Monday, September 29, 2008

The Adventures of Super Yeast: First Batch

Greetings dear reader(s), I know some of you have been waiting for this for a long time well here it is, the first batch of Super Beer has been brewed and tasted. Daddy was kind enough to write up the experience and send it to me for your enjoyment. Besides the fact that I didn't have to write it myself what I love most about this post is that this is exactly how my father talks/tells a story, LOVE it! I will be adding my thoughts in the "Copy LiteralDan Section" (see Dan, I am linking you so your tech thingy will go up, I get minion points right?). So without further ado here is the next installment of The Adventures of Super Yeast:

Once upon a time there was a very nice, but very sober and boring, Grandfatherly person who had a very sensitive and loving daughter who, noticing her beloved father's sad plight solved his problem: She bought him a MrBeer homebrewing kit. At first his miserable existence took a turn for the worse; he had to listen to vast quantities of bitching and nagging* about the house smelling like a brewery. Ignoring bitching females** is a character trait that must be developed for a man to stay sane. Others include the babble filter*** and the random noncommittal grunt communication technique****. In any event, although it seemed like an eternity, the brew was ready, but alas it was wimpy. It was far better than supermarket swill but wimpy. Also the wimpy MrBeer kit cost a lot more than supermarket swill.*****

A drinkable brew must have:

  1. Great taste tailored to the individual. If I like it it is good otherwise it sucks.
  2. Potency otherwise we can just drink Kool aid and enjoy pissing.
  3. Ease of production. I use liquid malt extract (LME) rather than barley for that reason.
  4. Low cost, about 1/3 the price of supermarket swill. Buy the LME in bulk.

I now consume about five gallons of my home brew per month which I am still striving to perfect, along with a little help from my good friend Richard. Richard had a handicap which developed over the years. His taste buds atrophied from drinking MGD****** for far too long. His mind was going too as he started believing the MGD commercials on TV. He condescended to try my brew just to prove me wrong. Then he realized what he likes the most about my brew: it was free!! Since then his taste buds have completely regenerated and his mind is coming back. At least he no longer sings along with MGD commercials (not that he could sing anyway)*******.

My loving daughter provided me with a sample of a new Industrial grade, genetically enhanced yeast (aka Super Yeast) tailored to quickly produce ethanol in copious supply and high concentration to replace gasoline. I brewed a 2 ½ gallon batch with it as a test. It fermented quickly (2 days vs 1 week). It looked a little darker than my earlier brew but no big deal.

I sampled the new stuff tonight (1 12 oz bottle). The bitterness of the hops was apparent as the sugar was totally consumed by the Super Yeast. One bottle bent my head about the same as a 16 oz bottle with normal brewers yeast. If I made a really nasty******** batch I would use the Super Yeast. If I used it for a normal batch I would have to add some non-fermentable sugar to sweeten it. It might make good Christmas gifts for some redneck relatives*********. Just imagine a 50 proof********** beer would do for your reputation. I really like the last batch and will continue with it with minor changes, if any. I am naming it Bill's Kickass Ale #1.


Add 2 Gal water to brewing kettle and heat to 160 deg F

Add ½ # of Wheat Malt to aid Head Retention

Steep at 160 deg F for ½ hour

Heat to boil;

Add 1 oz of Vanguard hops (alpha acid 4.4%)

Boil for 30 min;

Add 1 oz of Spalt hops (alpha acid 2.2%)

Boil for 15 min more;

Add 6.6# of Liquid malt extract

Add 1# Corn Sugar

Add Water for 5 Gallons total in fermentor

Aerate; Add Yeast when temp is under 70 deg F

After 1 week transfer to secondary.

After 1 week transfer back to primary fermentor.

Add ¾ cup of corn sugar and stir well. Bottle

After 2 or 3 weeks it is ready!!!!

Note: I prefer to use leaf hops but due to diminished hop availability

I had to use hop pellets. I can look at hops plugs and see what I

am getting but with pellets I could be using lawn clippings or

worse and never be sure.

-----Copy LiteralDan Section-----

*My mother tends to be a bit vocal when she doesn't like something, and by bit I mean a lot, a whole lot, enough to get her way 99% of the time not only at home but everywhere.

**Mainly my mother but he also has three daughters and a granddaughter so is quite outnumbered and outgunned. He is not as chauvinistic as he sounds, it is part of his sense of humor, which can be quite warped.

***Babble Filter = Ignoring/tuning out people.

**** The random noncommittal grunt communication technique = pretend you are listening by making noises every once in awhile. Note that this is not always the most effective method, it works better if someone is ranting and raving but not seeking advice just venting, I totally know when he is doing it much of the time.

*****Supermarket swill = any store bought beer that was cheap enough for him to be willing to buy prior to him brewing his own beer and becoming a total beer snob.

******There has always been a "friendly" debate between Uncle Richard and Daddy over the worth of MGD. Daddy is convinced that MGD is just as good as the cheap crap he always bought (red dog and busch usually) while Richard has always maintained its superiority and that it is worth the extra money to buy it.

*******This is actually believable, and Richard can definitely sing, though maybe not so much after a bottle of home brew given the significantly higher percentage of ethanol.

********High ethanol concentration.

*********He totally means my cousins, his sister had three boys to my family's three girls. I don't think they are all that redneck but Daddy loves to say they are, perhaps because they live in the middle of nowhere Michigan.

**********Given enough sugar the Super Yeast will produce up to about a 50 proof beer, the batch he made used the amount of sugar that he uses for a normal batch of beer. The normal yeast will generally stop producing ethanol before they run out of sugar since they can only tolerate a certain percentage of ethanol, since it has a significanly higher tolerance the Super Yeast used up all the sugar and made a stronger beer but in this batch it is not likely at the 50 proof concentration. If I run into one of the engineers that work with it I think I will ask them how much sugar they use in their fermentation broth to max it out but not have too much left over.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Around the Petri Dish: A Tale of Lab Drama

Have I got a lab drama story for you. The other day I was working in the lab with V and S2. V was plating her yogurt samples, S2 was doing dishes and I was plating what will hopefully be the last preliminary study before I get going on my broth study. We were all working in the same general area, V was totally taking over my bench, bench hog*! And as is not an uncommon occurrence we started chit chatting as we worked. The subject you ask, our favoritest coworkers ever, the visiting prof and PW, mostly VP. VP is leaving at the end of the month, we are talking about having a party, after his plane takes off safely. We were discussing different annoying aspects of working with him. I had already heard how he tends to stroke V's arm as she plates, and he gave her a lecture about how women menstruate (oh thank God, I was wonder what that monthly bleeding thing was, thought I was going to die!) and somehow this is proof that we are fragile and V should be taking care of her husband and popping out offspring, which is hard for her to do right now since her hubby is across the pond and for the past year they've been working on the paperwork to have his limey butt imported. How come we can import everything else into this country hot off the Chinese presses but it takes a year to get a brit approved. I mean come on, he says things like "Bollocks" and quite possibly "Wanker", ooo he might say "Bloody hell"! Or he might say, "Bloody hell you wanker, you stroking my dearest wife V's arm while she is trying to plate is bollocks!" *digressing alert* (seriously if there was a digressing alert I could so use it, though it wouldn't shut up ever and I would have to kill it)

Well he has also decided to pet S2, she was so thrilled to be in with the in crowd. I am so thrilled that I give off "don't touch me" vibes strong enough for even him to pick up on them and only get the occasional awkward arm pat, one pat and it is done, no stroking/petting. I think he is trying to initiate a hand shake with me but I ignore the signal since I am not sure and I don't want to do the hand shake thing. I don't want to touch him (I don't want to touch most people, his creepy vibes put him high up on the list of people I don't want to touch), my right wrist is messed up and I am very protective of it (I let my doc shake it) but know that offering him the left would not just be odd in US culture but as I recall his culture it is a serious offensive gesture (as is telling women they should be home taking care of the family is in ours...) and last it is a fricking path lab!

We discussed his various annoying traits. Laughed that PW had to babysit him. Exchanged theories about how he tries to get us to do his work but playing dumb and/or pretending he doesn't know English enough to understand you trying to explain what he needs to do until you get frustrated and just do it for him. I saw his CV the other night and there is absolutely no way he shouldn't know exactly what he is doing, not like our lab uses anything high tech, that is the other two path labs on our floor, we are old school. My method of dealing with this, act as if I have no idea what he is trying to say. You wanna pretend you don't know English? Fine neither do I! What? How do you what? Huh?

Normally I am overly helpful in lab, especially to new people, but I saw through his games and do no like being taken advantage of. I have never accepted his offers of help and will never help him do his lab work. I don't trust him to be able to work with my bug, the two people in the lab capable of it (well besides Dr. M) are V and myself, it would not take very long to "train" any of the other lab workers (the main thing is making sure it is soaked completely into the plates) but it is MY job and I will do it. I won't help anyone else (besides V if she is in a bind) since I don't want to work with the pathogens and with my wrist I have to be careful not to overdo it with just my stuff.

We made some jokes about how he and PW would make a great reality TV show, like one they watch on MTV that I never heard of... I brought up how if he pet me like he did them I would "accidentally" hit him or something, preferably in such a way to break the blood:testes barrier.** We definitely amused ourselves at his expense and somewhat loudly. What we didn't realize was that he had managed to get back into the lab without our seeing it, he had been in and out and we apparently saw the most recent out but missed the in, oops! We feel guilty and amused at the same time. We were blowing off steam/stress he causes but at the same time it was not a nice/professional thing to do. We don't really know if he could hear/understand what we were saying. M was hanging out in the lab office sitting next to him but he wasn't listening for our dialog and therefore had no idea if it was understandable from across the entire lab... I doubt he did since while he knows English better than he lets on much of the time he doesn't understand it all that well. And really, we could have gotten him kicked out of the lab for sexual harrassment if we so desired, I think being the butt of our jokes is the least he could do ;).

-----Copy LiteralDan Section-----
*V knows about the blog, I wanted some feedback about this aspect of the blog and she was kind enough to give it to me. I share my bench with her and moved my stuff over to S's bench since we both happen to be in and plating at the same time, this may be the first time it has happened since we started working "together" (separate projects but we share almost everything like lab partners). It was totally no big deal for me to move but she felt guilty, calling her a bench hog is totally teasing her if she reads this post (Hi V!).
**There are certain areas that blood does not directly pass into, the brain is one as are the testes. Breaking the blood:testes barrier can sterilize a man. Course it is too late, he has already reproduced and has a daughter in the mix, never know if he will have more though. While I tend to be at least somewhat to each their own I find it sad that girls in other cultures are raised to believe they are inferior and don't have any options other than getting married and making babies, which is a great and valid thing to do but women should have the option to do something else if it is not their thing.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Stabbed and Irradiated

~~~~~Note: I will not publish any comments that are negative towards my doctor. I do NOT want anyone to go all worry wart on me, that is my mother's job and trust me when I say she is very good at it. My issues are not life threatening, they are annoying, it could be so much worse. Seriously, read Dream Mom, if anyone can help you put your own issues into perspective it is her. Oh and grab a tissue before clicking over, much of her writing is powerful and you may well fall in love with her Dear Son!~~~~~

I have what I consider a rather unique relationship with my doctor. He is seriously awesome, he treats me with respect and doesn't get all uppity when I disagree with him. He is secure enough in his doctorhood to have a patient question him, no need for an extra large stethoscope to overcompensate for anything. He takes the time to answer my questions and lets me have input in my treatment plan when possible knowing it will work better if it suits my lifestyle. I don't feel like I am just one more patient on his schedule, he takes the time to get to know me as a person and treats me like an intelligent human being. When I saw him the second time after not seeing him for over a year I was shocked that he totally remembered me and my personality, he told me that when he forgets a patient it is time for him to retire. I've totally been spoiled forever and am going to hate losing him after I get my degree! Seriously I doubt I will ever find a doctor that comes even close to him. He puts up with my silliness, like asking him if flomax (prostate drug) is right for me, and after reading an article about a study that found that the appendix has a purpose* I told him I wanted a transplant since I had mine out at 17 (the answer was no to both of course). I generally go in with at least one crazy treatment suggestion to throw at him, and he on the spot totally has a comeback for each, wish I was that quick, his question as to what I ingest threw me off so bad I couldn't really think of anything on my admittedly short list, part of it is that I am still experimenting and looking for foods that "agree" with me.

So this week Doc decided that he wanted to see me, I had sent him a whiny e-mail (I bet he is totally regretting being listed on stalker net, aka the school directory) about side effects of the current drug and such and he decided that my concerns warranted an in person consult (how cool is it that he is willing to talk to me over the phone when it is something simple!) and that perhaps I was finally annoyed with my issues enough to cave on the referral issue. He is trying to get me to see a GI doc, a very specific one, out of the four that are in network there is one and only one that he will send me to (I think it is less about talent of said GI doc and more orneriness of said patient, though he says the doc is great too). He has been pimping the GI doc for months, and I have been shooting it down for months. Last year he sent me to an ortho for my wrist, Dr. Jerk-face pissed me off so bad that almost a year later I am still livid at him (Dr. Jerk-Face not Doc, Doc had no idea I would be treated like I was). Dr. Jerk-Face told me that there was nothing he could do since it was pretty much every tendon in my wrist messed up and if it focused to one he could inject it but otherwise there were no options (funny my doc thought of several and my wrist is functional now because of it). That was fine but then he went on to tell me I should have gotten better by then (it was several months in a splint and medicated with anti-inflammatories) and maybe something is wrong with my body's ability to heal and my immune system and perhaps my diet was lacking (I actually ate decent at that point) but he didn't ask what my diet was like and didn't answer any of my questions about what seems like pretty serious issues he brought up and if there was something lacking in my diet that could have fixed me I was almost guaranteed to try it. Then he gets up and walks out of the room, while I am in the middle of asking him something! I wasn't even ornery with him, he just dismissed me as if I were a waste of time, who gives a shit about a worthless broken microbiology grad student when there are football players to poke and prod, they are so much more worthy**!

Oops, I digressed, a lot, like normal! So Doc has been trying to get me to see the GI doc and I have been dodging it with everything I can think of. Several reasons, Dr. Jerk-Face is one of them obviously, but more that I adore MY Doc and his nurse and don't want to have anyone else, and there is a bit of a psychological thing of if he is willing to let me get away with it that means it isn't so bad because we both know that he can and will put his foot down (which is why I have an appointment with a dietitian even though I think it is a total waste of everyone's time) if and when he deems it necessary and I will do what he says. He prefers us to be in agreement about whatever it is but ultimately he is the doctor and I am his patient and he will do what is best for me even if I don't like it. A big reason I want to avoid the GI is that I know he will likely make me have all kinds of tests, and he will likely not be a happy camper if I try to get out of any of them. While some tests are likely a good idea for me, there are some that I think would just be a waste of time and money, like I know food stays in my stomach way longer than it is supposed to, I don't need to spend all day in front of an x-ray or whatever to prove it. Either way, after my whiny e-mail he was going to put his foot down, and after a bit of protest just for show I was going to cave and go, it was time and I had to compete with the other bloggers in my blog roll who have cool medical pics, like Deb! And of course NukeDad and I could totally compete/commiserate about the wonderful life of having a defective GI tract, only his test showed he might be pregnant and I am definitely not (I'll so watch for you on Oprah! Oh try to make her show when I'll be in Chicago next and we can totally hang out!).

The receptionist had given me a survey card so they could see how much time I spent in each of the 4 locations in the clinic, exam room, lab, x-ray, and pharmacy. I told Doc he had to send me to each so I could fill in all the boxes, he told me he was going to send me to the lab but not x-ray. He did the exam and I mentioned the palpability of my large intestine and admitted that sometimes it hurt, usually during water aerobics. Up until now all my issues were upper GI, I was reluctant to admit the colon issue because that brings lower into the picture and I did NOT want lower GI in the picture! He then told me I get a trip to x-ray after all. I wander over, get stabbed by a nice vampire, and then got irradiated twice. In that time Doc was telling my nurse to get ready to submit my referral for the GI doc, I was definitely going! Then he looked at the pretty picture the nice lady had took of me and became the first person to accuse me of being full of shit/crap and mean it literally (he didn't actually say shit, nor crap, he laughed when I did though as did my beloved nurse). We'd already discussed that I have no problem going to the bathroom and do so on a regular basis so I was pretty shocked that my colon resembled the road between my apartment and campus that is under construction and down to one lane in each direction.

Bringing lower GI into the mix made my acceptance of going to the GI fly out the window. I had come to terms with the idea of having a camera down my throat, especially if I got pictures, but I am totally not into the idea of a camera shoved anywhere else, in particular one that I would feel way too uncomfortable to blog about! Once a year lady doc visit is bad enough, can't I have one unviolated hole, is that so much to ask!? The amusing thing to me was that the new symptom may or may not be a huge reason I am sickly and so Doc let me off the hook on the GI referral, for now, and gave me a med to get things flowing, but not flomax ;). If I am not doing better in two weeks he is shipping me off and I got nothing left to stall it with. My nurse was quite shocked that I had dodged the referral again, she expected me to be sent to her not the pharmacist, but then so was I! I thought extra symptoms would guarantee my one way ticket not give me a miracle dodge with the potential of getting rid of the referral threat. So for your enjoyment, the proof that I am literally full of shit and not just figuratively:

One last fact that I find amusing, Doc can't e-mail me back to protect my privacy, but being a somewhat shameless blogger who loves the full of shit line so much there was no way I can not post about it I think the privacy thing is kinda shot!

-----Copy LiteralDan Section-----

* It is now believed that the appendix is a area that good bacteria hang out in and if something happens to wipe out the other beneficial microbes in the intestines they can help to recolonize. The bacterial community in the human GI tract is very important, that is why it is common for one to get diarrhea when on antibiotics, they don't differentiate between the good and bad bacteria and then an opportunistic pathogen can take over and wreck its own havoc. Normally the intestines are filled with bacteria and one way they help is to take up all the room so many pathogens can't establish themselves. This is why a normal healthy adult can eat honey but one is not supposed to give it to babies, honey can contain botulism spores and they can colonize and cause a very fatal infection.

** To be fair (not that the jackass deserves it), I've talked to others who have seen him and worked with him and he was nice/respectful to them and treated them and none were athletes. I can understand him feeling there was nothing he could do for me, but to bring up possible issues and not being willing to discuss them with me?! Doc has me a bit spoiled with the degree to which he is willing to discuss issues with me but all the other docs I have seen have been more communicative, and that list includes two orthopedics, one for my knee and one for my wrist when I had wrenched it.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Swabbing the Decks and Guess That Gizmo

So I've been thinking about doing this for awhile now, debating it with myself as to if it would be an interesting and educational interactive series or if it would just cause more of what I call microphobia, and then there is the possibility no one will be interested. Microphobia is the term I use to describe the irrational fear of bacteria/microbes/germs. You see the vast majority of bacteria and other microorganisms are harmless and a lot are in fact beneficial and we need them. Within the human body there are more bacterial cells than there are human cells, I think that is so cool (yes I am a total nerd, this is well established). Microbes are used to make food and beverages, like bread, beer, wine, yogurt, some sausages, cheese, etc.

Diabetics can thank bacteria for their insulin, back in the day they used to extract insulin from animals like goats, horses and sheep, this would work for awhile but eventually the human immune system would mount an attack on the foreign substance. Knowing the structure of human insulin scientists converted the protein structure into DNA code and inserted it into E. coli* which turned it into an insulin factory and diabetics no longer have to worry about running out of animals their body hasn't already rejected. Of course there are bad microbes out there that can cause disease, spoil food (which can be good**) and other undesirable things, but they are in the minority. Even the bad can be good, Clostridium botulinum, the causative agent of botulism, makes the most potent toxin known to man but it has medicinal and cosmetic uses***.

What's the point? Oh yeah, I had a point! The point is that sometimes I have a plate or 10 that doesn't grow, normally I would just throw it away since it is not considered good technique to try and plate a new sample on it. I also have Q-tips that I could toss in the sterilizer. And so dear readers if you are curious as to what is present on some surface that I have access to and isn't obscene I am willing to swab it, if and when I have the time, and if anything cool grows I'll take a picture and write a post about it and give you some linky love if you have a blog. So if you think this is a cool idea and you have something in mind leave a comment to this post telling me what you want swabbed, if it is something I think is disturbing or gross (like naughty bits, besides I can already tell you boy parts usually are covered in Staphylococcus and girl parts have mainly lactic acid bacteria) it won't be published. Bacteria and fungi are pretty much everywhere so it is highly likely something will grow, I do however use a media that is made for lactic acid bacteria and not all microbes are culturable (most aren't) so I won't guarantee something will grow but most likely something will. Oh and I do not have the time nor the supplies to identify the organism(s) that grows, sorry.

And it has been awhile (again) so here is the next Guess that Gizmo:
Remember, Guess That Gizmo is a semester long contest, here are the other Fall 2008 GTG's:
Fall 2008 1
Fall 2008 2

-----Copy LiteralDan Section-----
*E. coli is usually a harmless organism that most people are colonized with, there are a few pathogenic strains which of course can cause disease but the vast majority of E. coli strains are harmless and potentially beneficial.
**While food spoilage is generally a bad thing it does have the benefit of preventing people from eating potentially dangerous food.
***Botox is botulinum toxin, it can be used to treat spastic disorders, excessive sweating, and of course the more famous use would be reducing wrinkles. Personally I think it is insane to inject that toxin into someone for cosmetic reasons, there have been deaths associated with it as I recall. 1mg of the toxin is theoretically capable of killing 1,000,000 hamsters/guinea pigs (I have heard of this study not seen it).

Saturday, September 20, 2008

NukeDad is a Psychic

The second post on this blog was a conversation I had with my baby sibling Cheryl. I had just started my blog and figured out how to edit and make a link on that first post. I was quite pleased with my awesome tech savviness and so bragged about it to Baby Sibling. On that post, NukeDad, the one who helped push me over the edge of indecision about starting this blog made this comment:
nukedad said...
Careful, she might start her own blog. ;)
July 31, 2008 9:42 AM
And guess what dear reader(s), she did! Life of an Unmarried Housewife was born on Friday September 19th 2008. So if you need your sibling's future told just go on over and give NukeDad a visit, tell him the microblogologist sent you. Hmmm, I wonder what is in store for Middle Sister...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Blog Milestone 1

So I added google analytics after Sue at Happy Hour and Happy Meals said I had to. Not one to disobey one of the most hilarious bloggers on the planet I clicked the link and struggled with my technical unsavyness and got it working*. As of last night I have 100 hits from the USA, 5 from Canada, 2 from the Netherlands, 1 from the Philippines, 1 from France, 1 from Australia, and 1 from the UK. So thank you my fellow Americans for clicking on my site 100 times**! I guess I have to work on my international appeal a bit, I am friends with a Chinese couple if that counts, and the lab I work in is run by a professor from Guyana.

Oh and a thank you also goes to Loren, her site is #3 on my list of visit sources =)!

-----Copy LiteralDan Section-----
*I think, it gives numbers and has that pretty map thing and 5 keyword searches... If I did something wrong it is not putting code in the individual posts, I was confused if I should or not so don't (please let me know someone tech savier than me if I am wrong).
**I am actually responsible for 29 of the 100 clicks but it still counts because google says so!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Worst Road Trip Ever

This post was inspired by Backpacking Dad. His family is taking a road trip and he asked his readers to share the story of their worst road trip. Technically it is a contest for a book but as there is no way I can compete against quite a few of the stories already posted this is more for amusement value than actually trying to win. Given my rambling nature and the fact that I have a picture that MUST accompany the story I decided it would be best to make a post out of it instead of leaving it as a comment. So enjoy, dear readers, the story of my most sucktacular road trip ever!

It was August of 2003, Niecey was born three weeks prior on July 30. I had finished up the summer class I had taken (summer classes are evil, 15 weeks condensed into 5) to make up for a class I had dropped during the regular semester. Classes started in a couple weeks for me and Middle Sister was kind of on maternity leave, and I had a week of vacation available. I suggested that it might be a nice/good idea to take Niecey to see Grandma, who turned 93 that year and wasn't in the best of health. Middle Sister agreed so we packed up Oldsie and hit the road, going from Chicago to Muncie, IN, which is about a 4 hour drive depending on traffic (I-294 is a bitch no matter what). The trip was uneventful, it took longer because we had to stop to feed and change Niecey a couple times but we got there safe and sound.
We had a very nice visit, stayed at our uncle's place since it is bigger and we didn't want the baby to wake up Grandma and such. Our uncle's crazy wife was in Croatia so we didn't have to worry about her. I got to spend some time with my beloved aunt, who lives with Grandma and takes care of her, they live across from my uncle. Niecey was a total sweetheart baby and her and Grandma spent some quality time napping together.

The day we left was sunny and hot. There wasn't a cloud in that Hoosier sky. It takes about an hour to get from the farm in the middle of nowhere to Indianapolis. I had pretty much just gotten off I-465 W and onto I-65 N when I heard this horrible noise and my car started to lose velocity at an alarming rate. The asshole tailgating me blew its horn at me and narrowly avoided smashing into my rear. I was in the left lane and very quickly pulled Oldsie off into the medium, I am very grateful that I was not in an area that didn't have that patch of grass between the North and South bound lanes since I would have had nowhere to go and likely would have gotten that jerk's nose up my rear (I wonder if that phrase will turn up on google analytics).

Now my first thought, when I heard the noise and the car got hard to handle and slowed down rapidly was that I had blown a tire. When I maneuvered to a stop was when I noticed that my car wasn't running. The dash showed the engine temp as maxed out. I got out and walked around the car and all my tires were fine. I tried to turn the engine back on but nothing happened. A nice man stopped to see if he could help, there was nothing he could do but he was nice and waited with us. I was worried about Niecey since Oldsie is a dark car that doesn't have a/c and it was in the 80's and sunny, couldn't decide which was worse, having the sun beat down on her or have her in the shady oven that was my car. Even with the windows down it was hot and you could tell Niecey was not a comfortable baby, though she was so sweet and didn't really fuss too much. The Indiana state police arrived and called me a tow truck, they then let us put Niecey in the squad to cool off. They coordinated everything so that the car was going to a BP in Lebanon and took Middle Sister and Niecey there while I waited with another officer for the tow.
After awhile a mechanic came and informed me that one of my pistons had decided it wanted to be free and so blew a hole in my engine block, effectively destroying my engine*. Once I knew that there was no way that car was being driven out of there began the "fun" part of figuring how to get from Lebanon to Chicago. We were about 3 hours from home and 1-1.5 hours from the farms. We managed to get in touch with my uncle and parents and eventually the decision was made that my uncle would get us and meet Dad along the way so we didn't have to spend 3 more hours at the gas station. Everyone there was nice and all but loitering in a gas station for hours is not really my idea of a good time. Everyone praised Niecey for being such a good and quiet baby, which at that point in her life she generally was a good and quiet baby, but to me it was just one more thing to worry about. In my opinion she was being too quiet and I was worried that she has spent too much time in the heat and sun. But she ate and seemed content so I just kept an eye on her for signs of distress. Perhaps some of it was the fact that she had two adults with nothing better to do than to dote on Her Cuteness.

And so I returned to Chicago carless but thankfully everyone was safe and sound. And I did get this awesome picture from the experience:
Look how red my poor baby niecey was =(. We stripped her in hopes it would help prevent her overheating. And there is that damn broken oldsmobile in the top right hand corner.

-----Copy LiteralDan Section-----
*For those of you who have a knack for details yes the Oldsie in this post is the same one that is sitting outside my apartment right now as seen in the second picture**. My uncle had my car towed to his machine shop and a buddy of his replaced the engine for me. I decided that ~$1100 to fix the car would be better than trying to buy a decent used car for the same amount. Also I hate car shopping with a passion and am somewhat distrustful of people having seen my parents buy crap cars over the years.
**Oldsie is not that long in the front and short in the back, it is the camera angle that makes it appear so. Oh and to possibly help solve a long standing argument between Baby Sibling and myself what color would you say Oldsie is?

Hilarious or Evil? You Decide!

Myself*, Cheryl, and Niecey July 2006

Baby Sibling has decided that she wants to share some of her favorite interactions with Nieceypoo. She interrupted my blog reading and insisted I post them on the bloggity (yes I call my blog "the bloggity" or "the bloggity blog"). Here is the proof:
"The" Cheryl says: blog bout that one looool
"The" Cheryl says: tell em bout the dog plant too
"The" Cheryl says: go on
"The" Cheryl says: do eeet
"The" Cheryl says: and the mailing her moma in that tiny box
"The" Cheryl says: and the baboon zoo

And here is my deal with her:
Karen says: If my readers are all, "Awww poor Niecey being traumatized by her evil Auntie Cheryl" I am so publishing the "Auntie Cheryl is the meanest auntie ever!" comments!

Story 1: Whelpling** and the Big Scary Bug
"The" Cheryl says: hyuk hyuk hyuk hyuk hyuk
"The" Cheryl says: Whelpling
"The" Cheryl says: lol
"The" Cheryl says: ha ha ha ha
"The" Cheryl says: So There's a male mosquito down here
"The" Cheryl says: and Whelpling's scared o it yeah
"The" Cheryl says: lolls
"The" Cheryl says: and so and so She grabs a block and gives me one yeah
"The" Cheryl says: LOOOOL
"The" Cheryl says: and and
Karen says: They are big and creepy looking
"The" Cheryl says: she's trying to find it and when she does She's all freaked out
"The" Cheryl says: *laughs more*
"The" Cheryl says: So I smash it with a block
"The" Cheryl says: and then have her smash the block with her block
"The" Cheryl says: and I tells her
"The" Cheryl says: I tells her
"The" Cheryl says: LOL
"The" Cheryl says: "Hold the two blocks otherwise it might get up and it'll be mad"
"The" Cheryl says: looool lol lol
"The" Cheryl says: She's stuck holdin the blocks now
"The" Cheryl says: and then
"The" Cheryl says: the kicker
Karen says: You do realize that you are evil right?
"The" Cheryl says: after she spent a good minute grinding the two blocks
"The" Cheryl says: the bug's obviously dead
"The" Cheryl says: ha haa haaaaa
"The" Cheryl says: and then
"The" Cheryl says: and then
"The" Cheryl says: she accidentally drops the blocks
"The" Cheryl says: and SCREAMS bloody murder
"The" Cheryl says: running away crying
"The" Cheryl says: (rofl)
"The" Cheryl says: as if it lived an shit
Karen says: You deserve any damage to your ears from the screaming...
"The" Cheryl says: none whatsoever
"The" Cheryl says: twas so worth it with the set up
Karen says: My poor traumatized little niecey
"The" Cheryl says: I er twas harmless
"The" Cheryl says: only eats plant stuff
"The" Cheryl says: nooooo, she didn't listen ta me
Karen says: They are huge and scary looking and she has our mother as a great example of being a bugphobe...

Story 2: Whelpling and the Baboon Zoo
"The" Cheryl says: Well long ago Whelpling like to misbehave, like every kid that age I know. So one day I gather up a good rippin' yarn. I tell Whelpling, who was in the middle of being a darn good pest, if she wanted to behave like a monkey I was gunna send her straight to the monkey zoo.
"The" Cheryl says: of course I had to pick the freakiest lookin monkey she disliked the most and inevitably it evolved into the Baboon Zoo
"The" Cheryl says: and so, I tells her she'll have a baboon mama and she cries, that she has a moma and doesn't want a baboon one
"The" Cheryl says: and I tells her she'll have a baboon pa, and she cries she doesn't want a baboon pa she has a pa
"The" Cheryl says: and so on so forth until the whole~ family is covered as baboons, something she didn't want.
"The" Cheryl says: I'm holding back laughing my butt off and over time the baboon threat weakened and naturally as all small whelps, she started not believing me
"The" Cheryl says: she got cocky
"The" Cheryl says: really really cocky about this
"The" Cheryl says: until I grabbed a box
"The" Cheryl says: a really small box
"The" Cheryl says: I told her to get in, that she was being shipped to the baboon zoo. Hoo boy did she pitch a fit
"The" Cheryl says: up until she figured out she couldn't possibly fit in the box and I was laughing too hard ta be serious

Story 3: Whelpling can buy It on E-bay
"The" Cheryl says: THEN came another day of Whelpling shinanigans, she wouldn't stop being obnoxious
"The" Cheryl says: I told her if she didn't stop bugging her Mama I was going to sell Mama on ebay
"The" Cheryl says: and she yet again didn't believe me so whilst she was busy in the kitchen being an ultra pesty pest [Middle Sister] hid and I grabbed a small box.
"The" Cheryl says: I told Whelpling that I sold Mama for five bucks and she was being mailed out now. She looks at the small box in horror and starts yelling at me to let Mama out of the box
"The" Cheryl says: Naturally I put it out on the front step, kid followin behind me, yowling. Never mind the box was way too small to hold even the skinest of Mamas
"The" Cheryl says: meanwhile, her Mama is sneakin up silently behind Whelpling and right as I put the box down [Middle Sister] yells "BOO!" and Whelpling squeaks turning around and yelling happily "Mama! You're not in the box!" and yet again, I get to laugh my butt off

Story 4: Whelpling and the Dog Plant
My aunt's dog, not the dog in the story.
"The" Cheryl says: We were playing outside and of course the neighbors' dog comes on over for Whelpling pets
"The" Cheryl says: The dog is shedding and we both end up covered in fur
"The" Cheryl says: I pluck up a few and tell Whelpling that if she plants the fur, a dog plant will grow. She naturally believes me and grabs the fur and digs a little hole, puts the fur in, covers it and pats it gently down. It was so precious. She even watered it!
"The" Cheryl says: now this year a columbine grew in that spot***. Whelpling was so happy
"The" Cheryl says: "Look Auntie Cheryl! My dog plant grew!"
"The" Cheryl says: it was just so very cute
Picture of a columbine.

-----Copy LiteralDan Section-----
* Yes I used to "rock" the bangs, this was when I had started to grow them out.
** Cheryl calls Niecey such names as Whelp, Whelpling, Pest, Brat, Wee One, Bratling. She insisted that I call her Whelpling. Hijacks my blog and then insists I rename Nieceypoo...
*** Here is Loren's footnote, thanks for the comment and bringing to my attention a hole in Auntie Cheryl's narrative, bratty sibling neglecting the facts! She had Niecey plant the fur in one of the garden plots, the one I had heavily seeded with columbine seeds. Though she may not have known I had seeded that bed, I do remember her discovering she had pulled some columbines out of it thinking they were weeds until she saw the others coming up...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I am so busted, again.

I have a confession to make. My anal-retentive obsessive compulsive nature pretty much forces me to go back and read a blog from the beginning. I love to read, have since I finally "got" it one day in first grade (getting to that point almost killed Mom and me, I went from bottom of the class to almost head of the class overnight once it clicked but before it clicked...). To me blogs are like somewhat interactive books, and they are like reading a series (who doesn't love series books?!). You can NOT start reading a series at the end or in the middle, you HAVE to start with the first one (oh crap I am my mother)! And so when a new blog is brought to my attention I will go back into the archives and read from the whole thing. I rarely comment on old posts because I am not sure what the blog etiquette is, I think it likely varies depending on the blog author, and of course sometimes I feel a bit stalkerish and don't want them to think I am a freak or dangerous or anything... I mean I am totally cool with someone commenting on any of my old posts, especially the Guess that Gizmo posts, but not everyone seems to be. But there is one person who I know where stands on this issue. She commented on the last Guess that Gizmo (I adore you for that BTW, and everyone's comments on those crack me up, laughing with not at) and so I just had to check her out.

So I'm cruising her archives, laughing at the antics of her goat children (she calls her kids goats, I find this highly amusing). Noting that she is almost completely crazy, she is a fellow grad student but is getting a masters degree and so crazy but not completely crazy, though having kids at the same time might well bump the level up to the equivalent of me getting a doctorate with no children... She lives in one of my favorite states, though she is not too happy about it and I can kinda understand since I only visit and not live there when I go. Her daughter reminds me of my monkey niece at that age*, perhaps she should refer to her as a mountain goat since they can scale high peeks too, just they are not looking for markers and chocolate donuts...

So I am snickering at the picture of her mountain goat covered in marker (heehehehehe), and I happen to glance over and read her twitter thingy:

"Whoever you are, reading through my old posts, Hi, and thanks for coming! Would it KILL YOU to leave me a comment?!? (XOXO)"
And it gives me a flashback to when NukeDad outed my lurker butt on his blog. Interesting, I wonder if this happens to other lurkers or if I am just extra delurkable... Either way it cracked me up! And so I will start leaving some comments on her old posts and hope I don't die by doing so and if I do it is totally her fault and she will have to find my boss a new pet microbiologist, preferably one who can work out the contamination issues that are STILL going on...

So Waltz in Exile, it is I, Karen the microblogologist returning the visit, thank you for your original visit and awesome comment on my humble blog. I will be commenting, I was just trying to not appear too stalkerish as I mentioned above. =)

Edited to add that I didn't die and I totally forgot to add the footnote in my rush to make it to water aerobics, so here it is:

*Niecey seems to not be as much of a climber, she will climb but it isn't as bad as it was when she was 2-3ish. I may be wrong, I'll make Baby Sibling read this post and leave a comment making fun of me for foolishly believing she is no longer a total monkey if I am incorrect.

Drosaphila melanogaster

As an undergrad I majored in molecular biology, which sounds more impressive than it actually is. My plan was to go to the University of Illinois in Chicago and get a PhD in molecular genetics. I would commute to grad school and save so much money on housing, it was going to be great! Then I learned that molecular genetics was totally not as cool as it sounded and that I have no interest in being a geneticist. But before I came to that realization and ended up on the path I am currently on I took my undergraduate genetics course. My teacher was great, I adored him and the class. Like many of my science courses this one had a lab. Most lab courses had a new experiment every week and some of them would have some sort of task that was completed over the course of the semester. For genetics lab we had to do some weekly labs and then there was the "big" experiment which involved working with fruit flies, specifically Drosaphila melanogaster.

My lab group was given three vials of fruit flies. One vial had flies with a recessive wing mutation, they had kinda cool looking heart shaped wings. The second vial had a recessive bristle mutation, they didn't have as long of "back hair" essentially. The last vial had flies without either mutation, aka wild type flies. Our task for the semester was to figure out if the mutation was good for the flies or not*. When mated with the wild type the mutation was good then it would help the mutant flies get lucky and there would be more mutants, if it was bad then they would be undesirable freaks and not get any fly lovin'.

In order to complete our experiment we had to breed the flies together, which sounds easy, I mean anyone who has ever had a fruit fly infestation knows that they are fricking prolific buggers, mix them up and let nature take its course. What complicated our task was the fact that once mated female fruit flies store sperm. In order to prevent this we had to separate the females from the males** within 8-10 hours of them hatching out of their pupa (fly cocoon) and keep them apart until it was time for the big fly orgy. So we put all the adults from our stocks into a new tube and as the new flies hatched we would collect the virgin females. I felt bad to just kill off the males and so would save them too, my lab partners were not so considerate. When we had enough virgins of each type we would toss them in a new tube together and let the fly love making begin, as I recall we gave them a week to have their hot fly sex party. We then had to wait for their offspring to grow and hatch out and observe how many of each type there was, as I recall this took another week.

So it took about 2 weeks from start of the fly orgy until we got their adult offspring. It took forever and our lives revolved around the mating/life cycle of fricking tiny bugs! I remember coming in after closing at work, the science building closed at 11pm and so I would get there at 10:30 and wait until the security guard came to kick us out (I was not the only lifeless nerd) and make sure that there were no flies hatched out so that any hatched females would be virgins when my lab partners came in the morning (when they decided to participate...). When we were working as a team (or I was working as our team) there was round the clock virgin collection. But I digress, the point is it took about 2 weeks from hot fruit fly love to new adult fruit fly.

Luis Pasteur was a french scientist, he was responsible for some very important discoveries. He developed pasteurization, wonder where that name came from... And he was finally able to prove once and for all that a concept called spontaneous generation is total BS. This debate had been going on for many decades, some believed that there was some mysterious force or God that would cause living things to just pop into existence, and others believed that life came from other life. Proof for spontaneous generation was maggots appearing on meat that had been sitting out on a counter and bacteria growing in broth that had sat out. Covered meat not getting maggots proved nothing because the life force stuff was in the air and couldn't get to the meat (if you consider the flies life source stuff they are right...). The arguments why the experiments that disproved spontaneous generation were many, Luis designed an experiment that covered all the bases and finally killed it.

So to wrap up yet another of my rambling posts, we have the fact that fruit flies take about two weeks to make more fruit flies and the fact that fruit flies come from other fruit flies and not some invisible life force from God. So how in the world is it that the generation time for fruit flies in my apartment is like 10 minutes?!!? I throw fruit scraps into the trash and within days my apartment contains a swarm of these annoying bugs! I wish I could charge them rent, damn freeloaders. Oh and I know what you are thinking, "Why doesn't she just take out her garbage? Seriously she got into grad school?!" and the answer is that I am lazy and cheap and hate the cold and a chronic procrastinator. It is a "waste" to take out the trash before the bag is full, and I am tired and don't feel like making the long arduous journey to the dumpster***, especially when it is freezing**** outside. It is supposed to warm up a bit tomorrow/this afternoon, it is time to quit whining and take out the garbage, then it will be just me and the crickets*****.

Now what will be interesting is to see if my hits go up, I semi-figured out how to use google analytics and so far the two searches that led people to this blog were totally lame. If someone searches "hot fly sex" I will laugh hysterically, and be disturbed. Of course they might well be a student taking a genetics lab, we often found ourselves in the hallway discussing wild type virgins and the like as if it were completely normal to discuss the sex lives of insects, the freshmen gave us the funniest looks while the people who already took the course gave us looks of pity. Wonder how many people looking for free porn will click thinking Drosaphila melanogaster is a sexual position. Will bringing up the fact that one of the meds I take are little blue pills cause some misinterpretation as well... Stomach meds, ED meds, what's the difference ;).

-----The copy literaldan section, aka footnotes-----
*The cool wings were sexy and resulted in more wing mutant flies than wild type flies. Apparently back hair is sexy, to fruit flies, the short back haired flies didn't score much.
**Sadly I am able to tell the difference, without magnification, between male and female fruit flies.
***There are dumpsters right across the street on one side and dumpsters across the parking lot on the other side of my building.
****Below 70 is cold, below 60 is freezing, below 40 I am in my winter coat and long underwear, and I really don't want to think about it getting any colder than that, especially since last winter it got into the negative degrees Fahrenheit here.
*****Bugs are a fact of life in this state and I don't feel like spraying insecticide all over the place. I hate flies though so will whack them, fruit flies go away when their food source is removed so I don't have to go nuts on them. I don't like asian beetles but they kill themselves for me by frying themselves in the lights.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Guess that Gizmo 9-5-08

It is time for Guess that Gizmo, sorry that it has been so long between posts (both GTG posts and regular posts), I have been busy with the issues at work and also trying to catch up with my blog reading. To make it up to you I am adding a bonus to this one, same rules apply as the GTG rules, the bonus picture is Guess that Goo. For those just tuning in and who want to get in on the fun you still can totally catch up, the first GTG of the semester is here. I will probably tally the scores at the end of the semester. Remember this is totally for fun, the prize(s) will be blog bling (I have until December how to figure out how to make something into blog bling...) Clicking the images will show them larger if that helps.

Goo:For the goo, guess what the white stuff floating in the tube is.

Have fun and good luck =)!

Natural Selection

Dear Neighbor,

You do not know me, we "met" when natural selection almost used my oldsmobile to select against you. Not sure what you did to piss off the car in the left lane but I recognized what she/he was doing when they suddenly slowed down, I totally helped them out and sped up a bit to block your ass. I love to do such things to complete morons such as yourself, because I could tell right away that you are a complete moron. Let us explore the scenario. I was speeding, going about 40 in a 35 zone, which is about how I normally drive. The natives often will go 5-10 over the limit, I try to keep it down to more around 5 myself having Illinois plates (though them being firefighter memorial plates probably helps cancel the potential out-of-state plates disadvantage). The car in the left lane (ahead of mine) was probably going about 45 at first until you pissed them off, then they slowed significantly. You my dear defective neighbor were trying to get past me, which I did not notice at first since I was watching what was happening in front of me so that I could safely make my right turn into our neighborhood and not hit a pedestrian while doing so. I am willing to bet you would have cut me off had it not been for the left lane car you pissed off, I suspect by tailgating them. I was quite shocked that you did not try to squeeze between the small gap between my car and theirs, probably the brain cell that allowed you to get accepted into this university was working hard trying to convince you not to do something that suicidal, I wish you had more of them!

So you did not get ahead of me, you backed off and got behind me, tailgating me and coming close to wacking me as I had to stop because a pedestrian darted across right as I started to make the turn. I guess my right turn signal and being half way into the turn didn't register with her. This is a common occurance in this town and one you should have also anticipated and so given more space between our vehicles to allow for the sudden stops to avoid taking part in natural selection, but then your survival instincts have been in question from the start of this letter. So we made our turn and then you managed to show an even greater lack of intellegence coupled with what I consider blatant disregard to public safety.

Perhaps you have not noticed but there are these things called speed limits, the speed limit in our neighborhood is 15 mph. I go a bit faster than that but am always 100% focused, especially when the sun is still out, for children. Perhaps you have not noticed but this neighborhood is predominantly family housing, there are a lot of children running around, you know those small people who run around and don't always pay attention to where they are doing so. Maybe, Darwin forbid*, you have one or more of your own. Also something that seemed to escape your notice is that we were driving up a hill and the road is curved in that place and lined with huge pine trees, which coupled with the fact that Americans drive on the right side of the road makes you passing me on this stretch of asphalt a definite risk of getting into a head on collision with someone. It is not like this is a long road nor was I driving super slow, are you that desperate to get home 10 seconds sooner that you would risk your life to do so, because that is definitely what you did. And another huge factor that makes all of the above extra bad, you were on a midsized motorcycle (not harley).

Let me explain since it seems you don't get this. Buses are bigger than cars, cars are bigger than motorcycles, motorcycles are bigger than pedestrians. The reverse is generally true for manuverability. So you zipping around trying to pass everyone, tailgating, and not obeying the rules of the road (don't think I didn't notice your "rolling" stop) puts the pedestrians at risk and you at risk, not to mention the damage hitting you would do to my car. My order of concern in this situation is first to the pedestrians, then my car, and then you. The blatant stupidity of your actions shows you disregard not only your own safety but the safety of those around you and so the only reason I would avoid hitting you is the damage it would cause my car, you do not deserve to have a license (assuming you have one actually) nor a vehicle.

And to top it all off, just when I thought that you had finished demonstrating your severe lack of sense, you rode your motorcycle onto the sidewalk and I am going to figure you drove it to your building. The children generally are pretty good at not darting into the streets too badly but they are definitely not on the lookout on the sidewalks! Sidewalks are for pedestrians you asshole! I am going to guess that you park your bike on your porch to avoid paying the parking fee, which I will admit shows some intellegence, though seriously it would be put to better use in learning and following basic safety rules/laws. A more responsible approach to the sidewalk thing is to stay on the street until you are in front of your building and then do the motorcycle equivalent to walking your bike. Would it take you a little extra time and effort, yes, would it help prevent you running into a small child, I very much believe so. Oh and I am thinking when I go to renew my parking sticker that I will see if I can have a chat with the police about how to get your ass busted for the sidewalk stunt, because I know you do it whenever you use that bike and it would not be difficult to get on camera.

I sure hope you are an organ donor! Good thing they don't do brain transplants, though you could use one!!!!!


*I am not an athiest, saying Darwin was fitting and amusing, so no one is allowed to get offended.