Archive for July, 2009

My Big Day Out

// July 27th, 2009 // 7 Comments » // Blog

As I mentioned in my last status update, Thursday 23rd July ended up being quite a productive day for me, māshā’Allāh. For a start, I was actually active between the normal working hours of 9.30am and 4.30pm. Amazing! I didn't even manage that during my PhD.

The day involved two major meetings, each relating to the two main projects that currently dominate my unemployed life: Deaf Muslim initiatives (e.g., SignLabs), and blogging. As the content of both meetings was pretty much confidential, I'll skip the details, and just describe the basic aims.

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The Lake District

// July 16th, 2009 // 3 Comments » // Photos

Here are some photos from my recent trip to the Lake District.

19 18 15 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

The following is my personal favourite; click to enlarge.

Jazakallah khair to brother Mohammed for inviting me to Cumbria, and granting my father and I a personalised tour of the area.

A Sad Realization

// July 13th, 2009 // 8 Comments » // Blog

A few moments ago, I posted the following status message:

Mehzabeen wonders why the Star Trek Voyager crew (or even DS9 – though I'm not really a fan of that spin-off) never got their own 'motion picture'?

I am not sure why I posted it, because, truly, I don't expect anyone on my FB or Twitter, or even my Googable blog, to answer it… unless they want to point out how much of a geek I am for thinking about such things, which is so freakin' cliché, that I'd be forced to throw a virtual chappal at them for not having the imagination to come up with something wittier. I mean, c'mon!

Anyway, it got me thinking about the last time I actually had a friend whom I could share this gloriously abnormal side of me with, as there is no-one in my life right now. For some reason, girls generally aren't into SciFi, never mind Muslim girls.

To be honest, I think the last time was in secondary school; not even undergrad. Sure, I hung around with student folk who had similar interests, but I wouldn't class them as “friends”. Just people in my extended social circle. (No, I wasn't part of the university SciFi soc).

I don't even have hope for a future husband-type to have a similarly nerdy streak in him; people are just so BLAH. Or, if they're not boring, they're already married – most likely to women who don't appreciate that quirky side. Gah!

Honestly, am I just a one-off here?

Is there anybody else out there?

Hello -oh -oh -oh…? [echo dissipates into the darkness]

Sigh.

Don’t Play Shaytaan’s Blame Game

// July 10th, 2009 // 10 Comments » // Blog

I attended the much hyped (my own doing) “Emasculated Muslim Men and the Feminist Hijabi” debate this evening. I actually bumped into my good blog buddy, Sumera, prior to the start of the event; so I know that I wasn't the only intrigued blogger in the audience.

Anyway, I don't have much to say about it all. Partly because I was asked to film it, so I was too busy paying attention to my camera, to soak in much of anything. I can tell you that it was a very mature, rational discussion, māshā’Allāh; there wasn't really any kind of 'debate' as such, as all the speakers pretty much agreed with one another (even though the panel consisted of Muslims and a non-Muslim, men and women – “Yey!” for social harmony).

However, one tidbit that made a lasting impression, was offered by the entertaining, yet informative, Imam Shahnawaz Haque (Psychotherapist, Teacher and Khatib), in response to an audience member asking why all the attention was being placed on the deficiencies of men – what about women's deficiencies?

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Confession Time

// July 9th, 2009 // 13 Comments » // Blog

Yesterday, I was informed that I had received the funding I'd need to accept the position that I mentioned in my last post. But, I am still a little scared to tell you what that position is exactly.

Ack… Okay.

I am going back to uni.

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I’m Bringing Bio Back

// July 6th, 2009 // 4 Comments » // Blog

I have spent the past few days with my head in various biological research journals, in preparation for a last-minute interview that took place earlier today. I was asked to select a recently published paper to review in the form of a five minute Powerpoint presentation. Five minutes is impossibly short for a blabber-mouth like me, but I think I managed it somehow!

Though I had several 'blonde' moments (for example, when asked to explain what 'p<0.05' meant, I began to mime a bell curve, clearly illustrating my poor grasp on statistics. Agh! That one's going to haunt me forever…), at the end of the torture session, amazingly, I was still offered a position by the interviewers. Alhamdulillah! However, I won't know until next week whether I'll be accepting it or not, as it depends on the funding they have available.

I don't really want to give away what the interview was for, right now – mainly because it may cause many of you to roll your eyes, and think I'm even more crazy. Especially in light of various statements I have made on this blog in the recent past. Dang, I knew this blogging business would come back to bite me one day!

Anyway, it's been a while since I sat down to read a proper research paper, and I have to say, I quite enjoyed the experience. It was a pleasant surprise for me, as in the past I'd find the same activity quite tedious – maybe because I was already tired and stressed from conducting my own research; having to read about someone else's became too much like hard work.

If you're interested, this is the paper I ended up selecting:

Cox, B., et al (2009) Comparitive systems biology of human and mouse as a tool to guide the modeling of human placental pathology, Molecular Systems Biology, 5:279.

In simpler terms: the study aimed to assess the usefulness of the mouse as a model for human disease at the molecular level, by comparing gene expression profiles in the placental tissue of both organisms. They focused on the placenta as healthy samples of this tissue are relatively easy to obtain, and the two species share physiological features. There is also a clinical need to better understand the mechanisms behind the development of placental abnormalities that can lead to conditions such as maternal preeclampsia and/or fetal intrauterine growth restriction, that affect around 5% of all human pregnancies.

A summary of the findings can be found on the group's website. In short, the group identified several thousand orthologous genes that were co-expressed in mouse and human placenta. Using an online mouse mutant database, they further narrowed down this group to a pool of approx. 130 genes that have been shown to display a placental phenotype when mutated in mice; it is hoped that these genes may serve as potential biomarkers for placental insufficiency in humans.

It's an interesting paper to read, especially if you're into Reproductive Biology and/or Bioinformatics. I was intrigued by the number of online resources they used to verify and improve upon their own data. It gave me the impression that one could carry out significant biological research using nothing more than a laptop and a broadband connection! That's my dream career, right there… inshā’Allāh.

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