Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Naughty Flower

Cypripedium acaule:

The above photograph is a picture of one of the native lady slipper orchids, or sometimes called moccasin flowers.

The species name, acaule is Latin for "stemless".

This particular species seems to be rich in orchid lore and legend.

There exists a Native American legend in which a woman runs through the woods to carry medicine back to her dying village. In the process, she wears out her moccasins. Because her feet are no longer protected by her moccasins, and she must keep running, her feet begin to bleed. She finally reaches her village and is able to deliver the life saving medicine. It was thought that these "moccasin flowers" sprung from the drops of blood which came from her bleeding feet.

Now for the naughty part...

Here is an excerpt from Orchid Fever by author Eric Hansen:

The discussion shifted to a raunchy joke about Cypripedium acaule and the origin of the name Cypripedium. The word is derived from the Greek Kypris pedion, which translates as "the genital region of Aphrodite." One look at the wrinkled, pink, pouting, vertical lips of Cypripedium acaule explains it all.

Photographic credits goes to Thomas, my photography mentor, who took this exquisite photograph for me.

Before and After

Cypripedium acaule:

I have finally made the decision to get really serious about my newfound passion of photography and finally purchased a digital SLR camera with a macro flash system. I purchased the macro lens last month.

The above photo is one that I took earlier this month with my digital point and shoot. I have to say that I am a bit hesitant to post the picture since both my skill level and camera equipment was in desperate need of improvement! However, I thought it would be great to post that picture as a reference point. My before image representative of my skill level and camera equipment. Hopefully images that I post with my new equipment will be a vast improvement!

I also plan on posting more about the Cypripedium acaule, so please stay tuned...

Friday, May 26, 2006

Puppet on Strings

Viola hastata:

I have been feeling lately very much like a puppet on strings. In fact, my melancholy has not gone away since returning from San Francisco. Emotions have piled up to the point where I simply feel like I have been reduced to a puppet on strings.

Therefore, I have concluded it is once again time for me to make a woodland escape and be a recluse for the weekend.

So, if you see someone lying on the ground examining and measuring leaves and flower petals, it is only me.

Although the sight may seem odd to some, I can assure you, I am quite harmless...

...And quite normal to those with a passion for flowers...

Photographic credits goes to Thomas.

Friday Cat Blogging

During my exploration of various blogs, I have come across a phenomenon known as "Friday Cat Blogging" by various bloggers.

Being a graduate student, sometimes I lose touch with the outside world, and when I am sleep deprived, sometimes even lose touch with reality (when the lab bench and instruments start moving by themselves; it is time to stop what I am doing and go to sleep).

So, sometimes it takes me a little longer to catch onto things--even in the blogosphere!

Thus, I have come to the conclusion that in this respect, resistance is futile, and I will comply. So, here we have Marzepan nestled on my bed in the morning prior to me making my bed:

Can you tell I like chocolates with a name like Marzepan?

Anyhow, Marzepan is an incredibly sweet tabby. She was a rescue. She is terrified of people she does not know. I think this is because she spent her early months having kids throw rocks at her. It took me about 3 months to befriend her to the point where I could touch her, despite her starving state. When I finally took her home, she wasn't quite four pounds despite my feedings.

As you can see in the picture, she is doing quite well and has turned into a beautiful green-eyed beauty who showers me with constant affection. Although she is still leary of people she does not know well, she makes up for it with the people she does know well. Oftentimes she will snuggle up to me under the covers in my bed.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

The "Man Plant"

Panax trifolius:

The above plant is the Dwarf Ginseng. It is not a spectacular plant by some and it is often overlooked on the forest floor. It blooms in this Ohio area around April and produces yellow berries soon after blooming. It is typically found in rich woods.

The word ginseng is thought to be a corruption of the Chinese schin-seng, schin-sen, or jin-shen, meaning "man-like", or "man-plant". Some Native Americans called it garantoguen, which has a similar meaning.

Native Americans made use of this plant to treat ailments such as indigestion, headaches, colic, gout, and hives. Although I have no idea how effective was this treatment.

Fortunately for this plant, it is rarely collected.

Although some may consider this plant not to be spectacular, I personally think that the star like blossoms are rather precious.

Photographic credits goes to Thomas. I think that the photography skills of Thomas has made the unspectacular very spectacular, no? Please click on the photo for a great close-up!

Thursday, May 18, 2006


For definition of chimera click here.

I am working on enzyme chimeras. Chimeras of Nitric Oxide Synthase (NOS) to be precise. They are part of my dissertation project. My goal is to characterize my chimeras in order to gain a deeper understanding of the regulatory and mechanistic features of their wild-type counterparts.

For those inclined, a wonderful article exists on a previously characterized and published NOS chimera:

Adak, S., Aulak, KS., and Stuehr, DJ. (2001) J. Biol Chem. 276, 23246-52.

Sometimes, these chimeric enzymes are affectionately referred to as "Frankenstein NOS" in our lab because their creation involved putting together different domains of NOS isoforms through clever feats of DNA recombinant technology.

Will all this work someday lead to some cures for Nitric Oxide related diseases? I can only hope and dream.

Mahfuzul, one of our post-docs, was kind enough to send me pictures of different types of animal chimeras, such as the birddog. His hope was to inspire me and lift my spirits with regards to my research.

I have some other animal chimeras that I will continue to post as time permits.

The animal chimera was obviously created through clever feats of graphic design engineering. Perhaps some graphic design artists have too much time on their hands?

Regardless, enjoy the birddog.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Flight of Fantasy...

Gary, from Views From My Garden was kind enough to remind me of another wonderful poem by William Butler Yeats. I figured since my mind keeps wandering back to the poetry of Yeats, perhaps I should post this one:

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

I WILL arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight 's all a-glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

William Butler Yeats

Oh! How my heart deeply desires to go someplace like Innisfree right now! To go there and never return! I take with me the following woodland flowers:

Claytonia virginica:

Dicentra canadensis:

Trillium erectum:

Viola rostrata:

Asarum canadense:

Arisaema triphyllum:

Mertensia virginica:

Uvularia sessilifolia:

Viola sororia:

After all, this is my flight of fancy and fantasy!

Photographic credits goes to Thomas, whose expertise never ceases to amaze me...

A Day of Rain

The news is finally in about my American Heart Association grant that I wrote back in January. It has made it to the final round, the final and last cut. It is in the final round where it is under consideration of funding. The coveted top percentile. However, the score is such that it stands virtually no chance of funding. Although it is not sunk, it is sinking--fast.

Sadly, one reviewer seemed bent on sinking my grant. The comments were really unfounded, irrelevant, and undeserved. Really.

I can only hope that my advisor gives me a moment to wallow in self-pity and failure.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Celebrity Pose?

This photo was taken after a rather long day of poster presentations, talks, attending the San Francisco Symphony, and a very late dinner. I think it must have been around 2 am San Francisco time. At the time, I was attempting to relax a bit. My labmate insisted upon taking impromptu photos of me while I waited for files to download. I guess all I could muster was this smile while he snapped the pictures.

I discovered this neat little tool over at Daughter of Opinion. So, I decided to give it a try. I used the above photo since it is my most recent picture. It claims that the celebrity I resemble the most is Ava Gardner. What do you think? I am not so convinced. I mean, we share certain features like the deep set eyes and the long nose. But if there really is a resemblance, perhaps I should go all the way and make my lips look more pouty?

Or maybe I will just be content to look like me...?
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