Monday, July 21, 2008

A Whale of a Tale

I can’t believe it’s already Monday and I still haven’t blogged about what happened last week. Well, here goes!

On Monday, we PRISE fellows had a good talk with Craig Rogers from the Bureau of Study Counsel about Managing Expectations in the Lab. One of the points I took away from the talk was that we should not feel burdened by our Harvard degree – that we should not have to go on to do what we and others see as bigger and better things because we went to Harvard. After the talk, some of my PRISE friends and I (Sara '11 and Chris '11 pictured here) visited Annenburg during Brain Break (for the Summer School kids) and thought back fondly to our freshman year meals.

A few days later my Thursday schedule was switched up by Lab Cleanup Day (!). As I’ll detail in a later entry, my lab, along with Prof. Lichtman’s lab and a couple others, are moving to the new Northwest Building next week. This meant that we had to cut our Thursday morning lab meeting short and spend a good 2-3 hours cleaning up common areas like the cell culture room, cold room, and dissection room, as well as starting to sort through the refrigerators and freezers. I wasn’t much help in this clean up as I haven’t been around long enough to know what I’m supposed to be cleaning, and would probably have ended up throwing away all the important things. Luckily, at lunch time we all got pizza in the tea room and one of the postdocs daringly drank a beer found in the cold room. (Good idea? I don’t know – it had apparently been there for at least a year!)

Thursday evening we attended another talk, this time by Professor Richard Losick, known to undergraduates for teaching MCB 52 and being co-Head Tutor of the Molecular and Cellular Biology Concentration. He spent the first 10 minutes convincing us that it’s a great idea to do research as undergraduates (he even showed us pages of his senior thesis from when he was at Princeton!). We all laughed in agreement when he said, “If you were a doctor and failed 95% of the time, that would be unacceptable. In science, failure is the norm. Your experiments will fail 95% of the time.” He also joked, “It’s really good I got a tablet [PC] because otherwise I’d have to use two pointers,” twisting his arms while referring to the two projector screens on either side of him. Most of his talk was about stochastic switches in Bacillus subtilis, a bacteria closely related to anthrax. Since I did research on B. subtilis for most of high school, this talk was pretty cool ☺

The next day, I left lab early and packed up my bags (well, just an overstuffed back-pack) and headed to South Station to take Megabus (free wireless!) to New York City (I first considered taking the Fung Wah, but decided it was in my own best interest to take a safer mode of transportation). Max ’10, Lauren ’11, and I were visiting Aditi ’10, who managed to get a three-bedroom apartment to herself (!) We got into Penn Station about 10:00 pm and headed back to her apartment, which was located about 12 stops away on the metro, drank some orange tangerine juice, and fell asleep with the help of a giant inflatable mattress.
The next morning we woke up refreshed, ate some Special K cereal, and put on our sunglasses.

We then started our journey on the New York Metro.

Our first top was Times Square, where we took lots of pictures of Elmo and WALL-E.

After a quick lunch at Cosi, we passed by the Apple store (Max '10 was really excited)

and walked a good couple of miles along Central Park to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Along the way, we passed a 20 block-long line for the Bon Jovi concert that evening.

The Museum was pretty sweet, and our favorite exhibits were probably Arms and Armor and Superheroes, which featured Tobey Maguire’s ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Spidey suits from Spiderman 3, Christopher Reeve’s Superman Suit, and Christian Bale’s Batman suit from Batman Begins (unfortunately, no pictures were allowed in the Superheroes exhibit).
We would have been awesome knights during the Crusades.

We were psyched to see Ellsworth Kelly in the Modern Art exhibit (he has single color canvases - genius?) well as Andy Warhol (chicken noodle or tomato?)

After indulging in some Dippin’ Dots in the cafeteria,

we met up with Ap ’10, Steven ’10, Katherine ’10, and James ’10 (all of The Crimson Business Board) and tried to decide on a good spot for dinner.
We ended up in Union Square at The Heartland Brewery, where I had my usual chicken fingers.

We then headed over to Magnolia Bakery for some delicious frosted cupcakes!

The next morning I woke up ridiculously early to catch the 8:30 am bus back to South Station.

I got in about 12:45, and I then took the Red Line to the Green Line to the Blue Line and made it to New England Aquarium in time to go whale watching with PRISE. Now, I had head a lot about this whale watching, and I was a little worried about getting seasick. My only real boat experience was last summer when I was on a dinner cruise on the Potomac River, and I didn’t get seasick then, so I naïvely assumed I would be fine. The sea breeze was great as we pulled out of the harbor, leaving the city of Boston behind us, and it was amazing to see 5 humpback whales – a mom, her baby, and an escort, and then two other females. Unfortunately, I soon began to feel a little dizzy, which turned into nausea, leaving me sitting on one of the benches breathing in and out slowly so as not to get really sick (as some fellow PRISEers did). All in all it was a good experience, although I don’t think the Voyager III will be seeing me again soon.