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Category: carbon neutral

07/29/08 03:11 - 77ºF - ID#45179

The Rocky Plastic Toxic Horror Show

So you went to the grocery store and ticked off the items from the crumpled list you clutched till the ink ran and splotched your fingers. When you came out to your car, for those five little things you bought, you have EIGHT plastic bags.
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Why is the Maths not adding up? Because when the cashier asked if you wanted the milk double-bagged, you unconsciously nodded, and lord forbid that the cereal ends up within a mile of soap or the bread, regardless of the fact that all of them are excessively packaged on their own anyway. So you come home with eight bags or more.
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And you think, oh, I can return them the next time I go to the store, since they accept all plastic bags back, don't they? That may be true but ever wondered if it really gets recycled? Consider these statistics:

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Source:
Yeah, highly unlikely.

What then happens to your plastic bags and your disposable coffee mugs, mug caps, disposable forks, knives, spoons, plates, boxes and all the other plastic that you throw away on a daily basis??

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Some end up in land-fills.
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Some end up in oceans.
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You couldn't care less, right? It's just littering the ocean far away from you.

Well, think again. The plastic bags that you thought were being recycled choke and kill coral reefs by blocking access to their precious sunlight.
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Unsuspecting birds feed on this plastic.
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Some of these could be endangered species...
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Some of these birds become hopelessly entangled with plastic bags making them unable to fly. Imagine living your life in a dirty plastic bag.
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Some suffer worse fates.
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This bird was choked to death by a handle of a plastic bag you gleefully dragged home and threw away.
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Birds and corals are not the only victims. Plastic bags and plastic disposables float about the ocean.
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Many turtles who live up to 120 years die in a mere 10-50 choking on shredded plastic bags.
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This poor turtle was brutally choked to death on the Hawaiian atoll of Midway where all the plastic washed up on beaches.
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They are eaten by sealion pups that die soon after.
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In 2002, this young dead minke whale washed ashore the Isle of Mull:
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Scientists conducting the autopsy were shocked to discover that the cause of death was a whale-load of plastic inside its stomach.
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Land animals are affected as well. Rare species of monkeys have reduced lifespans because of plastic.
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They affect birds of prey, thus disrupting the food-chain.
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The king of the jungle is sadly humbled to death by the plastic bag you threw away.
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For those of you who are gloating over the fact that you take only paper bags home, here's what your paper bag cost the planet:
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Bring your own washable cloth bags.
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Use reusable mugs and cups for your daily coffee!
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And that is not all.
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Wouldn't you say its time to finally spell out a firm NO TO PLASTIC BAGS? How many more deaths and wars do you need? How many more coasts do you need choked? How many species would you like seeing wiped out? Say NO to this hideous and insidious pestilence.
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Put an end to the plastic horror show.
Source of Slides:
Source of Photographs: Banish the bags Campaign, The Daily Mail.


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Words: 650
Location: Buffalo, NY


Category: e:strip

07/17/08 07:53 - 82ºF - ID#45055

Tree-Planting E:Strip Picnic!!!

(e:Terry) posted about this city of buffalo tree-replanting venture some time back - (e:terry,44861). The city of Buffalo is looking to recover and spring back (quite literally) from the severe losses to its green cover from the awful October storm of '06. For those of you who sighed with sorrow at this terrible picture of destruction and pain:

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Here is YOUR chance to do something positive and give back to the tree population of our city!! The City of Buffalo public works department is planning a community-driven Re-Tree WNY project almost right in your backyards!

From their posting at this site

Would you like to organize a tree planting in your neighborhood?

Step 1: Register your group to access the online system. Please click here:

Step 2: Once registered you will utilize the City of Buffalo's online street tree inventory to locate the specific locations you have chosen for your tree planting. If the site you have chosen is shown to be available on the online database, you can reserve the location and select a preferred species for that site.

Step 3: Once the sites have been reserved for your planting, we will contact you with a final list of your reserved tree planting sites and species.

Step 4: In the fall you will be contacted to participate in a mandatory tree planting training. These trainings are mandatory if you wish to receive your trees to plant.

If you are not part of a group doing a planting and organizing one yourself but would still like to volunteer to plant trees this fall please register here: or contact the Mayor's Call & Resolution Center at 716-851-4890.



Wouldn't you like to be part of team (e:strip)??? Together, we can return the lovely green of the summer and spring to barren lots of our city. Buffalo deserves it. You deserve it! Comment and join Team (e:strip)!!! Unlike little blowhards at some sites we know, we can actually do something practical and make a difference to Buffalo and in our lives.
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Permalink: Tree_Planting_E_Strip_Picnic_.html
Words: 367
Location: Buffalo, NY


Category: eating in

07/15/08 09:24 - 75ºF - ID#45029

Avil Upma - A Dire Consequences Recipe

Recipe-writing is an art-form. The "Dire-Consequences" recipe elevates this art-form to its most evil pinnacle of glory. Reading a well-written "dire-consequences" recipe is a hair raising experience. Readers are taken on a roller-coaster journey of things that can go potentially wrong in the kitchen and are encouraged to take the sundry escape routes available. As if this were not enough, just as the reader is ready to quit and throw in the kitchen towel, it is subtly impressed upon the reader that only wimps take the escape route, and it does not behoove any adventurous kitchen-farer to start the recipe, and not finish.

The dire-consequences recipe is a very subtle samurai art of psychodeviant and subconscious kitchen torture. I am not claiming to be any kind of expert at this art. NO! Don't heave that sigh of relief yet because complacency is never the name of any game and I self appoint myself a dire consequences recipe-writer-wannabe. :)

So, all this bright, crisp, summer sunshine-soaked green outdoors inspired me to bring in that very same green into my early dinner, today. I made Avil Upma, but since none of you really know what that is, you could call it anything you like. It's traditionally a very light breakfast or "tiffin" or served at tea time in South India.

A sharp knife does short work of all this chopping about to follow, but if you have blunt knives, then your wrists might get tired easily. A demotivated cook is not really a good cook. Blunt knives are also known to bring on severe depression on many chefs and make them consider slitting their wrists. Considering all these ill-effects on wrists, in general, you might want to start with a well-sharpened knife.
1. Chop
- Green Beans
- Carrots
- Bell Peppers
- Green Chillies
- Ginger
- Karuvepelai (or "Curry" Leaves)
I think the Karuvepelai is the heart and soul of this dish. I cannot guarantee that your Avil Upma would be even half as good if you omit this leaf from culinary heaven. Considering all Indian stores stock this leaf, you really have no excuse, unless of course, you like eating junk.

2. Take some peanut oil in a pan, turn on the stove and add a pinch of
- Black Mustard Seeds
- White Lentils (Urad ki Dal)
- Split yellow lentils (Channe ki Dal)
- Dried Red Chillies (pieces)
- Cumin
Wait for the mustard seeds to sputter. Keep stirring. Don't let this seasoning char!! If you do char this, refrigerate the chopped veggies and throw the charred stuff away. You might need to consider going out to eat at this point because your kitchen might be filled with acrid charcoal-ridden smoke and might be a health hazard. What a waste of time, just because you didn't remember to stir for a couple minutes. Tsk Tsk.

3. Once the mustard just starts sputtering, add
- the chopped ginger, green chillies and Karuvepelai.
- Stir for around 20 seconds and then add
- a pinch of asafoetida (Hing in Hindi, Perungayam in Tamil)
- Green Beans
- Bell Peppers
- Salt
- Turmeric Powder
Stir some more. Sprinkle water over it and wait for the beans to get to a BRIGHT green colour. If the Beans turn yellowish green, you have let them cook too long!
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4. Toss in the carrots. Stir a couple more minutes. I think its a different experience altogether to leave the vegetables crunchy and crispy. But I also know of people who like to punch and murder their veggies till they are smushed and have lost their form altogether. You need to pick sides NOW. Tick Tock.
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4. You need thick/thin rice flakes for this step (Avil in Tamil, Poha in Hindi). You need to have sprinkled a generous amount of water on the rice flakes and set them aside to soften, earlier. If you didn't do it, it's too late now. You better turn off the stove and eat the veggies. If, on the other hand, you did sprinkle the rice flakes with water and have them moistened and soft - add them to the veggie mix now.

5. Stir for a couple minutes till everything reaches a nice high temperature. Add a little water, if necessary, to make it softer.

6. Turn off the stove. Squeeze half a lemon over the upma. Serve on a plate and garnish with chopped fresh coriander leaves.
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7. A wonderful accompaniment to this light fluffy meal is a bunch of cherries washed in cold water.
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8. And no summer meal is complete without some awesome Mango Tea with a touch of foamy milk. :)
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Permalink: Avil_Upma_A_Dire_Consequences_Recipe.html
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Location: Buffalo, NY


Category: art

07/14/08 09:36 - 72ºF - ID#45018

Tell me something true...


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Permalink: Tell_me_something_true_.html
Words: 2
Location: Buffalo, NY


Category: eating in

07/13/08 10:24 - 73ºF - ID#45011

The Taste of Summer

I made some absolutely delicious lunch today because I didn't want to go overboard eating all the junk food at the Taste of Buffalo. It's the same principle as eating something before going grocery shopping. I seldom follow that principle, however. I find that I am more alert if I don't eat before going to the grocery and make better and faster food decisions.

I am calling this the Taste of Summer. It has two of my very favourite ingredients. No, wait. Make that three.
1. Mustard Greens
2. Garlic
3. Bulghur Wheat
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It's an extremely quick recipe. Some of you might know how averse I am to using cooking oils other than my darling peanut oil but I made an exception and went with extra virgin olive oil today. The result blew me away. I am not a convert yet, but some of my insularity about cooking oils is slowly fading. Mind you, I still hate corn oil, canola, vegetable oil and the ilk. I especially loathe vegetable oil because I think it has a fishy unacceptable overtone. I am marginally okay with sesame oil if the dish calls for it. I am not saying that I would use oilive oil for regular cooking but I *might* consider it for light and offbeat cooking. Peanut oil still rules my cooking oil domain. If I had the misfortune to be stranded in an unknown nasty island, I would hunt for and take a bottle of Peanut oil with me when I am getting away from the wreck of the airplane. (Notice here, that I don't say "swimming away from the wreck of the boat". The reason being, I don't know how to swim.)

Here's how you concoct and distill the Taste of Summer.

1. Chop into very fine pieces
- Ginger
- Red Chillies
- Green Chillies (SUPER HOT!)
- Garlic
- Mustard Greens.
The key here is "very fine". You could make an exception for the Mustard Greens and go with just "coarse-fine".

2. Take Extra Virgin Olive oil in a sauteing pan
- Add a pinch of ground black pepper
- Add a pinch of semi-ground cumin
You have to have some full pieces of cumin here and some amount of cumin powder. It's a flavour balancing trick.

3. When the cumin begins to pop a bit
- Add the ginger, red chillies and garlic
Saute till the aroma of garlic wafts up and fills your kitchen. You may not want to wait that long if you live in the Buckingham Palace and your kitchen is the size of a warehouse.

4. Add Mustard greens and saute till the water comes out and the greens turn a very bright green.
This bright green can be precisely described as the green of the grass when the sun shines through and you wonder how it might be like to walk on it without any shoes on.

5. Add cooked Bulghur wheat (I would say in a 3 greens:1 wheat ratio) Don't add too much. The mustard greens, though very pungent, cannot beat the sheer carbohydraty-heaviness of Bulghur, so you might need a little moderation here. Favour the mustard greens, not the Bulghur.

6. Add cooked orange lentils (Around 3 tablespoons - not too much).
Same rule as above. Too much ruins the taste of mustard greens. And yes, I am not one of those people who primly list all the ingredients up front. I am assuming that you didn't start cooking the minute you started reading this journal and then found, when you hit step 6, that you didn't have any orange lentils to begin with. Deal with it.

7. Stir well. Turn off heat. If you don't, a kitchen fire will follow. Though it might well be in the spirit of summer with the heat and all, it won't quite match "The Taste of Summer". You get the idea.

8. To elevate the summer theme, garnish with a handful of HOT GREEN CHILLIES.

9. Enjoy with Lemonade. (You know the recipe for this, don't you?) What are you doing reading this recipe if you don't know how to squeeze a lemon into some cold water and add some honey, rock-salt and black pepper flakes to it?

10. Wish fervently that this summer goes by very very very slowly and winter forgets to visit Buffalo this year.

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Permalink: The_Taste_of_Summer.html
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Location: Buffalo, NY


Category: e:strip

07/12/08 09:58 - 74ºF - ID#44986

Congratulations, E:boxerboi!!!!!!!!!!!

What's an absolutely spellbinding story without a montage!??
Ready?? Cue the music >>>




::DOWNLOAD SOUND::



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I just received an awesome mail in my inbox!
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(E:boxerboi) successfully completed the Musselman Triathlon Challenge in 1:38:29!
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The Triathlon Challenge started early in the day...

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It was no walk in the park!!

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Or even a casual dance by the disco!

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It was a genuine time-bound sweat-drenched exhausting amphibious race!!

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A arduous triple trek through the tunnel of exertion and grit!

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But (e:boxerboi) completed it with flying colours!!
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image (E:boxerboi)!!!!!!
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imageYOU ARE MY HERO!image
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Permalink: Congratulations_E_boxerboi_.html
Words: 123
Location: Buffalo, NY


Category: the odes

07/11/08 06:20 - 76ºF - ID#44934

Johnny Depp is Paul C. Kozlowski

Or so I think.

Since I have a deadline, quite naturally, I have been afflicted by the ODES ((e:tinypliny,38711)) and I am off gallivanting to distant realms of the www. I chanced upon Chow Chocolat's myspace page. It lists the store as a 25 year old female in Buffalo, NY. I wonder if that is the demographic of clientele they hope to attract or just how young they feel... Anyway, their page has an intriguing little song called "Berlin" by a band called "Casperous Vine". It also has a to the band.

I couldn't help following it and the revelation of the evening is that its Johnny Depp's band! According to the page, Johnny Depp a.k.a Paul Christopher Kozlowski plays the Bayan, the Accordion, several types of Guitar (including Classical, Electric, Nylon), the oud, the fretless bass, vibraphone, jew harp, jaymar, porpoise, the trither, anu, marimba, glocks, vox, didj, scrap metal, keyboard/synthesizer, mandolin, percussion, flute, cello, violin and also an exotic and colourful looking self-assembled instrument called the Gilgamesh! Casperous Vine has released a CD compilation that is reviewed here. Their music is described as avante garde progressive electro-acoustic world-fusion! Kozlowski also plays in another rather interesting band called the Terrible Elephant. Give a listen to the song called "roompa" on this and you'll know what I mean.

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Is there a limit to this man's seemingly endless and fascinating qualities?!

- Passionate Cook
- Founder of an innovative band (and probably plays in two more).
- Composer of exotic music
- Can build musical instruments from Scratch.
- Plays several musical instruments
- Works at Chow Chocolat
- Looks heartbreakingly like Johnny Depp!
- Has a very charming smile and is extremely down-to-earth.
- Shook hands with Hillary Clinton

While I was google-stalking this captivating personality, I found (e:Jim)'s Flickr stream! Yep. Just like that Bacon bloke is six degrees away from everyone on the planet, I am convinced that (e:Jim) is just a google-stalk away from everyone! (e:Jim) and (e:James) are virtual friends with another Flickr photo-enthusiast called Planet Tyler whose Summer '07 muse was none other than Johnny Depp Kozlowski!


Buffalo is an incredibly personal city. :)

_________
PS: Readers having trouble placing this post in context should refer to this post about Chow Chocolat: (e:tinypliny,44289)
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Category: science

07/10/08 05:51 - 75ºF - ID#44920

Linkage Disequilibrium Blocks/Triangles

I just had a zen moment in the interpretation of Linkage Disequilibrium Maps. (Also called LD maps, LD blocks, LD triangles - take your pick.) Turns out I was actually sweating 1st grade stuff!

I found that NO ONE explains this EXTRAORDINARILY SIMPLE thing in their umpteen papers, reviews, tutorials and what-nots. I just want to post this here so that when people google this simple little question, they find an equally simple and straight-forward answer!

This is an example of what a very small section of a Linkage Disequilibrium Map or an LD Map looks like.
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Concentrate on the upper part of the map.
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The thick blue line represents a strand of a chromosome. The white bars on the blue line of the chromosome are SNPs (Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms) that have been identified and sequenced. This means that we know what initial Nucleotide base has morphed into what final Nucleotide base. (Thus making it a polymorphic locus - or a position on the chromosome that exists in more than one form. The two forms are the intial nucleotide base and the final nucleotide base.)

These SNP locations or loci are labeled in this picture as 1, 2, 3, ... and so on. Each of these SNPs has a name that starts with rsXXXXX where XXXXX is some numeric code. Each SNP is represented by a labeled grey triangle below the thick blue line (the chromosome).
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The purpose of an LD map is to tell us whether any two given SNPs are INHERITED TOGETHER in an offspring. In other words, we want to know if any two given SNPs are in Linkage Disequilibrium.

An example: Are say, SNP #5 and SNP #9 in linkage disequilibrium? You trace down the column leading from grey triangle #5 or SNP#5 (Name: rs2299433) going toward SNP #9 (rs2237717). Do the same for SNP #9 going toward SNP #5.
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The square in which the columns leading from SNP #5 and SNP #9 intersect is the one you should focus on. I have encircled it above. As you can see its a LIGHT RED and has a number, 75. Thus SNP#5 and SNP #9 have a correlation of 0.75 and are in fairly high linkage disequilibrium with each other.

In simple terms, if your square of focus is a deep red, then the two SNPs you are interested in have the highest correlation with each other and have a highest Linkage Disequilibrium. Thus, one of them can easily act as a proxy for another. The lighter the shade of red, the lesser is the correlation between the two SNPs. For example, SNP #5 and SNP #7 have a low correlation (0.32) with each other. Thus, you cannot reliably take SNP #5 and say that it could possibly act as a proxy for SNP #7.

LD Maps also tell us about HAPLOTYPE blocks. See the blocks labeled, "Block 1 (49kb)", "Block 2 (23kb)", "Block 3 (93kb)" ... and so on.
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These triangles or the blocks of dark red represent SNPs that are all in high linkage disequilibrium with each other and thus are all inherited together. They are also on the same section of the chromosome. These SNPs form a HAPLOTYPE. Every big red triangle or block in the LD map indicates a HAPLOTYPE on the corresponding stretch of the chromosome above. You only need to look at one or maximum a couple SNPs in a haplotype to know about the fate of the entire section of the chromosome that forms a Haplotype. It saves money and time.

The HapMap Consortium project has painstakingly constructed such an LD map for each and every known SNP in the entire human genome. Their LD maps look somewhat like this (using the haploview software: )

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Though it is complicated, if you followed the simple tutorial above, you should be able to make sense of even complicated maps such as these. You are most welcome to leave a comment or drop me an email if you need further clarification!

I don't care who is laughing at this ridiculously detailed explanation of a kindergarten concept in genetics and genomics. Personally, I am just EXTREMELY relieved to finally know it well enough to be able to explain it. :)
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Permalink: Linkage_Disequilibrium_Blocks_Triangles.html
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Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 08/28/14 06:01


Category: i-tech

07/09/08 08:40 - 74ºF - ID#44915

Nifty Research Tools and Software

I found a host of nifty and useful research tools out there that are totally worth sharing multiple times. These might be just the life-savers, organizers and new-idea germinators that graduate students and serious researchers are looking for. Can't guarantee that they would make your life easier though...

1. Keep tabs on what's happening in the peer-reviewed research world. From the website:
Discussing and Creating Peer-Reviewed Research: Research Blogging

Do you like to read about new developments in science and other fields? Are you tired of "science by press release"? Research Blogging is your place. Research Blogging allows readers to easily find blog posts about serious peer-reviewed research, instead of just news reports and press releases.


The RSS feed is here:

The real question is however, just how many RSS feeds can one read before it turns into an unmanageable information overload and just becomes toxic??

2. Making a Checklist and sticking to it: The Tada list

It has a very simple interface that I use to make a checklist of things I need to do everyday. Finishing the tasks on the list actually is very satisfying. I find that the more I use it, the more disciplined I want to be in my reading and work goals. I know I can very well make lists on paper. But if I use an online interface (a) I don't have to worry about losing my lists, (b) I can access and tick off my list from anywhere (Well, almost. Any place that has net access). (c) Save paper! (d) copy out the list if I need to be in a really remote location, or maybe a conference.

3. An excellent comparison of Reference Managers: This is an exhaustive wiki about all the reference managers out there. Some of them are free, web-based and help you access your references anywhere and anytime. The next time that dreaded hard-disk crash happens or worse, your laptop or USB drive gets stolen, you don't have to worry about your dissertation references anymore. I currently use RefWorks - that is free via my University and via Roswell. However, I am actively exploring other free and open-source alternatives such as:
-- Connotea from the Nature Publishing Group ->
-- Zotero - a Firefox Extension for Reference Management ->


4. Synchronizing Notes, PDF Annotations, Anywhere, Anytime: Note-Taking Software Comparison: If you print out PDFs just because you can't mark them up online/on-screen, there is help! By using some of these FREE note-taking software you can mark and highlight those PDFs on-screen, avoid all that paper clutter and save all those reams of paper (and trees). I currently use Jarnal - a platform-independent, open-source, free Java-based note-taking software ->

Options. Options. So many Options.
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Permalink: Nifty_Research_Tools_and_Software.html
Words: 477
Location: Buffalo, NY


Category: heroes

07/07/08 08:15 - 85ºF - ID#44897

Three Cheers to E:boxerboi

My current inspirational summer hero is (e:boxerboi). He is taking on the formidable MUSSELMAN TRIATHLON CHALLENGE!!! this weekend!

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You could walk by his office and not notice the absolutely cool bloke who works there. But beneath his calm and almost zen-like efficiency lies the makings of a genuine hero! While lesser souls on the third floor show varying degrees of wimpiness and run around in circles, (e:boxerboi) quietly comes by and conquers the world! Like a true hero, he has a magically unceasing and very much hidden stash of some very lethal weapons.

1. Chuckles
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2. Blueberries
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Don't underestimate the power of these weapons of choice. They are jam-packed with massive undercurrents of overwhelming charm. Needless to say, I have been totally swept away and I hereby appoint him the

Hero of the Extreme 3rd Realm of Planet K
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Join me in wishing him all the very best of luck in his mission to conquer the Musselman World not once, not twice but a WHOLE THREE TIMES!!

THREE CHEERS to you, (e:boxerboi)!!! You ROCK!!!
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Permalink: Three_Cheers_to_E_boxerboi.html
Words: 184
Location: Buffalo, NY


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mike said to mike
Well really I did not bury the hatched in my mind I guess because now 5 years later, I just saw him ...

mike said to mike
Well really I did not bury the hatched in my mind I guess because now 5 years later, I just saw him ...

mike said to mike
Well 14 years later I have more grays but still solidly more pepper than salt so that's good at leas...

mike said to mike
Well 14 years later I have more grays but still solidly more pepper than salt so that's good at leas...