Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Here goes

Ok, more time then I thought I had, so, from most recent to not: I'm off to get fitted for new eye wear. I don't particularly need it but since the vision plan was very reasonable, especially since I'd get a years worth of coverage while only paying for 6 months of it, I signed up for it in August. Perhaps the hospital just likes to throw it's money around? I hope to find a pair of contacts with an optical zoom and maybe an internal targeting system.

I don't imagine any of my hundreds (ha!) of readers follow sports, much less Michigan sports but the lab is going to a Pistons game. Everything the Lions are not, the Pistons are-including crushing all in their path and then expelling them as noxious exhaust. To make it even more exciting the coach of the opposing team is none other then Larry Brown, the self same Piston's coach of the previous two years. Grudge match. And I was looking over the ticket and it seems to say 'Row 1'. This cannot be true, but if it is holy cats. Aaaaaaaaaaand the tickets were free. Provided by a labmate's husband who's friends own a radio station. We promised to cure their diabetes if they're ever afflicted.

Speaking of surprising and humbling gifts the paper Boss Lady has been writing for the past month inexplicably lists me as the first author. In a sane world I should be somewhere in the middle, with all the other people who don't matter. It's gone through too many revisions (including a grammar check by my Mom, love love) to be a mistake so I assume this is some arcane indication of my own boss's status as rising star. And here I shall remain for a time, clinging with glee to those coattails as we make our way onwards and upwards, twirling towards to the future.

And what else....what else what else what else... Oh right. The events of last Saturday evening. It was I said, over and over, a date of sorts. But perhaps this was only so in my aspirations. The night itself was pleasant, if uneventful and I think through no ones fault the young lady and I shall find ourselves in the friends zone. Ok it might be my fault. I don't have a stomach for liquor, and it slowed me down. I was also interested in her past (a lot more eventful then mine, though that's not hard to accomplish) and musings. We share quite a bit-her pharmacological history exceeds mine in depth if not breadth-including not getting out the home very often. I think she was glad to open up. And that's about all we did, talk and drink and listen to music. I would enjoy doing it again, and if that's all it ever is, that's not so bad. Not bad at all. Her name's Maggie, if you're curious.

There is one thing I'm going to try, a test if you will: She has my number, we both seemed to have a good time, so I think I'll let her call me at her convenience. This might not be my finest thought, so let me know what you think of it.


An eventful past few days that have left me busy and tired. I'll have a bigger post about it in a few hours.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Sunrise, Sunset

Another Thanksgiving, come and gone. I got drunk on wine and familial love but mostly wine. Also some family friends and their newborn occupied my room which was fine because it was a darn adorable baby. And I can't stand in the way of that, I just wilt. All in all a darn fine holiday.

That's all of the everything, as I see it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Oh hey

Got a date! Huh, I wonder if really attractive people feel like this all the time.

Also "Quiet Whiskey" by Wynonie Harris is a song for drinking and I am listening to it now.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Haven't you wanted to be a member?

Day whatever: If I keep working like I am now I will not be fired. So I'm still going to worry about it but not obsess. This should keep me sharp and insure that it is the mouse on the chopping block, and not the research tech.

Speaking of mice: There is one mouse in particular who died in the second most gruesome manner that I have ever seen. I will tell you the story of his sad and all too short life.

The Hot Blooded of the low cut shirt and stolen pipetter and I had taken it upon ourselves to create our own ICV mice. These are mice, I think I've explained before, who wear a kind of hat on their heads. Except, unlike a hat that most of us would wear, it can never be taken off since it is attached to the skull with glue and sometimes metal screws. The hat also allowed us to inject substances into their brains with relative ease. For a project my companion was engaged in, she would need 8 ICV mice, and for padding she ordered 10 normal mice for us to operate on. Our survival rate in the end was about 3.

There were a number of problems, of which an even half were my responsibility. For the first mouse we operated on I assured Boss Lady and my compatriot that yes yes I'd done this before with rats and once one got the mouse into the apparatus (which holds the skull perfectly still and centered for undisturbed work) the drilling was pretty straightforward. I then took the Dremel tool in both hands and immediately plunged the rapidly spinning bit into the mouse's brain matter. A mouse skull is about 1/3 as thick as a rat's it turns out. Fortunately by that point he was already deceased from something unrelated, so we all practiced drilling on it before tossing it in the fridge for eventual incineration.

The mouse in question met its end a few days later when it was just the inimitable Puerto Rican and I in the operating room. We had figured out what killed our first three mice and had operated successfully on four of them yesterday. Today was going poorly and one had already died from excessive bleeding. We had tried adjusting the anesthetic but it was difficult going.

I'll admit now that I've forgotten some of the exact details but I will say this: There was a lot of bleeding after we drilled in, and we only just managed to stop it. There was a parental an artery very near our target site and this was probably being nicked in our surgery. Nonetheless we pressed on determined to give this a mouse a hat. That was our error. I applied superglue around the edge of the cannula and positioned it above the hole we had created. Carefully we lowered it millimeter by millimeter until it was just above the surface of the skull. Labmate and I exchanged a nervous glance and I turned the knob to lower it in.

A moment of calm.

And then what I can only describe as a tiny red volcano. Spewing up from the surface of the skull and also 1 millimeter higher from the top of the canula. In shocked horror we saw it freeze in mid splatter as it mixed with the glue and solidified. Our mouse-still breathing and close to awake at this point-now had a crown of blood perched on its head.

That's also when we noticed that we were being watched. A local high school student, a bottle washer in a near by lab, rapped on the window. Her eyes were shielded from the horror by my coworker as I frantically moved to overdose the creature while avoiding any contact with it's head. By the time I had it in a tiny plastic bag to be sent to the freezer and then reimagined in my nightmares the student was distracted by our one surviving mouse who was delighted to crawl up and around her arm.

We decided to leave cannulations to professionals after that.


In other news I haven't called the number yet, and my mothers quiche for the lab thanksgiving was 20 minutes undercooked. Coincidentally, 2/3 of the people who ate it are sick today.

Sunday, November 20, 2005


Have a headache.

Have a phone number.

Wore a dress.

All in all a very good night.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Day3: What does a guy have to do to get fired around here?

A combination of paranoia and adrenaline fueled focus seems to be the trick to not fucking up in the lab. Now I just need to sustain that for 9 hours or so and I'll be the best lab monkey there is!

Well maybe the second best.

In other news I have read 16 of these and you should too. I remain torn between Civ4 and CoV and often choose based on what is crashing least. Perhaps I should upgrade the old hamster wheel... And finally with a bit of luck I'll be getting apocalypticly high, drunk, or both tonight. It will be the finest thing.

Thursday, November 17, 2005


Day 2: I still work there, they still me.

Not much else to report, aside from little brother is all grown up. And these transgenic mice we have are just adorable...all different colors too. Now video games, yay!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Day 1 operation Do Not Fire Me. Status: Not Fired.

I did make on serious but non fatal error. This was after 8 hours of, dare I say it, pretty good science. So I think the day went fairly well. And so to celebrate another lab anecdote.

Early one morning in my first month there the pretty Puerto Rican grad student approached me with a question/statement, "Tom, you took my pippeter yesterday and didn't bring it back." This was said in a matter of fact way with an accent that is difficult to convey over the internet.

I responded to this accusation with righteous defensiveness. "No no, it wasn't me!" A pause, "Well maybe it was...probably...yeah yeah I borrowed it and forgot to put it back. Sorry."

She smiled as the victorious tend to. "Your mouth said no. But your eyes said yes."

Not to be crossed that one.

Also, on the walk home today I saw a firetruck and ambulance parked outside the residence of an elderly neighbor. I also thought I smelled smoke, but that may only have been because I heard the firetruck sirens as I approached. I didn't know the man well, but I did deliver his paper for 5 years, so I hope it's nothing serious.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

And another thing

Remember when I said I would play City of Villains next?

I lied.

Oh dear

For those who say I get by on (take your pick): low cunning, a privileged background, good looks, easy charm, endearing vulnerability, serendipity, or what-have-you, you are generally correct. I have achieved many difficult things in life and I didn't always work that hard for them.


I was in the closing hours of the work day called to the office of my bosses boss. There we discussed various things but the main message, and one I'd been expecting for some time, was 'wise up Tom'. The antecedent might have been at some point yesterday, which was not a fine day for science, at least in my partof it. But it seems to be part of a more worrisome ongoing trend. I still don't think I'm going to be fired-yet. But...the fact is I need to be quite a bit more attention both to my duties and how well I account for what I've accomplished. It's all well and good to do an experiment but I'll also need to show when and how it was done if I'm going to go any further with this.

I certainly think I'm capable of doing better then I've done-and I think my superior's do as well. The question might be then-why wasn't I working harder before? Yeah I don't really know. Sorry. So...regardless of what I may or may not have been doing before (hint: lots of coffee breaks) I think that I can change. You may now start betting on when my new found determination and good cheer meet their inevitable and depressing end.

In a good match of the scenery to the action the weather today went from a cold drizzle to a full fledged thunder storm, with a tornado watch for good measure. On a side note, boss lady mentioned to me that if I wanted to know what life in Germany was like, two weeks of this would not be uncommon. If I had to walk home from the bus in absolutely not waterproof shoes while the sky turned to charcoal and the sidewalks became covered in invisible puddles for more then a day at a time, well, I might want a little getaway in France as well.

But it's not all doom and gloom. We just celebrated my cousin's birthday at the homestead and little brother's is this Thursday: the cigarettes and pornography one. And onwards I go.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Re: Civ 4

Whoops, where did six hours go?

I'll try to balance my history raping with some good old villainy tomorrow. Smaller scale violence and atrocity it's true, but the personal touch matters.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Nerd post

Yesterday was fairly balanced by sociability and video games. Today-the day of rest-was none of that. All nerd all the time in this house. Well and a bit of the football game, but that was a male bonding thing.

First off, in my prime time sink we have City of Villains. The game itself is fun enough but I mostly enjoy the scribbled into the margins parts of it. Like villain bases. Here's my character in one of a base of Thom's design.

Join us now, for lifestyles of the rich, and villainous.

Here we shall meet the egregiously violent King Deadly, as he surveys the latest additions to this, his manner house.

Did you note the many handicap accessible bathrooms? Yes. It is the law after all. Stepping through the foyer we leave behind the pleasures of mysterious obselisks and treasures stolen from long dead nations to enter the laboratory!

Database in order oh noble king? Oh I should hope so, I'd hate to think of that operating table gathering dust, instead of the blood and brain meats it extracts for your malevolence.

But all work and no play leads to dullness. And if there's one thing the truly evil can not abide, it is a lethargic atrocity! Join us then to see our man relaxing in the den. Is he studying some ritual to unlock Cthonic evil or Eldritch power? Perhaps he merely looks forward to an evening of chess, brandy, and unprovoked assault.

And that's all we have today, but please join us again soon for lifestyles of the rich, and villainous!

Ah fun times. The other game is Civ4! Which is also delightful in a completely different and more immersive manner. I'd be playing it right now but I want to get this post up before I faint from lack of food and sleep.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Two things

1. I'm not sure what it is I'm looking for in a Yoga class, but I don't think it's what I've got now. To much talking, a bit to much froufrou, and my back's still bugging me. The back thing is almost certainly my fault but the rest lies with the instructer. She's a fine lady and her workout area has a distinct advantage over my last in that it's more then 8ft tall. Still I get a weird kinda self-pity/Age of Aquarius vibration from her that is playing hell with my bandhas. Maybe I'll sit in on one of my dad's classes, if they're ever scheduled when I'm not at work.

2. There was a child of maybe three or four staying at the homestead yesterday and today whom I only interacted with at the breakfast table. Cute as a button, and free to play with his cheerios and revolutionary war soldiers to a degree that I envied. Sadly he was asleep on arrival last night and I was working too late to see him leave today. I'm sure we'll again meet before he gets awkward and surly, and I'll try to make the best of it then.

3. Lab lunch at an Indian restaurant tomorrow, woo!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

There was a wind advisory today

Which seemed wholly appropriate. Great gusts of air threatened to reenact the beginning of Merry Poppins. I didn't see any flying hats or umbrellas but then I wasn't looking very hard.

Still it's only a matter of time till much less pleasant advisories replace the wind.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Of course you know, this means war.

An event was brought to the attention of Boss-lady and I. A warning to sharpen the will and speed the quills. A rival. A rival investigating the exact thing we are! Little is known of him except, perhaps, that his wife asked a vertenarian how one neuters a cat. Because you see they had an un-neutered cat and she is the do-it-herself type.

Tidbits like that reflect research ability poorly though. So our month long wrap up before submission will be more like a week and a half now. Busy busy busy.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

The early days of a web log (blog) or online journal are often marked by an exuberance of posting: often, and extensively.

I haven't seen anyone else with this particular random test so here goes!

the Wit

(66% dark, 38% spontaneous, 10% vulgar)

your humor style:

You like things edgy, subtle, and smart. I guess that means you're probably an intellectual, but don't take that to mean pretentious. You realize 'dumb' can be witty--after all isn't that the Simpsons' philosophy?--but rudeness for its own sake, 'gross-out' humor and most other things found in a fraternity leave you totally flat.

I guess you just have a more cerebral approach than most. You have the perfect mindset for a joke writer or staff writer.

Your sense of humor takes the most thought to appreciate, but it's also the best, in my opinion.

You probably loved the Office. If you don't know what I'm
talking about, check it out here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/comedy/theoffice/.

PEOPLE LIKE YOU: Jon Stewart - Woody Allen - Ricky Gervais

The 3-Variable Funny Test!

- it rules -

If you're interested, try my latest:
The Terrorism Test

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 86% on darkness
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 29% on spontaneity
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 1% on vulgarity

Link: The 3 Variable Funny Test written by jason_bateman on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test
And here's another for good measure.

The Expatriate

Achtung! You are 38% brainwashworthy, 18% antitolerant, and 33% blindly patriotic

Congratulations! You are not susceptible to brainwashing, your values and cares extend beyond the borders of your own country, and your Blind Patriotism does not reach unhealthy levels. If you had been German in the 30s, you would've left the country.

One bad scenario -- as I hypothetically project you back in time -- is that you just wouldn't have cared one way or the other about Nazism. Maybe politics don't interest you enough. But the fact that you took this test means they probably do. I'm gonna give you the benefit of the doubt.

Did you know that many of the smartest Germans departed prior to the beginning of World War II, because they knew some evil shit was brewing? Brain Drain. Many of them were scientists. It is very possible you could have been one of them.

Conclusion: born and raised in Germany in the early 1930's, you would not have been a Nazi.

The Would You Have Been A Nazi? Test

- it rules -

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 46% on brainwashworthy
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 14% on antitolerant
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 42% on patriotic
Link: The Would You Have Been a Nazi Test written by jason_bateman on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test
A closer examination of the past two days (and now today's!) headache suggests they are related to changing seasons, or allergies or something. I went over to borders and along with a hundred dollars worth of indulgence got a latte. The espresso did nothing more then make me really focused on the pain behind my eyes and Jimmy Carter's new book, 'I am a Born Again Christian, and yet am disgusted by the Southern Baptists.' Pretty neat if your interested in that type of thing.

Me I wondered if he'd talk at all about Habitat for Humanities partial disintegration. It still exists but the founder and his wife were kicked off the board? But no, everyone's still pretty quiet about that.

So today I'll probably drink some more coffee-and in this way stave off the possibility of two unique and wonderful headaches attacking me at once-finish reading Mary Roach's new
and so far pretty wonderful book, and of course play more CoV. This time, just so as not to get eternally above everyone but Thom I shall try out the dominator. He intrigues me...

Saturday, November 05, 2005

It's Saturday morning and I need to get coffee before I die. Damn it all.

At least I'm not doing heroin...Probably.

Friday, November 04, 2005

The gang's all here.
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Top row from left to right is Zizi, Justin, Martin (the PI), Rebecca (flashing a gang sign), Gina, and some other guy.

Below that, from left to right: Yu-song, Ryoko, Enida, Kaylee, Gwen, Heike (boss lady), and Scott.

I like em I do.
The time was about 2:45 and my boss and I were rushing through a collection phase in a project we were working on. We were rushing because it was a time sensitive deal: we had 15 minutes to finish it and start again with the next one. And we had already lost several minutes running down to the courtyard for a group photo. Maybe it was the added time pressure that caused this particular procedure to turn out as it did.

My boss and I are working to illuminate some fundamental anatomy of the brain. To do this it is necessary to poke at, inject into, and slice too pieces real, honest to goodness brains. The collections I mentioned above were of brains taken from mice that moments earlier had their brains inside their skulls and probably believed that they would stay there for some time. They were sadly mistaken. We worked in tandem because that was the best way for one to put the mouse down, collect our samples, and store the dissected pieces of brain in liquid nitrogen all in 15 minutes or less. We'd been doing this for a while so usually everything was taken care of with a minute or 3 to spare.

Not this time. This time we were already behind schedule (the chemical we'd injected often had an effect within 30 minutes, but now it was closer to 40) and we were trying to catch up. I injected the mouse with pentobarbital and watched as it wandered drunkenly in its enclosure and fall over. It was about 12 weeks old and fairly large. Attached to it was an intracerebral canula, which is kind of like a hat that it can never take off because it is attached to a hole in its skull. After a time I checked in the box and it wasn't moving about anymore, though it still seemed to be breathing. Generally about 2 minutes passed from pento to expiration and I wasn't sure how long it had been.

"He's down" I said, "but I think he's still breathing."

My boss checked the mouse and noted the heaving chest, "It is snap breathing, he is gone." Snap breathing is kinda of a spasm of the abdomen, not really drawing in breath. Basically she was telling me that despite appearances the mouse was, in fact, dead and so wouldn't feel what was about to happen to it. I bowed to superior wisdom. Normally at this point my boss performed a cervical dislocation: two fingers on the neck and another hand on the mouse's body. Force is applied in opposite directions and you hear a cracking sound. That way in case the pento didn't quite take the mouse is very definitely dead.

I can't recall if this maneuver was performed in this instance. As I said we were rushed.

My boss held the mouse by the head in one hand and a pair of scissors labeled, 'head' in the other. I held the mouse's body in my left and a large syringe in my right. With a snip the head came off and she went to work with it. I was focused on the arterial blood that spurted up and over the desk we worked on trying to suck as much of it into the syringe as I could and then put it on ice before it coagulated. I was also trying not to think about how much the headless mouse was moving about in my hand. I got about .7mls and dropped the critter-still wriggling into the bag.

That's when I noticed the head.

My boss had been distracted by our principal investigator-he's the guy that got all the expensive toys, our lab space, kinda tells us what to do, and hadn't removed the brain from the mouse yet. The head was rocking up and down, and with sufficient momentum I was worried it might fall to the flour. I looked closer, opened mouthed, and saw that the mouse's jaw was spasming open and closed trying to feed air into lungs that were now far far away. I watched it for a bit, and it lasted much longer then I felt it should. Actually I'm not sure if it was still before my boss finally returned to extract what was needed from it.

I wondered if it would hurt, if a decapitated mouse should happen to bite me.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Damn. I need to neglect this less if I'm ever going to show it to others.

Update on what it's like to steal the lifeblood from a beating heart-tomorrow!