Looking for Trouble

I’m back from my “too short” vacation. I had a really good time visiting with my sisters and my mother and assorted nieces and nephews despite the weather. You see, from the time we arrived until the day before we left, it rained. Some times it was a hard rain and other times it was a light mist. This required alternative activities instead of spending time at the beach. One thing that Sparky and I did (which no one else wanted to do with us) was visit the Naval Air Museum. We were a little worried that the museum would be closed due to the government shut-down but it was open. It followed the history of military use of balloons and the development of airplanes and air craft carriers from the beginning to current times. We spent the better part of the afternoon at the free museum. Sparky was enthralled by the section on space travel.


Above are the flight suits that the Navy developed for pilots that were flying at high altitudes. They were also the basis for the first space suits developed for orbiting the earth.


Here is Sparky looking very pleased that he was able to get this close to a real space capsule. He is a total space geek and was having a geek-out moment. It was a good thing the interior was sealed with plexiglas or he would have climbed inside! We watched a video shot inside the International Space station that provided answers to the most burning questions about living in space (with demonstrations). Included was a tour of the space station – even getting to see the Russians’ quarters. We finally pulled ourselves away from the space section and got to see the movie about WWII planes that have been salvaged from (of all places) Lake Michigan!! There were even a couple of them restored and on display! The part that kept me entertained was all the art work on the planes. It ranged from the highly artistic to the very basic. Although it wasn’t considered an official mark, many planes had the logo of the units using them. Some are fairly offensive in today’s climate but this was wartime and demonizing the enemy was a common tactic. It is so effective that it is still used today!

So some of these made me laugh as these pilots and air crews obviously had a sense of humor (#8) and others were reminiscent of the life they left behind (#10). All in all there were some interesting exhibits and I got to see many interesting things. I especially liked the cut away aircraft. There was one bi-wing and one WWII cargo plane. For a free museum it was an excellent value!

Looking Over My Glasses

I’m sure you’ve seen the look. The one where someone looks over their glasses at you and raises one eyebrow, the look that states “you have to be kidding”. I try not to give anyone that look. I really attempt to give everyone my full and undivided attention. I practice Active Listening skills. Then there are times when I. just. can’t.

All the really bizarre things seem to happen after 5:00 PM, when everyone has left the building except for me and all the graduate students/lab slaves. I feel like I’m the mom. They come knocking on my office door. Some are scared, some are in tears, some are embarrassed, and others are in full blown panic mode. My job is to remain calm and act as the voice of reason while trying to fix what has gone wrong. So far I’ve dealt with several problems.

1. The “You’re going to shoot out your eye” issue.
2. The “Saw” episode.
3. The Piñata problem.
4. The “I’m afraid of snakes” instance.
5. The “Skinny Dipping” difficulty.
6. The “Don’t make me make the mom noise” challenge.
7. The “Tickle me Elmo” hurdle.
8. The “They all rolled over and one fell out” complication.

Due to my strong sense of fairness (and a signed form preventing me from divulging certain info on social media), I can’t discuss the details of the above listed interludes. However if we ever meet in person and you want me to give details I will. Just so you know, I was able to maintain a professional demeanor. I kept a straight face and not once did I burst into laughter (maniacal or mirthful). I provided reassurance, Kleenex for the hysterical, and kindness. But I have to admit I might have slipped and looked over my glasses once or twice!

Looking at DNA

My mother is a genealogist. She has taken several DNA tests looking to confirm or deny what her research has uncovered. She has convinced my sister to do the same – even bought her a kit as a gift… I suppose if I were a little more curious about what percentage from my father and from my mother I inherited I would follow suit. As it is these DNA kits have limitations. I work with PCR for genotyping. It is only as good as the probes you use. And there are specific probes for each gene. I’m a little suspicious and skeptical that they are using specific probes. I wonder if they are looking at very generic markers that are common to a wide geographical area…

Speaking of DNA, there are more and more people opting for genetic screening prior to committing to marriage – to make sure they are genetically compatible. This is so strange to me. If you are in love what would it matter? But the logical side of my mind sees the possible advantages in avoiding dooming your children to major genetic disease or deformity. Still is smacks of eugenics and selective breeding. I cringe and wonder that these same individuals are willing to jump off mountains wearing “flying squirrel” suits yet aren’t willing to take the risk of falling in love or procreating. What better thrill ride than marriage and parenthood? Which brings me to the question a recent study examined, is risky behavior genetically encoded in some individuals? We used to chalk it up to lack of common sense, poor judgement, bad parenting, falling in with the wrong crowd, peer pressure, etc. The list goes on. But now there are murmurings that this is “not their fault” because that is just how they are wired. Having genetic predispositions is nothing new and is a valid condition. However there seems to be a push to absolve individuals of any personal responsibility. And that is wrong.