-holes, closets, odd rooms, funny half-levels, and stairs and doorways arranged every which way. I like older, established houses that have Character.

My sort of house. Image Source

The Hubby wants a big garage, a place for him to set up a workshop, and a man den. He likes strong angles and unique features, but most important above everything else, the Hubby wants a New House. He thinks an older house would be too much work; he wants to start fresh with a recently-built house or a brand-new construction that won’t give him any headaches (I call poopy-cocka on this because every house gives you headaches. It’s just more disappointing when the new ones fall apart). He actually likes cookie-cutter subdivisions – blech!

The Hubby’s sort of house. Image Source

But we both agree that owning a certain styles of a smallish, converted church would be incredible. I love the wonky architecture in some churches, and he likes the brick work and big open area that would be left from where the congregation used to sit. Although according to the Hubby, it would need all updated fixtures, plumbing and any structural repairs done right away so he wouldn’t have to fix anything later. F%^&ing stubborn Swedes.

Dream house! Image Source

Anyway, that was an unusually long lead-in to a MPC, but this is the conversation that started up after running across the house for sale in South Minneapolis:

Me: That one looks nice.

The Hubby: Yeah, it looks well-kept. Hey – it’s got one of those barcodes. Scan it and see if it tells you how much they’re asking.

I scan the QR barcode and the property information comes up.

Me: $450,000.

The Hubby [grunting]: Wow. Someday, maybe.

Crossing the street we pass a HUGE church with beautiful stained windows and stone walls.

Me: I want that house.

The Hubby: [perking up] Yeah!

Me: Can we keep the stained glass windows? They’re awfully pretty and not overly religious.

The Hubby: Sure.

Me: I want to model it after that place in Saint Louis that we visited.

The Hubby: The City Museum – definitely!

Me: Really? You’d put a slide in?

The Hubby: Hell, yeah! A slide, a couple of fire poles, a tight winding staircase. I mean, we could have regular stairs too, but it’d be fun to jump out of bed and slide down to the kitchen for breakfast.

Me: Hey, can we put an elevator or a lift or escalator in, too?

The Hubby: No way.

Me: But what about our friends and family who don’t navigate stairs so well?

The Hubby: I want everything to be green and not require any energy use, so when the apocalypse hits we can still use our house.

Me: Oh, right. ‘Cuz when the apocalypse hits, our house is going to still be standing. Or if it does actually make it through whichever disaster scenario we go through, we’re not going to be overrun with survivors looting us for all we’ve got.

The Hubby: Well, that’s what the machine-gun turrets are for.

Me:  Ahhh…

A comfortable pause as we walk along and consider our house.

Me: Can we rig up a pulley system lift that doesn’t require any energy?

The Hubby: Sure, why not? Now, where in an ex-church is a good place to put a leathercrafting workshop?

Cross-Country Connections: Holiday Prep

December 19, 2011

Cross-Country Connections is a Biodork weekly blog entry dedicated to telling stories in pictures of three family members – me, my sister and Mom – living in very different locations across the country. Every week we choose a different theme and then take or contribute a personal photo that fits the theme. Continuing with this time of year’s festivities, this week’s theme is Holiday Prep

From me in Minneapolis: 

All done with the shopping! AND the wrapping! There are approximately 100 presents on this table for 25 receipients of four different holiday celebrations. *collapsing in exhaustion*

From Mom in Carbondale, Illinois: 

Holiday prep is the best part of Christmas for the kittehs.

From Erin in Bellingham, Washington:

Putting the finishing touches on some hand knit Christmas gifts.

Cross-Country Connections: Christmas Critters

December 12, 2011

Cross-Country Connections is a Biodork weekly blog entry dedicated to telling stories in pictures of three family members – me, my sister and Mom – living in very different locations across the country. Every week we choose a different theme and then take or contribute a personal photo that fits the theme. This week’s theme is Christmas Critters. 

From Erin in Bellingham, Washington:

Ivan in his holiday finery.

From me in Minneapolis, Minnesota:

You have no idea how many shots and how many different kinds of tape we went through to make this work. None.

Model: Prada.

From Mom in Carbondale, Illinois: 


Model: Peabody

Calculus: The Musical

December 8, 2011

On Tuesday a friend invite me to join him for a show at Huge Improv Theater called Calculus: The Musical. It was a small production. Two actors portrayed many different characters, there was no intermission, and there were several frenzied costume changes during the show. Both actors played guitar at points, and one had several pieces on an electric keyboard. It had all the elements that I love in a musical comedy: Witty characters, fast-paced dialogue and action, a dash of slapstick, various overdone accents, a multimedia presentation, a blending of musical styles (from classical to rap and a lot in between), and a man playing Sir Isaac Newton talking to a little action figure of himself (“Little Isaac”) and then having the action figure answer back in a higher-pitched version of his true voice. Okay, that last was specific to Calculus: The Musical and not at all something I look for in musical comedies.

As the name might imply to those among you who are particularly quick-witted, it was about calculus. As a mathphobe who never made it all the way through a calculus course I was worried that all of the jokes would go right over my head. I did miss some of them; several times my friend’s giggling indicated that something humorous had transpired on stage after some dialoguey gobbledygook about derivitives, functions, limits and infinite series. But the writer managed to incorporate calculus without making the storyline completely unintelligible to the uninitiated.

You can listen to songs from the musical at Here are the lyrics from the only song that I can actually claim to have understood entirely. It’s called 5 Sizes of Numbers:

There are 5 sizes of numbers,
Big Infinity and small Zero,
And the Finite in the middle,
They’re the ones, I’m sure you know.

But now we look between Finite and Zero.
To numbers so small, they’re nothing at all,
But still a little larger than a Zero.
Their name is Infinitesimal.

On the other side of Finite,
There are numbers too large to say,
Infinites are what we call them,
They are big, in every way.

But they will never quite be Infinity,
They’re not quite as big, not even close.
We’ll use all of these numbers in Cal-cu-lus,
The numbers, I love the most.

It only gets nerdier from there. They have a song about Bernhard Reimann in the style of Eminem’s Without Me. Just sayin’.

Calculus: The Musical has been touring nationally for six years, and it stopped in Minneapolis only for a couple of days. But they have shows scheduled from now through May of 2012 in different parts of the country. I had a good time, maybe even learned a thing or two, and it reminded me that I really need to stop procrastinating and start reading that copy of Jennifer Ouellette’s Calculus Diaries that I got for Christmas and have left languishing on my bookshelf for the last year!

Cross-Country Connections: Staying Warm

December 5, 2011

Cross-Country Connections is a Biodork weekly blog entry dedicated to telling stories in pictures of three family members – me, my sister and Mom – living in very different locations across the country. Every week we choose a different theme and then take or contribute a personal photo that fits the theme. This week’s theme is Staying Warm. Erin was unable to join the CCC this week, but will return next Monday!

From Mom in Carbondale, Illinois: 

This was taken in Bratislava, Slovakia at the fortress.  It was the one day out of seven that I was truly cold and glad to have your dad’s old Columbia coat over my sweaters and scarf and hat.  Actually this could be entitled “Stay Warm….FAIL.”

From Me in Minneapolis, MN:

I find that a hot cup of 1/3 coffee, 1/3 espresso, 1/3 Swiss Miss hot chocolate is a potent weapon against the cold, snowy mornings in Minneapolis.

Banachek Visits University of Minnesota

December 4, 2011

I have a new post up at Minnesota Skeptics about Banachek’s recent mentalism show at the U of MN! Here’s an excerpt:

The opening bit was a card/”body language reading” trick.  Before I tell you the audience’s perspective, I have to go back to when the Hubby and I walked into the auditorium. When Banachek greeted us, he had a deck of cards in his hands. He shuffled the deck and had the Hubby and I flip the middle of the deck up halfway so that we could see one card, but so that Banachek couldn’t. We were told to think very hard about the card, to remember it because he might call on us during the show to try and guess our card. He told us that he was going to use our body language to guess which cards we had drawn.

Banachek helps an audience member bend a spoon with “the power of her mind”!

To read the rest of my article, please go here to the Minnesota Skeptics blog.

Why Homosexuality Should Be Banned

December 3, 2011

This is going around teh Facebooks today. Here are seven ridiculous arguments for banning homosexuality (as if that were possible!) and seven snarky tongue-in-cheek responses.

I think this is a good follow-up to the American Family Association’s Buster Wilson explaining to us why people like him are fighting for traditional marriage (hint: it’s not because they’re homophobic or that they just hates homosexuals.)

This is the best response I could find for Buster:

Mr. Wilson, this bull thinks you’re full of bull.