Saturday, January 17, 2009

On heating and budget cuts

Minus the construction freeze this strikes pretty close to home here at Stony Brook. One of the current construction projects includes a new fMRI facility. So hopefully soon I won't have to subject myself to the bureaucratic labyrinth that is SBU Hospital. Currently we have to pay hourly for use of the scanner during off hours. However, there are no off hours at the hospital... so we get kicked off the scanner a lot so people get their tennis elbow examined or whatever. The current building project has faced some delays, but it should be finished this semester. Hopefully, I'll be able to get some pictures when the new (7 tesla!~) magnet arrives.

In less happy news, the department is in a hiring freeze. Hopefully at least one new faculty member will be hired this year, but different departments are all pointing the figure at each other as to why that might happen. So until the buck is officially passed, no new faculty.

The heating situation in the building is a strange one, despite graduate students being in the building at all hours of the day or night, the heat gradually goes down after five. We have a space heater in the lab for the rare occasion when someone is there late. Of course when I say rare, I really mean someone is there late basically every day.

The free food situation is the saddest of all. If you want graduate students to go somewhere, say that there will be pizza. Sadly, this elaborate system of incentives and rewards has broken down and we can only get free food at the occasional lab meeting. Luckily, my adviser is intent on sampling every pizza place in Stony Brook.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

In which I review Final Crisis

Why do I read Grant Morrison comics?

...That's why.

That's Batman shooting the physical embodiment of evil with a magical bullet that travels backwards in time. Also, Batman is dodging life-seeking laser beams. And that's not even the craziest part of a book that also features a fight between anamorphic tiger people, Superman being shown a doomsday thought-weapon 1,000 years in the future, and a plan to teleport the earth into a parallel universe. I mean, this is pretty tame stuff for a Grant Morrison comic, but it still pretty out there.

The best part is that this all somehow makes sense. Obviously we aren't dealing with the most realistic of subject matter here, but the characters are defined well and the story proceeds in a logical manner (considering that it involves the world being enslaved by an alien computer virus). In terms of basic storytelling, Final Crisis is probably one of the better storylines to come out of a major comic book company in a few years. There are plenty of big action scenes to be sure, but they do not take precedence over the (admittedly epic) story being told. Furthermore, there is quite a bit of depth here, as large swaths of the book can be interpreted as a comment on what it means to be a superhero or even the current state of superhero comics.

Supposedly Marvel is releasing a Spiderman comic featuring Barack Obama today, but I'm thinking Final Crisis will turn out to be the best mainstream comic to come out this month. Good storytelling is frustratingly difficult to come by in mainstream comics right now. Lots of stories empathize cool visuals or callbacks to obscure comics from the '70s and 80's. Final Crisis has both of these things plus the insanity that is inherent in a Grant Morrison comic. However, underneath all of that is solid storytelling.

The story doesn't finish until next month, but the the climax of the story comes in this issue, with the next issue appearing to be an epilogue. If you don't normally read comics, I'd wait until the collected edition comes out in a few months, but this storyline is definitely worth checking out.

Oh... and Batman dies!~

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tetris and PTSD

I always enjoy the random articles that come up during a Pubmed search....

I haven't read beyond the abstract yet but this article examines the use of Tetris as a sort of cognitive inoculation to reduce flashbacks to a traumatic event. The article is mostly about methods for preventing PTSD, but I like the idea of soldiers being outfitted with a military grade Nintendo.

Last post on Sarah Palin

You know what... I can't say anything funny about this. Just an incredible amount of irony here.

Blogging about blogging is a sin

I just wanted to make a note about my spelling, punctuation, and grammar in this blog. I'm not sure if anyone reads this blog closely enough to notice, but I am constantly correcting and re-correcting my entries.

I proofread my entries before I post them, but I often miss little things. I'm a perfectionist about my academic writing but I try to keep this blog a bit more casual. In addition to keeping you all updated on my amazingly exciting life and eventful, I'm also trying to use this blog to work through some of the issues I have with everything I write that's not school related.

Anyways, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. I'm going to continue making silly spelling and grammatical errors and much of what I write will undoubtedly continue to read awkwardly. I'll correct errors as I notice them, but mostly I'm just trying to get my ideas and barely coherent rantings across in a better way.

Also, Blogspot's spellcheck and Firefox's spellcheck interact spectacularly to together miss a ton of words.