Friday, July 30, 2010


Protect your kid from stoner music.

Friday Rambling continued/trailer trash/fashion

So bored. Wants to go home now. Guh.

I ran into a high school friend at TJ Maxx a few days ago. I think I might have mentioned about her to some of you before (Vivian maybe? idk) and said I found out through facebook that she got pregnant and had a baby and two days after the baby was born, her relationship status went from in a relationship to single. Anyways, she's working at the Maxx for the summer.

She doesn't seem so different, even talks in the same way as I remember from years ago. I feel guilty about admitting this but when I first found out she got pregnant, I thought ohh noo, she turned into one of the trailer-trash girls and made her way into the hooker community with piercings and tattoos, but it turned out she's still the same nice and friendly girl, or maybe it's only my perception of her that changed. The term trailer-trash... I've used it freely before without considering what it actually implies, but now that I think about it, it's such an ugly and gag-worthy term and can be just as offending as gay or retarded. I guess my point is, my perception of trashiness has taken on a more stringent standard after college. Trashy clothes are more acceptable, alcohol and weed is everywhere, sex is no longer a taboo, babies are just the typical aftermath of an ops moment. I still don't approve of every aspect of college culture, but now I don't tend to make a big deal out of them anymore. I don't know if this is the normal college life. Most of the old friends I've talked to during the summer said that college is pretty much a continuation of high school but I'd completely disagree with that, and it's not a bad thing at all (or maybe it could be a bad thing... I don't know anymore).

Yeah, so I got more clothes! That's a total of four shopping trips over the summer. Uhh kill me, a quarter of my paycheck goes to the mall, fml. Liz, stop me before I go bankrupt. Somehow Chris found out about my awful habit of spending money on clothes that I never end up wearing (thanks Ariel -.-). Now he wants me to start wearing decent clothes, either that or he's challenging me to a fashion show so he can show me up with his hippie ass clothes that he bought over the summer. So far we decided on two judges (if you'll agree to it): Liz and Ariel, Ariel will probably vote for Chris (because you like him better) and hopefully Liz likes me more? :D So it'll be one-one and we'd be back to where we started. We'll need a third judge, preferably an unbiased judge with a high sense of fashion... but I think I'll just end up caving and let him declare himself a winner. Clothes are only fun to try on at the mall, but planning out your outfits everyday is such a hassel, I'd rather use the extra 10 minutes in the morning to snooze and be lazy. I wonder if the majority thinks like Chris, who pays alota attention to his image, or Joe the shoeless hobo. :P I'm sort of split in between, meaning if you dress sloppily I may think negatively of you but there's not much of a difference between semi-decent vs. high fashioned. Your thoughts?

Friday Rambling

Finally DONE with counting cells. The new definiens software for cell counting came but the sad thing is, my supervisor came up with the theory that tumor necrosis may effect our results and started making me keep track of dead cells, which are hard for the software to recognize since they have fragmented nuclear contents that screw up the cell count, so I ended up having to spend most of monday-thursday counting images by hand again -.- but it's all done now... and I get Friday to relax/write/stalk all of your blogs ^^.

I'm starting to enjoy pharmacy, at least the biology behind it if not the labwork and image analysis. So I thought I'd write about the project we've been working on for the last two months. If biology bores you, stop reading now.

The main candidate drug of our company is tivozanib and it's an inhibitor of VEGF receptors and without going into detail about the specifics of the mechanism, the VEGF pathway basically induces angiogenesis (growth of microvessels) in tumors. So treatment of tivozanib inhibits angiogenesis, triggers hypoxia and stops the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to the tumor region. The company has created an almost complete human-in-mice archive and the bioinformatics department have been working on a gene expression profile for each kind of tumors they have in the archive. An interesting thing they discovered was that the tumors resistant to tivozanib generally shows a significantly higher expression of myeloid genes associated with macrophage activation. So a hypothesis that someone came up with is that macrophage activity plays an angiogenic role in these resistant tumor types. In the project I'm involved in, we want to see if depleting macrophage count will turn tivo-resistant tumors into tivo-sensitive tumors. We've tested a couple of *what we thought* was macrophage inhibiting molecules in combination with tivozanib to see if there is a greater tumor inhibition. One of the molecules that showed promising results was xeloda. It's a chemo drug that's already been approved and studies have shown that it's effective in treating bone marrow diseases such as leukemia. So from my basic understanding of the rationale behind picking this molecule to target the macrophage: leukemia is a cancer of white blood cells, therefore macrophages are involved and if xeloda treats leukemia, it kills macrophages? Whatever the rationale is, we got very surprising results. Treatment of tivo-xeloda combo works much better than the additive effect of tivo only, or xeloda only in terms of reducing tumor volume, which, so far, is to be expected based on our hypothesis. However, when I looked at the images of IHC, the macrophage count on the xeloda and xeloda+tivo seems to be actually greater than the vehicle (control) and tivo only treatment arms, which completely contradicts the xeloda-kills-macrophage-theory. Since scientists are a bunch of skeptics they used three other methods to confirm the IHC, still getting the same results, AND made the group repeat the whole experiment, getting the same results again (a whole month work put to waste, gah). So in the end, we found a combo that works great and could translate into useful clinical information, but our initial understanding of the mechanism behind it turned out to be completely wrong. Accidental result based on bullshit reasoning, lol. We're still working out ways to explain the synergistic effect of xeloda and tivo. The most simple explanation is that tivo targets blood vessels and xeloda directly kills tumor cells, but we're still unsure whether macrophage activity contributes to this effect. Yesterday our group called an emergency meeting and talked about the results/future directions, it was very confusing to follow, especially since my direct supervior and his supervisor get into heated arguments all the time, but pretty exciting nevertheless.

I think for the next month we'll be focusing more on a Tivo-Avastin comparison project. Avastin is the frontline drug that's on the shelves for the type of cancers we're interested in treating. Based on our phase one and two clinical results, Tivo not only work better but shows less side effects for patients. Now, it's just a matter of organizing more presentable results and marketing big time, and hoping Tivo gets through phase III of clinical trials.

This morning we had a biweekly presentation, I had a hard time paying attention due to the lack of sleep (slept at 3:30 yesterday and woke up at 7, fudge), but there was one thing that I got a laugh out of. So the presenter today showed a slide from a tumor efficacy study done in Japan, there was a graph of tumor volumes vs number of days after treatment, and a few of the treatment arms went up to as high as 9000 mm^3 (that's about as big as the mouse itself). Wow Japan, so much for animal health regulation. So AVEO was originally planning on using this data in an upcoming conference, but they don't want people to question it and then have to deal with complications. So, one person proposed (as a joke, or maybe not...) that we should change the numbers into percent increase, to hide the actual values, which I find very clever, but very sad. I'm sure they'll end up settling this in a more professional way, but it makes me question just much of the data from the scientific community is really trustworthy...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Ugh mom.

It's so frustrating talking to my mother. She's been talking about starting her own "beesiness" for almost two years and that's all she ever talks about at home. Her plan is that she'll get famous on her Asian blog where she writes about architecture/her life in America and attract some rich investors in China who will buy her design package. From what I can make of her logic, here's her plan: She claims that the houses in China sells for more than it's worth in US dollars, so she can export materials from US to China and build houses there while borrowing money from an investor. In her mind, everything sounds so foolproof, but the sad thing is, she doesn't know any bit of English and has no experience in handling business transactions in the US. Coming from someone who doesn't even know how to spell pizza I dont think she knows how big of a task this is. For the past two years she has done nothing but design two houses. She hasn't attracted any real investors yet but has been almost scammed two times and in the meantime she turned down two real job offers.... for what? to stay at home and fantasize about becoming a billionaire and brag about her awesome (non-existent) entrepreneur skills. Yesterday she got a private message from a so-called rich billionaire who wants to collaborate with her on a town-wide building project, now she's getting all hyped out again. I really hope that it is not a scam this time and it works out for her, but somehow I get the feeling that this is another one of those false alerts. Sometimes I wonder whether it's better to live in your own fantasized world like my mom and always thinking of plots to dig the easy way out while not realizing that there is no such way, or be completely aware of the day-to-day hardships you're dealing with but at least get a sense of reality. Maybe I should try adopting her philosophy and see how it works out.

Haven't been keeping up with metal news lately, but SHIT! Four new album releases! Thanks to Ryan for bringing me up to date

Album release dates: memo for self

Avenged Sevenfold- Nightmare-July 27th aka tomorrow???
Disturbed-Asylum- August 31
Stone Sour-Audio Secrecy-September 7th
All That Remains-For We Are Many - September??

And if you have some money to spare and want to contribute to the oil spill relief, feel free to take a visit to this site.

Friday, July 23, 2010


I've been exploring some eating places in Cambridge over the past couple of weeks during lunch and after work. This is mostly a note to myself so I can remember... in case I come back again in the future and forget which ones are good.

Pepper Sky- so so, tastes a bit like Taste of India though...

Middle East- was gonna come here with Liz to see a band but the event got canceled. (btw we still need to meet up and do something) Went here with Christine this week and ate some delicious kabab and kibbe over an interesting discussion about MIT quirks. Random fact, MIT dorms have something similar to our condom wall, they have trippier condoms though... theirs are flavored and they glow in the dark... woah!

Mulan-went here with our research group for Xiaojiang's farewell party ;_; We reserved a roundtable so there were alottt of food. Delicious... a bit pricey.

Toscannini's- best ice cream place ever.

Fire and Ice- I love the concept of having the chief grill whatever ingredients you choose.

Thailand Cafe-it's okay, but the lunch specials are blehh.

Cafe Luna-yummy salads~

Indian Restaurant that I don't remember the name of-Rahul showed me the proper way of eating a chicken. Thank you Rahul.

Mary Chung-their stuff is really good, would go there everyday if I can.

Cinderalla's-lol my friend got food poisoning after eating their fish sandwich.

Pacific St. Cafe-very convenient if you don't feel like waiting, but the waiters don't know how to speak English.

That's all. Hoping to explore more places soon. Overall, Cambridge food > Pittsburgh food.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

brain fart

The good thing about a lab job is that you get hour long breaks in the middle of your experiments while chemistry is slowing doing its own job. Yeah, now is just one of those breaks when I sit around and ponder about what to do for the next two hours before starting the next part of the procedure. I really need to find something productive to do for these occasions. I figured I should start writing more. Yesterday, I was trying to write an email to a professor about working in his lab next semester and for half an hour I couldn't even start the opening sentence, so I started writing in bullet point format. After a ridiculously long time of brainstorming here's what I have:

-will be sophomore bio major, wants to know if you have any openings for lab aide/research assistant
-interested in neurobiology. reason: always been interested in general biology, but ever since taking brain/behavior with Behrmann, gained interest in the workings of the brain
-has experience with animals, can dose, take blood samples, collect tissues
-has experience with procedures such IHC, ELISA, Western Blot, PCR, gel electro., cell culture, general lab safety...
-would like to work in your lab because: wants to pursue undergrad research, you have interesting research/publications, wants to gain experience with the technologies in your lab ie. multi photon imaging, single neuron electrical recording blah blah

It started sounding like an amateur resume. What's worse is that I can't even turn this bulk of crap writing into complete sentences. It's like I don't even know how to speak English anymore. In all honesty, I think I was smarter back in 5th grade because back then at least I knew how to write complete sentences. So... time to do some psychoanalysis on myself and figure out what the hell is wrong with me. I have a couple of theories.

1. Colorguard: I joined colorguard ever since middle school and have hit myself on the head for God knows many times. If only back then I knew I was committing brain cell genocide each time the flag lands on my head I would have quit a long time ago.

2. I don't do enough crossword puzzles: Here's an interesting insight from the article "Do You Get Dumber As You Grow Older," "The most powerful youthing formula is doing mental exercises. Studies have shown that those seniors who play chess, card games, solve puzzles, or pursue an interesting hobby, not only have a great attitude, but they are also biologically younger than others of the same chronological age." Based on past experiences I think this is very true. In high school, we had a school newspaper that featured a new crossword puzzle everyday and some of my friends would always do those during free periods. I've tried to do those occasionally but I was always the idiot who could only figure out 10% of the puzzle at best. Then there are those geniuses who could complete all the puzzles in less an half an hour, even the impossible Friday ones. Of course, those are the people who eventually ended up in Harvard/MIT.

3. Korean drama: So far two people have tried to convince me that watching Korean dramas stimulates brain cell apoptosis. Ops.

4. Genetics: I probably have a dormant "stupidity" gene that gets expressed after a certain age... or could be a "stupidity" virus, sort of like AIDS you know? Or early onset Alzheimers...

5. Anti-Asianess: If genetics isn't the cause, maybe culture can explain it. There's the stereotype that Asians are raised under pressure to focus more on academics hence with an adequate amount of test preparations and honor level English courses they are generally better at reading and writing. My parents didn't raised me in that way. Sure they may fit the Asian stereotype themselves and they have high expectations for me in terms of academics but they never did much to enforce that so I was pretty much dependent on self-motivation (and I don't have much of that :P).

6. Laziness: tying into number 5.... this is the most probable reason (though #1 and 2 are fairly likely also) aka I need to read and write more!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

rabbit and walden

Here is the rabbit that ate all of our beans. My dad wants to invent a rabbit catching device and trap it, then have roasted rabbit meat for dinner. Poor thing. It's been living in our backyard ever since it was a baby and I feel like its part of the family, but Asian parents care less about that, they think everything is food.

Went to Walden Pond this morning, the place of inspiration for the famous Henry David Thoreau. I was very inspired. Here's an excerpt from "Walden" to inspire you too.

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartanlike as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion. For most men, it appears to me, are in a strange uncertainty about it, whether it is of the devil or of God, and have somewhat hastily concluded that it is the chief end of man here to 'glorify God and enjoy him forever.'

Still we live meanly, like ants; though the fable tells us that we were long ago changed into men; like pygmies we fight with cranes; it is error upon error, and clout upon clout, and our best virtue has for its occasion a superfluous and evitable wretchedness. Our life is frittered away by detail. An honest man has hardly need to count more than his ten fingers, or in extreme cases he may add his ten toes, and lump the rest. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!"

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Babies, food, soccer, and octopus

So we had an Asian party over bbq and potluck and soccer today at our place with some of my dad's friends. Three of the families had little babies, one of them is 7 months old, the other ones are 2 years and 4 years. Oh, and the 7 month old one is named Wallie. He's the cute one... but it must suck to be named after a robot. Ohh Asian parents :\ And the 2 year old is named Ben, which is normal as an English name, but translated into Chinese, it means "stupid"... just a funny observation... I wonder if his chinese name actually uses the same character as "stupid" because that would be very unfortunate. Anyways, that's pretty much the only interesting facts about the babies, other than that, they just stare at people and drool alot.

There was a lot of delicious Asian food. Two of my favorites were the vegetarian baozi, which is sort of like dumplings except they're steamed instead of boiled, and japchae, which is korean noodle....sooooo good! I'll definitely try to a hand at making them at dinner in Shadyoak sometimes.

Yeah so, the world cup...

I never really caught on with the soccer fanaticism so I really don't have much to say about it. But, apparently, Chinese people are crazy about soccer. I wonder why, I mean you don't see Chinese soccer making headline news. Is the Chinese team even ranked in FIFA?

The first 110 minutes were excruciatingly boring, and when it came down to about 5 minutes left we were all looking forward to the penalty shootout. Then out of nowhere Spain pulled that last minute lucky shot. I honestly think Germany got robbed of their place in the finals, it's such a shame that Muller missed the Germany vs. Spain game, if he were there, they would have been the ones playing the Dutch today. But watevs, yay Spain! The octopus did it again huh. There's something profoundly fishy about a cephalopod being able to predict the outcome of 10 games in a roll correctly. I admit I'm just an skeptic in general but I really think its a hoax, they probably did something with Paul's food...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Seltzer tastes digusting.

It really does. The company has a free vending machine on our floor with every type of soda imaginable and I thought I'd try out something different today so I got a Raspberry Lime Seltzer since it's zero calories. It tastes really bitter and strong, reminds me of that terrible beer people forced on me in China last summer, yet ironically I'm on my second can of seltzer today. Maybe carbonated water is really just liquefied marijuana in disguise and once you start you can't get off of it. Not that I've tried any drugs but I have a feeling I'd be a terrible addict if I ever try anything.

Spent an entire morning at a microscope room taking pictures. The room is pretty nifty, you have to get through a rotating door that blocks off all the light from outside and once inside it's completely dark and you have turn on this special orange light to work at the station. It's similar to the dark room in our high school photography class...made me a little nostalgic actually. Photography in high school was alot of fun, we worked with old-school manual cameras and did some trippy things like double exposure, long exposures, and dodging and burning. My old camera is probably sitting in the closet gathering dust right now :( I'm gonna make it my new goal for the summer to actually find that camera and start taking pictures again. Hopefully this will actually happen instead just becoming another false promise.

But onto another topic, is it bad to not remember people's names? I've been running into this animal facility dude alot lately on my way from room to room, he's a very nice and conversational type of guy, so we'd always stop for a while and talk about the weather and work and he'd give me updates on soccer games. I know we've introduced ourselves at the beginning of the summer, but I don't remember his name and I feel really bad because he'd always greet me by my name and it feels a little rude not to respond in the same way. I have an urge to just ask him again, but that sounds a little bit weird right?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Obligatory Friday Blog Update

The long weekend is almost here I can smell it already yayyy!

Plans for the break:

-have an intellectual discussion about math with Rahul
-Martha's Vineyard + beach!
-Read Wuthering Heights (I haven't picked out a legitimate book to read since... a year ago?? So my brain needs a little mental stimulation)
-catch up on BBC and radiolab podcasts
-Watch the firework at Nara Park

Hope you'll all have an amazing July 4th weekend and if you have any exciting plans, please do share!