Of Molecular Turtles and Other Oddities

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Job Application Time. Any Advice?

I thought I'd just make a quick post for all three of you wondering what's happened to the molecular turtle. It's become a rather busy time in my life for several reasons. The first is that the programme I'm in has a co-op portion that starts in January; however, we are applying to job postings at the moment. What that meant last week is that I had to revamp my resume and prepare 11 cover letters. Now that wouldn’t have been so bad but I have a massive project due and a presentation this Tuesday and Wednesday. I would even have been ok with that but it turns out that one of the speakers for our seminar series has dropped out. What that means for yours truly and his group is that our seminar has been moved up two weeks. Thus I have a 3 hour exam and have to give a seminar about lifestyle drugs to about 200 people and whoever decides to watch on the web. Coupled with the fact that my group consists of three people instead of the usual four, it’s been a busy time for me. Now in better news I have an interview coming up for a placement in a major pharmaceutical company so I’m pretty excited. I also have to thank all you folks for making my last post a comment extravaganza it’s really great to know people are reading. Lastly, seeing as my major focus is getting a job these days in a pharmaceutical company, does anyone have any tips for cover letters, resumes and job interviews? They’d be much appreciated.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Proud To Be A Nerd

For those of you that hadn’t figured it out yet I’m a nerd. Not only am I a nerd, I’m a nerd of epic proportions. What does that mean? Well among other things it means that I love science. I love knowing how the world around me works and why it is when I flip a switch a light comes on or off. I like knowing the reasons behind common things like why homo milk goes bad earlier than skim milk. It also means that I’m really excited about a project proposal I’ll be giving to my professors on Wednesday on why I think we should begin producing measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine in Safflower (instead of cell cultures) and how I purpose to carry this out. Although I’ve known all the above for quite a long time and I’ve always enjoyed learning things I haven’t always known that I was a nerd. I was made well aware by others in grade school, perhaps it had something to do with the huge eighties glasses, lanky frame, and straight A’s (except in handwriting where I got C’s and D’s). When I entered high school I wanted to shake this term badly and even managed to pull it off by working out and being known as a soccer star. However I realized when I first started university that I was a nerd and became proud of it. So from that day forward I was loud and proud self proclaimed nerd. The funny thing is that recently I’ve noticed that nerds are cool and in some cases in proclaimed hot. It’s interesting that as you get older nerds seem to get more and more respect. I wonder what it has to do with. I ran into someone I went to high school with a little while ago he’d fall into the category of jock and found that he now works for Canadian Tire. Which is great for him but it makes me think that perhaps the new found nerd respect comes from getting higher paying jobs or perhaps it has to do with having more power. Those things still don’t explain the nerd hotness factor although perhaps Napoleon Dynamite has something to do with it. If that’s the case I’d like to say thank you Napoleon, and thank you Petro for your protect. So I leave it to you friends and neighbours, what explains these trends and observations? More importantly are you nerds? and if you are are you proud of it?

Monday, September 04, 2006

Steve Irwin Dies of a Stingray Attack

As hard as it is to believe the crocodile hunter has died because of a freak sting ray accident. Although he was bit wonkey he had a certain charm to him and his love of animals was apparent. The guy hugged croc's and he dies to a sting ray, that's like me dying while making a volcano with baking soda and vinegar. Anyways what follows is the wikipedia entry for those people who are interest in what happened.

"Shortly after 11:00am local time on 4 September 2006, Irwin was fatally pierced in the chest by a short-tail stingray barb while diving in Queensland's Batt Reef, which is part of the Great Barrier Reef. The events were caught on camera and the footage is now in the possession of Queensland Police.[25] Irwin was in the area filming his own documentary, to be called The Ocean's Deadliest, but weather had stalled filming. Irwin decided to take the opportunity to film some shallow water shots for a segment in the television program his daughter Bindi was hosting,[26] when, according to his friend and colleague John Stainton, he swam too close to one of the animals. "He came on top of the stingray and the stingray's barb went up and into his chest and put a hole into his heart," said Stainton, who was on board Irwin's boat at the time.
After reviewing the footage of the incident and speaking to the cameraman who recorded it, marine documentary filmmaker and fisherman Ben Cropp speculated that the stingray "felt threatened because Steve was alongside and there was the cameraman ahead..."[25] In such a case, the stingray responds by automatically flexing the serrated barb on its tail, which is up to 25 centimeters (roughly 10 inches) in length.
"He came over the top of a stingray that was buried in the sand, and the barb came up and hit him in the chest," Stainton said. Wildlife documentary maker Ben Cropp, citing a colleague who saw footage of the attack, told Time.com that Irwin had accidentally boxed the animal in. "It stopped and twisted and threw up its tail with the spike, and it caught him in the chest," said Ben Cropp. "It's a defensive thing. It's like being stabbed with a dirty dagger." The Bull Ray that stung Irwin was "a one-in-a-million thing," Cropp told Time magazine. "I have swum with many rays, and I have only had one do that to me."[27]In this case, the motion struck Irwin's chest and pierced his heart.[25] This was only the third known fatality in Australian history from a stingray attack, and only 17 worldwide fatalities have taken place since 1996.[28]
Crewmembers aboard his boat called emergency services in the nearest city of Cairns and administered CPR as they rushed the boat to nearby Low Isle to meet a rescue helicopter. Medical staff pronounced Irwin dead when they arrived a short time later. [29] The barb lodged in his chest and the toxins of the barb caused Irwin to die of cardiac arrest. [2]
The Queensland Police Service notified his family and released a statement for the media concerning his death.[30] News of his death prompted a public outpouring expressing shock and loss. Several Australian news websites went down because of high web traffic[31] and talk-back radio experienced a high volume of callers expressing their grief,[32] commemorating his passion and exuberance. Australian Prime Minister John Howard, among many other politicians, expressed his "shock and distress" at the death, saying that "Australia has lost a wonderful and colourful son."[33] Irwin's body was flown to a morgue in Cairns[34], where stunned family and friends were gathering on Monday night. His wife Terri was informed of her husband's death while on a walking tour in the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park in Tasmania, and returned via private plane from Devonport to the Sunshine Coast with their two children.[25]" (wikipedia, 2006)

Friday, September 01, 2006

The Turtle Has Returned!

From the pristine wilds of Killarney Provincial Park the turtle has emerged, tanned, relaxed and ready for a new semester of medicine and biotechnology. I had a great time but I actually missed blogging which is weird since I never expected to like it to start with. I realized it’s because I have a ton of great commenters, so thank you folks. I’ll start today’s entry by giving a run down of the interesting stuff (and not so interesting) that happened day to day. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures yet so where I write (photo) there will be, yes you guessed it a picture. Our first day of the expedition consisted of Nikki, Ruben and I getting up at 6:00 and packing the car full of stuff we’d need. Once packed we drove an hour and a half to the cottage strapped on the canoe and drove another 3 or 4 hours to get to the wilds of Killarney. On the way we passed through some major construction which involved blasting through huge sections of the Canadian Shield and moving tons and tons of rock. It’s really amazing to think that we have the capability to totally modify our landscape to such an extent. It’s pretty much like saying hey there’s a mountain here, lets get rid of it.

Once we made it to our site, 63 woodchuck avenue for those of you that are looking for an awesome site. We started out with car camping but I have to say that the site itself was pretty nifty. There was a cliff behind us that people seemed to enjoy jumping off of, it would probably be about 25 feet above the water . We had an uneventful night except for the fact that while eating smores the fattest raccoon ever snagged a garbage bag and ran off into the forest. I also came across the raccoon underground railway. This happened to be a sewer pipe that they used to sneak into a French Canadian couple’s site and terrorize them. Mon Dieu!!

I woke up fairly early and managed to snag a picture of the misty lake which I found to be quite nice while Ruben and Nikki slept. Nice enough to wake up before the other musketters, well that’s debatable. It also meant that I prepared the gruel for breakfast, also known as Quaker oatmeal maple and brown sugar. I also happened to be the cook for most the trip, Jin you’d be proud. I’ve hot mad skillz as they say here in the hood. Later in the day we went on the crannyberry bog trail in hopes of seeing some wildlife, but alas it was not meant to be. We did however see a tipped over tree with a massive root system (photo). The bog was also really nice and was the site of many a photo. Unfortunately the rocks were fairly slippery from the rain the night before so there was much slipping and sliding. After returning from the trail we packed up and loaded our canoe on George Lake. We had the illusion in our mind that we could make it in one trip so loaded the canoe to the brim with Nikki stuffed in the middle. Unfortunately the canoe had other ideas and slowly started to sink like the titanic. So we unloaded it and made two trips, amounting to a 35 minute canoe trip each way. Strangely Ruben and I were much faster and better canoes this year because a trip like that would have taken us an hour last year. I have a feeling it had to do with the inspiring words of little Nikki. She shouted out commands such as mush mush! And sang old Guess Who songs “No Sugar tonight in my coffee, No sugar to night in my tea BAH BAH BAH” (actual rendition). In between trips we went to the town of Killarney to pick up some worms and koolaid (7 dollar koolaid). On the way we saw two moose crossing the way. To me it was really neat because I’ve never seen a moose before and they were totally not what I was expecting. It was pretty funny because one was standing on the other side of the road. It looked both ways and then crossed the street. We stopped were it went in and contrary to my belief they were not quite or graceful at all. They made more noise than bulldozers going through the forest.

Once getting to our site which was a really beautiful peninsula we found out that it was home to literally hundreds of frogs of varying sizes and colours (photo). It was also home to nikki’s dismay to many different snakes. I’m not sure what these ones are but one had an orange belly while another that we found was spotted. I also think I encountered a Massassuga rattler which made me jump ten feet back since it almost stepped on it. We had a nice campfire and howled along with the wolves (nikki will deny it but I’m sure I heard her cute little howl as well).

The next day we slept in spent most of the day fishing and napping. I caught a big bass, the biggest one of the trip in fact (nikki may or may not dispute this but I have photo evidence (photo, photo). We also were lucky enough to see a big mother deer and her faun come for a drink across from us while we were fishing. One thing I learned from this trip is that Nikki is the bass master. She was able to catch tons of little fish with a big hook. Although I think it was my hooking of the worms that was the key touch. That evening we had a fire and a beautiful sun set (photo). We also saw the ghost of Christmas Ruben coming after us through the fire (photo). That evening we also had a beaver visitor who was pretty interesting. He was picking his teeth with a stick and eating for about an hour.

The next day was pretty uneventful, we woke up late canoed around for a while. We went to two and bought some fish and chips out of a converted school bus. The fish and chips were pretty good considering it was from the inside of a school bus. Ruben swam across the lake, nikki and I fished and we had smores which is always a treat. The next day we took off for home. Things of note include that I took a pair of Rubens pants instead of my own before we packed up the car and realized they were not mine when I realize the waste was like 3x mine. Since the car was packed up I had to hold them closed until we made it back to the cottage. The other interesting incident was when Ruben was able to scarf down some wendies meal then put away another three burgers after that. Way to go Ruben! This trip also made me realize that I’ll always be a big kid. I may be a science nerd and that means I have a good idea of how the things around me work but that doesn’t take away my wide eyed wonder. I look around and see these great rock formations and massive trees and it still takes my breath away and makes me think how lucky I am. I also estimate the iron content and count the tree rings don’t get me wrong but I still think the world is truly an amazing an wonderful place. There’s a lot more to write about and I have a couple more days off but I think that’s enough for one massive entry. Anyone else doing anything fun with their summer?