Monday, October 24, 2005

An Intraperoxisomal Signalling Cascade Initiates Peroxisome Division by Triggering the Stepwise Remodeling of Lipids and Proteins

The above is a condensed version of the title of the presentation I had to give in Bufallo this weekend. You can imagine my shock when I was told I would be giving a talk on that topic within ten days. I wasn't quite sure what it meant but I quickly brought myself up to speed and so was ready to take off to Bufallo New York to present my research to other students and professors.

On this trip would be two colleagues from the lab as well as my supervisor. The 7 hour drive was lots of fun. The professor is always full of stories and jokes. He keeps a pretty open mind about different kinds of music, from one of my colleague's strange mixture of Japanese Rock to my raw gangsta rap complete with racial slurs. One of the songs became something of a running gag as the Prof tried immitating the Jamaican-esque growling noise that came after the words, "Bumbaclot! Dance Right!!!"

The border guard was obvioulsy perplexed when he saw the four of us in the car. "A black man... 2 Russians... and a jew?" Sounds like the beginning to some uber racist joke.

Border guard: "Where you folks headin'?"
Driver: "We're going to bufallo... For a conference.."
Border guard: "What kind of conference?"
Driver: "It's the Northeastern Meeting for Yeast scientists."
Border guard: "...."
Professor: "A conference for biological science."
Border guard: "BIOLOGICAL SCIENCE??????"

His incredulous howl was a mixture of confusion and terror. But alas, he called over another guy in uniform, they looked over the passports and decided everything was in order.

The hotel was really nice and the Prof treated us all to a really nice supper. The next day was talks from 9am to 6pm. I nodded off for many of them, though they were for the most part pretty interesting. All the talks from me and the students from our lab went pretty well. One thing I did notice is where most people end the talk by thanking there supervisors, in our lab we thank, "Our professor." LIke he's more than just our supervisor. Anyway it sounded different. Less formal, more personal. Like when Samwise Gamgee says, "My old gaffer!" Regardless, we got props from the other scientists for our kick ass research! I'd say we even had some Biology groupies. One hot girl scientist said,"Hey Chris... Nice talk... Why don't you talk to me? IN BED!!!"

The last part probably didn't happen, but we were congratulated and met some interesting people at the Conference dinner. Among them were Dr. Bob, a rasta Biologist from Bufallo, and another guy from his lab, Sanjay. We went with them to watch the Doom movie, this being somewhat terrible and not worth watching. The movie can basically be summed up in four words, "24th chromosome... Ganglion... killer monsters..." In fact that was a line from the movie, basically explaining that people were turning into monsters because they were getting injected with a 24th chromosome. Ridiculous! Especially to biologists coming from a talk about genetics ands tuff.

Bufallo itself is a dead city, as I'm told most American cities are. Saturday night and Sunday morning the streets were barren as Angela Landsbury's womb. I must have counted 10 people walking the streets total. There were no billboards, no adds.. nothing... It was a ghost town. Anyway, on the way home we had what I like to call a CHAMPION breakfast, complete with pancakes, sausage, eggs etc...

Then the 7 hour ride back. We stopped at Fat Nancy's Tackle shop, just for a laugh. Fat Nancy happens to be a very large fish. And they sell al kinds of bait and odd t-shirts. Getting a little hungry I wandered to the back to see if they sold snacks. I found a fridge with a sign on it that said, "Nightcrawlers and Earthworms." Oh well, pancakes and such would have to hold me until my triumphant return to montreal.

Prof: "What's that you're eating Chris?"
Me: "Night..... Ummm... nothing..."

Then we stopped at the border. We all got alcohol. I picked up a bottle of Rum for my cousin Chad (I wonder if that was a good idea)
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And we went on our merry way. YAY! It was a nice weekend.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The anthropology of my room

I don't know if you've ever been in a situation where you were looking for something, that you don't necessarily need, but you become so obsessed with finding it that you'll nearly turn everything in your path upside down, just to figure out how you could be so stupid to lose it. Just to figure out what the last thing on your mind was when you had the item in question.

This time it was my passport. I'm going to give a talk in Buffalo and figure it would be a nice way to cross the border in style. The rub is, I've just moved (3 months is just), and some stuff hasn't been upacked yet and probably never will be. Especially small, passport sized garbage that should have probably been thrown away long ago.

There's nothing like random crap to send you on a trip down memory lane. Among the things I found

-3-D glasses
-A plastic wad of cash, probably belonging to an action figure
-A Darth Vader figure
-My Medical Record (apparently I'm blood type A positive. I never knew that.)
-a remote control for an old television
-a wooden turtle -strange cables?
-A steel drum
-a teddy bear
-a plush monkey
-an afro comb

AND MUCH MORE!!! (The wooden turtle is a particularly interesting artifact, having been taped shut after moving. Removing the tape and openning up the shell I discover, the wooden turtle contains about 5 dollars in change, some of this is american money! Arcade tokens from the paramount! And look there's a brown button for pants in a tiny square inch bag!Sick!)

At this point I'm pleased to have lead such a quirky and charmed life. I'm such a character. But about an hour later the entire process becomes less amusing. I start going into boxes that cannot be disturbed without making a rather large mess. Finding old drawings I made, outlines for stories. Even more strange, I'm finding stuff that I got during my trip from China including a moist toilet from the plane from japan. You would think the passport would be adjacent to this kind of stuff. I also found a Christmas card I got from a friend in Korea. As is often the case, I got distracted and decided to see if this person was online. Then proceeded to chat with them, "Hey! I found the card you sent me! Nice!"

After this I'm just upset. Finding old instruction manual's to video games I've thrown in the garbage long ago. The 7th Guest? Looking through old comics. Actually I knew the passport couldn't be there, I just wanted to read the issue where Spider-man teams up with arch rival Venom to battle his even more arch rival Carnage.

Bender action figure from Futurama... Mmm.. that's who the plastic wad of cash belonged to. I put that on my computer desk. At this point my room is a complete disaster... Moreso than usual. I start hating myself for being so disorganized. Why don't I just clean up?!? Then I notice an innocent looking bag hanging from my cupboard door. This contains, my name written in Chinese on rice paper, a razor?, a bus schedule, pens, an old birthday card, pencils a schedule to jazz fest and of course my passport.

What in Gods name was it doing in that bag? What was I on??? I keep most of my important documents on the floor, not in a bag! 2 hours well wasted. I really have to tidy up someday.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Gregg Factor... changing the world... 1 geek at a time!!

Thanks to Bremner stud, a while back I got a site meter for my blog. It's really fun stuff. It not only counts who visits your blog but also tells you where they visit from and what searches they performed to get to your blog. For example, someone came across my site when doing a search containing the words, "How Much my Gun Worth!" They were of course, from the US.
The site meter is also fun because it will give you certain facts about the country.
For example, Latvia has several national holidays, these often celebrations of their independance or renewal of their independance from Russia or the Soviet Union. I found it ironic that I got a visitor from Latvia, because for you Gregg Factor-philes who have been paying attention, my profile clearly states that I am located in Estonia, just north of Latvia. I wonder if I"m big in Latvia? I have some kind of cult following? At this point I am convinced that there's a group of Latvian women with posters of me on their wall...

Regardless, with visitors from all over the world, I don't think I'd be overstepping my bounds by saying, Gregg Factor has indeed changed the world. As such I'd like to further indulge my waxing ego by starting the Gregg Factor sweepstakes... or something. Soon I will have reached 1000 visits, since last month when I got this site meter. And I guess... I'll write something about the 1000th visitor? Maybe an amusing annecdote about the person in question. Or a mocumentary about the history of their country. I don't know... I should do something right? Good luck to you all!

Friday, October 14, 2005

Ignorance is bliss

So I'm here sitting in the lab. A jerk colleague of mine just told me he got herpes from my mom. As a joke of course. It was a "mama diss". Remember the days when those used to be popular? And the funny thing, no one takes offense to it.

In fact most people don't seem to take offense to anything anymore. Being rude and offensive has become an art. I can make the most ignorant comments to my fellow lab minion Jon and he'll almost thank me for it.

Me: "Hey, slapnuts! You're stupid and ugly, and you smell like a fart, and your mom's a whore and...."
Jon: "Thank you Chris! Could I have another?"

You can insult people's families, race, religion... almost anything. But you must never insult the music they like. I can remember being called ignorant twice in my life and both times was because I had made a remark about some musician. Even jon, the most laid back dude around went apes**t after an offhanded remark about Paul McArtney.

Me: "Paul McArtney is gay!"

He was rather irate. I really don't have anything specific against Paul McArtney's music. I was mostly trying to provoke him. I just didn't think he would lose it on me like that. He was ready to take on everyone in the lab who agreed that Paul McArtney was more suitable for older audiences.

I guess the same thing applies to movies. I've had dozens of arguments with Rez and Droopy about Star Wars Episode 3. And it always proceeds in the same way.

Me: "Episode 3 is gay! The acting is terrible and the story makes no sense!"
Vrej: "I heart that movie with all my heart! I love lightsaber fights and surfing on lava and Obi Wan."
Rezaul: "Chris, you're the only guy I know who doesn't get it! You're a Republican!"

At least twice that Republican comment came up after a Star Wars Convo. I can't remember why though. But he's quite consistent with it.

The point is, at some point in our lives people began to identify more with crappy stories and mediocre music than things like religion and family. It makes some people feel like they belong. I can remember the first instance of this when I entered high school. All of a sudden, all the people I knew who used to like hip hop and rnb decided it was no longer "cool" to like hip hop. It was cooler to like Pearl Jam and I don't know... Axel Rose.

Then as people age, the need to belong is replaced by a need to feel intelligemt. "I'm a fan of alternative, or punk, or ska! That makes me special. AND INTELLIGENT!!!" And you can probably see this irritating quality in many of your friends up until this day. When people defend music by throwing out random facts about the history of some band. They piece together bits of history and dropping names as if they're all pieces of some grand puzzle. They try to find some pattern in a mess that is an artist's work, something created while the artist was probably high on drugs or depressed or confused about something. Jbo was notorious for this.

Me: "White music is gay!"
Jbo: "Chris you're so ignorant! The White Stripes(or the vines) is like a whole new genre of music... It all started in 1989 when Red Hot Chilli Peppers blablablabla..." much history... almost 2 decades!

Me: "Non-violent movies are gay!"
Some jerk: "You just don't know good movies! American Beauty is the bees knees and all other sappy crap that gets nominated for oscars. I'm intelligent for liking certain movies."

And soentertainment is no longer something subjective but some matter of moral contention. A group of people will bully you into liking something that they have decided is universally good. I personally think it's all a matter of like and dislike. Sure there are good movies and bad movies, but in the long run some things speak to you and others don't, whether they've been poorly executed (from an artistic point of view) becomes almost irrelevant. It's called having an opinion, and in my opinion, people who take anything in the entertainment industry that's been produced in the last twenty years serioulsy, are all gay!

I think we're all letting ourselves be fooled. We go out there and shell out our dollars and our time to people who are providing us with a product that is simply of their own individual imagination (or a bastardization of someone elses idea). Then, we go out into the world and sequester ourselves into little groups that dress and talk a certain way, and as Rez once put it brilliantly, claim these things are an expression of our individuality. It's just a movie, written to get your money. It's just a song written by some stoned and tortured simpleton. Don't identify too strongly with it.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

New Hood, New Rules

As you mostly know I moved into my own place in Cote St Luc. It's interesting being in a new "hood". I've lived in Brossard almost all my life. Sometimes I guess I took it for granted that other places might be different.

For starters there are many, many old people here. And they look old. Not just like, 60 or 70. These people must be a few hundred years old. And perhaps a little big out of it. I saw one old lady on the bus. She looked like granny from those Sylvester and Tweety cartoons and had such a placid smile on her face. She was wearing a scarf around her head as sweet old ladies usually do. But when I looked closely I saw there were bright green marijuana leaves all over it. I'm pretty sure she didn't know. Should I have told her? Or maybe she just loves reefer!

The crossing guard on the corner of Guelph and Westminster is simultaneously the most sinister and the most useless person on the face of the earth. He wears badass shades and of course he smokes on the job. I've rarely seen him help a child cross the road, though if he's not busy talking to adults on their way to work, he'll lift his stop sign in a lackadaisical fashion. One time he did make an effort. He was tying his shoe and saw little girl about to cross. He finished lacing up but the girl, resilient thing that she was, found her way to the other side of the street on her own. He shrugged and proceeded to "holla" at a woman on her way to work. Better luck next time evil crossing guard, dude! A while ago he did something I will never forget. There were two kids at the stop light, waiting patiently for him to come to their rescue. The crossing guard yells, "Just cross!! You're already late!" I was pretty horrified.

Another strange thing I see around here. Cops on bicycles. What exactly is a cop on a bicycle supposed to do? I usually see them early in the morning and one of them usually looks pretty bitter. There's a brown guy who often has a clueless smile on his face and a white guy who generally looks angry. I can imagine their story. They were probably demoted for unnecessary brutality and now have to ride the beat on bicycles. I saw one of the guys bothering some woman. I don't know if he was giving her a ticket for jaywalking or something but the look on her face clearly said, "I can't believe I got busted by the bicycle cop!"

I'd like to see a m0vie about these guys where all the elements of Cote St. Luc come together. I'd call it SWATAB (Special Weapons And Tactics... And Bicycles...)

Neil: "Oh, what a beautiful day to be riding our bicycles."
Phil: "F**k that! I say today we take it up a notch. I got some illegal weapons off of the crossing guard down the street. Armour piercing, nuclear s**t... SICK GUY! We're bound to get a promotion if we pop a few of these into some jaywalkers."
Neil: "Phil, this is why we got demoted in the first place! You can't just go around harassing innocent people with illegal weapons and expect to get away with this!"
Phil: "That's just my style of law enforcement, baby!"
Neil: "I understand that... But you should realize in some circumstances a little tact and finesse is called for, not armour piercing bullets. Sometimes less is more.
Phil: "Less is more? That talk is for ballerina's and sunday school teachers... When you're a bicycle cop on the beat, MORE IS MORE MOTHA F**KA!!!" *hoists a large assault rifle with a scope onto his shoulder*
Neil: "I'm getting too old for this s**t!"
Phil: "There's an old lady over there with marijuana leaves on her bandanna. I'm taking her down! Cover my ass!!!" *rides off on his bike. Neil pulls out a shotgun*