Sunday, June 29, 2008


We have officially relocated to another apartment. Many thanks to our friends Jeremy, Dan W and Dan W, Maggie, Angela, Aaron, Rich (for the truck) for helping us out. Our new place is pretty sweet, though at the moment it is full of our junk. We live a somewhat adapted law of consecration here in medschool. We have a friend who needed room for a new chair, so they lent us their loveseat (brining our total to 2). In turn, another friend's washer and dryer died, so they now have ours because we don't need it anymore . Childcare is freely exchanged as well. For instance yesterday Angela watched the kids so everyone else could focus on moving stuff. Rich and Bonnie lent their entire house to two other friends while he's in basic training. I'm amazed at how generous our friends are, especially given our general poverty. I hope that when we all have real jobs someday that we will still be generous.

Friday, June 27, 2008


George and I are moving this weekend.  We are very excited about our new apartment, which is big and beautiful, and has two bedrooms (the whole reason for the move in the first place).  We have been packing and moving stuff all week long.  I am always amazed at how much stuff we actually have...every time I move it all.  I am happy to be moved, and I will be happier when the move is over and we are settled.

The piano movers came this morning.  If there is anything worth spending money on, in my humble opinion, it is professional piano movers.  My piano is little, but very heavy.  And we have lots of stairs.  And there are tricky hallways and doors to maneuver around.  And I would feel so badly if we tried to do it ourselves and we wrecked (or even scratched) our beautiful little piano.  It is so nice to have the pros come in with their dolly, their ramps, their truck, their moving blankets, their big muscles, and their experience.  They make it look relatively easy, and now our piano is safely in it's new place in our new home.  I also realized that I'm pretty attached to my little piano.  I miss it already.  I am glad we're moving tomorrow so that I can be with it again.

Also, I love the piano moving company (A Piano's Friend), and I will recommend them any day.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Another week down

This week was something of a drag. I spent a lot of time in the lab trying to analyze my data, but without significant result. Reading mass spec peaks is hard and takes a lot of time, I learned. Even once I've identified what things are, the "so what" question remains frustratingly unanswered. Before medschool I always figured I didn't want to spend my life as a researcher, and I'm beginning to confirm that. I haven't written much recently, mainly because nothing of interest has occured. We're moving on saturday, which hardly seems real. I haven't really thought about our new place very much, so the moving date kind of crept up on me. The only reason we're moving is so that we can have another bedroom when young Grwn arrives . I'm surprised that Jefferson was as popular a name on the poll as it was.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

The Learning Curve

(Editor's note: this is was written a week before it was posted for editorial reasons)

This was an interesting week. First, loyal readers will be delighted to know that I am penning this missive from a new MacBook.

So, this week I felt incompetent. In the lab I was trying to do stuff on my own so that I could learn as much as possible, but when you walk by yourself, you can trip. I did just that. Two days this week were true blunderfests. It seems that there's a threshold error level, above which errors tend to accumulate more rapidly. That happened with my neutral lipid samples. Without delving into the gory details, I managed to mis-transfer about half of my samples at one time or another. Rather than having nice vials containing only triglyceride or fatty acid, I now have a nice mixture, exactly what I was hoping to avoid. Yesterday, before acid methanolyzing my samples, I managed to contaminate two reagent bottles. Then, flustered, I also forgot to remove the chloroform from my samples before adding the acid methanol. I don't actually think there was a long term effect to this, but it made me feel dumb. We'll see tomorrow if they turned out.

After bumbling around the lab, Mindy and I went over to our friends Dan and Maggie to eat dinner and help them with their house. The girls left together to get paint while Dan, Rich, and I worked on the kitchen. Dan and Rich are rather deft with their hands, while yours truly is not. Obviously this is not some innate capacity, but of course skills learned by practice. I just have never been taught how to hang a door for instance. So, I stood around foolishly until Dan and I figured out something I could do that didn't require too much skill. Combined with the morning's mistakes in the lab, I felt pretty incompetant by the late evening.

Epilogue: The specimens didn't turn out too well, though not strictly because of my blunders. The purification method we were using wasn't high enough yield, so we have gone with another route for purifying the lipids. The TLC extractions weren't working because the lipids would oxidize in the atmosphere while the plates were drying. Consequently we are going to use HPLC in order to purify the lipids for use on the GC. In english, this means we are going to use a machine to purify the lipids rather than using glorified sand covered glass.