Microbiology haikus

Commenter VeritasKnight requested a post full of haikus; Joe McKen asked for them to be microbiology themed.

Peptidoglycan
damn you, I am positive
You blue my cover

It was chilling there
Before genomes went mainstream
The retrovirus

S. cerevisiae
The brewer, not the screwer
Fuck C. albicans

Ten percent human
The rest, essential strangers
Am I really me?

And for those who are curious, the themes (in order) are gram staining, endogenous retroviruses, baker’s yeast versus the species that causes vaginal yeast infections, and the human microbiome.

This is post 34 of 49 of Blogathon. Donate to the Secular Student Alliance here.

Bloom

In my dermatillomania post, a commenter linked to this art installation that I just had to share:

In 2003 a building housing the Massachusetts Mental Health Center (MMHC) was slated for demolition to make way for updated facilities. The closure was a time for reflection and remembrance as the MMHC had been in operation for over 9 decades and had touched countless thousands of patients and employees alike, and the pending demolition presented a unique problem. How does one memorialize a building impossibly rich with a history of both hope and sadness, and do it in a way that reflects not only the past but also the future? And could this memorial be open to the public, not as a speech, or series of informational plaques, but as an experience worthy of they building’s unique story?

To answer that question artist Anna Schuleit was commissioned to do the impossible. After an initial tour of the facility she was struck not with what she saw but with what she didn’t see: the presence of life and color. While historically a place of healing, the drab interior, worn hallways, and dull paint needed a respectful infusion of hope. With a limited budget and only three months of planning Schuleit and an enormous team of volunteers executed a massive public art installation called Bloom. The concept was simple but absolutely immense in scale. Nearly 28,000 potted flowers would fill almost every square foot of the MMHC including corridors, stairwells, offices and even a swimming pool, all of it brought to life with a sea of blooms. The public was then invited for a limited 4-day viewing as a time for needed reflection and rebirth.

Make sure to check out the rest of the photos and the interview with the artist here. I’m absolutely in love with it. Mental health problems have so much stigma attached to them. It’s wonderful to reframe the issue as being about rebirth, growth, and brightness instead of something bleak, deranged, and evil. I think this reaction from someone who visited the exhibit summarizes it perfectly:

“I walked through Bloom with a close friend of mine who has spent a great deal of time inside similar hospitals. He was close to tears and repeated said he felt the desire to jump into the flowers, sum bold for the freedom and the celebration of his own growth and healing. We recognized that Bloom brought beauty and wonder to what has always been an inherently taboo subject matter.”

This is post 33 of 49 of Blogathon. Donate to the Secular Student Alliance here.

#SSAweek doodles!

Keep refreshing to see the new ones. Info about requesting a doodle is here.

Request: “Holland Lop Rabbit”

Dear readers:I’d be perfectly happy if all of your requests are adorable animals.

Request: “Owl, dancing”

I hope disco is okay.

Request: “8 kitties playing and ‘kitty mommy’ somewhere in the doodle. a gift for my wife :)”

Pixel wanted to use her expertise to help with that one, so she decided to fall asleep on my arm as I was drawing. Thanks, Pixel.

Request: Doodle of an alien reading the Bolingbrook Babbler.

Brb, taking a lunch break!

Request: Vampire Squid (cuter than you’d think)

Request: “something with a cat and a violin. You decide how they relate. ”

Bad kitty.

Request: “whatever “No Iguana for Z” suggests to you”

A trolly friend requests: “dignity”

Request: “Happy Atom sketch”

Request: “Draw DNA :)”

EDIT: Taking a doodle break because my cold is catching up with me. Will finish the rest soon!

Donate to #SSAweek and get a personal doodle from me!

EDIT: I’m closing submissions now so I can catch up on the doodles people have requested. I may make the same offer later in the week, so don’t despair!

So far #SSAweek and Blogathon are going strong. $54,337 has been raised, though $50,000 came from the Stiefel Freethought Foundation and the rest came from 86 other donors. I want everyone to know they can make a difference even if they only have $5 to give. That’s just one fancy coffee or beer you can skip in order to support a great cause. My mini-goal is to hit 100 donors by the end of today.

What’s in it for you? I’m sitting at home sniffling and hopped up on strong cold medicine. I’m a little loopy and a little bored. If you donate $5 or more to the Secular Student Alliance, I’ll draw you a custom doodle in EDIT: OpenCanvas, so it won’t be totally crappy! All you have to do is while making your donation, look for the “SSA Week 2012 Topic Suggestion & Mailing Information” header, fill out Blogger with “Jen” or “Blag Hag” and tell me what you want to draw with “Topic Suggestion.”

In case you need further encouragement, you should know I’m armed with a Bamboo drawing tablet and this is some of my past artwork (more examples in this link):

So, donate and give me things to doodle! Let’s reach 100 donors or more by the end of today!

This is why I haven’t been blogging

My new distraction: Draw Something for iPhone.

My favorite part: Taking way too much time to draw something where a stick figure would have conveyed the message. For example, my drawing for the word “Obama”:

This is what I did for “alone”:

Feel free to add me – the username is jennifurret.

A new godless comic book

Blag Hag reader Marjee Chmiel is working on a fantastic comic called Luci’s Let Down.
Written by Marjee Chmiel and illustrated by Sandra Lanz, *Luci’s Let Down* is about the alienation that creative and skilled professionals face in corporate culture, a culture that too often devalues craftsmanship and holds profits over principles. It’s also about the creation of the universe, the extinction of the dinosaurs, and the other side of the canonical dispute between God and Lucifer.
As art director for God, Luci has found herself let down again and again with the tasks entrusted to her: creating life is tough stuff, and for a boss as critical and unappreciative as the Big Man himself, it’s particularly difficult to remain in the spotlight for long. Yet with this latest project, she intends to realize her vision, and ensure her place in the echelon of time-honored creators. Witty, funny, and certainly touching, *Luci’s Let Down* is a familiar story told before, but never like this.

The art is great, and I love the subtle nerdiness. There are some preview pages here.

Marjee is looking for help to pay for the printing so she can present the book at the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, MA and the Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco this year. They’re over half way to their goal – if you like the comic, you can help out here!

I know what I’m doing in 4.5 years

You and your committee may be the only people who read your PhD dissertation (well, if you’re lucky) – but you can still enjoy is aesthetically:From Street Anatomy:

A long-time Street Anatomy fan and soon-to-be doctor, Stephen, recently sent in this image of an anatomical heart made up entirely of the words from his dissertation. He put tons of effort into studying a particular cardiac arrhythmia, noted below the heart, and instead of hanging fancy diplomas on the wall, he chose to immortalize his time and efforts into a piece of anatomical art.

Someone please remind me of this awesome idea when I’m about to graduate.

Guess what I now own?

The first two issues of The Atheist comic:The covers are cool enough, but the story is kind of neat:

When your fears are beyond belief you need a hero beyond believing. Antoine Sharpe is a scalpel on two legs – skeptical, brilliant, ruthless. A special agent with a shadowy department of the U.S. government, Sharpe applies his unconventional intellect to any paranormal threats that arise. His mission: Debunk or destroy. When countless teenagers show signs of otherworldly possession, Sharpe and his partner must not only find the truth, but stop the apparent plague from destroying civilization itself. How far will Sharpe go to save humanity? Farther than you can imagine! This trade paperback collects the hard-to-find, critically acclaimed mini-series, featuring the complete first story-arc of comic superstar Phil Hester’s enigmatic, intellectual government agent.

Woooo skeptical super heroes!

Unfortunately it’s an old comic and there are only two additional issues. I kind of want to get my hands on them. At the very least they’d make some badass artwork for my new apartment.

Thanks, Ryan, for the great gift!

New York Recap Part2: SEX!

On the Friday after my photoshoot I decided to hit up a couple New York museums. First I headed over to the Museum of Sex, which a bunch of my readers suggested to me. Man, I have no idea why you guys thought I would want to go to this place. Do I look like some sex obsessed biologist to you?
…Don’t answer that.

The gift shop alone was worth the visit. It included everything from sex books and sex toys, to sex themed plates to this horrifying bunny bondage mask:
I thought the Donnie Darko bunny mask was as scary as it gets. I was wrong.

The museum itself was very cool. It was a little weird going through it without a friend, because I was That One Creepy Loner Person staring at bondage get ups and famous pornos. But it was still neat. The first exhibit was all on kinks. It ranged from typical stuff like porn to stuff like balloon popping or feeder fetishes. I was particularly amused by this antique fanfiction:
I know, you’ll never look at Donald Duck or Olive Oil the same way. You’re welcome.

As a perfect example of why I needed a partner in crime, they had Real Dolls on display that you could touch. I was going to try it out of curiosity, but then another Creepy Loner Guy came up and rubbed at the female, and it was just creepy as hell. So, yeah, I wimped out. I regret it!
One of their special exhibits was on condoms. A lot of it was educational, so not really new to me, but I loved all the different condom cases they had on display. These three were by far my favorite (click image for larger):
For those of you who can’t read it, Sarah Palin’s says “When abortion is not an option,” Obama’s says “Use with good judgement,” and McCain’s says “Old but not expired.” Though I like my sister-in-law’s suggestion for an Obama condom – “For when hope is not enough.”

The final exhibit was on animal sexuality, so I definitely spent the most time in there geeking out. It was odd reading all the information and seeing names of people that I not only recognized, but have actually met. I knew a lot of the stuff, but I learned a lot of fun facts. Did you know elephant clitorises are 17 inches when erect? Well now you do, and you can’t forget that. Again, you’re welcome.

I was a bit disappointed they didn’t have anything on copulatory plugs, though. Who doesn’t want to learn about natural chastity belts?! I’ll have to send them my paper once it’s published.

On the way out, I was greeted by a cute mime wearing nothing but an American flag speedo on stilts. Yay New York!
My next stop was the Museum of Modern Art, or MoMA. I absolutely loved it. I didn’t research it much before going, so I was shocked by how many famous pieces were there. Persistence of Memory, Girl Before a Mirror, Christina’s World, I and the Village, the Campbell Soup Cans… I was overwhelmed. I literally got goosebumps when I turned the corner and there was Starry Night.

But I also enjoyed the less traditional modern art, partially for its silliness. I mean, how can you not like Yoko Ono’s wall of butts?
The best part was the young girl who was pointing at the butts giggling like crazy, trying to point it out to her mom. In French. I don’t speak any French, but it was like the universal language of juvenile humor.