Thursday, August 30, 2007

Early Morning in Lab

The desk in the foreground was mine!

My ex-bench

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A Deeper Look

I feel disorganized; Immunology has started off at a gallop and I'm still trying to clean my apartment and clarify my weekly schedule in my head. Even my thoughts are disorganized and there are so many things that I wanted to ruminate upon, describe, discuss, and yet I seem to have internalized all these feelings and ideas without really sorting them out. So many things that I want to say to people (e.g. Kim), but haven't had the time to sit down and write.

Once someone wrote that writing helps them understand and process things, and I think that for many people, writing does fulfill a need to delineate and organize thoughts. It's almost like the thought is a soul that needs a corporeal vessel in the form of words to come into existence in this world. Writing often reminds me of giving birth (well, writing papers), it's a painful, long process -- one that I haven't been able to fully engage in for a long time. So please forgive my stream of consciousness.

Today was the second day of school and the med school gods pushed us hard...we had FPC courses on taking a sexual history and challenging patient scenarios. It was thought-provoking and well-done. We've had so much class already!

Last night, Jey and I participated in a Sausalito Moonlight Paddle...which pretty much describes the situation. We went sea kayaking in the bay at Sausalito in the evening and saw a beautiful full moon. It was pretty wet and we were busy paddling, so no pictures were taken. But honestly, it was the most beautiful experience. We saw sea lions bobbing their heads in the water near us, the famous and quaint Sausalito boat houses, the giant moon hanging over the forest of boat masts like a Christmas ornament, and the square lights scattered over the hills of Sausalito. Everywhere around us...shiny black water streaked with luminous light reflected from the moon and hillside stars as I breathed a silent prayer of thanks for the privilege of being alive at that moment to know that such beauty exists. No pictures to share, but it was more like a feeling anyway.

Also thanked my lucky stars for living in the Bay area and for UCSF's wonderful opportunities. Today, I walked to my favorite boba place (Wonderful Food Co on 21st and Irving) with Paul and got my classic standby. Then ate dinner with Paul and Irene at Hama-Ko (also dubbed "No Name Sushi Place," "Hole in the Wall," and "the Sushi Nazis" by our little clan). The adorable elderly Japanese couple that runs this place actually Nazied me tonight. I was sitting cross-legged on my seat and she told me to sit properly. At least she didn't kick me out for ordering spicy tuna rolls (as legend has it). Ate the most amazing hamachi toro tonight, it was like gourmet fat that melted in my mouth. Orgasmic, really. Then I got locked out of my apartment, chatted with police officers, and gave a Stata lesson to Jenny. Now I am writing this entry and thinking that man, I should be sleeping.

What I really wanted to write about was this summer. Haha, I didn't even get around to a summary of my first year of medical school (note to self: you are way behind). What I really wanted to say was that this summer was a rediscovery of the familiar. I often joked that UCSF med students have two popular options for summer plans: travel to a foreign country or lock youself in lab for 8 weeks. But upon pondering this dichotomy, it's actually pretty easy to describe these options as either reexamining the world on either a macro- or micro- scale. You can either explore new cultures, new countries and see the big pictures. Or you can look into the microscopic minutiae of lab research and see another world. Either option is great, but it's a question of whether you want to "zoom out" or "zoom in" during your last vacation. My summer theme can be summarized as "zooming in," because I didn't really go anywhere radically different -- Stanford has always been my refuge in a strange way, UCSF was cold as usual, and I went home twice to see my family. However, the summer was also extremely productive and life-changing (in a patient, quiet way), because I got to spend more time thinking about my favorite research topics, honed a few lab techniques, revisited my beloved cancer patient cohort (just the data sets), and just look at everything more closely. What made a big difference was the people whom I met this summer in lab at Stanford, especially Joe. He could take up another rambling entry. Outside of lab, I spent more time with Jey and we explored the area a bit more and worked out a few issues. I visited Napa three times, and even though I've been to Napa so many times...I still love it and never tire of seeing more wineries and trying more wines. It occurred to me that I want to be familiar with Napa in a less touristy commercial sense...not just visiting the big, popular wineries...but I want to really gain an intimate knowledge of Napa and not exactly know "everything" but really have a solid sense of the place. So my goal is to visit at least 70% of the Napa wineries by the time I graduate from medical school. Why 70%? Because at UCSF, that means that you passed the exam. On three fronts -- academically/professionally, personally/romantically and interest-wise -- I've really tried to delve into the heart of things and be honest with myself. Growing up is a gradual process that never really don't suddenly wake up one morning and decide that you have matured into the ideal person, but rather a continuous process that continues your whole life. So although I'm not perfect, I'm learning to love and accept imperfections in myself, in others, in life. Again, a hard process, but a worthy one.

Monday, August 27, 2007

School Starts Tomorrow

Southwest Airlines: Luv is an autumn escape
UCSF med year 2 starts is it possible to have class from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.? Honestly, I have no idea what we're learning...but it's all part of my job as VP of the Slacker's Club here. :)
This summer passed by so quickly, and there's still so much left to do. I have an entry that I wanted to write about the summer, but it will have to wait until so many other emails and writing assignments...
Goodbye, summer. All is well. Autumn is my favorite time of year.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Happy Belated Anniversary

Element Lounge 8/4/07
i love you much (most beautiful darling) more than anyone on the earth and i
like you better than everything in the sky-sunlight and singing welcome your
winter may be everywherewith such a silence and such a darkness
no one can quite begin to guess
(except my life)the true time of year-
and if what calls itself a world should have
the luck to hear such singing(or glimpse such
sunlight as will leap higher than high
through gayer than gayest someone's heart at your each
nearness)everyone certainly would(my
most beautiful darling) believe in nothing but love
e.e. cummings

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Dog Days of Summer

Research at Stanford has been "finished" (in the official sense) after 1-2 weeks of business (busyness) messing up qPCR plates and redoing them over to near-perfection (hot dog!). After a lab presentation on 8/13 that was a bit nerve-wracking to prepare over the weekend, I relaxed a bit and fixed some odds and ends before visiting Paul in SF on Friday (we pretended to be tourists. Waited 1 hour for a trolley ride to Fisherman's Wharf. $3 cupcakes and free samples at Ghiradelli's. In'n'Out. Aquarium of the Bay. Champagne grapes on Pier 39. Walked the Embarcadero to the Ferry Building) and leaving for home on Saturday.

Home has been nice, as always. I never appreciated how lucky it is to have lots of siblings, because you are never lonely and there is always someone there to make you watch scary TV shows and then frighten you later. Actually, no one has frightened me yet. So far, I have started reading Parry Hotter 7, rearranged the furniture and objects in the house so that it looks like my closet threw up on the living room, put together 2 bookcases with my siblings, and chauffered people around. Today, we started repainting Jeremy's new room (he is moving into the old room that belonged to Sam and me) and we moved all three beds into our grandmother's room to create a superbed (i kid you not).

The weather has been HOT in LA, it's like the chilliness of SF has rendered me unfit for the burning August heat of Southern California. It's the dog days of summer, and like most kids at home, I have been a bit bored and a bit lazy...but it's awesome. The scenery outside has been amazing, and I feel bad that I haven't been outside as much...soaking up that cool greenery and warm sunlight.

See ya, kiddies, med school restarts next Monday.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Ants' Economy

Jeremy's favorite activity right now involves going outside into the backyard and placing rocks in the middle of ant lines to ruin their perfect transportation system.

Given the recent trouble on Wall Street, it should come as no surprise that Jeremy likes to call it "ruining the ants' economy."

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Nicknames and Inside Jokes

Joe, the Punster, has created a large collection of nicknames and inside jokes...some of which will now be immortalized forever on this blog.

Stephanie Nicknames
- Stach (after making fun of an unintelligible pistachio cartoon)
- Special C (sC) (a primer with a random name, there is also special B and D)
- Seed Bunny (C’d bunny) (when I said "seed money" and Joe replied, "Seed bunny? I don't understand this new slang of yours!")
- Changster (rhymes with gangster)
- Brayer Rabbit (pun on an instrument that we use, somehow related to seed bunnies)
- Stephi G (because we love "techmology")

- Joe Fuge (patented)
- Joe Momma (my favorite)
- Joe Blow
- Joe Schmo
- Horecka-San (because he speaks Japanese!)
- Ali J (because class A drugs guarantee higher quality)

- Chuish (Jewish)

Inside Jokes

- Joe = inventor of the “ice cream sandwich”
- Stephanie = inventor of “using an extra tray”
- necrophiliac puppet – want to bet a lemon danish?
- Nearly Finnished (Clark Center)
- How to Eat Sushi (“all Taisho have secret personal histories”)
- Racy Japanese lab supply catalogues
- “Techmology”
- Indiana Jones and the centrifuge
- Charlie McCarthy beheaded! I’ll throw a Japanese beetle on you!
- Plum sticks…mmm
- “I’ve been sconed!”
- Running to Peet’s to get free coffee (first 20 with an email)
- Thai Café – the Soup Nazi of Stanford
- Cantor Museum Café – splitting $16 salmon
- Usurping the German oglers from their seats, splitting tacos
- “Any millenium now…”
- “In Japanese I'd say to you here "otsukaresamadeshita", which means "you are the honorable tired one."
- “Gochisosama deshita!” Which you say after finishing a meal.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Napa 3

Last Sunday, Jey and I took a laid-back trip to Napa Valley. We woke up late, so we didn't really make it a big official trip with bells and whistles attached. The best part about the trip was seeing the grapes turning color...harvest coming in September (apparently Sept. 1 for chardonnay). We visited 4-5 wineries: Peju (pretty winery, so-so wine), V. Sattui (no tasting, just BBQ, so good), Prager (our hidden gem, specializing in port), Franciscan (not bad), Clos Du Val (my first winery on the Silverado Trail), and Martini (AMAZING cab, must buy next time). It was so beautiful there and the grapes are starting to turn from green to purple, which makes be happy because there's something about the delicious anticipation of a harvest that makes me feel like the cyclical rhythm of life is still going strong. When the seasons change and the grapes are ready for harvest, it's like feeling the pulse of something very alive and being comforted by its regularity.


Swedish Hat Riddle, Figure 1

Members of the Davis lab at Stanford = intellectual heavyweights who love solving math problems and riddles. A few weeks ago, Joe gave me a riddle involving a train station. It puzzled me, but I didn’t think very hard about it until Joe retold the riddle to a Stanford med student – who knew the answer immediately. Suddenly, my UCSF pride was on the line (I am joking), but I still couldn’t solve the riddle until later that evening in the shower. This pattern continued for some time…a riddle would be broached by one person…it would be solved within a few minutes by members of the lab… then various members of the lab gathered in a corner away from my desk (where I sit cross-eyed and drooling in a puddle of my own brain juices) to discuss and verify the answer.

Loyal readers, I am writing down these riddles so that you can test yourself against the very brightest – Joe, Paul, and Amit! Using a cool trick from Craig, please highlight the solutions (in white text) with your mouse to see the answer.

Riddle #1: Stephanie take the Caltrain every afternoon to go home. From the Palo Alto train station, she can either go north to San Francisco or south to Mountain View. Both north and south trains arrive at the station every 10 minutes. Instead of deciding which train to take everyday, Stephanie decides to place her destination in the hands of fate and resolves to arrive at the Palo Alto station at random times between the hours of 4-6 p.m. and to take the first train that reaches the platform (only one platform). However, after a few weeks, Stephanie realizes that 9/10 times, she takes the San Francisco train from Stanford. How can this be?

Answer #1: The northern train always arrives at the station 1 minute before the southern train...every 10 minutes.

Riddle #2: The Mafia sends you into a completely dark room. On the table, there is a full deck of cards, randomly shuffled. The black cards are all face-up, and the red cards are all face-down. You must separate the card deck into two equal piles (26 cards in each pile) and manipulate the deck so that the same number of cards are facing "up" in each pile. You may flip cards over. How do you solve the puzzle?

Answer #2: Divide the shuffled deck into two equal groups. Let's pretend for a second that the first group has 2 black cards and 24 red cards (2 cards "up," and 24 cards "down"). This means that the OTHER group has 24 black cards ("up") and 2 red cards ("down"). Simply flip over ONE pile of 26 cards to achieve 2 piles with the same number of "up" and "down"-facing cards.

Riddle #3: The Davis lab used to have a lot of Swedish post-docs. Let's pretend that the PI was in Sweden when 4 postdocs -- Simon, Fredrik, Bob, and Johan -- ask the PI for lab positions in the States. The PI has 2 black hats and 2 white hats. He distributes the hats randomly to the four postdocs and takes them to the men's restroom (Joe invented this scenario, not me). The man cannot see which hat they are wearing. He places one postdoct in the bathroom stall, and no one can see in or out of this stall. The other 3 postdocs are lined up vertically facing the wall of the stall, and can see the hats in front of them (see Figure 1). The PI says that whoever can tell which hat they are wearing can come to Stanford. There is a LONG PAUSE before one man speaks up. Which man correctly guesses which hat he is wearing (black or white) and why?

Answer #3: The man in the stall cannot see anyone else, he is isolated and therefore cannot tell for certain which hat he is wearing. So forget about the man in the stall. The man closest to the stall is also blind to any hats, so he must also be excluded. At first glance, the man farthest away from the stall should be able to tell which hat he is wearing because he can see the hats of the two men in front of him. This would be the case if he saw two white hats, for example, and can safely say that he is wearing a black hat. However, there is a long silence. The two men in front of him must be wearing a white and a black hat. Then, the man in the middle (of the 3 outside) can deduce that the outside man cannot tell which hat he is wearing...which means that if the man in front of him is wearing a white hat (for example), then the middle man knows that he must be wearing the opposite...a black hat (for example).

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Lunch Conversation

I'm sitting at my desk, eating chicken teriyaki in between experiments and talking to Paul on gchat. This conversation can be loosly paraphrased as thus:

P: Jon's lab uses poop colored gloves
I donno why

P: whoever did the purchasing.. heh
I should try to steal a box from Jon's lab...
and give it to u MSPers during GI anatomy
that way.. if a colon implode... u won't be able to tell :-p

S: ...
P: sorry
S: i'm still eating
P: u r eating
I know

S: I put my food away