Thursday, October 30, 2008

Protecting human research participants

I started work in a Neurobiology lab which works with children who have Williams Syndrome. In order to see the data I needed to take a funny online course on doing studies with human subjects. The highlights are below:

The graphics were possibly the best part, especially the names they used for the files, below you see intro_questionMan.jpg

So you see I'm not making this up you can take a look:

My favorite line:
It is not considered ethical behavior to use individuals solely as means to an end.

And a close second . . with graphic!
Individuals should be treated as autonomous agents
Red colored male shape and black colored female shape standing.

Prisoners were another hot topicThis picture is called mugshot.jpg!

Here is one example question which was very difficult:
  1. For research involving pregnant women, participation requires ...
    1. That women have completed the first trimester.
    2. That the study be conducted first in men.
    3. Permission of the father.
    4. Consideration of risks and potential benefits for the fetus and the pregnant woman.

They were very intent on keeping the subjects data private and secure:
Here is one more example question:
What is an appropriate method for maintaining confidentiality of private information obtained from human subjects?

This question was a tongue twister
True or False: For HIV antiretroviral treatment trials conducted in developing countries, the NIH expects investigators/contractors to address the provision of antiretroviral treatment to trial participants after their completion of participation in the clinical trial.

In the end I passed all the quizzes and received my certificate of completion:


Fresh Coconut Water

Last week when shopping for produce I noticed "Water Coconuts."  They weren't too expensive, so we bought one.
After some Googling I figured out that I needed to hack into this thing somehow.  Unfortunately, I don't have a machete, which seems to be the traditional method of access.  So I used this little, weird, essentially useless knife we got for free with some of our pots.
After much hacking:
I reached an impasse.  This point was rock hard - kind of like a coconut shell.  I wonder why.  Anyway, I figured I might have been hacking at the wrong end of the thing.  So I flipped the thing over and kept and whacking:
Finally, after a lot of hard work, I knocked the top off!
And had a drink:
Truth be told, it didn't taste that good.  But, it was fun!

I'd also like to note, that today marks the third Blogversary of the blog!  But we couldn't think of anything special to do (and we're all desperately trying to catch/keep up in school), so it's just business as usual here.  You know, no posts from Yoni/Jonathan or Aryeh this week...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Free Spamples!

You know how some stores like to give out free samples of their food?  You know, usually the house brand whatever, to show off how good and tasty it is?  Well, we were in Walmart a few weeks ago, and look what they were giving out:
OK, for those who don't recognize the containers, due to the crapcam compression, I hope this helps:

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Iranian Passport

This is a photo of the last page of a passport from Iran. It says "The holder of this passport is not entitled to travel to the occupied palestine.
I find it interesting that they use the lowercase 'p'

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Why it's difficult to get anything done

Stacy bought a SKY Chair when she was 16 and has been waiting to have a house to hang it in since then. We have a house, so we figured we'd hang the chair. Seems simple enough, and yet, I leave the room for a second and...In the end, I did manage to hang it:

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Microwave Cookbook voted 12th most favorite!

Happy Sukkot everyone. Note: I'm increasing my stats for having two posts in a row. Maybe thanks to this busy holiday season I might be able to garner three in a row!

According to, my Microwave Cookbook is the 13th most favorite cookbook. I suppose that's pretty good considering I don't even have an in-print form. If any of you out there have an account feel free to vote positively for me!

With the cookbook at

Sunday, October 05, 2008

My Google Tech Talk & Google Israel

I have earlier mentioned my research into GoogleWhack and Internet Search Result Probabilities way back when I was starting it in 2006, then when I put up a poster at an NJIT conference. Its also been here on my Alternate Resume for a very long time (once I stopped being paranoid someone would steal my idea).

Last semester I wrote a paper on it with Bruce Bukiet. The paper was accepted to the Journal of Quantitative Linguistics published by Taylor & Francis. It should be out by the beginning of 2009. While its not an incredibly high Impact Factor Journal, this will be my first publication in a peer review journal so I'm excited for it. You can read a pre-print of the paper here.

Last May, I also gave a "Tech Talk" at Google's New York office on my research.

Here is the Video of my Talk:

Google NYC Lobby

We werent allowed to take pictures inside of the Google office, but in the lobby was okay. I for some reason didn't get a picture of myself there . . . whoops.
Thanks to my friend Ran, I was able to visit Google's Tel-Aviv office last summer (not really related in any way to my research- but it gave me something to talk about.. No pictures were allowed there either but I managed anyway.

This Mezuzah had Google colors and I thought it was quite tastefull. The view looks into the Lobby.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Moshe Amihai Lansey

Our son's name is Moshe Amihai Lansey.  Below is what I said at lunch today about his name:

Moshe Amihai is named after two grandfathers who shared the same first Hebrew name Moshe.  In no particular order:
My mother’s father, Moshe Fischel ben Eliyahu, Philip Gellis
Stacy’s mother’s father, Moshe Aharon, Arthur Kirschner
And we like the name Amihai, which means “My Nation Lives”, but more on that later.

Stacy’s grandfather Arthur died while she was still a child, so her memories of him are the memories of a child.  She remembers watching him shave with a shaving brush, learning to paint together, and learning her multiplication tables with him.  The time he spent with her demonstrated his love and patience, as well as the value he placed on learning.  Stacy remembers him as someone who was genuinely fun to be around.  We hope that our son shares this patience, will value learning, and will continue to be someone who is fun to be around.

My grandfather was a talmid hakhamim – a student of the Torah scholars and a scientist.  He was involved in his shul, he gave regular Torah lectures, and taught high school chemistry.  More importantly, he was a huge mensch.  He was the kind of person who would eagerly give his left leg if it meant helping someone else.  While our Moshe  need not be a scientist – really, it’s not actually required – we sincerely hope that he will share the love of Torah and the menschlechkeit of my grandfather.

At the end of this week’s parsha, the biblical Moshe is a dejected and broken man.  He has worked so hard to get the Jewish people to this point.  Not only is he not able to enter the Land of Israel, but he also knows that after his death the Jewish people will cross into the Land, and they will completely blow it.  God tells him about the terrible times that face His nation in the future.

Our choice of the name Amihai – “my nation lives” – shows our hope that most, maybe all of these ra’ot rabot ve’tzarot – many evils and troubles – are behind us, and no longer will God continue to hide his face from us.  We hope that our Moshe will see a time that the biblical Moshe could only see in a vision.  A time where, as the biblical Moshe puts it at the end of next week’s parsha, “v’chiper admato amo” – God will wipe away his nations tears,” a time when our nation will truly live and thrive.

The months of Elul and Tishrei have been very hard for my family.  My Bubby (my mother’s mother), Zeida (one of the Moshes who our son is named after), Grandpa (my dad’s father) and most recently my cousin Avi all died in these few weeks.  It is now Shabbat Shuva, the Shabbat between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur.  It is a time when our prayers are more closely examined, and when God is “potei’ach sha’ar ledofekei betshuva,” He throws open the gates of teshuva to those who merely timidly knock at them.

At the brit we all said the short prayer, “k’sheim shenichnas lebrit, kein yekaneis leTorah, chuppah ul’maasim tovim”.  “Just as he entered the covenant of the Jewish people, he should enter the world of Torah, the marriage canopy and good deeds.”  Now, when we say this, I assume we don’t mean kicking and screaming.  Rather, we mean healthy, free of sin, and surrounded by loving family.  We hope that Moshe Amihai will grow and be healthy, and that our extended families, and the Jewish people, will only know smachot from here on.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

It's a boy!!!

This past Saturday, Stacy gave birth to a 8lb, 7oz baby boy. We weren't sure if Stacy and Baby would be home for Rosh HaShanah, but nearing the last minute they both were discharged, and are both doing well.We'll let you know what Baby's name is after his Brit Milah this Shabbat. And, lest you think that we're gonna be all serious now that we have a kid: