Archive for ‘Anything Goes Friday’

October 2, 2015

Constellations in my Borrelia

by Janie Jones

So, do any of you ever wonder what I do when I’m in my Lyme Studies lab?

I know, you have been dying to know!

Mostly I count Borrelia burgdorferi, the primary bacteria responsible for Lyme disease in the U.S.  There are other Borrelia species that also cause Lyme disease, but most are not found in my neck of the woods.

In general Borrelia are thin spiral shaped bacteria that swim about independently.  However, they do also form clusters of varying size.  I don’t know why for sure, and I don’t know if anyone else does either.  They might and I just haven’t stumbled on that information yet.

Anyway, I am responsible for a strain that has been genetically engineered to express a green fluorescent protein that makes it glow green.  This has many practical applications, it makes them much easier to see for sure, it also makes it easier to tell if the bacteria is alive as dead bacteria don’t make glowing green protein, they don’t make anything if they are dead.

So every week I gaze into a microscope and check for itsy-bitsy green lines on a field of black.  A healthy bacteria culture has millions or even billions of the little critters all swirling about doing their little bacteria thing.  Often there are so many it looks like the depths of outer space, if the stars, planets, galaxies and nebulae were all fluorescent green anyway.  To see them well it is best to turn off the lights in the lab to reduce the ambient light which can interfere with catching a glimpse of the faint green glow, so it really does often feel like star gazing through binoculars.  The other day it so strongly put me in mind of star gazing that I started looking for shapes in the “constellations” of bacteria.

Lo an behold I found Ursa Major!

Teddy bear Bb edit png

I think I just discovered the evolution of Bear-relia!

July 3, 2015

Channeling my inner Poe

by Janie Jones

And so it did happen one warm summer night a few days back that the sound of crunching gravel woke me from my slumber. As I lay quietly within my bed I listened intently to discern the source of this sound, and my sleep dulled senses scrambled to place it in a context understandable so I could return to my dreams without concern.

But there it was again, like boots on gravel, though not quite. And where would there be gravel but across the driveway? And yet this sound was too close to the window and the more I listened the less it resembled the sound made by any human foot I’d heard a fore.

And in my weary brain thoughts of beasts and man with nefarious intent did spring, and, with the peace of slumber no longer possible, I did reach for my spectacles and torch to identify this intruder and settle the doubt within my breast. To the open window I crept, a thought of Poe and his raven demon on my mind:

Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
`Surely,’ said I, `surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore –
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; –
‘Tis the wind and nothing more!’

But nothing appeared to my bleary wondering eyes, so the window I tightly shut and returned to my slumber.

When morning came and the light of day banished nightmares far away, I once again heard a rustling of gravel directly outside my window. Now fully awake and calm of mind, it was clear that sound was no foot of man or bear or raccoon. So to the window once again I moved and lifted up the curtain. Much to my surprise I found myself face to face with nothing nevermore frightening that this:

star nosed mole

Twas a star-nosed mole who had fallen into the window well, which apparently contained a healthy layer of gravel.  It was shifting a significant amount of gravel, but could not escape the metal walls of the window well.

So, I went out and caught the little critter and relocated him to the wilderness behind the garage, where there was a distinct lack of gavel filled window wells.  I have to say, holding one in your hands gives you a serious appreciation for these fascinating subterranean mammals.

June 19, 2015

Shop girl

by Janie Jones

The spud spent the last 2 weeks at the farm with Leif.  He says she’s been a big help taking care of chickens, rabbits, dogs and the cat.  She’s also become his shop monkey helping with his blacksmithing jobs.


You go girl!  I’m actually quite proud.

June 12, 2015

Turtle soup

by Janie Jones

Leif and the spud heard Vera barking yesterday, and upon going over to see what was up they found her trotting along with a turtle in her mouth.  Apparently she thought it was a self propelling Frisbee.  Or maybe she thought it would make a good lunch if she could just figure out how to chew through the packaging.

The petrified turtle was rescued and released into the bog, but not before being tortured with a quick pic:


Why is it when you tell smalls to smile they grimace like they can’t decide if they are about to laugh or cry?

May 22, 2015

You’ve probably heard this one before…

by Janie Jones

Because it’s been a while since I regaled you all with a shaggy dog story.  And because I just bought my 3rd vacuum this year.

A little old lady, down on her luck, answered a knock on the door one day to be confronted by a well-dressed young man carrying a vacuum cleaner.

‘Good morning, Ma’am,’ said the young man. ‘If I could take a couple minutes of your time, I would like to demonstrate the very latest in high-powered vacuum cleaners.’

‘A door to door salesman!  I didn’t know you existed anymore.  Well, don’t waste your time here, Son.  You don’t have anything that could interest me.  I’m broke and haven’t got any money!’ said the lady said brusquely.

‘But if I could just-‘  The young man began.

‘Go away!’ And she proceeded to close the door.

Quick as a flash, the young man wedged his foot in the door and pushed it wide open. ‘Now, now.  Don’t be too hasty,’ he commanded. ‘You have to see my free demonstration.’ And with that, he tossed a bucket of manure onto her hallway carpet.

‘What do you think you are doing!’  The lady yelled, horrified.

The young man flashed a charming smile and said, ‘I’m about to prove to you that this vacuum cleaner is worth every penny.  It features 12 different high suction attachments for hard to reach areas and a retractable 30 foot cord for vacuuming convenience.   Designed with a easy to clean cannister, you will never need to by vacuum cleaner bags.  Also, it has a long lasting HEPA filter which will remove allergens and dust from your air.  It has received top Energy Star ratings, so it will actually save you money on your electricity bill.  But that’s not all!  Not only does it have the highest powered suction available on the market, it is guaranteed for life to never loose it’s suction power!  And if it doesn’t remove all of this manure from your carpet, Madam, I will eat whatever it leaves behind.’

The lady frowned and said, ‘I see.  Well let me ask you one question first.’

‘Certainly!’ said the confident young man.

‘Do you prefer a spoon or a fork?’

The young man was taken aback, ‘What do you mean?’

‘I mean,’ the lady said, now smiling, ‘Do you prefer to eat with a spoon or a fork, because they cut off my electricity this morning.’

May 8, 2015

Random animal pix

by Janie Jones

Sleepy Rupert


Baby bunny


Another baby bunny


April 3, 2015

Guess it’s going to be a Howie day

by Janie Jones



So, to make a simple tale convoluted, when I bought my “smart” TV, it came with some streaming links to things like Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu.  Stuff I recognized.  But it also came with a link to iHeartRadio.

Well in my enthusiasm for my new TV I tried out the iHeartRadio and found the Coffee Shop Radio station.  I liked it.  I found out that I can listen from my little netbook that I take to school every day, too.  So, I’ll put it on low volume while I’m at work measuring seeds; it’s great soft background noise while I’m doing mindless work and it won’t offend anyone else in the lab who happens to not have their own headphones on (I tried headphones, but I do have to move around a lot and so the cord kept getting in the way).

As it would happen, it plays the song, Collide, by Howie Day, quite often.  I find it very catchy, and I rather like it so it’s no hardship.  But, eventually I decided I had to know what Howie was actually saying as the first verse and the chorus was about all I could decipher.  Now I can’t get the tune out of my head.

One might say, my lab was quiet, you know.  It’s made a first impression and I find I’m scared to know it’s always on my mind.  Although not all the song words rhyme.  Out of the doubt that filled my mind, I some how find, Howie Day and I collide.


-Song by Howie Day

The dawn is breaking
A light shining through
You’re barely waking
And I’m tangled up in you

But I’m open, you’re closed
Where I follow, you’ll go
I worry I won’t see your face
Light up again

Even the best fall down sometimes
Even the wrong words seem to rhyme
Out of the doubt that fills my mind
I somehow find, you and I collide

I’m quiet, you know
You make a first impression
I’ve found I’m scared to know
I’m always on your mind

Even the best fall down sometimes
Even the stars refuse to shine
Out of the back you fall in time
I somehow find, you and I collide

Don’t stop here
I’ve lost my place
I’m close behind
Even the best fall down sometimes
Even the wrong words seem to rhyme
Out of the doubt that fills your mind
You finally find, you and I collide

Don’t know the song I’m talking about?  Check out Howie on YouTube.