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The definitive host: September 2008

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

Monday, September 29, 2008

That which is me

Sorry for the delay in the post, this weekend and coming week appears to be INSANE!

I got a bunch of marks last week, some good and some not-as-good, and there is absolutely NO down time. Literally, you hand in an assignment, have class, and then the next one is due in a day or so! And that's only ONE class... I have three more of those suckers! *sigh*

Therefore, here is a story that perfectly encapsulates the trials and tribulations that is Ottawa:

Over the weekend, when I was busily doing my homework (as all good students were), I realized that I needed to do laundry.

So, I got my dirty clothes, already separated, and started load one. During this time, I was diligently doing my work.

After it finishes, I transfer it to the dryer and put the second load in the washing machine. Meanwhile, my head is just going nuts from all the work I have been pushing it to do.

So, I decide to take a break. I turn on ol' MSN and Facebook, and I chat to people from my program (who are all very nice...by the way). And did I mention that there are 21 of us, and only five guys? I know, the ratio is pretty bad... but we ALL have our crosses to bear ;)

So, I finish my break and continue doing work. And then, inevitably, I hit a mental block. I cannot think HOW I can continue this assignment, I'm just at a mental standstill.

As if it was meant to be, I hear the dryer stop. So, taking this as a sign, I go to fold and put away my clothes. When I bend down to remove the last piece of clothing from the dryer and stand up, all of the sudden, my eyes are blinded by shooting pain. I apparently did not notice that there were shelves above this dryer, and I hit the top of my head.... HARD. Suffice to say, expletives were shouted.

After, the pain subsided a little, I went back to my computer to finish my assignment. As I begin to type, my head is KILLING me. So, I touch the bump, and realize, that I'm bleeding!

So, like some bizarre statue, I sat with a Kleenex on my head until the bleeding subsided.
The bright side? As soon as that was done, my mental block was gone.

And so, does anyone know the moral of the story?
When you are hard at work and hit a mental wall, don't despair. Inspiration will hit you sooner or later ;)

Thursday, September 25, 2008


WOW, who ever would have thought? Over 500 views of my blog, that's amazing! I want to thank everyone who has been reading my blog from the beginning, as well as all you new people too!

Thank you very, very much for enjoying what I put out there :)

As for me, I just re-submitted an assignment for re-marking. The mark was fine, but I'm a perfectionist ... leave me alone.
Sounds good, right? Except that I should be studying for a test tomorrow, which I've tried to study for, but it is mind-numbingly boring. Granted, it is not as bad as Organic Chemistry (which was created by the dark lord himself to basically destroy my second year of undergrad), but it's still pretty bad!

Life still continue much as it has been, with little change. The work never stops, and there is sadly, no rest for the wicked, and we ALL fall under that category over here ;)

I could spend the entire night studying for this test, and I would do insanely well. BUT, there are two things that prevent me from achieving that:
1) The ever increasing urge to NAP
2) TV SHOWS (I've drastically cut down on the amount of TV I watch, but there are just some that you know people will be talking about... and it relaxes me. Don't judge me!

Time to study..... I feel like the white-rabbit, always checking the clock as time slowly ticks by, never stopping, never yielding and always forward.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Ottawa - Week 3

Another week has come and gone so fast. Doesn't it ever feel like we are just floating along the river of time, always forward, no matter how much we wish it not?

This week in Ottawa was quite interesting, because on Monday I handed in my first ever assignments to be graded! I hope that I did well enough to suit my current position. The day was relatively uneventful, other than the fact that in my second class we had a discussion that I could NOT follow. It's a Political Science course, and I have never taken one before, and they were talking about neo-liberalism, Marxism, etc.

On Tuesday, the whole program went to the Ottawa Citizen (a major newspaper in Ottawa) and we got a tour, saw how a newspaper was put together and met a LOT of people. It was exciting to see a real newsroom in action, and we got to sit in on story meetings where they discussed what would bee on the front page. Some of the people who talked to us though, were a bit pessimistic about getting jobs in the future and that you would have to work an insane amount and have no time for family.

On Wednesday, I had TA office hours again but no one came. It was fine by me, as I got quite a lot of work done :)

Thursday consisted of a course in the morning, and then I came home and did a lot of work.

Like Tuesday, Friday consisted of a field trip, but this time to the CBC in Ottawa. It was really informative, seeing how a TV/radio station works and meeting some of the people involved. Our tour guide was a reader of the news on the radio, and he was very nice and accommodating. We even got to sit in while he read the 10am news (being absolutely quiet, of course). We then had a Q&A session with some previous MJ graduates, which was very funny and informative and gave many of us back the hope that the Ottawa Citizen stole.
After CBC, which lasted the morning, we all went out for Chinese food and the service was SO slow, that no one really could have finished their lunch because we had to rush back to campus for our afternoon class! We were about an hour late, but it was ok because it was practically everyone in the class.
After class, the class split up into 2 camps: go out now or go out later. I went with the go out now people to a bar called Quinn's. There we drank, talked and had a joyous time. After a while, people got bored, so we all decided to make our way to another bar. I cannot recall the second bar's name, but it had a British theme. There we continued to part two of the drinking and chatting. After more time, we all got bored again and decided to venture to yet ANOTHER bar. Which we did, to a place called Hooley's (I think). There we drank and ate and talked, and finally the go out later people came and joined us. Then, we all went downstairs, where there was pool and a karaoke machine! Suffice it to say, we could not resist the siren song of karaoke.
The first people up were most of the guys from the program (myself included) singing "If I Had A Million Dollars" by the Barenaked Ladies. It was a LOT of fun, and the girls quickly followed suit with a song that currently eludes me. They were great!
Some girls from our program than sang "Don't Stop Belevin'" by Journey, and a group of us ran up to join them! Then there was more karaoke and dancing and general silliness, it was a GREAT TIME! After realizing that it was 1am, adn that I originally left the house at 7:45am, I finally departed for home. I took a cab ride with a very nice cabby who explained to me the reasons, in his opinion, of why India can never be a super-power.

We have come now to the end of this week, I hope you enjoyed reading about my misadventures in the nations capital! And keep in mind, I will continue to post blogs every weekend, as well as periodically throughout the week, so keep checkin'!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Election '08: The MANLY Edition

It seemed a little odd that a Canadian blogger, such as myself, has not written a blog regarding the current Canadian election. Hence, this posting.

As a journalism student at Carleton University, we are told that we must follow the election with great interest. I have been from the very beginning, when the campaigns were first launched. And here is my completely biased opinion of the main candidates.

Stephen Harper - A family man wearing an almost over-powering blue sweater-vest. Honestly, in all my years in Canada, I cannot recall such a blatant about-face to change the public's opinion about the current Prime Minister. I knew he was married, but I was unaware that he even had children! Now, many people believe that he is the spawn of Satan, that he will bring about the End of Days, the Apocalypse, etc. I am not convinced about Harper bringing about the destruction of the world, I'm more concerned with that CERN super-collider revving up in October and destroying the world with mini-black holes! I can see why Harper's PR person wanted this change, but the ADS are just annoying. He'll probably become PM again, but I just hope he keeps his promises.

Stéphane Dion - I was watching CBC's the National last night, and I saw a Liberal party advertisement that was actually pretty good. EXCEPT for the fact that Dion did NOT APPEAR in it. I'm being serious! What kind of campaign has a leader that doesn't even show up in the ads? This perfectly encapsulates the Liberal campaign for me: DEFEAT HARPER, HIDE DION. Case in point: yesterday, his plane (another story...) had to make an emergency landing, and they basically partied with the press with drinks and food! The election isn't very far away... a little focus would be nice. Like Harper, the Liberal PR people tried to re-envision Dion as an average Canadian who snowshoes, plays hockey and hunts... seriously? The candidates are NOT normal people.... so stop pretending you are! We ALL enjoy hockey... but focus on your campaign, Dion!

Jack Layton - As people probably know, I like Jack Layton. He seems to be a genuinely nice guy with a very grandfather-ish appeal. I applaud his platform and his drive to improve the environment. His ads are ok, but the 1984 like ad in Quebec is a little much. He is a party leader that deserves more respect and credence than he is usually privy too. That being said, the NDP will most likely not win this election because many people are not sure of his exact party position, other than the Obama-esque slogan: "Choose Change". I believe more times should be spend focusing on what the NDP can do if elected, not how the NDP differs from the Liberals and Conservatives.

Elizabeth May - The Wild Card. She is a little bit of a firecracker, and I am excited that she will appear in the debates. The Green Party is finally getting some street cred! In no way, shape or form are they going to win this election, but I genuinely hope that they get a handful of seats and establish themselves as the party of a greener future!

So, here are out candidates:
Harper - Sweater-vested family man
Dion - The Liberal's shadow
Layton - The Grandpa
May - The wild card

My vote is still up for grabs, as my main criteria is on the environment. Whiel it is only one vote, I will use it with pride. After all, in my humble opinion, only those who can vote hold the right to complain!

But enough about me..... How will you vote?

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

David: Ottawa Style - Week 2!

Well, it's that time again for David's week in Ottawa review!

This week started off pretty interestingly, as there was a problem with a course that I signed up for. On Mondays, I had two classes: Journalism and Society 1 and Public Affairs reporting. J&S 1 seemed like your average run-of-the-mill history course about journalism. While it seemed dry, I thought of it as a necessary evil. After that course I read two full papers, basically from cover to cover. Doesn't my life seem thrilling?
After that, I decided to spontaneously check my e-mail, as I had about 25 minutes before my next class started. I was lucky I did, as there was an e-mail stating that every first year Masters of Journalism student must de-enroll from that class as it is a pre-requisite for the second year program! In a panic, I frantically searched for another course at the same time and located a graduate course entitled: Introduction to Environmental Politics. It was all the way across campus and I had about 5 minutes to get there..... 8 minutes later, suffering from severe chest pains, I walked into the class. It actually seems interesting, but a lot of work and reading.

Tuesday was another print bootcamp day where we went out on our first reporting assignment! We had to examine an area with only one of our sense (mine was sight). It was actually pretty informative and you start to notice interesting things, such as everyone in the food court that had a laptop was on Facebook!

On Wednesday I had my first TA office hours, which was an interesting experience. I have office hours from 1-4, and based on the e-mail issues I was receiving on a daily basis, I expected lots of people to come. I was SORELY mistaken! I sat and did readings for about 2.5 hours, when students finally started to arrive. How many students out of a class of 16 do you think visited?
10? 8?
Sorry, the correct answer is 2! They were nice 4th years, and I actually look forward to getting to know more of them.

Thursday was journalism law again....Woooohoo! It's actually not as bad of a course as I imagined (and it's actually the lightest workload by FAR!) Who would have thought?

Friday was another print-bootcamp, where we discussed exactly what MAKES news and the different components of a news story. And then, we were given a Carleton University press release and were told we had 30 minutes to write a lead (the first attention grabbing sentence) and as much of the actual article as we could. I actually really enjoyed that exercise, as I've never really done that before.
Afterward, we all decided to meet up later and I joined two other students for a bit of pre-drinking after visiting a mall so we could all pick up digital voice recorders. It was actually pretty fun, and I learned something! Vodka and Canada dry tastes pretty good! :P
Then, we all ventured downtown to a bar called "The Brig", where everyone else was. To be brutally honest, I felt a bit out of place there as people were all huddled together into a group with no chairs left. So, I resided to leaning in to people's conversations and trying to participate and join in conversations as much as I could. Sadly, I had to leave much, much, much earlier than everyone else because I had to catch a bus and I didn't want what happened last week to occur again!
I caught the bus, but my connecting bus wasn't running!!!!!
SO, once again, I called a cab and it cost me $12 to get home. I have an idea for next time, for the cab to drop me off at a close intersection and walk the rest of the way, instead of going to my place which takes a while.

And today I've completed 2/3 assignments so far, and tomorrow I need to read over 300 pages of a book! Don't you all wish you were me?

Well, there you have it folks... another week in Ottawa completed! Be sure to tune in next week ;)


Saturday, September 6, 2008

Ottawa: Week 1

G'day everyone!

Well, I've been in Ottawa for around a week now, and it still feels strange and unfamiliar. Let's start from the beginning:

After I officially moved in to my new place, I spent the day just getting used to my new situations. I then went to Carleton for the first time as a new student and attended a campus tour. While the tour was not very exciting or thorough, it did expose me to more of the campus. Following that was a pizza party meet and greet for ALL graduate students. I got to meet quite a few people, as well as a few from my program.

The next day was the first of Journalism orientation, where everyone was introduced and we were given time to mingle and interact. At first, I was worried because it seemed that everyone had an abundance of actual journalistic experience, while I did not. Luckily for me, there were quite a few stories of "I've always been interested in this, but I have no formal training", which parallels mine very closely. some of the MJ's (Master of Journalism) went out to the local campus graduate student bar, and it was nice to talk and get to know some of the others in a less formal setting.

The next day was TA day, in which we were told to meet with the professors that we were TA-ing with. I did, and he seems like an interesting fellow, but with a few interesting habits. I found out that most of my duties will be taking place during office hours on Wednesday, when I answer student queries and mark assignments. After that, was official TA training (BORING), but one of the speaker's was very, very humorous. After that, there was a TA BBQ, where a bunch if us just sat and talked again.

The following day, classes began! My first course, Journalism Law, seems interesting and intense, but absolutely necessry so I won't get sued in the near future ;)

Friday was the first 'Bootcamp' class focusing on Print journalism, where everyone introduced themselves again in greater detail. Then, we broke for lunch and went for a MJ retreat in Québec in a genuine log cabin. We met prof's, certain needs were addressed (plagarism, ethics, etc..) and then we all went for a swim in the nearby lake. I even jumped in using a very primitive looking rope swing! Then, it was a BBQ and then, lots of getting to know everyone else. Once we got back to Ottawa, most of us went into Byward Market (a very busy pub and club area) and drank at a bar called 'The Honest Lawyer', guess they do exist. After drinking and talking, a few of us played pool where I made a few good shots. Then, we went to another bar, called the Highland Pub, where very bad live music took place. Following that, we all went our separate ways.

I live on a bus route, and I asked a city bus driver on the way back to Carleton how late the specific bus ran. He said the last one departed at 12:30am. Suffice it to say, he was mistaken and I had to take a $16 cab ride home.

And today, I slept in and bought some much needed textbooks.

Well, there you have it ladies and gentlemen, you are officially caught up on my journey, henceforth know as: David - Ottawa style.

I'll update and talk to you all soon.