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New Beginnings (January 2021)

by Kevin Mercurio

​Welcome to a new monthly blog series. As a way to catalogue the happenings of the world, this blog will serve as a memento for its state at the time of publication. What I hope is that by clearly writing out my top personal, local and global news, along with resources that can help us to develop skills, we can sift through the noise together. Let’s grow into our greatest potential.

Top Personal News

As the title suggests, this month I left two jobs, one being a laboratory technician at the University of Ottawa, and the other as an Associate of Fit4Less. Let’s start with the former. I am grateful that I was given the opportunity to continue working on my Masters project and complete a manuscript for submission to a scientific journal. I’ve never been more proud of being a researcher than finishing my first primary author manuscript. I was also able to hone technical skill and experimental planning, since research institutes require shift work and obviously you don’t want to stay around until the late hours of the night. Assisted in lab managing as well, organizing the disposal of old and purchase of new laboratory equipment, while helping fellow peers in their projects. It was a fantastic 5 months, and I will miss the lab gang dearly. I am also thankful that I was hired part-time at an exercise facility, despite the two lockdowns that occurred. Despite hesitations on taking someone knowing it was never permanent, the general manager was kind enough to try. This led to developing a healthier lifestyle of intermittent fasting along with daily exercise, no exceptions. I dropped 20+ pounds, increased body muscle by at least 5% and now enjoy learning new recipes.

Baetz Lab Gang, October 2019

Top Local News

It started in December 2020 but I’m going to write it here anyway, the province’s vaccine rollout. And even though we are being delayed in how many vaccines we get, my father, all employees and residents of the worst hit Nursing Home in Ottawa, Carlingview Manor, received both doses and are fully vaccinated. Does that mean they will never contract COVID-19? No, of course not. And with 60+ residents of the home dying due to multiple viral outbreaks, working at that place was a disaster. But it’s a step forward towards on the ladder out of this hole we all find ourselves in.

My Dad receiving his second dose, January 2021

Top Global News

I can list the insurrection that occurred on the US Capitol Building on Jan 6th. But I would rather talk about the inauguration of the new US President, Joesph Robinette Biden Jr. It finally happened, the removal of a blatant autocrat and the placement of the winner of a democratic election. You can disagree with his politic, you can hate the way he speaks, you can question his mental state, but holy shit how it is not clear that the previous president was absolutely worse? A dispassionate, cruel, obscene individual who has a larger ego than the combination of all American citizens, democracy prevails and hopeful will continue to prevail around the world. Runner-Up News: Alexei Navalny, politician from Russia and most importantly notorious Putin critic, heading back to the country that tried to assassinate him and gets arrested upon arrival.

Most Interesting Article of the Month

“Why Sleep Deprivation Kills” published in Quanta Magazine by Veronique Greenwood. This article further expands my growing admiration for what the human gut is and the microbes that live inside it. Dr. Dragana Rogalja’s Lab at Harvard Medical School demonstrates that sleeplessness, despite it’s known implications on cognition, may actually kill animals due the deregulation of oxidation (buildup of a molecule that damages DNA in the gut). Read the article here.

Most Interesting Video of the Month

I started to get into learning about body weight exercises, seeing as we are all stuck at home and need to make due with little equipment. Adam Frater, a calisthenics athlete, works to demonstrate how to properly perform simple exercises. After watching his video I’ve developed my own workout routine (definitely not as extensive), which you slowly chip at more and more. By watching this video, I realized it’s not about the volume of reps you do, but the quality of each rep you do. Watch the video here.

Monthly Book Club

“Capital in the Twenty-First Century” by Thomas Piketty. At almost 700 pages, it’s a behemoth. But the writing makes it simple to understand essential concepts like capital, income, inflation and wealth inequality in the context of several different countries over the span of 19th, 20th and early 21st centuries. Read an excerpt from the introduction here.

Monthly Earworm

“Girl Like Me” by Black Eyed Peas & Shakira. Simple beat but ahhhh, can’t take it off repeat on my Spotify!

Quote of the Month

"If I was in [Prime Minister Trudeau]'s shoes — I'm sure he is doing it, but — I'd be on that phone call every single day, I'd be up that guy's ying-yang so far with a firecracker he wouldn't know what hit him, from Pfizer. I would not stop until we get these vaccines."

- Premier of Ontario Doug Ford

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