One of my Childhood Heroines Died

Sally Ride, first US woman in space dead at 61 (via AFP)

Sally Ride, the first US woman to journey into space, died on Monday after a 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer, her foundation announced. She was 61. Ride first launched into space in 1983 aboard the Challenger shuttle, on the seventh mission of US space shuttle program. US President Barack Obama…

The Quantum World – A New Song By Symphony Of Science


Loving your geeky beau

I asked earlier today on Twitter, "You've got a geeky male love interest, how would you sweeten his day?" I was surprised by the responses, not the suggestions but more of the people who reached out to me privately saying, "Let me know what people say, I'm curious!" With stories of their geeky beau they want to make happy.

Without getting into the multitudes of types of geeky men, I can break this down in one answer: Show interest and curiosity in what he does. 

If you're beau is a programmer, you don't need to know how cache invalidation works, Big O notation or the finer points of functional programming, you just need to listen.  You're not going to understand everything, but I promise if you take a moment to ask him about his work he'll tell you.  If you have a programmer love interest, try asking them if they've "solved any cool problems this week," in regards to their job.  Chances are, you'll have them asking you if you seriously care (and do show interest) and then going on to tell you what they did. Perhaps they work at a webby startup and has been fighting some bug all week and after finally vanquishing it, discovered that they were able to speed up request times on the site they work for by a couple of milliseconds.  

It's not hard to talk to a programmer, even if you don't think you're not smart enough to hold a conversation with them.  I've only had good experiences talking with programmers, most of the ones I know are very opinionated and passionate about their specialties. Communication isn't a one way thing.  
I've known many a geeky male to be more than happy to sit back and let me talk about myself, my interests and my work.  That's not a conversation though, don't let them get away with being listeners.  You also don't have to pretend to understand what they are talking about to get them to converse and potentially respect you.  

Which brings me to my next point, there is no shame in telling some one "I don't know." Repeat that phrase, learn it and embrace it.  You'll gain far more appreciation and respect if you own up to things you don't know and seem willing to learn.  Learning doesn't mean being a master of something, it just means knowing more about a subject than you knew five minutes prior.

The above suggestions can go for whatever genre of geekery your interest is into, be it video games, physics, medicine, programming or math (and all the other genres of geekery).  It really doesn't matter, just show interest.  Nine times out of ten, you'll not only get an explanation of what your interest did at work, but they will also try their best to explain what it means to you in laymen terms so that you can better follow the conversation.

I'm sure you probably were thinking I'd have a list of things you could buy your geek instead of something as simple as "listen." So, I've put together a list of nice things that I know some geeks appreciate:

  • Composition Book - This is half line paper and half graph paper, if you have yourself a programmer or an electronics aficionado this composition book is great for mathematical proofs and circuit diagrams with notation.
  • World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War –  Check to see if they don't own this already!  Not only is this book a great read, it's about zombies too!
  • IM Me Device – If it's a hardware hacker you've got on your hands, this little device is a really great way to have a hackable radio on the cheap. 
  • Cling-on whiteboard sheets – Whiteboards are the vitae of many a geek's life.  These are static cling on whiteboard sheets that one can plop up on their wall for some giant sized whiteboard awesomeness.
  • Dr. Who USB Hub – There is never enough USB ports for all of your devices, why not let him celebrate it with geekery.
  • Battlestar Galactica, the boardgame – YES It exists, surprise your geek with it and enjoy this "semi-cooperative" game with them.
  • Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers – Chances are, if they are a boardgame geek they already have the original Carcassonne.  Do they have this version yet?  Also, why aren't you playing Carcassonne with your boardgame geek yet?
  • Cowboy Bebop CD Box Set – I've yet to meet an anime geek who didn't absolutely love the Cowboy Bebop soundtrack and cheaper than the entire DVD set.
  • The Black Mages: Final Fantasy – If you have a gamer geek on your hands, they might appreciate this collection of final fantasy music. 

If you have any suggestions or additions leave me a comment or tweet me to: @tia_marie

Kari Byron now has an educational show, why not Danica McKellar?

I'll preface this entire post with this, "I'm grumpy and snarky today," and that I don't hate Kari Byron.  Getting those two points out of the way, I wanted to dedicate my #Blogin5 post to this topic.

Every web nerd's wet dream, Kari Byron will be staring in a science show with the aim of getting kids interested in Science. She's gorgeous, charming and got her start in a very popular show.  It's pretty easy to see why she got the role/gig.  She's a sexy "geek."  There are tons of other sexy geek lady actresses (who probably would never host a kids' show) that originated their professional lives with an education in Science/Math related fields. I've put together a small helpful list!

This is a really short list, I haven't done tons of research (I didn't want to spend a load of time on this post cause I am at work), I'm sure you guys could name some other actresses who started in a science field.

It probably is difficult to find Television personalities who have backgrounds in science or math to host educational programs.  As far as I'm aware, the most prominent person I can think of who had an actual background in science who taught in an educational show was Bill Nye, who studied mechanical engineering at Cornell. I even looked into Mr. Wizard and Beakman from Beakman's World, neither of which studied science or math in college.

Of everyone I've listed in this post, Danica McKellar is the one that really stands out to me.  I'm still dumbfounded she hasn't gotten her own educational show (she might not want one).  Danica has been a proponent of helping middle school aged girls gain interest in mathematics.  She's even written two books, Kiss My Math: Showing Pre-Algebra Who's Boss and Hot X: Algebra Exposed that targets young girls in grades 7 – 9.

I do appreciate Kari's position at least that one can be a girl without a science background and still celebrate and enjoy science related things. Regardless of who gets to host an educational kids' show, if it inspires at least one child to imagine and fall in love with science. It's a Good Thing.


Rat Brain Robot: Disquieting or Amazing Advancement?

I originally found this video on reddit, of a robot that is described as being controlled by the neurons in a rat brain that is kept in a bell jar.  I wasn't paying complete attention during the video the first time around and later watched it again after reading the comments in the reddit thread.

One of the comments struck a chord with me in a very disquieting way. To think of an a creature's consciousness being used like this creeped me out.

Now of course, this isn't the case at all, but I did envision how entirely confused an animal like a rat could be. The cold confusion within that shell of a body…


It reminded me of a Dr. Who episode, where these cybermen were created and they were <spoiler> destroyed eventually by turning on their emotions on and allowed the creatures to realize what they really were.</spoiler>

I'm not one to really be waxing philosophical, but the benefits of such technology out weighs the social implications of that sort of lifestyle.


Sensationalism aside, the technology is beyond incredible.  It's the Reading University Neural Animat Project.  Here is a brief description of what they are:


The neurally controlled animat consists of a culture of cortical cells which are embodied enabling them to interact with the real world via a robot which acts as the artificial body of the 'brain'.

The technology could assist scientists on discovering more about neurological disorders and the potential to merge technology with the nervous system in order to treat disorders and injuries.

What advancements do you think technology like this could have on our society?  Do you think the societal implications would be a factor on whether or not this technology sees the light of day anytime soon?

Leave a comment or a shoutout on twitter!

So you want to visit San Francisco?

First off, let me preempt this blog post with this: I'm not a food expert, I'm not a travel guru and I'm certainly not a San Francisco expert.  I am however, very fond of some things in San Francisco that I'm of the opinion are far more important for first timers to see than Alcatraz and Pier 39.

My favourite thing about San Francisco is the food.  It is absolutely awesome and there are so many different varieties of cuisines it'll make your head spin. So here are my favourite places to eat in San Francisco, that I think are quintessential to your experience.  I'm sure there are places I haven't eaten that true San Francisco natives will say "But you forgot this!" 

  • House of Nanking: To me, there is no living without a monthly dosage of the absolute best Chinese food in San Francisco. Take these words I'm about to speak as gospel, you will thank me after your dining experience: You might receive a menu. If you do, find something to drink and put it down. Don't bother looking at the food items.  When some one comes to take your order tell them to surprise you but insist on having the Sesame chicken (it's the stuff with the sweet potatoes, TRUST ME). You can tell them if you have allergies or if you have dietary considerations (ie: Kosher or vegetarian). 
  • Brickhouse:  I think the menu here is all around awesome, you can't go wrong.  If there is a waitress there with neck length black hair and a dark red streak in it, ask for a Pimms Cup (you can tell her Tia Marie goes there for Pimms often and highly recommended it).  
  • 21st Amendment: If you're a fan of beer and food, you have to go here. They have a beer called "Watermelon Wheat" that is really awesome.  Their food is pretty damned top notch too! They are a brewery/restaurant that has some fine brews and kicking food.
  • Horizon Lounge: Three words, "Parmesan Truffle Fries." That's all you need to speak to have some of the most heavenly french fries you'll ever place against your tongue.  They have a damned killer kobe beef burger and if you're into something a bit more gamey they have a lamb burger too.  Their Mac & Cheese is a favourite of mine as well.
  • Osha: I'm not a huge fan of Thai food, but I have to say that the Honey duck at Osha is top notch.  That's really it, I'm happy to go to Osha for just Honey duck and Satay. 
  • Town's End Restaurant & Bakery: Their Prix Fixe menu is just awesome and reasonably priced (for SF food). Last time I was there I had this heavenly beef brisket that was braised in a red wine and brown sugar sauce. 

I think that about sums it up for food, now on to the entertainment and odds & ends!

  • Karaoke: You must do!  If you're planning a trip, make sure you check out to see if Roger Niner (the best KJ in SF) has any gigs.  If not, perhaps you can shoot him a message on twitter @rogerniner and see if he's doing karaoke anywhere!  If not then you can always hit up places like The Mint and Encore who have Karaoke damned near every night and don't forget to ping me on twitter (@tia_marie) to have a singing partner so you don't have to look silly alone :)
  • Exploratorium: Go there, touch things and discover SCIENCE! You'll have a blast there and it'll make your day, I promise!
  • California Academy of Sciences: Every third Wednesday (I believe) is free day. You should go here and enjoy yourself. It's a really awesome place to explore and such. 

That's all I can think of for now, but I'll keep adding to this list as I find new things that I think are just awesome to do.  Don't spend all of your time doing things that every tourist is doing.  Go see the Mission District, find the Haight or hell even go to SOMA (South of Market) and get a glimpse of the area where most of the startup companies for websites you enjoy are located!

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