insatiable curiosity

Sleeping Midnight

My blog name ‘dilettante’ and tagline ‘The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.’ has been here from inception.

Not knowing what I wanted to blog about, I decided to write about what I was learning, interested in, or discovering at the time.

I have an insatiable curiosity and love of learning. Which is why I thought of ‘dilettante’. I wouldn’t say that I dabble, as I take my pursuit of curiosity very seriously, but once I’ve ‘figured something out’, I’m ready to move on to the next step in life-long learning. However, the crossover of art and science I find is the most intriguing.

The tagline was found in an email sig, and I thought that it was attributed to Dorothy Parker. But now I don’t know whether it was Ellen Parr and or Eleanor Roosevelt. Not sure how to find the definitive answer to that one.

I’m still happy to be a dilettante and my curiosity is still somewhat insatiable.


new theme

Day 5 of the Zero to Hero Blogging Challenge was to try three new themes, including one I would never think of using.

Although the assignment did not include writing today, I wanted to record here for future reference the themes that I previewed using Appearance ->Themes from the Dashboard.

I took snapshots, as I couldn’t find them all in the Theme Showcase.

Dilettante as White as MilkThe original theme was White as Milk, which I chose because it was easy to read. The left panel included widgets that I used to browse and search my blog, and links to other blogs and websites that I regularly visited.

My original requirements were the same when looking for a new theme, that is, easy to read and access archived posts. However, one of the adjustments that I will make is to create a page for my Blogroll, as it was too long for many of the newer themes, and also I now have the WordPress Reader.

Dilettante as VisualI changed my theme to Visual. It is a three-column layout, but I like that it accommodates posts with and without images. Once you click on a post or page, the right-navigation menu includes all the widgets that I am used to. However, many of these are redundant now so I will work to reduce and refresh these as time goes on.

Dilettante as ChalkboardOther themes that I considered were Chalkboard and Quentin. It was difficult to choose between Visual and Chalkboard. I liked Chalkboard because it has a very similar layout to White as Milk, just more whimsical. But I went with Visual this time, as I wanted to play with the three-column layout.

Dilettante as QuentinThe Quentin theme originally appealed because of the colour and design elements that made my think of ‘The Olde Curiosity Shoppe’. But I decided that other than this, it was pretty much the same as White as Milk.

I can see that I will need to edit some of my previous posts to fit into the three-column width of the front page, but I’ll figure this out as I go.

healthy comparisons

I was fortunate to be able to participate in the CSIRO Online Diet Study and have access to many of the resources available from the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet (TWD). I say fortunate, because after the completion of the study, participants including myself now have continued access to these resources until June 2011.

I chose to participate as I was already a waning member of SparkPeople. I wondered if the CSIRO Online Diet Study would compare favourably with SparkPeople with the extra benefit of including more local (as in Australian) content.

Although the CSIRO Online Diet Study had the usual hiccups of a new website and the user experience is rather awkward, I do prefer the unadorned simple tools. SparkPeople is a very rich or complicated web site, with many tools and resources that sometimes become overwhelming.

I’m sure the study will show that participation online achieves better results in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. But how much, how little, or what, I think will be difficult to interpret. It appears, that if you participate, you continue to progress. Whether this is eating healthily, exercising regularly, or writing a blog post.

Participation and interacting with others that share similar goals I think is one part of the answer, and being able to do it online too is an added bonus.

2010 in review

I thought at the time that participating in Blog Action Day 2010 was a way of starting to again regularly write for my family and friends that I don’t often get to see. However, there was only that one new post to this blog last year.

Having just been through my diary, started my 2011 diary, and put up our 2011 calendar I thought I would reflect on 2010 and attempt to start afresh.

In January, our photovoltaic system was installed. As of today it will have been installed a year, and the novelty of looking at the meter spinning backwards has still not worn off.

In February, H and I went to Sydney with Mam, Richard and UC. This package was to take in the Edinburgh Military Tattoo – A Salute to Australia which was a very generous present from Mam and Richard. I also fitted in a cruise of Sydney Harbour, a job interview, and a visit to the Rupert Bunny exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW.

February was also the Festival 10. Although we only went to eight events, we attended almost all of the festival films.

In March, I was able to persuade H to go to salsa dance classes at the Kings St Arts Centre and we continued right up until the end of August.

I bumped into April, literally. Fortunately, CT scans and time have shown that I have no lasting effects from running into the stairwell in the University Guild, except for giving the stairwell a wide berth when making my way to The Co-op Bookshop or Talking Heads hairdressers.

In May, Shelby had a stroke. She is still with us, but continues to have days when she walks in a curve or puts her head on the side giving us what we have come to recognise as ‘that look’.

In June, we started to go to QiYoga at the hall just down the street.

Started a master’s degree in July, but withdrew in August with the intention of starting again in semester one in 2011 instead.

At the end of August, H set out with the Flying Cyclist as a crew member to support the record attempt to cycle from Perth to Sydney in under eight days.

In November, Midnight was put to sleep as attempts to treat a severe UTI were unsuccessful and she stopped eating and drinking.

Throughout the year I continued to make weekly menu plans and took my shopping list to the Manning Farmer’s Market.

I’m not one for New Year resolutions, but 2011 is ringing in some changes so I feel that I will need to set some goals. Plans so as to focus on what I want to do and not overscheduling to allow for what does actually happen (when you don’t plan at all).

deciding on a research topic

First week of uni and keen to get stuck into the Science Communication – Specialist Research Topics (COMM7402) unit. I’m looking forward to lots of juicy reading of science communication literature in a particular research field. And there comes the crunch.

The prospect of researching the scientific literature, presenting a seminar and writing a literature review does not phase me, but deciding on a topic in which I’m interested that is well documented in peer-reviewed journals seems to be the most difficult.

At the moment I’m attempting to narrow my interests by revisiting some ideas and thoughts that others have expressed online with regard to science communication, how science and technology is communicated, and by whom:

  • Science blogger v. blogging scientist, Clastic Detritus blog
  • The subtitle to FemaleScienceProfessor blog reads: “Women professors in the physical sciences: a few. Women professors in the physical sciences at research universities: even fewer. Women full professors in physical sciences at research universities, especially mine: infinitesimal. But we exist..”
  • The comments that follow the An Early Look at The Future of Science Journalism post that consider science article publishers and where the readers are.
  • Using a self reflective journal to enhance science communication showed that “The use of self-evaluation through reflective journals was found to enhance the effectiveness of tutoring. Implications for developing the ‘human side’ of science will be discussed, and the appropriateness of the course to develop these often under-represented aspects of science.” Is this a style that scientists and researchers can apply when blogging?
  • In Tim Dunlop’s article, If you build it they will come: Blogging and the new citizenship” exploring the idea whether bloggers are the new public intellectuals.
  • Google to Host Terabytes of Open-Source Science Data
  • An increasing number of articles being published in open access journals and repositories, and some organisations mandating open access publication.
  • Research Blogging, a blog that shares and discusses peer-reviewed articles.
  • Thanks to YouTube, Professors Are Finding New Audiences
  • Science in Second Life, for example SciLands to assist in the public understanding of science.
  • National Library of Medicine providing guidelines to cite a blog.
  • Russell Jacoby on Counterpoint, ABC (18 Feb 2008) and his article in the Chronicle Review, Big Brains, Small Impact. Refers to blogs as “private journals with megaphones” and concerned with why public intellectuals are disappearing.

    “Professionalization and academization appeared to be the reason. Younger intellectuals were retreating into specialized and cloistered environments.”


    “The new thinkers became academic — not public — intellectuals, with little purchase outside professional circles. While a book by Edmund Wilson could be read with pleasure by an educated citizen, a volume by an academic luminary such as Homi K. Bhabha or Fredric Jameson would give him or her a headache.”

  • Publishing in peer-reviewed papers in recognised journals is stated as the ‘gold standard’ if scientists and researchers wish to succeed as an academic. Little credence is given to writing on the web, yet as one PhD candidate said, she would not have found another researcher in her very specialised field if she had not blogged about her research.
  • Scientists that communicate science well for it to even become popular, have their science questioned, for example, Susan Greenfield who has a well established reputation for public communication.

week 4 – what brought you here?

I had so much fun searching for the keywords that brought people to dilettante last week, that I’m going to pursue this activity some more.

how to shower in a claw food bathtub
I actually can’t remember, except that the shower head was not self-supporting as it was attached to a wall. But I do remember not enjoying showers in the clawfoot bath as the shower curtain used to always be blown in against you. On hot days this was just annoying, but on cold days it was awful especially when it continued to cling. We now have a corner spa bath and have tiled the two walls so that a shower curtain is not necessary.

i want to feel I`m alive
This is the title song in the film As it is in Heaven. We saw this film last summer as part of the Perth International Arts Festival (PIAF). It is still my favourite film. Reading this post again almost a year later, I see that if I want to link I have to get better at finding those links that will persist. It appears that the PIAF is particularly bothersome about not wanting to retain or archive their programmes.

Found my beginning entry to our History of Science Tour with Robyn Williams. I certainly tagged this post correctly – ‘Unfinished Objects’. This means that I have had the first pack of photographs sitting on my desk ready to be scanned since April 2007.

lemon balm drug sniffing dogs
I certainly mentioned lemon balm and drug sniffer dogs, but in two different posts within five days of each other. Possibly this is an anomaly of displaying an number of posts on the one page so the indexed search terms are for concatenated unrelated posts. I found by searching for the terms myself than lemon balm is antibacterial, antiviral and calming. It can also be used to repel mosquitoes.

steampunk influenced quilts
These search terms were inspiring and led me to crescentwench and other Etsy sellers influenced by steampunk. My influences were simply mechanical with brass and black powdercoat. I will finish my quilts, but I’m not sure if the colours and designs are ones that I wish to keep. But I’ll wait until I have some more renovated rooms and completed quilts before I think about it anymore.

sweet chilli sauce
I’ve made one batch, provided the butcher with a tray of chilli, and continue to use chilli from the garden for our meals (warm prawn and mint salad, Thai chicken and mint salad). The sauce recipe that I used provided a smooth jam-like texture which people have commented on, so that I would like to try one that is a bit more chunky.

how to twist wires together
I guess it depends on the purpose, but searching for this myself I didn’t realise there was so much more to twisting wires.

get off my garden
I’m not sure if people were looking for the specific product or just reaching out in exasperation as I did. Currently, I’m cultivating sufficient piss off plants for a mass planting.

Ixodes ricinus
This search term is a puzzle, but it may have appeared in the included RSS feeds. I thought that I had wrote about the ticks that were at Dryandra, but I don’t think they were these ones as we became rather blase by the time we became accustomed to frequent tick checks and removal thereof.

Pictures of baby termites
I found the University of Hawaii Termite Project had the best pictures.

week 3 – what brought you here?

Thanks to I can view the search terms some people use that brings them here. Often, the key words or phrases are perfectly explanatory and I know immediately why you are here, and I may have something to offer in your quest. But sometimes, I know that dilettante is not for you or what people search for to end up at dilettante is so bizarre that I do a Google myself to see why they have have ended up here. I’m also curious 🙂

Do spiders live in mango pips?
I wonder if you found the answer in between growing mango trees and red backed spiders?

Pomegranate Fruit

I know spiders live in the ends of pomegranate fruits, so I will be careful while I nuture these, but I’m also having some success with sprouting mango pips and would prefer that there were no eight legged surprises.

walking bathtub
Not sure whether you meant ‘walking bathtub’ or a ‘walk-in bathtub’. Glenda Rolle’s walking bathtub was intriguing and I did not know that there were baths with doors and with so many choices. I guess it’s something to think about when I can’t get my leg over. From a quick glance, I’m not sure how well the door seals are going to last as I always have bubbles in my bath. I think the only bathtub I have talked about is a suggested conversion.

best hacking accounts
I know these people would have not found what they are looking for here as they have confused what I understand hacking to mean with cracking. I’m with Stallman on this one.

Steve Irwin
When I did a search for ‘Steve Irwin’ today, Google listed 3,410,000 results. Out of all of them, I’m really puzzled why people follow up two blog articles with creative titles such as uni week 03 and uni week 04. Why not Interview with Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin or ‘That sort of self-delusion is what it takes to be a real Aussie larrikin’?

I wish I knew what people were looking for specifically. I know I was looking for a reputable source of the quote “If you can’t explain it to the charlady, you don’t know anything about it.” attributed to Ernest Rutherford. But I can mention that Rutherford’s Den in Christchurch, New Zealand is worth a visit if you are interested in the man and his work. This is where I first heard the quote that I included in the UWA Expo 2007 window display.

houses for renovation north west
I guess I’m wondering north west of where. Unfortunately, I think my north west is probably not helpful.

Drank away her memory
Reads like a song lyric. But it’s not here. If I add ‘dilettante’ to the search terms, I see how we have arrived. I guess the required hint is to put apostrophes (‘ or “) around what you know is a lyric or phrase that you are looking for.

The Convenient Solution
Apparently, there is one.

“Duraid ibn al Simma” + Egypt
This is one search that leads to an answer that you probably don’t want to read. I too went looking for the source, to find that ‘there is no Egyptologist called Dr Al Simma’.

what is in lupin mulch
My guess is lupin stuff, without hopefully the peas. But then again, you could then grow your own mulch?