This is a bit of an update for all the friends and relations who will get grumpy that I didn't tell them what was going on. Some of you already know all or some of this, and if you don't know me in real life, you probably won't care about most of this. Anyway, onward:

1) School. After a week and a half of class I realized that being a paramedic was not for me. Not even as a fallback if I don't get into medical school. I realized that if that happened, I would work for a couple of years, get bored, and go back to school so that I could do research or something. So why not just cut out that middle step? I've switched to a program in human biology, which a) means I get to do all sorts of exciting courses like Evolution and Ecology and b) means that I'll be in a position, in 3 years, to apply to both med school and grad school, and while I do have some doubts about my ability to get into and survive med school, I have no such doubts about grad school, and except for biochem, I don't think there's a field of biology I wouldn't be ultimately happy working in.

2) Hair. eek.

I do this about once every five years. It starts with a general feeling of malaise concerning my hairstyle. A deep ennui with the long, straight-across-the-bottom cut that I've had now for 13 years. I start toying with the idea of doing something with it. I consider shaving it all off. I consider going to a stylist and telling them to go wild. It continues into a realization that my unwillingness to spend time daily (or even weekly) on my appearance and a deep loathing for all things styling-product are major obstacles to having a cool and interesting hairstyle. But, since it's been about five years since I last put scissors to my hair, the split ends are kind of out of control, and I really really really am sick of the status quo, it culminates (after months of agonizing) in me going AAARGGGH NO MORE SPLIT ENDS!!! and calling on some available person (usually my mom, once a friend, this time Dave) to CUT THEM OFF, DAMMIT!! Then, once the cutting commences, I agonize about how short it's gonna be and I start to wish I hadn't done it. This time it's even shorter than usual for these episodes, just barely past my shoulders. I keep exclaiming about how I have short hair now, and Dave keeps trying to tell me that hair past your shoulders isn't short, but he's wrong. This is how much of a loser I am: cutting six inches off the end of my hair is a traumatic experience for me.

Anyway, I have some ideas about colour, but I'm not going to say anything unless/until I decide to actually go through with it. I'll update a picture of the new cut as soon as I can get the camera to talk to the computer.


Oh Sure, Expanding This System Make Perfect Sense.

UPDATE: Apparently when I wrote this, the Halton Catholic School Board hadn't actually made its decision, it was just considering it. They have since voted 4-3 to allow the vaccines, which is uncomfortably close for something that shouldn't even be an issue, but nonetheless worlds better than the alternative.

Via Pharyngula: Apparently the Halton Catholic school board is banning their school nurses from administering the HPV vaccine. I thought this sort of "What about the children" sex-panic was limited to those morons south of the border*, but apparently we have our share of home-grown morons.

If this were a case of parents opting out of the vaccine I would almost be able to sympathise. To be convinced that your daughter is too sweet and pure to possibly have sex until she's married (to another virgin, natch) is stupid, but sort of understandable. Parents are often stupid about their kids' sexuality. But it's not conceivable that a school board is that deluded about all its female students. If the administrators are not aware that teenagers have sex, then they are not qualified to do their jobs. And since the only way to get the HPV vaccine for free in Ontario is to be an eighth-grade girl and get it through school, and since the cost of the vaccine is prohibitive if you're not in that group ($450 all told), and since condoms don't offer very good protection against HPV, what this amounts to is the school board saying that if you're a girl and you have sex then you deserve to get cancer.

And the Tories think we need more of this?

*Said with sincerest sympathies for those non-morons who are also south of the border


Today I Learned... for Monday, September 17

Today I learned:

- What squamous, cuboidal, and columnar cells look like. I can identify simple and pseudostratified columnar, and stratified squamous fairly reliably, but the rest need some practice.

- About action potentials in neurons. If the graded potential* is still at -55mV or higher by the time it reaches the axon hillock** then it will trigger an action potential, which involves the opening of voltage-gated Na-channels, allowing Na+ to enter the cell down its electrochemical gradient, causing the membrane potential (Vm) to spike as high as +30mV. This triggers the closing of the Na-channels. At some point during all this the voltage-gated K-channels open, allowing K+ to leave the cell along its electrochemical gradient. The K-channels stay open after the Na-channels close, causing the Vm to drop until it's below its resting potential, at which point all the voltage-gated K-channels close again, leaving onoly a few K-leak channels open to let a bit of K+ in until the Vm is back to its resting point (~70mV) and the cell is at rest again. Two things I'm not entirely clear on:

  1. When do the K-channels open and what triggers it?
  2. At the end of the process the voltage across the membrane (Vm) is restored to its rest state, but the chemical gradient is not. There is too much Na+ and not enough K+. Maybe that's what the K/Na pump is for? But since the K/Na pump exports 3 Na+ for every 2 K+ it imports, using that to restore the concentrations would change the voltage, wouldn't it? It's all very confusing.

- If you're a Psychology prof then you're a Real Scientist(TM) and are entitled to cast aspersions on any scientific theory you want, like for example the big bang, whether you understand it or not.

*Not entirely clear what that is.
**Why hillock? Why not?


Ow! Update

1mm inuration. I do not have TB. Go me.


x=moron, {x|x ε [Tory], x ε [Tories]}

I'm sure most current and former Ontarians remember the horrors of our last Tory government. Remember that asshole whose funding cuts to health care and education ran into billions of dollars? Remember the Education Minister who never finished highschool? Remember how no one in that government gave a shit what the people they were governing wanted? Good times.

Well, in case you had forgotten, or weren't here for it, or were too young to remember, or just got dropped on your head too many times as a child, and were thinking of voting PC this October, they've just stepped up with an excellent reason why you shouldn't. Not only have they come up with the worst possible solution to the problem of Ontario's publicly funded religious schools (make more of them!), their leader, John Tory, put his foot firmly in his mouth by saying that these brand new public religious schools he wants to fund would be able to teach creationism. Of course he's backpedalling like crazy now, and to be fair, I believe he is sincere in saying that he believes in evolution and meant that creationism would only be taught in religion classes,* as is apparently already the case with Catholic Schools.** But isn't it nice when they shoot themselves so squarely in the foot like that?

And, while we're on the topic, is anyone else annoyed that the Liberals and NDP are a bunch of chickenshit pansies, and the Green Party is the only party with a sensible position on this issue?

I'm actually really annoyed with the Libs and NDP right now. I'd almost rather they agreed with the Tories than take their namby-pamby no-boat-rocking status quo position. Maybe I'm naive, but I expected better from both parties. The status quo is both idiotic and discriminatory. The Tories are at least doing something, and their position does eliminate the discrimination (on the other hand it increases the idiocy, so I'm calling it a draw). Sticking with an bad situation because you'll offend some morons by proposing change is nothing but cowardice.

I'll keep an eye on these pages of The Star to see what's what, but I may end up having to vote Green this time around.

Oh, and this isn't the last time I'll say this before October 10th, I'm sure, but whether you agree with my post or not, if you're a Canadian citizen and an Ontario resident, and you're over 18 years old, please, please, please vote next month. Democracies only work when we participate.

*Which is all well and good but ought to be a moot point since public funding should not be fucking going to religion classes in the first place.

**Did you know this? I didn't know this.



Word of warning to those hoping to work in healthcare or child care fields: TB tests hurt!