Apologies and Explanation

I would like to say I can do everything I think I can do but I cannot and I think it has come time that you guys deserve an explanation.  I’ve mentioned in class that I am suffering from a muscle problem but haven’t specified what type, today I got my diagnosis confirmed by a second doctor as a rare condition called dermatomyositis.  It is an autoimmune condition (meaning it is caused by my own immune system attacking me) that attacks my skin and muscle tissue.  On the outside, if you look closely you will see a dull red rash across the back of my knuckles and on my face (the hallmark of the disease), but internally I am undergoing a slow destruction of my core muscle groups.  As of right now the muscle damage is manageable and can be forestalled (though not cured), but it does make it more difficult for me to climb stairs and stand for long periods of time.  The disease mechanism is such that it also makes me overly worn out (imagine how you feel after a long day at the gym, that is my normal state).  Within the next month I will be starting a low dose immune suppressant to try and stop the progression of the disease, but that comes with its own side effects.

I am not telling you this for sympathy or as an excuse per se, but rather to make you aware why I might not be going the many extra miles I normally would like to.  In a normal semester I would be reworking all my PowerPoints with new materials, making up pages of practice problems and working up new labs… this semester I just don’t have the energy.  So this term I am relying on some older PowerPoints, maybe not making as many practice problems and such, but I will always get the core of the material across.  I will always be in class unless I physically cannot be there and will always be available for questions.  As much as I hoped to not have this influence my classes I know it has and thought you all deserved an explanation.

Exam One – CEM131

Since this is a first run of a new class (CEM131 was restructured over the summer), I am not as sure of the dates for exams, but I guarantee you will have at least a week’s notice.  After the first one I should be able to gauge better our pace through the material.  The first exam will be next Thursday (9/12/13) and it will cover Chapters 1-3 in the text.  I’ll be posting new Mastering Chemistry assessments and practice problems over the weekend to help you study.

Presentation Topics

I ran through the topics and highlighted the used numbers.  There were a couple of repeats which I fixed.  There are still repeats in the list, but they are not used in the class.

Assignment One for BIO220

Assignment 1 (Due 9/11/13)

For the first assignment you must submit a list of a minimum of five (5) relevant reference sources for your microbe.  These references must be typed and formatted in the APA (the most common style guide for Nursing and Sciences) or MLA (the style used in English) style.  All references must have a direct attributable author (that means no Wikipedia) unless they come from military (.mil on the web), governmental (.gov on the web) or the United Nations (www.who.int). All web references must include the complete address for cross-checking, even though this is no longer formally part of the MLA or APA styles.  This assignment will be worth ten (10) points.

Mastering Chemistry

For this first run with the new computer system I will be adding assignments as extra practice for you.  I will not be grading these but the problem sets will help you expand on your learning so I highly advise you work through them.  Note that each text should come with an access code.  I have added an assignment set for Chapter 1.  It is set to be due on 9/9/13 but this is simply to remind you that you need to keep up with the work, not to calculate a grade, you can access the course after this time point.

The course is located by the following information.

  • Course ID: CEM131IRELANDFS13
  • Course Title: CEM131 Dr. Ireland FS2013

Materials for next week

The Pullman Strike, during which a number of striking workers were killed by the military.  This is one of the events that led to Labor Day
The Pullman Strike, during which a number of striking workers were killed by the military. This is one of the events that led to Labor Day

Ah, the start of semester.  That fun time when students start to barrage me with questions like “when will you post this?” and “why haven’t you done this?”  At the same time I am grading the daily quizzes which show for many of you that the idea of daily quizzes was just a joke.  Yeah, even professors get a little bitter grading those first quizzes, especially after receiving a number of “hurry up” emails from the same students that got 2’s and 3’s out of ten.

Yes, I am working on materials and no I am not finished.  Much like I am assume a number of you have taken time off for the holiday, so have I.  My mom is visiting from California to see her new grandson and I would rather not be holed up for the entire weekend working.

The BIO161 PowerPoint files are up and the CEM131 ones will be up later this evening.  I am still working with the service provider on MasterChemistry (yes, they take Labor Day off too).  Yes, there will be a daily quiz tomorrow in both classes.  BIO161 can expect material from Chapter 21 and the presentation on Thursday while CEM131 can expect some problems involving significant figures.  My Bio161 class also needs to remember to wear appropriate footwear and clothing for a short (~1.5 miles) hike in the woods.

My BIO220 class will only meet on Wednesday (hope no one showed up today).  We will be covering Chapter 2, which covers Chemistry.  As I said, if you have never had chemistry then you have better be studying it very hard right now.  We will cover most if not all of Chapter 2 on Wednesday.  Next Monday (9/9) we will not being having class.  It will be your first day to work on your talk topics (which I will assign on Wednesday).  I always give one “library day” for students to work up their references.

BIO161 and CEM131 for Thursday

Remember, each class has a daily quiz on Thursday.  As stated in the syllabus you are allowed any handwritten notes of your own you have (but you cannot use copies of the PowerPoint slides).  The quiz, as I said will be the first ten (10) minutes of class.  If you come in late that does no mean you get extra time for the quiz.

New Syllabus

The syllabus for BIO220 has been updated to account for the fact that Mr. Thurlow will now be teaching the lab.  Please see the course webpage.

When an Explosion is not an Explosion


Many of you have probably heard of the “Cambrian Explosion.”  This is the commonly used term to describe a time in the history of life when life moved from fairly simple multicellular life to a huge diversity of life.  It is seen as one of the defining moments of evolution since many different biological forms were experimented with and produced.  The period of history has been the subject of massive investigation for years.  However there is one really common misconception about this event that comes from the name itself.  Explosion makes people think of a quick event, this was not that.  The Cambrian “Explosion” was actually about eighty (80) million years long.  To put that in perspective, the event that ended reign of the dinosaurs (the so-called KT event) occurred only 65 million years ago.  Realistically it is more like the Cambrian Slow Burn.

Why is this important?  The Cambrian Explosion is a common target for people who want to say the Theory of Evolution doesn’t work.  The common argument goes something along the line that such wild diversity of life could not have independently evolved in a short time.  I’m sorry but eighty million years is hardly a short span, but it is easy to see how the term can be twisted.  This just highlights the fact that you should always look at all the facts involved in an argument .