Monday, February 23, 2009

Time to Celebrate Ian!

Hello everyone, remember me, the dorky quirky microbiology grad student who goes by "The Microblogologist", "Micro", "MB", and occasionally my first name, Karen. Yeah it has been over a week since I posted, working a lot trying to knock the current project out ASAP and trying to catch up on my blog reading has not left much time for this. Oh and twitter totally does NOT help, evil addictive thing that it is! So why am I posting now? It's Ian's birthday!!!!! Put on your party hats and get ready to sing! I do NOT sing and when I write songs I make Ian sing them for me (he has finished 1 of 4 that I have written, I'm cutting him some slack because he is a first year undergrad and is in plays and operas and such, 2 or 3 at a time the past month or so) and so of course I made him sing the happy birthday song for me, feel free to join in:

OK time for the cake! I thought about having it be a dual purpose cake to also serve to celebrate Randy's journey to S. Korea but it is definitely not a "Randy cake" as it does not contain full frontal nudity, in case you want to see it and keeping in mind I am 100% NOT kidding about the nudity (my keyword list is likely to get interesting after this!) I'll link to his official farewell cake. I have never tried linking a facebook pic so if it doesn't work it doesn't work, I am NOT going to put it on my blog or into photobucket or whatever, go bug him (actually you should, he'll get sad if Gregg and I are his only readers!) Here is the cake that I got for Ian:

We've had our cake, it was pretty yummy too! The smiley face is definitely appropriate because Ian is totally a big ball of sunshine =)! Now it is time for the presents, here is what I picked out and if I were totally wealthy I would so get them for him:

Manpris for when it is too hot for pants but too cold for shorts!

Uggs, because he loves them and says they are comfy,
these match the manpris so he can show them off!

A nice polo shirt to go with the manpris and boots.

And what outfit is complete without a matching man purse!?
Coach of course!

Oh and here is another rendition of the birthday song for you Ian, I found it in the related vids for the first and HAD to post it!:

I hope you had a wonderful day, I am sorry that you had to spend it 400 miles away from your family and Pasha! My advice, celebrate it again when you go home next, it is not about the date it is about spending time with those you love. Love you kiddo!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Randy the Globe Trotter

Twenty years ago at the ripe old age of five I started kindergarten. In my class was an Asian boy, he was very quiet. Over the next 12 years or so this Asian kid and I attended school together, though we did not become friends until high school. In high school we spent many hours hanging out in the school library before classes started, my group and I had claimed this area for the unpopular kids to hang out in. Being as it is a small school it is hard to break out of whatever reputation you have, the Asian kid stayed quiet for the most part until prom night when he just let it all out and danced his heart out, the boy has got some major skillz and I wish I had been there to see them that night. He was starting to break out of this shell that he had formed early in his schooling.

You see when this little Asian boy walked into kindergarten he knew very little English. The language barrier was one reason he was quiet, the main reason at first really. He learned English but it was so well established that he was a quiet person he just stayed that way. In June of 2001 we graduated together. While he had started to break the mold before we graduated high school in college he was no longer bound by what people expected from him and he was able to reinvent himself. Gone was the quiet Asian boy and in his place was an Asian man who shared his ideas and showed his passions. It was wonderful to see my friend come out of his shell and become the person he is today. And remember how I said he didn't really know English going into school, he now has a bachelor's degree in the subject!

On Tuesday he is going to complete the circle, he is getting on an airplane. That airplane will take him out of the country. At the end of his trip he will arrive in South Korea where he is going to teach English. He has never been over there, he was born here to a Vietnamese and a Cambodian, neither of those countries were good places for him to go to since I think they have some bad blood between them and also they prefer white people to teach them English, guess they feel it is more Englishy or something, lol. I bet you he would be a way better English teacher than I would be and I am about as pasty as it gets, haha! Either way he is going to be worlds away form home and I think that takes some major courage. Oh and I pestered him incessantly and he caved and started a blog, a real one and not a facespace blog/note! I am looking forward to reading about his adventures on the other side of the globe, if you are too give him a click, maybe give him some comment love in case he is lonely over there.

I know I have said it before many times but I am so proud of you Randy, you have overcome so many obstacles along the way and become a person that I am honored to call my friend. Stay safe, have fun, and remember to stay in touch with your hermit friend back in the states! And you're welcome for not stealing a pole dancing pic from one of your facebook albums to share with the blogosphere ;).

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Dishwasher

A professor once told my class that if you have a question you should ask it and not feel stupid because most likely if it is not clear to you there will be more people who don't get it too but are too scared to ask and will be grateful you had the courage to. I took this lesson to heart and have found that when I have asked profs to clarify something there are a lot of murmurer and pens/pencils moving! So I have decided to apply this lesson to my blog, Nonna asked about the Dishwasher, who starred in my documentary about the pink goo. She wanted to know if he minded being called "The Dishwasher" and why I call him that (note: I call him by his real name most of the time).

To answer the first part of that question watch the documentary, notice that when I called him "The Dishwasher" he didn't miss a beat, the poor guy has been working in the same lab with me for way too long and so that totally didn't phase him nor upset him. The skip in the vid was my deciding to explain to him why I called him that (I totally forgot in my excitement to get the interview recorded to inform him of my privacy policy and what I named him for the blog) and asking if he minded or if he'd prefer another nickname or his real name. He laughed and said he liked "The Dishwasher" and so that he shall remain.

And as to the why, besides me being insane there are actually two reasons I call him "The Dishwasher". The first is because of the lab jerk (aka Prof Wannabe). The lab jerk is one of those go get 'em types in many regards, which can be good. His is a first class butt kisser when it comes to the higher powers (professors or people he can exploit), but us lowly fellow lab workers do not deserve his precious time that he doesn't have enough of. Idiot is a grad student in I have no idea how many clubs and wonder if he knows, and wonders why he has no time! I am in one club, which I might quit since he recently joined and seems to be taking it over, besides I don't have enough time for it really since I have to focus on my research, writing and prelims (currently 100% focus is on research). When he first started as a grad student it was after he had done a summer internship in the lab, during the summer he managed to piss everyone off including me, and I was only in for a few days before my wrist forced me to take the summer off.

Everyone but I was an undergrad in the lab and when I came back he was trying to be friends with me in hopes of having one person in the lab not loathing him. The arrogant SOB was telling me how he felt the lab dynamics should be, basically the undergrads should be our slaves and do all of our prep work and wash our dishes and basically do our job while we just do the thinking part. I tried to nicely explain that our lab did not work like that, the undergrads in our lab had experience and were among the top of their class and hand picked by the lab's prof to do actual research. These were not minimum wage freshmen, they were slightly above minimum wage upper classmen! They were hired for specific projects and undergrads here can only put in 20 hours a week working for the university while classes are in session as per university policy, that is not much time and really they did not have time to do their work and ours! His response was to say we should hire a slave then, I told him that was highly unlikely and that the prep and cleanup was our job and most grad students have to do that stuff too, least the ones I have worked with in all the labs I have worked in. His views have not changed, his attempts at trying to get me to change mine failed and we are currently mortal enemies. What has changed is the lab dynamic, the undergrads graduated and one got a real job while another decided that grad student life was for her (poor misguided soul!), suddenly we were a lab of grad students and there was but one undergrad, the lowly Dishwasher. Being the pain in the butt hilarious coworker that I am I would tease him about how he is the undergrad and I am the grad and so he should do all my work for me and wash my dishes and everything! He and I would go back and forth exaggerating the lab jerk's insane ideas a bit as a form of playing around and stress relief, working with someone like the lab jerk is highly stressful which is great for blogging since it triggers GI issues that make it hard to sleep so might as well write a blog post and feel guilty my brain is too mushy to do lit review to make my boss happy.

The other reason behind my naming him "The Dishwasher" is because as an undergrad he takes a ton of coursework, which requires a lot of time and does not leave as much time for him to do lab work. One thing that tends to suffer when one is busy and trying to get their job done is dishes. You HAVE to do prep work or you can't do the research, of course doing the research is the whole point, and in the end the only thing one can really slack on is doing the dishes afterwards. Sometimes this causes conflict, it is very annoying when you come in and all the dishes are dirty and my pet peeve is when all the sinks are full of them, the lab has 3 sinks with two basins each there is no excuse to fill them all! Also sometimes one of us who is feeling benevolent or who has given up on the person ever doing them, will just wash the dishes for that person, this makes Dishwasher feel very guilty. His way of trying to avoid conflict and guilt was to write a note on the board saying to leave the dishes for him to do. Being the smart ass comical coworker that I am I would usually either write under it that my test tubes are waiting for him on my bench or I'd tell him it in person if I saw him. Sometimes I would refer to him as the lab's dishwasher and such, yep I'm a hoot to work with!

And that my adoring public is why I call him "The Dishwasher", the combination of inside jokes and slight insult aimed at the lab jerk (who I'm naming my ulcer after if I have an ulcer, find out in a few months probably). The Dishwasher is a great person to work with, he is laid back and puts up with my silliness. I would never let him wash my dishes as that is my job, the only one I let do so is V and that is because we share when we are both working and rotate who cleans the dishes and does the prep work, easier than splitting everything up. And I told him I was going to make him famous so look forward to hearing of him in the future, when I get around to it, lol.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Microblogologist Production

A few days ago I noticed a container in the hallway outside my lab. Being the snoop concerned citizen that I am I of course had to investigate. It was unlabeled and contained what appeared to be seeded pink hand soap. Yesterday I looked at it again and decided to make a documentary about it, enjoy:

Unfortunately the goo was gone by the time I got back to do my last set of plating so there was no explosion and no more trying to capture the pulsating/bubbling of the goo, it was fun while it lasted! The goo is actually a part of a competition thing that the food science major nerds do every year, it is a big deal to their kind and so the Dishwasher and I can't tell you what their ultra secret pink goo is at this point. If I am aware of it after the contest is over I can try and find out more about it and let you know if anyone wants. It has another endorsement from a coworker who has tried it, in its non-fermented form, no one seemed interested in trying the fermented form for some reason! If I get a memo about a taste panel for it I think I'll give it a try and maybe get a vid of it, if I have time.

Note: I am being exceedingly kind calling him the "lab jerk". He is a vile and loathsome creature (can be nice, chooses not to).

Special thanks to the Dishwasher for participating in the documentary!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Math Major Monday

The other day I was doing some prep work for my current project and was making up the tubes I need to make dilutions for spread plating. If you click that link note that it is one of my first videos and so I was still working on the whole learning to talk coherently and do lab work at the same time, lol. Oh and I plan to bring Guess that Gizmo back I just have been busy and it was not getting the response I wanted so I kind of put it on the back burner figuring I might pick up a few more readers and revive it.

Back on track. I was doing this prep work and one of the first thing one should do while doing prep work is to figure out how much of something you need. I have become a white board addict for this kind of task, don't waste paper and it is quick and easy to correct errors. The lab has a big one but lately it has been filled up with the chicken scratches of the lab jerk (he makes my crappy handwriting look good!). For that I am not really faulting him since I am as well, I tend to be less of a hog about it. It just so happened though that I had gone shopping at Cubs, which used to be the place I bought most of my groceries but the opening of the Super Walmart has changed my life forever, one stop shopping is a beautiful thing! Since I was in the area though I decided to snoop around Cubs and found a dollar bin, I am a sucker for those, LOVE the ones at Target! They had these little white boards, pretty crappy but only a dollar, I decided to get it for the lab and imagined using it to harass people. Well between lab jerk hogging the white board and me liking to have reminders to help me not miss something on a long day I've basically only used it for legitimate reasons. This day I used it to write out the calculations for figuring how much peptone water (water with stuff in it so it is gentle on the bacteria) I needed to make. Here is the picture of it with the calculations all written out:

I promise you that 3000ml (3 liters), is the correct answer. There are 72 tubes per rack. If I have any engineers I think some of them would get it and the rest are likely convulsing on the floor. I wrote it out and afterwards decided it looked funny, makes perfect sense to me but to an outsider it probably looks like a math FAIL. Anyone want to take a stab how someone with a bachelor of science degree and a calculator managed to make 1300+1440=3000? And no, it is not an example of my having lost my sanity, though the lab jerk has been pushing it to its limit lately. I keep reminding myself that the prison probably wouldn't let me have much internet access and that Doc actually checks the police blotter to see if any of his patients did something stupid (he told me after I expressed my semi-joking wish to hit lab jerk with a rolled up newspaper). I was instructed not to get my name in the paper, being the super compliant patient that I am I did actually get my name in the paper that week, just not the blotter, lol!

My boss saw it before I did and now won't stop harassing me to get going on writing up the current experiment, get the stuff that does not involve the data and data analysis written up now, so not my style though, especially after a long day in the lab! Good thing she does not know about the bloggity! Though this is seriously very very different writing wise and I am using this to try and help me sharpen up my writing skillz a bit since it has been awhile since I took a course that required that much writing and I am incredibly intimidated by this technical/scientific writing thing. I have never really done it before, my one attempt I felt sucked really bad, so it is kinda scary, but I will figure it out and she will help by ripping it to shreds until I get it right! Hopefully it won't be too bad, we shall see. Between that, and lab work, and twitter/facebook I have not had as much time for blogging, both as a writer and a reader and am behind on both, miss you all and I will eventually catch up with reading and am trying to make sure I post once in awhile so you all don't think I died or something.

One last thing before I crash, on twitter a few of us were chatting and Flat WeaselMomma came up and McMommy decided she wants to host FWM (that would be so cool) and then she started contemplating making a Flat McMommy and sending her up to hang out with the Weasels. Then the idea snowballed and she wants to come visit me and hang out in the lab too! I totally played it cool and was all saying it could be arranged but I was totally doing the excited tween girl contemplating meeting a Jonus brother or something tweens are into these days!!!!! I'd consider Flat Microblogologist but it would cause Baby Sibling to make fun of me since I am already flat, she got almost ALL the boob allowance for our family and did not leave much for Middle Sister and I, Middle Sister is the one that actually wants it too! Anyone have any ideas for what I should do if and when Flat McMommy comes to visit? For sure she'll join me in the lab but I have to show her more than just that. Something fun to think about =)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


While catching up on her blog (or is it this one...) I once again came across Nonna's obsession with the vile white crap that falls from the sky like manna but evil and not from heaven. Never mind the death and destruction it leaves in its wake, Nonna wants to play in it! I believe her and Niecey would get along quite well as the child loves snow (she will probably grow out of it living in the midwest). I decided Niecey was old enough to play outside by herself as long as she stayed in view of the window so I could supervise her from the warmth of my aunt's place over thanksgiving. She got her fix and stopped whining and I got to be the coolest auntie ever and stay warm, perfect!

And so, for Nonna, I put aside my hatred and "played" in the snow just for her:

Note my awesome not falling skillz! And in case anyone notices, no I am not wearing gloves, I do not get adequate circulation to my fingers to be able to really wear them. I am better off keeping my hands in my pockets with the exception of when I am cleaning/shoveling the snow I have a pair of gloves that have a mitten shell that work to a point and are better than leaving my hands completely exposed to the elements. I hope you all enjoyed my romp in the snow and those of you blessed with a warm climate free of the retched stuff appreciate how awesome you have it, if not I propose a switch, I live at your place and you can hang out in the frozen wasteland! I will admit that it can be pretty, here is an example:

I snapped this shot as I power-walked across campus to get to water aerobics, I was late and so went straight from work as the sun was setting. I couldn't help but stop to capture the bell thingy with the snow and sunset thing going on. It has a fancy name that I forget how to spell and it is a huge campus landmark, it makes noise every 15 minutes and a prof plays music on it at noon and I think sometimes later in the day as well, it is cool.