Category Archives: I Work Hard for the Money

My Awe-mazing Life, pt.4 – Parenthood

When you see you children conceived, developed in utero and then born thru this amazing process, it doesn’t make you wonder about the mind behind such a design?

101003205930_1_900x600.jpgI think I’ve said this before but of course I do! Wait, no, I don’t wonder about the ‘mind’ behind it because I don’t see the need for a mind behind it. I am in awe of the process and the intricate details that must be in just the right place and time for the sperm to fertilize the egg, for the sheath to form so only one sperm gets in, for the DNA of the two to combine to form the zygote, for the embryo to attach to the wall of the uterus in just the right place… I understand the process and wonder at it. But there is no reason to explain it away with a god.

images (1)Being a parent is more of an experience than I ever thought it could be. Everyday I am amazed at something Sariah or Sophia have done. One day I came home from work and Sariah was in her room reading to herself, I didn’t know if she would turn out to be a reader. Another day I was taking a nap and Sophia found me, woke me up, asked me to bite her apple for her (she can’t take the first bite), and then went to Crystal to tell on me for eating her apple! Hearing her exasperated sighs and explanation in her baby talk was incredible. These are my accomplishments, not your god’s.

How about one last Tim Minchin quote and video link.

And you, my baby girl
My jetlagged infant daughter
You’ll be handed round the room
Like a puppy at a primary school
And you won’t understand
But you will learn someday
That wherever you are and whatever you face
These are the people who’ll make you feel safe in this world
My sweet blue-eyed girl
And if my baby girl
When you’re twenty-one or thirty-one
And Christmas comes around
And you find yourself nine thousand miles from home
You’ll know what ever comes
Your brothers and sisters and me and your Mum
Will be waiting for you in the sun
Whenever you come
Your brothers and sisters, your aunts and your uncles
Your grandparents, cousins and me and your mum
We’ll be waiting for you in the sun
Drinking white wine in the sun


My Awe-mazing Life, pt.3 – Design

All the knowledge you hold about the human body and at the cellular level and the intricate detail involved in development and sustaining the metabolic process, you don’t ever wonder if their is an intelligent mind behind that design?


Just as this person said, the details of the processes our bodies go through everyday with zero active involvement by us. It is awe-mazing. I don’t need to use a god to explain these processes because evolution does just that.

I’m sure there is contention in your mind about the idea of evolution but I’ll tell you this, in the scientific world there is evidence enough to have attained the status of scientific Theory (big T).

Evolution is powered by survival of the fittest. This means that the individual or group that is most adapted to the environment will be thrive while less adapted ones die off. I see it as a very simple and logical idea. The main problem people have is the amassing of very many extremely small changes causes a large change over a big period of time.clock2

I once explained it as a clock, don’t know if I came up with this or heard it from somewhere else. If I were to show you pictures of a clock at different hours and told you that the pictures were related but didn’t have a picture for every second in between each picture, you could say you don’t believe they’re the same clock because there were holes in the timeline. If we were then to look at the clock in person you say “See, only the second hand moves, you can’t watch the hour hand move so those pictures must be of completely different clocks.


This analogy relates directly to the erroneous distinction of micro vs macro evolution. Just as the only difference between an hour and a second is time, so to the only difference between micro and macro evolution is time. Extremely small, even imperceptible, changes can add up. So the changes between each successive individual is unnoticeable but if you can look at the difference between individuals thousands of years apart the change could be drastic.

Some advice on reading about this subject would definitely include Richard Dawkins’ The Ancestor’s Tale, The Greatest Show on Earth, The Magic of Reality, or The Selfish Gene. Another great analogy is in the Ancestor’s Tale (I think) where we take an elevator down the floors, each a different step on the evolutionary chain, towards the ancestors. If we stop at each floor along the way we won’t see much, if any change, but if we jump say 100 floors or 1,000 floors the differences would be immediately noticeable.

If the mechanism can be explained then there is no need for a designer. The next book I will recommend is The Blind Watchmaker. When you believe everything is divinely designed what makes anything more amazing than any other thing?

The problem with saying there is a designer is the the design flaws. Glasses and hearing aids are the least of the worries, what about childhood cancer, or cancer at all. It is easily explained with science, why try to give credit to a faulty designer when you can’t also give the blame for the flaws.


My Awe-mazing Life, pt.2 – Morality

Why you think some things are right and others are wrong?


Morality. What is right and what is wrong. Of course I’ve thought about this, I’ve decided to take the burden of deciding what is right and what is wrong on myself, and I think if we look hard enough some theists have too.

To understand my morality I will link a video here that explains the basis for a secular morality. This talk was given by Matt Dillahunty, a well known, outspoken atheist who is one of the hosts of The Atheist Experience, an atheist talk show (now on skype/internet stream) that actually welcomes questions and comments from theists.

GoldenRule-2.jpgFollowing the dictates of a higher power isn’t morality, it’s following orders. Basically the foundation for my morality is empathy. You know the “Golden Rule”, but just to stop your thought process, this isn’t a Christian idea. Every religion/culture throughout history has had this idea, if they didn’t have this simple thought the civilization wouldn’t last. It isn’t rocket surgery to know murder is bad, but in some instances I think we would agree that the death of one individual is acceptable. This is a very big thing, situational ethics.

moralityGood and bad are within us all because that is what is required to keep our society around. I see no reason to give the credit for our good deeds to a god, especially when we would still keep all the blame for the bad.

Can a deity be both just and forgiving? Forgiveness is to take away the punishment for a misdeed, while justice is the rightful punishment of a misdeed. Seems like a contradiction to me but, then again, it isn’t my god so I don’t have to rationalize it.

If you have a good sense of humor about your belief and could use a laugh check out this video of Tim Minchin’s song The Good Book. The morality part of the song lyrics are here:

Morality is written there
In simple white and black
I feel sorry for you heathens
Got to think about all that
Good is good and evil’s bad
And goats are good
And pigs are crap
You’ll find which one is which
In the Good Book
Cause it’s good and it’s a book
And it’s a book (yeah!)

Myth Math

Noah’s Ark is likely one of the biggest stories from the Bible. In this post I want to show that it just isn’t likely to have happened, and perhaps just couldn’t be possible.

And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth. And the waters prevailed, and were increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark went upon the face of the waters. And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered. Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.
-Genesis 7:17-20

So, we have a few very good math problems ahead of us. Not only are they just math, they aren’t even that complicated of a problem. Before we begin I will lay out the parts of the problem that are similar to each version.

First, the size of the Earth. NASA (clicky click) states that the volume of the Earth is 108.321 x 10^10 km³. These are big numbers, but I have all the room I need, it’s my blog. The average radius, the mean of the equatorial and polar radii, is:

(6378.1 km + 6356.8 km ) / 2 = 6367.45 km

That is the radius we will use to find the volume of the Earth and compare it to what NASA gave us.

V = 4/3 π r³
V = 4/3 * 3.14 * 6367.45 km³
V = 1.33 * 3.14 * 258164563961 km³
V = 1078146900000 km³
V = 1.0781469 x 10^12 km³

NASA reports the volume of the Earth to be 108.321 x 10^10 km³. I’d say a difference of 500 km is close enough, yay us!

15 Cubits Flood

So the text states that the waters went up 15 cubits. That is the first measurement we are going to work with. I am going to do the math to see how much water would be required to raise the sea level 15 cubits. But, how big is a cubit?


cubit-manBecause I want to give as much leniency to the story as possible I went to the group that takes the story most literally, Answers in Genesis.

They state that the cubit could range from 17.5 to 20.6 inches. I think the best bet for this problem is to take a middle point between the two.

(17.5 + 20.6) / 2 = our cubit
19.05″ = 1 cubit

15 cubits = 19.05 * 15
15 cubits = 285.75″
285.75″ = 23.8′

That doesn’t seem like a flood to me and it certainly doesn’t seem like it would cover the mountains. We are going to go with this measurement first.

So to find out the volume of water we simply find the volume of the Earth during the flood and take away the volume of the Earth. The 15 cubit flood raised the water level 23.8 feet so we add that to the mean radius we found earlier, a difference of only 0.00011%.

23.8′ + 6367.45 km = intra-flood radius
23.8′ = 0.00725424 km
0.00725424 + 6367.45 = 6367.45725424 km radius

If we then plug that radius into the equation to find volume during the flood, V(f):

V = 4/3 π r³
V(f) = 4/3 * 3.14 * (6367.45725424 km)³
V(f) = 1.33 * 3.14 * 258165446319.04806285631451844903 km³
V(f) = 1078150536917.6085 km³
V(f) = 1080852668589.0812231584367839066 km³

Then subtract the volume of the Earth, V,  from V(f) to find the volume of the water, V(w).

V(f) – V = V(w)
1080852668589.0812231584367839066 km³ – 1.0781469 x 10^12 km³ = V(w)
2705768589.0812231584367839065848 km³ = V(w)

That’s a really hard number to imagine, at least for me it is. Let’s make that volume into a sphere and see how it shapes up (I know it’s a bad/good pun however you see puns). If we take that volume and place it into the equation to find volume and work backwards we can find the radius of a sphere of water, r(w).

V = 4/3 π r³
r = ((3V)/(4π))^(1/3)
r = 0.62035 * V ^1/3
r(w) = 1188.4360369823730308866574874648 km
r(w) = 738.5 miles

That’s it. A sphere of water with a diameter of >1400 miles would be needed to raise the sea level to just 15 cubits. You know what else is about 1400 miles in diameter?


That’s right, a ball of water the size of Pluto would be needed to raise the sea level just 15 cubits. Like I said above though that’s only 23.8 feet of water, nowhere near covering the high hills or mountains.

Maybe we didn’t go by the Bible well enough. It does say “…and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered. Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.”

“and the mountains were covered” Flood

The tallest mountain we know is Mt. Everest at 29,029′ above sea level. If we change our math enough to cover it, not even counting going over it by 15 cubits, how much water would be needed then?

We are going to add 29,029′ to the radius of the Earth from above. Because water levels itself it would need to be at this level around the entire planet to cover any part of it. If you hold that the Earth was covered by a layer of water 15 cubits deep like a film over all the mountains and hill then I can’t do anything for you, that’s ridiculous (and I’m the one doing math to figure out Noah’s flood).

The radius of the Earth from earlier plus the added distance to the top of Mt. Everest:

r = 6367.45 km + 29,029 ft
r = 6376.2980392 km

An addition of just 0.1389%. If we then use that in the volume formulas from above we get the volume during the flood (I cut out the math but you are welcome to check for accuracy):

V(f) = 1085360995411.5541311496090510458 km³

To find the volume of the water, V(w):

V(w) = V(f) – V
V(w) = 7214100000 km³

Now, let’s find the radius of the sphere of water that would be required for that volume:

r = 0.62035 * V ^1/3
r = 1198.6641207880081840568342435861 km
r = 744.8 miles , d = 1490 miles

Isn’t that interesting? I know I am shocked. It’s less than 100 miles difference. That being said, that amount of water is staggering. Where did it come from and where did it go. Those are the big questions.

I know immediately the believer would bring up:

…all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.
-Genesis 7:11

There just isn’t that much water underground, nor in the clouds, nor in the ice caps, nor in all of those combined. According to the USGS, all combined, there is about 1409560910 km³ of water on the Earth. That’s about 20% of the water needed to cover the Earth above the mountains.

Another theory I remember hearing is that the water came from an asteroid or some such object. Like we found the object would need to be nearly the size of Pluto to contain enough water, and that still leaves the question of where the water went after the genocide was complete.

The water couldn’t have been absorbed into the planet. Our planet is powered by a magmatic engine that would solidify if cooled by water. Without the core spinning we lose both our magnetic cover and our atmosphere.

It simply didn’t happen. I’m sorry if you can’t accept this point, but I feel like I have shown very clearly that the evidence just isn’t there to accept your claim of a global flood.

Well, that’s it. That was actually fun for me. I messed up the math in a few places because of the exponents and units but I feel this final post is error free. If you disagree with the math I urge you to do it for yourself and see that the only way Noah’s Ark would have actually happened is by magic. Be truthful to yourself and align your beliefs with those things that are provable. And let’s not even get started on the animals.


A note to my colleagues

As you all know we just returned from a trip to Brea, CA, where we trained at the Beckman Coulter Training Center. First and foremost we would like to thank each of you whose schedules were adjusted to accommodate our trip. The class was titled DxC600i Intermediate Operations Training and was chiefly centered on our learning a more advanced level of operations and maintenance for the DxC integrated system. We write this letter in hopes of elucidating what we did on this excursion and ensuring to each of you that we are now resources that you can use. There is much more information than can fit into a single compact letter so, in advance, we must apologize for the length of this message; just know that there is much more that was not included.


Many thought this class was going to be an advanced maintenance or service class, we were wrong. Though we did spend the majority of our time and energy on troubleshooting, we were also introduced to the ability to set up new tests on the system (i.e. hCG5 taking the place of TBhCG), setting up and changing the parameters of certain tests (normal and critical ranges), and learning some of the theory behind specific Access and DxC testing and maintenance. This letter is devoted to the troubleshooting as it was the primary focus of the trip and of the questions we’ve already received, and let’s face it, the other stuff isn’t nearly as exciting nor as common.


This training was not a specific training on a certain number of maintenance/service functions, rather, it was a training session to teach us how to think about troubleshooting in a systematic way. Harry Whatley, our coach for the week, was the best mentor. He disliked the terms trainer and instructor because he wanted to be on the sidelines helping us to learn where to look for a solution not just rote learning specific maintenance tasks. The coach isn’t on the field telling the quarterback where to throw the ball, he’s on the sideline advising the quarterback what to look for and what to expect.


“When in trouble, or in doubt,

run in circles, scream and shout.”

-H. Whatley


Thinking systematically about troubleshooting really helps to zero in on the problem, and it isn’t a process that only works in the lab. Harry gave us some steps that we, in turn, pass on to you. These steps seem basic and we all do them in our head already but giving them a name and fleshing them out certainly helps you keep a clear head while facing the unknown whether it be the instrument or your car. The steps below are much like the acronym we all already know; Stop, Think, Act, Review.

The Flow of Troubleshooting


  • WHAT’S WRONG (Stop)
    • QC/Calibration out? Strange results? Bizarre sounds? Smoke? Fire?
    • Are there messages on the system? Are there error codes on the results?
      • Error message will usually take you to a specific entry in the IFU and provide a solution (press the blue question mark by the event id!)
  • HOW BAD IS IT (Think)
    • Assess the severity, Do we stop running patients to work on the problem or can it wait while we focus on patient care?
    • Is it everything run on the system or just one sample? Is it all your QC or just one? Is it every level of calibrator or just one?
    • Was it a Range problem, a Span problem, or a Back-to-Back problem?
    • Not asking about the problem, asking about a change in the environment around the instrument
    • New employee? New reagent pack/lot? New QC lot? Maintenance procedure completed recently? Power outage? Temp/Humidity fluctuation?
  • USE RESOURCES (Think3)
    • Find out if this problem has happened before and how it was fixed. Ask co-workers, check logs, check the IFU (Instructions for Use) to see if a solution is proposed.
    • Ask someone who knows nothing about the system, a fresh perspective may be useful in finding a solution.
    • Call service (be ready for the call! have the codes or numbers ready and available before you call)
  • MAKE A PLAN (Act)
    • Rule out what isn’t the problem. Think about what is unique to the problem and common to something that did work.
    • Use the scientific method. Change one variable at a time to discover the culprit.
      • Three things are required for a result – Sample, Reagent, Instrument
      • Begin with sample (QC and calibrator are considered sample, it is the cheapest and easiest to begin with), then go to reagent, then to instrument
    • Was it successful? Yay! Make note for future instances.
    • Was it unsuccessful? Oh No, devise a new plan and change a different variable.


Beyond the systematic approach to troubleshooting, drafted above, the concept of common versus unique really seems to be the best way to examine a problem. Below are three scenarios that will, hopefully, explain the idea clearly.


  • If you have CK-MB and Trop QC results in which level 1 is ok but level 3 is all out, what’s common? Reagent, Instrument. What’s unique? level 3 sample! Likely a bubble or wrong level poured.


  • If you have a Na calibration pass but the CO2 calibration fails, what’s common? The instrument, the calibrator (sample). What’s unique? CO2 reagents. In this scenario we would begin with checking the CO2 reagents.


  • If you have Multi-Qual QC levels 1 and 3 running but the lytes and glucose fail on both levels and everything else is fine, what’s common? sample, instrument (is it really? MC vs. CC) Instrument is unique! likely an MC error.


Apart from the instrumentation, we were engrossed in learning about Dr. Arnold Beckman and how he grew the company from such lowly beginnings to being a world leader in innovation and instrumentation. He was born in the year 1900, developed a small invention known as the pH meter, made a better and easier to use spectrophotometer, encountered famous names in history like Linus Pauling, William Shockley, and the Coulter brothers, and then lived until the age of 104! Our coach, Harry, recounted a story of meeting Dr. Beckman at his birthday party at the Brea Training Center in the year 2000; he was still sharp as a tack and witty at the age of 100. If you have some free time read this guy’s wikipedia.


Sadly he has passed away but he left us with a nugget of advice that we would each do well to follow. We close this letter with his seven rules in the hopes that we can internalize them which may, just may, make our lab that much better and the future brighter. Remember, we understand that our going on this trip constitutes our being a resource at your disposal when attending to the DxC600i systems.




Dr. Beckman’s Seven Rules for Success:
1. Maintain absolute integrity at all times.
2. Always do your best; Never do anything half-heartedly.
(Either get into it, or get out of it)
3. Never do anything to harm others.
4. Never do anything for which you’ll be ashamed later.
(This is an important one!)
5. Always strive for excellence – there’s no substitute for it.
6. Practice moderation in all things – including moderation.
(There’s nothing wrong with a little excess once in a while)
7.Don’t take yourself too seriously.

Goodbye California

Time to go home! Making my way home through Dallas/Fort Worth with about a two hour layover. Another packed flight but not quite as long as Chicago to Santa Ana. Had fun on my layover riding the skylift around DFW. Made my way to the gate but in the time I was joyriding it had changed. Fixing to get on the flight to Nashville so I’ll go ahead and post this so I can spend my time with Sariah, Sophia, and Crystal when I land.







California Love

It’s a very bittersweet post I bring to you tonight. Training is over and it’s time to go back home. I know I can’t express how great of a time I had on this trip. That is not even close to being a statement about our extracurricular activities during the week, they were comparatively nonexistent to the training. Harry Whatley and Beckman Coulter made this training informative AND fun, an important factor that I am sure will aid in retention of the information.

Harry had a meeting during lunch so Christina, Kathy, and I went for a little walk and got the pictures below. A bocci ball area, a mini putt putt area, a walking track, many beautiful plots of plants and orange trees, and a large chess set. What we found out later was that we should not have been allowed to walk around that area as it is supposed to be employees only. Our little secret, okay? Thanks.

Dinner at the hotel restaurant and then off to the outlet stores to do a bit of shopping. Gotta get the goods to ensure I am welcomed home with open arms.

A bittersweet farewell to my friend Kathy as she leaves bright and early, she and Christina needing to leave the hotel at 6am. Thankfully I don’t have to check out until 9. Christina is on her way to Nashville the reverse of the way I came, through Chicago-O’Hare. While Kathy is making her way to Lexington through Dallas.


















Another great day at the Beckman Training Center in Brea, CA! I didn’t mention the other members of our class yesterday but Christina, Kathy, and I are joined in the class by Marj from Medford, OR and Emily from Watsonville, CA. It’s so nice to discover that we can be from such different geographies and have such different work environments and yet we are all connected by our pull to science and the lab. Our labs may be but our problems are not unique. Harry swears it isn’t his quote but I’ll attribute it to him anyways:

If you find yourself in trouble or in doubt,
Run in circles, scream and shout.

Harry was on his game teaching coaching us to learn the best way to systematically troubleshoot; not just these instruments, nearly anything. Using a scientific method of identification and variable change to produce results. Off the top of my head the steps are as follows.

Identify the problem. Assess the severity. Take stock of what is involved in the process that failed. Think of anything that has changed recently either with the instrument or the environment. Identify what is not the problem. Formalize a plan of attack and begin with the easiest and most likely fix. If that doesn’t work just call service, they have trained much longer than we have.

I think my favorite thing from today that isn’t necessarily training related came from Dr. Beckman, posthumously of course. He is well known for living his life to his seven rules:

1. Maintain absolute integrity at all times.
2. Always do your best; never do anything half-heartedly.
3. Never do anything to harm others.
4. Never do anything for which you’ll be ashamed later.
5. Always strive for excellence-there’s no substitute for it.
6. Practice moderation in all things-including moderation.
7. Don’t take yourself too seriously.

A few bits of advice we would all be better off following that just may improve the world around us for our children and theirs and so on.

This afternoon we (Christina, Kathy, and I) plan on going to an Anaheim Ducks hockey game at the Honda Center. Can’t wait for that, it’s been quite a while since I’ve been to an NHL game. Sorry for the change in tense but I have a feeling I’ll be too worn out when we get back to make a post. Good night for now and enjoy the pics.













Add-on from after the game. Great show, Flyers scored to tie it up at 1.8 seconds left. Went to overtime, no score change, shootout went to the Ducks 3-2. Ducks won 5 to 4 over the Philadelphia Flyers! Go Mighty Ducks!





California Rain

Another day down. It’s a rainy day here in Cali, and apparently it’s like snow in Tennessee; craziness.

Met up with Christina and even made a friend at breakfast, Kathy from Mount Vernon, KY. I made sure to put on my name badge so anyone going to the classes could make contact, it worked. Breakfast at the Wyndham was a great selection of classics and a cool omelet bar.

We got to the Beckman training center through some more crazy traffic and found out our class was only five people. Different classes were going on for different specific products but thankfully Kathy was in ours.

Today was pretty basic information but our trainer coach (he doesn’t want to be called a trainer or instructor), Harry, made it fun and interesting. This place is super nice, see the pics below. Lunch was provided at the training center and then we got back to work.

I know I learned a little bit, pretty sure everyone did, even on this introductory day so I’m very excited to get back in to it tomorrow. Finally made it home after some insane traffic of California mixed with the inane driving in the rain. Dinner with Christina and Kathy at Outback. See you guys tomorrow, it’s been a long few days.













California Dreamin

It’s finally here. My training trip for work. For the next week I am in Anaheim, CA for training on advanced maintenance for our Chemistry analyzers. I truly feel special to have been chosen to go, I guess they really do like me. This is a post made on my iPad so it may not be formatted very well, sorry about that.

I don’t know if I’ll get a post together everyday, don’t know if there’ll be enough to be worth it but I’m taking pictures and videos and want to share my experience.

This isn’t my first time flying, nor is it my first work trip, but it is my first solo flight. I’ve been to Europe, twice, but I was still nervous when I got to BNA (Nashville Airport) this morning. Oh, special thanks and shout out to my sis for dropping off! The nerves were from ignorance of what to do, not so much about the flying. I’ve always had an older, experienced, person leading a group of people, not this time.

Check in went well, thankfully it was just crowded enough that I could watch a couple of people and figure out the motions but not crowded enough for bad moods.

Had a bit of a wait due to crazy brain making me think my flight was the time I was supposed to plan on being there so a couple of extra hours in the airport, but I’m no worse for wear. Got on the plane headed for Chicago about 1030. Got a cool video of take off out the window and a couple of pics from the plane below. Got to help a family with their kid by playing peek-a-boo for a while, that was fun.

An hour and a half in the sky and we disembarked to a chilly Chi-town, 22 degrees! It was quite a shock to us all. Very short layover later I made my way to a much larger plane to fly out to Santa Ana, CA. Landing video and a few more pics. Each seat had a small touch screen monitor for movies and what not but the best part for me was the flight information, see the pics below to see some cool stuff, altitude, speed, and outside air temp.

Made it John Wayne Airport safe and sound about 5 o’clock. Took a while to get a shuttle and make it through traffic but finally made it to the Wyndham Anaheim Garden Grove. I must make it a point to tell you all that this is a great chain of hotels; nice rooms, friendly staff, and free wifi.

That’s about all for today. Very long day since three am being woken up by Bebe whimpering because I was apparently in his spot.














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