Drunken experiments in the kitchen

One of my favorite things to do is head to the grocery store, pick out something fresh, and build a meal around it. I experimented with a couple of dished this past week that are now included as a staple in the apartment. I decided to try my hand at ceviche, turning the avocado into the actual bowl for presentation, and chicken curry salad. Needless to say everything turned out better than expected, possibly due to the sparkling wine I was “tasting” while mixing ingredients. I also tried a new and easy dessert, biscuits and blueberry sauce cooked in a skillet. Due to the copious amounts of food consumed we hiked the guilt away on a 7 mile trail not too far from the city. Cheers!

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SOWA Sunday

Long overdue trip to my favorite open market. Although it’s new found popularity has caused a larger crowd, with it has also come new vendors and local cider/wine tastings. I got my usual favorite, Thai basil limeade from Bon Mei, then hopped over to a new food truck all about bacon (need I say more?) I sample the candied bacon and it was as I suspected, amazing. Down East cider was handing out samples so I was finally able to try their lemon and honey ciders, perfect for a hot day like today! I ventured over to Westport Wines and tasted their version of a prosecco called Farmers Fizz. Very light and refreshing so I bought two and they included free wine glasses, bonus! Drinking on a budget is much easier on SOWA Sundays!

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You know you are a nightshifter when…

Your happy hour is when the rest of the city is enjoying their fist cups of coffee at 8 am. I’m a happy to have picked up a new Bantam cider to try, La Grande. Aged in bourbon barrels this cider is dry and bold, with a lingering taste of smokiness from the whiskey. I am a huge fan of dry ciders (and whiskey) and tend to shy away from those served at most pubs (sorry angry orchard…I’m just not into you) so it is very exciting to find craft ciders with interesting flavors. I would highly recommend it for anyone looking to try something unique and hand crafted!

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STAP investigation

This is devostating. The pressure and stresses of research on a PI is heavy enough. I cannot imagine the weight of this investigation. It heavies my heart to hear this news.

My sentiments exactly…

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Although I understand the need to take care of our own, the idea of bringing infected individuals to major cities in the US seems like a bold move. Working in a lab you see a lot of mistakes and mishandling occur daily, to believe that the CDC is immune to such a thing is a ridiculous assumption. Mistakes like these don’t just lead to a corrective report and a call to notify the physician, it leads to the spread of an infection with a 90% mortality rate. Considering how well our suspected Ebola case played out a few weeks ago….my nightmare is edging closer to reality.

Ebola shmola

A break in my busy work and renewed social life in Boston has finally brought me back to the now barren wasteland that has been my blog the past few weeks! My recent switch to night shift, as well as the onslaught of new residents with little knowledge of medical testing, has proven to be a challenge.
A night from a couple of weeks ago has now been inducted into my list of top 5 stories as a medical technologist. At the time it was more terrifying than I can describe as my coworker and I scrambled to control the situation without guidance from our managers and directors, deep asleep at 2 am. It began as a simple phone call that my coworker, F, answered about a patient specimen sent for malaria smears. Suddenly F stood up quickly hanging up the phone, bag of tubes in hand, and a look as though he’d just been slapped in the face. I stopped in my tracks and asked what the call was about, worried something had been reported incorrectly.
“It was the MD…He suspects this patient has Ebola…”
You know that moment in a movie when the music stops and the camera zooms focus on a distraught character? Yep, that happened. We both stared at each other in silence until the gravity of the situation sunk in. I must have responded with a few choice words along the lines of, “Are you serious?!” Followed by checking the patient name….a name that I remember from running samples an hour ago….For those that don’t know me personally let me explain how horrifying this situation was. I have a clear memory of my high school biology teacher, Mr. Bug, telling us all about how serious Ebola was. How the virus could destroy you from the inside out, the innocent victim thinking that they had contracted a self limiting flu. Then as the sickness worsened and the virus attacked the internal organs the individual would run to the bathroom only to “shit out their intestines instead and die before ever leaving the toilet.” It was pretty graphic and clearly scarred me for life.
Case in point, Ebola terrifies me.
Now that you are fully acquainted with my worst nightmare I can skip over the hours of panicked conversations, cold sweats, and irrational thoughts of the CDC busting through the doors at any moment (I am also in the midst of reading The Strain, which clearly benefited this situation). Needless to say the lab director was woken at 3 am and all samples were sealed into bags under a hood. The patients travel history and flu like symptoms were looming over our heads until I checked to see if the flu test had actually been ordered and done. It was and it was positive.
As a somewhat type A I can certainly relate to being very cautious when it comes to testing, but next time newbie Doctor….you should wait for the flu results before breaking all hell loose in the lab.

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Deadly Virus to the Rescue

During my brief time in a PhD program I constantly contemplated similar methods and we discussed how one would approach engineered viruses. The working being done at Duke has brought to light the ability to ‘use nature against itself’ in a sense. A virus can be engineered to target specific cancer cells and promote a stronger immune response. A virus that once killed now saves!

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Studying the Study of Science

$6 million funding the study of scientific research at Stanford University. Should we be studying techniques or the psychology behind publishing research that cannot be reproduced? This increase in “bad” data may certainly be due to the limited funding and the need to publish to stay afloat…

Read more about the project HERE

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Hiking the Smoky Mountains

After a 4 hour drive from Nashville I went directly to my first hiking spot to stretch my legs and view one of the many waterfalls accessible by trail. Cades Cove is a lovely scenic drive with multiple family hiking trails throughout. Beware if you decid to head there in the afternoon, when crowds of tourists are doing the same (I would recommend going before 10am to avoid the heavy traffic). The short hike to Abrams Falls was a great and easy way to begin my hiking adventure (especially after staying up all night dancing). Being an avid hiker back home in New England I am no stranger to the solitary climb and quiet walks through forests. I was surprised to find that I was rarely alone for more than a minute as the trail was well known and crowded. Although most would say it is not about where you are going, but instead the journey to take you there…I would argue the opposite for this hike. Abrams falls was a gorgeous place to stop and take in the sunny day. I then checked into my hotel in Gatlinburg, which was only a few minutes away. Although I had plans to explore the town, crowds of touring families and long lines lead to a night in of recovering and take out (much needed I may add). The next morning I grabbed an amazing breakfast at Log Cabin Pancake House (delicious hash browns) a few steps from the hotel and hit the road. It was colder than expected and due to the weather Ramsey Cascade was closed. After looking up different hike routes I turned back for Pigeon Forge only to stumble upon an art community I couldn’t resist exploring. I spoke with the owner of one of the galleries and he recommended staying in Greenbriar to avoid the crowds and hike the same trails as the natives (we spoke about our shared love for Boston as well!). Porters Creek Trail (about 7.2) miles was a great hike with many green hills and even a surprise waterfall, where I stopped to have my trail mix. This hike was entirely about the journey and I was happy to have found it! I met another hiker who gave me one of his maps and some advice about other trails. I then headed to Bryson City, NC where I had rented a cabin in the mountains. I took Newfound Gap to get there and enjoyed the spectacular views as I drove through the mountains, this is a MUST for anyone visiting the Smokys. Knowing that the weather may not hold up the next day I stopped at one of the waterfalls I had planned on seeing. Just a quick hike up the steps Mingo Falls in Cherokee is a larger waterfall on the Indian Reservation with a great view from the wooden bridge. After a long rest to enjoy the falls I checked into Cathy Cabin (Rock Creek Cabins) and enjoyed a fantastic view of the sunset and mountains from the back porch and hot tub. One word…heaven :)

 

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Nashvegas round 2

Day two in Nashville began with a chilly start. I was “pleasantly” surprised when greeted at the door with a snow flurry. Although it adjusted my plans slightly, I decided to drive to Vanderbilt and looked up a cafe in the area to warm up/get caffeinated. JJ’s Cafe is a great place for coffee, snacks, lounging, and even ordering a pint! The comfy couches and plethora of plugs are a great place to gear up and charge up for a day of exploring. The mini mart has a few things for purchase and they have 3 beers on tap if it’s been one of those mornings…Vanderbilt campus is a nice walk with many diners and BBQ joints along the way. My next stop was the Visual Arts Center. Make sure to bring a student ID (mine is from years ago but got me $3 off admission, no one will know the difference). The exhibits, although small, were fantastic. The building itself was the old postal office converted and restored. The original floors were refinished and are a piece of art in themselves! The whole museum can be done in less than two hours so I found nearby meeter parking. Next stop was the Hatch Print Shop by the Hall of Fame. There are some great prints of posters, old and new, with a sneak peek into the work shop as you browse. I stopped in Jack’s BBQ for some delicious pork then washed it down with a homemade soda from Mike’s Ice cream (where I returned after dinner for a fresh berry sorbet). There are many shops lining Broadway for those looking to buy flannel or boots (beware, many are made in China or Mexico!). End then night in one of the many music venues, Honky Tonks is my favorite, where bands take requests of your favorite country songs.

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