Category Archives: Random Ramblings

Life as I know it

To Boldly Go Where No Meme Has Gone Before

My sister texted me the other day with a startling revelation. So I made a meme out of it.



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Add Some Microbes To Your Kids’ Lives This Christmas

Because I’m procrastinating from grading term papers on the “Identification of an Unknown Bacterium” and because it’s never to early to start loving microbes, here’s a few last minute gift ideas  for kids :

I’ve given my son both of these books and we love them:

Invisible ABCs by Rodney P. Anderson

Invisible ABCs by Rodney P. Anderson

Great pictures and fun facts — appropriate for younger readers because its a picture book, but there’s enough science to keep an older elementary student engaged as well. It’s available on Amazon for $17.95  (click here) and has a companion website here.

Germ Stories by Arthur Kornberg and Adam Alaniz

Germ Stories by Arthur Kornberg and Adam Alaniz

This book has poems and pictures, so you can read it to younger kids, but my 9-year-old still liked it too. It’s available on Amazon for $23.85 (click here).

And of course, for the kid who loves stuffies, there’s always GIANT microbes!



Giant microbes are cute and cuddly, come in different sizes, and represent microbes from many different walks of life. You can get them at the Giant Microbes website (click here) and, of course, you can also find them on (search giant microbes). Some of my favorites are MRSA, Anabaena (called Algae on the site), and the Chicken Pox virus.

To help your kids keep their hands clean while they learn about microbes, you could get them some soap that looks like bacteria growing on a Petri dish.

Bacterial Soap by Cleaner Science

Bacterial Soap by Cleaner Science

These soaps are made by Cleaner Science (click here) and you can actually get different color combinations that represent specific bacteria growing on specialized agars (for that extra-geeky thrill). Unfortunately, though, it looks they’re sold out for now. Their dishes got posted on facebook by a well-known science blog and I think they got lots of traffic.  They are taking orders and promise to post new stuff soon. I read a post on another blog that said Cleaner Science even makes some glow-in-the-dark soaps.

If anyone knows of other cool  micro-themed gifts for kids, please let me know. I’m always on the lookout!

One final P.S. These books aren’t microbiology, but they are science, and my 9 year old loves them:

Basher Science Books

Basher Science Books

The Basher website is here (they have math, music, and English books too) but you can also find the books on Personally, I’m looking forward to the release of Extreme Biology — I predict it will feature microbes as they are the champs at extreme living!

Extreme Biology

Extreme Biology

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My sister rocks!

I was in a funk today, struggling with my perception of some of the realities of my life. I texted my sister that I was “Wrestling with my demons.” I expected her to ask me which demons, and I was going to tell her all about my fears and struggles. Instead, she simply replied, “Go, Buffy!”

Snap! Instant turn around. Instead of letting my personal issues drag me down, I vowed to woman-up and kick some demon butt. And then I made this picture to remind me that it’s all in how you look at it.

We all have a little Buffy inside of us!

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A Mother’s Day Epiphany (or What I learned from Captain America)

Yes, I just saw The Avengers and am somewhat fixated. But I really did learn something from Captain America!

You’re welcome.

For Mother’s Day, I wanted my family to help me in the yard. I’ve let it run to utter chaos and was too overwhelmed to even begin alone.

Weed city

And not only did I want help, but I wanted to be in charge. I wanted everyone to do the things that I saw as high priorities, without arguing, complaints, or even discussion. Due to the awesome powers that all Mother’s get on Mother’s Day, they agreed. But the situation was not without its challenges. My team consisted of:

  • My husband, who always has ideas about how he wants to do things
  • My teenage son, who hates weeding, bugs, and getting dirty unless he’s playing soccer
  • My 9-year-old, who freaks out at any task that he perceives as overwhelming

When we were getting ready to start, I could already hear the rumblings. “You know I hate weeding.” “I’m not doing that!” I had a moment of absolute dread that this would turn into a nasty struggle of trying to force children to work by threatening to take away their electronics. But then, I had a moment of inspiration! I remembered the scene in The Avengers when Captain America takes charge and gives everyone an assignment that’s perfectly suited to their talents (“Hulk…Smash.”)

So, I put my teenager in charge of mowing (no weeding involved!)

Yes, that’s his phone in his hand.

I put my younger son in charge of rolling the wheelbarrow around the yard picking up the weed piles. (I also gave him the job of supplying everyone with lemonade if they got thirsty.)

Rolling the wheelbarrow was fun!

I gave my husband a tasks that employed his organization skills and his muscle power (but forgot to take any pictures of him).

And I put myself in charge of weeding.

Lost in the dandelion jungle

The result? Several hours of uncomplaining cooperation from the entire family. This is a minor miracle. It was  an even better gift than a 2/3 weeded front yard.

No more dandelion jungle

Beautiful mow job!

Weed-free zones!

So, a big thank you for a fabulous mother’s day to my wonderful husband and sons!

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The 2nd annual Thin Mint Challenge is on

The rules:

1) We each get one box of thin mints

One box each

2) The contest lasts for 1 month

I LOOOOVES me some thin mints

3) Anyone who drops below 4 cookies left in their box within that month is disqualified. (4 cookes = 1 serving according to the Girl Scouts — have you ever stopped at just 4 thin mints?)

My husband takes cookies out of his box.

The prize: Winners get to split a prize box of thin mints! (Last year my two boys got to split the prize box.)

My younger son's strategy -- put his box way up high where he can't get to it easily.

Last year, I didn’t even try to win. According to my taste buds, one serving = half a sleeve of thin mints. I’ve already had two servings since we got our boxes after dinner.

First taste of thin mints

This year, I’m going to see how long I can resist the lure of the second sleeve.

Oh, and I forgot to mention rule #4, which is mostly for the parents — no fair buying additional boxes of thin mints to supplement your supply.

I’ll let you know how the challenge turns out.


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Bringing it all home to my blog

Hello friends,

Welcome to my latest venture into the online world. Like many of you, I spend a fair amount of time online, getting my news, checking in with friends, surfing for good recipes, and having a laugh. I also spend a fair amount of time thinking, writing, and teaching science. I decided to try and keep a blog so that I could consolidate all my roamings into one location.

My plan is to write about some science issues that are near and dear to my heart, and that have direct impacts on everybody every day — like the use of antibiotics in livestock feed, the pros and cons of vaccination, and the science of energy.

I also plan to write about whatever else is interesting to me — like what I’m cooking, my dogs, or something that gave me a good laugh.

I don’t know where this blog will go exactly, but with this post, it’s officially launched.

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