Monthly Archives: May 2009

LOL Comcast…

I just arrived in Ann Arbor and it is good to be back. One quick post before I leave my computer behind for a while:

Yesterday I sent out a mass text message telling all my friends who may still be in Ann Arbor that I will be here for 2 days and 2 days only. I got back some responses that made me giddy with anticipation, and then this:

You may be looking for Cole? He doesn’t have this number any more. If you see him, tell him Comcast is looking for him too.

A novel method of recruiting research participants

In college, I participated in my share of my psychological studies. I pressed the space bar every time I heard a tone for an hour. I allowed researchers to cap me with EEG electrodes and pick my brain. I willingly climbed into an fMRI scanner. But I think I was a rarity among students for actually responding to the fliers that decked the maze-like halls of the Psych building at the University of Michigan. Maybe the Psych grad students at my school were just really uncreative, but as I recall pretty much every flier soliciting participants consisted of plain white paper with boiler-plate black Times New Roman font and little tear-away tabs haphazardly cut into the bottom of the page — the tabs that, once torn, inevitably ended up as an incomprehensible wad in the bottom of the dryer. The largest fonts shouted the most general questions to passers-by who caught a glimpse in their peripheral vision and thought “Hey, that sounds like me.”

“ARE YOU STRESSED?” “DO YOU SOMETIMES FEEL SAD?” And of course, the low-hanging fruit of “DO YOU WANT TO MAKE SOME EXTRA CASH THIS SUMMER??” reeled in the strung-out and sleep-deprived, only to disappoint upon a look closer where the small print revealed they had to be left-handed non-smoking diabetics from East Asia to qualify.

But here in Williamsburg, I’ve noticed, people are starting to get creative:



These were business-card sized advertisements I found at the Internet Garage, my local computing hang out where, conveniently I used to work (free whatever, my geek boys hook it up).

Appealing, right? I mean, if you want to get people’s attention in this neighborhood, sex and cocaine are probably the ways to do it. But to the dismay of all the hopefuls who thought they had stumbled on a goldmine of hipster goodies, the back of the cards revealed the ulterior motive was a scientific study:

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Rooftop introspection


This is the view from my favorite New York rooftop — the rooftop of the apartment I sublet in August when I first moved here. Before I moved out of there, I was walking and, you know, I just slipped and the key to the stairwell fell right into the key-copying machine at the hardware store. Today I climbed the 6 flights of stairs and perilous metal ladder to have a solitary picnic. I looked out at the city, remembering what it was like to set eyes on that skyline for the first time. I used to sit up there for hours and imagine the pathways I would take to penetrate Manhattan, wondering what stops I would make and the ground I would cover before I would get to the top of one of those big tall buildings. I haven’t been up to that roof in months, having been insulated in the core of that concrete labyrinth. But now I am on the outside looking in again, plotting my next point of entry like life is just a game of Capture the Flag.

Komodo dragons poison my heart with cuteness

Ed Yong from Not Exactly Rocket Science has a post up about Komodo dragons and how scientists have finally caught on to one of their tricks. It was previously thought that the 3-meter long lizard took down live animals like deer by infecting them with bacteria from the rotting animal innards it gets stuck in its teeth. But by using digital imaging technologies, Bryan Fry from Melbourne has shown that Komodos actually inject their prey with poisonous venom!

From NERS:

By putting a virtual dragon skull through a digital crash test, Fry showed that its bite is relatively weak for a predator of its size – instead it’s adapted to resist strong pulling forces. This is a predator built to inflict massive wounds through a “grip and rip” style that involves biting lightly but tearing ferociously. The wounds provide a large open area for the dragon to inject its venom and Fry unquestionably showed that the dragons poison their prey.

Have you ever heard of anything more adorable?? If there is one characteristic I value in an animal, it is tricksyness. Oh Komodo dragon, be my pet!

It is meant to be.

It is meant to be.

I know that you would never poison ME, and that you prefer to eat dead things rather than living. I don’t blame you for being testy and lashing out, what with all that terrible stuff building up in your teeth. Komodo dragon, I will care for you and brush your teeth for you every night, and I will take you everywhere with me. You can sleep under my bed, or in it with me and we will cuddle. I will keep you warm and happy!