Wednesday, November 30

Just a little ranting

So nothing exciting has happened since I last wrote in this blog. I've been reading papers and trying to get my 2000 word essay done for Monday.

I am very close to my 100 pound goal for the World Swim for Malaria, that's good news! I am however disappointed at the lack of people who donated - For just $5 you can save a child's life! I've realized what a sheltered life we Americans live - I bet most people don't even really know what Malaria is, since it's not a problem for people in the states.

I guess I just get frustrated seeing as this was just Thanksgiving and we're moving into the Christmas season which is supposed to be about giving (not receiving) yet few people seem to be able to spare $5 to save a child's life.

Let's just think about what $5 is . . . . . . can you spare one of these things this week to save a helpless child?!?!?!?
  • 1 McDonald's meal,
  • 2 DVD rentals,
  • 2 pints
  • 2 slices of pizza
These are children who are much less fortunate than we will ever be able to comprehend!!

I think it is very hard unless you have seen the conditions these children live in first hand to understand it. I was lucky enough while working at Trudeau to go to Cape Town, South Africa with Peter and see first hand what it is like. I'm sure my mom (who's been to Mongolia) & Julia (who is living in Kenya) can vouch for what I'm talking about!!

Okay enough ranting for one day - to those of you who helped - THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!
There's still time,

The next 2 photos are from The Global Fund Organization

anopheles on a blood meal

Boy suffering from a fever due to Malaria. One of the most common symptoms of severe malaria is profuse sweating or the opposite: an attack of the chills whereby (in the words of one malaria sufferer) not even five blankets would help.

Monday, November 28

To be back in the work force again . . .

Only 24 more days till I'll be back on native soil. 90% sure my schedule will be 23 Dec - 26 Dec staying at Patty's in CT, 26-28 Dec at Dad's in NYC (Nutcracker is the 27th right?!?!?), 28 Dec - 2 Jan Warren, Essex, Franklin & Clinton counties in NY! Let me know if you're going to be in any of these areas when I'm around - we can try to meet up - understand I'm limited on time and travel as my car is off the road so I'm having to borrow from others.

Saturday night was Thanksgiving at Katie & Simon's - it was good, but still not the same as being in the states with family plus no American football games or Macy's parade to watch on the tele!! We did however have great pumpkin pie from scratch (they don't sell pumpkin in cans over here)

Went to see Flightplan yesterday in Islington with Rob, Jim & Sacha - not a great movie but since I only paid about $4 to see it I shouldn't bitch too much (normal price would be about $20) and I got a free dinner so I guess I'm not complaining at all :) It was a much needed break from all the school work I'd been doing!!

So I'm writing a paper that's due next Monday by 16.00 - I'm disliking life at the moment - if I have to read one more paper on Th 1 & 2 cell polarization I'm going to throw something at someone - of course I'll have to go outside first b/c I live alone. I'm just not interested in writing 2000 words on anything at the moment! Well enough complaining - I'm off to write a few more sentences and then sleepy time.

Friday, November 25

World Swim for Malaria

I wonder how many people are aware this day even exisits - I'd never heard of it until I got here to LSHTM. My friend Louise is going to be swimming so please sponsor her!! £3 (~$5) = 1 bednet = 1 child saved.
Gotta run to statistics practical, I of course don't have today off since Thanksgiving in an American holiday - looking forward to turkey tomorrow at Katie's house!!!

Monday, November 21

weekend update

Friday I spent most of the day catching up with important things like the post office (waiting in really long ques isn't fun!!), HSBC bank, and the library (doing some research) and jounal club at uni. That evening Rob called to ask if I wanted to grab some dinner before going to the pub - I said sure. So Rob & I went to the noodle bar, just round the corner from my flat (north instead of south) for dinner while we waited for Jim to return from his parents house up in Nottingham.
Saturday morning Rob, Jim and I walked to Camden Town for breakfast (about a 15 minute walk south of KT). After breakfast (well really more like brunch considering the time) I went home to clean for 1 hour before meeting up with Amanda, Heather, & Katie at The Assembly House to watch the Ireland vs. Australia rugby game. Australia won but Ireland played very well considering!! Followed by a game of Trivial Pursuit (20th edition, but made in the UK - very hard for those of us who were American). We played boys vs. girls (or as Rob pointed out "Team America" vs. "Team Great Britain"). Luckily we won by 1 piece thanks to Katie knowing so much from living here for the past year and being very knowledgeable about sports (I know nothing about Cricket, let alone who the famous players are!!!)
After that we had 2 games of Jenga and at that point we were all pretty tired and cold (we were sitting near the door) so we all went our seperate ways. I went home and warmed myself up with a really hot bath, it was wonderful!!
Sunday morning Rob, Jim & I had breakfast in Camden Town (via the tube instead of walking this time) then I continuted my journey southbound to meet up with my study group. I left my flat keys with Rob so he could cook dinner while I was gone. When Susan and I got home around 5.15pm we could smell the food the second we opened the downstairs door. Rob had made chicken curry with rice. Susan and I had bought white wine and dessert - our big contribution to the meal - lol!! We got microvable chocolate lava cakes from Tesco Express :) Dinner was fantastic (as always) and again we spent the rest of the evening laughing about police stories & assorted other jokes. We also went online to check out The Church which meets just round the corner from my flat every Sunday afternoon - looks & sounds a bit crazy if you ask me, but they call it a church!! Personally I'm scared to ever go in - they all come out wet, drunk, and with minmal clothing on!!!
Susan was going to take the Northern line to the Piccadilly line to get home, but when we walked her to the KT tube stop we realized the Piccadilly line was suspended for engineering work. Luckily the boys knew another way for her to get home without a lot of changing trains etc. Jim walked her down to the train and waited to make sure she got on the correct one, while Rob went home to bed and I went home to finish up the dessert dishes. Jim told us that at KT the CCTV is only on 1/2 of the train platform and with Susan being alone, it was really late (11.10pm), and Susan's not use to taking public transportation, he decided to make sure she was okay.
Well that's my weekend in a nut shell.

Friday, November 18

Curry Night (basically every Friday)

I know what else that was interesting about Hazel's lecture yesterday. She was talking about how rBCG30 was in phase 1 trials in the states about a year ago, but the "word on the streets" is that it wasn't working very well and they've stopped them now. I remember how hard it was for that strain to grow and how we never got any response from it compared to the TICE strain, so it made me feel good that we weren't doing something wrong - it's the strain that's funky!!

Chose my classes for the next three terms today:
9 January - 10 February = Molecular Biology & Recombinant DNA Techniques (Monday - Wed. am) and Molecular Virology (Wed. pm - Friday)
20 February - 24 March = Advanced Practical training in Gene Cloning (Monday - Wed. am) and Research Progress & Field Applications (Wed. pm - Friday)
24 March - 24 April = spring break
24 April - 26 May = Immunology of Parasitic Infection: Principles & Practice OR if I find a project I want to do by then I can take a "long" project.

Well I'm done with classes for the day so I'm going to go home, get some washing done, take a nap, and enjoy my ritual Friday Curry Night!

Thursday, November 17

Dinner on Thursday

Well tonight Rob cooked dinner - he didn't like the fact that I was eating "cup o' noodle" and cereal for dinner so he's decided to cook a real meal! We had roasted pork, mashed potatoes with spring onion (has a special name in Ireland but I forget it), fried leek and cabbage. It was all very good! Since I don't have classes till half 12 (or 12.30 for some of the "big babies" in the group reading this) we then headed down to our local after dinner. Louise was going to meet us there but then she got really delayed on the Northern line and I got really tired so I came home. Apparently the rest of KT is still wide awake b/c I can hear them all yelling from the street - hopefully they'll get tired soon as well!! I shouldn't complain b/c I don't have class till late tomorrow but still, it's annoying to listen to drunk people screaming in the street when you're trying to sleep, ya know!?!?!?
Last night I met my friend JoAnn for dinner at a Thai place near school - we had a great catch up dinner - she's been gone for about 1 month, sorting out moving to London and on holiday to Australia & New Zealand. Aside from that not much exciting has happened.
Oh yeah today during Hazel's lecture she did mention Andrea's data along with Aeras data - so that was kinda cool since I know both of those people from the states!!
Off to bed now . . . zzzzzzzz (hopefully)

Tuesday, November 15

More photos from last Friday

View of Parliament from the side gardens
Amanda & me in front of parliament

Amanda and me with Big Ben

Amanda & me in Starbucks on Victoria Street with carrot cake, a brownie and some lattes :)

Monday, November 14

Photos from Friday

This past Friday Susan, Amanda, and I went for an afternoon trip to see some sights. Susan had never seen Big Ben so we headed there first. These photos are no in sequential order, but you will get to see everything that we saw. Susan is originally from Hamden, CT, but has been working in California for the past few years. Amanda is from Milwaukee, WI. They are both IID (immunology of Infectious Diseases) students so for this term I have classes with them every day. Susan and I meet a lot for study group - others join in from time to time.

Westminster Abbey (Big Ben in the background)
Amanda & Susan by Houses of Parliament
View of Big Ben & Parliament in the evening
View of the Thames River and the London Eye

Amanda & Susan with Oliver Cromwell, in front of the Parliament

Susan and me with Big Ben

Friday, November 11

Dinner with Katie

Went to study group yesterday afternoon after watching the movie, Team America - interesting flick, NOT for everyone, that's for sure!!! Study group went okay, not as good as normal - too many people showed up and it turned into a chatting session of what everyone had been doing on their week off!
Had dinner with Katie and some of her co-workers last night down near London Bridge. Today I'm off to see the parliament building with Amanda and Susan - will try to get some photos!!

Assembly House Rules

So my "cousin" Danielle called to say she was sick and couldn't come for dinner so Dad and I went 1 block away from my flat to the assembly House - we'd never been inside but pass if every day on our way to the tube station & bus stop. Our plan was to have a drink there just to check the place out before we went to find a place to eat dinner, but Dad liked the look of the menu (not just your typical pub grub), so we stayed for dinner.

Dad & I split the "Maryland Crab Cakes with American Coldslaw" for our starter. For main courses I had a "BBQ Chicken and Cheese Quesadilla" and dad had the "Babyback Pork Ribs with French Fries and American Coldslaw." Also on the menu was "NY Strip Steak," "NY Cheesecake" and "New Orleans Cajun Salmon" - all of which made me laugh seeing as we are in a Pub in London!!

The food was fantastic - the best pub food I've had, but maybe that's because it wasn't deep fat fried fish & chips. During our meal I had noticed an obviously drunk gentleman drinking at the side bar who was in my opinion bothering the female bartender. I explained to Dad that I didn't think I'd last a day as a bartender since I wouldn't be able to keep my cool with annoying drunk guys. As the meal progressed this guy made his way around the bar to the side which was closest to our table. The next time I observed him he was trying to chat up the 3 guys who'd been at the bar since before we arrived. I had noticed them when we walked in because they were all standing in distinct shirts & the one in red was rather good looking.

When we were done eating Dad got up to wash the BBQ sauce off his hands and I started to stare out the huge windows looking at the people walking by in the street. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed movement next to me - I assumed Dad was returning so I turned back to talk to him, but to my surprise it was the drunk guy. He was eating chips off Dad's plate. He muttered something about wishing he could join me but he had to run so he'd just take a few more chips and be on his way. I was totally caught off guard so I just sort of smiled at him hoping he'd disappear just as fast as he had appeared. While watching him in amazement, I could see over his shoulder the guys at the bar were watching what was going on at my table. After the drunk guy had left, one of the 3 guys who'd been standing at the bar came over to tell me that next time I should tell him to "bugger off". I explained I wasn't about to start a conversation with a drunk guy since I'm not from around here & I didn't know how the drunk guy would react. He explained I was fine because there are police in the bar and the barracks are across the street. During this time Dad came back, Dad worried this guy in a red shirt was harassing me, until we explained he could not to eat any more of the chips because of what had just happened. The red shirted guy offered to buy us a drink and apologised saying "Not all British are that rude, he was just a drunk bloke giving all of us a bad name."

We accepted on the free drinks, but Dad being dad insisted if they bought us drinks they had to sit down & chat with us. So red shirt, green shirt & yellow shirt joined us at the table for our free drinks. After a few minutes they asked what we were doing in London. I explained that I'd just moved here to start my masters degree & we were just checking out all the local pubs to find out which ones where "okay" and which weren't.

A bit later after more chat of where everyone was from red shirt showed us his police badge and smiled saying, I told you you'd be safe drinking here - it's our local. We sat chatting with them for about the next hour. Dad & red shirt chatted a lot about differences in policing between the US & UK, while I talked with green & yellow shirt about Ireland. Green shirt was rather drunk & started to take the menus and make paper airplanes which we proceeded to throw around the pub (there weren't many people near us). Red shirt explained to dad that we really needed to go to the London Dungeon which I think he said is near Tower Bridge, but don't hold me to it. He offered to take us later this week, but dad explained he was leaving first thing tomorrow morning so he'd have to take a rain check on the offer.

At this point I was ruddy tired and had to wake up for class early tomorrow so we left. Well I need to sign off so we can turn the lights off and Dad can get to bed. That is if he can take a break from reading Dry (Augusten Burroughs) - he loves it too!! I have a friend who's been recommending what I like to call my AW reading list. She is a fantastic book recommender!!!

Update (2 days later): Dad must have slipped one of the boys my mobile number because on my way home from uni today I got a call from "Jim", of course I had no clue who Jim was, but after a bit of chatting he explained he'd been one of the guys at the pub earlier in the week. We made plans to meet up this weekend to go to London Dungeon - just hope I recognise him, no clue which one it is!

Update (weekend): "Jim" was the one I kept calling "red shirt" lucky for me also the one I thought was so good looking when we first walked in . . . keep ya posted on how things progress. Oh yeah & the Dungeon is really cool!! (PS Thanks Dad :)


Tuesday, November 8

"Is London Burning Too??"

In response to a few people querying me about the above question.
No, London is fine. I'm safe and sound here in Kentish Town :)
We did have bonfires this past Saturday evening for Guy Fawkes Day, but that was a planned celebration with nobody getting hurt.
I will ask my cop friends if they have heard any rumblings here in London, but I'm sure they would have said something to me if they were worried.
Thanks for thinking of me but no need to worry!!

General Immunology Paper Topic

So I've got to write a paper for my general immunology course on "molecular mechanisms of T-cell activation" feel free to recommend papers for me to read - I've got a few but if anyone knows of a good one pass it my way :)

Reading week is going well - had study group from 10-12 today and then lunch followed by research in the computer lab, walking home, and now dinner and more reading!!!

Monday, November 7

Photos to go with Sunday Roast

Rob, me and Tiffany waiting for Jim to do the dishes

Jim & Rob just after dinner

Tiffany and me waiting for dinner to be served

Sunday Roast

So Friday night was suppose to be the big pub crawl, but turned out that too many of us where exhausted from the week so it turned into just grabbing curry opposite from the KT tube stop and then going to our local followed by a movie instead - just as fun and not nearly as tiring!!

Saturday I slept in till around 10.30 and received a phone call from my friend Rob who wanted to know if I was playing a practical joke with his phone - I had no clue what he was talking about! Apparently sometime Friday night his mobile was stolen. I offered to help him look for it so we ask at the pub and curry place but nobody had seen it. Off to Camden Town we went to see the O2 dealer. They announced that we had to go report it to the police and get a reference number before he can claim it through insurance. Back to KT we went. Of course this made me laugh seeing as Rob's a cop and he had to go and fill out a police report on himself - he didn't find it nearly as funny as I did. He went to fill out the paper work & I went home to study. Rob showed up around 14.00 needing a phone to call and sort it all out. So while I studied he contacted the O2 dealer and insurance. When he was done he was hungry so he cooked pasta with salmon, leek, spring onion, in a cream sauce and garlic bread - it was really good. Then we went shopping for Sunday's meal. It took us close to 2 hours - of course we walked all the way to Chalk Farm to get to the Safeway he wanted to shop at - I can't complain I enjoyed the walking - I was feeling rather lazy from sitting & studying!

Saturday evening was suppose to be the big bon-fire and fireworks display - don't get me wrong they still went on but we missed them. Alain, Tiffany, Rob, Danielle, Jim & I were all suppose to go, but Danielle, Rob, Jim & I were delayed and didn't make it in time. Jim had been working the Arsenal (football/soccer) game during the day, had lots of drunk & disorderly arrests and had not turned up at 16.30 like he said he would so Danielle, Rob & I decided to just showed up at NI (police station) since we hadn't heard from Jim in awhile. Danielle and I sat in the "waiting area" while Rob searched the building for Jim. I had never sat in a police waiting area before, but I have to tell you next time I'm bringing my camera with me, it's a hoot!! You meet the most interesting people there!! We met JoAnne & Carmen who were waiting for their friend Kelly to be released. Kelly had been arrested for fighting in the street and punching a cop. The fight had been started b/c Kelly's brother is sleeping with some girl who Kelly doesn't like so she decided to "kick her a**". Little did Kelly know the cops where just down the road and saw the whole thing happen. These girls where hysterically funny - throwing their hands up in the air, prancing around the waiting room trying to demonstrate the whole series of events. Jim & Rob finally came out but Jim was still in full uniform, at this point I knew we were going to miss the show. Danielle, Rob & I went to the Angelic just down the road to wait for Jim to finish up work. He arrived around 20.45. I think the waiting room "show" was more than enough for me - I'm still laughing at those two re-enacting the cat fight!!

Sunday started off pretty much like normal, breakfast, shower, and study group, but we did have a fantastic Sunday Roast. Rob, or the chef, as I like to call him now, cooked lamb with rosemary, thyme, garlic and roasted carrots, turnips, & potatoes (Rob's Irish so say that with an Irish accent for full effect), along with some green beans cooked with onions. For dessert we had roasted pears with honey and cloves. It was delightful, especially since Jim did all the dishes and sorted the kitchen out.

Roasted Pears with Honey and Cloves, sorry the roast photo got deleted by accident!

At Sunday Roast was my friend Tiffany (from Canada and a Public Health & Nutrition major at LSHTM), Rob (chef), and Jim. It was a hysterically funny night. It was great to have Tiffany and her Canadian accent to balance out the non-British accents!

Having problems downloading the people photos - will try again later :)

Friday, November 4


So I'm in a rush but I want to give you a quick update.

I'll start with today and back track since I can't remember what I last told you. Today I had to day off so I went to see the Arsenal Football Stadium in Highbury (near Islington). Got to see the current stadium and the new one that should be finished this coming March. I'm hoping to get tickets to a game in the next few weeks - should be a hoot!! These fans are very much diehards!! The tube stop has a gated section in it that looks like what you would see in a jail or something and it's for the "normal" people who live there and want to use the tube since on game days the station is SO packed with nutters if you're local you don't want to have to deal with the others!!

Yesterday was classes as usual. Did learn a new word, which I don't think I've posted yet:
nicked - meaning stolen, can also mean getting arrested
the nick - police station
nutters - crazy people

Wednesday night I had dinner with Julie. Julie has sort of an adopted family in the US who know my dad - so that's the connection. She works for the Nautical Institute here in London. She is really cool and has been living here for the past 4 years, she was raised in England but further north, where they have even funnier accents than Londoners :) Her flatmate, Emie is from Japan and already has a PhD in Architecture but is going for another PhD in sociology - not sure what you do with those degrees maybe see how buildings affect people's lives?!?!? Well Emie made sushi for us - it was really good! I didn't stay long as it was pouring rain and the northern line was under severe delays and I didn't want to have to wait for a bus in that weather. Julie lives south of London near Tower Bridge in a HUGE 2 bedroom flat.

Wednesday, November 2


I Can't Believe it's November!!! Next week is "reading week" meaning we're half way through our first trimester - I have to laugh whenever I say that word, makes me think of pregnancy - LOL!!

Well today was only a half day for all of us taking Immunology. We had a lecturer from Uni. of Cambridge come down to tell us about Autoimmunity. It was interesting but she was very long winded, we nearly missed out lunch break and she talked right through our 30 minute coffee break - making us unhappy campers :(

Let's see what else have to done since I last wrote . . . ah yes, yesterday we did a cytokine (IFNg) ELISA - nothing Paula hadn't already taught me at TI, but I went through the motions none the less.

Tomorrow we have journal club - the article is:
Filaria-Induced Immune Evasion: Suppression by the Infective Stage of Brugia malayi at the Easliest Host-Parasite Interface, by Roshanak Tolouei Semnani (The Journal of Immunology).
I haven't finished reading it yet, but so far so good - I know I've read worse - LOL!
If you've already read it feel free to send your thoughts and comments my way ;)

I'm very excited for this weekend - Friday night there's a HUGE pub crawl followed by Bonfire Day on Saturday!! That will be a good couple of crazy days before I have to settle into intense study mode!!

Gotta run - off to meet Julie for dinner.