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Apr 15 2014

Cross-Country Connections: Ticket

Cross-Country Connections is a Biodork weekly blog entry dedicated to telling stories in pictures of three family members – me, my sister and Mom – living in different locations across the country. Every week we choose a different theme and then take or contribute a personal photo that fits the theme. This week’s theme is Ticket.

From me in Minneapolis, Minnesota:

Field of Depth photo - a ticket stub for Captain America in the foreground, the movie theater snack bar in the background.

On Sunday I watched so. much. Marvel. I picked up Thor: The Dark World from Redbox and watched that this morning, and then caught up on three old episodes of Agents of Shield. I was specifically ordered to go see Captain America: The Winter Soldier before watching Turn, Turn, Turn (the most recent Agents of Shield), so I reluctantly put on pants to go do that, then came back home and watched Turn, Turn, Turn. SO glad I saw them in that order because OhEmGee the cross-over amazingness!

From Erin in Takoma Park, Maryland:

Closeup of a plastic Metro SmartTrip Card My electronic ticket, the only thing Metro has ever gotten right!

From Mom in Hagerstown, Maryland:

A collection of plan tickets and museum stubs displayed haphazardly on a wood coffee table.At first I drew a blank, but this week’s CCC allowed me to walk through my memory box and pull out some of the many tickets that I’ve collected over the years.

Apr 14 2014

And this is why you’re not allowed to practice medicine.

Saturday was a rough one at the abortion clinic.

The crowds are getting might holy, what with Zombie Jesus Day just around the corner. The morning started out fairly easy; it was gray and drizzly and we thought that the weather might keep most of the protesters away. It seemed like that was going to be the case for most of the four-hour shift.

Then, about two and a half hours in, a crowd arrived from a local church. It was comprised of a number of families, including teens, young kids and a few babes en pousette. All in all, maybe 25 protesters.

2014-04-12 09.53.46A handful of the random visiting protesters who, in all likelihood, won’t be seen again until next Easter-time.

The teenagers seemed bored to be there, and had to be coaxed from their little huddle into walking down the sidewalk with their signs. At one point a little kid said, “Mommy, it’s cold – I want to go home.” To which Mom replied, “We live in Minnesota – of course it’s cold.” and went back to waving her gore porn at passing traffic.

This gentleman stood right at the property line and read teh bible at us for about 45 minutes, although he went off script a couple of times because those parts about Jesus condemning abortion…I don’t remember those parts (‘cuz they don’t exist – get it?). Seriously – dude made up scripture on the spot…just for little old us!

Middle-aged man reading from a bible.

Later his wife came over and lectured us about…actually I don’t really know…me and fellow clinic escort, Niki, managed to keep up a running conversation in spite of the caterwauling, and I only caught the occasional “killing babies”, “sin”, and “God.”

This morning also included a rare instance of Brianne Losing Her Temper And Engaging a Protester. One of the regulars who is known for taunting escorts was waving a four-month old infant at us, entreating us to look at how beautiful he is, and why would we deny a mother a beautiful baby like this, and would we kill this baby? I turned and snapped, “Stop using that child as a prop!” and immediately did an internal “D’oh!” and facepalm. Sure enough, the next few minutes were filled with the protesters gleefully exclaiming stupid stuff like “So you ADMIT that you think this is a child! What’s so different between him and the children that are murdered in there!?”

Just…engaging never gets you anything but more frothy-mouthed engagement.

*grumbles* And of course that’s a child, you nitwit. That a four-month old infant is a child is not the point of contention between us, dumb-dumb.

Yeah, rough morning.

Another head-explody moment came when one of the regulars caught sight of Niki’s awesome Surlyramic showing a “no coat-hanger” symbol on (like this), and said…

She actually said…

Hang on. Let me catch my breath for this…

She says, “What’s the difference between a coat hanger and curette?” Now, this is writing, and her tone might not be coming across just so, so allow me to clarify. This was a snotty, righteous “How come you’re against coat hangers but okay with curettes since they both cause baby murderin’?” kind of asking going on here.

Let me get this straight: You need me to explain to you the difference between a dirty, makeshift hook used by a desperate person on themselves, which might result in a penetrating or perforating wound to vagina or cervix, potentially leading to septicemia…and a sterile surgical tool wielded by a trained doctor in the course of an exceedingly safe, (currently) legal outpatient procedure, which is very unlikely to cause any physical trauma to the patient? You need me to explain that coat hangers are what happens when access to abortion doctors and curettes isn’t available? You really don’t see a difference between these two things?

Hand in your medical license right now, preacher-lady. Oh, that’s right…you don’t have one. Well thank Jebus for that. Now if you would just stop flinging around medical advice like you have specialized training in that arena…that would be great.

One happy thing was that between the rainy weather, the intimidating crowds and an odd scarcity of street parking, most of the patients seemed to choose to park in the ramp, which means they weren’t subjected to a lot of direct harassment. So that’s a good thing.

*wanders off muttering* …difference between a coat hanger and a curette? C’MON.

Apr 07 2014

Cross-Country Connections: Unfinished

Cross-Country Connections is a Biodork weekly blog entry dedicated to telling stories in pictures of three family members – me, my sister and Mom – living in different locations across the country. Every week we choose a different theme and then take or contribute a personal photo that fits the theme. This week’s theme is Unfinished.

From Mom in Hagerstown, Maryland:

Photo of a computer screen, titled "Thursday August 18th - Chapter 1" followed by two paragraphs of text.The best of my work. One more hard edit.

From Brianne in Minneapolis, Minnesota:

Cat laying on her back, looking expectantly at the camera.Belly-rubbin’ work is never done.

From Erin in Takoma Park, Maryland:

Pair of legs and feet displaying a pair of nice black shoes, conspicuously absent of straps where one might expect to see them.Brianne’s partner is a leatherworker, and is working on the straps for these shoes. Can’t wait to get them back!

Apr 03 2014

Oh, so it’s gonna be that kind of year.

2014-04-03 20.01.36 2014-04-03 21.56.45 2014-04-03 22.07.04 2014-04-03 22.11.20 2014-04-03 22.12.32 Spring

Apr 02 2014

Bits and Pieces

I am exhausted!

Today at lunch I did a 2.5 mile outdoor jog/walk. The weather was nice and the run went quickly. After that I came back to the office and packed up for my first move in eight years. We’re implementing a new program that requires co-location of team members, so I moved from a modest desk on the first floor to a much larger cube area on the second floor. It’s pretty sweet. But there was a lot of cleaning up to do – eight years of accumulated business plans, training documentation, hundreds of file folders filled with things that might someday be useful or necessary – but not so necessary that they require formal logging and storage – little gadgets and anniversary doo-dads, and five – count ‘em five – separate containers of floss. Five floss barely beat out the four chapstick that  I found squirreled away in different drawers. Many, many trips up and down the stairs.

But now I’m moved in and I have my computer and the internet back up, so life can continue. Gads, my knees are complaining, though.

Tomorrow we’re supposed to get 8-12 inches of snow. Frickin’ Minnesota spring.

Here’s A Thing Going Around the Internet. It looks like it originated on Santa Cruz Biotechnology Facebook page. I apologize for not providing a transcript. This is a very wordy image, a list of 54 “Ways To Tell That You’ve Been in a Lab Too Long” and there’s way too much to type up. But I will type my top six favorites:

1. You use the word “aliquot” in regular sentences. (Oh…this isn’t normal. But…aliquot is such a useful word!)

6. You flinch when you hear the word “significant”. (And “hypothesis” and “theory.”

23. You always seem to use the microscope after the person with the impossible close together eyes.

33. Warning labels invoke curiosity rather than caution

43. You’ve left the lab wearing a piece of PPE because you forgot that you had it on. (It’s always my safety glasses.)

46. You’ve bent down to pick something up off the floor only to scatter the contents of your top pocket under the largest machine in the lab (EVERY. DAMN. TIME).

48. When you start making patterns in your pipette tip box as you take the tips out. (I once made an X-Wing.)

There are a few on here that make me think NOPE.NOPE.NOPE (#25 – I’ve never wanted to drink distilled water from the lab). Also a few that make me think that the person who put this list together has jerkish tendencies (#28 – Who rolls their eyes and talks down to non-scientists who inquire about your work? Not cool.) But overall, I recognize waaaay too many of these.

LabTooLong And here are a few of my own:

*You’ve argued about whether it’s spelled “pipet” or “pipette”.

*You’ve had to explain the difference between a 1:10, 1/10, 1 in 10 and a 10-fold dilution.

*You’ve gotten annoyed because someone left an empty glove box in the holder.

*It sometimes feels like you have to defend your equipment against your coworkers with a sword and shield.

*Who spilled some unknown white crystalline chemical on the weigh scale and didn’t clean it up? Was it you? It was you, wasn’t it?

*The prospect of of having to explain your mixed study results to a cross-functional team fills you with dread.

Any of you lab people have any to add?

Mar 31 2014

Cross-Country Connections: Spiral

Cross-Country Connections is a Biodork weekly blog entry dedicated to telling stories in pictures of three family members – me, my sister and Mom – living in different locations across the country. Every week we choose a different theme and then take or contribute a personal photo that fits the theme. This week’s theme is Spiral.

From Erin in Takoma Park, Maryland: 

CCC Spiral ErinMy current work project is cataloging the dry mollusks in the Dept of Invertebrate Zoology. This beautiful specimen is a type of Trochid, a marine snail. 

From Mom in Hagerstown, Maryland:

CCC Spiral MomAn oldie but a goodie. Best time ever was the trip I made to England and France back in 2007. An entire six weeks! Behind me is a glimpse of the spiral staircases of the16th Century Chateau Chambord. They formed a double helix long before DNA was even imagined.

For more detailed information on this delightful example of Renaissance Architecture, see the Chateau Chambord Wiki.

From Brianne in Minneapolis, Minnesota:

CCC Spiral BrianneOn Sunday I startled a muskrat and a bunch of snail shells floated up from its push-up (its nest) in the reeds.

Mar 30 2014

Wood Lake Nature Center: A Song of Slush and Mud

Today the Hubby and I ventured out to enjoy the springish weather at Wood Lake Nature Center. The temperature was in the mid-40s and we were able to get away with light jackets. In the past Wood Lake has been amazing for wildlife. They get an amazing variety of migratory birds in the spring and fall, and they have a “no dogs” policy so the wildlife doesn’t get spooked. The very first thing we saw when we started down the trail was a coyote crossing the iced-over marsh. It was quite a ways away, but I managed to snag a bigfoot-style shot:

A coyote is seen in the center of the picture walking across an icy marsh. Read the rest of this entry »

Mar 28 2014

Her God-Ordained Identity

A lovely story coming our way from ABC News:

Christian School Bans Tomboy for ‘Direction She’s Heading’

Well, now. Here’s a story that just confirms all of the biases I have about good ol’ down south bible schools.

Sunny wasn’t girly enough for Timberlake Christian School, so they wrote a concerned letter to her guardians and told her that she wouldn’t be allowed back in school in the fall unless she girl-ified her attitude. Wouldn’t want any of that tomboyishness or assertiveness confusing her schoolmates and teachers now, would we?

Of course, Timberlake says NO NO NO there are deeper problems beyond the length of Sunny’s hair. Yup. I’m betting those problems have to do with Sunny carving out her own identify and not conforming to the godilicious cardboard cutout that her administrators would like to see.

It’s gratifying to see that Sunny’s grandparents removed Sunny from Timberlake and enrolled her in public school. May she have better times there.

h/t to Mary B. for providing the link to this story.

 

Mar 27 2014

Bowl-a-thon Updates

The bowl-a-thon for ProChoice Resources was so much fun. Personally I (and you all) raised $150. ProChoice Resources raised $81,959.

That’s what I’d call a damn good start.

The fundraiser was 80s-themed, so the entire night was filled with throwback music videos that had most of the bowlers screaming “Ahhhhh! Do you remember this song!!!???”

And of course there were sweatbands.

Sweatbands

Me and my teammate and BFF, Courtney, rocking our sweatbands.

The bowling was mostly a blur – a few gutter balls, a few strikes. We did not do well. I think the high score – among six of us – was in the high 80s. What was really amazing were all of the people – all of the bowlers and volunteers who had come together in support of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health options. So much love for all the heroes in that sweaty, noisy bowling alley!

And as promised: Me, with bowling ball in hand, wearing my Notorious P.I.D team shirt:

2014-03-20 19.29.31

Tonight I started on my thank yous for the donors who were a part of this:

DSC_0116

Writing thank you letters to mah donors.

I’ve still got postcards to do, and there will be one custom blog post for the generous individual who donated over $50.

I love you guys. Thank you so much.

Mar 26 2014

Goodbye, Dear Samples.

When in the Course of sample shelf life stability, it becomes necessary for one person to dissolve the emotional bands which have connected her with these samples, and to assume among the powers of industry science, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Finance and of Peer-Reviewed Literature entitle her, a decent respect to the opinions of Her Project Manager requires that she should declare the causes which impel her to the separation.

They were old and the integrity of the proteins could no longer be trusted. That’s pretty much it.

*sniff*

I was hired in 2006 to conduct a month-long blood draw that produced thousands of aliquots. I participated as a phlebotomist, a sample processor, and I helped test them and analyze the data that they provided. My successful participation in this project has developed into a happy and fruitful career. Across eight years, numerous projects and the periodic mandated freezer cleanup (the bane of many a laboratory scientist) I have managed to save these characterized samples in the hope that someone, someday would be able to use them. But the end has come: All of the analytes within the serum that might be of use to us have likely degraded. So it was with a heavy heart that this afternoon – on the 26th day of March in the 2014th year of our calendar – I discarded them all.

Goodbye, dear samples. I will remember you fondly.

Eleven freezer canes, filled with sample freezer boxes

Most of these eleven freezer canes contain twelve freezer boxes, each of which contain somewhere between 40 and 80 1mL sample aliquots. That’s about 8,000 vials that were discarded.

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