Monday, August 31, 2009

Now I can throw them thar pills away

About a year and a half ago, I got one of those freebie health screenings at work. I wanted the interim check on my cholesterol, which had been high for some months, to see how the statin was doing at lowering it. The nurse pulled me out into the hall and quietly told me my blood pressure was too high. Now my blood pressure had always been on the low side, and I was always smug about the complements I would get when I went to the doctors'. I stared at the piece of paper for an hour, and then went to our on-site nurse Deb and had it rechecked. Yup, high. I went to the doctors', bought the pills and a blood pressure monitor. The directions on the pill bottle is to take one when it's over 140.

I'm proud to report it is now down to normal. Not the exercise regime, which is a tad sporadic these days. Not that I lost those 10 pounds, because I haven't. Now, let me think about this. What has changed in the last few weeks? It wouldn't have any relation to trading the PHBWT in for a different boss, would it? Ya think??

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I always knew I was a Foodie

The announcement is out, I'm now official. I have accepted an inside position in the Food Business (what a great fit, huh!). November 1 I will be leaving my sales job, taken 2 years ago in a round of musical chairs when my old job went away. Get thee gone, catalog and part numbers, I am moving back to the lab bench. At least in the beginning I'll be working with a scientist in Labs with the most gorgeous blue eyes and a most impressive resume. We will be working out methods to bring mass spectroscopy instrumentation to the labs of microbiologists - yes, the folks smearing petri dishes to culture microorganisms - for much faster, more accurate identification of microbes and fish. I'll explain how that works in a future post. For now, it's all good and I am very pleased at having been asked (out of the blue) to take the position. Well, it's all good except the "inside" part means I lose my company car. Gotta run - still doing the old job for now.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Emporer Qin's Terra-Cotta Army

2200 years ago, Qin unified China, erected much of the great wall, standardized weights, measures and handwriting, and then began to construct his mausoleum, which he populated with some 8000 clay soldiers and horses. The artisans ground up semiprecious stones to make lacquers then decorated the figures with the pigments after the base lacquer dried. Farmers were digging for a well in 1974, and found the first of the army. Trouble is, once the statues are unearthed, the lacquer shrinks in the dry air, and flakes off within minutes. So, there are a bunch more figures waiting to be exhumed once scientists figure out how to preserve the finish. There are a couple of ways to try to keep the finish from flaking, but the magic bullet has yet to be developed. Save something for the next generation of archaeologists.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The rolling hills of Pacheco Pass

I drove to the central valley yesterday to visit customers. It is several hours each way. I drove south on 101, then cut through the foothills to reach the glacier-formed irrigated desert that forms the salad bowl for much of the US. Climbing the golden rolling hills in the morning, where the narrow winding 2-lane road has been a death trap for motorists for generations, the temperature dropped to the 50's and was blanketed with heavy fog. I passed the St. Luis reservoir, carpeted with green grass and sporting islands instead of being a uniform sea as in most years. I hear it will be an el Nino winter, and it will be a good thing if it is, as the reservoirs will be replenished only if we have heavy rains.

My day's journey was to visit several environmental firms who test drinking water to plant material to remediation sites for explosives. One family run company, in a building started in the 18th century with an art-deco foyer and maple floors that squeaked, was about to go under, losing clients and workers. Another company had just built a state-of-the-art suite of labs in a new office park, sporting art and long ventilation hoses dropping from the ceiling to vent dozens of instruments to the outside air. Three generations worked there, oozing enthusiasm, professionalism, and the marketing manager had a new infant at home. What a contrast! Then there was the long drive home. The car said it was 102 on the black asphalt road, the air conditioner could not keep me from sweating, and the radio could not find the channels as I wound back over the pass home.