Santa Claus Came to Town

When I was very small, my mom started baking bread from scratch instead of buying it at the store. When she first started, she did the whole thing by hand, including the 10+ minutes of kneading required for the correct dough consistency. I think I was five the year my parents brought home a Bosch mixer from the Eastern Idaho State Fair. That Bosch was a key component of our kitchen, and when my dad designed our kitchen in our new house, it had a special cupboard just for the Bosch.

I came home for a weekend last September. During my break, my mom asked me to bake some bread. I pulled out the old Bosch to start mixing.  I looked about like this:

But it definitely sounded more like this:


I was more than a little horrified. In all fairness, it had just turned 17...probably not many appliances survive to late adolescence, especially ones that get used as frequently as that mixer did (4 loaves of bread two or three times a week, plus sundry other baked goods that require mixing.)

I guess I was more appalled that my mom was tolerating a less-than-ideal situation when she bought me a new mixer just a few years ago. So over the deafening noise of the bread kneading, I started researching mixers. I called my brothers and sisters for their input. We all decided that mom was going to get a new mixer for Christmas this year.

It's hard to decide what to get your mom for Christmas in September, because that's a long time to keep the secret. We ordered her new mixer at the end of October. I was giddy on the day it got delivered to my apartment.

I just had to open the box and peek inside!

And then....tragedy struck.  The first week of December, the old mixer kicked the bucket.  My mom wasn't sure how she was going to get through the month without one, especially with Jared's farewell on the horizon.  My dad helped prevent her running straight to the store to buy a new one by playing his role as resident engineer perfectly.  He dismantled the entire mixer, telling her that it might be salvageable.  I called to offer my condolences and promised to bring my mixer home with me to get us through the holidays. 

It looked so small sitting on the counter.  And my mom experienced LOTS of frustration trying to accommodate the smaller bowl.  Apparently, she is used to doubling recipes instead of halving them :)

All the while, her new mixer was sitting upstairs waiting for Christmas morning!

It was so fun watching her open it.  She was pretty surprised.  It made its way downstairs to its new home (I measured the cupboard in the kitchen before we decided what type of mixer to buy, just to make sure it would fit.)  She used it for the first time to make bread yesterday.  It's a bit of a change to switch from a Bosch to a Kitchenaid, but the bread was good, so we're off to a good start!



Yesterday was Jared's mission farewell.  We had lots of family and friends come to show their support.  He did a great job speaking in church, and it was good to see everyone :)

We took some pictures before church and during the open house after church.  Some of them turned out really good.

But all the outtakes are my favorite part!


The Way It Goes

What I should be doing:

1. You suspect that angiotensin II acts in the brain to increase renal nerve activity, and that in heart failure the angiotensin II receptor has increased expression leading to increased sympathetic activity. What experiments could you perform to test this hypothesis using laboratory rats (propose at least 3 experiments)? Briefly describe the experimental strategy and include what control groups you would use. What results would you expect if your hypothesis is correct?

2. Describe the “biosensor” created by Peti-Peterdi et al. (J Clin Invest 112:76-82, 2003). What experiments did they perform to validate the effectiveness of the biosensor? What model did they propose for release of PGE2 from macula densa cells in response to reduced luminal salt content, and what data supported this model? Devise a hypothetical biosensor of your own and describe hypothetical experiments to validate its effectiveness.

3. You just moved into a new area and notice your neighbor’s daughter has detectible expiratory wheezing. You guess that the child must be experiencing some type of an allergic reaction. After all, like you, they live in an older rented apartment close to campus that has not been well maintained; there is a faint, yet detectible tobacco odor and visible dust (dust mites and pet dander present). You rightfully guess the child has chronic, stable asthma. Describe the pathology of the child’s condition including associated mechanisms involved in inflammation of the airway wall, leukocyte accumulation, elaboration of inflammatory mediators and other products. Limit to 1 page. 

What I just did instead:


I am Woman, Hear Me Roar

Today when I threw a load of towels in the dryer, I noticed when I turned it on that it was sounding a little funky.....  Upon further investigation, I found that the little silver accordion-looking pipe was no longer anything.  It was just sitting in a sad, twisted little heap on the ground.  Lint was everywhere.  I called maintenance, but no one answered (this is typical.)  So I called a man friend for a little bit of advice.  And then, like my father and his father before him, I did it myself.


As an apartment of girls, we didn't have any of that boring old gray duct tape.  Please note the aesthetically pleasing use of purple.  Also, I promise I cleaned off the tile before pushing the dryer back.  Don't judge for the mess.

In a vein completely unrelated to my dryer, yesterday my big brother Daniel became one year older and wiser too.  So I baked a cake.  And Suzy spent the entire evening making jokes about 'eating it too.'  We had a small party at his apartment with his roommates and friends.  I don't have any pictures of the assembled cake, but I did take a few of what the layers looked like.  It was marbled.

Before it got baked
While it cooled
Opening presents
Happy birthday!


Has Your Mind Been Blown Lately?

In true biology-nerd form, I'd like to share a video today called "The Inner Life of the Cell." It's an animated representation of what's going on in the cells of your body at this very moment. And if it doesn't blow your mind, you might want to investigate as to whether or not your mind was installed upside-down. Just saying.

To be quite honest, I have loved this video for years, and am a bit surprised at myself for waiting this long to share the awesomeness.

Although there is no way for me to completely explain this movie, I'm going to try a little.  The movie starts out inside a blood vessel.  The red blood cells travel up the middle, and the white blood cells are rolling along the sides.  This movie shows what happens when a white blood cell receives a signal to leave the blood stream (a process known as diapedesis).  Most of the little blobs that float around and stick to each other and everything else are proteins.  The stuff that looks like scaffolding is called 'cytoskeleton' and it basically is scaffolding...  The long, thin, stringy things are called mRNAs and are the directions for how to make new proteins.  And yes, there totally is a little guy that walks along the cytoskeleton delivering stuff to the cell membrane.  He's called 'kinesin.'

How much do you remember about cells from fifth grade?  Organelle pop quiz anyone?  The nucleus was at 1:30.  Did you spot the mitochondria hanging out at 1:56? And there's some golgi body action at 2:14.

Sorry if you don't feel as jazzed about all that as I do.  But seriously, the next time you're feeling sorry for yourself, remember that God gave you a really incredible body.  One three-minute animation doesn't even begin to cover how cool it really is.  And if that doesn't help you feel better about life, call me and we'll talk about kidneys.  Or hearts.  Or nerves.  Or brains.  Because if you woke up this morning and you were alive, there's no reason to not feel like the luckiest person on earth.

In a completely unrelated vein, I was also informed about this cool website called Credit Karma where you can check your credit report and score for *free* as often as you want.  It's the first site like that; most of the time you have to pay, or you're limited in the number of times you can check.  Some people think that the more you check your credit report, the more it hurts your score.  That's not true.  It only hurts your score when other people check your credit report (i.e., when you apply for a new line of credit.)  Credit Karma also gives you a breakdown of why your score is the way it is, where you are potentially losing points, and how you rank compared to the average American, as well as other Americans in your demographic. Go take a look!

PS:  I heard about this site from my personal finance professor, so don't worry, it really is legit.

(I feel very much like Suzanne, blogging about credit reports and all...)


When I Grow Up

Today my mom was giving me advice for my future.  There were a few stray cats wandering around my front yard and she thought they might be a good start to my collection.

Maybe for Christmas she'll get me these window vinyls!


Hypothetical Embarrassing Moment

Once upon a time last September, there was a charming masters student who was sitting in the salon getting her hair cut when she received a text message from her boyfriend asking her to meet him on campus with a CD he needed for a class assignment.  She agreed to meet him at a planter in front of the Joseph F. Smith building, a place they had previously met up on more than one occasion.  When her haircut was complete, she jaunted home to get the CD and headed to campus.  As was her habit, she called her mother during her walk to campus.

A fifteen minute walk later, she arrived in the JFSB quad and spotted her boyfriend sitting on the edge of the planter waiting for her.  His back was to her as she approached.  She walked up and sat down right next to him (like...right next to you do with your boyfriend, you know?)  Not wanting to interrupt her mother, she didn't say anything to him, but began scratching his back in a oh-hey-it's-just-me-your-girlfriend-how-are-you kind of way. After a minute and a half of absent-minded back scratching, she hung up with her mother and reached into her backpack to get the CD he needed.  And then she turned to hand it to him....

....and found herself face-to-face with a complete stranger wearing a very amused look on his face.

At which point she so poisedly blurted, 'I don't know you!'

To which he replied, 'Yup.'

She tried to explain, 'I thought you were someone else!'

To which he replied, 'Yup.'

She sat there for a moment, unsure of what to do.  Would it be rude to just get up and leave?  After about 30 seconds of deliberation, during which she attempted to summon what was left of her dignity, she said, 'It was very nice meeting you.  Have a nice day!' and very quickly walked away.

Only to be greeted by her actual boyfriend, walking across the quad to meet her.

The moral of this story is:  what kind of person lets a complete stranger sit down right next to him and rub his back for a MINUTE AND A HALF without saying anything?  Honestly...


Back to Square One....

Picture from here
Life is tough.  And sometimes in order to make it through, you just have to be tough right back.  Manicures and helmets don't hurt either.

A few thoughts on what it means to be tough:

Being tough doesn't mean that you don't ever get to be sad.  Sometimes sad things happen.  I think being tough means not feeling despair.  Even when you're sad, it's important to have hope that better, happier things are coming.

Being tough means looking around for other people that need helmets and manicures worse than you do, and then showing up, nail polish in hand.

My mom and I were in some store a few years back, and we stumbled across a sign that read "Put on your big-girl panties and deal with it."  We both laughed, but it's become a bit of a mantra to my mom.  Although she is too classy to repeat it to anyone but her daughters, on more than one occasion I have been reminded to 'put on my big-girl panties.'  This morning I was talking to my mom, and she told me that 'put on your big-girl panties' is pretty much the same thing as 'gird up your loins.'  Just modernized.  Being tough means "Gird up your loins; fresh courage take."  Or in other words, "Put on your big-girl panties and deal with it."

Being tough means recognizing when you can't just stay home in your pajamas and wallow because there are too many important things on your to-do list.  And you can't go to campus in your pajamas and wallow there either, because that's tacky.  So you put on those jeans that make your backside look good with that blouse that's kinda fancy, and you top the whole look off with some really great waterproof mascara.  And you give that oral presentation with a smile.  And you teach that review session on heart disease with gusto.  And in between, you pop into the bathroom to make sure that mascara isn't letting you down.

Some days I couldn't be more thankful for good family, good friends, and waterproof mascara.