Friday, May 27, 2011


Thursday, May 26, 2011
It was just a regular day at work.  I started the day off taking the mice out of the alcohol chambers as I have done all week.  For some reason there was a shortage of tasks for me, which was a bummer.  I would rather be super busy doing things and learning (yup, I'm a nerd) because that is why I'm on the east coast! 
It was the last day for one of my coworkers, so I went to happy hour with him at Front Page.  It is a restaurant that has free pork or chicken tacos and two dollar Coronas for happy hour on Thursdays (that is a STEAL in DC).  Plus the tacos were really good!  So I met another researcher in my building that also does research on alcohol, but she approaches it from a different direction than the lab I work in does.  I met a bunch of really awesome people!  One of my housemates met up with me at the bar and we all moved to a different bar called Sign of the Whale.  I loved this place!  It has such a dive bar feel, it was fantastic.  It sort of reminded me of Peggys (Drake neighborhood bar)... only triple the size and equally as packed.

Friday, May 27th, 2011
As soon as I got to work I was busy.  I had to take the mice out of the alcohol chambers as usual.  Then I had to help a coworker inject mice with pentobarbital or ethanol.  We were doing the same experiment I talked about early this week called "loss of righting."  We were timing how long it took to get a mouse "messed up" enough to roll on their backs.  Once on their backs we timed how long it took for them to roll back over (>40 min).  As I was trying to get a good hold of a mouse the DAMN thing BIT ME!!!!!! Do not be fooled, little mice still have very, very sharp teeth!  He latched onto my knuckle for the longest 15 seconds of my life!  Needless to say, I was not pleased.  My sorrow of sticking a tiny needle into such a tiny creature was quickly gone and I felt zero remorse injecting that mouse!  Especially because his bite probably hurt me more than the needle hurt him!!!!!  After I was done helping inject the mice, I had to go cut feed for mice on a restricted diet.  By the time I was done feeding the mice, it was noon. 
Once back in the lab, another coworker asked me to help cover slip slides (the little pieces of glass you put on a microscope to zoom in on something, we have to cover it to protect the specimen from air).  Once we were done with that it was time for our weekly lab meeting.  After the lab meeting there wasn't much that I did.
  Currently it is 4:55 PM and I am about to go drop $90 on a gym membership for a month.  In order to get my money worth, I will be there A LOT.  Time to get my fitness on.
  Later, weather permitting, I am meeting up with a researcher in my building and her friends that I met yesterday to go see Jazz in the Park... *wish for no rain*

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Networking and hypothermic mice

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011
  Busy day!  When I first got to the lab at 9 am, I helped take the mice out of the alcohol vapor chambers.  Once I was done with that I had to start cutting feed for mice that were on restricted diets.   Mice are put on restricted diets when they will be doing tasks that are motivated by food.  For example we have touch screens where there are two images.  If the mouse touches one of the images, food is released.  Nothing happens if the mouse touches the "wrong" image.  Basically we do a lot with learning and memory.
  After that I helped with "loss of righting."  Mice hate to be on their backs, so they will roll over as soon as possible.  When "drunk" or on pentobarbital they loose the ability to roll back over.  I guess the lab has already done the loss of righting with ethanol, but we were using pentobarital to prove something (I think it was that the drug we mixed in with the ethanol to slow the metabolism wasn't affecting the "righting" ability of the mice).  So I injected mice with pentobarbital and waited for the drug to take effect so I could roll mice on their backs.  Basically you grab the tail and roll them over.  It took about 45 minutes for all of them to be back upright. 
  Then I did the alcohol chambers again.  So injected mice with either ethanol or saline and placed them in the "air chambers" or "ethanol chambers" accordingly.
  When I got home from the lab I decided to check out a gym nearby my house.  When I got to the building I realized it was not marked where the entrance was for the gym.  Being from the midwest, I find asking strangers questions socially acceptable... and I found out why it is not in big cities.  Soooo, I was confused.  I asked a guy in the parking lot that was wearing dress pants and a button up shirt if he knew where the entrance was to the gym... our conversation went like this:
Me: "Hi, do you know where the entrance to the gym is?"
Guy: "ohhhh yeahhhh I know where the entrance is"
Me: "uhhh, can you tell me where?"
Guy: *staring at me*
Me: *nervous laugh*
Guy: *starts walking* "ooooo-eeee baby you look so good I just want to hit on you NOW!"
Me: *awkwardly walking, hoping to just get inside the building*
Guy: "I'm being a bad boy!  I will be around here later, you should come find me"
Me: "ughhhh, thanks for showing me the entrance" *RUNS INSDIE*

Once inside, I have to take an elevator up to the gym.  It is CRAZY nice.  The staff starts talking to me.  I mention the creepy guy in the parking lot to them.  Anyway, I get my workout on which was awesome.  So it's $90 a MONTH to work out there.  I paid $125 to workout for the ENTIRE summer in Janesville, WI like 3 years ago.  When I was done working out, I ask the staff if there is any other exit that I could take to avoid the guy.  There wasn't so one of the guys walked me outside and decided to talk to the guy.  I basically ran away because I was embarrassed.  But, the next day he left me a voicemail telling me how the conversation went down.  When he approached the guy he asked him if he had talked to me before and the guy denied.  The staff member then said that what he said to me was inappropriate and that if he sees anyone that looks like me or anyone with brown hair, NOT to talk to them... or even look at them!  Moral of the story: I may be paying $90 a month to workout because the gym is awesome and the staff has my back (haha). 

After work I met up with a Drake Pharmacy Alumna that I was connected with by emailing the dean of students for pharmacy school (I don't like mentioning names because I didn't ask her if I could blog about it- Dr. Phillips, she knows you!).  She picked me up and we went to Matchbox for dinner.  We went at 5:30 PM which in DC is the early bird/elderly time to eat.  So we got two small pizzas: chicken with pesto, and a cheese one with sun dried tomatoes.  The chicken with pesto was TO DIE FOR!  While waiting for our food I asked her questions about herself and the jobs she has held.  She told me how most of her jobs she got through connections with the Iowa Pharmacists' Association.  She had worked for APhA, some random pharmacies, is doing MTM stuff, and is now teaching some classes at a university.  I had a BLAST talking with her.  I am actually meeting up with her on Saturday night at the 930 Club to go to a little concert thing!  I'm really glad I was able to connect with her because not only is she fun but she also has had different experiences with pharmacy than just a traditional retail.

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011
I got to the lab and began to help take the mice out of the alcohol chambers.  When I was taking one of my mice out, I noticed it wasn't moving very much.  When mice hunch their backs and don't move, it is a sign of stress or sickness.  My coworker, also had a mouse that was doing the same.  This is very unusual to have two mice that potentially were affected by the injections.  Especially since I injected one and he had injected the other.  Also, mine had gotten saline and his had gotten ethanol.  We took the mice into the animal storage area so the veterinarian could look at them (YUP, we have vets for the mice).  They were diagnosed as being hypothermic (which alcohol does lower your body temperature) and having ataxia (basically like I was saying how their movements were abnormal).  When this happens the mice cages are placed on heating pads and they are usually given extra calories to help them recover.
  I once again cut the mouse feed for the restricted diet mice then went back to the lab.  For some reason nobody really needed my help.  I kept asking other lab staff if anyone needed help with anything, or if I could do something.  So, I sat on my butt reading journal articles about behavior.  I just want to do things!!!!  I would have even been happy being assigned to count neurons (quite possibly one of the most boring things you can do in a lab.  You count the black dots on the screen = neurons). 

Later in the day I checked on the two sick mice.  My mouse was moving around and looked fantastic.  The other was looked better but not 100%.  I went and got the veterinarian so he could examine them and tell me if we could put them back in the alcohol chambers.  A big measure is to test the temperature... which is done rectally.  The mice were not pleased with this!  The mouse that was the sickest had a temperature earlier of 31 degrees Celsius.  When he took it again at 4:00 PM, it was up to 34.4 degrees Celsius.  A good temperature for mice is 36-37 degrees Celsius.  These mice are being used by a researcher who is out of town at a neuroscience thing, so I called her to make sure she wanted us to use both mice (I didn't want to mess up her experiment).  Since they were both looking alot better, she wanted them used because if they didn't go in, she would not be able to use the mouse anymore.  Before putting the sickest mouse in the chambers, we put a hand warmer (like the ones you use for hunting to stick in your gloves) in its cage to help keep it warm.

After work, I was picked up by the same Drake alumna that I met with yesterday to fill in on her softball team.  WOW, I have problems hitting a softpitch softball!  What happened!?!?! I used to be good.  After two strike outs, I finally hit the ball and got on base.  Then the next time I hit the ball it went directly to the pitcher.... I need practice.

Monday, May 23, 2011


The news tells me every day that it is going to rain.  So everyday I take my HUGE umbrella to work.  AND everyday... it doesn't rain when I have it.  Moral of the story is, I'm going to go buy a tiny umbrella to put in my purse, and only take my huge one if it is actually raining.
When I got to work I had a pleasant surprise... I'M ON THE PROTOCOL!  This means that I am FINALLY able to touch the mice.  Unfortunately not many people have asked me to do things yet.  One of my coworkers had me do a PCR with him just observing (which is basically "cloning" DNA).  It was nice to get to do something.  Later in the day I had to help with the alcohol chambers because two of the researchers flew to Colorado today for a Neuroscience convention.  So two of us got everything ready to put the mice in the alcohol chambers.  GUESS WHAT?!?!  I got to inject mice with alcohol (*Thanks Dr. Wrenn for showing me how to do intraperitoneal injections because I did some TODAY!).  So after giving the mice a little buzz, we put them in the chambers to inhale alcohol overnight.

Weekend Continued

Saturday, May 21st I met up with my sister Kayla and Jinae to explore DC by foot.  We met up at a metro stop and began the walking.  We first walked to the National Mall and then to the Smithsonian Museum of American History.  Of course our first stop was into the First Ladies exhibit.  There were many pretty... and many ugly dresses.  Next up was the Washington National Monument.  From there we walked to the World War II Memorial.  Kayla and I took a picture in front of Wisconsin!  My favorite stop was the Lincoln Memorial.  Following that, we walked to Georgetown to get food.  Next we walked around and took pictures in front of the White House.  For some reason I thought it would be bigger!  At this point, my legs were KILLING!  I road the metro back to Tenleytown to shower and change to meet up with Kayla and Jinae to go out.

Sunday, May 22nd
We woke and up and POWER walked to McDonalds because Jinae and I really really wanted McDonalds breakfast.  In Wisconsin breakfast stops at 10:30 AM, here it's 11 AM!  After that we all road the metro to the airport to rent a car.  Finding the car rental place was in similar fashion to me finding my way around the NIH... we made many wrong turns, asked multiple people for directions... THEN found it.  Kayla and Jinae were doing the Warrier Dash in Maryland so we had to drive there.  Basically the Warrier Dash is a 5K obstacle race (including jumping over fire and climbing through mud).  I took the pictures and did not run :).  Afterwards we drove back to DC, returned the car, cleaned up, and went to dinner around 9:30 PM (WAYYYYYYYY later that my normal 4:30-5 PM dinners in WI and IA).  After that I was soooo exhausted from walking sooooo much this weekend, I went home and went to bed.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


On Friday morning I had my medical evaluation on the main campus.  So I went to the main campus and there wasn't a shuttle there, so I started walking because I thought I knew where the clinical building was... NOPE.  So, once again, I got lost on the main campus.  Surprised?  After getting directions from someone I made it there and had my medical evaluation. Then I needed to stop by building 31 to get my smartpass to work (for the metro).  I got directions from the nurse.  After walking out of the building... I got lost again.  NIH 4, Caitlin 0.

I finally found building 31.  My smartpass works.  Then I walked back to the metro station and rode up to Rockville to work.  Nothing too eventful.  My coworkers are brilliant and when they talk about neuro stuff and behavior, I feel soooooo behind. 

After work I met up with some of my housemates and some of their friends at Madhatter in Dupont Circle area for happy hour.  It was reasonably priced.  Sam Wilder, a girl who went to Northside and maybe middle school with me met up with us at Madhatters.  After that we went to some pizza place (can't think of the name).  Then we hit up Dirty Martini.  It was a pretty classy place with really good martinis... until I saw my bill. $30 for 2 MARTINIS!?!??!?!?  SERIOUSLY.  So we left there and headed back to Madhatters to end the night. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Drunk mice and fighting cabbies

  Last night I ended up getting a ride all around DC picking up things for my bedroom and bathroom.  I hit up the target in Columbia heights... YOU HAVE TO PAY for parking!!!!!  AT TARGET!?!?  DC also has a new law that every plastic bag is 5 cents, so you bring your own bag.  I'm actually a fan of this because it encourages people to bring their own bags, saves the environment, and saves Target money.  After Target I was shown where the grocery store near my apartment.  After being stocked up on food, toilet paper, kleenex, hair product, conditioner, I was STARVING.  I ate at a place in Dupont Circle area called Bistro Bistro.  YUM!  They have fantastic dinner rolls that they bring around and there is a pesto and a tomato/cucumber/olive oil mix that was amazing.  I ordered egg plant parmesan and it was SOOOOOO good.  Afterwards, the serve brought out a desert for free.  I highly recommend this place is anyone is in DC!

I went to bed with occasional sirens because I am a block away from the fire station.  Living in the Drake neighborhood has made it weird NOT to hear a siren during any given night.  So thanks Drake 'hood for preparing me for DC!

This morning I woke up bright and early to get ready for work.  This time I actually had soap and shampoo, which was fantastic.  I'm not sure if I mentioned this before, but my bathroom has astro turf/golfing green as the floor.  It is heinously ugly.  I placed a pretty white bathmat down to help cover some of it.  But, it seems that spiders enjoy the ugly green because I have killed two in the bathroom so far (hazard of living in a basement I guess).  After being ready, I began the few block journey to the metro.  I witnessed my first cab vs cab fight.  I don't know what happened, but one cabbie got out of his car and ran up to the cab in front of him and began to cuss him out.  It was INTENSE and involved many expletives.  Then I continued my way to the metro.

Getting to work was a piece of cake.  From the time I leave my house to the time I walk into the lab in Rockville, it takes me about 45 minutes (which in DC is not bad).  At work I am still trying to get all my training done so I can actually do stuff.  I am almost prepared to work with the mice, but I have to have one more orientation on Monday to do that.  So, I basically followed one of my coworkers around learning how to run the alcohol vapor chambers.  In layman's terms, I learned how to get mice drunk so we can replicate an alcoholic (binge and withdrawal).  It involved many steps and she had it all memorized, but I will definitely follow the protocol by reading it every time... step by step.

So now I am back at the house.  I met another roommate.  I'm pretty sure he at first thought I was someone breaking into the house.  Apparently he has not realized I have lived in the same house as him for the past 48 hours.  Which I'm going to take as a compliment that I am quiet!  Not sure if I'm doing anything eventful the rest of the day... if so, I'll post about it tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

1st day of "work"

Woke up this morning and realized I didn't have a bath mat, shampoo, body wash, hair product.  The worst aspect of this was the lack of hair product.  Crazy curly hair + DC humidity = AFRO.  I have never used so much hairspray in my life trying to make it look half way decent (I use mousse to make it look all pretty normally).  So I "showered" (the best I could do without shampoo OR soap) and realized I didn't have food at the house either.  I decided it was more important to get to Rockville on time than attempt to buy food in Tenleytown, so I headed to the metro wearing nice black pants, a dress shirt and kitten heels (which are itty bitty high heels for those unaware to women's footwear).

I make it to Rockville pretty uneventfully.  I get to the building and am directed downstairs to meet up with the person showing me around.  This is when the excessive walking began.  I was taken to the building next door for some paperwork.  She then informs me that I need to go to the Main Campus which is in Bethesda.  So I walk back next door because some other people were going to the main campus.  We then walk the 2 blocks to the metro.  Once at the NIH they just walk in because they have badges.  I, on the other hand, go through airport-like security.  The only I didn't have to do was take off my shoes.  Once through there, I begin walking.  I think I need to go to building 2... FAIL.  Nope.  So then I try walking around to find building 31 thinking that is where I need to go... FAIL. NOPE.  Then I find out I REALLY need to go to building 10.  I take a bus (YUP, the NIH is so big, they have buses  to take you places) to building 10.  I get my name badge FINALLY.  Which back to the beginning I mentioned that I was lacking hair product... this resulted in a frizzy looking photo.

After getting my badge, I needed to get my SmartCard for the metro.  Which I then realize is in building 31, the one I had JUST been in.  So I hop BACK on a bus and go to building 31.  I realized the people I asked for directions to building 10 from, where the people giving me my SmartCard.  After getting my metro card, I am distressed.  Honestly, I walked so far in those darn kitten heels.  I thought they would be comfortable. NOPE.

At this point I call the lab in Rockville and ask if I can go home to do the required online training at home instead of at the lab.  So I have finally gotten back to Tenleytown.  A little sweaty and with many blisters from my NIH Main Campus adventure.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011


OK. I made it.  My flight was delayed in the air for an extra hour so it took 3 hrs instead of 2.  I was a HOT MESS once at the airport.  Lugging two suitcases, a tote bag, and a bagpack in DC humidity made me sweat my ass off.  Alla, my fabulous new roommate met me at the airport to help me get all my stuff to Tenleytown. 

So I am currently sitting in my closet sized bedroom.  Funny how $650 a month gets you SO little in DC, but I would have a BALLER apartment in Des Moines for this much.  But, I have my own bedroom, my own bathroom, washer and dryer on site, multiple fridges, and a full sized bed.  So I will stop complaining now!

I have to unpack all my stuff, locate a iron, and figure out how to make my twin sized sheets fit onto the full sized bed (oops!).  I start my job TOMORROWWWWWW!!!


TODAY is THE day.  I went out last night in Whitewater with some friends as a Going Away/Alexa's Bday/Kelsey's Bday/Matt was home/Derrick was home party.  Pretty sure I went to bed at 3 AM, but I woke up at 6:30 AM this morning to drive home.  I literally woke up with my heart pounding (which I am going to assume is because I'm so excited!!!!). 

I have rearranged my carry-ons and added more to my suitcases about 800 times.  I have had to weigh the them after every item I put in since they are both at 48 lbs and 46 lbs...  so hopefully the airport's scale is about the same as mine!  The orange bag has only shoes in it.... oops!

My flight is at 2:30 PM from Milwaukee straight to DC.... EEEEEEK.

Monday, May 16, 2011


I LEAVE TOMORROW!!!!!  I am PUMPED.   I woke up at 6:30 am this morning because I couldn't sleep any longer.  Plus I need to finish unpacking my car from moving back from Iowa.  Packing my car sucked. Unpacking my car sucks.. but packing for DC is HORRIBLE! I packed, then unpacked... removed items.. repacked.  Now I think I'm changing from a small suitcase to a big one and just checking 2 suitcases.  I have big feet... Therefore, my shoes take up a lot of space! Walking around an airport and metro station will be interesting with two HUGE suitcases.....

:)  I'M SO EXCITED!!!!!!!