Friday, July 23, 2010

Oh Standardized Testing...

So I signed up for the GRE. Two of them, actually. I'm going to take the General test at the end of September, and the Subject test in Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology in October. Fun stuff. I bought myself a Princeton Review book for the General test (since that's what worked best for me with the SATs), but there are a total of 0 books for the Biochem test.


Kaplan makes a book for the Biology GRE, but there are pretty much none for Biochem. Apparently, it is meant to cover what you would normally learn in undergraduate coursework. So that means I need to go back through my Lehninger and find some textbooks on molecular biology and genetics (especially genetics, because I have yet to take a genetics class - that's scheduled for next spring).

At any rate, this means I have more work to do than I realized, so I'd better get started...
. Lucky for me, the e-book is still working even though it's been more than 1 year. I just need it to work for 1 more month until I can get home to my actual, physical version of the book.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

This is Halloween

The 25th Challenge showed its face a week or two before Halloween, so the theme was obvious. The story/poem required a jack'o'lantern, full moon and haunted house. The catch? You could not use the word "Halloween" at all.

Really, Officer, I Swear...
Midnight comes and goes around,
The moon in full, entirely round.
Shadowed on the porch I see
A pumpkin, carved...or could it be...
A glowing ghost, emerged to haunt me?!
No, just the children out to taunt me.
Really, I am completely sober,
On this, the last night of October.

Ingredients: Sugar, Craziness
"…then, when the moon’s full, he turns into a pumpkin! The Great Pumpkin!"

“So he’s a…were-jack’o’lantern?”

“Umm…yeah…Joey, you’re definitely mixing up a couple different stories there.”

“Seriously, just keep watching the haunted house! He’ll show up, any minute now.”

“Joey, you should probably stop eating that candy.”

Who You Gonna Call?
"Hey, it’s old Jack O'Lantern! Heard ya changed jobs. Whaddaya do now, Jackie?"

“I’m a Ghostbuster.”


“Sounds odd, yeah, but I’m on a haunted house call right now. Tag along and watch.”

“Nah, I don’t believe in ghosts. Plus, it’s a full moon, so the werewolves’ll be out hunting.”

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Loopholes in the Rules

I try to take advantage of the rules of these challenges sometimes, and interpret them in ways other than the intended. Actually, I try to do that almost every time, not sometimes. That's the kind of thing that sparks my kind of creativity.

Challenge 24: The story must  involve a crossroad (literal or figurative) AND 'contain' the words North, South, East and West.

It must 'contain' the words? Hmm...

We're Where?

Another party of hikers passed the couple at the crossroads.
“Ask directions!”
“No need, Minerva, I have a map and compass.”
“Okay, Jeff. So where are we?”
“Okay, north is… Well, um, according to the map…” he looked up and pointed across the valley, “we’re on that mountain over there.”
Well, obviously a compass will contain all the cardinal directions ;)

World War III
June 3, 2010.

One nation, not under the UN, already divided, with liberty and justice for none.

North Korea stood alone against the might of South Korean, Western and Eastern civilization.


June 3, 2010.

A day to go down in world history – had the world not ceased to exist.
Obviously, I am not Paul the Prognosticating Octopus, as June 3, 2010 came and passed a year after I wrote this (fortunately). But hey, I never claimed to be a cephalopod.

The CSC (A Post-War Story)
He scuttled through the house’s crevices turning north here, west there, staying inside the walls despite the lack of people.

Eventually he arrived at a crossroads: it was either south or east, he remembered.
Glancing at his written directions, he decided.

Ahh, there it was, the annual Cockroach Survival Conference.
 This story was written in response to the question of who wrote the previous one if the world ceased to exist.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

23 in 50

23rd Challenge: The story must include a dog digging up something on a Sunday morning.

Sunday morning, rain is falling –


Damn radio alarm’s too good at waking me up. At least the song is appropriate.

Shower. Okay, actually awake now.

Downstairs for breakfast, look out the window.

Oh no. Buster is unearthing the neighbor’s flowers again.

Countdown to angry call:



Monday, July 12, 2010

50 Words x 3

The 22nd Challenge (the next one I actually participated in) was actually rather similar to the 18th. The prompt was as follows:

The story must be mirrored - i.e., beginning, then conclusion in the middle and then end with the beginning again - and must include a goldfish.

 Save Her!

"Doctor, can you save it?"

“To be honest, it’s not the type of patient I usually treat…”

“Please, doctor, just try for us?”

“Okay, for you two.”

“I’m sorry, CPR just doesn’t seem to work on goldfish. It’s dea-”

“Our fish! Urk! My heart!”

"Doctor, can you save him?!"

Splish Splash

Leaping onto the table, she glanced around furtively. Nobody near. She dipped a paw into the water, aiming for the annoyingly fast orange sushi.

“No, Lindy! Get away from that goldfish!”

Oops, there was ownerman. With an irritated twitch of her whiskers she leaped off the table and trotted away.

 Temporary Fish Tank

Susie exuberantly toddled into the den. "Mommy, mommy, look what I got!"

“Not now, Susie, I’m writing,” replied her mother.

“But I caught fishy!”


Smiling, Susie reached into her diaper and pulled out a goldfish.

“Put him back into the tank!”

Fin in hand, Susie dejectedly waddled back out.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Back to the Roots

You know what? Maybe I don't have to be gone for two more weeks. I can schedule some posts to amuse you. I think I'm going to go back to the roots of this blog. I started out writing posts in exactly 75 words over a year ago. Since that was inspired by the "50 Words - No More, No Less" project series over at WeBook, I figured I'd repost all of my 50-word stories here. I'll post them all - the good, the bad, the funny, the sad - with no changes.

It's kind of in honor of cindi_greene, who has decided to leave WeBook for a multitude of reasons. She encouraged me with every microstory I wrote, which led to me continuing to write, and eventually starting this blog.

So without further ado, I'll start with my very first entry for Challenge 18 - The story must begin and end the same way.

"Flip a coin?" he suggested, placing a quarter on his thumb.

"No! That is a completely, utterly irresponsible way of making a decision!" She snatched the coin away.

He pointed out, "Well, three days of deciding 'responsibly' hasn't worked." Prying the coin from her grip, he repeated. "Heads or tails?"

Twice the Writing, Half the Time

Writing one post a day was tough enough, and it's even harder to write one a day for two separate blogs while teaching science experiments/English. So I'm going to just redirect you to my project blog for the moment. Regular posting (instead of this sporadic nonsense) should resume presumably in a week, but more likely will take `2-3 weeks, since I've been posting the GPP stuff two weeks behind. Thanks for bearing with me!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

3D Without Glasses

So this may sound a little geeky, but I'm kind of excited for Nintendo's 3DS. I've got a DS Lite, and it's worked great for me, so I didn't bother with getting a DSi, but the 3DS is something completely different.

Initially, I couldn't even imagine it was possible to have a 3D image on a 2D screen without using glasses. In order to see in 3D, each eye must receive a slightly different image. When you are looking around you, objects are actually present in three dimensions, and so each eye can see a slightly different angle. In order to make a flat image seem 3D, you need to have two images in one, and specifically show one to each eye. Normally, this is done by using glasses.

In the early days, the glasses had one red and one blue (or green) lens.

Everything, including red-colored things, looked red through the red filter, so the eye behind it only saw the image in blue. The opposite was true for the blue filter.
Pic from 3dglassesonline, linked above.

Next came glasses that appeared almost clear, but with a slight grey tint, like sunglasses. This technology was used mainly in movies. These lenses were polarized perpendicularly with respect to each other. Both images were projected onto the screen, but one with horizontally polarized light and one with vertically polarized light. If you tilted your head to the side, you would see both images with both eyes.

Pic also from 3dglassesonline.

That problem has been fixed by the current set of glasses, which use circularly polarized light (one lens clockwise, the other counter-clockwise). The projector switches between the images for the left and right eyes, and a filter in front of it switches polarity at the same time. The theater then requires only one projector. This is what is used in most movie theaters today.

The 3DS doesn't require any glasses at all. While Nintendo has been keeping mum about exactly how it works, chances are it uses the parallax barrier LCD developed by Sharp, which has "windows" at certain intervals that let light through. The distance between the windows is set so that each eye sees a slightly different image. Granted, the viewing angle is small, and this wouldn't work for movies, but it's still pretty cool, and it opens up doors for new ideas and games for the DS. Nintendo is pretty damn innovative, eh?