8 Mar 2016

News since January!

It has been a while since I have posted - things have been as busy as ever around here. Sorry if this post is long... many things have happened since my last post in January! I have put them in chronological order, even though blog posts are typically presented in reverse chronological order.

Eric begins teaching again.
After a term off from teaching, the new Assistant Dean of the B.H.Sc. program asked me to take on the teaching of a required second year course called Inquiry II: Cell Biology. This course would have 5 instructors and 6 TAs. The 215 students were divided into 34 groups and we assigned 3 groups to each of the 4 other instructors. For myself, I took 22 groups! I also acted the lead instructor to introduce the course at the beginning of the term and have more or less been the 'head instructor' for the course. It is taught as an "inquiry course" where the whole thing is problem-based with the students determining the content. There are no lectures at all, just tutorial times where the groups present their progress on the project areas that I assigned. The premise this year is that each group is a small drug company that is developing a new treatment for a specific disease area (all groups chose their own specific topic, although I selected the general type of disease - cardiovascular, joint diseases, eye diseases, etc.). The underlying theme for my 22 groups is the cellular biology of "oxidative stress", so they are all investigating treatments that somehow involve either increasing or decreasing oxidative stress.

As an aside, the Assistant Dean has also asked me to be part of a pilot program to run courses during the summer this year. They have always wanted to try making the program run in at least 3 terms, and now they are ready to proceed. I will run the same second year cell biology course so some of the first year students sticking around in the summer will be able to get a jump ahead in their program and give themselves some more space in their schedules to take other courses in the fall term of their second year. This term ends in June - my contract is over in July, so I may not even be still at the university...!

Leah moves in.
My nephew, Dan, from Edmonton joined up to the Canadian Army and was off to St. Jean sur Richelieu Quebec for basic training in January. He and his wife, Leah, put all their things in storage before heading east (their lease was over for their townhouse, so there was no choice). After a short time at Dan's sister's place in Cambridge (Carrie), Leah moved into our home into the room that used to be Stanley's. Dan will be finished at the very end of March and is expecting to be posted to Borden for a while. That is the same base where Adam goes for his summer camp work.

Wendy goes on a cruise.
Wendy went on a cruise with her mom and her friend Melanie (the husbands got to stay home). They flew to Florida then board the Holland America Zuiderdam for a cruise to Half Moon Cay (Bahamas), Aruba, Curacao, Cartagena (Columbia), into the Panama Canal, and finally to Costa Rica before returning to Florida.

One of the highlights of the trip was that Wendy's mom went zip-lining! Here's the proof:

Hockey win for Parker!
On March 5th, Parker's Midget house league team (the Dundas Kings) won the championship game to end the season! The game was tied at the end of 3 periods and a 5 minute overtime, so the league rules have in place a tie-breaking series of 1 minute long periods (without stopping the clock) with decreasing numbers of players to decide on the game. They remained tied after the 4 on 4 players, then again after the 3 on 3, but Parker's team scored during the 2 on 2 period! Apparently the next period would have been 2 on 2 without goalies...

Dundas Midget House League Champions 2016

Hiking starts again.
Wendy and I started hiking again for the 2016 season. We went to our usual 5 km hike on the Dundas main loop.  Beautiful weather (eventually up to +16C) but the trails had a lot of hard-packed snow that had turned to ice. Normally not a problem, except when the air is so warm that the top of the ice turns into water. Treacherous!

A little wet...
A new bridge on the trails

What gives?
The weather over that last couple of weeks has been, quite frankly, strange. Three weeks ago we had +16C. The week after that we had -19C with a windchill below -20C (plus a lot of snow). This week we will have +19C with a humidex reading of 21C! What's with that? Even the crocuses are confused.