A Wonderful Start to the Week

Yesterday I did bake the chocolate crinkle cookies and much to my surprise they turned out well! Several new interns also moved into the guest house. Most of them are juniors in college studying agricultural engineering and we got to know one another over cookies and google translate.

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This week Gul Abla is taking a much needed vacation. Because she is gone, I am assisting Joe with his research for the week. Just about everything possible went wrong for Joe, from rain delaying his harvests to customs holding the reagents required for the DNA extraction. Being a few weeks behind schedule, having a helping hand is quite necessary. I spent the morning putting shotgun pellets into 2mL tubes with cut up wheat stems. The shot gun pellets help crush the samples into a fine powder in the grinding machine. For the afternoon, I went into my lab where I used a weighing scale to record the dry weight of the stems that haven’t been cut and ground yet.

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With Ramadan over, the entire mood at lab has changed. When I walked in this morning I was offered chocolate and everyone seemed even more exuberant than they usually are. They all loved the cookies; each person helped themselves to at least 3. Having the cafeteria open again was also wonderful. The food was amazing and I got to see members from other labs I haven’t got to interact with for a while.

There is a new intern, Velihan, in our lab who was quite entertaining. He started out our conversation discussing Bollywood films. Apparently everyone here knows the famous Indian actor Aamir Khan and have seen all of his films. He moved on to rap songs by Snoop Dogg and popular American TV shows like How I Met Your Mother. My taste in pop culture is a little different, so while I wasn’t able to relate to the specifics, I was fascinated by how much he knew.

Velihan proceeded to offer me a cigarette, at least the 5th time that has happened here. While I love Turkish people and pretty much everything else about Turkey, the one thing I can’t stand is all the smoking. In the past few weeks I have made progress on this issue; I made Ümit Bay promise that he would stop smoking once his new baby is born. In case it isn’t clear, I replied to Velihan with a firm no.

After many laughs and a productive day at work, I returned to the guest house and cooked a dinner I shared with Joe. Today was pretty great!

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Just after writing this post I heard about the bombing in southern Turkey today. For all wondering, I am fine, as are Ümit Bay’s family, Gul Abla and her husband, and Dr. Amer and his family (all of them are in southern Turkey right now but far away from the bombing). My thoughts are with all the families devastated by this.

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