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Running Thoughts

A per-kilometer check-in on running the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon for the second time, on May 25, 2014.

Starting Line-      Apparently, there’s a man here running his 728th marathon. He is 88. Amazing.

Kilometer 1-      Yay, crowds of runners! (5min06 sec)

2-      I can’t believe these people woke up to cheer us on. It’s 7AM. Go back to bed. (9:52)

3-      The Rideau Canal is beautifully misty. (14:41)

4-      So I just gotta do this like 10 more times…

5-      Poster reads: “Pain is just a sign of de-feet.” Puns. (23:56)

6-      You know what? I’m not feeling too bad. Surprising given how much sitting I’ve been doing. (28:37)

7-      The sound of so many feet running is spectacular. And a bit frightening. (33:19)


Let’s talk business

During Winter 2014, I participated in Basic Business Skills for Non-Business Graduate Students (BBS), offered through SKILLSETS. Recently, I sat down with David Syncox, Graduate Education Officer, to learn more about the course.

Could you give me some insight on how the course came about?

It really is a fairy tale story. Two PhD candidates, one from Experimental Medicine and the other from Human Genetics, had the idea of setting up a lecture series on basic business skills. Unfortunately, even though they were part of a student consulting group at McGill, they experienced difficulties in doing so.

These graduate students came to me in 2009, right after SKILLSETS had been founded, and together we created BBS. To their credit, they worked tirelessly to coordinate the series, picking topics, determining the cases, booking rooms, and inviting presenters. During the first session, in Winter 2010, we had 30 students. By Fall 2010, we had 150 people apply for 50 spots. We quickly realized this was going to be a very popular course, and we needed to scale-up our capacity to accommodate students.


Unconformity: the Sixth McGill Anthropology Graduate Student Conference

POSTER-Final[Resize]What is the role of the ‘what-is-no-longer-there’ in shaping the present?  How do anthropologists, and other academics, engage with residuals, traces, and artifacts? How do intrusions, differences, ruptures, and discontinuities speak to investigative areas of inquiry?

Such questions will be addressed next Friday (March 21st) at the McGill Anthropology Graduate Student Association’s (AGSA) sixth annual Anthropology Graduate Student Conference: “Anthropologies of Unconformity: Erosions, depositions, and transformations.” The conference will be held in the Thomson House Ballroom, from 9AM to 4PM.



Snowy day atop Bromont

Snowy day atop Bromont

Winter is hard. Cold weather breeds antisocial behavior. The lack of daylight drives down energy levels. And the snow and ice further hamper any activity that requires even a minimal effort. This year, with its record-breaking lows, has been particularly difficult, even in a Winter-friendly city like Montreal.

In an attempt t to stave off the S.A.D.s (ie., seasonal affective disorder), this year I decided to join the SSMU Ski and Snowboard Club.


Until the Fat Lady Sings

The Archetypal Opera Singer, as rendered by the author

The Archetypal Opera Singer, as rendered by the author

Many people regard opera as elitist, boring, and on the wane. A relic of past grandiosity that is out of touch with present aesthetics and popular culture. Something that soon will go the way of the dodo or Hostess snack cake

As the saying goes, however, the future of opera is not so easily prophesized. The “fat lady” might in fact be singing, but it most certainly is not over. (more…)

Removing the Dust of Daily Life


Ermahgerd: The author as Frida Kahlo

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.”

- Pablo Picasso

Over the years I’ve found that I increasingly spend more and more time on my computer, and have less and less time to devote to art projects. I used to paint, sketch, and visit art museums constantly. Now, my schedule is too full given my academic workload, and extracurricular physical and social activities. Further, the high cost of art material and difficulty in transporting such material has meant that I have regrettably not done anything for a very, very long time.

Thus, much of my creative urges have found a home in the corners of my academic work. Graphs and tables can be beautiful. Fieldwork photos demand editing to maximize their aesthetic poignancy. Even spending hours composing PowerPoints was refreshing. Still, my soul seemed to be getting lost in the dust piled on by daily life.


Professionalization the CAPS way

images (1)Confession time: I’ve never applied for a job.

Sure, I’ve applied for graduate schools, grants and scholarships, teaching assistantships, and once, a course lectureship. And I’ve had  jobs outside of the academy too, ranging from gymnastics coach to in-China program instructor. Some of these applications required CVs, a cover letter, or interview, but none required all the elements (that I’m told) are part of getting a job. Needless to say, as I near the end of my doctoral degree, it’s time to start wising up about getting a job.

In a bid to professionalize, I registered for McGill’s Career and Planning Services (CAPS) workshop series.


Breaking the Shackles of Freedom

shackles There is a widely-shared perception that life as a graduate student is relaxed, romantic, and carefree. Sure, we might face the occasional stress-inducing deadline, committee meeting, or funding application, but what else do we really have to do? Of course, not all graduate programs are created equal, leading to a valued stress gradient, ranging from those in the Sciences, with their rigid laboratory schedules and tedious calculations, to those in the Arts, who may choose to go to a cafe to work, if they work at all. Life as a grad student (in the Arts), it would appear, is easy-breezy beautiful.

Why then do grad students seem to be so stressed out?


It’s like running a marathon…

Sitting Pretty Post Marathon

Sitting Pretty Post Marathon, 26 May 2013.

More than a month on, I can barely remember any of the nearly three hours and fifteen minutes it took me to complete the Ottawa Marathon this past May. I do remember: the moment of silence for the Boston Marathon victims at the race start; the feeling of my left pinky toe swelling-up beginning at kilometer 22; feeling jealous as I passed on-lookers drinking mimosas; the folk band’s rendition of “Everybody Dance Now” at kilometer 38; the crowd’s cheering during the last three kilometers when I really just wanted to give up.

What I recall the most was not the race itself, but rather the state of utter joy-exhaustion-emotion upon its completion, and the great group of friends that waited patiently at the finish line to (literally) scoop me up and begin the celebrations. (more…)

From West to East and Back Again: What I’ve learned about setting up research away from McGill

Travel Stamps I’ve spent almost two years in China researching tuberculosis control. Along the way, I’ve garnered a lot of experience in setting up research abroad. Here, I lay out ten points of advice for Grad Life readers that are on the road to do research away from McGill:



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