Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The end, and beginning, of the year.

It is the end of our fiscal year. It seems right that the year should start and end at this semester, new medical, nursing and graduate students. New projects are being funded. Our accounts are being reset, so we don't have access for a couple of days. It's kind of like driving, knowing you are almost out of gas, but not sure quite how many miles you have left before the car dies. Of course, this only lasts for a couple of days, but it's still a bit disconcerting. Money is almost never a problem, if we need or want something, we get it. Even sometimes kind of frivilous stuff, we get that, too...I have the BEST label maker.

I have tried to plan better this year, I've tried to keep our consumables in stock, we have all of the tissue culture stuff that we'd need, all of the chemicals that we use are stocked. Of course, I can't plan for all eventualities, so I'm certain that on Monday, someone is going to come to me and say, "But I need this tomorrow?!!?!!" And I will (want to) say, "Tough shit, you should have planned better than that. Remember this for next year!" In reality, we will go to other labs and see if we can mooch off someone for a couple of days. Because I'm a good lab manager like that.
I'll probably make a good mother some day, too.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Hard to get a prayer out of last week...

I was sick last week...stomach flu. Didn't do much of anything. I was out all day Tuesday, but Wednesday I had to go in to prepare for an Inspection from our Environmental Health and Safety department, we had to make sure our select agents were in good form so that when CDC comes to visit all of our I's are dotted and our T's are crossed. I was gone for 2 days, and still stuff managed to come undone. It's good and bad. Good, I have great job security. Bad, how does stuff fall apart in 2 days???

Saturday I cleaned my back room. It's used to be a computer room when I had a desktop computer. Now it's an extra bedroom/cat room. Mostly what I did was clean up my computer desk and file cabinet so that if I have to evacuate for a Hurricane, my documents are ready to go.

Sunday I worked in my back yard. There are some really pretty landscaping left over from someone who previously owned my house, but it's so overgrown that you can't see it. Today I uncovered another tile block in the back garden, it's about 1' square, this is the 3rd I've found in the flower beds. I was trying to dig through it before it dawned on me what I was trying to dig through. There was about 2" of fern leaf matter, dirt, roots, leaves...that sort of thing. I pulled away a sheet of leaf litter. I also cut down as much as I could of a small's in a bad place. I can't get it completely down with my little clippers, it will take a small chain saw to get rid of it completely.

I'm always in a better mood after I work in the yard. Tomorrow my hamstrings will be very tight, but the rest of me will feel great.


How about...

Dear Lord, thank you for all of your blessings, for the sun and rain, for the grass and the clouds, for good food and good friends, for good health and doctors when you're sick, and sick leave at work. Amen.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

6 Iraq Casualities

This morning I received an email from a friend of mine (we dated a couple of years back. The romantic relationship didn't work, but we've remained in contact, and I consider him a friend). He is serving somewhere in Iraq, he can't disclose where. He pilots helicopters. 6 men of his unit were killed several days ago. All contact was halted until next of kin were notified. He wasn't hurt, but his fellow soldiers, friends, were. They left behind families, children, wives, brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers. While the war is often on my mind, and always at the back of my mind, this has brought it especially close to home. I knew W was in Iraq, but it was rather abstract until now. I've had a hard time working today, because all I can think about are the families of the fallen men. I'm not usually a crying person, but today the tears have been very close to the surface. May God grant us an end to the war soon.

Please, pray for all of our troops.

Lord, remind me of how good I really have it. I sleep in a comfortable bed, in a cool house with modern appliances and luxuries that many people can't even dream of. I have a job that pays for all of my needs, and most of my wants. I have a family that I can call at any time, and I don't have to worry that they will be killed by bombs, IED's, or enemy soldiers. Remind me that there are people who put their life on the line every day so that I can live this way. Give the friends and families of the fallen soldiers peace in this difficult time, and grant them the strength to overcome with their grief. Be with us all, Lord, and remind us that in ALL things, you work for good. Amen

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Friday, August 10, 2007

Best Friends

For the longest time (and I mean years, here) I have believed that I'm not very good at making or keeping friends. I have said to myself and others that I'm very good at meeting people, but not very good at making friends. One night, maybe a month ago, I was sitting with a woman (VH) I considered a friend just talking over some wine and a small dinner. At one point she said something about me about being one of her best friends. I didn't pay it much attention at the time, but it must have been sitting and fermenting for awhile in the back of my head. This past Sunday I got to spend some time again with VH, and I remembered what she had said. I got to thinking about it, and I realized that I was gravely mistaken. Somehow, in the last few years, while I had convinced myself that I didn't have any friends, I have accumulated several. Somehow, in the process of life, I realized that God has graced me with many friends, several of which I consider very dear to me. In addition to my best friends from Grad school, whom I still talk to, though not as often as I'd like, I can count 7 people (including 2 married couples) that I would consider best friends, and a bunch more that I consider friends. Also in the mix are some friends that, while we aren't as close as we once were, I none-the-less still consider my friends. There have also been some people who I thought were friends, but are no more.

In the past few years I have learned that the word Friend has many meanings. It turns out that I'm not too bad at making friends at all. In fact, I'd say I've become pretty good at making friends, and I'm doing better at figuring out if someone new I meet would make a good friend. I'm learning to let the relationships develop at their own pace, in their own way, and quite often, I am surprised at the kind of friends I have.

Dear Lord, thank you for the gift of friends. Thank you for the ones that teach me, and for the ones I teach. Thank you for the long-standing friends, thank you for the new friends. Help me to be as good a friend to others as others have been to me. Amen.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Help, kind of

This post contains some explanation of part of an animal experiment. If you are sensitive to such things, you should stop now.

I believe in animals in research because they are the best model we have, at the moment. While their biological and immunological systems are not identical to ours, they are often very similar and can give us important information about how our human systems work and how our systems would respond to any given set of conditions.

That being said, they should also be treated as humanely as possible. There are some procedures that must be done to give us the information we need that are inevitably painful for the animal and probably cause some lingering pain or discomfort or reactions. My goal, as a researcher, is to minimize the side effects as much as it is in my power to do so.

One of the things we must often do is take blood from an animal. Larger animals are not such a problem, as it is easy to find a vein and draw blood. In the case of mice, however, we must be sensitive and frugal. We cannot take very much blood, because mice are small and they don' t HAVE very much blood, so we need to get it in a way that causes as little distress as possible. Also, often we need the mice to survive, so we must be careful that when we bleed the mice we do not do permanent damage. There are a couple of ways. AGAIN: IF YOU ARE SENSITIVE TO MEDICAL PROCEDURES, PLEASE STOP READING!

You can bleed the mouse by clipping off part of a toe or the end of the tail, this gives a small amount of blood, and each time you bleed the mouse, you must clip more toes, or further up the tail. I object to both of these methods. They don't yield much blood for the length of time it takes and the pain involved, and you permanently mutilate the mouse. The 3rd way is called a retro-orbital bleed. This looks like a painful procedure, but it is quick, the vein heals quickly, and it can be repeated without mutilating the mouse.

I had to bleed 40 mice this AM, and I asked a co-worker for help. She said sure, she'd be glad to help. She neglected to tell me she hadn't done a retro-orbital bleed in months. This is usually fine, it takes 1 or 2 mice to get 'back in the saddle' and off you go...except that she apparently wasn't very good to start with, or she only did it in an academic know, 1 or 2 times in a lab but not enough to be proficient. Anyway, about 1/4 of the way through, when it becomes VERY apparent that she does not know what she's doing, I suggested that she anesthetize, and I would bleed. NO, I can do it. 'No, you can't' is what I'm thinking, but I keep my mouth shut. Of a cage of 5, I do my five, then I move to help her do her 5, she does 3 and I do 2. That's 7 out of 10 mice...for that much help, it would have been easier to do it myself. As it was, I had to go back and rebleed 4 mice because she got such a small amount that I couldn't do what I needed to do with it. It was such a frustrating morning, and then it irritated me all over again in the PM.

Dear Lord, please help me remember that not everyone is good at everything. Not even me. Help me to realize that if I ask someone for help, it is not good form to then tell them that they are doing it wrong, and for them to stop helping me. Help me to be aware of myself, so that I may realize when I am being a hindrance, not a help, and help me to have the humility to step back and make sure they still WANT my help. Thank you for co-workers who like me enough to want to help. Amen.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

We have had a very large crate in our hallway for about 3 weeks. It is a large plastic dry box with glove ports. Since we are on the 3rd coast, we have very high humidity, and we need to do part of an experiment in a very dry environment, about 30% humidity. When we ordered the box we measured the place where it would go, got the necessary approval, and submitted the order. There was an 8 week turn around on the box. We finally got it 3 weeks ago. Now we need FINAL approval to move the box onto the counter we originally got approval for more than 3 months ago. For 3 weeks I have fielded questions. "What's in that crate?" "What do you need that for?" "How big is it?" "How long is it going to be in the hall?" "You haven't done anything with that YET?" "Are you ever going to open that crate?"

Finally, today we got our final approval. My co-worker, AJ, and I were trying to dig up some tools big and strong enough to break down this crate. Fortunatly, we were met in the hall by some of our campus Facilities men, and they had tools and dis-assembled the crate for us. AJ and I picked up the box (it's an empty plastic box...not heavy), put it on the cart and move it into the appointed room. It over hangs the edge of the counter by 3 or 4 inches. But it seems stable enough, since we won't be using it for anything big or bulky.

I had a lot of fun putting it all together, setting up the humidity sensor, setting up the air control lines and pump and humidity control system. It was a fun afternoon, especially when I just went in there, it was working PERFECTLY! Humidity was just right, the system was maintaining well, the box wasn't foggy or holding a vacuum or anything nasty like that. I'm excited to start this experiment now.

Dear Lord, thank you for new toys, especially for new toys at work. Thank you for my inquisitive nature, my insatiable search for the reason WHY, and for a job that satisfies ALL of those things! Amen.

New Friends

My new friend, MK, has had a summer intern, and this is her last week. I asked MK if they were doing a goodbye lunch, and they both looked at each other in confusion. It hadn't occured to either of them. But since I brought it up, sure, that sounded like fun. Ok. So now summer intern is picking the restaurant, and we're going to lunch on Thursday. I still don' t know if MK and I will be friends, or work friends...I guess I'll just have to wait and see what the days bring.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Yesterday, I took a chance to make a new friend and asked MK, another tech in our department, to lunch. We've talked several times in the past, and we got along OK. Together, we invited a third tech, PS, and the lab manager from our collaborating lab, KW. We went to a nearby local restaurant and had a great time. I've been, I guess, a little resistant to forming new friends. New friends mean a chance of getting hurt. They mean opening myself up to more people, letting more people into my comfort zone. In the not-to-distant past, I've been a poor judge of character, and I let people in that ended up hurting me deeply. They left scars that are still trying to heal. Then, redemption in a single phrase. We were discussing what we were doing for the weekend, and I mentioned that I was the president of my churches LWML group, and we had a meeting saturday morning. PS asked, "What's LWML"? "Lutheran Women's Missionary League, we are a service organization that works in the Lutheran church." , then a smile, "Wow, that's really cool!"

Something hard inside of me fell away. Part of a wall was broken with a single heartfelt phrase. Yeah, I think what I do with LWML is cool. I'm part of something larger than myself. We make an impact on the world, personally, locally, regionally, nationally, and globally. Whether by small gifts to a nursing home, or mites for the National convention, my small part is as necessary as anyones. I think that is really cool. And I like the idea of friends who think so, too.

Dear Lord, thank you for the gift of friends. Thank you for the discovery of new friends, and for the renewal of old friends. Amen

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Who is this person?

So, I have been in fairly bad mood for the last several days, and it is getting progressively worse. It is work related, because outside of work I seem to be OK, I laugh and talk and actually have a personality. At work, though, I am petty and snarly and mean, and in my mind I'm thinking bad evil mean thoughts. Yesterday I had a minor melt down...alright, I had a small temper tantrum, brought on by the increasing number of small normally inconsequential things going wrong, but all together are conspiring to drive me crazy. Shoes that rub blisters, 4 blisters, on each foot, autoclaves, all 3 of them, that won't charge (they won't get enough steam pressure to raise the temperature enough to sterilize) so the instruments aren't sterile for tomorrow's time point, I cannot do a cardiac puncture to SAVE MY LIFE, people leaving early and leaving me to deal with the last 2 tissue homogenates to dilute and plate, Car inspection is overdue, my oil change is overdue, I can't seem to get the time to go grocery shopping so I'm out of all of my staples...I'm whining, I know. I almost cried in the necropsy room this afternoon, I stopped my part of the experiment, closed my eyes, did a few deep calming breathes, stopped the crying, repeated several times in the next 2 hours. It seems like the tears are just below the surface, and the slightest frustration brings it up again. Who is this person? This is not me! I do NOT cry because my shoes put blisters on my feet! Do I?

Dear Lord, please help me. Help me figure out what brought this on, and what I need to do to make it go away. This is not who I am! I'm not usually this teary, whiny, crying, soggy person. I am usually solid, fairly stable, fairly evenly tempered...please bring her back! Thank you! Amen

Update: OH, PMS. That explains Everything! I haven't had PMS that bad in years. I kind of feel sorry for my co-workers that put up with me all week.