A long, long time ago, I blogged about a really cool event the sustainability office sponsored on campus where they a lot of the people who deal with Caltech waste / energy / water speak and answer questions. I still didn’t know too much about Pasadena’s energy, though, and Caltech does use a bunch of it.
Your first room at Caltech is randomly assigned to you. If you have a roommate, the only consideration taken into that choice is gender. Gulp.
The Caltech Y organizes a bunch of events, and I’ve led a few. When I signed up to take a bunch of pre-frosh on a kayaking / beach orientation trip with Ted (another smore), I didn’t expect it to be eventful. You know, we’ll go kayaking for two hours, eat lunch, head to the beach, and drive back. That’s similar to my orientation trip - I did the community service trip, so we headed to a gibbon center, helped them make a fire barrier, and then got a tour of the center and drove back. The Dean’s office was taking care of lunches and transportation, so what would I have to do? That’s kind of, but not quite, how it turned out! Organizing the trip was easy. When we got there, the place we rented kayaks from was very chill and everyone got on the boats fast. It was a beautiful place to kayak!!!
I’m slightly obsessed with what I put in my body. For me, humans, life, and basically everything just boils down to a bunch of chemistry (yup, philosophy and all that stuff is just electrochem and … more reactions! in our brain / nervous system / somewhere in our body. I saw a paper today that was talking about discovering these proteins with strong absorbance at 450 nm (yups, that’s my protein - read on) and it just goes to reinforce that just because we don’t understand something or even possibly know it exists, there is some explination for it in the chemical world). Humans are just particularily interesting and super-well partitioned chemical systems, but in the end, that’s really all I think we are. So, I care about what I’m putting into my reaction - ME! - a lot. Small impurities (like rattle snake venom, or just some icky chemicals in our food) might not make a lot of difference, or they might make all the difference in the world, so I try to keep them out. [Of course, it all depends on what you are trying to do - tiny amounts of oxygen aren’t so great in my flash-quench experiments where it acts as a quencher I don’t know the concentration of, but the protein I use in these flash-quench experiments needs molecular oxygen in our body to catalyze the great C-H bond activation rxn. It’s a really cool protein!] But since I’d like to keep all my proteins functioning until I get really old (indeed, my particular protein, cytochrome P450, is associated with aging) I try not to put in anything in my beaker that is going to do facinating chemistry - and then make it really hard for me to spend a good old life think about it:) [as to P450 - I prefer not bombarding my mitochondrial DNA with ROS, reactive oxygen species. And as a matter of fact, though I don’t know of a connection between food and ROS, P450 IS very sensitive to what we eat - it catalyzes three fourths of the reactions in our liver!!! It can get induced and inhibited by certain chemicals (from our food, obviously, or pills or anything else that makes it down there). FYI, “my protein” isn’t just encoded in 57 genes in my body (and yours!), but it is in all superkingdoms of life and has been studied a ton, in part because it is a superfamily of many different proteins that do similar things and have a heme active site and absorb strongly at 460 nm.]
This is my last post about sports, I promise. (I really promise, because it is my second to last post!)
When you’re designing products for a different place, you have to understand that place - socially, economically, culturally. We got some sense of the society in getting to know the students, and we spent a bunch of time talking about the economy in the area and visiting industries. So, of course, we also got to see some of Kerala’s culture. We saw that at the wedding, in visiting family’s homes, and in talking to students, but on a less sophisticated level, we also got the “tourist culture”: the temples, houseboats, and kalaripayattu.
One of my favorite parts of this trip has been getting to know the SAINTGITS students.
In An 22, the intro to socio-cultural anthropology class I took last term, we talked about emic and etic perspectives. The emic perspective is the native point of view, and the etic perspective is the outsider’s point of view and the conclusion about what is going on. This almost seems to apply to the labor shortage we kept hearing about in Kerala through many of our other industry visits. (A really good paper about this is here, though it is a bit outdated.)
The Art Center students do market research before every project, so they gave us a few tips before we got to our first field site.
I was so tired last night after landing that I can’t even remember getting to the hotel / falling asleep. I woke up at 7, thinking much more clearly than the evening before, and went to eat breakfast. My first Indian food in India!
Greetings from SINGAPORE!! I’m sitting in the airport waiting to board my next flight to Kochi, and totally pumped / exhausted from our 19 hour stopover in Singapore.
I went to the beach again! SURFSAC, a student group that organizes lots of social / fun events over the summer, organized the trip. We had a (coach!) bus from Caltech right to the beach. In Santa Monica, we were able to do / go wherever we wanted so long as we would all be back at the bus at 4:50, but most people formed a pretty big group around the food! It was pretty cold / cloudy when we got there, so we wrapped up in our towels, but then – SUN! Garms (her blog is at https://www.caltech.typepad.com/ - Summer at NASA!) and I went into the waves for a while (during which I, of course, managed to get really sunburnt!). THEY WERE HUGE! Waves are so cool. The undertow was really strong, so we kept getting pulled closer to shore / farther from shore.
I never did a lot of stuff before coming to Caltech - research, eating mangos, and seeing a rattlesnake [don’t worry, it was a three hour drive from campus] - and that now includes going to a fancy schmancy movie theater (to be honest, I didn’t even know there was one in Pasadena!). I already blogged about my summer jobs, but as a quick refresher, in addition to SURFing this summer [I’ll be posting about that again soon!], I’m working eight hours a week as a House Assistant.Housing super-kindly agreed to fund an HA (House Assistants) “team-bonding” event! We decided to go to the Gold Class Theater. Only one of us had been there before (there’s this other really good $2 movie theater with, apparently, $1 hotdogs that are really good even closer to campus) and we were quite impressed as we rushed in, slighly late [luckily these things have a ton of advertisements at the beginning].
Each Friday, the SURFs in my group (aka Professor Gray’s group) and his Solar Army team meet for an hour and present on what we’ve been up to!
What in the world is orienteering?!? I vaguely remember my HS gym teacher being really into it, but beyond that, I didn’t really know what I was getting into when one of my friends and I (she had gone before :)) signed up to go orienteering this weekend.
The LA National Forest sits right behind Pasadena, so I’ve been doing a lot of hiking lately. On Sunday, I went hiking with a friend and her family. We went to Switzer falls, a waterfall in the mountains. It was a great hike, especially since it was shady and followed a river (it was pretty hot!).
Those of you familiar with the area might get my reference to the natural La Brea Tar Pits next to the LAC Museum of Art. It turns out, the tar doesn’t just naturally occur on land. It’s also on the beaches. I was not a happy beach-goer when I found out about this. Tar contains carcinogens! That’s not really something I want to be running around in!
I always thought New Hampshire, my home state, was really cool for having mountains, beaches, and Canada within day-trip distance. There’s only one problem: CA does too. In fact, I’m pretty sure the mountains and ocean are closer to each othere here than in NH. I made it a weekend trip: on Saturday, I hiked Mount Wilson with a bunch of other Techers and summer students (here for SURF or Caltech’s JPL programs) and on Sunday, my roommate and I took the metro to Santa Monica.