Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Fireworks and Fourth of July

On Wednesday night my roommate and I were walking back from the Distinguished Speaker talk (more on that later) when I said something to the effect of “This week seems really long for some reason” and she said “what do you mean? Tomorrow’s Thursday and then it’s the weekend!” and I became really excited. That’s the great part about public holidays like the 4th of July – you get a three day weekend!

I still had Monday through Thursday, however, but they weren’t so bad ☺. After lab on Monday, my roommate and I met up again with Gracie ’11 to try out the new ice cream store on Mass. Ave – J.P. Licks. The walls of the store are made of (fake) grass, and there are a lot of pictures of cows and monkeys. Since my favorite flavors of ice cream are chocolate chip cookie dough and mint chocolate chip (yet surprisingly I don’t like chocolate or chocolate chip), I got those and we sat at the window and watched people walking by. The ice cream was yummy, and it’s clearly a popular place.

Tuesday brought a surprise – President Drew Faust’s University wide ice cream bash. On Monday afternoon, we all received a rather surprising email inviting us to the Yard for free ice cream, so we of course all went. Since I covered this for The Crimson, I don’t want to plagiarize myself when describing it, but there were a lot of people – students, faculty, staff, tourists (!); humorous Harvard themed ice cream flavors like Lemon Lamont and Berry-tas, and even Celebrity Scoopers – higher-up administrators who were, as their name suggested, scooping ice cream. I again indulged in Cookie Endoughment (get it?), which seemed to be a popular flavor. I saw lots of PRISE fellows (John '11 is clearly confused about which coast he is on) and I even got to talk to President Faust! She asked me where I was from and what my favorite science was ☺ (photo of Faust and I taken by Stephanie Lo, one of our PRISE Program Assistants).

The second Distinguished Speaker in our PRISE series, Professor Jenny Hoffman, talked Wednesday night about “Superconducting Vortices”. She told us she only realized five minutes before the talk that 70% of us were biologists and so she was going to “skip a couple of slides”. Even though I wasn’t completely sure what she was talking about the whole time, her work sounded pretty interesting and her stories were really funny. I especially liked the story about the poor graduate student who got abnormal results and was fired by his PI, and then his PI did the experiment again and got the same results and he won the Nobel Prize. “Well guys, life is unfair.”

On Thursday, I was growing some bacteria in lab, and it turned out that I had to use colonies 1, 3, and 7, which, due to my Eppendorf labeling scheme led to 1-3-7 being written across the tops. Most people would not see anything in this, but I was happy about it because I happen to be the 137th Guard of the Harvard Crimson. Cheesy, I know. I like it when the different parts of my life connect together in weird ways. Talking about weirdness, this week the MCB department was apparently testing their fire extinguishers. There was a silver pan outside my window filled with a liquid that would light on fire when one person pressed a red button, and then another person would take a fire extinguisher and put out the fire. This happened at least a dozen times as there were quite a few fire extinguishers to test and actually garnered quite a crowd, some of whom took turns putting out the ‘fire’ and had a lot of fun.

That night, a bunch of PRISE people went to listen to the Boston Pops, who play on July 3rd and July 4th. Due to placement, you can’t actually hear the Pops and see the Fireworks from the same place on the 4th, so if you go to the concert on the 3rd and then get a good seat on the Esplanade for the fireworks on the 4th, you can do both. The Pops, who we had heard earlier this summer, are amazing, and luckily, there were really big speakers near where PRISE was sitting on the 4th. Since it’s extremely crowded, PRISE camped out most of the day to save a spot on the grass with a great view of the fireworks, which are launched from a barge on the Charles. Taking pictures of fireworks proved more difficult than I imagined, and my pictures sadly don’t portray how amazing they were, but I should add that there were fireworks of smiley faces and cubes. It was cool.

I admit I slept most of the weekend, but I did have one more adventure Sunday night. I became good friends with my Life Sciences 1a TF (teaching fellow) over the course of the semester, and she had invited me and another PRISE fellow who works in her lab to dinner at 6. We were also eating with her lab baymate, a graduate student named Mollie, (and Mollie’s husband, Adam) who in another example of “It’s a small world after all” happened to be my favorite MIT admissions blogger and part of the reason I became interested in neurobiology. Sweet. So Kevin ’11 and I left at 5:45, since we were told the walk would take about 15 minutes. Unfortunately, it turns out that there are two Harvard Streets, one in Cambridge near Kendall and one in Somerville. We walked the 40 minutes to M.I.T. and walked up and down Harvard Street looking for her apartment. Her address was in the teens, and this Harvard Street started at 100 and went up. One of the residents told us if we walked far enough down the street, the numbers would stop going up and start going down. Being the smart Harvard students we are, we assumed she was right (because numbers going up and then down again is normal) and of course, no such thing happened. We eventually figured out we were in the wrong city, took the T from Kendall to Porter Square, went up a very long escalator (the random guy in front of us almost knocked me over as I was trying to take a picture...the perils of blogging!) and walked up a big hill to the correct Harvard Street. It was okay, thought, because we got in a good 5 mile walk and a delicious dinner of salmon and wild rice. However, Google Maps can lie. Remember that.

Finally, I leave you with a picture of a WALL•E that was bigger than me and absolutely adorable. Guys I know have cried in this movie (no kidding!) and it’s PIXAR animation.