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Clearly the woman to Frankie's right is pondering self-organized criticality in sandpiles.

Ah, JLP, this one is for the record books. Your best entry yet!

As for personal stories... well, there is a Mrs. Bad Astronomer, so the story has a happy ending. But there are some very rocky chapters. Remind me some day to regale you with how I blew my first chance to date Mrs. BA when, at a party, I lectured her on nephroid equations and their utility in modeling a shell of optically thin gas in a symmetric planetary nebula...

That's a corrollary to #1: Don't be a Didactic Know-It-All. :) I've seen many a scientist try this tactic in an attempt to impress a potential partner. I've never seen it work.... But I'm glad Mrs. BA gave you a second chance. Just because someone might be a bit socially inept at the first meeting, doesn't mean he or she isn't a wonderful person who would make an outstanding partner, given half a chance. Perhaps we can view this aspect as a means of weeding out the shallow and non-perceptive.

>Most women of my era consider Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack's character in the
>film) to be the archetypal Romantic Ideal; we still get teary remembering
>that scene where he holds up the boombox outside his true love's bedroom
>window, playing Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" in order to win her back.

Really? But didn't you find him a little weak-kneed when confronted with that hell bent paper boy who wanted "his two dollars!"? I always was dispointed he didn't show a little more gumption under pressure. He seemed a little spineless to me.

Loved Duckie though. And didn't Molly R.'s preternatural beauty just carry that flic? Shame we don't see much of her nowadays.

(am I getting these John Hughes-era movies confused here? The 80's were a blur)

Spineless? Lloyd? The amateur kickboxer who got his nose broken during a practice session and barely flinched? No, he was Tough, Yet Sensitive. :) He COULD have beaten up the paper boy but chose to exercise restraint. See how handy rationalization is? That's the power of the Romantic Archetype.

And yes, you're confusing "Say Anything" (not a John Hughes movie) with "Pretty in Pink." Kudos, though, for admiring Molly Ringwald's unusual beauty, which was very much against the prevailing tastes of the time (i.e., she wasn't petite, blonde, bubbly and cute -- the Britney Effect).

Just out of curiousity, do you have any Quebecois relatives living in the DC area? Guy I take Tae kwon Do with has your last name.

Oh, and I'll repeat my latest sentiment over on Chad's space:

I want my two dolloars!

Guy I know (yes, another physics geek from MIT) lost a girl because he gave her a cactus instead of roses. I thought it was a wonderful idea: the plant will live forever, every summer it grows beautiful and exotic flowers, you only have to water it once a season, etc. She didn't feel the same way.

Can we get points for **Grosse Pointe Blank** instead of **Say Anything**?

I don't have any immediate relatives in the area, but we Quebecois (former, in my family's case) are slowly taking over the country. :)

I think a cactus is a nice alternative to roses, so it doesn't speak well of the girl that she rejected Blake's friend because of it. And yes, I hereby declare that guys can substitute "Grosse Pointe Blank" for "Say Anything." I had no idea y'all had been so traumatized by lloyd Dobler. For a home run, make it a Cusack double feature: "Say Anything" followed by "GPB." Steer clear of "Being John Malkovich," though -- brilliantly edgy and disturbing, but definitely a mood killer.

"Flirt harder, I'm a physicist."

That is the BEST!!!

Love you avatars
Love your post, witty & enchanting
Must get closer to your bumper sticker
"Flirt harder - I'm Physical" lol!
Have a great day.

I take solace in thy assurance, Jennifer Ouellette, of the merit of "Grosse Pointe Blank". Now my heart can know that its judgment is vindicated. . . . (-:

Hmm... an "ask and you shall recieve" moment for me, huh? Annette at the beach anyway.

So Jennifer, you're telling me I can use this "internet" thing to find images of pretty girls? Interesting, I'll have to try that.

Dare I mention "High Fidelity"?

Granted, a better book than a movie, but a pretty good John Cusack movie all the same.

Steer clear of "Must Love Dogs" though.
No noticeable chemical reaction between Diane Lane and JC. Somebody shoulda thrown a catalyst in there, like Donne, Shakespeare's love sonnets, or a trip to Madrid (ha!).


"Somebody shoulda thrown a catalyst in there, like Donne, Shakespeare's love sonnets,"

Donne was a perfect reference for Cocktail Party Physics' forums. Can you imagine Cusack breaking out with:

"It suck'd me first, and now sucks thee,
And in this flea our two bloods mingled be."

If that doesn't bring out the romantic in a dog lover I don't know what would. Of course he spends the rest of the poem telling her that killing the flea will kill him, so a flea collar is a big no-no at that point.

Re 1: Reading body language is good, but I dispute your example. Seriously, why would one want a date that can not even appreciate it when base logical fallacies in his/her opinion are pointed out? Way to tiresome longterm.

For FH's sake, I hope the above comment is tongue-in-cheek. :) C'mon, be honest: is it really all that pleasant to have one's "logical fallacies" pointed out to one while making polite chit-chat at a party? Especially when alcohol is involved and one is perhaps not thinking entirely clearly? It's a bit unfair to therefore conclude that this person will ALWAYS be illogical, in the absence of further evidence to the contrary. Without reproducibility, the person's illogic might simply be an anomaly in the data. Many scientists have a weakness for didacticism and a deep-seated need to correct the mistakes of others. This is not always welcome, and they need to recognize this. Nobody likes a Didactic Know-It-All, per my corrollary to #1. How and when you choose to point out "base logical fallacies" in a romantic prospect can make all the difference. Why not bite your tongue until the actual first or second date, if base logic is such a sticking point? And if your Dream Date is someone who is simply aching to be edified by your far superior knowledge, who will thank you profusely for every minor correction you deign to present, who will be your loyal intellectual lapdog -- um, good luck with that. :)

"Loyal intellectual lapdog" sounds a little, um, kinky. Let's not go into that. . . .

What if your tastes in poetry run more toward Dorothy Parker than John Donne? Like "Unfortunate Coincidence":

"By the time you swear you're his,
Shivering and sighing,
And he vows his passion is
Infinite, undying,
Lady, make a note of this ---
One of you is lying."

I think Donne and Dorothy Parker would have got on famously. Donne would "Sweare/No where/ Lives a woman true and fayre":

"If thou find'st one, let me know,
Such a pilgrimage were sweet;
Yet do not, I would not go,
Though at next door we might meet;
Though she were true when you met her,
And last till you write your letter,
Yet she
Will be
False, ere I come, to two, or three."

I think poor Johnny Boy got burned at some point. :)

>Seriously, why would one want a date that can not even appreciate it when
>base logical fallacies in his/her opinion are pointed out? Way to tiresome

What about spelling/grammar 'fallacies'? Do we appreciate when those are pointed out? Or R those way 2 tiresum 2?

It's really amazing how much progress we humans have made in the romantic arena, just in the past few centuries. Just the other day, a young woman of my acquaintance pointed out a new and unforseen consequence of being on the receiving end of a break-up --- or more precisely, due to the e-mails she received because of it, and a novel way of raising revenue using what was artificial intelligence ten years ago.

This is why you should never trust your emotional issues to me: they just become verse.


"The sun's gone dark, and the moon won't shine.
He said he loved me but he needed space,
So now I'm swimming in a box of wine,
And GMail ads for self-help books
Are bursting in my face. . . ."

Why, with all the ever-accelerating advances in modern romance, I can't escape the feeling we're on the path to Singularity.

Did someone mention 'schlub'? At the risk of being both impertinent (it won't always happen--promise) as well as a little too self-revealing (neither will that), I would like to mention:

1. "'Me-all' live in a (proverbial) yellow 'schlubmarine'." (Sorry, Beatles.)

2. While the woman to Frankie's right may be pondering self-organized criticality in sandpiles, she does appear to be giving it 'the finger' (albeit half-heartedly).

3. Given that light from a star was found to be 'bent' by the sun's gravity on its way to the earth, would what would then seem to be the more 'direct' path be shorter?

Hey -- must say how much I enjoy the blog -- came here from a link on Daily Kos, and I now check it regularly. Though life steered me away from science as a profession, I'm still an avid "fan," if that makes any sense.

But on the "Bait and Switch" topic (and I concur, a highly entertaining post) -- as a shiny brand-spankin' new reader, I thought Jean-Luc was the Significant Male Other of our fine authoress ... only to deduce that in fact it's the lovely avatar that begins each post. Or was I right to start with? D'oh!

Bear with me -- I'm new. :)

(And like the others, I want my two dollars!)

Jen-Luc Piquant is (a) female (It's JEN, not JEAN), and (b) an alter ego of the authoress, not a male significant other. But I can see that it would be a bit confusing. She started out as a joke and took on a life and personality of her own, and the "voice" in the posts often fluctuates between me, Jen-Luc, and the royal "We" whenever our multiple personality disorder kicks in.

I seem to owe a lot of people two dollars. But unlike Lloyd, I'll fight to keep it. I won't fight fair either. :)

Thank you -- and my apologies again for my confusion. The nod toward Star Trek's great Gallic Captain led me down a mental path I shouldn't have followed. :)

And thank you for doing this blog -- I greatly enjoy it. I've often recalled the hours I spent as a pre-teen reading old used paperbacks -- out of print even then, I think -- of Issac Asimov's science essays on a wide variety of subjects. They were accessible, entertaining, and stirred a lifelong interest in science -- making science accessible is not easy, and you do it well. My appreciation to all of your multiple personalities.

I feel duty-bound to point out that the reference to "I want my two dollars" is from Better Off Dead, another classic 80s teen flick. And, I don't care if the movie is crap or not, if John Cusack (*sigh*) is in it I'll happily pay $9.50 to see it. I knew a woman in grad school who was writing her American Studies masters thesis on the "Lloyd Dobler Effect" (also the name of a band in the DC area), that women of a certain age will always be searching for a Lloyd Dobler (I can't believe they'll give you a degree for something like that). Anyway, I know some who are forever devoted to Jake Ryan, but I'm a Lloyd girl.... *sigh*

And J.O., love the blog, babe. And Jen-Luc, you're lucky the hot weather broke, or I was going to climb into cyber-space and rip that kicky beret right off your cyber-coif. I was over-heating just looking at you.

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    Physics Cocktails

    • Heavy G
      The perfect pick-me-up when gravity gets you down.
      2 oz Tequila
      2 oz Triple sec
      2 oz Rose's sweetened lime juice
      7-Up or Sprite
      Mix tequila, triple sec and lime juice in a shaker and pour into a margarita glass. (Salted rim and ice are optional.) Top off with 7-Up/Sprite and let the weight of the world lift off your shoulders.
    • Listening to the Drums of Feynman
      The perfect nightcap after a long day struggling with QED equations.
      1 oz dark rum
      1/2 oz light rum
      1 oz Tia Maria
      2 oz light cream
      Crushed ice
      1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
      In a shaker half-filled with ice, combine the dark and light rum, Tia Maria, and cream. Shake well. Strain into an old fashioned glass almost filled with crushed ice. Dust with the nutmeg, and serve. Bongos optional.
    • Combustible Edison
      Electrify your friends with amazing pyrotechnics!
      2 oz brandy
      1 oz Campari
      1 oz fresh lemon juice
      Combine Campari and lemon juice in shaker filled with cracked ice. Shake and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Heat brandy in chafing dish, then ignite and pour into glass. Cocktail Go BOOM! Plus, Fire = Pretty!
    • Hiroshima Bomber
      Dr. Strangelove's drink of choice.
      3/4 Triple sec
      1/4 oz Bailey's Irish Cream
      2-3 drops Grenadine
      Fill shot glass 3/4 with Triple Sec. Layer Bailey's on top. Drop Grenadine in center of shot; it should billow up like a mushroom cloud. Remember to "duck and cover."
    • Mad Scientist
      Any mad scientist will tell you that flames make drinking more fun. What good is science if no one gets hurt?
      1 oz Midori melon liqueur
      1-1/2 oz sour mix
      1 splash soda water
      151 proof rum
      Mix melon liqueur, sour mix and soda water with ice in shaker. Shake and strain into martini glass. Top with rum and ignite. Try to take over the world.
    • Laser Beam
      Warning: may result in amplified stimulated emission.
      1 oz Southern Comfort
      1/2 oz Amaretto
      1/2 oz sloe gin
      1/2 oz vodka
      1/2 oz Triple sec
      7 oz orange juice
      Combine all liquor in a full glass of ice. Shake well. Garnish with orange and cherry. Serve to attractive target of choice.
    • Quantum Theory
      Guaranteed to collapse your wave function:
      3/4 oz Rum
      1/2 oz Strega
      1/4 oz Grand Marnier
      2 oz Pineapple juice
      Fill with Sweet and sour
      Pour rum, strega and Grand Marnier into a collins glass. Add pineapple and fill with sweet and sour. Sip until all the day's super-positioned states disappear.
    • The Black Hole
      So called because after one of these, you have already passed the event horizon of inebriation.
      1 oz. Kahlua
      1 oz. vodka
      .5 oz. Cointreau or Triple Sec
      .5 oz. dark rum
      .5 oz. Amaretto
      Pour into an old-fashioned glass over (scant) ice. Stir gently. Watch time slow.