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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.

Mar 25 2014

Celebrating Our Dead

Today I had a strong urge to visit someone’s grave. She was a coworker who I worked with for about five years. She retired a year or two ago, and passed away in 2013. We shared an enjoyment of photography, and because we knew each other’s politics, we avoided discussions of that sort. She was a kind woman, always quick with a smile and a laugh. She liked to tell stories of her family and vacations. She was a hard worker, and knew how to care for all of the little details that keep a lab running. She was happy to teach what she knew, and taught me a lot of what I know about this place.

I don’t know where she’s buried, and as I toyed with the idea of seeking out her grave, reality began to intrude. I know that nothing exists after death. I will return to earth and sky and stardust, as did my coworker, and so I mused over this strong desire to visit “her”. I flipped through the logic: I don’t care about visiting her physical body – because eww. I don’t really want to drive a gazillion miles to find the physical cemetery in which she’s buried. I want to remember her contributions, the happiness that she brought me. I want to grieve that she won’t contribute anything new, and I want to mourn that I no longer have this particular source of inspiration physically present in my life. In short, I miss her.

Going to her final “resting place” – seeing the literal and figurative concreteness of her headstone seems like a good way to put firmly in my mind that she is gone, and standing in front of a grave perhaps gives me permission to indulge in a moment of reflection, joy and sorrow. Where else do we have to celebrate our dead after the initial ceremonies, the potlucks and goodbyes? Only among those who shared the experience of knowing them, or in our own minds – in those moments of quiet and stillness that come too few and far between.

*****

As a sort of related-aside: Cemeteries and burial grounds take up a lot of space on this planet. This is a funny thing to one who sees nothing inherently special in flesh and bones not connected by consciousness. As I was about to post this, I saw a link on Facebook about cool things to do with your body when you’re dead. I think I’d like to be a coral reef.

Mar 24 2014

Cross-Country Connections: Pocket

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 Pocket.

From me in Minneapolis, Minnesota:

Potstickers with a cup of sauceYummy pockets of chickeny-vegetabley goodness.

From Erin in Takoma Park, Maryland:

Bright, floral-pattern pocket. Brown leather-trimmed pocket with brown zipper. A small green button with "LilyBloom" written on it.Eco-friendly pocket! The front pocket of my purse – Lily Bloom brand, made from recycled plastic bottles.

From Mom in Hagerstown, Maryland:

Knit Ugly Doll-style Monster with two pockets in the front containing two smaller knit monsters.Momma Monster with Baby Pockets

Mar 23 2014

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mar 22 2014

Skeptech Game-A-Thon Is Now

Amy Roth, Rebecca Watson, Jason Thibeault, Chelsea Du Fresne and Brendan Murphy are currently Google Hangout-ing and killing things in Torchlight II. Ostensibly  to raise money for SkepTech, the incredibly awesome student-organized free-to-attend skeptic conference that’s happening on April 4-6th, but also because killing video game bad guys is just good clean fun.

I’ve attended Skep-Tech – and presented! – and it’s a stellar, well-attended conference. This year they’re bringing in Ian Cromwell, Heina Dadabhoy, Tim Farley, Jesse Galef, Debbie Goddard, Kate Greene, Jessica Kirsner, Hemant Mehta, David Tamayo and Rebecca Watson as speakers and panelists. Head on over to the Skep-Tech website for more details about presentations, panels and speaker bios.

Aaaaand:

A screenshot of Torchlight II with the text "Click here to watch the live gaming and to donate to Skep-Tech"

Mar 21 2014

HabitRPG

My Life – The Role Playing Game:

A photo of my avatar, my Health Points Bar and XP Bar

I am totally geeking out about HabitRPG. I’ve been using it since Tuesday and I just spent the last 30 minutes helping The Hubby set up an account. Since Tuesday I’ve kicked out several chores that I’ve been putting off for weeks, and I’ve started doing measly little tasks that I have a tendency to ignore, like getting the mail and bringing my coffee travel mug in from the car at night (instead of leaving it in the car where every day it’s joined by one of it’s fellow brother or sister mugs until I run out of mugs and then haul ‘em all inside to get washed).

I love that’s it’s all self-defined – YOU decide what is a habit, a daily chore or a one-off to-do task. You decide what belongs on the list or not. If you don’t do a chore, you take damage. If you do a task you get gold which you can use to buy armor and weapons for your avatar. And I’m even in a Party with other people online and right now we’re fighting a boss creature for gold and loot. I’m still trying to figure out how that works, but apparently today I attacked a 300 point Fiery Gryphon for 26.8 damage, so woo-hoo for me and us!

Are any of you playing?

Mar 20 2014

Adler Gets A Bath

Adler just shed her skin for the first time, which was a huge relief because I had no idea why she seemed to be losing her color (even though I had read about that this would happen – derp), but a day later she still had some skin stuck to her feet, which can be a problem for circulation if the skin builds up. But a little warm water soak cleaned her right up!

Mar 20 2014

Domestic Goddess

On Monday night my teammate and I were making our shirts for tonight’s Pro-Choice Resources bowl-a-thon. While I was ironing, she ordered me to give her my best Domestic Goddess pose:

Me ironing and giving the camera the finger

Today is the LAST DAY to donate to my bowl-a-thon fundraising website.

Please, please, pretty please consider donating some money to this incredible group. Pro-Choice Resources is on the front lines working to ensure that people have access to sex education, birth control and safe and legal abortion. You can see the original, thoughtfully-written appeal in this post, and I’m re-copying the goals and awards for donating at the end of today’s post.

So far you all have contributed $150 dollars for PCR. What say we push that up just a smidge more before I hit the lanes at 7:30pm CST tonight?

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

**********************

Goodies For Individual Donors:

Any Amount – I will send you a (photo of a) personal, hand-written thank you by email. Delivery goal: All emails delivered within one week of the end of the bowl-a-thon.

$25 or more – In addition to the above, I will send you a postcard thanking you for your donation (to anywhere in the world!). I would not have access to your mailing address via the PCR fundraising website, so I will put out a call for you to send me your address via email if you would like me to send you a postcard. Delivery goal: Date-stamped within two weeks of the end of the bowl-a-thon.

$50 or more – In addition to the above, I will devote a post to any question you’d like me answer or topic that you would like me to address. I make no promises about length or tone of the post, but on average I tend to devote between 500-1200 words to a topic that I find interesting.

Total Fundraising Goals:

If I raise the following amounts, I will do the following silly things:

$150 or more – I will post a photo of me with a bowling bowl, and wearing my team shirt (we’re “The Notorious P.I.D”)

$200 or more – In addition to the above, I will post a video of me granny-bowling and chanting “No back alleys in the night! For safe choices we will fight!”

$300 or more  - Both of the above, and I will do a dramatic armchair reading of some of the vile things that protesters say to patients and clinic escorts, and post a video of it.

$350 or more – The first three, and I will do the previously described reading in a smoking jacket with a pipe in my mouth and classical music playing in the background.

$400 or more – All of that stuff that I’ve already mentioned, and I’ll do the reading in a funny hat.

$500 or more – The first three, and instead of doing an armchair dramatic reading, I will have a friend do the dramatic reading while I act out the vile things that protesters say. And heck, we’ll turn it into a PSA about sidewalk bullying tactics.

 

Mar 19 2014

The North Shore Trip

This past weekend the Hubby and I drove up to the North Shore, and we ended up cramming in a lot of activities. On Friday I had to work a half day, and that afternoon before we left the Cities, we took in the Minnesota History Center’s Prohibition exhibit. I did some museum tweeting, which you can see on Storify by clicking the image below. 

storifyprohibition

Then we drove 2.5 hours north on Highway 35 to Superior, Wisconsin, which is right across the river from Duluth, Minnesota. We checked into our hotel and I was ready to crash, but we somehow managed to drag our butts out to see The Monuments Men. It was awesome and totally worth the putting on of pants. Read the rest of this entry »

Mar 17 2014

Cross-Country Connections: Coffee

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 Coffee.

From Mom in Hagerstown, Maryland:

A ceramic mug with the Cubs  logo on it and "Chicago Cubs" written underneath. The mug is sitting in a Tassimo coffee maker.Love it. 

From me in Minneapolis, Minnesota:

A tin sign on a wall. Text reads "Try Our Coffee It's Delicious" and a drawing of a man smiling, his eyes closed, bringing a steaming mug of coffee to his lips.

Spotted in Betty’s Pies near Two Harbors, Minnesota.

From Erin in Takoma Park, Maryland:

A Contigo travel mug sitting in the snow.The best travel mug in all the world. I don’t know about it keeping stuff warm for 4 hours but it makes this never ending winter tolerable.

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