Not To Be Trusted With Knives

{January 20, 2009}   Congratulations, Mr. President

dr-beth-snow by you.

Just listened to President Obama’s inaugural address. I didn’t get to watch it live because the class I’m teaching is from 8:00-9:30 a.m1.  Pacific Time. It only occurred to me very early this morning that when they said the inauguration was at 11:30 a.m., they didn’t mean Pacific Time2. And that I’d still be teaching at 11:30 a.m. Eastern, i.e., 8:30 a.m. Pacific, a.k.a., way too freaking early to be teaching.

I wished my class “Happy Obama Inauguration Day!” at the start of class and right after class, I came to my office and watched the video of Obama taking the oath (so eager that he jumped in while the Chief Justice was still talking, which I thought was so cute). And then I watched his speech while toasting him with a diet Coke3.  Because I wasn’t invited to an inauguration oatmeal party, which would be more appropriate, I admit, for the ungodly hour of 9:30 in the a.m, than a can of diet Coke. (Did I mention I have to be on campus, ready to teach at 8 a.m. and that I now live on caffeine even more than I used to?)

1Who schedules class at 8 a.m. anyway? That’s just cruel.
2Maybe I have a case of eastern alienation?
3Because it’s really difficult to find diet Pepsi on campus.

Image credit at


{December 3, 2008}   Diet Dr. Pepper FTW!

Three of the last five Diet Dr. Peppers that I have bought have won me another Diet Dr. Pepper:

This seems like an abnormally high winning percentage, no?  I keep buying them from the vending machine at work – for some reason, whenever I’m in a store where I can actually cash in one of these bad boys, I’m not craving one.  And, of course, you can’t spend a pop bottle cap in a vending machine!  I suppose if I economy keeps tanking, at least I’ll still be able to afford my next few Diet Dr. Peppers.

So, I was wondering all day why no one commented on my engaging tale of the 12 Bars of Christmas. I get the comments on my blog emailed to me, so I didn’t look at the blog itself – just didn’t get any emailed comments. And just now when I went to write a new posting, I discovered that, although I finished writing the posting yesterday, I didn’t actually click “publish.” D’oh! Guess that kind of absentmindedness is a sign that perhaps one shouldn’t go to 12 bars in one night. Anyway, here’s the posting:

So, I have a confession to make. I did not successfully complete the 12 Bars of Christmas this year! *hangs head in shame*. I made it to all the bars. I sang all the verses of the 12 Days of Christmas at the appropriate times and in the appropriate locations, as per the rules of the 12 Bars. But I was not able to drink a drink at every bar! Well, I suppose I would have been able to, so I probably should say I was unwilling to given that my body was telling me that I needed a break after 8 drinks1.

I think part of the problem as that I couldn’t stick to the same game plan I had last year – which was to stick with a specific drink2 for most bars, with the occasional shot when we got behind schedule and needed to get in and out of a bar really fast. Why couldn’t I stick to that game plan, you ask? Because the 12 Bars got waaaaay too popular! Last year, we started out at Erika & Paul’s place with something like 7 people and then ended up with about 30 by the last bar, as people joined us along the way. This year, we had somewhere around 30 people at the first bar!! By the end, we have no accurate count of participants as friends of friends had joined up and no one really knew who was with us and who were just randoms in the bar. But there had to be over 50 of us by the end. This resulted in two things: (a) we didn’t get to meet as many new people, as you sort of had to stick with your little group in order to not get totally lost in the crowd, and (b) it’s really hard to get a drink at a bar when 30-50 others are also all trying to get a drink in 30 mins3 – somehow always seemed to be the last people served and so had to take a few shots off the start because there wasn’t enough time to drink an actual drink. I think this set a poor tone for the evening!

My night went something like this.

Bar #0 – Erika & Paul’s place (UNOFFICIAL START) – Vodka & Sprite. I agreed to have a drink here. This was my first mistake!

Bar #1 – Las Margarita’s – OFFICIAL START – Jolly Rancher shot. I wanted a margarita here, but by the time we got to the bartender, it was pretty much time to leave, so we had to do a shot.

Bar #2 – Room 18Polar bear shot. Bar #2 was supposed to be Hell’s Kitchen5, makers of the best Amaretto sour at last year’s 12 Bars. When Hell’s Kitchen was called early in the day and asked if they would be open at 4 p.m., they replied “yes.” Apparently “yes” means “no” at Hell’s Kitchen, because when we go there, they weren’t open. So we improvised and went to Room 18 instead. They didn’t want to let us in at first, saying they couldn’t handle 34 people with just one bartender. So we promised that we’d all get the exact same shot and be out in her hair in life 15 minutes, probably the fasted $300 that bar will ever make. So another unplanned shot for me, but a great photo opp!

Bartender at Room 18 makes 34 Polar bear shots.

Bar #3 – Brown’sAmaretto sour. Finally! Although this one wasn’t like any Amaretto sour I’d had before – it was brown rather than green. Weird.

Bar #4 – Kitsilano RestaurantWhite wine. This is the place where we stop to eat. But it counts as a bar, so we have to drink their too. So I enjoyed a much too full glass of wine with my yam rolls, veggie tempura and teriyaki tofu. About halfway through the wine was when my brain took notice of the unnecessary amount of alcohol to which it was being subjected.

Bar #5 – Tatlow’sSpiced rum & diet Coke6 – I don’t think I have anything special to report about this bar.

Bar #6 – Darby’sAmaretto sour! Yay! Darby’s makes a tasty A.S. And it was green. Making for a very Christmasy photo of red and green drinks.

Casey shows off our Christmas coloured drinks –
Vodka cran + Amaretto sour.

Bar #7 – Nevermind Spiced rum & diet Coke6 – Unlike it’s sister restaurant, Hell’s Kitchen, Nevermind was open. Unlike last year, where we convinced a #84 Express bus to pick us up and drive us to Nevermind despite the fact that Nevermind is not where the #84 bus is supposed to stop, this year we had to walk all the way to Nevermind. Which, by my calculations, is 872 blocks from Darby’s.

Between bars #7 and #8 is where I officially decided to wuss out. My tummy was telling me that it was sufficiently stocked with alcoholic beverages at the moment and any further deliveries would be returned to sender. So, in the interest of not puking, I decided to skip the drinks at the next two bars.

Bar #8 – Gargoyles – No drink!

Bar #9 – The Fringe – No drink again!

Bar #10 & #11 – Coppertank Spiced rum & diet Coke. We were supposed to go to Elwood’s for Bar #10, but they told us that brinigng 50ish people would put them over capacity, so they wouldn’t let us in. So we decided that Coppertank could have more of our money and decided to stay there for an hour instead of the usual 30 mins, having two drinks (and sing two verses of the 12 Days of Christmas) instead of the usual 1. I felt better enough to have one drink, but decided that I didn’t really need two.

Beth and Kalev tell us that we are at Bar #10.
Unfortunately, Coppertank counted as 2 bars, I forgot to take a “Bar #11” pic.

Bar #12 – Regal BeagleSpiced rum and diet Coke. And thus ended the 12 Bars.

Bar #13 – Lola’sSpiced rum and diet Coke – In celebration of not having died, we went next door to Lola’s to dance, and make fun of the other patrons fashion choices behind their backs.

Hooray for Bar #13. Go team!

You can view all the photos here.

1In my defence, I would like to remind everyone that I’m somewhat on the small size. I don’t think 115 lb people are meant to drink 13 drinks!
2In my case, Amaretto sour.
3And the 30 minutes includes travel time between bars. And, given that we were having a blizzard4, travel time was somewhat slower going than one would like.
4To my readers out east: “blizzard” in Vancouver vernacular means “it was snowing out.”
5You may recall Hell’s Kitchen as the location of my brief but celebrated career as a coat check girl.
6I think. If memory serves me, they didn’t have Amaretto here so I had to improvise. But I could be misremembering – memory started to fuzzy for some unidentifiable reason.

{April 23, 2007}   Biz-ness

A few items of business. Because I know you all love business, right?

Remember back when this used to be a blog about thesis writing, and the similarity between writing a thesis and the seventh layer of hell? Well, my final paper from that thesis has now been accepted for publication in the journal Bone. For those of you not from the world of bone science, Bone is a pretty sweet journal to get published in. My other paper from my thesis is also there, so it’s nice to have this one in the same journal, as it really does stem from the first paper. As an added bonus, we get to have one of the figures printed in colour – for free! Ordinarily it costs about US$1000 to get a figure printed for free, but they grant one request per month for a free colour image, as long as the colour is scientifically warranted. Which of course mine is. It also happens to be waaay prettier in colour than in black & white. But absolutely scientifically warranted.

I got my business cards last week. I would post them here, but as I discussed before, I’m avoiding mentioning where I work here in blogland*. Suffice it to say, they are wicked cool and you should be jealous of me.

In terms of my health, no one seems to know what’s wrong with me. I am H. pylori negative, but that doesn’t tell me why my tummy still hurts, or why I was vomitting coffee grounds***. I went back to the walk-in clinic, but the doctor I saw seemed to not really know what was wrong with me, and just wanted to criticize what the first doctor had done, despite the fact that he hadn’t even opened up my file before he walked into the room and had no idea what was going on. He also told me that I need to completely eliminate caffeine, despite the fact there really isn’t any scientific evidence to support that****. I need to find a real family doc and not rely on the walk in, because clearly continuity of care is not their strong point. I think I need a referral to a gastroenterologist to find out what the heck is going on. My plan is now to contact the (absolutely wonderful) doctor I used to see at Student Health***** to see if she knows of a good family doc that is accepting patients right now, and hopefully they will give me a referral, as well as a prescription for a proton-pump inhibitor, as I only currently have a sample package, and that will run out soon.

And finally, I really should get back to work. I’m working on revisions to a systematic review that I’ve been working on for ages (it kind of got sidetracked as my co-author, who is normally in Australia, went to Zimbabwe for a while and didn’t have much access to the net**). It’s due later this week and I’m hoping there aren’t too many revisions (although I’ve had the reviewer’s comments for a week, I got sidetracked with my health and haven’t really looked at them up until now). There really is no rest for the wicked.

*not that that stopped a co-worker from Googling me and finding my blog!

**kind of like Field, BC.

***fortunately now it is just stomach pains that come and go, and no nausea or vomitting since that one time last Sunday.

****Had he suggested a trial period of caffeine elimination from my diet to test if that was causing trouble, I might have been willing to play along. But telling me to never have caffeine EVER AGAIN (which is what he said to do) and being completely dismissive of the fact that I’m experiencing withdrawl symptoms did not impress me in the least. I mean, I have tags for “coffee,” “tea” and “diet pop” on my blog… I think I just might be a caffeine addict!

*****I can’t go to Student Health anymore, as I’m not a student. =(

{April 18, 2007}   Coffee-ground vomitus

Like Sarah, I’m sure that everyone is dying to know why I know about coffee-ground vomitus. What’s that? You really aren’t all dying to know? Well, too bad, ‘cuz I’m going to tell you anyway.

Actually, it’s not nearly as exciting a story as it could be. But I think it has to do with this guy:

On Sunday I went out for my 18 K run. Felt great. Finished my run, had a shower. Started to feel not so great. I think “oh, I’ll be fine”, walked to the grocery store. Start getting groceries. Start to feel really, really not great. Like intense stomach pains, extreme weakness. Do I drop what I’m doing and go immediately home like a sensible person would? No, of course I don’t. I finish getting my groceries, pay for them, and walk home, having to stop a few times to lean against a pole and gather my strength. Now, I think that someone who just ran 18K should surely be able to walk 4 blocks carrying a few groceries, no? Apparently, not so much. When I got home, I dropped the groceries on the floor and crawled into the bathroom, as by this time I was having the most intense stomach pains – I could actually feel my stomach muscle contracting! – and nausea. Really, really nauseous. “I’ve been food poisoned by the Power Gel I had on my run!” I decided. On my previous 18 K, my Power Gel (vanilla flavoured) did wonders, but this time, I’d clearly been poisoned. How could you let me down so, Strawberry-Banana Power Gel??

Every so often, I would gather my strength and crawl out to my living room and get something to bring back to the bathroom with me – first a pillow, since lying on the bathroom floor is not all the comfortable. Then my laptop* to try to distract myself, and possibly summon assistance. The pain and nausea got so bad that I thought, “Well, I have 2 options. I can sit here and continue to sob from the pain, or I can make myself throw up.” Whenever I’ve had food poisoning, I’ve always felt so much better after vomiting. My body knows when there is something bad in my stomach and knows that getting it out is the best solution. So I did something I’ve never, ever done before. I actually stuck my finger down my throat to make myself throw up. And thus, the coffee-ground vomitus. It actually looked just like coffee grounds! It was so disgusting that the sight of it made me vomit even more**.

Now, I have never seen or heard of coffee-ground vomitus before, so, being a little freaked out, I consulted Dr. Google. I was pretty sure that I didn’t actually have yellow fever, which is the oft cited cause of black vomit, but other causes of upper GI tract bleeds were a possibility (coffee-ground vomitus is the result of an upper GI tract bleed of some kind, as the heme iron in the blood becomes oxidized by gastric acid, resulting in the lovely black vomit), . So then I decided that perhaps I should consult my personal physician, Dr. Kaede***. After a series of questions, she determined that a possible cause could be a bleeding ulcer, although it is odd for it to come on so suddenly (I hadn’t had any stomach issues prior to this).

So, on Monday after suffering through a day of stomach pain (but no nausea, thankfully) at work, I went to a walk-in clinic****. I got a ride there from my personal nurse*****, who asked me the same questions as my personal physician and came to the same conclusion. Although she did point out that my ridiculously high caffeine intake (which is usually about 2 large travel mugs of coffee and a diet Pepsi per day, sometimes more) probably doesn’t help the old GI tract. “But I’ve been drinking this much caffeine for 15 years,” I said. “Yeah, and that’s probably catching up to you now!”

I wait at the walk-in clinic for an hour and fifteen minutes so that the doctor can ask me all the same questions as I had gone through with Dr. Google, Dr. Kaede and my nurse. And then ordered a test for H. pylori******, the bacteria that causes ulcers. I wish I could have just ordered the test myself and saved that hour and fifteen minutes.

On the plus side, I was given the option of either a breath test or a blood test. Obviously, being even more of a needle-phobe than I am a vomit-phobe, I opted for a breath test. The drawbacks are that you have to fast for at least four hours and that you can’t take any antacids before the test*******. A small price to pay for keeping needles out of my arm, in my opinion. So I went for my breath test today… they made me drink some radioactive drink and blow through a straw into a tube. As far as I can tell, the radioactive drink has not given me any superpowers… yet. Test results should be back in a day or two. I’m really hoping it is H. pylori, because it’s fairly easy to treat – just a week of antibiotics and you are good to go. If it isn’t that, who the hell knows! And I don’t want to be dealing with this – it’s not fun to have constant stomach pain and I have a half marathon to run in less than 3 weeks, but right now I can barely walk the three blocks from the bus stop to my office.

Also, my mother is convinced that I am hemorrhaging to death. She is sure that somehow running 18K caused my internal organs to be ripped apart and my death from blood loss is imminent. So now, on top of the non-stop stomach pain, I have to deal with that guilt that I’m worrying my mother. The stress of that is enough to give me an ulcer!

*You know you are an internet junkie when…
**This will not be a surprise to Sarah, who gave me the nickname “Flush” after that party in high school were I was puking and I kept flushing the toilet mid-puke because I didn’t want to look at it.
***OK, she’s not actually my personal physician. She’s a friend of mine who also happens to be a physician
****Since I don’t actually have a family doctor. I’d been going to Student Health Services, where I had the best doctor EVER, but I can’t go there anymore since I’m no longer a student.
*****OK, she’s not actually my personal nurse. She’s a friend of mine who also happens to be a nurse.
******See picture at the start of this posting, which seems like ages ago!
*******I got to take the antacid (which is actually an H+, K+, ATPase inhibitor – a pretty powerful antacid) after the test, but it didn’t really seem to help at all anyway.

Thoughts on my day:

  • because there was a chance that I might have to stay late for a meeting this evening, I decided to get up early* to go for a run before work as I didn’t want to run in the dark after getting home late. Apparently someone is unfamiliar with the concept of “spring forward.” I got up at 6:30 a.m. and it was pitch fucking black. But, being the resourceful person that I am, I decided to have my breakfast/make my lunch/do the dishes/pack my bag for work before I ran, thus giving it time to get light out. And I got into work by 9:30 am, which is half an hour earlier than I had expected to.
  • Apparently there is a reason that “free coffee” isn’t a listed benefit. I discovered today that apparently the kitchenette on my floor has a coffee maker that is just for show. My hallmates** informed me, when I inquired about the coffee making situation, that “it’s just for desperation” and the coffee maker in the main office, three floors below us, is much better… well, you would have to be quite desperate, not to mention very creative, to make coffee on our floor, as there are coffee filters, but no coffee***. So I went to the main office for my morning coffee, but their coffee maker is quite small and since I’m sure that satisfying my coffee dependency by continually making pots of it is not in any of the support staff’s job descriptions, when I required an afternoon caffeine jolt****, I made the trip to Timmy Ho’s. It’s a long, convoluted, subterranean route to the Timmy’s… a series of tubes, if you will, not unlike the internets.
  • I’m hoping that walking through said series of tubes to Timmy’s, as well as taking the stairs up and down to my 6th floor office a few times a day will counteract the nonstop sitting and snacking that comes along with a computer-based office job, so that I won’t gain 50 lbs a minute.
  • I’m listening to the Canucks game on the radio as I compose this posting and this brings up two things: (a) I saw on their website that the Canucks have called up relative cutie Nathan Smith from the Manitoba Moose, and (b) the Canucks are playing the Wild and I can’t hear Shorty or Larscheid say the name “Carney” without giggling. I keep picturing a carnie rather than Carney.
  • while waiting for the bus this morning I learned that, apparently, Matt (whoever Matt may be) is ripped and has 3 nipples and someone else “luvs to spooge”:
  • After two days at work, I’m interesting in learning how the hell anyone gets anything done when they are working 8 hours a day on things unrelated to blogging and emailing? Anyone have any idea?

*Yeah, I’m as surprised as you are.
**Is that a word?
***There’s instant, but I won’t dignify that by calling it coffee. Hey, does anyone remember the brief period when Tetley made instant tea? What was up with that?
****as my early afternoon diet Pepsi just wasn’t cutting it.

OK, so it’s not totally crazy. For example, it’s not as crazy as making your life a Choose Your Own Adventure where your blog readers get to vote on things you do in life so that you end up showing up to a blogging conference in a dragon costume, like so:

So, I’m not that crazy. The crazy undertaking of which I speak is that, starting tomorrow, I am following the Food Guide. For a month. And recording everything I eat. Danielle and another friend of ours, Sheila, who is also in the Dietetics program, have decided to do this since, as dietitians, they will be telling people to follow the Food Guide, so they really should see what it is like to do it themselves. And I, as usual, am tagging along for the ride. I even made my own personalized Food Guide (.pdf), using some of my favourite foods as examples (you can play along at home and make your own personalized Food Guide by going to the Health Canada site). As a female, age 19-30*, I am allowed the following number of servings in a day:

And “Food Guide Servings” are a heck of a lot smaller than what you or I usually think of as a serving. For example, one English muffin = 2 servings. 50g (or 1.5 oz) of cheese (that’s a piece of cheese about the size of your thumb) = 1 serving. And 6 spears of asparagus = 1 serving**. And for you meat eaters, 1/2 cup of meat = 1 serving – that’s just 125 mL or 2.5 oz of beef!

The plan is to record everything we eat and try to actually consume the recommended number of servings. Now, the amount of food that the Food Guide allows us looks like it is going to be a fair bit less than what we usually eat – not overly surprising, seeing as how the Food Guide is meant for the “average Canadian” and I’m pretty sure that training for a half marathon is slighty more activity than the “average Canadian” gets… not to mention the fact that, compared to Danielle & Sheila (who regularly run half marathons, are training for a triathalon, are hardcore utli players and bike to school every day) I look like a sedentary couch potato. So, we’ve decided that if we do, indeed, end up eating more servings than the Food Guide recommends, we’ll try to make those from the Fruit & Veg group. Danielle & I made up booklets in which to easily record all this and I dug through my many boxes of dishes to find my extra sets of measuring cups, as I think we’ll be doing a lot of measuring to figure out how many servings of things we’ll be getting. As well, I’m sure that we’ll be consuming things not included in the Food Guide***, and those things will be recorded and duly noted as well. The point is not necessarily to follow the Guide rigidly (as it is a guide, not a hard and fast program – and we nutritional scientists are fond of saying “things are OK in moderation!”), but to get a sense of how easy or difficult it is to follow the Guide.

As I’m sure you are all *dying* to know how this goes, I’ll be sure to keep you posted.

*I better enjoy this year, as next year I enter the 31-50 age range (omg, how depressing is that!) and I’m only allowed 7 servings of Fruit & Veg and 6 servings of Grain Products! That’s TWO less servings of food every single day! =(

*um, wtf? Who the hell only eats 6 spears of asparagus???

*** coffee, Diet Pepsi, sweet sweet alcohol, I’m looking in your direction

{February 2, 2007}   January Wrap Up

Two things about January:

  1. I did, in fact, post something every single day in January. And twice on the 10th.
  2. The only game in the entire month of January where the Canucks didn’t get at least one point was on my birthday.

In other news, my future husband, Marc Chouinard, scored his second goal as a Canuck tonight. Danielle got to go to the game and I am just a wee bit jealous. I listened to the game on the radio and it sounded very, very exciting!

Also, the release date of the last Harry Potter book has been, uh, released. July 21, 2007! w00t!! When book 6 came out, I preordered it from Chapters* so that I would receive it on the day it came out… and I read it from cover to cover, starting from when the letter carrier put it into my hot little hands at about noon until I was done at about 3 am the next day, having only taken two breaks – one to walk to the store to buy diet Pepsi and one to make myself something to eat. I also rode my exercise bike for 6 hours that day… I would ride it for an hour while reading, then sit on the couch for an hour while reading, and then repeat. That made me feel like I wasn’t being a total sloth by just sitting still for 15 hours straight. Hmm… I don’t have that exercise bike anymore… will need to come up with a new method for July 21!

Yup, first post of Febrary = phoning it in.

*Also, if you pre-order right away, you get it for half price.

{November 7, 2006}   Updates and Suchlike

Taylor Pyatt scored the winning goal tonight. Is there anything he can’t do? *sigh*

My good luck in the free movie department appears to be contagious – my roommate won tickets to see a movie (Little Children). I heart Videomatica.

It’s day 8 of the detox diet. I miss diet Pepsi so much. On the plus side, I’ve discovered that almond butter is delish on apples. I may or may not have a plan to celebrate the end of the detox that involves Nevermind, a portobello mushroom burger and a bellini served in a fishbowl. Yes, that’s 32 oz of bellini. And yes Nevermind, where they give free shots to anyone sitting at the bar whenever the Canucks score*.

Also, Shalu is my BFF. She knows why. I heart Shalu.

My mom and sister are coming to visit me in just over two weeks! Yay mom & sister! It is my mom’s 60th birthday in 6 days. I think that means I’m old.

*apparently I’m planning to re-toxify my body, which I spent 12 days detoxing, in the space of about 3 hours.

{November 4, 2006}   Detox

Since late August, I have won tickets to see sneak previews of three different movies (Crank*, The Queen** and The Last King of Scotland***) and a play (Life After God). Why can’t I have that kind of good luck when it comes to looking for a job??

I think we can all agree that after last weekend, I need to detox. So my roommate and I are doing a detox diet. My roommate is doing the whole herbal thing, whereas I am just following the diet. For the most part, it’s not that different from how we usually eat****, but dammit, I really miss my diet Pepsi. And for some reason, poutine isn’t included on the detox diet. We started our detox on Monday, so on Sunday we decided to eat all kinds of foods that we wouldn’t be allowed to have for the next 12 days… like peanut butter and honey, and candy and chips and cherry vanilla diet Dr. Pepper:

… and friggin’ good cheesecake with mango puree***** from Nyala:

Fortunately, I’m allowed to have up to 2 cups of coffee per day and all the green tea I can drink. And we’ve discovered a wicked good chai green tea, so between that and water with lemon in it, I’m surviving. And I’m addicted to potatoes cooked with garlic and onions. And rice cakes with almond butter, which are quite yummy. And which I have taken to smuggling into the free movies.

I’ll keep you apprised of my detox progress.. and will no doubt be writing next Saturday with a giant glass of diet Pepsi.

*I think the premise behind Crank is the perfect premise for an action movie – the main character has to keep his adrenalin up or he’ll die… a recipe for non-stop action!

**Despite the fact that everyone else I know who has seen it liked it, I thought The Queen was really boring. I mean, the whole movie was “when will the Queen speak publically about Diana’s death?” And we already know that she waited a week! Boooooring!

***This movie was phenomenal! My roommate had been telling me about it and how she really wanted to see it and that same day I got an email saying I’d won tickets!

****We are both vegetarians; she’s a dietitian in training and I’m a nutritional scientist, so needless to say that whole grains and fruits and veggies are already staples in our house.

*****We were actually waaaaaay happier to be eating this cheesecake than the picture would lead you to believe. But this was like our 5th try to get the photo, with previous attempts missing the cheesecake or cutting one of us off, since we were taking the photo ourselves. And by that point, we just wanted to eat the cheesecake already!!

{August 11, 2006}   D-Day

When we last left off, our intrepid young doctoral candidate and her trusty PPP had just had dinner at the Eatery. As expected, I did not get much sleep that night, as I was waaaay too nervous to sleep. I did some last minute reading/cramming and even found a crazy typo as I was reading through my thesis*. I finally laid down around 3 a.m., but only to enter a continuous cycle of dozing off and the immediately waking up in a panic. Around 7ish I decided I may as well get up and get ready. I had a friend in my undergrad who always showed up to exams with her hair and makeup done and a nice outfit on (while the rest of us looked like we hadn’t slept or changed our clothes in days). Her theory was that if you were going to go down in a spectacular train wreck of an exam, you might as well look good doing so. In that spirit, I did my makeup and hair and dressed up all spiffy-like (even wearing my kickass boots, seen here). Sarah and I caught the bus (surprizingly, we had no transportation misadventures on the way) and made it to the Grad Student Centre, where the official doctoral exam room is, with plenty of time to spare.

Now, I mentioned in a previous posting that when your examiners show up to your defence in Hawaiian shirts, you know things are going to go well. My theory being that if the examiners wanted to fail you, they’d be showing up in a suit to exert their authority. So when examiners showed up in biking gear, my spirts were buoyed.

The process for a doctoral defence is that you give a 20-30 minute presentation on your research and then the examiners, who have all had at least 4 weeks to read your thesis, get to ask questions. They get 20 minutes each for the first round, then the audience is given an opportunity to ask questions, then another round of questions from the examiners (if they so desire). There are 6 examiners in total – 3 from your supervisory committee**, one from your department who is not on your supervisory committee, one from another department (also not on your committee) and an external examiner, who is from another university (the external doesn’t actually come to the defence – he or she just emails their questions and their ranking of your thesis). After that they kick you and the audience out of the room so they can deliberate and then call you back in the room to give you the verdict.

As for my defence, I thought that my presentation went quite well (some of the examiners even commented that they felt the presentation was well done and really made the findings of the thesis very clear), but I didn’t perform as well as I would have liked on the questions. Some of the questions I handled alright, but there were a few where I really did know the answer but couldn’t quite recall the details that I needed. I really think the stress was getting to me… I’m usually much better under pressure, but the stress of not just the defence itself (which is bad enough) but of all the many and varied personal and professional catastrophes I’ve been experiencing in the past year all seemed to pile up on me and the strain was just a bit too much for me to perform as well as I would have liked. But apparently the stuff I did answer, and my handling of the stuff that I didn’t know, was good because I passed! And with very minimal revisions to do! So now I just need to make those revisions, show my supervisor that I did what they asked for and I can hand it in and then I’m totally done! Woot woot!

After the defence, there were many congratulatory hugs, “I told you it would be fine!”s and photos taken. Then my supervisor took a bunch of my friends and colleagues to lunch at the Banana Leaf in Kits. After that I had to meet with her to go over the revisions, as she was leaving the next day for a week long camping trip. When I returned home, Sarah showered me with cards (from her and Dave, and from her parents) full of money*** and double Amaretto & diet Pepsis. I called my parents to tell them the good news, and then I called my sister, who, along with my neice, was in Halifax visiting her friend****. My sister said to my neice, “Say “yay Aunt Beth”! Aunt Beth got her Ph.D.!!!” To which my neice confidently replied, “Tomato.” As if to say, “Ph.D., Ph.schme. I would like to eat one of those delicious looking cherry tomatoes!” Leave it to a 20 month old to put things into perspective!

After the phone calls, there was lounging and chatting and then, due to my ineptitude (and probably the effects of the dA&dPs setting in), we missed the bus that was supposed to take us to meet Kalev by about 30 secs, so we had to walk 17 blocks (and it would be the first day it had rained on Sarah’s entire trip here!) rather than wait for the next bus, which wouldn’t be until 20 minutes later. Meeting up with Kalev on Broadway, we hopped on a bus to take us to the dinner that Sarah had organized (as I had refused to organize my own dinner, as such presumptious behaviour on my part would undoubtedly have jinxed me). Kalev & Sarah didn’t tell me where we were going and despite my valiant efforts at guessing, it wasn’t until I could actually see the restaurant that I figured out we were going to Habibi’s. Despite the fact Kalev had introduced me to this source of Lebanese deliciousness a mere week earlier, I got off the bus going, “Where are you taking me? There are no restaurants around here!” For the second time that day, I had Kalev ordering for the whole table (since we decided to order a bunch of dishes to share). There was a slight panic when we were informed that the keg wasn’t working and we couldn’t get any beer, but they later informed us that they’d fixed it, much to the relief of Rachel, who I thought might actually die from the shock of not being able to have a beer with dinner. The next big shock came when I was presented with a scrapbook – a brilliant idea of Shalu’s. It was full of all kinds of pictures from my friends (including a few pictures that I hadn’t seen before!) and which everyone who attended the defence and/or the dinner had signed and written stuff in. I was totally shocked when I opened the first page and saw pictures of me that had been taken right after my defence that morning*****! Also shocking was that I had no idea that everyone was sneaking out during dinner to sign my book, which was sitting on a table on the patio right in plain view!! I’d noticed people going outside during dinner, but hadn’t been paying much attention and kinda thought they were just going outside to talk on their cell phones… closer to the end of dinner I sort of noticed that someone was at a table outside writing something, but at that point it was kinda dark out, so I wasn’t even sure that it was someone from our group and, if it was, I figured maybe they were signing a card. So I was totally surprized – and very touched! – that my friends had done this for me!

After dinner, a bunch of us went downtown to find a club. Seeing as it was a Tuesday, there weren’t a lot of options, so we opted for the Roxy. Not the fanciest of clubs, but it had a lot of people in it, the music was good and, unlike Celebrities, the boys there are straight. Rachel bought the first round of drinks, which included Jager Bombs for all! Yay Jager Bombs******! And thereafter much dancing, drinking and debachery followed.

The next day was kind of a blur, but I do recall lunch at Sodas and a quick trip to the Liquor Store to procure some delectable BC wines for Sarah to bring back to Ontario. And then a cabbie came and whisked her away to the airport! =( And I missed her as soon as she was gone! Sarah, I can’t thank you enough for coming all this way to support me during my defence! You are the best PPP, post-defence-party-planner and friend that a girl could ever ask for! You rock!!!

The next day I got a lovely surprize – my parents, sister and neice had sent me some beautiful flowers! Check them out!

*In one of my citations I had referenced an article that, apparently, was published in 1007 (rather than 1997). Man, that’s one OLD article!

**You can have 2 or 3 from your committee… I had 3. And I will just add that I had the best committee ever, so I was perfectly happy to have 3… heck, I’d have had all 5 if I could have! (OK, not really… but I did really like all my committee members!)

***Money which is being put towards the digital camera I keep whining about not having!

****readers of Touch You Last will know her friend as the intrepid commenter, BRNQ

*****God bless 1 hour digital photo developing!

******for the uninitiated, Jager Bombs are a shot of Jag dropped into a glass of Red Bull. And they are currently my favourite drink.

Well, it’s been a whirlwind of a week! And since Dave wasn’t here to chronicle the adventures this time, I have to actually do my own blogging. Fortunately, Sarah has a photographic memory and, before she left, she wrote down a list of everything we did while she was here, otherwise this posting would read something like, “um.. we did a bunch of stuff… I remember going to the Eatery… ya, and some other stuff”.

Sarah’s transportation misadventures, of which there were several, started even before she got here. While she was supposed to arrive at 11 pm, she didn’t get here until after 1 am, owing to lightning at Toronto airport, where she had to transfer planes. Apparently they don’t like to have the workers out on the tarmac during storms, ‘cuz it would be a bitch of a lawsuit if one of them got struck by lighting. I whiled away the extra time waiting for Sarah by going to see some no-reason fireworks – the show, put on by the Czech Republic was, in my humble opinion, the best of the series. After her 11 hour trip (which followed a full day at work) and arriving at what was past 4 in the morning her time, Sarah was tired for some reason, so we went off to sleep, only to have to rise early the next morning for my practice defence session. After making sure that I knew how to use the Grad Studies laptop and projector and that my PowerPoint slides all worked (and getting feedback on my presentation from the people who came to watch), my friend Erika joined Sarah and I for lunch at One More Sushi in the Village. As One More is conveniently located near the campus Liquor Store, Sarah quickly rushed to buy as many cans of Granville Island Kitsilano Maple Cream Ale as she could carry (having brought an empty suitcase in which to return said cans to Ontario). Taking the bus while carrying 24 cans of beer made us look in no way like a couple of alcoholics.

After a much needed nap, we headed out to dinner at one of my favourite Indian restaurants, Indian Oven, and then downtown to meet Kalev and some of his friends at Celebrities, where we were horrified to discover that a new by-law means that the minimum price for hiballs has been raised from $2 to $3… Vancouver university students will now be 1/3 less drunk and will be none to happy about it. Other highlights from Celebrities included the bouncer requesting 8 pieces of ID and her T4 after he saw Sarah’s Ottawa-based ID, the amazing* entertainment, and dude in (and later out of) the kilt. Oh ya, and the guy snorting coke in the middle of the club.

The next of Sarah’s transportation misadventures occurred the next day on our bus ride to Stanley Park. Shortly after a women with a cart full of bottles got on the bus, a woman got on the bus in her scooter, declaring, “It’s my first bus trip on my scooter!!”. The bus driver informed her “it’s easier to get on the bus if you back in,” to which she yelled, “WHAT??” as she drove forward on the bus. Then it took her 20 MINUTES (no, I’m not making that up) to try to turn her scooter around to get properly placed on the bus. The whole procedure was complicated by the women with the bottles who was standing right in the way of the woman trying to turn around on her scooter. Apparently it didn’t occur to her that she was right in the way and it didn’t appear that she spoke any English and so couldn’t understand the bus driver’s requests to get out of the way (and apparently this woman is often on this bus, as the driver said, “Why do we have go through this EVERY day?!”). Also, the woman had taken her shoes off. That didn’t add to the complication of getting the other woman and her scooter on the bus, but it was just a weird thing to do on the bus. Then, to top things off, the woman on the scooter got off the bus a mere 4 stops later… it would surely have taken her half the time to just scoot there!

After this long and harrowing ordeal, we FINALLY got to Stanley Park, where we met up with Sarah’s friends Deepa and David (who were in Vancouver on a househunting trip as David is starting at UBC and Deepa is transferring to Van) at the Aquarium. After eating outrageously priced sandwiches at the snack bar, we marvelled at size of the sea lions**, ooh and ahhed over the adorable sea otters, and ran screaming from the snakes & spiders*** in the Amazon Rainforest exhibit. Once we’d had our fill of marine life, we checked out Prospect Point, which Sarah hadn’t been to on her previous trips to Stanley and which I haven’t been to since I was 17. That was followed by a ridiculously long search for a parking spot downtown, as we were meeting Sarah & Deepa’s friends Etienne and Eve at the Banana Leaf on Denman for dinner. Word to the wise: the Banana Leaf on Denman is no Banana Leaf in Kitsilano. When we proceeded to tell Etienne & Eve our story about the woman with the bottles on the bus, they sighed, “Oh, her.” Apparently she’s quite the fixture in the world of Translink travellers. We followed up dinner with coffee at some coffee place whose name I can’t remember where I had the surreal experience of sitting in a coffee shop in Vancouver with 5 people all speaking French around me. I believe this is the first time that 5 French speakers have ever been in Vancouver at the same time, let alone at the same table, and surely is one of the signs of the apocalypse.

The next day was Saturday and since Sarah needed to get more bus tickets, we stopped at Safeway and picked them up, along with some surprizingly tasty sandwiches that we ate on the bus on the way downtown. We met up with Deepa & David, as Sarah had forgotten her camera in their car the previous night. The Mac-Mc family doesn’t have much luck when it comes to not losing their digi-cams, so we were very glad that it had just fallen out of her purse in their car. After a quick chat with D&D at Starbucks in Gastown, it was off to the Vancouver Art Gallery to see Raven Travelling, an exhibit of Haida art. They also had some other exhibits, including an exhibit about contemporary prefabricated homes… now, I know what you are thinking. You are thinking “prefab homes? wtf? that’s not art!” And you know what, you are right, it’s not. So we were glad that we spent most of our time on the Haida art, of which Sarah and I are both big fans. Dinner was at everyone’s favourite hippie hangout, the Naam. And since it was the last night of the Celebration of Light (aka the no-reason fireworks) we decided to add a little something extra to our diet Pepsi bottles and hop on a bus to Kits Beach to watch the show. Now, the plan was good. We checked the bus schedule. We knew that we needed to go quite a bit early because EVERYONE in Vancouver goes to the fireworks and EVERYONE takes the bus ‘cuz there’s no parking within a hundred mile radius of the beaches. But you know what they say about the best laid plans. The time at which the bus was supposed to arrive came and went. The time at which the NEXT bus was supposed to come also came and went. Finally, pretty much when Sarah (who had quite enough of her transportation misadventures by this point) said, “I don’t even want to go to the fireworks anymore!” the bus arrived. 40 mins late. On a route where buses are supposed to come every 20 mins. On a night when Translink claims they have extra buses because they know so many people are taking the bus to the fireworks. Pretty much everyone on the bus had a bottle of “pop” or “juice”. There were even a few people with “bottled water” that was an awfully strange shade for water. And Sarah was all like “I thought the stage in my life where I had to surreptitiously drink my alcohol from a pop bottle were over!” Apparently, not so much. On the way back we decided it was just easier to walk home than to wait for a bus, which gave me the excuse to stop at the Tim Horton’s on Broadway for a coffee. Where I impressed an American with my vast knowlege of American and Canadian politics****. And his friend was like, “Wow, this is one well-educated young lady.” Seeing as this was 3 days before my Ph.D. defence I was like, “Dude, you don’t even know the half of it.”

Sunday was one of the few days where we had actually made plans more than a day in advance. The day started off with a pre-Pride brunch at Kalev’s friend Craig’s place, where Craig made Eggs Benedict and wicked awesome champagne and Alize drinks (which I managed to spill on myself). Now, believe it or not, I’d never had Eggs Benedict before and, after trying it, I can’t believe what I’ve been missing out on! After brunch we found ourselves a nicely shaded spot to watch the Pride Parade, where we boo-ed the Conservative Party of Canada car and cheered Hedy Fry, Jack Layton and, especially, the Celebrities float. After the Parade, we lost Kalev & Co in the throngs of people at the Sunset Beach Festival, so we headed back across the bridge to Kits, where we found ourselves back at Sophie’s for burgers. After that we headed back to my place to try to touch base with Shalu, with whom we had tentative plans to do something that night. After about six thousand phone calls in which we dithered and dithered and dithered on what we wanted to do, we finally decided to go to Andrew’s post-Pride party and then head over to Wild Coyote for FUBAR. By the time Shalu arrived, Sarah and I had broken into the bottle of port she had picked up at the Liquor Store. Port which I managed to spill on myself. We arrived at Andrew’s with a bottle of wine and a bunch of beer, so Sarah declared, “We BYOB’d” and everyone thought she said, “We brought weed.” Oh, Vancouverites. In a surprizing twist, I managed to spill my wine on myself. We got to chatting with everyone and before we knew it, it was totally late and we never did get out to FUBAR. But we had a great time at the party, so it was all good.

After our fun-filled Sunday, Monday hit me hard. Monday meant there was only one day left before D-day. Panic started to set in. Sarah entertained herself with my collection of Harry Potter books while I got in some last minute studying and practised my presentation for my defence. The day was punctuated with good luck emails and phone calls from family & friends and with Sarah keeping me from ever getting to full-blown panic mode*****. Lunch was some mexican food at Mexacali’s, where I had a passable meal and Sarah’s was inedible. We made up for the lackluster lunch by going for a late dinner at the Eatery. Mmmm, the Eatery. If you are ever in Vancouver, I highly recommend you go there.

OK, so this posting has gotten really, really long, and it is getting late… and I think the defence itself warrants it’s own posting, so I’m going to end this posting now (has anyone actually read all the way through this thing?)

*where is a sarcasm font when you need one?
**I actually know someone who works with those sea lions for her research
***OK, this might have just been Deepa and I. And we didn’t so much run or scream as just refuse to look and got the hell out of that exhibit ASAP.
****My vast knowledge consisted of “I dislike Stephen Harper because he is a fundamentalist wacko” and “I dislike GWB because he is a fundamentalist wacko.” When pressed for more details, I added, “He’s a war mongerer who cares more about oil than he does about human lives.”
*****henceforth Sarah was known as my PPP (personal panic preventer).

{July 13, 2006}   Sweet Obsessions

Regular readers of my blog will know of some of my current obsessions: my shoes, David Emerson (see: hatred thereof), the Vancouver Canucks (sub-obsessions include: how ugly the Sedin twins are, how I would like to have Brendan Morrison’s babies), Cobs Country Grain bread, Vancouver restaurants*, being a scientist, my neice, the TTC (specifcally, hot guys therein), I Saw You.

But I also have a number of other obsessions that I haven’t really given any air time to here in the blogosphere. In no particular order, they include:

  • filling out surveys – perhaps I just like being deluded into thinking that if I’m asked to fill in a survey, someone actually cares about my opinion on things, but I love filling out surveys! I don’t even care what they are about. I’ve piloted several questionnaires for various people’s graduate research projects, participated in any research project I’ve been asked to. I especially like when I have the possibility to win something for filling out a survey. In both of the last two Censuses I received the long version and was absolutley in heaven!
  • Simpsons quotations – I really do believe that there is a Simpsons quotations for all occasions. Ones I use most frequently include: “Mama’s watchin’ her stories” (used when I want someone to stop bugging me), “I dunno, internet?” (used when I don’t know the answer to (or don’t care to waste my time thinking about) the question in question), “And now we play the waiting game. I’m sick of the waiting game – let’s play Hungry, Hungry Hippos!” (used in situations involving waiting, obviously), “Sitting still, writing down numbers, paying attention. Yes, science has it all!” and “Batman’s a scientist” (used several times during an average workday in the lab), “Me fail English? That’s unpossible” (used to make fun of the grammatically impaired), “I’m somewhere I don’t know where I am!” (for me, used frequently)
  • weird pluralizations – octupi, matrices, ulnae – I can’t get enough of that shit.
  • the Young & the Restless – this one started in my first year of university. Whenever I came home from my afternoon labs, my roommate, Laurie, would have Y&R on her TV. And being tired from lab, I would always drop down onto my bed and watch it. And thus I became addicted. And even though I haven’t had access to television for the past 5 years, I’ve still kept up with the storylines by reading a spoiler site. And now, in my new place that has a TV with bunny ears that gets only one channel, Global (which happens to show the Y&R), I can watch again! The acting is terrible, the writing is worse and the special effects would make those who produced Tron go “wow, that’s some lousy FX.” But yet I still tune in. I mean, where else can you hear a woman who’s had several affairs (and whose husband had also had several affairs) say to another woman who got impregnated by her husband’s brother and never bothered to tell him, letting him believe that the kid was his (and whose said husband left her ‘cuz she wouldn’t give up her career, but then they got remarried) say “Oh, Drucilla. I always thought you and I had the most stable marriages.” Or where else can you see that same women sleep with her brother-in-law (who just married her sister-in-law mere weeks before, and who also was engaged to your mother-in-law and whose step-daughter is the child of his wife’s former step-mom and her father, but only because the former step-mom stole his sperm from a lab)? Now that’s entertainment!
  • caffeinated beverages – especially diet Pepsi and coffee. Especially Tim Horton’s coffee. This addiction stems from two sources: (a) I worked in a donut shop when I was young and having to open the store at 5 am, combined with access to all the free coffee you can drink during your formative years, is a recipe for caffeine addiction, and (b) my family’s tendency to express affection via the delivery of hot, caffeinated beverages. In my family, saying “want a cuppa?” or bringing someone a Timmy’s is the secret code for “I love you,” which they would never be caught dead actually saying.
  • my boots – although I have gone on ad nauseam about my beloved sexy shoes, I don’t think I’ve yet rhapsodized about my boots. Referred to as CFM boots by some** and bitch boots by others, I love my boots. I only seem to have a couple of not very good resolution photos of my boots***, but here they are:

(would you believe that these photos were taken, of all places, in a bathroom?? Moxie’s on Broadway. In the pic on the left, I’m sitting on one of the make-up chairs. In the one on the right, I’m next to the fire place, below the big screen TV. Nicest.Bathrooms.Ever)

  • libraries – OK, I do realize how nerdy that makes me sound. But combine my love of books with my abject poverty and there you go. Up until I moved (and decided it was easier to return most of them than to move them to my new place), I had about 15 books checked out of the UBC Library (including one book, which I still have, that I’ve been renewing for over 4 years) and I just checked out 4 books from the VPL, to accompany the 3 that I already have (and the 1 that I’ve requested).
  • Harry Potter – And if you don’t believe me, email me at halfbloodbeth {at} mugglenet {dot} com for more details. And don’t even think about calling me a nerd for this obsession, or I will curse you. And since, according to a certain person who threw out my Tarot cards (!!), I am, in fact, a witch, I totally could.
  • lists – Grocery lists, to-do lists, Christmas gift wish lists… if it’s in list form, I’m all over it. As evidenced by the list of which this is a part. I actually add things that I’ve already done to my to-do list, just so I can cross it off****.
  • my shoes – I may not have mentioned it before, but I bought these shoes on ebay…

*see Dave‘s blog entries from April 12 to April 23, 2006 for more details.

**mostly by people who want to CFM.

***my kingdom for a digital camera!!

****come on, I know you do this too.

{May 19, 2006}   Misery Loves Company

Long weekends don’t mean a lot when you are a grad student. Especially a grad student with such a sporadic schedule as mine. When I have experiments going, I’m in the lab 7 days a week, usually for anywhere between 8-14 hours a day. I usually forget to eat until about 4 pm, when Shalu and I both nearly pass out from hunger. When I’m in a writing phase, I will usually work everyday, late into the night, drinking copious amounts of coffee/tea/diet Pepsi, and then sleep in ’til noon. And repeat, with each night getting progressively later until I end up working ’til 7 am and sleeping ’til 3 in the afternoon. Or maybe I’ll take a week and just goof off. I often lose track of what day of the week it is, since days melt into nights, weekdays melt into weekends – it’s all the same to me.

And as much as I love what I do and the flexibility that my career (sometimes) affords me, when I hear people who have regular jobs, with regular schedules talk about their plans for the long weekend and realize that they can actually enjoy their “free time” without the nagging voice in the back of their mind saying “you should be working right now!”, I feel a pang of jealousy*.

This long weekend will be filled with more working on the thesis (of “Thesis Writing is Hell” fame), punctuated by packing to move. All of which will take place inside my dank basement apartment. The apartment I’ve spent so much time in working on the damn hell thesis lately that I think I’ll go mad**.

So, since I’m in a bitter and angry place right now, I was pleased to see this weekend’s forecast:

It’s been gorgeously sunny and warm for about a week, but in typical Vancouver fashion, it will raining throughout the entire long weekend. Except on Sunday, when apparently the weather will be Not Applicable***. Enjoy your long weekend, Vancouver! ****

On a completely unrelated topic:

As per Dave’s request, I’m posting a link to the funniest video EVER! Calgary Flames. Singing. Seriously. Watch this video and tell me that anyone who is a Flames fan isn’t a complete freak. You can’t touch a flame when it’s red hot!

*when I hear about how people actually get paid a living wage (or more) for their work, I experience another pang of jealousy. But that’s a whole other issue.

**thank god for the friends who have invited me out for dinner lately, giving me an excuse to get out of this place once in a while! I owe them my sanity (such as it is).


***I know. That is mean and spiteful and I’m going to hell. Please send me beer, as it will be hot there. I hear that beer is an acquired taste, like red wine.

{January 12, 2006}   Best.Birthday Present.Ever

An offer for a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford.

That sure beats a kick in the pants. (Although finding out that Gordon Campbell* was arrested for drunk driving in Maui on my bday in 2003 wasn’t too bad of a gift — for his mug shot, click here). On the whole though, I have to say that the postdoc trumps even that.

The offer is to start “as soon as you possibly can after finishing your Ph.D.” Yes, I’m that hot of a commodity. Or I’ve gotten myself into a high stakes, winner take all, must-produce-more-more-MORE-than-any-other-lab-lest-you-get-scooped-and-your-whole-career-comes-crashing-down-around-you situation. Either way, it’s warm there. And well they don’t have “free espresso” as a benefit like at Genentech (I’m not making that up. Click the link. Seriously.), I still think the deal is pretty sweet.

All kidding aside, I’m totally ecstatic! I really, really, really liked the lab there when I visited. Everyone was really friendly and welcoming. Just watching their interactions in the lab and during their lab meeting really gave you the sense that this is a good place to work. It will be a lot of hard work, no doubt about it, but the research they are doing is fascinating and if you can work in an environment where everyone is interested in collaborating rather than competing, all the better. Plus, everyone in the lab drinks diet Coke. So you know that they are good peeps.

Anyway, speaking of my bday, Birthday (which so generously reminds me when it’s your birthday, because otherwise I’d probably forget!) sent me a partial horoscope assessment (in an attempt to get me to pay to join some astrology website thing), and I was surprized at how very much this description sounds like me:

Section 1: The Inner You: Your Real Motivation
Serious, disciplined, and quietly ambitious, you are driven to prove yourself and to achieve material accomplishments and success. Your work, your position in the world, and your contributions to society are very important to you. You will persevere through enormous hardship and frustration in order to reach a goal you have set for yourself, and you often sacrifice much in the area of personal relationships and home life in order to do so.

Section 2: Mental Interests and Abilities
Clear, objective, and realistic, you are unimpressed by exaggerated claims or promises. You insist upon being shown facts to back up any statement you hear [this is sooo me], and your natural skepticism often borders on cynicism**. You approach problems clearly and rationally and maintain your poise and objectivity even in the midst of critical situations. Anyone seeking your advice is certain to get an unemotional and unbiased assessment of their situation, and you therefore make a good arbitrator or judge. You are thorough, conscientious, and disciplined in your thinking, and have an aptitude for business, organization, and administration. You are also a good strategist, and will plan and patiently follow a realistic course which will lead to your eventual success. Serious-minded and studious, you enjoy quiet time alone for thinking or reading.

I usually fit the description of Capricorn quite well, but this one was uncanny.

*P.S. Gordon Campbell also drank a drink with a human toe in it. It was on the internet, so it has to be true.

**”The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it.”-George Bernard Shaw

et cetera