Of Molecular Turtles and Other Oddities

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Whining about Wine

It’s been a wonderful short and rather uneventful week. The highlight of the week had to be when one of my great readers, Nicole, told me she was a friend with someone who does l genetic work with cauliflower that I mentioned in my previous post. I also wanted to thank everyone for your wonderful tips on cube decoration. I can now proudly say that you’ve pimped my cube.

There are times I sometimes shake my head and think why the heck did I buy this or that. It was my latest wine purchase that had my noggin shaking. I went to the LCBO and was looking to try out a new and wonderful wine. With 10 bucks burning a hole in my pocket I scanned the isles for the next fruit of the vine that would be mine. I wanted to try something new, interesting and different. When I made my way to the South African section it caught my eye. Yes folks it was Frisky ZebraS. I’ve pictured it left so that all can avoid its siren call.

It was due to this purchase that I’ve vowed to avoid products that alude to animals with high libido’s or zebra coitus, which the wine was probably fermented from. I’ve also learned to pick up on subtle clues about quality. For example, random capitalized letters in the title (like the S) or pictures of animals sniffing each others bottoms. Another dead give away might have been that it was packaged much like the juice boxes from my youth. Also much like the juice boxes from my youth I tried to finish it in one sitting both hoping that it would get better in time and to prevent waste. Sadly I was wrong, very wrong and I will have to finish it off before I open my next bottle.

Now for the part of my blog where I ask for your help yet again. This week I’m asking for your views on wine love it? Hate it? Indifferent? If anyone out there has any suggestions please let me know. I’m not a wine connoisseur in the least, my only preference is that it doesn’t taste like fermented zebra coatis extract.

Biotech Beat

Healing in the womb: High levels of maternal stem cells have been found in new born children with type one diabetes. It has been know for quite some time that there was an exchange of stem cells better mother and child but why this occurs has been disputed. These cells seem to be able to avoid the child’s immune system and recently they have been found in the pancreas and were functioning as B cells. What this means is that they were secreting insulin which is needed to avoid diabetes. This finding raises hopes that perhaps maternal stem cells could be used to treat children and correct diseases such as diabetes. I’m still waiting for more information on this one. In my opinion I think that perhaps the reason why the mothers’ stem cells are capable of evading the child’s immune system is that it’s not developed and has little to do with a maternal bond. What this means is that anyone’s stem cells can serve.

Gene mutation and addiction: This week a mutation in a gene called abcb1 was discovered. Mutations in this gene seem to dictate success on methadone treatment for heroine addicts. Some individuals needs half the dose, while others need double in order to beat the effects of this gene mutation and overcome the addiction

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Toronto Twits Awaken

This week marked the first real snowfall that we’re had here in Toronto. Consequently, it also marked the emergence from hibernation of the Toronto twit. I think perhaps I’m being overly judgemental but that’s why I have you folks as my panel. Think of it like American Idol but without the singing and cult like following.

Twit #1: The guy who decided that it is enough to clear off his front windshield and leave the back one with a couple of inches of snow on it. I’ve tried to reason why someone would do this and I have come up with a couple of reasons. The first is it was pretty cold so he may have been getting clever and was using the snow as an insulator. The second was he may have thought since he was going 130 km on the highway in his SUV on the snowy highway the only things he would have to watch out for was on coming objects.

Twit#2: This one’s sketchy and it’s probably just my rage that’s making me write about it. This twit’s a truck driver who I had the pleasure of driving behind. After a few days of snow fall a glacier began building on top of his truck. This glacier then proceeded to break free and smash into my windshield blinding me and almost killing me, two for the price of one. Luckily I didn’t crash into anything, but it did destroy my windshield wipers and gouged my windshield. After this I think there should be some sort of regulation to make sure truck drivers take off accumulated ice and snow from the roofs of their trailers.

Twit #3: This one is my favourite and happened at a movie theatre where my lovely gal pal and I were watching the movie The Pursuit of Happyness. This brilliant gentleman decided that he would walk into the theatre one hour and five minutes into the 1h 56 minute movie. Now he decided to sit beside Nikki and I in the seat that was occupied by our coats (which we placed there after the movie started). Now it gets even better, as Nikki is trying to arrange our coats she spills her water and saturates his would be seat. Now Nikki being the upstanding young lady that she is tells him that his seat is soaked. His response is “its okay don’t worry about it” and he sits down on the soaked seat.

Now it’s in your hands, cast your vote for who will be the ultimate twit!


Biotech Crops: On Thursday January 21 the number of biotech crops worldwide reached a record high. The countries with the most biotech crops planted per ache are the United States, Argentina and Brazil. Most of the biotech crops on the market are modified to confer resistance to pests but new crops geared toward the consumers are on the horizon. One that looks particularly promising has to do with using a gene from cauliflower to make other vegetables more nutritious.

U.S Med Schools Curb Free Lunches: A growing number of U.S med schools are cracking down on gifts from pharmaceutical companies. This crack down even includes nominal gifts like pens and pads of papers. I’d be interested to know what those of you in the field think of this.

Genetic Privacy Bill: Bush is urging Congress to pass a genetic privacy bill. The purpose of this bill is to ensure that insurance companies do not discriminate against individuals based on their genetic make up. From my perspective I think this is a great idea, it would lead to more genetically geared medicine.

Friday, January 12, 2007

They tell you to think outside the "box" when you're in a freakin' box all day long

Greetings from cubeworld, yes that’s right apparently cubicle has been replaced with the term cube. In all probability it’s because in my new company it seems to be a protocol that nothing is longer than four letters. I have a 66 page list of acronyms that I have to remember. I’m hoping that I’m going to not get confused That being said I love my new job so far and I hope it keeps up.

The best thing about this place is that everyone seems to be genuinely happy and like their job. Some of the great perks that come with this new gig are a laptop, discounts on our consumer products, a couple hundred dollars toward anything to do with fitness and three weeks vacation.

I’ve spent most of my week doing training and such. I’ve also learned that the best way to get stuff for your cube is to scavenge around recently abandoned cubes. I’ve come to work early and sneak around under the pretense I’m lost to scavenge. This is the part of the entry where I ask you folks for your input. What are some cube essentials? In other words what should I be scavenging for or buying?

BioSummary For The Week

Amniotic stem cells have been found to have many of the same traits as embryonic stem cells. These cells are found free floating in amniotic fluid and don’t involve destroying an embryo. They can be retrieved from the fluid by the same procedure as amniocentesis with the same risk to the child. Some of the benefits of these cells are that they grow just as quickly embryonic stem cells, they’re a genetic match to the future child (so they can be used to treat the kid later) and they’re pluripotent (They can change into many different types of cells but not all, embryonic stem cells are totipotent meaning they can become any other type of cell). The draw back is they’re limited in what types of cells they can become.

Stem cells: In the United States the House voted on January 11 to broaden federal support for stem cell research 253 to 174. This bill will probably be vetoed by Bush

Erbitux: ImClone Systems Inc’s drug erbitux just received positive results from phase III clinical trials. The drug is for treatment for colon cancer and is to be used in patients who have already failed chemotherapy. The drug is licensed to Merk and may be a treat to Roche’s Avastin although it’s hard to tell.

I felt this entry lacked some of my usual comedic elements so I thought I’d give you a taste of what conversations with Nikki and are like.

Random Comment from Nikki Pea: “When you get married you know how you need something old, something new, and something blue? Does the something old have to be visible? Can it be something like old underwear or a corset?”

Friday, January 05, 2007

You Couldn't Be More Wrong!

The funny thing about vacations is that they never seem long enough. I’ve had about three weeks off and I feel as though if I had just one more week, just one more week I’d be frolicking into work instead of trudging. After all, I could do so much with just one more week, alas, it’s not meant to be and I need to start work on the 8th. I must say though that I’m pretty excited about entering the cooperate world. However, this is where I ask for the help of you friends and neighbors. I want you to share any tips or advice or pieces of wisdom on starting new jobs or office politics. You see most for most of my jobs I’ve had some authority and an office and now I’m a cubicle dweller.

Now for something completely different. My favorite quote of the week happened when I went to buy a book by Kurt Vonnegut, called The Sirens of Titan. I asked one of the good folks at Toronto Eaton Center’s Indigo where the Vonnegut books are and she informed that she had never heard of him. We go to the computer and I type it in and lo and behold it’s there. She then goes on to berate me about how it’s not Vonn-e-gut everyone knows it’s pronounced Kurt Von Gurt! In a perfect world everyone’s first and last name would rhyme but I think adding extra letters to make it so may be passing some sort of lexical line. But hey maybe she’s right and when he appears in the movie Back to School and says “Hello, I’m Kurt Vonnegut” he mispronounced his own name for comic effect.

Now below you’ll find a new addition to the blog for those science minded folk. It’ll have about three developments in bullet form from the world of biotech. These will be condensed to a few sentences from all the newspaper articles I read during the week. If anyone expresses interest in this aspect of the blog I’ll even give links so you can look further into it

Instead of using only soybean oil for biodiesel there’s a new additive. We can now thank our friends at Tyson chicken for more than a funny episode of Seinfield. They’re going to be a main supplier of yummy chicken fat that will be transformed into fuel. They’re also going to get into the fuel business.

Clinical trials for nanoparticles to treat breast cancer will begin in 2007. This is pretty revolutionary because instead of undergoing chemo people will get these nanoparticles injected into them and then through shining infrared light (which passes through your body) we can kill tumors non invasively. Think of chemo as an A-bomb killing all rapidly growing cells along with the cancer cell vs shining light as a targeted missile

Study finds that stem cell therapies may cause cancer. Good news is they can determine which ones through something called methylation patterns

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Monday, January 01, 2007

Most Memorable Moments 2006

  • The number one memory is meeting the lovely Nikki a.k.a angel, a.k.a pie (January)
  • The New Year’s bar fire
  • Sleeping on Ron’s floor and being woken up by him screaming cognitive science in his sleep
  • The Zoo 4x
  • A nice birthday
  • Getting into my current Master’s programme
  • Getting the job I wanted at the company I wanted
  • Walks downtown
  • Camping with the Ruben and Nikki
  • Seeing moose, deer and beavers
  • My introduction to the shawarma
  • The Royal Ontario Winter Fair and Fudge
  • The Calvacade of Lights
  • My first foray into blogging and getting a fantastic group of people that read my blog
To all you folks in blogland what is your most memorable moment of the year?

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