Week of 28 September 2009
Update: Friday, 2 October 2009 13:20 -0400
Monday, 28 September
The good news is that I seem to be recovering. The double vision is
starting to go away and my balance is returning. I'm still using my
mother's walker frame because my balance still isn't perfect, but at
least I'm able to take Malcolm out in the yard. I hope within the next
couple of days to be back to normal.
The bad news is that
Barbara has been run ragged for the last few days. Her mom and sister
took off last Friday on a bus tour up to Cape Cod, so her dad is on his
own until her mom returns. Her dad is in reasonably good health, but he
is 87 years old. Barbara spent Friday and Saturday nights at her
parents' house, but was happy enough with how her dad was doing that
she spent last night here. Still, she's taking care of both houses and
both yards along with all the other stuff that she has to do because
her dad or I can't do it.
Yesterday, I finished a massive task:
going through every single lab equipment item in Maker Shed, checking
and if necessary fixing the item descriptions, assigning categories,
and entering the product codes for related items. That's something I
had to do myself because I'm the only one of the team who knows, for
example, that a Büchner funnel and a vacuum pump are related items.
There's still some cleanup to be done, and a lot of items are still
hidden because they're in transit or still sitting on the loading dock
awaiting unpacking, but the Maker Shed Science Room is starting to fill out nicely.
Now that we're all dressed up, or nearly so, the next task is to start driving more traffic to the Science Room.
Tuesday, 29 September 2009
Autumn is definitely here, earlier than usual. We had a cool
summer, and that's continuing into the autumn. If this keeps up, we may
need to turn on the furnace in the next week or two, a couple of weeks
earlier than usual.
I'm not entirely recovered from the
labyrinthitis/vertigo, but I'm getting there. I hope to be able to
shoot some video this weekend. I need to reshoot the videos for the
bacteriology kit, which I reconfigured. Originally, I planned to
include a package of 20 pre-sterilized plastic Petri dishes, and I shot
video of using them. Upon consideration, I decided to replace the 20
plastic Petri dishes in the kit with four glass Petri dishes.
isn't as convenient to use as plastic, but it has the inestimable
advantage of being reusable indefinitely. The plastic Petri dishes are
essentially one-use. You can kind of sterilize and reuse them, but
there's no way in a home environment to sterilize them thoroughly. Even
full strength chlorine bleach or hydrogen peroxide won't kill all
spores. Glass, on the other hand, can be sterilized completely in a 400
°F oven, which melts plastic Petri dishes.
On the other hand, I
did get some useful information from an unintentional experiment I ran
with the plastic Petri dishes. I made up the agar culture using
semi-sterile procedures (capping the beaker in which I made up the
culture medium with aluminum foil to prevent contamination by airborne
bacteria, simmering the agar solution for several minutes before
allowing it to cool, and so on). Everything I've read says that culture
dishes and slant tubes made up under such conditions should be used
within a day or two, even if they're kept refrigerated. The concern is
that the culture medium and culture vessels aren't 100% sterile, so
some bacteria will be present and will grow in the medium. When I made
up the culture dishes and slant tubes, I intended to use them within a
couple of days. Because of my vertigo attack, they've been in the
refrigerator for more like two weeks now, and there's no sign of
bacterial growth on them. They're still as clear as when I poured them.
Wednesday, 30 September 2009
I've been so busy that I didn't have a spare moment to post yesterday.
I'm just as busy today and for the rest of the week. I'll post if I
have a moment.
It's been two weeks yesterday since I developed this vertigo problem.
I'm a lot better than I was, but still not completely over it. For most
things, it doesn't matter. I can read normally and use the computer.
But I'm still not steady enough that I can work in the lab or shoot
videos. Fortunately, that hasn't been a real problem, because I've been
working heads-down at the computer for the last couple of weeks. But
it's getting to the point where I need to get back into the lab and get
some videos shot.
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