A brief update, and reminder that I’m a nerd

Episode 3 of Stir-Fried Stochasticity should be recorded and posted soon. I had intended to already have it done, but there have been…delays.

Most recently, I had to drop everything to take care of the Minister of Chew Toys here at the Asylum for the Sufficiently Nerdy. Cornelia (our dog) came down with her yearly sudden, extremely messy and foul diarrhea problem. After getting everything cleaned up, and a minimally-sleepful night of getting up every few hours to let the dog out to emit foul-smelling material and disgusting noises, I got her to the vet this morning and came home with the usual prescription for Metronidazole and special food. If previous years are any indication, the symptoms should be over by tomorrow.

But, even as I cleaned up the foul mess that greeted me when I got home, I found myself wondering if the slimy material was being produced by the dog or by whatever bug was causing the problem. (Despite Episode 2 of Stir-Fried Stochasticity, I did NOT consider whether it could be turned into a food additive. Even I have my limits…) And, despite not wanting to be anywhere near the mess I was cleaning up, I found myself wishing I had a microscope.

And today, after the veterinarian took a look at a sample under the microscope (and let me look, too), and tentatively suggested infection by a Clostridium species, I found myself wondering if I could culture it, obtain a phage that infects the bacteria, generate and purify a huge sample of the phage, and then save it for next year and try to treat next year’s infection with it. And then I thought “Hey, if I also culture up the bacteria to produce a lot of that slimy stuff and purify it, I could make phage-containing bio-boogers (go back and listen to Episode 2 if you don’t know what I mean), which might be more effective!” on the assumption that the bacteria in question might also secrete enzymes to break down the slime that I’m assuming it produces, thus releasing the phage particles around the active bacteria…

And then I realized that if I had the equipment, supplies, and time right now (and was willing to deal with regulatory hassles involved in playing with Potentially Pathogenic Prokaryotes), I would probably actually follow through and try it…though I’d probably stop short of actually testing the treatment on my dog without some sort of approval and supervision by a real veterinarian. Even now I’m resisting a slight urge to save a small dried “sample” (which would be full of long-lasting spores that I would probably be able to culture later). Don’t worry, it’s not hard to resist…the point is just that the temptation is actually there.

I still insist I have very little interest in medical microbiology. Really.

At least I know that between potential digestive-tract phage therapy and probiotics, if we end up having to move back to where we came from for financial reasons, I might at least find a place for some graduate work in the “poop group” (sic) at my previous college institution if nothing else.

Meanwhile – Episode 3 is coming, honest! It’s a rather small but dense paper that explains how it’s hard to monitor the tectonic activity in the Los Angeles area because Los Angeles sucks. I’m hoping to get that recorded this weekend, along with the other mass of stuff I need to do.

Any words of encouragement and/or threats (or other useful or allegedly witty comments) may be posted below in the meantime.

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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.

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