Sunday, August 5, 2007

Summer in Boston - Week Eight

Hello all!

And so starts the frenzy of trying to prepare for a twenty-minute presentation, eight page paper, and a poster. Whew. It's been a loooong week, and this week will be the same. My presentation is on Friday afternoon, and I'll have my last weekend in Boston to enjoy before getting back to the grind, running a few more experiments as well as starting the paper for publication.

My mom found the following links online to a PBS video about the lab that I'm working in: it's kind of fun because the door Dr. Griffith and Alan Alda walk through to get inside the lab is the one I walk through every morning. I am not officially using the "giant" reactor, but several members of my lab are still using this model for our artificial livers. If you get a chance, they are really a good explanation of what exactly I am doing every day.

Honestly, there wasn't all that much time out of lab this week, but the time I had free was very well spent. On Wednesday, the BE REU students went on a Duck Tour of Boston. Much like the Ducks of Wisconsin Dells, these WWII-era amphibious vehicles traverse both land and sea, although the busy streets of Beacon Hill are a far cry from the woods of rural Wisconsin. It was lovely to finally have a full picture of Boston above ground in an hour tour...I have seen almost every inch of Boston on foot or by subway, but because I have not had a car, it was hard until now to understand how all the neighborhoods and landmarks fit together: Charles Street to Beacon Hill to the Public Gardens to Quincy Market to the Longfellow Bridge to Back all finally makes sense! After sailing in the Charles, riding in a boat was slightly anti-climatic, but it felt much less worrisome.

That night, the us REU kids made ice cream sundaes with ice cream and toppings bought with our generous food per diem. It's really hard to spend $100 a week after spending less that $20 during the school year. I'll have to get back to my no meat and no fancy chocolates behavior or I'll go broke this fall! I've also been making quite a few meals with a friend and I here at the frat: this week we have made chicken with goat cheese and an eggplant and red pepper chutney, pasta with white cheddar sauce, the always classy marshmallow plus cornflake plus butter concoction, queso manchego with cherries and wheat crackers...again, this food stipend has been treating me well.

Saturday was a slightly lazy day: I had some delicious (and really cheap) Thai food in Inman Square, and I was able to make my jewelry purchase for the summer. While I definitely buy jewelry because it is beautiful, the pieces I buy almost always represent a specific time or place in my life. For example, I bought a gorgeous silver ring based off of a ring found in a Viking hoard while I was visiting relatives in Gotland, Sweden after seventh grade. The ring is not just a ring, but it is the boat ride from Stockholm to Visby, the roses that spill over the streets onto the cobblestones, my cousin Åke telling me the history of the island, the smultron and cream dessert on is so much more than metal to wear on my finger. It is embedded with memories that surface any time I wear that ring. Yesterday, I ended up buying a wooden pendant that is about two inches in diameter that has a very finely cut geometrical pattern scrimshawed in the center. It's not just wood: it is walking on the Harvard Bridge admiring the smoots, drinking Pear Kristal at midnight while watching movies, spending over fourteen hours in lab at a time, eating dim sum early on a Sunday morning, twirling to the gentle strains of a waltz in La is a physical reminder of my summer here in Boston, and I couldn't wish for more.

Later on Saturday, I enjoyed ice cream from Christina's, a local ice cream parlour: while the sex-on-the-beach sorbet did taste pretty good, I went for the mango, and it did not disappoint. One of my labmates, Bryan, invited me to attend a dinner party that night at his frat house across the river. Now, these guys really have it figured out. They throw dinner parties, cooking delicious food and getting dressed up...then they invite girls over to sample their handiwork, talk, do a bit of that is my kind of frat :) They served bruschetta, salad with fresh mozzarella, an amazing cream-based soup with spinach, sausage, onion, and onion, focaccia, chicken cacciatore, homemade raspberry Italian soda and tiramisu for desert. It was fantastic, and also really nice to meet some other people from MIT and the other colleges here in Boston.

As far as today goes, it was a whole lot of lab with a break for Olive Tree, a really small restaurant here in Cambridge: babaganousch sandwich with lentil soup for $2.85. You can't get much better than that.

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