This Week Last Year: August 6th – 12th, 2010

Posted By on August 12, 2011

August 6th, 2010

Daytime w/ Benjamin. Jewish Coonass breakfast. Watermelon fun w/ friends. Turned out to be spiked watermelon which is no fun at all. Big dick jokes galore.

.: New Orleans: where gas stations sell distilled spirits at whenever o’clock, where Katrina tags aren’t yet a rarity (and chain restaurants are), where plastic beads represent a limited form of fiat currency, and where my friend Ben lived this time last year.

.: Breakfast was served promptly at 1:00 p.m. The place: Slim Goodies. The dish: Jewish Coonass. The subsequent trip to the bathroom: worth it.

.: After breakfast Holly, Ben, and I wandered down the rest of Magazine Street, taking in the sights, sounds, and smells — all of which would change without warning or concern for congruity. A vote of 2 to 1 prefaced our entering a strip club at 3:00 in the afternoon. Cover was waived, provided you purchased a $9 bottle of Heineken. This was my first strip club experience and very likely my last. Mechanical, scheduled gyrations of economically-influenced nudity just doesn’t do it for me, even when performed to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

.: The evening finished with a trip to the park. Joining us were some of Ben’s friends and a spiked watermelon. In New Orleans, I learned, there’s no need to mention that the watermelon’s spiked; that, among many others, is one thing you simply have to assume.

.: Having just met Ben’s friends, Holly and I decided to introduce them to Big Dick Jokes:

My dick is so big, I set my alarm clock to the time zone it isn’t in.

My dick is so big, you can’t see the Great Wall of China from outer space.

My dick is so big, loose lips sink it.

My dick is so big, the answer to it is 42.

My dick is so big, I masturbate with hugs.

August 7th, 2010

Driving. Driving. Don’t remember a damn thing. Shitty Super 8 motel room: fuck those fuckers.

.: By now Holly and I were on our way back to New Jersey. We were exhausted and dirty and sweaty, but that was okay because we weren’t stopping with any more friends or relatives. We also didn’t have the dogs with us, so we didn’t need to stop every three hours to let Jules pee or let Larry pretend to have to poop. That little guy loved to waste our time.

.: My motel of choice is Motel 6: they’re everywhere, they’re not that bad, and the $30 worth of lodging only costs you $30. On this night it was getting late, and I had been holding out for an exit with a Motel 6. Holly didn’t want me driving any farther, so we stopped at the next available exit and pulled into a Super 8. Super 8s, like Motel 6es, are everywhere, but they smell like the one grandmother you don’t enjoy visiting and charge you twice as much for half as much. Never again.

August 8th, 2010

Home. Sweet jesus we made it. Not a single fight the whole time – pretty damn good sign right there. I love this girl.

August 9th, 2010

Back in lab. Every single tobacco plate is contaminated – did not sterilize filter membrane. Pal gave me a “You made a very stupid mistake” look; he even took his glasses off.

.: One way to genetically engineer a plant is to shoot DNA into its cells with a gun. For tobacco, you cut leaves into small pieces and place them on a petri dish of gelatinous nutrient media. These pieces are then bombarded with tiny metal particles coated with your DNA of interest and, if you’re lucky, incorporate the DNA as their own. However, since gelatinous media doesn’t hold up well under firepower, a thin strip of filter paper is placed between the media and leaf pieces to help diffuse the blast. Everything must be completely sterile throughout the process, lest a stray fungus spore find its way into your sugar-rich nutrient media and devour everything. If you don’t sterilize the filter paper beforehand, then everything it touches (e.g., everything) will become contaminated, and you’ll have wasted three days of work.

.: Unless you go on vacation immediately afterwards. Then you waste three weeks.

August 10th, 2010

Did not do a damn thing in lab today. Made primer dilutions. That’s it. Watched Walk Hard w/ Holly. Crock pot dinner. Yum.

.: Right around this time was when I started having doubts about a career in science. Nothing had worked for me. My first major experiment was marred by the trivial detail of 4-methylindole’s insolubility in water. My second go at it suffered from aforementioned issues of contamination. I didn’t know what I was doing, but more importantly I didn’t care. It wasn’t exciting; it was frustrating, and I started looking forward to leaving the lab before I had even arrived. On this day, all I did was make primer dilutions. To do that, I looked at the amount of primers in each tube, added an appropriate amount of water, and gave it a shake. That’s it. That’s all I did. I didn’t care. I couldn’t bring myself to be more productive than those two minutes of work. And that’s a feeling I found returning many times as the year went on.

August 11th, 2010

First PCR in ages. Did not work. Made Brownies w/ Holly. She cleaned my kitchen. What a gal. I have to stop farting.

.: Those primer dilutions from yesterday? They were for the PCR today. Depending on the protocol one follows, a PCR reaction can take as little as one hour or can last as long as overnight. Mine took about three hours — perfect to start, leave for lunch, run a few errands, contemplate going to but never actually going to the gym, and come back. Then wait an hour to run the results on a gel, wait another twenty minutes to stain the gel with ethidium bromide, and then, after ~5 hours of total elapsed time, find out the whole thing didn’t work. There’s a lot of waiting involved, and a strong temptation to run parallel reactions as a sort of scientific bet hedging.

August 12th, 2010

Terrible sleep. I miss my dogs. Maybe I need them to sleep. Ripped my CDs. Maybe I need booze to sleep. It’s the oldest cure.

.: Dachshunds were originally bred for their role in badger hunting. As such, their shortened legs and propensity for burrowing were significant assets. In modern times, with the advent of fully automated badger extraction kits, the breed’s most prominent features are no longer considered assets but, rather, liabilities. Back and spinal problems are an inevitability for any active dachshund, and constant care and consideration must be given to ensure they don’t jump from tall heights, like couches or step stools.

.: Their burrowing instinct can pose problems as well; not to themselves, per se, but for their owners. Place any dachshund on a bed, and it will immediately find the opening to the covers and crawl beneath them. If the owner subsequently places their legs underneath the covers — perhaps with the intention of keeping them warm during a night’s rest — the dachshund will perceive the appendages as belonging to a cornered badger and will attempt to lick it to death. While harmless to most non-badgers, this activity can interfere with one’s ability to sleep. Unless, that is, one has grown accustomed to incessant dachshund licking; then they might find that they cannot sleep without it.

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