an image of a scientist

Posted by pamthenomad on Oct. 27, 07 | 0 COMMENTS

Today I spent what I hope was my last day in the clean lab. While it is not something I am sad to say goodbye to, it is the one place I am guaranteed to feel like a scientist. In contrast to my field work, research in the clean lab is exact.

Before entering the room, which is pressurized to prevent any air from entering the lab, little white booties are put on over my shoes. Then I stand on sticky mat to clean off the bottom of the booties. Upon entering the room, which of course requires the correct code to unlock the door, a white lab coat is put over my clothes. Then I am surrounded by the soft hum of the air filters and the fume hood with the black and white checker floor beneath my booted feet. While in the clean lab, I work with dangerous acids and use disposable equipment, all while wearing safety goggles and special gloves. I work in concentrations of parts per million and parts per billion.

If you were to walk into the lab today, there would be no question in your mind about what you saw—everything points to a scientist hard at work. It makes me smile. And then I laugh because I prefer to be the scientist jerry rigging equipment in the field covered with mud from head to toe. But if anyone ever asks, I can say that I was once the perfect image of a scientist.

some days i wish i had not gotten out of bed.

Posted by pamthenomad on Oct. 05, 07 | 1 COMMENT

Today
in the lab
Empty gas tanks
an inch of water
Annoying samplers

at starbuck’s
No black tea
Forgotten steamed milk
Empty half and half

the day’s end
hours of Deciphering
finds Bizarre data

Tomorrow is
a New day

i fear

Posted by pamthenomad on Aug. 04, 07 | 0 COMMENTS

I fear that I am well on my way to becoming an eccentric professor. Yesterday I stopped by the department office to see if they had some packing tape on hand. I told the secretaries that they would laugh when they found out why I wanted the tape, and they did. You se, I needed to fix the cover of my notebook as it was about to fall off. Not just any notebook, but my large “Bloc-Note”, a type of notebook that I buy in Benin and rater love. It is filled with random work and is rather the prefect work notebook. Not to mention, the last large “Bloc-Note” I brought back with me.

As I was fixing the cover of this beloved notebook, my pen came to mind. I like the “Pilot Dr. Grip Gel”, and Office Max is kind enough to special order my “Very Fine Blue” ink cartridges at no extra cost. People argue for the look of black ink, but black ink disappears on the endless photocopies and print outs with which I work. My students know that “accidentally” taking said pen would be disastrous to my day.

Notebooks from Benin. Pens with special order ink cartridges. To think that I do not intend to be a professor—at least not soon…

geology and electricity

Posted by pamthenomad on Feb. 07, 07 | 0 COMMENTS

Yesterday we visited a village to see if it was a good sight for drilling. Friends used to laugh at classes that I took classes that ended with ‘ology’ like geomorphology, but I was smiling at them as I looked at the land with Steve and talked with the locals looking for clues as to what we might find below the surface. Unfortunately things did not look good for drilling with our small rig. This was confirmed by the geologic map last night and at a meeting today where we looked for data of other wells drilled in the region. Hopefully we will have better luck at the village we visit tomorrow.

Electricity. This trip has had the most sporadic electricity of any thus far. Apparently Benin is not being so good about paying the electric bill to Ghana (we get a lot of electricity from them thanks to their hydroelectric dam). Last night the electricity cut out at about 2330 and did not come back on until 730. A breeze and I can sleep, but warm, humid air, and I dream of a cross breeze or a fan. As there is no chance of a cross breeze in my room here, I am dreaming of electricity tonight…

In other news, we head north tomorrow and the papya I had today was fantastic.

oral rehydration salts

Posted by pamthenomad on Jun. 27, 06 | 1 COMMENT

It is amazing how much information is absorbed over travels in which either I or others
have been sick. This knowledge has served me incredibly well, but I
believe that a little bit more knowledge would be beneficial. So far
this trip one individual had a GI tract bacterial infection, and another
apparently has an ulcer. Both have been amazed by the glories of oral
rehydration salts (ORS).

In case you have never heard of ORS, let me explain what they are as
they have literally saved millions of lives around the world. When
people (this is particularly true of children), get diarrhea or are
vomiting, they loose massive amounts of water and electrolytes. Even if
you are drinking lots, you still have to somehow get the electrolytes.
Far too often people have ended up in the hospital or even died because
of the dehydration associated with an illness as opposed to the actual
illness.

Think about giving someone Gatorade (minus the flavoring) on speed. If
you are hydrated, it tastes like you are drinking salt water. If you are
truly dehydrated, it tastes like plain water, or might even taste sweet.
It is amazing how wonderfully our bodies were created that they crave
the things we need. Yesterday one student started out her litre of ORS
thinking it tasted just like water; the final third she did not want to
put down because of how salty it tasted.

I do not know where to find ORS in the USA, but they can be found in
nearly any clinic or pharmacy for mere pennies overseas. I highly
suggest you keep a packet or two in your first aid kit as dehydration
can and does happen anywhere. As I ask the ladies here every few days in
the beginning: are you peeing clear?

 

27 June 2006

Upcoming Trainings

The first training will happen this Thursday thru Saturday, the second
training is the following Thursday thru Saturday. Each training is
hosted by one village, and another village sends four individuals to the
hosting village for the training. As the villages are within a 30 minute
drive, we travel to and from the villages. During the lunch breaks the
first I will also be doing some sampling that needs to happen, and
surveys will occur this Sunday afternoon at two villages as well. My
time will be full, but before it all I get the glories of market day on
Wednesday.

I am beginning to think that I should create a ‘to do’ list for bits of training that I would be useful in the future. Top of that list would be some nursing or medical training. I have all of the first aid you get from lifeguard training as well as the nice little pile of other information that is absorbed over travels in which either I or others have been sick. This knowledge has served me incredibly well, but I believe that a little bit more knowledge would be beneficial. So far this trip one individual had a GI tract bacterial infection, and another apparently has an ulcer. Both have been amazed by the glories of oral rehydration salts (ORS).

In case you have never heard of ORS, let me explain what they are as they have literally saved millions of lives around the world. When people (this is particularly true of children), get diarrhea or are vomiting, they loose massive amounts of water and electrolytes. Even if you are drinking lots, you still have to somehow get the electrolytes. Far too often people have ended up in the hospital or even died because of the dehydration associated with an illness as opposed to the actual illness.

Think about giving someone Gatorade (minus the flavoring) on speed. If you are hydrated, it tastes like you are drinking salt water. If you are truly dehydrated, it tastes like plain water, or might even taste sweet. It is amazing how wonderfully our bodies were created that they crave
the things we need. Yesterday one student started out her litre of ORS thinking it tasted just like water; the final third she did not want toput down because of how salty it tasted.

I do not know where to find ORS in the USA, but they can be found in nearly any clinic or pharmacy for mere pennies overseas. I highly suggest you keep a packet or two in your first aid kit as dehydration can and does happen anywhere. As I ask the ladies here every few days in the beginning: are you peeing clear?

for GPS nerds — 17 june

Posted by pamthenomad on Jun. 17, 06 | 0 COMMENTS

In response to the request for the coordinates of my location, here is location of the house that I live in while in village. (Although you cannot zoom up too close, you can check out Google Earth to see the location.)

N 7º 54.847’
E 2º 16.459’

There has been conversation going on amongst some friends as to how they have used GPSs. My current use speaks to the academic / research nature of my work. I take coordinates of every well I sample so that I can do spatial analysis on it, find it in the future, and then do analysis on what holes we need to fill in on the next sampling trip. As such, I have become quite adept at imagining the shape of Benin superimposed on top of a graph filled with little dots indicating where I sampled.

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