Friday, August 29, 2008

It's All Coming Back To Me...

In my new job, I have had the opportunity to come back to chemistry.

This may seem like a strange statement, as after I got my degree in chemistry, I then did a PhD in forensic chemistry, and followed this with postdoctoral research predominantly in the fields of bio-chemistry and protein chemistry.

Here's the thing... My PhD ended up being more forensic chemistry, and my postdoctoral research more bio-chemistry and protein chemistry.

Now don't get me wrong, chemistry is a wide ranging term that covers so many things, all of which are chemistry. What I wanted, however, is to get back to chemistry in it's most basic form:
Chemical A + Chemical B => Chemical C

Luckily, that's what I'm doing now! Oscillating reactions, electrolysis of water, limewater tests... basic chemistry full of simple beauty.

Of course, this has lead to another issue: much like riding a bike, you can always do it once you learn how, but you're going to be a bit shaky at first! So I have been! Some plastic-ware has been damaged, some occupational health and safety rules overlooked, and my confidence in my knowledge and expertise has needed to grow, but slowly and surely it is all coming back to me... and I could not be happier!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Back to School!

It's the end of first week of School! We've had the freshmen, sophomores, and seniors attend class and it's been a fun and busy affair!

- The new Freshmen are fun and scary-intelligent! They have some crazy ideas and some downright brilliant ones. We took them up to the helipad (it has no railings... and it's on the 12th floor of the hospital! It has a spectacular view, but I stayed in the very center of the giant "H"!... We rode up to it and back in one elevator... Sure it was a large elevator, but it had 26 students and 6 adults!), we visited a worm lab (tiny, eye-lash-sized worms), and they saw nanotechnology. It was a fun day and it should be an interesting year!

- The returning Sophomores are their usual selves (if a bit taller!). We did a Science Olympics, with lots of fun events. One student was very Phelpsian in her domination of the Games, but everyone had fun! At the start of the day, while preparing for the students, I cut my finger. Nothing serious, but enough to require a bit of first aid. The humorous thing is that we had first aid training last week. During the training video on wounds (all fake, of course), I felt a little off, but quickly recovered. As the next video started, I passed out! I've never been good with blood, but who passes out in a first aid training course!?!?

- The Seniors and busy writing applications for science competitions. Each instructor advises two Seniors. One of mine is brilliant... The second, not so much! He needs a swift kick up the backside, and hopefully it gets him on track. Fingers crossed!

It starts all over again on Monday... I can't wait!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Olympic Reflections

So we're a few days into the Olympics and I have a few comments:

- As Sweetie put it, it's not a good Olympics if you're a female athlete in terms of fashion... We watched some of the parade of athletes and some of the uniforms were shocking, even more so for the women.

- The Men's 4 x 100m Freestyle Final was one of the most exciting finishes I've seen!

- Related to the above, never say you'll crush your opponents... It rarely works out in your favor!

- TV coverage: It offends me as a fan of the Olympics that the Chinese changed the swimming schedule around completely, just to suit NBC and the US public... Even if I benefit from it! To make the heats in the evening and the finals in the morning (it's normally the opposite) is unfair on the athletes, and it screws every country accept for the US, who get the finals in "prime time".

- TV coverage: The NBC Olympic coverage ends at 10pm... 11am Beijing time. Lots happens at the Olympics between 11am and 11pm (10am US time), and we see nothing! Of course, I could stay home from work and watch replays... Honestly, I'd rather stay up too late and watch the Olympics live.

- I went to uni with a guy rowing in the Mens 8. He came 4th in the last Games, so I'm hoping he medals here... Of course the faulty rudder and almost crash wasn't a great start!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Worst Doping Excuse Ever?!?

With the Olympics just around the corner, I thought I'd share with my audience the worst excuse I've ever heard for being caught doping (and no, it's not the Warnie "my mum made me take weight-loss pills" defense):

Former American sprinter Dennis Mitchell tested positive for high levels of testosterone in 1998. His excuse? "five bottles of beer and sex with his wife at least four was her birthday, the lady deserved a treat."

What's even more astounding is that USA Track and Field accepted his excuse! Thankfully, the International Association of Athletics Federations did not and banned him for two years.