Friday, September 29, 2006

New TOY!!!!

I think this pretty much speaks for itself.





Thursday, September 28, 2006

Master Pippa

I've got to say, it feels good to be done.

So for those of you who are too far away to get the skinny on the defense, I thought I should talk about it a bit here.

The way this defense thing works is you make a 20 minute presentation, and then undergo two rounds of questioning. Your supervisors have the first crack at the questions, then the rest of the committee, then your supervisors again, rest of the committee, and then anyone can ask questions.

There were eight profs (5 were on the committee), 3 PhD candidates, 4 MScE candidates, and a few professional engineers who in a contest of pure intelligence I would back against anyone, so I knew I would be getting some tough questions. Luckily a couple of the PhD candidates and I spent some time in the days leading up to the defense thinking of possible questions I could be asked, so I was very prepared.

The presentation itself was like a bad dream. I had everything that I wanted to say all written out, but much to my dismay, when I got up there the podium was at waist height (if that) and the lights were super dim and I couldn't read what I had written. As a result almost the entirety of my presentation was spent staring down at my notes trying to read what I had written. Ok, it wasn't that bad, and Mike (roomie) said he thought the presentation went really well, but I wasn't having fun.

The questions on the other hand, were almost fun. I quickly realized that everyone in that room was on my side and that nothing would make them happier than to see me own the questions. I also realized that none of them were trying to trip me up or stump me. They were asking questions because they didn't understand. All of the committee made the point of saying that my thesis was a pleasure to read. One went so far as to say "This thesis is like a text book of what a thesis should look like!" The question period lasted an hour, and for me it just flew by. One after the other, I had the answers for them all (except the statistics stuff, but who cares about that anyway!).

Once everyone has asked their questions, the committee chases you out of the room and deliberates about whether you deserve to pass. I left the room, and the person standing outside it was Dr. Bob Scott - one of the most respected pioneers in Biomedical Engineering in the world. He is long retired, but he comes to school every now and then when he gets bored.

He shook my hand and told me "that was very well done!"

Next came fellow masters students: "Wow, you did a really good job on those questions!", "I think that was one of the best defenses I've ever seen!"

After that the committee came out (yeah, they deliberated for less than 5 minutes), and they all shook my hand and said congratulations. Both my supervisors looked a little shocked. One said "Your treatment of the questions was truly impressive!"

Anyway, so the next half hour was spent chatting with the others who have finished their masters and reminiscing about their defenses, and various questions I had in mine. The whole thing was SWEET. After this, I don't think my supervisors will be in any hurry to get rid of me! ;)

Monday, September 25, 2006

Even cowgirls get the blues

Amoebae leave no fossils. They haven't any bones. (No teeth, no belt buckles, no wedding rings.) It is impossible, therefore, to determine how long amoebae have been on Earth.

Quite possibly they may have been here since the curtain opened. Amoebae may even have dominated the stage, early in the first act. On the other hand, they may have come into existence only three years - or three days or three minutes - before they were discovered by Anton van Leeuwnhoek in 1674. It can't be proven either way.

One thing is certain, however: because amoebae reproduce by division, endlessly, the first amoebae that ever lived is still alive. Whether four billion years old or merely three hundred, he/she is with us today.


Well, the first amoeba may be floating on his/her back in a luxurious pool in Hollywood, California. The first amoeba may be hiding among the cattail roots and peepers in the muddy shallows of Siwash Lake. The first amoeba may recently have dripped down your leg. It is pointless to speculate.

The first amoeba, like the last and the one after that, is here, there, and everywhere, for its vehicle, its medium, its essence is water.

Water - the ace of elements. Water dives from the clouds without a parachute, wings or safety net. Water runs over the steepest precipice and blinks not a lash. Water is buried and rises again; water walks on fire and fire gets the blisters. Stylishly composed in any situation - solid, gas, or liquid - speaking in penetrating dialects understood by all things - animal, vegetable or mineral - water travels intrepidly through four dimensions, sustaining (Kick a lettuce in the field and it will yell "Water!"), destroying (The Dutch boy's finger remembered the view from Ararat) and creating (It has even been said that human beings were invented by water as a device for transporting itself from one place to another, but that's another story). Always in motion, ever-flowing (whether at stream rate or glacier speed), rhythmic, dynamic, ubiquitous, changing and working its changes, a mathematics turned wrong side out, a philosophy in reverse, the ongoing odyssey of water is virtually irresistible. And wherever water goes, amoeboe go along for the ride.

Sissy Hankshaw once taught a parakeet to hitchhike. There is not much in that line she could teach an amoeba.

For its expertise as a passenger, as well as for its near-perfect resolution of sexual tensions, the amoeba (and not the whooping crane) is hereby proclaimed the official mascot of Even Cowgirls Get the Blues.

And to the first amoeba, wherever it may be, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues would like to say happy birthday. Happy birthday to you.

- Tom Robbins

Saturday, September 23, 2006

My fabulous bruise and a note about space

Tyler made this new route at the wall that is really mean. Its meanness is directly proportional to the damage it inflicts on your body. It requires grinding your right forearm into the sharp corner of the wall, and after doing that a few times your forearm is likely to object.

There are variety of ways forearms can make their displeasure known, but in this case the majority of forearms subjected to Tyler's torture have started with swelling and soreness and then go on to develop some spectacular colours. This is by far the biggest bruise I've ever had, and I'm quite proud of it. I hope it sticks around for a while so I can feel all tough showing it to people. ;)

Here it is one day after Tyler's punishment: (note that there is no colour here, mostly just swelling)

Here it is this morning in all its glory, starting to get into the better colours:

Ok, onto less interesting things. In general, these blog thingies are far easier to read if there is some space separation between your thoughts. I am far more likely to read what you've written if its broken up visually by proper paragraphing. I am talking to you, Jeff. ;)

Oh yeah, the top picture is the lovely view from the top of Bald Peak, in Welsford.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Another look at what I'd like to do before hitting 30

At the beginning of the year, I made a list of what I want to do before I am 30. Recent events have made that list subject to some modifications. Some things I have accomplished, and other things have changed my priorities.

So here is the old list (in no particular order)

1) get my black belt in karate
2) no longer applicable
3) no longer applicable
4) Ride all the Grand Prix dressage movements
5) finish my master's (almost done! yay! My defense is Sept. 26th at 2:30)
6) find a job (did that, I am working as a project engineer with IBME)
7) buy a horse (I'm in no hurry to do that at the moment)
8) ...

It seems my list has been seriously depleted.

One thing I'd like to add to it which is a long term goal is to train Prussia to the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) levels of dressage. There is no question about whether she is athletic enough to do it, the problem is my dedication! ;)

Being a true libra, I am all about balance. This is supposed to be a good thing, but the problem with a life of balance is that it condemns one to perpetual mediocrity. I could excel at any number of things: I have a talent for riding, I have a talent for art, I have the build for karate and I could be really good at that, I could be a good climber... However, the moment I start to do one of these to the exclusion of other parts of my life, it loses its appeal. I am talking about riding specifically here. I love to ride, but if I rode every day for a week I feel like I really need to get away from it.

Karate is fun, but I just don't have the dedication to practise on my own, which is what divides those who are decent from those who are incredible.

An interesting thing though, is that no matter how much I climb I want to climb more. That said, I am not interested in doing mindless pullups or other exercises whose value is purely physical. Which again is what separates the men from the boys.

Its the same with drawing. The more I draw the more I want to draw, and yet I don't know that I could do it every day.

The end result is that I will probably (eventually) be quite good at all these things, I just won't ever be great.

My perfectionist brain doesn't want to acknowledge that however. When I am riding, I want to be the best rider possible. Same with martial arts, climbing, and my art. Its all a little bit frustrating, really.

Friday, September 08, 2006

moving on

Well! Today is a momentous day, because I did two momentous things!

1) I submitted my master's thesis to the department for review.

2) I signed the papers for my new job. I am going to be a project engineer at the Institute of Biomedical Engineering at UNB and doing REALLY COOL STUFF!!!! YEEEEEAH!

ok, here is a pastel of a statue of Aphrodite that I saw in Crete last year. i finished it last night.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Presented in NY to about 15 people

Well, I presented yesterday, and my supervisors told me it went well. I am relieved that its over, and I am pretty happy with how it went too. Except, there was this one lady from the university of Manitoba who was trying to tell me that the premise on which my work is based is wrong. Of course, it was her that was wrong but she was pretty adamant about it. Rather than coming down to a "yes it is!" "No it isn't!" type argument I headed her off in a different direction.

We went out to celebrate afterwards at our new found watering hole: The house of Brews. Our collective heads are still reeling from all the celebration, I think. ;)

More later.