Sunday, June 26, 2005

how to grill a portabella mushroom

how to cook everything suggested making a basting sauce of olive oil, onion or shallot and salt and pepper and to grill the mushroom until it was brown, about 5 minutes per side. i used the high setting on a gas grill and started with the cap side on top. i lavishly basted the mushroom when i put it on the grill and when i flipped it. i didn't see the mushroom change color, but after 5 minutes on each side, it started to drip, which made a lot of noise as the fire hisses from the drips. i took it off the heat about a minute after it started hissing, and it was fabulous. it was obviously cooked, but still incredibly moist. yum. that was the first time i'd used the grill in the complex - i think it'll be happening more often.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Wonderful New York.

central park and prospect park were amazingly green and lush. i enjoyed how green brooklyn was; there are so many more trees on the street than in manhattan. i loved the urban landscape too though. i went to the museum of natural history, had lunch with my cousin, went out to dinner every night, once at one of my favorite restaurants. i saw rs run a 10k race faster than she expected, met some of her friends, went to rutgers to see a friend and his lab, went to the crumpler camera bag mothership (no link due to annoying flash interface), bought books and read a lot. i spent a lot of time on the subway and other trains, which i really enjoyed. by the end i was ready for a break, and i got one - we spent saturday afternoon mostly inside after the race. this morning i got up at 2am pacific time, and was in my car in burbank by 10am pacific time. naturally i napped on the plane and more once i got home. the only lousy thing about new york was the hot and humid weather. it was gross, but i had been warned. rs keeps her apartment comfortably cool, and plenty of other places were air conditioned too. it was a great trip.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

exam exam exam

the exam went ok. following is my brain dump about the exam. i apologize for the length.

one question (on neurogenesis, the creation of new neurons in the brain) was all i could have asked for. it asked a fair amount about the topic, but was explicit about what it was looking for. there were a couple aspects of the question that i didn't really know, but overall i thought it was ok.

another question was also good. it was an interesting angle on a topic (mRNA trafficking and local protein synthesis) that i'm pretty familiar with. i know a little bit about the angle, and so it came together as i was writing it. of course i would have liked to know more in some areas there too, but i'll live. whether i'll pass or not, i'm agnostic.

there was a list of six questions, and after i picked those two above questions, things got a little harder. i started to answer a question that clearly was written in response to a topic i chose that i'm really interested in: backpropagation, the travel of the signal of the neuron in what one might consider the wrong direction. ultimately though, the question asked more about downstream mechanisms than i knew, and i just couldn't put it together. after writing about half a page, half of which was unrelated to the question, i started re-assessing the other questions.

i decided to answer the question on cytoskeletal regulation, in spite of the fact that i thought it was a poorly conceived question and the other fact that it asked me to compare the regulation of the cytoskeleton in the neuron to that in migrating cells. guess what, i don't know very much about migrating cells. happily i knew a couple of examples of cytoskeletal regulation in migratory cells. unhappily, i didn't know enough to make a complete comparison.

for the last question, since i had decided i wasn't up to answering the backpropagation question and i hadn't studied synaptogenesis (i had eliminated it as a topic in an effort to strategize for the exam), i had to answer the question on alzheimers. the question had a broad component, and i felt good about my knowledge of the mechanisms of the pathology. however, the second part of the question was about potential treatments, and that was harder. i answered it anyway. it was my weakest effort, in part because it was the last question i answered and i wasn't as coherent. i'm annoyed at my relative lack of knowledge about potential treatments (i ended up choosing gene and antibody treatment), because if i was going to spend more time studying for that topic, that's what i would have chosen. i explicitly had the thought: the professor who is most likely to be asked to write that question is always interested in applications of basic science to treatment.

i don't know when i hear about whether i passed the exam.

i feel like i should write down things i learned about taking exams like that, but i also feel brain dead. none of the questions could be argued to be outside of the topics i wrote down, but some of them were definitely more in depth than i went, or deep in a different area than i studied deeply. i'm glad i was right about some things i studied.

if i was going to do it again, i would make a little fact sheet for myself on each topic with the main points. the table i made up of studies of neurogenesis were really helpful. generally, making a list of the main points of the experiments in the papers i read was really helpful. i found that sometimes i tried to get so much detail out of a paper that i wasn't solid enough on the basics. basics basics basics!

Monday, June 06, 2005

nervous and exhausted

i'm taking my exam today. i guess i should just start it. eek.

yesterday my roommate looked in the kitchen and said, "tell me you chased garlic-stuff olives with pepto-bismol."

yeah, i'm core like that.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

i love pens

highlighters can suck if you're marking a paperback book, because you're reading fast enough that you close the one page on the other and it smears, or because the pages are so thin that you see the highlighting through them. on the other hand, highlighters rock for journal articles (printed out on printer paper, which is how most people seem to read them). it takes forever to read a single page, giving the highlighter a good chance to dry before the page is turned, and the paper is thick enough to minimize the bleed-through.

have i mentioned that i went on a pen splurge before my crazy exam studying period? my favorites: the pen-style liquid accent highlighter (above) and my perennial favorite, the uni-ball gel impact RT. both of them practically bleed ink onto the page, which i love. you can see think ink sloshing around in the liquid accent highlighter, and it's only as thick as a pen so it's easier to hold. the mark that it makes is very saturated, almost as good as the big fat big fat highlighters, according to my comparison in the store. they aren't bright enough to use the yellow and be easily able to pick out the section you highlighted - i like the pink. it's got a chisel end that's pretty hard, which is nice for control. it's small enough that the most you can highlight at one time is one line. however, i did like using the thin end of a fat highlighter to mark a line - there was a nice minimalism to it. since i can't have it all, i'll have this for now!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

a PhD in procrastination

apparently it was important for me to figure out the probability that the exam that i'm going to take will exclude the same topics that i've eliminated from my study plan. the odds aren't as good as they were before. it's unlikely that i'll have to answer questions on topics i've eliminated, but i won't have as many options when it comes to picking which of the exam questions i want to answer (i now pick 4 of 6; i was expecting 4 of 8). i'm trying not to feel bitter that i wasn't told how things would be in advance.