Thursday, December 9, 2010


Or rather:


(I've always wanted to say that).


Dear friends,

This will be my last post on this blog.



I'm not quitting, I'm just relocating!

My new blog is here (RSS feed here), and it's part of a brand spanking new blog network called Occam's Typewriter. The network has been set up (with much blood, sweat and tears) by the awesome Richard P Grant, and features some wonderful writers who have also come to be good friends over the last few years. I am extremely proud to be part of it all.

So, for the change-averse among you, what should you expect to find over there?

Well, pretty much the same old rubbish I've been coming up with here for the last three and a half years. I didn't want to split my blogging efforts between science and non-science posts again, that being one of the main reasons I left Nature Network earlier this year, and probably wouldn't have joined if that had been the price of admission. But I've been assured that all the other crap I write is just as welcome on Occam's Typewriter as my science-based posts, so, really, YNot?

You'll also find all the old posts and comments, which I've imported into WordPress, and Bragging Rights Central is in the right sidebar as usual. The blogroll is a work in progress, but hey, Rome wasn't built in a day.

So, really, all that's changed is the URL and the banner image.

I'll keep this site up, for old times' sake (although I might close comments if the spam gets out of hand), but all new posts from now on will be hosted at Occam's Typewriter. Why not head over there and read my first post? There's even some science in it! And the next post will be the much-anticipated Second Annual VWXYNot? Readers' Choice Comment of the Year Award!

I'm very excited about moving to Occam's Typewriter. And, as Billy Connolly likes to say at the end of each episode of his travel documentaries:

"Why don't you come with me? We'll have a laugh"

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Twelve Months of VWXYNot?

As seen everywhere, here are the first sentences of my first post of each month in 2010. Bragging Rights Central, hockey pools, grants, visitors, quizzes, and bears - sounds about right! (But no Winter Olympics posts? That's hardly representative of the year as a whole!)


Congratulations to Massimo for winning the First Annual VWXYNot? Readers' Choice Comment of the Year Award!


Did anyone else see the Canucks-Leafs game on Saturday?!


I'm currently (intermittently, half-heartedly) tidying my inbox and desk after the latest round of grant applications. 


One of my best friends from the UK should be landing in Vancouver in a couple of minutes, with her lovely hubby and adorable two year old son! 


My parents are here!


As you may remember from an old post, since I moved to Canada in 2002 I've spent much, much more time worrying about bears than actually encountering them.


My boss is a very busy man whose trainees sometimes have a hard time getting his attention.


I'm back from my trip with more photos than I can reasonably fit into a blog post, so please bear with me while I attempt to cull the collection! 


Yes folks, it's time for another fun quiz from my puzzle-a-day desk calendar!


New archive post! 


First of all, many thanks to Chall and ScientistMother for hosting the last two updates!


Spotted on a whiteboard in a PI's office, written in massive letters (colours as in original):

Book chapters and reviews are for people with no data - NEVER SAY YES

(actually, this was the entire post). 

Right, now let's see your versions!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Family fortunes

Me: "Ooh! There are two fortunes in this fortune cookie!"

Mr E Man: "Mine too!"

(Munch munch, rustle rustle)

Me: "OH! I don't think mine are very compatible with each other!"

Mr E Man: "Heh - same here!"

Me: "Why, what did you get?"

Mr E Man:


Mr E Man: "Why, what did you get?"


Spooky, eh?!

ETA: I just remembered another fortune cookie story! I was once at a Chinese restaurant in San Francisco with an international assortment of fellow backpackers who were staying at the same hostel as me. One guy - I think he was from Switzerland, definitely somewhere in the Alps - got a fortune cookie that said he would see a long-lost friend very soon. Literally two minutes later, as we left the restaurant, he ran into an old school friend from the same mountain village. They hadn't seen each other for years, and each had no idea the other was in the US that summer.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Bragging Rights Central: stats and a reminder about the annual vote!

It's that time of year again!

The shortlist of my favourite blog comments for the year is down to 33 entries, and as soon as I've managed to whittle it down to 12, we will be ready for a vote!

I had a blast reading through all the archives. I really do have amazing commenters, and I'm very proud of this community of clever, insightful, and very very funny people. Many, many thanks to everyone who's read and commented - you are the reason I love blogging so much! Making the final cut is going to be very difficult indeed - not to mention the fact that any comments made this week will also count, so there could be a late flurry of even more contenders...

Anyway, before announcing the final 12 contenders for the readers' vote, I've introduced a couple of extra prizes this year! I've tallied up the comments and posts of the week, to see who was the most prolific in each category, and the results are below.

The winner of each category gets a $20 (Canadian) Amazon gift certificate, as well as 2010 Bragging Rights (Quantitative)!

Drumroll please...

Most "Comment of the Week" wins:

Yay, Chall! Many congratulations!

Most "Post of the Week" wins:

And it's an extra Chanukah present for Cromercrox! Woohoo!

Chall and Cromercrox, please email me at vwxynot at gmail and we'll sort out your prizes!

And, to make sure I honour everyone who won bragging rights this year, the other winners (who I couldn't include above without making the charts look ridiculous) were as follows:

Comments of the week: Cromercrox, DuWayne, EcoGeoFemme, Lisbeth, Pika, Professor in Training, RPS77 and Ruchi featured twice each;
Amanda@LadyScientist, Ambivalent Academic, Bean-Mom, Biocheme Belle, DrugMonkey, Elizabeth, GrrlScientist, HGG, MadHatter, Mel, Nat Blair, Natalie, Pawl Bearing, Prof-like Substance, ScienceGirl, Silver Fox, Sonja and Unbalanced Reaction featured once each.

(I can reveal that three people from this list have made the shortlist of the top 33 comments!)

Posts of the week: Alyssa, Anthony Fejes, Austin Elliott, Eva Amsen, Jeanne Sather, Masks of Eris, Microbiologist XX, Pika, ScientistMother, Steffi Suhr, Stephen Curry, StyleyGeek, Thomas Joseph and Toaster Sunshine each had two posts make the cut;
Amanda@LadyScientist, Ambivalent Academic, Bean-Mom, Carlyn Zwarenstein, Caroline Sober, Digital Cuttlefish, DrugMonkey, EcoGeoFemme, Elizabeth Moritz, Frank Norman, GrrlScientist, Jim Caryl, Joseph Lewis, Linda Lin, MadHatter, Makita, MissPrism, PZ Myers, Raf Aerts, Richard Grant, Ruchi, Sara Fletcher, Scicurious, Uphill Down Dale, Viktor Poor and Vishal Kalel had one post in BRC this year.

Again, many thanks to everyone who's read, commented, and/or posted this year. You're all winners!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Because I know how much you love my screenshots

Do you ever open up new browser tabs to read later?

I do. It's a very bad habit - I sometimes end up with as many as ten blogs and news articles open at once, and it can take me days to get through all of them. It's the internet version of my eyes being bigger than my stomach.

It's also very confusing, as I sometimes forget exactly which articles are currently waiting for me. So I'll be switching from email back into our ethics applications website, and catch sight of something like this:

At first I thought it must be a report of an Arsenal game, but why would I have opened that, unless they'd just played Newcastle, which I knew they hadn't?


Mystery solved!

Well, the browser tab mystery, anyway. Too soon to tell about the origins of life on Earth mystery.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Just... don't.

"BRCA status" is not so long and clunky that you should feel the need to say "BRCA-ness", as in "property X is probably related to the BRCA-ness of the cell line".

If you absolutely must say "BRCA-ness", pronounce it "bracka-ness", not "bee are see eh-ness"


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ever say never?

Spotted on a whiteboard in a PI's office, written in massive letters (colours as in original):

Book chapters and reviews are for people with no data - NEVER SAY YES