Darwin Haikus

Eight months ago Mike Boers made a very cute GitHub project called “Haikuize“. You pour in text, it blends away punctuation, simmers up 5-7-5 syllables, and BLAM, delicious, senseless haikus.

Some of them are less senseless than others though.

This evening we popped the 6th edition of The Origin of Species into the oven. We pulled out many half-baked, poorly formed thoughts. All of them are out of context. Some of them are worth sharing.

The Hypothesis
Of The Development And


A Woodpecker Has
Become Adapted To Its
Peculiar Habits


The Fact Is Given
As Something Remarkable
And Exceptional


No One Ought To Feel
Surprise At Much Remaining
As Yet Unexplained


In Many Cases
We Are Far Too Ignorant
To Be Enabled

I didn’t read through all of it. The book itself is 1.2MB in plain text; after it has been Haikuized it bloats out to 2.2MB. It’s a lot of fun to read through them one after another, even (or perhaps especially) when they make no sense.

Of Habit To This
Latter Agency He Seems
To Attribute All

All The Beautiful
Adaptations In Nature
Such As The Long Neck

As The Long Neck Of
The Giraffe For Browsing On
The Branches Of Trees

Can you tell he’s talking about Lamark? I even own a commemorative Tee (though I’m not sure if the reference to Lamark was intentional).

If you want to read through the monstrously large version for more gems, download it here or bake it up yourself by cloning Haikuize from the GitHub repository and pouring in your own batter. Alternatively, here is a reduced version of Origin Haikus that only includes those that started or ended in a period before the punctuation was stripped out. Complete thoughts will probably be easier to find in that version.


View of the Ground from the Ivory Tower: CV Spring Cleaning

I still have at least 6 more months of my master’s left to go, but I’m starting to think (obsess really) about what my next steps will be. I know lots of people who write up and defend while employed in full or in part off campus. Since I’ve never done a co-op or internship outside academia, this seems like an intriguing possibility to me. I love (love love love) TA-ing and teaching, so if that is how the wind blows for September 2013, that is okay too.

Even if I completely finish with school (i.e. defend) before venturing into the job market, I figure it will take some serious time and investment to find employment. If possible, I’d like to avoid unemployment while finding employment.

As a bright-eyed undergrad I spent lots of time finding opportunities and gaining experience toward a career in academia. I was grooming myself for this detailed plan I had composed based on all the organized talks and personal advice I got from everyone and anyone I met. Now that I’ve decide to explore more options, I feel like I have catching up to do.

Catching up is tricky though. In a university it’s easy to find people with lots of experience being in universities, but learning how to be employable outside of the ivory tower while still in the ivory tower is.. well, tricky. I suffer from opportunistic and thus serious sampling bias. Lots of other people have discussed this many-faceted problem too.

Today was a holiday (Family Day in B.C.), so I took the opportunity to (try to) update my CV. The last time I had touched it was back in July, so there was lots to add. Adding led to reorganizing, which in turn led to lots of re-writing. Several hours into my CV Spring Cleaning, I started to get restless. How “expert” do I need to be to say I have “expertise” in something? I think anyone who thinks they know everything about anything is probably deluding themselves. Maybe I should include my working definitions*. Should there be a “Skills” section or does that belong in a resume? What goes in a resume vs a CV? Do people outside academia care about CVs anyway?

… Should my twitter handle go under my email address at the top?

My CV Spring Cleaning was starting to feel like this moment.

(*Don’t worry, I don’t really intend to do this.)

Even though there are relatively few people who can speak of personal experience in career building outside academia from inside, luckily there are other resources. I haven’t found my golden solution or written my winning CV (or resume), so I can’t tell you all my tricks yet. I decided to write this post because job-hunting, career-building, and CV-Cleaning have been on my mind a lot lately. Maybe after I check out SFU’s Career Services I’ll have more answers.

Prelude to lessons learned with spotted winged drosophila

It’s now three weeks into the spring semester, and a lot of my time is devoted to training my new students in how to handle, breed, rear, and care for spotted winged drosophila (SWD). When reviewing the techniques I’ve been perfecting over the last 7 months, I always follow the HOW with the WHY. I started these colonies with very little prior knowledge or guidance on how it should be done, so the WHY is usually based on personal experience, and the experience is often “…because they die.”

The spotted winged drosophila is of growing/continuing concern in agriculture across North America and Europe. As the public eye turns toward them, so too does the academic. I know many people who are beginning to consider adding this species to their research programmes because knowledge garnered on this species right now would be both timely and potentially high impact.

I say “timely” because they were first introduced to North America just 4.5 years ago in the summer of 2008. In 2009/2010 there were farms that lost up to 80% of their crop due to this one generalist pest!* Research done now will be “high impact” because results will be immediately important to both (1) the public (stakeholders) who are in desperate need of a knowledge base from which to make management decisions, and (2) the academics interested in testing theories in ecology, evolution, and invasion biology.

This is why I chose dedicate my graduate degree to this species… I’m assuming the other interested scientists have been following similar lines of thought.

The lessons I’ve learned and am imparting to my new students have been very hard won, and I hope I’ve persuaded you that there is (or should be!) interest in rearing these little insects beyond just my little crew and thesis**. Thus, I’m going to start trying to amalgamate my insights on SWD rearing and care into blog posts.

My goal here is to save some other poor M.Sc. or Ph.D. the same months of trial and error by explaining my HOWs with illustrative and colourful WHYs (sweat, tears, burns, and close calls). I wont claim to be an expert in all potential problems; all I can do is impart my experiences and subsequent conclusions. It’s up to you to draw your own conclusions.

It’s still my goal to post here once per week (or more IFF time permits) so the going may be slow as I write about various other topics that interest me from week to week. If you’re interested in learning more about something I write, or want me to speak more to a topic, please feel free to comment or contact me.

As usual, hold on to your hats, toupees, and cocktails.

*If you’re interested in references for these facts, contact me. I’m omitting them here for readability and brevity (in post-length and in time to write).

**Hopefully this also means you’ll be interested in reading MY thesis and publications when they come out – stay tuned!