27 September 2007

Frivolous Freelance Friday Fritillaries

The world revolves slowly. One continous day and one continuous night are perpetually chasing one another across the surface of the planet, crossing an imaginary line drawn through the ocean that causes human beings to flip the pages of their calendars and diaries. I have been tagged by karen little, several time zones removed from me now, but always close, somehow. Tagging is fun and infuriating at the same time. I am one of those people who openly define themselves by what they do, and only privately by what they are. The Orchidhunter is just one, eclectic-electronic version of me. But let's see what I can come up with...

The rules:
  1. Post these rules before you give your facts.
  2. List 8 random facts about yourself.
  3. At the end of your post, choose (tag) 8 people and list their names, linking to them.
  4. Leave a comment on their blog, letting them know they've been tagged.

The randomness:

1. I'm a member of the American Orchid Society.

2. I have had the same pencil tin since starting my undergraduate degree. It's a beaten up metal tin with the words "2000 - the millennium year and beyond" still just barely visible on the top. Apart from the traditional collection of stationery, this tin has always been home to the following: two marbles; a nut with no bolt; a small ball-bearing; two bright red beans from the common coral tree Erythrina lysistemon; five bright red beans from the broad-leaved coral tree Erythrina latissima; three speckled calypso beans; a small plastic lizard from a surprise egg, given to me by my sister's youngest daughter; a green foil smiley face - a table decoration from some long-forgotten party; two red nerite shells I collected on the beach at Jeffrey's Bay in 1993; and tablets of paracetamol.

3. My living room is decorated with photographic prints of sea nettles, jellyfish in the genus Chrysaora. These beautiful organisms are very amenable to aquaculture and are housed in specialized aquariums around the world. I'd love to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California, where they have a splendid display called 'Jellies: Living Art' combining jelly tanks with the organic glass masterpieces of Dale Chihuly.

4. Certain smells that seem to delight other people leave me with nothing but a headache. I cannot stand the smell of jasmine. Discovering that the smell of jasmine actually has 'a definite faecal undertone' in Sharman Apt Russell's immensely readable Anatomy of a Rose, just confirmed what my olfactory nerves had suspected all along. I also cannot stand scented soaps, incense, scented candles, or the smell of most household cleaning agents. All those dreadfully synthetic pink smells. Give me the good old chemical smell of plain bleach anyday. Why must your home smell like cinnamon-pumpkins for Thanksgiving? Why can't it just have the neutral smell of air? You know: 78% nitrogen, 20% oxygen, 1% argon, 1% carbon dioxide, the name you know and trust? Are you vainly trying to mask the foetid odour of a house inhabited by the filthy mammal you really are? What are you trying to hide? The sense of smell is such an intensely personal thing, intimately tied to the cerebral process of memory. Why waste it on an artificial, so-called 'lily-of-the-valley' tea candle? It's just offensive.

5. Unlike other people, I find it impossible to sing in the shower. The acoustics are always bad. And how do you sing without swallowing water?

6. I study the molecular and genetic interactions between plants and aphids. As far as bizarre goes, few things can beat an aphid. Imagine an insect that is always female, gives birth to live nymphs, is born pregnant, feeds exclusively on plant sap which is so poor in nutrients that the aphid has to secrete most of what it ingests as sticky honeydew out its arse, is actively farmed by ants because of its nectar-like poo, drinks its liquid lunch through a set of mouth parts 0.5┬Ám in diameter, and causes billions of dollars worth of damage to crops annually. This year, I hope to do some EPG (electronic penetration graph) studies, which are basically the aphid version of an electroencaphalogram: you attach an electrode to the aphid with metallic glue and proceed to monitor its feeding behaviour through alterations in electric current. I'm hoping to combine this with virus-induced gene silencing of certain candidate genes in the plant, in order to tease out what actually makes some plants resistant to aphid attack. Now, if it all just works out...

7. I love going to music concerts, but have chalked up way too few so far. Hopefully living in Colorado will soon change this for the better. I pine for those live concerts I've missed, never to return again: Talking Heads. Jimi Hendrix. The Smiths. Anita O'Day. Before I die, I'd love to see the Scissor Sisters live. Or Goldfrapp. Massive Attack. The Knife. Fischerspooner. Ladytron. The list goes on. The only thing that could ever beat the best live show I ever attended, though, would be another Depeche Mode concert. Such great memories. My sister took me to my first big stadium concert - Gloria Estefan live at Loftus - so many years ago. Although the only song I was actually familiar with was Conga, the whole experience of being part of the crowd, experiencing the dynamic artistry on the stage, instilled in me an instant addiction. Live concerts for the hell of it are sometimes fun: I was the only person in the crowd at a Counting Crows concert in Johannesburg who had not heard Mr. Jones before they actually played it onstage. I'm still not a fan, truth be told. But to attend a concert as a fan, with like-minded friends, is one of life's biggest pleasures. Encore!

8. People are confused by the name of this blog. It's long and no-one knows what it means, apparently. However, it captures the reasons why I blog perfectly. There are several meanings here, all intertwined like the roots of orchids growing in the cloud forest. Orchids are epiphytes. Epiphytes are plants that grow on other plants. Epiphytes are not parasites, they simply use the bigger plants as perches, as support, as a means to get closer to the light and the air. I love orchids and all things horticultural and botanical. This blog hopes to provide support for the many eclectic and diverse things I'm passionate about, bringing them out of the dark corners of my brain and into the light of the blogosphere. The blog is a platform for my opinions, my creative outlet. I post short pieces I'd like to believe are at times witty or humorous, not exactly epigrams of course, but you get the idea. I only write about things I'm interested in or passionate about. Things that move me. Electrophoresis is the movement of charged molecules - such as DNA - in the presence of an electric field, thereby separating them and revealing their true nature. Do you understand now? Eclectic Epiphytes and Electrophoretic Epigrams is an ever-evolving collection of posts about the thrill of existing in the 21st century. The things that have grown on me. The things that move me.

That's it, I suppose. Now to tag some other victims, erm... bloggers. I'm only tagging four of you though (to leave more people to tag later on, see?). Let's go with Adam, who I think is always up for the job; Mike, who is bound to make it revealing; Arcadia, who is sure to make it beautiful; and Twanji, who actually reveals less of himself than I do.


Wendy said...

All I want to know is how small those electrodes actually are???

Anonymous said...

Cool site!

Admin said...

oh i hate most fake smells! i used to like them, but i can't stand most of them now. even most perfumes and colognes....make me gag. i love the smell of baking!

Unknown said...

wendy: really, really small. It's an amazingly thin conductive wire that gets fixed onto the back of the aphid using metallic paint. I'll try getting some pictures.

sonkind: thanks!

vesper: I love the smell of baking, too. But there's something perverse about having a butter caramel scented candle in the place where you do number two.

AristoNeeks said...

HA! I still use the same tin and (space case) ruler I had since 1997 (Std. 7)!

I've never been to a music concert.. :( *pout*, as i live a sheltered life.

And, I've always wondered what Epiphytes means, but was always too lazy to google it! ^_^