Friday, July 29, 2005

April 22nd

Today I called the phone company to switch our service to the new house. Afterwards, I had to go to the automated verification system to promise that, really, I swear, I want you to set up the new phone the way I said. The following is a direct quote from the automated system:

"You now need to verify the month and day you were born by saying the month and day you were born. For example, if you were born on April twenty-second, say 'April twenty-second.'"

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Yo no habla espanol

I was in Buenos Aires last week, and when I asked the hotel desk clerk where the nearest church was, I may have inadvertently asked him where the nearest Iglesias was. Either he understood what I meant, or Julio can be found about 2 blocks south of the hotel.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

That´s a big boat

The Doktah and I were driving to the movie theater down near the water, and The Doktah gasped and said, "Mo! Do you see that boat! It´s huge!"

I looked around for it, but couldn´t see it anywhere. "What boat?" I said, and The Doktah pointed. I followed her point, but still couldn´t see it. "All I can see are those two buildings," I said.

"Dude," she said. "That's the boat."

Thursday, July 14, 2005

And with that...

I will be away next week, and after that I'm moving, so I may not be posting very much for a few weeks. I know, big difference. But I think I may have a few regular readers out there who don't know me in real life, and I'd like to keep them. Hi, people I don't know! I'm still writing the blog, so don't go away! Check back in two weeks!


Do you ever watch C.S.I.? You know how their lab is all shiny and black with mood lighting and crazy expensive equipment all over the place? And there is always tons and tons of empty, shiny black bench surface which to spread out samples?

Yeah, real labs aren't like that.

More inappropriate lab attire

The Doktah, as you know by now, sometimes wore unexpected things to the lab. And, as you may not know, The Doktah can sometimes become obsessed with the oddest things. At one point, she decided she had to have some roller skates. Not roller blades, mind you. Roller skates. Roller skates were the one thing missing from her life; the one thing which would bestow true meaning upon her existence. And so she went with Jersey Girl to New Jersey to get a pair that was on sale.

But here’s the thing. In order to go roller skating, one must leave the lab for an extended period of time; say, three hours at least. This, The Doktah could not bring herself to do. “What? Go outside to enjoy the pleasure of fresh air and sun and nature when I could do another experiment instead?” she would say. (The Doktah was a better grad student than I was.)

I’m being a bit hard on The Doktah, though. She also didn’t want to go out roller skating because she was pretty bad at it, and she didn’t want to get hurt. So The Doktah decided the best and most time-efficient solution (The Doktah is nothing if not efficient) would be to wear roller skates at the lab. Yes, The Doktah, who is a brilliant scientist but sometimes lacks common sense, decided that the safest course of action would be to practice roller skating in an overcrowded, oddly laid-out laboratory packed with sharp corners, and objects – not to mention fragile, expensive equipment and dangerous chemicals, and which lacked clear paths of any kind.

These are the kinds of things you can’t get away with in industry.

Shh, I'm working

The Easter of my last year of school, I took over the responsibility of writing the annual Easter Poem. Every year, the Easter Bunny a poem for one of the kids to read aloud, which is followed by instructions to a treasure hunt. In my youth, I marveled at the Easter Bunny’s ability to ring the doorbell at my aunt’s house and then just vanish, but as I got older, I began to notice certain similarities in the Easter Bunny’s poetic style compared to that of my aunt’s, who sometimes has reason to treat us to poems of her own. Eventually I put two and two together and realized that he must help her write hers.

At any rate, I have always had a talent for writing Dr. Seuss-type rhymy sing-songy poems, just like my aunt, so I always knew I would be the one to take over – um – transcribing the Easter Bunny’s poems when my aunt retired from the duty. And so I did.

Around this point, Baseball Cap Guy and I had to attend a seminar. I brought a notebook with me. I made an effort to pay attention to the talk, but within a few minutes I was working on the poem. When I was stuck on a rhyme, I would gaze at the speaker apparently concentrating on what she was saying, but actually thinking, “Year, here, clear, deer, fear, near, we’re…”

On the way back to lab, I told Baseball Cap Guy that I had made some real progress in my Easter poem. “That’s what you were doing?” he said. “I thought you were taking notes! You made me all paranoid, and I ended up taking tons of notes myself!”

Since this entry falls kind of flat, I will now grace you with some sample stanzas a la the Easter Bunny. The first one I remember from that Easter in particular, but the last two I whipped off just now.

Another year gone?
My goodness, time flies!
Why do you kids get big
While I stay the same size?

But Rudolph is shaking
His bells; this, I know,
Is a sign that he feels
It is now time to go.

So I left a great hunt!
Good luck with the search.
I’m off before Rudolph
Leaves me in the lurch.

Friday, July 08, 2005


Apparently, I take after my father. When I told my mother and Sister #4 about hurting The Husband’s feelings because I’d be willing to sell my engagement ring for a mere 400 times its worth (but actually much less than that), my mother was shocked and appalled. “Would Dad be upset if you sold your ring for a million dollars?” I asked my mom.

Sister #4 laughed and said, “Dad would probably not be able to rip the ring off her finger fast enough!”

Thursday, July 07, 2005

I have a cold, dead heart.

So, I lose things. I think this is why I have no sentimental attachment to anything I own. It’s simple self-defense; if I don’t get attached to it, I won’t miss it when it inevitably disappears. It all started when I was about eight years old, and I suddenly realized that at the pile of useless ticket stubs I was saving because I thought I was supposed to care about them meant nothing to me at all. I threw them out, and felt this amazing sense of release.

This habit of clearing out old clutter has stuck with me. During my second year of grad school, I went through my box of old photos and threw out a huge stack of them. My housemate and his brother were there, and as I started to dump the pictures into the trash, they said, “No! Stop! How can you throw away photos?” But then I showed them the pictures. I had taken them in grade school, and for the most part they were bad snapshots of people whose names I couldn’t remember. The rest of them were just bad snapshots. Housemate and his brother looked at the pictures and said, “Oh, uh, go right ahead,” gesturing towards the trash.

Cards are another thing. If someone goes to the trouble of picking out a card, it seems wrong, somehow, to throw that card in the recycling bin. Or it used to. Now I say, “Oh, look, a card. Isn’t that nice!” and then I throw it out. If it’s also addressed to The Husband I make sure to show it to him first, but either way, it’s gone by the day’s end. It seems cold, I know, but why hold onto a card, only to find it weeks or months later and then throw it out? Upon first witnessing my card-tossing act, The Husband felt that same liberation I felt when I tossed my ticket stubs, and now he’s a convert.

And pens! How many times have you pulled a disposable pen from a drawer, and, finding out that it’s out of ink, put it back in the drawer? Throw it out! The ink is not coming back, people. When I see people putting an exhausted pen back in the drawer, I usually tell them to throw it out instead. A look of amazement crosses always comes over their faces. “You mean I don’t have to save used up pens for the rest of time? That’s brilliant!”

But no item holds deep sentimental value for me. None. Because when you get right down to it, your great-great grandfather’s pocket watch is just a thing. In explaining this to The Husband at one point, I tried to find an example of something that should be so special to me I’d never part with it, and then tell him my theoretical price for selling said item. “Take my engagement ring, for example,” I said to The Husband. “If someone offered me, say a million dollars for it, I’d sell it in a heartbeat.”

The Husband looked taken aback. “Oh, did I hurt your feelings?” I said. He nodded. But what could I do? I couldn’t take it back. I said it. I obviously meant it. “But, it’s not worth a million dollars,” I said, trying to reason with him. “I could buy another one exactly like this one, and we’d have a lot of money left over!”

I managed to mollify him, but it’s a good thing I didn’t tell him the real price I’d be willing to sell it for. Because it’s a lot less than a million dollars.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Lab clothes

Sometimes it’s really hard to be a female scientist. At least, it’s hard to look pretty while being a female scientist. The Doktah, in particular, discovered a few problems with certain outfits while working in the lab. She suggests that you not wear angora, as the angora sheds and the fibers float around in the air, inevitably settling in your microscope samples. Also, makeup with any kind of shimmer or sparkles can really screw up your fluorescence microscopy because sparkles fluoresce. The Doktah learned this the hard way when she inadvertently used sparkly nail polish to glue a coverslip down to a slide. This is a legitimate use for nail polish; the quick-dry nail polish is perfect for gluing coverslips. But avoid sparkles. Trust me.

It can also be difficult to keep clothes clean in the lab, what with all of the chemicals and whatnot. One day, The Doktah was wearing a nice outfit and she had to empty the cell culture waste vessel and refill it with bleach. Because she was looking so pretty, she asked Baseball Cap Guy if he would mind refilling it with bleach so she could avoid getting stray bleach droplets on her clothes. Baseball Cap Guy kindly obliged, but when he got a little bit of bleach on his hands, he shook them dry, showering The Doktah with droplets of bleach.

The Doktah also had trouble with non-traditional lab chemicals like Diet Coke. I’ve alluded to The Doktah’s Diet Coke addiction, and she herself has commented on it, describing her attempt to fill a hamster water bottle with Diet Coke so that she could lap at it while sitting at her desk. This was partly a desire to be able to drink without having to stop typing, partly just for fun. (It’s the first “partly” that’s the scary one, though.) Anyway, it turned out to be a terrible idea, because the carbonation in the Diet Coke lifted the little ball which keeps the liquid from pouring out, thus breaking the seal, and twenty ounces of Diet Coke gushed out all over The Doktah’s khaki pants.

She was sure they were ruined, but the weird thing is that once the Diet Coke dried, there was no stain! And Diet Coke has no sugar, so it wasn’t sticky either. It was as if the spill hadn’t happened. Later that year, Big Sisiter #2 spilled Diet Coke on herself at a family function, and I said, “Don’t worry. Diet Coke just disappears.” She doubted me, but twenty minutes later, her skirt was clean.

Diet Coke: It stains your teeth, but not your pants.