Category Archives: Humor

Just another evening among scientists

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One of the things I love about my life in Sweden, is the fact that I’m surrounded by academics almost 24/7. This by all means doesn’t imply that my friends and family back home are stupid, but there is just something about scientists and their sense of humor that makes a conversation that little bit more challenging. So yesterday, during the post-symposium free pizza-bar, I wrote down some of the jewels that made us crack up, but might have had any non-scientist in the company frown their eye-brows.

  • One of the PhD-students wanted another piece of pizza and although she preferred a Napolitana pizza that was on the next table, she settled for a Margarita that sat on our table because “the distance-to-taste ratio was more favorable” for the latter.
  • Another PhD student is Serbian, and we were joking on how former Yugoslavia seemed to keep falling apart, with new countries separating every year: “the half-life of Serbia is shorter than that of beryllium-8”.
    (in reference to radio-active decay) 
  • Our oldest professor has volunteered to be a mammalian cell-donor to anyone who finds him should he drop dead in the lab. One condition: he is to be second author on the paper when any results coming from his cells are published.
    (a number of groups in our lab use mammalian cells for experimentations. everyone who has contributed to a scientific discovery, gets a mention as an ‘author’ when the discovery is published – the higher in the author ranking, the higher the contribution was)
Rattler Wooden Puzzle

Image by dump9x via Flickr

  • We have a series of these little wooden brain teasers in our coffee rooms. When one of the guys finally managed to put one together, he exclaimed: “I conquered entropy!”.
    (entropy, in its simplest explanation, is a measure for the degree of chaos and solving a puzzle creates order from chaos.)
  • One student was talking about a former teacher of his, who was apparently very… curvy… . They had determined an estimation of her actual weight, not by putting her on a scale, but by studying the bending of the light caused by her body.
    (Einstein predicted that objects of large enough mass can bend light – this is used in astronomy to calculate masses for planets etc.)

The light-bending effects of a black hole.

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How (not) to go to the sauna – revisited

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Remember this?

This is Malmö’s kallbadhuset, a sauna-and-bath complex located at the end of a 200m-long pier. Last December, a friend and I thought it would be a neat idea to go to the sauna – it was the middle of winter in Sweden of all places, so it was only fit. The “fun” trip turned out to be a nightmare involving getting lost in a construction site, spraining an ankle, incredible disappointment when we found ourselves before closed doors because of misinformation on the sauna’s websiteand ultimately pleasant surprise when receiving two vouchers for a free sauna visit after complaining about said misinformation. So when a friend of mine came over last weekend, we thought we’d finally cash those vouchers and enjoy an afternoon of bathing.

Turns out…

… the vouchers are for a different place.

See, when we initially looked up the opening hours for the bath house, we actually were looking at the website of ANOTHER bath house, which coincidentally has the same name. But not the same opening hours. So when we found ourselves before closed doors it was not because there were two websites, one of which was not updated, it was BECAUSE THERE ARE 2 BATH HOUSES!

So basically I complained to the second bath house that the first bath house was not open during their hours.

Derp.

Standing in front of the cashier with my totally worthless vouchers, I felt immensely stupid.

We still enjoyed our (paid) visit though. I am used to sauna complexes with literally 10+ types of sauna scattered over a domain, while here there were only 2 sauna’s, and just plenty of room to sunbathe, but the atmosphere of the place is so unique – located almost literally in the middle of the sea, the whole complex gives you a stunning view over the water wherever you are, and it’s such a charming, quiet, peaceful place. In addition, men and women’s sections were separated, which at first I found a bit stupid (and odd… it’s bloody Sweden! they don’t even have separate restrooms!), but which, in strange way, did make the whole experience a whole lot more relaxing. The “best” thing though? Cooling off after the sauna in the sea. There’s nothing quite like a 10ºC (50F) salty bath to arrest your blood flow ;).

I still got 2 free vouchers for a bath house I don’t even know the location of though… .

Happy Pi day!

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Attention – geeky content alert. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

While I am still utterly confused when I see dates written the ‘American’ way (and indeed flat out refuse to adapt to this) (although that might also have to do with the above mentioned confusion), I am happy to make an exception today – March 14th, aka 3.14. Pi day! And coincidentally (or not!), also Einstein’s birthday.

I find it only fitting that this beautiful number has a day of its own (though really, it deserves at least 3. plus some hours.), but I’m having some trouble deciding on how to celebrate.

Should I memorize as many digits as possible? However… I’m pretty sure I will pale next to this girl:

So… solving a pi-pie-puzzle then, maybe? Nah… last time I ordered a package from the States it took 3 weeks to get here, and there’s no point celebrating in April, is there?

Note this is a DOUBLE-SIDED puzzle...

And while some sources maintain that pi is, in fact, pie

Proof that 3.14 is, in fact, pie.

everyone knows pie is actually 2 pi, so baking in honor of today wouldn’t really make sense either (at least in this universe) …

… unless I would make a spherical pie, of course. Which I would gladly do, but… euh… I forgot eggs at the grocery store. Right! No eggs, no cake. (bring out the disappointment voice – all together now: “oooooooooh”)

I am not quite patient enough to pull off something arty like “Chaos”, a mosaic based on 100 000 digits of Pi after comma

and with even

not helping out any further, I guess there is nothing to do but to sit back, relax and listen to some pi-music
http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1

while reading silly pi-comics
.

And you, how will you celebrate the geekiest holiday of the year?

via Neatorama, Boing Boing, New Scientist, and Pi Day.

… and I’m not the only one, apparently.

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… who’s back, I mean. Because guess who showed up on my doorstep this morning?

T!

I wasn’t supposed to see her until April, which meant we wouldn’t have seen each other for almost 3 months, and to tell you the truth I was starting to contemplate taking a lover of some kind because DAMN 3 months is a bloody long time!

But here she is.

Wíth Belgian chocolate, I might add ;).

Apparently she booked the flights over a month ago, which means she was able to keep the secret that long, and didn’t even blink while I have been nagging her for quite some time now that 3 months is waaaaaay too long to not see each other and we are never doing this again. T may not like surprises, but I do – and doesn’t she know it.

In addition to that, I actually have a promising lab result for the first time in, like, forever.

Aaaaaaaaaaah…. .

This is gonna be a great weekend, I can feel it in my tiny toe.

Surprise!

T – the manual

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I have a very nice girlfriend. She’s pretty, is a master in relativity (which is a good quality to have in a partner when you are a drama queen yourself) and provides good service where good service is due (trying to keep this child-safe to American standards…). So with it being Valentine’s day today, I can imagine there’s a ton of people out there that want to take her out on a date. This post is directed to these people. Because – however cute and smart and funny she may be, she also comes with a manual. A quite substantial manual. And just so aspiring lovers know what they’re getting themselves into, I provide them here with some excerpts.

 
§2.1 Do not surprise

A jack-in-the-box

Not a good idea. (Image via Wikipedia)

§2.1.1. No surprise parties of any kind or size shall be organized in the subject’s honor, nor shall you surprise her with a night out and/or tickets for her favorite band (see also §4.1. Do not plan anything without the subject’s consent). Jokes about these subjects shall not be tolerated either, and will result in a very edgy, uncomfortable, and nervous subject for several days.
§2.1.2. Do not kiss the subject while she is under the shower washing her hair with her eyes closed – you will get smacked in the face. Do not let the cat jump on the subjects’s lap unless she’s seen him coming – he will get smacked in his face. Do not wake the subject with a romantic wake-up kiss on the mouth on a lazy Sunday morning – you will … you get the picture.

 

reference_2012_calendar

Too early. (Image by brookeduckart via Flickr)

§4.2 Do not plan ahead
§4.2.1. No arrangements should be made for dates more than 2 weeks ahead since it is impossible to tell whether these plans will fit with the mental and physical condition of the subject at that particular time point. Failure to do so will require you to take full responsibility for the poor planning of the event.

 
§5.1 Do not interfere with decision making
§5.1.1. Decision making for purchasing material goods can take anytime from 1-2 weeks for basic needs such as the purchase of a t-shirt or a pair of jeans, to up to a year for more important purchases such as a photo camera. Interference with any of these decisions will only be tolerated if and only if sufficient credentials on the referred purchase domain (PhD or higher) can be presented.
§5.1.2. Life-influencing choices, including moving in together, having children and/or getting married do not have a maximum decision time-limit. Any attempt to help in the decision making process will result in longer decision times.
§5.1.3. After receiving permission to assist in the decision making, limit yourself to rational arguments and quantifiable parameters. The use of tables, graphs, and charts is encouraged. Appropriate references are highly appreciated.

Not Ts philosophy.

§5.2.3 Decisions you make yourself are better, therefore under no circumstances the subject shall involve in or help with decision making on behalf of other people.

 
I will briefly mention §7.3 (do not talk when watching a movie), §8.2 (always sleep on the subject’s left side) and §10.2 (countries where spiders roam freely are excluded as a travel destination). In case you still plan on taking her on a Valentine’s dinner: I hope you invited her no more than 2 weeks and no less than 2 days ago, that she knows where you are going, and that there is only 1 veggie choice on the menu.
 

Totally out of context. But incredibly funny.

Has anyone seen …

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Apparently, there is something about Mondays in the last week of January. They’re blue.

Who knew?

Blu Monday, which occurs during the last full week of January, is supposed to be the most depressing time of the year because, generally, one or more of the following occur: a) the weather sucks; b) New Year’s resolutions have failed; c) motivation is at an all-time low since the next holiday is SO far away; and d) the Christmas tree has gone. The exact formula, by Cliff Arnall, is total nonsense, as is the concept – but you have to admit it has a nice ring to it and since there is nothing new to report (in Belgium the government is … still non-existent, the floods … are still there, the flu … also), it makes for a good easy-read article.

Now, some say Blue Monday was yesterday. Others say it is next week. I say: it’s a whole bloody Blue Week. (and yes, I can tell only 2 days down the road)

The reason may seem elusive: the weather is nice, I’m keeping up with my New Year’s resolutions (moaning: check!) and my Christmas stars (didn’t have a tree) are still dangling in front of the window.

But. Something is missing. And I know exactly what.

One like this. But pink. And prettier. (image via http://www.artfulcookie.com)

In case anyone was wondering why I refer to my girlfriend as “T” (you didn’t really think that was the first letter of her real name, did you?) – I call her Tinkel. Or Tink. Or Tinkerbell. What – she’s blonde!
I got this mug from a friend when I came here so I would have ‘my Tink’ always with me (corny, I know, but what can I say? “Corny” is my middle name …). And up until Christmas break, I did. My faithful hot chocolate coffee mug went wherever I went and I never left her alone, not even in the dishwasher.

But then I did.

And somebody took her.

And despite checking both dishwashers and all the cupboards 3 times a day, she remains missing.

So if my productivity level the past week is any indication of how poorly I function without my mug, you better give it back ASAP. Otherwise I’m afraid my project will have to be cancelled.

Bad intentions

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Because you really know you won’t be keeping the good ones anyway…

  • Moan
    I plan on doing a lot of moaning in 2011. And I mean, A LOT. With 5 weddings and 4 baby-due-dates on the calendar and an overdose of hormones in my body, I feel I’ll have loads of inspiration to nag to T about when WE will be moving in together (rough estimation: in 10 years) / have babies (she’s waiting until my ovaries have dried out so she can carry them, I feel it) / get married (never). Fun times ahead ;).
  • Fly
    Lately I’ve been obsessing about my ecological footprint – I mean, worse than usually ;). So once I found out my attempts to vegetarism are futile if I keep flying back and forth between home and work, I decided I wouldn’t be flying anymore. Only, I would love to see the aurea borealis (alternative: 24h train ride). And Iceland (alternative: 3-day boat trip). And the whole of Scandinavia. So despite my climatological worries, I’m pretty sure the comfort and speed of a plane will be preferred here or there… . Now, where’s that tofu?!
  • Spend money
    On flights, obviously :D. And grabbing drinks. Presents for the people back home. Trips everywhere. Eating out. Fun times. Hey, I’m only gonna be here a year, I gotta enjoy it while I can! Besides, interest on savings accounts is historically low, I’m better off enjoying it. Let the money roll!
  • Get a taste of pot
    In case you’re a police officer: I’m not serious about this ;). I’ve never smoked or done any drugs at all in my life – whenever I drink alcohol my friends take a picture of it because it’s considered a rare occasion which should be captured for future reference. You could think I’m a nice girl but really, I just hate to lose control. Still, my curiosity is bigger than my hate, and just once, I’d like to know what it feels like. So I need to get my hands on some space cake. Well, my colleague is Dutch …
  • Indulge
    Give yield to temptation, it may not pass this way again.” I’ve had breakfast on Belgian chocolate and gingerbread for 2 days now – now thát was good. I am in the luxury position that I can eat more or less what I want without it sticking in unwanted places and I plan to make full use of that advantage now since, judging by my mother, it will not always be like this. Anyone seen my dessert book?

 
Have you made any resolutions you know you won’t keep? Which (big or small) sins are you planning to commit this year?

How (not) to go to the sauna

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This looks great, doesn’t it?

It is Malmö’s kallbadhuset, a sauna-and-bath complex which is located at the end of a 200m-long pier. I’ve been a die-hard sauna fan ever since I discovered 3 years ago that what they call “sauna” in a 3-star family skiing resort (read: cramp 8 people wearing bathing suits in a 6-person sauna cabin) doesn’t even remotely resemble a true sauna experience : a whole day of naked bathing, sleeping, sauna’ing, relaxing, more sleeping, more sauna, and more relaxing. Yes, my dear blogging-friends, when I go to the sauna, I go to the sauna. And while Kallbadhuset is probably too small to be spending a whole day in, I still felt I needed to try it out. I had suggested it to T when she was here, but she inexplicably didn’t feel like it, but fortunately NR did when she was here last week. Opening hours were 12-22 according to the website, which left us some time for Christmas shopping.

And then we ran into RS. Well, we didn’t so much run into him as arranged to meet him, but anyway. Hey, if a cute Spanish guy texts to ask if you wanna go for lunch, what’s a girl supposed to do? (and yes, I realize I’m in a committed relationship. but I can enjoy what I see, right? but NR isn’t.) So we took him Christmas shopping, and we went for lunch, and for a drink, and by the time he left us where we were it was almost 5 o’clock. Not exactly what we’d anticipated – sure, the sauna was still open, but we wouldn’t be able to enjoy the great view of the sea which was really one of the main reasons why we wanted to go to this particular sauna. But it was bloody cold and since we’d been looking forward to it all day (and the day before), we decided to go anyway. Entrance was 60 SEK (around $8) so it would still be worth it.

Now, I didn’t take a map with me – or rather, I did, but as it turned out, the sauna wasn’t on it. Thank God for my photographic memory so I still remembered what Google Maps had said the night before. So let’s take a look at what trip we were supposed to do from the station:

Now let’s take a look at the tour we actually did:

It was -3ºC (26F) and we were walking on a small peninsula. I swear, if I had had balls, they would’ve been blown off even before they could freeze.

These are the times I’m happy I’m a woman. You don’t have to be embarrassed to ask for directions.

The friendly bartender at the only café we were able to locate suggested he’d call us a cab, but armed with his beautifully drawn map we were pretty sure we could make it. And sure enough, half an hour and a sprained ankle later (did I mention that whole peninsula was a huge, unlit construction site?), we found it. Extending from the snowy coast, over the floe-covered sea (I mean ice. on the sea. Google Translate says it’s floe. Google Images says it’s floe. I always thought /floe/ was an infectious disease, but who am I to argue with Google?), was the pier leading to eternal heat and happiness. Or at least some hours of it.

It was closed.

No joke.

You don’t wanna hear the sauna is closed if you’ve just walked over an hour in the windy cold craving for warmth. But some things are what they are, and the sauna was closed. The fact that I wrote an e-mail of complaint right after we got home illustrates how very pissed I was – I will usually rather eat a cold, dry steak than even think of complaining about it.

And look what I got:

Hello

We apologize for the mistake with poorly update website.

We would like you visit Bjerred Saltsjöbad again but without paying for a sauna and bath.

I would need a postal adress to you and how many people were thought to bath so I can send gift card for bath and sauna.

Thanks for your email.

Free sauna!

Somehow, this made it all worth it.

(turns out… there are 2 websites… we looked at the wrong one…)