Tag Archives: high falls

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Daniel’s mother was kind enough to let me borrow the book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.  I’m a biologist.  Specifically, I’ve taken a lot of genetics, cell biology, and molecular biology classes.  All throughout my college career, professors talked about experiments done with HeLa cells.  When asked what HeLa cells were, one of my professors simply replied that they were an immortal human cell line.  No explanation regarding the name was given.

This book details the life, death, and “afterlife” of Henrietta Lacks, and her cervical cancer cells that were taken without her consent at Johns Hopkins.  This was done back in the 1950’s, and her cells are still being used for research today.  Henrietta died in 1951, after losing the battle with cancer.  The book focuses not just on these phenomenal cells that have lead to a number of scientific and medical discoveries including the first visualization of chromosomes and the HPV vaccine, but also on Henrietta herself, including her history and her family.  Her family continues to live in poverty, unable to afford basic healthcare.  This, despite the fact that many scientists have made a fortune off of Henrietta’s cells.  The name “HeLa” comes from the first two letters of her first and last name.  The book also discusses medical ethics and the changes that have been made since the early to middle 20th century due to scenarios like this.

It’s a riveting book, and I’ve wanted to read it ever since I StumbledUpon a link that gave a brief history of Henrietta and her family.  Before I found this story, I was clueless as to the origin of these cells.  After reading this short article, I did some research and found out about this fascinating book that had been written about her.  I’m so glad that I’m finally getting the chance to read it.  Whether you’re curious about the woman whose cells continue to thrive 60 years after her death or you want to read about a time before basic standards of medical ethics were in place, it’s a great read, with historically and scientifically interesting context.

Cloudy day, taken last weekend.


Daniel’s Family Visits (Continued)

I believe tonight is the last night that Daniel’s family will be in town.  I will be sad to see them go.  It’s nice having other people to play games with, talk to, et cetera.

Speaking of games, Nicole loves Heroscape.  This is awesome because Daniel has found someone that enjoys the game almost as much as he does.  I played tonight, and I actually won.  For someone who loves the game so much, Daniel doesn’t win it too often.  But the best games are the ones you can still have fun playing, even if you don’t win every time.

High Falls.

1/2 of Daniel’s Family Visits: Day 2

I woke up this morning feeling pretty rested and excited to go get a new muffler for my car.  Naturally, I made an appointment with a place that specializes in mufflers, but it was in Henrietta.  Daniel’s mother was kind enough to drive everyone to the aforementioned muffler place so I could drop off my car, and then she treated us to brunch at Jay’s Diner.  Daniel and I have never gone there for breakfast before, but it did not disappoint.  It was your average diner breakfast food, which is just what we wanted.

After a brief trip to Target to buy Daniel a set of clippers to keep his hair trimmed, I got the call that my car was ready.  After driving it home, I realized how much more quiet the ride had been; obviously the muffler was desperately needed at that point.

After a trip to campus to show his youngest sister our school, we drove to High Falls.  I never really get tired of making the trip to High Falls because it’s still such a bizarre sight to me.  Also, it’s only a few minutes drive from either our apartment or the campus, since it’s right in the middle of the city.  We saw some pretty neat wildlife, including a heron and some baby deer that appeared to be residing on the small bar of land directly under the Pont de Rennes walking bridge that faces the falls.  It was a good trip.

After I conquered all of them in 3 games of Pirate Fluxx, we went to dinner at Sinbad’s which is always a pleasure for me and Daniel.

I hope Daniel’s mother and sister can keep themselves entertained while we are at work tomorrow.  It’s been wonderful having them here, and I want them to enjoy themselves.

Once a millstone, now it's art. From the High Falls Historic District.

High Falls and Abbott’s Frozen Custard (Finally!)

Today was Kelly’s last day in Rochester.  After a breakfast of leftover quiche, Daniel, Kelly, Dillon, and I went for a leisurely walk until Abbott’s opened.  It was so good to have frozen custard in my tummy again.  Yes, some Abbott’s locations remained open during the long, long winter.  However, it tasted that much better when I had not had any in six months.

Then, since the weather was so beautiful, we took a trip to High Falls.  I guess Kelly really loves High Falls and wanted to show Dillon.

High Falls


We also saw the iconic Kodak building.


The area around High Falls feels a lot like parts of Downtown Durham (except for the chilly weather).  Especially for the buildings overlooking the river, it is a very depressing area.  Everything is just empty, and it is obvious that there were businesses that may have been there recently, but failed and closed.  If Rochester ever sees a another boom, I hope the area overlooking High Falls experiences prosperity once again.

High Falls Historic District

10 Things I’m Getting Excited About (Spring Edition)

Spring is coming…eventually.  Here are a few things that I’m looking forward to doing here in Rochester as soon as the weather allows for them.

10.  Taking a stroll around Lake Ontario.

Okay, not all the way around it, but we live less than 10 minutes away, and it’s the closest thing to the ocean we have in Rochester.  Although I would never go swimming in it and it’s not nearly as exciting or fun as the ocean, it is still a gigantic body of water that is practically sitting in our backyard, and there are lots of trails nearby that are great for walking.

9.  Bike riding through Genesee Valley Park.

This year Daniel and I are lacking bikes, but that won’t stop us from walking along the river.  I can’t wait to see all of the wildlife that comes out when it starts to get warm.

8.  Visiting High Falls on a warm day.

I’m sure that you’re noticing a theme.  As soon as it gets warm, the goal is to be outside as much as possible.  I believe this is true for all Rochesterians.  High Falls is a great place to visit because of its bizarre location, right in the middle of downtown Rochester.  I think it is one of those things that you definitely must seek out, because you will only find the falls after ducking down various side streets downtown.  They are not obvious until you are standing in front of them.  I love taking people there for the first time, because they are always surprised.

7.  Exploring the Public Market.

The Public Market is pretty famous around here.  It’s huge, and when the weather is warm it’s practically a weekly festival.  I’m looking forward to purchasing fresh, inexpensive, locally grown fruits and veggies.  But the Public Market has so much more than your typical farmer’s markets.  They have everything you could imagine, and house various vendors where you can grab a quick meal or a cup of coffee.

6.  Strolling around the Park Avenue neighborhood.

I have forgotten what the big, beautiful houses around here look like in the sunshine.  I’m so excited about taking nightly strolls with Daniel and enjoying the warmth (if it ever comes).  Eventually the restaurants will open up onto the sidewalks and we can walk past people dining and smell the delicious aromas of the various restaurants in the neighborhood.  This brings me to number 5.

5.  Eating a gyro on the patio at Sinbad’s on Park Ave.

This is one of Daniel’s and my favorite places to go for a date night.  The food is delicious, but inexpensive, and the service is always good.

4.  Having a few (too many) drinks and one last “Hurrah!” on Dandelion Day.

D. Day.  A true University of Rochester tradition.  I have so many fond memories of previous D. Days, and I’m sad that this will be my last.  So I have to make it count.

3.  Attending the Lilac Festival.

I have never been able to attend the Lilac Festival, but this year I am making it a priority, especially since my family will be in town for my graduation.  They boast over 1200 varieties of lilacs, as well as live performances, art, and food.

2.  Having a picnic in Mendon Ponds Park.

Daniel and I love to pack sandwiches and snacks and go for a hike in Mendon Ponds Park.  Although for a couple of years we had searched, last spring we finally found the Devil’s Bathtub.  It is actually a kettle hole, which, according to Wikipedia, is formed by retreating glaciers.  In addition to interesting landforms, they have a large variety of wildlife throughout the park.  (My least favorite are the snakes.)

1.  My college graduation.

It’s approaching really quickly which is both scary and exciting.  I will officially have my degree in molecular genetics.  All of my hard work will have finally paid off.  But, it will also mean that I will have to say goodbye to this place, to which I have become very attached in the past 5 years.  Also, I will certainly miss my friends.

Rush Rhees