Monday, April 30

Friday night lights

I know I mentioned that I might go to a gig with Lou on Friday night but the tickets were £20/pp, so I opted not to go.

Friday after work I was rather knackered, but just before leaving the office I checked my phone & there was a txt message from Rob saying he was just round the corner & did I fancy meeting up for some dinner. To be honest I thought about it for awhile before I decided, well I have to eat, so I may as well grab a bit to eat before going home. We found a Thai place (Thail Metro) a few blocks away & had a great meal. Of course when that was done he wanted to go to the pub for a few drinks - not being super keen on the idea, I thought I'd go for one, just to be social, but then I'd slip away & head home. So we walked up to Camden Town (30 minutes) and headed into the Camden Tup (his local). He ordered our usual, Corona for him & lemonade (aka Sprite) for me. While we were chit-chatting with the staff (as we know them all pretty well) I was sitting on the bar stool with my back to the door & felt this sudden jolt as if someone was trying to push me off the stool, at the same time I heard, "jeez you let anyone in these days, even the damn yanks" followed by hysterical laughter from all around us. It was Jim who has just popped in after a long day of watching the telly (rough life huh?!?!?!)

As I'm sure I've explained before drinks are bought in rounds so as more people show up it's harder & harder to leave b/c either drinks are being bough for you or you have to buy for the new comers . . . so I didn't leave after that first half pint of lemonade like I had planned. But ya know how those nights when we planned bugger all always turned out to be the best, well this was a good example - it was just like the "old days" when we all got on & could just talk about anything & everything.

I'm not exactly sure how it was that Jim & I started talking somewhat privately, but it just sorted ended up that way at one point & we started off speaking about Rob & his recent inability to filter his mouth & how he'd been pissing off some people, including both of us b/c it's embarrassing when he says something really off colour in mixed company! From there Jim got sight of this "beautiful blond American girl at the end of the bar" & we started talking about how it was so great that we're in a place now that we can openly talk about each others relationships & yet still remain such good friends. Now understand a few hours has passed I'm about to turn into a lemonade & Jim's had a few pints of San Miguel. He went over to try to chat up the Californian & I turned back to speak with Rob & the others. After about 20 minutes I was trapped in a bear hug & felt someone breathing in my ear - for fear I might get a tongue in my ear I struggled a bit, until I heard what was being said, "how's my angel doing?"
"you're my angel, don't you know that sweetheart"
NO, what do you mean?
Releasing me I turned to face him so we could talk more easily. I can't say verbatim what he said, but this is along the lines, "Sara the hardest part about breaking up with you was that you're such a wonderful person & we were getting to be really good friends, our schedules just didn't work & you deserved more than I was going to be able or willing to give you. I've never known someone who could be so honest, friendly & loyal - those are the most important things to me ever since being a booty (that's what the marines call themselves during basic training) we were that way when we dated & amazingly we were able to keep it up after. I can honestly say, if you hadn't come back I don't know what I would have done without you." I guess at this point my face sorta made some contorted look - not in a bad way just more confused - I sorta thought he felt this way, but he'd never said it outright & to hear it was almost weird. He continued on, Yeah I know I never say this stuff, but you are truly important in my life, I have never had an ex girlfriend remain friends with me & don't even know of a girl who I've been this close with. I was speechless & just gave him a huge smile, he blushed a bit & then immediately changed subjects to the movie JackAss2. Looking at my mobile it was about 11pm at this point & I was starting to feel like I should go home. Jim started to try to convince me to come back to his place, have a glass of wine & watch JackAss2 with them. I sorta thought about it & felt the best choice was to say yes so as not to argue but then when we get on the bus they'd forget & I could just get off at my stop (5 before theirs).

Pub closed at midnight, we stayed till 12.30 (knowing the owner has it's benefits) then headed toward the bus, along the way Jim grabbed my hand & said, promise you'll come over - I just sorta smiled & got onto the bus. It was absolutely heaving full of people & so in typical Jim & Rob style they chatted with those around us.

The trip home is about 45 minutes, but after about 25 mins most people get off & we were able to get some seats. My stop came & I tried to make my way to the door to get off but the boys were not keen to this, so I was held on the bus - to the horror of a little old couple watching it all go down & probably thought I was going to be gang-raped or something horrible like that.

We walked back to their place, all got into the living room - Rob stared to wash the dishes by hand & Jim grabbed the DVD - we just chatted for a bit & then in my typical style fell asleep before the movie actually started. When I got up at 11.00 the next morning, he started the DVD again so I could actaually watch the movie, before going to get breakfast with Rob.

We went for breakfast & then I went back to mine for a shower & to get on with the rest of my day. So that's the BIG story - I guess it's not super exciting for others really, but I've been back over a month now & this was the first time that he & I had really sat down & chatted totally uninhibited & just like old times. It's just always nice to hear that someone feels your friendship is just as important as you do, ya know? Okay I MUST get back to work now . . .


Friday, April 27

Friday, Friday, Friday

Can you tell I'm knackered - that was the best title I could come up with!!

An interesting fact that I learned today via email is that on either May 6th or June 5th (depending on the way you write out the date) at three minutes and four seconds after 2 AM this year . . . the time and date will be 02:03:04 05/06/07. In the email it said to mark you calendars because this date will never happen again . . . a friend from SL replied back with the moment you are living in now will never happen again either - which to be honest I knew, but didn't think about it that way. So I just thought I would pass along that message in case you find it interesting, if not you can just skip this whole post as I have nothing else interesting to tell you about, SORRY!!

My plans for the weekend are as follows:
Friday night - maybe a gig in Camden with Louise
Saturday - meet up with Keri (my friend Heather's old flatmate) at 3pm outside the Camden tube station & that evening I'm going over to my mate Ellie's house in Westminster for girlie night - a few of our other mates are coming over from Swindon & down from York.
Sunday - Estee & I are going to attempt to find a boot sale to a) sell her stuff at b) me to peruse what this shindig is all about - might be able to check off one of my 13 things I wanted to do by years end if the weather holds!

Okay off to finish off my experiment - keep those fingers crossed as I might have gotten a protocol to work which no one in the lab has gotten to work over the past 3 years - yeah me!

Thursday, April 26

TT #3

Thirteen Things I want to do by the end of 2007

1. Meet new people in London

2. Have produced enough data to be able to present at the 5th World Melioidosis Conference in Thailand

3. Finish reading London, by Edward Ruthefurd - it's interesting but slow reading & I keep getting side tracked by other books

4. Go on a road trip, maybe to Wales (first choice) northern England & Scotland (being my second choice)

5. Get the internet set up at my house - this is proving to be more difficult than I had thought!

6. Spend as much time as I can outside in the parks during the summer months - I spent entirely way too much time inside studying last year!

7. Take a holiday in Thailand - I have to go for a conference, but I want to extend it into a proper holiday & enjoy it!

8. Really try to drink more water every day - I always start off well first thing in the morning, but then I some how loose it later in the afternoon.

9. Try something new with my hair - not sure exactly what . . .

10. Post photos on my blog - I know I've been horrible about it, but I promise after I get the internet at home these things will all fall into place - then you will be sick & tired of my photos, since I've got tons of back logged ones just waiting to come your way.

11. Try being a vegetarian, course I'm not going to be a full fledged one as I still want to be able to eat fish, & I'm not sure I could ever become vegan, but I'm gonna give going veggy a try, not that I eat that much meat now as it is, but I'll have to cut out mince (hamburger meat) in my spaghetti bolognese

12. Go to a "boot sale" not for boots as in the shoes, but boot as in the trunk of a car, I'm 95% sure this is sorta like a huge flea market/garage sale/junk collectors paradise, but I'm intrigued to check it out

13. Visit/meet new friends in Germany - hope to get that done in 2 weeks time!


Wednesday, April 25

Being American . . .

in a foreign country can be hard at times, I think I've mentioned this a few times, but it's not as easy as you might think. And yes, it is VERY different from being a tourist!! Yesterday, Jen wrote and touched on this subject, which is what inspired me to write today about this. Well that & the fact that I haven't written a good blog yet this week & I'm sure some of you are a bit bored reading about my work.

I guess what spurred my reaction was that Jen said something about showing that America is not George Bush, which is soooooo true!! At lunch yesterday I was sitting with 3 girls from my lab (K who is Canadian, A&T = English) & another girl (C = English) who doesn't actually work here anymore but is finishing up a few experiments this week.

I'm not sure how we got on the topic, but suddenly we were talking about flights & security. Some what out of the blue C said, "flying through America sucks thanks to your president". Trying to understand what she meant I had to inquire what exactly she meant by this statement. "everyone gets finger printed & full body cavity checks"
"No C, not everyone gets finger printed & I think you might be wrong about the full body cavity checks".
"No I'm right, when my parents flew in last time, they had their bags searched & then zip tie locked up, followed by the cavity check. Plus I don't think this system is good because the workers could plant drugs in your bag & then call ahead to the next airport to have you arrested"
Trying to remain calm & not just deck her (which was my first thought) I said, "Now C think about it, if they found the drugs in your bag at JFK they would arrest you there, they wouldn't wait until you landed in Orlando to arrest you, so if you got arrested there for drugs it would be obvious they were planted"
"Well that maybe the case for Americans, but not for us, they are always trying to get us arrested" - C said
I tried to just drop the subject, we were obviously not going to see eye to eye on this one at all! But then a few minutes later, she had to start up again on a different issue, but still the same anti-American topic. This time it was about how all American think that America is the best place in the world & that we dislike other countries & that's why not many Americans have passports. I'm not exactly sure how she was going to prove any of this, but seeing the writing on the wall I avoided saying anything. K who is Canadian, but being North American she felt the need to stick up for me, she said, "Have you ever been to America? For that matter, have you ever been out of the UK?"
"No, but I know my parents told me, when they were there"
To which K just smiled & said, "how about we only talk about what we know first hand"
I was very thankful for K's tactful way of shutting her up because I was getting really frustrated with all the America bashing.
I think everyone should be proud of where they came from & we should all be proud that we are all very different. I'm not going to try to tell you that America is the best place on the face of the earth & that we single handedly are going to be able to solve the world's problems, but I think it America is a great place & I'm very proud to be from there.
That all being said because I have run into a few people who are like C in their views of America/Americans, at times I joke that I'd almost prefer to say I'm Canadian, but not because I'm embarrassed about being American, but just to avoid a pointless argument, in which neither of us are going to be able to convince the other we are right.
I do think it is sad that more Americans don't get out of the US & visit other places to see what the rest of the world has to offer, but it's a personal decision & I can't force anyone to travel! I can however tell you that international travel (flights) can be much cheaper at times than flights within the US, but then you have to contend with the Euro, the Pound, or whatever the local currency is, & the exchange rate at the moment isn't the greatest at least for Europe.
I guess the only last thing I want to say on this topic is that you should always be proud of where you came from (whether it's America, England, Bangladesh, or New Zealand) but remember to be respectful of the country you are in, ie if the national anthem comes on, you don't have to sing it at the top of your lungs, but you should stand & be respectful - that's my thoughts & advice for the day.
What are your thoughts on this?
Suppose I should get back to my real work now, but before I go, check out our weekend weather and doesn't the last photo on this page look kinda like my dad (I know it's my cousin, but I suddenly saw a family resemblace!)


Tuesday, April 24

flights booked

So I've booked my flights to visit Neala, Ben & family - YEAH!!!! The ticket price was something I just couldn't turn down. So I'm outta here at 8pm on Friday 4 May & return at 7pm on Monday 7 May - yeah yeah yeah!!!!

Aside from that, another busy day in the lab, compensating the FACS machine on my own - yikie-crikies!!!! Will try to write more info/interesting info soon, but I guess my day to day life is pretty boring these days, work, eat, sleep, etc.


Monday, April 23

Frankfurt here I come

Sheryl Crow has the solution - LOL

So I might be going to Frankfurt for the first of my two bank holidays in May. My RI brother, Mike, has a best friend, Ben, who is stationed on an air force base. Ben, Neala & their 3 kids have offered to put me up for the weekend - off to find cheap tickets!

Very busy day, write more later or tomorrow, Happy St George's Day!!


Sunday, April 22

Primark on Oxford Street

is fantastic!! Estee & I decided to take a trip down to the new Primark (biggest one in the UK) which has been absolutely mobbed recently, but we thought we would risk the craziness for our weekend outting. We drove to Crouch End, caught the bus to Finsbury Park & got on the tube into Oxford Street & walked towards Marble Arch to get to there. Louise met us outside & we all went in for a few hours, they've got some really great deals!!! Tank tops for £1.50, shirts for £3, skits for £6, etc. I spent £15 in total & got 3 tops, pair of shoes, 2 socks (as a present for my lil sis), and a really cool purse - how can you beat that?!?!?!

It is apparently equal to the Americans JCPenney, but I think the deals at Primark are MUCH better than I ever got at Penney's but still an interesting fact none the less.

Okay off to have lunch with Lou & Jeremy now - who are both getting excited about their move to NYC this fall (Lou got offered a job at Rockefeller University, working with Trypanosoma brucei - African Sleeping Sickness and antigenic variation)


Friday, April 20

Me, St George & HM The Queen

So I've been putting together a list of questions which I've been receiving & have made it a separate post (rather long one at that) and just made a link to it called, "About Me - FAQ" see the right hand side for it.

After all that has been in the news recently (most of which I refuse to watch/read) I was walking to the bus stop this morning & there were two little girls walking to get the bus to school & they were just the cutest, sweetest things, chatting away about how they would never be able to talk back to their parents or disrespect an adult, so I have hope for the future again . . . yeah!

As I think some of you now know (from my cards) that Monday is St George's Day here in England, course it's not a big holiday like 4th of July in the US and according to the website sadly only 1 in 5 people know what day it is on & after being England's patron saint since the 14th century one quarter don't even know he's their patron saint! You would think they'd know since that's where their flag comes from (commonly called the St George) but I guess like American they don't seem to care about history. How many of you knew that this flag is called the Union Jack, while this flag is the St George's Cross??? Did you also know that Shakespeare was born & died on the 23rd of April?

Speaking of birthdays, Happy 81st birthday to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II tomorrow (21 April)!

Also if you have the time you should check out, The Daily Kitten, The Daily Puppy & The Daily Guppy . . . who knew

Hope you all have a nice weekend, I'm off to have a meeting with my boss about my data :)

Labels: ,

Thursday, April 19

Thursday Thirteen #2

Thirteen Things I miss about America . . .

1. Double stuffed OREOs (especially the chocolate & mint flavoured ones) and how could I almost forgot my much loved Ranch dressing - how do people live without these essential items?!?!?!

2. Having a car of my own & not always needing to rely on public transport, which on weekends can be a total nightmare due to "planned engineering works".

3. Being close (distance wise) to friends & family so I can actually be there in person for events instead of just seeing photos or hearing about them.

4. Not feeling like a stranger - it gets kind old when people continually take the piss out of my American accent or make fun of my president (not that I would ever do such a thing ;).

5. Prices of things being in US dollars and at a more reasonable rate, especially now that the British £ is equal to two US $ - I mean who wants just a hamburger that costs £9 ($18) - cheese, lettuce, tomato, etc are all "30p extra" (60cents more)

6. People who don't argue with me that my name is spelled wrong or pronounced incorrectly- I think I would know both! Sara & Sarah are pronounced differently over here & I apparently pronounce it so that people would spell it with an H even though I don't spell it that way.

7. Fahrenheit temperatures, it takes too long to multiply the Celsius temp by 9/5 and then add 32 to get to F (my cheeky method is to multiply the C by 2 and add 32, that way you are at least in range of the F temp)

8. Ovens with temperatures on them instead of gas marks - what the heck is a gas mark anyways?!?!! They range from 1/4 to 9, so I have no freakin clue what to set the oven at when cooking.

9. Easily accessible public toilets that are clean! Along the same lines I'm going to add on that I miss loo roll - I'm not a big fan of these squares of toilet paper you pull out of dispensers.

10. Snow, we rarely get the snow to stick & even when it does it's only a few wimpy inches, course everything in the city does come to a stands till, but it's not the same as feet of snow like I'm use to in the Adirondacks.

11. Political ads on the telly, especially since it's getting close to the next presidential election - only KIDDING, that's one thing I sure do not miss!

12. People who don't argue with me about what America is like - just cause you went on holiday to Orlando, FL once does not make you the local expert on Americans or America for that matter!

13. Private health care, ie when I call up the doctors office I get an appointment within 24 hours. Over here it's all "free" (remember we get 20% taken out of our wages for taxes) in the National Heath Services (NHS) but when you call to get an appointment you might have to wait up to two weeks. First, you have to find a doctor who is receiving new patients & register with them before they will see you or treat you.


Wednesday, April 18

Gun Control

"ABC News reported that one of the guns, a 9mm Glock, and ammunition were purchased on March 13 for $571 from a gun shop about 30 miles from the Virginia Tech campus."

Statements like this really scare me! How the heck can a 23 year old person guy a Glock?!?!?! I thought that you needed a background check for a hand gun, but maybe I am miss informed. Well after checking this site, I learned that what I was thinking about background check is specific to NY State and Virginia is a totally different story!! And the Federal Law on guns says, "Provided that federal law and the laws of both the dealer's and purchaser's states and localities are complied with: An individual 21 years of age or older may acquire a handgun from a dealer federally licensed to sell firearms in the individual's state of residence" (find out more here about the federal gun laws).

On another subject, here is a quote I found today which I rather enjoyed, it's from Mitch Albom's book, Tuesday With Morrie, page 84: "Mitch," he said laughing along, "even I don't know what 'spiritual' development really means. But I do know we're deficient in some way. We are too involved in materialistic things, and they don't satisfy us. The loving relationships we have, the universe around us, we take these things for granted."

Okay gonna post this now, but before I do, just wanted to take a minute to thank Zee for her comment on "Dogs are smart" :)

Labels: ,

Dogs can be so smart!!


Tuesday, April 17

more data

Lookie lookie . . .
Isn't it a beauty . . . I mean look at those error bars, they're uber tight & the dilution looks wonderful as well . . . this piece of data was done without any help - which some of you who I use to work with might not be surprised, but here at LSHTM I have a tiny tiny shared lab space within a rather large lab & I have to remember which fridge or freezer has what & where our labs stash of 50ml conicals are located etc. Course I should not brag, but I do have more lab space than Dr Couper & I'm also in a new lab with A/C (hee hee)

If you didn't find that interesting, how about this:
Find your nearest Ben & Jerry's between noon and 5pm to get your free ice cream cone!


$2 = £1 and Mr D

Can you believe it? It's a total $2 to every £1 now!! Thank goodness I'm being paid in £s these days or I'd be in real trouble - it was about £1 = $1.75 when I started here at uni in Sept 2005. I feel really bad for all the tourists!! Andrew watch out when you come to visit in May, be sure to set aside a few extra US$ to compensate for the crazy prices!!

title of this photo is gone but not forgotten

I got a very sad phone call from my lil sis last night that a good friend of hers (& our whole family) , Scott's father passed away yesterday from cancer. I think the cancer was discovered about 2 years ago & I know it's been a rough uphill battle for him. I only hope that he is more at peace now & no longer suffering - not that it makes it any easier on his wife, 2 sons, or daughter & son-in-law. Please keep Scott & his family in your thoughts over the next few days, it is never easy to loose someone, but to loose your father when you are 27 years old I'm sure is extra hard! Mr D was a hysterically funny man who always loved to wind up either Patty or Scott - I recall a few years ago when my mom was living in NM, our family got invited to the D's house for Christmas Eve dinner since their family only lived about an hour away in TX. When we arrived I remember the first thing Mr D said to my sister, Patty, was "That's my girl Patty, you're keeping my stock alive & doing better than Scott" There has been an ongoing rivalry between Scott & Patty since the summer that they both worked for GE in Erie, PA, since Patty switched to work for Pratt and Scott stayed with GE. Mr D was one of those guys who could always put a smile on your face & had loads of energy for an adult. He was constantly trying to get Patty & Scott to get married so he could have Patty as a daughter-in-law. Mr D will be missed, but I know he will live on through those people who's lives he touched over the years.


maybe I was wrong

When writing my "stab proof hoodies" post yesterday I had no clue about this horrible incident at VT. Had I known I might have thought that the UK could invest in stab proof hoodies, while the US should invest in bullet proof hoodies. I have to admit this is a rather scary prospect! I was poo-pooing it all yesterday, but now after reading the article, I'm more sure that everyone needs to start focusing on the problem of stabbings & shootings in both the US & UK! I wish I had an idea of what I thought would be a good solution, but I got nuthin. I still don't think that hoodies with vests in them is the solution, but I've got nodda for other ideas, so I can't slag off the company for their inventions, as I guess it's better than nothing!


Monday, April 16

Stab-Proof Hoodies for all

A wee bit scary if you ask me, isn't it enough that the military have to wear these all the time in places like Iraq, why are school children needing them - the article mentions "plans are underway for the Kevlar-lined clothes range to be extended to school uniforms" WTF? Are the streets & school yards that dangerous, if so I think there has to be another and better way to deal with this. How annoying would it be to have to remember to bring your body armour with you every day to & from work or as a tourist just walking around visiting the city!!

Okay I'm heading home now . . .


Trent Park for my daily Vit D

So I got my fill of Vit D yesterday sun bathing with a picnic in Trent Park with Estee, Stephen (E's cousin) and Tanya (S's friend). After we got home I got a text message from Rob (who's back from Thailand) and wanted to meet up for dinner & for me to help him by putting his digital photos onto a CD as he doesn't own a computer & wouldn't be able to download them at work. So we met up on the high street & grabbed some dinner at a Greek place. Estee came to meet up with us for a bit while on her way to her uncle's house.

On Friday, I bunked out of work & went for my national insurance number "interview", which was easy enough, but the man conducting the interview said to me, "you've got enough bombs in your country, why don't you just go back" to which I was totally dumb founded & speechless! 30 minutes later he came back with my passport & abruptly said, "your number will arrive by post in 6-8 weeks" I smiled & said in the nicest voice that I could muster, "thank you very much, have a nice day" which apparently is a very American thing to say, according to some of my mates here in the UK, who usually don't speak with cashiers or the like & who giggle when I make conversation with them.

In good news, Arsenal beat the Bolton Wanderers 2-1 this past Saturday, I of course missed the match because I was visiting my dad's friend Patrick who lives in Stretham. Louise & I met up at Tottenham Ct Road just under the "We Will Rock You" sign to get on the tube & head south to Patrick's house. We arrived just before half twelve. Upon arrival he opened a bottle of Buck's Fizz to help tide us over before our fancy lunch at 13.45. Louise & I took a wonder around his garden (aka yard) and brought out 3 lawn chair & a small table. Our lunch was chicken kiev, brussel sprouts, carrots, peas, boiled potatoes with butter & herbs and white wine. Pudding (aka dessert) was panna cotta with slices of peaches. After tidying up the kitchen we retired to the garden for a bit of a chat in the lovely sun. After an hour or so we were forced to have tea, I say forced as Lou & I were both full from lunch, but you cannot argue with Patrick, so he went up to get the tea started. When I went up to retrieve the tea, I discovered we were going to be having some chocolate cake & cheese cake with strawberries on top . . . needless to say when MissyLou & I left we just sorta rolled ourselves on to the bus and then onto the tube for our ride home. I did not eat dinner at all - just kept downing the water to keep well hydrated.

Antonio (my 4th flatmate) has moved in, as of last night. He's Croatian, 25yo, now he manages an Italian restaurant near Liverpool Street Station after spending 3 years living in Italy. So that rounds out the house. Of course the plumber came to fix Estee's and my showers (2 separate ones) this past Saturday and apparently was unable to find the part to repair it so instead of putting it back so we could shower with suboptimal conditions, he just took the parts with him, so there are 5 of us using just 1 lonely shower at the moment :( Luckily for me Estee & Zarina like to shower at night so Antonio & I were the only ones who had to "plan" what time we were going to get up & use the bathroom, since Giulia works 1-8pm so she doesn't have to worry about the AM shower schedule. We're all hoping the guy is able to get the replacement part today!!

Hmm what other exciting things can I tell you about?!?!? Look at this photo, as if running in a marathon is not enough, he's decided to pull a 300lbs bolder with him - WTF?!?!!

Okay, I will leave you with this quote:

Finish each day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in;
forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and
with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Labels: , , ,

Khon Kaen, Thailand

Khon Kaen Province is in north-eastern Thailand and the home of Khon Kaen University, which will be hosting the 5th World Melioidosis Conference this coming November. I am very excited about going & am going to have to do some research into what I can do after for a holiday - I've never been to Thailand or any of Asia for that matter so I'm uber excited, especially as work will be footing the bill for the flights!

Has anyone been to Thailand & have a recommendation of places to go?

I did find some cool facts about Thailand which I will share with you here - they came from a few random sources so if they are wrong I appologize, I didn't have time to go and verify them all:

  • In Thailand, both Father's Day and Mother's Day are celebrated on the birthdays of Their Majesties the King and Queen.
  • Thailand is the only country where the King, protector of all religions in the Kingdom, is required by the constitution to be Buddhist
  • According to the 'Guinness Book of Records 1995', the Thai language has the second largest alphabet in the world. The largest alphabet in world - Khmer
  • The name Bangkok means 'Village of Olives' (Ban Mah-gork)
  • According to intensive research conducted by 'Journal of Vector Ecology 26 (2): 2001', about cockroaches in Thailand, it was concluded:'an average of 5.2 cockroaches/house'.
  • Thailand has the highest percentage of Buddhists. More than 95% of Thais practice some form of Buddhism
  • It is illegal in Thailand for men (and women of course) to go bare-chested in public. You must wear a top at all times!
  • It is illegal in Thailand for women to visit night-time entertainment venues alone. They must go with a man!
  • The Orchid is Thailand's best flowering export. Exports of the Orchid are valued at US$250million per annum
  • Thailand is also the world's second largest market for pickup trucks, after the United States
  • It is the only country in the world to change its name 3 times in 10 years. In 1939 the country changed its name from Siam to Thailand. In 1945 the country changed its name from Thailand back to Siam. In 1949 the country changed its name again from Siam to Thailand.

Thursday, April 12

My 1st piece of data generated at LSHTM

Sorry I can't tell you much about this beautiful graph, but I just wanted you to be able to share in my joy of my first piece of data . . .


Been awhile, I know . . .

so since I last blogged a week ago, lots has happened. I'll bullet them so you don't get as bored reading all the mundane details:

  • Made a veggy curry for Jim, Estee, Stephen (E's cousin), and Zarina on Thursday night
  • Went to the Isle of Wight from Saturday to Monday
  • to get there you have to take a train from Waterloo to Portsmouth & then a 15 minute ferry over to Ryde Pier
  • I spent most of my time there relaxing in the garden & walking on the beach
  • I stayed at Claverton House, my friend Jeremy's dad & step mom own it
  • I went to Brent Cross yesterday & bought a few things at H&M and M&S - this was the first "mall" type place I've ever seen in London, it was pretty cool, but I don't think I'd fancy being there on a weekend!!!
  • I got the BT phone line activated at our house (after 2 hours of phone calls!)
  • I researched to find a good international phone & broadband plan
  • I watched North Country - interesting movie!
  • Opened my Easter present from my lil sis - had mint double stuffed OREOs, a king KitKat bar, and the coolest kite, can't wait to try it out - wish I'd thought to bring it to the IofW!!
  • Watched Million Dollar Baby - another good flick!
  • Met my newest flatmate, Antonio - he's moving in at the weekend

So I think that's about it, gotta grab some lunch now, I'm freakin starvin!!

Labels: ,

Thursday Thirteen #1

Thirteen Things about Sara

1. I have blond hair and blue eyes.

2. I now live in London, England (again).

3. I've been at my "new" job for just over a month now and I LOVE IT!!!!

4. I live with 3 girls (1 Iranian, 1 Italian, 1 half Indian half English but born & raised in Germany) and 1 boy (not sure where he's from).

5. I don't own a car anymore (sold before moving to the UK), I only use public transport now, which is good for the environment and all, but not necessarily always for my mental health - LOL

6. I have one sister, the best one in the world of course & I miss not being able to see her as often as I would like (the ocean sorta hinders that).

7. Seven is my lucky number :)

8. I've lived in 17 places in 29 years, which encompasses 11 cities, 4 states, & 2 countries!

9. I had to file taxes last year even though I was not in the US & was still able to get money back - how cool is that?!?!?!

10. My parents are divorced, but still best of friends, which is awesome!

11. I was engaged at the age of 21, but that only lasted for a few months. I'm still in touch with his family, they're my "RI Mom & Dad".

12. My first official friends in London were three "bobbies" I met at my local pub one night at dinner with my dad.

13. I've spent 19 years in school (K-12, 5 for my BS, 1 for my MSc) I don't even want to try to calculate the cost of my education, let's just say it's over $200,000 for sure!!!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


Thursday, April 5

Quotes for the day & a bit of politics

Here are three quotes for the day, does anyone know where they came from? Check the comments for the answer . . .

  • If its the thought that counts, why are there fingers?

  • If there ever comes a day when we can't be together, keep me in your heart. I'll stay there forever

  • If you live to a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you.

This article on the 1st quarter fundraising is just getting ridiculous if you ask me, course you haven't but I'm telling you any way, here's a summary of the big numbers:

Hillary Clinton - $26m
Barack Obama - $25m
Mitt Romney - $23m
Rudy Giuliani - $15m
John Edwards - $14m
John McCain - $12.5m
(Grand total of about $115 million dollars or £28 million)
Figures reported by campaigns for the 2008 front runners

What am I on about, you ask??? Well in my mind when there are people starving, without homes, or in need of medical care & I see all that money going into political fundraising (aka plane tickets, fancy meals & drinks ) it just gets me so pissed off !!! I'm not saying they shouldn't spend money on these things, it just seems that those amounts are a bit over the top. I'm thankful that I'm not stuck watching the horrible telly adverts where they all insult the other, never bothering to say anything good about themselves. I just think our country has it's priorities backwards at times. Okay, I'll stop ranting now . . . what do you think? Am I crazy, do you agree with these amounts of money?

Labels: ,

Science is Fun

Doing an IFNg ELISA today, for those of you who don't know what that is, don't fret, if I tried to explain it you'd probably get lost, all you need to know is that I'm looking to see if my cells produced any interferon gamma (a cytokine which should have been produced) and if so, is there a difference between the groups which I treated differently when stimulating the cells.

Last night, I met Zirina (spelling I'm not sure of yet, but that's how you'd spell it based on how she pronounces it, in my mind anyway, but then again we all know my spelling skills are horrible!) She booked yesterday & today off from work to move in & get settled - she came with a heap load of stuff - I thought I had a lot of junk, but I'm 90% sure she's gonna take the cake if we actually compare our rooms. She works near London Bridge in the Southwark area of London, so she'll be busing to work on the 43 bus every day, while Julia & I take the 134 bus & Estee drives her car to the Brent Council offices.

Tonight we're having a vegetarian curry with rice. I think this is going to be ruddy good b/c Estee & I roasted butternut squash, aubergine (eggplant), onions & courgettes (zucchini) the other night with some EVOO & herbs and it was really delish!!! (can you hear Rachael Ray speaking here?)

Something that I find interesting about London (fantastic link "general" link) is how there is an many ways you can divide the city up, for example into"central" (where my work is), "inner" (where I use to live last year) and "outer" (where I live now) London OR you can divide it up by boroughs (I use to live in the borough of Camden & now I'm in Haringey)

Okay I have to write up my ELISA protocol since it is a bit different than the one I'm use to at Trudeau (ie they use a dunk & flick washing method)

Happy Good Friday, Easter Sunday, & Easter Monday!!!
I will probably not be back online until a week from today since the school is closed till then.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, April 4

Volcanos are so cool!

Here is my evidence, not to say that I would want to see that in my backyard, but how cool is that photo?!?!?!

So I need to apologize as I have bugger all to report since yesterday. I set up my stimulation assay which is just "cooking" at 37C till tomorrow. So far this morning I've checked my emails, read the comments on my blog (I think the highlight of my day - I do love reading them!!) and I signed up to go to the 2007 UK Melioidosis Networking Meeting at the Health Protection Agency in Colindale.

There is a big important meeting about what's going on in the building as far as animal rooms closing down. I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before, but our animal facility is being totally redone, so as of next Thursday it will be closed for about a year. In the mean time we will have to do all of our work at Imperial College. Now this might not seem like a big deal, until you realize that Imperial is about 20 minutes away & in order to transport stuff in between we will potentially have to have police escorts (well those of us doing Cat 3 stuff) - how important am I going to look?!?!?! It's all to do with fears in bioterrorism etc. Luckily I don't have to attend that meeting, instead I think I will try to go over to the surgery (that's what they like to call the doctor's office) & register with the National Health Services.

In personal news, my flatmate Estee & I have been hanging out quite a bit (with Julia as well but she doesn't get home till 10pm). I found out last night that she's in the middle of getting a divorce, poor girl!! It somewhat explains why she has nothing with her, apparently she left so fast that she only took 1 suitcase worth of stuff with her & now is regretting not having more of her stuff. She went to the synagogue last night for a special Passover event & ran into Warren's cousin, who asked where he was b/c apparently he'd not been told they split up, which made Estee feel like crap & half way through she nearly broke down so she left early & called to say she was having a break down & really wanted pasta. Isn't it that you always want what you can't have especially when you are depressed. Luckily she had some salad & fish left over so she didn't starve to death, as everything that I had, had some sort of bread related material in it (pasta, cereal, garlic bread, etc) - what a rubbish flatmate I am!! She calmed down after a bit of talking & I promised to go with her to Tesco's tonight to buy some stuff she/we can eat.

Thursday night we're going to try to make dinner & have Jim come around, but of course with all of our schedule's that's not set in stone at all. Jim's been having a really crap week - he arrived at 3 rape cases in the 35 hours he worked over the weekend . . . I cannot imagine!

Did you know that, "Every weekday over 6,800 scheduled buses carry around six million passengers on over 700 different routes" according to the Travel for London website? And to think I'm just one tiny part of that system :)

Tuesday, April 3

Speedy Trains

At what speed to you reckon "too fast" is on land travel?? Well this morning in France a train went 356mph, setting a world record for trains on conventional rails (the Japanese can get up to 361 on a levitation train system.) click here for more details on that story.

Yesterday I posted a quote & while reading Carmi's blog this morning I realized (to me at least) that he had posted a photo which sort of confirmed what the quote meant to me, check it out here.

Had lab meeting this morning which was Tash's journal club & then I started a stimulation of lymphocytes with gamma irradiated Bps, heat killed LM and IL-12/18 - this experiment has two arms to it, A) get me back into the lab & make sure I know where things are & how the protocols work and B) help Anna confirm her data by repeating what she's done, but doesn't really believe. So that's my work life at the moment. On Thursday I'm doing a gamma ELISA on my supernatants from last week.

Has anyone ever had a Super Dickmann's??? This treat consists of a rounded chocolate shell covering a marshmallow-foam interior, with a crispy wafer providing the base - most similar to a mallomar, BUT the foam interior is 3x as high as a mallowmar and sits on a thinner wafer, not a graham cracker. Dan from Ulrich's lab just got back from Germany last night & brought us in a box to try out - rather good if you ask me, but then again I think if you cover it in sugar or chocolate I'm bound to enjoy it!

Monday, April 2

quote for Monday afternoon

Be kinder than necessary. 'Cause everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.


slowly settling in

Let's start with this really cool news, okay back to my personal news now . . .

So I spent most of last night putting clothes away & finding homes for all of my stuff. I think it's 90% set, just have a few boxes left to open with coats, a dressing gown (aka bath robe), and jumpers (aka sweaters). Pete added this link in a comment the other day about the area which I'll be living in. The bus ride takes about 40 minutes on the 134 bus (which drops me just outside of LSHTM), especially as a lot of the roads have bus routes which helps a lot!!! Last year the bus took me about 20 minutes, so not really that much longer. I must admit I like MH much better than I did Kentish Town, not that KT is bad, just not as quaint as MH & much quieter at night for sleeping!!

I don't have much to report, yesterday morning I returned the rental car to Camden (driving all alone) without any problems (yeah me). When I got home Estee & I did some window shopping in Crouch End, before checking out Ally Pally (aka Alexandra Palace) and then heading off to Tesco's to get some matza since Estee is Jewish & Passover starts tonight at sundown, but unfortunately for us, it closed at 4pm & we arrived right around 3.55pm!

Last night Julia, Estee & I had dinner together & then all went to organize our rooms. At 9pm Estee came running down to my room because she wanted me to see this BBC1 show about an American family that goes to funerals of troops & protests with signs that say, "fag troops" and "God hates America" - I did not understand what this was all about but it's scary that these people exist!! Luckily it's a small family & non of the children are allowed to marry so they won't be procreating anytime soon! Just tried to find it on line but can't recall the program name, all you really need to know is they are CRAZY & it made me sad to see the show!!

Before I go, let me tell you that I seem to have caught the cold that everyone at work has/had. I thought maybe since I had a cold when I arrived I'd be able to avoid this one, but apparently the UK common cold is different enough that I'm getting it :( My ears are feeling kinda funny & my throat hurts & just sorta feel all sluggish - hope this goes away fast!!!