Monday, August 31, 2009

tuesday morning tune

love the colors and the dancing. the song is also used in a little sesame street highlights video starring my adorable former roommate nitya :)


print by godlike86 ~ cutout by papercutdiecut ~ james bond book cover ~ print by courtney brims ~ miss aquamarine

i really need a haircut as my current style has grown out to just plain boring. i don't think i will be dying it any shades of red, copper or orange this time, however. i actually quite like miss aquamarine's style.

although maybe i just need some shellfish adornments like the courtney brims print? i love, love, love her work - the enchanting ladies and mystical wildlife - and would very much enjoy having one of her prints on my wall.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

gracias shakira

while i am not a huge fan of her hair, shakira es caliente!

some old school shakira helped keep me awake last night while i was trying to get some results ready for a meeting this morning with my supervisors. things are going slowly, as i may have mentioned a few times before (anyone who asks me about my project is probably tired of hearing it), but i am really starting to see some great results and it's exciting! the locomotion portion of the project is very slow and tedious, having to look at every frame over and over again... on the bright side, i am getting similar results to another paper who also looked at kiwi locomotion, but overground instead of on a treadmill. this is promising because it establishes the validity of treadmills in the analysis of kiwi locomotion and opens the doors for future studies with the aparatus that my supervisors and i created. my main supervisor, brett, has used the treadmill with a kiwi in the wildlife ward once since i was away to start evaluating it as a rehabilitation tool. brett also talked to me today about another student who is interested in studying the effect of a weighing technique used on kiwis in the field where they are hung up-side-down by their legs. while kiwis do have very robust legs, there is speculation that this causes muscle damage and they want to use the treamill to see if this handling technique causes enough injury to be seen in locomotive kinematic paramters. since i was the 'guinea pig' for the treadmill study (ok, actually the kiwi was the guines pig since it was the one on the treadmill, but i was the guinea pig in that i got to make all the experimental mistakes in the treadmill trials), brett asked if i would be keen to pass on my knowledge for this student's project next year. if all goes well with my locomotion paper, maybe i could be looking at a sort of supervisory or co-author role? that would be very cool.

next week i am headed to havelock north in order to get some data from another kiwi researcher who collected information on the growth of wild kiwis. this is pretty exciting a) that another researcher wants to share his data with me, and b) this data will really boost the awesome factor of my paper because i can make a comparison between the growth of captive and wild kiwis.

as for now, i am trying to finish up my embryo section so that it can go to my supervisors tomorrow for some much needed academic repair. we are trying to think of an appropriate journal for submission of this paper and it all depends on how great i can make the results sound. one suprvisor, murray, suggested journal of zoology, london!! that might be my dream publication, but apparently the rule of thumb in submitting papers is if you aren't rejected at least once then you didn't aim high enough. i'm not sure how i will handle rejection, but i guess it's something i have to get used to when trying to publish...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

the winds of change

via fashion indie ~ photography by marc philbert ~ from copenhagen fashion week ~ dress by yystudio

there's something about long, flowing, luxurious fabrics that makes me think of spring! spring has started to float into town over the past week or so and the days are getting more and more beautiful. soon enough i will be looking for a sundress in which i can soak up the warm weather - finally!!

i cannot wait for spring and summer clothes :)

dance with yourself

why hire dancers when you can just film yourself 17 times over?

i still love the song.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

show me the love

organic coffee growth ~ crochet heart by shannongerard ~ i heart guts ~ soap by loveleesoaps

reuben and i celebrate our 2 year anniversary tomorrow, but we started celebrating last night with dinner at spostato. it was tucked away upstairs on cuba street and was quite small, but very classy and romantic. the antipasto platter and lime between course sorbet were so substantial that we only had one bite of our meals before we boxed them up to take away! delish and delightful atmosphere.

today we decided to go out for lunch at rendezvous, another place where we hadn't eaten before. it started off sunny and cosy with a chai latte, but after waiting nearly an hour for our food, we found out that they hadn't even sent our order to the kitchen! we left and headed to our usual fave, mao bar, for a quick and tasty lunch.

tomorrow, perhaps we get a drink at noir, where we had our first date, but it will probably be back to business as usual.

love you honey!!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

under my skin... and in my head

i had the 'under my skin' song in my head, but i thought the air new zealand safety video was more fun than the music video.

bite back!

fun fact via gbd blog ~ necklace by luxeshop ~ soap by loveleesoaps ~ art via monster-munch

Bite Back on World Mosquito Day: Scientific American Podcast

this was the first i heard of today's designation as world mosquito day (check out the buzz here), even though it's been around for over a century! you certainly do learn something new everyday. no really, i do - 60 second science podcasts are part of my daily routine.

academic sheep humour

love it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

objects of lust

reuben assured me that we could afford to buy heels when i get a full time job. come on thesis!! be done!!!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

take a walk on the wild side

some delicious shoes via

i've been staring at kiwis on treadmills all afternoon! it's amazing how 15 minutes of video can seem like a lifetime when you are analysing every frame!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

where the green grass (and brown kiwis) grow

necklace by paula hayes ~ ring by AdornJewelry ~ terrarium by Greenbriar ~ charging station via iliketotallyloveit

i found a great article today (or rather, i read an article that i didn't realise i had in my endnote already) that just about made me pee my pants with excitement when i read this line:

"Furthermore, from these results it can be inferred that embryonic development is at least in part constrained by postnatal growth rate, so that any useful increase in assimilation can only be accomplished by a change in the pattern of organ development."

this not only supports some of my embryo results (or rather, my results support this statement), but should really boost my paper's relevancy in the whole grand scheme of things and add just that little bit of extra that i thought it was missing. at least i hope so!

the article compared embryological growth of two species with different patterns of postnatal growth and showed that these patterns became apparent even in early embryo stages. the early stages were thought to be conservative in that both altricial and precocial chicks start their growth in the same fashion and didn't diverge until later stages. however, so-called 'supply' organs, such as the digestive organs, grow faster in the early embryonic life of altricial birds in comparison to precocial birds. conversely, 'demand' organs, such as the locomotive organs, grow faster in precocials than altricials.

the article concedes that it is somewhat illogical to divide organs into 'supply' and 'demand' when they are all obviously necessary to survive. however, by dividing them as such, one can picture the competition between organs during embryological development and how this drives the developmental pattern in embryonic and postnatal life.

so not only does the postnatal growth rate (an inherent property of an organism) constrain embryonic growth, developmental mechanisms are also influenced by selection for late ontogenetic characters. the author points out that in kiwis and ostriches, who rely on their legs as their sole form of locomotion, the hindlimbs are longer than the forelimbs even in early development.

so basically, the size of the organs that characterise a precocial or altricial bird will dictate the way the embryo grows. i am interpreting this to mean that the relative importance of a feature in the chick will dictate the way it grows as an embryo, and this is why a highly specialised structure, like the kiwi's bill, grows very quickly even in relation to it's limbs.

...yeah... at least i think that's what's going on. better get it down on paper so the supervisors can check it out next week.
phyto purification bathroom via jeansnow

wake up with a song

i woke up with this song in my head this morning. the video is boring, but the song is cheery and reminds me of driving through italy!

can't keep my eyes open...

i have been ridiculously tired this week for no apparent reason. though i will blame it on the cats. i synched some blinks while watching a little tv during dinner and was in bed by 9:30! those cats better not wake me up at 4am again.

i have been following a new (to me) blog on my google reader for a bit now and i absolutely love it: street anatomy. anatomy in art, isn't it beautiful? etsy also has some really awesome anatomy-related jewelry and i favorite a dozen of them a week. like this thoracic pendant or a vein-shaped jewelry hanger. 'veins' was one of the organs i missed on the 'how many internal organs can you name' quiz i found on i heart guts, another new fave site. i had to love this site not only because they have adorable organ illustrations, but because they have a link to giant microbes, something i discovered a few years ago and have even gifted to my favourite doctor :) their new website looks great.

both sites have links to lots of other great anatomy stuff, which i could explore all night... if only i could keep my eyelids open...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

four a.m. felines

felt toy by sleepyking ~ cufflinks by spunksweetshoppe ~ id tag by sudlow ~ candles by kittybblove

our smelly cats (yes, aston is the king of farts) have decided that 4 am is now 'annoy the crap out of mom' hour. in the early morning hours, aston crawls under the covers and cuddles into my arms, followed by manolo who sometimes tries to get under the covers as well, but usually just curls up around my stomach. they sleep and purr for a little while until one of them decides to start grooming. which wakes the other one up. and then they start to bat at each other's tails and then my hair and then my nose...!

so i get up and feed them to get them out of my face (literally) and as i stumble around without my glasses, aston inevitably walks directly under my feet, they mew and purr in that 'feed me now!!!' kind of way and i just happen to notice the clock - 4 am!!! seriously cats...

Monday, August 10, 2009

morning music to get me moving

i've got a mad amount of research to do today. luckily i managed to get up at a reasonable hour, now i'm just getting motivated to move! this definitely qualifies as an 'ass shaking jam' in my book.

might write more kiwi-related stuff later, but now i am off to shower and think about statistics..

Saturday, August 8, 2009

fine wine

wine glasses by TrilliumArtisans ~ via Pinotblogger ~ swedish birch sap wine ~ Trinity Hill vineyard

last night was a wine night. i started by opening a bottle of trinity hill montepulciano and i was very pleasantly surprised at how much i enjoyed it. next mission was to use up all the remnants of a few bottles of white wine in the fridge, so i decided to poach some apples. i added a little vanilla extract, cinnamon, honey and sugar and 20 minutes later it smelled like hot apple cider! after i scooped out the apples, i sipped on a bit of the hot wine concoction and it was also very delish - what an excellent way to use the last bits of leftover wine. lastly, i added a little bit of leftover merlot to the pasta sauce i was making for my penne dinner.

reuben and i have been discovering some great inexpensive wines lately. gotta love a wine country!

Friday, August 7, 2009

bright lights, dark nights

SCINTILLATION from Xavier Chassaing on Vimeo. via Coilhouse.

watch this in full screen mode if you can, it's beautiful! twinkling lights in the dark always makes me think of wandering around nyc at night... ahh the city...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

kiwis on the brain

painting by brookereidt ~ 1888 illustration ~ brooch by debaleigh ~ vinyl wall art by DecorDesigns ~ poster via burlesque of north america

my day started off productive: laundry, dishes, cleaning, emails, organisation, appointments. and then i started writing. i got a few sentences down, made a few edits - just a few easy things to get me started. but then the afternoon hit and i'm stuck again. i just can't seem to make anything out of my discussion for the embryo section of my paper. i know i need to put my results into perspective; how do they fit into the grand scheme of things??

basically my results were very simple - i came up with predicted ages for a collection of unknown aged kiwi embryos by comparing them to known age chicken and ostrich embryos. obviously chickens, ostriches and kiwis all look very different, but as embryos they all have the same basic structures: eyes, bill, limbs, scales, feathers, claws, etc. in order to relate ostrich and chicken embryo age to kiwi age, i have to assume that all of these structures develop in the same pattern and at the same time relative to the incubation length. for example, if scales first appear at day 22 in an ostrich, which has an incubation length of 42 days, i would expect that scales would also appear at approximately 50% of the kiwis incubation of 78-85 days.

so i looked at the external features of my kiwi embryo collection and tried to relate each to chickens and ostriches of the same age. my estimated kiwi ages using the 'ostrich model' and 'chicken model' were relatively similar, but the ostrich model gave the closest estimation for our one known age embryo. this isn't much of a surprise because ostriches and kiwis are in the same ratite family as are expected to grow and develop in very similar ways. the chicken is farther away, in an evolutionary sense, and so the assumption that kiwis and chickens grow similarly is not a strong one. however, there is an inherent pattern of growth that each bird follows that is not necessarily apparent until a chick has hatched.

everyone has seen pictures of a nice fluffy chick of a domestic chicken. it hatches with lots of feathers and can walk pretty soon after it hatches (called precocial). on the other hand, there are the kind of chicks that hatch naked, stay in the nest and let their parents bring them food (called altricial). you can look at the altricial chick as being more immature at hatch in comparison to its adult form, where the precocial chick hatches more mature and more like its adult form. by hatching with a greater level of maturity, however, the precocial chick 'trades off' its ability to grow quickly. the reason has to do with bone strength and development, but i won't go into that.

since the kiwi, ostrich and chicken are all precocial birds, the models i used shouldn't be applied to altricial chicks, who grow quickly after they hatch and thus likely have different patterns of growth before they hatch. basically you can't compare altricial apples and precocial oranges.

so result #1 is that the ostrich and chicken models produced reasonably good estimations of kiwi age, presumably because they follow the same pattern of growth.

i have to say 'reasonably good' in result #1 because result #2 is that sometimes the timing of a particular feature in the kiwi did not exactly match the timing of the same feature in the chicken and ostrich in relation to all other features. it sounds tricky, but really it isn't. for example, the kiwi's bill grows faster in relation to the toes and other body parts than in the ostrich and chicken. this makes sense as the kiwi's bill is much longer and needs to be fully functional by the time it hatches.

observation/result #3 has to do with my actual samples. first, the quality of the embryos was not high since they were preserved rather than fresh samples, so any measurements i took may not be that great and some features that were damaged were hard to use in comparisons. second, i had very few embryos to work with. third, the very few embryos i had to work with consisted mostly of older embryos. there is a lot to be said about the 'problems' with my small skewed sample population.

it could just be random chance that i have a bunch of older embryos, but it is more likely that more old embryos have been collected in the first place because of the program operation nest egg (ONE). this is a program where eggs are collected in the wild and brought into captivity to hatch so that the vulnerable eggs and chicks are protected from predators until they are old enough to defend themselves. very young embryos are fragile and are likely to break down or be eaten or damaged before collection, thus reducing the chance of having young embryos to study. another reason may be that the mortality rate is higher in early embryos, perhaps because they are more vulnerable to disease, temperature changes or genetic defects?

observation/result #4: i may have mentioned i had few embryos in my collection. the main reason for a lack of embryos is that the species is scarce. additionally, kiwis are a taonga, or culturally sacred, species. this means that even if the population was stable and there were enough animals to 'spare', embryos could not be sacrificed at regular age intervals in the same way that other species have been for this kind of study.

a small sample size doesn't necessarily render my observations invalid, if anything this study opens the door for more work as more embryos (preferably ones of known age) become available. the models i used can be tweaked, validated or invalidated, but basically nothing else has been put out there to provide a basis of comparison for future work and that is the knowledge gap that i am aiming to fill.

for the reasons i mentioned before, it isn't likely that a whole lot of new known-aged embryos will become available in the very near future, so this study is the beginning of finding a way to age embryos by non-invasive means.

ta-daa! let's see if that gets the creative juices flowing...

speaking of creativity, i am getting my friend jillian, aka hellojilli, to make me a kiwi pendant necklace with the 1888 kiwi illustration at the top. something along the lines of this one - so excited!


cow house by jeff shelton ~ sign in south africa ~ scary travel photo (unknown source) ~ poster via blanket magazine

i am a huge fan of animals, and i especially like animals in random places, like on top of houses. or in dedicated blogs, like this one all about dodos! you better believe it's on my rss feeds.

lots of animals in graphic design, from t-shirts to posters to prints. my recent design blog discoveries: burlesque of north america and us & them.