Friday, October 28, 2011
In other news, I really want this shirt and can't decide whether or not to get it! Only 8 hours left to decide!!! ((chews nails nervously!)
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Last summer, the field station got a few CHN-OS (carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, sulfur) analyzer. Our old one wasn't able to hold a calibration curve, burn things a consistent temperature, or accurately dispense samples. Plus, it would print out all results on a DOT MATRIX printer (yeah, it was that old), and the way you entered info was with this 0-9 keypad...no letters. So if you wanted to call your sample "A", then you had to enter some random 3-digit code that meant "A". It was horrible. The new one is so much better! It runs on a real computer, and results are exported into Excel.
|Our CHN Analyzer. Isn't it purdy?|
This new CHN can process up to 96 samples at once, which is AWE-some! The old one could process a lot too, but not that many. This machine does it with 3 samples wheels. The only problem is that once your sample is in the wheel, unless you wrote down somewhere what is in a well, it's hard to tell what it is. This was a problem with the old CHN too, but we're really noticing it with the new one.
|The 3rd wheel, pencil for scale|
|Tiny tins folded up with sample in them. So tiny, so annoying, so unlabeled!|
We've had some problems with the machine, and yesterday Lab Tech decided that he was going to fire the bad-boy up and get it working right again. He thinks that whatever problems it was having was "user error" but whatevs, here nor there. But when we were down there, we noticed that the last person to use it had left some samples in a tray. We have no idea what they are, and it's very easy to get confused and forgetful with these wheels. I've loaded up a wheel, looked away and then back, and forgotten what I'd done. But we got to talking and we tried to figure out how we could possibly label these things. And I had a wonderful idea! Lots of offices have lots of extra, unused, overhead projector sheets laying around. And did you know you can photocopy on them? If you didn't, well, news flash..
|First, I made a paper template of what we wanted the labels to look like|
|Next, I photocopied the template on to a projector sheet|
|Cut it out and voila! Now we can label these sample wheels!|
Well, y'all may not be impressed, but I certainly am please with myself...obviously. Feel free to take the idea and apply it to anything else you think it could be useful
Sunday, October 23, 2011
But in other, non-grad school news, I ran my first 10k yesterday! I've been running/jogging (badly) since about 2007, and lost almost 40lbs doing it. I'm actually finally back down to my high school senior weight, so it only took me (2011-1999=...) 12 years to lose the Freshman 15. But I did it, I didn't cramp up or stop running ever, and I finished in 1:10:08! Which is 5 minutes under my goal of 1:15:00, so I'm happy with that.
I think everyone in academia can appreciate how hard it is to be physically active and maintain your health what with the constant pressure that you should be doing something else (field work, lab work, writing something!). Especially if you're like me and you weren't physically active to begin with, it's a hard ball to get rolling.
But rolling it is! Now that I know I can do the distance, I just need to do it faster. My overall goal is to get to a 10min mile. I know that seems like it should be easy, but I'm short and lazy. :-) My husband has been running since 2005 and has lost over 70lbs. Our 10 year wedding anniversary will be coming up in 2014 and we've decided that we will treat ourselves to re-doing our wedding photos, now that we're not fat anymore <3 Plus I want an excuse to have my dress altered.
Scientists...we're so multidimensional! We're people too!
Thursday, October 20, 2011
A bunch of conservatives hired some scientists to show that there's no evidence of global climate change...and they failed! I don't know how much more evidence the deniers need.
Earth is warming, study concludes http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-15373071
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
So I'm the only one in the lab this week. Boss-Man and Lab Tech are out in the Wild Algal West making a collection trip. All the other grad students are writing or working in other labs this week. Which leaves just me. So I decided that this week, while I'm all alone, would be a good time to do fatty acid extractions.
Our method for extracting FA's was designed by a previous grad student, who before she left was asked to teach it to the NY-DEP and USGS. So it's a pretty good method. It involves extracting the FA in a chloroform:methanol solution and then a methylating step involving BF3. It's overall a very caustic and dangerous method. Though supposedly much safer than the previous method of FA extraction which apparently can explode. So I'll take wondering if my samples smell like chloroform.
In order to protect myself from the horrible chemicals, I wear a ton of protective gear. We have liquid proof lab coats, goggles, a face-mask respirator, at least 2 layers of nitrile gloves and then some silver solvent resistant gloves. You may think the 2 nitrile gloves under the silver gloves is a bit over doing it. The silver gloves may be resistant to solvents but they spring holes very easily. But chloroform will go through nitrile, so the 2 layers are there as extra precaution. Here's what the full get-up looks like
|I make science sexy! Oops, not wearing silver gloves because I'm a BAMF.|
Ooh, so here's the part where I almost died. I had just finished prepping a whole bunch of sample tubes by rinsing them in chloroform, and I needed to discard the waste. The waste jug is all the way at the back of the solvent cabinet. In the solvent cabinet is jugs of chloroform, hexane, methanol, and acetone, along with their respective waste jugs. While leaning into the cabinet, I guess I torqued my face mask a bit so it wasn't sealed against my mouth/nose. As I left the cabinet I took a deep breath as I stood up. Where upon I became very dizzy and got a bit of tunnel vision. I was able to put the jug down gently as I grabbed a counter ledge to steady myself and pull the mask away to get some fresh air. THAT was close! This is why, when I knew I was the only one in the building, I asked some other people to make sure I was still alive when the shuttle van left that afternoon. This could have been bad!
But I survived, my research didn't kill me....this time. I am starting to think it has a vendetta against me.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
So 7am is a real treat for me. I slept and was up even before my alarm, then I treated myself to a leisurely run around campus, and then settled in for a day of writing and tutoring. Today I managed to submit a grant to Sigma Xi, and (I think) help 2 intro bio students. One was asking questions way above where he needed to be, so that's good.
But tonight, I have officially begun re-working my EPA STAR grant! I've got a good feeling this time. I've got a much tighter description of my study, a better understanding of what exactly it is I'm doing, and I've got DATA this time!!! That was the big thing that the reviewers got me on last time, no data. EPA doesn't mess around, they're not going to fund just an idea. Silly me, to think so. Plus, one of the new faculty members here actually has an EPA STAR on her trophy board, so here's hoping she can get me one too. I've started reading back through my old one....wow, have I been finding a slew of grammatical and punctuation errors! I'm amazed reviewers were as nice as they were!
So here's to a fresh attempt at the ultimate grad student grant!! *clink!*
Friday, October 7, 2011
|A dairy farm. I was told that someone once said, "If I die and am reincarnated as a cow, I want to be one of this guy's cows." But, he has no BMPs...so there!|
|Another ag stream, with me hard at work in it!|
|A lovely horse farm. See the bit of stream coming out an through the fence? That fence is the BMP.|
|How I wish I could look at streams|
|The lovely, and horribly named, Negro Creek. Not kidding, that's it's name.|
|Stream bed of Negro Creek|
|Horrible Hurricane Irene damage in Prattsville, NY|
|Yay! FEMA to the rescue in Prattsville, NY|
Monday, October 3, 2011
To complicate matters further...I injured myself. Yesterday, the Hubster, his BFF, and I hiked the Breakneck Ridge trail. I didn't realize it was more rock climbing that hiking. And THEN it took us another 4 hours to hike up to and down South Beacon Mountain to end up in the town of Beacon. It was an 8hr hike all told, and needless to say, my injury is mostly due to stress and over use. But it's my knee...and it hurts...badly. And now tomorrow, I'm going out to walk in waders that are far too big for me up and down grassy rocky slopes and walk through streams that I have trouble with on the best of days.
Not looking forward to tomorrow....