Luke features in my midterm

30 10 2013

See question below. The correct answer is of course “A and C” (but once Jonathan and I realised what we were doing wrong — which took us an absurdly long time — we resolutely ignored him and after 3 nights this awful behaviour had extinguished: Luke may be odd, but he’s no dunce).

Luke features in my midterm

Another question we set in the ANSC*4090 midterm was on experimental design. Mike and I wrote a behavioural version of the spoof error-laden study that a Science journalist recently sent to 300 journals, revealing that half of them would accept such rubbish for publication. I am very pleased to report that in contrast, 90% of my 4th years could identify a crap control group when they saw one!

Mike’s first “mixed strain housing” paper is out!

29 10 2013

Simple idea, loooong title….
Screen shot 2013-10-29 at 7.20.54 PM




Nice to see this out at last, since at least one of the referees kind of hated it!

Here is the link to the full paper (and below is the abstract):

Screen shot 2013-10-29 at 7.20.10 PM

“Where’s the rest of it?”

28 10 2013

Maria is working hard right now analysing some mink brain data that we got from Mark Lewis a while ago. He had some people in his lab section the brains of some of Maria’s males, and stain them for cytochrome oxidase (a broad indicator of local metabolic activity). These data analyses should be fun, but it’s all turning into a bit of a forensic exercise as we try and work out what to do with the various controls (e.g. data from blank glass slides) and, worse, the partial controls (brain homogenates smeared at different thicknesses to check that staining intensity increases linearly with the amount of metabolically active tissue — only some are totally missing [why?], while others show the stain was sometimes bad [why??]).

Mark’s a lovely guy, but replying to emails is not his forte, so for now it’s just us and the mysterious Excels… Maria says she feel like this:

Cat cafes

28 10 2013

Carole returned from France last week, and told us of the new “cat cafe” she had enjoyed in Paris. I had never heard of these, but at their best, they bring cat-deprived city-dwellers and recue cats together, against a background of tea and cakes. Pretty ideal, no? They have been big in Japan (where else?) for a while, and are newly springing up in Europe including Madrid and London.

Cat cafes

“A bloody orgy of vampiric neck biting”

28 10 2013

A recent mink release in BC has woeful consequences for local ducks and hens…(“one would assume they like blood” being another hysterical quote):

Thanks to Jamie and Becky for these!

Makes me right homesick

28 10 2013

Makes me right homesick

Answers here:

“Live love animals” conference 2014

26 10 2013

I went to this conference in 2009: my first visit to Japan. The organisation “Knots” was set up after the terrible Kobe earthquake in the early 90s, and their conferences provide a mix of science, pet care advice and advocacy aimed at promoting ways to live more harmoniously with captive and wild animals. Animal welfare both as a science and a movement is still quite new in Japan, and its priorities are a little different from what I’m used to: there was a dog fashion show, and the inharmonious lives of farmed pigs did not stop ham sandwiches being served. But despite this, it was inspiring, and when my sister showed via her 40th birthday present (a return flight to Tokyo I bought with my airmiles), we also had one of the best holidays of my life in one of the most amazing countries I’ve ever visited. The 2014 meeting is now being advertised, and it makes me yearn to go back. Check out the conference gods below, and the exquisite doggy sushi on sale…

Screen shot 2013-10-26 at 4.38.52 PM