Friday, August 07, 2009

Dante, Newman, cupcakes and lame sea urchins

Someone please send me on a 40-hour road trip. :) I just got my free download of Dante's Divine Comedy, a professionally done audiobook. (I love don't get me wrong... but it's wonderful to have a performer who really knows how to read out loud.) It's only available in the month of August, so if you want it, get over there and use the code AUG2009 at checkout to get it free.

And then I was reminded by a friendly email from EWTN that many of their programs are on the site for downloading, and what should they be featuring this month but a long series by Fr. McCloskey about my buddy, the Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman. You can search for that or anything else you please, right here.

So my iPod's stuffed with new stuff. And now, to share a further joy of which few of you will be able to take advantage, I have discovered a cupcake place very near work and can testify that though the vanilla flavor was disappointingly bland, the lemon coconut was VERY good.

Something that's not giving me joy: at work I've been trying to inject the eggs of lytechinus variegatus, a different species of sea urchin than our usual strongylocentrotus purpuratus, and though they're supposed to be very similar, I had great difficulty. First they would hardly spawn-- I dissected them to verify that their gonads were empty as can be. When we finally got both a male and a female to spawn and fertilized the eggs, I ran into a much worse problem. Say you've got a wad of chewed gum in a closed car on a hot day-- it's really soft and sticky, right? Now say you need to stick a needle right into the center of this wad in order to inject it with a liquid solution. (Just say.) You won't be able to because the gum just gives and gives until your needle's practically poking out the other side, but there's never a time when it's inside the gum. Make sense? Well, that's what the lytechinus eggs were like. You need a bit of stiffness in the membrane and lytechinus didn't have it. Almost impossible to inject. Yet I know it's been done, so I'll try to troubleshoot it today... ought to be interesting. :)

Oh, something else that did give me joy-- I had to drive down to our marine lab that's right on the beach in Corona del Mar in order to pick up the lytechinus urchins. So yesterday morning I found myself, not in a basement lab in Pasadena, but on the beach inhaling a delicious sea breeze on company time. Ahhhh.

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