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The definitive host: May 2009

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

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

An Odd Phenomenon

It all began when I first moved to Ottawa.

I began noticing people who very closely resembled friends from Toronto. Usually, it would warrant a second look, to confirm that it was NOT them.

However, there have been a few times when I thought I have seen a few of my best friends from Toronto here in Ottawa: Inna, Elisa, Sahab, Amanda and Jen.

After about a month or two in Ottawa, I stopped noticing.

Then, a few days ago, I sat next to 'Jen' on the bus. It was creepy. It was not just someone who slightly resembled her. It was someone who LOOKED like her, complete with the outfit and sunglasses.

However, there was one major difference ... 'Toronto Jen' is much, much prettier.

Therefore, I have come up with a name for this phenomenon:
Ottawa Twin Syndrome.

I spoke to a friend of mine about this, and she is slightly nuts (which I am as well, so we get along brilliantly) and we came up with something. It is a commonly held belief, that people say that they must have someone who looks like them somewhere in the world. Therefore, if this is true, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that some of these individuals that resembled my good friends reside on Ottawa.

And now, for something everyone needs ... spontaneous DANCING from So You Think You Can Dance Season 4. Three of the best.

*I apologize for the low quality of the last one ... it's the best I could find. There used to be a better one ...*

I completely forgot about this one!!!!
Thanks Sara!

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Friday, May 22, 2009

"These are a few of my favourite things ..."

At work, I'm frequently bored. Not because there is nothing to do, but because it all requires me to do the same thing over and over and over again. And, anyone who knows me knows, I hate repetitive tasks that can repeat ad infinitum.

So, I was reading Claire's blog (which is VERY good, and I recommend everyone check it out) about sea lampreys, and I got an idea. So, here are two lists from the Mind of Manly.

My Favourite Animals
These are not in any particular order, but they are all my favourites.

The Blue Shark

Beautiful, Streamlined and Blue. I first saw this animal on an episode from Discovery Channel's Shark Week, and I was amazed. Everyone knows and is fascinated by the great white (yours truly included), but something about this shark spoke to me. And after a while, I figured out what it was. As a kid, I went to Nature Camp, and one day we were asked questions about sharks, and told that the winner would get a prize. Of course, surprise, surprise ... I won. And what did I win?
A fossilized shark tooth. The tooth of Prionace glauca, the Blue Shark.

Przewalski's Horse

It is the last truly wild horse left on the planet, and is endangered in Mongolia. All the other "wild" horses out there and just escaped captive horses. And plus, the horse has a mohawk ... what's cooler than that?

Green Tree Python

It's a snake. It's a python. It's green. How could I NOT love this animal?

Grey Wolf


Now, after four favourites ... how about four of the weirdest/ugliest/most fascinating?

David's Weird List

Greenland Shark

This is the top of the food chain under the Arctic ice, but not much is known about it. How long it lives, how it mates, what precisely it eats are still unknown. Some scientists believe that they can live for hundreds of years, even more than a sea turtle. As well, it moves slowly to conserve heat in the frigid water, and if you look closely on its eye, it has a nematode parasite attached to it. That's right, it's BLIND.
Ohhh yeah, and it's meat is poisonous.

The Pangolin

I love this guy. It's one of the weirdest animals I have ever seen, and I love it. It walks on two legs, but all hunched over like it is carrying an immensely heavy backpack. And, when threatened, it will curl up like a porcupine, leaving nothing exposed but its scales. But, the STRANGEST thing abut them?
Recent genetic tests show that they are most closeley related, not to armadillos or anteaters like you may think, but to mammalina carnivores (lions, tigers, dogs, cats, etc...)

And, finally, the one that ranks near the TOP of my list....

Hagfish (or slime eels) are not really fish, nor are they eels. They have four hearts and two brains, and their bones are made of keratin, so they are VERY flexible. They also have barbels around their mouth, which are used as chemosensory organs. They also live at the bottom of the ocean and feed on carcasses. But, since they have no jaws, the contort their bodies into a knot, and move that knot up and down their bodies to create a shearing force. However, the best, and weirdest thing about them, it their slime.
When frightened, scared or about to feed, they secrete a slime protein. When it interacts with water, it turns into a sticky and slimy goop that is impossible to get off, yet insanely slippery. And they produce a LOT of this stuff.

Check out this video, and you'll see what I mean:

Now, there are TONS of other animals that I would like to show you, and I'll perhaps do more at a later date. But, here are the names of some more:
Star-nosed mole, the Aye-Aye, Aardvark, Echidna, Tapir, Sloth, Anteater, Hammerhead shark, the Oryx, Babiursa, Axolotyl, Black Mamba, and the list goes on and on ....

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

That's NASTY

Today was a very interesting day, in that I went to go see the movie, "Angels & Demons" and saw some interesting things on the way there.

This post is not about the movie, which was enjoyable, but more about what I saw.

This post is about people, and the nasty little habits they have. Over the day, the acts I saw got progressively worse and worse.

The day began with a walk to the O-Train (Ottawa's light rail transit system), and I saw a woman walking her dog. Her dog took a poo on someone's lawn, and she didn't pick it up. What she did was pick grass from the person's lawn and put it on top of the poo, as if to disguise it.

Next, while I was waiting for the O-Train, a woman came into the little bus shelter wearing a very bizzare set of clothing. She was wearing a pink fuzzy sweater, with a brown T-shot on top. She was also wearing a black skirt with yellow knee-highs. And she completed her outfit with pink sandals. Now, that wasn't the nasty part. The worst part were her TOES.
Her toe nails were long, yellow and dirty. Not like a little yellow or a little dirty ... but, like jaundice yellow and brown dirty. It was really, really gross. I couldn't even bring myself to look at her nails, to see if they were the same.
I take care that my nails are cut and clean, and what kind of person doesn't do that before they wear sandals? HONESTLY!

Then, within the movie theatre, there was an elderly woman sitting two rows ahead of me on the opposite side of the theatre. About 1/3 of the way into the movie, she began to cough. And it was not a muffled cough, but a full-on hacked and disgusting cough. It sounded like she was going to cough up a lung! And then, to make matters worse, she started to dry-heave. Finally, after about 20-25 minutes, she left the theatre and never came back.

And finally, on the O-Train on the way home, there was a guy sitting close to me with a handkerchief. Periodically, he would sneeze into it, and he was obviously ill. Then, once, he sneezed and did not cover his mouth and spewed it ALL over the O-Train window. He then, almost unbelievably, began to try to wipe it with his snotty handkerchief. But, as you can imagine, that only made it worse.

Honestly, it was hard not to laugh!

But, then, it went from laughable to gross in about 1.4 seconds. Because, once he realized the clean up was useless, he removed the handkerchief from the window, brought it to his mouth and proceeded to suck on whatever was in it.


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Thursday, May 14, 2009

It's the Little Things that Make Me Smile

Every now and then, you see something that makes you smile.

Not a polite smile, like what people do after a really bad joke.
For example, What did one snowman say to another?

Smells like carrots.

Not a chuckle or a chortle, not a smirk, but a genuine smile. A smile that you used to do when you were a kid. Like when you got that perfect birthday present, or a new bike, or meeting the Ninja Turtle 'live' at Universal Studio's. After so many years, I still believe that that one moment, with the Ninja Turtle, was a moment of purest joy that I have ever experienced. Thanks Mom and Dad.

While this was not a moment of pure joy, this was a moment of happiness. This thing made me smile like a little kid.

Seriously. That's BRILLIANT.

And, for a sprinkle of philosophy in this post:

Sometimes you're the snake, and sometimes you're the bird.

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Friday, May 8, 2009

My Life, Such As It Is Right Now

Yesterday was a GORGEOUS day in Ottawa after I finished work. On my walk home, the sun was shining and there was hardly a cloud in the sky. It was beautiful. It turned a crap day into a very enjoyable one.

I went for a nice long walk outside after I arrived home and changed, and pondered about getting a bike to ride in Ottawa this summer. I personally think it would be a good idea ... thoughts?

With regards to my internship, what is good about it, as compared to school, is that I don't have much to do on the weekends anymore. There's no articles to write, research to do or assignments to grade ... just sleeping in and taking it easy.

My internship is really not NEWS, it's more PR. Which most likely means that I won't get as much clippings as compared to others working at a daily paper or magazine. However, the odd time I may get pulled off what I'm working on to write a news brief, media release or a Q&A.

And that's all that has been going on with me these days. Get up, have breakfast, go to work, have lunch, back to work, come home, have dinner, watch TV and go to bed. Not really exciting.

As for my plans for the day, it's very simple. I'm going to relax for a bit more, and then go see the Star Trek movie :)

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Do Our Part

It's day three of my internship, and things are going well. I have my own cubicle, computer, filling cabinet AND desk! The government treats us well :P

All I'm doing now is doing preliminary research on a wide variety of topic in order to determine which will best suit the needs of this project. It's not the most exciting thing in the world, but I'm happy to do it (and get paid for it too ... lol).

I had a whole bunch if funny ideas in my head of what to write in this post. But then, in my wandering of the internet, I saw this:

I really, really like that video ... and not just becasue it has a frog in it ;)
And if you are curious, that is a CGI Leopard frog (Rana pipiens).

As many of you know, I think that the rainforests and our our planet are an amazing source of biodiversity, and need to be conserved.

Do your part ... recycle, be as green as is possible within your means, save energy and, most importantly, believe that we can make a difference.

Why? Well, isn't it enough I asked you?

What about the Prince of Wales?

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Friday, May 1, 2009

David's First Love

I'm heading back to Ottawa on Sunday to start my internship working for a Canada government funded science organization ... should be an interesting time!

And after that, at some point near the end of August, I will be heading to South Dakota to do research and filming for my MRP about endangered species. Anyone know anything interesting to do in South Dakota during the day because I will be primarily occupied with night shoots?

The most interesting thing that has happened to me in the past few days is that, as many people know, I am a wee bit of a clutz. I bump into stuff, fall occasionally and hurt myself in new and interesting ways. Someone once said that it is because I am so pre-occupied with tons of thoughts in my head, that I forget the normal stuff (like not tripping).

Case in point, I was walking up some stairs to a sidewalk, and putting my phone away and I tripped. So, valiantly, I used my hand to percent any damage to the phone. And, in doing so, my left hand scraped against the pavement. It hurt, but I dusted myself off and continued walking to my car. That is, until about 30 seconds later, when I noticed that blood was dripping onto the sidewalk.

So, holding my hand up and looking like I was raising my hand to a question no one asked, I walked into a gas station and used their bathroom to wash up and asked them for a Band-Aid. Suffice to say, I will soon have a new scar add to my collection ;)

Now, to the meat of this post.

Do you remember your first love?

I'm not talking about your first person who ever loved, I'm talking about the first time you just immediately fell in love with something.

I remember mine quite vividly and fondly.

Dimetrodon synapsid

When I was a child, my dad introduced me to dinosaurs and I was transfixed. The idea that massive creatures roamed the Earth 65 million years ago and have disappeared fascinated me. I went a little nuts and tried to learn as much as I possibly could about every dinosaur.

I checked out library books, read encyclopedias and visited the Royal Ontario Museum enough times to drive my parents bonkers. It was enough that when the school librarian retired, she gave my brother and I some dinosaur books that we checked out dozens of times. Even more impressive, is that we would actually correct the tour guides on museum tours.

I wanted to be a paleontologist and discover dinosaur bones for the rest of my life.
That was the first indication that I wanted to pursue a life of science. As my mom said once, "I knew at once from your love and passion for dinosaurs that you were destined for science."

This obsession continue through my elementary school years, and even influenced the books I read. In grade 5, I started reading adult books beginning with Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton, which I still possess to this day.

And when that movie came out, I literally had a smile on my face the entire time. THAT movie defined my childhood, and I truly loved it. My brother and I saw it at least eight times in the theaters.

Parents, sister, mom, dad, grandparents, aunt and by ourselves twice ;)

Dinosaurs had a profound impact on my life.

Through them, I learned about he theory of evolution when I was a kid.
As well, when religious leader told me that I was not supposed to believe in dinosaurs because they did not exist, it shattered my faith. He said that "God put the dinosaur bones into the ground to test our faith," which was the first time I thought that religion was not for me. Dinosaur bones could be felt, touched, studied, analyzed and dated. Cold, hard facts.

But, what happened to me wanting to be a paleontologist?
Sadly, it fell by the wayside to a brief stint wanting to be an actor, followed by a zoologist.

But, I will forever credit dinosaurs with beginning my love for science.

And, what are my favourite dinosaurs? There are far too many to name, but the ones that immediately come to mind are:
Dimetrodon (pictured above), the T-Rex (Sue, the most complete skeleton ever found is pictured below) the Stegosauraus (also pictured below) and the Pterodactyl (also below)

Tyrannosaurus Rex



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