Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Sunset

So my time in my  little flat is nearly at an end. It has been (mostly) good to me since September last year when I first came back here to do my PhD. By mostly I mean the door broke, the hob broke, the microwave combi oven broke (I'm on the 3rd one now), and the temperature sucks. But the maintenance guys have been helpful and lovely and fixed stuff, and it has been a place to eat and sleep.

One of the best things about this room has been the view of the sunset on clear nights


It is rather pretty



Ok, some of the pics aren't the best quality, but not bad for being on an ipad through a window


Trust me when I say that some of the views have been pretty spectacular


This being my favourite


Quick update on the PhD. My giant 14 month long experiment finally started this week! Its been immensely stressful - The software keeps on crashing, the computers are not good, and I'm not as yet used to handling the experiments correctly so I'm nervous all the time. Only 2 more days though and then I'm done for this batch. Then I have a lovely 3 week break until the next batch.
I've been preparing for this huge experiment since I started my 3rd rotation, getting all the samples ready and in place and waiting for them to be in the correct state for use. Its going to take a long time, and I'm going to know the top floor of my work backwards by the end of it. Hopefully it will be worth it though.

Outcast this weekend :) Much excited!  Should be a big plot drop this weekend which I'm hoping to get my hands on (along with everyone else). I'll do an update on it when I get back.

Oh, I should also do a post about my trip to France at some point. When I have some pics to show you maybe.

TTFN

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Science update

So I should talk about science. You know, as this is a science blog and all.

So I've officially started my journey to becoming a scientist. The kind of scientist that gets to put Dr instead of Miss in front of my name. I so can't wait to do that. Sad I know. For now though, I am still the annoying newby PhD student in the labs. I do some cool stuff, some not so cool stuff, some boring stuff, and some stuff I can't talk about.

One thing I do a lot of is labelling little plastic tubes.
Little plastic tubes for one experiment
And when I say a lot
Little plastic tubes
 I mean a lot
A satisfying layout of teeny tiny plastic tubes
And lots of little tubes means lots of pipetting.

So what actually am I researching? No, I'm not researching into how many teeny tubes you can label before you go crazy. I'm looking into the effects of ageing and exercise on the nervous system - how they change its health and the levels of a specific metabolic pathway. Its pretty cool.

Of course, there is also the fun side of science:

video

 That is what happens when you put dry ice, washing up liquid and warm water in a flask!

Ok, so I haven't really told you much about my PhD. But I can't/won't talk about a lot of it, so tough. I did have the annoying thing of having to do so much of the work I have been doing since march all over again -_- very annoying. The results I already have are ok though, but I can't use them to compare them with other stuff I'm doing and I need them comparable. Grr.

In other news, I get to go on my holidays soon! Off to France with my family for a while which will be lovely. We get to go to an aquarium, and all sorts of other cool stuff! Plus it will be really nice to see my family again. Biggest downside to the PhD is you don't tend to get prolonged periods of time off, making it hard to go home for more than a weekend.

So that's all for now. Bye!




Thursday, 12 March 2015

The Discworld







So I read a lot of books, and have done ever since I was a kid. Some of my best and strongest childhood memories are of my dad sitting on the edge of my bed, book in hand and doing all the voices whilst I listened wide eyed and open eared, hanging onto every word. I think our favourites were the Wyrd Museum Trilogy by Robin Jarvis (Something all of you should read if you are into dark fantasy) and the Truckers series by Sir Terry Pratchett.

These guys always spring to mind when I remember those books

They even did an amazing movie back in the early 90's for Truckers. I had it on video and watched it so many times. I always wanted my own "The Thing". I also remember us constantly renting the video of Johnny and the Dead from the library, and me and my sister laughing hysterically at it over and over again.

I tried reading some of discworld in my early teens, but to be honest I couldn't get into it. I don't think it helped that my first book was "Thud", one of the many stories about Sir Sam Vimes and his motley crew of the Ankh Morpork Watch trying to stop an all out war between the Dwarves and the Trolls. This book has a lot of discworld history in it, and is not the best place to start.

The Discworld, travelling through space on the back of four giant elephants standing on the back of Great A'tuin, the sky turtle
Since that time, I've actually read pretty much every single discworld book in existence, as well as all of the other side books. I love every single one, especially the beauty and the well thought outness of the discworld. No one else could ever be as genius as to come up with that punny, reflective and complex world.

A lot of my Pratchett love stems from my mum, who has been the biggest Pratchett fan for as long as I can remember. She has every single book, most in hardback, plus all the extras, the calender and the diary each year, and a regular subscriber to discworld monthly. We are also all now becoming experts at the Ankh Morpork board game she got last year for xmas. I think without that influence, I would never have read all the books like I have today.

I couldn't choose exactly who my favourite is. I love the witches and wizards, the sheer craziness and stupidity that follows them around, especially Rincewind and his luggage. I also grew to love the watch, originally my least favourite, as they got more and more depth and I got to know them better. I love Death and his family, including death of Rats (SQUEAK), and how he tries so hard to understand humans and completely fails in the most beautiful and innocent way imaginable, and covers for it with sheer sass.

The best crew

So today I heard the news that Sir Terry Pratchett, the man who gave us this beautiful world, has passed on. I'm not ashamed of the tears in my eyes when I read that. I'm glad I got to read his books, and I'm glad I got to hear the music inspired by him (Go listen to the Wintersmith album by Steeleye Span).

I think his Twitter group summed it up perfectly:

AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER
Terry took Death's arm and followed him through the doors and on to the black desert under the endless night.
The End.

Sir Terry Pratchett
Goodnight Sir Terry, and thank you

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Nothing much, science and gaming

So its been a while since I said anything on here. Its not from lazyness, just that nothing has really been happening for a while. I tend to blog when something interesting has happened, and nothing noteworthy really has!

I've done some science at least. That was fun. I got to extract the DNA and RNA and proteins and lots of other stuff from samples which took a few days and a whole bunch of eppendorf tubes!

over 200 eppendorf tubes for only 10 samples!
All of those tubes had to be labelled, by hand, twice each! That took long enough. There were also about this many again that I used a few days prior to this. Science requires many much tubes.
Still, the data I'm getting from my samples looks really good, so I'm happy with that :)

The only problem I'm currently having is this: All those tubes and sciencing were actually for my 3rd rotation. Which isn't due to start for another 2-3 weeks! So why was I doing that and not my 2nd rotation work? Well: my 3rd rotation is actually going to be my PhD, that was decided ages ago, so I was always going to run these samples. My secondary supervisor needed the samples running earlier than expected however, hence me doing them now. my 2nd rotation supervisor has been really good about it as he has been collaborating with my PhD lab. Still, now I'm like 2 weeks behind on my 2nd rotation work, and currently have sod all to show for it. So there goes my free time and weekends (and a concert) in order to catch up. The life of a PhD student eh? Its all work work work. Still, I'm loving it all the same. And I really don't miss undergrad or exams or lectures or coursework constantly.

Outside of the PhD? Well, I now have living space sorted for next year with two friends who are also going to be PhD/Masters students. The house is really nice, if a little out of the way.
All the SATT games are restarting up again. Our weekly Legend of the 5 rings game started off with a bang, with us entering the dream world, fighting off evil spirits and then one of our members going berserk and running off. Just another session. Also (fingers crossed) a new Thursday game will be starting soon, where we all get to play pokemon! Ok, so I don't know much about pokemon, but they're cute and the DM is a good one so it should be fun. Depends on whether there are enough spaces though.

Finally, I've been back playing Kingdom hearts. I got 2.5 remix for my birthday, but didn't feel right starting it until I completed the first one. So I did that, and am now playing Re:chained memories for the first time ever! Its exciting to finally get some new content after all these years. And to finally work out what the hell happened between the first game and the second game!


Nobodys - the new bad guys
The first leaves off with the main characters walking off down a road cheerful and confident. Kingdom Hearts 2 then starts with the main characters in what essentially are stasis pods with no memories, and nobodies running around causing chaos. Re:Chained memories solves this massive plot gap (Organisation XIII steal all of their memories to prevent them from preventing the organisation taking control of kingdom hearts. They fail).

The organisation - strangely with a number of lovable characters
Anyway, enough about me and gaming. I have science to do.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Amigurumi and more

So I promised to show more of my crafty skills, and here they are. Though first I should explain a little. It was my birthday just before Christmas, and for the day my mum gave me an amazing time. In the morning I got an hour long one-to-one crochet lesson, then the four of us went out to this beautiful place from our childhood and got to fly kites (something we always used to do as kids at this place) then we played board games and finished up watching a fantastic film called Joe's palace (directed by the amazing Steven Poliakoff)

Flying kites up on the hills.

So anyway, onto the crafting. I've been knitting for a while now, but for the longest time I couldn't get to grips with crochet. I could do the basic steps, and managed to make a scarf or two, but nothing remotely complicated. After my lesson though, I can now say I can crochet amigurumi :) 

What is amigurumi you ask? Well from what I have learned, it is a Japanese word which literally means knitted toy :) and you can make some damned cute stuff:

Amigurumi Bird and Snail
Teeny mice and my beautiful fish
Bird pattern: http://bittersweetblog.com/2007/02/19/birds-of-a-feather/
Snail pattern: http://amigurumibyknotty.blogspot.co.uk/2009/04/free-snail-pattern.html
Mouse pattern: http://www.amigurumitogo.com/2014/04/little-grey-mouse.html (Youtube tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFEeRBwk5nE)
Fish pattern: http://apocalypseknits.blogspot.co.uk/2009/02/fredde-fish-pattern.html

None of the patterns for these creations are mine - you'll find all the true artists at the links above. However, they allowed me to make these guys and I full on LOVE them. If you want to give it a go, I reccomend Sharon Ojala. She is the one who made the mouse, and has also done Totoro and stuff. You can also find her on Facebook, and she is lovely and commented on my first ever mouse.

Amigurumi is so much fun to make, and surprisingly easy. I want to make more, but I haven't decided what is next. I have too much work to do for now anyway. If anyone has any suggestions/requests please shout.

As a quick note on my work, I've started my next and new lab this week. I'm already excited as its back into the field of Neuroscience. Its a bit more focused on genetics than I'm used to, but its already interesting. So far I have a bunch of reading to do and some software to learn, but come Monday I start my research.
See ya next time

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Crafty edible goodness

These winter holidays I discovered something. I discovered I can do crafty things. And no, I'm not an evil villain from a movie being crafty. I mean I can make things from other things that look cool. Here, let me show you.

So something I've always admired is cake decoration, though I've never been able to do it myself. This year, like every year, my mum made her amazing Christmas cake like always. Proper home made 3 months in advance with all sorts of yummy stuff in it. Even the marzipan was home made. I helped her put on the marzipan and the icing, and then she gave me the rest along with some food dye.

The first thing I did was play with the marzipan, and this is what happened:

Marzipan fruit
I made marzipan fruit! For reference, we have kiwi, oranges, banannas, apples and pears. They were so much fun to make (if rather messy). And rather delicious.
Then I got given icing and the honour of decorating the christmas cake. And well, I might have gotten a little bit carried away...

Our most wonderful xmas cake
All of the icing started out white, and much food colouring was used (and covered my hands) to make this.

Robin, tree, snowman
I'm especially proud of these guys. They all have a centre of marzipan (even the snowman's hat) and are covered by coloured icing.
tree, robins, present, snowman, holly, star
All of these toppings are icing alone and took forever! All of it took forever tbh, though I have to say it is a darn good way of spending an xmas eve.

I also did more crafty stuff over the holidays, but that will have to wait until next time. I have 5 huge review papers and a long set of notes to read through, on top of learning some new software to get done before Monday. So, lunch break over.
Until next time!