Tuesday, November 29, 2005

How to Detect Derelict Domestic Safety Detectors or the Exorcism of Masta's Crizzouse by Kenny Chu

A few weekends ago I had Alpha Posse over. We feasted on submarines while watching the hockey game. But one of us (at least one of us) wasn't enjoying himself. Kenny Chu, a member of the Alpha Posse Elite, had noticed a strange squeaking noise that would pipe every 10-17 seconds or so. I off-handedly told him that I didn't know what the noise was and that I had chosen to ignore it for the past few months. I speculated that it could be the plumbing in the building.

Kenny: It kind of sounds like a fire-detector that's low on batteries. Beeping so that you know it's time to change the batteries.
Me: I seem to remember something about a fire detector in this apartment... I don't think it's that. If I did find a smoke detector I'm sure I would have just removed the battery. So, nuts to you and your putative smoke detector!

And so the beeping/squeaking noise continued. And Kenny was getting rather agitated. His eyes would dart left, right up and down. His fingers clenching in and out. Nostrils flaring. He was going kind of nuts. Meanwhile everyone speculated on what the sound could be.

Rez: Maybe it's a mouse.
Vrej: Maybe it's the table.
Rez: Maybe it's the window.
Vrej: Maybe it's star wars.

At this point Kenny tore his shirt off and began rampaging through my apartment. He began smashing plates, throwing furntiure. He hurled Rezaul into a wall with a visceral snarl. "HOW CAN YOU LIVE WITH THAT NOISE?!?" he demanded, hoisting me up by the throat and shaking me.

It was a good question. Why is it that a noise that would drive most people insane, was something that I decided to just ignore? Instead of finding out what the problem is and fixing it, I just accepted it as part of my life. I can remember hearing it during the night, or while I was watching television. That tiny unpredictable peep... It was quite annoying. Loud enough to be noticed every time, but unpredictable, so it's always like a surprise when it happens. It really was quite intrusive. But I just accepted it. Maybe it had taken a toll on my sanity and I just never noticed.

Just as Kenny was about to snap my neck, his eyes moved toward a pile of books on the window cill. He moved the awkwardly placed books and lo and behold, underneath was the errant smoke detector. With a triumphant cry he removed the battery and in an instant, the beeping noise that had plagued my apartment for months was gone.

The funny thing is I had gotten used to it. Throughout the night my eyes would turn to the window cill and I barely noticed. "What are you looking at, Chris?" the guys would ask a few times. Was my subconcious craving the familiar sound of the beep? And what did all this say about my personality? Not only am I a slob for leaving a smoke detector under a pile of books, for months apparently but I"m also kind of deranged for living with that noise for so long. Is it laziness that prevented me from finding the smoke detector? I doubt my smoke detector detection abilities are any less than Kenny's. Why didn't I act to change this unnaceptable situation in my life?

Walking down the hall of the apartment building today I heard a sound that sounded very much like my old squeak. Having not heard it in a while, the experience was quite jarring. I almost felt dizzy for a second. What will be the consequences of my prolonged exposure to the beep? Will it trigger insanity whenever I hear it? Will I fall into a depression in its absence? Only time wil tell. Strange psychological experiment.

I should get funding to lock kenny up in a room and have him live with random beeping for a few months. Then release him into the world and produce the beeping noise when he's around a large croud of people. Will he go nuts and kill them all? Maybe Kenny will become the ultimate military weapon. I can see George Bush unleashing an entire legion of Berserker Kenny Chu Chu's onto unsuspecting nations with desirable national resources. And me having to live with the guilt of creating this heinous weapon, much like Einstein when his work lead to the invention of the atom bomb. Yes, I'm comparing myself to Einstein.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Why me? Because...

Some of you are probably familiar with the www.hi5.com network. It's basically a friends network. And you can browse your list of friends and see if they know people you know and then add them to your network. Anyway, it's really cheesy.

Now a while ago, this dude added me to his list. I knew him from school and I always found this guy a little effeminite. I guess the first clue was when I called him gay and he seemed genuinely upset. "Hey, nice shirt. What are you, GAY??? HAHAHAHAHA!! Woah... stop crying man... Stop crying!" Not exactly my proudest moment and eventually someone told me he is in fact gay. I didn't think he was gay cuz I remember he had asked a girl I know out on a date. Anyway, no hard feelings I guess cuz one day he added me to his network of friends. What's funny is if you look at his network of friends half of them are these muscly guys with no shirts. I guess that's what gay guys do... pose with no shirts.

Whatever... More recently, I noticed someone named Jean, trying to add me to their list. I did not know this Jean guy, but I noticed he was not wearing any shirt either. My spidey sense was tingling. Normally I would just add any person to my list without question. But something about this guy...

So I decided to look at his friends... Page after page of muscly guys with no shirts on... No wait... There was someone with long hair and a tube top... At first glance, yeah, I would even have to say she was a woman of some sort. At a closer glance I realized she was not a she at all. She was a he. And he was dressed as a woman. Maybe he was even a transvestite. And his gender was listed as male.

Well, that settled it. I rejected the friend request and cursed bitterly for fate to have dealt me such a hand. The men in his circle of friends were probably for the most part, if not entirely, homosexual males. And I know exactly the homo who was responsible for connecting me with this pack of gays! Sure enough, this jean guy is friends with the gay guy who added me to his list a while back.

Now I've been accused of being a homophobe, mostly by women. But you know what? It's easy for them to say! It's not their ass out there on the line! It's not a very comforting thought, many big gay men with my picture available on the internet to be uploaded to their spank bank?

I was not happy. You know why? Not because of the thought of an entire penetentiary worth of large gay men who were a mouseclick away from adding me to their "friend's list". Because I wonder why, WHY God couldn't make a hot girl come across my picture and add me as a "friend"? Is that so much to ask? For some hot stalker girl to come across my pic while she browses this inane network and say, "Hey, this guy isn't so bad. I'm going to just add him to my friend's list and proceed to court him." It would have made my night! It would have made my month! Maybe we would have gotten married in the mountains... And there would have been trumpets, and flowers and garlands of fresh herb... And we would dance from sunup until sundown. And our grandchildren would have heard the story of how I met their grandmother.

Me: "Before telepathic implants, there was this thing called the internet and your grandmother added me to her friendslist.."
Grandma Gregg: "OOoh, your grandfather was so cute... He had this picture with a little lampshade on his head..."
Me: "I remember a week after that fateful friendlist addition, when our limbs were intertwined in the various postures of the kamasutra..."
Grandkids: "GROSSS!!!"

But no!!!... No hot girl, no garlands of fresh herb. Just page after page of homos, Homos HOMOS!!! It was kind of a slap in the face. God seems to enjoy mocking me. "Heheh, I hate this motha f**ka MastaCSG. I will make many homosexuals aware of him." Am I really a bad guy? Did I do something bad in a past life? Is this a joke, does God sit up there on a cloud and high five all the angels, "HAHA!!! Did you see the look on his face when he saw like 20 pictures of gay men and transvestites???"

I suppose I was overly upset by the incident. Then it occured to me why... I AM A BAD GUY!!! This was all payback because I was mean to the original gay guy back in the day. Karma if you will. I was really mean to him. I should learn my lesson. Words can hurt. Probably not as much as getting rough man love from large homosexuals... but it's a different pain I guess. I used to think I was just unlucky and God enjoyed torturing me, but that simply isn't the case. Often times, I'm a heel. And I enjoy being a heel! If there is a God, he would probably have to punish me because I do and say things that hurt other people. So God, if you're among the many Gregg Factor-philes around the world and you're reading this post, I'm sorry. And gay guy... I'm sorry to you also. I'd apologize in person, but I fear you and your circle of "friends". In the future I will be more careful of what I say to others.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Lab tales part 4- Blackness confirmed

There are certain topics of conversation that reoccur frequently at work. The most disturbing is the Yaoi talk. For those of you who don't know what it is, its basically a japanese word for hardcore gay anime porn. Yeesh... An idea whose time is long overdue! I remember what my life was before knowing that. Unfortunately those are times I will never live again without the help of a Men in Black-esque neuralizer. I've seen things...

There's also the epic foosball debate. Is foosball a sport? I say no, others say yes, arguments ensue. These topics come up again and again week after week and almost always proceed in the same manner.

Guy: "Of course foosball is a sport! I bet if I took steroids, I would become an amazing foos player. Therefore it's a sport."
Me: "If foosball is a sport so is hopscotch! Slag off!"


Girl: "Yaoi is an entertaining diversion! I'm normal for indulging in illustrated sodomy!"
Me (mouth agape in horrified incredulity): "No...no..."

I suppose one could argue that my topic of choice is Star Wars or Star Trek and talks about these subjects usually animate themselves as me going into long winded recounts of my favourite scenes complete with character impersonations and critiques of plots.

But one topic that comes up from time to time and breaks the monotony, is when my supervisor shows off his street creed. I was reading an article about the proliferation of peroxisomes in mice when my supervisor asks if I saw the Vibe awards. As is often the case, I didn't quite register the question the first time. When I realized he was talking about the Hip Hop RnB awards they have every year I was of course elated and listenned in rapt wonder as I was told about things that are apparently part of my culture. Despite being a middle aged Russian scientist, my supervisor is always a reliable source for all things black. Whether it's basketball or 50 cent, he always seems to have the latest scoop.

He described to me how last year someone slapped Dr. Dre in the face. He also gave me a list of the rappers who were a no show this year. He even went as far as to speculate another rivalry might be brewing between G-Unit's the Game and 50 cent, who was absent.

My Supervisor: "Hey, Chris, there's a rock n' roll hall of fame, is there something similar for rap?"
Me: "Yeah, it's called jail! HAHAHAHA!!.... sigh.... "
My Supervisor: "Of course, Kanye West would be the exception."

Here's where I got my Kanye West biography. Apparently Kanye West has excellent diction and most of his Ebonics is just put on when he's talking to other rappers. According to my supervisor, Kanye's father is a lawyer and his mother is an English Teacher at a university.

I think the lesson here is, it's always nice to know something about things. Where as most of the students in the lab have become 1 dimensional, the Yaoi girl, the foosball guy and me responding with grim apathy, my supervisor makes the effort to know a great deal about everything. He can talk about any kind of music, any kind of movie, any sport and still be a kick-ass scientist. The dynamic between the four of us is comparable to the characters on Spongebob Squarepants. I can't help but think of my supervisor as Mr Krab the other two as Patrick and Spongebob (interchangeable) and me as the long suffering Squidward. Mr. Krab is always trying to find out what the young kids are up to these days and is dissapointed when he finds out, Spongebob and Patrick are geeks, and Squidward is dull.

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Ummm... I don't know if that relates to the rest of the post... Whatever. I reiterate, knowing stuff is good!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

PhD in EVIL!!!

It's a very strange time in my life. For quite a few months I've been faced with the decision of finishing a master's degree, or fastracking and doing a Phd, which would take me another two years.

I already have the approval of my committee members to go ahead and do the Phd and very enthusiastic encouragment from my supervisor. It all seemed a little too easy. Am I really ready to do a phd? I'm not even sure which letters I'm supposed to capitalize when I write PhD. The funny thing is I still haven't officially transferred to the fastrack program. It's been months and months now and I haven't made a final decision. And that indecision has spread to the rest of my life. Sometimes I can go to McD's and it feels like my head is about to explode as I try to decide what combo to get. And the worst part is, after toiling over that mundane decision for what seems like an eternity, I eventually get the same thing I always get. A Royale with cheese and some chicken nuggets.

But I digress. The problem is this Phd thing. If I could just make up my mind about that, ordering junk food would become much easier so I figure this is something I should really work out. Ever since I was young I wanted to be a "mad" scientist. My parents bought me a chemistry set when I was young. Strangely enough, I don't think I was turned onto science by actual scientists but rather the fictional ones. Particularly the villains like Dr. Octopus, Dr. Bad Vibes, Dr. Mindbender and Dr. Doom. I have a Doc Ock "posable sculpture" in my office which students find rather amusing. It's kind of an irony of today's world that the archetypal villain is so well educated and powerful and the heroes are usually happy go lucky jocks. It's almost like popular fiction is demonizing the value of being educated.

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Prof X (what's he a professor of exactly?) Doc Brown from Back to the Future, the Ghostbusters, Spock. All were very inspirational to me. These are the scientists who stick with me. On many occasions I have used X-men and Star Trek as educational tools to explain genetics to the students.

Me: "Actually, the mutants in X-men all have the same mutation. It's in the X-Factor gene."
Student: "So how does that result in so many different mutant powers?"
Me: "First of all, it's politically incorrect to call them mutant powers. We call them gifts. Second of all, it seems likely that this one mutation causes hypermutation in other regions of their genome and..."
Student: "Will this be on the test?"
Me: "If I have any say in the matter...yes. My dream is that one day X-men lore will be a part of the curriculum."

So I wonder to myself, is it a problem that fake science is far more interesting to me than real science? Do I like science or just cheesenormous cartoons? I think it's very obvious that what I really want to be is a cartoon super villain.

And there are certain things that villainous scientists need to be succesful. Namely a cool villain name. Most of the profs at Concordia have cool names. Dr. Storms, Dr. Dragan.... Dr. Malevolent... I might have made that last one up, but you get the point. My name is hardly threatenning. Dr. Gregg? Meh.... If my last name was Sinister I wouldn't think twice about getting a doctorate.

I would also need a good plan for taking over the world. Generally speaking, this involves some super weapon that is a great threat to the general population. Now my research does involve lifespan... Maybe I could find some way to make myself immortal while shortenning the lifespan of everyone else in the world. A good plan... But it sounds like so much work... Maybe I'm too lazy to be a villain.

Finally I guess I would need some kind of nemesis. Like James Bond. But I don't know anyone as cool as Bond who could step up to the challenge of being my nemesis. Who will foil me when my plan gets out of control? The ultimate irony of the villain is that, he has to be foiled. If all his plans are realized, then he'll have nothing else to aspire to.

Then I'll have to buy strange wardrobe, a monacle, probably a cape of some sort. I dont' think I could pull off a cape. What a sad villain I would make, in sneakers and a jogging suit. The biggest threat to free world, the slovenly Dr. Gregg. His nemesis, Droopy Mcc, who beat him at Risk recently. And here he comes in a T-shirt and jeans... Booo...

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Of course there are other considerations that cross my mind when I consider doing the Phd. Like will the degree over-qualify me for most jobs? Do I really want to devote my entire life to resarch? I love research, I'd love to make some big discovery... But... Then I'd have to... study more... Pipette solutions more... Stare through a microscope for hours a day. The cartoons I used to watch never showed that aspect of science. It was all just megalomania and ghostbusting. Is it my fault I was misled during most of my childhood? I mean, check out these so called, "real scientists" Watson and Crick. Cool names yes, they even have some villain creed as some people (mostly feminists) accuse them of having stolen the most important data for their discovery. But they've hardly taken over the world. I dont' think they've even tried. And where are their capes?

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My supervisor says Crick fell asleep during a talk he was giving. And look at them! I would fall asleep too! Existing in black and white the way they do. BORING!!!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Alpha Posse

This weekend to celebrate Droopy's (belated) birthday and brand spanking new job, we had a good old-fashion Alpha Posse get together. It started off with a feast at Hot and Spicy, complete with all the fixins and a mandatory, heated debate about the failures of Star Wars episode III. Then it was back to Masta's Crizzouse for cheesenormous gaming and consumption of junk food.

There was something very, very interesting about the evening that I hadn't realized until today. When you have people over, you usually expect that there will be some kind of mess to clean up. Funny thing about my friends, is there is, aside from a dirty bowl and some cups, there is no mess whatsoever in my apartment. It's kind of mind boggling actually. I guess I was a little out of it.... perhaps a bit of a bad host even... I was playing video games, with Kenny, Ba$$ and Marie-Eve (Xmen legends 2 ... Featuring Kenny as Cyclops, Bassem as JUGGERNAUT, Marie-Eve as Scarlett Witch and Magneto as me). It was fun fighting the evil forces of Apocalypse. Somehow I thought the characters we chose suited us perfectly. Especially Bassem as Juggernaut. Very appropriate. Following that I schooled Vrej at Battlemasters. Argued with Rez AGAIN about why Empire Strikes Back is better than Revenge of the Sith. I hope to get Jbo's Doom-esque video of the evening. It was all good.

Anyway, the point is, during this video game induced haze, I remember drinking stuff, eating cake and chips... But aside from the memories, the most obvious sign that I had people over last night, is that there is MORE stuff in my apartment. There's MORE food in the fridge, including a cake. There's a huge box of plastic knives and forks, drinks and even matches. I even got several DVD's and video games!!! At least they found the chips I had bought. But there's still two huge bottles of soda and popcorn galore to be eaten. You guys have to come back soon and polish it off.

What kind of friends actually leave a place in a better state than it was then when they actually arrived? Alpha Posse, that's who!


Droopy: Alias of Vrej Hezaran, named after an obscure character from the Star Wars Movies
Alpha Posse: Term used to refer to my old high school cronies
Crizzouse: MastaCSG's apartment, term coined by J-9 in 2005. See also, Masta's Swinging Shagadellic Sanctuary and Shag Sanc.
cheesenormous: refers to entertainment of dubious quality, also anything that is cheesy