Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Funny lab story of the day

Seriously, I should write a book of funny lab stories and quotes.  It could make a great xmas gift for all of us science nerds.  Here's today's story...
So the students were asked to calibrate temperature probes before beginning their experiment.  In order to do this, you must use a mercury thermometer alongside your probe (in ice water then in boiling water) so you know what values to enter for your calibration.  Easy enough, right?  Ha ha, not so much.  Students will often leave their thermometers inside the plastic case and don't understand why things aren't working.  Do thermometers really need instructions?  Apparently so.
Anyway, I walked past a group today and they were obviously struggling with calibrating their probe.  I noticed they weren't following the correct procedure on the computer, so they tried again.  Still didn't work.  Then I checked to see if they had the thermometer or probe resting on the sides or bottom of the beaker which can also mess things up.  Then I realized the problem.  I smiled, casually turned their thermometer right side up and walked away.  "Seriously?" one of the girls asked.  "Yep," I said as I quickly left the room so as not to laugh in their faces.  I wanted to ask the same question.  "Seriously?  You don't know which end to stick in the water?"  Hard to believe, but this generation hasn't really had experience with good ol' fashion mercury thermometers.  At least they remembered to take it out of the plastic case!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Can your kid do this?

Yes, this is another post about my wonderful, silly dog.  I realize that at least 75% of my posts are about Titus, but most blogs I read are centered around children anyway.  Mostly the kids and babies are just running around or playing with a toy, so I figure Titus is at least that interesting too. 
Here's a video of Titus showing off for his girlfriend in NM.  I'm still having trouble uploading videos, so you'll just have to click the link to our flickr page.  Can your kid do this?
Titus is pretty skilled when it comes to frisbee catching, but sometimes he just likes to fold it in half and sling snow around:
He also had his first TX freak out moment this week.  I wasn't quick enough with the camera, but he was growling and pawing at a screw on our space heater nearly knocking it over (you can catch his NM freak out moment here).  He's not always a genius!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Small town jury duty

Last week for the first time in my life I was summoned for jury duty.  We do not live in the same county as Abilene, so we report to the small town of Anson which has about 2300 people.  Our county is made up of several small towns which altogether total about 19,000 people.  I'm guessing at least 18,000 of these grew up in the area and have been here their entire lives.  So needless to say, when I showed up for jury duty yesterday morning, I think I was the only one there who didn't know somebody else.  It was funny to sit and watch all the farmers talk about their cotton and all the school teachers gossip about their students.  I just sat there reading Consumer Reports.
I think there must have been around 75 of us show up.  I have no idea if this is a typical jury duty crowd or not, but it was bigger than I expected.  Our judge was Judge Hagler- great name if you ask me!  After the disqualifications and exemptions, there were still 60 of us left.  Then came a 45 minute recess.  What do you do in a small town for 45 minutes?  You walk the streets and try to find any open shop.  Of course the only thing open was an antique store, so that's where I spent my break.  As I was leaving, I was grilled by the super friendly store owner about my origins since I was obviously not from around here.  Back in the courtroom I became juror #41.  For those of you who don't know, a jury consists of 12 people and each lawyer can throw out up to 10 jurors, so the first 32 people are really in the hot seat.   At that point, I knew I would not get picked unless one of the lawyers called for a shuffle. 
Hagler explained that the case was about a lady who shot her husband in the leg and was pleading guilty to assault with a deadly weapon- 2nd degree felony.  The jury selected would spend about 3 days deciding her sentence.  The prosecuting lawyer then began asking all the fun questions that make people admit to all kinds of things in a room full of complete strangers.  I found it amusing.  This went on for about 2 hours.  Of course given our county size, just about everyone in the room knew at least one witness, expert, or lawyer involved in the case.  Somehow nobody knew the husband or his shooter wife, but they did live in the neighborhood or know their children.  The only thing I got to admit to was being shot at in NM when I was a teenager (a story for another day).  By this time it was noon.  They gave us an hour and 15 minutes for lunch.  I had a sandwich with me, so after my 10 minute lunch, I was off to find something else to do in Anson.
The interesting furniture/bead store (yes, like jewelry beads) was closed even though the sign said open 10am-6pm, so I kept walking.  I eventually came across the town library.  Having worked in a library part-time in WA, I now find it interesting to visit small town libraries.  Upon entering, I was immediately greeted not with a friendly TX "good afternoon, how can I help you?" but with a suspicious, stern "what can I do for you?"   I mentioned that I was merely looking around, so the older librarian retreated to her glass room where she continued to stare me down for the rest of my visit.  There were some interesting old newspapers and local pictures in the library, but I was pretty much done in 5 minutes.  I found it funny that about 1/2 of the call number labels were handwritten.  As I left, I waved and said thank you, but the unfriendly librarian had no response.  I think she was happy to see me go.
With more than 45 minutes left, I finally found the antique MALL!  It was more like just a big store, but it occupied the rest of my time.  As I wandered around, I could hear the elderly store owners discuss teeth pulling, dentures, cold weather (40 degrees), you know- typical old people talk.  It made me smile.  As I came around the last corner of the store, the only lady who hadn't gone to lunch began to ask me questions.  It was so obvious that I did not belong in this town and everyone seemed fascinated to have such a visitor.  As I walked back to the courthouse, I wondered if we would be like this in 30 or 40 years.
I forgot to mention any details about the courtroom.  The courthouse was built in 1910 and has such great  character.  I am always cold and always assume that public buildings will be freezing, so I decided to wear long johns yesterday so that I wouldn't have to keep up with a jacket or sit shivering for hours on end.  Well, according to Hagler, this building has a mind of its own where temperature is concerned.  On this particular day, the courtroom was about 80 degrees.  I was nice and toasty in my long johns, but everyone else was sweating and some even went home during breaks to change clothes.  Nice.
Back in the 80 degree courtroom again, the defendant's lawyer began his questioning.  About 1/2 of the ladies had to admit to being beaten by fathers, boyfriends, husbands, etc.  It was so uncomfortable having to listen to complete strangers reveal personal issues so publicly.  Then, you guessed it, another recess.  This one only 30 minutes long.  I was done with antique stores, so I sat in my car drinking Dr. Pepper and reading a magazine instead. Next came the climax of the day: announcing of the jury.  After the 12 took their seats, another 15 people remained in front of me.  I shook Hagler's hand, was thanked for my service, and left with $6 in my pocket. 
All in all, not a bad day.  Hagler was funny and kept things lighthearted.  I learned a lot about the jury selection process, learned too much about people I don't know, and learned that I have a lot of small town folk to acquaint myself with in the years to come. 

Monday, January 4, 2010

Christmas Break in a Nutshell

The last 2 weeks were wonderful.  Instead of going into lots of detail, I'm just going to list all the great things that happened and share some pictures:
1.  Mom and Adam came to visit for a whole week!  (by far the best Christmas present)
2.  5 inches of snow on Christmas eve made for a beautiful white Christmas in our new home
3.  Christmas baking- no bake cookies, chocolate white chip cookies, smores cookies, coconut cream pie, chocolate cream pie, banana pudding, bacon cheesy balls, banana bread- mmmmm!
4.  Lazy days in pajamas NOT putting on makeup, doing my hair, or even putting in my contacts.
5.  Playing in the snow- Titus was in heaven!
6.  Getting little projects done around the house- some pictures on the walls, new tables in the living room, some curtains bought, craft room mostly finished, lots of tree trimming
7.  Plumbing issues (this wasn't so great, but it caused some problems that are temporarily fixed)
8.  Josh and I celebrated our 8th anniversary- there wasn't much celebrating due to #7, but we'll get around to dinner out sometime soon.
9.  I spent 5 days in NM which gave me more time with Mom, visiting time with the Fitzpatricks and Shoemakers, and almost 8 more inches of snow!
10.  A visit from Josh's longtime friend Lonnie
11.  More animals!!  Titus found the 1st mole on our property and Adam spotted our 1st porcupine hanging out in a tree behind our backyard.

Snow in TX

Christmas Day

Adam, Titus and Josh exploring the property

Tree trimming time!

Our porcupine

Titus was VERY sad when Mom and Adam left.  He watched for them to come back all morning.

Trip to NM

I'm having trouble loading videos, but I'll try again later.