Day 59: Biotechnology and the Airplane

I mentioned there were some busy days coming… here’s one. Today I’m heading to Southern California for some serious work on a few fun projects.

Dad is away in Washington D.C. in meetings with BARDA about data analysis, so Mom picks me up at the Burbank airport. She says “You can borrow dad’s car, but first I’ve got a job for you.”

Mom runs a few biotechnology labs in Pasadena. Startup companies use the labs as an incubator in their early stages, and students use them as a place to learn valuable skills and get practical experience working with the startup companies. It’s a lot of work, but a great mix of fun and interesting people.

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Mom and Diane in the lab, telling stories again.

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Here’s the job she’s got for me: There’s a computer in the lab which needs repair. That’s how I earn my keep when I visit my folks. (In this case, it looks like the computer is done for, but we’ll get the data off safely, thanks to an idea of Dad’s.)

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After lunch with Mom at Lucky Baldwin’s, I head to my brother’s place.

You might remember last time I was here, we worked on the electronics for his airplane. He’s working today and tomorrow, so I’m on my own.

…so I’m going to build something to make the avionics work easier.

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Metal parts adapted from… what?

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They go together easily enough, but some mods from my original plan are still necessary.
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It’s sort of a heavy-duty frame for working with the plane’s electronic systems. The height and tilt are adjustable, and the whole back is open for easy access to everything. There’s even an attachment point for the GPS antenna.
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…and hooray, the cheasel is born. (It needed a name, right? His nickname for me is “Doch” so doch-easel = cheasel.) When he gets home it’s going to look like elves have been busy in his workshop.

Tomorrow: Crazy fun with a 44,000-pound optical instrument.

Random assertion: To keep your lunch safe in the bio-lab fridge, just write “ex/38463-36” on it. No one will dare eat it.

Steganographic data: 1848/1.4

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Published in: on July 16, 2008 at 10:04 am  Comments (3)  
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Day 22: They Started It, Really

My parents arrive today.

Dad is teaching a statistical analysis in the laboratory workshop at a local biotechnology center next week, so they’re using our place as a B&B and base of operations. I need to stop by the Ferry building to pick up some special ingredients so my muse and I can make dinner for them.

First things first, time to stop to hang with acrobats for a few hours.


Alan, E-Beth and Kendra are a blast to fly with.


Michael is doing some setup for the upcoming shows.

I wasn’t able to find everything I was looking for at the Ferry Building, so we had to improvise a bit, but it turned out really well. Dinner at home:

  • A tasty Burrata (my muse’s idea, and a good one), with tomato, basil and olive oil
  • Steamed clams in a spicy wine sauce
  • Seared grouper and asparagus
  • Gelato, macaroons and a blueberry tart
  • Wine we brought back from Ingrid’s vineyard

Over dessert, we tell them about Secret Plan 170, which involves them (and will likely require an armed escort, but just for a few days). They’re up for it. In fact, they can’t wait.

Random assertion: If you enjoy cooking and traveling with your parents, they have surely done their job well.

Steganographic data: 1864/2.2

Published in: on June 8, 2008 at 9:55 am  Leave a Comment  
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