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Well, this is a surprise.

You'll have to excuse me; I haven't had visitors in so long.

On the other hand,

Well, look at that. Not only did I manage to beat a deadline (I'm not proud of how I did it, though, but when sources don't reply, you have to figure things out on the fly. Hey, that rhymes.), but I seem to have enough time left over in my workday to put up a blog entry.

After last week's entry, Martin and I had this long talk where he asked a lot of questions about career and direction and stuff. It seems that the idea of watching me put myself through the cycle of quit, find new job, find out new job isn't all that great, and want to quit again doesn't appeal to him. He knows how much I value stability; he's seen me cry over my struggle to keep up with the demands of my new job, and he's seen me cry over feeling homeless (the last time I was here, I said I was afraid because the time I intended to quit would coincide with the time I'd need to renew my boarding house contract). So he asked me if I was willing to put myself through more heartbreak by sacrificing stability for the sake of continuing my fingers-crossed search for the best-fit job. It's not that he doesn't support me--no one else was so vocally supportive when I wanted to quit my old job--I think it's more that he doesn't want to see me get hurt and thinks that I ought to avoid pain by staying put for a while and trying to just enjoy the challenges, if not the work.

I said that if I enjoyed the work in the first place, then I would enjoy the challenge; the reason I'm so quick to whine about challenge is that it's brought about by something that I don't want to do anyway. Don't get me wrong; I do like the feeling I get after beating a deadline and finishing an article about a topic I couldn't care less about. It's the feeling I have now, knowing that there's another entry in my Sent Mail register. But I will always be nagged by the thought that in some other place, I could be writing about things that I do care for and care for deeply (Credit cards? Remittance banking? Phooey). And as long as that thought persists, then any pain and heartbreak I experience in pursuit of the right job should be worth it.

That said, talking with Martin made me realize that I'd just had my best week at work since I started. There wasn't as much floundering and cramming. I made contact with sources, made deadlines, and even managed to write some worthy stuff, if I may say so myself. Hey, I was even happy for a couple moments. For the first time since I started here, I found a rhythm that worked for me, and it meant less stress and more security. It meant that things here don't have to be so bad if I quit whining for a second and get over the challenge like a good little soldier. So while I haven't forgotten how much I want to look elsewhere for work, I am more willing to give my current job a chance. Instead of looking at March as my ETD now, I'm looking at it as the next time to evaluate things. By then things should be clearer.

I guess that's all for now. I have to get ready for monthaversary stuff. Ten today. :)
Over the weekend, I was listening to my whole music library on shuffle and singing along while playing game after game of solitaire. (I discovered that there were over 80 variations of solitaire bundled with Ubuntu, apart from Freecell and Klondike. I've taken to Backbone because, like Freecell, it requires strategy--according to my favorite math teacher, no Freecell game is unsolvable, because you can see all the cards--but like Klondike, it can fall apart because of luck. Now that I think about it, my life is turning into a game of Backbone.) I was caught off guard and found myself crying over "Unwritten," by Natasha Bedingfield. No amount of thinking, Come on, they used this in Judy Ann's Pantene commercial, and that makes it officially uncool, and, Didn't they use this as the theme song for "The Hills"? could stem the flood that came with every chorus:
Staring at the blank page before you / open up the dirty window / let the sun illuminate the words that you cannot write / Reaching for something in the distance / so close you can almost taste it / release your inhibitions / feel the rain on your skin / No one else can feel it for you / only you can let it in / No one else, no one else / can speak the words on your lips / Drench yourself in words unspoken / life your life with arms wide open / Today is where your book begins / the rest is still unwritten //

Some part of me has been sunk in the despair that this is all my life is going to be. Yes, things are going great, perhaps better than they have ever been; the things I wrote to my family and shared with you still hold true. But I cannot deny that underneath remains the fear that this is as good as it will ever get, and the fullness of life that I'm positively starved for will forever remain out of reach.

And Ms. Bedingfield here was belting out to me--and in my singing along, I found myself belting out to me, too--that I am wrong; it's not yet over, and there is still time for my dreams to come true. So I cried and cried and cried out of relief and gratitude.

But I also cried for my own weakness and lack of courage. On the one hand is, you're only young once; you only live once, and on the other, there's still time. On one, if you've found the people who make it all worth it, spend every minute you can at their side, and on the other, stand on your own two legs. I feel paralyzed. How do you do it? Where's the balance? Where do you get the courage to act on all you have to say?

I know what I want to do with my life, and one of the first things that will get me closer to doing that is quitting my job, because as much as I have learned in the short span of three and a half months, I have just as quickly seen that my heart's not in this work. I intend to do that in March, so that I will have completed at least six months (my life since I left home last year has been measured in six-month milestones), and I will be free to fly home for my brother's graduation and my dad's 50th birthday.

Quitting will entail eating some humble pie, because when I left CCF in September, I told a lot of people that I was getting something better. I've come to see that it is better in terms of benefits and salary, but it doesn't truly compensate for the way I feel at the desk. When I told people what I told them, I had no idea what I was talking about.

But the idea of quitting also makes me seize with fear (fear, fear, fear; when will it go away?), because March is also when my contract at the boarding house needs renewing. I will probably renew it, because as much as I want to live in an apartment of my own again, I cannot afford the rent and deposit without emptying my savings account, and I am saving up for something more important, something that's not just for me. But to stay in the boarding house, I need to make rent, and to make rent, I need to make money, and to make money, I will need to find a job that pays as well as the one I want to leave.

Financial security, the bare bones of it that I need to keep a roof over my head and food in my stomach, with a little left over for laundry and commuting, is a bitch. And I am afraid (look, more fear) that I won't ever find a well-paying job that I love, because the world tells me that good pay and great-job-ness are only for geniuses and the really lucky, and I am neither of those things.

If I asked, I know that my parents would help me out, and my aunt and uncle would probably let me move back in with them. But I'm too proud to use the lifelines they'd throw me, because I've spent the past couple of months trying to prove to the world that I ain't no trustafarian.

*strangled cry of frustration, complete with fist-shaking*

When, God, when?

At the sink

Yesterday morning, the lady who lives downstairs tried to talk to me, and my inner snob was revealed. How? I only half-listened to her at first because she looked like a maid. I thought that she was the yaya of a relatively well-off freshman and had been sent here to cook for and clean up after her ward, who played bad music early in the morning. I was so close, yet so far from the truth. When I swam out of the part of my brain that was blocking this lady out, this is what I heard:

Do you want to buy this lpg tank? And the stove, too. We barely used them, but we have to leave. We have to go home to the province. My husband had a heart attack, and he wants me and my daughter--she goes to the community college down the road--to come home. My daughter will have to stop school.

"Sayang," I managed to say, after gargling and spitting out toothpaste.

"Oo nga, sayang," she replied. Anyway, would you mind asking the girls upstairs if they want to buy the tank? It's barely used.

Finally, I saw how tired and sad she looked. But her back was already turned to me; she was already shuffling back into their room.

This morning, I realized that I didn't hear music coming from there anymore.

Watermelon rejects a source of energy

Researchers have shown that the juice of reject watermelons can be efficiently fermented into ethanol.

Wayne Fish worked with a team of researchers at the USDA-Agricultural Research Service’s South Central Agricultural Research Laboratory in Lane, Oklahoma, US, to evaluate the biofuel potential of juice from ‘cull’ watermelons – those not sold due to cosmetic imperfections, and currently ploughed back into the field. He said, “About 20% of each annual watermelon crop is left in the field because of surface blemishes or because they are misshapen. We’ve shown that the juice of these melons is a source of readily fermentable sugars, representing a heretofore untapped feedstock for ethanol biofuel production”.

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ScienceDaily (Aug. 25, 2009) — Solar cells could soon be produced more cheaply using nanoparticle “inks” that allow them to be printed like newspaper or painted onto the sides of buildings or rooftops to absorb electricity-producing sunlight.

Brian Korgel, a University of Texas at Austin chemical engineer, is hoping to cut costs to one-tenth of their current price by replacing the standard manufacturing process for solar cells – gas-phase deposition in a vacuum chamber, which requires high temperatures and is relatively expensive.

light-absorbing nanomaterials, which are 10,000 times thinner than a strand of hair

His team has developed solar-cell prototypes with efficiencies at one percent; however, they need to be about 10 percent.

He also said that the inks, which are semi-transparent, could help realize the prospect of having windows that double as solar cells.
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A new study from researchers at Beth Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School suggests that tone-deafness may be the result of a missing neural connection. By using a brain imaging technique that allows them to examine the links between the right temporal and frontal lobes, the scientists compared the neural connectivity of 10 tone-deaf subjects against 10 control participants. They found that, in the tone-deaf subjects, there was less connectivity of the arcuate fasciculus (AF), a white matter tract of fiber that serves as a "highway" between the temporal and front brain regions, and is known to be involved in linking language, music and vocal production.

this stretch of fiber was both smaller and less dense in people who are tone-deaf, and that one branch of the neural pathway was in fact undetectable on the scans.
may have similarities to other speech disorders in which there is also an interrupted link between what people hear and what they are able to produce.
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I can't help but think of Hank McCoy (Beast) from the X-Men.
PHOTOS: Blue Rats Move Again After Food-Dye Injection

July 27, 2009--Fifteen minutes after researchers intentionally paralyzed this rat by dropping a weight on its back, they injected the rodent with Brilliant Blue G dye, a derivative of common food coloring Blue Number One. The dye reduced inflammation of the spinal cord, which allowed the rats to take clumsy steps—but not walk—within weeks, a new study says.

In both rats and people, secondary inflammation following spinal cord trauma causes more lasting damage than the initial injury: Swelling sparks a small "stroke," which stops blood flow and eventually kills off the surrounding tissue.

Other than blue skin and eyes, "we can find no clinical effect on the rat," said Maiken Nedergaard, a neuroscientist at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, New York.
lack of side effects may also help make the blue dye a boon to paralyzed humans
unlike previous compounds used to treat spinal cord injuries, which had toxic effects.
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clipped from www.reuters.com

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Chinese researchers have managed to create powerful stem cells from mouse skin and used these to generate fertile live mouse pups.

They used induced pluripotent skin cells, or iPS cells -- cells that have been reprogrammed to look and act like embryonic stem cells. Embryonic stem cells, taken from days-old embryos, have the power to morph into any cell type and, in mice, can be implanted into a mother's womb to create living mouse pups.

Their experiment, published in Nature, means that it is theoretically possible to clone someone using ordinary connective tissue cells found on the person's skin, but the experts were quick to distance themselves from such controversy.

"It has generated now more than 100 of second-generation (mice) and more than 100 third-generation (mice). It really demonstrates how fertile and strong the system is."

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Still Learning

While staring at the sky above the trees behind the Miriam College fence, lining Katipunan Avenue; while watching the smoke of V's cigarette flow over C's fisherman hat like a silk handkerchief being pulled over a pocket watch, it occured to me that entering his world is like reading the poems he likes and sends me.

I am not good with poetry, so my mind feels timidly for handholds: words that sound important. Or, words that sound unimportant and ordinary, because maybe they'll be important and magical after all, at the end of the poem.

In the first few lines, he tells me what he thinks about something or someone: L is like this. O is like that. What annoys me about people like T is this. I wish A would be less like that. I nod, and I think I've filed this information away.

Then, in the next part (stanza, quatrain, couplet, whatever), he talks about something or someone else: I find that writing is very X. Relationships are too often distilled down to Y. We should go to Z; it will be very interesting and Q for us. This, too, I gum like a baby and then file away.

Then, I get lost, because in the next part, things jumble together. He actually takes me where I can find O and T and A; where I can discover X and Y and Z, with very Q-ness, for myself. And I scrabble for the handholds and the note cards I thought I had: what exactly did he say, again, about L and X and how Y she -- no, Q and Y at Z -- no, it was about O in Z with T and A for Y -- no, wait, it's -- !




And I think, well, it feels like, I guess. It's a metaphor for N (?), or an eerie parallelism with B (?), or heck, some kind of recursion (?) with a play of words on G (?), but I can't be sure. I can't be sure, because while I'm watching the words smoke and laugh and shout, out of the corner of my eye, seeing them for myself, trying to put the lines together (God, what does this poem mean?) so they make some kind of sense to me,

he hands me another one.

"Well," he says, standing over me, clutching the paper in my little hands, "tell me what you think." And he smiles.

"Do you like it?"

New element has new name?

clipped from news.bbc.co.uk

Discovered 13 years ago, and officially added to the periodic table just weeks ago, element 112 finally has a name.

It will be called "copernicium", with the symbol Cp, in honour of the astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus.

Copernicus deduced that the planets revolved around the Sun, and finally refuted the belief that the Earth was the centre of the Universe.

The team of scientists who discovered the element chose the name to honour the man who "changed our world view".

The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) will officially endorse the new element's name in six month's time in order to give the scientific community "time to discuss the suggestion".

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