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The definitive host: Four Months later ... and I'm still alive

The definitive host

de·fin·i·tive host (duh-fin'eh-tiv) n. 1) An organism where a parasite undergoes the adult and sexual stages of its reproductive cycle 2) Someone you go to for interesting stories and/or facts, and puts on one hell of a dinner party 3) This blog, devoted to science and other geeky subjects

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Four Months later ... and I'm still alive

Well, I finally did it.

I survived the first term as a Journalism Master's student! It was tough, both mentally and physically, but I survived.

If you have been following my blog, you know that this term has been exceptionally hard for some of us in the Master's program. You know the ones. We are the ones with no real experience, we possess degrees that give us unique knowledge, but don't help us in journalism. We stare blankly when people talk about ethics or the law and we always need serious help thinking up story ideas.

I have enjoyed my first term here in Ottawa. But, things could be better.

For instance, I live in an area densely populated with young families and the elderly. Seriously. Not a single person in my program lives relatively close to me.

Therefore, it is a real pain in the butt for me to meet anyone anywhere. I must always take the bus for at least 30 to 40 minutes to get anywhere, not that I mind too much. It just that sometimes, I just wish I could walk for like five to ten minutes and be there. Sometimes, in battle in my head, my tiredness or impending workload overtakes my need to be with my new friends. But, I still go out, just not as much as I would if I could.

My apprenticeship, where I am working at a prestigious science and medical journal, begins on Tuesday. This will be the TRUE test of if I can mesh two things:
my love for science and my improved (?) journalistic skills.

But, I am DONE for the year!!! A special song will be low this post, and I suggest everyone listen to it. It is called, "Still Alive." It is from the ending credits of a video game, and even if you don't get all the references, it is still absurdly funny.

Now lastly, I will address a request of a friend of mine.
She asked me, "David, why don't you blog about your thesis work last year? You totally should."

First off, to properly blog about it, it would take me a LONG time. However, a brief overview of my intense thesis work can easily be provided.

WAY back in second year university, I took a course about animals and I became friendly with the professor. I would sit outside the lab and read what out labs were about before we did them, and the professor would always walk by and we'd chat for a few minutes. Quickly, I learned a lot about him, and how we shared many similar interests. This was good news for some of my female friends, as they had MASSIVE crushes on him, and would giggle and swoon for any new piece of information.

Through our conversations, I mentioned to him that I wanted to become a Herpetologist. That is NOT the biology of Herpes, ok? NOT ABOUT STD'S!
It means the study of reptiles and amphibians, because I absolutely love reptiles.

I would continually seem him throughout third year, and in fourth year I took his fourth year course during the fall.

Then, over the Christmas break, I received an email from him. He said that he knows I am taking a fifth year to do my thesis, and that he would really like me to work with him. HE roughly came up with experiment, and through further conversations, I flushed it out and here it is.

I would be working with a species of frog known as Xenopus, AKA the albino clawed-frog. They have little claws, no pigment, mouths that look like they belong to Muppet's, and translucent skin. Yes, you did read that right, translucent skin!
That means that when I would feed them, I would see the food going into their bellies and stuff ... it was kinda gross.

My experiment was based off of salt on the roads. During the winter months, Ontario over-salts the roads to reduce ice, but when the surrounding snow melts, the water (with a lot of salt) flows into our rivers and streams. We wanted to test how high the salt concentration would have to be before the frogs died. Because, frogs are an 'indicator species,' if they die, others die.

I would examine a few things: The ion content of various organs, their protein content, their blood and muscle moisture, as well as examining different cell properties under the fluorescent microscope.

I already have a picture of one of the slides I made up on a previous post. Here is the link:

And now, I am going to sleep in and NOT set my alarm. That will be the first time since I got here in September when I did NOT have something to do ... pity it won't last!

And without further ado, here is the song:

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