My daughter recently bought a copy of Archie’s Pals’n’Gals Double Digest (#124), and lo and behold the first story is about the kids from Riverdale thinking up things to reduce carbon emissions for a school contest. Anyway, the gradient from how Betty carries herself and how Veronica looks at things is intriguing, and I thought it could make an interesting slide down the road.


Just so you know (Spoiler alert!), Jughead comes up with the winning entry by suggesting fridges with see through doors. Awesome!
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That’s Terry talks in case you’re wondering.

mickeyh2oRecently used this graphic at a student conference opening, and it was met with a surprisingly good reaction. Weird, how no matter how hard you look at this, you can’t get past the Disney influence.

kitamurawaterAs of 2007, residents of Vancouver, on average used 295 litres of water per day (Per capita water consumption number is 542 litres per day factoring in non-residential water use).


The contrast is pretty striking.

In India, there are guidelines that have been put into place that have suggested a minimum of about 150 litres per day is needed (see here) via the Central Public Health and Environmental Engineering Organisation(CPHEEO) within India’s Ministry of Urban Development.

When you happen to look at 2007 stats for Mumbai, you get a figure of about 191 litres per day per capita (which presumably also includes a heavy load from non-residential use), but there are some major cities such as Bhopai (right in the middle of India and a city with over 1.5 million residents), where the daily consumption is calculated at 72 litres per day per capita (again, this would include non-residential). To put this in perspective, this is equivalent to just over 3 conventional toilet flushes (~67 litres).

Just in case you like to visualize what these volumes all mean, here’s an image of two fridges: one designed with a freezer/fridge compartment to hold 300L and the other to hold 70L.


disneyland9600Photomosaic of 9600 photos (from a set of 326) prepared with my vacation pictures and MacOSaiX software (free BTW).

So what is the ecological footprint of a place like Disneyland?

Having just returned from a visit to the magic kingdom, the above was a question that continually haunted my consciousness. Disneyland was remarkably pristine in that cookie cutter, artificial, yet aesthetically pleasing way, but it must be a major sink in terms of waste, energy consumption, carbon emissions, etc.

Or is it? Maybe in terms of footprint, by applying its incredible density (>15 million visitors each year!), it comes out not looking so bad?
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rottenislandIsn’t this picture great?

This is from a book called Rotten Island, which was written and drawn by William Steig (best known for his books, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, as well as Shrek). Anyway, Rotten Island chronicles a place that begs:
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I doodle a bit, and sometimes, it has this Breakfast of Champions look to it – which to be frank is deliberate, since I think it’s a great visual style, especially for the purpose of teaching.

Anyway, since, I’m playing around with my relatively new flickr account (mainly set up so that I can start to organize my slides properly on my popperfont site), here’s a video of a few goofy slides that highlights a variety of biological “modifications” that can occur. Full narrative below the fold by the way.

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Just read the June 2008 issue of the Believer, which to be honest, is a magazine I haven’t picked up in a while. Anyway, it was very good, and I particularly enjoyed the articles Fatima: An Oral History and Kiddie Orientalism. The Fatima article in particular is outstanding, and I’m hoping the magazine will release it fully online so that more can read it. In any event, I’ll definitely be picking up the book (which comes out via McSweeney’s in a few months).

Oh yeah, Mad Hot Ballroom is a great movie.

Working with Joanne on revamping the bioteach website. This is our facility website, which looks a little too busy right now, although that’s mostly because the lab happens to do a lot of things, and a lot of different things at that. Anyway, trying to work in a cleaner look that will still keep everything nicely visible. Right now, we’re mucking around with the Overstand wordpress theme, and tweaking it just so. Here’s how it’s looking so far…

offsettingUSflyingdeparturesTo offset flights out of North America in 2007, you’d need to plant a forest the size of Oregon.

In this summer’s issue of the Walrus, there’s a great piece by UBC’er, David Beers, called “Grounded” which imagines circumstances leading to a world where flying is essentially ground to a halt. It’s a good read, but in this case, I also had a little fun with the accompanying graphic.

In the original picture (the left hand side of the slide), we see the number of trees needed to offset a few particular flights (presumably, a sampling of some that David recently took), and I was essentially curious to see if I could extrapolate these calculations to the world at large. i.e. Can I get figures for total kilometres flown in the world for a particular period of time, calculate the number of trees needed to offset this, and then maybe even try to visualize this number in terms of forested land area.

Well, using back of the envelope calculations (my favourite kind), and links to stats at the US Department of Transportation, as well as various links to a number of sites highlighting preferred plantation densities (I chose an average number that seems to be cited for wildlife enhancement – 300 trees per acre), and doing all the right sorts of things to shift numbers from miles to km, from acres to km squared etc, then this is what I got –

That to offset the total number of flight departing from North America in the year 2007, you need to plant a forest about the size of Oregon!

Yikes! This isn’t even considering flights that depart from Europe, Asia, etc, and this is also for only one year! That can’t be good…

Course, then there’s the whole debate around offsets generally, but we can save that one for another time.

The tradition continues. This song should work nicely for this year’s video. Kids like it anyway…

typhoonlagoonspinThis cracks me up every time, and will be sure to somehow make an appearance in my talks on science literacy. I’m thinking this would make a great graphic to segue into discussions on the public perceptions of technologies, etc.

Anyway, summer is upon us, and so the good old blow-up pool is making an appearance in our backyard. But look at the pic, and note the huge; difference between what you see on the box, and what you get in real life.

Below is a proper graphic of the actual box the product came in (still available on sites like amazon, by the way). I guess they can get away with this because on the box, it did say something to the effect of “Product may not be as appears on image.” Do you know of any other similar examples of product spin?
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drawingmowillemspigeonLast Friday, Hannah came to the lab with me, and immediately went about drawing pictures of pigeons everywhere. This was inspired by a recent event where we got to check out Mo Willems of “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” fame. Anyway, Mr. Willems was awesome and even went over a How To session and got everyone drawing pigeons.

This totally reminded me of this most excellent video on how to draw giraffes from the Wholphin blog – very much worth a visit, especially if being able to draw a giraffe is one of your goals in life.

I was quite surprised at how much Hannah remembered of the Mo Willems’ How To. She even drew out the instructions as she remembered them. I love the part that says “…well, birds legs…”
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wiki entry | thesis essay from Mitja Miklavcic, 2006 (pdf)

So, it seems that having a name like popperfont, suggests the need to discuss typeset. This, I think, is a reasonable request, and one that I’m game to explore. Note, that I know very little about the jargon and history behind such matters, but I do enjoy a good font.

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O.K… so this font (which happens to be one of my favourites), has an interesting history. First up, if you want all the gory details, the pdf linked to above makes interesting reading – it’s a dissertation paper on the Clarendon font, detailing its history.  This post, if anything, is a layman treatment of the paper.

Anyway, the Clarendon font appears to have started off as a design exercise to create a font that could highlight text within normal type. Apparently, until a certain point in history, this was almost always done by using italics, and Clarendon is nominally associated as the first “related” bold face – as in it was designed to look nice along with standard Times fonts.

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Here’s Hannah going one on one with Darth Vader, when we were in Disneyland recently. Just testing the Flickr video option, which, by all accounts, is pretty cool…

Also: Unicorns are the answer, seriously. A lovely speech given by JK Rowling. Kung Fu Panda, I’d say is worth the look, but then I think that would be especially so, if the thought of kung fu + jack black sounds intriguing. Finally, recently checked out this graphic novel star wars parody, and quite enjoyed the geeky jokes and great art. I especially liked this picture from the comic.
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1. One Great City! – Weakerthans, 2. Question – Old 97’s, 3. Do Right Woman, Do Right Man – Aretha Franklin.

biologicalhierarchyThis slide is used to get across the fact that when viewing biological systems, you can definitely see a lot of commonality in how things happen to be.

Here, we can highlight a hierarchy of how organisms are organized, from the whole organism, to particular tissues (like an organ), to the single cell, to the organelles (like nuclei and mitochondria) within cells, to the molecular structures that form the building blocks of life (like proteins, sugars, fats, DNA), and finally to the individual atoms themselves. Implicit with the view of this organization is the realization that when you get towards the simpler side of the hierarchy, we’re all (and this is the all in terms of everything in the living world) basically made of the same stuff. This means there is remarkable crossover in the scientific knowledge obtained, regardless of the organism you choose to study.

This is huge in terms of how the life sciences work. It means that you can do a lot of work on things that are just easier to work with (say studying a bacteria versus studying a 2nd year university student) and still get a lot of useful information.

Wish this wasn’t just in purple – a nice grey would’ve been nice, like below. (link)
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uncombablehairsyndromeThere is a human disease characterized by uncontrollably messy hair. It is called the “uncombable hair syndrome.”

Also known as Pili trianguli et canaliculi

Basically, a genetic syndrome affecting the structure of one of the proteins in the hair follicle. Results in literally uncombable hair (hence the name).
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