I’m coming to Oz!

The most amazing thing has happened: I’ve been asked to go to Australia for work! Work-covered plane tickets! A chance to meet new people in my company and customers who use our products in a different geography! A chance to work and temporarily live in a radically different location! It’s like winning the lottery – except still having to work.

I leave Minneapolis on October 31st (no Halloween parties for me *sniff* I’ll get over it BECAUSE AUSTRALIA), and I’ll be all over the place for two and a half weeks: Melbourne and then across to Western Australia to work in Perth and Kalgoorlie. I’m thrilled to be able to represent my company, and to see different parts of a country that I never imagined I would be able to visit any time in the near future.

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The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Two weeks ago the Hubby and I flew down to Orlando, Florida to spend a week with my Mom at Universal Studios.

We stayed at a hotel on the Universal park campus and were a short bus ride away from the gates. The hotel is called Cabana Bay Beach Resort and it was… an experience. It’s styled after Vegas resorts of the 1950s-60s: classic cars parked outside of the main entrance, posters bearing over-the-top Beaver Cleaveresque-like messages like “Have a SWELL day” plastered up throughout the hallways and elevators, 50s music and retro commercials playing in the main dining area, a Jack LaLanne exercise studio and a bowling alley.

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A Big, Painful, Good Decision

There’s something that I’m finding myself saying more and more often these days that is very painful for me to say:

I’ve decided not to apply to medical school. I’ve decided not to apply for nursing school. I’ve decided not to pursue any advanced degrees in medicine.

(but I always whisper “For now…who knows what the future holds?”)

You see, I really, really like medicine. I like the science that is medicine and the art and politics that is health care. I like when people have the most current and accurate information that can help them make informed decisions. I like leading teams. Working in a field that has a direct impact on people’s health, safety and empowerment would be a dream for me. I’ve wanted to be a doctor since I was a little girl. I’ve wanted to be a doctor all through high school, and in college I majored in a field that would prepare me to apply for medical school, joined Pre-Med Club and studied for the MCAT. I’ve wanted to be a doctor when I took time after graduation to work and gather experience, and while I tried to figure out how to get all of my ducks in a row so that I could go to medical school.

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Why I work late

Oy. Tonight was a long one. Deadlines aren’t always as flexible as one might hope, and science sometimes does not play by human clocks. But it’s all worth it for a chance to piss off the anti-science, pro-God set. One of my secret atheist coworker friends (we have a secret handshake okay no we do not but I’d totally learn one because who doesn’t want to be part of a club that has secret handshakes), gave this to me today:

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Text on a small scrap of paper says: “SCIENCE: The study and investigation of phenomena based on rigorous study and experiment, conducted solely for the purpose of pissing off those who think God did it all.”

Yup. As Fox News has known for years, science-ing is actually part of the Atheist Agenda. I do what I can. You’re welcome.

Two Strikes and We’re Out

On Wednesday July 9th, 2014 my apartment flooded. Now, if this sounds familiar to you, you might be remembering this post.

That’s right, this is the second major flood to hit us in this location. The Hubby and I live in a garden-level apartment, but the flooding has never been due to excessive rain, or to an upstairs neighbor forgetting to turn off a faucet. This is has been burst plumbing every single time. I say every single time because we’ve actually had plumbing issues which resulted in water being outside of the pipe in which it belonged four times. Twice the flooding was caught early (stains on the ceiling), and before theyt caused any damage. Another time the pipe burst we caught it as soon as it happened and we were able to get everything out before anything was irreparably damaged. The fourth time – this last time – the pipe burst sometime during the workday and I came home to water pouring from the ceiling and thousands of dollars of private property damage. Let me be clear – the thousands of dollars of damage happened to our stuff – I’m not including the landlord’s property. [Read more…]

Cosplay: We Made A Thing Today!

One of my favorite things about CONvergence -and of which there are many – is all of the cosplay. The Hubby and I love to people-watch, and we like to dress up when it’s creative and convenient. This year we decided that we had the time and energy to put together a few costumes. We spent yesterday planning specifics and shopping, and we made some amazing finds. I’m not going to put up photos of the complete costumes until CONvergence weekend, but here are the descriptions:

The Belcher FamilyTina and Louise Belcher from Bob’s Burgers – Aaron is repurposing a wig from a previous V for Vendetta costume for Tina, and he has a pair black thick-framed glasses that will serve.  We found a simple blue skirt, blue t-shirt, and yellow barrette for the him at Target. Black high-top Converses came from Famous Footwear. The retro tube socks will be picked up from Sox Appeal tomorrow. We had a bit more of a challenge finding a green dress for my Louise. There was nothing at Target, Savers or TJ Maxx, but then we lucked out at the Dress Barn: Kelly green with sleeves on the clearance rack, only one left AND in my size, 35% off. SCORE! Pink bunny ears hat ordered from Etsy. Black flats with strap from Famous Footwear. [Read more…]

OmegaCon Spring 2014

I’m sitting in a large hotel room in Siren, Wisconsin eating a luxoriously hoity-toighty picnic of rice-stuffed grape leaves, Molinari Finocchiona salame, and a variety of fancy cheeses – Gorgonzola, Huntsman, St. Angel and Brugge Rodenbach. This is all courtesy of the local wine and cheese shop that we stopped at on the way out of Minneapolis on Friday evening. The Hubby and I are sharing the hotel room with two friends – another couple who has made the two hour journey northeast to this teensy little town in the middle of not-much-of-anywhere. It’s the site of the biannual relax-a-con, OmegaCon.

A relax-a-con is a convention that doesn’t have much going on in the way of programming. It’s a gathering of friends who have come together to enjoy each other’s company, play board games, eat food and drink, sit around a bonfire, share a game at the minigolf course next door or do some arts and crafts.

So relaxing we are. Well – now that the packing is done:

Eight bags of luggage are stacked high in a hallway.

Bags for two people for a “relax”-a-con – food, boardgames, robe, slippers, swimsuits, spare clothes, laptops, books and magazines. I think we’re gonna need a bigger boat.

Last night we arrived, registered and started right in. At OmegaCon you color your own con badge. There’s a huge table covered in all the marker colors.

A hand-colored badge. Text says "OmegaCon Spring 2014 #220 Brianne" A stylized Grumpy Cat outline has been colored in to have green eyes, gray-tipped tail and ears, and bloody claws.

We said some hellos and made our way to the ConSuite, where I availed myself of a unnecessarily strong glass of whiskey and coke. To conclude the drinking portion of the evening I was a guest on the podcast Xtreme Tasting League: ScotchI had won the guest spot at a silent auction, and even though I have not one scotch-knowledge credential, I decided to give it a go. Because scotch is yummy. Ever the considerate guest, I brought a bottle of scotch along as a gift to my hosts. They decided to use it as one of the tastings on the podcast, and to my chagrin it sucked beyond any other bottle of single malt scotch that I’ve ever had. Ever the considerate guest, I reminded my hosts that I had brought the bottle to them as a gift, and so I couldn’t possible dream of taking the rest of it home with me.

After that I was pretty much done with alcohol, and I headed downstairs to play a few board games: A round of 7 Wonders, and a hour-long card game called Zar that had me and four others shouting, laughing and eventually shutting down the game room. We all stumbled off to bed at about 4am.

This morning started with a reluctant, slightly hungover jog around the local neighborhoods. It was too beautiful and sunny to pass up the run. And I found out why the hotel is called the Lodge at Crooked Lake:

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I wasn’t the only one running this morning; three other badasses went out and ran 10 miles. They’re all prepping for a half-marathon. Geeky athletes FTW!

After that some breakfast, a little time in the hot tub and pool, and then back into the game room. Today I’ve played a party game called Anomia, Legendary – a deck builder set in the Marvel universe, a bidding game called For Sale, and King of Tokyo. My giant robot cyber bunny totally rocked it and beat out the other three monsters.

Game pieces for Kind of Tokyo are laid out - decks of cards, stand-up cardboard monsters, dice and small green cubes.

After gaming there was lunching, then napping, then more gaming. I’m set to do another round of Xtreme Tasting League: Scotch this evening around 10pm, and this time I’m planning on being 100% *glances at the glass of gin and tonic on the bedstand* 90% sober for the recording. I think I’ll actually try to taste the scotches that we’re tasting this time.

And then, if past OmegaCon experiences repeat, we’ll be up until the sun comes up playing more board games. Oh…and they keep the hot tub open 24 hours for us. So that’s going to happen.

It’s a good weekend.

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?

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 more…]

Rocky!

You guys – I went running last week.

That’s not huge news. I used to be in a winter running club and track for one season in high school. I’ve started Couch-To-5K a few times (heck – even made it to Week 5 one time!) It’s just that I’ve never been very good at running. I’ve always been overweight, and I carry a fat girl’s baggage around when I run – yes, literally and figuratively. I’ve always been acutely aware of the extra jiggles, the way my boobs bounce, the pressure I’m putting on my knees.

But I do like the accomplishment of running, and I feel a special kind of awesome when I run. Of course running isn’t healthy for everyone, but rest assured: I’ve spoken with a doctor about me and running and I practice safer running.

I’ve started visiting the gym at my workplace over my lunch hour. I have a very simple goal: Be on the treadmill or elliptical for 30 minutes. That’s how I started it – 30 minutes, I don’t even care if I do a 30-minute mile; as long as I show up, I consider that a win. That was three months ago. I’ve only missed the gym on weekends, the occasional sick day, and for a couple of work days from hell.

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