Not To Be Trusted With Knives

{March 29, 2006}   Kelowna

Well, I’m off to Kelowna for a few days. Try not to miss me too much!

I’m going with a few other grad students to visit a few elementary schools to do fun science activities with the kids. Should be good times.

In honour of this trip, I give you my two favourite quotations about science:

“Ah science. All the fun of sitting still, writing down numbers, paying attention. Yes, science has it all”.
— Principal Skinner

“This one goes out to the scientists. They study hard, but they fuck harder.”
— Random DJ at a club in London, ON


{March 28, 2006}   As Requested

Here is a pic of my bike, in all it’s bicycliciousness.

My bike, which I’ve had since grade 8, when not in use, lives in my laundry room, along with laundry supplies, a gas can, a spare toilet brush, an old toaster and a bag of dirt. Good times.

{March 24, 2006}   My Bicycle-tastic Adventure

Today was Bring Your Bike To Work Day at UBC. I only knew this because my friend, Danielle*, from my hockey team told me so. Tonight is the annual UBC Farm BBQ and she suggested that we bike out to the Farm**. I thought this was a great idea because, much like Dave thinks he can prevent Ottawian winters from coming by running around half naked, I think that bringing my bike out of hiberation will force Vancouver spring to actually arrive. Of course, since I am an uber-wimp who doesn’t use their bike all winter***, it needed a little work. So I brought my bike to the Bike Hub on campus (a cool place where nice people help bicycle-maintenance-neophytes such as myself to do simple things like fill their tires with air) and when I got there another girl that I know from hockey, Anabelle****, was there and not only did she fill my tires with air, but she also oiled my bike chain (which had just about solidified from sitting around, unused, all winter). Good times! Later on, I saw another former hockey colleague, Jill*****, at a “decorate your bike” stand****** outside the student union building and decided that rather than going to my office to do the work I was planning to do, I should really decorate my bike with lots of blue tape. It now looks like a blue candy cane*******. I’m hoping that will make it less likely that someone will want to steal it (bike theft is a HUGE problem at UBC), ‘cuz who the hell wants to have to take all that tape off it, right? Anyway, as I was finishing my decorating, a dark, scary cloud crept across the sky and there was thunder! Thunder!! We don’t get thunder in Vancouver!! Honestly, I’ve been here 5.5 years and that’s probably the third time I’ve heard thunder in this city. So I decided to boot it on over to my office to do that work I was meant to be doing and, rather than locking my bike up outside, I brought it up to my office (because of the aforementioned bike theft problem, I never leave my bike outside if I can help it). And was I ever glad I brought it in because right as I got inside, it started to hail! Hail!! That would have ruined my lovely decorating job! So I squirreled myself away in my office, a little concrete-bound cupboard, to do that work of which I have most recently spoken. And I was sad that my plan of bike un-hiberation had not forced the start of spring, as I had planned. I was starting to lose faith in my spring hearlding abilities when I opened my office door, looked across the hall to a classroom that actually has a window********, and what to my wondering eyes did appear? The sun!! Apparently that angry cloud********* had hailed itself out and now the glorious, glorious sun is shining! So Dave, don’t lose faith in your magic powers over the forces of nature!! You, too, can control the seasons!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to ride my blue candy cane bike out to the Farm to celebrate the sunshine will my fellow Aggies!

*aka Tenacious D; defence.
**The UBC Farm is awesome! It’s on south campus and is a functioning farm and in the summers you can go there and buy their organically-grown produce… not something you often see in an urban centre.
***To those of you from out east, this is considered extremely wimpy in Vancouver. Despite the fact that it can rain for a month straight in the winter (and that we had one of the rainiest winter on record), everyone here still bikes to work/school year-round.
****former goalie
*****former defence
******in celebration of the aforementioned “Bring Your Bike To Work Day”
*******if candy canes could rust
********unlike my crappy little hole-in-the-wall excuse for an office
*********stratus? cumulus? cirrus? goddamn, the ONLY thing I remember learning in science class from grades 1-8 is the types of clouds and I still can’t remember which is which.**********

**********I footnoted this footnote to point out how many freaking footnotes I have. Because I know that Katie reads them. =)

I came home after my hockey game* tonight to find this in my email inbox:

To: All members of the UBC community
From: Brad Bennett, Chair, UBC Board of Governors
Subject: Announcement – UBC’s 12th President

On behalf of the UBC Board of Governors, I would like to invite all
members of the UBC community to a special event to meet and welcome
UBC’s 12th President.

UBC Vancouver

Date: Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Time: 10 am
Location: Life Sciences Centre, West Atrium

Now, I’m curious! I don’t even know who the candidates are (I’m not sure that info is even out there!) But I think I’m going to go — I have a meeting on campus at 11:30 anyway, so I may as well just go in a wee bit early to see the hubbub.

For you east coasters who will read this well before 10 am Pacific, any guesses? And you can’t guess Hitler (altho I don’t doubt that UBC tried to get him).

*In the interest of full disclosure (no one ever reads footnotes anyway, right?), it is my sad duty to report that we lost our playoff hockey game =( Boo-urns! But, in our defence, we didn’t have a goalie, and that makes it really tough to win! But we played our butts off and that’s what matters! Or so I tell myself.

{March 21, 2006}   Messy Bessy

I’m reading Life, the Universe and Everything and come across this passage:

The mess is extraordinary, and has to be seen to be believed, but if you don’t have any particular need to believe it, then don’t go and look because you won’t enjoy it.

Which, coincidentally, is an exact perfect description of my apartment. But seeing as Sarah & Dave will be here in just 22 days, I better do something about it! Of course, I really should be marking the assignments that my students handed in a week ago that I haven’t even looked at because I so don’t want to have to mark them. Which explains why I was reading LtUaE and am now blogging about it. I’m not procrastinating, you’re procrastinating. Get back to work, you!

{March 20, 2006}   Wanted: New Name For Blog

Well, I still need a new name for my blog. Only Dave has been so kind as to make any suggestions for far (thanks Dave! You win 50,000 points!), but I have a feeling that “David Emerson is a Whore” might become dated a little too quickly (especially if this minority government falls because I have a feeling that old Emerson won’t be elected as a “Tory”, at least not in his current riding). So, in my brainstorming, this is what I’ve come up with so far:

  • The Total Perspective Vortex
  • Tastes Like Burning
  • Never Trust Something That Thinks For Itself If You Can’t See Where It Keeps Its Brain

OK, so that’s not a lot of ideas. Does anyone else have any good ideas?

{March 20, 2006}   Palm Pilot Cozy

My sister knitted me this lovely Palm Pilot cozy for my birthday! Isn’t it stylin’?

Now I no longer have to worry about my Palm Pilot case getting scratched up (well, more scratched up than it already is) when I chuck it in my bag with various keys, pens, etc. Hooray for Nancy!

Now, I know that I’m going to alienate at least one of my blog readers (*cough* Rebecca) by saying this, but I totally don’t get the whole knitting thing. Knitting totally became the “in” thing to do when I wasn’t looking! How did that happen?

{March 20, 2006}   The Devil Likes Blogs

I was checking out the hit count for my blog and lo and behold, discovered a shocking fact about the number of visitors I’ve had this month:

Who knew that the devil himself was interested in thesis-themed blogs? In unrelated news, someone on a computer at the Parliament found my blog by Googling “Stephen Harper thesis.”

It’s Thursday night and the Aggiettes are ready for some hockey!!!

The fans are out in full force!

They have cow bells! That’s right — in plural — cow bells to cheer us on!

The bag piper (complete with kilt) is ready to pipe us out on to the ice (Aggies know how to make an entrance!)….

… and the other team doesn’t show up!! Seriously, not a single person on the other team showed! Despite the fact that (a) it’s the last game of regular season and (b) we were only 1 point behind them in the standings! So, we win by default and jump to 4th (out of 9 teams) in the standings! However, we really, really wanted to play (how could we disappoint our cow-belled fans?)

Fortunately, our resourceful captain, Danielle, managed to get one of the teams that had played right before us to play us too.

And the game was on!

And a good time was had by all! I must have skated harder in that game than any game before, because my legs are killing me worse than ever before! I would also like to point out that my skates appear to glow!

{March 17, 2006}   Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone! Hope you all enjoy some green beer (or green beverage of your choice!)

In honor of St. P Day, my hockey team went to the bar and drank beer after our game tonight. OK, in reality we just happened to be at the bar post-game when it turned into St. Paddy’s Day and so we toasted it. We were actually celebrating 4 people’s birthdays (one girl on my team, her bf, his twin brother and another one of our fans), so we had cake. And nachoes. And chicken wings. And beer. And the Irish among us compared the extreme whiteness of our skin. Good times.

Oh yeah, and I brought my camera to the game and got one of our fans to take pics. So pics will be forthcoming.

OK, I’m going to quit it with the rambling and go to bed now. Happy SPD!

{March 15, 2006}   The Next Pandemic…

…is definitely going to originate from hockey equipment. That stuff is rancid! Have you ever smelled hockey equipment? Probably not, because if you had, you would not have survived and, therefore, could not be reading this blog entry. But trust me, it’s disgusting.

And speaking of hockey gear, my friends Danielle & Kim (a.k.a. Tenacious D and Gunner) stole my hockey jersey to put a nickname on the back. Aren’t they sweet?

“The University has no business being in business”
-David Suzuki

The last speaker in the Global Citizenship* Seminar Series was David Suzuki. Although I’ve been here at UBC for 5.5 years, this is the first time I’ve heard of him actually speaking here (he was a UBC prof until 2001, when he retired, and is now a professor emeritus). I must say, he was well worth the wait.

In additon to his above quotation (which he said while on a tirade about how the university is no longer fulfilling the role that it was meant to fill — a community of scholars who want to know things for knowledge’s sake (rather than focusing only on profit), who are free to engage in academic discourse without fear of offending the companies that fund everything), he also had some insightful thoughts on grant writing (how we all have to “play the game”, writing elegant grant proposals about how “my research on fruit flies will lead to a cure for cancer”…. if we actually knew where our research was going to end up, we wouldn’t need to do the research!) and his own motivations (his experience being interned during WWII (because he, a 3rd generation Canadian, carried “Japanese genes”) lead to his always want to prove that he was “worthy” of his Canadian citizenship. He also talked about how fortunate he was to attend a university, on full scholarship, in the US that valued the contribution that international students bring to the academic community, rather than seeing them as a source of quick & easy income. He also talked about the reason behind tenure, which is something that I only just recently read about – although the current perception of tenure is that, once you get it, is a free ticket to sitting on your butt for the rest of your life ‘cuz you can’t be fired, tenure is actually in place to allow scholars academic freedom — you could actually criticize or challenge the university and its higher ups without fear of reprisal. He also talked, of course, about environmentalism (and how it was virtually ignored during the election campaign). And he called James Watson** an asshole.

All in all, it was a very interesting talk and all three of this year’s speakers (David Orr, Stephen Lewis and David Suzuki) provided a lot of inspiration and really interesting things ot think about.

*I must say that I can’t stand the term “global citizenship” — it, along with the word “sustainability” are so overused here that they are completely meaningless.

**James Watson’s book The Double Helix recounts the story of how Watson & Crick solved the structure of DNA and is a surprizingly good read. Watson was also featured in a really funny Stephen Colbert piece back when Colbert was on the Daily Show… just go here and then click on “I’m With Stupid” to check it out.

{March 14, 2006}   Intimate Contact with Chickens

Today in the Food Microbio course that I TA for, the students were reading an article on avian influenza in which it stated that “intimate contact” with poultry was a risk for transmission of bird flu to humans. Later it talked about “unprotected” contact with poultry.

Seriously, did the person writing this article not realize how this was going to sound?

{March 10, 2006}   My Doppelgangers

The problem on the “Schedule of Upcoming Doctoral Examinations” has been solved, so I am no longer an anthropologist and/or sociologist. It turns out that Grad Studies had just linked to the info about the wrong Beth Simpson in their database, a Beth Simpson who apparently graduated in 2000.Which is good, ‘cuz I think I would have had a hard time defending that thesis. Especially because I’m so busy these days… you wouldn’t believe all the stuff I’ve been up to. Here’s just a sampling of the many things I’ve been doing lately, at least according to Google:

No wonder I’m so tired!

{March 8, 2006}   Cool People
Cool People Who Are Coming to My Defence*
(in alphabetical order)
  • Jennifer Bedford
  • Danielle Billey
  • Shalu Duggal
  • Kalev Hunt
  • Jenny Lee
  • Laura Leemon
  • Sarah MacDonald-McLean
  • Kim Mayes
  • Dave McLean
  • Larry Mroz
  • Candice Rideout
  • Craig Smith
  • David Simpson
  • Ziba Vaghri

Cool People Who Will Be With Me In Spirit

  • Daniela (Whitehorse)
  • Jorge (Toronto)
  • JWo (Toronto)
  • Kaede (Toronto)
  • Nancy (Toronto)
  • Rebecca (Sudbury)
  • Steph (writing an exam! boo-urns!)

People Who Haven’t Yet Decided If They Are Cool Enough to Attend

  • Angela
  • Dave B
  • Dave K
  • Erika
  • Jordy

Uncool People Who Are Refusing to Come to My Graduation

My dad

*I’ll add people to this list if anyone else tells me that they are going to attend

et cetera