18 September 2007

Shelf, Lie I

Haven’t posted in a while. I suppose you should get used to me posting less often, given the panic attack-inducing amount of work I’m supposed to have done by December. Those of you that rely on me for procrastination should find some other sites to visit. Of course, if I’m what you rely on to procrastinate then you have bigger problems than finding another site.

Sunday was a special day for two reasons. It was my parent’s Jade Anniversary . (Given that my mom is in town visiting me, and my father is back home supposedly fixing the roof, no one celebrated). And, perhaps more importantly, Sunday was also the 2nd Anniversary of the 4th time I was U2 in concert.

And, for fun: hthttp://www.mbhs.edu/~bconnell/cgi-bin/anagram.cgi?cpw=1&phrase=elliefish

11 September 2007

Teeth (you probably shouldn't read this)

I went to the dentist this morning. I haven’t been to the dentist in – should I admit this? – two years. That sort of lapse is pretty normal for me. I really dislike dentist visits. As a child I had many teeth removed for various reasons - this one time in 1st grade I had all 4 of my lower front teeth pulled - and that required many, many needles. If I hate dentists a lot, I hate needles in my mouth even more. So now, even though I haven’t needed a mouth-needle in years, I still associate dentists with feelings of pain. And recrimination: the hygienists always made me feel like I was horrible at taking care of my own teeth. I always got the impression that if there were some sort of Dentition Protective Services, they would totally report me to them.

I think another reason that I don’t like dentists is that I don’t like teeth things. Or eye things. Or fingernail things. Or anything where something sharp is pierced through the epidermis. I’m really quite squeamish when it comes to the human body. It’s just that teeth are so…gross. Don’t you agree? I mean, they’re covered in bacteria and saliva every minute of every day for your entire life. They come into contact with everything you eat. They have roots. Think about it, it’s like a vegetable or a tree anchoring itself in your gums. I can’t think about it too much, but they are just gross. And don’t even get me started on reconstructive oral surgery. I might faint.

Anyway, back to this morning. I was dreading this visit. I’m not some OCD case who brushes their teeth after every meal (mostly because I have a phobia about brushing my teeth in public washrooms). I’m also not like my BFF who can’t leave the house without brushing her teeth, regardless of how many times a day she might happen to leave her house. However, I must be doing something right because I have no cavities and “over-all good oral health.” No one told me to brush or floss more, or to drink less Pepsi (thankfully). So I’ll just keep on doing what I’ve been doing. Besides, I’m happy with my teeth. I don’t care if the bottom ones are yellow and crooked, ‘cause my overbite covers that up anyway.

09 September 2007

San Franslideshow

Here is a slideshow of almost every picture I took in San Francisco.

Or, you can view them at your leisure here.


Thursday was the last day of the conference. Not much happened on Thursday. I’ll spare you the details of my last day. Instead I’ll share with you this picture. America just can’t get anything right.

07 September 2007

San Franslideshow

Here is a slideshow of almost every picture I took in San Francisco.

Or, you can view them at your leisure here.

06 September 2007

Wednesday (aka Alcatraz Day)

This morning I attended a bunch of talks. Surprisingly, the most interesting was a 40 minute powerpoint-less talk by this guy who is second in command for the state of California’s oceans department (or something, I forget his official title). His talk was all about what California is doing to protect its coastline and marine resources. Some of it was propaganda, sure, but it was actually very interesting. Schwarzenegger is apparently very interested in ocean concerns, which is good. He also wants to be President, which is bad. (Aside: at the front of the program for the conference is a letter from the Govenator, and I’m going to try and scan it to post, because it is awesome).

I found out some interesting things about the student social last night. Apparently, the capacity of the Aquarium was 400 people, and after 800 of us were crammed in there, they started turning people away. And they did, in fact, run out of booze. The social tonight is also open bar, so I’m going to have to get my rum n’ cokes early.

Today was also my trip to Alcatraz. We took a boat over, and when you first arrive there’s a park guide there that tells you little facts about the prison.

For example, Capone hated the nickname “Scarface” and instead preferred to be called “Snorky” or some other word that – at the time – meant “well dressed.” Capone was a bit of a dandy, apparently. I think the guide said something about the Birdman of Alcatraz not having any actual birds, but I wasn’t really paying attention. After that, we had a guided naturalist tour that focused on the island’s bird populations. I didn’t pay too much attention to that, either. I was too busy taking millions of pictures of the ruins and the view from the island. It was so beautiful, with all these crumpled buildings, or shells of buildings, all over the place.

After the naturalist tour, we did the prison tour. The prison tour is set up as an audio tour. They give you a little mp3 player and send you on your way. The audio tour was really well done; it was narrated in part by past inmates and guards. There were sound effects (jail cell doors slamming shut, the howl of the ocean winds, the chaos of riots) and the directions about where to go next on the tour were very easy to follow. The tour took us through the regular cells, solitary cells, the library, warden’s office, visitor area, dining area, recreation yard, and the key locations in specific break-out attempts. In one place you could see the pock-marks on the floor that had been made by grenades during one of the riots. It was pretty awesome. The tour contained personal anecdotes from the inmates and guards, about what life was like for them, or their memories of specific events.


I had thought the place would feel creepy, but it didn’t. There was one moment, when I was in a 5x9-foot cell and I the most fleeting sense of what it might be like to be locked in there. But I could never really know. I think the worst thing about that prison would be the view of San Francisco (only 1.25 miles away). It would be psychological torture to have freedom held in front of you like that every day. Alcatraz replaces the Aquarium as the highlight of my trip. I highly recommend it to anyone who comes here. It’s totally worth whatever the hell they are charging for it.

The social Wednesday night was a the Hyde St. Pier, which is part of a National Historic Site. It was open bar, again (seriously, who is paying for all this?). And one of the tall ships was open for us to walk around on and view. I love tall ships. Whenever I step on board one, I never want to leave. I didn’t bring my camera to this event, so I’ll just have to add some links to websites instead. There was also a bit of excitement at the social: an ambulance was called. I don’t know for what, I was on the tall ship at the time and people I asked afterwards don’t know. It arrived with lights flashing, but it didn’t leave right away, and when it did, it didn’t take anyone with it (I don’t think). If I ever find out what happened, I’ll let ya’ll know. I wouldn’t want you to lose sleep over it.

Thursday is the last day of the conference. I leave Friday morning. I’m going to try and squeeze some more sight seeing in tomorrow if I can. There’s some talks in the morning that I’m looking forward to, so it’ll have to be after those.

Addendum: I found out that someone had an insulin attack, and they called the ambulance for them.

05 September 2007


Tuesday was the day I presented. I went to some talks in the morning, but it was hard to focus. I kept thinking about my talk, and making myself nervous. My talk went well. I’m pleased with how it went and I’m glad I did it. That’s all I’m going to say about it.

After my talk was the career fair. It was pretty useless to me because a) I’m a good year away from needing a job, and b) most places were only hiring American citizens, which I am not technically. So, instead I walked over to the waterfall I mentioned in my Monday entry. It turned out to be a monument to Martin Luther King Jr. It was pretty awesome. It was set up, so you would walk behind the water, and his speeches were carved into the wall behind it. I thought it was a pretty nice testament to King.

After that was the “student” social at the Aquarium. It was really open to anyone, and a lot of people came because it was open bar . (It started at 7 and by 9:30 they were out of beer and mix). The aquarium was fairly small (no mammals, large or otherwise) but well set-up and had two long walk-though tanks where the walkway was a tunnel through the tank, so the fish were swimming overhead and all around. They had restricted their collection to native species in the Bay and in California in general. There were a lot of sharks, anchovy, skates, some awesome giant sea bass, and rock fish (in the poor-quality picture below you can almost see the rock fish draping themselves in the algae). It was definitely a highlight of the trip so far.

Tomorrow I'll hear more talks, then go to…Alcatraz!!

04 September 2007


I didn’t sleep well Sunday night. I did that thing where you wake up once an hour and check the time, convinced you’ve overslept. Monday morning was spent at Pier 39 and the Fisherman’s Wharf. We went early to avoid the crowds. It is definitely a tourist trap, but it has beautiful views of the bay and Alcatraz, and other good qualities as well.


Interesting topiary:

Wax Museum:
Shopping (I didn’t buy this, but I really wanted to):

And sea lions:

Lot and lots of sea lions.

The afternoon was spent in talks. I decided to respect the presenters and not take pictures of them. I could give you funny descriptions of them. Or better yet, of the überfidgety guy who sat in front of me in one session. If he wasn’t 6 foot 3, I would swear he was 4 years old. The talks I saw were pretty good, one of the student presenters really impressed me as being very comfortable and relaxed. I find I’ve become more critical of presentations. Not that I think my way is the best way, or anything, but I do believe in being honest with your data in presentations and I didn’t feel that about everyone I saw today. I’ve decided, as well, that I prefer the presentations that are talking about research as apposed to the ones that are just 15 minutes (often 20 minutes) of someone’s opinions about a broad, amorphous topic.

I went for a little walk in the evening. It was dark out, so I didn’t venture far. In fact, since the hotel is 39 stories tall, I was able to keep it in sight at all times. It’s a beautiful night. I found where the Museum of Modern Art is, and now I know the hours, so I plan to go before I leave. I also discovered a cool little waterfall monument thing across the street from the back of the hotel. I’ll have to check that out further as well.

Tomorrow I present my talk. I really have no idea how it’s going to go, but everyone back home seems to have confidence in me. I think that’s a good sign. I mean, they can’t all be deluded, right? Some of them must be of sound mind and still think that I can do a good job. I think that’s nice.

03 September 2007


Wow. I always find it weird on the days when I wake up in one province and go to bed in another. In this case, I woke up in one country, and now I’m going to bed in another. Let me tell you about my day. I’m going with bullet points for this because I don’t feel like writing a lot of prose right now.

-I rode in a plane with propellers!! I’ve never ridden on anything with propellers before (…unless you count helicopters). It was very loud and shaky.

-My flight from Calgary to San Francisco was pretty empty, so I had no one next to me. We had individual TV sets and Air Canada has all the viewing options broken down into categories, eg., TV:Drama:House, Movie:Family: Shrek 3, etc. I found it hilarious that under Classic Movies they were showing X Men 2.

-I arrived in SF and saw a girl with a poster tube and I figured it was a safe assumption that she was a conference-goer. And she was. But she wasn’t leaving for the hotel right away, so I was on my own to figure out the train system and find the hotel

-Until I found another conference-goer and we figured out the ticket purchase kiosks and the train system together. Finding the hotel was another thing, but that’s only because they gave us ambiguous directions.

Those are pretty much the highlights so far. My room is on the 15th floor. It has a sweet flat screen TV. A mini can of Pringles costs $5 US. We got little backpacks. They’re cute.

I present on Tuesday. Send me good thoughts!

01 September 2007

Things to do this weekend

I don't know what you're doing this weekend, but I've got suggestions for two things you could do.

1. Watch the online TV show Clark and Michael starring some guy named Clarke and the awesome (Canadian) Michael Cera. Each episode is only about 10 minutes long, and freaking funny, and the credits are bitchin'. It's perfect for anyone needing a George Michael fix now that Arrested Development is no more.

2. Rent the first season of Dexter on DVD. It doesn't air in Canada (as far as I know), but you can rent the DVDs and watch all 12 episodes in one sitting. Don't read too much about it online before renting it, just watch it and love it.