Monday, February 26, 2007

I'm Sory Matt Walsh

This story is shameful and true.

I have a crush on H. Jon Benjamin. The voice of Ben Katz from Dr. Katz, John McGuirk from Home Movies and countless other hilarious animated roles. He’s the random medic in “Not Another Teen Movie”, and the crazy friend Keith in “Martin and Orloff”. There are no more than 6, no fewer than 3 men I would totally make out with in a heartbeat, and he’s numero uno. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about dating or courtship or love any of that stupid crap. Just having some drinks, having some laughs peppered with a few awkward pauses, and then a heated make out session in the bar’s bathroom. I get to fulfill a weird fantasy of mine and he gets to make out with an awesome babe. Everyone wins.

Life keeps us apart however – he has a baby (and thusly a baby mama. drama. [oh, snap!]). I’ve got a great guy that will eventually be my baby daddy, and before you get all antsy in the pantsy, he’s got a list too. If Amy Sedaris walked up to him and said “Let’s make out.” I’d say “Touché Amy Sedaris. Have fun!”. Then I’d tell everyone that I totally made out with someone who made out with Amy Sedaris. We’ve both given each other clearance for making out, so long as it’s only making out. Make out = yes. Gentiles = no. Boobies = we’ll see.

Where Matt Walsh of Upright Citizens Brigade fame comes into this, is here: I was trying to find a copy of Martin and Orloff because of my afore mentioned crush on H. Jon Benjamin. I tried the Virgin Megastore AND Amoeba at Sunset and Vine, which says a lot since I never, ever, never, never, ever, ever, never go into Amoeba unless it is an emergency. This was an emergency. I have my reasons for disliking Amoeba and will discuss them some other time. The movie, sadly, was nowhere to be found. I had an idea. My idea was to go to the UCB theater on Franklin and buy it there. Why not support the very institution that fathered such a great movie? Brilliant!

When I got there the door was open, but nobody was around. At all. Even a little. Totally empty. I could hear voices in the way back, but that was at the end of a very long hallway and I assumed they were doing something back there, I didn’t want to interrupt. The movie was on the counter, H. Jon at last! But I only had a credit card to pay for it. All I had to do is wait for someone to come out and take my money. And so I waited. And waited. And waited. And waited. And…what the fuck? I wanted to do was pay for the movie and get out of there. The movie had dust on it for Christ sake, I’ll give it a good home where it will be watched compulsively. More waiting followed, I became desperate.

With a quick check of video cameras (Ha, who am I kidding, this is UCB!?) the movie was in my pants and I was out the door. I figured that any comedy team who has revealed a 4 foot phallus on Good Morning America couldn’t get too pissed about missing one copy of their movie. I told myself that they must have boxes and boxes of DVDs in some storeroom. Somebody will eventually notice that it’s gone, blame somebody else in the theater (it’s the freshman, those no good new people! I knew they were thieves!), go grab another copy from the storeroom, put it on the counter, and all will be forgotten.

This story has a happy ending – I have since given the movie a loving home. It has not been scratched or chipped, it has been watched diligently, studied, and appreciated. Laughed at all the appropriate times, revered at all the other times. I still feel bad about steeling it though. So Matt Walsh, if I ever meet you in person, I owe you $20. And for the love of God, either lock that door or put the boxes out with no disc in them. You actors are such suckers.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Science Lesson #1: Oceanograph-me

A Masters Thesis entails a lot of work, a lot of work that I don’t want to do right now. It involves painstaking edits and re-edits, draft after draft, looking up and reading boring reference papers just so you can find one factoid to include in your introduction, and so on. It’s a painful and lengthy experience that I’m not looking forward to starting. But I have to start it, so what I’m going to do is take today’s post and make it about my work. You get to learn something new and I get to feel like I actually did something worthwhile.

I am marine geochemist, which is the same as saying I am a chemical oceanographer. There are a couple of things you should know about oceanographers before we begin:

1.) 99.9% of us do not work with whales, sharks, sting-rays, seals, octopi, or manatees
2.) If you meet someone who works with big, dumb sea creatures, chances are they are a trainer at Sea World and NOT an oceanographer.
3.) There are various forums for oceanography – biological, physical, and chemical.
4.) We are the only scientists allowed to be drunk at conferences (Well, not really. But chances are that if you see us at a conference, we are drunk anyway)
5.) Most oceanographers get sea-sick

That’s a few things to start us off with, there are many many more titillating things to know about oceanographers, but I’ll leave you to figure those out on your own.

I’ve been working on a project in the North Pacific with people at the University of Washington in Seattle. The North Pacific has an overabundance of silica, which is what little critters like diatoms make their shells out of. These diatoms live happy but short lives at the surface, then die, and then their shells fall into the deep sea. The silica either redissolves in the water column or gets deposited on the seafloor and makes what we call biogenic opal. The funny thing about the North Pacific is that the excess silica is neither at the surface nor at the seafloor. Excess silica at the surface would mean there are a shitload of diatoms and thus nutrients (and yes, shitload is a scientific term), whereas excess at the seafloor would mean there is a buttload of silica being deposited on the seafloor (scientific as well, thank you). The “plume” as we call it exists at midwater depth – 2300m. For my non-metric minded friends, 1 meter is about 3 feet.

So where is this silica coming from and why is it at this mysterious depth? That’s what I’m working on. I use another element called Germanium to determine if the silica is from the shells of little critters or if the silica is from places like hot vents. Germanium is the downstairs neighbor of silica on the periodic table of elements. When diatoms take up silica to make their shells, just a teeny-tiny bit of Germanium gets incorporated along with the silica. When those shells dissolve, they give back the silica and germanium to the water in a very specific ratio that tells chemical oceanographers like myself “Oooohhh, this silica is from a diatom!”.

If the silica is from hot vents, it is LOADED with germanium. A chemical oceanographer would measure the germanium and silica in the seawater and plot those values against one another on a graph – silica on the x-axis, germanium on the y-axis. If we get an almost horizontal line, we’ve got diatoms. If we get an almost vertical line, we’ve got hot vents.

See, easy-peesy! Now you know something you didn’t know before. Science is awesome.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


Oh My God, you found me!

For whatever reason I was forcebly removed from MySpace. I didn't have any pictures of my who-who or ta-ta either. MySpace is for sissies and perverts anyways.

But now that we're together again I will gladly entertain you with my thoughts on anything and everything. Stick with me, my darlings. You're in for a hell of a ride.