Students often wonder what it is like to be a professor. I remember when I was a graduate student, and I saw the professors sitting in their offices all day long. In those days, before email, they were on the telephones a lot. What do they do? It turns out that they are actually really working. I am teaching three classes this semester, “Parasitology”, “Parasitology Laboratory”, and a graduate seminar class called “Environmental Impacts on Infectious Diseases”. Add to that research projects, graduate students, writing manuscripts and grants, plus departmental meetings: it adds up to a very full but varied daily schedule. Every morning, I make a list of the things that must be done that day, and mark the emails that I must answer. Then it is always interesting to see what unexpected things come up. Slowly, some of the things are checked off the lists, but you quickly learn that the work is infinite. Curious students walk in the classroom at 8 am, and I try to engage them as much as possible. The Parasitology midterm exam was definitely challenging. Here is a sample question.
A friend of yours, Francisco from Brazil, comes to see you complaining of intermittent chills and fever that have been going on for 5 days. He has lived in San Francisco for the past 10 years, and visited Brazil 9 months ago. The present illness, fever and shaking chills, began 5 days ago. Four days ago he had a normal temperature in the morning, but developed a temperature of 102° F and shaking chills in the afternoon; this subsided in the evening. Two days later he had a repeat of the episode. You order some lab tests and they show anemia, but tests for liver function were normal. What is the name of the parasite (Genus and species) that caused his illness?
The answer is Plasmodium vivax, because it is typical case of the relapse of liver hypnozoites.
So professors learn to prioritize. Right now I am prioritizing making foods with delicious tomatoes. The dry-farmed early girl tomato season is long this year, due to the warm summer weather. Cooking with fresh vegetables insures that everything turns out tasting delicious.
My vegan chili recipe is simple: quickly fry some garlic in olive oil, add brown mushrooms, and fresh corn until slightly brown. Then add cumin, paprika, mole (from Mexico city), chipotle chili powder and some salt. Add a lot of tomatoes, dino kale and at the end kidney beans. Serve with corn bread. It always turns out great.
There are plenty of concerts and events going on in San Francisco. On Wednesday the 14th, the Berkeley Symphony had a concert featuring a multidimensional piece entitled “Laterna Magica” by Kaija Saariaho. This included us in the wind section whispering phrases about light in German. The second bassoon part in Ravel’s Bolero simply involves playing a few notes repeatedly, with the main challenge counting measures, so it is simply fun.
Also don’t miss the performances of the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, where admission is always free. Robin Sharp, gave a brilliant performance of Leonard Bernstein’s Serenade for violin and orchestra.
Last night, I was at the 3rdI Indian Film Festival, for a Bollywood movie, and finally, Smack Dab is an open microphone performance once a month in the Castro neighborhood where I live. You never know what to expect, and it is refreshing to see poetry and performances in this expensive city, where we consistently hear that all the artists have left. Clearly, the city is different than it was 30 years ago, but every day, there is enough going on here to fill a lifetime.