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Archive for November 2009

Willard Wigan is a microsculptor, and where people want to be rid of lint, he is wont to collect and paint it to form his designs. He creates art pieces so tiny that they can fit in eyes of needles, and sells them together with a microscope so that the buyer can enjoy his magical wonder of a micropiece thoroughly.

One may be initially grossed out by the fact that he uses the hair of a housefly as his paintbrush, but more than that I am astounded by how talented and briliiant he is at this, seeing as he is self-taught.

“When you work at a microscopic level,” he says, “you have to control every part of your body movement — your fingertips, your joints, the pulse in your fingers. I slow down my breathing before any cut, which gives me one and a half seconds in between the heartbeat to make my incisions.” says Wigan.

Like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat, he literally pulls the flagpole in the above picture out of thin air. “I got a piece of black plastic, waved it in the air and collected a dust fiber particle,” he says. “I put it underneath the microscope, grabbed one end and straightened it out. That became the flagpole.” The flag? It’s a miniscule plastic bag fragment, painted with crushed paint pigment.

And finally, my personal favourite:

Isn’t it just completely astounding? I could not stop wow-ing, honestly. Wigan started from a young age, making houses for ants because he thought they needed a place to live, even making shoes and hats for them at a time. Dyslexic and snubbed from young, this alternate microscopic world was his own refuge.

Well then, let not naysayers stop any of us from being our own sculptor. :D

– Image source: Wired.com

I’ve finished with both fish labs, after just a few hours of sleep each day, with much more confidence in my environmental Humber river lab than my community ecology fish community analysis.

Which begs the question, for the nth time, am I really meant for research? My brain fumbles round with analyses in computers, but give me a pen and paper any day and I can draw conclusions.

I find that my brain is slow to start up these days; most of the time the neurons prompt me to ask “so what?” and while I still remain amazed at many things in life as is my usual reaction, I seek the bigger picture and usually I do not find it. Not without some help, which is why I talk to so many people. Then I start asking myself if my ideas are original, or am I just a compilation of ideas from different people?

I find myself talking more and more with TAs, every TA I meet I make an effort to talk to. I think my fascination with their work is an extension of my desire to be like them.

Esther, my anthropology TA, works in Mali – and she ended up with anthropology because one day she found herself with two options: physics or anthropology. Kind of a terrible choice, ay? But she chose anthropology, and after her BA she decided to roll with it, going into graduate studies and then going to Mali for research. It’s amazing. We were talking about how some people have end points and some people just ‘roll with it’. We’re both at the start of our lives, and laughing about it like only carefree students can do.

I want to be like that, to ‘roll with it’. But the realist in me, and the realist in my friends and family would ask so many questions. And don’t I have responsibility? Oh trust me, I’m completely aware of that. Do I owe people? I’m not so sure I would put it that way.

I’m also aware that it’s not a do or die option, its not something that I have to choose now or forfeit.

If you know me, you’d know I’m big on concepts. The holistic picture, the big picture, the big idea, the links, the cycles, the driving forces. Ask me why people get sleepy after they eat and I can tell you why – but in my explanation I will fumble with details and eventually omit them altogether.

Recently, I came up with an idea all by myself, and that was what I wrote about in my Slumdog essay. Which I am very proud of, by the way. But self-generated ideas do not necessarily have evidence, or references, and what am I to do then? I think it’s a completely legitimate idea, but does academia think so? 

Today, for the first time in anthropology class, for whatever combination of reasons, I feel alive.

I will save money and go to Bhutan within the next five years! For about five to seven days. :D That would probably cost less than 2,000USD. Who’s with me! :D

And I just realised to go to Bhutan I have to take the flight from Bangkok or another place. Bhutan‘s so beautiful!

Last night there was a free tea tasting exhibition held by the Tea Culture Association, and if you knew me I am not a tea person.

However, ever since I drank Rooibos tea when I met up with B (a year ago?) as recommended by her, and the truckloads of ginger tea to help with mountain sickness in the Himalayas, I’ve been more tolerant towards the T family. Normally all I would take is the red milk tea that the bubble tea shops provide. Green tea is a definite no-no, and chinese tea is only barely tolerable for me.

But brown rice tea in Sushi on Bloor, rooibos tea from Joker’s Hill and this tea tasting exhibition surprised me because I was so infatuated with one of their teas.

In case you can’t see, it’s the a blend of green tea by this company called Tealish, and yes you read right. It’s green tea that I’m infatuated with. I have to say, that I never suspected it was green tea, until Lily told me so.

It was so infinitely fragrant, I couldn’t help myself in having two cups.

They also had blooming teas, that had a hint of seaweed smell in them which I quite enjoyed. Reminded me of japanese soups. Very interesting, because they had a dried piece of flower that they’d put in the pot, and it would ‘bloom’ in the hot water, hence the name. And then there was the Mount Everest White Tea, which wasn’t too tasty – and Nepal tea was positively bitter when swallowed in large gulps. Korean teas were syrupy, mostly coming from jars that looked like jam, and in flavours like Honey and Citron, Honey and Ginger, Honey and Plum, or Red Dates – you get the idea. Also had some kind of chai tea to save Evelyn from drinking it; it smelled like the spice Katie used in her pumpkin soup that I couldn’t get down during Thanksgiving dinner because there was too much of the spice.

I was tempted to buy the Tealish special blend of green tea, but I don’t have the necessary T equipment to make the tea, so its a no for me. Pity, because it really was very delicious.

Climate change on caribbean islands is terrifying to those in the know, and extreme to because of the small island effect. I attended a climate change panel discussion and film screening two nights ago, of the new film “The Burning Agenda” directed by Owen Day and narrated by Che Rodiguez.

What was most interesting to me was seeing the point of view from the caribbean people, and hearing issues regarding women, migrants and indigenous communities. Hurricanes, floodings, erratic weather patterns all impact revenue sources in these countries: farming is affected, crops are lost, tourism lost especially when coral systems are affected. Lives are lost and houses disappear, wrecked under these anthropogenic natural disasters. Guyana, Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados were some examples featured.

Watch this video for an idea:

At the discussion, I had a chance for the first time, to listen to someone from First Nations (the indigenous people of Canada), and meet her too – her name is Lynzii Taibossigai, and she’s from the M’Chigeeng First Nation located on Manitoulin Island, the largest freshwater island in the world. I’ve added her on facebook to learn more about her community, and will be writing about it soon.

No one is illegal also spoke during the panel discussion, represented by two undergraduates from York University. They spoke about living in a world where conversion of the natural world to cash and flow of money from the poor to rich in exploitation goes on – bringing to light issues of Canada’s move to create “permanent temporary workers”, lower refugee migration rates, in “state facilitated exploitation”. To quote a comment: Canada currently accepts 11,000 refugees a year, and up to 60% of this number will be cut in a time of ever-accelerating migration rates – along with policy change that makes it virtually impossible for refugees to become normal citizens of a country – all this without public consultation.

We should be aware of what and how countries are implementing policies that affect people of the world, and stand up against exploitation. In an ever globalised world, it seems that we have been starting to draw the line ever more clearly against who we are and who ‘they’ are – producing second class citizens and permanent temporary workers.

A lady from East Africa also spoke on the dangers of films like these that only portray the men’s point of view – there was no representation of women, the voice of women was lacking. She also brought up the issue of how climate change decisions involve a lot of money, and this money is brought into the picture because of energy (biofuels, clean energy, etc). When people buy land in a country they do not live in or know the issues of, they cannot represent that land and its issues in meetings like the UN Climate change meeting in Copenhagen, and this allows issues to go unresolved.

“What do you study?”
“Climate change”
“Oh, so you’re going to read the weather on the news?”

This intriguing quote came from a masters student in York University, a Trinidad and Tobago citizen who finds that most people in her country know not of climate change, and that even the word climate change emerges only from grade 12 onwards for students. Her wish is for children to know about this earlier, which means education is working. “No one should be deprived of a nationality, a home, a country” – she says, when speaking about how vulnerable caribbean islands are to disappearing from sight when sea levels rise.

“It’s not about whether we believe climate change is real – in a world where we cannot deny that everything is changing, we have to change too, to adapt.”

“It’s not an individual choice, but a global necessity”.

“The fat cats are not going to move unless you kick them in their butt” – old man’s comments on moving politicians.

The world is not degrading because there are more people, but because there is more consumption, and majority of this consumption still comes from the industrialised nations, whose populations are not the ones that are booming”

Was there with Annie, and also met Lucas? at the discussion; nice bloke who had been travelling through SEA and who was pretty involved with climate change and issues like these.

I realised I get energy from these seminar/discussions and from meeting people from different sectors talking about issues I don’t know about – I think its the learning that gets me all energised and invigorated.

It’s almost the same way I get energy from my surroundings, and why ten gloomy days in a row make me feel down and like I need to do something to get myself energised again. (:

I know it’s really silly but I kinda missed the Leonid thing. Haha. Overslept till this morning, was supposed to get up at 4am. BUT.

I saw ONE. One leonid at 1.30am-ish. Still pretty cool, was hollering like a mad woman when I saw it, and Evelyn and Krystal were like WHERE WHERE WHERE and jumping up and down.

Krystal saw an orange one go by. Mine was white. Mebbe tonight there’ll be some.

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I missed a session at the mite diversity lab yesterday, felt so utterly terrible for forgetting this commitment of mine. Am I committed, or am I not? That’s not even a question, because I am. So why’d I forget? Gah.

At the end of the day I’d say don’t beat myself up about it, and go in on Tuesday with an apologetic smile on my face. Nods.


Leonids are meteor showers associated with the comet Tempel-Tuttle, and get their name from the point they radiate from the sky, of the constellation Leo.

There will be a display next week on the 17th of November, Toronto time 11pm to 4am. Even google doodle is mooning! Haha. :D

Will probably be going up to Krystals to view the meteors from her side of the apartment block, seeing as the area in her view has less light noise. Yayy!


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