Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Summer Days

Pre-ambling Rambles
I have to say -- Chinatown is really really REALLY cheap. I'm talking about the one in Flushing (which is decidedly far superior to the one in downtown Manhattan). Sea Bass for $4.99/lb?? Salman for ~$3/lb??? It's pretty much a steal compared to the prices around my area. Sadly, the better Chinatown is an hour away, so that pretty much limits my travels there. Otherwise I would go often. Very often.

I finally started using the kitchen too, but everytime I've done so, it's meant having to do nearly a complete cleaning on everything in the kitchen. We'll see how things go though -- we just had a suitemate move out so maybe things will be a lot better in the long haul. In other news, cooked a huge dinner for myself that's probably good for the next 4 meals or so. Pretty simple stuff, took me about 30 minutes to cook. I should probably compete with Rachel Ray for her 30-minute meals show.

The Hershey Store and M&M Store in Times Square
Things can get a little busy in New York, but when you go to Times Square, you really start to see the hustle and bustle flowing to and from the streets and stores and stands. Families, couples, friends, loners, all types of characters and caricatures make there way in a large throng that just surges en masse up and down the streets of Times Square. To exit the flow of people, I feel, is much like exiting from a highway. To do it smoothly, you have to slowly make your way towards the store entrance and out of the flow of traffic. Otherwise, you risk people running into you if you stop abruptly and try to turn into the store.

They've also started setting up these zones in Times Square where pedestrians are able to sit down in the middle of the street on these green chairs (meant for the color of sustainability apparently) to just take a rest. The whole point is to minimize congestion (I'm pretty sure they mean pedestrian traffic to move the slower people away from the sidewalks and into the greener areas where they are supposed to amble slowly along as the masses fast walk their way to their destination on the sides). What's ended up happening is the car density on the streets have gotten a lot higher, but what's new? I've been playing Human Frogger since Day 1 in New York...and it's all comparable to the car traffic in China/Taiwan.

But I digress...if you guys ever come to New York, you should definitely visit Times Square. They have a Hershey Store and an M&M Store with huge pillars filled with M&M's of various colors. To access those delightful teeny bits, you simply go up to a pillar with a plastic bag, pull the lever, and BAM! M&Ms of your color choice fall into your bag. I think you're charged by the ounce, but having spent my chocolate budget at the Hershey store already, I didn't bother buying M&Ms...

NYC Restaurant Week
Yet another reason to come to New York -- Restaurant Week. Basically, all the classier restaurants in New York will put out a prix fixe menu ($24 for lunch and $35 for dinner) and you get to choose what you want for a 3-course meal. It's excellently priced (given New York), and definitely a way for us poor graduate students to feel as if we were living the high life. That I went to 3 Restaurant Week dinners (Atlantic Grill, Persephone, Delmonico's) is a testament either to my love of eating, my love of good food, my inability to resist splurging on food, the great deals, or maybe all of the above. Either way, I was very satisfied those 2 weeks and definitely did not eat much else those days to prepare my appetite for the food =).

It's a little sad that I'm going to be leaving the lab soon. I've been in the lab from 9am-8pm with the other post-docs, a masters student, another MSTP student (my year), and the PI, and it's been a blast learning science from all these people, talking about our experiments, and really noticing just how much at the forefront Mount Sinai is in medical research. I won't go too much into detail about what I've done, but there have been some huge strides in tumor immunology and cancer therapies and there will be a lot more going on, and I never thought of myself as ever having anything to do with cancer research, but given my experiences in this lab (of which I will blog more about later so that I can return to those thoughts later when I make my final decision), it's definitely something I would like to investigate even further.

That's all for now folks! I wish I had more, but I really don't. I guess I'll do more touristy things at some point and take pictures if I can.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Mi Clase de Medicina En Espanol

I'm taking a Medical Spanish class!

It's a little hard at first, but slowly I'm getting back into the groove of things. Of course, I still can't carry on a normal conversation, but at least I know enough words to let patients know I'm trying.

"Hola, soy un estudiante de medicina. Como puedo ayudarlo?"

I think...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Elevator Pet Peeve #1

So in New York, it feels like it's easy for people to be irritable and complain a lot. At least, I hear people complaining a lot, whether I'm walking down the street or going up/down an elevator.

Well, I guess it's my turn now, but there's only one.

Elevators. Great inventions, really. Beats having to hoist a refrigerator up several flights of stairs, falling down a flight of stairs, etc.

But...why do people have to take elevators to go one floor up or down...???

That happens a lot here. I'm not sure why...but it happens...

And it's a waste of my time.

So I now am the last person to push the button on the elevator. I work on the 13th floor. If someone pushes 12 or 14, I just take the stairs up or down.

And that's my silent protest of people who use elevators for 1 flight rides.

And yes, you could extrapolate that to wondering why I just don't take all 13 flights of stairs straight down to the first floor (or up).

I still haven't gotten there. I'll be sure to let you know when I do =)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Getting to know you...

So I have no idea what to call my posts. I'm sure I'll figure something out at some point, but until then, I apologize for the non-creative writing and the inability to capture your attention. Hopefully my descriptions will be good enough...

These past few weeks have been a general theme of "getting to know you" (and yes, feel free to start singing if you happen to know the song :) ).

The night before our program orientation, we first-years had dinner with the director of program, Dr. Satlin, and her administrative assistant, Rhaisili. As I said before, the dirty secret about Mount Sinai's MD/PhD program is our love of food, both eating and making it. For dinner, we made deviled eggs, caesar salad (dressing was made from scratch courtesy of my friend Jon - thanks buddy!), and pasta (whole wheat spaghetti noodles...nothing too special). The pasta sauce was definitely a combo'ed creation, a mix of my friend Kate's original recipe and one of the girls in our program (Kimbie).

Essentially, I think that dinner defined our group dynamic: everything was team-oriented and usually there wasn't a leader so much as it was an idea and then everyone jumped to put it into action and bring it into existence. The fruit of our labors was a fantastic dinner party =). I wish I had pictures...but I don't. Actually, I still don't have a camera, come to think of it.

A highlight for the night: I acquired a cello! I asked Dr. Satlin if she knew of any stores in the area, and she said to me "actually, there's a cello right behind you in my closet...". So now I have it, and I'll be installing fine tuners and an end-pin in addition to getting a bow, a hard case, and a new set of strings. It's a bit pricey, but I'm holding onto this during my 8-year (read: eternal) stay...

Orientation really wasn't too exciting, so there's not much to say. However, one of our MD/PhD advisers, Dr. Ben Chen, was an undergrad from Stanford (class of 1990 if I remember correctly), and another one of our advisers, Dr. Miriam Merad, was a post-doc in both Irv Weissman's and Ed Engleman's labs. That's In case you guys didn't know, Weissman and Engleman happen to be 2 of the biggest PI's at Stanford. I think my ultimate point is that there's a Stanford connection =).

Speaking of connections, as my brain makes this huge mental leap across synapses, it turns out that out of the 11 people in our first-year class, 5 of us are from CA (well, 1 of them went to college at CalTech, but still...)! Sadly, they're all originally from SoCal, but I think I'll live...

By the way, if you guys ever get the chance, you should definitely come to NY to see the fireworks. At least for me, they were definitely spectacular and the crowds of people afterwards amazed me -- I don't think I've seen a surge of people that...dense...before.

Oh, the most exciting part: I went to the other Chinatown in Flushing today! Found a nice little 湯包 place and I got to eat my 鹹豆漿 and 蔥油餅. And then I finally got 珍珠奶茶. Basically, if that smattering of Chinese didn't clue you in...I found Asian food after not having it for about a week. I also think I found the Asian supermarket for me to go shopping for groceries, but I should probably look for something closer...

Okay, I think that's it. At some point, when it's ready, I'll show you some cool stuff from lab, but until then, these are just small blurbs about what I'm up to. I apologize that the writing style isn't too good -- it's been far too long since I have written, but I'll try to get the narrative style down as I continue writing.