Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Yes, more food. My roommate works at an Italian Artisan Baker. Sadly, they throw away all of their croissants, scones, and breads at the end of the day because they make fresh ones in the morning. So....my roommate brings them home, and we're forced to eat them. The food is getting to me.

So I went to the Aran Islands (Inis Mor) this past weekend. It's off the coast of Galway. It had been storming, so the ferry there was pretty rocky. The person right behind me was puking halfway through the trip.

Dun Aonghasa is a fort on Inis Mor. The next few pictures are of the fort.

It's situated on the edge of a cliff

It's made out of stones

Way up to the fort

Thatched roof!

Near the cave I went to

The Cliffs of Moher: so beautiful. One scene from the 6th HP movie was shot here:)

The weekend before last, I went to Donegal to see Shliab Liab (Sleive League in english). It's the tallest cliffs in Europe, and it's absolutely gorgeous. 10x prettier than the Cliffs of Moher, but it's less touristy, so getting there (and worst of all getting back) was an absolute pain in the ass.

This is a freshwater lake near the way up the cliffs. People come here to fish trout and such. The other body of water you see in the background is the Atlantic Ocean.

Up the cliffs; there's a hiker's passageway. I went partly up the cliffs. You can hike all the way across them, but it takes 5 hours.

The water was just so pretty. A deep/clear blue.

The first 10 min. I was up there, it was rainy and SO COLD!

Great trips!! Absolutely amazing.

Okay, so now to lab stuff:

I learned how to do adult brain dissections. YAY! And I stained them for the first time today to look at brain anatomy. They're in primary overnight, so I'll get to see what it looks like tomorrow.

On a sad note: FRAP is no longer working. Les came (the confocal guru), and told me that my images and analysis are pretty much crap because I over saturated the images...I didn't know that could happen. I guess the imaging parameters for a dead prep and a live prep are WAY different. You don't just kick up the gain and go. So I'm at square one...again. With no data. It's really, really frustrating. AHHHH!! I worked on it all Friday after Les left, some of Monday, and some today, and it's just not working out. John tried to help (a grad student) and even Mani (my PI). I'm doing everything: changing the number of iterations for bleaching, messing with the zoom, changing the laser power; you know when you're bleaching only 5 iterations at 30% laser power and there's no recovery, there is a problem. Ugh, it was working before Les came...but I was doing it wrong, so I guess it didn't matter. But the results I was getting looked like the results of published data, and there was a HUGE difference in recovery between dysbindin RNAi (dysbindin is linked to schizophrenia) and the controls. It seemed like it was going well, and my RAC1 mutants came in; I crossed them, and they're ready for imaging, but I can't image them because my parameters are not working now. I guess that's research for you? It's just annoying because we have to make a poster in the end, and we're 1/4 of the way through, and I have no data. Hahah...sad week.

On a brighter note, I reread the 7th Harry Potter; it's tradition to always reread the books before the movie comes out. I'm so excited! Hopefully this one will be good. The other ones (not as much #7 part II) have been disappointing.

Brittany comes on Thursday:) and Ashley comes on Friday! I'm so excited; I can't wait to see them.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

I mentioned a couple of times on the blog that we didn't have many pairs of birds who laid eggs. We kept the ones that laid eggs, and put in new pairs to replace the ones that didn't breed. We are getting lots of eggs now and I am coordinating a lot of activities and recording data constantly.

I was very anxious for the chicks to hatch. One day I came into the lab, and we had...

One day old:

And then, four days old...

From what I understand, people either think they're ugly or precious. I don't think they're very pretty, but having those little buggers roll around in my hand is a precious experience. :)

We've started injecting the mothers with hatched chicks with either PHZ (to induce anemia) or saline (control) to see how it affects their parental behavior. Stay tuned for any observations...

In other news, my half marathon was today! I picked up my bib number on Friday. The event itself left me with mixed feelings. I trained to break 2:05:00, but my times in training told me I may be able to break 2:00:00. I didn't know what to expect but rolled along with it. The course of the race was beautiful; we ran along the Pacific Ocean (I loved the fishy breeze) and through some nature park areas. It was a good opportunity to get a different perspective on Vancouver, since I'm staying in a very populated area.

On the other hand, the course didn't have enough water/Gatorade stops considering the length of the run (13 mi/21 km) and the warm temperature. I can't say that I should have brought my own drinks--try carrying 2+ liters of liquid for a run like this--because the race sponsor is responsible for providing participants with proper fuel and hydration options. This quip (which is actually a major problem) made the run a struggle after about 8 mi, and very unpleasant after 11 mi. I finished in 2:00:58, and I'm happy with my result because I never felt like I slacked. I pushed myself the best that I could, and given the sad amount of hydration I received, I could not have done better. I suppose breaking 2:00:00 wasn't meant to happen today. I got a personal best by 7:26 and that's "highly significant", if yall know what I mean. ;)

I'll be back next week with more!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

La Primera Salida

Helloo all!

I got back from the field last Wednesday where we ended up spending two days in Borbón up in the Esmeralda Province. We went through 7 houses with a mix of chicken raising households and non-chicken raising households, took soil, surface and household water samples. We also went along the river (heavily polluted by the illegal mining) and took environmental samples there as well. It was super hot and sweaty the entire time. Just imagine, the river water was 30 degrees Celsius! I bet the bacteria loved that temp. We processed the water using a technique called membrane filtration, which required using a hand-pump for over 70 samples and 2 dilutions. My forearms are going to be jacked at the end of this project.

Here's the part you're not going to believe. I was told wearing quick-dry shorts and bug repellent would be a good idea, but that was the worst advice I could've received. In one day and a half, I received 350 black fly bites from being in the field and all of them on my legs! Note to self: I'm buying a pair of quick dry paints real fast before I come back out into the field because I look diseased. I'd take a picture of it, but it's too gross even for me. We have 3 more villages to sample from: Colon Eloy, Valdez, and Timbere. This was my first real international field experience and it was so worth it. Granted the first day we collected our samples for 3 hours, processed our bacteria for 4 hours and didn't finish until 10 PM, I definitely thought we needed to revise our POA in the end.

Luckily for us, Marissa and I have officially moved in to a host family closer to the university so the processing in the official microbio lab isn't bad. Just to clarify, there's a field lab and a city lab. The field lab is for immediate processing and the city lab is to complete isolation of bacteria and eventually DNA extraction (which we may or may not get to). It's a beautiful little town, but I'm not going to lie, I miss the fun things we could do in Quito. Regardless, the decision is good because the family is super accommodating and friendly in all respects. I've got more pictures! I'll combine the first and second field days when we come back from the second salida.

More enjoyment...

The wonderful view of Quito from the Centro Histórico:

My first weekend in Quito I went to La Mitad del Mundo, which is literally a museum at the equator (I've been to the equator twice now! Once in Africa and once in S. America thanks to Emory!):

Here's the view of La Plaza Foch, which is pretty much where the nightlife is at like I mentioned before (and they have great coffee!):

A yummy typical Ecuadorian plate for vegetarians:

Btw, I'm still loving this country more and more every day.

Monday, June 20, 2011

3 Days in Russia

St. Petersburg

I'm on a boat, again!

Russian, Asian, Mexican, Estonian

Russian hospitality at its finest. Couchsurfing!

Forgot the name of this dish, but it was great! Also had Russian pancakes with meat and caviar, as well as other Russian foods.
Off the boat, we immediately see Soviet Russia (right) and modern Russia (left)

Even in the city center, control is very prevalent. Dudes with batons and Russian AK-47s, military vehicles, and a mean face.

Soviet-style building during Stalin years used as a library. It's actually one of the best libraries in the world, never mind Russia.

But, the city was beautiful. The architecture was astounding in the "Venice of The North." Look, there's a pink church! There were about 20 churches I passed by. Went into 3 or 4 of them and they all looked the same.

Something like this. Orthodox church where one priest grabbed my camera and *tried* to delete a picture I had taken of the "inner room." Pshhh, whatevs. Wedding service here was pretty awesome, though.

And that was inside this one, St. Basilica's Cathedral. Almost every museum I got in free (or for around 100 rubles/3 bucks) because they took my Emory card!

More churches.. This is probably the most famous of all in St. Petersburg - the Church of the Savior on Blood. Inside was okay - I mean, seriously, they were all pretty much the same with high roofs, cool architecture, and definitely way too much money spent.

Venice of The North. Absolutely stunning scenery throughout the city with many rivers and bridges, not to mention the multi-colored facades of buildings lining these rivers. This is the famous Hermitage/Winter Palace bridge right on the Neva.

Hermitage, Neva River, and bridges at night. It was absolutely astounding. This was absolutely gorgeous during the White Nights (it was around 2-3AM then). Also, that night had tons of drunk folks watching fireworks and many boats doing cool routines in the river. Really amazing view. You can see one of the bridges in the far view open.

My bedroom inside the Winter Palace/Hermitage. Too many rooms like this.. some are even more extravagant with gold everywhere. Makes you think - how much did they spend on these palaces?

Me as Michelangelo's "Crouching Boy." [Yes, I intentionally went grabbed my left leg instead of my right. And yes, people looked at us if we were crazy]
St. Issac's Cathedral was pretty neat. St. Catherine, St. Peter, Peter and Paul, ____'s Catherals were not shown - too many churches! Imagine if Stalin didn't destroy the 40 churches that once stood in St. Petersburg.

View from the top of the church

Peter the Great was a genius and a tyrant.

500 rubles to hold and take a picture with these little dudes.

For Sars
Back to work.. 631 pictures and tons of stories later