When Life Hands You Tomatoes

As soon as I hit 'publish' at the end of this post, I fully intend to turn off the computer, breathe an enormous sigh of relief that I survived the day, and fall straight into bed.  It's just been one of those days, you know?

I spent over eight hours between yesterday and today doing an experiment in my lab called a 'Western blot.'  I know that doesn't mean anything to anyone.  Before your eyes glaze over, I will say this much: the point of a Western blot is to separate different proteins by their sizes.  It's a long and detail-filled process.  It requires a lot of precision and exact timing.  And it was the first one I'd ever done by myself (after having only watched someone else once.)  The blot I did was for someone else's thesis.  She's been having a really hard time getting data to write her thesis, and the tissue I was using for this blot was kinda important.  So no pressure for my first solo, right?

These are what Western blots are supposed to look like after you develop them:

And this is what the film I developed today looked like: of these things is not like the other? Just for kicks, lets get a close-up of that top one especially:

And that, my friends, is what an epic fail looks like. No lanes. No bands. Just large, nebulous blobs of nothing. Definitely no protein of interest.  Remember in my last post when I said my enormous ego would be back to normal after a few failed experiments?  Actually, it only took one.  Consider my bubble burst.

So I did what any self-respecting failure of a scientist would do.  I moped.  And then I cooked.  Because when life hands you tomatoes, make tomato soup.  With basil.  And use this recipe.

I also baked chocolate chips cookies. Baking cookies always makes me feel better.

That, and knowing that pretty much everyone who matters in my life has no idea what a Western blot even is, regardless of how much I try to explain it. So in the grand scheme of things, whether or not I'm good at it probably doesn't even matter :)

{Except it might matter for the next two years while I'm trying to gather data to write a thesis, but other than that....nope.}


Graduate School and Other Impressive Accomplishments

I officially started Graduate School this week.  I feel like Graduate School should be capitalized, mostly because when I walk around campus as a Graduate Student, I feel like I merit capital letters.  My ego has grown exponentially in the last four days.  I suspect that a few failed experiments and sleepless nights will put the world back to rights, but until then....

Graduate Student.

Doesn't get old.

Also, today I found out that there are 'Donut Days' for Graduate Students every Thursday.  Loving all the perks.  It just gets better and better.

I found out that I am the TA for Pathophysiology this semester.  I am quite excited about it, although it's a little nerve-wracking to see all those impressionable undergraduate faces staring up at me, expecting me to know all the answers.  Just because I'm a Graduate Student, you know?  But the thing is, I still put my pants on one leg at a time, just like they do.  We Graduate Students, we're just people too.  Brilliant people.


Alright.  I'm done now.  (But it really is kinda a cool feeling.  Just saying.)

Here are a few photos from life this last little while. A little DIY artwork...still not sure I love it:
Step 1: Apply newspaper
Step 2: Make letters out of tape
Step 3: Paint it all black (not shown) and then peel off the tape
Finished product. Good? I don't know.
Trusty thermos of hot chocolate to take to school in the morning.

Really cool safety video I had to watch to remind me not to eat chemicals, mix unknown substances together, or stick my head in the fume hood.  Whew.  Good thing too.  I always forget those things.  Which is why I'm smart enough to be a Graduate Student.

The Plot Thickens

Apparently it is possible for package contents to go missing in the United States.  I thought this was a phenomenon reserved for third-world countries with sketchy governments only, but I was wrong.

About a week ago I received an unexpected and unwelcome surprise in the mail.  It was a the crumpled up packaging that used to contain a biochemistry book bound for Washington.  Apparently when it got to a mail sorting center in Washington, it had been separated from its contents.


So I filled out the little form with details about what my biochemistry book looks like and mailed it to the island of misfit toys lost mail collection center in Atlanta.  According to the instructions, I should report my book lost ASAP, but not feel too incredibly hopeful about it being located.  Which begs the question, how many people's "Principles of Biochemistry" books do they lose?  Evidently, more than one would expect.

Needless to say, I emailed that kid in Washington and gave him his money back.

More bummer.

Incidentally, the letter of instructions also gently reminded me that in order to avoid problems such as this in the future, it would be helpful for me to double-check that I placed the contents of my package on the inside of my packaging, as they are more likely to arrive in the same place that way.  So THAT'S  where I went wrong...

{On the bright side, biochemistry books like quadrupled in price since the semester started, so if mine does get found and returned in a timely manner, re-selling could be even more lucrative.  As long as I remember to use FedEx......}