Monday, October 31, 2005

And I, Jack! - The Pumpkin King....

Boys and girls of every age wouldn't you like to see something strange?
Come with us and you will see this, our town of Halloween!
This is Halloween, this is Halloween! Pumpkins scream in the dead of night.
This is Halloween, everybody make a scene -
Trick or treat till the neighbors gonna die of fright!
It's our town, everybody scream - in this town of Halloween!

This is Halloween, this is Halloween! Halloween! Halloween! Halloween! Halloween! In this town we call home everyone hail to the pumpkin song!

Just watched Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas. These are the lyrics from the opening song that I now have stuck in my head (I love that movie!!!) and the picture is of the pumpkins that Tony and I carved this year. Mine's the cute little one, his is the big scary one. Happy Halloween everyone!

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Guess Who?

Cuckoo! Cuckoo! I loove zee little Cuckoo Birds!!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Awaiting the Death of The Great Radinski


A frustrating and tiresome morning has blossomed out into a thoroughly uneventful and down right BORING afternoon. Such are the highs and lows of a research lab. Sometimes it's business and hurried experimental chaos and other days (like today) it's waiting... and waiting.... followed of course by more waiting. I'm working with gravity filtration right now and it's slightly annoying to think that the progress and the pace of my day is being hindered by a small little rate of 9.8 meters per second squared (for those non physics folk that's gravity for you). But on the plus side I suppose this - in it's essence - is the perfect reason to blog.

So now that you know why I'm blogging, you ask yourself, "Self, who the heck is The Great Radinski?" Or for those who know me a little better you may ask "Why is a seemingly peaceful girl like lisa awaiting the death The Great Radinski?" And then those of you that really know me ask "Is this gonna lead to some gross out story about mouse tumors again???"

- Rest assured this story will be mouse-gut free. -

But alas, I am awaiting the death of The Great Radinski. But this is not to reveal some psychopathic side of me. Rather, I'm going to a murder mystery dinner party hosted by and in honor of the birthday of the super spiffy Greg (consider this your shoutout!). Greg's an old college pal and one of the It's Just a Blog contributers - he's also one of the team that started me on my blog addiction (gee, thanks man!). Anyhoo, the evening promises fun and intrigue, murder and mayhem, and overall times much more exciting than waiting for buffer to drip out of columns. I've only been to one other murder mystery dinner and that was back in high school. It was hosted by my long time buddy Lauren (here's your shoutout!) and was a totally fun and crazy time. Actually the craziest part about that one was that I turned out to be the murderer!! That time I was a French wine guru named Bo Jalais (yes, I cross dressed in high school. My, this blog is just full of confessions...) but this time I'm a German cuckoo clock maker named Gretel Auerhahn. You gotta love the punny names too. Beaujolais is a type of wine and today it occurred to me that as a clock maker Auerhahn (Auer hahn... hour hand) is pretty funny too.

Should be fun times and I'm really looking forward to it. And did I mention that I'll be dressed as a cuckoo bird? Wonder if anyone'll have a camera...

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Standing Up by Sitting Down

Rosa Parks died yesterday at age 92. She is probably much more an icon of my parent's generation, yet I still remember with wide-eyed excitement first learning of her in a childhood social studies class. I remember the shock of learning that not giving up her bus seat to a white man led to her arrest and it opened my eyes to the tumultuous history of the civil rights struggle. As a child I held the naive view that "All men are created equal" was something our country had always believed and followed. Growing up meant surrendering that ideal to the truth that freedom isn't free and that for many, equality was earned through years of hardship and the blood of many great citizens. Reading today about the life of Rosa Parks, I'm awed most by her humility. She never believed that her actions were going to spark a movement as pivotal as the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Although history books cast her as the hero of that cause, she would probably be the first to agree that the only reason it was a "success" was not her actions alone but rather the unity of those affected.

It got me reflecting on how often in life we try to implement change with 10% of the people doing 90% of the work. I can't even count how many service organizations operate within this paradigm. It's a model for getting things done, yes, but it's also a model for breeding exhaustion and feelings of futility of a cause. How much more effective could we be if - as in the bus boycotts, sit ins and other protests of the civil rights era - 100% of the people gave their 1% (walking instead of bus riding) and those able could give even more (their very lives for the cause)? Suddenly with this model 100% is the bare minimum of what can be accomplished.

Unfortunately in today's culture we have too many excuses for not serving others. Sure there are times and places to give. My church had an amazing response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster. Over three giant truck loads of supplies were donated by our community and shipped to a church in Baton Rouge for New Orleans evacuees. I don't want to in any way put down the generosity of those who contributed to the cause, but what would it be like if every week people bought a case of Dasani for strangers without drinkable water? Would we no longer have to hear about yellow fever in Malawi? Or if every month people would clean out their closets and donate unused clothing - could January's news not include a death toll from exposure on Chicago's cold streets?

Again, my heart congratulates and soars for those who gave to relief efforts for Tsunami victims and Hurricane Relief funds. I applaud and thank you but I also implore you: PLEASE keep up the good work.

"Anyone can be great because anyone can serve:
you only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love."
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
All pictures from MSN article linked above.

Here's another cool article about Rosa Parks if anyone's looking to go a little deeper into her life and faith.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Illini Vs. Penn State

Final Score: 10 - 63.

All I can say is OUCH!

Friday, October 21, 2005

Crack Squirrels!

Okay since I'm in the middle of a psychotic scarf down your lunch in less than 15 minutes if you want a chance to eat at all today I figure I deserve a quick break to put up a post. I got this article e-mailed to me from my brother today. It's about squirrels on crack... literally. I want to dedicate it to anyone who:

(a) Looks back at U of I with fond memory of Quad Squirrels

(b) Has ever engaged in "Peanut on a String" Squirrel Fishing

(c) Wanted to be a member of SAGE*

(d) Believed at one time or another that being devoured by squirrels was a punishment for being late to class

(e) Just needed something to laugh about on a Friday

Happy Friday and Happy Squirrel Fishing!

* SAGE is a wannabe club at U of I it's an acronym for Students Against the Gluttony of Squirrels (the E stands for "of Squirrels")

Thursday, October 20, 2005

My Kind of English

Okay... two posts in one day (yeah, I'm an addict) but it's a slow day at work cause of some issues with antibody shipping so I thought I'd post this cause it's pretty funny. (I actually meant to post this yesterday but forgot to). Not sure how I live in Chicago Suburbia with 0% Midwestern speech - but does the Upper Midwesterner part prove my Minnesotan roots? You betcha!!

Your Linguistic Profile:

65% General American English

15% Upper Midwestern

15% Yankee

5% Dixie

0% Midwestern

The OTHER Chicago Marathon

Cancer is horrendous. I sometimes wonder why I work with such an abominable disease and I can barely explain how discouraging some of my experiments are right now. Sure maybe it's the essence of human nature to ask the pathetically rhetorical question "Why am I here?" but I think this is one of those days where I really do wonder why I do what I do. A friend of mine's relative just got diagnosed with lung cancer and as I look around my lab at work this morning part of me just wants to scream in frustration "WHAT IS THIS ALL FOR?" People are still getting sick and dying at alarmingly high rates. Am I really contributing to progress? Is it foolish of me to think that we will find a cure? Foolish - I dunno. Arrogant - maybe. Idealistic - definitely. But regardless, there's times where I just have to get real and face up to the doubts plaguing my mind. And then I have to doubt my doubts. I wanted to post an e-mail on here that I wrote a while ago. (Appropriately enough I wrote it two years ago to the week.) It's a good reminder for me - and hopefully a good insight for you - of why I love what I do. I suppose my frustrations are due to feeling like I'm actually in the thick of "the marathon". It's long, but a worthy read.

Friday, October 17th, 2003
Wow. Since you're all usually asking me "How's work going?", "Any progress?", "Didja cure cancer yet??", I figured I'd send out a little journal type summary of my work life at present. See, there's times when I just really love my job. No, we didn't cure Neuroblastoma yet but our whole lab group has been going to the AACR (American Association of Cancer Research) Special Topics Conference in Chicago this week on "New Directions in Angiogenesis Research" - and yes, I got my name on the abstract for a poster/reserach paper that's gonna be presented, but that's another story.

To translate out of "Scientese", Angiogenesis is basically the term for growth of new blood vessels - which studies have shown is necessary for tumor growth. [The theory is that for cancer cells to multiply they need to recieve nutrients from the blood and in order to continue to be "fed" as they get larger, new blood vessels need to grow.] One of the head researchers responsible for discovering and proving theories of angiogenesis is a guy from Harvard, Dr. Judah Folkman, who has been speaking at this conference. Anyways, there's a whole complex world of the past thirty years where different people have discovered different protiens and different genes (that are responsible for producing proteins) that either activate or inhibit angiogenesis - they either cause or prevent the growth of new blood vessels and thus, in most cases, cause or prevent the growth of tumors.

The latest and probably most encouraging studies about this stuff involve combining chemotherapy with drugs proven to be angiogenesis inhibitors. One of the presentors this morning shared evidence of a stage three (tumors with really bad prognoses) clinical trial where a drug called Avastin, when administered with chemotherapy, was shown to extend the lifespan of patients with colorectal cancers to an average of five months longer than with chemotherapy alone. It was pretty cool news to see evidence of, but the research got a lot of backlash. "What good is five months?", "Five months more of chemo, that's not such great news!", "Is this really significant?", etc. That's when Dr. Folkman stood up and said something really cool (I wrote it down so I could quote him) - "In 1903 the Wright brothers took the world's first trip in an airplane. It lasted twelve seconds and only went fourteen feet in the air. Everyone said that a flight of this magnitude would never be worth anything. Forty years later Linbergh flew across the Atlantic and sixty years later we flew a man to the moon. This - is a first step." It really put things in perspective. We can't discard progress just because it is small. Even baby steps in the right direction means we're moving forward! And it really makes me think that all the work we're doing really can make a difference. Cancer research is a marathon race, not a sprint.

So, yeah, sorry that got so long, but that's me and my work for now. I'm not going to go into all the details of the project I'm on cause it's pretty technical but I will say that more and more I'm confident that God put me where I'm at for a reason. People might think that there's not much glory in being a paid by the hour research tech but I love what I'm doing (and the people I work with!!) and who knows, todays twelve seconds could be tomorrow's trip to the moon!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Java Time!

Either I was right all along or there's just some truth to the idea that given enough time and money scientists and researchers will spend their lives contradicting each other. After years of getting a bad wrap for it's dehydrative and hyperactive side effects, my good friend coffee has turned from the dark side and is being hailed in a more attractive light. In fact it's now practically considered a health food.
According to a recent article in Forbes the antioxidants in coffee are loaded with health benefits and studies have linked coffee consumption to lowered rates of illnesses such as colon cancer, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's, Type II diabetes, and heart disease. Of course there's the flip side from the American Dietetic Society saying that diabetics should avoid excess caffeine due to the effects it has on glucose metabolism, but on the whole everyone seems to agree that moderate (2-3 cups / day) consumption of coffee can be a major plus.

Score one for the caffeineaholics!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Crop Walk for World Hunger

This past Sunday Tony and I participated in the Naperville Crop Walk! There were over 600 participants from churches throughout the community. Here's the picture of us with the other volunteers from our church. (We're in the middle of the back row - the flags all say Community Christian Church and our shirts say CROPWALK). Our church alone raised $2365, $210 was from Team Guerrero. :) 25% of the money goes to local food banks like Loaves and Fishes and the Northern Illinois Food Bank and the rest goes to an organization called Church World Services which helps with hunger relief around the world. Most of our group did the 5K walk but Tony and I, along with our friend Jeanene from our small group and another woman we met named Char from the Romeoville campus, went the full 10K route (it's just under 7 miles and we finished in about two hours). Throughout the walk they had signs posted with notes about world hunger and global poverty issues. Some of the most striking facts were that every 30 seconds a child dies of Malaria and that the US spends 33 billion a year on weight loss and diet products but only 10 billion a year on foreign aid. It was a very eye-opening walk and here's a huge thank you to everyone who sponsored us!

Friday, October 14, 2005


Quick bit du jour:
Good thing I ride Metra to work cause I think Amtrak would've asked me to check the bags under my eyes this morning. Two thoughts for the day:

(1) Dang, I love coffee!

(2) Thank God it's Friday! [And I mean that in every literal sense of the phrase possible.]

peace out & enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Hats off to this Ohio State fan!

So this is a story I got in an e-mail about an OSU grad but I think all my Illini and MSU friends will get a kick out of it too. (And to any U of M readers... hope you have a good sense of humor).

A recent graduate of The Ohio State University moved to Dearborn, Michigan when she landed a great job with a company located there. After becoming a citizen of Michigan, she felt almost as if she had betrayed her Ohio background and ancestry. She had an apartment with a Michigan address, and she winced whenever she looked at her Michigan driver's license. When it came time to register her vehicle she had an idea. She'd get personalized plates and make things right.

The personalized license plate for her car arrived, and she beamed as she installed them. She was so proud she sent an instant message to her father right away. He too was a proud Ohio State alumnus.

"Daddy," she typed. "I'm so excited! I got new, personalized plates for my Mini today. They're University of Michigan plates!" "WHAT?" he replied. "You have to be joking!"

"Nope, I'm totally serious. Let me send you the image." Her father couldn't stop laughing after he viewed the picture of her car.

(Sorry the picture's a little fuzzy - I'm still learning - but you get the idea.)

Also I wanted to say that my last post was called Genesis because it was the begining. I couldn't think of anything creative to call it so I went with Genesis not to be confused with Geonosis because Genesis is the first book of the Bible where as Geonosis is the planet of freaky termite aliens in Star Wars Episode II.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


Okay. Let's pretend we're playing Pyramid here:

I say: The second coming of Christ... A good Illini football team... Less reality TV shows.... Christmas... Your next paycheck... Cubs baseball in October... A blog by lisa...

And you say:

All I have to say is you asked for it. From here on out let the randsanity begin.

Notes about naming:
Random + Insanity = Randsanity
Blog + Guerrero = Blogger Arrow

By the way I've never really blogged before (Duh!) so if this is majorly not worth reading I apologize. And eventually there will be pictures and hyperlinks and all that goody good stuff. Patience people. It'll happen. Think of this blog as a fine wine, it'll only get better with age.

But to start off my ponderings I noticed the other day that the cryogenic vials we use in the lab to store cells at -70 C and below are made by Nalgene. And we thought they only made water bottles! I mean, seriously folks, is there anything this company can't do? I think whoever started this technology has got to be pretty smart. In fact I'd even go so far as to call him or her a Nal-genius.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

LoL#54: Multitasking while Multitasking

So I'm back. I know it's been a long time and for those of you that actually read these, sorry to disappoint. I don't know if I've just been overly busy lately or just uninspired, but work's been a bear so I haven't had much time to spew all my crazy ponderings into an e-mail for y'all. Not that today is much slower, but I tend to have these brief breaks throughout my day (waiting for centrifuges to spin, purification columns to drip, cells to plate, etc....) and I thought maybe I could string a bunch of breaks together to create something of a coherent e-mail. But before I continue I have to go warm up my cell media in the water bath. Be right back....

....Okay where was I.... Oh yeah I wanted to tell you all about my super spiffy trip to Washington D.C.!! It was way cool. Tony just changed jobs and he had a week vacation paid out from his old job so I took some time off and we went to visit his dad in DC. We spent most of the trip museum hopping which was quite convenient since there were no lines and everything was free. I'll give you the play by play of what we saw/did in one sentence but keep in mind this was over four days: Dulles Airport, Natural History Museum, President Bush (in his limo), Sculpture Garden, White House, US Treasury, White House Visitor Center, Washington Monument, Smithsonian Castle, rode the metro, coffee with Barack Obama & Dick Durbin (IL senators), Senate gallery tour, Botanic Gardens, Air & Space Museum, American History Museum, Chinatown, Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, Korean War Memorial, WWII Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington House, Air & Space Museum Annex, and back to Dulles Airport. It was an awesomely full trip! Now that things are more routine again - actually my centrifuge just beeped. Hold on....

Sorry. I'm purifying SPARC (it's a protein... 'nuff said) today which means every 20 minutes I have to add more PBS to the columns in the centrifuge. I'm also running a proliferation assay which requires a one hour incubation after adding reagents to my cells followed by two plate reader applications. And then I'm treating a different plate of cells with two different growth factors and eight dilutions of SPARC. As well as answering the phone, signing for packages, placing orders, refilling tips, checking on mice, etc. etc. etc. Hence (as you noticed from the title) I dedicate this LoL to all of you considered to be Masters of Multitasking!! But seriously, people, what's the deal with Multitasking anyway??? Doesn't it really just indicate that -

*phone call*

- we're all just overworked? That's what interviewers want these days is a "Multitasker" which basically means they want to hire the person who will do the most things at once. How crazy is that?!?!?? I'm certain that once upon a time it was quite acceptable and perhaps even applauded to compile a "To Do" list and methodically check off the items one by one, yet in this day and age we would call someone like that slow and inefficient. This is the Age of The Multitasker. And note we're not looking for Dualtaskers or Tritaskers, no we want MULTI!! The more the better! In fact even e-mail has thrived because I can send a message to all 43 of you with the click of a single button. But let's not stop there. Consider if you will a grand phenomenon known as The Lunch Meeting. No, you can't take precious time out of your work day to do something as mundane (and hopefully relaxing) as eating lunch. That would be a waste of time! Instead we need to -

*sorry had to show our new medical fellow where the syringes are kept*

- use that precious lunch hour for more business!! And then there's the more overlooked expanders of multitasking. Take for example voice mail. It's no longer good enough just to talk to someone on the phone. We need the capability to take someone ELSE'S call while we're talking. Or even worse is Call Waiting. When you utter that sweet little "Hold Please" aren't you basically just -

*centrifuge again*

- telling the person on the line that you'd rather be talking to someone else? And how about the brilliant invention that is the TiVo? Granted most people have some generic cable company provided DVR system but everyone calls them all TiVo's anyway. And I like how "TiVo" is suddenly an acceptable verb as in "I won't be home to watch Lost tonight, could you TiVo it for me?" That cracks me up. But I digress, the genius of this product is that you can tape one thing and watch something else. Even in something as purely leisurous as TV watching, we've found a way to multitask.

Anyhoo, I have a point here *shocking isn't it?* and I just remembered what it was. See, I was talking to a pastor friend of mine the other day about taking some time out from all the work I've been doing at church. I'm no longer going to be leading a small group of high school students and am transitioning into working more with the service ministry (where Tony and I are both involved) and working to get students involved with service projects. But I was telling him that I've been feeling spread too thin and that in trying to do too many things I wasn't giving my full heart to any of it. He told me very simply "Sometimes you just have to focus on One Thing." I laughed rather cynically considering all that typically goes on in my life and replied "Easier said than done." But rather than accept my attitude he came back with "Better done than regretted." I think I at first took his comment to mean that I should just have one ministry in my life but when I thought about all that I care about in life (family, friends, work, church, self, home, etc etc etc), two things came to mind: God and Finger Eleven.

Let me explain. There's a Finger Eleven song that came out sometime last year and it's called "One Thing" and the lyrics to the chorus are : "If I traded it all, If I gave it all away for one thing... Just for one thing. If I sorted it out, If I knew all about this one thing, Wouldn’t that be something?" And in thinking about those lyrics I realized that God should and needs to be my One Thing. All the rest can be better cared about if that first part is true. What would life look like if instead of trying to do a million things for the church I "traded it all" for making God my priority? How much calmer and less hurried could I be "If I sorted it out" and "If I knew all about" God and His plans for me? As the song says "Wouldn't that be something?" So maybe this is where the truth and the good side of Multitasking comes in. We need to start with our One Thing. With that in focus we can handle everything else that we need to deal with. And maybe that is easier said than done, but I'm certain it's better done than regretted.

Multitaskfully Yours,

lisa :)

p.s. For those newbies on the list, sorry if this failed to amuse you. My last e-mail was all about an annoying air freshener so you can check out the archive for something more entertaining if you like.

p.p.s. Here's the full lyrics of the song for anyone who cares:
Restless tonight cause I wasted the light
Between both these times I drew a really thin line
It’s nothing I planned and not that I can
But you should be mine across that line

If I traded it all, If I gave it all away for one thing...
Just for one thing
If I sorted it out, If I knew all about this one thing
Wouldn’t that be something?

I promise I might not walk on by
Maybe next time but not this time
Even though I know I don’t want to know
Yeah... I guess I know I just hate how it sounds

If I traded it all, If I gave it all away for one thing...
Just for one thing
If I sorted it out, If I knew all about this one thing
Wouldn’t that be something?