Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Much needed Berg-induced silliness, last night.

Today: caffeine-induced productivity--sitting in coffee-zone, in my beloved yet-estranged Columbia, reading interesting science and listening to Maria. Rachel always said that seemingly-profound realizations had while smoking pot decay like rotting fruit in a Peter Lynch film during the day after.

You wake up in the harsh morning light and the severe yellow-green rays of the sun reveal your foolishness like an unflattering shadow on the melancholy face of a Van Gogh.

Living in the moment? Simple pleasures? My excitement and inquisitiveness are returning after weeks of apathy and suppression.

I'm finally feeling back to normal after the nightmarish fall (cue the strident tritone double stops of a Saint Saëns violin and a staggeringly drunk Lindsey Lang, hair askew, shot in a jarring Dutch tilt).

Craig says that Mozart is the Britney Spears of classical music. I usually agree, but Entführung has some sublime moments. Overly-stylized and musically fluffy, but sublime nonetheless.

What will 2009 hold?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What a nice baby I have! Puts up with crabby-Ed and sends me adorable-as-all-get-out (that was my best Sarah Palin) pictures of zipper (too sexy, think of the children) to cheer me up. Enjoy.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sola. Perduta. Abbandonata.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Cosa si può dire?

Now that I am totally unpacked, my life has been (pleasantly) occupied with the mundane.

I ventured out into the world today to get a 3-hole-punch (so I can organize my binders of literature that have piled up over the last 4 years), a swingline stapler (but, the squirrels), a food processor (for the soup making), a beater/mixer set (for the imminent baking), and various other necessities.

I always tried to collect kitchen ware that was multifunctional and I could glean from a Goodwill or Salvation Army. Garlic presses, salad spinners, and cake-frosters need not apply. My only downfall to date is my juicer...a fortuitous, invaluable, and thoughtful gift from my Craigers.

I am enjoying planning meals, and perusing my cookbooks for new ideas. I think I am going to make beet soup with mascarpone brioche tomorrow.

The rest of my day was spent procrastinating, then starting, then procrastinating some more on the manuscript preparation. I am setting a goal of 6 hours of work tomorrow, and come hell or high water, it's gonna happen.

Last night I watched a documentary called "Escape from suburbia" that fleshes out, in great detail, the impending energy crisis caused by peak-oil. The urban-centered economies require transport of everything from food, water, energy, and a workforce. For a smaller metro area, this seems feasible; for places like LA, with no public transport to speak of, an influx of millions of workers to the city each day seems like an epic waste of time and energy.

It was easy to get tidal-washed with the "Inconvenient Truth"-style pandemonium of crisis-mongering, pedantic, pathetique-but the documentary actually offered some concrete solutions to the energy conundrum.

1) Subsistence agriculture has been in style for thousands of years, for one reason: food grown locally is more healthy and requires no/little transportation cost. Apart from very urbanized areas, each person in America has the capacity and ability to grow a container garden. In Missouri, I used most of the back yard for permaculture, but I realize that is not possible everywhere. In many places in Europe, families have a garden plot either next to their house (or on their roof). I think this issue really boils down to space utilization, and the unwillingness of lawn-happy, delusional yuppies to sacrifice the status symbol of manicured grass.

2) Commutes. Why? Suburban communities can create their own local economies instead of serving as the rabbit hutches for the consumer-culture zombie-fied proletariat.

3) Alternative energy. Surprisingly, the filmmakers gave this movement little credence. The fallacy that biofuels, wind, solar, and geothermal power can replace the use of fossil fuels has been perpetuated by a government that has the central goal of pacification. According to the movie, the global (read: American) society has to change it's habits before any alternative energy strategies can even make a dent in our consumption.

So what have I learned? Subsistence agriculture is always in vogue, commute as little as possible and if necessary, bike or ride public transportation. Live sustainably when ever possible. Renewable energy sources are great, but not sufficient to support our consumption rate. The government (at least the federal and state) are impervious to the drastic corrections that need occur--so deal with the city, town, or community government if you feel the need for some activism.

It's not about being "green", politically correct, or fashionable. Eco-friendly is the closest descriptor I can pick without vomiting a little in mouth.

We've veni'd and vidi'd, now its time we vici'd.

Next time: my thoughts on Scarpia, Rigoletto, Iago, Count Almaviva, and why the baritone villain is always my favorite character.

Monday, September 08, 2008

I'm moved in.

Ed=the conqueror.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Amuhrica, FUCK YEAH

Don't want to jinx it, but I may have some very exciting news to post about this evening.

That is all.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Go to the field on weekdays, have a picnic on Laborday

So I am pretty much completely obsessed with Tina Turner. I'm planning a post about the parallels between TT and Maria Callas. I don't use the F word lightly, but they are both so fierce. (I will have to watch Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome yet again.)

But, after all, I do need some frenetic TT to get me through the last week in the Cone lab, which shaped up to be a non-stop shit-show, cluster-fuck. I was trying to finish up some last experiments so that I wouldn't have to get my coworkers to find my 4.5-years of unorganized supplies while I am 2000 miles away. So, we did finish most of the field work (I think) and I am finishing up the last experiments as we speak. So to say.

I have slept 5 hours in the last 48, but for some reason I am still going strong. Here's why: I've found that by staying out of the daylight, I can totally subvert my body's natural circadian clock. I actually caught myself purposefully not looking out the window at work today so that I would fool myself into experiencing perpetual night.

I know. That is so vampire-emo.

Some nerdery:

One of the last experiments I am doing is a real-time RT-PCR, which is a pretty powerful (if not standard) genetic technique. Basically you make cDNA from a RNA sample, and then carry out PCR with the cDNA to quantify the transcript level. Sounds pretty simple right?

In theory. But of course as Homer Simpson likes to say, "In theory communism works."

So you have to flash freeze your tissues in liq N2, grind them, extract them with trizol (that helps keep the RNases from chewing up your nucleic acids), chloroform extract the trizol, precipitate the RNA with isopropanol and salt, wash the RNA with EtOH, and resuspend it back up in DEPC H20. After each step you have to centrifuge, and remove the supernatant with a Pasteur pipette.

To keep from getting the reverse transcriptase from extending any genomic DNA contamination, and therefore negating your RNA quantification, you have to then digest your total RNA sample with DNase I, then phenol:chloroform: isoamyl-alcohol extract, and resuspend.

Then you need to carry out the RT rxn with MMLV (monkey murine reverse transcriptase), RNase inhibitor, dNTPs--then PCI extract the first strand cDNA, use spectrophotometry to determine absorbancy, and then run real time PCR in technical triplicate with endogenous controls to quantify RNA levels. I won't even go into the primer design phase, but those have to be gene-specific and optimized separately.

Ideally you would assay the integrity of your RNA and then check for inhibitors of the qPCR rxn. On a formaldehyde (denaturing gel).

The real-time PCR uses florescence to quantify the accumulation of double stranded products in real time; by including a passive reference dye and SYBR green (which binds to double stranded DNA) you can measure product after each of the 40 cycles.

I know. Pretty ridiculous, right? Considering that I didn't know how to do any of this about 5 weeks ago, I think I am doing OK.

What's next?

Considering that I've barely started on manuscript preparation, I have to somehow copy most of my lab notebooks from the last 4.5 years, and take my shitload of files.

Did I mention that I am leaving on Tuesday morning?

I plan on packing Sunday and Monday. That will be fun and exciting.

Go westward young man.

It has finally hit me that I am starting a completely new life in a state 2000 miles away where I know a handful of people. I will miss Craig and zipper so much! Not to mention the other Columbia friends L&K, Rachel, etc.

Sorry that was totally rambling, and probably mostly incoherent, but I am about to nod off into a coma for the ages, so gentle reader...goodbye for now.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Today I just couldn't take the mounting pressure of the end of the summer blues. Finishing up all the experiments at work, writing the manuscript, making sure Stanford gets all my paperwork (tuberculosis test!?), arranging logistics for the 1,920 mile trip to Palo Alto--all without knowing where I am going to live yet--is weighing heavily on me.

Got to cook some tonight, I'm trying to use all the food I planted. That was fun. Yay for volunteer lemon basil, now If I could only tell when my green zebras were ripe...

Watched some of the Olympics again tonight. Spoiler Alert!

Even though going 1-2-3 in the men's 400 and 2-3 in the 110 highs, the crumpling of both the 4X100 teams put me in a bad mood. O cette ennui bleu dans le coeur.

Rachel and I finished the night by drinking plum-blueberry-lime smoothies and watching the US get gold in the men's beach VB. America! Fuck yeah!

I know that everything will be ok, and in the long run my worrying is unfounded and unproductive. Headline: Neurotic, ex-Lutheran, gay scientist, opera singer dies of stress-induced heart attack at 23.

But as Scarlett said, "Tomarrah is anotha day."

Monday, June 23, 2008

Peoples of the earth, you have all been poisoned

Lest you, gentle reader, think that I have one whole brain, here's this:

Deejy-weejy and I came up with the gay decathlon:
1) Dressing
2) Activism
3) Gossiping
4) Underwear modeling
5) Oral sex
6) Dancing
7) Cooking
8) Sashaying
9) Hagging
10) Madonna/Tina/Whitney/Cher/Kylie/Dolly Karaoke-ing

Had a wonderful B-day.
Got to go to Ha-Ha Tonka (a made-up Indian name) with riveting company and see castle ruins, the spring, some caves (which were closed), and hiking. Also a decadent picnic. Then on to swimming and Indian food and then Sparkys. It was a fantastic and relaxing Saturday.

Sunday was spent recovering. Lots of sleeping in, gardening, dog-parking, phone-talking, and spending time with my baby Zipper and his owner Craigers.

Went to rehearsal tonight for POP and then I'm working on reading some "fun" summer reading. I'm on about 4 books at the same time. Here's what I've learned so far:

Alan Greenspan, The Age of Turbulence. Yes, he was the puppetmaster. No, I still don't get economics.

Burroughs, The Nova Express. Doing heroin and writing about gay sex leads to multiple-page ruminations about centipedes, ejaculate, and talking bugs. The Western Lands and Naked Lunch were basically the same thing.

Learning Perl. I am a complete retard and will never learn to program.

Tolstoy, Anna Karenina, 457/839. I totally understand why the peasants had to revolt and murder the milquetoast aristocracy in their sleep. I reject your bourgeoisie values, the wheels of the revolution will crush you.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

O nature green unnatural mother

As I squatted dirty faced and bug spray perfumed over my legume garden this weekend, hand feeding freshly-picked snow peas into mouth, again hand feeding freshly-picked snow peas into mouth like some hunched intently focused chimpanzee slurping ants off a twig, I contemplated my opportunity for creative self-actualization.

For the past 5 years science and singing have been like rather, rinse, repeat--my sole source of fulfillment and satisfaction.

I have been taking a hiatus from singing for the last month (which might change with a chorus part in G&S's P.O.P.) to concentrate on other things.

Namely, chilling out and exercising. And gardening.

I have several plots with various themes. There is the eggplant, various peppers and tomatillo plot X2. There is the exotic tomato plot, the hybrid tomato plot, the heirloom tomato plot, the exotic leaf and head lettuce/spring garden plot, the spindly cucurbit plot. Also the 2 culinary herb plots and the aforementioned legume plot. Of course who could forget the annual bed consisting of zinnia, aster, cosmos, marigold, salvia?

I like growing things. I like being dirty.

Is this a distraction from my destiny? i thought as I sipped freshly brewed mint tea as the bruised mint so garishly green in the scalding water, released bits of floating leaf into my mouth at 9:30 PM as the last blue twilight disappeared and grass blended into my hands blended into the empty seed packets blended into that gray-blue before the real night lit by the moon takes over.

So much guilt.

Monday, May 05, 2008

When life opens its little raincloud of shittiness, I try to concentrate on the positive things and not let pettiness run my life.

I am so fortunate! I am young and beautiful, have amazing friends, a loving, gorgeous bf, am going the land of milk-and-honey next year for grad school. (I'm humble too.)

Insert Cher, "Ugh, you are a snob and a half."

So anyway, I'm planting this enormous garden this year, and putting in some "island of misfit toys" stuff: green zebra tomatoes, and black crimean tomatoes (they look like a big bruise). Also: 4 kinds of basil, a flower garden, an herb garden, and a cucurbit patch.

Tonight I had a radish top, granny smith apple, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice and balsamic vinaigrette salad. All in all, it was a pretty life-affirming experience.

Now I'm back off to work, practice, the gym, then home to transpose some Sibelius, and bask in the fact that yes, indeed I already graduated and don't have to worry about school (until Sept 22).

Le sigh.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Tranced, fanatical they shrieked and sang

I've been toying around with the idea of singing Ives' song "General William Booth Enters into Heaven" for my upcoming recital this summer. The song is a huge mess: multiple musical quotations, the occasional 4.5/4 bar, a hefty vocal line (including an Ab), not to mention the singer has to compete with a typical Ives "elbow" chord peppered accompaniment.

Where would one get the inspiration for a 5 minute religious revival?

One of the best movies ever.

That's right, Elmer Gantry.

Charlatan doesn't begin to describe Burt's was probably the turning point in my childhood that distorted my view of any "man of god" into a degenerate snake-oil salesman.

Elmer Gantry was a typical role for Burt. He only ever played the alpha male, a hyper-masculine sexpot. Like an ape in a suit (Sorry, Wrong Number is perhaps the most conspicuous example), his animal magnetism was so raw you had to watch it through spread fingers, like a jury looking at autopsy photos.

Look out!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

From the great state of California

So much has been happening lately that I can't keep up.

1. I graduated from college (2 degrees suma cum laude). I was also the banner bearer at the A&S graduation --to my horror and my mother's elation--so a throughly embarrassing experience was had by all.

2. I went to Puerto Rico for 3 weeks during January for the winter nursery, and Craigers got to come for a week on the cheap. I should have some posts about that, but the internet down there (in the south, aka the poor part of the island) was ridiculous. Had lots of fun, but was so ready to come back.

3. Grad school: I got interviews at Duke, Stanford, UC-Berkeley, UCLA, Emory, and Wash-U. So far I've been accepted to Harvard genetics and Duke genetics/genomics.

4. I am in California for 9 days (suck it Missouri!) to visit UC-Berkeley and Stanford, so I'm really excited about that. If MBK wants to come and rescue me from the nerdery and show me a good time in SF, I wouldn't complain.

5. I am missing the maize meeting (boo whore) but I am doing some really cool research at work. I'm sure I'll eventually get around to posting something about that. I was super freaked about my plants and when they are going to time out in the greenhouse, etc, but I think all that crap will work itself out.

6. I am putting together one crazy recital with RA. Tentative date is going to be late spring, and I'm doing the Wolf Harfenspeiler, Chausson Serres Chaudes, a Sibelius set, an Ives set, and probably arias from Il Dulca D'alba and Eugene Onegin. I'll put together a post about all that crazy lit, but it looks like for now that I'll be singing in 6 languages. Seriously, whiskey tango foxtrot.

7. I am doing a one act opera called Three Sisters Who are Not Sisters by Ned Rorem. The libretto is by Gertrude Stein, so you can imagine the inane-ity to ensue. Right now, we are going to do it as a student production--so that means that we will have to find funding, performance venue, do the staging-costuming-lighting, organize rehearsals, etc. I'm post later about this, but I expect it to be crazy like a fox.

I also plan to do some posts about Sarkozy, Slava Mogutin, Maeterlinck, and my latest thoughts on Bette Davis.

TTYL chaches.