Friday, June 09, 2006

I'm not sure what to think

My goodness!  Scientific experimentation is one thing, but I know this -- if I had the urge to find the answer to a question like this one, I would design and conduct the experiment on a volunteer.  Not on myself!


Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Things I learned today

- definition of "gainsay," which appeared in the songbook tonight (song 57 for those of you who use the same songbook as I use): "To oppose, especially by contradiction." From the middle English "gain," for against, and "sayen" for say. Who knew?

- Diet Coke and Mentos is a real scientific demonstration, not just an urban myth. See

- Why they call them Milk Duds: the candy was supposed to be spherical, so the ones that collapsed (which was most of them), were "duds."

Friday, June 02, 2006


So it turns out that I like sushi.  I didn't know this about myself, but it turns out it's true!  Whenever my friends brought me to sushi places, I always got shrimp tempura or something very anti-sushi, things on the menus at these restaurants precisely for people like me.  People who can't get past the idea of raw meat. I'm a microbiologist, after all.  I'm not afraid exactly, because I know this type of food can be handled safely.  I just can't believe people would eat raw meat on purpose.  And anyway, the portions are so small, wouldn't you still be hungry afterwards?
Well on one business trip in California a month ago, it was the same story.  The group wanted sushi, so when we got there I ordered a tempura meal.  It was yummy, and I was full.  But something about the sushi still on the table had my curious streak running hot.  So I asked a couple of questions to let everyone know I was interested in tasting one piece.  Someone suggested the salmon nigiri since that's apparently a good sushi for beginners.  I found it quite yummy.  The texture is just what I had expected, and the flavor was mild and fishy.  I called the server over and ordered two pieces for my very own.
Well today, I was in Center City Philadelphia for a doctor's appointment and needed lunch.  I walked a few blocks around the doctor's office and stumbled upon this sushi place.  I didn't know how much sushi I should order, so I read the menu's lunch specials.  It seemed they sold 12 pieces of nigiri "plus" a plate of rolls or whatever as a lunch for two.  So I guessed 8 pieces of nigiri with nothing on the side would make a decent lunch for one.  I got two kinds of salmon, crab meat, and yellowtail.  I began conservatively: a bite of the same salmon nigiri I had tried in California.  Then I progressed to the new kinds of food on my plate, even to the point where I was putting a little ginger on each bite.  Towards the end I put a little wasabi in my soy sauce even!  It didn't taste any different though, so I concluded that I hadn't used enough.  That's where my adventurous streak wore out though - I couldn't put more wasabi and risk NOT LIKING the rest of my sushi.  I thoroughly enjoyed my food without it.
But I was still hungry in the end.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

I'm mad and you better apologize

My colleague at work, we'll call him Jim, made me so mad yesterday.  He had asked for a PDF document a couple of days ago, and I didn't get it to him.  So he called yesterday morning around ten to make sure I hadn't forgotten his request.
"I haven't forgotten, I just haven't gotten to that item yet."
"But now I need it urgently."
"How urgently?"
"I need it today."
So I started on the PDF around 4:45.  I ran into a few problems and needed to do some research to answer another question he asked in another email.  It took me an hour.  So I sent him the PDF and the rest of the email at 5:45.  When I hit send, my message was off my screen and my inbox returned.  In that inbox, I found a new message that had arrived around 5:30.  It was from this colleague, and it was mean - full of capital letters and such.  He had CC'ed my boss, and proceeded to tell me how important his request had been, and he requested it twice including a call this morning where he made it very clear that he needed it today, and he wanted an explanation as to why I hadn't sent his document, and he would need me to send it FIRST THING in the morning.  I replied immediately, also copying my boss, telling him "Relax.  You said you needed it today and you got it today.  I don't let you down."  Then I sent him another message without copying my boss, telling him "Don't be evil."  And maybe one other sentence that I can't remember.  I can't remember it because my whole drive home all I could think of was that I left out a thought from that message -- since when has anybody needed to go to my boss to get me to do anything?  I don't drag my feet!  If I'm not going to do something, I tell you straight out that I'm not going to do it.  Or that I'm not going to meet your deadline or whatever.  Aargh! It's all I could think of, the whole 25-minute drive.  And I was mad at myself for dwelling on such negative thoughts.  I wanted to think about other things, get positive.  Finally when I got home I had my regular routine waiting for me, and the usual hurry-up distracted me.  Thank goodness for the distraction, otherwise I might have sent him another email and I would have regretted it.
This morning, I found his reply in my mailbox.  He blamed it on "one of those days," and called himself "Mr. Grumpy Pants."  And he copied my boss.  It made me laugh, and all was fine.  I don't think it was a sincere apology, but I don't care very much now.  He's done this kind of thing before, and he always has to swallow his words later.  So it was just another one of those times.