Neil Gaiman is, as I'm sure you've heard, writing an episode of Dr. Who for next season.

Here's a scene that's been cut. It's amusing...
Tomorrow's lesson for my College Prep Biology Class:

In 35 minutes, you must create a small-scale project that shows your understanding of transcription. Your project may be a presentation, a poem, a poster, a picture of a tattoo, a skit… Anything you can create in 35 min.

The rules:
1. You may work in groups of 1-3.
2. You must illustrate or explain the following concepts:
a. RNA is different from DNA in structure and function
b. RNA is similar to DNA
c. Base Pair rules
d. The process of transcription
e. RNA polymerase’s role in making RNA
3. You must be able to explain how your project relates to transcription.
4. You must work on your project for the entire 35 min.
5. You will present your project at the end of class.
6. YOUR PROJECT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE PERFECT. It just needs to follow rules 1-5.

I plan on using the warm-up activity as way to brainstorm ideas and allow students to choose their groups with people who are like-minded. As an additional motivator, I'm considering bringing in some sort of treat to award to the project that was most creative - perhaps letting the students vote on it.

It will be quick, fun, and fast, providing I can sell it to the students correctly. I'm presenting this idea 5th period, which starts at 1:05. Any last-minute feedback?
I have this FABulous idea for an RPG game integrating the Wod 2.0 Mortals system and the rules for "A Penny for My Thoughts." The players are amnesiacs who wake up in a mental asylum. On day one of gameplay the players are given a basic , nearly blank WoD character sheet. Players will have a few dots to spend to start on basic stats, but since they don't remember anything, these will be very, very basic characters. Characters spend the first evening of game in "therapy," which will be pure "A Penny for My Thoughts" to get them started. After that, the characters will spend games alternating between group therapy (the Penny system) to remember who they are, and exploring the asylum, its inmates, and its secrets. Or perceived secrets. Who knows what psychoses the characters have? Perhaps they are just regaining memories in waking dreams by projecting them onto their situation. Perhaps not.

Players are awarded dots to spend in appropriate skills and stats, rather than experience, as they remember who they are. This simulates the rapid regaining of skills and basic knowledge about themselves at first (since they are starting at ground zero). Once the campaign has gone significantly forward, i.e. they have reached just beyond a beginning hero's stats, we'll switch to an experience points system. This simulates the slowdown of knowledge gain as they reach the limits of what they have already learned (even if they couldn't access it) and start having to learn new things.

The whole idea is that the players start out knowing as little about their characters as their characters do. I think that with the right group of players, this could add a creepy, but all together wonderful dimension to gameplay, rather than just having them as fully-formed inmates of the asylum.

So, to all my GMs and gamers out there: What do you think? Any thoughts, tips, ideas? Any potential playtesters before I unleash this monster on a gaming group?

Anyone? Bueller?
The moon's hanging on by a sliver and my cat, Willie seems determined to get wrapped up in one or both of the cables attached to my computer at the moment. He has somehow located and rescued his blue teaser toy, a short blue feather-boa on the end of a short plastic pink stick, from wherever I hid it. Willie is alternately wrapping himself up in cable and my foot in an effort to tear blue tufts of fur from the boa or get my attention or both, if he can manage it. Of course, this behavior alternates between obnoxious and painful, depending on his current target.

Yes, I know. I should not be home at 9:58 on a Monday. I should be out at ceilidh, dancing away my cares and worries. If not ceilidh, I should be working on the gigantic pile of grading that always seems to accumulate, despite my best intentions to get it done as it comes. Of course, intentions alone never get anything done, and so my pile of intentions grow, but my pile of actions taken...

Thoughts, however, do not pile or stack. Thoughts float. They drift and flutter. They occur. And right now my thoughts are transient. Lost travelers on a lonely highway, they stop in for a pint, ask for directions, and then move on. Oh, a few stick around, see the sights, call it the "scenic route," but they'll drift off eventually. Maybe one day they'll come back.

As I was driving into work on Wednesday, I felt something for the first time in a long time. I felt right, secure, and certain of my direction. I felt like Davis when it was home. I felt like long walks with [livejournal.com profile] barelyproper doing Tarot card readings without Tarot cards. I felt like nighttime with "The Watcher." The blindfold was removed, my bonds were broken, and my heart was freed. Fate waved its magic wand, destinies collided, the planets aligned, Death took a vacation, the Universe smiled, I did something right for a change, and all was good. The koan solved, I reached a new level of enlightenment. All this as I sat at the first stoplight after my first turn off of the road I take to work. In two breaths it was gone, but there are echos.

There are no dishes in my sink and my stove is clean. My apartment is not perfect, but something is happening. I can see a desk and not a pile of papers. The papers are in my bags to go to school, still ungraded. My cat is curled up a few feet away from me. My lunch for tomorrow is almost all together. I'm getting to work a bit earlier these days.

I know it's coming again - that feeling. Things are coming together in my head. These drifting thought are coalescing into something greater than myself that is within me. I am bigger than this. I am stretching...

The cat has given up on the destruction of toy and cable and foot. Willie has instead opted for a catnap. That no-longer tiny ball of dark fur is pretending to sleep, watching me with one eye half-open, as cats will do. It's late. I think I'll join him...
It's been almost four years now since Matt died, and for the first time in almost a year-and-a-half some of that old grief is coming back to kick my ass. The other day I realized that Matt's been dead longer than I had the chance to have in my life. That just feels wrong.

For the record, life is good. My life is not all about me as a widow anymore; it's about enjoying my life as it is, not bemoaning its shortcomings. Well, maybe a little bemoaning. We all have our days.

Ah, but for tonight, I miss him. Gods, do I miss him.
singerinthedark: (Giggles)
I did this one twice. Thanks [livejournal.com profile] tsgeisel! Some of the answers are oddly appropriate and some are just silly.

1. Put your iPod on shuffle.
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
3. YOU MUST WRITE THAT SONG NAME DOWN NO MATTER HOW SILLY IT SOUNDS!

Read more... )
Tonight I saw AC/DC at the Oracle Arena in Oakland. To sum up - my ears are ringing, my throat is raw, and I feel like I've run a marathon.

Yeah, it was that good.

The show opened with a Irish hard rock band called The Answer. The lead singer was akin to an epileptic Axl Rose with a mouse down his pants and a microphone stand surgically attached to his hands. It was an act of will to keep my composure as he vibrated to the music, shaking his gorgeous blond hair in front of his face in such a manner as to conjure up images of Cousin It.

And for all that, The Answer, surprisingly, didn't suck.

The Answer is a hard rock cliche that you can't help but enjoy. Normally opening acts are greeted with a sort of reserved cynicism and sometimes out right contempt. By the end of their very brief half-hour set, The Answer had charmed the audience that had bothered to come in and sit in the stands while they wait for the main event. People were standing, cheering, and rocking along to The Answer's brand of just-better-than-a-bar-band rock and roll. Are they good enough to eventually headline areas? Probably not. However, they are worth a listen. (I'll post a link after I get home from work.) Link to the Answer's Official Website

And then there was AC/DC. From the first pyrotechnic explosions of "Rock n' Roll Train" to the final chords of "For Those About to Rock" the boys really brought it to the Oracle Arena tonight. Phil Rudd (drummer), Malcolm Young (rhythm guitar), and Cliff Williams (bass) played hard but stayed in the background allowing Brian Johnson (singer) and Angus Young (lead guitar) to ham it up for the audience.

There is something simply beautiful about this band. There is a intentional, bare-bones simplicity to their music, which is so heavily rooted in classic rock n' roll and, for those of you music geeks, classical music. Don't believe me? Listen to what arpeggios Angus Young chooses in his solos and riffs. It's like listening to the Ramones - there is a deliberate refusal to do the complicated or revolutionary in the music they write. It is just meant to be fun: cock rock about sex, violence, and rock n' roll. And so in their 50's and 60's, these guys still sound very much like they're in their younger years. Angus is still duck walking and gyrating around the stage like a schoolboy (in uniform, no less). Brian Johnson is still screeching those high notes. Phil Rudd, Malcolm Young, and Cliff Williams are still the engine that keeps the train running. These guys are masters at what they do. Even their stage presence is masterful as they play to the whole audience and actively engage the audience in making music. Oh, I know that is the sign of a good performer, but I have seen acts that will ignore the upper levels or side-view seats. Brian Johnson made sure to sing to and acknowledge those with less-that-optimal views. I found myself in a sense of awe when I stopped to really listen to the sold-out arena around me. Over 15,000 voices chanting "Oi! Oi! Oi!" to the beat of Phil Rudd's drums... it was almost a religious experience.

How can I encapsulate the concert for you? Was it Angus Young's strip tease to "The Jack" that made this concert so exceptional? Or was it the pounding, high voltage rendition of "Thunderstruck" that made this concert memorable? No, I have to say that for me, the highlight of the evening was "Whole Lotta Rosie." The band gave the song everything they got, so that by the time the song had ended and their giant, well-endowed balloon Rosie stopped dancing and started to deflate, the crowd was whipped up into such a maddened state that even Bacchus him/herself wouldn't have been able to resist thrashing to their "last" number, "Let There Be Rock," which featured a blistering solo by Angus Young. After that, there was no place to go but down - metaphorically speaking. The show ended with an encore of "Highway to Hell" and "For those about to rock."

And now, with my ears ringing and mind running, I think I will go to bed and dream rock n' roll dreams. Goodnight internet-land.

Edited 12/6/2008 to add the link

History

Nov. 4th, 2008 09:28 pm
singerinthedark: (Axelbird)
I am witnessing history. I stand in awe.
... by my ex, dragonmusicmuse. (Yes, we're talking again. Yes, it's a good thing.)

Escapism

Oct. 7th, 2008 10:38 pm
I have always been a dreamer. Ever since I could remember I have been enthralled by stories. Books, movies, made-up stories and adventures, She-Ra... All of these things engaged my attention. I wanted to be the warrior princess, an X-Man (er... X-Woman), Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty (of Beauty and the Beast fame). I read and imagined incessantly. I what-if'd. If I was in [x] situation, what would I do? I dreamed I went on grand adventures, fought wicked beasts, was turned into a mermaid, and had the worlds most orchestrated proms. (Sometimes I think I missed my calling as an event planner.)

When I got too old for such nonsense (read: I moved away from the one person who'd still play Barbies and make-believe with me), I got into theater and role-playing games. There I could be whoever I wanted to be, whoever I was cast to be. I could escape.

I've always been the odd kid. On the outside it seemed that I was content with the role. I kept saying how I didn't want to be a sheep, a conformer, that I *wanted* to be weird. On some level, I did. Inside, I was dying to be pretty, thin, accepted, "normal."

In these fantasies, in these books, in these plays, in my dreams, I could be all that I thought I wasn't: strong, beautiful, accomplished, beloved.

I kept waiting to find that magic wardrobe, to become a mutant, to be whisked away to Neverland, and when it never happened, I found myself longing for a childhood I thought I never had. Why wasn't I chosen? Why not magic? Why not me? I never went on adventures. I didn't live near the woods. We never, I never, never...

Even today, when life gets to be too much, I find myself running from my roles and responsibilities straight into the arms of a good book or a new TV series that I love. I can't get past the stress, I can't force myself to focus, I'm not where I "should" be at my age, so I escape.

After my fourth episode of "Sex and the City" tonight, it occurred to me that, even though intellectually I know this, I didn't really Know: Life is not going to start when... Life is not going to start after I lose this weight (if I ever lose it). Life is not going to start once I find love. (Boy, isn't that the truth!) Life is not going to start once I pay off my debt. Life is not going to start once I leave the country to live abroad. Life is now, and by escaping all the time, I'm missing it. I've been missing the point this whole time.

I don't regret a second of my time. Well, that's not true. Given half of a chance there are a lot of things I'd change: the way this last relationship ended, breaking up with my first boyfriend more than once (the first time should have been the last time), calling Matt one last time when I had thought I should, opening myself up sooner... In the end, all these things I did, the regrets, the joys, the laughter - THIS IS LIFE.

Every now and then it just hits me how beautiful the world is. What I had with dragonmusicmuse was beautiful, even if it was short. What I had with Matt was beautiful. The few dates I went on in-between, the disappointments, the funerals, the weddings, the experiences - it is all beautiful. Where I am is wonderful. I don't need more. I have friends, I have family, I have income, I have a home, my car runs, and I love my job. I am truly blessed.

In the end, I suppose it doesn't matter if I ever find and keep love, as disappointing as that may be. Like the Buddhists say, it is the journey that matters, not the destination.

So, while a little escapism can be recuperative and nice, I'm going to try to get myself in order - bring everything back to the middle. I'll focus on myself where I can, my students where I can, my friends and family where I can, and somewhere in the middle life will happen. (Life will happen in the extremes, too, but I'm trying to avoid that.)

In this moment, I feel like the Universe is saying, "Ah, you're awake. We were so worried."

There's no place like home.

A meme

Sep. 17th, 2008 07:27 pm
There are 30 questions.

Answer each question with one name.

Next to each number, write only the name of the person who fits.

Don't tell the questions to anyone who isn't doing the meme.
(I will tell you, if you ask for the questions, by private email or Private Message here on LJ. In return you promise to fill out the questions yourself and post them in your blog.)

(yes, the secrecy is part of what helps the meme to propagate. Heh.)

1. [profile] ziibminthalij

2. [profile] nullified73

3. No one, really.

4. [profile] ellipticcurve?

5. [profile] madametromboni

6. [profile] ribbin

7. [profile] aneska

8. [profile] ribbin, [profile] barelyproper, [profile] mrsgiggle, [profile] wildljduck, and [profile] barnabus_truman.

9. [profile] mrsgiggle or [profile] barelyproper

10. [profile] klellingson

11. [profile] agengrgal

12. [personal profile] satyrlovesong

13. [profile] laviolinista

14. [profile] cptstefano

15. [profile] loupyone

16. [profile] morgantalbot

17. [profile] moondanceminx

18. [personal profile] voiceofreason

19. [profile] kelsied

20. [profile] fools_and_irish

21. My friends

22. [profile] ifonlyuntil9

23. [profile] masterfiddler

24. Can't answer this one...

25. [profile] loupyone

26. dragonmusicmuse (my man)

27. [profile] oonafairy

28. [personal profile] temperance14

29. dragonmusicmuse

30. Thank you all. Most of you know why.
What do a piano orchestra, a choir, a drum, and a naked guy on tambourine have in common? Ben Folds. This song is awesome.

There's a new medical conscience law coming on the books. While it does seek to protect those in the medical field from taking part in activities they feel are morally objectionable, it is so broad in its scope that it could basically take away a woman's right to choose in rural areas and red states. (The people who clean medical instruments are mentioned in the text of the law... yeah it's that broad.)

The text of the law can be found here.

The journal entry that alerted me to this new law can be found here
Found this while getting caught up with what Lore Sjornberg of Brunching Shuttlecocks has been up to lately.

Nine Inch Noels


It's just all kinds of wrong.

P.S. Sorry about just posting a link. The mp3 player wouldn't embed properly.
As seen in the journal of [livejournal.com profile] klellingson:

Instructions: Go over to Wikipedia and enter the day you were born [such as "March 27"] and then pick 3 events, 2 births and 1 holiday that occurred on your birthday.

Events:

1795 - France adopts the metre as the basic measure of length.

1933 - Prohibition is repealed for beer of no more than 3.2% alcohol by weight, eight months before the ratification of the XXI amendment.

1940 - Booker T. Washington becomes the first African American to be depicted on a United States postage stamp.

Births

1915 - Billie Holiday, American singer (d. 1959)

1939 - Francis Ford Coppola, American film director

*there were lots and lots of other neat ones, like Ravi Shankar.

Holiday

Mozambique - Women's Day.

(Around the world it is also World Health Day.)
Thought I'd play with this one. I like the questions....

To save space on your friends page )

Smiles

Jul. 28th, 2008 05:07 pm
singerinthedark: (Sleepy Me)
The brush and clutter are being burned down and the world is opening up into bright and beautiful possibilities.

I think it's time for a leap of faith. Time to fly.
So, I was watching this old Mickey Mouse cartoon, "The Brave Little Taylor," and a thought occurred to me as the giant in the film sat on a house: Why isn't there record of people complaining about giant scat as a by-product of having giants as a pest species?

I'll give you a moment to reflect on this.

...

Still with me? Then here goes:

Just as not all coyotes will go after a flock of sheep, it may be that not all giants will ravage a town. (That could be a whole article on its own - the evolution of behavior in giants and its implication for species survival.) Giants and humans would be in direct conflict for the resource of space. Giants, being a large, humanoid species, would have to be a K-selected species (long-living, slow-growing, low reproduction rate) because the carrying capacity of any earth-like planet would be highly limited for a creature that size. So there would be few giants around, but a very large territory for each family group if social or a slightly smaller one for each if highly territorial. Now, assuming you're living in a lucky village that borders the territory of a giant or giants that *don't* harass you, you'll still have to deal with the issues of giant waste where human and giant territory overlap.

Think about it - assuming a giant has a similar metabolism to humans (and that's a HUGE assumption), the amount of waste produced would be proportional. Yeah, that's a pretty big problem. Chances are, giants being "warm-blooded" (another assumption based on visual physiology), their proportional metabolism would be even higher than your average humans - it would take more energy consumed per pound of body mass for a giant to maintain a moderately active lifestyle than it would take a human to maintain a similarly active lifestyle. All of this is contingent on the popular vision of giants being much larger than a thatched-roof house - big enough to sit on one with ease.

Anyway, back to waste pollution. If giants are of human intelligence, they might have knowledge to build a latrine, outhouse, or other such convenience. However, if it was anywhere near the town there'd be air pollution. (I won't give details or examples. I trust your own vivid imagination.)

...

This is a thin outline of a larger idea (no really, I have LOTS to say on this and related subjects in a fairly ecology-geeky way). I'm thinking of really fleshing this out, and perhaps expounding on other possible mythological, fantastical, and legendary pest species. (When you can't find a job directly related to your degree, you can always make up a hobby that does.) I'd like to get some actual sources, cite them, and make a real go of it. I don't need another project, but this one would be fun to pick up and put down on occasion.

Any suggestions on resources or places to start my research? Suggestions/requests for future articles on mythological pests? Any thoughts in general?
Rules: Post 3 things you've done that you believe nobody else on your F-list has done.
Indulge in remorse if someone calls you out on a listed item.

1. I have figured out how to catch a snake that my herpetology professor said he'd never seen caught by hand in the Mojave desert.

2. I studied the effects of bird guano on intertidal zone diversity in small islands in Baja California.

3. Run the Mentos and Cola demonstration as a lab for 30 students as an introduction to the scientific method.
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