Guess who's coming to town tonight? Barack Obama! Very exciting! I got my email invitation, and at first, I said, "10 PM? I have to work the next day!" Ken said, "It could be the chance of a lifetime, though!" He had me convinced, but online tickets were no longer available. So we agreed that we'd go downtown and pick up tickets at his HQ...until Ken realized that the visit was Wednesday night, not Tuesday night...and he has to work nights on Wednesdays for a few weeks. Go by myself? Nah. It's in a part of town where it would not be wise for me to venture into at 10 PM--sad, but true--although I'm sure it will be as safe an area as can be during his visit! Turns out that people started lining up for tickets at 8 AM (the doors opened at 10 AM), and tickets were gone within an hour. We're hopeful that he'll return before our May 6 primary. I just heard that Senator Clinton will be back in town this Saturday, so that will be 2 visits for her. I'm fairly sure Senator Obama will be back. Is this cool, or what?!
I've got a few more lab pictures for you. A big thanks to my non-coworker readers for indulging me in this. I know it probably doesn't mean much to you, but it's kind of helping me work through my feelings, and some of the people at work who have checked it out seem to enjoy it. The good news is that I seem to have turned a corner when it comes to my loony behavior of the past few days. I only got choked up today when I hugged Felicia and Alissa good-bye (they're both off the next couple of days), and I seem to have achieved a TKO of my weepiness...or at least I have it on the ropes. Now I'm starting to feel excited...and ANTSY! I've got the champagne chillin'!
Here's my pal, Greg. I was happy to see him tonight, because I don't see him every evening--sometimes he comes in after I leave. At first glance, Greg seems to be a mild-mannered young man, kind of an average 20-something. This is not the case. As you talk to him and get to know him a little better, you'll find that he's an incredibly intelligent guy, with an incredibly great sense of humor. We've had many laughs, whether talking about his guitar hero band (Sid Syndrome and the Shakin' Babies) or about the restaurant he'd like to open one day (The Crepist). Ha, I'm laughing just thinking about that! We both sort of revel in our nerdiness, and he's the one who told me about The Star Trek Experience at the Hilton in Las Vegas...it's fabulous!
We've also had a discussion or two about relationships and that kind of stuff. We've been known to get all serious and junk. Turns out Greg is a very nice guy. Someone is going to figure that out one day! I think he's a peach.
This is Mary. I can tell by the position of her hands that she is talking about something in a very passionate way! She does that sometimes.
I've been told by a few people that I'm a "go-to" person for them. Mary is MY go-to person. She has so much knowledge of Microbiology, but she also truly cares about what she does, and about the patient behind the culture. She aspires to excellence in our job, and sets the bar high. I respect that.
We're close in age, too, so we have fun talking about pop culture references from our youth. If I say, "ooo noooo!" she'll say, "Mr. Bill!" Her and her husband are also into bird watching, so we've had fun talks about various sightings and bird behavior. Her daughter is the one who is spending her junior year in college in France, and it's been a lot of fun to hear about her daughter's adventures.
Mary also just ran a half-marathon! YAY!
I've talked about how our crew is sort of a little family. This is Erica, and she really IS family! Her Mom is my first cousin, making Erica my first cousin once-removed, if I have my genealogy terminology correct. When I took this picture, Erica was saying, "You're not taking my picture. No. You are n--" Well, yes I am.
I think we all have family members that we really wouldn't want working with us. I'm so glad Erica isn't one of them! She transferred to our department several years ago, and from the very first day, she showed that she was a hard worker who really cared about what she did, and she's a lot of fun to talk with. She is also easily startled, and I don't think I'll ever forget hearing a scream coming from the set-up area, as someone walked up behind her and started talking. And that's not an isolated occurrence--it happens a couple of times a week!
I have some totally cool and great cousins, and Erica is definitely one of them.
Moving on to non-human friends, here is a botfly larva. Alissa and I were looking for our 2 preserved botfly larvae today, but they were GONE! Someone has stolen our botfly larvae! THIEF! Actually, I think someone must have put them in a different container, and we couldn't find them amidst the dozens of parasite containers. I found this picture in a search, and it is exactly what I saw when we got our larvae in a few years ago. A little research and discussion with a doctor, and we had an identification.
According to the doctor I spoke with, his patient had recently been in Belize. A few weeks after the patient returned, he was sitting down to eat his dinner, and something fell off of his head into his food. It was one of these guys. (Gaaaah!) He went to the doctor, who dug another out of his scalp, and then sent both to our lab. They were about 1½-2 centimeters long. After hearing the patient's history, and what happened with these things on his head, it was fairly easy to figure out that they were botfly larvae, or Dermatobia hominis. Apparently, mosquitoes or another species of fly carry the eggs of the botfly, and if the mosquitoes bite you, or the flies land on you, they transfer the hatching eggs to your skin. The larvae then develop underneath the skin in nodules, and after several weeks, they are large enough to migrate out and drop off.
Now, I've been working in the lab for 24 years, over 20 of them in Microbiology. I've seen some pretty nasty things, worked with some nasty specimens (name a body fluid or excretion, and I've worked with it), and smelled some mighty nasty smells. But in all these years, I have never felt the sense of revulsion I felt when I encountered these 2 guys. To put it plainly, it gave me the willies, big time! The story was interesting, it was a fun challenge to figure out what it was, and it was neat to talk with the doctor and figure out what exactly this was. What really got to me, though, was that after I'd dumped the 2 larvae into a Petri dish and was poking around at them, getting my face close to get a good look at them...one of the little buggers (and that is NOT the word I wanted to use!) MOVED! One of them was still alive! It didn't just twitch...it undulated. I'm not kidding, I have never been so grossed out and felt so creepy-crawly as when that maggot on steroids undulated right in front of my face. It still gives me the heebie-jeebies.
Ugh, now I'm all itchy and twitchy.
More tomorrow! Isn't this FUN?!