The CentriVap is like a very large centrifuge, but with the interior controlled for temperature and air pressure. All sample tubes are put in with their lids open, and run in the centrifuge to completely dry out the contents. I use it in my next-to-last step of sequencing, when I pipet out the ethanol supernatant and then dry the DNA lump at the bottom, before resuspending it in formamide and putting it in the sequencer.
The reason this machine is cool, besides the fact that it makes cool hydraulic sucking noises, is the strobe gun. The samples inside the machine whirl around at 14,000 RPM, so you can't see them at all. In order to tell if your samples have dried out yet, you aim a gun with a strobe light at the glass lid. The strobe is calibrated so perfectly that it only blinks in perfect time with the 14,000 RPM rotation, making your whirling samples appear perfectly stationary.
Also my desk at the office is covered in dinosaurs.
I am doing...okay. I thought I chipped a tooth a few days ago, but it turned out to just be a layer of the Only Filling I Have Ever Had, which was an easy fix (and I got $25 off the dentist visit, because I referred naturalmother there years ago. I also got mountain_child's flu, but not as badly as he did. I mostly just felt sore and snotty and gross, but I think I'm at the end of it.
I got to go home last weekend, which felt great. My mom got me some new shoes...purple Asics, the first sneakers I've had since probably about 1997. I was supposed to have them for working out in the gym, since my gym shoes are the old, filthy, broken sneakers I wore to death in high school, mowed the lawn with, and used for haying and hauling river logs at Taylor Ranch in 2002. Then I hurt my heel, so I'm going to be wearing them all week. It feels weird to not be in my happy sandals, but also kind of nice. I have to wear closed-toe shoes in the lab, and wearing my hiking boots in there hasn't been much fun.
I am pretty busy. I have to submit my renewal of my Stillinger proposal next week so I get paid next year, and I also need to finish a grant proposal for some money from the American Society of Plant Taxonomists (I joined last year). Plus, I have a ton of reading to do. I discovered, to my dismay, that all my classes this semester are just one credit. That means I have to take 10 credits of 500 level classes next year, 5 per semester. It's not a huge deal, but I was supposed to get most of my classes out of the way the first year and leave the second year for my lab work and thesis. I think the fact that my hugely demanding Stats course last semester was only 400 level is the main reason I forgot this. Bugger.
I have no clue what I'll be doing this summer. I sort of assumed I would be working in the lab the whole time, which blows. However, I do need to collect in California, so I think my parents are going to arrange a trip to see the redwoods, which we tried in 1994, but never got past Seaside. Plus, the Payette National Forest wants to know if I'll cover the Williams Peak lookout for three weeks this June, since Lily would be coming late. O_o It would just be volunteer work (plus stipend), but great experience. I'll have to ask Steve, who is NOT doing well, health-wise.