The knitted brain–holy shit. The quilt is groovy, but I’m a knitter, and I love the 3D aspect. No experience has been as important to my understanding of neuroscience and neuroanatomy as dissecting a brain in my first year of graduate school. Which is kind of “duh”, I know…but to handle a human brain every week, cut away pieces and really see how it was put together…

OMG! A zipper as the corpus callosum (the structure that links the left and right lobes of the brain). Bril.

There is a disclaimer:

While our artists make every effort to insure [sic] accuracy, we cannot accept responsibility for the consequences of using fabric brain art as a guide for functional magnetic resonance imaging, trans-cranial magnetic stimulation, neurosurgery, or single-neuron recording.

Good thing they covered their asses there!

I found this page through MindHacks, a fun blog based on the O’Reilly book of the same name; both aim to provide “neuroscience and psychology tricks to find out what’s going on inside your brain.” And they do it well–I haven’t bought the book yet, but I paged through it a few years ago for a friend who asked me to vet the neuroscience, and IIRC I was impressed. Hardly a shock considering the publishing house, which is known in the tech world for its high quality.

Today the MindHacks folk featured Blue Jean Brain II by artist Lee Pirozzi.

Which reminded me of LAST week, when they had me humming “if I only had a brain handbag”:

Designer Jun Takashi has created a high fashion handbag, shaped like a brain. Why? You ask. Why not? I answer.

At this point I would like to make it clear that the idea that we only use 10% of our handbag is a myth.

Scientific studies have found that all of the handbag is in constant use, although some parts may be more active than others.

(I like how they debunk the ridiculous 10% myth. It might be true in the Angel from Montgomery sense*, but not in the neurological.)

The Wizard of Oz joke up there is that I have a lot of bags. By which I mean purses. I blame the DSW Shoe Warehouse in Chicago on Clark and Wellington, which was not only within easy reach of public transportation but had free parking. (I got a lot of shoes there too, but those are more socially acceptable, and I tend to purge shoes more as they age, but bags don’t wear out as fast.) I remember one day when I came home to Chicago Ex and said, “Look at this bag I bought!” “Oh good,” he said, “You needed more bags.” I was flattered that he’d noticed, a second later I figured out I was being teased. These days, with every new bag I acquire, Reaganite slightly-sardonically asks “So….is THIS one the Perfect Bag?” I have to explain that the perfect bag is a platonic ideal**, and that different needs require different bags, so no one bag can ever be perfect, so it is not an answerable question. He laughs at me anyway. Perhaps he has never taken philosophy.

Here is the ironic part: I have a dearth of luggage, the most useful type of bag. I also have no professional-looking bags for interviews and other sorts of days when I need to look like a grownup. Purses, purses everywhere, and not a one to take to San Diego for a conference.

I tried to take a picture of the closet that has most of my purses in it, but it didn’t really get the point across. I have them all hanging on racks and hooks on the back of my front/coat closet door, and well, let’s just say that the door basically has to be forced closed.

Maybe I should shoot each one and make a grid of them, or something. That WOULD help me purge, as some of them are probably embarrassing, stylewise. I could try to do them chronologically, then I would have an excuse.

You know, because I don’t have enough to do.


*”How the hell can a person/Go to work in the morning/Come home in the evening/And have nothing to say?

**Have you ever noticed that every time the Platonic ideal idea is explained pedagogically, the teacher uses the example of a chair? 4 out of 4 times in my academic experience. Bizarre.


6 things

20 April, 2006

I am going to attempt to do this quickly and not write a book for each one. Hey, why are you laughing?

Props to B. and L. for their help!

1) One summer, age 12 or so, I watched the Empire Strikes Back every day.

2) I knit. I made an iPod cozy before it was cool. It was too big though.

3) In HS I was a key starter for a varsity sport. We won State my senior year and got to 17th in Nationals, just missing the Sweet 16 on a technicality (and those games were televised, garr!). Which sport? Scholastic Bowl. Yes, to compete in Sectionals we needed medical exams to prove that we were healthy enough to press those little buttons.

4) An online dating site once asked me what my "most unusual or impressive skill" was. It was too gross to list there, but not here! (THATS YOUR WARNING, MOVE ON TO 5 IF EASILY SQUICKED.)

WARNING, GROSS: Animal Research, August 2000, Northwestern University

I can get an immobilizing hold on a rat, kill it with a guillotine before its stress response kicks in, collect 3/4 of its blood volume, remove and freeze its brain in one piece without nicking it or anything, remove and separate out the two lobes of its pituitary gland and freeze them, and clean everything up for the next rat — in 5 minutes. I can do this for hours.

Give me another 5 minutes and I can, instead of freezing the brain, dissect out and separately freeze the olfactory bulb, frontal cortex, hippocampi, amygdalae, hypothalamus, and cerebellum (and others, if needed.) And sterilize the equipment and clean everything up for the next rat.

5) As a frosh, on a dare of sorts one night at dinner, I gave a safer-sex demonstration to a good half of my college's students. Leaving no sexuality behind, I used both a banana and an orange.

6) I can't ride a bike or swim. OK, that's exaggerating a little. If I had to bike or swim for my life, I would live, but it wouldn't be smooth, and sadly I tend to get more tension than joy out of both things. See, when y'all were getting bikes as kids, I got…a scooter. So I learned balance, but not really how to kick off and get started and manage the pedals easily and so on. (I also broke a front tooth in half in a fall, although that's probably not the scooter's fault, qua scooter.) As for the swimming, were I swimming away from a threat I'd be able to keep my eye on it the whole time…since I'd be doing the backstroke.

Your turn! (Adding links tomorrow, too tired and pissed at wordpress right now cause it totally ate the first version of this post. Any ideas for helping it play nice with Firefox?)



eric bourland

future therapist

I-495 blues (c'mon, you're halfway there and that's without the obvious one)

wired dude

Knitta, please!

21 February, 2006

Article from the Houston Chronicle about a group that knits graffiti.

This sounds like the perfect project to start in DC with a combination of knitters and photographers. If only I knew such people!

23rd and Broadway, originally uploaded by techne.

Went to NYC with the flickr cadre this weekend for some photowalking. Yes, we were fully informed about the blizzard. But hey, the snow never sticks in New York! Anyway, you can’t keep a Midwesterner down with a few measly feet of snow. I had boots, I had long underwear, I had a hat I knit myself with earflaps and devil horns and devil tails. I was plenty warm, I just didn’t trust any municipalities to be functioning half as well as Chicago would under the circumstances. And indeed, my fears were realized: buses were canceled, lots of regional rail trains were too, and Amtrak was a total mess. We all made it out though, due to our tremendous travel mojo.
As for the trip itself….I took a lot of pictures. I had a lot of fun. I learned tons and tons from hanging out with a half dozen experienced photographers, several of whom use the same equipment brand I do. There’ll be more — much more — later.