Monday, 30 June 2008

Tip #13 for a Successful Thesis

Tip #13: Remember it could always be worse, you could have to write the thesis on a typewriter, or even worse, by hand, without whiteout.

These are the tomato plants from before, they don't seem to be getting much bigger and they haven't produced any tomatoes but I can't blame them - yesterday and today were the first days that it hit 30oC here in Calgary. And yes, those are red plastic knitting needles supporting them - I love how it looks.

I'm still plugging away at my thesis. I am scared by how much I still need to do - I'm sure I'll finish on time, but I'm going to have to pull some (or a lot) of long days. Not that that has stopped me from posting more this month than ever before, but I think it is a bit of many things - being near a computer all day, needing brief breaks from the monotony (at times) that is the literature on animal testing, and having ideas about what to briefly post about.

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Tip #12 for a Successful Thesis (cigarette anyone?)

Tip #12: Try not to be distracted by sexy article titles while searching for articles related to your thesis.

Cigarette smoking induces apoptosis in rat tesis - and they think this is one of the reasons why they found defective spermatogenesis in the rat following chronic cigarette smoking in a previous study! I haven't read or downloaded the article, such restraint I know, but I had to share my distraction with you. Bet it wasn't funded by the cigarette companies eh?

by the way, the citation for the article is

Rajpurkav A., Jiang Y., Dhabuwala C. B., Dunbar, J. C., & Li, H. (2002). Cigarette smoking induces apoptosis in rat tesis. J Environ Pathol Toxicol Oncol., 21(3), 243-8.

Tip #11 for a Successful Thesis

Tip #11: Time is a really good motivator, well lack of time. Try to use other motivators before this one.

I am so tired, want a break and can't have it. I might not even go to Stampede next weekend - I really wanted to this year - a first for me. I was going to go to the Sheep shearing contest. It might still happen, by a miracle or some amazing writing. In the mean time it is 8 am and I'm going to read Behavioural Effects of Neonatal Lesions of the Medial Prefrontal Cortex and Subchronic Pubertal Treatment with Phencyclidine of Adult Rats by Schwabe, Klein & Koch (2006). Ugh...

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Tip #10 for a Successful Thesis

Do not trust the spell check on your writing program. Beyond this cute poem it will lie blatantly. For example, my program currently dislikes attentional, immunocytochemistry, and immunohistochemistry (Blogger doesn't like the last two either). There are more words, I've just added them to the dictionary on my computer. But some words that are caught, like attentional, make me wonder about my spelling and I go to my dictionary to check. And low and behold, I am sometimes right. Perhaps one day I'll tell you why my spelling and grammar are crappy - it involves not being taught any grammar and very little spelling until I was 11 years old...

And since I like adding a picture to these posts, here are two from my trip to Kelowna in May. The dog is the irresistible Zeke (my mom's dog) and the thing on his head is called Doggles. I guess one of my mom's friends gave them to her. We didn't keep them on very long - just enough to snap a few pictures.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Cookie Pride

So I just watched an older episode of the Colbert Report (June 19th) and I found out some horrifying news: Cookie monster has abandoned the cookie movement! Some of you, especially those with young kids, may have known about this for awhile but I thought that it was just an urban legend of sorts. Fruits and vegetables are any time food and cookies are sometimes food... well okay but Cookie monster isn't Cookie monster without the cookies. It is like Fuzzy Wuzzy I suppose. My dad used to tell me:

Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear, Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair, Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn't Fuzzy was he?!

I understand that kids are overweight left right and center but I don't think that Cookie monster had much of an impact. I'm a kid of the 80s and 90s and I never thought that I should eat like Cookie Monster. But then I also didn't feel that my Barbie made much of an impact on my self esteem or how I though that I should look. Barbie is a doll, not a role model. Fashion shows, magazines, TV shows with real people, models - those are the things that might make a kid think that she should be super thin, not a doll. If changing the behaviour of Cookie monster is going to affect children then I think we have a different problem on our hands - kids watch too much TV and/or TV is too influential. And I think that there is going to be a generation of Sesame Street watching kids that are going to be confused as to why Cookie monster is called Cookie monster if what he eats is fruits and vegetables.

I love cookie monster the way he was, he didn't need to change at all. Cookie monster, if you are reading this, don't fight your addiction - eat cookies, they aren't a harmful drug like heroin and they didn't seem to make you gain any weight over 20+ years. Your metabolism can handle the cookies so go for it.

As a side note, the Cookie monster segment is hilarious - the car runs on a very good fuel - imagination!...

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Tip #9 for a Successful Thesis

Tip #9: Post-it notes are awesome. Of course you need different types and sizes. My collection is currently small as you can see from the photo above. I use these things all the time, and could really use some more sizes. I'll pick some up the next time I am at the grocery store if I remember.

Yesterday I got to meet my friend's horse, Baytoven (yep, his breed is Bay). He is super friendly and I thought that y'all might want a break from cat pictures.

And least you think that I ignored the barn cats, here is the guard cat - he was super friendly and followed us around.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Tip #8 for a Successful Thesis

Tip #8: Do not become allergic to your test subjects prior to the completion of your thesis, or at the very least, before the end of data collection.

Why yes, my allergy to mice is progressing quite well and quickly. I've had hives for about 2 months now and they only get better when I am not in the lab for 4-5 consecutive days. Not fun, I highly recommend avoiding allergies in general - they are the pits. Luckily most of my testing is done and I will work from home or my office at school. Oh yeah, because even being in the darn lab, when no one is doing anything with the animals at the time, makes me react. I didn't mention anything until now because I didn't want to give too much information, but it fits with the tip theme so I'm telling you now.

Above you can see the latest fashion accessory, a N95 mask, that helps with the allergy IF I wear it all the time that I am in the lab, and I'm not in the lab for more than one day - two consecutive days and my body gives me the old f**k-you!


Sunday, 22 June 2008

Tip #7 for a Successful Thesis

Tip #7: Back up your computer/important files regularly (you should do this even if you are not writing a thesis). Do not believe your friends and family when they tell you that you are acting paranoid because you have your data on 3-4 computers and 2 of them are backed up on external drives... and they are in 2-3 different locations for extra security against fire and theft.

As a side note, I personally have most of my stuff in this situation. There are a few things that are on one computer only and may not be backed up - this scares me and I will remedy it soon... But I'm not paranoid... seriously... I just back up my own computer and my supervisor backs up the lab computers... Well okay, I look paranoid but I don't feel paranoid... It is 2 years worth of work and worth a degree! Okay, I'm a little paranoid but I maintain that it is a normal level of paranoia...

The above picture was taken from the airplane on my way home from Kelowna earlier last month. If you look closely you can see the Rocky Mountains peaking through the breaks in the clouds.

PS: GO ITALY! The 2008 EuroCup (soccer) quarter finals are today.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Tip #6 for a Successful Thesis

When you are working on your computer for long periods of time you should make a habit of looking away from the screen, preferably at things that are far away, and then close - switch back and forth a few times to give your eyes a bit of a break and a nice little stretch. Cats and children are good at reminding you to take frequent breaks, though sometimes the breaks are longer than intended.

These are some Black-Handed Spider Monkeys at the Calgary Zoo a few weeks ago. They were a lot of fun to watch and photograph. Monkeys are often one of my favorite exhibits at a zoo.

And these are some Bison from the same visit. The Calgary Zoo had a lot of baby animals - including a baby elephant but perhaps that will be a different post.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Tip #5 for a Successful Thesis & my Prize

Make a list where you can cross things off manually - writing pages of intellectual mumbo-jumbo may not give you a sufficiently satisfactory sense of accomplishment but crossing off things on our list does wonders. And be sure to make your list detailed (so there are more times you can cross things off) and don't be afraid to add things to the list as you go - even if they are already accomplished and you therefore get to strike them off right away ;o)

Awhile back I won the Happy (un)Birthday contest over on Fuzzy Mitten. I got to choose the stuffed animal out of a wonderful selection and I chose a bunny named Zoe (and I found out that the name matched that of one of my kitties after I chose the toy). June 7th Zoe arrived in the mail and I've only just managed to get the pictures off of my camera. The toy is extremely well made Barbara! And for the rest of you, some pictures with a little commentary:

The packaging was a hit with the cats... as was the tissue paper for several days.

The bunny was inspected by both cats prior to release in the house.

This is Zoe - enjoying some of the little sunshine we had earlier this month. It seemed like it rained for 90% of the past two weeks. Now we have sun though so I'm happy.

Zoe came bearing gifts of her own. In her pocket there were two stickers - they have images of other toys that Barbara has made. I got a sticker with the pirate hippo and the electronic savy bunny. I haven't decided where I'm going to stick them but it is going t be good.

And on a final note, a somewhat illicit picture of Zoe's back side... There is a little tag with a little mitten on it. I just wanted to share the details that Barbara puts into her creations. Something that many of us don't see on her blog. Especially those of us who just buy the patterns and not the ready-made toys. Speaking of the patterns, they kick ass. She has a free one out there too Fuzzy Lamb Knitting Pattern that is as well written as her other patterns.

Well I'm off for now - ciao!

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Tip #4 for a Successful Thesis

Chocolate is a food group, don't believe anyone who tells you any different.

I'm still reading all of my regular blogs, just not commenting very much/at all. But I am there, likely several times a day when I don't have lab work... As of Friday all of my data collection should be done (finished testing today) - still have data analysis but yea no more testing!

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Tip #3 for a Successful Thesis and a Meme

Adding new blogs to your 'must-read' list is an awesome idea because most of them come with archives of back material to read.

And Amy Lane left the following comment yesterday:
PS - you have been meme-tagged.Pick up the nearest book.Open on page 123.Find the fifth sentence.Post the next three sentences.Tag five people,and acknowledge who tagged you.

Well the nearest book is Sherpa, Popolo Antico by Alberto Ceresa (self published book by my Nonno) but since it is in Italian I will post on the next nearest book: Microbiology, fifth edition, by Prescott, Harley, & Klein
If the sodium concentration decreases too much, the wall and plasma membrane literally disintegrate. Extreme halophilic bacteria have successfully adapted to environmental conditions that would destroy most organisms. In the process they have become so specialized that they have lost ecological flexibility and can prosper only in a few extreme habitats.

I tag Beans and Caviar, Fuzzy Mitten, The Undercover Vegan,Femblog, and Marly, of the Yarn Thing Podcast.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Tip #2 for a Successful Thesis

Ensure that the list of blogs you visit regularly is long enough - otherwise you may visit each one 5+ times per day in the hopes that they have written a new post. A new Knitty will alleviate the pressure for only 1-2 days.

And I just had to share my new desktop photo. It is the sort of picture you only get if you are already focused on the cat...

Tip #1 for a Successful Thesis

If you have a hobby internet connection pet significant other brain, budget time for distractions.