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Postdoc interviews in St. Louis
 
 
(Click on the images for a larger version.)
U City sign
It's time for Ilaria and I to figure out our next move. Ilaria received her PhD in April; I should receive my in a few months. So the next move if we're going to stay academic people is to do a Postdoc. A Postdoc is the last level of indentured servitude before you can be a science professor. It's a tricky point in our lives, because we both do similar things and there are only a few places in the world where we can both do what we do. One of those places is Washington University in St. Louis. Ilaria was interviewing in Barak Cohen's lab, and I was interviewing in Jeff Gordon's lab. They both belong to the WashU Center for Genome Sciences and were flexible enough to allow Ilaria and I to come do our interviews at the same time.

The day before our interviews, Ilaria and I walked from Washington University Medical Center (where our hotel was) through Forest Park to have dinner in University City.

The next day Ilaria and I each gave a talk and had interviews/meals from 9AM til 8PM (me) or 11PM (Ilaria).
 
union station sign
The day after our marathon interviews, I had interviews all day again, but Ilaria only had interviews in the morning. So she went out to explore St. Louis and see if it is somewhere she'd be willing to live.

I'm going to let her write this part.
 
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Yes, when my interview was over at about 10:30am, i decided to go explore the downtown area. The first step was Union Station. I took the brand new subway towards downtown and I got off at what was supposed to be a pretty cool mall... there was nothing in there.
 
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So I went out and I walked towards downtown. The sky was pretty hazy so the first view of the arch was not the best. But I found this festival on the street.
 
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It was a german festival, with music and german food.
 
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This was to me the most offensive part of the whole thing. Practically that girl was sitting on that bench on top of that bucket of water. You can go there and pay to get 3 shots to hit that red button. If you hit it she falls into the water. Maybe Americans are used to this game but I thought it was really offensive. First I don't see why you want to pay to splash in the water a person you don't even know. Second what is the cage for? For protecting her or for giving more ideas (!)? Third, and worse, she was trying to attract as many people as possible, and of course only men would play this game.
 
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But let's go back to the food. It was very hot, very very hot, and of course I didn't want any of those heavy sausages or french fries. But I decided I was in the mood of appreciating the new things that this town was going to offer me. So i saw this thing "funnel cake"... I gave it a try.
 
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I was very disappointed to see it was just deep fried dough. I ate maybe one quart of the whole plate. I had to throw it away, it was too greasy. It took so much to digest it that I didn't eat anything else before dinner.
 
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Then I walked to the City museum. Almost all the people I met the day before told me to go see this thing. It is really not a City museum, it is not even a museum. It is a giant playground. Very sophisticated. There were hundreds of kids in there.
 
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There were these kinds of tunnels and bridges everywhere. This little boy got scared in there and didn't want to move anymore. I wonder who went to pick him up.
 
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It was a really cool place.
 
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Then I kept walking towards the river. Well the river was really not a good view, but this park was nice. Especially it was good to walk in the tree shade for a while.
 
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I actually never left the shade at this point. So I took pictures of the arch only from the distance.

Then I went back to the hotel, where I took a nap, and when J got back too we went out again.

Ok, now J will write for the rest of the album.
 
wash U hilltop
Unfortunately, the major goal of this trip was not fun. Besides figuring out if we liked the labs we were interviewing in, we spent a huge amount of our time figuring out where we would live if we moved here. We went around the WashU Hilltop campus (i.e. not the medical school) and U.City to check out the housing scene.
 
ilaria washu
Ilaria was impressed by the university, but not by the neighborhood.
 
washu library
I liked the library but not the heat.
 
washington university nite
Washington University has the old stone look like Duke and Yale.
 
washington university main building
For dinner we went to Delmar in University City again.
 
blueberry hill st louis
We looked all over for a place to eat. And a little unstatisfied with our choices, we settled on what looked looked like a tourist trip: Blueberry Hill, Chuck Berry's bar.
 
blueberry hill st louis ilaria
But to our surprise, it was pretty cool inside, and the food was really good.
 
new busch stadium
Our next and final full day in St. Louis, the question of the day was where would be happy living in St. Louis. I'd be happy enough living in Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals - my baseball team.
 
new busch stadium 2
My dad and I saw the beginnings of this new stadium when we were in St. Louis to say goodbye to the old Busch Stadium, so it was nice to see the new Busch Stadium completed.
 
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I shoulda
 
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pitched for
 
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the Cardinals.
 
outfield busch stadium
But I stopped playing baseball my sophomore year of high school.
 
outfield busch stadium 2
I'd be happy just watching the Cardinals play in this stadium, though I could play outfield if they ever need me.
 
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We were out by the stadium,
 
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because we were trying to catch a bus to Soulard, which several people told us was a neighborhood that might suit our metropolitan, car-free lifestyle.
 
soulard market
Soulard is a pretty cool old neighborhood with lots of restaurants
 
soulard market st louis
and a famous old market. But one of our biggest requirements is that we don't want to drive to work (i.e. WashU Medical Center). After waiting 30 minutes to catch a bus to Soulard and 60 minutes to catch a bus out of Soulard, it was clear we'd never live here. The new metro in St. Louis is really nice. But the bus system sucks.
 
clayton public pool
Once we got outta Soulard and vowed never to wait for another St. Louis bus, we took the metro to Clayton. Our first look at Clayton was this enormous public pool. We have a public pool near our apartment in Boston, but this was like an aquatic center. A huge diving pool with high dives and planks; a huge Olympic-sized swimming pool; and a giant kiddie pool.

Unfortunately, that's all we really liked about Clayton. For sure this isn't a walking city. There just wasn't any life - only cars.

We took the metro a couple stops further, but the air reeked so bad of suburbia that we immediately got back in the metro
 
st louis arch
and headed downtown.

Downtown St. Louis is making a comeback. After a long stagnant period, the old buildings are all being converted into beautiful lofts. However, the lofts are expensive and the stores have yet to make a downtown comeback (few grocery and clothing stores). But downtown is still an interesting possibility in St. Louis.
 
arch interstate
We were about to head back to our hotel when we noticed a lot of folk heading over to the arch. Seems there was a concert going on, so we walked over
 
ilaria arch
to have a look.
 
concert st louis arch
Turns out St. Louis has a bunch of really good groups come down and play in front of the Arch in the summer (they call it Live on the Levee). Groups this year included Los Lonely Boys, G. Love & Special Sauce, Ani Defranco, Emmy Lou Harris,
 
st louis john michael montgomery
and on this final concert - John Michael Montgomery.
 
arch mississippi music
Not our favorite band, but it was cool to see a concert there on the Mississippi under the arch.
 
forest park bridge
Our last day, we decided to take it easy, because it was really hot and humid and with a 12 o'clock checkout and a 6 o'clock flight, we wouldn't be able to shower if we got all sweaty in those afternoon hours. So in the morning, we took a nice walk in Forest Park (one of the really nice things in St. Louis). Then in the afternoon, we watched the Simpsons Movie in Chase Park Plaza Cinemas. The cinema was near our hotel in the Central West End.

In the end, we decided that the Central West End was our favorite neighborhood (though it's definitely not as nice as most Boston neighborhoods).

That nite, we flew back home to Boston. We were exhausted, but we learned a huge amount about St. Louis and the Center for Genome Sciences.