Lots Of Enjoyable And Interesting Experiments Today

Song: “Skylab” by The Monks

Mood: 6.5

Nightmares: 3+

This is going to be a pretty short post because I’m already late starting this post and I don’t want to be up midnight.

I didn’t sleep well again last night due to nightmares and waking up worrying about things. I’m still unable to get back to sleep after J leaves for work, too, and that doesn’t help either. No panic attacks last night, and I was able to deal with everything without getting out of bed – both good things. I always feel terrible if I move around or make noise and wake J up.

So I’m beat again today.

My exercises didn’t work out at all today. I didn’t drift off or anything, but my mind kept switching what it was worrying about, so even during the worry part of my exercises, I was so all over the place I didn’t get anything constructive done. It was like someone kept spinning the wheel from Wheel of Fortune, but instead of dollar value and bankrupt sections printed on the board, things that I worry or feel guilty about are printed on the wheel. RATATATATATATA-TA-TA…TA. Time to worry about whether the screen in the kitchen window is secured and nothing’s coming in. RATATATATATATA-TA-TA…TA. How is the old clock in the living room doing? RATATATATATATA-TA-TA…TA. Should you apologize to your mom for breaking her heirloom plant sprayer? RATATATATATATA-TA-TA…TA. Have I given J enough hugs lately? RATATATATATATA-TA-TA…TA. Is the gate closed?

You get the idea.

FA came over this afternoon and brought a whole box full of goodies. Just before she arrived, I took a PRN just to ease the flop sweat and jitters a bit.

We had been talking about making a microtome. FA took the lead on it and ordered some micrometers from the hardware store. They came in yesterday and, in short order, she had a prototype made out of the micrometer, a spare screw, and some creative use of the plastic barrel from a pen. We ate lunch (delicious, delicious burritos) and then got sorted and started.

We put tape on the bottom of the pen barrel, set it tape-side down, put a sample into the centre of it, and filled the barrel with liquid wax from a candle. Then we put it in the freezer to firm up. After it had sat for a little while, we took it out of the freezer, screwed it to the micrometer, and gave it a try. Here’s how it looked:

Microtome PrototypeNotice the thin cylinder of wax protruding from the plastic? It’s only about a millimetre high but it’s there!

Because I wasn’t able to dry the samples first (don’t have any ethanol), they still had a lot of water left in them, which kept the wax out and made it difficult to get thin slices. I think, though, that I managed to get a slice that only had about two layers of cells, and that is much thinner than I can do it by hand. With some more thinking, I really think this will work (and work well). Nice job, FA!

FA also brought along material to make diffusing and polarizing filters for the microscope. I think I can get a somewhat better depth of focus with the diffusing filter, but putting a polarizing filter below the sample and another one at 90 degrees to it above the sample, something very interesting happens. With only the polarizing filter below the stage, the sample looks like this:

Dandelion Cells - Brightfield… but with the second one above the sample at 90 degrees, the sample looks like this:

Dandelion Cells - PolarizedAll of those little “spears” are calcium oxalate crystals. They get everywhere and stick into everything. But they look so cool lit up like that!

After that, we tried the old cheek cells with methylene blue experiment and it turned out pretty well too:

Cheek Cells w/ Methylene BlueThen we prepared a sample of the petiole from a Pothos plant (looks just like a Philodendron) and tried to get a thin slice of that. We ran into the same problems with the water again, but there aren’t many layers here, and the chloroplasts are very visible:

Microtome Test - Pothos PlantThat was by far the thinnest slice of material I’ve ever been able to get, AND that’s still with a squishy, watery sample being cut by a scalpel. I am pretty sure there is a lot of gains to find with the prototype and method.

And then I grabbed a few strands of algae and we put it between the polarizing filters:

Algae Cells - Polarized Light (100x)The cell walls light right up! At least, I think it’s the cell walls. Looks thick enough to be.

We were so busy that I kind of lost track of the time and before I knew it, FA had to hit the road. I had a very good time hanging out with her. She always has really neat ideas and can engineer a solution to pretty much any problem. Plus, the conversation is always great – lots of good stories and tidbits and laughs!

After FA left, I spent some time cleaning up and then checked my texts and email. I didn’t send out my daily funny picture text to anyone today but I didn’t hear from anyone, either, so they must all be off doing their own thing. That’s cool – just because I send out a text doesn’t mean I expect one back. I don’t always text back as soon as I receive one (and sometimes I don’t text back at all).

J got home a little while later and we hung out and talked about our days, then had a real easy supper (yogurt and granola). Neither of us were really up to thinking about what kind of fancy meal to have. And yogurt is good eats, too!

This evening, I played a couple more rounds of Fortnite. That fellow I was teaming up with was online but our games never ended up meeting up. I played the 50-vs-50 battle royale and did not too bad. Knocked a couple of enemies over and killed three today? Yeah, I think it was three. I’m also jumping out of the battle bus pretty early to get to places with equipment and weapons that nobody else stops at. The downside to that, though, is that there’s not much time to dawdle before the storm closes in and kills. The storm got me three times today, which is a little embarrassing but that’s okay. Live and learn.

Then, J and I went downstairs to watch another episode of Boston Legal. I really treasure the time we spend together, leaning against each other and watching shows or movies. Sometimes we won’t talk much, sometimes we’ll try to guess what’s going to happen or make fun of the show, while other times we talk about stuff completely unrelated to what we’re watching. It’s my favourite part of the day, hands down.

No Dr W appointment tomorrow. FA also brought over some nuts that fit the quadcopter motor so I may see if I can get that flying (and crashing) again. I’d also like to get out to the strip mall and into the grocery store to buy something. But I think there’s more microscope time in my near future.

But first I would really like a good night’s sleep.

Stay safe.

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