March 31, 2005
March 30, 2005
I can't say I'm overly surprised, eh. Whenever I'm abroad people tease me (in a nice way, usually) about being a proud Canadian. I tried a few of the other questions, and one led to "Do you like to vote?" Yes gave Russia, and No gave the USSR...
People make fun of you a lot, but they're stupid because you've got a much better life than they do. In fact, they're probably just jealous. You believe in crazy things like human rights and health care and not dying in the streets, and you end up securing these rights for yourself and others. If it weren't for your weird affection for ice hockey, you'd be the perfect person.
Take the Country Quiz
I came across this interesting article from Le Monde, a French newspaper. Apparently, the largest portion of the EU's agricultural money spent in the UK goes to the nobility, and not to actual farmers. HRH the Queen received 800 000 Euros ($1.2 million Canadian), while her son received half that amount. Most people received under 36 Euros ($48 Canadian), while poor Mr. Kelman received only 45 centimes (75 cents Canadian)!
March 29, 2005
Ugh, I'm getting sick. I woke up this morning (barely) with an aching body, a very sore throught, and the chills. Not good. Hopefully I'll make it through lectures today.
Only two weeks of classes left until exams...
March 28, 2005
Yesterday was the big Easter Dinner at our place. My grandparents, aunt and uncle, two cousins and their wives, and some family friends all came over for a big ham dinner (and it was a big ham too!). We also had a birthday cake for me (a bit early, but I'm not complaining), and a bunch of Easter chocolates.
As my new cousin-in-law (the wife of the cousin who's my age) was leaving, she said, "I should do a movie night with the kids" referring to my sister and myself. "The Kids"! I'm older than her husband, and only a few days younger than her. And my sister is graduating from high school. Ha.
Now it's time to get working on my term papers...
March 25, 2005
Happy Easter! I must say I'm glad that it's finally the long weekend.
Today I went into Richmond with my family to a big church service, as is tradition in our family. We then went for lunch with a bunch of family friends to White Spot (mmmmm, Monty mushroom burger). Then it was off to Richmond Centre (a mall), since they've got a whole lot more selection (and better/higher quality stores) than in my city. Now it's time to buckle down on my term paper: chloroplast evolution.
March 22, 2005
I met the lady today that wasted a lot of my money. I wanted to give her a piece of my mind, but politeness doesn't allow that. All through her presentation, I felt myself getting more and more tense. Everyone was so enthused, and I just wanted to tell them all how fucked up the thing is. But I couldn't.
Instead, I put on my happy face, and did the little song and dance that everyone expected. If you don't, they'll think that you're just being a sourpuss, and spoil-sport. After all, isn't it the pinnacle of civilization? Wouldn't they be surprised if they only knew!
But no, my talk stayed balanced, and fair. Probably a little too fair for what happened. Sometimes I just want to rage.
Keep the rage bottled up (you don't want them to think you're a lunatic). Don't express emotion. Keep a stiff upper lip.
Don't talk about it...
March 21, 2005
No, I haven't been skydiving, although I'd like to.
Today was the AGM (annual general meeting) of BOSS (the science student association at my uni - Bunch of Science Students). We've got something like $1000 to spend, so I suggested that they semi-fund a skydiving excursion with the money. Alas, it was with little success. Instead, we're heading to the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle near the end of April. I'm not complaining, but I think the skydiving would be a lot more fun.
March 19, 2005
I got an email from Ottawa on Thursday, with info about them buying me a return plant ticket. It looks like I'll be flying out Friday April 29th, or Saturday the 30th.
I also got a big packet of info in the mail from Ottawa yesterday. It had my written contract to sign and return, as well as measurments for my uniform (Parliament has a free dry cleaning service, to keep our uniforms clean). They also sent a list of the email address of the other summer Parliamentary guides, and some info about housing, and dress requirements during the training period (business dress/jacket and tie). After looking at the list of other guides, I realised that I was the only one in my group interview (there were 3 others) who was offered a position. As well, I'm one of 3 people from BC (my province), and about 50% of the guides are francophone. Now I just have to pass the security clearance.
Now I just have to find a place to live. I think that I've already got a lead on a place :)
I've changed the commenting from Haloscan to Blogger. There's not much of a difference, except that Blogger will hold more comments. I've moved some of the recent Halsoscan comments over to the Blogger comments.
March 18, 2005
March 17, 2005
En descendant du train à la gare, il remarque que le monde bouge autour de lui, inconscient qu’il est là. Plus tôt le même jour, avant l’aube, il avait quitté son petit appartement pour la dernière fois. Au moment où il est monté dans le train avec sa valise noire, il se sentait libre, enfin, après ces mois difficiles. Le voyage a duré quelques heures, avec un changement de train d’une gare à une autre dans une ville tentaculaire.
Il arrive, enfin, à sa destination, une ville qu’il ne connaît pas, mais dont il a entendu parler. Il débarque du train et prend quelques secondes pour se repérer dans la gare, qui est noire de monde. La foule va ici et là, quelques-uns pressés et agités, quelques autres paisibles ou ennuyés. La gare est comme tant d’autres qu’il a vues pendant ses voyages. Les publicités clinquantes et les détritus sont mélangés avec les odeurs de nourriture, les bruits des freins de train, ainsi que des conversations mi-entendues au portable. Il met sa valise dans une consigne automatique, et il quitte la gare.
Dehors, il traverse la rue juste devant lui, et commence à se balader dans une rue commerçante. Les magasins contiennent tout - des chocolats incroyables, des montres incrustées de joyaux, et des vêtements chics. Mais comme il est assez pauvre, il se contente de faire du lèche-vitrines. Il continue à se promener, et, tout à coup, le lac apparaît au fond de la rue. Il est bouleversé, et il dévisage le paysage.
C’est un lac énorme, avec des montagnes verdoyantes qui se lèvent de l’eau. Pour la première fois, il se rend compte du ciel bleu brillant qu’il n’a pas vu depuis longtemps. Des petits nuages blancs flottent dans l’air pur. Il fait environ 25 degrés celsius et le vent, qui est assez chaud, souffle. Il respire, comme pour la première fois. Les couleurs deviennent brillantes, vives, et elles inondent ses sens.
Ces derniers mois, il a habité dans une ville qu’il a renommé « La Grisaille ». Tout semblait gris - les bâtiments construits de briques noires et rouges, le pavé noirâtre, les arbres dénudés, les déchets et la crotte de chien partout. Il faisait toujours frais et humide, on sentait toujours froid. Il pleuvait au moins un jour sur deux. Même s’il ne pleuvait pas, les grands nuages gris et noirs bloquaient toujours le soleil. La grisaille de la ville a épuisé, et enfin a crevé, son esprit. Mais la ville où il se trouve en ce moment n’est pas du tout comme l’autre.
Il cligne des yeux, et puis il jette son regard vers le lac de nouveau. Il y a de grands et de petits voiliers sur le lac, et des vaguelettes à cause du vent. Ensuite, il remarque un grand jet d’eau, plus grand qu’il ne le croyait possible, à l’autre côté d’un pont qui réunit les deux parties de la ville. L’autre partie de la ville monte sur la colline, où se situe une ancienne cathédrale entourée de petites boutiques et de bureaux. A gauche, aux abords de la ville, il n’y a que des arbres verts sur la montagne, qui monte vers les cieux.
Il arrive au bord du lac, sans s’en apercevoir. La foule, qui ne cesse jamais, continue autour de lui. Les oiseaux chantent, le vent souffle dans les feuilles des arbres, et il se rend compte que l’on entend des dizaines de langues. Il a entendu dire que c’est une ville mondiale. Les hommes d’affaires, ainsi que les voyous, parlent des langues qu’il comprend, mais aussi celles qu’il n’avait jamais entendu auparavant.
C’est ici qu’il voit quelques jardins de cette ville pour la première fois. La ville qu’il a quittée, il y a plusieurs heures, n’avait pas beaucoup d’espace verte. Il a envie d’entrer dans un jardin avec des fleurs, des arbres, des bancs, de petits animaux, en fait, tout ce que l’on associe avec des parcs. Il tourne à gauche et il commence à se balader près du lac, et il entre dans un jardin qui semble infini.
Il se promène lentement, en regardant la beauté de cette ville. Dans ce jardin il y a des vieilles maisons, de toutes couleurs. Quelques-unes de ces maisons sont maintenant des musées, et il décide d’entrer dans un musée d’astronomie. Continuant sur le chemin dans le jardin, il se rend compte qu’il a perdu la notion du temps. C’est vrai qu’il est venu ici pour aller voir un copain qu’il n’a pas vu depuis quelques années.
Son portable sonne dans sa poche. Il est en retard.
March 15, 2005
Vancouver ranked 3, in a survey of the best cities of the world to live (tied with Vienna, Austria)! The top two cities were Geneva and Zurich (tied for first), and the last city on the list was Baghdad.
The survey measured 39 different factors, such as security, transport, education, etc. It's interesting to note that the top US cities ranked the highest at 25th place (Honolulu, and San Francisco). Other top cities included Auckland, Bern, Copenhagen, and Sydney.
March 14, 2005
My cousin got married on Saturday. The ceremony was at 10 in the morning, and the reception was at 4:30 in the afternoon. I'm not a big fan of the "big gap" weddings, where you have to wait around forever. I had to get some work done in the office, so I went to work for a couple of hours (doing up some brochures for the Dubai, UAE office).
The ceremony was rather quaint, as was the reception. It was a rather small wedding and ceremony and reception, with only about 40 people. I'll simply say that I now know a few things I don't want to happen at my wedding (which hopefully won't be for a few years).
March 11, 2005
It's reared its head again. I got a letter yesterday from the French government (sent to my old address at the MAJT, but forwarded from my administrative school) about income taxes. The form is called "Déclaration fiscale des traitementes et salaires perçus au cours de l'année 2004" (a rudimentary translation; financial declaration of salary from 2004). The statement doesn't say anything specific, so I'm hoping that I don't have to actually file taxes in France, since I've already paid taxes on the income I made last year. I'll try contacting the French embassy to find out what's up. Like I'm going to pay more taxes to the French government!
What I find odd is that I didn't receive one of these forms for 2003 last year, when I was working in France. Maybe it had something to do with me not actually being paid until January (i.e. the advance on October, November, and December's salaries didn't count?).
March 10, 2005
It's 20 degrees Celsius, sunny, and the sky is blue. Take that Montreal, with your -15 weather, and blizzards!
The only problem with the sun is that it makes it too hard to study. At least my midterms are over. My cousin (the 21-yr old one) is getting married on Saturday, so it should be good for his photos.
March 09, 2005
I just read this article, and can't help but think about how paranoid some people must be of terrorist attacks:
Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terror network wanted to kidnap Russell Crowe as part of a "cultural destabilization plot," the Oscar-winning actor is quoted as saying in an Australian magazine.
In an interview published in the March edition of Australia's GQ Magazine, Crowe said FBI agents told him of the threat in 2001, in the months before he won a best actor Oscar for his role as Maximus in Gladiator.
"That was the first (time) I'd ever heard the phrase al-Qaida," Crowe said. "It was about - and here's another little touch of irony - taking iconographic Americans out of the picture as sort of a cultural destabilization plot," he added.
Crowe was born in New Zealand and has a ranch in eastern Australia but made his name in Hollywood.
It was not clear if there were other targets in the plot.
Crowe said he was shadowed by FBI agents after the threat and hired private security guards.
March 08, 2005
I had a presentation/test/interview today for my Developmental Biology course. Basically, I picked a research paper, and the prof asked me questions about it for 45 minutes. I think that I did OK, but I could've done better. I thought that the paper was relatively easy when I picked it (a knock-out mouse that affected cardiac development), but it didn't turn out as such when I got into it.
The paper was about WAVE2's affect on cell motility and cardiovascular development. WAVE2 is part of a family of proteins that affects cell motility (along with WASP). They knocked out the gene (using Neomycin to select for cells), and ran the proper gels for verification. The embryos developed normally until about day 9, when they were significantly smaller than the wild types. They found that WAVE2 had a significant impact on actin rearrangement on the lamellipodia (the leading edge), while almost no impact on the trailing edge (unlike WAVE1 which impacts both sides). WAVE2 had no affect on vasculogenesis, but a major affect on angiogenesis. It's expressed in endothelial cells, but not in the neural tube. There's a lot more, but I'm sure it'll just bore you (if you even made it this far...).
March 06, 2005
I recently watched two interesting films (surprise!). The first was called Cidade de Deus (City of God), a Brazilian film based on a real story from the City of God favela near Rio. A favela is the Portuguese word for a slum, and about 20% of Rio de Janeiro lives in favelas, separated from the rest of the city. The film was incredibly moving. It gives you a new perspective.
The favelas are where a lot of the hard-core drug dealers come from. Because the people are so poor, a lot of them don't have much of a choice. They can work legally for almost nothing, or can make a lot more money, and gain prestige and guns, by working as or for a dealer. There was a documentary after the movie, that talked about the drug-dealing and poverty problems. They interviewed drug dealers, people living in and near the favelas, police officers, and the police chief of Rio. What I found the most shocking was the frankness with which the police chief said that if the police weren't corrupt, then there would be havoc on the streets. The Rio police force is the best trained, and most highly armed police force in the world. They're probably better at close range fighting than the Americans (even after they invaded Iraq).
The police chief pointed out that if the police were to go and raid the middle and upper class that use drugs, then they would lose support from the tax paying population, and the whole system would collapse. So, they target the poor instead. But in doing so the poor attempt to fight against the police. He argued that it's necessary to keep the poor suppressed. I can't remember all of his reasons, but he did bring up some interesting points.
The second movie, which I watched in French film class on Friday morning, was called Indochine (Indochina), with Catherine Deneuve. It was set during the French occupation of Vietnam. Deneuve plays a wealthy French rubber plantation owner, who had never been to France. I won't give too much away, but needless to say it involves the communist uprising, and the two sides of the French perspective to their role as a colonial power.
March 03, 2005
I'm finally done my midterms for the week. I had my last one (out of three this week alone) today. I think I crapped out (I don't have a clue what's going on in that class), so I'm just glad it was done. I did write for the full 1.5 hours though, and filled up the whole test booklet, but I don't think that any of it made sense. The prof for the class isn't very good, so that doesn't help. Nobody (literally, I've talked to almost everyone in the class about it) understands what the prof is trying to teach. He gets one thing wrong every class, and apologizes at the start of the next class as he corrects himself. Not good is about all I can say.
March 01, 2005
This week, as well as last, are/were hell weeks. Three midterms this week, an essay, and possibly a presentation. Last week was just as fun, with a midterm, two presentations, and an essay (or was it two?).
Ugh, too much school. Guess I shouldn't complain though, there's only 6 weeks or so until finals start on April 12th.