Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Eye Of The Beholder

Paphiopedilum (Gloriosum 'Hallelujah' X Black Currants 'Dazzler')

The orchid pictured above belongs to the genus paphiopedilum. They are commonly referred to as "ladyslipper orchids" or just "slipper orchids" for their distinctive pouch-like structure. They are similar to our native Ohio cypripediums and you may consider the paphiopedilums to be the tropical cousins to the cypripediums.

The paphiopedilum is my favorite genus to cultivate (or at times, attempt to cultivate). I am fascinated by the structural details of this particular genus. They seduce a visiting insect and have a deep pocket (the pouch) which traps the visiting insect. The insect may only escape through one passage in the orchid (located behind its column) because that is the only place the insect can get a grip on the surface in order to escape. In the process of escaping, the insect will dislodge the sticky pollinia (pollen sac) and it will adhere to the poor escaping insect. The insect will now get duped again when it lands on another paphiopedilum thereby pollinating it with the pollinia sticking to it.

Some consider orchids to be masters in the art of seduction in the plant kingdom.

Some consider orchids to be sinister, beguiling, and even sensual.

I simply consider them beautiful.

The orchid pictured above is one from my own collection. I was extremely fortunate to have it awarded first place at the orchid show this past weekend. This award is extremely meaningful to me and I think it is going to take some time for me to float back down to planet earth. Please click on the top photo to see an exquisite detailed closeup.

Thanks Thomas, for your photographic excellence. Thanks to the judges who felt my plant to be worthy of such an esteemed award.

"It's almost like a new universe and when you fall into it, you get ensnared. They're big and they're gaudy and gorgeous."
--Harold Koopowitz

"To desire orchids is to have a desire that can never be fully requited."
--Susan Orlean

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Eye of Newt

Notophthallmus viridescens

These newts are rather elusive and rarely seen except for their mass migrations in early spring. In fact, they occur during the first warm wet night of spring. The first spring rain, such as on 03/09/06, will bring about their nocturnal mass migration into the nearby vernal ponds for their frenzied breeding. Because these newts are so elusive, naturalists will flock to the reservations to observe and photograph them. With the exception of their spring migration into the ponds, they normally spend their time in underground burrows. They live for approximately 20 years.

Ambystoma maculatum

Also seen concurrently are the spotted salamanders. They breathe through their skin, and therefore must remain moist. Thus, they remain nocturnal and rarely venture from running water.

It is rather unusual to see this little grey tree frog at this time during the year. It is still supposed to be hibernating. Quite frankly, this froggy looks rather groggy. Most likely it was disturbed and hence "awakened". Perhaps by the very naturalists trekking around.

Please click on the pictures for an awesome close-up!
Thanks goes to Thomas.

Friday, March 10, 2006


Jeepers Creepers!
Look at the Peeper!

How do we know that spring is just around the corner? By the appearance of spring peepers!!!

This little peeper was photographed at the North Chagrin Reservation on 03/09/06. Photographed at night of course!

Please click on the peeper photo to enlarge and get a great close-up!

Thanks Thomas! I hope that by now you have sufficiently dried up from the expedition!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

My Passion

I have a passion. It is called Orchids. I can get forever lost in their exquisite morphology and mimicry.

I have never been the same since I have discovered orchids. Maybe I should call this an obsession rather than a passion?

Anyhow, the orchid society to which I belong is hosting an orchid show this weekend.

For those inclined:

West Shore Orchid Society show March 11-12 2006
Strongsville Recreation Center
18100 Royalton Road
Strongsville Ohio

I happened to come across pictures from one of our previous shows and may be found here. The above photo is also from that site.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Existence of a Blue Smurf

Remember the Smurfs? They were these cartoon characters from back in the 1980's I do believe. I never did care for them. Sorry to those who like them. It wasn't because they were blue, I think I just could not get past their weird gnome-like appearance. I guess I just wasn't your typical little girl growing up. I had/have nothing against these characters, just never could get into them.

Anyhow, it would seem that today our lab found evidence for the existence of a Blue Smurf.

Thomas, is one of our researchers in the lab that comes in at ungodly hours in the morning. He must be part farmer or something. No matter how early I have managed to come into the lab on various, but not many days (I am a night owl), he is always here. I once worked in a methadone clinic as a therapist and I had to be at work by 5 am which meant that I had to be awake no latter than 4 am. But I digress here...

Suffice it to say, that today, was no exception. Thomas came in bright and early at 6 am eager and ready to start his day.

He decides that the best way to start his day would be to disinfect/clean a water bath for his tissue culture.

So, he proceeds to scrub out his water bath and decides to use this new disinfectant which is highly concentrated and viscous. You only need 2 mL of this stuff per litre.

He decides that while he is walking down our hallway to pour the disinfectant into a large glass cylinder. Since this bottle holding the disinfectant was a squeeze bottle, he squeezes it. But he squeezes very hard because it is very viscous.

However, for reasons unknown, the nozzle on the bottle is loose. So, when he squeezes hard, a great deal of this blue solution comes projecting out into the glass cylinder. It came projecting out with great force. Into the glass cylinder and everywhere else for that matter. This had the effect of completely splattering him, our -80 freezers, various centrifuges, chairs, and pretty much the entire hallway in blue splatter. I think it could have looked like a crime scene had the solution been red.

Another thing about this disinfectant is that it is very slippery. So, after his blue disinfectant "explosion", he decides to try to make it to a nearby sink to clean himself up. He slips. He falls. He falls into the blue muck. The large glass cylinder holding the blue disinfectant solution is catapulted into the air, eventually landing and breaking, and splattering more blue droplets on the rest of the hallway that was not previously covered. More centrifuges, more -80 freezers, and other assorted instruments are covered. To say that it looked like a blue explosion had taken place is putting it mildly.

So, now he is dripping in blue and sitting in a blue puddle. He has turned into the human equivalent of a blue "Smurf". Dripping from head to toe in blue. He is indignant and in disbelief. Just about covered from head to toe in blue. And sitting in it no less. He sits there for a few minutes trying to comprehend and process what has just happened.

He spends 2.5 hours cleaning our hallway, our -80 freezers, our centrifuges, and himself. He swears in German during the process. The whole process. I always did want to learn German, but not this way...

So, at least for today, I have found the existence of a blue Smurf.

Fortunately, no one was hurt. Thomas did suffer some very mild chemical burns from this solution. He showed me some of the burns. I am not even going to ask him how his bum is doing considering that he was sitting in the solution...

Thanks Thomas, for letting me post this as well as making me laugh. I have not laughed this hard and this long for over a year. Although I really do wish you would have let me put a picture along with this post...

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Not Again!!!

Note to self: Do not flame fingers with the Bunsen burner while flaming flasks.

Just when my fingers recovered from the methanol/dry ice burns...

Nothing serious, but ouch!

What gives? Normally I am not an accident prone person in the lab. Normally I am cautious and give the laboratory my full attention when it comes to safety.

Somehow, I am just all "butterfingers" in the lab lately.

I guess I am just feeling somewhat distracted.

What the...?

I love animals. Especially cats. But I really do love all animals.

I came across this picture at Cute Overload.

All I can say, is, "What the ....?"

Why do some people insist upon making normally cute pets look utterly stupid? The poor dog is never going to live this one down.

The dog in the background looks just plain psychotic with that cut.

Monday, March 06, 2006


I am a chocolate connoisseur. Chocolate is most certainly my favorite sweet. I especially love gourmet chocolates. My favorite are these Belgium chocolate truffles that I get from an import store near where I live. Words cannot describe the incredible sensation associated with tasting these particular chocolate truffles.

So, I am not really into candy. Chocolate is my thing. However, I do like Jelly Belly jelly beans. I will buy them from time to time and my favorite flavor is Tutti-Frutti. What is really cool is that you have a recipe guide with the Jelly Belly beans. So, if you want to have the taste of chocolate covered cherries, you eat two Very Cherry Beans and one Chocolate pudding bean. And really, it does taste very much like a chocolate covered cherry jelly bean! Of course you can have fun creating your personal taste sensations as well.

So, the other day I was at the grocery store and I saw a package of Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans. They are made by the same company, Jelly Belly. Now, also, I enjoyed the Harry Potter movies and saw them all except the last one. Obviously, my curiosity was piqued.

I thought to myself, would Jelly Belly really make jelly beans flavored like ear wax and vomit as shown in the flavor guide? I thought, Nah, a candy company wouldn't do that. After all, who would eat them? Maybe just a gimmick. Besides, how are they going to "taste test" the beans and decide which one tastes more like ear wax than the other? But nonetheless, curiosity got the better of me and I decided to buy them and try them.

So, I get home and open the package. First, I go for the Tutti-Fruitti. Yum. Then my curiosity starts creeping in and I decide to go for the vomit flavor. So, I try it. Well, I can say that it has this sickly sweet flavor of vomit, but it seemed like more of a nuance rather than an actual flavor. Also, I thought that perhaps the effect was more psychological in that since it was labeled as being vomit flavor, then my taste buds and brain decide it is vomit flavor.

Still curious, I decided to go for the Black Pepper flavor. Oh my! Definitely a strong black pepper flavor. Definitely NOT a nuance! The flavor was so strong that I decided to go for my other, but slightly lesser favorites of Blueberry and Cherry just to try to get the taste out of my mouth.

However, still curious, I decide to go for the Sardine Flavor. I start chewing...Oh...YUCK!!!!!! Although I have eaten sardines before and have no problem with them, the very strong taste of sardines coupled with the sugar sweetness of a jelly bean was horrible. Yuck!!!!!!!

Still curious, I decided to go for the Soap Flavor. I figured anything will be better than sardines. Besides, I thought I would be clever and use Soap Flavor to wash away the sardine flavor. So, I start chewing. Oh my, this one was really bad. It tasted like I just put a piece of strong soap in my mouth. Now I have the strong lingering taste of sardines coupled with the fresh presence of soap on my taste buds. Horrible, horrible yuck!

Now curiosity is gone and desperation sets in. I want to get rid of those tastes in my mouth so I decide to eat the Green Apple flavor bean. I figured that should get rid of those horrible tastes and leave me with the pleasant taste of green apples. Besides I love Granny Smith apples, so Green Apple flavor should do the trick, right?

Wrong. By mistake, I put Grass Flavor in my mouth and start chewing. Grass and Green Apple both look the same on the flavor guide!!!! In my desperation, I grabbed the wrong bean!!!!! Now I have grass flavored soap on my taste buds coupled with the lingering sardines.

At this point I am out of pleasant flavored beans to counteract the horrible taste in my mouth. Definitely a combination that I have no words to describe! Grass flavored soap with a sardine overtone!! All I could do is just run to the refridgerator to grab some juice to drink to try and get rid or those flavors in my mouth!

The juice did not get rid of the grass flavored soap with the sardine overtone.

I think in this case, curiosity killed the Kat.

However, I never did try the other flavors of Booger, Earthworm, Dirt, Ear Wax, Rotten Egg, and Bacon. The Bacon one probably wouldn't be bad, but it looks too much like Earthworm on the flavor guide and I am not going to make that same mistake again! I am not sure if I will ever muster the curiosity and courage to try those flavors.

So, what will I do with those nasty flavors left? I guess they could be used for a practical joke. Considering all the practical jokes played on me last week, you know what they say about payback...

Friday, March 03, 2006

What I learned in lab today

Today I learned that my improvisational mixture of methanol and dry ice (our research institute is currently having problems with their liquid nitrogen line) can and will cause burns to exposed skin.

Yes, I found this out the hard way...

Yes, my fingers will recover. But my typing for now is impaired.


I wasn't trying to expose my skin to it, just accidentally happened that way. And yes, I do know how cold this mixture is supposed be (after all, I was using it as a substitute for liquid nitrogen).

At least it is not as bad as when I got the liquid nitrogen burns all over my hands. Now that was painful and rather long lasting.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Tribbles do exist!

Tribbles really do exist. They do! They really do!

As a Star Trek fan, I am now in nirvana having found evidence for the existence of tribbles!

I found evidence for these wonderful creatures at Cute Overload (one of my links).

They may also be found at their original home site.

Catnip for the day

Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.
--Edgar Allan Poe
my pet! Locations of visitors to this page