the things i can’t describe

September 11th, 2016 § 6 comments § permalink

Some things I see on the boat, especially at night, are impossible to describe or photograph. Night plankton is one of those things. Here is my rudimentary attempt at showing what it is like to activate night plankton:

this is where it hurts

November 3rd, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

This morning I thought I was going to finally sift a rational diagnosis from the pile of symptoms that have dogged me for the past few years. I have been in this spot before, a half dozen times now – thisclose. Sitting in the waiting room, with my fattening medical file, waiting for my turn and reviewing in my mind how I can most efficiently and clearly recap everything I know about my own body.

An hour later I was in tears. Fat crocodile tears that dropped onto my shirt, leaving big splashes. Concerned looks from the office staff. Tissues offered and apologies applied.

I’m tired of this malarkey, and I’m sad for all the other people in the waiting rooms too. I often check with my husband to tell me if I’m being mean to office staff, but sometimes politeness is trumped by a need to make myself heard. I rely on him to not let me become too much of a jerk.

I’m tired. Of mishaps, mixups and filing errors. I’m tired of no eye contact and a laissez faire exam room policy. I’m tired of being handled as a suspicious person for speaking the word “chronic” next to the word “pain”. I’m tired of full spectrum drug tests without consent. I’m tired of mansplaining. I’m tired of making myself small so as not to offend. I’m tired of waiting my turn while the drug rep finishes their meeting. I’m tired of the money falling from my pockets.

I’m tired of knowing, KNOWING, from my own Dad and brother and my old PCP, Dr. Patel, what its like to have a doctor collaborate with you, and knowing – KNOWING! – that type of care doesn’t exist for so many people. Including me, today.

Yes, I checked about the Mayo Clinic, and no, they do not accept my insurance.

[sad-face emoji] <- too tired to insert

dark field

October 6th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

Dark field microscopy is one of my favorite imaging techniques (as a viewer). A single tiny barnacle larva, pollen grain, or diatom is there in stark neon detail, seemingly embedded into an infinite corner of deep space.


Recent images captured of the first “glowing” sea turtle during a night dive in the Solomon Islands reminded me of this technique. When I briefly saw those images scroll up my Facebook feed, for a moment I assumed I was looking at one of these intricate bits of dark field flotsam instead of a large, complex reptile in flight.

Biolumenecence is what the technique invokes, even for creatures not so lucky to glow on their own. The process merges conventional light microscopy with the same low-light photographic principals one might employ for night sky images, a few of my favorite things. Apparently you can get pretty nice results even using a student or even toy microscope.

I feel an experiment coming…

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