Take a break

Hello Globetrotters,

Have any of you seen (or at least heard the soundtrack of) the musical Hamilton? Well, #1 Lin-Manuel Miranda is a genius and #2 it’s been out awhile, so I don’t feel bad about the following #spoilers. (Also, it’s based on historical events, so technically I suppose it’s “been out” for over 200 years. But I digress.)

In act II Hamilton’s wife and sister-in-law are trying to convince him he needs a summer vacation. They want him to come with the family to upstate NY and relax with them by the lake.

TakeABreak

He refuses, because he is dedicated to his work in Washington’s cabinet, and has a specific plan he’s trying to figure out how to get through Congress. So he stays in the city (NYC was still the capital then).

This is when he meets Maria Reynolds. “Someone under stress meets someone looking pretty” and they have a scandalous affair. Their affair essentially ruins his career.

His dedication without taking a break and some family time was ultimately not worth it! In the short term, he did work hard and move forward in his career, but long term it was detrimental.

Okay, cool story. But what does it have to do with anything other than proving what a huge nerd I am?

I, too need a break. Between working, moving, and the blog I am overwhelmed. I don’t want to have a career-ruining affair! Lol

So I’m going to take Eliza Schuyler Hamilton’s advice and take a break. You’ll definitely still see me here, but I’ll be focusing on my photo of the week and giving some old posts a makeover. I’ll still be present on social media, so be sure to follow me on Facebook, *Instagram, and *Pinterest.

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My goal is to be back to writing weekly after we get settled in the Czech Republic. We’re planning a big multi-country adventure before we finally end up in CR, so I’m confident I’ll have exciting material to share with you.

I hope you’ll stick with me because I already can’t wait to get back to it!

Lots of love,

Allegra, The Globetrotting Scientist

*This is my personal Instagram. I’m working with insta to get my blog Instagram back online. Also my personal Pinterest, but I pin tons of travel, food, and craft stuff.

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Photo of the Week: Happy Birthday, Dad!

Happy Birthday, Dad!

I’ve always loved this cute photo of us.  I hope you have a wonderful birthday; Love you!

NYC Part 5: Broadway Show and Cocktails in Manhattan

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I spent a long weekend in NYC. Catch up now with Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

After taking some cheesy photos and finding our way to our seats, Holly and I were able to take in the set of the Broadway musical, Once On This Island. (David was exploring downtown on his own, with plans to meet back up with us later on.) The setup was different than any theatre I’d been in before. The theatre is in the round (the audience surrounds the stage instead of being on one side of it) and is very open. Some of the cast was already on stage, milling around while the audience was settling in. The floor of the stage was covered in sand, and there was a “river” flowing in from one side. The first row of seats are on stage, with the audience seated with their feet in the sand. In addition to human cast members, there was a live chicken and a live goat on stage (my cousin’s favorite part)! I don’t have any pictures of the set because photos in the theatre are not allowed and they’re actually pretty strict about it.  The photo below is a model of the set that I found online.

onceonthisisland-set

Once the audience was settled (the show was standing-room only, but luckily we had seats) the show began. During a storm, the village storytellers tell a frightened little girl the story of Ti Moune. Ti Moune is an orphan girl who was adopted by peasants from the peasant side of the island. The island is also home to the grands hommes, wealthy descendents of French settlers who live on the other half of the island. In a Romeo and Juliet style story, Ti Moune falls in love with a grand homme, Daniel. I don’t want to spoil the ending, although if you’re curious, the synopsis is available on Wikipedia. The performance was incredible and the fairly young leading actors had phenomenal voices and stage presences.

After the show, we waited by the stage door for the actors to (hopefully) come out and sign Playbills. The first to come out was Sparky the goat! We got to feed him some goat food and take a few photos. Next to come out was Phillip Boykin who played Tonton Julian, Ti Moune’s adoptive father. He was really nice, signed both of our Playbills, and took a photo with us! Unfortunately no one else came out, but I’m not that surprised since it was a matinee and they had an evening show to prepare for. I was disappointed that Isaac Powell (who played Daniel) didn’t make an appearance, since he went to high school with my best friend and they were in their school’s production of Pippin together.

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We met back up with David and decided to get drinks before Holly headed back to CT and we returned to our Airbnb. Holly picked the place, an Italian restaurant called Da Marino with allegedly really cool bathrooms. We sat at the bar and each had a cocktail. Holly had one of their signatures, an espresso martini, I had a cosmo, and David had a vodka tonic. We chatted with each other and with the bartender, who could tell we weren’t New Yorkers right away. We were the only ones at the bar, since it was like 6PM on a Sunday.

Cocktails

David and I checked out the men’s and women’s restrooms respectively, and they were indeed pretty cool. The women’s room was like a fantasy enchanted forest. When I returned to the bar, the bartender was singing “I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You” with piano accompaniment. She was great! I guess she came to New York to become a singer, but was bartending to pay the bills.

We left shortly after her performance, Holly to Connecticut, and David and I to Astoria. David and I picked up some ramen and snacks to eat at home, rather than trying to go out to eat again. We had a chill evening for our last night in New York.

Cousins

Read about our last day in the city in my next NYC post! (Update 5/20/18: part 6 is the final piece of the story!) Did you enjoy this post? Have you visited New York before? Did you see a Broadway show? Where do you think the coolest bathrooms in New York are? Tell me about it in the comments below! Share this post via Facebook or Twitter and, as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!

Once On This Island wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Once_on_This_Island
Once On This Island set photo: https://www.broadwayworld.com/article/Broadway-By-Design-Dane-Laffrey-Clint-Ramos-Bring-ONCE-ON-THIS-ISLAND-from-Page-to-Stage-20171216

 

Photo of the Week: A New Theme

Hello, Globetrotters.  Beginning this week I’d like to start sharing with you a brief mid-week post with the theme “Photo of the Week.”   I’m not sure where this theme will take me, but I’m excited to share more about me through photos.  I’ll still maintain full-length posts every Sunday (sometimes Monday or Tuesday) while starting this new venture.

To start us off I’m sharing a selfie.  Selfies are great.  Selfies say “Hey, I liked how I look, so I took a photo and I’m sharing it with you.”  Well, this is me.  Photo credit: me.  Model: me.

Have a fantastic week!

I’m A Scientist: But What Do I Really Do?

As you may or may not know, my day job is to be a scientist. I work at a small pharmaceutical company in their skin biology or “IVPT” (In Vitro Permeation Testing) department. Let me warn you right now, if you’re squeamish about dead stuff/the human body you should probably click away. I’ve got nice, fun articles about traveling in New York or making yummy veggie squares that are not gross at all.

StopifYoureSqueamish

Okay, non-squeamish people, thank you for sticking with me! My job is to test various topical products (skin ointments, creams, gels, etc) on various membranes, most commonly on human cadaver skin. I’ve also worked with fresh/flash frozen human skin (skin that was removed during surgery), pig skin, and nasal tissue cultures.

My least favorite was the pig skin; after awhile I couldn’t get those little dead piggies out of my head. I don’t know how folks work with animals that they are conducting studies on and then have to euthanize. It’s definitely not for me! However, it is a necessary evil: the FDA requires animal testing for all pharmaceuticals (including things like sunscreen) before they can reach human clinical trials. Luckily, there is no live animal testing at my company, and the pig skin (which was harvested off-site) is my only experience working on any kind of animal testing.

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Most of my work is with human cadaver skin, which is donated by 100% consenting human adults! I am tasked with mounting pieces of skin onto diffusion cells, applying a topical formulation on top, and removing samples throughout the testing period. I also have to separate the skin layers and process the samples for analysis. They’re then passed on to another scientist who analyzes the samples on a Liquid Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry or High Performance Liquid Chromatography/fluorescence detector. Analysis is super complex and not my job so I’m not even going to try to explain it!

I’ve also done a variety of non-lab work for the support of the skin biology department. Writing protocols, placing skin orders (way creepier sounding than it is. I like to say “My job is to order dead people’s skin off the internet.”), organizing tissues and other supplies, and other boring office stuff are the less-cool parts of my job.

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I mostly wanted to share with you all a little bit more about me. I hope you learned something new! The US’s drug approval process is long (10-15 years) and I participate in one tiny sliver of it. There are definitely movements to shorten the process, but having seen a little of the behind-the-scenes, let me tell you, you do not want it shortened at the expense of your safety. So much goes into testing the safety, stability, and bioavailability* that it’s difficult and unsafe to rush.

I would love to see a reduction in animal testing, which brings me to my secondary goal with this post: to encourage you to become an organ donor/donate your body to science. So many fields benefit from having real human organs/bodies to conduct tests on; from pharmaceuticals to medical schools, to forensic science to transplant centers: the list goes on and on. An increase in the availability of human organs in pharmaceuticals would not only reduce the animal testing needed, but increase the accuracy and reliability of the results. I’ve linked a few different guides to the steps you need to take to donate your body to science.

https://www.wikihow.com/Donate-Your-Body-to-Science
http://www.sciencecare.com/how-does-the-body-donation-process-work/
https://www.refinery29.com/donating-your-body-to-science?bucketed=false&bucketing_referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F

Are you an organ donor? Do you plan to donate your body to science? Why or why not? Tell me about it in the comments below! Share this post via Facebook or Twitter and, as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!

*basically how well the drug will actually work with your body.  See linked article for a more detailed explanation.

1 Year of Blogging!

Wow. My blogging journey began in April of 2017, 1 year ago. I’ve made about 52 posts since then (1 per week) about everything from traveling to cooking to buying gifts for hard-to-shop-for relatives to science. It has made me realize that my calling is to write. I have a blog full of posts and a journal full of mundane day-to-day activities, poems, short stories, novel ideas; I’ve found my mind to be an endless tap of creativity. I love exercising that creativity and sharing it with all of you!

Moving forward I’m excited to share more personal posts, more travel guides, and some different themes. I won’t say too much here, but some new content will be launching soon, so keep an eye out and look forward to more posts!

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I’ve loved having guest posts from David, who can share so many unique travel experiences and bring diversity to my blog. If anyone else is interested in writing a guest post, please share your ideas with me; I’d love to have you.

My top posts from the past year have been:

  1. Travel Mistakes I Made (So You Don’t Have to)
  2. Destination: Montreal, QB, Canada
  3. 6 Tips for Packing Light
  4. Spontaneous Beach Trip
  5. Vegetarian Mexican Pizza

I will keep trying to bring you content like this, but I’d love to hear your feedback, too. What have you liked so far? What were your favorite specific posts or types of posts? Do you want to see more destination guides? More personal travel journals? Recipes? Science topics? Let me know in the comments, and a million thank yous for sticking with me for a whole year! You’re the best!

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NYC Part 2: Morning in Little Odessa & Afternoon in Coney Island

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I spent a long weekend in NYC. You can read about Day 1 here.

On day 2, Saturday, we were ready to brave the subway. We’ve both traveled to cities with metro systems, together and independently, so despite coming from NC where people will clutch onto their giant pickup trucks in a cloud of smog before they use public transport, we were both familiar with the concept. However, New York City’s subway system is confusing as hell. There are a million lines, some of them are numbered, some lettered, all of them are colored, but there are multiple green lines, for example, so that’s not helpful. Thank God for Google Maps.

NYCMap

We walked about 15 minutes to the subway station nearest to our Airbnb, then took the R train from Astoria, Queens into Manhattan, and the Q train all the way down through Brooklyn. Our stop was Brighton Beach also known as Little Odessa. Little Odessa is home to many Eastern European immigrants, especially those from Russia and Ukraine.

If someone had said to me “imagine a cross between Eastern Europe and New York City” I would’ve pictured Little Odessa, even before going there. We walked up and down the main street, under the raised train tracks. A variety of Slavic languages swirled around us; I didn’t hear anyone speaking English. There were tons of little convenience stores, delis, and shops. We went into a “department store” that was essentially an Eastern European style Walmart. David observed that it reminded him of similar stores in Serbia. They sold everything from underwear to kitchen appliances to pharmacy items and everything was very cheap by NYC standards.

LittleOdessa

Next we stopped in a bookstore. They sold English books in Russian, Russian books in English, kid’s books, romance novels, adventure stories, language books, and Russian cultural books. David definitely enjoyed it more than I did, considering he speaks some Russian.

We left the bookstore in hopes of finding a good lunch spot. Many of the restaurants looked amazing, but were sit down and we didn’t really have the time or money for that. Others had folks lined up down the sidewalk, but didn’t have a dining room. Did I mention it was 40F and windy the entire weekend? We aren’t Russian, and I can’t quite enjoy eating outside in the cold wind. We finally found a little corner restaurant selling 2 slices of pizza and a soda for $5. Sold. The store owners seemed to be Russian, even though the food wasn’t.

Pizzaday2

After walking around a bit more, we hopped back on the train to Coney Island (we totally could’ve walked, but woulda coulda shoulda, eh?). Since it was March, none of the rides were operating. Many of the shops and arcades were closed. It was a really cool way to experience an iconic piece of Americana.

CandyStore

We visited one of the few shops that was open, a candy store. They sold all kinds of novelty candy; giant boxes of cereal marshmallows, giant gummy bears, a huge variety jelly beans and gummies, Harry Potter themed candy, alcohol themed candy, and a bunch more. We had fun looking around before stepping back into the wind. There was a cute cafe/restaurant down the street with great views of the still amusement park rides. David got a macchiato and I had a hot chocolate (I’m a kid at heart, what can I say?). We enjoyed our hot drinks and people-watched for a while.

ConeyIsland

We had dinner plans with a friend of David’s in Manhattan that evening, so after finishing our drinks we went back to the train, which we road from Brooklyn back to Midtown Manhattan, so that David could see Times Square for the first time.

Read about our adventures in Times Square, the upper east side, and the village in my next NYC post! (5/20/18 update: the whole story has been posted!  See part 4, part 5, and part 6 now!) Did you enjoy this post? Have you visited NYC before? What’s your favorite neighborhood? Did you brave the subway? Tell me about it in the comments below! Share this post via Facebook or Twitter and, as always, follow me here on WordPress for more GREAT content like this!