Saturday, March 31, 2012

Allspice Flower: Des Moines Botanical Center

Woo, I'm done with my Omaha zoo photos, so now we're moving to the pictures I took at the Des Moines Botanical Center. It's in downtown Des Moines and it's a pretty cool place! I love taking pictures of flowers so I had a lot of fun there. So be prepared for a crap load of flower pictures. Anyway, this is an allspice flower. I didn't know where allspice came from but apparently it's a tree and it makes these nice flowers.

Omaha Zoo Penguins

Look how cute the penguins were! They were all lined up outside this door like a bunch of preschoolers lining up at the end of recess. They were too adorable.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Omaha Zoo Birds

 Here's this neat crane that was sitting all by itself. I don't know what it was up to.
 This is a black swan. I think they're really pretty! Prettier than normal swans.
 These flamingos were having a heated discussion about something, which is why they got all poofy in the back.
 They resolved it eventually although I don't know what the argument was about.
I'm not sure what kind of bird this is, but he was pretty chill and sat on this branch the whole time.

Omaha Zoo Madagascar Exhibit

 One of the cool things at the Omaha Zoo is an exhibit that's all about Madagascar. Some of the nocturnal animals I couldn't get good pictures of, like the bats, but there were some I could photograph. For example, the tortoises above.
 This is pretty much  my most favorite thing ever. It's a pile of ring-tailed lemurs. They were all asleep in this little fluffy pile. I think there are four or five of them in there.
 See? They are adorable. I want a pile of lemurs. They look really fluffy too, like they would be awesome to pet.
 The tortoises a little closer up. No, they aren't getting it on, they were just being extraordinarily active.
This is a brown lemur. It's asleep in that incredibly uncomfortable looking position. I don't know how it managed to sleep that way.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Omaha Zoo Big Cats

 The tigers were mostly very sleepy while we were there. It's weird to see big cats stretching and doing the same things that my cat Memo does.
 This tiger had an attitude! He reminded me a lot of Wisp-he was giving us some angry eyebrows and looks.
 This lioness reminded me of Miss Demeanor. She looked like a long-suffering matriarch over the other lions.
 They had white tigers! I love white tigers. This one was stretching and looking all cute.
 It's Memo's bigger cousin, the black panther! He was very very sleepy.
Memo actually sleeps like this on the arms of my sofa sometimes. It's hilarious.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Omaha Zoo Desert Dome

 This is the geodesic dome that the desert exhibits at the Omaha Zoo are in. It's a gigantic dome.
 This is a desert cat. It was very sleepy and ignored me while I took its picture. It was pretty cute though.
 There were five or six of these pretty birds. I wish we had more colorful birds like this in Iowa.
 I was able to get a close up of one of the pretty birds. They were really cool!
 This is some kind of funky bird with little thin legs. I don't remember exactly what it was called though.
 This desert deer was in the same enclosure as the meerkats. All these kids were freaking out at the meerkats, and the deer just stood there chewing something. It was very calm. So I took a picture of it because I liked it better than the meerkats.
 It's a kooaburra! I really want one. They are super pretty! My dad said they were all over the place when he visited Melbourne.
 Lynxes! I was lucky to get a shot of both of them together, because the one on the left was prowling around a lot.
Desert tortoises. Their shells are more colorful in person.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

RIP Aunt Jan

My dad just called and told me that my great aunt Jan died this morning. I think I'm still in the shock phase. Last Friday my grandpa called and said that aunt Jan had a stroke but that they didn't know how serious it was. By that evening, she had several seizures and was pretty much brain dead. She had told my great uncle Harry not to keep her on life support if that happened, so since then we've been kind of waiting for her to die. I'm glad she didn't suffer for a long time, but it just seems so unreal. I saw her when I was home for Christmas and she was perfectly healthy. This is such a surprise. She was 82 but she looked so much younger than her age and seemed to be just fine in December, so it's kind of a shock that she's gone.

Spring Break

This will be my first post about Spring Break. I'll have a bunch of posts later with pictures in them once I upload them to my computer, but I can talk about it right now. The first half of Spring Break was boring, but on Thursday my parents got into town! The first thing we did was eat at Hickory Park, because we always eat there. Then we took a pilgrimage to Prairieland Herbs! My mum buys stuff from them online all the time, but she'd never been to the store so we all went there. It was nice and warm there and I got to pet their ponies! Then we went to Ledges State Park. I really like going to Ledges and I'd told my parents about it, but they'd never been there. Even though the trees aren't leafy and not a whole lot is blooming yet, it was still pretty and the day was nice and warm. Then on Friday we drove to Omaha. I had never been to Nebraska, so now I can add another state to my list. We went to the Omaha Zoo, and it was really cool! The coolest part was the nocturnal exhibit. They have the day-night cycle changed so that the nocturnal animals are awake while people can visit. It was really cool. On Saturday we went to the Des Moines Botanical Center. Again, the outside gardens weren't blooming much, but the inside was really nice and it was fun. Then my parents wanted to see Jordan Creek Mall, so we went there. Afterwards we ate at the Machine Shed. On Sunday we went to church, then we ate at Hickory Park again. Then my dad helped me get unstuck in my Zelda game, and then they had to go home. It was awesome to see them and hopefully I can see them again in the summer.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Spring is on the way!

This winter has been really mild! We've barely had any snow at all, and now it's mid-March and almost spring. And man, it really feels like it! This whole week it's going to be in the 70s. I'm still kind of waiting for the inevitable late April ice storm, but for now I'm just enjoying the weather.
I'm on Spring Break right now. My parents are coming to visit later this week. I've been doing a lot of spring cleaning and organizing. It's especially important because I'm moving at the end of July so going through some of my stuff and cleaning out what I don't need now will make packing easier. I usually don't like cleaning but right now I'm feeling productive and useful so I'm going to roll with it!
School is going alright. My second biochemistry test pretty much sucked because 25% of the test was on a chapter the professor specifically said wasn't going to be on the test. It sucks, but hopefully everyone else did crappily so my grade will still be okay. Virology ends next week, which is kind of a bummer. The next class is Microbial Ecology and Environmental Monitoring. I'm not really interested in that, but maybe the professor will be good and I'll be pleasantly surprised.
Everything is going great with Dan too. We're both still pretty busy and don't get to see each other as much as we want, but everytime we spend time together it just makes me really happy. Last Friday we spent the afternoon at Ledges, and it was so nice out and I really enjoyed being out there with him. I really hope everything keeps going awesome because I really like him :)
That's about all that's going on in my life right now. I feel like I'm a little bit boring right now!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Third Rotation

I started my third rotation on Friday. I'm working on two projects in Dr. Phillip's lab. The first one, which has funding, is a metagenomics project. A group on campus has a mouse model for colorectal cancer, and they are interested in how feeding resistant starch might affect the gut. We get samples from them and we're supposed to do next generation sequencing to see if there is a change in the gut microbiota. Right now we've used 454 pyrosequencing, but we might start using Illumina MiSeq. I don't know how to do any of this stuff so it will be exciting to learn. The second project is more of an investment so it's something to do on the side rather than as a main project. It's a proof of concept of a type of sequencing called transposon sequencing. You mutate a bacterium with a Mariner transposon, then subject some of the colonies to selection pressure, and then sequence to determine which genes might be essential for survival and propagation. Transposon sequencing isn't very common so we have to get a publication first and then we can probably get some grant money. So I'm working on transposon sequencing of Yersinia pestis, which is bubonic plague. Right now the selection pressure is simple, it's just growing them in media without leucine, but if this works well then we can put some of the Y. pestis into mice and that will be the selection pressure. So far it's very interesting and I think it's very likely that I'll do my thesis in this lab!