Saturday, April 26, 2008

Online shopping, oh how I love thee

So I've been needing a new bag for my textbooks and laptop and god knows what and finally got around to ordering one - yay! Timbuk2 makes really fun, sturdy ones and apparently all the cool kids are totin' 'em. Mine is gonna be purple & green. And have a laptop compartment. And like that. Whoo hoo!

Their site has a fun tool for picking out colors of fabric for your very own item - you click and it shows you what it'd look like. Fun! Hours' worth!

I managed to get a huge pile of recycling dragged out to the curb on the correct day for the recycling dudes to take it away. Go, me. Gradually de-crapifying the house - it's slow going but discernible progress has been made. Of course then the kids fill the newly cleared surfaces with books and things, but hey, even the small victories count.

I had a crying jag for the first time in months - not sure what triggered it, but I let it go and was okay after a while. There's a song from "Wicked" that's been getting to me lately, which may have been the tipping point - yes, I am deeply emotionally affected by show tunes, so sue me - it goes "kiss me too fiercely, hold me too tight," and, well, it's in a seriously minor key. Very dramatic. Sniff, wahhhh.

And the pansies are planted and look rather sweet.

Enjoy the weekend, you guys; I'm going to be studying/working on lab report today, I think.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Shakespeare and Exam amongst the rubble

A belated happy birthday to William Shakespeare, who turned 444 yesterday. He doesn't look a day over 400, I swear; that's what a good moisturizer will do for you.

Oh, boy. The rubble would be the aftermath of the last couple of days, remnants of flying shrapnel that used to be my tiny little mind. So hello, and welcome to the smoking wreckage. It's all more fun than I could possibly describe. Exam, and computer issues, and hardly any sleep at all, and like that.

Middle child is in a production of "Midsummer Night's Dream," and they open tomorrow; much excitement. She is now given to saying things like, "why do people think Shakespeare is hard to understand? what's so hard about it?" Go, kid! The rehearsal schedule has meant that every time I think I have a good chunk of time to relax, plant some pansies, and maybe read, I'm wrong - instead I'm supposed to be driving somewhere. The play will be wonderful, and she's an amazing kid and doing amazing stuff; it's just this "limited number of minutes in a day" thing that's the issue, and yes, I'm no longer counting in hours, minutes is what we're reduced to chez Weasel.

Bio exam last night, and it was actually okay. I think I did pretty well, although I did, as per usual, change an answer at the last minute to make it incorrect - longish description of the action of phosphodiesterase, and for some reason I convinced myself this was actually the molecule the phospholipase C cleaves in a cyclic AMP signal amplification cascade, which of course it doesn't, duh, it's an enzyme, and what it really does (WHICH I KNEW!) is re-set the cAMP to an inactive state and stop the cascade - so, ah crap, definite points off on that, also I was unable to correctly calculate - wait for it - the square root of 0.16 - which I realized in the car was of course .4 not the .04 I'd written. Good god. So a whole bunch of other stuff was wrong on the basis of that allele frequency calculation. Fuck. Let's see, what else did I screw up ... oh, yes, I attributed the embryonic development of drosophilia to another organism entirely. And kind of punted on some of the action of the kidney.

Other than that it was fine. I felt like Dory, in "Finding Nemo" - kept on saying to myself, I remember! hey! I remembered again! There was a LOT of short answer, and to my amazement, I knew almost everything. I remembered notochords and what the difference is between chordates and vertebrates, and all kinds of stuff like what a podocyte is and name three cytokinins in the immune system and what they do, and oo it was sort of fun. I remembered MHC I and MHC II, and far too many things about many ways it was Night of the Macrophages, that and everything you ever wanted to know about embryonic development in all species but were afraid to ask. Plus the endocrine system.

Less fun was the realization that my biostatistics assignment was due not April 29th but, um, April 23rd. So I ended up spending a huge amount of time doing that through the night rather than the almost-sane studying I'd mapped out for myself. Did studying, too, just not so much the sleeping. Bonus: finished early, uploaded, checked course message board, discovered I'd used wrong approach on part of it, re-did it, re-uploaded, checked with TF to see if it got there, no it was a garbled file, saved in another format...crap, yes, this means I spent at least two hours not studying, thinking, or trying to figure out the guts of the statistics program, but solely trying to get my computer to transmit a document in a format that could be recognized by another computer. DONE. YAY.

The best part - yes, there is a best part - is that all the excruciating detail I was despairing over on immunoglobins and their genetics and molecular structure? Not on the exam at all. Which means they won't be on the final, either. Which is awesomely fantastic.

Wait, no, the BEST part? That was going home and hanging out with my oldest child for a little while ... and then, finally, getting some sleep. As the preceding may have indicated, I've pounded myself pretty hard, to the point where I think I'm at the limits of what I can stand. And now I get to stop and breathe for a bit.

It's a beautiful day out. Think I'll go plant some pansies.

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Birthday, obsession, and school (oh, my)

It's dh's birthday. He would have turned 50 today. He would have taken the day off work, grumped about the traffic for the Boston Marathon (which is today and shuts down roads all over the place). He would have been proud and exasperated with the kids and I. It doesn't feel like a gaping hole, for which I'm grateful.

I have acquired an XBox 360 and "Rock Band," and the kids and I have spent an absurd amount of time playing it. It's really fun! There are drums, which are difficult, and a guitar very much like Guitar Hero, and vocals (which is just a hoot and a half). Woot! We rock! Far, far too easy to let it be a total time sink.

And I am getting caught up with Japanese history and preparing for another bio exam (which is on Wed. night), and generally wondering how the hell I'm going to manage this but will figure it out somehow or other. I'm sore from Pilates class last night and grumpy about having gained weight - ick. Not weighing myself, too depressing when the needle hasn't budged (and I know it hasn't because of how I feel and how my clothes fit). Blah.

At least I am a totally rockin' fake rock star! Hee!

Have a good afternoon, folks. I'm pensive but fine.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Taxes done, etc.

Happy Contributing to the General Welfare Day, everyone, also known as "this is the filing deadline for federal and state tax, ewwwww." I've been paying estimated tax, and somewhere around December realized that given the stock market losses, I'd probably owe less than I'd estimated originally. And I was right. Large refund will be coming - apparently pretty much everything I paid in, I'm getting back. Woot.

In other news, I had a sort of date thing Saturday - met a guy for coffee, he's actually near my age and funnily enough lives around the corner from my place in Cambridge; not much of a spark there but I think we were both a bit nervous - anyway, dinner Friday.

Assuming I can get my mind off school, that should be sort of fun.

There's another midterm coming up next week for bio, and I have lab with accompanying quiz for molecular on Thursday, which is making me stiff with worry right at the moment because I am still not understanding as completely as I'd like to what the hell is going on. Got my paper on Japanese peasant land tax back; yay, me, 92 out of 100. And I hear the whole class bombed the midterm, not just me; in comparison to the average of 50, my 67 looks a lot better. It's all a little more exciting than I'd like, but what the hell.

Bio lab last night was BRIEF, thank god, and fun--I guess I'm at the "cool bench," we're overcrowded and everyone seems to like working together and being silly with each other so even though there's room at, oh, the table across the room, we all still stay put. Me, L, two really wonderful Russian women, B, and Y. B's got the same name as The Guy and looks a bit like him, too, which continues to be slightly weird but he's also not an asshole, so it's mostly fun. Somehow or other we were talking about drinking last night, I think in the context of what kind of stuff would *really* kill the zebrafish embryos we were looking at.

Anyway, BECAUSE we got out of lab absurdly early, I had time to futz, and finally got Stata working on my computer! Yay! Yay! Yay! It's a really good thing. It is a statistical software package, and I need it for my biostatistics course, and now that I have it working on my very own machine I can play with it and it's really fun to play with and it works and is magic and amazing and, well. I am just a teeny bit excited about it. Because it will make my homework about a zillion times less time-consuming. Oh, it's wonderful.

And even though I have lab again Thursday I don't have lecture Wednesday, so I get to go to knitting, and I am tickled pink and all sorts of other colors. Whoo hoo! So see you, whoever shows up! Whee!

Friday, April 11, 2008 in my head; called "In My Head"

...which is admittedly rather strange.

under the weight of your wings
you are a god and whatever I want you to be
and I wonder if truly you are
as beautiful as I believe
In my head
Your voice
You've got all that I need
and this make believe will get me through another
lonely night

under the weight of your wings
should ever we meet on your side of the stereo
I will pretend I know not of your thoughts
and even the way that they mirror my own.

(It's Anna Nalick) (not my writing, just my typing)

Breathing in and out, here. The work due this week is done and turned in, and I've done some studying, and it feels loose and pretty good. I met my sister after lecture Tuesday and we had some beer and a little food and both crashed at my place in Cambridge. It's been a bit too long since I last saw her, and our lives are so damn busy that squeezing in any time at all is, er, something of a challenge. But worth it anyhow.

My sister is awesome.

Realized today that I have two fucking labs next week. Holy crap. So, yay that I get to go to knitting Wednesday night, but... yeah, that's gonna be a lot of work. Okay, got it. I can do this. In fact, I'm doing it. (take that, universe, y'hear me? you don't scare me!)

G'night, all; hope to see some of you Wed.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Dorky musing

So we loaded some samples of tagged spectrin onto a gel last night in lab, along with unbound plasmid bits, wild-type bacteria, intact fusion protein, and the fusion protein piece cleaved off the tagged spectrin. Tag was "GSF." In a lab manual discussion that included GST, GSH, and an entire alphabet soup of other stuff, it took me until yesterday morning to realize the GFP = Green Fluorescent Protein. Er, yeah. Not yet another gluta-something, then.

I think I did well on the quiz; I spent a ridiculous amount of time hitting myself repeatedly over the head with a hammer - oops, I mean re-reading all the material I had - to make sure I understood *what* we were doing and *why* we were doing it, plus as much of how it all works as I could manage. So, hey, SDS partially denatures proteins and gets them to lie flat so you can evaluate comparative sizes when you run them through a gel! Gel not agarose for this experiment; gel was a polyacrylamide. The course info simply said, it's a polyacrylamide and it has better resolution because it can be made with smaller pores. The trouble was that the quiz asked, what're the other ingredients in the gel (choose from following list)? and what happens with a higher T ratio?

No idea. So I guessed, um, well the choice that contained "acrylamide" makes sense, 'cause it's poly-acrylamide, but...what the hell is T? And I spent some time today searching through all the course material, and then on Google and such trying to figure it out. I found lots and lots of polyacrylamide gel recipes! Boy, if I ever want to make up a gel, I am so ready! Gel this, gel that, gel all over the place!

So now I wonder, hm...what would happen if I ran an electrophoresis with actual Jello...

Silly weasel. But still, citric acid, glucose, a semisolid matrix structure - it has potential, doesn't it? perhaps as the most ridiculous undergrad research project ever? to go nicely with my Most Boring Paper Ever?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

And now, DANCE!

Decent video to a song that just says, "Dance! Now!" So if you find yourself rockin' out, you know why (which reminds me, I definitely need to go out dancing...). It's in Swedish; I gather it's something like "Hold Me" in English, but it's soooo much cooler when I have no idea what they're saying, oui? (apologies to Anna-Karin if you've already heard this thing so many times you want to throw up) Enjoy!

In other news, oldest is waitlisted at a couple of schools she likes; we shall re-group and think. And I'm meeting with my own degree advisor this afternoon to figure out what next, and how do I get all this stuff to work within requirements, and stuff like that. All while continuing coursework. Whee!

And now, back to reading for bio... populations and the math for the appearance of alleles, extreme fun. Yay! Rock on, dudes.