- I've met five Nobel laureates. George Olah, Mario Molina, Ahmed Zewail, Rudy Marcus, and Yuan T. Lee. Of the five, I've had an extended conversation only with Molina, who is small and affable. The others are a bit…standoffish. We were at a conference. In the loos. I was a little bit tipsy. Believe it or not, we were actually talking about atmospheric chemistry.
- When I was a little kid, I invented a word to describe the feeling I got when I saw an object that fascinated me. I mean something that I wanted to eat because I liked the feel, the smell and the sight of it, but couldn't because it wasn't edible. I've never told anyone what the word is, and I never will. Once, I tried writing it down. I scribbled over it in black marker pen, tore the piece of paper into tiny scraps and burned them.
- I write reviews in my diary of every book I read and every film I watch. Usually they're one or two lines long and most of them are unlikely to make sense to other people. But they're enough to remind me what it made me feel. For instance, my review of Patrick Neate's The London Pigeon Wars: "Desperately wanted this to be better than it was. Clever touches not enough to override underlying tedium. Misleading title: too many humans, not enough pigeons."
- If I continue being an ex-scientist, there will come a day when I pick up my dissertation and it won't make any sense to me. This thought scares the piss out of me.
- An assignment from a class that I wasn't actually taking for a grade provided one of the best experiences I had throughout my science career. I was given two weeks to research a paper in a field with which I was unfamiliar and then gave a twenty-minute presentation summarizing the abstract, experimental methods and results and critiquing the conclusions. I spent a week in the library doing far more background research that was strictly necessary. My presentation earned the praise of the big-brained Caltech professors leading the course. If that could be my job, if I could have a new topic thrown at me every two weeks and be told to become enough of an expert in it to present it convincingly, I would go back to science. Unfortunately, I have no idea how to get that job, or if it even exists.
- I adore living in Camden. I've walked all over London. I know that this is a shite neighborhood in comparison to say, Chelsea and Kensington and Maida Vale and Notting Hill. But you know what, a lot of those places look like San Diego transplanted into the middle of London. Wide avenues, sensible street layout, clean pavements, no one around in the middle of the day. To me, it's just not London if you can't hear honking horns and swearing drunks and gangs of free-range chavs at all hours. And if there aren't streets that finish half a block after they start in some piss-soaked alley with a crusty pub or derelict park at the end. And if you don't have to step carefully when you walk outside to avoid the remnants of last night's vomit, dog poop and discarded cans of Special Brew. I don't necessarily like these things individually, but put them together with the Victorian architecture that barely merits a Grade I rating, people of every skin color under the sun and convenient access to buses, tubes and overground trains and you have pure unadulterated love, baby.
Oh right, I have to tag six people. Hm. becala, belladonna_, helpful_mammal, imyril, minirth and smallfurry. And anyone else who cares to do it. Of course, if you don't want to, no one will be hunting you down and sporking out your eyes while you sleep. Or if someone does, it won't be me.