Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Sports Gene by David Epstein

Image Credit:
Started an exercise to put up some description of books I have read, either a short snippet or something interesting about it.

My boss, a colleague and I did a short review for the book in the journal, Science, a while ago (2013). This is very much related to an article on sports and genes I have written before, with a very dear friend and ex-colleague of mine.

The Sports Gene by David Epstein

It's a very informative book, thick with many real-life anecdotes on how genetics have influenced sports and its science. A peek into the world of sports, behind the glory and medals - and into the science and technology of the current landscape in sports and athletes. An interesting read for geneticists and the general audience, to see how far the sports arena has progressed. Personally, it has a clear message which I advocate, that is, genetics or your DNA plays a role, sometimes major, in many of the traits we have, sports-related or not. But it does NOT determine your destiny, e.g. whether you become an athlete, or even a good one at that. DNA/genes essentially provides your starting line. How you get to the finishing line is very dependent on other factors - environment and circumstances; a confluence of nature and nurture.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Home improvement with 3M Command Series Adhesives

I was recently very excited about moving in with my gf, SY, that I decided to engage in some home improvement projects!

Since things in the house seems to be rather cluttered, I thought perhaps if we move things onto the walls, there would be more space on the ground. SY sometimes complains about the mess and I mean anyone feels better looking at a neater apartment right?
Definitely not SY's apartment... maybe a little more like my current apartment...
SY's been pretty stressed out lately. Thought I would give the apartment a little makeover - just teeny tiny enough to make a difference. M did well with my current apartment, I thought I would use some his ideas too. So amidst crazy schedules and deadlines, I perused the web and found useful resources: here and here! Since I can't totally revamp the apartment nor put nails on the wall, I stumbled upon this info on damage-free adhesives. Somehow I got a little obsessed in trying out these adhesives, which IMO, if they work like magic, could turn things over at SY's place! There are, unfortunately, more misses than hits and here are some of my empirical evaluations of the products that I bought in chronological order.

Credits: Amazon

I wanted to hang a plywood medium-sized framed picture. I didn't know the better and accidentally got these. So my first purchase pretty much failed, since these are strictly for posters, as I learnt it the hard way. You guessed it; I tried them on the picture and it fell off the wall. Fortunately, there were no casualties.

Credits: Amazon
Next, I got these for the picture. But ended up using only the sawtooth ones (see the next one). My guess is this will hold only pictures that are very lightweight.

Credits: Amazon
This has been my most successful purchase so far. It has been almost 3 weeks now and the picture is still hanging on the wall very nicely. Hopefully that persists. I followed all the instructions to the T for all the adhesives, but only this one worked... At this point, SY is already a little annoyed with me spending all the money on these adhesives. I was determined to experiment with these and with one success, I hope to make them all work. Alas, little did I know I was going down a slippery slope...

4. Command Utility Hooks (supposedly holds 5 lbs)
I got a little bold with successful number 3. I wanted to hang things on the wall in the kitchen and the bathroom. Two places of very similar nature: typically hot, humid in both, and also oily in the kitchen - BUT I DIDN'T KNOW THEY HAVE VARIANTS for the strips.

M used these for hanging towels in the kitchen in my current apartment, so at least I know they work for very lightweight cloth. Before I started hanging heavier things, I want to make sure they stick. I left one each on kitchen and bathroom wall (same texture and wall material) without anything on.

After 1 day, the hook in the bathroom fell off. But the one in the kitchen persists. After 2 days, I decided the one in the kitchen will hold, so I started adding more items on it. Nothing too heavy, just a small rack with a total of 5 small bottles with condiments in them - definitely nowhere near 5 lbs. UNFORTUNATELY, it held for only about 2 weeks, then it came crashing down too, spilling salt all over the kitchen floor... 

Credits: Amazon
At this juncture, SY was a little annoyed with me (for obvious reasons). I was a little too obstinate and too hopeful to back down, since I really wanted to relieve the clutter. Plus, I really want to try these things for myself. I started perusing online reviews, I saw mixed outcome, due to differences on wall surfaces. I started browsing through their catalog of Command Series products. I found these water resistant ones!

However, they lasted only almost 2 weeks in the bathroom. The roommates and we woke up to an embarrassing loud crash in the morning. Thankfully, no one was hurt. I suspect the big heavy bottle of hand lotion might have contributed to the demise. 

Again, M has these in the bathroom in my current apartment to hang towels.

6. Caddy hanger (holds 7lbs)
Credits: Amazon
This seems the most regretful because it seems the most secure. I followed the instructions carefully - hold for 10 sec, slide off hook, hold 30 sec, let it stay for 24 hours, shower at least one during this time. Then I hanged an empty but heavy shower caddy on it.

But I had to take them down for safety reasons. I think the roommates started to get afraid - so they suggested taking them down, since they pose a potential shower hazard; somebody's toes might mangle badly if it comes crashing down. 

And so end my experiments and love-hate relationship with these 3M adhesives. To sum up, my experiences have been: pictures (probably posters as well) and towels and cloth are fine, but even slightly heavier items like small caddy racks and small bottles are a big no-no. I am disappointed with more the outcome of my projects than the products, since the devastating results can be a confluence of product quality, wall texture and unknown environmental issues.

Hopefully, the picture stays that way for eternity. I will update once I am able to hang other smaller objects later in the living room: clocks, pictures and posters.

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Mendeley citation style edit

I recently realize Mendeley has a citation style editor!!

1. Go to Word.
2. Find "References">"Mendeley Cite-O-Matic">"Style">"More Styles"
3. Right-click on the style you want to edit.
4. Click "Edit Style"

Mendeley will bring you to an online editor and you can edit and save it.

When you click refresh in Word, it shows your edits simultaneously!!

This is super convenient!

SIDENOTE: The Genome Research csl is a link to the Cold Spring Harbor Labs Press csl! So just edit the latter....

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Predatory journals

Come to papa... Publish with me..
image from:
I know it has been a long hiatus but I am still around!

Been trying really hard to graduate recently with lots of great motivation coming in all directions! So you will hopefully start to catch me here once in a while again =)

Anyway, this entry arose because of my receiving of several emails asking me to give talks and to publish in some journals since 2012, sometimes in fields that I am not even familiar with! Inner alarm started sounding and I did a search on the Internet. I found that some researchers have been duped into submission of their articles and in many cases, ended up having to pay an amount of money publishing something the journals invited you to publish in the first place! Some even have really scientists of substantial stature on their editorial boards. I emailed this article to my labs back then. 

For me, my inner alarm started blaring when first off, they didn't even get my designation right - I haven't even gotten my doctorate yet - these people did not even bother looking that up. Second, the field is completely foreign to me. Third, or they were sending me the email based on a singular something  I wrote eons ago for a non-scientific audience. I bet there are other telltale signs to realize something fishy is going on.

With the Internet rampant with information, falsity and veracity interweaved, it is ever harder to discern between the forces of good and evil. I mean, look at Wikipedia! (While I really love Wikipedia and there are numerous excellent entries on Wikipedia, please do NOT cite Wikipedia as your reliable go-to...)

Here's a list of predatory journals for scientific submissions that I thought will be useful to compile and keep it here for posterity and my own reminder. 

Let me know if you have/found any others or any interesting articles and would like to add to this. I will update. Also, any tags I should put to this post?

John Bohannon has a really enlightening article about this on how he recently tricked the world into thinking eating chocolates can help you lose weight. This probably would require another post for another day. But this article wants you to know what to critique when you read certain science.

Here goes:
1) This is based on an article in Science, with a good amount of evidence.
2) This is the infamous Beall's list. "Beall defines a "predatory" publisher as one whose main goal is to generate profits rather than promote academic scholarship" -- The Chronicle of Higher Education 2012
3) the Nova series

Monday, March 23, 2015

Rest in peace, Mr Lee.

“You begin your journey not knowing where it will take you. You have plans, you have dreams, but every now and again you have to take uncharted roads, face impassable mountains, cross treacherous rivers, be blocked by landslides and earthquakes. That’s the way my life has been.”  --LKY

I write with a heavy heart that the revered (and feared...) founding father of modern Singapore has passed away. Back then, he knew that survival was key and he made sure we did; gave us what we have today: prosperity and stability. He doesn't make the most popular decisions, or even the right ones if there's such a thing, but he tried to make the best of the circumstances. He led a full life and left a great legacy for all of us. Even in his death, he united Singaporeans, which unfortunately, isn't easy. For all that you have done, Mr Lee, thank you. 一路走好 .