I’m still working on a few things to post next month, but meanwhile I though I’d share some of the stuff I’m up to:

It took three weeks of lab work to obtain the picture above. The goal of the lab (the class is Molecular Biology) was to transform E. coli by inserting foreign DNA (plasmids which are purchased from genetic engineering lab supply), test for the transformation, isolate the transformed DNA from culture, and finally, make a gel. DNA has a slight positive charge and so can be moved across a medium with electric current in order to separate it by size. A picture of my group’s gel is above (my DNA is the far right one).The coolest part of the lab is coming in a week after transforming your DNA to find them bright blue. The plasmid DNA we inserted coded for a gene which turns bacteria blue in the presence of lactose. If your bacteria are blue, you win! Kind of (there is that horrifying lab report…)


I found myself with an unexpected hour of free time yesterday. Suddenly, I didn’t have anything to do, which is horrifying when you always have too much to do. So, I took a book that Steph let me borrow on portrait drawing, which was meant for my brother (who decided that it looked much too difficult) and here is my attempt at a portrait:

(Zooey Deschanel)

I had a great time. It was like watching a print develop in the dark room. It was just a whole bunch of loops and scribbles at first, but add a little shading, a little blending and it resembles somebody. The book has some good tips:1. Concentrate on getting an accurate line drawing first. The book concentrates on a “graphing” approach, where you overlay a grid. This is suppose to allow you to concentrate on shapes instead of drawing from memory. I found this maddening slow in practice. I found it much easier to draw continuous lines, instead of sticking to doing it box by box. However, the graph is a great tool to assure you get your proportions and distances correct. Also, perhaps if you can’t draw at all, perhaps the box by box approach might be for you.2. Get your tones right. I didn’t do a very good job this time around. The basic idea is that you need to make things that are black, black. Hair isn’t gray. Neither are pupils. Some shadows will approach black.3. Blend. This is mostly to above any outlines remaining, which aren’t present in the real world. Things blend into each other. “Outlines make things appear cartoony.”Things I learned this time around:1. Use a soft pencil (something like a 2B – 4B). I used a HB, which is fairly hard. The result is that things become very difficult to erase and your strokes will still be visible after blending.2. Keep your pencil sharp. By the time you’ve gotten to putting in the details, it’ll be almost impossible to get a sharp result.The idea is to eventually do all these things automatically. I’ll post each attempt, partly as a way of documenting my progress. Let’s see if it works out.This Week’s Tangent: Three people so far insist that learning to draw from photographs and real objects is “cheating” and “unproductive”; that one should draw from memory to learn to draw “your own things.” These are the same people that: Decide they want to be a writer and so, first time out, sit down to write a novel. Want to learn computer programming, by writing a 3D first person shooter like say “Halo.” Attempt to shoot their very own “Schindler’s List” as their first project in Video Production 101. Train for a marathon by running 26 miles the day after they sign up, despite never having run more than 1 before. You get it.Ja.