A good ride spoiled

I blew a tire on my bike last week about 45 feet from the apartment, I had a spare tube that I put in but I didn't have my tire pump here. Alas, I was going to be out of commission until I could go buy one. Decided I could walk it down to the gas station and fill up there to get me back on the road and I would buy a pump later. Come to find out, the gas station wants fifty cents for air? I was just finally getting used to shelling out cash for bottles water and now they want money for air too...whats next are they gonna charge me for the sunlight? With water, I can kinda see it, ok...so you want to pay 2 bucks to get something in a bottle that you could get virtually free from a tap. So maybe the dasani bottle is worth 2 bucks to you...who am I to judge. On a side note, Dasani is owned by the Coca Cola company and they now sell more dasani water then they do any of their other soft drink products. That is pure marketing genius on their part. I can just hear the old fat cat coke board meeting in atlanta now,
Big Boss Man: "Ok gents, get this...we are going to take coke and we are going to take out the syrup...then we are gonna forget about all that carbonation business and we can sell it"
Little Guy in the Corner (represents me): "Why would anyone buy that? Its just water...they can get it for free"
BBM: "You're FIRED! They are gonna buy it because we are going to raise the price over that of coke...give them less for their money and put it in a nice blue bottle because everyone knows that blue means clean and fresh!"
Rest of the Board(in unison): "Hahaha...good show old chap...good show in deed!"
BBM: "Quick, somebody call Deval and let him know about this, he always up for taking more money and delivering less!" *

But seriously...fifty cents for AIR??? They aren't even providing the container!
On an entirely different note...I had a premade stirfry for dinner from LaChoy (is that french or chinese, I can never tell). It SUCKED...unless of course soupy vegetables that taste of aluminum is your thing, in which case you should definitely go out and stock up because the rest of the metal taste lovin populace is gonna literally eat this shit up. That is all.
Patrick OUT!

*In case you were wondering...I think that all large corporate boards speak to each other in haughty british like accents! Also, Deval Patrick actually did sit on the board of directors for the coca cola company, so that wasn't just a cheap shot.

Flattery will get you Everywhere

Started the day off with a trip to memphis to pick up Dan (a lab mate from Worcester and who is now living in the apartment with me for the summer and also working at ABI) from the airport. A pretty boring drive to say the least, but I will probably do it a bunch more times before the summer is out. Memphis looks like an interesting city so i am looking forward to seeing more of it than just the airport. Went out to lunch, where a waiter threw hot apples at Dan...apparently Chilis down here don't appreciate yankee business. Got to work at the crack of noon and still left on time to make it home before the game...why doesn't that ever work out that way in worcester? Working around in the lab I got my first hint of a post-doc offer. The PI of the lab said I should apply for the position they have opening up in a year. I informed her that I wouldn't be done quite that soon and she said to keep her in mind when I do. Not to shabby in my book...only a week and she wants to keep me. Perhaps its my finesse with a graduated cylinder or the way the sunlight reflects off of my rippling e coli cultures that just makes me irresistable to these women of science. I can really only begin to guess. Day went well otherwise, aside from a very disappointing redsox loss...just when I thought they were edging on untouchable, Dice-K gets lit up like a clark griswold christmas tree. Another game scheduled for national TV on Sunday with the Yankees so I can get my fix then too. In other entirely unrelated news, I finally got a PO box so I have an address.

Patrick Arsenault
PO Box 528
State University, AR 72467

Feel free to send me things, especially post-cards from places you may be going that are better than Arkansas (i.e everywhere but alabama). Patrick OUT!

BBQ letdown

Spent memorial day working in the lab up until a BBQ at the department heads house. I was totally excited to get a taste of real Arkansas BBQ that people speak so highly of but was severely disappointed to realize that these people are all transplants from elsewhere and so BBQ remains just burgers and hotdogs like everywhere else. No ribs or pulled pork or brisket...just same old same old. Good food nonetheless, especially a tiramisu that was soaked in kahlua(sp?) and rum. Sat down next to the husbands of one of the faculty members and he began our conversation with , "So, from massachusetts? how about those redsox...lookin pretty good." At which point I jumped at the opportunity to talk baseball and especially redsox with someone. He probably thought I was crazy or at the very least in need of a hobby. Mostly on account of my zeal for speaking of such things as the redsox and their awesomely impressive lead over the fourth place NY Yankees. In other news, I got a parking ticket this morning for "failure to show a residential endorsement." Turns out I need a little sticker that says I live on campus so i can park in the lot near my apartment. Apparently the guy at parking services interpreted me telling him that I am going to be living on campus as, "I will be living at the lab and returning to my apartment only occasionally so i don't need a residential endorsement." Maybe that guy knows graduate student life a little better than I would have anticipated.

In lab news (all non science folk can tune out for the rest), I discovered that the lab here has a nanodrop spectrophotometer and also a nanodrop fluorimeter. Very handy little tools in deed. Also finally found someone that knew where the big centrifuges were, but upon finding them discovered that no one has bottles for the large rotors. Thus they have purchased expensive rotors for 250ml bottles and can not use them? I guess I will check downstairs tomorrow to try and find some so i can spin the 500 ml cultures I'm starting tomorrow. Also found some guy in another lab thats having a party at his place on friday...perhaps their is hope for the social scene in this place. Off to get my parking permit straightened out before I get another ticket. Patrick OUT

A Carnivore's Breakfast

Went to the grocery store this morning to pick up a few things and decided to get some chicken for dinner tonight. In my search, I discovered a package labeled "breakfast pork chops." They look just like dinner pork chops as you might guess. I don't want to sound like some hippy here but the majority of meat that I consider appropriate for breakfast comes in the form of a few strips of bacon. What kind of carnivore does one need to be to pass over the corn muffin, oatmeal and orange juice in favor of a big meaty pork chop early in the morning. In addition behind the counter was a man who was a true redneck...not in the figurative disparaging way that I usually use that term but in the actual way...his neck was the shade of cherry cough syrup. I'm not sure how one gets a neck that red working at a deli counter? Maybe he has pork chops for breakfast.
Patrick OUT!


We live under perhaps the most music loving individuals in all or Arkansas...loud R&B emanates from each of their respective rooms. Heavy thumping base is ridiculous. They seem to also move a lot of things...I can't tell if they are moving into the apartment upstairs or if they are moving out...I really hope for the later but we should find out tomorrow. Sunday is the official move in day for the summer session for these apartments. Adam bought food today which he thinks will last him for two months, unless he is gonna eat rice everyday...I'm not sure how thats going to work. Also, an article this morning on wikipedia explaining me new favorite creature the Pistol Shrimp which makes a movement with its claw to cause a cavitation (very fast bubble collapse) that generates in internal temperature of more that 20,000 Kelvin to stun its prey. Evolution can be a frightening things sometimes...which brings me to my next topic. I have sustained my first conversion attempt. Whilst looking through the religion section of the local Barnes and Noble a man asked if I had found Jesus. I replied, "no, but I should probably check under my bed when I get home it seems like everything that i've lost ends up there eventually, give ya a call when I find him?" Ok, so I just thought that while he attempted to save my sinful, unrepentant, Yankee soul. Next time I'll just say yes and be done with it.

I've Lived in Worse Places

Well, all moved in to the new apartment. Its pretty nice all thing considered, especially how much we pay for it. We are on the first floor so there is no carrying things up flights of stairs and we are close to the "clubhouse" ie. laundry and pool. The rooms are decent though the kitchen is small, looks like it has never been used. Still not positive as to my address yet but I will try and figure that out after the weekend. Bought a set of dishes and flatware today at the local general store for $12...paper plates and plastic utensils would have been more expensive. Found myself all out of grits and crawdads, need to go to the grocery store to stock up. Finally have cable so I can watch the redsox games that are on national TV now. Anyways, thats all for now...i'll post pictures of the new digs sooner or later. Patrick OUT!

Reach out and Touch

Overheard this morning
Joe: Ya know how they say that the reason people snort cocaine is because it gets to your brain faster, but there isn't a hole there.
Bobby: I think there is a connection there thats how it works
Joe: So you're saying if I stuck my finger up my nose far enough, I could touch my brain...

These are the geniuses I'm working with...

Where I Be

Found a floorplan of the apartment I should be moving in to. If you look closely you should notice that two of the bedrooms lack doors for entry/exit...I really hope I don't get one of those. I'll post an address here as soon as I get it...then you can all send me things, redneck repellant, maybe water from a "bubbla" or some "jimmies". Also, I've just been informed that not only is Jonesboro within a "dry county"...but that the ASU campus is also "dry"...given that my apartment is on-campus...it looks as if I will be "dry", at least to any outside observers that is...
Patrick OUT

Patrick- Lab Culture Warrior

This lab is dead silent almost all the time. Everyone is doing their own thing...no body seems friendly with each other What kind of a work environment is this? The PIs (principal investigators for you non-science folk) are around constantly and always leading everyone by the hand. Not many people here seem to think much for themselves or have much insight outside of their project. My conversation with another graduate student this morning that we will call George (mostly because his actual name I can't pronounce nor spell).

Patrick: Good morning george, mind if I ask you a question
George: Sure, go ahead
P: Do you have any DNA modifying enzymes, an essential component of any molecular biology laboratory
G: You mean restriction enzymes
P: No, I mean things that work after those, they modify ends to help you do other things, an essential task for any molecular biologist
G: Never heard of that before
P: Really? Seems strange.
G: You should ask my boss, maybe she will know what you are talking about
P: How do you clone things when their sites don't match up just right if you can't modify their ends or do anything beyond cut and paste?
G: We don't
P: I see (Hangs head in disgust and orders $200 worth of enzymes)

Gotta go down to housing and find out whats up with that. Pam (my PI for those who don't know her) hinted that she wanted to go camping with us in Ozarks this weekend...I can hear the dueling banjos now...must find excuse not to go, maybe i'll catch west nile virus before the end of the week.
Patrick Out

ABI Day 2

Rode the bike into the lab early this morning. First up to the lab section would normally be a good thing...discovered you not only need a palm print and pin number you also need an old fashioned key. Seems strange that there is such an overload of security for the building when all day the labs are open. Anyways, couldn't get in to do any work so rode over to the campus center which is about the same size as Boston Common and bought a sweet tea. Finished that up and read a copy of the local paper someone left on the table and when I realized the most exciting portion of the paper was the TV listings I decided it was time to go. Back into the lab...everything now unlocked, started a few experiments and tried to find a PCR machine. Discovered that ABI which has at least 8 lab groups on this floor all doing biology and most of them with some molecular component share a grand total of 2 PCR machines. So I signed up for next month and went on my way very confused at why they spend money in some places and not in others. Went back to the lab and talked to some people about chemicals and reagents I might need...they gave me a confused look and didn't understand why I would need such things. I explained and they informed me that all the experiments I was about to do they do with commercial kits...what to do...I relented and did my mini-preps with the new fangled columns and the like...not nearly as satisfying. Then Jose's sister was trying to teach some undergrads how to load and run and gel and was being very patronizing...she then proceeded to run it backwards and ruin the experiment, I had to strain to hold in laughter. Got my new ID card to add to my collection and bought a new notebook for down here with ASU emblazoned on the front in silver writing...I figure I can fake a southern accent at the next conference and talk about the good old boys. Patrick OUT!

ABI Day 1

Woke up early and got my bike together. Took a short ride and then back to the house before everyone else was up. Took a shower and read some of Pam's magazines. Had breakfast with Adam and Melinda, the two undergrads also staying here. Pam gave me a ride to ABI this morning and introduced me to 101 people in the span of about 10 minutes. I have a quiz tomorrow on their names so I should probably study. Anyways, I gave my date of birth, SSN, and address to about 15 people today...and this country wonders why identity theft is a problem. Its because its not theft, people like me just give it away. I should have tried to sell it on eBay first...just to see what I could get for it.

1 identity for sale
in "like new" condition
might need some minor work or repairs
no major damage and low mileage
no reserve...will not ship out of US

start bidding people!

Anyways, got to the lab finally after getting access to the building. All the main doors require you to scan your hand to get it...very mission impossible without all the weirdness from tom cruise. For those of you in GH06/GP4212...I met someone who could be Jose's personality twin today. She is from mexico, is obsessed with cleanliness, is somewhat abrasive, and is always in the lab looking for trouble and grinding her students. Guess who volunteered to do my work there??? Anyways, I escaped and had a private lunch with pam today...somebody cue up the simon and garfunkle. Came back home put some air in my bike tires and rode to campus quickly just to see how it would be. The ride was short but the humidity is killer, I'll need to leave early in the morning to beat the heat. Came back and had dinner then watched Ali which was too long on fight scenes and not long enough on back story. Discovered that Pam likes to talk through movies and add silly commentary, or dance...yes, dance. Red Sox won today...pat couldn't watch the game...they play tomorrow on ESPN...Pam didn't spring for good cable to go with the nice TV. Maybe I can go to a sports bar to watch the game...wait dry county. hmmmmm...starting to shake...having minor breakdown.
Patrick out

Welcome and Trip Down

Welcome to my blog! Here I intend to chronicle the scientific and cultural adventure I'm having in scenic Jonesboro AR. For those not aware I am studying plant secondary metabolites at the Arkansas Bioscience Institute (ABI)

Trip to AR: Day 1 - Worcester to Fredericksburg VA (~500 Miles)
Packed up things in worcester and put them on ice. Seemed silly to even unpack all my things to start with. I should have just left them be last week while we were unpacking the new facility. Anyways, closed up shop...shed a small tear...then got in the car. Everything was packed tight so the samples sat next to me in the front passenger seat. Periodically checking on the samples like a worried parent. Everything looked fine but I admit I have no idea what I was exactly looking for. Drove for 8 hours with little eventful. Got caught in some traffic in the Bronx which would have normally sucked big time but was fine because I got to listen to sports talk radio from a New York perspective and seeing as how, the Yankees at the time were 10.5 games back it was quite entertaining. The red sox euphoria lasted into New Jersey quite a ways before I got my first taste of what would acompany me for much of the rest of the trip....CHRISTIAN RADIO. Typically I would listen for 10-20 minutes to a talk show before finally figuring it out that this was right wing christian propaganda. At one point a host was imploring his listening audience to call their representatives about conversion laws in India. In my science state of mind, I assumed they must be talking about some sort of energy conversion when in fact they were talking about religious conversions. Come to find out that they are actually talking about religious conversions which have been outlawed by certain states in India. I guess we can outsource jobs but not religions...oh well.

Day 2: Fredericksburg VA -> Raleigh NC (~300 Miles)
Saw newly engaged Brian and Simone...was really good to see them again. Also, got to meet their new dog Cooper. While, I usually dont like dogs all that much it would be nearly impossible to not like this one, perhaps I have judged the canines species to harshly in the past. Made me really miss the good old days and also made me want to move down south. Perhaps that statement needs a qualifier to calm the nerves of those people reading who are gasping at the idea that I have spent a grand total of 3 days down here and want to leave my good old fashioned yankee upbringing. I think I could live in Raleigh, nicer climate, nicer people, lower cost of living, just cosmopolitan enough that I could forget about the redneck culture that lies just to the south and west. On the downside of course are the lack of the redsox, lack of snow, lack of family, lack of new england patriots, sweltering heat in the summer, and finally...the lack of the REDSOX. Anyways, had a grand, and relaxing time with them and feel very fortunate that plans worked out in such a way that allowed that to happen, really made my week.

Day 3: Raleigh NC -> Jonesboro AR (~700 Miles)
Twelve Hours of Driving to get to Arkansas. Drove through the great smokey mountains which were amazing. Descended into Tennessee which was very flat and straight. 70mph speed limits made the trip a little quicker than expected. Sped through Knoxville, and Nashville before stopping for gas just before Memphis. Filled up my tank and went inside convenience store to buy and iced tea. Met up with most stereotypical redneck to date. Tried not to look him directly in the eyes for fear of turning to stone or a corn cob or whatever it is that happens then. Looked like he had about 6 teeth...maybe 4 usable. Green camouflage pants, a hunter orange tee-shirt with holes in it and a trucker hat to complete the ensemble. I tried to avoid him as I looked for my beverage when he began to talk to himself in an unintelligible southern drawl. At which point, visions of slingblade and deliverance danced through my head, thoughts of greusome murder at the hands of a mentally unstable hick. Come to find out, he was talking on his cell phone...and not just that, he was using a blue tooth headset. How far the south has come...I wonder if he has a black berry to he can text his buddies at the tractor pull. Completed the rest of the drive in short order, and arrived at Pams. Had to sleep on a pull out couch but it wasn't so bad. Let the adventures begin.