James and the Giant Corn Genetics: Studying the Source Code of Nature

August 3, 2008

Finished In Iowa

Filed under: Campus Life,Electronics,Recreational Travel — Tags: , , , , — James @ 9:58 pm

I made my final presentation for my summer position on Thursday. Here’s a graphic showing the distribution of sequences of interest over the rice chromosomes:

With that presentation, and the following day of creating readmes for my folders full of blast results, sequences data, and perl scripts, my summer project was wrapped up. My time as a visiting scientist/scholar has come to an end. (Though I still have the ID card to prove it.) Next weekend I’ll be driving down I-80 towards fame, fortune … and San Francisco. Looking over the route on google maps I noticed the giant salt flats I’ll be driving through in Utah. Hopefully I’ll have the willpower to stop to take pictures of that and other spectacular natural scenery (Nevada, Utah, Wyoming are all going to be totally new for me.)

The total drive is looking at around 26 hours, which I’m very tempted to split into two thirteen-hour drives to save on paying for an extra night in a hotel.

Whenever I do make it to my new apartment, there’ll be internet waiting for me there. I decided to go with AT&T’s U-verse DSL. Mostly I picked them because my alternative was Comcast, the company that’s been in the news lately for interfering with user’s internet connections, but it turns out there’s discount involved if I were to ever get an AT&T cell phone, a consideration my current envy of Monty’s new iPhone.

June 11, 2008

Graduation and Iowa City

Filed under: Recreational Travel — Tags: , , , , , — James @ 11:09 am

Lots of exciting stuff happening. Graduating. Doing the thousand mile drive for the ninth and likely final time. (Though I’ll be driving twice as far to reach California in the fall, the impossibility of doing the drive in one day, combined with ever rising price of gas makes it unlikely I’ll drive back for breaks). Carpooling out to Iowa City to celebrate a friend’s birthday.


Graduation was good. The actually ceremony took place out at the football stadium and where I sat, unable to see who was speaking over heads of hundreds of my classmates, watching the heat ripples rise from our black robes. My parents came out and I was able to at least point myself out to them during the procession in by calling on my cell phone. (Makes you wonder how people managed before every college student and their parents had a cell phone).

Visit to Iowa City:

-Almost didn’t make it as flooding was shutting down major roads out of town.
–Estimates of this fall’s harvest all already being reduced as a result of the constant rain.

-William is 22!

-Red Velvet Cake Shakes at the Hamburg Inn #2.
–Possibly the best form of food discovered by mankind to date
–The Hamburg Inn is one of the places presidential candidates always visit in the run up to the Iowa caucus. I sat under a picture from John Edwards’ visit.

-Disk Golf
–Surprisingly fun
–I’m surprisingly bad at it 😉
–Continued to play since I’ve returned home

On monday I started a two week course on bioinformatics and computational biology…will update on this over the weekend…

May 6, 2008

The Iowan Wedding

Filed under: Recreational Travel — Tags: , — James @ 5:32 pm

I landed in Des Moines at 2 pm on Friday, got to my parents’ house and turned on my cell phone at 3:30 and was occupied with my best-manly duties pretty much constantly from then until late saturday night. Not having been to a wedding since my uncle’s a decade ago I don’t have a lot of benchmarks to go on, but it seems to have gone off relatively smoothly. (Though I’ve confirmed my low opinion of the average professional photographer.) I didn’t have my camera with me, but got a couple of pictures on my cell phone, and at least one more forwarded to me by my ex-girlfriend.

The happy couple, exhausted after the day’s ceremony:
Bride and Groom
The loyal groomsmen:
Your Loyal PhotographerWilliam
Finally, the reason dollar dances are starting to go out of style at weddings (though I’m to blame for this particular one):
Matthew and Ben
I hope the happy couple is having a great time on their honeymoon in Florida.

April 14, 2008

News From Xinjiang

Filed under: Recreational Travel — Tags: , , — James @ 7:04 pm

Ruins in Xinjiang
Hannah just got back from spending her spring break in Xinjiang (the far west portion of China). She was originally planning on going to Tibet, but, when things deteriorated there, she was forced to change plans. Though there were some stories of unrest and riots in Xinjiang as well, she had a great trip and made it safely back to east China (the part with all the giant cities and factories). It sounds like quite the place, containing giant mountains and the second lowest place on the face on the planet. She even got to drive along the silk road! But I won’t say anymore. That way she’ll be able to tell you her stories herself. She was nice enough to let me co-opt two pictures from her week in Xinjiang to post here, the one above and one with a pair of Bactrian Camels (the two humped kind).
Hannah + Camel

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