A few weeks ago, our lab made cookies for our floor’s cookie hour. I decided to attempt to make macarons which are a delicious cookie I discovered when I was in France (note: because they are made with ground almonds, egg whites, and powdered sugar, they are gluten free! Yum!). A few weeks before cookie hour, I found a recipe book for macarons so I flipped through the book and decided to attempt chocolate macarons and raspberry macarons. The weekend before cookie hour, I made a test batch of the chocolate ones. My first attempt made for some crunchy macarons…
I think that I overcooked the shells a little. Also it turns out that recipe has you add a lot of coccoa powder to the shells and I think that crushes the fluffiness of the egg whites that make up the shell.
Fast forward to the day before cookie hour – Potassium running around the kitchen covered in chocolate and raspberries. The raspberry shells turned out really pretty and much fluffier than the chocolate shells. Look at them!!!
Anyway, I was so excited for these shells that I might not have let them cool enough. They were so fluffy that they were really fragile and I had a lot of trouble getting them off the parchment paper. On the other hand, the raspberry jam I made for the inside turned out great! :) My second attempt at the chocolate turned out really well I think, though I can’t tell you for sure because they were gone before I had a chance to try them… oh well… I guess that means I should make another batch!
Next thing to try: maybe alter ground almond to egg white ratio. I still want fluffy shells but maybe slightly more ground almond would help them not be as fragile. (heads off to the kitchen to try this out!)
Now it’s your turn. What have you been up to while I’ve been slaving away in lab? Maybe one day I’ll finally have a degree to show for all this work but for now, I need to go. There are cells and a microscope and a lot of data analysis that need my attention RIGHT NOW. :-/
Oh wait… I have more questions for you. What is something you have spent a lot of time perfecting? A delicious dessert? A tasty snack? Something totally unrelated to food?
I was going through all my Paris pictures this weekend and I was getting jealous of myself! They reminded me about how much fun I had and about how many pictures and adventures I have to share with you! Today’s post comes from the fact that I really liked how this picture turned out (you’re getting the version that has been played with on Photoshop but the orignal is cool too). :)
So the European Night of Museums happened the first Saturday I was in Paris. Basically that meant that a lot of Parisian museums were free after hours! Cobalt and I had a huge list of museums that we wanted to go to using our Paris Museum Pass the next weekend so I picked a museum that wasn’t on our list – The Museum of Middle Ages or Musée de Cluny. My new friend C and I had spent the day on a walking tour (involving getting lost multiple times – more about that later) of Paris and then we headed to the museum. We got there about 15 minutes before it reopened and there was already a line snaking around the museum! Luckily it moved pretty fast and we were soon inside.
The museum was really cool – such neat old art in such an impressive building. The architecture was awesome! C and I had fun trying to read the descriptions of the art since they were mostly in French and I had fun trying to photograph cool works of art without using my flash. Anyway, I learned that every museum in Paris has some sort of traveling exhibition on display in addition to their normal set of art. In general, I found that I liked the exhibitions more than the rest of the art… :-/ The exhibition on display that night was “Larmes d’Albâtre” or “Alabaster tears.” I really liked it. First of all because I liked the statues (and how they were displayed) and second of all because I thought the hooded ones looked like dementors. :D C liked that too. Anyway, things got even better as we got further into the museum because they had people dressed up as the statues and other people sketching them! How cool!
Anyway, that’s all for today. Sorry this post was kind of short. There’s so much to say that I decided to break it all up into short posts again. Any France requests from you guys? More museums? Paris landmarks? Paris streets/graffiti? Adventures with new friends? Adventures with Cobalt? Food? Anything else? Also tell me about your weekends! Cobalt and I had a nice relaxing weekend and we got a lot of things on our to do list checked off (plants taken care of, house cleaned, lease resigned, etc).
What do you do when someone seemingly out of the blue does something really nice for you? Are you like me and you spend the next few minuteshoursdays months going over the situation piece by piece and wondering what exactly you did that convinced that person that you were worth it? Do you just say Thank you and go about your day? Is it something in between? It’s always so amazing to me when something awesome happens to me and it makes me kind of sad that it surprises me…
Anyway, maybe I should go about telling you what happened and then we can revisit this topic afterwards.
So this particular instance happened in France (though another one just happened to me this week and it is currently consuming all my thoughts with amazed wonder about what I did to deserve it… :-/). To get to the instance, you need a little back story. So I have this friend F. I met her last year when she was doing her post doc here in Boulder but now she has a fancy industry job in her home country of France. A few weeks before I went to Paris, we got to talking about whether she would be around while I was there and it turned out she would only be around for my very first day. It turned out to be really awesome to hang out with her then because I was totally culture shocked/jetlagged/tired from talking about my project with my boss by the end of that first day. We met up at the institute where I was working and it was so great to see a familiar face (I guess besides my boss…). She took me on a mini walking tour of that area of Paris and then took me up the Montparnasse Tower, which is HUGE and has this crazy fast elevator that takes you to the top. At the top we got to pose for a cute picture (they green screened in Paris behind us) and now I am sad we didn’t buy it (even though they wanted a lot of money for it). ANYWAY. At the top of the tower, you can see ALL OF PARIS. It was a great thing to do on my first day because I could see everything I had only heard about or seen on maps previously. Sooooo cool!
After we got down from the tower (elevators were not so fun going back down… there was much ear popping), we walked to a restaurant to get crêpes. They were kind of amazing. Like the best crêpes I had ever had. F told me that they are specific to the part of France called Bretagne (or Brittany for us English speakers) and she ordered their cider for me to try. It was AMAZING and totally ruined any cider I could ever have here… Anyway, it was a really great day and I am so happy I got to see F.
Fast forward to a week later when Cobalt arrived, I suggested we go to crêpes for dinner. We headed towards the Montparnasse tower and then I dragged Cobalt up and down a few streets trying to find the restaurant F and I had gone to. We got there and, after a brief awkward/hilarious incident of Cobalt and me being confused about whether people were standing outside in the rain because they wanted to or if they were waiting for a table, we were seated next to this other group of people (two men and a woman), who just got their food when Cobalt and I sat down. I oooo’d and awww’d over their crêpes and then ordered some cider for us (IN FRENCH… awww yeah… thanks F for telling me what kind to order!). Sometime after our food arrived, one of the guys turned to us and asked where we were from. I said Colorado and then Boulder so they asked if I knew about/went to the school here. I said yes I am a graduate student! They asked where I did my undergrad and I said University of Puget Sound, which not very many people have heard about but the guy was like “Oh yeah! We’re from Seattle! UPS is a great school!” The guy who asked me the first question went on to ask me what I was studying and I told them I was getting my PhD in biochemistry. He said he had an honorary PhD but that his wife had an actual PhD. She lamented that his honorary PhD diploma was bigger than her actual PhD diploma… Shucks… At this point Cobalt and I were curious about who these people were since they don’t just give anyone an honorary doctorate…
So let’s see… Seattle… famous enough to get an honorary doctorate…
Then they asked what Cobalt was up to and he said that he managed a coffee shop on campus. The guy smiled and said “Oh I know all about that… I used to be the president of Starbucks…” and then he and Cobalt had a nice discussion about selling coffee, working in the coffee industry, how Starbucks does in Europe (bad) compared to in Asia (great!), etc. Then we got off coffee and just talked about life in general. It was really neat! He and his wife (and it turns out the other guy was a cousin) have traveled all over the world and are planning on spending the next year exploring parts of the world for 3 months at a time. Cobalt and I thought that was a pretty cool idea. Then our check came and they took it and gave it to the waiter along with their check! The former president of Starbucks bought us dinner! And when we thanked him he said “I can tell you guys are going to do something amazing with your lives!” WOW!
Cobalt and I were kind of star struck about it afterwards and totally googled him when we got back to the flat. It was so cool to see this guy’s face pop up on my screen. :)
Okay so back to the main question. What do you do when that happens? How do you keep yourself from overanalyzing the situation and just be happy that it happened? Also, tell me something awesome like this that happened to you or that you wish would happen to you? Also, any comments about this very long winded post are greatly accepted. :D Any plans for the weekend? Cobalt and I have one: SLEEP. -_-
Ooo a Thursday post! It’s been a while…. Anyway, if you recall, Cobalt and I got the Paris Museum Pass* for the four days that Cobalt was with me in Paris. One of the (60) museums that was free with the pass was the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie (or the Science and Industry museum). Of course we had to go there – one of my favorite things is bringing science to non scientists so I thought it would be interesting to see how the French did it. We were blown away. First of all, this is apparently the biggest science museum in all of Europe. It was HUGE. We didn’t even get to see all of the exhibits! Second of all, I was impressed because the science was explained very well (judging by the exhibits in English…) – probably better than the majority of our science museums do here in the US. Really I mean that the explanations went into slightly more detail than ours do but they still seemed like they could be easily understood by a nonscientist (though Cobalt will tell you that their movies were too long…).
In addition, and this is my favorite part about this museum, all of the exhibits included a “so what are you going to do about it?” section. There was a whole exhibit on human biology that taught people all these terms that I use pretty much on a day to day basis. At the end, and there was a huge panel that presented important bioethical questions (cloning, genetic manipulation, etc) that inspired the museum attendants to really think about these important issues we are facing today in our world.
Then there was a huge energy exhibit which discussed where we get our energy from (fossil fuels, wind turbines, coal, etc) and how our current use of fossil fuels has contributed to global warming. At the end, there was a section about new strategies to obtain energy, tips on how the average consumer can conserve energy, and why it is important to conserve energy (there is even a game where you follow an guy throughout his day and tap on all the ways he could conserve energy at his house, on his way to work, at work, etc etc etc). I thought it was very informative (again) about the real types of problems we (as humans, not as scientists) are facing in the world today.
Then there was this really neat exhibit about new textiles that people have developed. There was a bioluminescent jacket that glows at night so people will be able to see you, a dress that cleans the air as you wear it, a blanket that glows blue for babies with jaundice so that they can be swaddled and cuddled while they are healing, and more! I thought this exhibit was cool because it kind of combined creativity with science – showing people how science can be creative (Note: I think all scientists need to be creative, not just the ones who develop new textiles, but I thought this was a good example).
I could go on and on but my point here is that this museum did a really good job making science applicable to its audience. Many museums will tell you that science is cool (and it is) and present the audience with a series of facts about each exhibit but I feel that most museums fall short of making it relevant to its audience. It’s like instead of just saying yay! Look at this crazy physics experiment! Science is cool! That’s all…, this museum really challenged its audience by reminding them that this cool science is relevant to everyone (i.e. “how can you conserve energy?” “what do you think about cloning?” “how do these things affect your life?”). Anyway, I’ll get off my soapbox now but seriously… I am feeling very sad about how science is explained to nonscientists here in the US now… Maybe I will have to change that. :)
Thoughts about today’s post? What do you think about science? Do you feel that what we scientists do in our labs/offices/giant computer rooms/etc is relevant to your day to day life? Why or why not? How could it be more relevant? Write me an essay no shorter than 100 words on this topic (just kidding but seriously, tell me what you think!).
*I’ll post more on all the other things Cobalt and I did with our Paris Museum Passes soon!
So last week before I found out about my grant, I wrote a huge post about some things that have been on my mind since we returned from France. It was epically long so I chopped it down into smaller tidbits. Today’s post is about the Paris metro system!
It’s no secret that public transportation in the US is not amazing. Sure, big cities seem to have their act together but as a whole, it’s really hard to get around most places without a car. I know because I went through college, my year in NM, and my first year of grad school before I finally got a car… Anyway, the metro system in Paris is excellent and really easy to use. One metro pass will put you on any of the metro lines throughout the city (transfers included) or on a bus or on a tram (kind of like an above ground subway). Depending on the kind of ticket you bought, the ticket could also put you on one of the express trains that go just outside Paris to the airport, Versailles, etc. Inside each metro station, the lines that stop there are diagrammed according to direction and the stops. For example, let’s pretend you wanted to take the Chicken line west across the US. You would follow the signs for Chicken San Francisco (because that’s where the Chicken line ends up) and then right at the entrance for the Chicken San Francisco Line would be a diagram of all the stops between your current station and San Francisco. That way, if you weren’t sure if you wanted Chicken San Francisco or Chicken New York City, you could look at the stops and determine if you were going in the right direction. So easy!
I actually found riding the metro a lot of fun (I think I am weird…). I loved sitting in the car jamming to Rodrigo y Gabriela on my iPhone and watching the passengers get on and get off (and sometimes risk getting squished in the doors right as they were closing). It was fun with Cobalt too – I planned all the metro trips for everywhere we wanted to go and it worked out really nicely most of the time. Also, I also loved the variety of passes available for the metro. You could buy just one ticket, a pack of ten, or one of the fancier passes. Shown here is a picture of the two passes Cobalt and I had. He got the Paris Visite pass, which is slightly expensive but worth it if you’re going to only be in Paris for 5 days or less and if you’re going to be doing a lot of traveling on the metro (you can choose 3 or 5 days). I got the Navigo Découverte pass, which is good for 7 days and is slightly more of a pain to get (I had to speak French to the guy in the information booth to ask for my pass, I had to get my picture taken for it, and I had to pay for the smart card, which you just wave over the sensor). However, it turns out to be slightly cheaper than the Visite pass and (best part) it’s rechargable. So when I go back, I can just recharge my pass and voila! Metro time! :D Both passes are modifiable (for example, do you want to just ride the metro in Paris or do you want to also be able to go outside of Paris without buying another ticket?) and really easy to use. Once I got my Navigo Découverte pass and could stop using tickets, I was totally hooked. Seriously, I didn’t have to stress out about running out of tickets and I got to hear the machines ding brightly upon sensing my smart card sensor in my pass which never failed to make me smile. I was sad to put the pass away when we got back to the US… It’s true that, as a student at CU, I actually have a smart card bus pass for getting around Boulder and Denver too but for some reason it’s just not the same… (I should note though that the title of my post comes from the airport train here in Denver, not in Paris).
What are you guys up to right now? Anything you want me to talk about? Honestly, I have so much I could say but I am at a loss as to where to start…
We are back from our trip to Paris! Yay regular posts again! But wow… where do I even begin? The trip was amazing and life changing! I met a bunch of wonderful scientists during the work part of my trip. We drank a lot of espresso together; explored Paris together; and talked about life, America vs. other countries, food, science, data analysis, etc. Being able to meet so many scientists from all of the world was definitely a great experience for me and my career and it gave me even more possible options for what to do with this PhD of mine whenever I finish. Also, the class I took about a new data analysis program seems promising too. I sat down with one of the developers after the class and we went through various examples of all the data I have to analyze and worked out some plans of attack. That was a really incredible experience for me because I have never had that opportunity before. Usually it’s just me staring at my computer getting frustrated because I don’t know how to make it do what I want it to do. I am actually excited to analyze some of my data now, which is a very rare feeling for me.
A week into my stay in Paris, Cobalt arrived and we frolicked all over the place. Our feet hurt so badly at the end of every day because of how much walking and exploring we did. Sometimes we loved Paris (it’s a very neat city bustling with life. We loved the random musicians who would jump onto the metro at some random stop, play music a for a few stops, and then get off. Can you imagine playing a song flawlessly while you’re being jostled around a moving subway car that is starting, stopping, turning, etc?) and sometimes we hated Paris (it rained… a lot. Also, The Louvre… don’t go… unless you go at some weird time when no one else is there). However, by the end of the trip, Cobalt and I were feeling very sad that it was over because there’s so much we didn’t get to see/do. I think we’re going to be figuring out how to get back to Paris (and probably more of France/Europe) soon!
So my question for you guys (and this is important because it kind of determines the fate of my blog for the next few weeks so please answer!) is what do you want to hear about? I can post about travel advice (where we stayed, how we paid for stuff, what we did about our cell phones, what we saw, dealing with jetlag, eating at restaurants and speaking French, etc) or I can just do general posts about every day/experiences. Let me know if there’s something specific you want to hear about too!
You guys… I can count the number of days until I go to Paris on one hand! I am simultaneously jumping for joy and freaking out (it’s kind of awkward to explain). I have been constantly obsessing over one detail or another all while trying to get through my normal life here in Boulder. It’s been an intense week – both with the planning for the trip and just with everything going on with life. I thought today I’d basically give a little photo summary of some of the things that have happened this week.
First of all, the trip. Cobalt and I picked up some euros for me to take with me next week and set up a travel bank account through our bank here for easy access to more cash at any ATM anywhere. I learned something about euros too. Did you know that they get bigger in size in proportion to their amount? Seriously, the guy at the bank showed us the 5 euro note and it is so tiny compared to the bigger bills (and our dollar bills). They’re all so shiny too.
In addition to doing some money things this week, Cobalt and I bought Paris Museum Passes. I’ll give a full review when I get back but I think these guys are going to be awesome. They grant us admission to over 60 museums and landmarks in Paris (including the Louvre and Notre Dame, etc) so we won’t have to wait in line for tickets (apparently this is a thing…). Also, they’re good for four days so that means we can go in and out of places like the Louvre as many times as we want during those four days. I am really excited! The passes arrived yesterday so they’re featured on the top of my blog post today! Next up – we need to plan out what museums/attractions we want to go to and then figure out which attractions should go on the same day…
And now a lab thing. You may recall me mentioning about a month ago that my labmate K did his PhD defense and now has his PhD. Normally after you defend, you get to walk during commencement and be hooded (you get this crazy hood attached to your robes – seriously, google PhD graduation) by your advisor. Well our advisor came all the way back from France for K’s defense but she couldn’t get back for commencement this week. My friend/labmate G and I took matters into our own hands and we held a “commencement” for K yesterday. We asked Cobalt to announce him (Cobalt has this amazing radio announcer voice), we got him a king’s crown and a feather boa to act as his graduation cap and hood, we asked our boss to record a little video so that she could be there in spirit, we got him a stuffed neuron with a graduation cap as a present/”diploma,” we invited all our labmates, and then we all threw confetti and had a little party at the end. I think K appreciated our crazy efforts to make him feel special for commencement. Yay! Congrats again, K! :)
In the midst of all of this, Colorado has decided that the phrase is actually “May showers bring June flowers…” At least it’s not snowing anymore, right? :-/
How are you guys doing? Anything fun planned for the weekend? I’m going to France next week and I’m probably going to be super busy/jetlagged so the post schedule is going to get a little crazy. Is there anything you’re dying to hear about (Paris trip planning or otherwise… I know I haven’t talked a lot about our plans for the trip so please feel free to ask away!) before I go?
We’re going to France!! In less than a month! Crazy how everything comes together at the last minute sometimes…
So how did this happen? Well my boss is in France on sabbatical and pretty much as soon as she got there, she sent me an email saying we should figure out how to get me out there for a bit because she really wants me to interact with the huge bacteria community (my project involves bacteria) at the institute where she works. Then it turned out that they have this computer program that is designed to help with analysis of microscopy images. If any of you have heard me talk about my project, you will know that the biggest issue with my whole project is that I don’t know how to analyze my data… at all (What does it meaaaaaaan?!?!?!?). Every month, there is a class that teaches people how to use the program so my boss and I are both signed up to take the class next month… together… in PARIS. Yay! Exciting! It’s been kind of a whirlwind of an experience for me because we had to figure out how to fund my trip because funding has been a bit awkward here and because I still don’t know if I got that giant grant I applied for last July… Ugh…
Anyway, so the first few days of my 12 day stay will be spent learning that computer program and interacting with the other scientists there and then Cobalt is going to fly out so that we can explore Paris together! How awesome is that?! I call this mini honeymoon part 2. These past few weeks have been spent in a whirlwind getting Cobalt a passport and figuring out the necessary supplies for our trip… how exciting!!! Looks like my French for travelers class and my obsession with listening to French rap music at work will pay off after all! :):) I have to admit though that I am kind of nervous too. I’ve been to Canada before and allllll over the US but I’ve never been anywhere else. Crazy nerves and excitement simultaneously!
Now it’s your turn. Have you been to Paris? What is something that Cobalt and I have to check out? Have you traveled abroad? Any words of wisdom for two people who have never left this continent? And finally, tell me something you are SUPER excited about right now. :)