Posts Tagged ‘Styrafoam’

The Gift – A Fiddler Crab Extra!! Meet the Babies!

March 2, 2008

fiddler-crab-under-100x-magnification.jpg

Okay. You’re wondering what in God’s name this thing is. Well, it’s one of the crab babies, at least my rough sketch rendition of one. (If  you want to see real photos of the zoeae and later larval stages of fiddler crabs, click here ).

It’s the best I can do. I’m spoiled because I am used to working in labs with good equipment.

In the lab I would have put an aliquot of liquid from the aquarium in a test tube, spun it down in the centrifuge, poured off the supernatant, and made a slide out of the sediment, which would be concentrated crab larvae, instead of chasing one unlucky soul all around the microscope slide trying to catch him long enough to see him.

I would have had nice stains to chose from to make the larvae show up better. Today I had McCormick’s yellow food coloring from Harris Teeter.

I would have had a nice Zeiss microscope with oil immersion lenses and fine optics. Instead, I have a Milben kids’ microscope, circa 1965, in a wooden case, with an EverReady 5 volt flashlight shining in the mirror to light the stage. (And if you want a kick, click here to see a similar setup to my microscope and wooden case. It even has the dissecting kit tool indentations in the styrafoam. I had those dissecting tools a long time ago. It says something when you search Google for Milben microscope and it’s listed under “antique sites.”)

I would have had a nice Zeiss microscope with a camera attached to photograph what I saw. Instead, I had to sketch it. I don’t have one of those neat electronic tablets to draw with. All I had is the “pencil” tool on my son’s Photoshop program that I barely know how to use.

So, I know, stop whining. I’m not in the lab anymore. Given all this, I still managed to catch one crab baby, watch him through my very “SUB-OPTIMAL” microscope, in food coloring stain, and draw you a WAY suboptimal sketch.

But still, what the sketch shows is the head part on the right, with two little “?claws” moving back and forth rapidly. It stretches out with the tail on the left. We could even see “material” moving through the crab from the head, out the tail. Yes, out the tail. My husband caught that one. So I guess we can assume the crab baby has been eating the food I served. 🙂

In any event, minus all the fancy equipment, it’s the best I can give you, but still it’s something. I should note that this was a 100x magnification.

We have noted that Days 1 and 2 there was a fair reduction in numbers of larvae and my husband noted the blackened area that looked like a mass murder in one corner of the tank deep down in the gravel where many babies perished. Still, there are LOTS of babies swimming in the tank AND they are bigger than yesterday. If you hold a magnifying glass up to the tank, you can see tiny tails. So some are thriving after all.

If many many thrive, at least the guys at Fish Pros said they’d be happy to buy some from me for cash or store credit. That would be great. I’m always in need of new supplies. 🙂

Salinity is almost “ocean” at 1.017. Should reach 1.020 later today.

Anyway, now you’ve “sort of” met the babies.

….about that centrifuge – it occurred to me I could take a small, capped plastic tube and tie a rope around it and spin it around my head. Then I thought, maybe even better – tape the tube to the inside of my washing machine and run it on the spin cycle. But leave it to my engineer husband: find a way to attached two capped tubes on a rod opposite each other, connect them to a power drill, and turn the drill on….THAT’S the best RPMs for the money. 🙂

The Post – Gab to Go

February 4, 2008

Given it’s Monday, you expect to see someone sitting at their desk with a coffee cup sipping tentatively before plunging into whatever awaits. So it’s not a surprise that I have this Styrofoam cup on my desk. The odd thing is it sits next to my regular ceramic mug, which is what’s actually holding my caffeinated drink of choice – tea. So why the Styrofoam cup?

Ah, a throw-back to yesterday’s post – start this one with a question, right? Well, questions are the order of the day, and that’s exactly the point with this Styrofoam cup. It doesn’t contain caffeine. It’s loaded with . . . questions. No it’s not some mystical beverage, or some liquid whose swirls you gaze into or whose curls of steam you study for the secret of life. It’s a game. And to a writer, it’s like a playground.

Questions are the staple of a writer’s life. It doesn’t matter if it’s nonfiction, essays, or fiction, you write to answer questions. Whether it’s what killed the dinosaurs, why we should care, or a story about bringing them back to life in a doomed amusement park, all three start from a question. No questions, nothing to contemplate, and hence nothing to write.

A question here: In an era of You Tube, My Space, video games and Instant Messaging, how do you cultivate a love for, and the ability to confront questions? No this isn’t another essay bemoaning all of this technology in our kids’ lives. Technology is here to stay and frankly, a lot of it is great. Just see the effect on homebound elderly who’ve embraced email and the web and thus feel connected not isolated. And let’s be honest, even adults are glued to all of the above, not just teens. It’s simply a realization that unless the power goes out, everyone is plugged into something electronic (like this blog?) and when is there time to sit across the table from someone, ask a question, and ponder an answer?

One family confronted this on a vacation trip. They realized each was plugged into their own electronic device, and hence, their own world. Fine up to a point. But there was no conversation. No connection. Now I’m not dissing this completely because hours of several people jammed together in a closet on wheels can get old. Each having their own space for a little while can be a relief. However, I did grow up in an era of “See how many different states’ license plates you could find” or “look for whatever object came up next on a list” as you traveled down the highway. Like it or not, you interacted. So I can understand this family’s concern.

They came up with a simple yet elegant solution. They came up with a list of questions, things like: “What is something about you that would surprise most people?” “What word do you really dislike?” “What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?” Simple questions. Yet even one person’s answer could lead to not only an extended conversation, but a newfound appreciation for people you reside with and ordinarily take for granted. We often find talking to “new people” exhilarating because it’s something new and different. Yet how many new and different things are within the very people sitting next to us that we may have grown bored with?

The family went ahead and created a product – a bunch of question cards in a Styrofoam coffee cup – and have recently started to market it. It’s called “Gab to Go.” It started locally and is beginning to spread as people realize what a gift asking a question can be.

For myself, I could probably take each question and write at least one post on it, maybe more, depending on how I slanted it. The possibilities, if not infinite, are pretty extensive. In fact, I may use a question/essay approach on a regular basis in future entries. For now, I revel in the new worlds and travels never imagined, with people very close to me, all because somebody thought to ask a question.

If you’re interested in learning more about the how and why behind this couple’s game, and news articles on their idea, check out “Gab to Go.”