October 30, 2004

Happy Halloween!
(or Happy Harvest Festival if you think Halloween is from the Devil, and you're going to Hell if you celebrate it.)

October 29, 2004

Hell Week...
Well, it's been a crazy week. Three midterms (molecular biology -we had to find cures to specific types of cancer, biochemistry -a mash of stuff, and plant anatomy and physiology), and a test (statistics -an easy course). The first two midterms went OK, but the plants one was awful. We were told by the prof, "memorise the Calvin Cycle, and the Z scheme", neither of which were on the midterm. So, I waste my time studying these diagrams, then she tests us on other stuff, such as labelling cells in plant stems and roots, water potential, and a bunch of other crap.
But hey, it's all over, and I don't have anything to do this weekend!

October 26, 2004

Today I probably did the most useful biology lab that I will ever do (PCR, Southern blots, salmon sperm DNA analysis are interesting, but not too practical). We started a hydroponics lab, growing plants in different nutrient solutions to see how the plants will grow in solutions lacking a certain nutrient (mine was nitrogen).
Now why would hydroponics be useful you ask? Why grow the plants in water, and not just in soil? Well, you probably haven't lived on the West Coast. This side of Canada is the pot (marijuana) growing capital of the country, and regularily wins the Marijuana Award (or whatever they call it) in Amsterdam. Now I've never smoked pot, nor have I ever grown it. BUT, if I get really poor one day I'll have some hydroponics experience, and be able to make lots of money (assuming I don't get caught, unless the legalize marijuana).

October 25, 2004

I've spent a few hours working at my old summer office job last week (and this week, and next week). The one difference I've noticed since the summer? They now play muzak in the office. Not music, but muzak. You know the kind; the music they play while you wait in any office, and it's often the stuff that you can't stand for more than 10 minutes. You know, that Love Theme from The Titanic played on a squeaky saxophone but a 5 year old.
I swear that there must be a CD compilation called "Office Classics" available in volumes 1 through 2784 (next month's instalment "Office Classics 2785: Ode to the stapler").

October 22, 2004

Canadian Poppy Coins...
The Canadian Mint has issue a world first. They're issuing quarters that have a red poppy on them. Not just the imprint of a poppy, but red colour on the imprint of the poppy. They're in memory of the soldiers that died in the First and Second World Wars, and you can get them at Tim Horton's (where my sister just got a job by the way!).
In Canada and Britain (and maybe in America too, does anyone know?), we wear red poppies around the 11th of November to remember the fallen soldiers who died fighting for freedom.
There's a famous poem by John McCrae, who was a Canadian soldier in the First World War:
In Flanders fields the poppies grow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

John McCrae died in the war, and is buried in Belgium.

October 21, 2004

Illegal Cuban Cigars...
If you're an American, don't consume Cuban products anywhere in the world, or else you could be imprisoned for 10 years, or fined $250,000 (US). Now this is coming from the country that fought to make Iraq a "free and democratic" country. Ha! is about all I can say.
A lot of Americans have come across the border to Vancouver to buy Cuban cigars, which are illegal in the States (thanks to America's anti-Castro foreign policy). Before, they just weren't allowed to cross back into the States with them, now they can't even smoke them here.
You can check out a site run by the American government, or a blog by an American.

October 20, 2004

Stolen Bag...
My Physiology and Anatomy of Plant prof had her bag stolen out of her car over the weekend. Guess what the lucky thieves got as a reward for all their hard work of breaking into her car?
They made off with lecture notes an overheads for a lecture on photosynthesis, student marks for a few labs on C3 and C4 plants, and unmarked first year lab reports. Exciting stuff, eh? I bet they were disappointed with that loot!

October 18, 2004

Here's a weird new story for you. A couple of thousand women in South Africa are married, and don't even know it.
Corrupt officials in South Africa are "marrying" women off to foreign men, to allow the men to stay in the country. The women don't even know that they have been married! The men pay as little as $30 ($20 US), and they can have a South African wife.

October 15, 2004

Your Political Leanings...
Check out your political leanings at PoliticalCompass.org. They also do a good job explaining the political landscape, from economic left to right, and social libertarian and authoritarian.
I did the little survey thing, and here's how I turned out:
Economic Left/Right: -3.00
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -2.97
Basically, this means that I'm in the same quadrant as Gandhi, Mozart, the Dalai Lama, and Beethoven.

October 13, 2004

Lawyer Story...
I don't know if this is true or not, but that's not the point. It's funny any way you look at it.

A Charlotte, NC, lawyer purchased a box of very rare and expensive cigars, then insured them against fire among other things. Within a month having smoked his entire stockpile of these great cigars and without yet having made even his first premium payment on the policy, the lawyer filed claim against the insurance company.
In his claim, the lawyer stated the cigars were lost "in a series of small fires." The insurance company refused to pay, citing the obvious reason: that the man had consumed the cigars in the normal fashion. The lawyer sued... and won!

In delivering the ruling the judge agreed with the insurance company that the claim was frivolous. The Judge stated nevertheless,that the lawyer held a policy from the company in which it had warranted that the cigars were insurable and also guaranteed that it would insure them against fire, without defining what is considered to be unacceptable fire," and was obligated to pay the claim. Rather than endure lengthy and costly appeal process, the insurance company accepted the ruling and paid $15,000.00 to the lawyer for his loss of the rare cigars lost in the "fires."


After the lawyer cashed the check, the insurance company had him arrested on 24 counts of ARSON!!!!
With his own insurance claim and testimony from the previous case being used against him. The lawyer was convicted of intentionally burning his insured property and was sentenced to 24 months in jail and a $24,000.00 fine.

October 10, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving...
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! If you're not Canadian, you'll probably wonder why I'm wishing you a happy thanksgiving a month early. In Canada it's in October, but in the States it's in November.
We're not having the traditional turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing and all that good stuff this weekend though. We'll be having it next Saturday with the cousins (OK, so only one will actually be able to make it out), and the aunts and uncles, and my grandparents. I can't wait for the turkey :)

October 07, 2004

Not so Challenging...
In case you don't know, I'm challening a French course at my uni right now. Basically, all I have to do is write the midterm and final, and then I get a grade for the course. It's an easy course really, so I didn't study for the midterm I took today. The exam was fairly easy, but took a long time (almost 2 hours). Now I just have to write the final, then take 6 more French courses, and I've got my French minor taken care of.
Topple the Government...
It's scary to think that the Canadian government has been sitting for less than a week since the June election, and they may topple over the throne speech. The Bloc Quebecois (who want to separate Quebec from Canada) want to ammend the Throne Speech, and the Liberal government said they will consider this a confidence vote. If it does go to vote, the Canadian government could fall (the Liberals are a minority government), and we could all go back to the polling stations in a few months.

October 05, 2004

Canada Chooses John Kerry...
A recent survey by Ipsos-Reid shows that a full 60% of Canadians support John Kerry for the American presidentship, while only 22% of Canadians support George W. Bush.
Surprise?? No, not really.

October 04, 2004

Oh le soleil!
It's been incredibly nice here over the past two weeks. Sunny and warm every day. But they're predicting rain for the next week. While the sun has been wonderful, it makes studying hard. I try to sit outside to do my readings, but it doesn't work to well. My mind wanders, and I stare off at the blue sky, mountains, or green trees.
I was reading a rather uninspiring scientific journal article (The Rb/E2F pathway: expanding roles and emerging paradigms) over the weekend out in the sun. My eyelids started drooping, and I found that I had read the whole paragraph, without reading a word. (Which is different from not understanding what I've read, because that happens all the time.) No matter how hard I tried to stay concentrated, I just couldn't. Bloody . Why can't they make the journal articles more snazzy. You know, something where you could actually understand the sentence. Try to figure this one out; "Mga contains two DNA-binding protein interaction motifs, a bHLHZip domain related to that present in Myc, Max, Mad, and Mnt, and a T domain, which facilitates binding to large recogntion elements that are bound by the Brachyury family of transcription factors, which play an essential role in cell specification." Yah, now you know what I mean. Every other sentence reads like that one or worse.
Time to hit the books again...

October 03, 2004

Life holds one great but quite commonplace mystery. Though shared by each of us and know to all, it seldom rates a second thought. That mystery, which most of us take for granted and never think twice about, is time.
Calendars and clocks exist to measure time, but that signifies little because we all know that an hour can seem an eternity or pass in a flash, depending on how we spend it.
Time is life itself, and life resides in the human heart.
From "Momo" by Michael Ende.

October 01, 2004

Exams Bite...
The final exam schedule was posted at uni today, and my last exam (Physiology and Anatomy of Plants) is on December 20th, from 7-10 P.M. I can't believe that it's so late in the year, and so late at night. Stupid exams.
Speaking of exams, I'm writing the midterm French exam for the French course I'm challenging this Thursday. I'm not worried about it, since I got an A in the first half of the course, before I went to France. I figure that it will be easier after living and working in France.