I think I may have found my new haven, removed from downtown Windsor, which has become far too crowded and noisy to allow for a nice evening with a book.
Tucked away in the historic Walkerville section of Windsor is Taloola Cafe, a small establishment that seats at most 40 people. It is home to delicious food and an astounding selection of teas; you pick your own mug, each of which is unique (my selection seen on the left, see more here), choose a table and are then supplied with your very own brewing tea kettle, which pours at least four full cups. The cafe is housed in a small portion of an old brick building, sharing sidewalk space with a print shop and a new age healing clinic (more on that later). Everything about Taloola is welcoming and cozy. The interior is hard to describe, but best imagined as being reflective of its mug selection: entirely unique.
I find myself lost in my books, even with every seat in the cafe being occupied, which speaks to the general tendency Taloola's patrons to be very conscious of the people around them. My only hope is that this will last as the cafe grows in popularity.
The weekend edition of my blog, concerning aspects of my personal life, will most definitely continue.
So, as per last week's post, I have now officially registered to take part in the Ontario Lung Association's 2009 Bike Trek. I am happy to say that there is a real possibility that Rogers will be sponsoring me with a significant pledge and a jersey to promote the brand; I guess one of the benefits of working for The Source by Circuit City is its close ties to Rogers.
I am by no means a sedentary person and enjoy bike riding immensely, along with roller blading and running; but a 200km ride, although split evenly into two days, is definitely something to be training for. I frequent the gym every other day, and have started to actively train for the event, substituting my 8km run on the treadmill for a 20km stationary bike ride. Come good weather, I will start leaving my car and scooter at home at every opportunity, choosing instead to bike to my destinations. Time to get into tip-top shape.
Another thing I definitely need to consider is my bike - it isn't a road bike. It is a really nice mountain bike (TREK 4500, pictured left) that I will have to retrofit to be a little bit more motile on pavement rather than the forest, specifically, by changing the tires. I imagine that most of the riders doing the 200 km route will be the ones dressed in skin tight racing outfits to go along with their racing bikes that weigh next to nothing. I can keep up with these guys, and do so regularly when I come upon a group of them around the city, by virtue of drafting.
If any of my readers want to help me reach my pledge goal of $400, they can visit my donation page. Any little amount, even a dollar, will be of great help! Much thanks!
So last week I decided, that seeing as the weekends are generally slow for my website, I would devote the two days of rest to posts about my personal life. I will do my absolute best to keep in line with this tactic, until something really interesting comes up one of these weekends that I feel the urge to opine about. Fortunately or unfortunately for you, this weekend is not one of those times.
I was recently walking through the biology building, on my way to lab, when I happened upon a poster that caught my eye. It was advertising an event sponsored by the Ontario Lung Association and titled BikeTREK 2009 (PDF). It is a two day, round-trip, 200km bicycle ride from Leamington, Ontario to Windsor, Ontario (I've no clue of the actual bike route to be taken, so the map is only for reference).
There is a small registration fee associated with the event, along with a mandatory minimum of $400 worth of pledges from sponsors the entrant must seek out. Everything seems to be lining up and there is no reason why I will not be doing this event come May. I am already in talks with my place of employment to see if I can attain some form of sponsorship in exchange for advertising the company on the ride. It is a worthy cause, one that does not directly affect me in any way, but one that I support nonetheless.
To say the very least, I am very excited. Mostly because I see this is a definite stepping stone to my eventual goal of running a marathon within the near future.
The weekends are always a slow time for my blog, hit wise, so I will see if I can dedicate the two posts on Saturday and Sunday towards personal life topics, rather than skepticism and science oriented ones.
Officially, it has been four days since I have received my motorcycle license and begun to zip around town on my personally restored Yamaha scooter. I admit that the weather has not been entirely friendly, reaching above 0 celsius only a few times during the past few days. Nonetheless, I have not allowed this to thwart my enjoyment of the scootering experience, no matter how freezing my legs and hands happen to be after going from point a to b.
Apart from the huge grin that fails to leave my face as I zip through town on my errands between home, university and work, I am especially happy to say that I am using far less gasoline than my full-sized car. In fact, I filled up the gas tank for 3.85$ CAD (for 91 octane at 91.5 cents per litre, the good stuff) approximately three days ago and have ridden the scooter approximately 70km so far. The gas tank fuel gauge still reads 3/4 full.
At least I feel like I am doing my part to help the environment. An infinitesimally small dent in the big picture, I know, but a dent nonetheless.
No, not quite an extraterrestrial, but quite alien to the city of Windsor nonetheless. It is my scooter! A personally restored 1986 Yamaha XC125-S Riva. I apologize for the sharply angled picture above; apart from being artistic, it serves to save the full unveiling for a nice warm day when the sun is out and willing to present the scooter in all its glory.
I have previously written about how I found the scooter and the restoration process, but I just wanted to make an entry stating the the entire restoration is complete and I am a fully insured motorcycle owner with a beginners M license as of yesterday. Weather permitting, I will be riding it to university and work today and I have been smiling nonstop for approximately thirteen hours now, the glee is oozing from me.
I am exhausted, but I am also finished. My presentation on Chernobyl is all cued up and ready to make its debut, hopefully I will be coherent for the occasion. I have been sitting in front of my MacBook for about 9 hours, with mild breaks, putting together a viable piece of presentation that I hope will please a few sleepy faces, particularly the professor's, come morning.
I have even managed to do a full rehearsal, less a costume, three times. It is available in most of its glory on YouTube; the lack of my narration will most likely make some portions seem unbearably long. Specifically the videos, which are meant to distract with prettiness while I babble, and include a GoogleEarth tour of Chernobyl Power Station and Pripyat.
I implore you to visit the following links to better understand what occurred that night at Chernobyl; the first link, to YouTube, is especially interesting and well produced:
Update - New video included, which reflects the finished product, discussed here.
My how time flies when one doesn't pay attention. This is a busy weekend for me, mainly because I have too many things going on at once. Ardent readers will remember my blog post referring to a future presentation on Chernobyl's effects on cell transformation. That seemingly distant date of March 10th has crept up on me as it usually does and I am in the midst of simultaneously studying for a human physiology midterm, which is on Monday morning, as well as preparing for the Tuesday presentation on my topic.
At least I am slightly ahead of the game in that I have chosen my papers for the Chernobyl presentation. However, I am yet to actually summarize all of the content of these papers into a 40 minute presentation that will not put people into a comatose state. As is hopefully evidenced above in the YouTube video of one of my previous keynotes, I tend to try to make my presentations as dynamic as possible with little text and many diagrams that I then explain verbally. All the pertinent information is usually contained in little blurbs that bored people can read and retain, instead of large chunks of text. One of the things that appealed to me most about a presentation on Chernobyl was that I could actively engage my audience with vivid illustrations and video to demonstrate the impacts of the accident while infusing it with data and conclusions derived from scientific studies.
The main paper that my talk will focus on is titled 'Human minisatellite mutation rate after the Chernobyl accident' by Y.E. Dubrova et al. (Nature 380, 683-696; 1996) that details germline mutation rates of children born in areas heavily exposed to radiation from the accident. The findings of the paper are not promising, with a frequency of mutation that is double that of control groups.
I will post the presentation as soon as I am done with it on my YouTube channel, so as to preserve it amongst some of my other videos for years to come.