Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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And speaking of my 101 list…

In addition to the epic road trip I told you about yesterday, there are a few other things that I’ve knocked off my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days.

52. cook a decent tasting Eggplant Parmesan

Thank goodness I said “decent” tasting and not “outstanding.” Because I finally gave Eggplant Parm a try and I think it turned out solidly in the “decent” realm, but I’ve had better. But it’s done and it gives me a baseline to compare when I try out other recipes!

Draining water from the eggplant:

Eggplant Parmesan

Coating the eggplant in breadcrumbs:


After frying1:

Eggplant Parmesan


Layering – layers of fried eggplant with homemade tomato sauce and various cheeses. How can you go wrong?

Eggplant Parmesan


The finished product:

Eggplant Parmesan

81. participate in five research projects

  1. I joined the BC Generations Project
  2. I completed the “Experiences of Exercise” study (three-part survey; Nov 18, 2012; Jan 10, 2013)
  3. Participated in the Equity Lens in Public Health project (12 Sept 2013)
  4. Mindfulness & Authentic Leadership study (13 Sept 13);
  5. participant in a project that is researching researchers with a particular type of research grant (2011-13)]

I’m also on the verge of signing up for a super cool studying on running, but that will be worth its own blog posting (or 7) if I end up joining (and as I participate in it – it’s 13 weeks long, so I figure that’s gotta be worth a few blog postings at least!).

100. print eight photos and put them in the photo frame that I bought ages ago that has been handing on my wall with the stock photos in it, because that really looks quite ridiculous the way it is

I’m particularly proud of having done this, since it was so ridiculous that I’d not done it for so long!

8 pictures in an 8-picture frame.Photos: Top row from left to right: My dad; Me, my mom, my Aunt Lynn, and my Aunt Eileen near a Tim Horton’s sign at a Spar gas station in Ireland; My niece holding my nephew on the day he was born; Nancy, Jeff, me, and Dan doing the CN Tower Edgewalk. Bottom row from left to right: Me and Dan about to embark on the Grouse Grind; My niece and I in Portland; My mom, Nancy, and me at the Empress Hotel in Victoria; My niece and nephew in Portland. 

For the record, this means I’ve now knocked 12 items off my 101 list in 2013. And you may recall that my goal for the year was to knock 13 items off my list, so I’m 12/13ths of the way there, and it’s only 5/6ths of the way through the year! Go me!


  1. This picture makes me think of this clip from the Simpsons. []


Research It!

Where in this case, the “it” is me!

Item #81 on my 101 list is: participate in five research projects (as a research subject, not a researcher) and I recently heard about a very cool research project called the BC Generations Project that I’m eligible to participate in.

From their website:

“With five regional study teams and hundreds of thousands of Canadians participating, the project may help researchers better understand why some people develop cancer and other chronic diseases. The main funder of the Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow Project is theCanadian Partnership Against Cancer, with regional funders contributing additional paid and in-kind support.

In many cases, the known risk factors for cancer and other chronic diseases (such as heart disease or diabetes) are similar. By following a large group of people over a long period of time (known as a prospective cohort), this initiative will help researchers learn much more about how environment, lifestyle and genes contribute to both cancer and related chronic diseases.”

When you join up, you fill out a questionnaire about all sorts of lifestyle factors, family history, personal health history, etc. There’s also an option to go to an “assessment centre” where they will measure your bone density and body mass index1 and they may ask you for a blood and urine sample.

The project is slated to go on for 25 years (i.e., until 2037!), and the researchers will be contacting participants to do other assessments in the future, as well as tracking health care usage and such.

Being a science nerd such as I am, as well as someone who loves the fill out surveys, this gets me giddy. And knowing that I’m contributing to our understanding of the interaction of genes, lifestyle, and the environment on chronic diseases is just icing on the cake.

If you are between the ages of 35-69 and live in Canada, I encourage you to check it out and consider participating ((The link is to the BC Generations Project, but I’m sure you can find information about how to sign up in your province on their site somewhere.))!

Also, you can like them on Facebook and follow their tweets!

  1. BMI is calculated from height and weight, which you self-report in the questionnaire. But self-reports of height and weight aren’t always accurate (people tend to report themselves as taller and lighter than they are), so having it actually measured by a researcher gives better quality information. []


You can just call me the A.W.E.S.O.M.E. P.I.!

When asked what my blog is about, I usually find it easier to say what it’s not about. “I blog about everything except work and boys”1. Today, I’m making an exception to one of those rules – because really, rules were made to be broken, right?

So what is it that’s sooo important that I *just* have to blog about? Well, it’s a little thing called a “research grant.” A research grant that I won with my very own science-y brain thoughts, which I put to paper, along with a stellar team of colleagues2. The extra cool thing is – I’m the principal investigator! And I get to hire a research assistant! And do all sorts of fun research-y things! And I may or may not have written the title of my grant in such a way that the acronym spells A.W.E.S.O.M.E. Because, you know, it seemed like the thing to do.

Of course, getting a research grant is not all just fun and games. With great research grants comes great responsibility. My first responsibility is to fly to Edmonton on Wednesday to go to a workshop to meet other grantees and the funding agency and learn cool things to make my research project even awesomer than it already is! And then I come back, finalize my research plan and get researching! So exciting!

Did I ever mention how much I love my job?

  1. I mean, I blog about hockey hotties and suchlike, but not about actual boys that I actually date in my actual personal life. []
  2. I’ve actually known about the grant for some time now, but I wasn’t able to publicly announce it until all the ducks were lined up in a neat little row  – things like getting research ethics approval from my organization (You’ll be happy to know that I’ve been certified as ethical now!). So I’ve been bursting at the seams to be able to tell all y’all my big news! []


Café Scientifique: Old Drugs, Bad Bugs: Antibiotic Treatment of Lung Infections in Cystic Fibrosis – July 27 at the Railway Club

Just a quick plug for an upcoming Café Scientifique event:

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a fatal genetic disease that affects many Canadian children and young adults. Though CF is a multi-organ disease, chronic infection and inflammation of the lungs are particularly detrimental to health. Persons with CF can get infected with unusual bacteria that are hard to clear in part because they are, or become, highly resistant to antibiotics. Antibiotic treatment of airway infections in CF is further complicated by the fact that one class of antibiotics can cause resistance to another class, and some antibiotics can interfere with immune system processes. My research is focused on understanding how these “bad bugs” evade antibiotics, and the possible side-effects of chronic drug use.

Given that I’m playing in the Longest Game of Hockey specifically to raise money for, and awareness about, Cystic Fibrosis – and that Agatha happens to be a friend of mine – I really wish I could attend this but I have a hockey game that night. But I thought I’d pass along the info in case any of you are interested!

Date: Tuesday July 27th, 7:30pm
Location: Railway Club (579 Dunsmuir St)
Topic: Old Drugs, Bad Bugs: Antibiotic Treatment of Lung Infections in Cystic Fibrosis
Speaker: Agatha Jassem, from the Department of Pathology at UBC


Are YOU Prepared For The Zombie Uprising?

Zombies of BroadwayA few days ago, Dr. Dan alerted me to the work of a very important organization – The Zombie Research Society. The ZRS does the critical work of raising awareness and preparedness for the coming zombie apocalypse. In their words:

The Zombie Research Society (ZRS) is dedicated to raising the level of zombie scholarship in the Arts and Sciences. ZRS Members represent diverse backgrounds, interests, and theories, but are unified in their support of the Society’s three foundational principles:

1) A zombie is a biologically definable, animated being occupying a human corpse.

2) The zombie pandemic is coming. It’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when.

3) Enthusiastic debate about zombies is essential to the survival of the human race.

Naturally, given my work in zombie scholarship (see hereherehere, here, and here), I needed to know more about their work. Upon perusal of their website, I was shocked and horrified to discover that Vancouver does not have a chapter of the ZRS! In fact, Canada is woefully unprepared for the zombageddon, with only two chapters – one in my former home, the city of Hamilton, and the other in Calgary1. I guess I’d assumed that since there is a zombie walk in Vancouver every year, our officials were taking care of this. Clearly, I was gravely mistaken.

Thus, I’ve been in contact with the ZRS executive to determine what needs to be done to establish a Vancouver chapter. The requirements for a chapter of the ZRS include:

  1. Each local chapter has to have at least 3 lifetime ZRS members to act as the core leadership of the chapter. This includes a President, Vice President, and Sergeant At Arms.
  2. The chapter must complete at least 2 “research” projects per year.
  3. You must have at least 5 meetings a year and at least 2 of these meetings need to be open to the public.
  4. Each new chapter is on a probationary period until it completes two projects and has three meetings.

And this is where you come in, dear readers. Assuming that you are in Vancouver2. Obviously, I can’t do this alone. So this blog posting is a call for expressions of interest. Are you interested in joining me in creating a Vancouver chapter of the ZRS? Dr. Dan is currently on a parallel mission to protect his hometown of Guelph, ON and I think that together, along with the other chapters in the great white north, we can come up with a made-in-Canada solution for the coming zombie scourge. But we need your help. Drop me a comment or send me an email if you’d like to be involved. Because, as they say at the ZRS: The life you save may be your own.

Don’t let this happen to you:

Zombie Walk 2010

Image Credit: First one posted by Eric Brochu on Flickr. Second one posted by rodolpho.reis on Flickr.

  1. And you know how I feel about Calgary, so I’m rather suspicious of that one. It is probably staffed by actual zombies who are trying to infiltrate the ZRS to take it down from within []
  2. If you aren’t, I suggest you check the list of ZRS chapters to see if your city is covered or if it is woefully unprepared as mine is. []


Hey, remember that time I got paid $20 to watch porn?

So I was telling someone the other day about that time I got paid $20 to watch porn. For science. I was watching porn for science1! Anyway, it got me to thinking: did they ever publish that research? So, being the astute scientist that I am, I searched ye ole PubMed and found this:


You can’t access the full paper without a subscription to the journal/a university library account, but you can read the abstract here.

So now I guess I can say that I’ve been published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine! And here I thought “Bone” would be the dirtiest sounding journal I’d ever be in!

  1. For the uninitiated, I was a subject in a research study that was looking at the relationship between estrogen, testosterone, and cortisol levels in women and sexual desire & response []


I Can Has Directions?


Many moons ago, I saw a new story about a condition, known as developmental topographical disorientation (DTD), in which, essentially, people innately have a terrible sense of direction. In said news story, they informed viewers that you could check out the website of the neuroscientists studying this disorder – the aptly named gettinglost.ca1 and take part in their studies if you thought you might be one of these people who are hopelessly unable to orient themselves in their environment.  I thought, “I have a terrible sense of direction!” and immediately checked out the site. On the site, I was able to take some online tests as part of their research.  If memory serves, at that time they didn’t actually tell me if I had DTD2. However, some time later I received an email from the lead researcher saying that they were applying for funding to bring people affected by DTD to the University of Calgary for further testing in the form of brain scans and were hoping to get advanced consent from people saying that they’d be willing to participate3. Thus, although they didn’t actually tell me that I have DTD, they wouldn’t be asking me to go to Calgary to be in their study if I didn’t4. I think it speaks volumes about my love of research that I agreed, should they get funding, to go to Calgary to participate in their research!

Anyhoo, I’m still waiting to hear whether they’ll get funding (and I’m sure they are waiting with much more trepidation than I am, given that this is their careers whereas all that’s riding on it for me is a free trip to a city that I hate), but I did get an email today saying that they’d been featured on RadioLab, a US National Public Radio show (and podcast). I haven’t listened to the episode yet myself, but getting the email reminded me that I’d been meaning to blog about my DTD since forever, but I keep forgetting.  So, yes, if I ever go for a drive with you, I will likely ask you for the simplest of directions5, but you can’t make fun of me because I HAVE A DISORDER!!

Now if only I could find out what’s up with my terrible memory!

Image Credit: Posted by Ashley R. Good on Flickr.

  1. I *love* that the first line on their website is “thanks for finding us.” []
  2. but my memory, much like my sense of direction, is terrible, so I could be misremembering []
  3. essentially, they needed to demonstrate that they had enough willing participants with this disorder to fill their study []
  4. My ability to find my way may be impaired, but my logic and reasoning skills are clearly intact! []
  5. like how do I get back to the highway when we stopped for gas. Seriously. []


Research Participants Wanted

At the request of Sir Kalev, my Overseer of Deb0rking and Tsar of the Nerdery, I am posting this request for research participants for research being conducted by a friend of his. If you are responsible for hiring at an IT company in Toronto, consider taking part! Ha – who am I kidding? Like anyone that important reads my blog!  If you happen to know someone who might fit the bill, feel free to pass this info along.

Here are the deets:

Dear Sir or Madam

My name is Jennifer Elrick, and I am a PhD student in the Department of Sociology at the University of Toronto. I am conducting a study on hiring practices in small and medium‐size information and communication technology (ICT) companies.  The project is part of my dissertation work on how workplace cultures and individual backgrounds influence a company’s choice of recruitment channels and selection criteria.

I am contacting you to ask if you would be willing to participate in a one hour interview.  The purpose of the interview is to help me understand how you go about hiring people for skilled positions in your company, what you look for in candidates, and how important the fit between the person you’re considering for a position and the culture of your workplace is. The interview will focus on such topics as the company’s founding history, the educational experiences of persons involved in hiring procedures, the hiring procedure itself, the types of people you have hired over the recent past, the company’s work culture, and social activities within the company. In order to facilitate a comparative analysis across ICT firms, I will also ask for information about the size and composition of your company’s workforce. Personal information will be kept in confidence; although data from the interview may appear in academic publications, none of it will identify the people interviewed personally in any way.

By sharing your knowledge and experiences, you will be contributing to a better understanding of how social and cultural aspects of doing business affect hiring in a sector that is an important source of employment in Toronto and across Canada.

I would be happy to arrange an interview at a location and time that fits your schedule, including taking you out for lunch of coffee, if that is more convenient than meeting at your place of work.

Thank you for taking the time to consider this request. If you have any questions about this project, please contact me or my supervisor, Prof. Jeffrey Reitz, using the contact information below.

Jennifer Elrick

Jennifer Elrick
Department of Sociology
University of Toronto
725 Spadina Ave.
Toronto, ON, M5S 2J4

Prof. Jeff Reitz
Department of Sociology
University of Toronto
725 Spadina Ave.
Toronto, ON, M5S 2J4
Tel: 416‐946‐8993