Up

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Went to see Up with Tina in 3D last weekend, and, oh man, it did not disappoint. Once again, IMDb has been right; this exuberating film deserves every decimal point of the staggering 8.9 rating.

A few simple nodes and cartoon scenes were touching enough they almost made me cry, and the jokes were so dramatic and cute the whole theater was uproaring in unison. What’s more, when the film finished, the whole audience was clapping their hands in applause. I stayed till the end of the credits, which I’ve never done before.

It was simply a great adventure. Highly recommended for everyone.

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On the Twilight Saga: some questions

Just finished with the Twilight Saga. I’m really impressed with Stephanie Meyer’s ability to construct a magical but convincingly logical world. It’s not easy to include so much magic and still avoid major plotholes (I can’t say the same for Harry Potter; the time travelling device in the Prisoner of Azkaban is clearly one of the most powerful weapon that either side of the battle should give more thought to).

Even more impressive is her skills in constructing some powerful emotions around her characters. Love, sacrifice, inescapable pain, tragedy, despair, agony, ecstacy. Although the story seemed very childish at the beginning, very high-school, when a guy’s car and insociability define his coolness, it evolved into something epic and grand towards the end.

But sometimes there are things so obvious to the readers but the supposedly smart characters just don’t get, that frustrated me. As if Meyer thought the readers were very slow, or she was very deliberate in her attempt to drag on the suspense.

All things considered, this was a very enjoyable read that kept me mesmerized (to use Meyer’s vocab) for many weeks.

I do, however, have one big problem with the whole story: the vampire guy, Edward, is around 80 years old, and he falling in love with a 17 year old is just absurd. It’s like a grandpa finding a teenage girl rediculously attractive… absurd. Maybe we are to believe that as vampirism halts Edward’s physical growth in his teenage years, it also preserves his horniness. But I’d think that after 80 years of abstinence, one would be more like a saint than a horny teenager.

I’ll let that one pass.

But, on a much earthier level, I have another question. If vampires don’t have blood, such that they can’t blush or have a heartbeat, how does Edward have a boner? (Oh believe me, Stephanie more than hinted that Edward had boners. Any further information would be a serious spoiler for anyone who hasn’t finished all 4 books. Yeah, the read towards the end got steamier and steamier.)

The story also worked in some very soup-opera-ish drama at the end, and the final climax was a bit anticlimatic (kinda like the first climax… huh, that makes 2 anticlimaxes out of 4…), but the depth of the emotions depicted in the stories was truly monumental.

Did not know research can be this much fun

I’ve been working in a research lab in CMMT, near the Children’s Hospital, for two weeks now. I’ve not seen a lab quite as big as the Goldowitz Lab, nor quite as active and friendly. More than 20 people work for Dr. Goldowitz in one form or another: from volunteers, summer/co-op students, technicians, masters, Ph.D.s, post-docs, to research associates, and for most part of the day, around 15 of us cram into the few spaces at 4 bences.

When I first got to the lab, I was quite unsettled by the utter lack of space. The PhD student I am working with, Peter, told me that: “here usually sits Drew, here is Kevin, then I usually sit here, and then Derek usually uses this computer over here. You can squeeze in here with us I guess.” He was pointing at the same bench, where 5 guys coexist.

I quickly found out that the close proximity of lab members has quite a bit of a plus to it. Most people are very sociable; Drew and Derek are two very energetic twenty-something year olds who wouldn’t stop making jokes. The girls who hangout in the benches next to ours were also in their early twenties, so the youth-ness in this side of the lab was very enjoyable. The other side of the room sits the “big people” – the post-docs and research associates – but they are very much a part of the young gang too.

Drew and Derek brings the guys out for frisbee or basketball during lunch time almost every day, and sometimes Doug, the research associate who is 2nd in command in the Goldo lab, Anna “Poonster” Poon, and Anna S., join the regulars, the D & Ds, Kevin “Eric” Zhou, Peter, and me. I quickly got used to wearing shorts and bringing 2nd t-shirts to work.

Because everyone just chats with everyone else in the lab all day, it’s not hard to get comfortable to make new friends. I learned the tradition of “Tuesday bubble teas” before the lab meetings, the “TGIF presentation series” which stands for “Thank God It’s Friday”, and others. D & D also call out-trips to Wreck Beach and we once moved the lab meeting to lunch time and had buffet Indian food while we discussed mice sacrificing under our breath.

I found out that almost half of the lab members under 30 want to go to med school or are already accepted; Drew and I will start in UBC together in Sept., Gurj is going to England to become a Doc, and many others are taking the MCAT this summer. I also found out that the world is too small; I found out that Annie (yes, we have Anna, Anna, Annie, and Joanna), who is in the biotech program, apparently had the following conversations with Heidi, our new RC President:

Annie: “So many people in the lab are going to med school!”

Heidi: “Really? I know someone who’s going to med school too!”

and

Heidi: “Do you want to be RC’s Secretary?”

Annie: “What is it like?”

Heidi: “I will get info from our past secretary.”

All the while, the “past secretary”, me, had been working with Annie for a week in the lab.

It’s not just our lab that’s super fun and social; the entire CMMT research department promotes inter-lab socializing pretty well. The fore-mentioned TGIF seminars are equipped with $1 beers, for example.

For another example, we have what is called the “CMMT Cup”. Once a month, a lab can challenge the cup holder lab to a team competition, the challenge decided by the challenger. Some past challenges were: soccer, beach volley ball, Wii Sports, and poker.

This past Friday, us Goldos — apparently cup holder for 3 years — were challenged to a dodgeball tournament. And I was pretty psyched.

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It was an epic. It was actually such a big deal that Derek had to remind us how much of a big deal it was:

“For the new people, you might not know this is a huge thing. I would be very upset if we don’t win.”

“So I can go all out on this?” I checked.

“Yeah totally. I know I will.”

“So it won’t be weird if I try too hard?” I double checked.

“No, just give it.”

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So I went all out whipping the dodgeball at the opponents, guys and girls alike. It was very intense, and it got quite personal as the game hovers between the two labs. Very close games, and very competetive players on both sides.

The tournament was said to finish at 7:30, and we won by 1 game. But the other lab asked to play till 7:45, and at the tie breaker, we lost. 😦 And Derek tried to kick a hole in the wall.

But all in all, this was a great event. I’m sure when I go to work on Monday, the lab will feel different still, after being bonded by comradeship after that deathmatch.

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photo credit: Annie Chen

Garibaldi Lake hike, who’s in?

So I’ve been back in Vancouver and will stick around in a several-day radius for the rest of the summer. To make the most out of this beatiful time of Vancouver, I shall plan a number of small trips. Some of these would be easy to have more people tag along, including the one I’m about to describe, so if you are interested in joining, please feel free to drop me a line 🙂

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Garibaldi (mapis a big provincial park near Whistler. It is a regular hiking destination for Shad UBC, and having worked for Shad twice, I’ve climbed to the beautiful glacial lake twice. It’s a 9km hike to the lake, but the climb is quite moderate. Even the most whiny of high school students made it to the top with some “encouragement”.

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(The photographer decapitated me in this picture. Yeah, I hiked parts of it with a hand in my pocket. Not recommended for anyone who’s prone to falling.)

The hike is long but really not too strenuous; it takes about 2 hours to reach the top, and about 1.5 hours to get back down. The view on top is more than rejuvenating. And 80% of the walk is in the shade, so it’s not too hot until you reach the top and the trees open up.

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And there were these birds that jump onto your raised hands even if you didn’t have anything in them. 

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I’m planning to visit Garibaldi again in a few weeks after my family recover from their jet lag. It’ll be a day-trip on a sunny weekend, probably leaving Vancouver around 8am and finishing the hike around noon, and coming back down in the afternoon. 

So, like I said, drop me a line if you are interested in joining us 🙂