Things I do for Science

External view of a fetal pig

Fetal Pig: Image via Wikipedia

Flat connectivity structure of propionaldehyde

Propionaldehyde: Image via Wikipedia


So I disposed of the bodies this week. . . . Yeah bodies, little pink pig ones that had been used over the past week and a half in the anatomy lab for dissection. Funny how there does not seem to be a problem ordering the fetal pigs and using them in class, but when it is time for disposal my name seems to keep popping up. All there was to do was let the excess preservative fluid drain off and put the carcasses in a plastic bag for the dumpster, which was not in any way difficult. But people at the college where I work seem to be hands off when it comes to doing the dirty disposal and cleanup  and you can call for volunteers and hear nothing but crickets in response. Had an inordinate amount of fun pushing the sealed garbage can down the hallway and vaguely telling people that I was disposing of the bodies when they asked what I was doing, the looks and reactions were priceless. First they looked confused, then offended, then they would either think of something that they had to be on the other side of campus for, or they would remember that I worked in the science lab and I was disposing of dissection carcasses and start to laugh. Either way it was fun to startle the students and staff out of their routine for the moment.

I also had a good time re-bottling  some of the chemicals for the organic chemistry lab this week. I was working in the lab doing this at the same time the geology professor was using the lab to sort and research some of the fossil specimen that she had not had the chance to go through. At lunchtime we were still hard at work and I finally got to re-bottling the propionaldehyde, which is an organic aldehyde that happens to have the spell of apples. So as I am in the middle of filling small dropper bottles of this stuff, I start to hear groans from across the room from the geology professor, who apparently had not had lunch yet and the smell from what I was working with had been torturous.

I am a part-time technician’s assistant at the college where I attend classes. I work primarily with the chemistry technician, but often need to work with the biology, physics and geology professors to make sure they have what they need to hold class in the labs where I work.

Love my job!

Back to hitting the books,

John D.


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Monday Laziness

Today is my day at home with Niece. We had big plans to work on our Valentines and eat leftover spaghetti for lunch, but I’m too tired for Valentines. And it’s cold today, so we’re snuggled up with blankets, me with the laptop for extra warmth, eating granola bars and watching cartoons.

I tried really, really hard to get my homework done while the kids were awake this weekend, I swear I did. But it’s hard to concentrate on anything while the kids are noisily engaged in Epic Battle MCCXXXIV: Ninja Turtle-Princess vs. Darth Maul & Co. 2nd Edition.

So I read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls for a while, contemplated taking a nap, and then watched Downton Abbey. But it was a special 2-hour episode and I didn’t get started on my homework until 10:00 p.m.

And that’s why I’m tired today.

I actually did manage to get my homework done and turned in on time yesterday, but not having anything due TODAY is not exactly motivating me to do any of it EARLY, which is going to hork up my weekend I’m sure.

John and I are celebrating our 8th anniversary this weekend and I’m sure he would appreciate it if I wasn’t bogged down with homework, as would I. We have big plans to send the children to my father’s house–the first time he will ever have all four of them spend the night at the same time, he’s a brave one my dad–and maybe go catch a grown-up movie and have dinner or something.


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Rather Have a Root Canal?

So I have a root canal scheduled at the dentist for tomorrow. . . . makes me wonder why the phrase “I’d rather have a root canal” was created. So tomorrow I will drop off my niece that I watch during three days of the week with grandma, go to my dentist appointment, pick the niece back up, go home and then continue on with my three classes worth of homework.

Honestly, I’d rather have a root canal, but wait! Does that turn of phrase still apply? Do I get the use of this after I just had that particular procedure done?

I suppose I will go back though the ages with anthropology, and wade through the economics, and finally round out my day with with obscure theories and statistics that somehow work with organizational theory and behavior. *sigh* And what makes this process insanely difficult is the daytime children’s television that will be entertaining the niece while I attempt to focus through the local anesthetic which will invariably wear off during my first half hour of study. Dinosaur train! (head throbs); Super Why! (jaw aches); Sid the Science Kid! (takes yet another dose of Tylenol). Yeah, I can totally see this one coming.

So I guess I will have to do some more research and find out who uttered that they would rather have a root canal, and what the alternative was. Will keep you posted.

Back to hitting the books,

John D.

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guilt of the parental variety

I imagine it must be difficult for our children to have parents who are in college full-time. A couple of our children have expressed an interest in joining a local scouting troop, but our restrictive schedule doesn’t allow for participation in scouting. I felt awful when I explained that we just couldn’t commit to attending weekly meetings and the occasional weekend events. (Are scouting weekend events more frequent than occasional? I don’t even know!) Then there is the cost of uniforms for rapidly growing children, materials for projects, plus badges, books, and who knows what else.

One of the children would like to learn martial arts, which our budget (and schedule) unfortunately doesn’t permit, either.

And of course all of the kids want Techie Things–netbooks, iPods, LeapPads–expensive things that our budget can’t absorb. (One of the kids did get a Kindle for Christmas because I am quickly becoming the Master of Budgeting. I  found it on sale and used a coupon, too, which made it that much more affordable. We are also discovering the mixed joy that is free Kindle books. Sometimes you strike free-book-gold, other times you get what you pay for…)

I worry that we’re depriving our kids of the things and experiences that will help them to connect with their peers, help them engage with our community, and help them to feel that they are having a happy childhood.

But on the other hand, we are showing them the value of education. They are exposed to such an incredible variety of things that they would not have had the opportunity to experience otherwise.

One child became enamored with the study of rocks and minerals after my Geology course last summer. He was thrilled when I gave him the box of rocks and minerals that I no longer needed when I completed the course (with an A!). He has spent many happy hours examining his treasures, adding to his collection, and sorting the various rocks into categories of his own making. Is he a geologist in the making? Who knows.

But if he is, I want full credit for that.

Mineral collection

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when mommy goes to college

When you are a parent, attending college is a delicate balancing act.

Parents who don’t attend college have the work-life balance to worry about–deciding whether to work outside the home, or work at home, full-time or part-time, or whether one parent should stay home with the children full-time.

These are decisions that parents must think carefully about before deciding what is best for the children AND the parents, and then they have to decide what option makes the most sense for their families right now.

Parents who attend college have to balance work and life like any parent, but we also have to fit  school in there somehow.

Fellow students and professors at our college ask John and me how we do it. How do we handle taking 12-15 credits (sometimes 9, but that’s rare) a semester, plus work, plus take care of our four children and our dog. John tells them that we don’t sleep. He’s only sort of kidding, we obviously sleep at night, but not as much as we should, so yeah, we’re tired a lot.

What we don’t tell people is probably what they really want to know but are too shy to ask: the truth about our finances.

The truth is that we barely scrape by most months. We receive just about every kind of government assistance that we qualify for: housing assistance to pay rent, food stamps, day care assistance, Medicaid, and federal grant funding and scholarships for college.

This semester, my financial aid was denied. I filed an appeal (barely on time, but I filed it!) and now I’m playing the waiting game. It’s been two weeks and I still haven’t heard anything.

And now I’m freaking out. EVERYTHING is riding on my financial aid appeal.

The child care assistance office needs my financial aid information to finish processing my renewal application. The day care needs the approval from the child care assistance office to process January and February’s billing. John and I will have to pay the full amount if our child care assistance application is denied.

And I need the financial aid to go through because I don’t have $2,000 laying around to pay for my tuition. If my appeal is denied, I will have to withdraw from all of my classes. If I am no longer a student, I’ll be fired from my student job.

So that’s where we are today… waiting for the financial aid office to do something with my appeal. Will they deny it? Will they approve it? Who knows! But they better do something quick because my child care assistance caseworker said she will have to deny my application on Friday if my financial aid hasn’t come through by then.

In the meantime, I have chapters to read, notes to take, homework to do. I can’t ignore my classes because what if my financial aid appeal is approved?


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