I’m currently sitting dripping wet in the office, as today I got to bike in heavy rain. I managed to stay mostly dry, but unfortunately, my pants got the brunt of it.
Last week I helped Abby prepare new media for planting. What that entails is basically following a recipe for plant jello. Water, nutrients, and a gelling substance are the most important ingredients. After mixing and heating it, we poured it into tubes and used an autoclave to heat and sterilize them. A few hours later they would set and be ready for planting. Yesterday we went and collected the plants to be used. Abby calls this step “Initiation”, and honestly, it’s easy to see why. To collect samples, we clipped off healthy, budding branches and stripped them of all leaves, putting them in marked plastic bags. The outsides of the bags were coated in Lysol and filled with dish soap and water to clean. After washing out the soap, the twigs were scrubbed with Lysol and a toothbrush, before being cut into smaller pieces and mixed for 10 minutes in bleach and soap. Finally, they were soaked in the sterile water we had run through the autoclave, before being carefully placed in media. I believe Abby that they’ll be fine and grow, but the process was so brutal it’s hard to imagine them eventually flourishing. Assuming the rain hasn’t made me too dirty to enter the lab, I’ll be helping with setting the plants in media today.
Last week I was working on my experiment when disaster struck. I decided to move my plants to a quieter, less crowded greenhouse. With permission from Abby to use her’s, I got my co-worker Jake to help me roll it through the aisles. It made it to the first intersection before the stand collapsed entirely. Jake managed to keep it from crushing the plants (and his leg), but one was thrown clear and the stand was kindling. We managed to get it up on a wheelbarrow and into a temporary spot in the greenhouse, but it was at a severe tilt and pretty precarious. 2 plants died, and one is sick from the stress. I only have a few weeks left to run my procedure so this could be a huge problem. I’ve been running damage control, and we’ve replaced the dead saplings as well as thrown together a new stand (thanks again, Jake!). Everything has been rebuilt with a camera mount installed, so I should be able to start in the next day or so. In the meantime, I need to update my lab journal and start taking records and measurements, as well as figuring out how to work the camera and what parameters I’ll be working with.
In other news, we’ve also hit a major snag in the construction of the large aeroponics chamber. It turns out the container empty weighs nearly a ton, so we can’t budge it with forklifts. Jake has commisioned a local construction company to rig us some sort of cart so we can wheel it, but until all the parts come in the whole operation has been grinding to a halt. We have all of the internal valves and systems set up and checked, so all there’s left to do is actually install everything. With that being said, it seems like everyone here is running out of things to do left and right. I know 3 other interns who have completed everything they were assigned with about a month still to go. While it’s nice to know we’ve been helpful, the workday is quickly shifting into the game “how I can seem to be busy”. Luckily for me, Abby always has something to do, so I don’t have to worry about making the time creep by through sweeping and cleaning rooms that are already pristine.
This weekend Jake’s family invited Sarah and me to their cabin that’s only 30 minutes from Niagara Falls. At the last second, Sarah decided not to go, but I decided to go on anyway. Their cabin was cute and nestled by Lake Ontario. Upon getting there, I helped them with a bit of repair and some landscaping. They’re cleaning up a cliff face down to the water, and after removing bristle bushes and saplings seeded it and covered it in burlap to prevent erosion. My job was to basically grapple/slide down the cliff and staple the burlap into the soil. With that done, there was a large enough break in the rainy and cold weather to go see the Falls. It was a beautiful area, and the water rushing by at nearly 30 mph was a bit unsettling. We walked around and I got some nice pictures, as well as a few souvenirs for back home. When I got back to Geneva, I must have gained a pound or two from the amount of food over the weekend, but I still worked myself up a nice dinner after splurging on some steak at the store.
Lately, I’ve been putting out seed for the birds and critters around our apartment. We’ve gotten quite a collection of visitors every day, but last night I learned my lesson about leaving it out after dark when a skunk loitered outside my window for a few hours. Sarah also learned how much I love succulents, and picked up a gorgeous hanging basket at the store. I doubt I’ll be able to bring it home, but it’s so nice I might have to try anyway. We’ve been working on a 500 piece puzzle after work, and have it getting pretty close to completion. Beyond that though, I honestly just love to lay down after work. The other night I was asleep by 8 and slept for almost 11 hours. Between the biking and occasional hard days outside, I’m getting pretty fit, but also am usually pretty drained. In the next few weeks Jake, Sarah, and another friend of mine called Cameron plan on scheduling a trip to Watkins Glen for a hike, and both Cameron and I still want to try and make it down to the city at some point. Last week our group went and saw The Incredibles 2, and we usually meet up for scary movies on the weekends.
With everything summed up, I’m off to work in the lab sticking more plants in media, and hopefully getting some more work in on my camera setup. I just hope the rain will stop before I have to ride home.