What’s happening?

Hey again everybody!

First, I thought it would be nice to get a few details out of the way before I actually get to anything. I have finished my masters thesis and finally submitted it yesterday! This document took a lot of work and I’m really proud of the way it turned out. I don’t actually hear anything for about a month but I’ve got my fingers crossed. I’m hoping that with finishing that work I’ll be able to blog move avidly, at least until I find something to do with my life. That being said, if anybody is hiring I’d be glad to hear from you or have your information passed on to me. Secondly, my backspace key broke off my laptop last week, which is really annoying, and since I only have return to depot service from dell, I’ll be testing out blogging exclusively on the iPad with no external keyboard, so we’ll see how that goes. Doesn’t seem to be slowing me down so far, but I’ve had a few months to practice. Another important thing I’d like to mention is that there are a few people/groups of people I know who have become seriously neglected in the last couple of months, since I really started working at a frantic pace trying to finish my thesis. I’m really hoping that I can take the time in the coming weeks to right this terrible injustice to these people, starting today. Alright, now that that’s out of the way, let’s get down to business.

The last 3 weeks or so were quite a haze of writing, editing, and formatting (and I have developed strong feelings for the Oxford comma) but this does not mean I stopped living in the future. Try as I might to focus on my thesis (and seminar presentation) for that time, lots of awesome developments have happened in my world since I last wrote a regular blog post. For example, since the windows 8 developer preview came out (yes, it’s good and it’s available for free) I installed it on my desktop computer to test it out and see if it’s worth the hype (it is). Even though this operating system is probably at least a year away from public release and sale, it’s incredibly fast and responsive, and the ‘Metro’ apps which showcase it’s potential (these come preinstalled on the preview) are really beautiful and leave me very hopeful about the success of the app platform. Also, I have been quietly in disbelief of how much Google Chrome gets weighed down by the 50 or so extensions I’ve installed on it, this problem somehow doesn’t seem to translate into the windows 8 process. Chrome with extensions runs unbelievably fast on 8, and has led me to use it almost exclusively (though the thought of reinstalling apps like word keeps me from using it alone). Perhaps with this new time in my hands I’ll be able to get everything running.

Secondly, iOS 5, the next generation of apples mobile operating system, is nearing completion. Since it is in beta, I decided I would test it out (living in the future after all). I have been running iOS5 (scheduled for public release on October 4) on my phone and tablet for the last several weeks, and it is just awesome, and a huge step forward. Im planning on detailing what you can expect in a post soon, so keep your eyes open for that! Be excited for October 4 as well, since a new iPhone is looking very likely for that date.

In addition to this, something minor in the world of people with more than one computer in the house. Microsofts home grown developer community (called Microsoft garage) is a group which builds applications which focus on smaller improvements to the Microsoft environment. Last week they released a project in the world called mouse without borders. This project aims to connect all computers on a network by allowing any peripherals (mice and keyboards) on any other computer simply by moving the mouse off the computers screen itself and onto the desired computer (as is done on computers with multiple monitors). This allows for control of any computer in your immediate area (once the program is installed and password set up) using any mouse or keyboard. Finally, the best feature of this is that the clipboard is shared between computers, and file transfer from computer to computer is as simple as dragging and dropping. It is worth trying out, I guarantee you’ll use it more than you think!

I may write more today (I have a lot of topics saved up) so I’ll stop here for now, but I hope I can convince you that I’m going to breathe some life into this blog starting today!

Thanks for reading!

5 Years in the Life (AKA my thesis’s acknowledgements section)

I have posted below, my complete, unedited acknowledgements section which I plan to submit with my thesis.  I really would like to send a heartfelt thank you to these people as well as any others I’ve forgotten or didn’t include for one reason or another (though that seems hard to believe).  If you have any corrections, additions, comments, discussions, or anything else of this nature (I would be extremely against taking anything out, unless someone has a very good reason) I would love to hear about them in the comments section below, or on any number of other public fora.  If you would rather make a private comment for whatever reason, I believe there are several appropriate avenues for doing so.  I really do want everyone to hear the things on the pages below, so do feel free to tell people I have mentioned about this (as I have something like 35 friends on Facebook) and many more people who are mentioned here are not among those 35.  The facebook/twitter/google+ post and this blog are public domain, and so I hope those of you reading this feel inclined to share it.  Thanks! Enjoy! 
            The first sentence of an acknowledgments section is
almost always the hardest to write. That being said, hopefully this won’t take
up too much of your time. I am, of course, referring only to this section; in
the chapters following it you may find yourself lost and confused, but do not
fret.  After 5 years of
magical, er, I mean scientific training, you too could find yourself on the
precipice of completing a master’s degree in Chemistry, looking over the edge
into the gaping maw of ‘real life’. Since I never got a chance to free-write
about my undergraduate studies, and since the cast of that freak-show has many
of the same characters as its post-baccalaureate reincarnation, I plan to
combine some thanks.

I can only hope that the next five years of my
life will be anywhere near as fun as the past five. First and foremost, I would
like to thank the University of Ottawa. Just over half a decade ago, you were
just a fancy pamphlet which had found itself atop a pile of brochures compiled
in a hasty trip to a high school out-of-province university fair. Less than a
year after that fair, I was on the marble staircase outside Tabaret Hall,
wondering to myself why it was called that.  Also, I was looking for my dad,
because I was alone for the first time in a new province a four hour flight
from anyone I knew, and I was pretty scared.  The university, as well as the city of
Ottawa, much to my delight, turned out to be a beautiful, engaging, wonderful
place to spend the span of two University degrees (and perhaps more, but I’ll
get to that later).  While
many friends I had in Calgary were cast asunder by my new life, this city held
many surprises. 
The first of these was my first non-familial
roommate and definitely most exotic friend, Carl. You have motivated me to do
so much better for myself than I ever thought I could. Between your late-night
TV lullabies, your beautiful and powerful subwoofer and your ridiculous
Weetabix addiction, I could fill a long-running TV series worth of plotlines
with our enterprises and adventures.  Also,
I’m fairly certain that I would’ve failed BCH 2333 if you hadn’t made me
memorize that entire textbook (and I certainly wasn’t going to buy that
massive, $200 tome; I hope it’s keeping a large section of a bookshelf of yours
somewhere free from dust), but that being said I’m certain there are some labs
you wouldn’t have done nearly as well on if it weren’t for my mad scientist
skillz.  And of course I
have you to thank for being at least 100x better at basketball than when I
first picked up a ball as a pasty tall kid who could shoot as well from half
court as from the foul line (not well) growing up.
In first and second year I lived in residence,
and met so many awesome people who graced my life with theirs that I’m almost
positive I’m going to forget someone crucial.  Kathleen, without you I would just be
a tub of goo now, thanks for making me enjoy running again.  Also, you still haven’t gotten back to
me about that beer, rembember? Amaan knows what I’m talking about.  Speaking of the world’s least well
known Aziz Ansari impersonator/suave brown guy (for those of you not getting
that reference); you helped make those early chem. classes and labs
bearable.  I looked to you
for inspiration when I was made Residence Advisor (haha RA, get it?), just
kidding you are clearly the superior supervisory being.  Also, I guess I should
congratulate/thank you for taking care of Erin with me, though the government
did pay us handsomely for that task.  Oh
Erin, House and NCIS wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun without you, and
though both those shows live on (I’m sure in no small part thanks to us) they
are not quite the same when I watch them alone.  If I see you even half as many times
as you promise to come to Ottawa in the coming years, I will consider that a
success.  Also, I never did
thank you for all that help in dealing with your crazy roommate, but it did
mean that you got to see me more, so it’s not a total loss.  Josie, we have had some rough times,
but they weren’t all bad.  Remember
when you tried to murder my dad with a golf ball?  That was satisfying, wasn’t it?  And you bought me a basketball and
some bus tickets for Valentine’s Day, that’s incredibly romantic.  You clearly know what you’re doing in
that department.  I hope
teaching brings you what you’re looking for, and that your essay writing skills
will eventually improve beyond my sleepy, middle of the night levels.
Madison Wayland (nee Darnell), I never knew you.
I really miss your lesbian haircut and early morning/late night visits, and I
was very sad to see you leave Ottawa.  Though
you may never read this, I think I miss time with you more than anybody else I
don’t see any more.  I still
get the Majestic and the Illusionist confused because we watched those
back-to-back, what a dumb idea that was.  We had some good times making those
rez boards, and I completely ignored what you taught me in completing the
“Seems Newbee Runz” board as an RA.  Thanks
for mixing me my first drink ever (though as an aspiring mixologist you should
know better than to give a rookie drinker 6 shots of spiced rum in less than an
hour, my bathroom floor was never so comfortable as that night).  I hope to one day see you again.
.  Jane,
I think of all the people who have left my life for the time-being, but who I
certainly expect to see again at some point, you would be my favorite.  We have had so many good times,
between classes and singing and cooking and middle of the day Skype chats, you
are one of the coolest people I know.  I
never did say this, though I probably should have much earlier for the
record.  I did not make it
with everybody else to see Thoroughly Modern Millie, though I think you already
know that.  I think you know
that it wasn’t at all because I didn’t want to see it, although I don’t
actually remember what was going on that day instead.  I hope that this platform is adequate
for giving you my sincerest apologies, and for asking your forgiveness in this
matter.  Though I did see a
play with you, I still haven’t seen you perform on stage, which is highly
troubling.  I consider you
my oldest friend in Ottawa, simply because you were one of the first people I
met here, but also because you are awesome and more than worthy of the
title.  Come back soon!
Krista, I know you will make something of
yourself, look me up when you get back from Down Under.  Marc, we had some good times (thanks
again for a great Flames game), but honestly where are you now?  We all want to know.  Kalie, I knew you as Erin’s roommate
and not a whole lot more, but you rock.  And
women’s rugby is clearly the best sport ever.  Kate,
you were a super awesome RA and I’m still very sad I don’t get to walk down to
the front desk and see your smiling face, though congratulations on your new
family and I wish nothing but the best for you in the years to come.  Damien, though we don’t know each
other as well as I might like, I still consider you my token black friend and
could listen to you sing all day. Becca, similarly, we really haven’t spent
much time in each other’s company, but the time we have spent has been
wonderful, you are one of the nicest, sweetest people I know, and I’m certain
you will spend many years saving lives and taking care of people with a huge
smile and a helping hand.  Eric,
you continue to dazzle me with your amazing abilities with a tennis racket, or
bass guitar.  Even though
that piece of paper says you’re an engineer, I will never think of you that
way.  Matt, calm down, I’ll
get to you later.
While everyone I’ve mentioned so far has been an
influence on me and I feel has contributed at least in small part to my
completing this degree, no group of people has meant as much to me in the
achievement of this qualification as who I consider to be the founding members
of the undergraduate chemistry club.  The
idea that we couldn’t start a sanctioned club based on drinking every once in a
while was a bureaucratic lynchpin to the only chance I ever had to participate
in a university club. 
Carolyn, though we met in 1st year psychology and you thought I was
a jerk (which I probably was a little bit), I’m eternally grateful to you for
all the help you’ve given me the last few years. Whether it was helping study
for our myriad classes together, or hanging out drinking, or being the only
sane people in a big room full of Frisbee players, you have always been fun to
be around. Your awkwardness will continue to fascinate me and make me
laugh.  You have been around
to talk to when I’ve been down on life, work and school, and have been ready
and eager to celebrate and mourn the good times and the bad.  For all of this, and so much more, I
thank you.
Nick, you have an awesome beard.  The number of pictures taken of us
where it looks like we’re making out, or about to make out, would astound even
people who know us well.  I
very much appreciate having you around to bounce ideas off of, and our
discussions about chemistry, women, algorithms, and scientific/technological
advancements will always be some of my fondest memories of University.  While your devotion to the Maple Leafs
confuses me to no end, I still love you for it.  When we get our condo with a beer
fridge in every room and a Subway franchise in the kitchen, I will be a happy
man.  A manny, manny
man. 
Lizzie, you will always be the one that got
away.  I can tell you
absolutely anything, and with that freedom comes no apparent
responsibility.  I’m very
sorry that I sometimes choose to abuse your nature by creating fictitious
scenarios to get you to pay attention to me, I can’t help it.  Though we didn’t meet as early as we
could have in University, I’m very glad some classes here are only reasonable
offered in English, so that we got to spend the better part of MSSM, and most
of the time from then until now getting to know each other.  You are awesome to spend time with,
and though we find ourselves on opposite sides of an opinion more often than
not, your level-headedness has helped me out in more ways than I’m sure I’m
aware of. 
Chantal, I’m really sorry I gave you the
impression that I was a douche when we were almost neighbours all those years
ago, I hope you can forgive me for that.  I really enjoyed the time last year
when we were both incredibly crippled and yet you still took care of me when I
was what I’m going to call ‘super-crippled’ and hopped up on oxy, I hope I
wasn’t too much trouble.  Someday
I really do hope we can go for a run, medicine will catch up!
Julie, I really enjoyed softball this summer,
thanks for convincing me to do that.  I’m
glad you were there through my return to sports, and I hope that in the months
and years to come that we can continue to become better friends, and that we
can stop having arguments where we’re both trying to make the same point.
Switching tacks a little bit, I would like to
talk for a little while about the importance of family in my life and as
influences in completing this degree.  Mom
and dad, it goes without saying that you have had the biggest impact on my life
up to this point.  Socially,
emotionally, mentally, genetically, you have always shown me what is right and
guided me towards who I am today.  You
deserve the most thanks of all in what I have accomplished so far.  When I was contemplating abandoning my
schooling for a green pasture in the distance, you convinced me to keep with
it.  While I haven’t seen
what effect this will have on my future yet, I am keen to be proven wrong in my
potentially misguided desire to jump ship.  You
have been supportive of my every endeavour, and have never allowed me to cede
to any limitations I might have encountered in my life.  You have always cultivated a home
environment where I was able to achieve whatever my goals were, and so I have
been able to grow in ways I perhaps never imagined were possible.  From learning to speak and read
practically simultaneously, to learning simple calculus in junior high, to
playing soccer with people 4-5 years older than me and learning to hold my own,
you have always allowed me to succeed.  Between
doing my own laundry, cooking meals, cleaning up after myself, you allowed me
to learn the skills necessary to make it on my own.  Even though I can’t explain my
research to you with any confidence that you’ve understood, I hope I have made
you proud.
Michael, what can I say to you today?  I know that we don’t always agree on
everything (airplane on a conveyor belt comes to mind), but I have always
thoroughly enjoyed spending time with you, no matter where we end up. Our
scientific discussions are always interesting (though not, I’m sure, to people
around us) and learning to play hockey, tennis, and football (I’m sure I’m
forgetting others) was a delight.  I
wish you all the best in life with Maria, and you remain the only people to
have visited me in Ontario.  I
am honoured that you chose me as your best man.  For that and many other things I am
forever grateful, and I look forward to see you again soon!
            Steph, you have grown up SO
fast.  It always stuns me
that you’ve managed to always be 2 years younger than me, even though it’s a
temporal fact.  Though we
don’t always get along, we will always be friends, and the fighting has really
gone down quite a bit since we hit puberty.  We also stopped looking as alike as we
did, which is probably a good thing.  Some
days I really do wish you lived here, or that I was a little bit closer to home
so that I could see you more, but I know that you’ll do great on your own!
Isn’t higher education awesome!? I love you.
            Next, I would like to move on to the
members of the indomitable Bryce Nation, beginning with the original graduate
alumnus, Joey Weiss.  Thanks
for your thesis as a formatting guide for mine, and especially thanks for
making me feel less awkward at conferences by sitting with me and not feeling
obliged to go and mingle all the time.  Fred,
your constant fascination with NMR continues to be an inspiration to those who
feel like they have lost their way, and I’m sure someday you will find a metal
song I can endure for longer than you’re around to make me listen.  Kevin, I love listening to your
stories, and it has been great getting to know you the last year.  We need to plan many more Bryce Lab
trips/outings, even when I’m gone.  Jaz,
it has also been really great becoming your friend since your return from
Paris, and I appreciate your filling Liz’s vacancy as my awesome female friend
in the lab.  I always know
if I’m bored that you’re there to distract me (in case Dave is reading this, in
which case get back to work!) and I appreciate that.  I know it’s intimidating considering
being in the office with Kev and Fred once Becky and Cory leave, but they’re
good guys, I’m sure it won’t be so bad!  Whose
poster got 2nd place
at CSC 2011? I rest my case.  Jess,
while your time in the lab was short-lived, I wouldn’t be where I am today if
it wasn’t for our many days spent loudly singing in the lab, and I know I’m a
better performer now because of that.  I
wish you all the best in your academic as well as musical endeavours.  Becky and Cory, of all of the grad
students, in all of the labs, in all of Marion and D’Iorio, you two stand
alone.  While I didn’t spend
very much time with either of you, probably mostly due to my insistence on
keeping my awesome desk in the lab, I am extremely appreciative of all the help
you’ve given me over the years.  There
was never a problem of mine that one of you couldn’t solve (except NQR) and my
experiments would not have been nearly as successful without such great NMR
role models in the lab. 
            Finally, I would like to thank Dr.
Dave Bryce, the supervisor to rule all supervisors.  If not for the opportunity you gave me
at the end of 3rd year
to work for the summer in your lab, I would certainly be a very different
person today.  All of your
guidance and assistance with my projects and schooling were essential to my
success as both an undergraduate and graduate student.  When I was considering leaving grad
school, you convinced me that should stick with it and finish what I started,
and it’s for that reason that I’m writing these words today.  Your insistence on celebrating
achievements and milestones is a huge part of what makes you great, and if I am
ever given the opportunity to advise or counsel those a few rungs behind me on
any ladder, I will be sure to pay your debt forward in kind.  Since joining your group, I have
really come to appreciate a good, strong beer and I have also learned that
being thorough in every aspect of life will pay off in the end.  I cannot thank you enough for all of
your kindness and advice, try as I might to put that gratitude into
words.  I challenge anyone
to find a better, more caring supervisor than Dave. 
            There were also a few other people
worth mentioning who have helped with some of the actual hard work which has
gone into this thesis.  Ilia
Korobkov deserves my thanks for performing x-ray crystallography on the two
compounds mentioned in this thesis, as well as putting up with my rather hectic
schedule whenever my turn in the queue was up. Tara Kell should be recognized
at least briefly for providing me with powder x-ray training, even though I
never used it after the training.  Glenn
Facey was always very helpful with any problems in the NMR department, and for
his tireless hours keeping up all the NMR instruments at the University. Cheryl
McDowall, as Glenn’s assistant, kept the nitrogen tanks full at all times, and
we always seemed to run into one another during these weekly fills.  I’d like to thank Eric Ye and Victor
Terskikh at the Ultrahigh-Field NMR Facility for Solids (which by the way is
not a catchy name) for all of their assistance while I was at the facility
using the 900.  I’d like to
especially thank Eric for helping me by running a few chlorine-35 MAS spectra
when I had a very busy day and couldn’t make it to the NRC campus, and then for
making sure to get them back to me safely with excellent data. 
            I would also very quickly like to
thank all the students I TAed last year.  Your shining faces provided me with
some much needed motivation and your excitement about science and learning (and
having fun in that environment) has renewed my faith in first years, I don’t
know how I got so lucky to have so many great students.  If any of you ever want to grab a beer
(you’re all legal by now, right?) let me know!  I never thought that TAing first years
could be so fun and rewarding.
Finally, I would like to thank a few people who
have come into my life more recently than many of those mentioned so far, but
who still deserve mention for their help with my state of mind as well as for
listening to my gripes and stories about my research.  Cait (OMal’z), you have provided me
with so many great things since we met, and have always been quick to boost my
spirits with your sassiness, and then keep me grounded by turning the sass
against me.  I appreciate
it, and I’m glad I can attribute ‘Science Rob’ to you.  I really hope that we can continue to
become better friends, and we simply must go on a bike ride together
soon.  I mean how have we
not?  Sydney, I may not
fully understand you, but I appreciate your kindness and friendship more than
you know.  Knowing that you
are downstairs and always willing to talk is very reassuring, and I look
forward to much more Workaholics in the future with you.  We need to hang out more than we have
been of late.  Jacquie, you
have finally moved back into the neighbourhood and out of Sketchville.  Of course at the exact same time as
that happens I would crawl into a thesis-y hermit hole for a month, but I look
forward to spending lots more time with you once this magical adventure is
over. Harry Potter Marathon anytime you want, I downloaded them all (I mean
bought, I bought them all).  Now
that you live nearby again there is no good excuse for not hanging out.  Valery, I cannot in good conscience
write this without at least mentioning your influence on my master’s
experience.  Thanks for spending
time with me while I was getting accustomed to graduate life, and for keeping
me grounded while I was trying to figure out how to mark 40 labs a week while
taking a class and TAing 6 hours a week.  Though we haven’t talked in a while
now, I haven’t forgotten about you.  I
sincerely do hope that you’re doing well and hope that someday we’ll see each
other again, you’re pretty awesome. 
Julia, I think you have been the most supportive
of anyone during this degree.  It
wasn’t always easy, especially coming up to the end of it, when I’m basically
spending every waking minute thinking about the next part of my thesis which
needs doing.  It can’t be
easy, especially being so busy yourself.  You always seem to know what I’m going
to need or want to feel better, even though it’s kind of cheating that the
answer is Mike & Ike’s almost every time.  Thanks for putting up with all my
crazy the last couple of months; I’m sure it wasn’t easy.  Bippity boppity!
Finally, I think it’s probably important that I
acknowledge Matthew Staroste, my very good friend and faithful roommate.  Through all my time spent working on
this project and thesis, working and writing, you have always been around to
talk to, for a beer, for breakfast, as an open ear to any issue.  You’re my wingman, my confidante, my
fellow furniture aficionado.  I
joke around a lot about you, but know that in all seriousness I have so much
respect for the things you do and who you are.  You may be scrawny and clothes from
the regular Gap and Gap Kids may not fit you quite right, but you do a lot of
other things right.  You’ve
seen me at my best, and you’ve definitely seen me at my worst (man they need to
make Pabst more expensive…oh wait), but through it all you’ve shown me that
roommates can be friends.  We
may not always be happy with one another (and I promise to leave the house more
in October than I did in September), but living with you is an awesome
experience. I have to call you my oldest friend overall, nursery buddies for
life!  And finally, Summer
of George!! We really lived it up this time.  That is what summer is supposed to
be. 
Finally, I’d like to thank Marianas
Trench.  Yes, they are a
band, but in the last 2 years or so they have given me so much to think about,
to sing along with, and to enjoy.  I
hope to meet you some day, so I can teach you all a little something about
solid-state NMR.

Okay,
so that wasn’t short.  It was actually much longer than I
expected.  I hope there is
something in this little novel for everyone, and if I have forgotten to include
you here, it doesn’t mean that you did not impact my life, I just had a 5000
word limit.  

Social Not-working

I’m working on my thesis full-time these days, and so I don’t really have time for a long post, but this has been bothering me more and more in recent weeks. Everybody needs to just shut up about everything. Sometimes, things change. Other times, things don’t change. This will continue to happen forever. Facebook and Twitter and Google+ don’t care if you like what they are doing. They are trying to appeal to everyone. And surprise (to people who don’t use Twitter or Google+), they are useful tools for communicating with people. Facebook, so far, has been incredible at connecting us with people we’ve already met, or people who are friends with ours and would, in all likelihood, eventually meet anyhow. But it has been just horrible at connecting us with people who are 6 degrees away from us but with whom we would love to share things. These are the spaces that Twitter and Google+ are slowly taking over, much to Facebook’s chagrin. These recent changes though, while being awesome and a big step, still don’t address that issue. And it’s possible it’s not meant to. Perhaps Facebook is happy just being about you and the people you are close to, and if so then it is exactly where it needs to be. But I think it should be more. It should connect you with people who share your interests. You don’t have to be “friends”, but you should be able to connect with people who live 20 minutes away from you, sit on the bus with you on the way to work or school, and share some of your taste in music or a couple of your hobbies. Right now there is no way for you to connect with these people, because in the digital world we have too much interaction with the people we already know that we don’t have time to connect with people we see on a regular basis but have never interacted with. Maybe this is wishful thinking, and I’m sure people would be in an uproar over privacy concerns if algorithms started matching them with people they think would be cool. Anyhow, this started as a rant and I really feel like finishing with one. People need to stop complaining about new social networks (or new technology, or new ANYTHING) or comparing them to what used to exist or what else is already available. The only important thing is, do you have a need for it? If yes, do you use it in the way you expected you would? If yes, shut up. Just stop talking about it. Facebook is only going to continue to improve, and other social networks will continue to try to allow people to network better in an effort to fix all of our broken, disconnected, digital social lives. I, for one, applaud them for even trying. We’re pretty screwed up.