Busy Month

Still preparing for the conference the last week of February.  But many other interesting things have happened in recent weeks.  In reverse chronological order:

Went to see a taping of The Rick Mercer Report last night.  Jack and I had to switch places because the camera was coming in over our heads and they were afraid it was going to hit his.  If you watch Valentine’s Day evening, you might be able to find us when they swoop in over the audience.  Pictures to follow.  They are still on my camera and I can’t find an appropriate cable or a card reader in the lab.

Yesterday morning, Mats Sundin (I had no idea who he was)  was in the building announcing a fellowship in his name.  He is donating $330k towards a post-doc exchange between the University of Toronto and Stockholm’s Karolinska Institutet to study maternal and early childhood health issues.  One labmate got his autograph on the back of a biophysics paper, and a second can be seen in the background of this interview, starting around 1:10.  I’m not usually a celebrity chaser, but here are some pictures:

The previous weekend, my eldest son and I went to see Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall, and Larry the Cable Guy.  I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time.  It was worth the drive to Hamilton, for sure.  Here’s a radio station interview with the 3 of them about this tour.

As for the rest of February, today is Dad’s birthday, there’s Valentine’s Day, my niece’s birthday, Family Day, and then the conference starting on the 23rd.  For the conference, I’ve done about 25 data runs at an average of 3 per day.  I have 4 to do today, 3 on Monday, and a couple to redo.  Then I have a calibration to do that will take 3 or 4 days.  And a poster to make.  It’s good to be busy, when the busy actually gets stuff accomplished.

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Our Song

Wordle: Happy Together
If you want to make your own Wordle, go to http://www.wordle.net.

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Making every vote count

The vote-splitting that happened in the last federal election that resulted in us having Harper as Prime Minister really upsets me. I have read some of the alternative voting mechanisms being proposed and they sound so complicated. Why not just allow each politician be elected as before, but when it comes time for them to vote on bills in the House of Commons, their vote carries the weight of the number of people who voted for them? Then every vote counts. People who choose not to vote have no influence, as always. But I am sure the politician would be out trying to convince everyone to get out and vote if this happened. If politicians crossed the floor, it could very much alter the political landscape. For smaller provinces, they still have the influence on the number of seats won over who gets to form the government and who is Prime Minister. But if some seats have a few too many people, all of a sudden I don’t think the MP will be complaining. I don’t know how these changes go about, but I think I’m going to try to find out and see if this idea might float.

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Some good results

I have my experiment working again and have replicated previous results.  I’m going to a conference at the end of the month and was getting a little leery.  I guess I worry too much.

Things I would comment upon more fully if I had the time:

Senator Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu stating that convicted murderers should be given enough rope to hang themselves.  Literally.  So wrong on so many levels.

The Shafia family murders and the uproar over calling them honor killings.  This, along with the murder of Andrene Graham makes me rethink my position of not being a feminist.  If you look at page 32 of this, you see that from 2000 to 2009, there were 581 women killed by their spouses (compared to 157 men).  The death on any one of these people is horrid, regardless of gender, but there is a clear bias that more women than men die as a result of family dysfunction.  If instead of women being targeted by controlling males, some other group was targeted for murder by another group on such a regular basis, do you not think there would be more screaming going on?

Saeed Malekpour. I hope the world can make a difference in countries that treat people like this.

Have to go to sleep.  More experimenting tomorrow.  Had to get those thoughts out, though.

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Do you really save anything with TTC?

By the time I get home tonight, it will have taken me 2 hours and 20 minutes to get home. This is due to the subway not running just long enough for me to miss two buses. If I were driving this time of night, the longest it would take is an hour.

On the subway there was a poster that said CAA estimates it costs between $8900-$12000 annually to own and use a car. For me, I pay $104 a month for a pass, plus $111.80 in tokens for the second zone. That’s $2709.60 a year. I know I don’t go downtown every day of the week, but that is using the price of a token when bought in bulk, which I don’t always do. That looks like a great savings.

But the bus never runs on schedule. I head to the shelter 15 minutes early every day because sometimes it arrives 10 minutes early or, like today, 10 minutes late. So on average I waste 50 minutes a week on that end of the trip.

I don’t know how I manage to do so, but on my trip home, I always miss my bus by 10 minutes or less. This costs me 20 minutes or more on average a day, or 100 minutes a week. And on nights like tonight when there is a subway delay, I lose an hour. This happens about once every 4 months, which is not bad. So between the three ways I lose time, I am behind 7920 minutes, assuming 4.3 weeks in a month. Right now I’m being paid $40/hour as a TA, which means this loss of time costs me $5280. That’s a grand total of $7989.60. Being a student, the tax break means nothing to me. Oh, add in the cost of getting a student ID for my student pass and it is over $8000.

That’s getting pretty comparable to the cost of having a car. And then I can drive it other places too.
I like the subway. I don’t mind the bus once I’m on it. But I hate sitting at Downsview station on a freezing cold bench waiting for a bus that comes every half hour because it takes 15 minutes to get from Yorkdale station to Downsview. Someone told me this type of delay at the end of the line doesn’t happen at Finch. What’s up TTC?

Well I killed the time waiting for it writing this. Time to line up outside with the smokers, who the TTC don’t seem to want to fine.

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Watch your bank account, and with whom you bank.

A couple of days ago, I need to buy more bus tokens.  So I made the effort to get to a Scotiabank machine to save myself some bank fees.  A day later, there three ABM withdrawls for amounts that you would never be able to withdraw from a bank machine along with $15 in service charges were debited to my account.  The total was almost $1000.  When I phoned, the gentleman on the phone said that the account had been noted for possible fraud and that I had to go to my own branch to fill out a request to get my money back.

So today I went to my branch and filled out the form.  They told me it would take a month to get it back.  Which really sucks.  Last year we paid in advance for gymnastics classes and the school went under before any of them were used.  I had paid with my BMO MasterCard and they refunded the money first and investigated second.  I guess maybe it is time to move my banking, especially with Scotia raising their fees yet again.  It’s not like I don’t have my choice of nearby banks.

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Sleepy

It is just past midnight and I’m in the lab.  I had to figure something out, and the experiment takes several hours.  I wanted to take the  kids to swimming and dance lessons this morning, so when you start at 3 PM you work until 1 AM. It looks like it is turning out correctly, so I’m happy.  I won’t know for sure until the data is analyzed…which takes all night.  I’ll look at it tomorrow night or Monday AM.

It used to be that I never left the house after dark.  Not because I didn’t want to, but because my life didn’t afford it.  Oh, correct me, I’m wrong.  I went outside after dark when I took the kids to beavers in the winter.  I was still home in time to have the kids in bed around 8 PM.  Now not only do I have time to work into the wee hours, which doesn’t happen that often… I’m mostly out of the lab around 5:30, I do get to go out and have fun after dark on occasion.

We survived the holidays.  Having Mom here to visit was great.  She got to spend lots of time with the children. Going forward, between now and the end of February I will see Monster Jam, Rick Mercer, and the trio of Jeff Foxworthy, Larry the Cable Guy and Bill Engvall, as well as present a poster of my work in San Diego.  For a short month, it is going to be packed.

Jack asked me this morning if I ever thought my kid would ask me if they were just dropping me off at the subway or if they were coming with me.  Hehehe as if.  I would like to see some real snow, though.  It would be really cool to be in the woods behind Grandad’s house cross-country skiing. Ah well, that time will come again someday.  For now, I’ll look forward to being at an ocean-front hotel in San Diego in the middle of winter.  For someone who had never travelled outside Canada until 2 years ago, this is another unusual thing.

Ok, the thing is almost done running.  Nytol…

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My white mittens

At our lab this winter, we had a secret Santa draw. I got a pair of white mittens from a fellow grad student, along with chocolate and a selection of lip balms. I knew the young woman who bought me the gift had spent a good deal of time thinking about what to buy, but when I first opened it I didn’t get the significance of her choice. Then she reminded me of one day when she and I had walked to lunch that I had commented that I would like to have a pair of white gloves to wear on the subway to see how dirty the TTC really was. I love them and they’ve taught me something: the TTC handrails are not nearly as dirty as the TTC washrooms. I got the mittens December 16 and have been downtown using the bus and train at least a half-dozen times and they aren’t visibly black. I’m sure that won’t last long once all the people out on Holiday holidays are back filling up the rush hour buses and cars, but for now I’m impressed. If I can keep from dropping them in the mud or touching the side of the van with them, I’ll keep you posted as to their demise.

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December 30, 2011 · 9:21 PM

The Eaton Centre

I went to the mall yesterday, thinking that the boxing week shoppers might have thinned out by now.  I was wrong.  How I hate crowded malls.  But I got a few nice shots of their Christmas decorations, so I guess it was worth the walk.

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Stockings last night

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December 25, 2011 · 8:51 PM