Friday, January 30, 2009

Thought Provoking

I usually visit this blog when I'm on Scienceblogs (a great multi-science blog that is not ALL about science, but usually the people behind "science" as well). I have stumbled upon this post that is thought provoking and really quite lovely (in a its-about-time-that-horrible-disgusting-prez-Bush-is-on-his-way-out kind of way). It's from Greg Laden's blog, so read it here.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Something to lighten your Monday Part Deux....

If the NHL was high school:

Anaheim would be the kid that beats you up and steals your lunch money.

Atlanta would be the slutty cheerleader everyone scores on.

Boston would be the kid who you want to like…but you can't because he smells.

Buffalo would be the kid who never can afford to go anywhere or do anything.

Calgary would be the bipolar popular chick who can please many people when she's up but when she's down she tries to commit suicide.

Carolina would be the farmer kid with a mullet.

Chicago would be the really old kid that has yet to hit puberty.

Colorado would be the kid who did really well in elementary school and is just a slacker now.

Columbus would be the kid who puts rims on his bike wheels and pretends he's driving a BMW.

Dallas would be the kid with the weird accent.

Detroit would be the foreign exchange student.

Edmonton would be the kid that was accidentally castrated in the early 1990's and hasn't been the same since.

Florida is the kid who can never fit in.

Los Angeles would be the kid who always misses school.

Minnesota would be the kid who's older brother was an All-American jock who got all the girls and success, but he is just a water boy.

Montreal would be the kid who wants to trade you his apple for your Subway sandwich.

Nashville would be that kid with the dad in the military. He's ok, but you don't want to be best friends with him because you know he'll be moving soon.

Ottawa would be the kid that breezes through the school year and then blows the final exams.

Phoenix would be the kid that always ends up doing better than you.

Philadelphia would be the kid who's always suspended.

Pittsburgh would be the crybaby tattle tail.

New Jersey would be the really boring kid.

New York Islanders would be the kid who has his/her whole life planned out already. Or at least the next 14 years.

New York Rangers would be the rich kid.

San Jose would be the kid that always over studies for the finals and ends up bombing them.

St. Louis would be the smooth talking kid who gets you to trade your snack pack to him for half an apple.

Tampa Bay would be the prom queen who got pregnant and now she's not the same as she used to be.

Toronto would be the girl with major issues.

Washington would be the kid that nobody knows.

Vancouver would be the class clown. Entertaining, but ends up going nowhere.

Something to lighten your Monday...

A Vancouver Canucks fan, an Edmonton Oilers fan, and a Calgary Flames fan were all in Saudi Arabia, sharing a smuggled crate of booze. All of a sudden Saudi police rushed in and arrested them. The mere possession of alcohol is a severe offence in Saudi Arabia. So, for the terrible crime of actually being caught consuming the booze, they were sentenced to death! However, after many months and with the help of very good lawyers, they were able to successfully appeal their sentence down to life imprisonment.
By a stroke of luck, it was a Saudi national holiday the day their trial finished, and the extremely benevolent Sheik decided they could be released after receiving just 20 lashes each of the whip. As they were preparing for their punishment, the Sheik suddenly said, "It's my first wife's birthday today, and she has asked me to allow each of you one wish before your whipping." The Vancouver Canuck fan was first in line (he had drunk the least), so he thought about this for a while and then said, "Please tie a pillow to my back." This was done, but the pillow only lasted 10 lashes before the whip went through. The Vancouver Canuck fan had to be carried away bleeding and crying with pain when the punishment was done. The Edmonton Oilers Fan was next up (he almost finished a half-can), and after watching the scene, said, "All Right! Please fix two pillows on my back." But even two pillows could only take 15 lashes before the whip went through again, sending the Edmonton Oilers fan sobbing and crying like a baby! The Calgary Flames fan was the last one up (he had finished off the crate), but before he could say anything, the Sheik turned to him and said,
"You support the greatest team in the world, your city has the best and most loyal hockey fans in the world. For this, you may have two wishes!"
"Thank you, your most Royal highness," the grateful Flames fan replied. "In recognition of your kindness, my first wish is that you give me not 20, but 100 lashes."
"Not only are you an honourable, handsome and powerful man, you are also very brave," the Sheik said with an admiring look on his face. "If 100 lashes is what you desire, then so be it. And your second wish? What is it to be?" the Sheik asked.
"Tie that Oilers fan to my back!"

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Rhynia from Rhynia, Scotland

Well, considering this weekend is Robbie Burns' 250th Birthday anniversary, I thought it would be apropos to write about an important little plant that was found in Rhynia, Scotland.

Rhynia is north of Edinburgh and west of Aberdeen, and it is here that Rhynie Chert is found. This rock was formed when silica rich water from geysers evaporated and hardened. Within this rock, plants were fossilized with amazing detail and it is the first described vascular plant. It comes from the Devonian era, but it was not the first discovered vascular plant, as some poor guy named Dawson found an earlier vascular plant before these guys, but no one believed him.

In Canada Dawson found a fossilized plant from the Silurian era which is evidence for early vascularization of plants. Everyone thought at the time that the plant was too old to have vascular tissue (not believing that it could be evolved from that time), but he was eventually vindicated after Kidston and Lang found Rhynia gwynne-vaughanii in 1917. The plant Dawson found is currently the earliest known vascular plant from 430 MYA (million years ago) called Cooksonia sp.

In the chert are compressions of these Rhynia gwynne-vaughanii plants, the darker areas that clearly show the stems and sporangia at the terminal positions (tops) of the stems. In some compressions, annular thickenings of the secondary cell wall in xylem can be seen, elevating the status of this plant to "vascular". The cross section shows that this plant had stomata, basal patterning, but the stele (vasculature arrangement) is quite noticeable in the middle. The plant seen in the chert is the sporophyte, with recently found smaller gametophytes that are not dependent on the sporophyte like some derived plants (A pattern found is the more derived; the smaller the gametophyte). Also, more basal plants have sporophytes dependent on the gametophyte indicating that this plant may be a transition plant. This plant is known to be a sporophyte because of the sporangia on top of stems. Inside the sporangia, tetrads of spores have been found, indicating that meiosis has occurred (meiosis only in diploid; and therefore sporophyte).

Paleobotany is an interesting field filled with excitement, as new discoveries are being made and interpreted all of the time. Fieldwork and lab work combine to shed new light on plant beginnings. Most of all, it makes it difficult to decide which field I want to be in! I want to thank my prof R. Stockey (great lecture!) ; and the following ref's on the net:

Monday, January 19, 2009

Look where you're going you ***** jerk!

Last night, I watched the documentary "To Hell with Manners" on W-Five (CTV). Having the wonderful task of instilling this lost art to my offspring, I actually MADE my seedling watch as well (even with the parental advisory warning). If she can see how not to do it, maybe she will see the reason why there are manners in the first place. Ya know, curious kids & their perennial question "Why?".

Just a brief overview of why we have manners. We have manners in order to preserve relationships with both close and distant acquaintances (aka. to be nice). There end of history lesson. If you want more go to wikipedia.

Well, we both got an eyeful last night. I cannot believe some of the things that these people would do (and they are not actors). In fact, in one hidden camera at a workplace, an employee jumped over his desk and started beating his coworker over the head with his keyboard. What the ****? Since when was this acceptable? And the saddest/funniest part was that no one else (no other coworker or employer) helped or stopped the assault.

Another example was a pregnant lady taking the subway in New York. No one offered their seat. In fact she reported that people were pushing and elbowing her out of the way. I can definitely sympathize because when I was pregnant, the same thing happened here, in wonderful 'polite' Canada.

With the advent of technology, the narrator said, we have become more isolated and we think our time is more important than anyone else. Cell phones, computers, pagers, and TV are all culprits. I think Emily Post may be rolling in her grave right now.

So readers, when you are talking to someone and your phone rings, politely say "excuse me", turn off your ringer (DO NOT ANSWER THAT PHONE UNLESS IT IS LIFE OR DEATH), and say "sorry for the interruption" and continue talking to the person standing in front of you. When you are in a movie theatre, classroom, lecture hall, theatre, turn OFF your cell phone/pager/laptop because no one else cares how much you had to drink over the weekend or what guy you screwed because you were pissed. Hold the door open for the person behind you, and at all times, say "THANK YOU" (the two words that should be the first we ever learn). If we want people to remain acquaintances (remember the history lesson), we have to be polite and have manners).

So while I don't agree with the guy who gives hugs to strangers (please not me); you should smile or talk about the ******** weather with the person who gives you coffee every day. Next time you see someone being rude, do you ignore or should you comment? What have you done with someone that was intentionally/unintentionally rude to you? I need some advice, because it sure as hell wasn't in my Emily Post's Etiquette book.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Global Warming vs. Climate Change

If you've never heard of "global warming"* or "climate change"*, you may want to call the Guiness Book of World Records people. As the last person on earth to hear these terms, they may have you confused. I will try to explain...

The two terms have been used interchangably, but they might not be so. Useage between skeptics and believers have twisted the meaning of each. They refer to the phenomenon of energy that comes from the sun, bounced of the surface of the earth to the atmosphere and reflected back to the earth from the pollutants (hence the greenhouse effect and greenhouses gasses terms that are used). This leads to a rise in atmospheric temperature and ocean temperature (which is the source of the term "global warming").

Incidentally, this rising in temperature has other effects which lead to changes in wind patterns, melting of glaciers, etc. This in turn changes the entire climate of the world, but funnily enough, not equally around the world. Also the changes in climate may have different effects in different places (where some areas may get more hurricanes in general, others may get less hurricanes but they will be more severe). Also, changes in temperature become more severe for certain places. This leads us to the term of "climate change".

People who are conspiracy theorists, science deniers, or the USA government like to use the term "global warming". This phrase of two simple words brings to mind a simple meaning for many people. The only thing we should be worried about is having great temperatures year round, where we don't have to worry about frostbite anymore. Living in the great beyond (think Canadian Siberia), I cannot help but cringe every time someone uses this "global warming" for the process which is occuring on our planet now. People think it will be great having a tropical climate here (think swimming and tanning year round). Other people scoff when it hits -4o degrees celcius; "pffft, yeah right we have global warming... I'll just go run my car to warm up for 1/2 hour".

However, when you read about sea levels rising from glacier melting and thermal expansion, all of those island countries and coastal cities (yeah, think New York, Vancouver, Tokyo) where most of the world's population lives, and we've got real problems. We won't be worrying about war refugees anymore, we'll be concerned about refugees from islands that have disappeared, from areas where severe hurricanes are occuring, where water has run out, etc.

The environmental refugees not only will be fleeing from their homelands, but disease and sickness will also spread. Those countries not ready for the people and climate change will have an increase in diseases never seen before in that area. Malaria will continue to spread (as will West Nile). Cholera and other diseases from unsanitary conditions will increase and there will be stresses on health care systems (as well as current stresses from increases in cancer and obesity).

I'm not trying to act Cassandra on y'all. (Cassandra the prophetess from Homer's Troy who noone listened to, jeez go read some literature!) But, the more we open our eyes to what could happen, the more prepared we are. Canada has a chance to become a world leader in humanitarian causes, while increasing our own technology resources (and incidentally selling that technology to other countries), so there can be economic gain in the future.

I think what is needed is balance between resource management/sustainability and economic gain. Neither can be feasible at the extreme ends of the scale, but moderation with both would be nice and wholly welcome. But don't ever say to me that global warming is bunk, go to if you want some scientific background on the issue. Everyone including those not involved in science or economy, needs to get in on the discussion. This is everyones problem, not just those worried about it.

*I put these terms in brackets only to denote that they are phrases in common use that must be separated from each other, not to give them quackery status as pseudoscience.

Back... from temporary insanity

Mwaaaa haa haa! Alright, now that I've got that out of my system.

The last semester was a total wash... blogging wise. I was so busy, I've just now caught up on the things that needed to be done (well, only the really important things), and I'm already 2 weeks into my next semester.

But a good report card later, and all major project work done, I'll be back writing interesting things and events to come. And hopefully I won't let my 2 dedicated readers down anymore.