Thursday, February 28, 2008

My friend got a car!

A friend from work bought a car the other day and I was fortunate enough to be allowed in it yesterday.

It's a cute little red thing, with four doors. Yes, that's right, four!

I was almost jealous seeing as my ghetto cruiser that has been planted outside my parents house for the indefinite future only has two doors. But, I breathed easy when I found out the little gem here lacks power steering.

And while it may seem like this is a bargain seeing as my friend no longer needs to join a gym but simply attempt to parallel park once a day, I still feel the ghetto cruiser and I win out.

I already have a gym membership.

So off we go into the wilds of Scotland tomorrow for the weekend. I'm looking forward to the trip, however, I am still slightly panicked at the 'other side of the road' thing. Being a nervous side-seat driver, I intend to sit in the back, headphones tightly packed into my ears and strive to enjoy the passing countryside, highland cattle, and the other very Scottish things one would most likely see on a journey across the island.

Monday, February 25, 2008


It took a good ten minutes to write that title checking the spelling again and again..

So for those who don't know, a ceilidh is a Scottish dance. The word, as close as I can tell is pronounced "Kadie" and the dance itself is a frantic step around a room where all the men compete with one another as to how quickly they can spin their slightly inebriated female partners.

Honestly, that's not fair. They don't have to spin at all!

Anyway, here at the University the organizers of functions from scientific meetings to student get-togethers insist on adding a Ceilidh (ha! I've now written that word three times). The first one I attended was after a long day of departmental talks. The food they served was pretty bad, but the beer made up for the lack of palatable calories. Afterwards, they began the dance. Not having a clue, and not really up for spinning on my wobbly feet, my boss dragged me out onto the floor. 20 minutes later I made a pact that I would never again attend such an event with the fear of public vomiting a very real possibility.

Now, another meeting is scheduled, this one further north. I'm bringing Dramamine*.....

*common drug for motion sickness in the U.S.

Friday, February 15, 2008


I have to admit there are a few things that I miss from the U.S. Now, don't get me wrong, Scotland is cool, there are lots of new and interesting things that I've been exposed to including haggis, neeps and tatties.

However I do miss a few things about the food from back home.

For one, the crackers. I miss wheat-thins, and nips and saltines and all the variations. Mostly wheat-thins, though. The crackers here tend to be very large, very dry and very bland.

I used to have dinners from time to time with a selection of cheeses, a couple bunches of grapes, and some crispy crackers. Not that I can't live without, but the craving is starting to kick in.

And what is a bowl of soup without a few saltines?

Even worse, is the craving for a good Ranch dressing. There isn't Ranch here, none. Ordering a salad here means ordering dry leaves of lettuce. Of course they do have Ceaser, but again, not the same.

Well, I suppose there's always the haggis...

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Yes, yes I know, it's February and I'm doing my first post of the year...

You see, I'm not in a particularly joyful mood today. There are times, in science, when you are confronted with aspects of the bench life that do not always smell pleasant. There are times when a particular noxious smelling chemical is used, or a cell expression line that is, well very stinky. And there are times when you use agents that can be harmful if swallowed or bathed in.

Fortunately, I do not wash my hair with noxious smelling chemicals or dab the scent of cellular waste behind my ears or bathe in possibly carcinogenic agents.

However, in a lab I do work with all of the above.

And so it is that I deal with people who apparently entered this field without taking into account the smell of an expression cell line or chemical. They complain regardless of my efforts to cover all offending stinky liquids with lids, foil, and make use of the ventilated hoods.

I hate to say this, people, but there are some aspects of science that just can't be altered. 1) it's expensive 2) it stinks 3) it exposes you to potentially dangerous chemicals

In my particular field, number 3) usually means, "don't lick any surfaces in a lab as this could be a bad idea." Yes we work with acids, don't drink them and wear gloves. If you do spill, rinse with water, this has happened to me with a much stronger acid than any in this lab and I still have all my fingers.

Finally, if cells stink, suck it up. They are not dangerous in any way shape or form. Not that I'd recommend making a cocktail of the stuff, but they will not hurt you other than make you wrinkle your nose for the five minutes the cart takes to pass your lab bench.

And if you can't deal, then perhaps you should seriously look into another career, possibly one dealing with rose petals.