Frustrating vs Annoying

I’m currently in my fourth, and last, rotation before I decide what lab I will join to do my thesis research in and I’ve started to notice a difference between doing science that you really enjoy and are engaged in and just doing science. I’ve worked in a number of labs in my admittedly short time in the science world, two separate labs at UMass (one soft condensed matter and one Biophysics), then two and a half years at Mass General (Biology), now in the variety of labs I’ve been in for rotations here at OSU (Chemistry/Biochemistry, Molecular Genetics, Neurology, Biophysics). All the labs I’ve been in at OSU of course are Biophysics labs since the PI’s were all in the Biophysics program, but I put them in their respective categories. The difference I’ve come to notice is what happens when problems or hurdles arrive. Almost all science projects will run into problems of one kind or another at some point, it’s inevitable, and how at least I deal with them I’ve found has varied not based on the particular problem that I’ve faced but rather on the project or experiment in general. The longest I’ve been in a lab was at Mass General and once I had settled in a little I realized that when problems arose, while I would do my best to solve them, I wasn’t as fully invested as I needed to be. At the end of a long hard day, when I’d be on my way home at 7 or 8, I would be annoyed. That is, I would start to get a little angry at the project and once the problem would be solved I would have very little joy at it being over. This was one of the  reasons that I decided to go to grad school, I wanted to face problems that mattered to me. Now that I’m in a lab that is doing work that is exciting me the experience is much different. Last week I faced my first problem that took me a few days to solve, but the experience was different, it was frustrating. I was being prevented from succeeding, from progressing, and once I broke through that barrier I felt great. Maybe this is just a honeymoon period, maybe it’s just me, but hopefully it will last.

Exciting News!

Mid-December I found out that a small intercollegiate grant from OSU had been funded! I had written it to get some money to be able to attend the annual meeting of the Biophysical Society which is being held this year February 2-6 in Philadelphia. This was very exciting for a few reasons, first of all it was nice to know that I could write a grant and it would be funded. I’m not sure what the funding percentage of these grants are, but even if it’s very high it’s still a good start 🙂 Additionally I have a friend from my undergraduate days who is now at Cornell (of Pot Roast Blog Post fame) and will also be going to the meeting. We have yet another friend (oh so popular) who is graduate school at UPenn who we’ll be staying with. He’s not attending the conference but it will be great to spend some time with him. There was a call at some point for people who be interested in blogging at the conference and I submitted my name in the spirit of this burgeoning blogging effort and found out today that I got selected! So prepare yourselves for an onslaught of science posts come early February 🙂

Pot Roast Blog Post!

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These are the things I will make into that.

. Whilst at a New Year’s Eve party last week I went to put some frozen mini-beef wellington’s into the oven that had been hanging around my parents freezer and my dad pushed them on me as I was walking out the door. Someone was shocked that I was cooking!…frozen food….in the oven. One of my previous roommates defended me, saying that once I had made a meal of delicious braised sea scallops that I had shared with her in the first week I lived there…but it may have been the last time she saw me cook that intricate of a meal. It’s not that I don’t like cooking. There is something very satisfying in taking a whole mess of raw ingredients and turning them into a great meal. It’s just that I don’t do it very often. I have made a few excellent meals in my time (and a few bombs but the jury will disregard that testimony), but cooking doesn’t attract me the way it obviously does to some people. Most of my cooking experience is limited to the very simple and fast meals; macaroni and cheese, hot dogs/sausages (even hamburgers can prove too much work), etc. I’ve thought on this a bit and realized that I have a lot of problems with my cooking habits or lack thereof.To start, I’m lazy. Making a big meal, or even a small meal, that is very fresh and doesn’t include a lot of prepared and processed food takes work! My other problem is that I don’t think about food until I’m hungry, and then I’m not near patient enough to find a good recipe, go to the store, and all that. I dislike to cook without a recipe, and there are almost zero “good” meals I can make on autopilot. Both of those issues are related to not cooking very often I think.

In any case I decided to try this meal; I was influenced by a few factors. First was that my parents bought me a very nice Wolfgang Puck cookware set for Christmas (who do I give my PayPal information to so I can receive my endorsement money? That’s how the internet works right?) Then on my drive from Boston to Columbus I stopped and spent two nights in Ithaca, NY with some friends. The first night I was there they made this pot roast recipe. Not only was the meal delicious but reading the recipe is a treat in itself. It’s just plain funny. (Unless you dislike swearing, you were warned!) So I decided to just go for it, and in the process it turns out I learned a few things. First was that even when I think I’m completely prepared I’m probably not. After I had washed, scrubbed, peeled, chopped, and smashed all the vegetables I wind up almost forgetting to add something at the last second (in this case the tomatoes, which wouldn’t have been the end of the world, but still). Second was that I am not someone who can cook to music. After trying several different playlists, of music I otherwise enjoy, I just couldn’t get into it. Instead I am someone who cooks to tv apparently. Once I had opened Netflix on my computer and put on a 30Rock episode I’ve probably seen twenty times (there’s two endorsements! I am going to be rolling in it soon) I was ready to go.

——————–7 Hours Later——————–

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WOW. That was good, I tried to slice up the meat but once I got to the center it just started to fall apart on the knife The only thing I didn’t enjoy about this meal was having to clean up after it lol, living alone there is no one you can point to and say, “Well I cooked so you should do the dishes.” I did go against recipe instructions and make mashed potatoes (only instant though, one thing at a time folks), but they were a great side, the gravy was a little on the thick side but being my first time attempting that particular maneuver with the cornstarch I give myself a pass, plus it was still delicious, although ask me again in two days when the leftovers are gone.

—————Three Days Later—————

While I usually dislike leftovers, even more so cold ones, these are delicious!  Even when eaten just out of the fridge 🙂

What better way to start?

ImageWhat better way to start a new blog and a new year? I tried years ago to write a blog revolving around my training for the Montreal Marathon, but since I didn’t end up training too hard I never ended up blogging (and while I finished the race it certainly wasn’t pretty). SO here goes! If you are one of the three people reading this who is not my mother then welcome 🙂 Ideally this blog will be about the myriad of things I find interesting: Art, Theater, Science, Chess, Tennis, Racquetball, Rock Climbing, Surviving Grad School, etc. However it may turn into what I can summon the strength to write about on the couch on a Sunday afternoon, in either case I hope you only stick around as long as it entertains you. I will aim for bi-monthly posts, but let’s all take that one with a grain of salt huh?

The picture above is what my birthday present to my sister was this year. I had an idea (inspired by a friend) to get her a wine glass and then paint on it. Initially my idea what to pic very iconic parts of paintings around the outside (think The Scream, Starry Night, and so on) but very quickly realized this was impossible to say the least. Instead I bought some silkscreen stencils from Michaels (Martha Stewart) and then once I realized I was a bit too inept for even that I had my sister, the wonderful artist, to give me a hand. The result is both of our handiwork, provided a wonderful afternoon of fun and relaxation, and hopefully a stemless wine glass that will make all her friends jealous, what better gift could I give?