Friday, August 29, 2008

Toys from the lab

Yesterday I went to our factory in Folsom Ca, the former J&W gas chromatography columns site founded by a chemistry professor from Davis. A sympathetic colleague devoted some hours to teaching me about the instrumentation, and particularly, the consumables associated with it. 8 months into this job and I finally understand that part of it. GC columns are +/- 100 meters of angel-hair pasta-sized tubes of polyamide coated glass with a wee-beensy hole down the middle, wound on a circular cage. The inside is coated with various non-polar materials that attract volatile molecules. You put that in a hot oven, inject sample, and blow gas through it so the sample separates into various components. Now the point here is that the injector has to be sealed to the capillary, the detector has to be sealed to the other end, the gas has to be sealed so it has pressure and so forth. All of these seals for different purposes and for various vintages of instruments are of sundry sizes and colors. So last night, on the couch, I spread out my baggie and assorted jars of colored small seals, caps, and ferrules. We're talking show jewelry here!
Years ago I made a great quilted vest with my bioanalyzer printed upon it, using the disposable chips for buttons, and I always got attention when I wore it to trade shows. Hee!
I need to figure out how to make a jig to make perpendicular punctures so I can string them and they won't be crooked. The materials are soft - you need to poke syringe needles into them (the injection part) - but if I just use a beading needle they will lay every which way when strung. And they are light-weight enough that I can make some darling earrings. Fun! Stay tuned for the after photo.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A day in the life of a Sherpa

I french-braided my hair and dressed for success (no zorries, shorts or tee-shirts), put my baby power and some ice in the car and hauled back through Sacramento to AggieLand. I always love working the universities, but in record-breaking temps in the Central Valley, I was cool about the idea today. In the morning, I managed to serpentine among the shade of the trees. I found a few crows, a flock of plump Guinea hens with impossibly small heads, and a family of half-grown jackrabbits, all in the shade as well. In the afternoon, I went over to the new biomed buildings, with nary a tree taller than me in sight. Parked in the visitor's space, which is to say a quarter mile from the building. Hauled two boxes of paper and a carton of freebies on my wheelies over the scorching asphalt and into the cool of the building. Set up, gave away the freebies in exchange for names, toured a lab and met a few more people, packed up the paper and haul it back across the even hotter parking lot. Baby powder to the rescue. Too hot to find a restaurant - off to the grocery store to buy salad stuff and watch the convention in bed.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Cruising around the Central Valley

Hot, pale blue sky overhead, hot wind hitting the car, I followed a truck heading east that was loaded with three sizes of blue pipes on the bottom - large ones on the left, and two smaller sizes alternating on the right, with a different arrangement of 3 other sizes of green pipes on the top. Neat rectangles of neat honeycombs. It would have made a nice polka dot print. Polka dots make me happy, so I drafted on the truck for awhile.

After a few calls, I dropped by our factory in Folsom to glad-hand, then turned out and headed north. I drove along the RR tracks and past a vast lot of RVs being liquidated (good luck with that). I turned onto a charming block of historic Folsom Sutter street, with shops with wooden porches of all kinds on both sides of the street. Everything was a different height, like very old buildings in Europe have different door heights and sizes. I wished I had time to go sit on one of the porches. There is a roundhouse, the old train station that proclaimed the Wells Fargo line terminated there, an old power building in the Sacramento River, and three bridges of increasing sophistication and tonnage fanned out over the curve of the river. I quite like Folsum - you can see the foothills and the terrain is pleasantly rolling. Time to grab a couple of Science's for company and forage for dinner.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Summer Tomatoes

The reason I wanted to buy this house was the land. Flowers in the front so I can look at them from the kitchen window. Garden in the back for the veggies, newly enlarged and not done yet. The roses will go there, as the deer eat them in the front yard. The deer did get in the back this summer during the house work, so now the tomato plants have finally grown back from being eaten and I am rolling in tomatoes. I made a special trip to the store for lettuce, good bacon and potato bread. I had the ceremonial BLT for breakfast. It has to have hot bacon, dripping tomatoes and perfectly toasted bread. What more could I ask for? Life is good. OK, off to boot camp exercise class to work it off!