⚙️ Work

The Celebration of Teaching awards ceremony for the 2023 University of Calgary Teaching Awards winners was on Wednesday evening. Amazing. This is the highlight of the year, and it’s inspiring to hear the stories from award recipients. Elders Reg and Rose Crowshoe did the ceremonial opening/closing blessings, and Elder Rod Hunter performed the UCalgary Honour Song. Reg’s comments about how the university has changed since his days as a student long ago, and how much our progress toward reconciliation means.

Reg & Rose @ The 2023 Celebration of Teaching Elders Reg and Rose Crowshoe, giving a blessing and sharing their knowledge at the Celebration of Teaching

  • Beth Mole @ Ars Technica: RTO doesn’t improve company value, but does make employees miserable: Study. We have a hybrid work plan available. Some are in the office more, some less. Everyone is super productive, regardless of where they work. It’s never been about productivity for our team. Communication still feels more authentic, easier, deeper in person. But, yeah, I am not a fan of open office environments either.

  • Alberta is clearly The Bad Place.

    The budget included this nugget re: post-secondary institutions:

    we're screwed.

    So, post-secondary institutions in the province will shift from significantly underfunded by the province to super-duper-significantly-underfunded by the province. Take THAT, nerds!

    • You can tell that climate change and the shift to renewable energy is a priority for our provincial government, because in addition to the ban on renewal energy projects that spoil ‘pristine viewscapes’, the 2024 budget includes a new tax on electric vehicles. Not a rebate. A tax. Because electric cars don’t pay gasoline tax, and are heavier. Or something. I assume they’ve done the math to ensure that the infinite F150s that are heavier than Teslas are burning sufficient gasoline to pay a proportionate fuel tax.
    • Stan Houston @ The Tyee: Why Danielle Smith’s Massive Health Reorganization Should Scare You. We’re about to break/rebuild the healthcare system across the province. Which will mean things will get worse before they get better. Which gives a fun opportunity to privatize healthcare to fix the problem.

    Staying in this province is exhausting. The short-sightedness, stupidity, and meanness are the whole point, but masqueraded as “family values” and “protecting the economy” and other half-baked nonsense. There were actually more shitty announcements from the province this week, but I’ll be heading to an even more unpleasant place if I keep following up on this bullshit. Maybe shifting gears to some good news?

  • Damian Carrington @ The Guardian: Microplastics found in every human placenta tested in study, reporting on Garcia et al. (2024). Quantitation and identification of microplastics accumulation in human placental specimens using pyrolysis gas chromatography mass spectrometry. Toxicological Sciences.

    Microplastics have been found in every human placenta tested in a study, leaving the researchers worried about the potential health impacts on developing foetuses.


    Researchers reported finding microplastics in all 62 of the placenta samples tested, with concentrations ranging from 6.5 to 790 micrograms per gram of tissue.

    It’s ok. It only being found in placentas. I’m not a placenta…

    Prof Matthew Campen, at the University of New Mexico, US, who led the research, said: “If we are seeing effects on placentas, then all mammalian life on this planet could be impacted. That’s not good.”

    It’s ok - it’s only all mammalian life, that we know about, so far. And the microplastics aren’t inert - they act as endocrine disruptors and may be linked to the rise in a whole laundry list of health problems. The majority of the microplastics are polyethylene, followed by PVC. So, only the plastic that is used to store everything we buy, eat, or drink (plastic bags and bottles), and the plastic that’s used to transport all of our water (PVC). Cool cool cool. Deja vu, for the whole lead-in-gasoline-is-not-a-good-idea thing, but at an even bigger and more pervasive scale, over much longer time…

Well. That didn’t work. How about shifting to some non-world-is-burning news?

🍿 Watching

  • ★★☆☆☆ Hancock. It was on, and I hadn’t seen it. Charlize Theron as an immortal protector of humanity? Started out interesting - immortal super-hero goes rogue - but went downhill fast.
  • ★☆☆☆☆ Total Recall (2012). It was on. I was folding laundry. The remake was… not good. At all. The best part of the whole movie was the brief cameo of what looked like Quaid’s disguise to get through customs on Mars.
  • ★★★☆☆ Spider-Man: No Way Home (Netflix). Started watching this while on the bike. Entertaining, but multiverse stuff just feels like “hey - nothing matters, let’s do something cool” storytelling.
  • ★★★★☆ Dune: Part One (2021). I didn’t watch this when it first came out, between a pandemic and focussing on the dissertation. It was better than the Lynch version, but still felt weird. The inner voices were handled better, but it still felt like so. much. talking.
  • ★★★☆☆ Top Gun: Maverick. Distraction while on the bike. Not deep, but entertaining. Yvan eht nioj.

🧺 Other

  • I took a 4-day break from riding the indoor bike. My body has been telling me to ease off a bit. I’m slowly learning to listen, despite self-imposed guilt and feelings of failure that result from that. I did get on the ice for a couple of lunch skates, but my “Fitness & Freshness” data took a big hit this week. I got back on the bike on Friday for a virtual recovery ride with George Hincapie, and felt better.
  • I modified my photoblogging workflow to include conversion of images to WebP format to save storage/bandwidth. WebP images are about 1/4 the size of JPGs (sometimes much smaller than that), with comparable image quality. (To my eyes, and for my non-museum-gallery needs)
  • I’m trying the Arc browser again. Not sure if it’ll stick this time.

🗓️ Focus for next week

  • Reporting for jury selection.
  • Meetings.
  • EDC candidate presentations.

  1. see the item right above this - they’ll literally use our pensions to pay for building oil & gas stuff through ‘pristine viewscapes’ ↩︎