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The definitive host: September 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

Thursday, September 10, 2009

David vs. Year Two

Well, year two of my Master's program officially began a few days ago. It's been an interesting ride so far, filled with plot twists and exciting revelations. Who knows what is in store for me this year?

Now, for some updates.

Those of you who I speak to/communicate with regularly, know that I am missing a "second language requirement" for my degree. Because I go to school in Ottawa, where a significant portion of the population is bilingual, the powers that be decided to make it a requirement to graduate. Seeing as I was a strictly Biology student, there was no need for me to take any foreign languages.

So, I decided to do something about it this year. While the school would prefer the language proficiency to be French, it can really be any language used around the world. Therefore, I decided to take a first-year sign language course. I thought it would be interesting, and an excellent skill to possess.

I also signed up to take the French proficiency test, which the school holds twice a year. It was a pass/fail deal. Worse case scenario, if I failed that, I would take the sign language course and get the requirement done that way.

The French test was on Tuesday, and I got the results yesterday.

By some sort of inexplicable event ... I passed it! Cool, eh? So, that requirement for my degree is all done! And, I lose a course I was going to take this semester, so more time to do other sorts of school work.

Other than that, nothing much else has happened here. Yet.

Tomorrow is when the real work begins.

But, as a J-school friend said to me yesterday, "Just eight more months. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Now, we just need to survive."

Words to live by, eh?

Ohhh, and I've been asked by a few of my fellow students about how soon until Chapter 5 of The Black will be released. I must say, I'm genuinely taken aback when people say they like my story. It does, and will always, put a big smile on my face when people talk about it. Hey, even negative stuff makes me happy, as you are reading it and really thinking about it. Criticism is welcome!

And don't worry, Chapter 5 is coming, and it's tentatively entitled, "The Path." hope to finish it and put it up this weekend.

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Monday, September 7, 2009

100th Blog Post!

Well, here it is: The 100th blog post. And what better way to celebrate than with a new article that I wrote being published?

If you look at my blog, under the articles menu, the newest one is entitled NSERC - NEPTUNE. It's about a Canadian undersea observatory that was launched two months ago. Check it out, it's pretty damn cool!

Other than that, not much to report other than the fact that school begins tomorrow. How will it go? What will life be like as an MJ2? Will I ever finish this ferret project? Will I manage to stay sane?

Tune in and find out for the next 100+ blog posts.

Thanks for reading! =)

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Thursday, September 3, 2009

David vs. Wall, South Dakota

It had been a while since my last blog post, and for that I apologize.

I returned safely to Toronto from South Dakota, but I was very tired, and it took me a while to get back to normal.

Some of the details of my trip will have to be a little vague, as it will eventually go onto my website. Same with the pictures I took, as I cannot allow them to enter the public domain just yet.

I started out my trip to South Dakota, with a flight from Toronto to a major U.S. hub airport: Chicago O'Hare. Then, I caught a connecting flight to Rapid City, South Dakota. After picking up all my bags (including all of the friggin HEAVY camera equipment), I picked up my rental car, plugged in my GPS and drove the hour to Wall, South Dakota. Haven't heard of it? I'm not surprised.

Picture the middle of nowhere in your minds. Add some mountains in the background, a population of just of 800 people and a town that lasts for roughly 12 blocks. TADA! That is Wall.

Wall is small. Very small and very quiet. And when I mean quiet, I mean eerily quiet.

Anyway, I checked into my motel, unpacked and went to Wall Drug, the biggest store in Wall.

The reason? I needed toothpaste, as the security woman at the Toronto airport threw out my toothpaste.

I then called my contact in the ferret program and arranged to meet him at 6:45 pm, to work ALL night. And we did.

Most of the work I was helping with was driving around in 4x4's trying to spot Black footed ferrets, which is surprisingly difficult. Then, once you spot one, you place a trap to hopefully catch it. If the ferret is caught and is not already marked, you bring it into the medical trailer for various tests and vaccines. Once completed, the ferret is released back into its burrow.

That process went until 7:30 am the following morning. To make a long story short, it was a looooooong night.

I went back to my motel, showered, ate and went to bed until 4 pm. I then woke up, ate and showered again, and then got ready to repeat the whole process over again.

After the second night, I got the chance to explore the National Park where I was working a bit, and got to see Bison and Prairie dogs in the wild. This was in addition to the ferrets, grasshoppers, rabbits, deer and badgers I observed during the night.

My last day in Wall, after the third night, I interviewed the man I was working with, as well as some more footage for my site.

I then went back to the motel, recorded my last video diary (yes, I made video diaries), packed up and left.

By the end of it, even though it was only three days, I was massively sleep deprived and my sleep/wake cycle was all shot to shit. But, I think I got some good footage of various animals, interesting interviews and some good footage of the ferret program.

Suffice to say, it was a crazy time in a small town.

Here's hoping it turns out as well as I hope! I will keep you all updated as it develops.

Now, this is NOT a picture I took, but it should show you just how cute and adorable the ferrets are. Enjoy.

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