Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I’m a huge geek, and what my geeky heart loves—in much the same way that a heroin loves their syringe, needle, and some good tar—is mecha. Mecha is often used refer to a genre of Japanese animation (anime) involving giant, and sometimes not so giant, fucking robots. Giant fucking robots are truly a marvellous thing that greatly pleases this blogger and one particular mecha franchise I love to bits is Gundam. I’ve watched most, but not all, the shows. Along with watching the anime I also got into building models called Gunpla (portmanteau of Gundam Plastic models).

So this weekend I got a very belated birthday gift that made me all happy and sparkly. Here is the completed model:

My lovely 1/100 scale Gundam Exia. Ignore the sexy shoes and bra, they're there as an inside joke

Click Here to Read More..

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


I got up this morning bright an early after 3 hours of sleep (entirely my fault)and reluctantly dragged my ass to work. I expected I would spend several hours sleepily attempting to read up on how to program something I was asked to do. I got a pleasant surprise upon opening my email, 2 of the previously mentioned abstracts that I'm an author on have been accepted! This is my very first piece of published science.

Needless to say, I'm now awake and stupidly excited

Click Here to Read More..

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Important life lessons

When somebody tells you that they know how to get to a particular address, never ever fucking trust them. What they actually mean is; "I've been there before and I know there is a right turn involved".

I think I just drove through every dinky, little residential street in a large suburb trying to get my friend to her relatives' house.

Click Here to Read More..

Friday, December 12, 2008

Someone is wrong a fucking dumbass on the internet

I’m exhausted and I barely did anything today. I woke up, cleaned my room, and did a few other trivial things. Then I got on the internet...

...and spent a substantial part of my day arguing with misogynists on the internet. I don’t mind most internet arguments, but arguing with women hating syphilitic cum buckets leaves me utterly emotionally exhausted. I’m pretty sure this is partially to do with the fact that the arguments get pretty heated but are completely devoid of any intellectual stimulation. I like getting in debates where people can barely hold themselves back from shouting, but when the other side is can do is produce neanderthalic grunts about how poor, weak women need to be protected I lose my shit.

Click Here to Read More..

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Should I even bother with GREs?

For me, "more free time" usually means "more time to worry about the future". I have a lot of things that I've previously put off worrying about, but now I have the time to worry about them. I need to book my driving examination because my licence expires in September. I need go to an optometrist because my prescription seems a bit off. I need to learn a particular statistical test so that I can wave possible results at my supervisors and possibly move along the writing of a manuscript. But lately what I've been thinking about the most is GREs.

I need to do the General GRE soon, probably in the spring. That means I have to start studying and setting deadlines to motivate myself (I can't pick a specific date until I know what my exam schedule is like). I also need to start thinking whether I should do a Subject GRE. This is more problematic because I really don't know if it's worth bothering with. I'm confident that with a bit of prep I can do well on the General GRE, but I'm not so sure I can manage a decent score on either the Biochemistry, Cell, and Molecular Biology or the Biology test without a lot of studying. I've looked at past tests and the amount of detail that I would have to relearn is staggering. Additionally, I would need to learn about subjects that I have barely touched previously and will probably never really look at again in greater detail. None of this is that objectionable in principle, but the time I would have to put in is insane. It is especially insane when I my plans for the summer include doing research and taking a course.

Taking a Subject GRE seems even more pointless when most of the schools I've looked at in the US only recommend taking one but don't require it and Canadian schools couldn't give a rat's ass about GREs at all. What I want to know is if there is actually any significant benefit to taking a Subject GRE and doing well. And if there is some advantage, does it outweigh the cost I pay in time and anxiety?

Right now I'm leaning towards not bothering, but I'm open to changing my mind.

Click Here to Read More..


I've been keeping somewhat off the internet for the past 2 weeks due to assignment and exam insanity. Now, I'm officially done with this semester. This means that, aside from the 12 to 20 (+ 4 to 9 hours it takes to defrost the car, dig it out of the snow, get to the subway, and finally arrive at work) hours a week I spend at work, I'm free. I'm not quite sure what to do with all this newly found spare time, but I've come up with one plan to occupy some of my time: I'm challenging myself to make at least one blog post a day.

So far I haven't posted much and I've used the excuse of not having time when the problem is that I'm not in the habit of actually thinking about blogging or even remembering to post. I'd really like to get in the habit of posting because I like it and I have gotten some good advice in previous posts. So hopefully, forcing myself to do it for the next 3 weeks will work.


On a slightly related topic: I'm trying to find a decent blogging client. This is the only thing I've missed since I made the switchover from Livejournal* and I can't find anything that looks good and is free.

*Lies. I actually really miss the drama and the trolls and the amount of insanely stupid people posting

Click Here to Read More..

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

CV woes

Confused about CVs? Well, so was I the first time I had to write one. After writing, re-writing, and updating my CV several times, I think I have more of a clue as to what I’m doing. For the most part, I’ve figured out what sections work for me and what to write in each one. But, there is still one part I do spend quite a bit of time agonizing over: Lab skills.

It shouldn’t be hard. I’ve taken 1 lab course and 6 courses with lab components, so I do have things to write down. I just don’t know how much of it needs to be written down. My peers have told me that I should write every goddamn thing I can come up with and even marginally justify writing down because getting that lab position is a goddamn competition and I need to be as impressive as I can manage. I’m not quite sure this is the best way to about things and at times it would probably border on lying. Sure, I got to do Technique X one time in my Biology of A class, but that doesn’t mean I could actually do it again independently. I would have no problem writing this down if I knew that whoever is going to be looking at my CV reads it as “LostMarbles has a clue about Technique X and has tried to do it.” But I can never be sure, which makes me question whether I should add certain things.

Another thing that I worry about is listing skills like pipetting. Yeah, I can do it, but so can every other life science undergrad past their 2nd year. An isn’t it implied that I can pipette if I can list techniques that obviously require it? It seems like a waste of space. On the other hand, whoever is reading my CV is probably scanning for keywords, and that might just be one.

tl;dr version: I wish I knew how Professors look at undergraduate lab skills sections on CVs. Anyone feel like helping me out here?

As an added bonus this year, I also get to agonize over whether I should list the 4 submitted meeting abstracts that I’m an author on. And if I do, what section should I put them on.

Click Here to Read More..

Saturday, November 22, 2008


While a sizable chunk of the 12 to 25-year-old female population probably went to see Twilight this weekend, I decided that I’d skip the sparkly vampires and go watch some opera.

The Metropolitain Opera does this really cool thing, were it broadcasts their operas live in HD to some movie theatres. This is pretty goddamn awesome as it cuts out all the things that make me not go to watch opera (dressing up and cost, but I also get subtitles which is a huge plus).

Today they were showing La Damnation de Faust. I can’t comment on the music or the quality of the performance in greater detail than to say that it was enjoyable, OMG was Susan Graham amazing as Marguerite, and the amount of choral music was a huge bonus. What I can talk about is the amazing staging of the opera, particularly in regard to the technology used.

The stage was set up as a multi-storey grid of sorts with projections. During the intermission they gave us a quick rundown of how it was all done, which is where it gets really cool. They set the stage up so that there are two “walls” with images projected onto them and the singers in between. The projections would change in accordance to the movement of characters and the music, but it wasn’t some preset sequence. No, according to the explanations given, they used infra-red detection among other things to actually have the projected images react to the body heat of the singers. This was used to very good effect after “Nature immense, impénétrable et fière” when Mephistopheles tells Faust that Marguerite killed her mother. The scene has a background of trees and as Mephistopheles approaches Faust the trees lose their leaves and die. Really ominous looking stuff and very fitting.

Click Here to Read More..

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Situational Awareness and Snow

We had our first real snowfall of the season last night, but i didn't get to enjoy it until the morning when I was done with my lab reports and was getting ready to leave. Looking out my window I noticed everything was white and pretty.I grabbed my camera, opened the window, stuck half my torso out, and snapped a few photos.

Then it hit me. I was wearing nothing but a bra. Situational awareness, I need me some of that.

Click Here to Read More..

I survived?

I wasn’t planning on writing anything as I’ve been “awake” for over 36 hours, but I managed to catch a nap on the bus ride home (before the burly transit cop woke me up to check my ticket). My week has been pretty hellish, but it’s over and I managed to pull it off.

Monday started off with the first of my two presentations. I managed not to have a nervous breakdown and I was told my presentation was good, but I remember nothing between when I tripped going up and when the question period began so I can’t comment.

Tuesday was my second presentation. Unlike Monday’s presentation, I can actually remember this one. Not to say that it was that bad. As presentations go for me it was actually pretty good. I was too exhausted to actually be nervous and due to a fuck up with the projector remote I got to present from off to the side near the projector.

I also got asked a fucking stupid question. It wasn’t even the usual stupid question were the person hasn’t been listening to anything you said and wants you give your talk again in the minute or so you have to answer. No, it was the kind that made you question whether the person managed to pass first year biology. Grr!

As, to why I didn’t sleep... I had two lab reports to hand in today :(

But I’m done. I’m done. I’m done.

Now all that’s left to do is:
  1. Lit review for writing class: draft needs to be finished by Wednesday and it’s due December 1st
  2. Paper review for developmental biology: due December 2nd
  3. Anthropology paper: due December 2nd
  4. Study for anthropology test on December 2nd
  5. Microarray poster: draft due on December 1st, poster session on December 4th
  6. Study for my one exam
I can manage, right?

Click Here to Read More..

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Click Here to Read More..

Friday, November 14, 2008

I've been tagged Eugenie

The rulez:

~Complete meme and post.
~Email the person who tagged you to let them know it's up.
~Tag 5 others and email/comment to tell them so.

5 things I was doing 10 years ago: (I was 10! How am I supposed to remember this?)
1. Playing Pokemon
2. Collecting Pokemon cards
3. Adjusting to my new school
4. Starting to think chemistry was cool
5. Not doing my homework -_-

5 things on my To-Do List Today
1. Finish slides for Monday presentation
2. Get through at least 4 of the 20 articles I need to read
3. Finish introduction for the lab report I have due on Monday
4. Try to download the results of my microarray lab
5. Get more than 6 hours of sleep

5 snacks I love:
1. Dry crushed ramen noodles with a bit of the seasoning sprinkled in
2. Dark chocolate M&Ms
3. Smarties
4. Tangerines
5. Ketchup chips

5 things I would do if I were a millionaire:
1. I’d stop worrying about money
2. Travel. I’ve never been to Europe (excluding Russia) for more than 2 days.
3. Own more cats
4. Donate what I can to interesting research
5. Buy a place to live, preferably not a house.

5 places I've lived:
1. Leningrad/St. Petersburg, Russia
2. Rehovot, Israel
3. Some kibbutz in Israel
4. Toronto, Canada
5. Suburb of Toronto

5 jobs I've had:
1. Worked at the Art Gallery of Ontario keeping little kids from swallowing beads and eating plastacine
2. Tutoring grade school science and math
3. Intern at a Clinical Research Organization, doing bitch-work and playing solitaire
4. Research Assistant in a Developmental Psych Lab (where I realised that all the cool psych stuff in the world could not compensate for a lack of cool bio)
5. Research Assistant in statistics at Clinical Research Organization

5 people I'll tag:
:( I'm not sure I could manage 5 people, so I won't even try :P

Click Here to Read More..

Things that make me anxious and sad

I’m not generally a very anxious person. I’ve learned not to worry about things I can’t change and to do something about things I can. However, no matter how hard I try, there’s at least one area where I have trouble applying this: public speaking. I’ve tried almost all the advice given to me (practice, move around, DON’T USE NOTES) and while I’ve probably become a much better speaker than I was in my high school days of stammering and “umm”-ing, I still can’t stop feeling nauseous or keep my hands from shaking. I don’t know what to do anymore.

I have two short presentations to give next week. I’m not at all excited. I’ve jokingly told my friends that I’ll need either plenty of alcohol or a valium to get through the two presentations without at least one session of huddling in the bathroom crying, but I’m not sure I was just joking.

And just to keep this post from being all whiny and annoying, here’s an article from The Onion that one of my professors posted after we finished two weeks of rodent behaviour labs yesterday.

Click Here to Read More..

Sunday, November 9, 2008

In which I butcher Comrade PhysioProf’s recipe

As lazy as I am with food on weekdays (1), I try to make an effort to cook decently on weekends because I enjoy it. So when my mom bought some salmon yesterday, I decided that it would make yummy food, I must cook it, and I’m tired of my usual soy + lime + red pepper preparation. I also remembered Comrade PhysioProf’s really awesome sounding fish course from his and Dr. Isis’s Recipe War.

However, being that I’m not particularly fond of following exact recipes (2) and I’m using a different fish, I decided that I could just fuck around with the recipe a bit.


3 250 - 300g salmon fillet (3)
3 Tbsp. rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. grated ginger
3 tsp. sesame oil
½ cup white miso
¼ cup mirin
1 tsp. orange zest
2 tbsp. orange juice

100g dry soba noodles
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
6 Tbsp. mirin

Combine all the ingredients listed under Salmon in a bowl or other vessel to get the following:

Marinate, in the fridge, for at least 30 minutes. I’m sure Comrade PhysioProf would suggest drinking, but it’s 2 in the afternoon and I already killed my weekly allowance of heptaocytes yesterday (4). Instead, I was treated to half an hour of a Russian Cash Cab (5).

When half an hour of torture is through, take your salmon fillets and spread them out on a foil covered baking sheet (6).

Broil it at 450 ⁰F for 10 minutes on the middle rack and then for 5 minutes, or until slightly charred, on the top rack. You’ll get the following:

For the noodles, just follow Comrade PhysioProf’s recipe. Soba and somen cook the same way, but soba is yummier.

Enjoy! And don’t forget to go thank Comrade PhysioProf for a simple recipe that still works after fucking with some of the ingredients.


(1)I’ve lived close to a week on instant ramen, even when I wasn’t broke
(2)Exceptions are made for baking, as I’ve seen recipes get fucked by stupid alterations.
(3)Skin on would be awesome, but not necessary
(4)I might write more on this later, but it a bit embarrassing and involves me being a total geek
(5)This is not a pleasant experience. In fact, there are very few things on Russian TV stations that is pleasant.
(6)Seriously, use the foil, it makes cleaning up a million times easier.

Click Here to Read More..

Friday, November 7, 2008


I mentioned yesterday that I was planning to take a short trip. I did and it was a very short trip. In fact, it was only about a kilometre from where I’m sitting at right now at Gerstein Library. I went to do something that, to my great embarrassment, I haven’t done until now: donate blood.

It was neither as time consuming or bad as I imagined it would be and I think I might start doing it as often as I can remember.

If you’re in Canada, check out Canadian Blood Services to find out if you’re eligible to donate and where you can do so. It’s pretty important that people do give blood and it’s a good way of helping someone out even when you’re an almost broke student. Plus you get juice, cookies and an awesome pin (as pictured below).

Click Here to Read More..

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Should students have their marks publically posted for thier own good?

I’ve been a bit remiss in regards to posting because I’ve had a lull in school work and I’ve been catching up on sleep. However, when catching up on my blog reading I ran into this post on Sandwalk where Larry Moran asks whether (ignoring the legalities) it would be a good idea to publically post student marks along with names.

His answer:
I like the idea of publishing student's names and grades because it helps make them take responsibility for their activities at university. Very few people agree with me. They all think that a student has a right to privacy.

I’m one of those people who disagree. And it’s not because I would personally object to having my marks displayed with my name. I just don’t see a good argument for doing it.

Larry’s rationale posting marks with names doesn’t make any sense to me. I don’t know what he means by taking “responsibility for their activities at university”. What responsibility and for which activities? Based on the comments, I’m assuming that he means taking studies seriously and putting forth a decent attempt at studying. In which case, I’m not buying it at all.

I don’t buy that argument, mostly based on my high school experiences (yes, I know it’s just anecdata). My high school, while not outright listing marks, used to manage to get pretty close to publically announcing everybody’s grades. They did this by having an awards ceremony were students would be given awards for their grades. The awards were so neatly segregated and there were quite a few different one that you would know what everyone got within 5-10%. Additionally, since my school was so small everybody pretty much knew each other’s marks precisely. And, frankly, I don’t remember caring much outside the hour or so we sat through the awards (and even then not much). But this is just my experience, and my high school experience at that.

However, even assuming publishing student marks helped motivate people to be responsible, I don’t see why it should be done at university. I assumed that when I went to university that I’d become responsible for my own successes and failures (like any adult), but if Larry Moran is right I can’t manage that. No, I have to be socially humiliated and shamed (admit it that’s all this argument amounts to) into responsibility.


P.S. I'll try to make a few more posts in the next couple of days. In fact, depending on whether I end up taking a short trip tomorrow I might have a post up in the afternoon.

Click Here to Read More..

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Introductions make me uncomfortable

I’m really very bad at introducing myself. I’m never quite sure what other people want to know about me. But since I don’t live my life as a hermit I’ve managed to pick up enough tricks to at least make an attempt.

The first thing I guess you want to know is my name, which is Lost Marbles. This is either a pseudonym or the result of having truly cruel parents, I’ll let you decide. Some other pertinent information is that I’m 20, female, and from Toronto (do u want 2 cyber?). I’m also a third year undergraduate student at the University of Toronto , studying life sciences (1). You should probably take note of that last one as it’s likely to come up pretty often at this blog.

This is probably also the point at which I explain why I’m keeping a blog. Mostly it’s to try and keep me writing. I’ve never really been confident in my writing abilities, but I have been told I’m not as bad as I imagine myself to be and after taking a writing course this semester I'm starting to believe that might be true. So, since I'm not so terrible that anything I write must not see the light of day and I remember a few cliches about practicing and perfecting things, I'm giving this a try.

Hopefully, this attempt at blogging will be more successful then past attempts. It would be a bit sad if I’m still as boring and filled with teenage angst as I was at fourteen.


1. I’d be more specific, but I’d like to at least pretend that I can manage pseudonymity

Click Here to Read More..