Thursday, December 20, 2007

So it's been a while!

Well guys, I am truly sorry about the lag in time between posts. But I trust that you'll understand when you realize that me and my family moved from a summer in Australia, to the worst winter in 15 bloody years in Nova Scotia Canada!!!!

So I finished work on November 30. And honestly, it was a sad day for me. At 4:30pm I handed in my keys and my ID badge... I could no longer get into my office without someone else letting me in. After 6 and a half years. 6 and a half years. Long time. Small group. Good friends... A sad day indeed. But the going away dinner was really good. I got to dance with a very attractive belly dancer, photos on Facebook... Thanks Anne. You're a doll :)

Saying goodbye to the family was hard. That's all I'll say about that. It was hard and I didn't like it. Didin't like it at all.

So on Dec 7, we went to Sydney Airport, where we spent too long in line for them to tell us that we had to repack our luggage because our carry-on was too heavy. So we had to go and buy another checked luggage bag and empty all of our carry on. My problem was that we were only allowed something like 7 kg and my laptop etc was about 3.5. The really shitty thing was that we didn't get to say good bye to the family members that came to see us off because we were too busy re-packing. I am truly sorry and deeply saddened by that loss.

The plane trip from Sydney to LA was really long. Really long with a 5 year old and a 1 year old who is on the verge of walking. Neither me nor The Wife got any sleep on that leg of the flight. Not a wink. Nor did we really get to watch a whole movie. Alex enjoyed that flight though (except the food) since he could choose which movie he wanted to watch, he could play his Nintendo DS and the list goes on.

LA: Good and bad. The people were really nice and helpful. The airport was exceptionally well organized and were able to get our luggage, get through customs, and all that crap and then catch our flight with only portions of minutes to spare. We only had 2 hours from touchdown (which ended up being 15 minutes late) to the LA to Boston flight. The crappy part was the customs part. Do you know that you can bring in milk onto a flight, but not water, as long as the milk has no sugar added. but not waterm or liquid om greater than 100 mL aliquots. It was a pain in the ass. Especially when we were traveling with 2 little kids and could not remember in which carry-on luggage the drinks were in.

Boston: Same problems as with LA customs. Except there was a 1 hour delay which meant that we were in Boston airport for 4-5 hours. Not fun. Me and The Wife only got about 1 hour of sleep on the last flight. Only one hour. But the flight was only 1 hour or so.

Halifax: hat can you say, it was only good. Got to see my family again! Drove back to Yarmouth with my big bro Jason, The Wife, and my one year old daughter. Unfortunatley, there was a snow storm, and what usually takes 3 hours, took 5. But Jason did an exceptionally good job. Thanks Jay! And he had to get back to work at 7:30 that morning.... Thanks, and sorry!

The weather here in Yarmouth NS has been pretty crappy too! In the way that there has been way too much snow and I am not used to it. And neither is my wife. We played in the snow today though, and that was truly fun. Except when I realized that I lost my keys and they ended up in the snow on the front lawn. Mom came up with the idea of raking the snow covered lawn. Which eventually worked (after searching the entire house).

The important thing about the keys, besides the Swiss Army Knife which my Dad gave me when I left home in 1995, was my new home keys. My family will be living in Bedford for the next 8 months, and I had both of the keys on that knife. Not smart yes, but since 1995 I have never lost my keys, so why should that change now. Why should that change now??

Ah well, the family is great. We like the living arrangements. The kids like the grandparents (my parents). The grandparents like the kids. And all is well. But it will be nice to have our own place again. Since we moved out of our house in November, I have lived in 4 different houses with 4 different sets of people. But we've enjoyed each place.

So this is likely my last post of the year, so Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and I'll talk to you all next year.

PS: I will be working at the IWK in Halifax NS in January 2008, and I will be doing medical research again in the field of immunology, particularly autoimmunity etc like rheumatoid arthritis...

Keep smiling and make your new years resolutions count for something.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

a short bit...

Look, I don't really don't have alot to say today, so I thought that I would just say a few words. It's getting a bit scary now though... I have 37 days until I am in Canada. It's scary.... Last time I moved continents, it was pretty easy. I left Victoria BC, where I had no family, friends yes, but no family there. They were all back in NS (Canada again). I pretty much packed up my suitcase, and left.

NOW though, a completely different story. Married, 2 kids, a house full of crap to get rid of. A bit of a bigger deal of a move. But my wife is a true champion of champions. She's sold most of our stuff, and is, even now as I write, filling the world of e-bay with the final remnants of our possessions. Good on ya babe. Sorry I'm useless. But I think you may have known that when you married me. You may be over it.

It'll be interesting when I get back to NS though. I think that what will happen is that before I know it, the rest of my family will realize that they actually liked me better when I was so far away, and not visiting them!!! Joking (hopefully). Naw, it'll be great to see everyone. My brothers, my sister, my nieces, nephews, cousins, uncles, aunts, grandparents and parents and the list goes on and on. Up to and including the snow. I have royally missed the snow my friends. The beaches here are awesome though and they will be greatly missed, but the job is too good to pass up!

For those of you that care (a list of 1 maybe?) I finish work on the 30th of November. Go down the coast to visit the in-laws the next day. Come back to Sydney on the 5th, do the formal graduation bit on Dec 6th, fly out of Sydney on the 7th at about 12 noon. Get into NS at about 9:45 pm on the 7th. drive south for 3-ish hours to Yarmouth NS, and then pass out from sheer exhaustion.

Well, I should run, I have to put some clothes on the line. And then go to bed. I've been pretty tired and bloodshot lately. It's starting to bother me a bit actually. For the past few days, my eyes have been too bloodshot... Not enough coffee maybe... I'll work on that tomorrow....

Cheers,

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Countdown...

I just thought that I would try posting automatically from a program called "ScribeFire" which is a Firefox (web browser) add-on. if it works, you're reading this and you name's not Michael Amon.

Anyway though, it's Friday, I'm doing some work getting ready for a pretty big week next week. I'm going to start training a kind of replacement for me. She's an honour's student who'll be starting here next year, but she'll need to do some technique training because the stuff I have been learning this year is pretty tricky. I am also doing my last really big experiment which I want all my readers to begin praying for the success of.


Start now....



Alright that's probably enough, but remember to do it again soon. Like tonight and tomorrow and for the next week. I'll need it.

Just s short post though, I wanted to let you all know that I have only 6 weeks, to the day, of work. 7 weeks, to the day, until my family leaves the southern hemisphere for a little while.

Geez, it's coming up pretty quick isn't it. Almost scary.

Anyway though, I should run back to the lab to make up some medication to stop a transplant rejection in diabetic mice. (Remember the prayers I asked for...)

ya ya ya deal with it...


Powered by ScribeFire.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

This cuts me deep...

This is a short post, but I wanted to post it because it sparked a strong emotional reaction from me. A very sad one though, but I want people to be aware so that if they are religious, they may include this poor child in their prayers.

Yesterday, a child between the ages of 5-10 was found in a travel bag in a duckpond in Rosemeadow (Rosemeadow is one of the small suburbs of Campbelltown, of which I live). Police etc "believe it is the body of boy" goes to tell you the state of the child.

The news story is here. And I don't want to go into any more detail, but I wanted this child to be remembered because nobody deserves this.

I pray that "he" is happy, free from pain, and is laughing at God's side. And may justice be served in the name of the as yet unknown child. I can't think of an appropriate punishment for this crime.

A little annoyed...

First of all, I'd like to wish you all a good day.... And give you a little update as to my absence, which I'm hoping ends today with this monumental post. Alright. So it won't be anything too special, but it'll hopefully mark the end of once or twice a month posts.

To start off with... Below is yes, a picture of my house. Particularly, my house last Saturday during the colossal moving sale we had. You can also see the "Sold" sign in front of our house. Pretty cool eh! We pretty much emptied the house so that our bed was on our front lawn as well. That didn't sell, so I'm happy that I still have my own bed to sleep on. BUT, both of our tvs are gone, as is our DVD payer, our VHS player, which makes my Wii a little hard to play on now (big sad face). Our couch and chairs also went, so in our living room is a very old but working tv (sitting on the floor in the corner), and an old computer desk with Bec's laptop sitting on it so we can at least check our e-mail etc. That's it. No chairs. Nadda. BUT, this does mean that we have very little to get rid of the end of next month.

Notice in the picture is Rebecca and Madison holding the fort!



Other matters..

I really don't like mobile phones (aka cell phones for my ever expanding north american audience). Sitting on the train, a crowded train where there are alot of people standing up in the ailes because there are no more seats left, is not the place to talk about how some relative is now in rehab by court order and if she walks out will be doing the rest of her rehab in Silverwater (prison in Sydney). or about many other issues I don't really want to share. But she was talking behind me so loud it's like she was talking straight into my ear.

And I had headphones on.

Loud..

And I still couldn't shut her out of my head. Maybe that's simply a sign of a weak mind on my part. Maybe I should drop this then and stop pointing out my weaknesses and faults. I may have just given all of my enemies the tool they need to finally defeat me and overthrow my vast empire of wealth. Which coincidentally is tied up in student loans. I guess the take home message is, please don't yell on your phones if your riding public transportation. I don't want to know the problems of your life, unless it's urgent. But otherwise, for people with weak minds, it's very disconcerting.

Another very sad thing happened to me. Starting last week or so. I had noticed that my ergonomically designed keyboard with nice soft-touch keys etc was in it's final throes. The letters, "z", "x," "c," and "v" stopped working. So I am now relegated to using a crap cheap keyboard that you have to slam the keys to get it to type. And it is bloody loud. I type pretty fast, like 500-1000 words a minute (yes the zeroes are correct), so it gets a bit loud. Ya, I am complaining about such a little thing, but I type alot. you may not realize but A LOT of science is done on a computer and there is a lot of writing involved. On that note, I have to go and finish writing up a grant for a project that I will not be working on....

PS: My last day of work is November 30!!!!! Yay for me!!!!!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Sorry So Long!

Firstly, I must apologize for my complete lack of blogging for like a month or so. Too long between posts, and for my adoring and obsessive fan, I am truly sorry. Truly sorry indeed.

But I have had a pretty big month if I do say so myself. First of all, I am tired of working here. I can't seem to get motivation. This has probably stemmed from that fact that I thought that the project would be a bit more set up before I started (as I was told it would be)... Or that it took over 6 months to get ethics approval to do the work... Or that I still don't have all the required tools to do the work... Or that I just spent a long time (months) getting my cell line to work properly and the company stopped making the most essential part of my experiment rendering my cells almost useless (or at least the experiment has no become a lot more expensive!!)

BUT, besides all that crap, my house sold in 5 days, the cooling-off period is over, and we bought out plane tickets back to Canada. We are leaving Australia on December 7 (12noon ish) and will be arriving in Halifax around 9:45pm that night. We're flying from Sydney to LA, to Bost and then to Halifax. It's a pretty big trip. Man I hope my kids can handle it. It's a big change... I feel bad for Alex though because we have to sell alot of his toys and stuff before we go. We are going to keep some for him until we leave, but still. No kid likes to get rid of their toys, especially when you are only 4 years old. He's doing well though.

We have already started selling off our possesions last week. We managed to sell a bunch of stuff to several Baha'i's in our community. Stuff like microwaves, dishes, plates, sewing machine etc... We're going to have a big yard sale soon to try to do a lot more damage though.

I'm really sorry about cutting this all-too-exciting post short though, but I really have to go and get some work done...

(end this letter with a defeated sigh)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Hullo fans..

I would like to first take this opportunity to wish my beloved and beautiful wife a happy birthday!!! She turned another year more beautiful on Saturday, Sept 8. I didn't post this most joyous news earlier because, well, I wished her it in person! Anyway though... Busy weekend, I must tell you.

Our house went up for sale last Tuesday (see previous post), and we had some people through on Saturday. One of them was soo inspired to buy our much loved house, that he gave us an offer we couldn't refuse, so we accepted. We signed contracts etc on Sunday, so the buyer has 10 working days cooling off where he can change his mind. But we don't think he will. The only obstacle would really be the building and pest inspection report. And since we have recently been sprayed for preventative measures against termites, and we have had our house regularly fumigated the pest inspection will be fine... And our house is structurally sound, with the exception of the back fence, but they want to put up a new one anyway!! But we're still holding our breath for the next 8 working days!

I would also like to welcome into the world my 2 new nieces! One was born to my Canadian family, and she's been named Ava born on Friday, Sept 7 i believe (Congrat's Denise and Jeremy!!! I can't wait to see you in December!!!!) and the as-yet-to-b-named baby to my brother and sister in law here (Harry and Amanda) born on Monday, Sept 10! Congrat's to you both!!! I won't be putting up pics of them, so I apologize to all, but I'm sure that you're used to dissapointment by now if you're a regular reader.... It's like watching and waiting for the kettle to boil, only the kettle isn't even plugged in, and you really can't wait to drink up that nice hot chocolate that's just waiting for the boiling water... It's that level of disapointment that you can all expect here. You keep reading, hoping for some glimmer of greatness, something that'll make this minute worth-while.

Too bad for you my friend, too bad for you!!!!


I did just have a great day in the lab. I've been having some pretty serious technical problems doing a certain procedure which I made a tool to help, and it works great... So I am now an ultimate champion of the world at it now... So I will cure some diabetic mice tomorrow morning. I probably won't let you know how it turns out as I am now only killing time to catch the train...But you love it!

Have you ever noticed how liberating it can be to write when you think that noone else is reading? It's not like I have anything mean to say or anything like that, but there is no pretense to impress people, or to provide a readership with something to take home or to remember you by. It's kind of nice, kind of like the lonliest place is a city full of people. No one notices you. You're just someome in someone else's way. I don't mind that sometimes, but I don't like feeling like one of a heard of cattle. Like when I get off the train at the station for work. THere are about a million other people getting off at that station too, and we are all jostling for our own little space on the steps to get out of the station. We're like a herd of cattle moving collectively up and out. Honestly, it sickens me and I am growing more and more weary of it every day. That's probably one of the biggest reasons that I need to move. At least out of Sydney. I need somewhere quieter. I find that I am less tolerant, more agitated, and less happy... But I am excited to be leaving. That is a truth.....

Must run to the train.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

For sale!!

Well the for sale sign finally went up on my house yesterday, and the pics are on the internet!!! (see: here). Below is what you get when you "Print Brochure". So, if any of you fancy buying a house in Oz that has been treated with lots of love and care... Make me an offer. ... Preferably more than the asking price... But that may be asking a bit much.

I have to run though, catch a train....

Monday, September 03, 2007

Reign of Terror

Hello everyone. I am not going to say very much today, but I wanted to let you all know that Bec has posted some new pictures up onto her website.... Some of them are from Father's Day which was on Sunday, which was great! I got a nice breakfast in bed with Alex, a nice new wallet that Alex helped pick out. A key chain with Madie's face on it, a page from Alex that he made at day care saying that he likes his Dad because he brings money home... little does he know that science does not pay well...

On Saturday, Alex and I say The Simplsons movie. We liked it alot. We both fell in love with "Spider-Pig" and have been singing it quite alot... Unfortunately, Bec is quite tired of hearing the song, but she'll soon grow to love it. Or else....

The other big thing that happened, is Maddie has learned the ancient art of crawling. She's a bit slow at the moment, but she's getting better daily. And when she gets where she wants to go, she has a little fit of joy. (Said with a big grin from a proud Dad). So, her reign of terror begins now. I don't think Alex truly appreciates what is about to happen though. She loves him. She watches him all the time. ANd up until now, he has been able to simply walk away. Not any more little bub. Not any more.

Anyway though, below are two pics I lifted from Bec's website showing Madison crawling.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Ice skating!

For the second time ever, Alex has ice-skated! On the weekend, one of his friends had an ice-skating birthday party, and I thought that that was a great idea!!! I got to go skating again for free!! YAAAYY for me!!

Alex wasn't sure he was going to need me to help him because he didn't know if he could skate or not since he'd been before (previous post from a long time ago for my long time readers). But once he got on the ice, he realized that he did need my help! We has a bit nervous at first:
but he got better and eventually really started to enjoy himself!
So much that he started to tell me that it's ok, and that I can go around the rink by myself if I wanted to... So I did! He was eventually even able to pick himself up off the ground a stand up properly... I know that this doesn't sound like much, but remember, he is only 4, has only been on ice twice in his life, and lives in Australia never having seen snow.

He never really picked up the idea of skating though, he rather kind of walked around on skates. I thought this was ok since with each step his confidence seemed to build. So I was proud of my boy.... Very proud indeed my friends. And one day, he may even get to play in the NHL with the best team to ever grace the ice.... The Calgary Flames... Ah well, a man can dream...

A few more pics of Alex skating.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Lunar Eclipse

I'm not sure how much of my readership is aware that last night there was a lunar eclipse, where the moon turned a beautiful blood red colour... Or at least it did if you were not enshrouded by streetlights etc.. and then it was an orange colour as I was informed by work-mates living in more populated areas of Sydney!

We got Alex excited to go out and see a "Blood Moon" as he started calling it and he liked it. I explained to him what was happening using the flashlight on my mobile phone as the sun, one fist as the Earth, and the fist as the moon... Moving the moon such that the Earth blocked out the sun (ie phone) such that the moon (fist) was now dark. I think he understood it..

The two.. less well taken pictures were taken by me by Bec's camera while taking full use out of its zoom features... But you can see the beautiful red colour of it... The second is after the red was done and the moon was returning to its nice white colour, but still half covered by the Earth.. Thus the black bit at the top left...

The other two, much more well-defined pictures were simply taken off of Google Images....

Gotta run back to work now though...

Friday, August 24, 2007

Not much here...

There, you've been warned.

There will not be much in this blog mainly because I don't really have anything to say today. I know. I cried too.

Well, the past few weeks I have been pretty busy... Painted the edging around my house green (it looks great, but I might have already said that previously), a bit of painting on the inside of the house too. Then, while Bec, Alex and Mads were down the coast Mon-Wed, I removed the grout from between the tiles in the hallway, and put new grout in all on Monday night... on top of re-painting the laundry skirting boards. A long and busy night that was. But the laundry room and the hallway look great now. Makes me proud. And that's why you're reading about it!!!

Sucks to you eh? I figure I have to start saying eh again since I am moving back to Canada in December.

Work is moving forward slowly. Too slowly for my liking so I started a slightly different project which meant that yesterday, and Wednesday were pretty full on. And I won't know how well it worked for a few weeks to a month and half hopefully.

Real-estate guy is coming to take pics of our house early next week, and then it'll be officially listed! Yay!

I watched the new Harry Potter movie Tuesday night. I liked it. It was much darker and more adult than the other films, and I like the way the series is going. I do think that Harry, Ron, and Hermione are looking older than they are supposed to be in the movie though. But it still worked for me. I did feel that it was not as fluid as the other movies though, like there was stuff going on behind the scenes within the story that we were not privy to. But the movie worked, and I think I liked it more than all of its predecessors, and I am looking forward to the next one! I have recently started reading all the Harry Potter books. I figure that since everyone and their dog seems to have read them, I should hop on board so I get the pop culture references which use it as its base. Great books though! I am now up to the Order of the Phoenix (the new movie) and it is a good book so far (the 1st 100 pages or so, out of 700+).

I did something naughty this morning. And it's all because of Mom. Alright, it wasn't that naughty! A few weeks ago, Mom asked me about my lap top and will it work in Canada. I am pretty sure that it will, I should just need to get a new power cable thing since the power here is 240V and in Canada it is 110V or something like that. But it got me thinking that I wouldn't mind a new one since mine runs pretty hot, and has the biggest power brick I have ever seen (a power brick is the brick looking black box part of the power cable). So I went into a shop today to see what was on offer. There were some really pretty looking machines. Unfortunately, the only ones that I liked were just under $3000. Why do I have such expensive taste!!!!!

Well they were really nice, Centrino Duo processors at 2.2 - 2.4 GHz, 2Gb RAM, 512Mb Nvidea graphics chips, massive hard drives... What more could I want, besides a massive price drop!!! Well, I think that I will wait for the price to drop considerably before I look again, I can't justify anyone paying $300o for a computer. Nice lap tops yes, but I don't really need a new one just yet.... Maybe next year.

One final note though... People, don't forget about your blogs just because Facebook is new and blah blah blah. you don't get nice ramblings about nothing on Facebook... you get short little quips that give you nothing. A blog at least allows a story to be told, a ramble to be writ, and a stronger insight into the writer...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Done




Final product, signed and sent. Graduation in early Dec. Nuff said.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Work Choices...

Sorry about the delay on my posting... Been a little bit busy what with getting the house ready for the market... Not a lot needs to be done as the house is alright, just a few superficial things. The problem lies in the fact that I don't have a lot of "free" time to do the work.. BUT I have re-grouted and sealed the shower, painted the entire edging on my house which took a long time (3 days) and forced me to go up an extension ladder as high as it would go... I didn't like it Jan, not at all! Did some ceiling fixing, and some tiling... mowed the lawn, fixed up a wall a bit, and there may be more.. but that's kept me busy.

Anyway though, that's not why I decided to post today (or I found a few minutes during the first lunch break I've had in about 2 weeks)... And it's about the Work Choices legislation that the Howard government has put in place. I must let you know, that what I am about to say comes from a COMPLETELY lay persons perspective, meaning that my source(s) are the media, largely from people for and against the new legislation. But I think that the points are valid because I assume that the majority of voters are in my shoes, ie not about to read the actual document etc. I am also not taking sides because I don't know what the opposition has proposed.

From my limited understanding, Work Choices gives the employee the right to bargain for better working conditions with their employer on an individual basis, and also the removal of unfair dismissal laws. This gets around the Union movements. BUT, the opposition has asked what is there in place to stop the employer from screwing over the employee by first firing them (removal of unfair dismissal laws) and then offering them their same jobs at a lower wage with reduced benefits etc? I think that this is a fair question. The opposition has made several TV adds with this effect, where there is a woman who is being forced to work overtime despite not having to previously because she is taking care of the kids. You know the type of ad, a sob story. But the question is put forth.

To combat this, the Howard administration has done a big media campaign in favor of the Work Choices legislation saying that people under 18 won't be ripped off by employers because they will need the parent or guardian's signature on the contract as well... And that adult workers will still have holidays, overtime pay etc etc... Pretty much saying that "It's the law" for employers to abide by the working contract. But (me and Rebecca) don't really see how this answers the questions put forth by the opposition: Can you be fired and then asked to sign a contract for lower wages etc?

By saying that a kid can't get ripped off because a parent needs to approve the contract prior blindsides the issue. If the employer is offering a really low wage, and the parent doesn't like it, the kid doesn't work, and the employer will eventually find someone who will fill the role. So some kid, somewhere gets to work at this crap wage because it was a job. In a capitalist society, doesn't the employer hire the worker who'll accept the lower wage. But then this leaves the kid who didn't take the job, out of a job, and making no money as opposed to a little bit.

I guess simply what I'm trying to say is that of course an employer has honour a contract, "it's the law" but with the contents of the contract under no legislation, who's to stop an employer from offering sub-standard working conditions within the contract.

I think that this model works well where there is a large surplus of jobs, but as soon as you get more than one person vying for the same job, the wages and working conditions are pushed down because it is in the employers best (profit-wise) interests to hire the person who'll accept the lowest wage.

I anyone knows more about this system, please feel free to comment on it, as I may be wrong, but this question is in the heads of a lot of people and could mean a loss for the Howard government in the upcoming election.

In all fairness though, the official web-site for Work Choices is HERE, and the offical web-site against Work Choices is HERE.



Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Live Earth

Alright.. .Live Earth happened on 7/07/07. The aim to increase global awareness of global warming. And they did this through the entertainment industry. I guess that that was probably a good idea, but did it work. What will it accomplish? Hasn't everyone already heard about Global Warming?

So what if every Tom Dick and Harry know about Global warming? Knowledge is useless without action. I think that one of the greatest things that has happened in regards to the environment is what was put in place by town councils..

Recycling bins.

Not much effort on the part of Tom, Dick or Harry, no significant extra cost for them either. All in all a good effort. I think that this is one of the criteria if people really want to combat the Global Warming "crisis", it needs to be easy, and cheap. I'm not a rich man, I care about the environment, but I can't afford to buy stuff at a premium because it's good for the environment. I just can't. I think that instead of spending squillions on a 24 hr global concert, each country should have spent that money and started systems similar to council provided recycling.

This does not even touch on the fact that global warming itself is a human induced problem. It may actually be a sampling problem. Looking at the graph below shows a sharp rise in Carbon Dioxide (CO2) in the 1900s (approximately). But, how did they get the CO2 levels from prior to 1900s...From ice core measurements. After the 1950s (thereabouts) they used direct measurements. Is it possible that the direct measurements are higher than the ice core readings? Honestly, I don't know, but I would hesitate to compare apples with oranges. I mean doesn't the meaning of some phrases change when you go from one language to another? I see this as a similar problem.

Another bit...Look at the graph, notice the UNITs on the that's parts per million. Currently, we are sitting at 0.0383% CO2 in the atmosphere. So 0.0383% of the gas in the atmosphere is CO2. Pretty bloody small percentage there.

Also, if this was such a real phenomenon, why don't all scientists agree that this is a human induced problem? Wikipedia even mentions that (independant) scientists have put forth other hypothesis that explain Global Warming, that, "the warming is caused by natural fluctuations in the climate or that warming is mainly a result of variations in solar radiation".

I think that the best example of this may be the last ice age. The planet warmed up quite alot back then didn't it? And there was no human intervention either. There were no humungous factories spewing forth gases into the atmosphere, or cars, or blah blah blah. Yet the globe warmed on its own....

There was also, apparently, a Little Ice Age which began around 1650AD and ended around 1850AD. Is it possible that the miniscule temperature increase since 1850 (about +0.8 degrees C) might be due to the ending of said Little Ice Age?

ALSO, (yes it goes on) we have no idea of how the climate or weather patterns behave. You can't predict the weather next week let alone what it will be in 2100. Any prediction about what the future weather will be is only a prediction based upon some computer model with well-defined variables, which were initially designed by a person. If they leave out a variable you get a different result, if you weight one variable differently, you get a different result. Simply put, it's a prediction. Only that. Like the call-centre psychics, they predict based on assumptions. A little harsh there I know, but I'm trying to drive a point home.

The atmosphere is a complex entity, constantly changing, and we are not sure if the change is actually even due to human activities.

So, I would have liked Live Earth to have addressed the scientific merit of global warming, greenhouse gasses, and the proof that we are at fault, or that we can even change what the Earth may be doing of its own accord.

I do not want to sound anti-environmental or anything... Because I'm not, I believe in trying to protect the environment as a responsibility of ours. BUT, I do not like the idea of jumping on a band wagon which uses fear as its only weapon (the fear of climate change causing natural disastors etc... which is apparently unproven and spouted forth as shock media).

Ummm.... That's all I have to say about that.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The letter.


So.... I checked the mailbox yesterday (Tuesday) and I saw this unceremoniously shoved into my mailbox.

A letter from the Postgraduate Unit at Sydney University. So I took it... Went back in the house... Sat on the couch... and opened it.

"Dear Michael

I am pleased to advise you have been recommended by the Board of Postgraduate Studies in Dentistry, Medicine & Pharmacy for the award of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Medicine), subject to specified emendations being made to your thesis as required by one or more of the examiners..."

The letter goes on, but that was the meaty bit..

So what does this mean? I looked at the reviewer's reports. The first one said it was fine, no need for any changes. The second reviewer pointed out 6 typing mistakes. And the third reviewer wanted me to add a few references to a section or two. That's pretty much it.

There was lots of praise so I am pretty happy with that. They liked the pics and artwork and the style etc.... All I have to do now, which I did 99% of it last night, was to make the changes, send a summary letter of the changes to a guy down the hall from my office, then he sends an e-mail off and that's it. I'm Dr. Amon. So long Mr. Amon!!! I then will have to print out new copies of my thesis and bind it properly etc, but after I'm Dr. Amon.

I just thought that I would let you all know, especially all those poor souls who read my blog throughout the last half of last year where I did alot of complaining etc. Here's the result. My thesis passed!!!!!


YAY FOR ME!!!!!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Nervous much?

Well, about 4 or so months ago, I submitted a thesis. This thesis detailed alot of the work I had done in the past 3 and a halfish years (including writing time). I have been a bit anxious lately because I was told that I should know the outcome in 3 months.

3 months came.

3 months went.

In knew nothing.

So I called the University today to see what the deal was.

They told me that they had heard back from the 3 reviewers and they thought my thesis was crap and that I needed to start over. No, I'm joking... Trying to allay my own uncomfortable uneasiness that I am presently shrouded in.

I was told that the University did, however, hear back from my three reviewers and that the head guy of something (can't remember his title) was looking it over for approval. This does not mean that it has been accepted "as is," it simply means that the Head Guy looks over all the reviewers' comments (from each and every thesis submitted) and then sends a letter to each candidate (myself being classified as a candidate) including copies of the reviewers' comments and the final decision on the outcome of my thesis.

This is standard procedure. And what usually happens is that the reviewers want a few changes before final acceptance. This is fine and dandy. But my problem lies in the fact that I will have to wait to hear by post until next week sometime. While I know that the papers are sitting on said "Head Guy's" desk. 3 and a half years of my life. Of Bec's life, of Alex's life. None really of Madison's life though....

I want to know now!!!!!

It's pretty (highly) unlikely that it will be rejected flat out. So I guess I'm not worried about that though... What can I compare this to... Ummmm, I don't know.. Besides to say that it's like awaiting to hear the final judgement on something that you have put your blood, sweat, and tears into and knowing that the results are sitting on some guy's desk, awaiting his perusal.

The nervous twitch begins....

Anyway though, I should stop it with that because it will only freak me out even more. (PS though: please don't leave comments of encouragement or don't worry things, as I am only venting, and realistically, a few changes will have to be made, and then it's done, other comments are warmly accepted, but please keep within the post's subject matter, or within the guidelines of shamelessly flattering my good looks, writing prowess, innate knowledge, staggeringly (deficient) wit, etc).

So I'm on the Facebook thing. You can find me by looking for Michael Amon. There's a picture of me as my thumbnail thing, but if you don't know what I look like, just look for a guy that looks like me. I am impressed a bit with Facebook though, I have now been in contact with many people I had lost contact to. But my concern is the longevity of said contact. It's still digital communication. and I am piss poor at keeping contact with people (you know I love you Phil and Tamara, and Amanda) and I don't really think that Facebook will change this. Not any more than e-mail did. I need to be constantly harassed by people in order to write back for chit chat (that's a free invite for people to harass me to contact me, I don't take offense but feel guilty).

Anyway though, Facebook has given me insight into other people's lives who I haven't seen in years (decade?) from high school etc. So I guess it's not bad, but I just don't have the time to put into it... So if you are one of the people who I am a friend of in Facebook, sorry I suck.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Stop the flood!!!

A little while ago, Australia, or at least the Sydney area, was in a pretty severe drought. Now, it has been raining for weeks. Literally.

The flood of Noah has returned.

I don't know if it made it overseas, but a few weeks ago when all this started, an oil tanker The Pasha Bulker off the coast of Newcastle (north of Sydney) which was originally anchored a few kms offshore, was pushed by high winds (waves) onto a beach. Where it now remains. Beached on a beach. Newcastle flooded as well. Lots of damage etc...

This was June 8. Since then it has only given brief pauses of rain. It is depressing!!! I am sad (to confirm the status as depressing...) When will it stop!!!

I challenge, no I beg everyone of the 4 or so people that read this blog to do a stop the rain for a week dance. The beautiful thing about this dance is that you get to make it up as you go as long as you do it while listening to or singing the old Blind Melon song.

Please, I make this plea as a man humbled before the ancient clouds of suffrage which poured rain upon the brow of Noah! Before the peoples of the world whose perceived differences have, to this day, caused strife and enmity amongst our brethren! Let us, now, in the face of such atrocities, come to together to shed our blood for this most great cause and banish this blight from our once bright skies! Let us break bread together under cover of nothing but the Heaven's above such that the bread stays moist and dry. Dance I beg thee! Banish the clouds of rain for one week!

Too much? Ya probably, but I need a break.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

An Interesting Observation...

I have recently made an interesting observation. Over the past while, the comments and views of my web-page have dropped considerably. I guess this is expected considering the crap that I put up on such a regular basis.

But recently, I noticed something else. Over the past week, I have had a lot more views of this site, and more comments on my last post than with many of the previous posts....

I guess the question is Why?

Are you (mistakenly) waiting for something of substance to appear? Unfortunately for you, nothing of substance has ever been posted by me, and I honestly don't think that'll change anytime too soon.

Another interesting observation though, is the timing of certain phone calls to certain members of my family pre-date the significant rise in readership by approximately 48 hours. I'm a scientist remember. I try to notice trends etc and claim them as my own!!! Mwaa haa haaa!!!

Or, alternatively, I am mistaken and am posting things that you all seem to care a great deal about.... I'll buy that one. So thank you my loyal readers! And while my (and my family's) home will soon be in Halifax, NS, Canada as of sometime this December as I start work at Dalhousie in January 2008, I will still gladly post meaningless garbage for your reading (dis)pleasure.

Love to you all!!!

PS: Sorry about deleting a comment Connie, there were a few people here who didn't know yet, and I couldn't risk them finding out before we told them!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Revenge


Well, I wish that I had something of significance to say, or even something that would interest anyone in the least. But honestly, today just won't be your day. So, in light of this, I will relate a little incident that occured to me the other day....

Well, I went down to do some work with some lovely little white lab rats (Wistars to be exact). Nothing bad though, we just wanted to look at them, teach our new PhD student (Anne) how to do a few things like put them to sleep etc. Nothing fancy.

So Anne puts two lovely and well mannered lady rats into the perspex box where in a few moments they will be sleeping soundly and peacefully. So she goes to close the lid.

The two ladies have decided that they were not tired. I should also mention that these rats are about 8-10 weeks old, and therefor still juveniles. And like a juvenile, when they don't want to do something, they cause a fuss.

Soooo, the two lady rats proceed to simultaneously jump out of their cage just before Anne could close the lid, and run in separate directions. One ran towards Anne on the bench, the other away from me. Anne caught hers with little stress.

I wasn't so lucky.

Not this time my boy...not this time...

I tried to grab my rat's tail, missed as it jumped onto a kind of ledge thingy at the back of the bench where it could have jumped to the floor and been even harder to catch. Since I couldn't get at the tail, I had to go for the body. I grasped (not too hard though) the lady rat around her body and carried her to her cage.

This is where the problem arose.

I felt an interesting sensation on my right pinky finger. Like something gnawing on it. Then it hit me. She's gnawing my pinky finger!!!!! One set of teeth (upper or lower?) chomping down on my finger nail, while the other piercing the arteries in the tip of my pinky finger. I couldn't do much about it so I continued to put her in her cage where she remained for a while.

So I washed the wound which was gushing forth blood at a rate of at least approximately 1 litre per minute (I didn't measure it at the time, obviously, but I am a scientist, so not prone to exageration (just spelling errors), so I think I'm right). Anyway though, I washed the wound, tried to stem the tide of blood now filling the room to flood levels, filled out the incident report form because it was the right thing to do, then called Staff Health here at the hospital.

Remembering that I work at a HOSPITAL!!!! And I had a genuine incident where I was bitten by an animal which did draw blood, and that there was a significant potential for infection (bacterial) as the teeth did go deeper than they should have, I would have thought that STAFF HEALTH could have done something. But nope, they told me to go across the road to a private clinic and get it looked at properly because all STAFF HEALTH! could do was put a band-aid on it.

What a friggen joke! I am staff. At a hospital. Yet STAFF health could do nothing.

Anyway though, short story long, I took care of the wound properly to begin with, so the doctor had a look at the bite marks, the scratches and indentations on my finger nail as well as the 32 mm deep hole in the my pinky finger, and prescribed some antibiotics as preventative.

I'll end this story now.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

An open letter to a moron,

Rarely am I as appalled as I am now about the behaviour and actions of a few utter and complete morons that have perpetrated acts of barbarianism. Such people I openly challenge them to properly identify themselves as human beings. Come forward. And pay penance.

Unfortunately, I am not ranting or raving.

On the south coast of NSW, around Bateman's Bay, (ie north of the land of milk and honey and fish, Moruya) three kangaroos were found.

Utterly butchered.

One decapitated.

One beaten.

One with its eyes gouged out and a its baby Joey still in its pouch (now struggling for survival by carers at a meagre 900g).

What's wrong with you?

Appalled, simply appalled that is supposed to be noble (like a human) can act with less dignity and respect than that afforded to a starving pig at feeding time.

How do you look at your selves in the mirror? How do you look at your own hand's? How do you sleep?

I'm sorry I had to post this, but there is never any reason for such animosity.

Monday, June 04, 2007

The Price of a Father's Love...

Yup. The price of a father's love is apparently equal to the price of a Classic Cobra.

Yesterday, me, my wife, my 6 month old daughter, and my 4 year old son Alex were driving down the coast to Wollongong (about 45 min south of where I live). On the way, there was a whole bunch of classic cobras along the side of the road. I have seen this conglomerate of beauty before and know it to be a car club consisting of people who own said cars.

So I asked Alex what he would rather have, jokingly, Mommy or one of those cars. A mean question, I don't really know, but it was funny nonetheless... Initially, he said the car. And then we told him that that would mean that he wouldn't have Mommy anymore and all the nice things that goes along with Mommy. He recanted and decided that he would rather have a Mommy.

Good choice my boy... Good choice. Even though those cars are a thing of beauty...

The time was approximately 11 am.

So we did our shopping in Wollongong, went home, had lunch, kids had a bit of a nap, then we went to visit Rebecca's sister Amanda.

Time now, approximately 3:30 - 4pm ish.

On the road, out of the blue, Alex states that he would swap Daddy for the car. He caught me off guard with that one and it was hard to not laugh out loud!!! We tried to convince him that a car for a Daddy was not a good trade... But it didn't work.

So, I am soon to be traded, or sold, to buy Alex a Classic Cobra. Despite the fact that he is only 4 years old, he demonstrates such great taste in cars which makes me proud. And I am not really sure that he has made a bad choice... I am at work (including on the way to and from) too much, while Mom is at home with him; that car is very easy on the eyes, ears, touch, and smell, while I, simply put, am not.

Ah well, it was pretty funny though, and Alex, I still love ya man even if a car is more valuable ;)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Ahhh geezz...

I won't harp on this but I thought that you all might like to know... My last payday was on Thursday (last week). and guess what!! I got paid!! And it included the back-pay that I was owed because of being paid at a lower rate....

The only thing that sucked about it, was that I was taxed a bit high... Like around exactly 48.5% of my wages. How do you like that!!!! I was pretty pissed and I made sure payroll guy knew it. It won't happen again I have been assured many times.

Anywho... because of this problem, I could no longer afford to go to the national Australian Rheumatology Association Annual meeting at the Hilton here in Sydney. The conference for which I made a really nice looking poster for (good presentation to make up for crap content!!). But I did put effort into it....

So I went yesterday anyway. I borrowed a name tag from one of the lovely ladies in my lab and wore it in. I (cleverly and sneakily) turned it around so that you could only see the back of it, not the named "Marina" side of the name tag thing. So I strolled in, got some free stuff from the nice looking drug company displays.. Got probably too much free coffee... Ate some of the really nice food. Ate too much of the desserts because it was all going to be thrown away anyway... or maybe they were going to send it as a care package to the Hilton chain's famous namesake daughter (granddaughter I think) doing time somewher... Anyway, there's a few less cakes and stuff for her because I ate them!!!!

Mwaa ha ha ha haaaaaa...

And I did it free!!!!!

Not too many people looked at any of the posters though.. I did have an awkward moment where one of the guys reviewing my thesis walked in, and I had to say hey to him. Didn't ask about my thesis or anything like that... Didn't think it was kosher to do so.

I do wish he had of said that he enjoyed reading it though!!! Maybe he hasn't read it yet... Ya, that's it....

Thursday, May 17, 2007

A Link Between Stress and Disease??

Yes my friends, I think that I may have stumbled upon a great discovery!!! Of immense importance!! One that may soon see me with a Nobel Prize!

Well maybe not...

But I have found a link between stress and headaches and general unwellnesses. Also, that stress builds up over time.

Take for eg PhD thesis writing. Takes several months of solid writing, revisions, etc before it's done. Stress Point #1.

Then take starting a brand new project at work, where the starting point is considerably behind where you were told you would be starting, like say.... we have an idea, but don't really know what we really want to do, don't know any of the methods, and have no one to collaborate with to help us.... as opposed to the perceived starting point (what I agreed to in Sept of last year) of: We are going to do this, and we will collaborate with them who already have the method set up and have agreed. Stress Point #2.

Then add to this the fact that my wife just gave me our second child, and is therefore not earning money, and I am (well was) not getting paid properly. Stress Point #3.

There are always more Stress Points, but that's good enough for my scientific approach to this issue....

So, #1 + #2 + #3 have led me to be sick. Regular headaches, I am now officially over 48 hours headache free!!! And saddly, yes, this is a big deal. Not even a hint of one for the past few (2) days, but I'm on my third headache free day and it's Friday!! So things are looking good!!!

Unfortunately though, I have a stuffed nose and my throat wasn't feeling great most of this week... So I haven't decided if that's what's taking the place of my headaches or not...

But see??? Conclusive evidence that there is a link between stress and headaches and general unwellness.

What!!!

You already knew that!!!

Damnnnnn....

I feel another headache comming on....


(joking)


Bye Bye for now.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

In Hiding

Honestly, I really and truly wish I could laugh at this.

Why oh why does it have to be true though? Let me run this down for you...

I accepted a job late September to start mid January. I fullfill my end by starting in mid January. Then my employer tells me that "we" have to start looking about how he's going to pay me... or about hiring me or something to that effect.

I contained myself and did not throw a fit.
(applause)

It takes 3 months to get hired by the hospital (bureaucracy leading to several levels of forms and applications to approve the creation of a position, then advertising, interviewing, etc etc: 3 months). So I need to get paid for this three month somehow.

I create my own company so I can be contracted (Name: "Madex" from Madison and Alex. Ya, I'm clever like that). I send invoice to hospital.... Which my payment again needs approval and bureaucracy ensues, and I find myself struggling on Thursday (pay day) trying to get paid. Strife.

A week later I get paid. We now move to February.

To avoid all this bureaucracy, I find a way to become a casual staff at the University. That was an easy process, fill out a few forms, send them in. Badda bing badda boom: hired. As casual staff. No sick leave, holiday pay etc. My first payday as a casual staff sees my bank account with no money deposited. REASON: They didn't agree with my rate of pay so they just didn't pay. I bitched, got the money a few days later (or a week?)

Next pay check, SAME PROBLEM!!!! SAME REASON. I call, bitch and complain, and eventually get paid a week or two late. By which time I have submitted another pay sheet. You get the idea though. Today, I got paid for work around the Easter break.

Remember then? Exactly ONE month ago! And even then, I got half that pay cheque two weeks ago and the rest today. Here's why, and honestly, it is the most stupidest, and incompetent reason I have ever heard.

I get my time sheet signed y my boss, the accounts guy here faxes it to the University pay office. All good, and it even gets received by the pay office girl (who will bitterly remain unnamed) before the cut off time. The accounts guy then sends the ORIGINAL time sheet, with the signatures and writing etc in INK to the pay office girl (who is still bitterly remaining unnamed). She then gets confused by having a copy as well as the original and doesn't have the time to "investigate". I kid you not. The words she used on me when I called her were that she received the fax and then the "original" and did not have time to "investigate".

What is there to investigate? You have a copy, and the original from which the copy was made. Clever girl. Anyway though, I got that pay today, overpaid though... But paid.

Which brings me to today. My first full two-week pay cheque. I get it deposited, and then realize (well my wife realizes and informs me by phone), that I don't get paid much. After small investigation, I find out that I am being paid at a lower rate than I should be. This despite my contract clearly stating what my rate of pay is... So another Thursday, another problem....

I will go into hiding until the assholes have left the ruling to those that are capable.

Alright I won't. I'll just bitch about them from this level of non-anonymity...

Unless you're not one of my family members who is reading this, then I am kind of anonymous... Although a little bit of research and you'll find out who I am...

I still haven't complained thoroughly to my boss who waited until I was already working before looking at hiring me though. I do still have to work here for the rest of this year... And to think I turned down a good job in Halifax where I would have been paid from the get go....

Sorry about that.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Is this really news??



Come on Channel 9. I was washing the dishes last night,(Yes, I do this on most nights, I'm a new age man) and during the commercials, I heard an add for Channel 9 news, trying to entice the viewers to watch. What they said, supposedly to get me to watch, and give themselves credibility at reporting news, was that studies have shown that kids favorite breakfast cereals were loaded with salt and sugar.

Ok.

What kid would turn down a sugar-ladden bowl of Fruit Loops for a nice healthy bowl of...Bran Flakes? How newsworthy is it to tell people something that they have known since people began eating? Kids like sweet and tasty things better than bland flavourless cardboard? Would you rather have an ice-cream, or whole-meal bread? A chocolate bar or a mashed potatoes?

I'm worried that the next news headline will be something like, after 7 years of intense research, scientists have found that olympic athletes, on average, are in better physical shape than the morbidly obese. Or that if you eat McDonald's for 30 days straight, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you're going to get sick. And if that's all you eat for a very long time, you either are mentally ill, would like to be mentally ill, or are getting fatter and fatter as each day goes by.

It just seems that there is so much more things out there that people need to know, or at least should be aware of...like all the problems in South Africa (Google News it), Egypt (religious tolerance-wise), or even promote something good! Like celebrate some high school kid that has done something good, or some University student who making great strides in whatever, or anything that does not involve stating such common knowledge as our kids favorite cereals have alot of sugar in them..

Channel 9, make me want to watch, not turn away.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Opps

Because I am self-obsessed, I thought that I would quickly go over my thesis again... Which is currently being reviewed by a few people who will hopefully say that I can join the fraternity of PhD's... No, I'm not that self-obsessed!!! I needed to go over it to prepare a poster on one of the chapters for a National Australian Rheumatology Association meeting here in Sydney at the end of the month...

Anyway, I was reading when I noticed something a little bit funny about a few of the references, 5 of them to be exact. 5 individual references out of 34 pages worth. Yes, I counted. They appear to be identical references. Or duplicates to put it another way. That's pretty crappy. Especially since it got through me and my supervisor a number of times... In my supervisor's defense though, he likely thought that I had enough wit to at least make sure my references are proper. Silly mistake on his part eh! (See, I still say "eh" so I retain my Canadianisms).

Ummm... I must have forgotten that I put that little mistake (well 5 of them) in there to see if the reviewers actually read the whole thing. We'll soon see though, we'll soon see.

Anyway though, I just thought that I would share that with the world...

TMNT


I'm betting that you'll never guess what we took Alex and Madison to see the other day.... C'mon, give it a go... Ya, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!!!

As a kid, I loved 'em. As a grown up.. well... although the illusion of turtles doing ninja fighting and blah blah blah has truly worn off, the movie was great!! I was pretty impressed. I honestly walked in thinking that I wasn't really going to like it very much, but low and behold, I really enjoyed it. The animation was great.. And I think that it's a different company coming into the CGI arena (as opposed to Pixar and Dreamworks). The animation looks different from other films, maybe a bit more Japanimation, but only loosely to my eyes (who has only seen VERY LITTLE actual Japanimation). But it was much better than 4 guys suited up as turtles like in the first two movies.

You do have to keep in mind though, this is a ninja turtle movie. As such, the story line is not something that you will be writing home telling your mommy how you have finally truly understood the meaning of it all, and that the space-time continuum is only relevant if you are acting upon certain presumptions, which may or may not be true, and that meeting yourself in either the past or the future, would not destroy its fabric as the eminent Dr. Emmet Brown, mentor of one Marty McFly, once stated, in three different movies. But the story line worked, there were good guys, there were bad guys, the turtles beat them up with some ninja kicking and good old fashioned team-work. Good on ya turtles.

I feel that the down-fall of this movie, is that there is no Vanilla Ice in this third installment. Yes, it continues on from the last two, which I liked as well... And also, that Vanilla Ice was possibly a high point in the second movie says alot about the quality of said second movie... and why it has been soo long in making a third.

I have to go home now, but in conclusion, I liked the movie, as did Alex. Mads fell asleep so I'm guessing she gives it 2 thumbs down. If only she knew what thumbs were...

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Happy Anniversary!

This'll only be a short post, but I wanted to wish mon amour a happy anniversary. For those of you who don't know, April 22 was our wedding anniversary and we have been happily married for 6 years now. We didn't do a whole lot, partly because we want to save up for something really special for our 10 year anniversary. But we watched our wedding video and realized that I look alot older now. Crap. My youthful good looks have faded to what you see below.... Yes, I'm in my office at work, with the lovely Cell Signaling pathway poster behind me on the door....

I think that's the first time I have ever used the web-cam that is built in to my lap-top... Notice to those "Mac" adds where the cool hip Mac computer guy is bragging to the older, business oriented PC who is getting a web-cam installed on top of his head... PC's have web-cams built in tooo....Poorly mis-informed Mac who in his arrogance does not know that he is not as high tech as he likes to portray...

Anyway though, nobody really cares about that....

Tomorrow is ANZAC Day, so I don't have to go to work!!! Yay for me!!! It stands for Australia, New Zealand Army Corps, and it is a holiday to pay tribute all the soldiers who faught for the freedoms and liberties that we tend to take for granted today. So to you all, and to those of other countries, like Canada for eg, and in particular my Grandfather, Jim McRae (his website is one of the links), and my late Grandfather Phil Amon, thank you, and I love and miss you both immensely. Thank you.

Well, I'll write more later in the week..

Cheers my loyal followers!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Twice now

Yup, twice now this week I've posted. Lucky you!! I thought that I should post something a bit more positive and less bitchy than that last post. Needless to say, I was upset. Inside information for Mom and Dad, the meeting I went to on Saturday, while it actually occurred on Monday, they said "no".

Anyway though... So I am finally almost finishing all the ethics and other approvals to finally start the project that I was hired to work on this year. Only one left and it's very close to completion (20-30 minutes away!!!) YAY for me, I rock... A little positive encouragement never goes astray! Anyway though, It's been insane how much writing I have had to do, AFTER writing up a thesis. 1 good sized diabetes grant, 2 chunky and detailed animal ethics protocols, 1 genetically modified organism application, 3 more detailed animal ethics bits, as well as finish off a paper which will be submitted in less than a week.... And I just found out that I have to front up to introduce myself to the Animal Ethics Committee tomorrow. Ah well, I know the project (I did designed it) and I know what I'm doing and all the methods in decent detail at the moment. So it shouldn't be a big deal. I'll let you know when I get the approval though, 'cause I know that you are all extremely anxious to know that I am on my way to curing diabetes. Think positively.... Always think happy thoughts...

Well, I should run now, but I'm glad to see that tomorrow is Friday, and I don't have to come in on Saturday.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Welcome back!

Alright, what can I say? I've been bloody busy!!! I've been learning new lab tricks, like inducing diabetes, isolating pancreatic islets (trying to), transplants into kidneys, and nephrectomies... all in mice. Tricky stuff that I am slowly becoming competent with. Tomorrow some more training, or practicing is more like it. Don't ask 'cause I won't tell.

Went to visit my in-laws down the coast for Easter the other weekend and had a great time. Not surprising as I have always had a good time there... No, I am not sucking up to get my name in the will, although if it'll help.... But me and my father-in-law went fishing. I caught a flounder, but it was too small so I had to throw it back, I almost caught a 30 kg flat head, but it decided that it didn't want me to eat it, so it turned it's head and cut my line. I'll get you next time Lunch!!!. But I did manage to catch myself a decent sized whiting so I have proven to myself that I can actually catch edible sized fish. Worked my technique out a bit, and I'm ready for more. As for my father-in-law, he outshined me greatly by catching 3 edible sized fish, and almost a 40 kg flat head. Alright, so the flat heads weren't 30-40 kg, but they were close to that...I swear!!! Really!!! Believe me, I'm a scientist!

Which brings me to another question of life: Now, I have been to University for too long. 4 years doing an honour's in Biochemistry with a concentration in molecular genetics and a minor in Economics. Then 3.5 years as a PhD student. All up, I ran up a decent sized student loan. Over $25, 000 actually. And this is considering that my PhD cost me nothing because I did it at a public hospital. so 25G for an undergraduate degree, and nothing for a PhD. To run the total: 7.5 years of freakin' University, married with a mortgage and 2 kids under 5. 25G is crippling. The Australian's really have it pretty good here though. They are required to pay back their student loan as a percentage of their income, and it's a sliding scale payment bit where if they earn less than something, they don't have to pay it back until they are earning more. Canada student loan, not so generous. If you are living on the street, no job, blah blah blah, you owe them $$. I can't afford to pay a couple of hundred bucks a month back on top of food. I just can't. I don't earn enough. I'm not trying to make all of you feel guilty or sorry for me, so please don't leave ANY comments to that effect. It's just that Canada does not appreciate the fact that life as a University science graduate, just does not pay for a while. We can't afford to pay back enormous student loans straight out of University. While the 6 month "grace" period to help you find a job is a little relief, it doesn't mean that you will find a job, or that that job will pay for the number of dependents you may have the pleasure of having during the 7-8 years post high-school.

I know that I am "preaching" to the converted, the system needs an overhaul. You're better off learning a trade which will allow you to work anywhere, you can start your own business and blah blah blah. I know the hours are bad as well, but a PhD has some pretty shitty hours too. You are expected (or need to as the case is slowly turning out to be) to work after hours, come in on weekends, etc etc just to stay level with everyone else. And if you want to excel, unbridled devotion to your job is almost a pre-requisite, unless you're bloody lucky and strike it rich. At the expense of family. I can't do that. I love my wife and kids too much to sacrifice too much more... But I now have to because of the magic of Canada Student Loan Service.

Again, I know that I am not alone in this, but please don't send me posts saying that it will get better soon etc etc. I'm writing out of irritation at a flawed system which caters for the wealthy and forces the lower wage earners to have to struggle that much harder for that loaf of bread. Everything comes at a cost, but was it worth it? I'm still not sure, but I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

My first duty:

Well, as you may or may not know, I am an official Australian citizen. As such, I am required by law to vote in all elections (my state and federal). Or else I get fined. Yay for me. I am actually happy, in a way, about this. I deplore politics as an inherently flawed system, with many flaws found in party politics in particular. This is mainly due to the petty bickering that goes on between parties, and the feeling (and reality) that politicians try to further their own carrier as opposed to genuinely trying to improve the well being of their populace. I know what you may be thinking... If the politicians don't help their areas, then they will be forced out.. But I don't believe that this is actually the reality, or that the reality is significantly more complex...

A politician only really needs to be perceived to be trying to helping his constituents. The system IS party politics; you agree with the party you're in by default. You need money to run for office. Money comes from donations, which, if enough money is "donated" helps to ensure that the group that donated the cash's interested are protected by their preferred member of parliament... Enough about that though.... I am writing for a different reason.

Ya I know, all that crap above for nothing! You'll learn to live with, and ignore it. Trust me. Ask Bec.

Ummm.... Oh ya, the voting ballots. INSANE!!!! I measured one of them, and I am not joking, if you hold one end of it to the floor, the other end will reach my hip bone, and for its width, it goes from my finger tips to my elbow (roughly). How's that for big. And the name of some of the party's that were running, "the Shooter's Party", "The Outdoor Recreation Party" (weren't they some club in University populated by long haired granola eaters?), and a scary one called "Australians Against Immigration". You can guess from their name their standpoint on certain issues, kind of against multiculturalism if you get my drift. I obviously did not vote for them though, as I immigrated to this great country of Australia, so to you "Australians Against Immigration":

I fart in your general direction! Your mother was hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!

(if you don't know the source of that quote, click on it and you'll find yourself confronted with something of utmost humor and comedic genius)

Anyway though... I thought I would try to post a picture of the biggest ballot paper (there were two, but the second one was tiny, about the size of a small pamphlet that the Mormons would give you as an introduction thing). But the only picture I could find was one from 1999 (I think), but you get the size issue correctly out of it.

Crazy Australian politics.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Shameless... I know (Office 2007 review)

Well, to my loyal readership, which seems to have dropped considerably as of late.

(In tune:) Where oh where have the bloggers gone, oh where oh where could they be? I wish they would come back and write!!! hint hint ... mom, and the list at right!So, what I am about to do is a kind of shameless plug, for Microsoft no less, particularly Office 2007. The reason I am doing this is two-fold, mainly because it may not be as shameless as you are thinking. .. While I was trialing the beta version (pre-release) which was given out free mid-last year, I actually blogged about it (here), and said that I liked it and that I may consider buying it when it came out. Well, it came out, and was a bit expensive. at over $200 bucks for the student version.

The second reason that I am going to plug it, is because for students at Universities in Australia, you could buy the most expensive version of Office 2007 for $75. I couldn't resist this purchase partially on the ground that the retail cost is $679 US for this package!!! Yup, $679!!!! Or $989.00 Australian! I paid $75, Australian dollars. I did this because while trialing the program, I really liked the ribbon menu system at the top. When I was using Excel (2007) to sort, filter and do a few other things, I learned how to do it easily on the 2007 trial, after which I went and looked for it Excel 2000 and learned how to do it there too, but the buttons were buried in sub-menus etc. I uninstalled the beta because I found that the error bars on graphs would not work correctly. Since I am a hard-core scientist, I need correct error bars. So I sent in a complaint to Microsoft, and in the released version, they work fine.

In all honesty, I do like Office 2007. I can publish to PDF, save files to be compatible with earlier Office versions, and to me at least, the ribbon bit with organized functions etc is intuitive. I was previously using Office 2000, tried later versions, but didn't like them for one reason or another. I think Office 2003 was a tragedy. Does it make me that much of a geek to be able to honestly believe that a program could be a tragedy? Don't answer that! Office 2000 was gold for me. A price of anything over $100 would not have been able to entice me to upgrade from Office 2000. But by offering Office 2007 Ultimate (with all the bells and whistles attached) at 75 bucks, I could not resist.

This is a smart move by microsoft as it stops pirating, and strengthens Microsoft's monopoly on Office suites. But the problem is, is that I think they deserve this monopoly. They make a good Office suite. It's simple to use, does what I want it to do, and doesn't crash. What more do you need or want? Even in an article that appears anti-Microsofy, Office 2007 is called "slick". You can read the article here. It does take some getting used to, but worth it.

For your info, Office Ultimate comes with these programs:
Access, Excel, Groove, InfoPath, OneNote, Outlook, PowerPoint, Publisher, and Word. That's 9 programs. Several of which I may never use, but I will likely at least learn what they can do. I do like the idea behind OneNote and Groove though. OneNote is kind of a digital post-it note book where you can write little notes to yourself, jot down ideas etc and keep them in some kind of order. I will be using this alot as I frequently have ideas for experiments to do in the future and it'll be nice to not loose my scraps of paper anymore. Groove, because it keeps documents updated on several different computers... so during collaborations with other departments, when person "x" modifies it on their computer, it will get modified on my computer so that I am not stuck trying to figure out which draft I am looking at. Believe me, this is a major pain in the ass. The only problem at the moment, is that my supervisor (or Boss) uses a Mac and 1: I don't know if Groove works on a Mac, 2: He doesn't have this program, amd 3: He modifies both paper copies AND digital copies to the point where he gets lost himself and I am left trying to deal with it... But the idea behind Groove should work well for people with even rudimentary organizational skills!

I also thought that I would drop in some pictures of the ribbon menu bar, just if you're interested. The first one is of Excel 2007, and the one below it is of Word 2007. See, they look different than earlier versions of Office. And I like them. (note: click on them to enlarge them further)



Final thoughts on it: Well, I probably wouldn't rush out and buy it immediately, but I would rush out and at least trial it immediately (as I did last year). At least then you can see what it offers you and if you think it's worth upgrading. For me though, I liked it and thought it worthwhile.

Remember though, this post is not a total sell out, because in one of the opening paragraphs, I said that I would probably try to get it when it came out, and I friggen reported on the beta version. It should have been expected that I would post on the final version. So there, take that.

Anyway though, enjoy your weekend.

This post is brought to you by: Too Much Free Time This Afternoon.

Monday, March 19, 2007

A day of Note

Well, for my long time readers and others who might be reading this... Last year, I seemed to have spent a fair amount of time bitching and complaining about writing my thesis. It was to the point that I even stopped blogging because I hated sitting at my computer.

That time is over now.

I am ready to submit. Why has it taken so long one might ask. And I would answer that it's a PhD thesis. They always take long. Also, my supervisor told me to write a paper in late October which took up some time, then the editing process took time. Then when I handed my supervisor the final draft in January, I was informed that he wouldn't be able to read it until late Feb, after all the grants were submitted. That's a fair enough answer since without the grants, he has no department... But now, it is printed, and bound. All three copies, one for each reviewer, one in the US, and two here in 'Oz (Melbourne actually). I was thinking that I should buy myself a game for the Wii.... It is afterall one of the biggest endeavors (academically and professionally) that I am likely ever to complete. And it's ready to submit.

So off I go to the post-graduate girl person to give it to her.... And in a few months, I will likely have to make a few little (fingers crossed) revisions, and then I am Dr. Amon.

How cool is that.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The difference between good and evil

Just a question, does it make me a bad person if I went to see Rocky Balboa on the weekend, and enjoyed myself while doing so?

The more I think about the movie, the more I liked it, and the more I want to go out and watch Rocky 1 again, and maybe 2, 3, and 4, I never saw 5, but maybe give that a go too...

Me and my brother-in-law, Harry (from Cyprus because I think you all want to know), went out to see it on Saturday while we left the ladies to watch the kids for the afternoon. That was great! Thanks Bec and Amanda. We'll have to do that again sometime soon!! As anyone who's maybe seen any of the movies before, this one doesn't fall short. Sure, there are moments of utter cheese and the like, but it was a true Rocky movie. There was one bit that disapointed me about the movie, and I don't know if I should share it with you because it might, no, it would kind of spoil the ending. OK... let's just say that the movie does not end as all the other Rocky movie did.... It was a happy ending, but just a different happy. I think that if you go to watch this movie with an open mind, ready to sit down and be entertained, you'll like the movie. It's not a best picture of the year, but it worked for me. Which may not say much! But, I'd watch it again when it comes out on video.

And isn't that what the movie business is all about, repeat viewing?

I thought that I would post this last picture to show that Sly is still cut! The guy's getting up there, and he still looks like this! OK, so the Australian customs dept would say that it is due to illegal (in 'Oz) steroid use, but he is still cut and pulled off, successfully, another Rocky movie.

Good on ya Sly, you've got a friend, and fan, in me!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Fasting

Well, today is the 6th day of the Baha'i Fast. There is a total of 19 days. Day 6 is today. No food/water between sunrise (6:40am ish) and sunset (7:25pm ish). I am now over my caffeine addiction, but don't worry, as soon as the Fast is over, I guarantee that I will be addicted again by the end of the first week I am allowed to have food in the presence of the sun. Yesterday was the first day that I didn't have a perma-headache all day. Pretty happy about that, and I still don't have one now. I try to make my coffee addiction a genuine medical condition, ie coffee as a substitute for panadol (the Australian equivalent of something like double extra strength, muscle bound tylenol). There's a reason you don't get Panadol in Canada, or at least you didn't when I was there.

So now that the headaches are gone, the Fast has become a whole lot easier on me!! Honestly though, so far, this has been the hardest Fast I've ever had to do. Don't really know why though. It's supposed to be a time of spiritual growth where you think about why you are fasting etc... and the whole the body is a temple for the soul not the ruler of it and I'm sure you've all heard that before... even if the actual ramifications of that haven't been thoroughly thought out before. It's a lot easier to fast than it is to diet though. Some people in my office, well one in particular hasn't quite fully understood that so she'll hide her food from me when she's eating because she thinks I'll steal it, no, I'm joking, she just thinks that it's mean for her to eat around me when I can't join in! She's a lovely woman though, and brings a smile to my. So Vera, love ya dearly! Although she never reads this... I bitch about work too much sometime to actually let the people at work know this exists!!! Gotta protect the job that I don't seem to be getting paid for doing.

It all comes down to motivation. Dieting, or watching you diet... actively, not just watching the chocolate cake disapearing from the plate in front of you, but chosing health vs other, is not easy. But fasting for religious purposes. That's a whole different story. You are not eating because God asked it of you. And if you are religious, than you believe that that carries more weight than you ever possibly could. So you do. But not unquestioningly. You should always question things. We were given logic and freethinking as a blessing so as not to be fooled by "false prophets" etc and to learn about and understand who and what we are, our environment etc.... and I drone on and on and on and on and on and on and on.... when will he shut up.... why does he do this all the time? but why can't I seem to stop reading, something about it just lures me into this stupor where I can't seem to turn away from his gibbering gibberish about things that I already know... but then he's family, and I'll support him because that what family does now what is he rambling on about again... It's like how the other day I was given a book by a guy at the train station for a small donation of 70 cents (all I had on me). I read the book and learned that I had just had my first experience with a cult. The Jesus Christians. I read the novel, called Survivors, because I was curious about what it said and I'll write more about that later and devote a whole post on it so that you can chose not to read it because it looks like you're falling asleep.

bye.