Saturday, March 31, 2012

Alzheimer's Research UK

The sun has been shining, my skin has regained some of its pigment, and I am LOVING this weather. However, it looks like we are getting back into overcast weather. I'm really not used to this wishy-washy weather!!!
The big event of this past week was the Alzheimer's Research UK conference in Birmingham that I went to from Monday-Wednesday. The conference was interesting and has given me some interesting career prospective (like working with IPS cells or looking at the epigenetic effects). But it was SO hard to be inside all day when the sun was shining outside.
Birmingham was nice- I really only stayed in the Victoria Square area (and didn't venture out much further than that). And I was in heaven in my hotel room. The bed was HUGE, there was a bath tub, and no noisy upstairs neighbor to keep me awake at night!

Besides that, I've been working hard on experiments and having fun with friends. Not too much to say on that end, except I went into Preston Park for the first time (which is an area around Brighton). The actual park, which I didn't know even existed, is a nice and big open area with lots of space to enjoy the summer time! I can definitely see myself spending more time there :)
The next post promises to be better- With the Brighton and Hove Food Festival coming up, you can bet that I will be ALL over that! So hopefully I'll have a lot to say next time.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Oh Reindeer! Dominik goes back to Germany

This is Dominik:

And it is the most epic picture of him I could find. Notice the intense excitement about the food in front of him!
If you remember from my past post, I met Dominik at the International Trivia Night that was put on by the University at the beginning of the school year. Our friendship grew off of an interest in trivia and each others country's politics.You may also remember me writing about my first consumption of Reindeer, and Domi was one of the people I went with. He's been a good friend throughout these past two terms and I'm sad to see him head back to Germany. But with me being here for 4 years and Oktoberfest being in Munich, I have a feeling we will be able to hang out again!
We went out to Northern Lights (which serves reindeer) on Tuesday, the night before Domi left to go back home. It was a fun (and delicious) night, although sad. I had WAY too many Rekorderlig, which is a DELICIOUS Swedish cider that I've just discovered. However, its super sweet so drinking too many made me over-sugared out. Between a few of those and some German ginger cookies, I was dying of too much sugar.
Another memorable (but in a sad way) moment of the week was last night- my neighbor Chad's last night before moving to another housing accommodation. With all of the housing issues we've had, I'm really not surprised that he's leaving. However, its so sad! Our little community here is great and he's an important piece of it. Luckily, he's not leaving to return to Canada (yet) so we will still have good times.
With friends leaving and moving, I'm coming to a very sad realization- By September, the majority of my friends will have returned to their countries of origin. The majority of the people I know here are Master's students or study abroad students and all of their programs will have finished by the next school year. However, there is still lots of time (lots of SUNNY time) before they leave, so I'll try to not think about it if I can help it!
Speaking of the sun- let's chat about how sunny and amazing its been recently! There are daffodils EVERYWHERE, the sun is shining, the birds are singing, and my productivity is taking a nose-dive. On Wednesday, I took a midday break with a few of my peers to sit out and enjoy the sun. We shared a pitcher of Pimms (which is very British) and I must say it is quite good! Also, after being outside for only two hours, I got a sunburn. Let me explain the irony. FIRST, I got so ridiculously pale from the lack of sun, that when it came out I burned right away. SECONDLY, (and mostly by my British peers' observance) I am from California and really shouldn't have burned... and I was the first person to get sunburned that I know of haha. Good news- my burn turned into a tan. WIN. Maybe I'll be able to recapture some of my pigment by my birthday!
I tried a new gym class on Friday- Step Aerobics. Its not offered during the school year, but since there is a month of Spring Break the classes are seriously slashed, which makes room for them to add the Step class. I really enjoy it but it was SO intense. My cardio isn't great at the moment, so an hour of Step was crazy. However, I really like it and would recommend it to any one looking to up their cardio. Also, there's a bonus of a good ab and leg work-out!
Today, I had to work (boo). But before that,  I went to see The Hunger Games movie. It was good! Now, I always have issues when books that I REALLY like are turned into movies... But it was still pretty good. It mostly just made me even more want to read the next two books in the trilogy. It also made me miss Mary (who you may know as one of my friends from water polo and the person I lived with in my senior year at Santa Cruz).
I have pictures from this past week and when I get them up, I'll upload them :)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Its Spring Break (but I don't get a Spring Break)

I'm writing this a bit late... again. However, its Spring Break! But I don't get a Spring Break, so I guess there isn't a reason to be too excited about that. Except the campus is really quiet right now without all the undergrads running around and that is quite nice. ...WOW I sound old haha!
To redeem myself of sounding old and crotchety- let me tell you about what I've been up to! This past weekend was FULL. Friday was my friend Aahoo's birthday, so we went out to celebrate her birthday. We went to Giggling Squid, which is an AMAZING Thai restaurant. I was happy to check it off of my bucket list and am happy to have a good Thai restaurant to suggest to friends or take visitors to! We also went to a club that I haven't been to yet, Madame Geisha, and one of the floors was playing music that was popular when I was in 6th grade. So of course, I had a great time! I have talked to a few friends and we are going to attempt hitting up every club in Brighton. Why clubs, when pubs are more my style? Simply because there are more pubs in Brighton then there are days in the year and the amount of clubs is significantly smaller! This will be great, especially during the summertime since there are clubs along the beachfront :). Saturday was St. Patrick's Day. Commonly incorrectly referred to as St. Patty's Day in the States. Its St. Paddy's. Who would've guessed??? ....I found out after being laughed at by Brits. The day started with watching the last 6 Nations rugby game- England v. Ireland. England ANNIHILATED. And then the day continued on with multiple pub crawls. Another fun fact about St. Patrick's Day in the UK- Its WAY bigger in the States than in the UK. Over here, its just like any other day (so of course there is a ton of drinking, but not more than the usual). Finally, Sunday wrapped up with a free tour around Kemptown which is just east of Brighton. I'll be doing another tour of Hove in a few weeks, which is just west of Brighton. Its really nice to get tours from a local and see areas that I otherwise wouldn't have seen!
I'm happy I made the most of this weekend. Next weekend I'll be working through it again. And then I'm going to the Alzheimer's Research UK conference for the first half of next week. Want to hear about what's going on with work? Well, nothing new. But also, I need to start being more careful about what I say about work from now on. Apparently, intellectual theft is an issue and I've been warned to keep things vague. So from now on, the lab updates will be a tiny blip of the blog post.
I've finally tried all of the classes at the gym that I've wanted to- Last week I tried spinning for the first time. It was great! But really intense. And the saddle was quite uncomfortable. But its something I'd like to keep up with!
One thing I've been really happy about this week is all the new, good recipes that I've tried. I want to share them with you! Shrimp Tacos, Ethiopian Lentil Stew, and Vegetarian Chili! All so delicious and so easy. I've been unintentionally eating really Vegan and Vegetarian lately. But with a pantry full of quinoa, lentils, beans, seeds, and nuts, it's actually quite easy to supplement meat. I would also like to share this recipe for Coffee Cake Mug Cake. Please let me explain- this is a recipe for making a cake, in a mug, in the microwave. This recipe was quite good. Especially for a microwaveable cake. So you see, I've turned this whole "no oven" thing into a situation that still allows baking. It has taken lots of searching, and lots of unworthy recipes, but I've of course found a way to make desserts for myself. A lack of oven won't keep me from enjoying cake!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Oh wow, I missed a week

I just looked back at the last blog post to see where I had left off... and I've somehow skipped a week. Sorry about that! It's far too easy to lose track of time when you work two weekends in a row. Or 19 days straight (if that puts things more into perspective). That being said, the lab work is coming along quite nicely. It has paid off having to work the ridiculous hours :)
(I've just figured out why the week was "skipped". Its because this post is coming later in the week than usual, so this week is clouding up my memories of last week 0_o )
Last week had a few big highlights: one of them being trying out a new class at the gym. Nike Fitness Club (which is also a free iPhone App) is great! Lots of cardio mixed with bodyweight strength training. This is becoming my new favorite form of work out. I highly recommend it to anyone with any Apple product. And its easy to do at home as well, don't need a gym membership at all! There is only one more class at the gym that I want to try (spinning) and then I'll have tried them all! I'm signed up for spin next week, so we'll see how it goes. I've heard its pretty intense. Also in the world of fitness- there is a website called Fitocracy that is GREAT for keeping the motivation up to work out. Its a social network built around fitness- you earn points and gain levels by working out and there are quests and achievements you can get by trying out different exercises. Its good for me for both motivation AND giving me ideas on new ways to work out. My biggest issue is that I get bored with the same routine. But Fitocracy really helps with that. They are still in beta testing, so sign up while its still new and the gettin's good!
I also went to a party this past Saturday (its been SO long) and had a blast. I went with the group of people that I live with and they are always a good time. Sunday I went to Wagamama for dinner with a friend; its a noodle/rice bowl place, mainly Japanese, and very good! Then we went to Komedia, which is a stand-up comedy venue, and saw four different comedians do small stand-up sets. They were hilarious and it was great! So even though I had to work both days, the past weekend turned out to be really enjoyable :)
And since work has been encompassing my ENTIRE LIFE (or so it seems), I'll fill you in on that. As you know, the electron microscope work is going beautifully. I've finished my first experiment and am meeting with my supervisors (and other professors who are helping me with these experiments) on Monday to go over future plans for electron microscope usage. My focus will be shifting there for awhile. There's a chance I've found something new and thus, publishable!!!! It would be AWESOME to get published in my first year. Cross your fingers for me! The behavioral experiment that has been causing me stress, tears, and wasted days has FINALLY worked out for me. Finally :). There was something wrong with the batch of snails I was using, but with the fresh batch, all the outcomes are as they should be. There is still plenty of work left before I can say this experiment is "done", but I can easily build off of it when I shift my focus back after the electron microscope tangent. And, I have to say, after work tomorrow, I'll have dissected 150 brains this week. WOW. ...My soul just died a little bit.
I'm REALLY looking forward to this coming weekend. Why you ask? Because I have it off. And I'm so so so so excited to not go into my office.

See you later, alligator(s)!