Monday, June 9, 2014

A week and a half later...

After three staggeringly slow, stale, days of training, the past, first whole week at work was a refreshingly busy turn of events. Wanting to prepare us for beginning our projects next Monday (eep!) we jumped into a slew of molecular techniques and lab protocols and as Elsa, one the senior scientists explained DNA extraction to us Tuesday afternoon, I'm sure she was staring at 4 glassy eyed interns with slow drips of drool tumbling from our open mouths. Whether it was in either sheer excitement or overwhelming fear of touching expensive equipment in a national lab, well that I'm not sure. Much to our surprise, our first DNA extraction of parking lot soil was not the burning trail of broken micropipettes and self-contaminated DNA samples that we all foresaw. (to our utter shock and disappointment we weren't playing with pathogens our first day in lab). The three other interns, although, much older than myself, are a great time, and always looking to help one another out.  Pleasingly different from the competitive U of M atmosphere I've become accustomed to.

Joe is 32 and from New Jersey. He studied Psychology in undergrad and now is looking to get a masters in Bio technology. He is tall with a mop of dark curls, a hoop earring in each ear, and a HILARIOUS laugh and sense of humor. He's super laid back and will be a great time to work with.

Whitney is 25 and from the Tri-city area. She is tiny, Hispanic, and when she smiles, her eyes crinkle up into teeny crescent moons and it's the most adorable thing on the planet. She has two little girls who take the cake on some of the cutest kids I have ever seen, which I know because I may, or may not have hardcore creeped on her Facebook... She's already established herself as the office mother and last Friday brought us in snacks to have around for when we get hungry. She's the best.

Finally, Beren is also 32 and from the Tri-city area. He is tall (ok, everyone's tall to me) with light sandy hair, glasses, and his favorite three words are probably "peace", "groovy", and "sugar". Least to say, he is a riot and has a wonderfully quirky personality. Additionally, and much to my benefit, he has an awesome taste in music and has been funneling me all sorts of fantastic bands I haven't heard of before just in the past week. I am basking in the riches of all sorts of new good music my friends. He also plays bass in a local band called Citizen Hi Fi which is a bluesy sort of rock and roll group with some great sounds. They are on Spotify and I definitely recommend giving them a look.

In a week filled with dirty pipette tips, ethanol soaked gloves and UV light mania, I have an inkling I will be learning more than I could hope and working with some awesome people this summer.

Ahaheim pepper
Our "cheeky" little Green pepper 

This past week, Trevor and I FINALLY began our garden, and with little Internet knowledge, and hearts full of hope (plus a wallet with $100 from the best grandparents ever) we made our way over to a local nursery in Richland and bought two zucchini plants, one golden tomato, one green and one yellow pepper, and four hot peppers (Serrano, jalapeno, Poblano, and Anaheim) in addition to a gigantic bag of chicken manure starter soil that smelled particularly "fresh". We returned with our goods and dumped them in front of the patch of garden space we hoped to transform into a jungle of fresh vegetables and stared into the soul sucking patch of earth that was so cracked, rocky, and dry, it made you thirsty just looking at it. After some TLC and a lot of "I don't know what we're doing..." "was this supposed to get direct sunlight?", "WHY ARE THERE SO MANY FUCKING ROCKS?", and "Oh, the hose isn't working? Let me see it." (which was possibly an evil plan to douse my older brother with water) we found ourselves with something along the lines of a garden. The learning curve with the climate here is a little steep and we had to discover very sorry looking zucchini to decide to water it twice a day, in which after watering it we both swear it had perked up in minutes. Upon digging up our sorry patch of soil we found at least 20 (what we think were) tulip bulbs and two tiny succulents. We relocated the tiny guys to the tops of Trevor's speakers in the living room and so far, they are doing pretty well.

 Saturday night involved a little disc golfing with a friend of Trevor's from PNNL
I sucked at disc golfing, nothing has changed
Finally, Sunday night, we made homemade jalapeno, IPA, Hummus. Here's the recipe we used:

  • 2 fresh jalapenos, stemmed, seeded and chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • 3 tbs tahini
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 lime, juiced (about 1 tbs)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup IPA Beer 

The tahini was a paste made from sesame seeds and olive oil, 1/4 cup oil to every cup of seeds, ground in the food processor until smooth. We actually used the coffee bean grinder as the seeds were too fine for the food processor and there may have been still worked this morning though I swear...

Here's links with further directions to both recipes

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