About this blog

(I’ve only got a couple more days before the start of “Just Science” week, so if I’m going to get this post up, I’d better get to it…)

Now that I’ve briefly explained who I am, here’s the bit about this blog itself.

My intended audience:
Anyone who’s interested. Okay, that’s kind of a cop-out. Essentially, I’m aiming at anyone who’s sufficiently scientifically-minded to be interested. I’m kind of assuming that if and when I’ve got enough readers to consider a “core audience”, it’ll be made up largely of interested science students, people who are inclined to read magazines like “Scientific American” or “Discover”, and just generally reasonably intelligent people with an interest in scientific matters, particularly but not only microbiology. I’m hoping that I’ll reach the point of being able to write so as to be interesting to some scientific professionals but still comprehensible to people without much of a scientific or technical background. This blog is, in part, an exercise in “public access to scientific information”, so if I write anything badly or fail to explain something, please comment and let me know.

How it works:
It’s easy: I think of something that I find interesting and that I think someone else might also find interesting, and I post something about it here. I expect to focus primarily on microbiology-related science, but a wide variety of topics might come up. I have a particular fondness for subjects that I think are underappreciated or ignored in other venues. Comments on whether or not things I bring up are interesting or boring will help guide the topics. I’ll tend to focus more on informal and hopefully pleasant to read style rather than a dry but detailed technical discussion – though wherever possible I’ll include links to that kind of information for anyone who’s interested (or perhaps thinks I’ve gotten it wrong.).
I also try to make the postings somewhat interactive – at the very least, I try to add extra information, explanations, and comments wherever I think they might be helpful or just entertaining. If you see words or phrases with thick dotted underlining, you should be able to “hover” your mouse cursor over it and get a little bit more information. I generally try to do the same with links and pictures. Maybe once in a while I’ll get bored and plant an Easter Egg or two.
Comments are welcome and encouraged, other than “spam”. What little information you’re required to give in order to comment is entirely to discourage spammers.

Really, this is mainly for personal gratification – I like to write. I like science. I’d like to share this interest, and I think scientific information would be interesting to many more people if more of it was presented in an interesting and accessible manner without making it seem otherworldly or dumbing it down to the point of uselessness. This blog is a cheap and easy way to get practice.
It’s also a cheap and easy way to get free learning for myself – I find trying to explain something helps me recognize when I don’t know something as well as I thought, helps me understand things better, and occasionally is a handy way to find out when something that I think I know is wrong.

Addendum: Yes, my Mom reads my blog. No, she does not wear combat boots. No, she does not dress me funny.

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The Author is (currently) an autodidactic student of Industrial and Environmental microbiology, who is sick of people assuming all microbiology should be medical in nature, and who would really like to be allowed to go to graduate school one of these days now that he's finished his BS in Microbiology (with a bonus AS in Chemistry). He also enjoys exploring the Big Room (the one with the really high blue ceiling and big light that tracks from one side to the other every day) and looking at its contents from unusual mental angles.

5 thoughts on “About this blog”

  1. I nearly wrote “do I look like Mom to you” before I saw the Easter Egg…and decided I really didn’t want to say that, because I realized that the older I get, the more I really DO look like Mom… (Not that that’s a bad thing, mind you.)

    However, while I’m here, I meant to ask you if you still had access to the equipment necessary to do an analysis of what’s in a water sample. There’s something in our pipes that makes your brother-in-law sick when he uses the tap water to make his coffee, cook his food, etc (we have a suspicion it’s old pipes that need to be replaced, and our landlady has been notified, but we’ve since switched to store-bought filtered water for coffee/tea/food making purposes). I’m just curious if you’re interested in analyzing a sample of our tap water to see if you can find what’s doing it (aside from the fact that we’re in California). If nothing else, it would provide you with the opportunity to play with all kinds of bacteria, I’m sure, as well as really gross out your sister by telling her what’s in her tap water at the same time.

    If you’re NOT interested, don’t worry, I just figured this sort of thing would be up your alley.

  2. Hmmm – Honestly, I’d guess it’s more likely to be something chemical rather than biological. If it is, you might be able to find a cheap “home water quality testing kit” of some kind at a hardware store.

    I think most of the common pathogens and the toxins most of them make are destroyed by the amount of heat it takes to cook food or make coffee. (And in any case, if it was some kind of organism I’d think it’d be making you and your cats sick, too…)

    Does filtering the tap water with a good filter help?
    Too bad the BATF is compelled by old prohibition-era laws to go nuts, otherwise I’d suggest building a little distillation apparatus and distilling the tapwater…

  3. Yeah, it doesn’t make me sick (though out of what little sense of self-preservation I have, I don’t use the tap water for anything I consume either, anymore), and the cats…well, cats are little puking machines anyway, what with hairballs, but they certainly aren’t throwing up more than the average cat (well, except for Shoki, but that’s because she’s got long fur and refuses to let me brush her).

    I think I saw one of those tests in the hardware store today when I went for a lock (you can read the whole, sad story once I post it, and laugh at me). I may have to get one and see. Would rust count as “something chemical”? Our pipes ARE pretty old…

  4. You know, another possibility that comes to mind is just that you might have really “hard” water, with a lot of dissolved minerals (usually magnesium and calcium minerals) in it. That often seems to make the water taste kind of bitter. If you get bored one day, you could take some baking soda, dissolve as much of it as you can in some distilled water, then mix some of that with a big glass of tap water and see if you get stuff settling out on the bottom (e.g. calcium and/or magnesium carbonates). Kind of depends on just how hard the water is, I supposed. Or – you could cheat and just get a “water hardness” test thing for probably a few bucks at a hardware or pet (aquarium) store…

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