Monday, March 31, 2008

Answers - guitarquiz 15

..surprised that the average score wasn't higher on quiz 15. Oh, well. The songs were:
  • Song 71: Judas Priest - Painkiller. Faster than a bullet/Terrifying scream/Enraged and full of anger he's half man and half machine/Rides the metal monster/Breathing smoke and fire... ...pretty much the quintessential metal song here, and an awesome album to boot. Painkiller is by far my favorite Priest album. None of y'all got it = speaks volumes of the overlap in our respective tastes in music.
  • Song 72: Twisted Sister - We're Not Gonna Take It. Oh would you hook a brutha' up - only one of y'all recognized this one. Not exactly an unknown tune, I'd venture to say.
  • Song 73: Weezer - Buddy Holly. Not a big Weezer fan, but I kinda' like this one, and the video's awesome. Sadly, in my rush to record these tunes, the semi-clean part was done right after some major whammy bar freakouts, so it's a li'l out of tune....sorry about that. Didn't notice until after I'd recorded it, actually.
  • Song 74: Billy Joel - Movin' Out (Anthony's Song). Anthony works in a grocery store/Saving his pennies for some day/Mama Leone left a note on the door... Really kewl Billy Joel tune. Alas, none of y'all recognized it.
  • Song 75: Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here. One of exactly two PF tunes I can listen to without waking up in the middle of the night screaming "How do I get the boredom out of my head". And yeah; Anders - I added an Am chord there.............anything to insert more notes. 'Cause contrary to popular belief, but completely in line with logic, MORE is more.

Which means that we've got the following Scores after round 15:

  1. Sondre (6/10)
  2. Pigeon (3/10)
  3. Cathy/Anders (tied at 2/10)

Consequently there was not much development in the Total Score:

  1. Sondre (102 points)
  2. Pigeon (84 points)
  3. Anders (79 points)
  4. Cathy (76 points)
  5. Torbjørn (6 points)

Congrats to Sondre and good luck on Quiz 16!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

88 Minutes

Just watched the new Pacino flick - 88 Minutes (2007).
To my surprise, the movie was really cool, with Pacino being a forensic psychiatrist with the FBI. Just hours before a serial killer he helped convict is scheduled to be executed, he starts getting anonymous phone calls stating that he's only got 88 minutes to live (and counting, of course).

On a side note, Pacino's character is so much of a douchebag that I was rooting for the killer to succeed. Either way - the movie works.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

So I tried to watch Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas featuring Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro. Two great actors, which normally would be a good sign. However, this is the crappiest movie I've seen in a long, long time. It's based on a novel by some dude (can't remember who), and I think the idea is to give a portrait of a drug trip or something. But it fails. It is just plain boring to watch. It's not funny, it's not interesting and it doesn't make you think anything special about drugs/ drug abuse (good or bad). Force myself through about an hour, and then I couldn't take it any more. Two thumbs down!

Some great music for the weekend

This is a preformance Steve Earle did on Later... with Jools Holland, preforming Satellite Radio.

I really like the tasteful use of a DJ on this tune, and it does have a great groove and hook in there.

Also, for the people who's into stuff like this*: Steve is playing the new 14 fret Style O from National Reso-Phonic, which is a copy of Mark Knoplfer's Style O,featured on the cover of the Brothers in Arms album and included on at least one song on every Dire Straits album. Also note the partial capo use there.

*Something tells me it ain't many of these people on this blog...

Friday, March 28, 2008

Guitar Hero

Bonus quiz: Name the players. No points for George; it's too obvious...

Have a nice weekend, y'all!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Getting a PhD - the MATLAB perspective

..not sure if this qualifies as "Oldie but goodie", but still. I should probably issue a geek alert here, as this joke won't make sense unless you've got some understanding of programming:

% phd.m
% author: Wilhelm
% date: 12/05/05




while (funding==true)
(time <= 3 yrs)
course_load = run_experiment(CREDIT_HOURS);
data = run_experiment(THESIS_TOPIC);
manuscript = run_experiment(MOREOVER_INSERT);
PASS = query(subject_teachers);
GOOD_ENOUGH = query(advisor);
PUBLICATION = query(journal);
if (course_load > PASS; data > GOOD_ENOUGH; manuscript >= GOOD_ENOUGH; PUBLICATION >= 6)
years_in_gradschool += 1;
end y'all would like to take my lunch money right about now

Reviewer comment poll

Lately I've had the misfortune of reviewing some manuscripts which are immaculate in their misrepresentation of data, economy of content and an understanding of the English language which would have relegated the authors to last place in a third-grade spelling bee.

Consequently I've been toying with a stock phrase for my reviewer comments - or rather a shorthand version of a response, really, and it goes a little something like this:

I could eat a large bowl of alphabet soup and crap out a better manuscript than what the authors have presumed to enclose.

So; what do you think? Should I start to use it in an official capacity, or is truth once again trumped by political correctness and the aspiration to approach mediocrity from below?

Crossroads guitar battle scene

Now THIS is a proper guitar battle/headcutting:

The funny thing is of course that Steve Vai plays both parts and thus effectively loses against himself...

The m-factor guitarquiz 16

..just 'cause I've got a lot on my plate next week... A little bit more guitarfreak shines through in this one

Submit your answers to mfactorquiz (at) by the end of Friday 040408. Each song holds the potential of two points - one point for artist and one point for the song. Answers will be posted on Saurday 040508.

Song number 76:

Song number 77:

Song number 78:

Song number 79:

Song number 80:

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Stair malfunction? Say whuut?

I've never in my life seen or even heard about a stair crapping out. Or specifically - I've never seen or heard about steps cracking, thus effectively rendering the stairs useless. A flight of stairs is something that's just there, and it provides an effective means of walking between levels. I've never even seen a ladder breaking down, and I've been on some pretty rackety ones myself. Including one situation whre I was standing in the top of two ancient ladders tied together with some rope, leaned at a too low angle against a tall building holding a can of paint and a brush, while maneuvering back and forth in order to reach as big an area as possible, because I wanted to minimize my time on top of a tall object, metal objects in hand, during a thunderstorm. Still the thing didn't break.

However, two weeks after we took over our new house, one step in the "main" stair cracks all the way through, and another one is getting pretty shaky.

Damn and double damn.

The m-factor guitarquiz 15

..rollin' with some more tunes...

Submit your answers to mfactorquiz (at) by the end of Sunday 033008. Each song holds the potential of two points - one point for artist and one point for the song. Answers will be posted on Monday 033108.

Song number 71:

Song number 72:

Song number 73:

Song number 74:

Song number 75:

Monday, March 24, 2008

Answers - guitarquiz 14

..ok, I wasn't supposed to post the answers until tomorrow, but seeing as how all of the usual suspects have thrown their respective hats into the ring, I'm taking my chances. The songs were:
  • Song 66: KISS - I Was Made For Lovin' You. Disco metal from the band that best embodies the term sell-out. It's got one of the most cheesy bass lines in the history of music, but it used to raise the roof in pubs back in the day.
  • Song 67: Eric Clapton - Wonderful Tonight. I bet that Anders was way surprised when he figured out that I included an Eric Clapton song in this quiz, but alas, I've played this live many a time. In weak moments, I might even admit that the song has certain qualities, especially since this is one of - what - three among the many EC hits he actually penned himself.
  • Song 68: Ugly Kid Joe - Every Thing About You. Since my gigging days were in the nineties, you better believe we included this one.
  • Song 69: Ronan Keating - When You Say Nothing At All. From Notting Hill, which was the movie I took my wife to on our first proper date.
  • Song 70: Eminem - Without Me. The video to this tune is way awesome.

Consequently, the Score after Round 14 stands as follows:

  1. Anders (10/10)
  2. Pigeon/Sondre (tied at 8/10)
  3. ...
  4. Cathy (4/10)

This means we've got a change in the grand poobah, the Total Score:

  1. Sondre (96 points)
  2. Pigeon (81 points)
  3. Anders (77 points)
  4. Cathy (74 points)
  5. Torbjørn (6 points)

Congrats to Anders, who really cleaned house in round 14 and clawed his way up on the rankings, and also to Sondre as usual, who continues to reign without opposition. Good luck with Quiz 15.

Some more Easter movies

Rogue Assassin (2007)
Action flick with Jason Statham and Jet Li. Despite the fact that every stereotype and cliché is called into play, it beats teh everloving crap out of The Eva Menendez Show, aka We Own The Night. Totally watchable, and whomever directed this knew not to stretch the movie to five and a half hours, in stark contrast to the norm these days.

Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007)
Awesome historical drama starring such characters as Sir Walter Raleigh (with a surname like that, y'all KNOW he's one kewl cat), Queen Elizabeth I and Mary Stuart. Fantastic acting from Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth) and Clive Owen (Raleigh), and some absolutely breath-taking scenes with battleships, etc. You should totally check it out, unless you're prone to expecting mexicans, Samuel L. Jackson, snakes or monkeys.

Man Cheng Jin Dai Huang Jin Jia (Curse of The Golden Flower) (2006).
Really cool costume drama from the Tang dynasty, starring Chow Yun-Fat. Supposedly this is the largest-ever set built for a movie in China, with more than 1000 real soldiers which were used in the final battle scene. Quite magnificent.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Three movies from 2007

After pulling double shifts painting our new living room and other sections of our house, it's kewl to kick back and enjoy some flicks. If they're good ones, that is, otherwise time would be better spent watching "The West Wing" episodes over and over again.

Varg Veum - Din Til Døden (2007)
Third installment in this series of movies based on Gunnar Staalesen's novels. This one was at least as good as the previous two - my faith in Norwegian film makers is partly restored.

The Heartbreak Kid (2007)
Farrelly brothers-movie starring Ben Stiller, in a plot which vaguely resembles that of "There's Something About Mary". And you know what; at times it really approaches the quality of said movie, albeit from below. It's even got Carlos Mencia as a co-star. But yet again, a decent movie is ruined by the director's infallible insistance that the length of any movie should exceed the storyline by at least 50%. Too damn long - next.

We Own The Night (2007)
On paper, this had a lot of potential, with actors like Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Wahlberg and Robert Duvall. On the other hand, it also "starred" Eva Menendez, thusly named because she'll kill any movie she's in. If Eva Menendez had been in "The Godfather II", then "Death Wish" would have been the big movie of 1974. What's even worse, the movie was nominated for the Golden Palm in Cannes in '07 - not exactly a good omen in my book. What could've been a kewl movie quickly turned into a stereotype fiesta with Polish cops battling Russian mob guys, with a prodigal son storyline thrown in for good measure. We gave up less than one hour into the movie.

What qualifications does it take to become a music reporter these days?

Just wondering...

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Epic White Trash each and every year, great unwashed masses of red-necked Norwegians with old cars, taped-on spoilers, home-made paint jobs, mullets and Wunderbaums invade Strömstad - just across the Swedish border, where they proceed to get all drunk and disorderly, urinate or worse in public, do donuts and burnouts with their cars, start fights and what have you. And what's even worse; on the occasions where the "males" bring their sisters or other close female relatives along, they might even spread their genes and narrowing their own gene pool, all in the span of 17 glorious seconds in the back of a 1978 Ford Granada. They get plenty of press too, like what's written in Nettavisen. Excellent ambassadors for Norway, to be sure.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Thanks a lot, Sponheim

I used to respect Lars Sponheim and Venstre, but dude's become the patron saint of self-aggrandizing douchebaggery as of late. His most recent stunt - some 18 months before the election - is to officially deem the leader of Høyre - Erna Solberg - unfit for the position of Prime Minister in the planned coalition involving both mentioned parties. Seeing as how Høyre is the biggest party in the hypothetical coalition, it would be natural for them to get the position of Prime Minister - a strategy they failed to utilize in the previous election and thus got owned like a 1982 Ford Escort. So; out of the blue, Sponheim rolls out an official statement denouncing Solberg and claiming that she does not possess any of the qualities necessary to hold the position of Prime Minister. What the hell? Way to derail the best hope we've got of replacing the current line-up of losers with someone less likely to have posters of Marx above their bedposts. And even doing so before the train has a chance to leave the station.

If this was a real concern for Sponheim, why didn't he contact Høyre and discuss this in a professional manner instead of affirming the current crimson regime as the only stable and viable alternative? 'Cause now the headlines and general political situation show that the political alternative does not exist, instead of establishing a strong presence. Bearded freakshow.

In the previous national election, one of the biggest reasons I didn't vote for Venstre was that it's so obviously a one-man show. In 2005, I read the programs for all the political parties, and tried to follow the debates and issues as closely as I could. What I really noticed about Venstre's roster was that I only knew of three politicians from that party. The leader, Lars Sponheim, that dude who used to be married to a former airhead model, and the leader for the youth-faction, who used to be in the news all the time because he wanted to legalize drugs and polygamy. These were the only ones battle-tested in visible public debates. I found myself another party to vote for

Monday, March 17, 2008

Answers - guitarquiz 13

Quite diverse answers this time, but at least every song got recognized by at least one contestant - kudos!

The songs were:
  • Song 61: Megadeth - hangar 18. Total classic, and an awesome tune to rip into live. You need someone to channel the vitriolic vocals and 'tude of good ol' Dave, though.
  • Song 62: Dire Straits - Sultans Of Swing. I love this DS song, despite it being totally overrated in Anders' estimation. The recorded section is basically the first solo, with a chorus thrown in for good measure. Another kick-ass live tune.
  • Song 63: Bryan Adams - Summer Of 69. Finally a song both Anders and myself can dig. We used to kill with this one live as well - it's got a classic progression you can solo over 'till the cows come home, it's got a sweet hook, and the crowd is sure to know it.
  • Song 64: Europe - Cherokee. A classic, like every single song from "The Final Countdown".
  • Song 65: W.A.S.P. - Wild Child. This also works like a mofo live, and it's got one of the coolest opening lines ever.

So; the Score after round 13 look like this:

  1. Sondre (8/10)
  2. Cathy (6/10)
  3. Anders/Pigeon (tied at 4/10)

And without further ado - the Total Score now looks like this:

  1. Sondre (88 points)
  2. Pigeon (73 points)
  3. Cathy (70 points)
  4. Anders (67 points)
  5. Torbjørn (6 points)

Congrats to Sondre, who continues his reign of terror, and good luck with quiz 14!

Spinal Tap moment...

This dude really channels Spinal Tap:

...and now: FOUR NECKS! Somebody forgot to tell the dude that he only got two hands. And four identical necks? Why?

And at last, good ol' Michael Angelo Batio (from the band Nitro, never heard of them) has an instruction video out, Speed Kills:

"I'm going to give YOU the keys to the Lambrogini!"
It's the awesome!

This dude really doesn't know when to stop! It's freakin' unbelievable!
And now: EIGHT (identical) NECKS! WHOOOOA!

Friday, March 14, 2008

The m-factor guitarquiz 14

Some more tunes - simple ones this time - to hold you over Easter.

Submit your answers to mfactorquiz (at) by the end of Monday 032408. Each song holds the potential of two points - one point for artist and one point for the song. Answers will be posted on Tuesday 032508.

Song number 66:

Song number 67:

Song number 68:

Song number 69:

Song number 70:

TGI funny stuff...

I thought this was hillarious, but I think you must have seen "Norske Talenter" and read a few M strips to fully appreciate it. But still, I thought it deserved a post. It's Friday!

Reap what you sow...

Well, since I'm known as the non-PC guy here (even if W-mesiter from time to time tries to steal that title...), I just gotta comment an article in todays Dagbladet (I really should say something about Dagbladet as a credible "News" publication when they put time and money in creating such articles, but I couldn't be bothered today). Normally I'm very sympathetic towards people who has been victim of false rumour or have private pictures published on the internet. But when Dagbladet reports that the Norwegian "glamour model" Triana Iglesias is in despair because of her playboy pictures has been stolen by an "escort bureau" and used on their webpage, I somehow feel that she should have seen it coming. I mean, what do you expect when you pose naked for a living? Come on, grow up and face the consequences.

"Glamour model" and "escort bureau": I'm amazed on how they can make it sound like it's a decent way of making a living...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

No planes, but trains and automobiles

Just got back from a conference at a montain ski resort straight outta' The Shining. At least that was the impression I got as the taxi made its way from the train station to the venue. Luckily, it turned out to be a better experience than what's described in the aforementioned novel by several orders of magnitude.

Because of the location, air travel was not a viable option, and in the choice between collective transportation (train) and driving on icy roads to a place in the middle of nowhere, the decision was not difficult to make. Even Nansen himself would have packed an extra wool sweater if he were to travel to this particular location. I've always enjoyed travelling by train, and this experience did nothing but support my favorable impression. The list of advantages compared to taking a flight includes:
  • Way more leg room and more comfortable seats (although it still sucks to sit next to other passengers, as my shoulders cover half of the next seat)
  • You can move around, and even go outside for some fresh air at the longer stops
  • A restaurant wagon where you can hang out, have a meal, coffee or even beer/wine
  • The seats are designed so that you've got room to work or read, which worked out very well for me
  • You're not loaded onto a hermetically sealed without air conditioning for 30+ minutes prior to take-off so that the loser airline can obfuscate how late they really are by pretending that boarding = take-off
  • You don't have to show up two hours before the train is supposed to leave so that incompetent clerks and handlers have more time to make elaborate schemes for how to best "lose" your baggage
  • If an invisible suitcase-wearing, tribal armband tattoo-sporting, two-day seminar-educated, high school drop-out rent-a-cop tries to pat me down or stick his hands down my pants, I can give him the ass-kicking he so richly deserves and reasonably claim to have been assaulted, unlike the ordeal you have to put up with at airports.

I'll try to use the train more often from now on

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Yet another annoying and sexist commercial

But this time, it's the totally annoying, male chauvinist Coca Cola Zero commercials that I keep getting spammed with. The latest - aptly titled "The Breakup" involves a couple in a roadside diner, where the dude is trying to work up the courage to break up. After a sip of Coca Cola Zero - the components of which apparently alters his genetic make-up somehow, another thought I find more than slightly disturbing - everything changes. First, the light turns an especially gaudy shade of red, stripper poles appear along with their stripper accessories (or vice versa), and the girlfriend all of a sudden states that she doesn't feel it's right for him to be with only one girl, but that he should feel free to call her whenever he wants to do something fun.

So who wrote this commercial? Some degenerate cab driver?

Thanks a lot for including me in this particular stereotype. Like I don't have enough stereotypical images to battle without being weighed down with this...

The m-factor guitarquiz 13

Mo' songs, mo' problems.

Submit your answers to mfactorquiz (at) by the end of Sunday 031608. Each song holds the potential of two points - one point for artist and one point for the song. Answers will be posted on Monday 031708.

Song number 61:

Song number 62:

Song number 63:

Song number 64:

Song number 65:

My new haircut it's the best thing on YouTube. The original is first, and then some other editions. Don't check them out if you're a PC thug or easily offended. The rest of y'all; enjoy.

Asian Edition:

Jewish Edition:

Black Edition:

White Nerdboi Edition:

Geek Edition:

Mexican Edition:

Redneck Edition:

Wigger Edition:

Something to offend just about anyone.

Answers - guitarquiz 12

I'm late with the answers - sorry. The songs were:
  • Song 56: Jimi Hendrix - Fire. Played this live many a time. Really simple tune to do for beginners, and Hendrix doesn't require much in the way of vocals either, so.......
  • Song 57: Rick Springfield - Jessie's Girl. Stupid song with a hook = hit. None of y'all got this one. Yet; if you check out any VH1 countdown of biggest hits from the 80's, this one is sure to be among the top 100.
  • Song 58: Dire Straits - Your Latest Trick. I absolutely love this song - especially the "Live: On The Night" version. Later-era Knopfler songs are tricky to pull off live, though, as dude kept expanding the band during the last couple of years in DS.
  • Song 59: Bon Jovi - Never Say Goodbye. Sentimental power ballad that works great as the final ballad of a set, when the crowd is drunk&sentimental. I'm betting this would go over gangbusters at a high school reunion-type party, as that's what the theme is about.
  • Song 60: Wham! - Careless Whisper. I totally think the sax theme is awesome, and I try to incorporate versions of it on guitar whenever I think I can get away with it.

Now for the Round 12 scores:

  1. Anders (6 points)
  2. Pigeon/Sondre (tied at 5 points)
  3. ...
  4. Cathy (4 points)

And the Total Score:

  1. Sondre (80 points)
  2. Pigeon (69 points)
  3. Cathy (64 points)
  4. Anders (63 points)
  5. Torbjørn (6 points)

Congrats to Anders and Sondre and good luck with number 13...

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The m-factor guitarquiz 12

Several genres represented here - should be a good mix of easy and not-quite-simple.

Submit your answers to mfactorquiz (at) by the end of Tuesday 031108. Each song holds the potential of two points - one point for artist and one point for the song. Answers will be posted on Wednesday 031208.

Song number 56:

Song number 57:

Song number 58:

Song number 59:

Song number 60:

Answers - guitarquiz 11

This must have been a difficult one, judging from the answers. Speaking of which:
  • Song 51: Janet Jackson - Black Cat. Quite the hit, actually, although truth be told, I only noticed because Nuno Bettencourt from Extreme played guitar on this song. The whammy-aided cat meow in the very beginning of the song was meant as a hint.
  • Song 52: Michael Jackson - Give In To Me. From the 1991 album "Dangerous". This song (as well as "Black Or White") featured Slash on geetar. None of y'all found this one.
  • Song 53: U2: With Or Without You. It's amazing how recognizeable a bass line can be. All y'all got this song. This was a cool song to play live back in da day too.
  • Song 54: Van Halen - (Oh) Pretty Woman. But of course Roy Orbison also gave y'all points. However; this version was the one recorded by VH, as evident from the squeals and extra notes.
  • Song 55: Meredith Brooks - Bitch. Cool song from '97, but one which eluded y'all this time around.

The Score for round 11 lokks like this:

  1. Sondre (6 points)
  2. Cathy/Anders/Pigeon (tied at 4 points)

Consequently, the Total Score after 11 rounds stands as:

  1. Sondre (75 points)
  2. Pigeon (64 points)
  3. Cathy (60 points)
  4. Anders (57 points)
  5. Torbjørn (6 points)

Congrats to Sondre once again - it looks like he will continue his Reign of Terror here at the m-factor guitarquiz. Good luck with quiz 12!

Equal rights and insurance math

These are two concepts that I didn't think were directly correlated until this morning. On the morning radio news, there was a story about how insurance companies discriminate women, and how there is going to be taken steps to pursue legal action against these male corporate wrongdoers.

The alleged act of discrimination is rooted in one of the originators of this movement figuring out that women pay more for disability insurance than men. The two spokeswomen for this budding lawsuit were interviewed in what appeared to be a coffee bar, with the sound of infants crying as a sonic backdrop. With an eloquence bordering on Moon Zappa in the intro to "Valley Girl" (OhmiGawd - like; gag me with a spoon), the ring leader elaborated on the background. As mentioned above, she was outraged that she had to pay a higher premium for disability insurance because she was a woman, and this was surely a violation against international equal rights legislation, which clearly states that a person cannot be discriminated against based on gender. Besides, she could not see any basis to this, as she was - and I'm paraphrasing here - at least as healthy as any male her age. The government had been informed, and there would be consequences for the evil entities of male domination that is insurance companies.

I have to admit; this really provoked me. Seeing as how we recently bought a house, life insurance suddenly became an issue, and guess what; being male I have to shell out significantly more for life insurance than what a woman in my age bracket would have to. Wait; surely this must violate international law, and I can count on the same group of Equal Rights Freedom Fighters to stand up for my cause? Not really - apparently it was only a problem for this group because it pertained to women. Would you hook a brutha' up.

Ignoring for a moment the blatant double standard this case is based upon; is it really true that when insurance premiums are calculated, there is a massive conspiracy to discriminate women that sets in? A conspiracy involving a secret handshake, POTUS, Area 51 and the Reptilians from Planet Niburu?

Or is it that insurance premiums are based on statistical analyses of population segments and age brackets? So that the reason I have to pay a higher premium for life insurance is the relative life expectancies between the genders, i.e. women have a longer life expectancy than men? Conversely, the same statistics - taken over hyooge populations - show that women are more likely to exit the work force (temporarily or permanently) due to disability. So do you think I should stage a protest and show up on the news using brutal logic like "I'm at least as healthy as any woman in my age bracket, and so I shouldn't have to pay more for life insurance"? Not only that, but 18 year old men pay way more for car insurance than 18 year old women - such injustice! Epic confusion of statistical mean and a single data point - also known as "I am the world". This is the same reasoning as what's employed by people who play the lottery not because it's fun, but because "people win every time, so how hard can it be?".

So; would it be better if insurance premiums were based on politically correctness instead of math? Epic PC thuggery.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The sale that wouldn't end

Getting hosed twice in the same campus bookstore sale now.........90% off this I must be an easy target. Maybe one of these books can remedy that, though

Brody's Human Pharmacology - Molecular to Clinical, 4th Edition (Elsevier Mosby) by Minneman, Wecker, Larner and Brody
It was relevant and it was cheap...and probably redundant.

Confessions of a Hypnotist by Jonathan Royle
It looked like an entertaining read, and Scott Adams rants on and on about it. Good enough for me. Plus, from the photograph of the author with his Jag on the back cover, dude must be doing something right. Perhaps he got that Jag by selling books like this to suckers like me...

Clinical Biochemistry, 7th Edition (Blackwell Publishing) by Beckett, Walker, Rae and Ashby
Looked interesting, and it's research relevant....yeah yeah; they got me good

Nanotechnology and the Environment (ACS Symposium Series 890) edited by Karn, Masciangioli, Zhang, Colvin and Alivisatos
Well well well - Paul Alivisatos; we meet again. In a freak coincident, I was recently roped into being an advisor for the committee on nanotech and (among other things) the environment for the nanotechnology study. Plus; this is one of them things that's brought up all the time, but there is very little information to be found, so this is cool.

Artificial Enzymes (Wiley-VCH) edited by Ronald Breslow
Relevant as all get-out.

Principles of Instrumental Analysis, 5th Edition by Skoog, Holler and Nieman
Awesome book to use as reference for various techniques in articles......

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Reinventing my approach to writing

...scientific articles, that is. For a week or so, I've tried a combination approach based on the concepts "Listing" and "Freewriting" that I got from the book "A Writer's Reference" by Diana Hacker, that I've reviewed here. Listing is simply brainstorming on a piece of paper - jotting down ideas in the order in which they occur to you. Freewriting is nonstop writing (still on a piece of paper) for a given period of time, like ten minutes, without pausing to think about word choice, context or meaning. It could be that nothing useful emerges, in which case you've only lost ten minutes. So far, this is working like gangbusters for me. However, for me, the key to success here is the use of pencil and paper to jot down whatever comes to mind. For whatever reason, my approach becomes more rigid if I try to do the same thing with a Word file. Especially if I try either approach in the actual manuscript.

Being as how I label this my "new" approach (at least for the time being), I guess I should explain how I've worked so far: Writing the entire manuscript in a Word file the order in which they appear in the manuscript (excluding abstract) - IMRAD. The most linear approach to composition imagineable. Consequently, if I've struggled with a paragraph in the introduction section, I've been stuck there until I came up with at least something preliminary, the fact that I could have written several paragraphs in other section rather effortlessly notwithstanding. This has applied not only to large sections of the manuscript, but also to single sentences; if I'm writing the sentence down in the manuscript file, I can spend hours trying to tweak it just right before I'm capable of moving on. In the words of Eddie Robinson, whenever I've hit a wall in the writing process, I've grunted, grabbed the wall with both hands and headbutted it until I've broken through on the other side.

How's that been working out for me? Not too bad, actually. Of course, the amount of time I've spent on writing is only vaguely correlated to the resulting number of pages, but I suspect it will stay that way. At this point, I've all but given up on trying to estimate the time needed to write one paper. I can guesstimate what my annual production is going to look like, but for individual scientific papers - not a chance. Maybe when I get enough of them to warrant a full Gaussian treatment....... Excluding the time required for data collection (which is a whole other ball of wax), I've written 80% of a manuscript in one night, between helping out with round-the-clock experiments at NIST. Conversely, I've spent the better part of four consecutive months writing a review paper based on (mostly) my own research.

Ahh - what the hell; cliff notes: I've found a new approach to inserting "Moreover's" and equations in Word documents.

Monday, March 3, 2008

2008: Year Of The Raman

...and molecular spectroscopy in general. At least that is my sincere hope. I've been aching to get properly back into old-school, hardcore molecular spectroscopy for a while, but my schedule (like the mandatory, colossal waste of time formally known as pedagogic training), nature of ongoing projects and massive equipment malfunction have prevented me from doing so. Now, with the instrumentation at least semi-up-and-running, a few manuscripts closer to submission and collaborators with MD and time-domain DFT skillz, the sky is the limit.

It will massively rule to go transition dipole- and Franck-Condon-crazy again. I'm a geek, am I?

Firewind and Kamelot in Oslo

Kamelot is coming to Oslo in May, and we're SO there. They are ending their year long, world wide tour for "Ghost Opera" in Oslo on May 3rd, with the amazing Firewind as support. Tickets were purchased yesterday.

Kamelot is one of the bands I've really wanted to see for a long time, and judging by their live 2006 DVD from Rockefeller (One Cold Winter's Night), they're an AWESOME live act. Firewind is one band we've actually seen live before, in 2006. October 28th 2006, to be correct.

It's gonna be off the hook.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Crazy Scary Awesome Cool

Yesterday, we got the keys to our new house. Our new house - it's almost surrealistic - all four walls to ourselves, a proper garden (in which we can have apple trees and stuff), a hyooge garage and a wonderful view of the fjord. I don't think it's really dawned on me yet. As we went to the house yesterday to sign papers, get keys and whatnot - which by the way was the first time we saw the inside of the house in daylight - it both crazy kewl and way scary. Today as we went back to the place, it was even cooler but less scary, so the trend is favorable.

Can't wait to move in.......