For my “found poem” I used a page that mainly talked about the majesty and rarity of the forest, so what I made of that was a poem, telling of humans coming into this world, but not being the first ones there. Trees and forests had been around for centuries and millenniums, so the first humans to encounter these beasts must have felt so small and infantile. You can read it here:
Woohoo the last blog post! And just as things are picking up too! As has everyone, I’ve been very busy for the past two weeks, meaning I haven’t had time to see my mentor Cari, however I still have been able to go to classes where I’ve had a few conversations with the instructor. I’ve become increasingly comfortable in the class, and we’ve begun moving onto more challenging things. I’m really excited to be seeing my improvement and where I’ll be by the end of May if I keep up my practicing. I’ve mastered many of the steps I learned near the beginning of my lessons and I’ve started working on a few specific steps I’ve had trouble with. These would be Toe Stands and Double Pull Backs. They are challenging in their own rights, but mostly because they involve jumping so it is difficult to slow them down and increase speed as I usually do when practicing. This is a challenge I’ve had to overcome, so in talking with my instructor she told me I could sit down while doing it, and when I’m comfortable enough, try it freestanding.
As for my actual mentor, we’ve been talking about meeting again to begin choreographing a dance for my in-depth performance. (It’s only a month away wow!) But because of our equally busy schedules, it’s been difficult to find a time. This meeting will happen probably next weekend, or the one after. To prepare for this, I’ve been told to continue practicing individual steps, as well as listen to music that might work as something I’d dance too.
As for this week’s De Bono task, the only real concept that I have to work on is practicing. Of course, there are many ways to practice- so those would be the strategies and alternatives.
- The most obvious one to me, is to continue working hard in my classes, and making the most out of my time there. (Asking questions and not taking shortcuts.) From here I can work on the steps I find challenging at home, repetition is key!
- As I said many posts ago, my instructor told me it’s valuable to look at videos on youtube of tutorials for different steps. By doing that I can diversify my range of steps in a way that I couldn’t in my one hour class.
- My real mentor told me to listen to songs and imagine myself dancing to those songs, as well as to just play around and improvise. I do this to prepare for my meeting with her, as well as to just spend time in my tap shoes.
For my chemistry project I got to spend a day at my dad’s workplace, a company called CDRD (The Centre for Drug Research and Development). It’s in the UBC campus, so it was quite a lengthy commute, however once I got there it was very fun and interesting.
The building itself is shared with UBC and the Pharmacy faculty. CDRD takes up one floor, while the others are used for teaching or lecturing. The floor occupied by CDRD was split in two with one being for the chemistry people and one for the biology people. (Not unlike our class) There is a bridge connecting the two sides, and my dad told me they had it built because of the frequent collaboration of the two departments.
As it turns out, there is A LOT that goes into making drugs! In my “tour” my dad showed me through the entire process of drug development that goes like this:
The Drug Process
Target validation → Chemistry ⇆ Screening → Formulation → Pharmacology → Clinical Trials → FDA/Health Canada → Market
First off: target validation. A target, in the words of the CDRD website is “defined as molecular structures that interact specifically with drugs to treat a disease.” In other words, a cell in a human body that needs treatment. The scientists in this department work to find whether or not these proposed targets really do need treatment. These targets become the basis of many years, or many decades worth of research and experimentation. Once a target has been “validated” it gets handed over to the chemists who create thousands of different molecules to test on the target. This takes place in a large lab where the chemists work at stations like these:
There are many machines throughout the labs used for dealing with molecules such as the HPLC (High Performance Liquid Chromatography) machine which separates components of a mixture, as well as the Rotovap which separates liquids and solids by boiling.
When testing the molecules they look to find one that will “latch” on to, or interact with the target. This is a way of narrowing down which chemicals the company will use its resources to investigate. This screening process is very tedious and honestly, not very exciting at all, so that’s why they don’t employ anyone for this job! In their stead there are 4 robots that perform the screening process all day without break.
Once a molecule is found to have successfully “latched” onto the target, it is given to the formulation department to formulate it into a testable drug. Formulation uses machines which resemble cooking equipment. My dad told me that “making drugs is just like making food!” There are grinders and blenders, centrifuges and equipment for measuring particles.
Once there are multiple prototypes of the drug made, the pharmacology people take it and do further testing to make sure it would work in a practical sense. Pharmacology means they are concerned with the uses, effects, and modes of action of drugs. I will go more in-depth about what exactly they do in this department later on, but what’s important to know now is that this is the last step in making a usable drug. What’s done in pharmacology is to make sure the drug is safe and effective.
Following this is the very lengthy process of clinical trials, or human trials. I will delve deeper into this later on, when I will be talking about a meeting I sat in on all about these trials.
Finally the last step of preparing drugs to be sold is to present to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and Health Canada. So that the government (both American and Canadian) knows that the drugs seeking approval for sale and safe they need to present lengthy documents proving they’re safe, as well as how they came to that conclusion through experimentation. These documents can be around 700 pages long, with most of that containing very detailed procedure on exactly what was done every step of the way.
If you’re still with me, that’s the entire drug process, from start to finish. If you, like I was, are overwhelmed with the amount of information, don’t worry I’ll break down the most important parts later on in this post.
Interview With Sweta Rajan (Training Manager)
After the tour I was brought down the a hallway of offices, where people were walking in and out in all directions. We stopped at one door and we went in. This was Sweta Rajan’s office, the training manager at CDRD. We got to talking about her life and how she got to where she is now.
Sweta grew up in India, where by grade 10 you need to know what career you want to go into. (oh boy) She told me she was always interested in being a teacher, because she was inspired by all her teachers she’d had before then. However, she was very strong in science, so without really asking, her father set her life course for her. Science is still a very male-dominated field in India. Growing up, the only working women she knew were teachers so pursuing a higher education was unprecedented and uncertain. She went to University in India, where she did her Undergraduate in Microbiology and Masters in Biotechnology.
After all this, she took the GRE exam to be able to go to school in America, and there she did her second Masters in Molecular Biology at Utah State University. After this began a “long and tiring” search for a job in California.
Sweta eventually got a job s a research associate in “acid development” for a company called BioChain. However, due to the market crash of 2008, she was laid off and thus began another hunt for a job. After having no luck in California, she moved up to Vancouver which was a very risky and scary thing to do seeing as she had no contacts or leads on jobs. She stayed with homestay family for a while until she landed a job at a company called Boreal Genomics in 2009.
There she spent two years purifying DNA to use for research, as well as working on analyzing specific parts of a gene using SNP (single nucleotide polymorphisms – a single mutation in a gene) For three years after this, Sweta was a member of a cancer panel, who focused on all types of cancer. Because of company restructuring in 2014, half of the employees at Boreal Genomics were laid off.
Doing things other than lab work for a while made Sweta realize she didn’t want to stay doing the same thing forever. She figured she like to focus more on mentoring and training, as well as focussing on growth of companies. When she came to CDRD, Sweta said she came in with a goal.
“My goal is to make sure people have access to tools necessary to grow and join the industry.To enable people to be able to research drugs in Canada.”
Sweta’s responsibilities at the company are mainly to coordinate Co-op and PhD students who are working/studying at CDRD, and making sure they get the resources they need.
We talked more about me and my interests, and she recommended to me a competition called the Sanofi Biogenius Competition which is a science fair type competition for biotechnology. She told me even if I didn’t want to compete that I should still look into it (and I did) because there have been some amazing inventions that came out of it.
Our conversation was cut short when my dad came in to get me for another meeting he was letting me sit in on.
Clinical Study Meeting
If I’m going to be quite honest, I didn’t understand half of what was being said during this meeting. It consisted of my dad and another man, on the phone with two others discussing how they are going to approach a clinical study (human trial) as well as communications with FDA.
Some background: the drug they are discussing is a longer lasting insulin drug that a diabetic would take at night before they go to sleep, and would have no need to wake up and check, or re-administer. They hope that if it’s successful, that they could decrease the amount of deaths caused by having a hypoglycemic event (low blood sugar cause damage to brain and body) while asleep.
In this meeting, they were outlining three phases of the clinical study. The first would consist of healthy male volunteers and they would be testing the drug for safety (making sure there are no adverse reactions) as well as how well the drug is spread throughout the body. They will use multiple ascending doses to find the optimum dosage for maximum safety and maximum efficiency. The second phase will include male and female diabetic patients, and this time they will be testing the effectiveness of the actual drug. The goal is to see a clear decrease in frequency of hypoglycemic events. Finally the third phase will have a broader view of variables (more diversity in health, age, body type) and they will be looking at drug-drug interactions, as well as effectiveness again.
The second half of the meeting was talking about preparing to present to FDA for marketing approval. The two main things needed to be included are that there is proof that there is no increase in severity of hypoglycemic events or mortality, as well as evidence of effectiveness and safety. (Large report I was talking about earlier.)
This of course is all “dumbed down” because there was a lot happening that I couldn’t have possibly understood at my level of knowledge. Fortunately this meeting ended soon enough and I got to go to lunch!
Analytical Chemistry Lab
The rest of my day I got to spend time in a couple different labs. The first was the analytical chemistry lab (What my dad is in charge of!) I didn’t mention this department in the “drug process” part because analytical chemistry is more about catching mistakes and verifying findings throughout the process, especially concerning the chemists. They test for correct concentrations and compositions, and use both quantitative and qualitative properties to analyze compounds. The machines used in this lab are for analyzing light absorption (UV-Vis), as well as understanding the composition of a drug (HPLC) and weight (scales precise to 1/1000 – 1/10000 the mass of a hydrogen atom).
I got to spend time with one of the lab techs there, and she showed me what she does, on a dumbed down scale of course. For this experiment we used the HPLC and UV-Vis machines to find what an unknown substance actually is.
We began with 2 dyes one was green (tartazine) and the other was blue (unknown). Next I used a digital pipette (super cool) to dilute the dye solutions with 1/1000 concentration of 90% water and 10% ACN (diluent). We then transferred the samples to the HPLC/UV-Vis machine (they’re connected) and ran it through them. It first isolated the dyes by use of chromatography, then the UV-Vis machine shot light with different wavelengths (in the UV and visible light range) at the compounds to see what they would absorb.
Different compounds absorb different wavelengths of light, so if the substance was pure we would see one wavelength of light being absorbed, but if not, it may be harder to determine. Below are the graphs representing how much light each compound absorbed, measured in absorption units, and at which wavelength.
Using these “absorption maximas” we can determine the compounds by doing some research.
As expected Tartrazine (green) has a maximum absorbance of 625nm, we weren’t too far off! The closest compound I could find to the blue dye was bromothymol blue, which has a maximum absorbance of 602nm. It could be that, but just have decomposed a little bit, or it could be another dye all together.
As I mentioned briefly earlier, the pharmacology labs are where drugs get tested for effectiveness and safety. One of the main aspects to this is pharmacokinetics, or how drugs move through the body. They do this by creating a cellular membrane to replicate intestines, and test to know how quickly drugs can pass through into the bloodstream. This is call “cell passaging”.
This all begins with creating a cell membrane. One of the co-op students that was working in this lab took me with him to a smaller room with a couple fridges, a few microscopes and a bunch of machines I didn’t recognize. First he brought out a bottle filled with red liquid and told me this is where the cells are being grown. The red liquid, or media, is present to “deactivate” the cells, because otherwise they’d be eating into themselves for nutrients, but that’s counterproductive to what they are trying to do with the cells. The media needs to be replaced every 3-4 days, so using a bunch of tools under a fume hood, he extracted all the liquid, but left behind the cell membrane, and then replaced it with new media.
He then brought the container over to a machine called a Vi-Cell machine, which checks for “viable cells”. How this works is that all the cells are dyed, but only the dead ones absorb it, because of their weak cellular membrane, and the machine can then count how many are dead, and how many are alive. The dead ones are washed away, and once there are enough living cells, testing can begin.
The cells are placed over a container, in a way that’s comparable to a coffee filter over a cup, where the cells are the filter, and the drugs are the coffee. They then time to see how long it would take for the drugs to make it through the membrane.
So I’d say all in all, it was a really fun and educational day, and I’m really happy I got the opportunity to learn about what my dad is doing on the day to day and about a future career option for me.
Throughout this unit of pre-confederation history I don’t think it was brought up once how BC was affected by this monumental decision. My question on the matter is what was happening in BC? Secondly, using all the facts we have now to make a judgement in hindsight, was confederation a good decision for BC to have made? I chose this topic simply because of curiosity, we never learned about it, so as a resident of this fair province I’d like to know how we began. I think it’s important for me to take this on because, as an autonomous learner I have the opportunity to take control of my learning and decide what’s best for me in a unique situation. In this case, my unique situation is my lack of knowledge on the subject and the ability to share my findings with peers who share my baseline level of understanding.
My first post this year for socials was about taking perspective and empathy. In this document of learning I’ll be tackling both these ideas as I investigate multiple groups of people during this time and their interactions leading up to confederation and beyond.
The topic I’d like to start with is the one that all this started with: the first nations people living here before the colonists came. There’s evidence that people lived in the BC area for over 10,000 years, and in that time they made great progress in technology and trade. We know, however that this didn’t last forever. I won’t go into the details of colonization because everyone reading this already knows what happened. After years of sharing the land with the aboriginal people (sharing is a generous word), BC decided to go ahead and join confederation. They made this decision without contacting the aboriginal people who still lived in affected areas. They gave aboriginal people no choice in their future, so this is one of the first steps to the road of cultural genocide that Canada travelled down.
Now the reason BC joined confederation so late, or even joined at all, was a mystery to me. It turns out I had all the information, I just needed to connect the dots. Because of the gold rushes in the mid-late 1800s, thousands of miners were coming up from America and flooding the small settlements there. Throughout this James Douglas, the governor of Vancouver Island, was negotiating treaties with aboriginal people of BC. But when the gold rush hit, he had to account for this huge influx in citizenship fast. This of course wasn’t simple, as Douglas himself said: “To create a great social organization, with all it’s civil, judicial, and military establishments, in a wilderness of forests and mountains, is a herculean task.”
There was already a legislative council in Victoria, but to have more direct action, he strived for a separate executive council to serve the mainland. On this subject: Jean Barman, author of “The West Beyond the West: A History of British Columbia” said the following.
“In spite of these budding institutions, Douglas relied primarily on his own judgement and authority. His three priorities were to protect the two colonies’ boundaries, uphold law and order, and provide access to the gold-fields.”
As British Columbia grew and grew the government became more stressed as they now need to account for thousands more. They were racking up debt and were, in essence, desperate. But luckily, a shining light from the east arrived, and it was called Confederation. By this time the eastern colonies have all joined together by confederation, but it had just reached the West coast. In 1871 British Columbia, fairly unanimously, decided to join confederation official, and it was signed off on July 20th of that year. One of the conditions was a route from BC to the rest of Canada, but in it’s stead Canada offered to build a railway. It was completed years later, but it was an important step in the development of BC as it brought wealth from the east.
In conclusion the road to confederation in BC was a long and windy one, but I believe it was worth it in the end. It brought funds over to kickstart the rapid development of BC that we are still seeing evidence of today. It also prevent the probable American annexation of Canada, which, let’s face it: would’ve sucked. It is important to remember though that none of this came without a price. The aboriginal peoples of Canada were not involved in the slightest, yet suffered the most from the decisions made.
The questions I have from here are more hypothetical and action-oriented. What could we as a country have done to minimize our negative impact on Aboriginal peoples? (Hint hint ask them how they feel about things that affect them.) And what can we do about it now?
March 9th, 1866,
I miss one conference and I come back to this stink hole.
I’ve been hearing the rumours that the governments of the colonies are wanting to unify under some deal called “confederation”, but in all honesty; I never thought it would get this far. My fishing duties prevented me from attending the Charlottetown conference, where this plan was initially proposed. I didn’t think it was a big deal until now. Charles Tupper is planning to force Confederation through legislature and I cannot stand for this. It is a misuse of elected power; the people don’t want confederation, yet Tupper is willing to shove those concerns aside to push himself farther along in this big mess of politics.
I’ve been hearing plans of a London Conference, where delegates will present their cases to the Queen of why they want Confederation. Well if there’s one thing I know is where simple protest and vocal disagreement fails, secrecy and sneakiness triumphs. While other groups are rallying outside I will have men on the inside dismantling this crooked organization. My delegates will argue against Confederation and hopefully halt it. It is a risky and far-fetched plan, but it’s our only option now.
Until next Time,
It’s been a quiet few weeks since the last post, but I have been quite busy! Despite not having tap classes for three weeks during spring I tried my best to keep up my tap practicing at home. I spent about 30-45 minutes a week practicing. During that time I worked on a few specific steps.
- Pull backs.I had a lot of difficulty with this in the classes, partly because I didn’t have much time in class to practice it repetitively, and partly because this step is just very hard.
- Cramp rolls. Easy in theory, but hard in practice. To do this step you need to start slow and work up to very fast, so I spent some time doing this and I feel a lot more comfortable with it.
Aside from this I’ve been researching tap dance by watching videos of tap dancers from youtube and movies. I watched people such as Maddie Ziegler, a young talented tap dancer, and Fred Astaire and the old classics. It gave me an insight on how I can practice effectively and how I should aim to choreograph my dance for In-Depth night.
I met with my mentor Cari again over spring break to talk about the future of our meetings and the process of choreographing my dance. As per the task of Ms Mulder’s blog post, I took notes during one of our conversations. The images from my notebook are below.
I think the first part of our conversation fits under the “green hat” because it is about making a plan using previous information to formulate ideas and plans to put into place. As Cari said, she will be there for advice and guidance, but most of the work will be on me at home improvising to songs I’ve selected. (As I talked about in my last post.) It will be a very different process than I’m used to but I think it will work out well.
The second part, involving the challenges to the steps made in the first part, would fall under the black hat because this is about identifying the weak points and finding solutions for them. An example of this is the fact that as a beginner my range of skill is quite small, so to get up to a point in which I can perform without embarrassing myself I will need to practice at home a lot more than I currently am, focussing on moves I’m either uncomfortable with or unfamiliar with altogether.
The final hat of this conversation is the red one. Cari was telling me about her past in dance and how she can relate to my situation. It was a more personal part of the conversation because it was her actual life experience not just suggestions.
So moving forward, I will continue to work on my tapping abilities at Caulfield School of Dance, and at home where I will be practicing more with steps I’m not as comfortable with, and finally setting more meetings with Cari to make this vision a reality!
Until next time!
Picking up where I left off last time, I still seem to be on the first stage of “fake it till you make it”. I’m still seeing a steady increase in my skills and coordination, each and every week I feel more confident in the class. I definitely think the home practice is paying off, but I still am a long way from being able to perform on my own. I’m not the only one who noticed this either, Hailley approached me after the class and she said she could tell I was improving and asked if I had any more questions. This gave me an opportunity to get some more information on what I need to know to be able to perform. Again, I asked her what I’d need to do to be ready to perform something in May, and she said simply: “Keep practicing.” There are no shortcuts, and I knew this from the start, so I asked how I could practice effectively. She told me that her method when she was just beginning was to just “have fun with it” and to improvise as much as possible.
“This is the basis of creating your own dance; becoming comfortable with yourself, becoming confident in your abilities and above all else, spending time in your tap shoes.” This really resonated with me because up until then my focus has been on repeating and replicating pre-existing steps and combinations. So the idea of finally being able to make this more my own excited me.
It’s still a while until I meet with Cari formally for the first time, so until then I’ll just keep practicing and improvising, essentially until I get on stage to perform.
November 18th, 1855,
Though my political situation at the moment is less than favourable, it does not diminish the achievements of my past, nor the prospects of my future. It all began years ago when I was the editor at the Novascotian. I was investigating the local government and police when I stumbled upon something I needed to share with the people. The Nova Scotian provincial government was pocketing money, and taking bribes. I couldn’t stand by with this information so I wrote an article condemning the actions of my government which were illegal, immoral and unethical. The article gained a lot of attention very quickly, so much in fact that I was taken to court. However I knew I was right and I wasn’t ready to roll over and let them get away with it. I prepared my case and after over six hours of debate, the jury agreed with me and let me off scot free.
From then, my popularity took me places I hadn’t thought of before. I ran for office and joined the legislative assembly, spearheaded the campaign for a responsible government (leading to a duel that I won) and began the campaign for a railway. These responsibilities took up most of my time and for that reason, and that reason alone I lost the re-election a month ago to Charles Tupper. But I plan to come back and bring a responsible government with me.
– Champion of the People, Joseph Howe
Author: Gordon S Wood
This book explains how what we perceive to be true in the American Revolution could be skewed. The author believes that we tend to not see the American Revolution as a true revolution, which is typically fronted by an “angry, passionate, reckless” leader, not a handful of diplomatic white men. The author suggests we see this revolution as the most effective and influential in recent history. No economical classes were toppled, and no one was beheaded, but the change is very evident in the people. How people connect with each other and put aside their differences, for the most part.
If we measure the radicalism of revolutions by the degree of social misery or economic deprivation suffered, or by the number of people killed or manor houses burned, then this conventional emphasis on the conservatism of the American Revolution becomes true enough. But if we measure the radicalism by the amount of social change that actually took place—by transformations in the relationships that bound people to each other—then the American Revolution was not conservative at all; on the contrary: it was as radical and as revolutionary as any in history. Of course, the American Revolution was very different from other revolutions. But it was no less radical and no less social for being different. In fact, it was one of the greatest revolutions the world has known, a momentous upheaval that not only fundamentally altered the character of American society but decisively affected the course of subsequent history.
- Gordon S Wood, The Radicalism of the American Revolution – pg 5
Usually the way we talk about the cultural genocide of indigenous Canadians, it from a sympathetic standpoint. Sympathy is a good thing, it shows that we care, but to declare yourself to be a witness, and not only acknowledge what happened but dedicate yourself to reconciliation between our two cultures, that is active empathy. Expressing empathy is a much deeper, vulnerable and personal action. As Dr. Brené Brown said, “Empathy is a choice and it’s a vulnerable choice. In order to connect with you, I have to connect with something in myself that knows that feeling. Rarely, if ever, does an empathic response begin with, ‘At least…’”. So to show empathy to indigenous Canadians we need to understand their struggles from their point of view, not one we come up with ourselves.
The interruption of cultural transmission is one of the most devastating things to occur in a culture or community, especially one like the indigenous Canadians whose culture and tradition is passed almost exclusively orally. My goal is to be able to understand this event in a way that is applicable to me, and to those like me who have grown up in a culture and community that was never really threatened by outside forces. What is the role cultural transmission plays in our culture in modern Canada and what would happen should that transmission be interrupted?
As I said earlier, the cultural transmission in modern Canada is a lot less obvious than that of indigenous Canadians. Wikipedia says; “[Cultural transmission] is the way a group of people or animals within a society or culture tend to learn and pass on information. Learning styles are greatly influenced by how a culture socializes with its children and young people.” The ways we pass our ideals, traditions or knowledge is our form of cultural transmission. This is very evident through our school system, family units, government, and media. In our families, and in public we, as young people, are constantly being told what to think. It’s not always a bad thing because most of the time the things we’re being told are good, but that is what our cultural transmission looks like.
We learn our values, social tendencies, even how to speak within our families. In our modern culture our families are typically very self-contained, and diverse from one another. In cases of adoption children feel out of place in a new home. In a way the residential schools, and ‘60s Scoop” was forced adoption. Children were taken from their families and put in an unfamiliar environment where their values weren’t represented, their language was banned, and all their support systems were dismantled. As it was for them, it would be devastating to us if this happened in our culture. Our beliefs and values, whatever they are, would in this case be banned and after a while would be extinguished.
This really makes me sad, because as a Christian, my religion is very important to me, and with that comes my beliefs and values. If that was taken from my life I don’t know what I’d do. Coming at this issue from an empathetic level has greatly changed my perspective on this issue. It is a lot more real to me this way, and though I’ll never truly understand this without experience, I’m happy I’ve found a way I can connect with their struggles.
As for education: the aboriginal people didn’t have everything in their lives separate. They learned in the same place that they practiced their spirituality, ate and met. So to remove individuals from their nation would be to remove them from their education. To remove us from our education system would be preventing us from learning to read and write; basic skills in today’s world. We wouldn’t get music, math, sciences, health or history. Our scope of knowledge would be severely cut down and all that we know now could either be replaced with something harmful or just completely non-existent. I am very privileged to be allowed to go to school and learn things everyday to help me advance in the world.
Our government and legal system shapes our lives in huge ways. It’s from them we’re given our rights, which allow us to live our lives safely and comfortably. To have that dismantled would be chaos for us, and would make rebuilding so much harder.
Truthfully, it wasn’t until I started contemplating this that I realised how devastating this really was. It couldn’t possibly have been easy for aboriginal Canadians to get to where they are now, and won’t be easy to get to where they need to be. I truly hope that with this new goal in Canada’s consciousness the aboriginal people of Canada will be able to have peace soon enough.