Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Are you the gopher? (AIHce - Day +3)

last post read: ...second is David Michaels, author of Doubt Is Their Product. Damn, wish I had chosen his book to bring. Would it be toooo geeky to ask the Secretary of OSHA to autograph his book? Guess I'll never know.

Well, I do.

I'm standing in front of my poster, waiting for someone to ask me something about the fruit of the last 4 months of my life. Lo & behold, Dr. Michaels
(Hi, Dr. Michaels! I hope your trip home was nice.)
is chatting with the poster author next to me. As he wanders by, like Brownian motion, I take the opportunity and introduce myself, telling him that I am enjoying his book. It was something like:

Elizabeth: I'm enjoying your book.

Dr. M: something noncommittally bland, like 'thank you'.

Elizabeth: I hadn't realized you were the same person as the author. I wish I had brought it with me. Even if it would be soooooo geeky to ask the Director of OSHA to autograph his book.

At least he laughed. However, he then looked behind me at my poster. I had the microscopic terror that he was going to ask me something about it that I couldn't answer. He did ask, but it had nothing to do with differential mobility analyzers.

Dr. M: are you the gopher?

Elizabeth: smile, wave my hand nonchalantly at the U of M logo on my poster, and state, "Yes, I'm the only poster from the University of Minnesota this year."

Dr. M: no, not the poster. The blog.


Dr. M: the gopher blog?


Elizabeth: yes, I have a blog, I guess I must be that gopher.

Apparently, like the fellow from DuPont who commented on my post about Teflon, Dr. Michaels has someone who regularly checks what people are saying about him. Needless to say, I promptly wondered what in the world I had written about him & hoped it was spelled right and wasn't professionally too embarrassing.

The rest of the day at the conference was ok. I went to the 'interesting investigations' hosted by US-OSHA. I was struck by how much an industrial hygienist needs to rely on her intuition. One audit was from a plating operation, where a maintenance worker - who wasn't considered to be a 'worker on the line' - had the highest exposure. He was included for the employee sampling only because the inspector thought 'oh, let's include him, too, it might be interesting to compare him to the other group'.

If you're in downtown Denver & need to eat:

Los Cabos, about 2 blocks NW from the Convention Center has really good Peruvian food. Fantastic citrusy cold fish salad and some melt-in-your-mouth beef dish.

Wild Bangkok has good Thai; I really wish I could remember the name of what I ate, because it was one of the few times I have taken so long to eat because I couldn't bring myself to rush through such good food. I'll have to ask the other fellow who ordered it as a favorite dish.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

AIHce: Day -1

Still here in sunny, warm Denver.
  • I walked at least 4 miles today. Guaranteed more than 2, since I walked to the end of the mile-long pseudo-pedestrian zone & back.
  • My poster is hanging up in public.
  • P from 3M walked into the brewery - where the student social was - and, after saying hello, my next sentence was
    "Hey, P, I need a job"
    P: "Sure, I've got two"
    Shock & awe: hot damn!
    P: "They're in Indianapolis & [some city]"
    Me: where is that?
    P: South Dakota
    sigh ...
  • The reason you network at things like this is so you can call them and ask them to find the bag you left at the brewery & give it to someone heading back to your hotel.
I miss my husband.
I miss my children.

Tomorrow the conference gets into full swing. I've decided that I'm going to attend every single meeting/class that is involved in employment. Mock interviews, resume critiques, how to interview effectively.

Of course, I also plan to attend two of the big talks: First the president of UMW and second is David Michaels, author of Doubt Is Their Product. Damn, wish I had chosen his book to bring. Would it be toooo geeky to ask the Secretary of OSHA to autograph his book? Guess I'll never know.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

AIHce, Day -2

Items from Denver
  • The more tan you get, the less natural your artificial blonde hair looks
  • If you want to wear 2" spike heels ... you should first learn to walk in them
  • It is possible for the ambient temperature to plummet 8-10F in 2 seconds with a single gust of wind
  • A 3x3" piece of bread pudding with raisins should have more than 6 raisins. Although, since it was $6, perhaps it was being sold by the raisin.
  • It is flat here
  • Those crop circle looking things are irrigation circles
  • You can't possibly look that much like Robert Downey, Jr. by accident
  • Pedestrian zones should not have buses on them
  • The beer at Rock Bottom brewery on 16th St. Mall is truly unimpressive. For $4.62/pt, I guess that's not so bad.

Items from Mpls
  • When the entire purpose of going to a conference - and the only reason someone else is paying for it - is to give a poster session, it behooves one to actually bring the poster to the airport.
  • When Southwest Airlines tells you that you can't have anything on your lap during take-off, they are serious about it.
  • Southwest Airlines has the most efficient - bar none - boarding I've experienced in the past 20 years.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Drugs vs. Reading good books

Hennepin County Sheriff's Office is implementing a new program within DARE (drug abuse resistance education - btw have I mentioned how annoying I find cutesy acronyms?). I'm glad they're being creative about personnel resources. I know it's been around a while, but I don't know if it's really been demonstrated to be effective. Given the teenage drinking rate is chronically increasing, I'm not sure if it's so worthwhile.

Drugs & alcohol are some of the few things that worry me about being a parent ... I cannot remember ever being even vaguely interested in trying anything. Alcohol was always an ordinary part of life: I've never seen either of my parents intoxicated. Albeit, this is no doubt part of a child's perception of things - - but still, being intoxicated was always seen as something stupid, just as doing drugs was seen as something stupid.

Yet, I never got any peer pressure to do either. My high-school classmates drank - yet the rebellious aspect always seemed to be the simple "look at what I can get away with". Getting drunk didn't seem to be the goal. Admittedly, since I was never part of the social circles, this is a perception from outside.

Still, both of my parents smoked, and I was also never tempted to smoke either. I didn't see it as bad or good, just something that seemed like "mom and dad do it". Unlike drinking, which I assumed all adults did, smoking seemed to be more of a personal choice.

My brothers & I got wine at the big holiday dinners (Thanksgiving, Christmas & Easter) - just a little bit. I think I was 12 the first time I did. I distinctly remember it, since it seemed to be such a big deal.

I once wondered if being Roman Catholic might make drinking less of a mystery. We normally let children take communion when they're around 9 or 10 and we use real wine. Never the less, I'm sure Catholics are just as likely to drink underage as any other group, so my assumption is likely empty. (let's not even get into what 'underage' is or ought to be)

There are so many things that are critical to a child having a healthy, well-adjusted life, e.g. reading, respecting others, personal faith. In the grand scale of things, I'm more worried about the boys avoiding the life-destroying activities (drugs/teenage sex) than whether they read at age 5 or 6. Yet, I can influence the reading far more than the others.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


The aerosol gods have turned their faces from me.

How have I failed Thee, o beneficent Grantors of scientific Victory? How may my experiment receive Thy Graces? Shall I pray at the altar of my differential mobility analyzer & make sufactant offerings? Shall I beg for intercession from Your holy Saints Maxwell & Boltzmann in their statistical glory? Will my nightly faith in Caffeine please you?

Grant stability in my voltages that I may serve your size distributions in faithfulness. Disperse your munificence lest my thesis wither & die on the vine of my advisor’s patience.

almost there

It's 9:26 p.m. CST
I am sitting in my lab listening to William Billings' music and some chronic buzzing that is coming from the larger of the two annoying air pumps.
I am on my last set of data. After this, I retreat to my desk and try to export the data into some coherent form.
Then another couple of hours before I can depart.
The light rail runs at 12:22 and 1:22.
Catching the 12:11 in front of Coffmann will get me to the Metrodome just in time to watch the 12:22 depart.
Last night, after discovering this amazing fact, I sat on the chilly platform and read Dr.Pete's NIOSH grant, which included the sentence:
This device, shown in Fig. 4, has just recently been completed and one member of my research team is working to evaluate its performance.
[translation: Elizabeth is sitting in the lab tonight listening to loud 18th century choral music and air pumps so that I can sit on her committee and approve her thesis so she gets out of my hair and takes the evil aerosol curse with her.]

I really want to be home and not here.
After tonight, though, there won't be any more data collection for a while. Thank God.

what goes up actually goes down

Give Back Our Country

We act like a bunch of defeatist wimps unwilling to stand up for our culture, our borders, our security, or our own laws. (Hayworth, NYTimes, 1.may.10)

As soon as a vocal minority starts clamoring for protecting "our own culture"... and *isn't* ridiculed by the majority?

I'm sending my green card application in and applying for jobs. In Germany, where they seem to think self-righteous cultural superiority-demagoguery is a bad idea.

Oh, and btw Mr.Hayworth - if we want to 'take back our country'? I guess we could START with TX, AZ, NM, & CA. And give them back to their original owner: Mexico.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Then v. Now Here v. There

The vacation trip was to München-Vienna-Innsbrück-Zürich. We hit the length of the alps. When we got to Innsbruck, it was the first time I'd actually played in snow. :)
I wish we had pictures of the trip.

When last Mr.Gopher & I were in Europe, we went to Schlehdorf in Oberbayern (within spitting distance of Austria, quite literally at the bottom of the Alps). Innsbruck was about 1.5 hr south. So, we went to one of the very, very few places in Europe that I've been & he hadn't.

That list originally consisted of: Innsbrück, Salzburg & Vienna. I remember being shocked that I'd been anywhere he hadn't, and even more surprised that those areas were all a) German-speaking, b) so close to Germany, and c) so close to the Alps.

I'd like to go back to Salzburg some time; having spent the Summer there as a college student (rather like The Writer's stay in Vienna), I have quite a few memories of it without needing a photo album. I have only vague memories of Vienna; I'd like to visit it as an adult and see what looks familiar.

When we went to Innsbrück, I wondered whether I would remember any of it. I was quite surprised, especially since I have a horrible memory. When we drove over the mountains, and the city came into view, my first thought was "Hey! I remember this!" There were several places I did remember, quite to my surprise. It is a nice city; it would have been a nicer trip if the 6-month old Jr.Gopher#2 hadn't been with us. Forgot the baby bottle Stateside; feeding therefore required mom. I was whooped; considering that the city is only 1300 ft., I can't really blame it on altitude sickness, which I get. Hauling 15 pounds of baby around just put a serious crimp in the hike. Because, of course, there was a lot of walking - I was there with Mr.Gopher, after all.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Fr. Tom

Fr. Tom McDevitt was the first priest for the St. John's Student Parish at Michigan State University. He served as pastor there for over 30 years. He was the pastor there from 1987, when I moved to Michigan, until 2000. He performed my first marriage there in 1990. You could hear his strong influence in many ways. If you missed him in person, you could hear his style in Fr. Mark's homilies. In many ways he reminded me of my Aunt Alice. He passed away Monday after a very brief illness. I won't cry as much as I did when she died, but I certainly have cried.

Greek aesthetics

This is not the traditional Greek aesthetics. This is post-modern American, HealthyGopher's aesthetics. Socio-eco-political-b.s. about the Greek financial woes is a separate issue. This, however, is simply an absolutely striking photograph taken earlier today (CET):

Monday, May 3, 2010

just another day

On April 16th I wrote:
I'm sitting in my lab again. I'm on the 3rd set of data for the week - running a bit behind. One of the other students needs my equipment next week. This is rather beneficial for me. I have a pile of data and haven't really had a chance to sit down and analyze it. What does it look like? Am I getting the "right" (read: expected) values? Are the graphs going to be the odd-ball looking things I got with the first part of the experiments?

I need to make a plan to get The Rest of The Data after I get the equipment back.

I'm waiting to hear from the IH conference organizers. I submitted an abstract for a poster; if it gets accepted, I'll be going to the conference. I'm not sure, but it will hopefully get subsidized from one of the department's grants. Well, that means that I need to have the data completely collected and analyzed and put into a poster. Which isn't going to happen the night before the conference.

On May 4th, I am writing:
I'm sitting in my lab again. I'm still trying to get my experiment working. No clue what happened ... but there's no joy in Mudville tonight (or yesterday; or Friday).

Too many particles. Let's check the laboratory room air to see what we have. Wow - look! The room air has fewer particles than my experiment. Which should have none.

I heard from the IH conference organizers. My abstract got accepted. I'm getting subsidized by my program, have the reservations & am looking to see if any other (female) IH needs a place to stay, since I'm willing to share the hotel room that I'm not paying for.

I still, however, need to have the data completely collected and analyzed and put into a poster. Which isn't going to happen the night before the conference. Nor is it going to happen tonight.



I took my final for my last class today!


don't know what to update. There are a zillion 'drafts' on the blog, and I keep thinking "I need to post those". Have I? ha.

I've got pictures & stories from this past weekend - the convention & parade. I'm stuck @ the lab. Maybe I'll get around to it. maybe.

Then there's the ()U&^*(%^$&W#$ who rear-ended my car. I found her. Did Mpls PD? No, me. Move over Sherlock Holmes.