This Week Last Year: August 13th – 19th, 2010

Posted By on August 22, 2011

Friday, August 13th, 2010

Skipped lab today. Fixed up apartment. Gave Holly “Word of Mouth” at PJ’s. Saw the Expendables.

.: I really thought Stallone was going to be more clever with this one. Looking back, I had no reason to think that, other than it’s what I wanted to be true. The Expendables was just another action movie, albeit with a handful of delightful cameos that were explicably but regrettably featured in the trailer. Nothing new could be found anywhere in this movie, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you’re all about getting what you paid for. I knew going in that I would see bodies blown in half and heads kicked off. But I wanted just a little bit more than that.

.: Take, for instance, the scene where Stallone chases a seaplane while being chased by gun-toting bad guys in turn. The plane is going to take off with or without him, so he better make that one last jump — and he does! Oh, but only barely, and by the fingertips. Will he be able to pull himself inside the plane? Yes. Because that scene’s been done in every other run-and-jump context. You, the viewer, know he’s going to make it. There’s no suspense, no surprises.

.: But what if, instead of making it, he just barely misses? Now he’s in the water, and the plane’s taken off, and the bad guys are getting closer and closer. How’s he going to get out of that situation? I don’t know. I couldn’t think of an escape plan. And that’s exactly what the movie needed. That’s why they have writers. Whatever scenario they came up with to get his character out safely after that fall would have been creative, suspenseful, and totally unexpected. It would have been worth seeing. Instead, we got to see Eric Roberts shot in the chest and knifed through the back, which is almost as good.

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

Kim tried to wipe the freckles off a white kid’s face.

.: Kim is asian, if that makes the story funnier.

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

Drove to Maryland by accident. Turns out the Turnpike isn’t always I-95.

.: Holly’s friend Kate needed help moving into her new apartment. She had few possessions, but they were too big to fit in her car (mattress, bookcase, etc.). Holly had a CR-V at the time, and while the roof of a CR-V can support a mattress about as well as the roof of any car, Kate was evidently more comfortable transporting a mattress with a car she was not driving. Since this gave Holly and me an excuse to visit Philadelphia, we were okay with that.

.: I had assumed that the New Jersey Turnpike and I-95 were one in the same, an assumption I had to correct when we found ourselves in Maryland. And while this episode reflects poorly on me (as the person holding the GPS), I feel it reflects even more poorly on Holly (as the person who’s lived most her life in New Jersey and a significant chunk of it in Philly).

Monday, August 16th, 2010

Took Csanad to lunch at 4:00 pm. Learned how to isolate immature maize embryo. Still feel tired all the damn time.

.: My original Super Big Science Idea was to transform chloroplasts in maize. It had promise to be something important, it had several immediate and obvious applications, and — here’s the selling point — it had never been done before. That last point, curiously enough, did not stop somebody else from patenting the process two years earlier. Apparently you can patent something without ever actually bothering to do it. I did not know that. Neat.

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

Picked immature Hungarian ear – only ten kernels pollinated successfully. Fell asleep in front of the lab.

.: Tissue culture does weird things to plants. A plant can grow perfectly fine in a soil laced with all sorts of environmental insults, but keep it on a seemingly ideal sterile nutrient media for very long and strange things begin to happen. They lose fertility, accumulate somatic variations, vitrify, or simply die. Chloroplast transformation is a tissue culture-intensive process, so any plant under consideration for chloroplast transformation must perform well in tissue culture. Tobacco is the gold standard for chloroplast transformation in part because it behaves so well in tissue culture. You can cut up a tobacco leaf or stem, poke it into some media, and it’ll be happy there for months.

.: Maize, on the other hand, is a finicky species. Immature embryos — which can only be collected at certain times, as opposed to leaves which can be used whenever — are the tissue of choice for maize tissue culture. They are never happy, though, and must be transferred to new media every two weeks. Then, after a few rounds of transferring, they still lose all viability and you give up in frustration. This is part of the reason why maize chloroplasts have yet to be transformed: maize is kind of a bastard in tissue culture.

.: There are certain varieties of maize that reportedly perform better (i.e., last longer) in tissue culture. One of these lines was developed by a laboratory in Hungary, and they sent us some prepared tissue culture samples in the mail. They also sent us some fully mature seeds so we could plant them out in the field and start our own line. It was from these field plants that I was to derive the new line of immature embryos. Unfortunately, these particular plants did not do so well at harvest time, and I found myself with only two usable ears from the dozen or so plants. Leaving one aside as backup, I shucked the other to find only ten kernels had successfully pollinated. Of the ten embryos in those kernels, I managed to mangle all of them during their attempted isolation.

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

Second chance maize ear: one god damn kernel: Felt like an idiot sterilizing it. Lost embryo. Fell asleep in parking lot. Holly’s note on freezer.

.: I returned to lab the next day to operate on the sole other viable ear of maize. Imagine how big of a dork I felt when I shucked that ear to find only one kernel had been pollinated. I’d have preferred that none of them be pollinated, but since that one little guy was there I still had to go through the whole process of sterilizing and preparing the embryo for isolation. I mangled it.

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

Doctor’s appointment for sleep troubles. Funny guy. Stayed home from lab. Groggy all day. Fixed up apartment some more w/ fancy bookshelves. Found my sock.

.: Throughout this failure of a week I had been plagued by severe sleep troubles: I wasn’t getting any. I tried to fall asleep at home, but my body refused. I tried to stay awake in lab, but my body refused. I couldn’t think linearly, and I probably endangered a great deal of people by operating heavy machinery at the time.

.: I made an appointment with the campus doctor, but I probably would have been better served by an appointment with a campus therapist. None of the tests showed any physical maladies, and I knew going in that I didn’t want to go on any drugs. Eventually it became clear that my sleep problems were stress-induced, most likely the kind of stress induced by sleeping on a really shitty bed.

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