Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Taiwan Day 4ish

This is my busy face.

 It is unfortunately apparent how behind I am on posting and how poorly the posts that I do have convey what I've want them to. I've been really busy lately. Hopefully, I can stay up late tonight and get some things finally filed away in my mental "done" pile. I've got Regina Spektor crooning in one ear and Dr. Huang's snores in the other, so let's start with actually explaining the events behind some of the photos I posted in the last post.

New Year's Eve was one big ball of crazy. It was also exciting, hectic, and on a few occasions nearly perilous. I guess that's how you know we're doing things right. The day started off harmless enough with some more work with embryos. For those who understand nerd, the following is what we were up to, as I now realize how extremely vague I was (You may thank my fiancée for this - and most of my other positive character traits). For those who don't, suffice it to say that we're finally doing some science and skip ahead to the stars.

Our work at Academia Sinica was basically the same thing that our lab normally does in River Falls, except better. Normally, we use in vitro fertilization to obtain roughly a few hundred zebrafish embryos for pharmaceutical testing and other experiments. I was pleased to find that the fish at Academia Sinica breed infinitely better than those at UWRF. We managed to get something in excess of 2000 embryos to work with, which was very encouraging until I found out everything Dr. Huang had in mind for those embryos. The first experiment was pretty tame in that it involved comparing the effects of known drugs for heart failure against a compound from La Crosse we've been looking at since the summer. I've done dozens of similar trials. The other two experiments were a little more daunting. Both were time trials, which is basically Dr. Huang-lish for "people get to draw straws for who stays up all night to change the embryo chemical treatments at 6 hour intervals. The main purpose of this sleep deprivation is to ascertain the "window" of a drug's function on heart failure. As we also had to harvest the embryos, we get to look at variation in gene expression as well (in experiments we'll be doing tomorrow). I'm not sure why, but Dr. Huang offered to do most of the time trials. This freed the girls and I up for the New Year's Eve. While he's a bit of a workaholic, it's nice to know that underneath he's got a heart of gold. 

***********STARS********STARS*********STARS (Someone needs to show me how to do cuts)

After the work with embryos was finished, the pictures from the last post are pretty indicative of what we did. Dr. Huang's old lab assistant ChinWei loaned Dr. Huang some of his nicer clothes for our fancy New Year's Eve dinner, even though that's not really common in Taiwan. In Japan it is, but I think ChinWei was pretty confused by it all. He played along with our sillyness very well regardless. We had Peking duck for dinner, which was delicious even with the breeze that blew through the restaurant. Afterwards, we went to ChinWei's house for the very energetic party his family was hosting. I had a really good time trying to comprehend the three different languages spoken with various degrees of intoxication, though this may have been slightly due to my own sampling of some very fine wine and sake. It had a great way of making the actual content of a conversation secondary to the intent behind it. Luckily everyone was there to have a good time, so the verbal chaos at least appeared to be friendly. Honestly, it was probably the theme for the night, as the Whole City was lit up with fireworks to celebrate the 100th New Year of the Republic of China. Getting home from the festivities was no exception to the chaotic theme, as it looked like all of Taipei and then some came to watch the Taipei 101 worked in fire. With some help from ChinWei and the Taiwan public transportation system, Kenna, Kathryn, and I all made it home safe and sound. The only real mishap was that I almost paid the taxi three times the fare, so considering everything that could have gone wrong while we were being jostled by the gigantic crowd, I'm not complaining. As far as first real New Year's Eve celebrations go, Taiwan treated me pretty well.

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