lorekai: Today is a day of YAY!

20140227_212002And here is one of the reasons why!

I picked it up today, and while I haven’t had a chance to play it yet, I can safely say that I am more than happy with my purchase. The little figures that it came with it are so very cute, and the book is not as tragic as I feared it would be, even if it does call the game’s planet by the wrong name on the first page.

Other reasons today was YAY! include, pumpkin pie and, working out how to fix the mistake I made in my crochet without undoing all the stitches. That is all this week, because I want to play my game now. Thanks for reading!

 

marsy: Twitch plays Pokemon

Twitch plays Pokemon doesn’t really need to be explained, but here’s a brief description for those who have either been living under a rock or are more interested in real world issues – lots of people playing Pokemon Red at once by entering commands into a chat system, or, total chaos.

I’ve only actually witnessed a few minutes of the madness first-hand. They were trying to get through the arrow puzzle in the Rocket hideout and I couldn’t handle it. My post is going to be about what I’ve learned second-hand.

– All hail the mighty helix fossil

– Jesus is a bird, I think it’s a Pidgeot

– Jay Leno and Charmeleon (Abby?) were released by the False Prophet

– Flareon is the False Prophet

– Stop using dig

– I think they have/had an Oddish. Oddish is the best pokemon, so I wish it luck.

– Democracy gets shit done, but anarchy is more fun

– Seriously, stop using dig

– Something bad happened on Sunday, not sure what. I think some pokemon got released maybe?

– start9

pokemontheme

Gif somewhat related – it was the stupidest pokemon thing saved on my laptop.

wildfillysama: On the Bit

One of the most often repeated terms that you’ll hear mention around horse people and other masochists is “on the bit”. Usually this is posed as a question; “is your horse on the bit?” Or worse, as a demand; “get your horse on the bit!”

So, what exactly does this mean?

The term “on the bit” is something of a misnomer. You don’t actually need a bit or bridle in order to achieve it. When a horse works on the bit, they travel with their head and neck in a particular position, reflecting a peaceful acceptance of the rider’s hands, other aids, and requests.

“On the bit” has two alternatives: above the bit and behind the bit, both of which should be avoided:

Dm-lorna

Here is a horse working superbly on the bit:

karlformyspaceThe poll, which is the top part of the horse’s vertebrae, is the highest point of his body. His neck is smoothly arched, and his nose is not cranked back onto his chest, but slightly forward and in balance. His ears are listening to his rider, his eye and nostrils are relaxed. The rein between the rider’s hands and the horse’s mouth has a soft, sustained pressure, but isn’t strained, and there is room for minute adjustments if the horse needs it. This is a perfect example of being “on the bit”. The horse’s back end is also engaged and well under him, so he is using his hind muscles most effectively and freeing up his front end, so that his knees and shoulders can lift and do some wonderfully expressive steps. Look as well at his fetlock (ankle) joint – the back fetlock is bearing more weight than the front, which is an immediate indicator that the horse has risen onto the bit, rounded his back, and come up under himself: all of which are needed to do dressage, as well as travel more effectively.

However, many riders do not achieve this kind of harmony and biomechanical efficiency. Some will settle for what they believe is the horse travelling “on the bit”, but is in fact a pulling competition with the horse’s face. Other riders seek different travelling outcomes and never need to ask the horse to adopt this kind of pose. The worst cases are “false frames”, in which the horse is pulled into an uncomfortable and inefficient approximation of being on the bit.

These horses are not being asked to work on the bit, but their poses are good examples of why the above picture is desirable.

The first horse here is above the bit, with a hollow back, strained lower neck muscle, and open mouth. He is clearly not interested in accepting the rider’s hands (and is trying to avoid them as much as possible). The rein is tight and the rider has lowered their hands in an effort to physically bring the horse’s head lower. The horse looks to be pretty excited, which explains his pose: he’s distracted, not interested in his rider, and therefore especially not interested in using his spine effectively. It’s quite likely that the poor rider is trying to avoid an accident from happening.

pam2

In this picture, both horse and rider are in a relaxed frame and the horse has adopted a “cruising” head and neck position. The long reins give the horse room to stretch, but the horse isn’t going for the stretch. Instead, the neck and head are extended for balance. It is possible that the rider is not 100% confident in her balance, and as a result the horse is compensating. Based on his neck and back muscling, this horse is probably very happy to carry himself on the bit if asked, but is here working to accommodate for this rider. The horse’s overall position is on the forehand, meaning that more weight is being carried on the front than the back.bregoinverted

So, how do you “get the horse on the bit”? The first thing you do is do not touch the bit. Assess the fitness of the horse. A horse must have good muscle fitness across their neck and back and be able to flex easily to left and right. They need to understand the brakes, accelerator and turning signals. They need to be able to track up (land their hind feet in the hoofprints of their front feet) and stretch under their body. If you don’t have the basics controls and a good level of physical fitness in the horse, don’t ask for the bit. Ask for calm acceptance of rein contact instead. In addition, the rider needs to be aware of their own body and well balanced.

Next, use your legs. The horse needs energy from behind, using his back muscles and stepping well under his body. A horse working on the bit correctly starts from behind. Keep your hands still and ask the horse to move into the outline that you’re making with the length of the rein. Ask for contact: the horse should step actively at your request, and move straight and even into your rein contact. There should be no mouth opening, weird flexing or bulging away. If that happens, the horse isn’t accepting the contact and you need to stop the exercise for now. If the horse takes the contact, they will move their head and neck to look for the bit, and will maintain a light pressure on your fingers with their tongue/lips when they find the length of rein you’ve offered. Practice transitions: ask the horse to step lightly and lively into different paces. They will become lighter on the front, if all goes according to plan, and the neck will be able to rise and arch with the back engaged. Ask for flexion: do not pull on the reins. Pulse them gently, as though you were ringing out a sponge, to coax the horse’s nose inwards (not too far!) and release as soon as the horse comes in a little. This will show the horse where their face should be pointed, and should only require the smallest amount of pressure as a cue.

DO NOT see-saw the reins. Any idiot can jerk a horse in the face and make them round up their neck to avoid the pain. This is a false frame and makes me want to commit murder.

DO NOT keep the horse on the bit for long periods of time. If they’re not used to the position, it’s pretty strenuous. Give lots of long-rein stretches and rewards.

If your horse looks like this, STOP. Alternatively, ask for medals in Olympic Dressage. I’m still waiting for judges to pull their heads out of their collective arses and stop giving golds and silvers to riders who use “rollkür” positions.

nijmegen_forward 07_ecp_vanbaalen_powerandpaint_01Do either of these horses look happy? It’s cruel, unnecessary, and damaging as hell to a horse’s muscles, bones, tendons, and sanity.

Never forget that horses travel on the bit to make their lives physically easier. They’ll tell you when they can do it. It’s never a race to see who gets there first. And the instant you forget that it’s a living, thinking entity on the other end of the string is the day that you should go buy a bicycle instead.

Pretty Colours for Progress

Or: Making Shit Glow Green (and Sometimes Red)

 

So my PhD project is focused on human disease genetics, and one of the best parts (also sometimes the worst, when it doesn’t work), is visualising proteins of interest in live cells.

Now, proteins are pretty tiny beasts, on average only a couple tens of nanometres across (yes, there are some super large ones around, I work with them too), so how would you see where they are in a cell?

Quick answer: Make them fluoresce.

ACTA1EGFP lenti 1

Wham, bam, skeletal muscle actin (ACTA1) ma’am.

 

Now if you have any knowledge of molecular biology at all, more than a passing interest in science, or have at least had a casual interest in who won a Chemistry Nobel Prize recently, you should know about green fluorescent protein; or GFP for short.

Tack the coding sequence of that little helper onto the end (or before the beginning) of a gene expression construct using the SUPREME COSMIC POWER of molecular biology, and voila! You now have something that when slapped into the correct cell type will borrow some of its internal machinery and start churning out your gene of interest, plus green glowy taggy bit.

Then after an appropriate waiting period, you can bombard it with laser light and image!

Of course, this is much simplified, (super, extremely, ultra simplified) and there are caveats and pitfalls and certain circumstances where this particular method of protein localisation just won’t work, but there are ways of getting around that.

Fig6

These days you can get a whole rainbow of colours, from infra-red all the way to cyan. My lab favours the EGFP-N1 and C1 variants, and dsRED2-express for the times when we want our proteins to glow red, and go faster (They don’t actually go faster).

Here’s a picture of some of my work on muscle cells, trying to express a particularly recalcitrant protein that I had a hand in identifying as a disease gene.

Such aggregation, much fluorescenceSo cytoplasmic, much apoptosis. Wow.

Seriously, it is the worst protein. It should not be doing that. Stop it, bad protein.

 

Stay angry my friends.

Friday-Free-For-All: 2-Headed Shark Attack

Tonight, five out of six angry alpha nerds sat down and watched a modern classic. (Marsy left to go find other friends in protest).

2-headed-shark-attack

 

 

 

 

Yes, we watched 2-Headed Shark Attack. A film so wonderful it has a number in the title but doesn’t refer to a sequel.

 

We will summarise our responses appropriately, along with highlights and references to any and all technical mastery and reasons for immediate award nominations.

 

wildfillysama: THE FUCK DID I JUST WATCH.

 

EbolaBooze: Just by watching this, I lost the best memories of the last six years of my life, it killed that many brain cells. Also, the CGI from the early seasons of Dr. Who, FROM THE EIGHTIES was better than the crap they spewed out onto the screen. I also now have cancer. Good job, makers of this film. I’m coming to kill you and your families.

 

anit the Flea: The shark. rammed. an island. and broke it. Sinking islands apparently go through random periods of stillness followed by sudden jerking and shuddering. The trees do not sway but the cast members are thrown off kilter by the swivelling camera and crash into random fruit.

 

Windfyre: There was a lot of racism.  People who were not white died faster and harder.  People kept jumping into the water in pairs so that the shark’s two-headed status could be justified.  There are no words for the cgi: there was just o effort in realism.  As a lover of movies so bad that no one but me loves them, this movie had so many plot holes that it did not deserve the title of D-movie.  The actors went out of their way to fall – jump –  into the water.  This movie hurt my heart-brain.

 

lorekai: The best thing I can say about this movie is that it gives lots of opportunities for discussion, and creative theories to explain the frequent inconsistencies? I don’t know, what can I say that hasn’t already been said, bad movie was bad, hilariously so, but at least I sold a crochet trapezium to EbolaBooze for $1.50!

 

lorekai: Thinking Final Fantasy part 3

Hello, and welcome to the final part of my thinking Final Fantasy posts, if you haven’t read them, and would like to, you can find parts one and two, here and here.

Final_Fantasy_XIII_Logo

Version played: 360

Final Fantasy XIII can pretty much be summed up as, pretty characters walk down pretty hallways listening to pretty music, with occasional breaks for pretty cutscenes containing story, fights may occur but don’t require a great deal of input from the player, the fights are also pretty. That being said it’s not a bad game, and I think that if it hadn’t been released as a main Final Fantasy game it would have been much better received. The story is interesting,  it’s clear and easy to understand, despite what some people try to claim, and the characters are fun and quite well developed. My only real complaint about the game, aside from it being linearity done wrong, is that it takes a very long time to get started, the first 20 hours or so felt a lot like an extended tutorial. The battle system was also a bit disappointing, it’s very different from the rest of the games in the series, but once I got used to it I was able to have a reasonable amount of fun. Overall, I would say that so long as you don’t go into this game expecting a Final Fantasy, you will have a good time with it, it’s very well presented and the story makes up for the flaws in the gameplay, if you haven’t played it already, I would recommend giving it a chance, also because it’s really cheap now.

logo2Version played: 360

This game is definitely my favourite of the XIII trilogy, it fixed a lot of XIII’s problems, taking away the extreme linearity, providing areas to explore, side-quests, alternate endings, and overall a slight sense of freedom. The story is interesting, though a bit silly at times, and for the most part the characters, both returning and new were well handled, the only character’s treatment I particularly disliked was Snow’s, aside from the terrible haircut, his part in the story and his characterisation just seemed completely off. The gameplay is pretty fun, combat is pretty much identical to XIII’s, except with monsters instead of the third party member, which I’ll admit I’m not fond of, aside from the that the game’s world is much more open, and there are puzzles, which I really liked. Graphically, like it’s predecessor, it’s very pretty and well presented, the soundtrack is great, with some returning pieces from XIII as well as a good range of excellent new ones. I would definitely suggest picking it up, even if you haven’t played XIII.

lightning-returns-ffxiiiVersion played: 360

Time limits, I hate time limits in games, a game has to be pretty fantastic to make me want to play it when the whole thing is one giant time limit, Lightning Returns however is to put it nicely average at best. There is just nothing about this game that compels me to keep playing it. The writing in this game is quite awful, the story so far has been painfully predictable, it just seems like they wrote themselves into a corner at the end of XIII-2 and had no idea how to fix it. As well as that somehow they’ve managed to take a cast of fun and interesting characters and make them all incredibly dull. The gameplay is pretty decent though, combat is fun, very different from the other two games, a little bit too easy though, I liked the range of costumes available, though I seriously wonder who decided that Lightning’s default one was a great idea. Outside of battle, there are lots of areas to explore and an extensive range of side quests, which would be great fun without the time limit. Graphically this game seems a step down from the previous two, it’s still pretty, just not the same level of pretty, I also noticed a lot more instances of slow down. The soundtrack is again good, it borrows from the previous games and adds some new tracks, kind of hard to go wrong there. Overall, this game disappoints me, it’s not a bad game but it doesn’t meet the standard set by the previous games, and from the feel of it I’d go as far as to say that the people making it seemed disinterested.

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it, next week I have no idea what I’m going to post about, but I’ll have my spiffy collectors edition of Tales of Symphonia Chronicles, and that’s exciting!