June 19 Saturday: Woke up before 8, ran, ate breakfast, showered, went to lab and chunked worms and spread bacteria. Additionally I got to talk to another person in the lab! I believe she was an English major (her English is fantastic) along with biology, and she is studying longevity in C. elegans (I’m pretty sure). She was asking about me and my program since she thought we’d be busy all weekends she was surprised to see me on a Saturday. I explained that we were free to do whatever most weekends and we just PREFERRED to have free time, it wasn’t forced. She asked very good questions about my past lab work and my thoughts on my current possible switch to biomedical engineering that I told her about. She mentioned that counting the worms for her longevity experiments is really tedious and that they’re trying to automate the process using a computer and robotically controlled microscope and such. She asked if I’d be interested in that and I was a bit surprised by how much I thought I did want to do that. Taking tedium out of a process and making it go faster is what I’m all about. She then asked about my programming experience which I abashedly described as “I’ve written scripts in matlab, and worked with visual python… but I’ll be taking programming this fall!” She seemed optimistic about my ability to work on that task, though and I’m looking forward to talking to her about it further next week. She has a student from UCLA coming soon who might be working on that project as well so I wouldn’t be on my own if I switch over to this.
After lab I met up with Veronica, Anya, Sarah, Taylor, Matt, Nick, and Yun and went shopping just west of southwest exit from Chegongzhuang subway stop on line 2. We went shopping there in a more normal market. It was a pleasant change from places like the silk market. I got a baby tripod (15 RMB), a wireless mouse (75 RMB), and swim goggles (40 RMB?). Afterward we went to a pedestrian street and meandered. It was very mall-like with branching streets that were more… squalid? More unkempt is maybe a kinder way to put it. I got some delicious bread stuff there since I hadn’t really had lunch. Veronica and I armed ourselves with words like “membership card,” “swimming pool,” “only,” and “month” and set out to find a swimming establishment which turned out to be immediately across the street from our hotel, dictionary in hand (mainly because I had it, but it was helpful). We timidly passed a guard booth and poked our head into a series of doors and buildings after musing about various signs. We found a room full of ping-pong tables (I’m totally getting paddles tomorrow), a track, a tennis building, and finally we found a room that smelled like chlorine so we knew we were on the right track and surely enough the next place was the office for the pool. We asked the man how much a membership was and he grunted and pointed at a sign nearby which we studied for a good 15 minutes trying to decipher all the possibilities. We determined that you could get memberships by length of time or by number of entries and reported back proudly. We went out to dinner at a cool new restaurant that served Dai cuisine (an ethnic group). We quickly realized that we were all helpless as puppies without someone who can really read Chinese. We contentedly pointed out characters “ooo this says chicken!” “ooo this says meat” but we all knew deep down that this was not very impressive and not very helpful. We ordered some potato balls to tide us over until Yun could make it to dinner and actually order us some food. It turned out to be a really nice meal. We then pondered going out to see a movie but only a few of us wanted to go, which was probably fine, but we tacitly decided that we’d just stay in. Some games were played, some music listened to, and the new Karate Kid found in pirated form online. We started watching that but I bugged out and came upstairs to sleep, but instead I’m writing things down.
The day in pictures:
This was supposed to be a short summary of the day’s events… I guess I enjoy telling stories.