Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Nothing happens, nothing happens, and then everything happens.

My week:

Tuesday (yesterday): Get awarded a Ph.D. in Microbiology after six long (and mostly miserable) years of grad school.
Friday: Fly to San Fransisco
Saturday: Attend the wedding reception of Yuki and Jonathon. Pig roast!
Sunday: Turn 32, go to Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, fly back to Boston
Monday and Tuesday: finish thesis revisions and rewrite a scientific manuscript for submission. Oh and maybe try to find a job and a Halloween costume.
Wednesday: leave for Australia!!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Belated links

Interspecies friendship alert! Kristy sent me this story about a cheetah and a mouse last week, and I completely forgot to post it. However, it seems to me that the two aren't exactly friends, they're more like animal neighbors who tolerate each other. Animal frenemies, perhaps.

Last week, I made this recipe for Jerk Pork Chops with Hearts of Palm Salad and Sweet Plantains and it was fantastic! The meal came out delicious, and best of all, it took less than 15 minutes to prepare the whole thing. I used a carribean jerk spice blend from McCormick to season the pork and it was excellent- I was worried it would be too mild but it wasn't at all- it definitely had a kick to it.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The FYIF Song of the Day

I'm making the final adjustments to my thesis defense presentation right now, so I wanted to pick some sort of peppy inspirational song- the type of song that if it come on the radio while you're driving, you'll immediately crank the volume and start singing along.

Like this one:

The Killers- Human

Happy Friday, everyone!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Six years down, one week to go

My thesis has been written and handed out to my committee, and my Ph.D. defense is one week from today. So don't expect a lot of posting this week- even though I didn't think I'd be nervous, I'm starting to freak out, just a little bit.

In other news, my Australia trip is now only two weeks away, and the job search continues- I have an interview today with a scientific publishing group in the Netherlands. Things are looking up!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Snuggie Season

With the chill in the air this past week, it seems that this brief summer has passed by, and everyone is starting to pull out those fall sweaters, jackets, and....Snuggies! Oh yes, it's Snuggie Season. Just this week, I received two Snuggie-related emails from friends (thanks Jess and Meg!)... so you can continue to count on DCoE as a reliable source for news stories related Snuggies and interspecies friendships. If I ever come across a story about a polar bear and a husky who wear animal Snuggies and are the best of friends, why, my head might explode with the awesomeness.

So here are the links:
Snuggie fashion show!
and Snuggie Sutra (um, yes it's what you think it is, but the link is safe to click)

And because it's Friday, time for the song of the day:
Last night, I saw The Polyphonic Spree at the Paradise. If you're not familiar with them, the picture pretty much says it all. They are a huge orchestral rock group who dress in robes and play trippy music that sounds like a blend of ELO and the Hair soundtrack. At this show, they had 21 members on stage, including a flautist, six back-up singers, and a guy rocking out on a harp. And the best past was that it was sponsored by Southern Comfort, so it was free admission with two free drinks! I've avoided SoCo since it led to an unfortunate Patriots tailgating experience circa 2002, but I had a mixed drink with SoCo, ginger ale, and lime, and it was actually quite tasty. Southern Comfort is sponsoring shows in several cities this fall, so if they come to yours, I definitely recommend going.

Without further ado:

The Polyphonic Spree- Lithium (Nirvana cover)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Reviews: One movie, one book, and one show

Movie: The Informant!
Last week, I went to a sneak preview of the new would I describe it? Offbeat comedy? movie my Steven Soderbergh. You know, the one starring a somewhat nerdy, somewhat portly version of Matt Damon. Based upon a true story, The Informant! tells the story of Mark Whitacre, a midwestern biochemist turned corporate exectutive in the billion-dollar industry of corn-derived food additives. Uncomfortable with the illegal price-fixing schemes his company involved him in, he starts working for the FBI as an informant and proves surprisingly effective despite his apparent incompetence in regards to discretion. As time goes on, the FBI (and the audience) learn that Mark may not be quite as naive as he comes across. I saw the movie knowing virtually nothing about it, and was quite glad for that, so that's all I will say. The Informant! is essentially a character study of an interesting and deluded character, and Damon absolultey nails the lead role. It's best described as an unusual movie and a highly entertaining one at that. The Informant! is funny as hell, in its own special way.

Book: As some of you know, I'm part of a Book Club with a few other Boston-area bloggers. We've done the classic classics (Wuthering Heights) the American classics (To Kill a Mockingbird) and the campy classics (Valley of the Dolls). This month's selection solidly falls into the third category: oh yes, we're reading Flowers in the Attic, by VC Andrews. It's the terrible tale of four siblings kept prisoner in the attic of a huge mansion by their cruel grandmother and their selfish mother, whose vanity far outwieghs her concern for her children's well-being. The novel is gripping and very creepy, and I felt so bad for the kids. On the positive side, now I finally know how the Dresden Dolls got their name.

Show: Last weekend, I went to the Donkey Show- a disco-themed performance visiting Boston from its home base of New York City. I had a great time. There is very little of an actual show; it's basically a giant disco dance party with a few scantily clad cast members covered in glitter flitting about. I felt like I was in a non-porny scene from Boogie Nights. And they even played my all-time favorite disco song. I'd definitely recommend it, but definitely go to the later show (8:00 is far too early for that amount of spandex) and have a cocktail or two first.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Well, I couldn't call myself a blogger if I didn't acknowledge Patrick Swayze's recent passing. I fully admit to loving everything about the movie Dirty Dancing, and here's a little movie montage tribute. I distinctly remember Christmas of the year it came out- my sister Kerry got a boom box and a cassette tape of the Dirty Dancing soundtrack and I was soooo jealous.

In other death-related news, everyone at my workplace is obsessed with the Yale grad student murder case and in a separate incident, a Johns Hopkins undergrad killed a prowler with a samurai sword.


Oh hi, I'm still around, just busy. My Ph.D. thesis defense is two weeks from today, so I'm swamped with the final preparations and graduation paperwork, in addition to starting my job search.

Ideally, I'm looking for a position that:

1. is science-related, but in an applied and interactive setting (industry, public health, and government labs) rather than traditional academia. My background is in microbiology and infectious disease.

2. is awesome.

3. pays well.

So let me know if you hear of anything :)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

List #42...Things I’ve Always Wanted To Do

I assume everyone has things they’ve always wanted to do. I don’t mean significant, noble undertakings like climbing Mount Everest or saving orphaned children or writing a blog. I’m talking about trivial things, inconsequential things, like “I’ve always wanted to take a flying karate kick and bust open a piñata.” Or “Man, someday I’m going to walk by a fire alarm and just pull the sucker.”

Well, I have a few, and some of them I’ve actually done. And it was quite satisfying. To wit:

1. Walk up a down escalator. (Honolulu airport, 2002)
2. Spray a fire extinguisher. (Laboratory safety training, 2005)
3. Burn a couch. (Okay, I didn’t actually pitch it in the fire myself but I was there to witness it. Peace Corps reunion, 2009.)

But there’s one more item on my list that remains elusive, even though I’ve had ample opportunity:

4. Pull the emergency shower in the laboratory. Every single time I walk by that thing, I just want to pull it! Something about that dangling pull handle is just so…inviting. Problem is, there’s no drain underneath, so if you do pull it (so I’ve heard), tons of water rushes out and gets all over the floor and makes a huge mess. But hey, if my upcoming thesis defense goes well, let’s just say you probably don’t want to be standing underneath it when I walk by.

How about the rest of you? Any silly things you’ve always wanted to do? Leave them in the comments.

Lastly, even though it's still Thursday, here is your Friday song- two for the price of none!

Inspired by the cooking post below:

Talking Heads - Pyscho Killer

Bonus track: The Beatles (not remastered) - Michelle (see what I did there?)

Recipe: "Snapper" Veracruz

A while back, a friend emailed me a link to a cooking website called Rouxbe (which after months of pronouncing it "rocks-bee" in my head, I just now realized it's supposed to be a play on the cooking term roux, so it should sound like "rube." These mistakes happen when the extent of one's French is essentially limited to Pyschokiller lyrics.). Anyways, you have to pay to have full access to all of the site, but there are a ton of recipes and cooking videos available for free. I've been meaning to try out this recipe for Snapper Veracruz for a while but didn't want to cook a whole pan of fish for myself. I had guests on Tuesday night, so I gave it a whirl. I ended up using cod instead because there wasn't any snapper at the supermarket, but the recipe said it was fine to substitute any mild, white fish. And I omitted the bay leaves because, to be honest, they sketch me out. Aren't you supposed to not eat them? Why would I add something to a recipe that needs to be removed later? What if I forget and eat one? Stop messing with me, bay leaves!

Anyways, my Cod Veracruz came out great. It was extremely easy to prepare and tasted delicious- the olives and the jalapeños added a nice flavor. Even the one person who isn't a big fan of fish ate and enjoyed it. I forgot to take a picture but my dish did look exactly like the official portrait from the website.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Nica 20 Reunion

I spent Labor Day weekend at my Peace Corps reunion at the Hasselmann Family Farm in Illinois. There were 19 members of Nica 20 Agriculture, and 11 of us attended along with assorted spouses and children (and one suegra). We all had a fantastic time... perfect weather, beautiful scenery, and a great chance to catch up with old friends. You know how with some friends you don't talk to them for years, and then you get together and it feels like not even a day has passed? Well, it was like that. (Except for all of the kids and babies, but I've gotta say, Peace Corps volunteers produce some adorable and well-behaved children.) I've been a city mouse for the past several years, so it was a nice change of pace to spend a few days in farm country. We ate fresh eggs and delicious meats from the farm, we mowed hay (as in stacked bales into a hay mow), went on a hayride, had a bonfire (complete with a burning couch!) and threw a Nicaraguan party featuring piñatas, tortillas, gallo pinto, and Flor de Caña. A special thanks go out to Scott and his wife Nena- they did a wonderful job as hosts and put a lot of work into making the weekend a huge success. Oh, and if any of you in the Illinois area are looking to support your local farmers and enjoy fine meats, definitely check out the farm website listed above- most products, including the brats (no trip to the Midwest is complete without them), are Animal Welfare Approved.
Some pictures:

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Ten years later

In September of 1999, I left for my Peace Corps assignment as an agriculture volunteer in Nicaragua. I was 21 years old, fresh out of college, could barely speak Spanish, and didn't really know squat about agriculture, but I was chock full of idealism and ready for adventure. The next 27 months were full of ups and downs- one day you're watching baby sea turtles hatch at the most beautiful beach you've ever seen, and the next day you've been pickpocketed on the bus and you've got giardia. But despite all of the frustrating parts, Peace Corps was by far the most rewarding thing I've done in the past ten years. I learned another language, lived in another country, and did hundreds of things I never imagined possible. I owned a horse. I swam in waterfalls and hiked in woods populated by howler monkeys. I lived with a Nicaraguan family for two years in a small house with a dirt floor. I played soccer on a team that traveled around the country in an old cattle truck. I vaccinated chickens and hitchhiked on the Pan-American highway. Most importantly, I met wonderful people and made amazing friends.

To celebrate out ten year anniversary, several of my fellow agriculture volunteers are gathering at a very appropriate place, the Hasselmann Family Farm in Illinois, which belongs to my friend Scott (the guy in the well in the photo). I leave tomorrow and I can't wait!

Have a great Labor Day weekend, and here's a song for your download enjoyment:

Quiero Ser Poeta by Jarabe De Palo. It's a great song from one of my favorite bands.

Lastly, here's a long-distance dedication video that goes out to the members of Nica 20 AG who are unable to attend this weekend. For everyone else, if you don't know what a ranchera is, well, you're about to find out.