Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Marines, Falafel, drag queens, and dance clubs

Friday night I went to the Marines Evening Parade in the Eastern Market area with my friend, Shruti and some of her other friends.  In order to go to this you must be a member of congress or work on the Hill (term used for people who work at the capital).  One of Shruti's friends worked at the capital so he got a bunch of tickets for us to go.  It is basically a presentation of the Marine Band and drill team (or whatever you call people who spin guns).  It was cool to see...  but I wish they did more of the gun spinning and a little less music playing.
Marine.  I would rotate this, but I can't figure out how!


More Marines
After watching the "parade," Shruti and I rode the metro to Adam's Morgan.  This part of town is rowdy!  It's like Court Ave on steroids (Des Moines reference).  After the bar, we went to a place to have a falafel. I had never had one, but EVERYONE kept telling me that I needed to try one.  It was surprisingly good!  Here is a little definition (thanks Wikipedia): ball or patty made from ground chickpeas and/or fava beans. Falafel is usually served in a pita, which acts as a pocket, or wrapped in a flatbread known as lafa. The falafel balls are topped with salads, pickled vegetables, hot sauce, and drizzled with tahini-based sauces.
As strange as that sounds, it was yummy!  After eating my first falafel, I went to catch a cab.  At this point I discovered that cabs in DC do not accept credit cards.  This presented a problem because it was 4 am (bars close at 3 am) and the metro stops running at 3 am.  Luckily, one of the guys in my group lent me $20 so I could catch a cab home instead of walk 45 min or more back to my house.

I woke up around 11 am and my housemate and I decided to go to a pool.  First we both needed food, so we went to an Indian restuarant called, "Masala Art."   This was my first time eating Indian food!  It was good!!!! I ordered the Tandoori Chicken and it was the perfect amount of spicy.  After eating we went back to the house to wait for his friend to call him so we could go over there.  I went back to sleep.  I am very good at napping.  Not even napping... going into hibernation.  So, I skipped the pool and slept all day (oops!). 
Later in the day I went to Columbia Heights to meet up with friends.  It was a friend-of-a-friend's birthday, so they ordered bottle service at a club.  A rather large group of us went.  I had a blast!

Morning was not pleasant.  I got home around 4 am from going out and woke up at 9 am.  I had told some other people that I would go to brunch at Perry's in Adam's Morgan.  The place is very popular because on Sunday mornings they have Drag Brunch.  Yup, drag brunch.  So it is a buffet of food and after everyone has settled in, drag queens give a performance.  I was with a group of girls so it was a blast!  The drag queens were mostly lip syncing to music and dancing around.  A couple of them used the microphone and told jokes and made fun of people.  They also tend to single out the straight men in the audience because they are usually the most uncomfortable in these situations.
Drag Queen #1

Drag queen #2

Under that drag queen you can see Kendra

This is what happens when straight men go to Drag Brunch!

After Drag Brunch I walked around Dupont for a while....
epic weekend.

Last week

Wow, I'm behind!

June 13-17th, 2011

Starting on Monday I was helping one of the post Docs do a fear experiment.  I placed the mice in a room with a white noise maker for an hour.  Then we injected them with a drug that hypothetically treats PTSD or a saline injection (done at certain time intervals so that two mice are used in the experiment at a time).  After another hour, the experiment begins!  The mice are placed in a small box.  For the first three minutes of the experiment, nothing happens.  Then a 30 second tone plays followed by a small foot shock.  The tone plays three times, and the mice are shocked three times.  A measure of fear is when the mouse "freezes."  So over the course of the experiment I mark down every 5 seconds if the mouse is "frozen."  It's a little mind numbing after a few mice... and we had 14!

Tuesday is when we do fear extinction.  For extinction, we use a different room (different odors and environment).  This one LASTS FOREVER.  I began around 8 am.. .took a break around 11 am.. then was done about 1:15 PM with all the mice.  In ten days from the first day (Monday) we do another experiment called "retrieval."

The rest of the week I was not very busy.  I did some work with data for a different Post Doc... Did another PCR for a post-bacc.  Otherwise, I didn't do too much else.  Slow week.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

DC epiphany

So this post is more about my thoughts rather than events. 

Until this summer, I never did things that were out of ordinary.  I lived in Wisconsin, moved to Iowa for college, and then worked in Iowa.  Now, I'm living in a city that I came to not knowing more than a handful of people.  It was strange to move here and not have my social network.  I have had to make friends and  navigate my way around this new city.  The part of town  I am living in is called Tenleytown.  Basically my exposure of DC was mostly seeing men wearing plaid shorts, khaki shorts, or pastel colored shorts (knees showing) paired with a polo (often in a bright color).  Lets just say, I have felt out of place in this part of town.

On Tuesday evening I met up with a friend (one I met at a party I went to with Jinae, my sister's college roommate) on U Street.  Being on U street made me feel like I finally found my part of town.  It is diverse, hip, and urban feeling (no one wearing pastel polos).  It is were the famed Ben's Chili Bowl is.  After walking around a little bit on the street, she showed me Malcolm X park. WOW, the park is amazing.  It is so beautiful.  From there, I began walking to the Woodly Park metro station.  For once, it was a cool evening with low humidity.  When I reached Woodly Park, I decided to keep walking.  Connecticut Ave is wonderful.  I jumped on the metro at Cleavland Park since my phone was dying.  This was the first time since I have been in DC that I felt like this city is a place I could potentially return to.

Malcolm X Park

View from Connecticut Ave

Another view while walking on Connecticut

June 10-12

Jazz in the Garden with new DC friends! (from left to right,Isaac, Gaelle, me, Shruti, and Sanjay)
The weekend started off on Friday, June 10th after work.  There is a fantastic event held in DC on Fridays called Jazz in the Garden.  There is a sculpture park near the federal triangle and on Fridays it is completely full with people eating, drinking, and socializing!  It is FANTASTIC.  After that we went to Nandos.  It is a peri peri restaurant (I don't really know what that means, but the food is South African).  It was GOOOOD.
Deanna Bogart, a performer at Jazz in the Garden

On Saturday my friend and I decided to go to the 3 story Forever 21 (yes mom, I may need to mail stuff home at the end of the summer, oops!). Afterwards we decided we needed to experience the DC gay pride parade.  It was definitely an experience! Lots of... lets just say it was an experience.  And, blue body paint is not a suitable substitute for covering the male bottom half.  People watching is an amazing thing to do at those things.

Sunday, June 12th
I wanted to do brunch but a lot of people were out of town.  So my housemate and I decided to go to 2 Amys which is a Sicilian pizza place.  It was good, but I don't know what all the hype was about. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Busy week!!!!

This week I have been getting assigned various things to do.  So this week has been very busy:

1. I have been doing PCRs.  Basically we cut off the tips of some mice's tails to help determine their genotypes so basically genetic makeup.  It takes a couple days to do this.  I don't mind doing this but it takes a lot of focus to make sure I don't mix up anything because there can be many samples. 

2. Experiments: I'm helping out with the PTSD project by helping with a few experiments.  We inject the mice with a drug and an hour later we run the experiment.  For the experiment the mice are placed in a little cage.  After time a tone is played.  The next time the tone is played the mouse gets a little shock.  Over time the mouse will stop moving, or "freeze" which shows that it is scared.  The freezing will eventually occur to just the tone.  This is a Pavlovian type experiment.  I'm learning how to "score" the freezing this week because next week I will be running 16 mice by myself through this experiment. 

3. Data: One of the experiments had electrodes on a mouse's head so whenever neurons fired at various points, data was collected.  I have been helping the Post Doc rearrange the data. So basically I do a lot of stuff in excel.  I copy and paste between 3 different documents to get the end result.  I believe I finished the last data project for a while.

Tomorrow I will be doing Day 2 of the experiment that was started today.  After that I will be doing another PCR followed by sectioning brains (slicing brains). 


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Another lost adventure

Friday, June 3rd
After work one of my housemmates and I jumped on the metro and went to Truckeroo. Truckeroo is a fantastic event held once a month in dc that brings a bunch of the food trucks to one area. I ate at the famed Lobster Truck. For $15 i got a lobster sandwich... After waiting about 30 minutes in Iine. It was soooo good!!! Worth it! After getting my lobster roll, I met up with a few other friends that had gotten a table. After sitting there'd for a while we rode the metro to Georgetown so one of the girls could change.

We went to Dupont because it was within walking distance and right off the red line ( the line I use to get to my house).

Saturday morning I woke up a little late, but went to work out first. A friend from grade school was having a BBQ in Alexandria, VA so I began on my adventure. First got on the red line and rode to Chinatown. Once there i was supposed to get on the yellow line... But I accidentally got on the green. After going one stop I realized I was going the wrong way. The weekend metro wait times suck. The trip was supposed to take me an hour... so naturally it took me 2 hours.

Once I got off the metro I realized the bus number I wrote down was not right. I had NO idea what bus to take. Since I have learned my lesson to not talk to strangers, it was convenient that a police officer walked past (they don't count as strangers). I asked him if he could help me because I did not know what bus to take. He then said,"you will have to get in the back.". At first i was really confused, then I realized he was going to drive me in a cop car! So after about a ten minute drive, I showed up to my friend BBQ.... in a cop car.

In the morning Charlie's aunt picked me up and we drove to Virginia to go to church. I am lutheran but we went to a Baptist church. I was my first time going to a Baptist church. It was very different because the order of things are different and the music is different (not in a bad way). I liked the music, especially when two sisters got up and did a duet. They were amazing! I think I prefer Lutheran because it is what I'm used to so it's easy for me to follow what is happening which allows me to get the most out of my experience. I will probably go again this summer.

After the service we went to a country club with the church for brunch. The meal was so good; roasted chicken, green beans, Mac and cheese.... Yummmmmm!!!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Lab update- desk work and perfusions

5/31/11- 6/3/11

So I have been procrastinating and not posting.  For a lot of the week I helped one of the post-docs (a person in the lab who has received a doctorate degree and works in a lab for a short amount of time before moving onto something like teaching at a university).  Most the work for him was "desk work" which means that I sat on my computer on excell for a very long time!  I had three documents open, one with the data, one with the equations, and the final document to copy and past things into.  There is a TON of data.  Basically electrodes were placed into the mices' brains and fear experiments were conducted.  I'm going to get fairly scientific here: the electrodes measured the action potentials before and after certain events.  Specifically during fear initiation, fear extinction, and I think fear reversal (I can explain this to anyone if  you actually want to know).  Graphs are being made from all this data and hopefully everything works!

Later in the week I had to help with perfusions.  We call this "sacrificing" the mice.  I won't get too graphic, but it was definitely kind of sad.  I injected mice with ketamine (helps prevent pain and basically knocks the mouse out).  I then handed the mouse to someone else who then perfused the mouse (if you really want details, google it).  So that was definitely an experience, not necessary a pleasant one. 

Tomorrow and the rest of the week I am supposed to be doing some sectioning of brains.  Sectioning means that I take a device called a vibratome and slice the brains into thin slices so we can stain it and put them on a slide.  We are then able to use a microscope to look for differences between the control animals and the ones who received different treatment.  It sounds gross, but sectioning is not bad at all!  I did it some last summer and it's not bad as long as you don't think about it too much.  The slices sort of look like snot (haha- seriously).  So I would MUCH rather section brains than sacrifice.  But, you can't really have one without the other! This week I think I am helping with some sacrificing again, but it will be done in a different way than previously explains (I will once again spare you all the details).

SIDE NOTE: All sacrificing is done in a humane way to minimize any pain or discomfort so please don't go PETA on me.  Plus without research on animals there would not be nearly as advances in science!

Hope I didn't gross any of you out with this (sorry family!).

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A weekend summary

Saturday, May 28th
  When I get bored, I have a horrible habit of shopping.  After working out I decided to go to Target... then Marshalls.  I took the metro because I have not figured out the bus system.  So it took me about 25 minutes to get to Target when driving only takes about 7 minutes.  OOPS.  After buying myself a pretty dress I headed back to the house.  I met up with the Drake Alumni I met the previous week to go to a concert.  We went to see Jason Trawick Group (don't worry, I had never heard of him before either) at the 9:30 Club. We accidentally arrived WAY early to the concert, so we left and went to a bar called "American Ice Co."  In the Midwest we drink light beer, in DC everyone drinks regular, expensive beer.  So if I come back to Iowa 10 pounds heavier, I blame beer.  Anyway, we made our way back to the concert.  It was an alternative/soft rock like show and then they brought out a local rapper and began playing rock/hip hop fusion music.  The fusion was AMAZING!!!  After the concert around 1 AMish, I was tired so I went home.

Sunday, May 29th
   I had planned on going to church, but I woke up too late.  So after working out and hanging out in my house for a little bit, I met up with a couple new friends to see the movie, Bridesmaids.  It was SOOOO CUTE and funny!  After the movie I went with one of the girls to Trader Joes (grocery store) to buy a few things for a BBQ.  We then walked from GEORGETOWN to ADAMS MORGAN.  So 45 minutes later (covered in sweat) we arrived in Adams Morgan to my former coworker's place.  We grilled some yummy burgers and he had a little get together.  It was fun!  I also met another girl from Wisconsin.  I keep getting told that there are many Wisconsin people living in DC, I haven't seen it yet!

Monday, May 30th
  I met up with a couple girls and we went to the pool in Bethesda.  It is ALWAYS so hot here.  We would go in the water, then get out, then back in once we were hot again.  So during one of the time that we were in the pool, the pool staff began yelling at everyone to get out of the water... a kid had vomited in the water. cool. So they had to close the pool (naturally)... we left.  We ate at Taylors, which is a sandwich place Bethesda that has everything named after Philly stuff (I ate the Rittenhouse).  My sandwich had chicken and pesto which was good.  I ordered that because I am fairly naive when it comes to many types of food... and well that was the only item that I actually knew what all the ingredients were (I'm trying!).
  Later I spent the rest of the evening watching TV and relaxing, which was pretty nice.