Long nights

My wife is spending the summer working in a medical research lab, part of a summer research program at MUSC for undergraduate students. She’s got mice to take care of as part of her research project, which means working late during the day, then making another trip in sometime in the evening to do more things with the mice.

So for the last two weeks, and for a few more weeks to come, our daily routine has been:

  • Go to work around 8, 8:30
  • Leave work around 6 (5:30 if she finished early)
  • Go back in around 9
  • Back home around 10:30 or 11
  • Repeat.

Long days for her, and for me as well, since I usually go in with her because it’s late at night. It’s been making for some pretty long work days. Can’t wait for it to be finished with soon.

Family reunions

This time next week, I’ll be roasting in some place called Jackson, AL (north of Mobile, AL), where my wife’s family is having a reunion. I’m told it will be an interesting time. In preparation, my wife and I are helping construct a family tree. That in itself has been an interesting hobby in development. My side of the family is pretty small so far, but my wife’s side just keeps growing and growing.

To help out with our new hobby, I found this cool program called GeneWeb to store the data in. It’s pretty easy to use and install, has a lot of features, and it’s free!

At the reunion, we’re supposed to be manning the registration table, so what I’m going to try to do is either use my digital cam or a webcam to take head shots of various people to enter into our GeneWeb database along with all their family tree related details.

Should be interesting to see how all these people tie together.

New airport passenger x-ray screeners

An Associated Press article in today’s Post and Courier grabbed my interest today. It’s about a new airport passenger screening device that uses scattered x-rays to detect weapons and explosives.

AFAIK, many states prohibit the use of radiation on people unless it’s for medical purposes. I’m sure that someone will manage to get an exception for these types of machines given time. There are still ethical issues with exposing masses of people to radiation, no matter how low the dose. Most people are paranoid enough about radiation (mostly because of lack of knowledge). Now the TSA wants to unnecessarily irradiating hundreds of thousands of people with low, but not trivial radiation doses just to get on an airplane?

I smell much controversy coming up if the TSA gets their way with these units.

MicroBe Cards

Because my wife is a biology person (where I am decidely not), I occasionally end up getting introduced (willing or not) to various biology and chemistry related topics. So when the latest issue of New Trail (the University of Alberta alumni magazine) arrived, arrived I saw an article about something called Microbe Cards that I thought she might be interested in.

MicrobeCards are like baseball cards. But instead of pictures of athletes, you get pictures of different microbes. All sorts of nasty looking germs, virii, fungi and the like.
The front of each card has several pictures of the organism (electron micrographs, microsope images, sometimes x-ray images, etc) so you can see what they look like. On the back of the card is a description of the microbe, effects on people, symptoms, possible treatments, and short descriptions of what the photos on the front are.

Developed by a U of A prof (another reason I’m plugging these cards), the cards are organized in colour coded groups: gram-negative, gram-positive, fungi and parasites, and viruses.

I bought a couple of packs for her and she thought they were just the coolest thing. For their size, they pack a good deal of information for reviewing characteristics of particular microbes.

You can find the cards at Amazon.com or at the University of Alberta Bookstore.