Day: October 8, 2011

Saturday, 8 October 2011

09:37 – Our friends Mary and Paul dropped by for a visit yesterday evening. I asked them if they were attending the sunrise service this morning. They both use iPhones and iPods, you see, and this morning is the third day. Steve is risen.

Paul has drunk the Kool-Aid more than Mary, I think. He commented that he liked his iPhone, but he really liked his iPod. Where else, he asked, could one get a pocket-size music player? Barbara and I pointed out that she had one connected to her car audio system right now, a Sansa model. Yes, he said, but where can you get music to load on it? Barbara pointed out that she had several thousand tracks converted to MP3 that she’d ripped from her CDs, about a thousand of which were on her Sansa player at the moment. I added that if he wanted to buy music on-line he could visit Amazon, which has a huge selection with often better prices, and has never had copy protection.

I really don’t understand all the eulogizing. Not only did Jobs never do anything to help the advance of personal technology; much of what he did hurt it. He went from selling overpriced, underpowered PCs to selling overpriced music players and tracks to selling overpriced cellphones. Everything he ever did was aimed at pillaging his customers’ wallets and locking them into his “walled garden”. And, no, I haven’t forgotten the Apple ][, which deserves at best an asterisk in PC history.

Laundry this morning, with work interspersed on the biology lab book. Right now, I’m working on the chapter on cells and unicellular organisms. I’m just starting a session on making culturing media and filling Petri dishes and slant tubes with agar gel medium and test tubes with broth medium. We’ll use the Petri dishes in the following session to culture bacteria, after which we’ll isolate selected species and grow pure cultures of them in slant tubes and eventually broth tubes. We’ll then flood Petri dishes with broth culture to grow bacterial “lawns”, which can then be used for antibiotic sensitivity testing.

I’ve thought seriously about recommending that readers avoid culturing environmental bacteria and instead purchase pure cultures of known-harmless bacteria from Carolina Biological Supply or wherever. The issue is that there are a lot of pathogenic bacteria floating around in the wild. Ordinarily, they’re harmless, because our bodies defenses can deal with small numbers of them. But culturing them produces large numbers of them, so one must take care to avoid being exposed to them. With proper technique, the danger is nearly non-existent, but some danger does still exist. We’ll minimize that by using a simple beef or chicken broth and sucrose nutrient mixture and culturing at room temperature rather than body temperature. Those factors favor growth of bacteria that prefer the lower temperature, which is to say not most pathogens.

Of course, we’ll subsequently be using forced selection to breed antibiotic-resistant bacteria from those original cultures, and if you don’t want wild pathogens floating around the room, you really don’t want drug-resistant wild pathogens floating free. Of course, we could temper that risk by using antibiotics that are not usually used in humans, such as neomycin, sulfadimethoxine, and so on. We can also take steps to minimize exposure risk, including wearing an N100 mask, misting the area with Lysol spray and so on. On balance, I think I’ll do the lab with environmental bacteria, but warn readers that for complete safety they should purchase a known-harmless culture as their starting point.

Colin is still very much a puppy. Barbara had dinner out yesterday, so I made myself a bowl of tuna shock. Except that I didn’t have any tuna or any shock, so I just put a can of olives (less the can and lid) and a can of Costco chicken chunks (less the can and lid) in a big bowl and then added a large glop of mayonnaise. I’d eaten about a third of it when the doorbell rang. I got up to answer it, first warning Colin not to touch my food. When I got back a moment later, he had his snout in my bowl. Fortunately, he hadn’t eaten much of it, so I finished the rest.

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