Apparently there’s this belief that eating too much turkey will make you sleepy. This may or may not have originated from people noticing that after every Thanksgiving turkey dinner, no one wants to do anything but take a nap. There’s a common misconception that turkey increases tryptophan levels, which facilitates melatonin production in the brain, which in turn brings on the drowsiness.
But if that was the case, my entire diet must consist of turkey (which it doesn’t), because ever since twelfth grade, it has been almost a losing battle trying to combat that food coma once lunch time hits. Do any of you have the same problem? It’s particularly bad during the summer when the heat just invites laziness.
The sleepiness you experience after your Thanksgiving dinner is likely a result of just getting stuffed, especially when your meal is high in carbohydrates. It’s true that tryptophan and its relationship with melatonin will make you drowsy, but the best way to get tryptophan to the brain is not with turkey (which has only a moderate amount of tryptophan). See, tryptophan shares this active transport protein with other amino acids, phenylalanine included, to get to the brain. Eating carbohydrates increases the insulin in your body, and insulin moves phenylalanine into storage so that there’s less competition for tryptophan to do its Sandman business in your noggin.
So there’s your fun fact of the day. Science, people. You got to love it.
Kalat, J. W. (2016). Biological psychology: Twelfth edition. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
(Recently, as I prepare myself to depart for Japan, I’ve done a lot of thinking, and experienced quite a lot as well.
Taking a course entitled “Intro to Japanese Cinema”, I’ve become able to appreciate the works of such directors as Ozu and Kurosawa very quickly over the past month. I feel that through cinema, not only have I been able to feel the ambiance of a Japan long gone, but while surveying some of the historical background I can live, even a little bit, the societal considerations and “feel” of those times. (I’m sure it will make my time there much more fulfilling.) As I watch, I’ve also been compiling a list of places to go while I’m there. As my day of departure approaches, I somehow get more and more excited.
It’s pretty late here as I write, but the more I write the more my anticipation builds. That’s all for today!)
I snort as I snap awake, the cold, early morning air biting my face. I look around me, blinking sleep out of my eyes. I have no idea how long I was passed out for. Endless hordes of what can only be described as nerds are all around me, sitting on tiny stools and wrapped up in winter clothes, their noses in books. It’s late December, and it’s not even 7AM yet. I look to my friends, hunched over their Nintendo DS’s. I then glance up at the massive, iconic building before me; Tokyo Big Site, the home of the legendary Comic Market: the veritable Mecca of otaku.
HI UBC BLOGS.
I AM ALIVE.
You will not believe what I have been through in the last few months. Real talk, some of it’s actually been pretty serious and I haven’t quite told UBC what happened yet, so I figured I’d hop back on the blog and catch up and slowly unravel my tale, since it’s no fun doing what the Japanese like to call neta bare, also known as spoiling the story line! I may as well make it interesting, eh? I deeply apologize that I have taken literal months to update, things got kind of nuts from the end of December and it didn’t all calm down until this month (my goodness where did 2017 go?).
Let’s go back to December.
Twice a year, Tokyo Big Site (a large international conference building) plays host to a giant event known as Comic Market, aka Comiket. Hundreds of thousands of people will ride the first train of the morning and line up just for a chance to get into the building, where tens of thousands of groups that make comics and fan fiction, called circles, will sell their latest works to the public. Along with amateur artists, pros will also sell their works at tables that are lined up through massive halls, all lettered and numbered in an order that takes at least a week to learn and understand (at least that’s how long it took me to figure out how to navigate the place!). Unlike anime conventions back home, where many different forms of media will typically be sold, artists generally only sell dojinshi, also called fanzines. These are slim, often exclusive works drawn and penciled by fans of official media, often making up their own story lines and scenarios for their favourite characters. On the other side of the massive building, there will also be an area for official anime and manga companies to set up their own booths and sell exclusive merchandise.
Comiket is run over the course of three days: always a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Comiket 91, which we attended, was held on the last three days of the year, as is common for the event when held in winter. Day 1, we lined up for seven hours to be able to make it inside the merchandise area, all for my friend to be able to get her hands on exclusive keychains and similar goods that one would not be able to find elsewhere. I also managed to purchase an exclusive clear file with Revy from Black Lagoon, an anime series that I enjoyed as a teenager. There were so many people that we had to be herded around like packs of hungry dogs, all eager to be able to get into the large, packed halls full of people all lining up to buy those fanzines and goods that they’ve been waiting months to get their hands on.
Day 2 was all about the books that we wanted, especially because it is notorious for women-only circles, who tend to specialize in a genre known as ‘Boy’s Love’ (BL). These are stories where main male characters will be paired with each other in romantic and often exaggerated stories, regardless of their sexual orientation in the original works they’re from. I was lucky enough to attend when Yuri on Ice!! had just come out, an anime series that featured overly pretty male figure skaters with massive homo-romantic overtones. I have never seen so many illustrations of half-naked men covered in glitter in my life.
It was beautiful.
One thing that Comiket is also known for is the cosplay scene, which tends to explode here. Cosplaying in public is generally frowned upon here (I will post more on this later), so any chance for the locals to come out and strut their stuff is greatly appreciated. Not to diss Vancouver, but damn, Tokyo’s cosplay community is insane! There’s less pressure here on cosplayers to make their own outfits and look, so people tend to purchase more components of their costuming, and as a result, they end up looking pretty darn legit. I saw some amazing stuff, and many of the nerds that had lined up for hours made a beeline for the cosplay-designated area once we were cut loose, high-resolution cameras in hand.
All in all, Comiket 91 was a raging success, after weeks of planning with friends and coming up with buying strategies, as well as how best to line up. I feel as though I have passed some sort of initiation rite, and become an otaku myself, aka a crazed fan, albeit specifically for comics. It was most definitely worth all of the suffering, and I even specifically booked my flight back to Canada to be AFTER Comiket 92, because I have to go back. I even applied for my own table so that I could express my own artistic love of comics… but more on that later…
HELLO! I hope you’re having a good end to May
I’m back at UBC for the wild ride that is Fizz robot summer. It’s not (yet) as crazy as my timetable makes it look, but I’m still dreaming of the rolling fields of free time I had a few weeks ago. My thoughts keep drifting back to co-op: lazy mornings and music; cheap produce and poutine; snowy nights with food and drinks and words; warm afternoons with tired feet and good views. Day trips, weekend trips, and a disproportionate amount of shawarma runs. Also: nine public lectures and one public forum.
The university town experience gave me a lot to do as a student, and as a member of the general public. Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo were short walks away for me, and there were free public lectures going on ALL THE TIME. I don’t remember all of the lectures’ content, but I do remember that hearing from experts in different fields was:
- eye-opening: there is so much stuff out there that I don’t know about, and there are so many different fields I can look into
- inspiring: I got to hear people share their passion and expertise on different subjects and you could definitely feel the energy from the stage!
- a fun time: I get to learn for free and with my friends? woohoo!
I wanted to summarize my takeaways from the lectures/forum in two sentences each. This list is in chronological order, from January to April.
- Shape Downtown Kitchener (this was the public forum)
People are passionate about their communities, and having public forums to turn this passion into actionable items is valuable. I had a lot of input to give to a downtown area I’d spent about a week in at the time.
- Bridges Public Lecture Series: Making Math Visible
People are often scared away from math at an early age (I saw this happen to a lot of my peers!), and think that it’s boring/unnecessary/irrelevant. Approaching math as a beautiful toy may help combat this—and as it turns out, this enables experimentation, discovery, and comfort-building, even/especially in the elementary school years. (I also learned what a hypercube is!)
- Grimm Lecture 2017 – Timothy Snyder: The Holocaust as History and Warning
Selfless heroes—people who risk their lives to save those of others—are not the norm, but anomalies, and they can’t save us all. Change must come from the collective systems and mindsets around us, because we can’t rely on stories of bravery to save the day, all the time.
- Velocity Start: Setup Your Business Like A Boss
There are a lot of financial and legal things to consider when setting up your start-up; it can get messy, so ask for help and don’t try to do your own legal stuff. HIRE A LAWYER!
- Quantum Shorts and Quantum Applications
After viewing this film festival’s shorts, I think I can be everything all at once, yet only be one thing at any point in time. Quantum computing allows us to do specific things really well, and if I were a quantum computer, I’d be doing some clockwork poking of big-toe holes into socks.
- A New Era in Astronomy: NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope
The Perimeter Institute’s public lectures are popular; an hour into ticket sales, and the event was sold out. My friends and I went to watch through a live stream anyway, and were blown away by all of the thought, work, and passion that goes into space exploration.
- Bridges Public Lecture Series: The Platonic solids as Tiffany lamps, art objects, and stepping-stones to higher dimensions
I’d never thought about being grateful for living in less than five dimensions, because we get more Platonic solids for our troubles (we get five in our 3-D world). People use their technical knowledge to do amazing artistic things, such as creating Tiffany lamps (hey it’s me!)—so what’s stopping me from doing the same with art forms that I enjoy?
- 2017 Hagey Lecture: Memory and the Aging Brain
Exercise helps you keep your brain sharp, as do mental exercises. Whether or not that daily sudoku or crossword puzzle really enhances your memory: if you like it, you’re better off doing it.
- The Crossing: Film Screening and Q&A with Documentarist George Kurian
Leaving a country is but one part of being a refugee; a huge part of it is the resettlement process. Languages are doors and passageways to knowledge and expertise, and having your skills locked out of the workforce due to language barriers is heartbreaking.
- Stethoscope Series: KW Medicine Students Bring Knowledge to Community
Getting electronic medical records up and going is hard—often, it’s a lot of manual work to just take paper records and type them up! Are you comfortable with being data—with having the information in your EMR being used to identify/discover health patterns in others?
And there we go! I’m happy I discovered the world of public lectures while away on my co-op term. While I sat in on random lectures during first year, I’d never thought about attending public ones—in fact, I didn’t know they existed. I appreciate how much I got to learn, and am grateful for all of the effort that goes into making knowledge more accessible for everyone. I encourage you to look into any public lectures/events/talks—it keeps me excited about learning and is a fun way of getting introduced to completely new things and ideas. (Also: public consultations are important, and your input is important!!). Let’s find some things to learn next year?
For all you first/second years out there, I’m guessing it’s nearing the time when you got to officially declare your major. First off, congrats on finishing your year at UBC. You’ve taken a range of courses that you were either required to do or you picked for fun (while also, hopefully, fulfilling those credit requirements), and now you have to think long and hard about what you enjoyed out of those courses and what you might be okay with never seeing again.
My advice? The latter part can be both the easiest thing and the trickiest. It’s easiest when you know you hate a subject. You can’t like them all, and that’s fine. Don’t kid yourself that you love, for example, labs when they make your palms sweaty and your heart palpitate just thinking about them but you think that the Chemistry designation would look cool. If you like two subjects too much, you might want to consider combining them into some kind of Integrated major if your faculty allows it, or if that’s not an option, there’s always the opportunity to double major or minor.
I’ve had one full year of being a Biochemistry major and another full year of being a Behavioural Neuroscience major. I also double major in English. If you’re thinking about going into any of these, you’re welcome to leave a comment, and I’ll get back to you on what I can answer! And so, my personal rundown on the majors:
Pros: You get to mingle with the Chemistry kids, you get to experience a nice array of science courses (genetics, mathematics, cell biology, etc.) before even touching the biochemistry material, you have a lot of lab work
Cons: Lots of memorization (which is okay if you’re interested in glycolysis, the Krebs cycle, ATP, etc. but, like my prof once said, will be like a march through Siberia if you aren’t), course load is pretty heavy (even in second year, there is a timetable you’ll have to pick from, and some of the courses seem only vaguely related to your major (e.g. calculus III)), you have a lot of lab work
Pros: The program is small and you have a lot of opportunity to work in groups; the program is flexible in its course requirements, meaning that you can take some pretty wacky electives and still graduate in 4 years; there’s a lot of opportunities to get into research, both in the micro-pipetting sense and the interacting with humans sense.
Cons: Grades are scaled, but this can be problematic because the program is so small and competitive to get in (although the prof does have some power with the averages, and most profs I’ve had are pretty reasonable about where they set the average to be); lots of Psychology courses seem to follow a 2-midterms-and-a-final format, so there’s the possibility of burnout if you’re taking a lot of Psychology courses in one term and you’re halfway through midterm season; the major is rather research-oriented
Pros: You get to read super awesome texts you may have never picked up on your own, you get to analyze texts through interesting lens brought up in class or recommended to you by the prof, passing and failing doesn’t rely on memorizing a lot of obscure facts but rather your ability to engage with the material you’ve been presented throughout the term
Cons: You will forever be behind in your readings, what you get out of the class can really depend on the prof, you might not love all the readings but have to get through them anyways
That’s was pretty brief and in no way sums up accurately all of the cool and uncool things of each major, but maybe it will get you thinking in the right direction about what you want to pursue in your time here at UBC. You’ll notice that I repeat some things (e.g. lab work) in both the pros and cons section of a major, and that’s because it’s really dependent on you how you’ll take that info.
Declaring your major can feel pretty binding, and sometimes you might not feel 100% ready even when UBC says that you should. You should think carefully about what you want to do and choose wisely, but remember that your decision doesn’t mean the end of anything. You can switch, you can pursue extracurricular activities, you can take electives…tuum est, right? Best of luck with wherever your university years take you!
Nanjing is a quick 90 min train ride from Shanghai and is definitely a must for a day trip! We arrived and used shared bikes to get around.
First up we went to a lake by a park on the edge of the Xuanwu gate of old city walls where we rented a very very slow motorboat and motored around on the lake. We found this an easier way to see everything around the lake without having to walk around!
Afterwards we went to the Nanjing Massacre Memorial. We went on a Monday so the massacre memorial inside was closed but we were still able to view the very powerful statues that lie outside the hall.
Next we went to the Confucius temple (it is one of the most famous in China and was huge with many ponds, rock formations and pagodas.Defiantly worth a visit! In the area by the Confucius Temple is an old style Chinese town (very touristy and overpriced but worth a look!)
To get around:
- Metro or bikes! (bike share is easy and fun!)
- Shrimp Dumpling
- One day was amazing but there are a ton of great hikes and other sites so if you have the time I would recommend two full days one night trip!