Sunday, July 30, 2006

Molecular Yeast Stuff at Princeton

The following is a deluxe post. Prepare to read it in a few sittings...

I'm a biologist. One of my duties as a biologist is to go to conferences in other towns and give talks. Or in the case of this most recent conference go and... basically live off of the fat of the land. Eat, drink and be merry while listenning to scientists describe their research. I'm told that what is unique about Yeast conferences is that because Yeast is responsible for making alcohol, there is seldom a yeast conference that doesn't serve lots of booze... But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Princeton University

The conference was at Princeton University which is a really beautiful place, despite being surrounded by the buttcrack of america, New Jersey (Garden State? Garbage State? Jersey smell like a dumpster...) I spent five days there with some lab mates. The architecture, I'm told by a hot spanish girl (so hot even the quasi picky (latently gay?) Deder would have to admit she was hot!) who was at the conference, was made to immitate the old universities in England at the time. I'm told by hot girls that hot girls seldom lie. Anyway, everything has an old english feel to it. Going around campus is like roving an old castle. Like Hogwarts! And it's huge so I got lost every two seconds.

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Among the things that I enjoyed seeing at the University was the chapel. It was a nice old fashionned chapel. I really wanted to get retarded in the chapel and desecrate it with loud obnoxious hi jinx, but one of the guys taking care of the place was so nice to us I couldn't bring myself to misbehave.

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I also took one day in the week to wander alone and came across the Princeton observatory. Not terribly impressive but still. I wish I could have gotten to see inside.

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But I think the thing I love most about the university, is at dusk, the fireflies come out. I don't think there is anything more beautiful than fireflies at night. They're like tiny little flying lightbulbs, that produce a silent, green light that generates no heat! I think they're one of nature's biggest little miracles.


I think the thing I love most about the univesity is the food. Bacon, saussage, eggs, pancakes/waffles every morning. Deserts as far as the eye can see, lemon cake, carrot cake, chocolate cake both black forest and otherwise. Cookies... Chicken and ribs, burgers, hot dogs... Honestly, I ate really well. I think abundant food is one of nature's biggest little miracles.

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I stayed in a dorm room which took me about 10 minutes to totally mess up. The only dissapointment was having to use a public bathroom. One evening I was going to brush my teeth and some guy was strolling down the long hall wearing nothing but a towel.

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His towel fell off and he just made the rest of the trip to the bathroom completely naked. Now that's creed.

Hsin's drunken escapades

So I mentionned alcohol. Here's my buddy Hsin in front of the poster she is presenting at the conference.

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It might seem strange to dedicate a section of this post to her but... Honestly, good job!!! I can't remember the last time I've witnessed such and efficient, deliberate drunken rampage.

When the poster presentations were over, she promptly got drunk. When I say promptly I mean, she took a cup, filled it with wine, tossed it back and was krunk for about 3 hours. And then when it was all over, she was perfectly normal. Not sick or anything you wouldn't have even known she was drunk. When the evening was over, and she retired to her dormatory.

However, during her drunkeness I was pretty terrified that she would get all of our asses kicked. When she wasn't tweaking my nipples she was accosting strangers on the street. She tried to tweak our German friends nipples and he flat out said, "If she tweaks my nipples I will slap her."

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Scary. Then she yelled at this couple. "ARE WE HERE???" They looked scared and scurried off. Then we actually found a bar on this street called Nassau. My god. There were two incidents that I thought would result in a fight. I remember turning around and hearing her say, "ARE YOU IMMITATING ME??? DON'T IMMITATE ME BEHIND MY BACK!!!" And then some guys said, "YO RELAX, WE'RE NOT IMMITATING YOU!! I WAS TALKING ABOUT JAPANESE PEOPLE!" Hsin then apologized and moved on to have a talk with this guy.

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Let me point out that this guy is huge. His bicept is about the girth of my waist. Hsin seemed intent on provoking him.
Hsin: How did you get so big??
Big Guy: I work out on my bowflex??
Hsin: I know someone who uses bowflex... they aren't that big...
Big Guy: I ummm...
Hsin: Why do you work out so much?
Big Guy: Anger management...
Hsin: What are you angry at?
Me: Your mother???
Big Guy: I'm not really angry at...
Hsin: I mean usually people just work out for sports but... What do you... do???

There was a point where Hsin and Klarita had wandered off into the bar. When I caught up with them, there was a group of people tweaking each other's nipples at the counter. Again, good job Hsin. Miraculously, we got home unscathed.

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Cheesy Biologists

The conference itself is a very interesting experience. A few things about scientists. They don't care how they dress. I love that. It's all about the work. It's also amazing how much they're in love with their work. I learned a lot from the talks. And got to meet some interesting people.

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What's unique about the biology conferences is the biology jokes. Every now and then one of the speaker's would tell a joke and 5 people in the theatre would laugh super loud and everyone else would laugh for fear of being revealed as the dumbass who doesn't get the reference.

Speaker: "So I wanted to find the genes in which the transponsons inserted themselves. Obviously the genes had not yet been sequenced."
Some jerk: "HAHAHAHAHAHA!"
Everyone else: "Heheheh... I get it... jeans..."

Aside from talks and workshops, every day one prominent biologist was presented with an award. The presentation includes an old fashionned roast of the professors. One of the presentations included a picture of the very naked Charlie Boone sitting in his office with nothing but an ice bucket over his crank.

What was funny is I encouraged my posse to sit in the balcony one particular night so we could heckle the speaker a la Waldorf and Stadler fromt he muppet show. Right on cue during the award presentation that night, the speaker included a picture of Waldorf and Stadler in his talk!!

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BUT the ultimate cheese.... The conference culminated with a lifetime achievement award. The guy receiving the award was really funny. He told this great story about how he had to go to the zoo to collect bird droppings and how him and his friend studying in law went in lab coats to wait for the birds to take a crap. Then they would run out, while all the visitors at the zoo watched.

Anyway, not only was his talk filled to the brim with cheesy jokes, one joke so bad Alex got up and left. But after the talk a band was playing. The much anticipated Cellmates (like... cells from cellular biology?)... It was an old dudes band, that did covers of rolling stones and beetles.

The phd's went nuts!!! They were dancing all night, including the 80 year old who won the lifetime achievement award. I don't know how many of you have seen the kind of dancing that takes place when scientists of all ages and races get together to dance... Anything goes... Conga lines and... Elaine from Seinfeld type dancing. Bizarre jerky movements. And then the ultimate, Mash Pit filled with gray haired men??? My thought was something like, "Oh s**t! the goddamn, phds' are f**king mashing in the goddamn gymnasium, to the smegging cellmates cover of an old ass rolling stones song!"

Did I mention some of the cover songs were deluxe, including customized lyrics about biology.


I am not embellishing that story. Anyway, like a fool I didn't have my camera. But it was truly insane.


Other than that, we just wandered around having fun. I can't imagine what it's like to study at this place isolated from the rest of the world. I ran into some Princeton students. The first impression you get is that they really think they're hot stuff. SOOOO PREPPY. It's like they're from another planet. But I didn't formerly meet any students from Princeton. Who knows, maybe they're as mature as the rest of us.

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Oh, and just for you Rez... We went to an insane candy store and had ice cream. Here's me eating said ice cream.

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Monday, July 24, 2006

Hsin's sinful peanut butter sandwich

So last weekend my friend Hsin comes online and tells me that I "Have to try her homemade peanut butter."

Homemade peanut butter? That seemed odd. Hsin then said that after I ate it she would film my reaction. At which point I was suspicious, obviously. I asked, "What.... What's wrong with it??" And she said, "NOTHING! I'M JUST TRYING TO BE NICE!! IF YOU DON'T WANT TO TRY IT THEN DON'T!"

I felt guilty and said, "No, no... I'll try it..."

Days later I get a call from Bahira in the lab. She emphatically tells me that it's time to try Hsin's peanut butter. I guess I was tired. I guess I was dazed and very, very gullible. Even when I saw the huge smile on Bahira's face, with her bouncing around hapily I didn't really see what was coming next.

So they both bring me into their office, sit me down. Hsin says, "Close your eyes and I'll feed the sandwhich with the peanut butter to you while Bahira films it."


And I did. What kind of idiot closes their eyes while people put things in their mouth??? I must be one of the few who's done that and survived. Anyway, here's the video that proves I'm a sucker! I started chewing, then Bahira yells, "SPIT IT OUT SPIT IT OUT!!!" When I open my eyes, Hsin shows me a sandwhich filled with flies. At which point I remember her msn name changing for the past week. "Hsin- Killed 8 flies, Hsin killed 14 flies, Hsin killed 18 flies!!!"


Unfortunately the camera didn't catch me as Hsin displays a sandwhich filled with flies.... I then spit out wads of the sandwhich and inspected the sputem for fly guts.

Anyway, thankfully they didn't feed me the sandwhich with the flies in it. It was just peanut butter with whole nuts in it. The fly sandwhich was what they showed me when I openned my eyes.

Now, this only hapenned because they 're were good looking girls. Imagine two guys come up to you and say, "Open your mouth and close your eyes??"

Get outta here!!! one might say. But I sat there like a fool, as vulnerable as you can possibly make yourself.

Hsin, Bahira, I'm very proud of you both. I got pwned.

On a side note, Check out the last link in the links section. Michael Choi and Tiffany Mooey have a video blog where they give health tips and stuff. Check it out!

Monday, July 10, 2006

The deliciousness of an organism is directly proportional to the amount of a putative subcellular particle present in the cell of that organism

My love of meat is no secret. For my birthday we went to La Milsa, a restaurant where they give you an allegedly endless supply of grilled meats, to the point where its unhealthy in fact. I think heaven will be something like that... Endless meat except no health hazards.

But I find usually only men can FULLY appreciate the amazingness of meat. This weekend was Cristina Bahirathon 2006, where we concatenate both of their birthdays into one evening of grooviness. Bahira ordered something called "fish"... Swordfish if I'm not mistaken. What's that? I mean, they were serving all kinds of bbq'ed beef and pork... Fish doesn't even enter into my thought process. Viv also ordered this "fish". The fish was good, though... but not... MEAT good.

Cristina of course is the exception to the rule that girls don't heart meat. Look how elated she was to receive the pack of bacon we gave her.

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It was a gag gift, but she was very eager to get the bacon home to a fridge for consumption in the near future.

The day following was a BBQ at Mo's where we watched world cup and also ate meat, this time chicken. Thanks you Mo, for all the deliciousness. The same morning there was a breakfast gathering and the deliciousness of meat had also been discussed.

The following postulate was formed about meat. It goes like this. The tastiness of meat is proportional to the amount of noise any given animal made during its lifetime. Think about it. Pigs?? Noisy animals, amazing flavour. Cows go moo; also delicious. Cockadoodle doo anyone?? On the bbq??? Nice. Lettuce on the other hand is silent. Doesn't taste like anything. Celery is also very quiet.

I rest my case.

Though I think I heard my celery reciting the Apostle's Creed the other day. I may have been hallucinating though... Audio hallucination.

You see, the amount of noise you make during your lifetime induces the proliferation of tiny subcellular particles called tastosomes which increases the deliciousness of an organism (Milen et al., 2006).

Please refer to the diagram below from the cell of a mute cow.

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Now look at the cells of another cow of the same species, except not mute.

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Please note there are more tastosomes in the cells of the second more verbose cow.

Case closed.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

"You... are reckless!!!" - Yoda

One of many things I don't understand aboutt he world, is people who drive recklessly. Risking life and limb to save 5 to 10 minutes. what's the point? What's the rush? Where's the fire? I have a cousin (you know who you are) who gets into the most awe inspiring accidents. Not fender benders but... Unbreakable starring Bruce Willis type accidents. Like, "how did you walk away from that alive? Do you have super powers?" type accidents.

Even after several close calls, he doesn't seem too concerned about his driving. He still speeds like crazy, talks on his phone while driving. The works. He's not the only one of course. Speeding and being reckless is common place among many of the people I know. And for what? Race home after work to do what? Eat dinner alone?? Sit in front of the TV watching spongebob/sabrina the teenage witch (which airs during prime time now. Not that I watch spongebob during prime time... I'm usually entertaining a female guest or doing other bachelor-esque things of that nature... DON'T JUDGE ME!!!).

The point is people get really irrational when they actually get a ticket for these things. The other day I heard someone say, "I got a parking ticket the other day. I fully intended to go back later on and move the car..."

This tells me the person knew they were illegally parked. And decided to bite it and park illegally, and then complain when they got the ticket? Maybe they should have left a note. "Will be back later to move my punk ass car off of the sidewalk."

The next part of the complaint was, "And you know where that money goes, don't you??? Straight to the police force so they can hire more cops to give us more tickets!!!"

It wouldn't be so funny if it wasn't said with so much sincerity. This person seemed to believe that the amount of cops on the street was proportional to the amount of parking tickets they got. Imagine if people just followed the law, drove under the speed limit, parked where they were supposed to... We'd have no cops! Other petty crimes like murder and rape would go unpunished. Maybe it's a good thing that so many people break parking laws.

Imagine this person running for mayor. Would they just abolish all traffic laws? Imagine a world where people just drive as fast as they please, slaughtering children in school zones, mowing down old women at crosswalks. If there weren't any stupid police around I could just ram someone with my car when they pissed me off. "Did that poopoo head just cut me off???" I could just step on the gas and SLAM!!! "April fool motha f**ka!!" We'd have some kind of car duel.

I think I would have a great deal of amusement coming to work in the morning and finding cars parked on the stairs of the school and across fields of grass, on the medians in the middle of the road. I could be reading the nutrition label on a box of cereal in the grocery store, "Mmmm... Chocolate Rice Crispies has more folate than..."

When CRASH!!! A car would fly through the front of the grocery store toppling over shelves and people and delicious condiments... mustard, ketchup... maybe salad dressing. Then it would come to a screeching halt as they reached out of their car and grabbed a bag of chips.

Me: "That was rather rude..."
Driver: "Sorry, I'm in a rush. America has talent is on in 20 minutes." And then they'd peel off.

Everyone's in a rush except me it seems. I guess it's cuz I know Spongebob is in reruns now.