29 July 2009

These will make me cry

Who am I kidding? The trailer made me teary.

And if that trailer made me sad, this next one isn't going to go well:

Oh, god. I read the book that inspired the movie and I got angry, but I didn't cry. But that really short scene of the person hitting the swordfish with a mallet...and the finning...I can't take those things. I'm going to have to be careful when I watch those, I'll have to make sure I'm in a mood to weep my way through another doc about our abuse and misuse of innocent marine life.

On a lighter note, I wonder if there's some marine documetary law book out there that stipulates that Boris Worm must be interviewed. He's in all these things!

24 July 2009

Please don't take my sunshine away

There's a Couplandism that goes, "You can’t get mad at weather because weather’s not about you." I was talking to my BFF about the lack of summer we've been having seemingly across the country, and I quoted that to her, and her reply was along the lines of "the hell it isn't." Which pretty much sums up my feelings exactly. I find it incredibly hard not to take the weather personally. Doesn't it always feel like it's always doing what you don't want it to, right when you don't want it to do it?

It feels like we've been living under gloomy cloud cover for a month. Where, I ask you, is summer? Are we no longer a province with four distinct seasons? When did we loose summer? Not that prolonged crappy weather is new to us, as evidenced by this EC forecast from 2004 that I just happened to have saved on my computer (possibly NSFW, depending on your workplace).

This is pretty much how I would describe the last few weeks, and our forecast for the next few.

08 July 2009

The head of Wilfrid Laurier was re-sculpted

I've been rewatching the BBC Robin Hood series, and, for those of you who haven't seen it (and, why, may I ask, haven't you?) it's all very life-and-death, end-of-the-world, larger-than-life legendary stuff and I find myself thinking...Who is our Robin Hood? Where is our show? Where's the TV show about the Canadian legend? But...do we even have a Robin Hood equivalent? I mean, all I can think of are Laura Secord and Louis Riel. Would I really watch 3 seasons of Louis Riel? (well, if he was played by this guy, I would). And the Laura Secord story takes place over, like, a single night, right? Which is great for the pilot episode, but what comes after?

Do we have them and I'm just drawing a complete blank? I mean, most of my knowledge of Canadian history comes from the Heritage Moments, and I don't think those covered this. So rather than wait for the flood of comments this post is sure to elicit, I looked on Wikipedia, and whoever wrote that didn't come up with any more Canadian folk heroes than I did, although we do apparently have our own variant of Paul Bunyon named "Taylor Bradshaw" (speaking of, what's the deal with Bunyon. Was he just a really big lumberjack, or did he actually do something?)

I wonder why we have such a paucity of folk heroes. Is it because we never suffered the kind of oppression that breeds them? Or that we just brought the old ones with us from our various homelands and didn't invent new ones? Is it just because our country has such a short history relative to the old world? Did we not need folk heroes?

In my internet search for heroes I came across this site selling figurines of three different Canadian legends. If you click on the link to look at the latest photos it mentions that they've recently re-sculpted the head of Sir Wilfred Laurier. Awesome!

07 July 2009

Lysis to kill

I've got more science humour for everyone today. First, another video recommendation from the student in our lab. This one doesn't have any pretty ocean pictures, but it makes up for that by being a rap about meiosis (it's pretty hilarious).

I could put up more. Who are these people who have all this time to make these videos? I mean, I'm really, really good at not doing work when I should be (e.g., this blog: 2006-present) but it never occured to me to make a video about bug-picking or mark-recapture equations. However, just hop on over to YouTube and enjoy videos about population growth equations and apoptosis (among other things).

I also stumbled upon some funny little one-liners, that were mostly about geologists (Annie, you've probably heard most of these, but I really liked the last one).

Love a Geologist and feel the earthquake
My rocks are gneiss, don't take 'em for granite
All my faults are normal
Geologists make the bedrock!
So many beds, so little time
Geology is a load of schist!
Subduction ALWAYS leads to orogeny
How many geologists does it take to change a lightbulb? One, but hundreds will apply.

And I've saved the best for last (This one will be making me laugh for days):
What's the difference between a paleontologist and a large pizza? A large pizza feeds a family of four.

06 July 2009

Field work: anything less than success is normal

When we marine biologists go to sea we call it a "cruise." I never really thought about this term much, until the other day when an IT guy at my work commented on how misleading that word is to non-science people. I mean, if I were to tell my parents I was going on a cruise, what they would picture would based on that word would be very far from the actual experience.

I bring this up because a student in my lab directed me to this most awesome documentation of oceanic field work. One thing I learned when I used to do field work (I miss you Mitchell Lake!) is that things will go wrong. Something always goes wrong, whether you mislabel a bottle, or forget gear back at the house, or toss your notebook with a summer's worth of data into the drink (I'm looking at you, Cricket) - things never go according to plan. As the video says, anything less than success is normal.

The story behind the video is here.

04 July 2009

Me too, BlackBerry. Me too.

Great night, eh?

The last time I saw Joel Plaskett, just over a month ago, it was a fairly intimate, acoustic affair. And when I heard he would be playing on Canada Day at the Dartmouth ferry terminal, I was beyond excited. Because this was a Canada Day show, in his home town no less, I expected something bigger. I was not disappointed.
He played a good mix of new stuff and old. And the audience, for the most part, seemed like big fans of his work and sang along with gusto. Since it was a free concert, meters from the beer tent, there were people who could barely stand, or control their urges to rush the stage. Some idiot jumped on stage, and was hauled off, no less than 4 times. By the end of the concert, security gave up and he sat on the stage and watched the fireworks with the band.

The fireworks were surprisingly short, I heard on the radio the next morning that they were only 8 minutes long. I didn't care, though, because I finally got a JP autograph to go with my picture:

I wonder if I have the foritude to become a proper stalker? Perhaps I should hang around the Commons next week when he opens for McCartney?

(I can't take credit for the pictures, so thanks to the photographer!)

02 July 2009

Great day, eh?

My Canada Day began at about 7:50am when Annie picked me up. As Canada Day mornings go, this is a pretty late start for us. Historically, we'd be on the Halifax waterfront by 5am to see Shakespeare by the Sea, but that particular performance has since been cancelled. Instead, we had to settle for a free pancake breakfast on the Dartmouth waterfront. It was overcast, and there was a misty wetness (TM Alej) in the air. The flag raising was rather anti-climactic as there wasn't enough of a breeze to lift the massive flag. But the 50 minutes we waited in line for pancakes and juice boxes was well worth it.
Next we took the Dartmouth ferry into the town, walked up to Spring Garden, grabbed a coffee and staked a claim from which to watch the Tattoo parade. The Tattoo parade is made up of performers in town for the Tattoo (aka The Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo). It was a pretty short parade, but really, it had everything you would want in a parade.

Mounties. Marching bands.
Civilian extras.
African dancers.

Old people in scrimshaws. Tanks.

Giant globes.

Fifers in tights and Napoleon hats.

Crazy people on motorcycles.

And, most importantly, lots of pipes and drums!!

About partway through, it struck me that this parade of military and police bands and performers from around the world was the way we'd chosen to celebrate Canada Day. On a day that could be all about us, we had an international parade. That's what makes this country so great.

My sister-in-law and I were fortunate enough to luck into tickets to see the actual Tattoo that afternoon, for it's opening performance. We were even more lucky (and surprised; and under-dressed) in that the tickets were part of a DND reception and we ended up sitting in the VIP section, two rows behind the Premier, the Lieutenant Governor, and I think the guy who runs the Navy.

The show was fantastic; I'm a complete sucker for bagpipes, and drum bands, and people in uniform marching in elaborate formation - so I was in heaven. There's just something about the ceremony and aesthetics of it all that I really like. And the music, the sound of hundreds of instruments and two choirs and a couple of tenors...the effect is quite spectacular.

The first act ended with a tribute to the Highway of Heroes in Ontario (for those of you unfamiliar with this, see here for a really good news story featuring my home town). That was tragically sad and I certainly wasn't the only one crying.

My favourite parts were anything with the bagpipers and highland dancers. The crazy guys on the motorcycles (Hamburg Police Motorcycle Team) did some crazy shit - like headstands and balancing on one leg. The Paris police gymnastic team had great muscle tone. The Canadian military had an obstacle race, and a race where they took apart - and then put back together - a WWII era jeep.

That's not to say that it was all great. Some of it left me scratching my head, like when the Royal Fire Brigade Band from Malmo, Sweden started playing lesser-known ABBA songs. Or, the musical choice of the Motorcycle Team - Celine Dion and Enrique Iglesias?! One thing I found particularly distracting was the sceptre for the Wehrbereich Musikkorps 1. For most of the marching bands, the leader had a fancy sceptre, but for the German's it was this massive, shiny, be-tasseled flag holder (the only picture I have is from the parade, and is a bit fuzzy):

And there was one person whose job it was to carry that around. All day. I mean, is that an honour or grunt work? What happened in that person's life, in their childhood, adolescence, in their education and adulthood, that lead to them being to one to cart around the thing with the giant tassels? I can't fully explain how these thoughts consumed me whenever that band was performing.

So, that was my awesome Canada Day-day, and at somepoint I will write about my Canada Day-night.