Friday, August 22, 2008

Bon Voyage

Today I met V in the lab, haven't seen her in awhile since she is a morning person and I am a vampire. We went over our game plan for trying to figure out what is going on with the culture that keeps getting contaminated for her but not me. Her technique from what I've seen is solid, hell if we were unknowingly being judged she would kick my butt since I have developed short cuts that are not in the official rule book. We suspect there is a chance her pipette is contaminated, but that would make more sense if all the cultures were contaminated and not just the one... Oops, sorry, went into analyzing mode, I'm back. If you cannot tell this issue is somewhat of a big deal.

Microbiologists are obsessed with purity, contamination is generally one of our greatest enemies. We fight it with fire, chemicals, and good technique. Of course contamination led to one of the greatest discoveries in medicine. Dr. Alexander Fleming was actually looking for antimicrobials, he often worked with Staphylococcus aureus (the bacterium that causes food poisoning and is a common hospital acquired infection, it puts the SA in MRSA). Well he had some plates of S. aureus lying around (perhaps he had plate hoarding OCD like I do!) and one of them was contaminated with mold and he noticed that there was no bacteria growing by the mold. Turns out this mold was Penicillium notatum, which produces penicillin. I've had quite a few plates contaminated with mold but none have been quite that spectacular, though some are really cool looking! My coworkers likely question my sanity more than usual when I find a plate contaminated with a cool looking mold and dub it my "pet mold" and watch it growing until the plate dries out or it just stops. That picture is of one of my pet molds, this one formed a rather intricate pattern and has been fun to watch.

Well I finished with all that and was tinkering/loitering in the lab for a bit and got roped into helping order lab supplies for a bit. Then I noticed the time, it was 3:40, the next bus was at 3:50 and I wasn't sure if the post office closes at 4:00 or 4:30 (yes the post office here closes insanely early!). I almost rudely take my leave, one of those the person keeps asking you stuff after you tell them you have to go several times. I detour on the way out and google the local post office, it closes at 4:30, I had a shot at making it. The 3:50 bus gets me home at 4:00, then I had to throw crap into the box I found, tape it up, and address it before jumping in the trusty oldsmobile and hightailing it to downtown. I made it with 10 minutes to spare and the line was miraculously short given that the invasion of undergrads has doubled the population of this town in the past week.

I hand the nice lady the box and tell her it is the most important box she will have for the day. She looked at me as if I were totally mental and likely was considering pushing the emergency "crazy person is here, send backup!" button that I so know they have, telling her that it contained a priceless treasure didn't help my case either, until I mentioned that it was a ratty satin bow that a certain 5 year old loves to death. Then she got the "awwwww" look and was super sweet and told me I was such a wonderful auntie as she was getting the quote for overnight. When I heard that it would be over $20 I informed her that I am not THAT wonderful of an auntie! Besides, every time I have talked to Niecey one of the first things she has said was "Why haven't you mailed me Big Bear's old bow yet?", because she totally thinks that the USPS has same day delivery or something, she's gotta learn sometime... Ok fine, I'm cheap! But I did upgrade from the $4.70 or so "It may or may not get there in the next 6 months" option to the 2-3 day priority mail at a whopping $4.95, that makes me at least a sorta wonderful auntie right? The nice postal lady said she will likely get it Saturday since it is only going a state over.

I didn't attempt to insure it, though I have been contemplating the philosophicalness (oh hell yeah I can invent words) of it. To Niecey this is a priceless treasure she would trade just about any of her other possessions for I suspect. To pretty much anyone else it is a ratty piece of crap that they would carelessly toss in the trash. Thankfully my ingenious idea to have Big Bear "guard the car" when we go out somewhere that I came up with awhile ago automatically transfered to whatever lovie she brings on a trip and so there was less worry about losing the bow in public. Oh and FYI the car almost got stolen by TWO car thieves while we were in the lab, but thank goodness Big Bear was there guarding it and bit their butts and they ran away! Big Bear is so my hero!

And so dear readers who have followed the saga of Big Bear's old bow it is time to officially say goodbye, at least for now. Bon voyage Big Bear's old bow, have a safe journey back to Niecey Poo!

Oh and don't tell but under the fake grass skirt (another thing Niecey forgot here) there is candy, lots of candy. If Daddy or Baby Sibling read my blog they will have a heads up and likely intercept it, if they don't and Niecey opens the box unsupervised they may wonder why she is crawling on the ceiling >=) hahahaha!


loren said...

My sister (the girls' aunt) is like that - she'll buy them candy and then laugh like a maniac when they're jumping all over the place.

Thanks for the lesson on penicillin, btw. I really enjoyed it, and the sad thing is, I'm not kidding. It's been a really slow day and I'm sick of anything related to using public toilets with young children.

The Microblogologist said...

While I am somewhat indulgent of Niecey I actually don't let her have too much junk food. When she visited me there were days when she would get one oreo and besides the crappy kid cereal that was the only "unhealthy" treat she got. She didn't realize that she could ask for more and I decided to let her in on that "secret". When I am visiting the family I usually make her ask someone else for treats so I don't get accused of spoiling her too much.

I did learn early on that payback is a bitch when I got her a noisy toy for Christmas after I had moved out. Dad sent her into the room I was sleeping in with it the next morning!

Glad you liked the penicillin story, it is one of the favorites in my field. One small child in a public bathroom is challenging, I can't imagine three! Hope tomorrow is better!

K'man said...

Hi there! I found your blog from that controversial maniac's site, Sweetened Taters. I am de-lurking to say that what goes around comes around. I used to be the uncle that secretly gave my niece caramels and pixie sticks of sugar that her parents didn't know about - just as I was leaving, usually. Just so they could enjoy HYPER CHILD!
Now, 11 years later, I have my own little girl. And a brother that promises to exact his sugar coated revenge.
Also, related to your penicilin, I seem to recall a story that the scientists who worked on developing it spread a smear of that mold on the inside of a leather jacket and then wore the moist warm jacket on their trip to the US so that they could get cultures out of Europe during WWII. Can you confirm this strange tale?