{March 23, 2010}   Nerdification-rafts of people

So you know you’re a grad student when you refer to a mob of people in a visa office as a raft of lipids. Lipids are what our cell membranes are made of. Apparently they can segregate into phases called rafts. So this friend of mine went to NYC for some work at the consul office. He said he’s been held up there for like hours…(typical of any third world consul).
So obviously like the brilliant conversationalist that I am I asked whether there was a long line…(I mean seriously?). He replied saying it was more like a mob…something like a lipid raft.
We all groaned. Lipid rafts had been keeping us awake for nights on end. We were dreaming of lipid molecules with their hydrocarbon tails chasing us in our nightmares. But yeah, this is how a grad student looks at a mob….nanoscale assemblies of lipids into ordered rafts!


{March 14, 2010}   Nerdification-pedi-blues-cured

With all that’s going on in my life right now my roomie and I was bemoaning how we never get to go to a salon and pamper ourselves. No pedicure due to exams,lab and papers to write! 😦

So instantly it occurred to me in the shower that if I could make a machine to automatically give me customised pedicures at home. Yes I am trying to put a lot of people outta their jobs. What we need is for nails to grow to a certain length and stop. Also we need them to grow in shape and be strong and not break. Also it would help if they were coloured. Painting nails is painful.

Here’s what I came up with. If we put nail growth genes under an inducible promotor ,that is nails will grow only when stimulated by a particular compound,then we could control growth problem! Just take a pill-nails grow. Stop and voila they stop! So the strength is tricky…maybe a fusion of nail cells with collagen or some other strong protein?

The colour now…lemme think…well my lab has a GFP(green fluorescent protein) tag. We could use those. See we’d have fluorescent nails growing in shape till a certain length! Yay! 🙂

{March 14, 2010}   My Days Of DAZE..contd.

Daze of mozarella.

So when I came to America I didn’t appreciate a particular dairy product as much as I do now. I mean appreciate the fact that it precludes all else in the American life. So here are my milestones in cheesy education.

1. So I thought cheese could be of only one colour viz. a vague yellow of a brand made by madly laughing cows. Correction. It can be of most pastel shades at the YOR end of VIBGYOR. Pretty much any colour is available.

2. I used to think cheese is like slices or spread. Wrong again. Can be shredded,fried,molten,spread,inside other food,covering other food,cooking all other food,embracing other foo… get the point. It adopts any size, shape and avatar it wants.

3. I thought cheese was called cheese. Big misconception. Apparently mozarella,parmesan,ricotto,parmigiani etc etc all refer to cheesy snacks. I’m still not sure whether I have this one right though.

I mean I was having lunch that day with my friends. So one of them takes out this packet filled with yellow fries. I ask him what it is. He looks at me incredulously. Like I am not a human being. (which apparently I’m not since I don’t like cheese…oops did I not mention that?) So apart from practically falling off the chair laughing at my miserably ignorant education he told me that they are cheetos..more like cheestoes..I thought. I mean we have cheetos where I come from they just don’t come with so much cheese.

Anyway I am still being educated and lots of people are tryign to convert my rebellious palate into liking cheese. But till date its still holding out! 😀 (I will be guillotined if even one American reads this. Cheese messiah insulted!)

Daze of nerdification.

I’m quite scared at how I phrase all my sentences in terms of heredity or genes. I mean that day I saw this question on my exam. The teacher had written in parenthesis that if we thought that we had a LTP failure because we couldn’t get the answer to the question;to rest easy as she hadn’t taught it. This cryptic message sent all of us into peals of laughter. Now if you’re not a bio major you’re obviously not laughing. The message simply said that if the question seemed beyond us it was not because our LONG Term memory(Potentiation) had failed us even after burning the midnight oil,it was b’cos she hadn’t specifically taught it. I wondered later that seriously? We were laughing over this? We were such nerds. Here are more examples of our Nerdification.

We refer to beer as an end product of yeast culture and wonder what would happen if we used mutant yeast..for eg. ones that can’t fun eh?!

We think of cleaning the house with absolute alcohol  before a sanitation check. Dehydration kills all animals right..toxicity index is very high!

We order a dish of neurons and rejoice over it.

We refer to memory loss as a dominant negative LTP mutation.

We obsess with worms mating and do a war dance when they do.

We feel wicked satisfaction if we can tear apart and invert(spill the guts out) of more than 10 minuscule happy glowing larvae in less than ten minutes.

We like the chromatinised versions of songs better. This means we like those which have lyrics from our genetics class sung to Akon or Jay-Z.

More on Nerdification Project later. When you relate to all of this you are officially a successful subject of this Project.

{November 21, 2009}   My Days of Daze.

Here lies the carcass of my life picked clean by the vultures of experience.

Days of Trepidation.

Following my advent in this new kingdom I call home ithink that ilife has too much of i-nformation in it. So iday began with i feeling very [censored] off. (Too much of the iAge). Something did not seem right. Sometimes in life you get this sour taste in your mouth when you wake up..and you can almost feel the bitterness of the day’s medicines branding the mucous membranes of your delicate existence. That was how I felt on this particular day. Its one of those days when all you want to do is stay in bed and let the world Chaos around you. But there were lectures to attend and duties were calling very loudly and the service providers for Life very conveniently forgot to add answering machines for such situations.

Therefore I dragged myself out of bed and pulling my bedroom door open careened into the adjoining bathroom glad to have beaten my roomie to it. I shall tell you about my roomie very soon. For the time let it suffice to say that there was no, nay, negative love lost between us. So I go into the bathroom and realise its that Monday. The deeply darkly blue one. The one where the procrastinating weekend before you did not clean it out. Hence hurried cleaning episode of the bathroom ensued. Except the new bowl cleaner would not work. The darn thing was stuck. Bless its heart. It was again orchestrating the sweet symphony that was to sing my ballad of destruction. I showered quickly or planned to shower quickly. Like in a jiffy. except my definition of jiffy stretched a little-like by about an hour.

I came out of the shower 15 minutes late already and frantically looked around for my brush and my clothes. Again I had lazed around all weekend wallowing in self pity hence no laundry-no clean clothes. Have you ever worn stale clothes over freshly bathed and scented body? Its an experience to soothe the nerves and calm the mind. (if you haven’t got the sarcasm yet you’re zoned out or just simply do not have brains. Please desist from reading further .)

So I realised that today’s lecture was by this really old gentleman,on the merits of energy production in our bodies,mitochondria to be exact. Since most of the energy producing machines in my body seemed to be defective I had a personal grudge against this lecture. Also the fact that the professor tended to trail off,trip over wires every two minutes, fell over edges of the stage twice and turned off the projector by hitting the wrong button; probably had a lot to do with my apparent dislike. (By the bye he trailed off whenever I started writing a sentence…it was like a brownian ratchet voiceover.)

Therefore I decided to further my cause in this country by legalising my presence. In plain english I was going to get a number issued by the mighty horses of this kingdom. So I made my way to the international student’s office.

Mishap one: I left my apartment and halfway down realised I had forgotten to bring the garbage out. My apartment was going to stink to the skies when I got back. I walked out through the double doors straight into a sleet of icy needles of rain. No umbrella and all documents in non-waterproof bag. I was halfway to exercising my lachrymal glands rigorously.

Mishap two: Upon reaching the office drenched and feeling like my cats when they are forced to have a bath, I discover that I am one hour early. Spend the rest two hours listening to other similarly depressed and godforsaken graduates trying to figure out horse language.

Then I was called. The advisor gave me the letter I needed and then told me to lie low for awhile. I was already late in applying for this number that was going to save ma life,in fact it was going to be my life. Then she advised me not to go alone to the social blah blah office. It was far she said and lots of hispanics on the way. Don’t go alone, she admonished. I nodded gratefully and hoping my day had changed for the better left to go back to my lab.

Mishap three: Do not know what possessed me then. But my spirit guide must have felt disappointed. the day was not being malicious enough. Therefore it imbued me with a sense of wrong confidence. I decided to go to the social blah blah office by myself. Ha! I’m a big girl were my brave thoughts. So I set out to take a bus from the train station. I reached there,it was still raining. I waited for the bus. It took forever. I waited, and waited and waited and…….

I debated taking a taxi, thought about the zillions of terrible consequences all of which ended in me being dead, and rejected it.

Finally the bus arrived. I got on Smartly and asked the driver the fare. He was gracious and told me pertly. Next I couldn’t for the life of me figure out where or how to pay the fare. It was ifare again. The electronic ghosts just do not stop haunting me. The imachine was ready to take the ifare. Only i couldn’t count out the necessary ichange. So embarassed the driver helped i out. Red in the face from iexertion i sat down. The fear and trepidation in my heart as I traversed those lonely miles,alone in a strange kingdom filled with sea monsters and bogeymen , I cannot bring myself to write. It fairly caused my breakfast to regurgitate. Thank god I hadn’t had any.

Mishap four: I reached fine. Got the next letter from those horses fine too. I exited the horse stable and headed to the bus stop. I sat there alone for around ten minutes. Strange people walked in and out of those streets all staring at me as if I were an alien metamorphosed into human shape. I started to hyperventilate. I picked out a helpful looking homo sapien and asked him about the whereabouts of the next spaceship..err…bus. He looked at me funny and said in 45 minutes. Apparently I’d missed the previous one by seconds. I could almost hear the elements singing the same ballad of destruction in glee. I started walking down that deserted road. I hoped I would not meet anyone. I pulled my hood down and broke all records of walkathlons. I was close to running. Then I saw a lady with a black hat and a dog on a leash. The dog looked mean and ready to lick bones clean. I crossed the road surreptitiously to avoid her and ran into a street game of basketball being played by six feet tall giants. Mumbling my apologies I fled shaking and miserable. Desperate to get home. Unfortunately for my custom made song I made it back to the college bus stop unharmed. Tired and panting but whole. I thanked my stars and made my way to the bus I saw standing there…. Only for it to leave the instant I started towards it. I made no attempt at catching it. The Gods had conspired. Their Will be done. Thoroughly defeated by Fate, Weather, Horses and Public transport I slumped on a tree stump and waited for the next bus. And no I did not have a crow ablate on me.

I came home to contemplate a sorry Day and to Rage against the elements. I also lay down to give my aching legs a rest from the 45 minute near race with fear that I had indulged in. It seemed pointless now. Strange how in the brightness of your familiar room the fear seemes to fade. But I knew it was real. I knew it was lurking around waiting to leap onto my shoulder and grasp hold of my life again. I turned off my faculties and mindlessly tuned in to the iWorld. My iSalvation.

Days of Scrambling:

So ever tried scrambling eggs with egg beaters? Ok that is like the dumbest of awesomely dumb questions. 99.99% of the world has been there and done that vewwy successfully. The other 0.01% includes people like me who worship the Goddess of Legendary Messes. We fail at scrambling eggs. The secret of my success at this failure is simple. Follow the following:

Take eggbeaters and haul the yellow goo into a bowl. Lift your right arm over your left shoulder and pat your back to congratulate yourself on having completed  major step without mishap (too early but you don’t know that yet..its called sweet Oblivion). Next push your rear end to the microwave(yes you have to walk that far you lazy lump of flesh!) . Fine now put in the bowl and make sure that the spoon is not still in there.Fix the timer on the microwave and forget to press the start button. This is a crucial step to frustration. A prerequisite for this brand of epic mishaps is also having stuffed hip hop nigga blasting music headphones in your abused auditory canal. So you can’t hear the fact that the microwave is not on. Wander aimlessly for two minutes. Get ready for scrambled eggs!! Hmmm yumm…..

Screeech to a halt.

Microwave sitting idle. Red alert. Hit yourself thrice. (if it doesn’t work stand in front of a mirror and play tail the being the donkey) Switch on the heater. Sigh with relief….again too soon!!! Dance to the music nodding your head systematically and uselessly. Go back for scrambled eggs.

Open the door. Eggs are literally pouring over the edges of the too small bowl some cooked,some half  cooked. Run to get dirty towel. agonise over the exact number of contaminating bacteria in that towel. Take out the bowl. Drain out excess uncooked smelly yolk. Screw your nose at uneggy smell emanating from scrambled non entity.

Next take a knife. Since you forgot to line the bowl with cooking spray get ready for major egg scraping session. Pour the mutilated remains of the scrambled eggs onto your plate. Take one mouthful. Spit it out. Gag several times. Run to the bathroom.

Dump eggs down the garbage.

Attempt to clean the bowl with the stubborn eggbeater clinging to it like a parasite.

Give up. Throw bowl.

Announce failure #(lost count).

Days Of Yeti-the abominable snowman!

So you have to be a freaking idiot to want to go out in a blizzard. The esteemed author of this post is the epitome of that specie. In New jersey 2009-2010 winter was deemed to be one of the worst. As luck would have it I obviously chose this year to make my first wobbly steps into America. The previous evening the news channel warned everyone of the coming blizzard/life threatening situation/stay-at-home-and-sleep conditions for the next day. I clapped my hands in glee and scoffed at the idea of being warm when I could play in snow!

Now some people like me have never seen snow in their lives. Snow AKA frozen pieces of fluffy water with cutesy designs in them, are fascinating for little people like me. So I visualised myself, spreading out my hands and upturning my face to the sky as the soft flakes touch my skin. Total drama and soap opera style! So I bundled myself and went out in the snow to meet a friend in the chem labs.

My friend is just as cracked as I am. She left her house at 9 to get a parking space on a blizzard day. But wth I got there fine, after slipping and stumbling and crawling through snow. Felt pretty exhilarated. Wheeee!!! Woohooo! White christmas and all that jazz ya know!  We decided to go and eat at student dining hall..again quite an adventure. My friend was considerably amused by my obvious childish pleasure at muddy slush of frozen water called snow.

While going to the hall I noticed my friend laughing her *** off at a “snow sculpture’ some n’er-do-well undergrad had built with a lot of TLC. I admired it and my friend laughed harder. Somewhat confused at her amusement we went in to eat. I was still looking at the extraordinary piece of..err…ahem..wait..does it? Really? They did that? !!!!!!


So built in snow in all its glory was an essential part of the male anatomy adorned with meticulous detail. And I had thought it was modern art. LOL! I literally stumbled over myself to tell my friend this amazing revelation. Surprise! She’d already figured it out and couldn’t for the life of her understand how I could be so innnocent!

Sigh! I wanted a picture with it but by the time we got over eating pastries and fries it melted sort of and keeled over. 😦 Kind of symbolic to feminism eh? Ohkay!

Back in lab we decided to build a snowman. Yay! We had a lotta fun rolling around snowballs and building our own snowman! It was then that a tree fell over with a resounding crash. We were sooo thrilled! Tree falling eh? Thrilling? No? Correct. We figured that out later when we saw the news and realised people get killed that way…ahem.

Then the snowstorm got worse. Having never been in one I was enjoying myself..till I figured that the road in front of me was not there and that strangely everything looked white. Its called a whiteout idiot! No visibility. So I decided to follow the only two other idiots out on the roads. The wind speeds were far higher than my frail body could handle. I trudged along my body bent over double cursing myself vehemently. I should never have come out. A bare 10 minute walk turned into a fight against..err..whiteness? Moving,menacing,engulfing white! I finally reached home shivering,covered in snow and soaked through. Never again. I’m such an idiot.

et cetera