Friday, September 27, 2002

LoL#5: A day in the life of my nose

Yes, you read it right. Instead of my usual Lisa update, I want to take a different spin on a day in the life of me. It's recently occurred to me how many bizzarre/disgusting/awesome scents I encounter in a typical day so I invite you in on a semi-normal day of in the life of my nose.

* Pina-colada (my froo-froo shampoo/conditioner)
* Bacon (my parents breakfast)
* Coffee (my breakfast - yeah yeah bring on the nutrition lectures...)
* Dew (outside heading to the car - dew as in wet grass, not the soft drink)
* Naperville train smog
* Chicago train smog (what can I say, the train stations each have their own unique smog)
* Bus smog (way worse than train smog cause it's usually mixed with cab smog and car smog and general Chicago air pollution)
* Construction smog (there's a new building going up across the street from where I work. They're in the "moving dirt" phase of construction. They take an empty lot and move dirt around for two years and then overnight - poof! a building appears. There's a theory that in the "moving dirt" stage they're actually planting building seeds.)
* Elevator (did you ever notice that elevators have their own unique smell? Pay attention next time. And I'm not talking about smelling other people on the elevator. That's just wrong. I just mean that elevator air in general smells...different. Ummm, yeah, moving on...)
* Latex lab gloves (I go through probably close to 100 pairs a day and if you've ever worn them, you know the scent I mean. And yes, I'm exaggerating on the 100 pairs. But I do change gloves really frequently. Especially working with RNA, it's super important not to contaminate anything. I've come to the conclusion that there are few things worse than being in the middle of RNA purification and having your nose start to itch. Let's just say it happened yesterday and if there had been anyone watching me they would have thought I was doing an impression of a hyperactive rabbit sniffing crack.)
* Bleach (it's the biohazard disposal stuff in our lab. I almost got high on it the other day too. I think it's some sort of super strong extra potent uber bleach. Actually it's just regular clorox but once you mix it with random cell culture waste it smells... in one word: nasty.)
* Alcohol (the other all too frequent chemical I work with. All you chem/bio people know too that Ethanol is abbreviated EtOH but it's funny cause we have Ethanol wash bottles in the tissue culture lab - for sterilizing hands/tables/bottles/etc. - but one of the bottles got the OH part rubbed off so it was just a bottle of ET. hee hee... wash bottle phone home...okay maybe I'm still high on bleach fumes. The other weird thing about the alcohol is that when you work with cells and stuff you have to keep your hands really clean so we wear gloves and then periodically wipe them off with EtOH which sterilizes as it evaporates. The problem is that the evaporation also cools your golves down which is fine for most people, but I'm cold-hands girl to start with, add in the fact that our lab is overly air conditioned and you can guess that a good portion of my train ride home involves thawing out my fingers!)
* Cafeteria (forget everything you ever heard about the grossness of hospital food. The NMH - Northwestern Memorial Hospital - cafeteria is awesome. Or maybe I've just been subjected to Allen dorm food for four years and have lost all sense of good/bad cafeteria food.)
* A toaster that's been left on too long (that's the only way I can really describe the smell of an autoclave to anyone who's never smelled one. It's not really a burning smell, just sort of a something fried here a long time ago and only it's scent remains type of smell)
* More elevator smell
* More bus smog
* CHOCOLATE (it's really cool cause on the way back to the train staion the bus I take goes right past the Blommer Chocolate factory/outlet store - the corner of Kinzie & Des Plaines for all you Chicago-ans out there - so if the bus windows are cracked you get this wonderful smell of cholcolate wafting through. So imagine after a long day being tired, hungry and eagerly anticipating dinner and all you can smell is's bad enough to turn anyone into a ravenous chocoholic.)

I guess that about sums up a typical day in the life of my nose. It's been an insanely long week and I can't tell y'all how happy I am that it's Friday. Sorry if this was a little too bizarre or not quite amusing enough for some of you, but as a further warning, my next update will probably be something more on the serious side of things (but on the plus side I'll try to keep it shorter).

On that note too I want to add in what I'm gonna call the "PR" section of my updates. PR stands for prayer requests or press releases depending on whether or not you're the kind of person that believes God would heal a headache (and don't worry, I love you regardless of your stance on that one). Basically it's just gonna be the bigger things going on with me that are outside the bounds of the more trivial and humorous standard lisa ramblings. It'll go something like this:

This week's PR: I've got some big decisions on the drawing board these days. Some of you have the inside 411 and others will be filled in shortly but right now I'm in need of guidance to make some choices and confidence that the choices I make will be good ones.

And since I seem to be forgetting them lately - this week a very special spiffy shoutout goes out to Slovett (we'll do a one name thing for ya like "Madonna"!). She earns this shoutout by providing the awesome quote that's gonna be my motto if I ever need a campaign slogan:
"Lisa: living a normal life in an abnormal way."

have fun & keep smiling,

lisa (and her nose) :-)

p.s. note the inclusion of the nose on my smiley!

p.p.s. About that whole campaign slogan thing, no I'm not going into politics. But if anyone wants a really good book to read about some politicians and other cool people read "The Greatest Generation" by Tom Brokaw. It's a series of short story/biographies about people from the WWII era and considering I don't normally like biographies, WWII books, or Tom Brokaw if I say it's one of the best books I've read in a long time you KNOW it's gotta be good. :)

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

LoL#4: Dave Barry, The Clubs, & Red Fusion

Another week another crazy mass e-mail from me! I've once again updated my address book which means that there are new people added to this list who have no clue what they're getting into.

[To recap: LoL = "Life of Lisa" or "Lisa on Life" and it's my crazy once a week or so update consisting of random quasi-pointless rambling on anything, everything or nothing that's going on in my life (or lack thereof). "Subscriptions" (?) can be added or canceled at anytime by simply e-mailing me with the request of "Attempt to Amuse Me" or "Please stop inundating me with your insanity".]

That's what you're getting (or have unwillingly gotten yourself) into. Here's this week's insanity:

So I was reading a Dave Barry article in the Chicago Tribune Magazine the other day (my new favorite part of the Sunday paper) and it was one of the funniest Dave Barry's I've read in a long time. First of all Dave Barry just cracks me up. Maybe that's why I started this whole rambling insanity thing in the first place - an ultimate attempt to find amusement in the overly ordinary. :) But anyway the article centered around the fact that two guys invented a holiday for September 19th. Seeing as how this day is tomorrow, I just had to share with you all wishes for a very happy "Talk Like A Pirate Day". Here's a link to the story if anyone wants to read it.,1713,BDC_2404_1401011,00.html

And you probably have to cut and paste that cause I don't know if the link came through. It's really funny though...or else I just need more sleep and less coffee. Actually I'm on a pretty major sugar high today. It was a Journal Club Day. Journal Club is when every other week a bunch of the people on our floor (aka the Cancer Center) get together to hear one of the doctors or PHD students give a presentation on a recent medical journal article relating to cancer research. I definitely won't bore y'all with the details but it really is pretty fascinating stuff. Plus the presenters bring in cookies. (hence the sugar high tie in...that really wasn't a totally unrelated topic jump). Anywho, today one of the women I normally eat lunch with did her presentation (a really cool grad student named Kulsoom) on prostate and breast cancer and a study involving a protein called "trastuzumab". (pronounced: tras-TOO-zoo-mab) Isn't that the coolest word ever?? It's so fun to say!! Your challenge is now to use it in a sentence and you get bonus cool points if you use it on Talk like a Pirate Day. (Avast ye matey I be learnin about trastuzumab today!...or...not.)

Even better than Journal Club though is Dessert Club. Every thursday someone in our lunch group brings dessert for our entire table. Requirements are that it can be hommade or storebought but t has to be moderatly to sickeningly sweet and chocolate is always a plus! And you people wonder why I love my job... ;)

The only other thing I can think to rant about that sort of goes with my sugar high theme is that I finally tried Dr. Pepper Red Fusion. It's....interesting. And by interesting I mean it tastes sort of like someone got a case of Robitussin and exploded it (napalm style?) in a Dr. Pepper factory. But that's just my opinion. If anyone's a die hard Dr. P fan please try it for yourselves and let me know what you think.

There's a ton more I could say right now cause I had a wonderfully insane weekend and have a bunch more silly stories to share (like why my sister now has a pet turtle named Steve) but I'm gonna cut myself off here and save the rest for another edition which if I'm bored enough might come out later this week. ;)
Til then take care and have a Happy Talk Like A Pirate Day tomorrow!

trastuzumabfully yours,

lisa :)

P.S. DOH!! I forgot the shoutouts!!! Last minute shoutouts to the super spiffy Erika, Colleen, and Maria for sending extra spiffy replys to my last e-mail. You ladies rock!!! And a shoutout to Natalie U too cause I think your long lost twin works in my building - I did a major double take in the cafeteria!

Thursday, September 12, 2002

LoL#3: Burritos, 22, 911, and Back to Burritos

I have a confession to make:

I love frozen burritos. That is I love frozen burritos once they're heated to gooey perfection and served as dinner on a stylish paper plate. I share this only because I've recently learned that some people are disgusted and perhaps even revolted by frozen burritos. I don't care what you say or how bad they are for me - there's nothing like getting home late from work and two minutes later helping yourself to wonderful microwaveable burritoy goodness.

"Burritoy"....that's a cool new word. Of course it kind of looks like Burri - toy as opposed to Burrito - y. Oh well. This is one of those elbakerone rice-a-roni problems again.

Speaking of great new words I'm gonna throw out a shoutout to the super spiffy Mike B for invention of the word "marf". Still haven't pinpointed a definition but it gets mondo kudos points for being fun to say. Especially as a substitute curse word. Also gonna give a shoutout to Colleen (aka The Younger Unger) who just got added to the list because Emily passed on your "hi" to me. And shoutouts to Jackie K and Heidi E too because I can't remember if this is the first or second time they're on here (along with apologies because I probably spelled at least one of their last names wrong).

Sooooo....what else is new with me.....Oh yeah! I'm old! (Shoutout to myself I guess?) Yeah so I turned 22 and had one of the most fun birthdays I've had in a while (let's just say that last year was NOT hard to top....). It was cool cause I got to celebrate with my whole crazy family (minus my brother who was away on a business trip) plus my future fellow Northwestern employee (hopefully!!!) Karrie M and the aforementioned super spiffy Mike B (yes we're still dating for everyone who asked for an update on "the boy"). Anyone who doesn't know my family, Mike, or Karrie might have a hard time imagining how crazily fun it was but I'll try to give you a breif glimpse of one part of the evening.

Somehow the conversation turned to what type of animal research we do in my lab and I mentioned that we work with mice and rats but that they're animals speciffically bred for research purposes. In fact I went on to explain that the mice we use are genetically altered hairless immunodeficient mice - more commonly referred to as transgenic nude mice. Leave it to my sister Anne to chime in with "Transgender Nude Mice??!?!?" Which then prompted my other sister Laura to comment on what exactly we remove when we perform surgery on them.

That's my family for you though. Crazy beyond all sense of reason, which is probably why I love 'em so much.

I feel like I should also have something to say about the whole one-year anniversary of September 11th, but nothing I could say can really bring any new meaning to any of it. I actually wrote a whole paragraph reflecting on my attitudes from last year and my looking back on them this year but here's where I censor myself. I can't explain all of it so I'd rather not explain any of it. I'll stick to the present and say Chicago was...odd on Wednesday. Union Station was the emptiest I've ever seen it and even optimistic susie sunshine me couldn't help but cringe driving past the Sears Tower imagining if tragedy had struck closer to home.

I guess that's about all I have to say for now. Sorry for my more somber tone. Except for the burrito stuff. That was about as random as I get. But I really do love 'em. In fact I'd have to say that Mexican food is actually my current favorite. And those of you that know firsthand how psycho-mentally indecisive I am, can take that as a sign that after 22 years maybe I actually am starting to figure out a little something about who I am.

Or maybe I just like burritos.

Til Next Week,

lisa :)

P.S. I also have to give a shoutout to Greg M because first of all he said he always laughs at how long my P.S. notes are and secondly because he answered my rhetorical question of "who puts alcohol in a vial marked H2O" with the amusing comment of "an alcoholic". Hee hee. I thought it was funny. I also learned today that the ethanol that we use in our lab is from a new supplier than it was 10 years ago. The reason they switched? The old stuff was a drinkable grade.... heh heh...that'd be a FUN lab! ;)

P.P.S. I'm also currently seeking good books (preferably fiction) to read on the train cause I'm all done with Lord of the Rings - e-mail me back with any suggestions!!!

Wednesday, September 04, 2002

LOL #2: H2O, Train Cows, & Movies

Life is like a series of biochemical reactions.....especially when you work in a bio lab and day in and day out your life IS biochemical reactions.

Yes, that is my astute and profound statement of the day. Now for real business (NOT!)... first off, only about half of you were in my address book when I sent out LoL #1 (LoL=Life of Lisa) so sorry if you feel left out but for those of you that have been with me from the beginning (all 2 amazing episodes!!) thanks for staying tuned in - or something cheesy like that.

So yeah my life has been something more than normal, something less than totally chaotic lately. It's one of those deals where sometimes everything in life just clicks into combination for a perfect day and other times everything that that can go wrong, does. Hence the real reason life is like a series of biochemical reactions, sometimes things work, other times one little slip messes everything up. For instance... (you had to know there was gonna be a "for instance"!) I was getting really frustrated that for three straight days I couldn't get my PCR experiments to work right (that's polymerase chain reaction for all the science nerds in the audience). Finally Alex (the doctor also known as Sparky) figures out that the wonderful little test tube on our lab bench marked H20 is actually alcohol!! Who in the world labels vials "H2O" if they aren't filled with water????? But that's really my only gripe at the present time. And you'd be amazed at how much better experiments will work when they're not evaporating mid-reaction. :)

Other than that the interesting thing that I have to comment on is again having to do with my experiences as a train commuter. There's this wonderful process of getting off the train at Union Station in the morning that's something like instantaneously turning into a cow and joining a massive herd of numerous other slow moving cows all trying to get to the same place as quickly as possible which somehow makes everyone reduce speed to slower than turtle. This would seem like a major annoyance but I find myself laughing at the whole situation while playing snipets of the Matrix soundtrack in my head. You know that scene where Neo's in the agent identifying training video thing and he and Morpheus are walking down the street with tons of people going in the OTHER direction? That's the song I'm talking about.

OH OH!!!! IT'S SHOUTOUT TIME!!!!!!!!! First Shout-Out goes to the wonderfully spiffy Laura G whose birthday was last weekend!!!! (September 2nd - or was it 3rd?) Either way, hope you had a great one!!! And also a shoutout to all of my favorite Soph-fours - I miss you girls and hope everything's going great for y'all! And one more shoutout to Karrie M cause she's just cool and I hung out with her at Karrie-ibou (I mean CARibou) Coffee the other day and I'm going to drag her off to work at Northwestern with me so that we can be train buddies. (I'll take runon sentences for $300, Alex.....)

Other than that things in my life are pretty sweet. Saw the movie "The Importance of Being Ernest" this weekend. I'd highly recommend it. Also if anyone hasn't seen the movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" - go see it. It's one of the funniest, cutest feel-good movies I've seen in a really long time. It's also at least 20 times funnier if you know anything about my family or if you come from a huge loud family.

Random thought of the day... I heard some DJs on the radio this morning talking about an article in People magazine debating whether or not Ben Afflek wears a toupee. My first reaction was "who cares" prompting me to change the radio station. Then after the tailend of a Celine Dion ballad (I was in the car with my dad...) a new set of DJs began the same discussion about Ben Affleks hair! I guess it was a slow news day or something but does anyone (...besides maybe Matt Damon) care whether or not Ben's hair is real???

Well, I guess that's about it. Except for some other random wonderings and inquiries that I'll save for the P.S. Hope all is going great for all of you!!!

smiles & sunshine,

lisa :)

P.S. So what's up with all the random soda flavorings these days?? I mean sure I was the first one to jump on the Code Red Mountain Dew bandwagon and I can't say that I was anything but pleased with Lemon Pepsi Twist and Vanilla Coke (Cherry Coke is NOT new people, it's been here since the 80's!!) but I think things are getting a little carried away with Pepsi Blue and Dr. Pepper Red Fusion. It's like some big head honcho CEO's of Coke and Pepsi are sitting there with a crayola colored dart board flinging darts to find out what new color/flavor they're gonna add to their soft drinks!! I'm all for inovation (and actually Pepsi Blue is pretty tasty...haven't tried Red Fusion yet) but please tell me they'll stop before they hit Grap-epsi and/or Mocha-Cola!
Even I - the sugar queen herself - have to admit that a line must be drawn. Till then, stay caffinated. :)