November 30, 2004

Cool Quote...
I read this on Lily's blog:

"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened."
-Dr. Seuss (of Green Eggs and Ham fame)

November 29, 2004

Let it Snow...
Wohooo! It's snowing.
OK, so there isn't much, and it's only sticking to the grass a little bit, but at least there are a few flakes falling. Hopefully it'll be gone by tomorrow morning though. Driving in the slush/snow isn't too much fun.

November 28, 2004

Hoarfrost and a Cold...
Today was the first frost of the year, and it looked really cool. There was a huge spider's web between the trees that was covered with dew. It almost looked like there was a light dusting of snow.
And I'm getting sick, which sucks. I woke up yesterday with a sore throat, and my nose was dripping all day. I popped as many pills as I could (multi-vitamin, vitamin B, E, zinc, etc.), and I ate a bunch of oranges. Not to mention that I've tried to get a lot of sleep. I was barely awake for 12 hours yesterday, and slept almost the whole night through.
I have to try to stay awake to study for a biochemistry test I've got tomorrow. Some classes are finished (last lecture last Tuesday), and some will go until next Monday. Then the exams start, and I start to panic as I realise I know nothing about plants, biochemical pathways, or molecular interactions between expressed genes relating to ageing, memory, and the senses.

November 26, 2004

The Apprentice...
My other favourite TV show is The Apprentice, with Donald Trump (you know, that really rich American guy). The show is basically a filmed, several week job interview. The winner of the show will get to run one of Donald Trump's companies. Each week, the remaining contestants have to do a challenge, in two teams, and the loosing team has to go to the boardroom where one (or two) of them are fired.
Last night's episode had a major cat fight in the boardroom, with the guy ending up getting fired.

November 25, 2004

Dentist Visit...
I had my first visit to the dentist in about 14 months. I didn't go in France, and I couldn't go when I first came back because I wasn't covered by my dad's extended health plan until I was back in school. I'm happy to say I have no cavities (never had one either!), and that my gums are not too badly inflamed, which would be expected after 14 months of no dental care.
What was cool though was that the hygenist is a franco-ontarienne (from a French-speaking part of Ontario). So we spoke in French the whole time, until the dentist came in. I have to admit that it was nice to speak in French again, and know that I haven't forgotten too much. It was kind of cool to hear the Québec accent again.
However, because my gums on the bottom are very thin (I had a gum graft way back when, but they're still thin), the dentist said that I should think about getting one of those sonic toothbrushes. I can't wait until Santa gets me a toothbrush!!

November 24, 2004

That crazy country...
I think you know what one I'm talking about (the US).
Canadian lumber companies have paid over $3 billion US ($4.5 billion Canadian) in tarifs, despite the so-called North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), to the States. Among other things, these tarifs put hundreds, and maybe thousands, of people in my province out of work.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) sided with Canada in that it was unfair, and said that the Canadian companies should get back most of their money. However, the US doesn't want to give the money back. So now Canada is thinking about starting a trade war with the States. I'm all for getting the money back, but is starting a trade war with America the best thing to do???

November 23, 2004

Hydroponics, Part II...
If you remember way back when, I had started a hydroponics experiment for my Plant Physiology and Anatomy course. I grew a bean plant in a hydroponic environment with all the nutrients except nitrogen, to see how that would affect the plant and its growth.
Today was the last day of the experiment, and I'm happy to report that my plant looks pathetic. I'm happy, because that's what's supposed to happen, as nitrogen is essential for plant growth (it's in DNA, protein, lipids, etc.).
The best part though was that the lab was supposed to be a formal write up (i.e. lots of researching through journals to find an obscure piece of data), but instead the prof decided to give us a 2% bonus quiz testing on our ability to tell one type of deficiency from another (nitrogen, sulphur, potassium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, calcium). Then we talked about the plants. No formal write up!!

November 22, 2004

Course Selection...
I registered for next semester's courses last week, and I'm taking (drumroll please...):
Evolution - a fourth year biology course about, what else, evolution.
Developmental - a third year biology course about biological development, from egg to old age.
French Composition - a second year French composition course. Not too exciting, just a lot of writing.
French Conversation - third year French conversation course. A lot of talking and presentations I think. We might have to learn the international phonetic alphabet as well.
French and Québécois Cinema - a third year course, about French cinema. I think it'll be the most interesting course, but that depends on the type of movies we watch.

November 21, 2004

Bowling for Columbine...
After being asked many times in France if I had seen "Bowling for Columbine" and if it was true that all Canadians don't lock their doors, I finally watched the movie by Michael Moore (after working on my term paper most of the day). It's the movie that Moore did before Fahrenheit 9/11 (which I also saw, and thought was good too).
It was mainly about gun violence in America, and the tragedy that happened at Columbine High School in Colorado. There wasn't really anything new in the movie that I haven't heard or seen before, but it was interesting to see it all put together. The higher gun violence rate in the US, the lack of medicare, the NRA (National Riffle Association), and the massacre at Columbine.
When the documentary got to the part about the shootings at Columbine, I remembered a film that I watched in France called "Elephant". It's a film that is based on the shootings, yet follows both the killers, and some of the students in the school that get killed. It's not a happy movie, but it's very moving.

November 20, 2004

It's that time of year, when you've got tonnes of stuff to do. Midterms (had my last one yesterday), essays, and finals coming up too soon.
My weekend excitement consists of writing an 8-10 page research essay about the 3D structure of GFP (green fluorescent protein).
This is a 3D view of the protein in a dimer form, showing the atoms, and their temperature (blue means they move very little, and red means they can move a lot).

It's actually a cool (yah, I'm a nerd) protein that takes blue and UV light, and converts it into a fluorescing green colour (the jellyfish in the photo are docotored on computer, they only emit a faint glow in vivo.)
They can attach the protein to other proteins or molecules in the cell, and find out where in the organism that protein is expressed, how it moves, at what concentrations it's expressed etc. Because it's pH sensitive, they can also use it to roughly measure the pH of certain solutions, or cellular environments.

November 18, 2004

Grilled Cheese...
I don't mind grilled cheese, but would I ever pay a couple of thousand dollars for one? NO, even if it has the image of the Virgin Mary in it, and is ten years old. Believe it or not, but someone has put half a grilled cheese that supposedly has the image of the Virgin Mary on it, and is ten years old, on EBay. The thing is selling for at least $18,750 US. Some people are just crazy insane. If you're interested, you can bid until November 22, 2004 at 17:22:07 PST.
As a joke, many people have put replicas, t-shirts, and all sorts of other things bearing the image of the "Virgin Mary grilled cheese" on EBay.

November 17, 2004

Amazing Race 6...
I'm hooked again. I love the Amazing Race show. Last night was the season premiere of the 6th season. The teams started out in Chicago, and finished their first leg of the race at the Blue Lagoon in Iceland. The show is basically teams that have to travel around the world, doing challenges. They only have a certain amount of money for each leg of the race (the flights are paid for), and the last team to arrive at each "pitstop", the end of that leg of the race, is eliminated. The winning team receives $1,000,000 US.

November 16, 2004

French Exam...
Two weeks ago I took the final exam for the French course that I'm challenging. Instead of taking the course this semester, and doing all of the homework and assignments that go along with it, I decided to just write the midterm and final exams, and base 100% of my mark on them. I got my mark back, and I got an A in the course.
I had to pay almost the full tuition amount to challenge the course, but at least I didn't have to sit through the lectures, and do all those grammar exercises.

November 15, 2004

The Storm...
Last night there was a horrible storm here, with tonnes (literally) of rain, and lots of wind that blew everything around in the backyard. It also knocked out the power sometime around 5:30 A.M. You don't really realise how much you depend on electricity, until you don't have any. But thank goodness that the hot water heater is natural gas powered! Even though the house was cold, I could have a hot shower before school.
Around noon, the sun came out and the sky turned a glorious blue colour. It was really amazing after the torrential downpour we had last night. But what was even cooler was looking south-east, and seeing the dark black clouds rolling into the tree covered mountains.

November 14, 2004

A Night on the Town...
Last night I went into Burnaby with Marlin to meet up with Jane and Julia, and from there we headed into Vancouver on the SkyTrain. As we were walking along, this lady came up and gave us all these VIP cards to get into The Plaza, where were planning on going anyway. But first, Jane, Julia and I had drinks at a cool little bar on Granville Street, with nice, big, comfy leather chairs.
We walked back up Granville, and got in line at the club. After an hour of waiting, a few bums wanting smokes or spare change, and two guys from Mexico trying to cut into line in front of us, we got tired of waiting. So, Jane and Julia went up and talked to the bouncer, and got him to let us in (thereby saving us another 20 minutes or so in line). It never hurts to be in town with pretty girls :)
It turned out that the VIP cards meant that we didn't have to pay cover (sweet! -saved 10 bucks). Unfortunately, we only had about an hour in the club before we had to head back to catch the last SkyTrain. But, it was fun while it lasted.
Sorry for Bush...
I just saw an interesting clip on the news. A website, called Sorry Everybody has started up in the States, and people from all across the country are sending in photos of themselves holding up signs apologizing for Bush getting re-elected. A few of the signs read:
"Dear World, I would like to apologize on behalf of my country."

"Half of Ohio is really, really sorry. Don't hate us."

"Dear World, Sorry, I never knew that 51 percent of us could be so blind."

Another site has been opened up called Not Sorry Everybody which is totally pro-Bush people who are proud that Bush won the election.

November 12, 2004

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas...
Um, wait a minute. Isn't Christmas another 6 weeks away? American Thanksgiving hasn't even happened yet? It's still 10 degrees and sunny?
Well, that doesn't matter because my house has been decorated for Christmas, outside lights, mini-Christmas trees, garland and all. The only thing missing is the huge (9 or so feet) Christmas tree in the front window. I love Christmas, but it's a bit early. I still have one more midterm to write!

November 11, 2004

Remembrance Day...
It's November 11th today.
I spent most of the morning watching the ceremonies, and wreath-layings on TV. I've worn my poppy for the last week, and remembered those many men who died for our freedom all those years ago. Attending the Vimy Ridge memorial service, and seeing thousands of tombstones in France and Belgium last year was very sobering. It's something I'll never forget.
Lest we forget...

November 10, 2004

Lait de Poule...
Yup, it's that time of year again. Hen's milk is hitting the grocery store shelves! My mom picked up a litre on Monday, and I had my first glass in almost two years. It was better than I remembered.
In case you're not up-to-date with your Quebecois French, "Lait de Poule" is their translation of eggnog. Mmmmmmm...

November 06, 2004

Enough US Elections...
I'm going to try to stop ragging on the US election.
So, what else is new? I wrote the final exam for the French course that I'm challenging, and I think it went fairly well. We'll see in a week or two.
This Thursday is Remembrance Day, which means no school.
On top of tutoring, I'm working a bit at my old, summer office job.
Today I'm heading into the Vancouver area with Miko to visit Jane and Julia, whom neither of us has seen in two or three years.
Um, it's raining now, although it was sunny earlier this week. Yah, I guess that's all in my boring life.

November 05, 2004

Here goes nothing...
I'm going to try to post two pics that I found. Hopefully they work. Let me know if you can see them or not.

This is from a British paper, the Daily Mirror. I think that the cover says it all. If you can't see the pic, here's a link.

Yah, pretty self-explanatory. Here's a link if you can't see it.
Here I Go Again...
Here's another little rant for you. I found an interesting article from the International Herald Tribune which talked about what the international observers said about the US elections.
Here's a quick summary of the article: The observers said they had less access to polls than in Kazakhstan, that the electronic voting had fewer fail-safes than in Venezuela, that the ballots were not so simple as in the Republic of Georgia and that no other country had such a complex national election system. Konrad Olszewski, an OSCE election observer stationed in Miami, said: "To be honest, monitoring elections in Serbia a few months ago was much simpler."
How sad is that?
Now I'll start on the US Patriot Act.
Basically, it's a law enacted by Bush that allows the US government to look into anyone's medical, financial, or any other type of records that they want, without probable cause, whenever they want. I wouldn't really care (OK I would, but not as much) except for the fact that this law can extend into Canada. Bascially, the US can force an American company that has a branch in Canada to surrender any information that it has, on Canadians or Americans. Scary eh??
The province where I live has out-sourced it's medical records to an American company. I won't say any more.

November 03, 2004

Kerry Concedes...
Unfortunately I just heard that John Kerry conceded the American election to George Dubbya Bush a few minutes ago. I was hoping that Kerry would win, although expecting Bush to win.
It's interesting to see that the industrial North (and California) voted for Kerry, while the rural South voted Bush. Not surprising, but interesting. Take Washington State for example (the one just below where I live). The west of the state voted Kerry, while the east voted Bush (yet the whole state went to Kerry). Seattle and its suburbs are in the west, while potato fields are in the east. Hmmmmm, rednecks?? (Did I actually write that?)
Did you know that the Democrats and Republicans spent over $2 billion (US) combined on the election?? Imagine what that money could do if it was put towards health care, education, or other useful things in the States. There was about $600 million (US) spent on TV and radio advertising alone!
The American electoral system needs to be reformed. The whole Electoral College thing doesn't really make sense. Even though Bush won 51% of Ohio, all 20 Electoral College votes go to Bush. Granted that Bush probably won the popular vote. But last election Gore won the popular vote by over 300,000 votes, yet he lost the presidency due to the Electoral College. Lets not mention the previsional ballots, which may or may not be counted, or the fact that people lined up for over 5 hours to vote (in one precinct, people were still voting at 11:15 P.M.!).

November 01, 2004

American Flu Shots...
There's a flu shot crisis in America. Basically, they don't have enough because a bunch of the vaccines had to be thrown out. Now a lot of Americans are panicking, and comming up to Canada to get their flu shot. That sounds great if you live in Texas, and decide to drive for two days to cross the border.
But what about those Canadians who have been turned away because the flu shot clinics want to make money from the Americans, who are willing to pay big bucks to get vaccinated.
It's gotten so pathetic that there are "flu-cruises" from the States (i.e. San Francisco and Seattle) to Canada. I just shake my head...