Sunday, January 29, 2012

Good Weekend

I had a really good weekend! On Friday I went to Urbandale to hang out with my friends Mike and Tessa. We went to El Bait Shop to eat and meet with their friend Brandon. The food was really good. They had so many beer choices that it was hard to pick one! Then we saw Underworld: Awakening. I had an issue with laughing inappropriately whenever there was a scene with gratuitous violence, but I don't think I annoyed anyone around me, so it was all good. Then we went back to their house and drank wine and watched Hell Girl, which is pretty much our weird tradition now whenever I come over.
Then on Saturday our friend Jenn came down and we went to Prairieland Herbs! I love Prairieland Herbs so much. They make the best stuff. I spent way too much money but it was well worth it. Then we went to Jordan Creek and bought some clothes. I got a really pretty purple dress. It was a pain to find the right dress because most of them fit until they got to just below my shoulder blade, and then the zipper wouldn't zip. I was getting really frustrated but then I found the one I bought and it worked out. Jenn had to go home after that, so Tessa and I had dinner at TGIFriday's. Then I went back home.
It was a great weekend. I really enjoyed spending time with my friends. It was especially nice because the week was pretty rough, so being able to relax was awesome.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Lab Rotation #2

I started my second lab rotation this week. I'm working in Dr. Zhang's lab. He works on Campylobacter jejuni, an intestinal pathogen. It's the most common cause of food poisoning. The particular strain they are working on is causing sheep to have spontaneous abortions, so it's a concern in animal husbandry. My project is to generate knockout mutants in two genes, CJSA-1098 and CJSA-1084. They are both putative virulence genes and the lab is interested in how those genes are affecting the virulence of this particular strain. I'm looking forward to this because I've never made bacterial knockout mutants before. The lab itself is really nice and very roomy, even though it's in the basement of Vet Med. Everyone seems really nice, and the grad student I'm working with is really cool. It's nice to be working with another person really closely, because that way we can work with each other and I have to worry less about what's going on in lab all the time. It's less pressure. I just started this week, so I haven't done a lot yet. We have to construct the suicide vectors first in E. coli and then we transform the Campy. with them. So I've designed some primers and miniprepped some bacteria so far. The primers should be in tomorrow morning so I'll have more to do in the afternoon. I'm enjoying being back in the lab.

Monday, January 16, 2012

More family health issues

Man, it seems like the hits just keep coming. This month is already difficult because next week is the one year anniversary of my grandfather's death. Then on Sunday I get a call from my mum saying that my granny is in the ER. She had to be brought there by ambulance because she was so disoriented and in so much pain. She was admitted to the hospital yesterday but the doctors have no idea what's going on. They thought it was a kidney infection, then pancreatitis, now they've ordered an MRI on her back. It's very scary and very frustrating. It doesn't help that Granny is in the same hospital where Grandpa John died a year ago. Everyone's nerves are really frayed and I'm feeling very helpless all the way out here in Iowa. At least last year I was able to go to the hospital and be there for John and help out. Now all I can do is pray and wait.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Spring Semester

Time to talk about my spring classes! First up is BBMB 405. That's the second semester of biochemistry. I don't know about this one. The professor seems good and all, but I've heard the tests are insanely hard. So we'll see how that goes. I'm really just trying to pass with a C or better, so as long as I can do that I'll be okay. Then I have the rest of the Micro core classes. There's Fungal biology, Virology, and then Environmental Ecology. Fungal biology is first, which I call Mushroom Class because it's funny to me for some reason. So Mushroom Class will be really easy, because the tests are open book. And it should be interesting too since I don't know anything about fungi. Last is seminar, which is the same as last time and is pass/fail only so I barely even count it as a class.
I also talked to Dr. Zhang today about my rotation. I'm starting next week. His lab has a particularly pathogenic strain of Campylobacter jejuni and it has some unique genes that they think contribute to its pathogenicity. I'm going to be trying to knock out one of those genes, characterize it, and then complement the mutant strains and knock it back in. It might be difficult because C. jejuni  is kind of a pain to work with, but I'll get to learn a bunch of new techniques that I've never done before, and that will be pretty cool! I'm looking forward to it. I do have to get a temporary pass into the Vet Med building though, because they're on lockdown and being protected by the FBI. Apparently there's a pretty large threat from animal rights crazies right now, so they have to keep everything locked down so these crazy people don't come in and release all the lab animals, some of which have various diseases you really don't want getting out into the environment. It's awkward but at least I'll be able to come and go as I please once I have the pass, unlike my last lab rotation where the lab was locked down due to select agents.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A new blog!

It's a new year and I decided to start a new blog. I'm not abandoning this one; in fact I will continue to post pictures and general things about my life here. But I chose to make a new blog that will focus on my genealogical research. If you're interested, you can find it at It will be only about genealogy, so keep reading this one if you'd rather hear me complain about school and post pictures of my cats.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year's Resolutions

So I realized last year that whatever New Year's resolutions I made, I didn't write them down, and I forgot what they were! This year I'll post them here, mostly so I remember them.

Personal Goals
  • Track my food points and activity points every day on Weight Watchers. 
  • Exercise at least three times a week. 
  • Reach my goal weight of 155 lbs by next December 31st. 
  • Continue counseling and biofeedback to further control my anxiety. 
  • Overcome my social anxiety and join fencing club at Iowa State. 
Professional Goals
  • Get good grades this semester and next fall semester. 
  • Choose my thesis lab.  
Other Stuff 
  • Find a new apartment that's better for a graduate student. 
  • Learn a bunch of new recipes. 
  • Enjoy my life! 

New Year Party!

Yesterday I went out with my friends Mike and Tessa to the Des Moines Social Club Bash! So here's a bunch of pictures because it's been a long time since I've posted pictures.

 That's a drag queen. Yep.
 The lounge and people.
The balloons that were dropped at midnight!