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Snow Too Early

Posted in Food and Dining, Hardy Drew and the Nancy Boys, Music, NINT, Snow on November 14th 2006 by Randy Reichardt

.: Edmonton received a big dump of snow on Oct 29, and instead of melting a few days later, it has continued to snow. Yesterday another 10cm covered the region, and the temperature hit -10C today. In other words, it’s miserable weather, and based on recent winters, way too soon for my liking. The City of Edmonton hire private contractors to clear snow from the main routes, but in the booming Alberta economy, most do not respond quickly when called to clear Edmonton roads, because their graders and front-end loaders are usually working elsewhere. So predictably, most of main thoroughfares in Edmonton remain covered in snowy oatmeal. I took a few digital photos of the campus as I left work this evening.

.: The saying that you don’t know how much you miss something until it’s gone snuck up on me today. Imagine my surprise then, while shopping for produce at Sobey’s this evening, I saw a fresh bag of this on sale. I was thrilled! I was not aware that border restrictions on imports from the United States had been relaxed somewhat in late October. Now I can make my favorite kind of salad again.

.: On a work-related note, my secondment at NINT has been extended until January 2008. BTW, the new nano-word I learned this week is nanoscratching. Don’t ask.  A friend recently asked me how the “nanobrarian” work was going.  I checked Google, no results.  Well, maybe now there will be! 🙂

.: The band has a gig on Sunday, 26 November 2006, at The Fox. If you’re in town, come on down and enjoy some tunes.

This and That

Posted in Books, NINT, Steely Dan on July 8th 2006 by Randy Reichardt

.: Kenton recently posted a couple of comments (1, 2) on the prices of new books, specifically of how the difference between the Canadian and US prices does not reflect the current exchange rate, which has been near ninety cents for quite some time. Typically, the difference is between 20-25%, but can be much worse – the paperback edition of that book about some kind of code, which was released earlier this year, was priced 38% higher in Canada. The hardcover edition, released in 2003, was priced 52% higher. According to the article in the Toronto Star, prices will dip by 5-10% by the end of the year. I don’t know if federal regulations cover books being imported into Canada – in other words, are US publishers required to price their books within a certain range based on the exchange rate? If not, what’s to stop them from jacking up the prices as much as they desire, within reason?

The second article to which Kenton refers, which is actually an edited version of an editorial that appeared in the Montreal Gazette, notes the following:

Major booksellers have taken to posting explanations in their stores. Prices are set by publishers according to a 12-month cycle, they say. But if retailers are paying inflated wholesale prices and passing on the hardship to the consumer, they are no less complicit.

When I went to Baltimore, I took my copy of The World is Flat with me to read on the flights. On the way back, I either left my copy on the last jet, or in the Minneapolis airport. Since buying the book, Friedman had revised and updated it, and I wanted another copy. The book jacket US price is $30.00, the Canadian price $39.95, or a 33.17% increase. While in Indigo books, I noticed the book on sale for 30% off, with an additional 10% for Indigo club members. (Since buying the book again, the price online dropped another 10% to CDN$21.97.) So the final price, with 6%GST, came to $25.40, a heckuva deal, as they say in Minnesota. Hopefully Canadian booksellers will continue to offer at least some selected titles at more reasonable prices, to counter the continuing price gouging of US publishers.

.: Busy times are ahead. In about 10 days, I will drive to Winnipeg for a 8-9 day visit, which will include another high school reunion. I’m planning to bring my bicycle, using a bike rack kindly donated by Geoff some months ago. I’ll return on the 28th or 29th of July. Shortly thereafter, I’ll be volunteering for the 15th straight year at the EFMF. Two days afterwards, I’m off to NYC, a trip which will include seeing Steely Dan and Mike McDonald perform at Jones Beach on Long Island.

.: Last Tuesday I moved into the new NINT building, which opened officially on 22 June 2006. After I returned from Baltimore, I helped with the opening as a volunteer coordinator that day. On July 4, I was given a temporary office on the 2nd floor, in an area populated by members of the Fenniri Group. The move into the new building began on 29 May 2006, and was done in stages. At present, some of the labs, carrels, and offices remain empty as more people and equipment are still forthcoming.

The reason my location is temporary is that my permanent office is located on the fourth floor, and that floor is still being constructed. The fourth floor will be occupied by off-campus companies, which will lease office and lab space and time on equipment for various lengths of time. The fifth and sixth floors of NINT will be occupied by the Departments of Mechanical Engineering, and Chemical and Materials Engineering.

The Nano Life

Posted in nanotechnology, Natl-Inst-For-Nanotechnology, NINT on January 18th 2006 by Randy Reichardt

.: It was made official today. Effective immediately, I am now the librarian for the National Institute for Nanotechnology, aka the NINT Librarian. The position is a one-year, half-time secondment from my current position. The new NINT building won’t open until May 2006, but NINT itself has been on campus since 2001, operating out of the sixth floor of ECERF, the Electrical and Computer Engineering Research Facility. Much has yet to be worked out, not the least of which is what kind of services I will be providing, as well as office space, security clearance (this is a federal facility, jointly sponsored by the province and the university), and a breakdown of time between the SciTech Library and NINT. When NINT moves into the new building in May, I will be along for the ride.

This will be exciting. It is a very new development for me, literally – only yesterday the mechanics were put in motion, documents signed, introductions made, etc. What is NINT? An excerpt from its research overview:

The focus of the National Institute for Nanotechnology’s (NINT) research program is integration – the combination of separate nano-scale devices and materials into complex nanosystems that are connected the outside world. NINT explores the integration, at the molecular level, of nature’s most powerful nano-devices such as proteins, lipids, and other biological structures made from ‘soft’ organic material, with crystalline semiconductors, metals, and catalysts made from inorganic ‘hard’ materials. The connection of natural biological or synthetic bio-inspired structures with electronics and information systems will lead to new and extremely powerful tools and technology platforms with broad application in the life sciences, medicine, materials science, and electronics and computation.

Stay tuned. When I know more, I’ll let you know.