Friday, December 16, 2022

Fond Feelings for Tiny Deadly Things

 This might be weird but...

I have favorite bacteria, or rather species that I'm fond of and kind of 'cheer' for.

Bacillus subtilis: It's my first born and the species I really first focused on in grad school. We spent long hours in the lab together. I sent it to space (ISS). It came back and survived. I sent it to (simulated) Mars. It survived.

Legionella pneumoniae: It's SO PRETTY when you see it on BCYE agar. It's crackled iridescence and deadly deadly beauty if you breathe it in.

Stenotrophomonas maltophilia: This sucker is PERSISTENT. It can survive in very low nutrient conditions (purified water) and endure some major chemical trauma and just bounce back. I also learned today that some guy had to have his fingers amputated after this bug infected his skin and was just resistant to all the antibiotics they tried to throw at it.

Moral: Be like bacteria. Beautiful, deadly, and resilient. Also, better supported when you're in a community (biofilm).

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Hidden Costs of Science

There is a push in the scientific community that data should be freely accessible and not hidden behind a paywall. I believe in this strongly. Many scientists I know got into the field because they feel a strong affinity for learning and being able to share what they've learned with everyone. As I'm juggling several things in life regarding science and lab work one thing has increasingly become quite apparent: There is an invisible cost bar to citizen science and citizen self study. As I'm trying to start my own lab (whooo, big post I've been avoiding making for reasons), dealing with current lab's recent audit (can't say much due to privacy and NDA), I've really been digging into the nitty gritty details of what it takes to run a certified, private laboratory. The initial costs that you expect (equipment, consumables, space) is understandable to some extent and can be mitigated by hunting for deals on used equipment and government auction sites of equipment they no longer need. But then there's the protocols that are industry standards and accepted as the way to have consistent results from lab to lab and person to person. In my current field there are two standards agencies that we pull methods from: ASTM and ISO. A single pdf copy of an ASTM method can be purchased for a little less than $50 USD. (So far that I've seen, there might be price variants that I haven't discovered). That copy is authorized for ONE user. To technically be in compliance with the copyright, my lab should be purchasing the rights for every person who uses the SOP. But instead we just copy off the one and pass it around. To acquire every single ASTM standard, for the current year, would be just over $10,000 USD for a digital copy, single user copyright. When it comes to an ISO standard they get trickier. We are currently working on an audit for an agency that requires us to follow ISO 12345* *not the actual # Several of the deficiencies cite laboratory failure to follow protocols, including details on holding time between sampling and testing, and quality control of an in house component made for the test. If you look up in ISO 12345 the details regarding what is required, the SOP just states to refer to ISO 12333 and ISO 1223. I went to an online store that sells access to these digital copies and added them to my cart to see what the total would be if I purchased all six (12345 + the 5 referenced) and the total came out to $943 USD. So now, as a citizen trying to start a lab, I need to add in a budget to purchase my SOP sources because they are not available in any reasonable manner. No wonder science, as a business, is out of reach for the average person, even one with a relevant degree. Not to mention the costs associated with achieving certification. Before you can even apply to have a lab certified with some agencies, you have to pay them for access to their audit standards to be prepared. Then you pay their employees to come to your lab for the audit. So if I want to achieve certification for my lab, I can't even tell if it's worth doing and preparing from the start without being out money. Because I can't take clients on until I can offer them the guarantee that the certification provides.

Friday, January 25, 2019

What happens in Vegas...

Gets posted to the blog! Months after the fact (This trip occurred at the beginning of August 2018)

Honestly not much happened that I'm not willing to share. I think it was a fairly tame trip so far as the stereotype goes. I was going with a group of women that I've internet known for about seven years now. We were all pregnant and on Reddit together and bonded and formed a facebook group. I've met a few of them over the years. I left on a Thursday afternoon with one of the UK members who had flown in to see her Michigan family.
We got to the airport early and sadly parked before my husband could send me the cheap parking coupon. ALAS
 The direct flight was wonderful. I was seated in the Comfortt+ part of the cabin in Delta and had lots of leg room, free headphones and free media. I pretty much watched tv shows I've been meaning to check out.

The seven of us who were attending this meetup were splitting the cost of an AirBnB just off the strip. It was a house purposefully renovated to be a rental and had lots of single beds. It meant we were able to save some money by making our own food at the house. It also had a pool!

I missed the PNW. I was so excited to see mountains. This was before the wildfire smoke rolled in.

Friday stuff involved pedicures for some of us

Despite the impossibility, I think toilet papering this building would be grand.

There was some gambling. I gambled a dollar and lost it. Then I was done. 

The margaritas flowed with bounty!

Everything is over the top

The Venetian

Canal Shoppes at the Venetian

It took me too long to figure this out... but all the stores are shipping containers! Hence... Container Park. The Praying Mantis is basically a giant blow torch that lights up to music.

Of course I find the horse. This is from Fremont Street. We ziplined down it!

Pay to get your picture taken!

We ate here while high out of our minds and it was so good.

We went to see the sexy Cirque du Soleil. Very very erotic and enjoyable. I went home wishing Eric was with me.

We had drinks at an ice bar.

And posed on a throne of ice.

And got my first tattoo!

Chihuly Glass at the Bellagio

Bellagio Fountains

It was a great trip! I'd want to go back and go hiking and visit some of the park areas. That's my one wish that we didn't get to do. Sure we did a lot on the strip, but if it were just me and Eric, that's not my thing. And now that I've had the experience I don't need more it. 

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Pub Draw and Creative Goals

For a while now I've been listening/watching the livestream or podcast of Critical Role. It scratches a Dungeons and Dragons itch that I get now that our gaming group is gone, left either in Florida or Washington. IMO, it's better than some of the TV shows available nowadays.

They recently started a spinoff where an artist, Babs Tarr, teaches Marisha (one of the players and also a voice actress), how to draw. This was inspired by the plethora of fan art that gets shared with the Critical Role community but I think it's really a wonderful thing. Babs is super talented and she really breaks things down in a way that makes drawing characters extremely accessible.

As part of 2019 I made a committment to myself to engage in some form of creative endeavor once a month at a minimum, with once a week being my goal. Pub Draw will be live streamed once a week on Twitch @critrole so it's an easy way to meet my goal while following along to her instruction! I'm already super pleased with the one thing I've done. Take a look!

 I sketched this on watercolor paper and did some of the simple lines in a waterproof ink. I'm going to try and paint it later.
 One of the things she suggested to do was warming up with circles, just to get your hand feeling confident in moving the pencil around on the paper. I did a few of those too, especially during the downtime.
On this one you can see some other practice stuff I did after watching a video on SkillShare. That's also a good resource for classes in artistic and business endeavors. I accidentally paid for a year membership so now I'm determined to get my money's worth.

I'm also currently working on a gift for a Mom Friend (and using a skill share video to help me along). It will be a painting of Orchids. I started it and then Eric went and Marie Kondo'd the kitchen which immediately covered the dining room table in stuff. It's finally mostly cleared off so I'm going to get working more on this too.

Super super work in progress level, lol