Who Am I?

Leah had mentioned that we are participating in the National Geographic Genographic Project. The kits came in the post yesterday and it consists of a nice small cardboard box containing a nice glossy print booklet describing the project, a DVD, a very nice colour map about the migration of the human DNA, a few leaflets about National Geographic involvement and IBM involvement, a self-addressed padded envelope, an instruction card, and finally two cotton swabs and two small vials containing, what I presume, saline solution. (We haven’t watched the DVD yet but I presume that it will be some video about the project and etc., etc.)

The DNA test is completely anonymous. We do not supply the project with any person information. The only thing we have to supply on the consent form is our genders. Nor will the testing able to tell whether we have a genetic diseases or who our parents/grandparents/etc. are. The only links we have to the project from this point onward are our Genographic Participant ID (GPID), which we use to check the status of our result on the web site.

The DNA collection process was very simple. Basically swabs the inner cheek for about a minute, put the swab end into the vial and seal it. Repeat the process with the second swab after a minimum of 8 hours and mail both samples back. That is it! The only tricky part that I wasn’t sure about when I read the instruction was to separate the cotton swab end from the swab stick into the vial. The instruction says that I have to push from the top of the stick to “eject” the cotton end into the vial. Eject? That can’t be good. You don’t use that word unless you want me to imagine pilot seat blasting out of the fighter plane at 100+mph in under a second! Sounds like a recipe for disaster to me 🙂 But when I got to that step in the process, indeed I needed to apply moderate push to eject the cotton swab but it was very controlled ejection with no splash of the solution from the vial.

To make it more fun, we originally were planning to swab each other. But then I guessed old habit dies hard and our science background kicked in (Leah and I are geology and physics graduates, respectively). Although the probability of cross-contimination is extremely small, we were not going to take the chance so we ended up swabbing ourselves.

Leah and I performed the first swab last night before we went to sleep and completed the process with the second swab this morning. So now all we need to do is to mail our DNA samples back to the lab. So despite the non-trivia cost of the project ($99.95 + shipping), I am very impressed by the whole experience thus far. Very well organised, very well packaged, and make us feel very much involved. And to actually participate in a science experiment of value and this scale is just amazing.

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Go West

Being a software developer and proficient in maths means that I am pretty good at spotting patterns, or it can be the other way round. Regardless, here is a pattern in my life that I’ve spotted. It seems that the intervals between relocation for me is a geometric progression. For those who are not familiar with geometric progression or geometric series, here is what I mean:

Time living in Hong Kong ~= 15 years
Time living in U.K. ~= 10 years
Time living in East Coast America ~= soon to be 5 years

And with our plan to move to the west coast soon (probably in the next year or so) does that mean we will be finally settling down in the west coast? Probably, at least according to maths!

Time living in West Coast America = ∞!

Will our life be peaceful there in the open air where the skies are blue?

(No prize for picking up the 70’s or 90’s song reference in this post, depending on which version of the song you are thinking of)

Too little too late

With NASA’s announcement of postponing Discovery’s launch date from May to mid-July, Leah and I were thinking about going down to KSC and watch the launch. The last time we went for a launch at KSC more than 3 years ago, bad weather at the backup emergency recovery site at Spain causes the launch to be scrubbed twice. It was a night launch and I was planning to propose to Leah as the shuttle ascends right after it cleared the tower. Alas, I proposed to Leah in a Orlando steak house! Not really the same thing…

But since we left it this late, all the good tickets are already been sold out, and the remaining ones are viewing from the Astronaut Hall of Fame which, although close, is more than a few miles away from the launch pad.

So I am tasked to keep my eyes out for the next space shuttle launch, the Atlantis, around the September time (KSC can only put tickets on sale for the upcoming launch). I guess it works out pretty well since the weather at Orlando around July time isn’t that great, while weather during September is almost perfect. It is a shame though that there will no more night launches due to CAIB recommendation of daylight launch for ideal lighting condition for camera tracking and monitoring.

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