Sock Economics

Went to club 501 last night. Had a good time, its a steak house but we all just had burgers (filet mignon burgers to be precise). They were quite large and I couldn't finish mine. Had two fat tire ales which were both excellent...I really wish they sold that in massachusetts. i think i might buy a case down here to take back. Also went to Target before dinner with the guys. Bought socks there which is really a highlight because there are few things that make me feel as good as putting on a brand new pair of socks. Brings to mind a story a friend told me, he determined that because the cost of doing laundry in the dorms was so high (used to cost like 6 dollars or more to do a single load of laundry) and because socks took up a small but persistent percentage of his laundry load that it made more economic sense for him to go to Sam's club and buy huge packages of socks and only wear them once. He showed me the numbers and I always thought that would be nice. So today, I'm wearing my new socks and its great. Ask yourself, who else's blog can you get a whole paragraph on the merits of new socks? Not too many I would guess. Besides all that, after dinner we went over to amanda's (an undergrad who cuts the heads of rats in the lab, and is all to willing to explain the guillotine mechanism used to accomplish the job) apartment. Ashley from the night before was there too and they were getting very drunk. Ashley doesn't drink and I always assumed that it was for some moralesque reason. In actuality she just really detests the taste of any alcohol. Furthermore she has an unnatural ability to taste it even behind pretty substantial cover. Thus her friends were trying to find some combination of sugar, fruit, and ice that would effectively mask the taste such that she could enjoy it with them. I think they finally settles on a very sweet strawberry daiquiri. The guys on the other hand, after a good couple long nights in a row, remained relatively sober...much content at watching the girls. Left there later than I should have to go to bed so I could be at work for 8:15 meeting with Robyn (the PI I work with downstairs) which she was late for. She blamed it on having ADHD, which I at first accepted until I remembered that I don't believe it exists. Anyways, now I'm waiting for all my experiments to finish after lunch. Then off to a masters thesis defense which should be at least somewhat interesting. Patrick OUT!

any excuse

Another athletically busy couple of days. Played volleyball on monday evening with Dan, Scott, Audrey, Melinda and Melinda's roomate (whose name I can't remember, but she was nice and VERY southern). Had a good time, though my arms were a little sore that night. Went out for pizza afterwards to a place downtown. It was pretty good, we got there just before closing time, no not 1 or 2 am...9pm. I really can't figure out how places do business around here. The "best barbecue place in town" according to most, Demo's is open from 11:00am - 8:00 pm. In my mind that means that they close for dinner, seems crazy but I guess it works for them. Just have to start eating dinner at 4:00, maybe I can get a walker and one of those craftmatic adjustable beds to complete the lifestyle. Anyways, yesterday went rock climbing again and had a good time. A girl from another lab, Ashley, came and tried it out for the first time. Invited us all to her place that night for board games. Ended up playing cranium, not my favorite game in the world but our team won and I avoided humming any songs or acting out skits...thus, I had a good time with it. Also learned some card game from scott that was kinda cool and that we'll probably play again. This afternoon, scheduled to play squash for the first time with scott and audrey and then to audrey's house for a party to celebrate walter taking the GREs today (any excuse for a party). As scott put it recently, "I've never been this active until you all got here (the people from massachusetts here for the summer)...I'm certain that when you all leave in august I'll be back to my regular work out routing of sitting on my ass in front of the couch and drinkin a beer." I suppose there are worse things than that but it has been nice being a bit more active that usual, especially with things I rarely if ever did back in massachusetts. Patrick OUT!

To recap

Where to begin...things got really busy hear really quickly. Saturday was spent doing mostly nothing, lent Adam the car so he could go out with his girlfriend some place but ended up needing it to go play soccer that afternoon. Dan and I rode our bikes to the field (very reminiscent of being in junior high again) and had a good game. I don't want to toot my own horn here but as far as soccer is concerned, I don't think I'm understating anything when i say "i suck." Had a good time none the less and will probably go back for another go 'round. That night went to a party at this girl lynn's house after having some BBQ and Audrey's place. Dan and I brought steaks, actually Dan brought steaks and I just drove. Ended up being a kinda cool party, they had jello shots that someone decided would be quite to put in miniature plastic wine glasses. They looked kinda classy but it was a little strange. We always made ours in little paper cups that would quickly be thrown on the floor or smashed into furniture. While they were always good, what a pain in the ass to clean up. Lynn's house was nice, actually really nice...huge TV, mercedes in the garage, subzero refrigerator...and she's a grad student. Come to find out she's been married a few times and has an eleven year old kid. To make things even more strange the RISE students (undergraduates doing summer research in the labs) were all there as well. They were crazy, a mixture of alcohol irresponsibility and social awkwardness made for an interesting show for the rest of us. At about 3 in the morning, people decided they wanted to go to IHOP. I'm always down for some pancakes so I obliged and drove (being one of the few sober people left). Got there and the place was fairly busy, ordered some corn pancakes. Kind of like pancakes made with corn muffin batter. In a word, they were HEAVENLY. Perhaps the finest breakfast food ever created, though possibly second to those pop and fresh cinnamon buns that come in a tube, could be a tie there. Anyways after a somewhat lengthy dinner/breakfast and trying to make conversation with people too drunk to even attempt such things we finally made it back to the apartment at 4:30. Of course, woke up at 9:30 the next morning because I couldn't help myself and went to the lab for a bit to get a little work done. Came back and started making ribs for everyone. Never made this kinda ribs before but they came out not half bad, could've used a little less salt and a little more brown sugar but I suppose thats lesson learned for next time. Not that I wrote any of this down until now so I will probably just make the same mistake again. Scott and melinda came over and watched Talladega nights. Today, played volleyball on the sand courts in the apartment complex. Had a good time and got covered in sand. Took a shower afterwards and went to dinner with the guys to some pizza place down town. Hung out afterwards and had a couple beers and now I'm off to bed. To recap:Soccer-> Jello shots -> crazy undergrads -> Heavenly IHOP-> Salty Ribs -> Volleyball -> Goodnight.
Patrick OUT!

Hippies need not apply

I feel it necessary to once again delve into the political forum, though the topic is at its heart a scientific one. Alternative energy has become such a BS thing in recent years. People have this idea that there is some technology out there that will allow us to make energy from water, air, moon rocks or whatever that will revolutionize the world and let us all drive hummers guilt free. There is no perfect solution out there and their never will be. I think the public by and large needs to really start thinking critically about solutions that are presented and realize that energy must come from somewhere and that things that are inherently low energy...will not just produce it spontaneously given the right circumstances, it just violates fundamental laws of physics. That last point falls on deaf ears more often than one might think, I saw a documentary on PBS about the "energy crisis" and some environmentalist claimed that the oil companies were keeping down technology that would allow us to run cities on sea water. I know it seems great that there is this possibility that we could do this but it all hinges on a specific process called electrolysis. That is, you split a water molecule (H20) into its component parts and separate them, hydrogen and oxygen. This makes a hydrogen fuel cell, you can either put them into a battery and make electricity or you can burn the two gasses and make heat and reform the water. Up until now it all seems great until you remember that first law of thermodynamics, or maybe you don't remember it: "energy is neither created nor destroyed." For those mechanical or civil engineers out there reading this post who struggled through thermo...I know thats not the actual law but thats the point of it. Anyways, when you look back to the beginning the process of splitting the water requires a tremendous amount of energy that is equal to the amount of energy that you could potentially reclaim at the end. The problem lies in that no energy conversion is 100% efficient, you always lose energy in the form of heat or light or sound or something but it never all goes where you want it to. Thus, we actually lose energy through hydrogen fuel cells. Ethanol is a different story, in that it is perhaps a true alternative fuel. Up until recently however this was not so in that it took more energy to produce ethanol than the energy you got out of it but now plants are better and genetically engineered strains are helping too. The only other problem with ethanol is cost. I read an EPA report that said that ethanol raising the price of food was unfounded because they don't use sweet corn and that the corn they use currently only goes into sweeteners. Once again, this sounds great until you look a little further. Sweet corn is the most commonly consumed corn on the dinner plates of american and world wide but one must understand that every time you buy a coke...that "high fructose corn syrup" comes from this second variety of corn and that syrup is what ferment into ethanol. So, the price of everything with HFCS would go up concordantly. I can see my environmentalist friends ( I know some of you are saying, "there is no way he has environmentalist friends," but i do) shaking their collective heads and saying so what's your solution smart ass? Well, I like biogas, geothermal, and hydroelectric power production. Biogas technology essentially collects the methane being naturally emitted from animal waste, landfills, and swamps and burns it to produce energy. In this case, all the energy conversion is being done by bacteria without any additional being supplied by us so the energy balance is positive in our favor. Some of you with a background in chemistry are probably saying but that produces CO2 and Al gore said that the world is going to turn into a desert/flood-plain/tundra/worst case scenario inserted here if we don't curb our CO2 emissions. What he didn't tell you is that methane is a 20x more potent greenhouse gas than CO2 and so we are actually helping the situation by removing that and converting it to CO2. Geothermal is also pretty cool, they use it in Iceland and because of that they have free electric power there. You can't use it everywhere but if we used it everywhere that it was possible to use then just imagine the possibilities. Anyways, this has been a long post and so while I could go on for quite a bit longer on the intricacies of these, I will end here. Patrick OUT!

Oot and aboot

Been out two nights this week, haven't done this since college...really is a novelty now to be able to say that. Anyways, last night went to Audrey's (guy from another lab group) and had a good time. Pretty laid back crowd all in all. He had a BBQ with lots of food. He made some chicken with garlic and soy sauce and ginger and it was soooooo good. While I'm not exactly sure whats in it, I'm sure I could replicate it somewhat. Had a few beers and called it a night...not bad for a wednesday. Today went rock climbing at the local community center. The rock gym there was pretty sweet and you can climb for free on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Audrey was there again looking like spiderman on the wall and I was...not. It was fun none the less but I can already tell that my forearms are going to be sore. After that we all went to the Brickhouse for dinner and drinks. A very cool place, that I hope to go to again. Its another "private club" so both Audrey and Scott were members and we were able to get in without paying this time. Had a fantastic beer selection and I got to have a "fat tire ale" for the first time since working out west...heavenly. Had a pretty good burger to go with it and they had live music upstairs. Again, really a cool place to be. Couldn't stay out too late though because we (Pam, Dan, and myself) have to give a seminar tomorrow on our work with artemesinin. Should be ok, I'm not too worried about it because I don't have to impress anyone here. Probably not the right attitude to take but I really hope the whole thing is low key and people have a good time and dont get all crazy about stuff. Of course, if I could find just a small verbal argument with some faculty member that would make my day too. Thats from 10-12, and then I have my weekly meeting at 2 so between those two things and lunch...I don't see myself being very productive tomorrow. Then the weekend begins with a possible trip to mountain view which I gather is the folk music capital of the world or at the very least the folk music capitol of north central arkansas (and is there really more to the world than that?). Either way, I'm hope to get my bluegrass on and listen to some down home good time music. Patrick OUT!

Movie Reviews

Its been a while since my last post but Jonesboro has been as I initially expected it to be...boring. While I haven't done very much, I have seen two movie worthy of my opinion. I know what you're all saying, "Patrick...when has a movie ever not been worthy of your opinion?" The answer to that lies in the film "Never Been Kissed" starring drew barrymore which I might think was the worst film of all time if it was even worthy of my opinion. So bad in fact was that movie that John Barrymore contacted his broker from beyond the grave and had him sell his estates stock in 20th century fox.
Anyways, I saw spiderman 3 in Indy with Dan. It was pretty campy all told, not that I was expecting much more. Tobey Maguire or is it Topher Grace...aren't they the same person??? Was entirely ineffective this time as a more manly womanizing version of spiderman. He should really stick to the awkward teenage roles and not assume he can do anything else. The same goes for his twin there Topher, that 70s show was good for you but don't assume that you're a good actor because people watched your show. I think that after three spiderman movies they might have done all that they can with this franchise. They are really starting to stretch with this stuff now...they have gotten away from the mindless superhero movie and gone on a crusade for human drama in spandex.
The other movie I saw was "Art School Confidential." Its essentially about a small private art college and the cornucopia of strange people that inhabit it. There are avant garde filmmakers, stoners, goth drawing majors and every other stereotype you can think of. John malkovich is in it and is clearly the shinning star of the movie...he really needed a bigger role. Of course, I probably say that for every john malkovich movie. The rest of the movie surrounds a weak plot about a freshman artist trying to find love and the search for a serial killer roaming the campus. The film itself is totally bizarre with lots of scenes where you aren't sure if you should laugh or not and very few where the decision is clear. Might be worth a rent if you are or have ever thought about going to art school.
Patrick OUT!

The following post is rated PG-13

Well, the conference finished with fairly little fanfare. I didn't win the poster competition, two fifth year PhD students weaseled their way in front of me. Got everything packed up Sunday morning to leave and drive back to Jonesboring. This time the car would have four people instead of three because Dan needed a ride back. After informing Dan of the particular circumstances surrounding the rather harrowing ride up we decided that it would be best if perhaps we minimized the time Lou was in the drivers seat and did most of the driving ourselves. I took the first shift to get us out of the city. Had to pay $92 in parking for less than 4 total days. You'd think for that price they would change the oil or something. Drove until we reached some small town in Illinois where we stopped for gas and then lunch at a subway. Siva once again announced to the woman at the counter, "I am a vegetarian." To which she replied, " dont get meat on your sandwich." A good piece of advice for any aspiring vegetarian who is not too familiar with the concept. We sat down to eat and I noticed that out the window was an establishment of some sort called "The G-spot." It didn't really look seedy at all but I made a sophomoric (please note: this is the only time I have ever used that word) crack of some sort to Dan about it. At this point, Lou, who had seemingly no control over the volume of his voice asked what a "G-spot" was. I told him we would explain it in the car. Upon getting back in the car we had perhaps the strangest conversation yet where it was as if I was living an east asian version of Borat. Trying to answer such questions as "where can a man have sexy in this country?" "its ok for man to have wife and then have girlfriend?" "what about mr. clinton?" Dan and I tried to answer the questions as tactfully as possible without piquing further interest too much. Eventually Lou and Siva fell asleep and that was the end of it. Dan drove for another few hours and then it was Lou's turn to drive. I buckled my seat belt tightly and prepared for the ride. It didn't take all of 10 minutes before Lou was already veering off of the road as he wasn't paying attention and trying to drink his coffee. Thankfully he didn't fall asleep at the wheel but he did decide it necessary to honk the horn at a car parked in a driveway, I guess just in case it decided to jump into the middle of the road suddenly. Finally made it back home and watched a rerun of the season finale of the Sopranos. I kinda thought that I should have watched that show from the begining but I think even after that one episode the thing that struck me most was ....

SIVB: Society for the Intentionally Very Boring

Finished day one of the conference and I was very much underwhelmed. I skipped out on the very early meeting this morning because I had to be at my poster for judging at 8:00 am. I think it went fairly well and if I do well enough there could be a cash prize in my future. We should find out tonight. Saw a pretty good session this morning before lunch about miRNA and regulation of gene expression. Then went out to lunch with Dan, Siva, Liu, and one of Liu's friends who gave me his name three times before I just gave up and said I understood what he said. Found a little italian restaurant where we ran into the same problems that we had at Denny's. Did a lot of explaining but this time on a more general scale. "What is this...entree?" He wasn't asking what chicken parmagina was he was asking what an entree is and then he moved on with insalata, antipasti, etc. etc. I felt like I was going to have to explain all of italian cuisine right there. Lunch went late so I missed the afternoon poster session but shed a small tear inside to make up for it. There are interactive poster sessions in the afternoon that should be *yawn* great. Some interesting talks later and then a business meeting that I wouldn't be going to if they weren't giving me a check there. I guess they figure they have to bait the grad students with money...I bet you I'm probably last on the agenda just to add insult to injury. Meeting lots of "interesting" people here that will be the subject of a later post. Patrick OUT!

Day 1 at SIVB

So I'm here in the hotel lobby of the Westin Indianapolis for the SIVB (Society for In Vitro Biology) conference. Yesterdays ride up was interesting to say the least. We rented a car in Jonesboro that Enterprise described as compact but a more appropriate adjective would have been minature. It was a chevy aveo hatchback that I think is probably the smallest car I have ever been in. Lou was driving most of the way which was a little harrowing at times. He has a couple of interesting habits which include slowing down whenever he feels like it (ie. on the freeway, going through intersections etc. ) not using his turn signals to change lanes, and a couple of other less than favorable things. In essence he drives like an 80 year old in boston who can barely see over the steering wheel except he is a 34 year old chinese man. He almost feel asleep at the wheel, at which point i told him I was going to drive and he should just sleep. While I'm not 25 or listed as a driver on the vehicle, I would bet that Enterprise would prefer me at 24 to Chunzhao asleep at the wheel...just a guess. After a few hours of driving, we stopped at a Denny's (my first time). I was unimpressed but it was a funny experience none the less trying to get these two to order. Siva, a vegetarian, had some trouble finding things on the menu. I had to explain what french toast, pancakes, omelets, eggs benedict, and a few other things were. I felt like a breakfast food wikipedia. I think the waitress was a little confused with the whole situation too, I'm sure we looked like quite the odd bunch. We returned to the road shortly thereafter and Siva began to grill me on American politics with question like, "Which president is better Bill clinton or Bush?" I had to bite my toungue a few times but it was funny to see how he thinks in absolutes about things like that. Then I had a conversation with Lou about tiananmen square (the anniversary was a few days back) and he essentially said that the students should have known better than to mess with the government. Again, I had to bite my toungue. He also asked if they could have done that in the US which was the second time this month that someone from china has asked about protests in america and the governmental response, assuming it would be similar to tiananmen square. Not sure what they are teaching over there in China about US policy but I'm guessing its not entirely accurate. Finished the rest of the ride out with fairly little event and arrived in Indianapolis at about 6:00 local time. The hotel is great especially compared to the dorm room I've been staying in recently. Up at 7:00 am today to attend a meeting...they have these daily but I'm only going to do that once more for this conference. I should be updating you on all the crazy scientists I meet here. Also, Happy Fathers Day! Patrick OUT!

Off to Indy

Well tomorrow I leave for Indianapolis for the Society of In Vitro Biology national conference. should be a good time, I've never been to indianapolis. We rented a car today so Pam's two post docs (who I mentioned in a recent post) and I will be driving up together. Should take about 8 hours from here, though Lou said he wanted to drive two hours then take a break and then drive two hours etc. etc. I'm going to try and push him to go a little further than that so we can get there before midnight. Also, I'm in a graduate student poster competition there so wish me luck and maybe I can come away with a cash prize. Not really a whole lot else going on but hopefully this weekend will be fun and educational, I will try and post regularly while I'm there but I don't know what my access to the internet will be. Also, very happy birthday wishes to Simone! Patrick OUT!

Linguistic Largesse

So today is Pam's (my boss here in AR and in worcester for that matter) birthday. She is turning 60 though I think she would be mad if I told you that. We had a meeting this morning at which she seemed awfully depressed about the whole thing. She has some of her family up and invited us (well we think she did...but thats another story) to her house tonight for some sort of festivities. Anyways, this afternoon her postdocs here Siva (his real name is awfully long and hard to pronounce) and Chunzhao Liu or "Lou" went to kroger to buy her a birthday cake. We took my car because I'm the only one that drives and they were talking about all kinds of things. I could recognize that the language they were speaking was english but it wasn't my english. It seems that these two have learned to speak in such a way that they understand each other perfectly well whereas I, the only native english speaker, rarely understand stand things the first time around. I wonder if overseas they teach another brand of English that isn't the English i know and love. All foreign graduate students coming to both WPI and ASU are required to pass the TOEFL, or test of english as a foreign language. I guess I always just assumed that English as a foreign language meant my english. Perhaps instead of taking french in high school I should have taken English as a foreign language. I imagine that its like ebonics, that is a language with english roots but its own language none the less that those outside the culture can hardly understand. I think next week I will go try and find some ESL audio tapes to familiarize myself with this new dialect. In other news, I will get a nice long car ride with both Siva and Lou this weekend as we drive 8 hours to Indianapolis for a conference. I would like to be able to practice my new mandarin chinese vocabulary with Lou so in the car today i attempted to say in Mandarin that I speak a little chinese and he responded with "I don't know any cantonese." Not so good for my linguistic confidence...though he eventually got what I was saying when he listened closer. Guess I need to work on the pronunciation a bit. Anyways, Patrick OUT!


Took a late night drive to Sonic last night. Perhaps the best part about being down south is the presence of this particular dinning establishment. I use the term dinning in the loosest possible way here because Sonic is a drive in. Actually its both a drive in and a drive through though I suppose in order to have a drive through you would always need to drive in but thats besides the point. What isn't besides the point is the most spectacular nectars that this place churns out. In particular is the cranberry limeade that is perhaps the finest drink ever created by a high schooler in a silly hat. While I try to abstain from fast food at pretty much all costs, this is totally worth it. I have never eaten the food at sonic though i hear it aint so good. By my count jonesboro has 5 sonics all within 5 miles of my apartment. That is one sonic for every 10,000 people that live here. Now that might not seem like a lot but lets remember that Sonic is not the only fastfood restaurant in town. There are fast food places I have never even heard of in total within the city limits of jonesboro there are at least 48 fast food establishments
5 Sonics, 4 McDonalds, 3KFCs, 3 TacoBells, 2 Burger Kings, 2 Popeyes Chicken, 1 Hardees, 1 Arbys, 1 Chick Fil-A, and 26 assorted pizza places. Bringing our ratio of people to fast food to 1100 : 1. Normally I would levy some amount of criticism here but I am reminded that Framingham, my own home town, boasts at least 10 Dunkin Donuts with a population not that much more than jonesboro. It might also be worthy of note that Arkansas is the 7th fattest state (CDC 2006) in the nation while massachusetts comes in at the 2nd leanest. Not sure if there is a connection there but I wouldn't rule it out. Patrick OUT

Politics as Usual

I decided that today I would move away a little bit from my southern diatribe and talk a little about current events. I have to say that beyond science and trivia my favorite thing to talk about is politics. I would say that I have strong moderate that an oxymoron? Anyways, reading the reuters wire a few days ago I saw the headline, "Putin plans to aim missles at Europe" to which I at first glazed over and then did a double take. My first reaction can best be summed up by the following phrase that I heard for the first time this summer. That guy is "batshit crazy." I'm not sure if its something unique to down south but I know I've never heard it in New England. Either way, I would say i'm fond of it...mostly because it makes absolutely no sense and yet conveys so much meaning. It just seems that everyone knows that "batshit crazy" must be really wacky but yet no one can really say how insane this guano really is. Regardless of its etymological or semantic significance, it certainly does an apt job at describing Vlad (we're close so I can call him that). While I was born not all that long ago and cant remember much of the cold war, I certainly believe that I don't want to start another one. I'm not even sure I understand Vlad's reasoning: "so they want to put up a defensive shield to guard themselves from our missles so in order to combat that problem we should point our missles at them even though we told them there is no threat thereby necessitating the defense shield that we didn't want them to have in the first place." Its enough to make your heard hurt...and if it hurts my head I can only imagine what is going on in the minds of the brainiacs residing in the kremlin and the pentagon. Besides that I don't really see a reagan-esque character in the political spectrum coming to tell putin to tear down this wall. I'm going to do my vest to not draw any connections between Ronald and new guy on the block Fred Thompson who seems to be running on a platform of, "I've played presidents and statesmen on TV, I betcha I could do it for real." Reminds me a little of a poll I saw a few years back where they asked people to identify the president in a line-up of politicians and other famous people and about 2% identified Martin Sheens character on the west wing as the actual president. Sorry incorrect...thanks for playing. But I suppose its the beauty of democracy that my vote counts just as much as the idiot that can't differentiate the NBC wednesday night line-up from C-Span. What it comes down to is that Fred Thompson will do well solely because he looks and sounds presidential which has been admittedly lacking in the current administration but it isn't really a reason to elect someone to the highest office in the land. Patrick OUT

In the Bag

Watching the redsox last night was about as classically dramatic baseball as you could get. Two great teams ( great team and another team with luck on their side last night), their best pitchers, a historic rivalry, in fenway park. Lead changes, homeruns, and crazy weather all made their mark. Alas, we were not to come out victorious on this day. so disappointing to regain a one run lead and then have our two most reliable bullpen staffers blow it big time. I felt like I was watching julian tavarez of last year. I also made the fatal mistake of proclaiming in the 7th inning that, "this game is the bag." Perhaps, i put a monumental hex on the redsox with those five small words. Either way I went to bed fairly disappointed in what I had just witnessed. To make matters worse, Roger Clemens is now injured and is going to miss his start. Normally this wouldn't have mattered but the New York v. Chicago game was going to be national and I was looking forward to Roger's hopefully less than triumphant return to the evil empire. Maybe next time. Patrick OUT!

Members Only

Went out to dinner last night with the whole worcester crew. A japanese steakhouse, with sushi, hibachi grill etc. Since Jonesboro is in a dry county if a restaurant wants to serve alcohol they need to be officially a private club. We weren't members of this particular private club so Dan bought a membership for 5 bucks. I offered to get him a members only jacket but he declined. The food was good for the most part. Melinda ordered a philadelphia roll (sushi with cream cheese and salmon). Dan had already informed us that he thought sushi was mostly disgusting but was a good sport and took melinda up on her offer to try a piece. What ensued was perhaps the highlight of the meal as dan made a face as if he has just injested the most vile piece of food ever created. I didn't realize I was going to be in for dinner and a show. The chef was pretty entertaining and talked a lot to his small audience. After dinner, went to Pams house to feed the tadpoles she rescued from the pool while she is on a trip with her daughter. Then home for an early night until about 3:00 am when I was awoken to the sound of heavy thumping bass from the apartment upstairs...I like them less everyday. What I really want is my sound system here. I figure that if they are going to wake me up at 3:00 in the morning then it would be fair game for me to play my favorite opera at 8:30 and wake them up. Alas, that will remain just a vindictive dream. Patrick OUT!

Hot Time

Few days back I got a lesson on dry heat sterilization from a guy in another lab. The lesson which could have easily lasted all of about 45 seconds and been entirely complete went for a good solid 20 minutes. He insisted that we have this conversation before I used his transfer hood. He was something of a strange man who used the phrase, "if you need to leave for anything more than a potty break" in an adult scientific conversation. I could be wrong but I think even in podunk jonesboro, potty break is not a precise measure of time suitable for scientific research. But its besides the point, he was very concerned about me not using a good old Bunsen burner to sterilize my tools (the way every other lab on the planet does) and also mentioned that the hood I would be working in was the least flammable of any major hood manufactured. For those not involved in science, this hood is a large metal box with sterile air circulating through it and they all look mostly the same so I would think the most flammable hoods would be about as combustible as a roll of aluminum foil but its good to be safe...I suppose. So after this lengthy conversation I of course felt the unquenchable desire to poke fun at this man with others who had the same experience. Come to find out today...the guys lab almost burned down a few years back because of an errant Bunsen burner and some ethanol spillage. Well, now I feel like a major jerk...of course, not enough to hold back from relating to you here that he used the term "potty break" but I've never been perfect.

In other news, that party I mentioned earlier is tonight. Dan and I are going to trek 20+ minutes into another county to buy beer...desperate you ask? Maybe...but if you were in jonesboro I would defy you to do anything different. Patrick OUT!