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April 07, 2014

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I got stung when a bee flew up my nose. That was the most unpleasant sting ever... Orders of magnitude worse than stings on my hands, arms or face. Can't say I've had the chance to test the other two places mentioned and I certainly don't intend to. Still, I can't imagine how they'd be worse than a nostril.

There may be more stupid science experiments. But other than testing the painfulness of different methods of suicide, nothing leaps to mind.

wj:

There may be more stupid science experiments.

Ha. That's why you're not a scientist :) https://xkcd.com/242/

What have I done for science lately? 60-80 hr work weeks. In a basement lab. That can sometimes reach upper 80s due to the equipment. Wearing full PPE (coat, gloves, goggles), because safety first.

Has this actually resulted in any benefit to science? No, sadly, that's not how research works.

A long time ago, when I was an undergrad, I did research for a combustion scientist. I had no hair below my elbows that year.

Still, my favorite "anything for science story" was one I heard about at a conference: Recording and quantifying cats' abilities to right themselves during free fall.

Which involved graduate students flipping cats over in mid air. They were not happy.

"Which involved graduate students flipping cats over in mid air. They were not happy."

...and neither were the cats.

Quite true -- it's why I'm an engineer. Make things work better. Figure out why things go wrong, and how to keep it from happening again.

For wj and any other engineers looking on:

http://anengineersaspect.blogspot.com/2010/05/30-engineer-jokes-for-may-30th.html

The main thing I've done for science (other than ordinary lab work) is donating body fluids.

When I was just getting started, there was another group in the lab who needed neutrophils. Since neutrophils have a lifespan of only about a day, they needed fresh blood every time they wanted to do an experiment. Today they would ask for discard blood (i.e. the blood left in transfer lines and the like) from our blood donor center, but back then it was acceptable to hit up coworkers for blood. They coincidentally got their first good results the first time they used my blood and kept going back for it until I literally couldn't donate anymore because my veins would collapse the moment the phlebotomist attached a vacutainer to the line.

My most recent donations have been saliva. A different researcher is interested in looking for disease markers in saliva, and I'm a convenient donor to use while developing the techniques. I know which one I prefer to donate.

I got stung on the inside of my mouth. (The wasp was inside my Coke and crawled out while I was drinking). I thought that was pretty bad, but I think getting stung in one's nose is probably worse.,

Really nice, bobby. But I have to take issue with the one saying "Real Engineers consider themselves well dressed if their socks match." Real engineers know this isn't an issue, because they only have (dentical) white (probably athletic) socks in their drawer. (If their wives want them to wear dark socks for something, they have a pair stashed where the engineer won't find them and toss them.)

I assume stings in the nose are especially bad because bee venom contains potent allergens, and the nose has a very high concentration of the immune cells involved in allergic response.

Discuss what you have done for science lately.

Does Information Science count?

but back then it was acceptable to hit up coworkers for blood.

Oh, it still is. I'm called upon all the time. Easy veins to find.

I got stung when a bee flew up my nose.

I used to work with bees and normal stings never bothered me much, but I did get one of these. It's the throbbing that stands out in my memory, like my nose was confused about how much pain to be sending to my brain and kept oscillating between "paper cut" and "ice pick covered with rubbing alcohol".
And all she had to do was FLY BACK OUT. But no, she figured "kill myself inflicting agony on this nose's unwitting owner" was a better choice. Must've been close to the psychological edge already, that one.

Cooler story about that job- we took immature bees (before they could fly or sting) and glued tiny numbers to their backs. Like tiny racecars. And then took notes for hours as we moved their food around and changed its composition.
And I found I really like the weird musty smell of beehives, too. At least, it grows on you.

Many years ago, when I was 16 (and, thank god, a sprinter on the track team (albeit a not very good one)), I stepped on a wasp's nest up in the cotoneaster on the hill behind my mom's house, while I was wearing nothing but shorts and sneakers. I heard a crunch, there was a slowly growing buzzing sound, and I looked down to see the ground under my right foot boiling. I jumped off the retaining wall, raced down into the street (fortunately there were no cars coming), and started running down the street. After about 50 yards I looked back to see a swarm flying after me. One of the most terrifying things I've ever seen in person. I figured I wouldn't be able to outrun them, so I slowed myself for a step or two and dropped to a push-up. The swarm flew right over my head and I got up and began running back to the house. Unfortunately a couple of stragglers found me and stung me on the back, but the swarm kept flying on down the street.

There have been people who haven't believed this story because they find it a little too much like a Bugs Bunny cartoon, but I swear it's true. I'm just glad it worked.

When I got back to the house, I realized I had two angrily pulsing wasps on my shorts. I managed to drop trou without getting stung again and then watched my mother beat my shorts with a stick!

For some reason, I've had a bit of a phobia about stinging insects ever since.

As for science, I get the impression I haven't been doing much lately even though I work in a medical research lab. Oh well.

"I'm called upon all the time. Easy veins to find."

I miss donating blood; Used to do it regular as could be, then underwent chemo, and lost every vein they used for the IV. (It was too rushed for a port to be put in. If you possibly can, get the port!) Now it takes a skilled phlebotomist to get even a trickle for tests, and they won't take my blood anyway.

"There have been people who haven't believed this story because they find it a little too much like a Bugs Bunny cartoon, but I swear it's true."

I believe it; When I lived in Michigan, the factory and the R&D building were on opposite ends of a several hundred yard trail through the woods; Very nice, very scenic, very full of black flies. If you were traveling between the buildings, you did it at a sprint, and slammed the door shut behind you. And, honest, you'd here the sound of a swarm of black flies bouncing off the door!

Not everything in the cartoons is unrealistic, not even the funny bits.

Most stinging insects follow their intended victims only over a limited distance. The exception are certain African bees (and maybe the Indian ones made famous by Kipling). They have been observed to follow for 5 miles and more. Extra nasty because their swarms are a wee bit larger than your average European derived hive.

I gave my body to science but they gave it back.

Try science fiction. They're more forgiving.

Real engineers know this isn't an issue, because they only have (dentical) white (probably athletic) socks in their drawer.

two weeks ago, i threw out all of my socks. they were all short white socks, but of different brands, so not identical. i had four pairs of Hanes with the red lettering, four with the black lettering, three New Balance, two unmarked, etc..

then i went to Kohls and bought 12 pair of identical, short, white socks. i can't really describe the satisfaction i have in knowing that all my socks match now.

i'm terrified of bees. my wife likes to mock me for it. (oh yeah, well i'd like to see you climb the ladder to clean the gutters, tough girl!)

Oh, it still is. I'm called upon all the time. Easy veins to find.

I've been told that it's unethical to ask coworkers for blood because there's an implied pressure to comply. Fortunately, I work in a place with a large blood donor center, so there's generally enough discard blood available for researchers that they don't need to hit people up for donations anymore. The can also get a lot of the specialized cell types they're after by starting with marrow cells and maturing them with specific maturation factors, and those in vitro cells are more desirable for a lot of experiments anyway.

I give blood regularly. They never have a problem finding a vein. What is a bit of a problem is all the scar tissue . . . from decades of giving blood. Eventually, I guess, they are going to have to switch to the other arm.

Who says you need to be an IV drug user to have serious track marks?

The circumstantially oddest and coincidentally thread-appropriate bee sting I ever got was in the top of my ear just off where it's attached to my head. It happened in chemistry lab (the one I was supposed to have completed my freshman year, but dropped and didn't take until I was a senior - imagine being denied a BS in electrical engineering over a 1-credit chem lab).

It was a nice spring day and the windows were open. I was wearing safety goggles, and the bee somehow got mixed up in between the strap and my ear. I didn't know what it was, just something itching. I went to scratch the itch and the bee stung me.

I more or less maimed it, not that I was even trying to. I still didn't know what was happening, at least not until the bee fell and I saw it wiggling around on the countertop in front of me.

It didn't hurt that much, being in a not-so-sensitive part of my ear, and there wasn't much in the way of drama. It was just weird.

Easy veins to find.

Are you or have you ever been into lifting weights?

@wj:

My vein is also easy to find, mostly because of all the scars. I stopped giving at all once my veins started collapsing, but started giving again for patients rather than research a few years later. Now I have a nice scar where the needle always goes. I think it's going to get worse now that I've switched to platelets and can give every 2 weeks instead of every 8. I'll need to lose some weight before my veins are otherwise easy to find.

Since it's an open thread, and flying stinging insects are on the table:

There once was a man from Dundee,
who was stung on the arm by a wasp.
When asked "does it hurt?",
he replied "No it doesn't.
I'm so glad it wasn't a hornet."

Favorite non-dirty limerick EVAR.

I've been told that it's unethical to ask coworkers for blood because there's an implied pressure to comply.

Yeah, it depends on context. As long as there is some sort of IRB approval, it'll pass ethical muster.

What I always found curious was that using your own blood is *really* frowned upon. It makes sense, you shouldn't encourage scientists to research on themselves, but yeah, that's something that gets IRB notice.

In academic labs its mostly tit-for-tat. Oh, you need blood? How interesting, I need some too!

The large companies that I know that allow it generally have some sort of voluntary compensated donation system. People donate, are compensated either with vacation accrual or money, samples are anonymized, and distributed to the researchers.

Are you or have you ever been into lifting weights?

No, I'm actually just really thin with minimal fat. Other then biking to work, I do very little exercise (although I really should). When I was young I tried to put on muscle mass obsessively. Never really took.

I get the impression I haven't been doing much lately even though I work in a medical research lab.

In my experience, if you ever feel like you're making progress, your experiment has a huge flaw in it, to be discovered at a later date :)

I have done nothing for science lately except to disparage those who disparage it (i'm looking at you jenny mccarthy, michael behe, and mr bellmore).

Science needs all the help it can get.

Now for a little back to the future look at the libertarian paradise.

indeed. freedom is something to be purchased, not owned.

Yeah, it depends on context. As long as there is some sort of IRB approval, it'll pass ethical muster.

This was definitely on the unethical side. It was not a beautiful, IRB approved, informed consent form kind of donation. I certainly don't remember anything like a consent form. It was more of an ad hoc thing where they'd hit up likely looking coworkers for blood when they needed it. I didn't feel as if I would be fired for saying no, but there was certainly some social pressure to agree.

The one other situation where I gave blood to help a coworker was for a grad student who needed to run one more experiment to graduate. Most of the people who donated did so out of a selfish desire to get rid of a disliked coworker rather than an ordinary desire to help, but that was sufficient motivation to get enough volunteers.

I mainly don't have a problem with bees stinging people. In general, you have to do something (even if inadvertently) to really provoke them to get them to come after you.

I have never been stung by a carpenter bee, but I have had some weird pissing-match-quality face-to-face standoffs with them. They seem to like to hover about a foot in front my face, like they're daring me to try to walk past them. They also cut seriously perfect little round holes in wood trim. I couldn't cut a hold that clean with an auger bit. Weird obsessive little dudes.

The bugs that I really just can't abide are the yellow jackets. They'll sting you just for the hell of it. Climb inside your soda can and then come after you if you try to have a drink. I had a girlfriend once who was stung by a yellow jacket *in her sleep*.

When they sting you, they often as not leave some kind of pheromonic marker on you telling every other yellow jacket in the neighborhood to come sting you as well.

Evil, evil MF'ers.

I give paper wasps pride of place for being, gram for gram, the toughest stinging bug around. Swat them, crush them, bury them in insecticide, they will never, ever, ever back down. They will keep on coming until they are either thoroughly dismembered, pulverized, or otherwise rendered dead dead dead. They're not as aggressive as the yellow jackets - if you leave them alone, they'll likely leave you alone - but if you provoke them they will not leave the field of battle.

Don't even ask me about fire ants.

I am, or hopefully was, deathly allergic to bee, wasp, yellow jacket stings. In junior high school there was a huge yellow jacket nest hanging from a tree in our backyard. I was mowing the lawn and forgot it was there, and happened to whack the bottom of it with a stick I was throwing out of the way of the mower. They were not happy. Six stings later I probably would have died were it not for some quick thinking by my mother and a bit of luck.

From the halls of the dismal science, I ponder articles like this:

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/more-jobs-killing-business-growth-100600590.html

Get it. See, a person gets a job and it stifles the animal spirits, just like when the animals object to wage growth as it causes inflation for boat owners.

At the same time, we must avoid lower unemployment rates at any cost, and we must keep ridiculing the unemployed and keep them on their toes by ending long-term unemployment benefits, so they seek a job, which will kill, I say kill the entrepreneurial impulse, and so on ..

But go ahead and object and see if anyone is listening, especially those newly christened two-legged corporate types and their whaddaya-talk, whaddaya-talk dollar sign speechifying.

http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/04/nobody-cares-what-you-think-unless-youre-rich

They wanna be people just like us, but they wanna maintain animal status as well while being thought of as angels by the recipients of their money .. their speech .... their money.

My sister .... my daughter .... my sister.

The invisible hand has two middle fingers now.

Yellow jackets.

Here's the thing --- they can sting, but they will also bite.

Take a look at the site that you think is a sting, after you stop jumping up and down, while tossing a hardly-touched vodka tonic into the air, and rubbing the spot while inventing new swear words in new languages, and more than likely you will see a chunk of flesh missing, which if the biter is enlarged to human scale, is a little like what you might experience during an encounter with a snapping flying velociraptor.

They are the guerrilla/drone of the hurtful insects. They come one at a time from any direction and they hover and dart with ease.

When I was a kid, my Dad would pretty efficiently take care of yellow jacket nests in the yard by pouring some gasoline down the hole, usually right by where I used to place home plate, and throwing a match at it.

So, we kids would stand maybe 15 yards away viewing the spectacle like generals from the safety of a ridge over a battlefield and sure enough, just when you thought you had em, they would come around from behind, and bite you, usually right on the tasty little kid flesh where your shirt stopped and your pants began.

All of you got it standing there, one at a time, when you least expected it.

Like a flying IED.

Sit on the porch on a muggy day and maybe drowse off right at the sweet beginning of a nap and they'll send a scout in for reconnaissance to feint and dart around your face. You swat and then finally leap from the chaise lounge and high tail into the yard, swatting like a maniacal fool (if you whooping and listen real carefully, you can hear the yellow jacket cackling) and they stay right with you, like a horsefly terrorizing a horse.

Then you are in their territory ... without a horse.

That's was a Comanche tactic too.

But, all is well, the bees and such are on run and we need to leave them alone because we need them for preserving the natural world, which is what I think they are saying when they hurt us.

It's a love bite.

As usual, typos, etc.

Since DaveC left, no one proofreads my stuff.

I certainly don't remember anything like a consent form.

At the uni level (depending on the uni, of course) for something like blood draws, you generally don't need to keep records. Verbal consent is ok, under most IRB protocols I've seen.

I mentioned IRB because it generally means
(a) somebody looked over your protocol and said: 'yeah, seems sciencey enough'
(b) you probably took some level of training on safe and ethical handling of human tissue and health data.

Because it's blood draws, and those are pretty easy to do under the radar, not everybody has an IRB in place, even today.

But most do, simply because every public and private granting organization will want you to some sort of IRB approval in place if you are proposing doing human work.

In other words, if you apply for funding to do something with human blood, but you don't have an IRB approved source for the blood...no funding for you.

And if you don't have funding, you're not doing research at a university.

I don't know when you were last in a university research environment, but yeah, the paperwork requirements have skyrocketed.

I've been told tax free ethanol used to be one of the perks of working in research lab. Now there's so many forms to fill out, responsible parties, logbooks,and locked cabinets, I doubt many people could steal some, even if they so had the desire.

Most of the people who donated did so out of a selfish desire to get rid of a disliked coworker rather than an ordinary desire to help

Yeah, I'm familiar with the concept :)

It's a love bite.

Dude, greenheads.

They need a blood meal for their eggs, like a mosquito.

Unlike a mosquito, they don't have a nice surgical probiscis with which to draw what they need.

So, they just rip a chunk of flesh out of you, sufficient to draw blood, and then lap it up.

They are highly motivated little suckers, and they swarm.

"I have never been stung by a carpenter bee, but I have had some weird pissing-match-quality face-to-face standoffs with them. "

From what I've read, male carpenter bees...the one that hover 'on station' (trying to attract a mate? Shooing away pesky primates?).. do NOT have a sting. The females do, but it takes some serious provocation to get them to use it.

That's common for "solitary" (non-hive) North American ground bees. Honeybees are a European invader.

We had carpenter bees in Alabama. They leave a hole so perfect it looks like some vandal came up and drilled a vertical hole in your fascia. I was never stung by one, but was around a lot of them.

On the other hand, in the same house, paper wasps had infested an empty space between the house and the carport. As in: completely filled the space with nest. This was a space roughly 16 feet long by 4 inches square, so: a lot of wasps.

These were red paper wasps, which in a so-far long life of being bitten and stung by various critters, still have the record by a fair margin in causing record pain.

The worst one was on the top of my foot.

Red wasps are bastards. They'll sting you just to hear you scream.

we had a nest of European Hornets in our eaves last summer. those things are huge. three cans of Raid killed em pretty good. and then a can of expanding foam sealer should stop em from coming back this year. i hope.

I was once chased by a swarm of greenheads after cutting my finger on a fishhook on the beach in Brigantine, NJ. I had to run into the ocean and go under water to get them to forget about me. A land breeze at the Jersey shore can make the beach uninhabitable because of the greenheads. The woods just inland, particularly off the Delaware Bay, can be that way regardless of the direction of the wind. They're horrible, horrible little monsters, greenheads.

I would just steer clear of New Jersey, in general.

My refrigerator's in New Jersey, Slart. What the hell am I supposed to eat?

A land breeze at the Jersey shore can make the beach uninhabitable because of the greenheads.

There are a couple of fee-for-entry public beaches up north of Boston that post big signs during greenhead season, basically to the effect that you're welcome to come on in, but you're on your own, and there will be no refunds.

Brigantine NJ has, famously, probably the worst, most vicious greenhead population on the East Coast.

I'm not going there.

Honeybees are a European invader.

Male honeybees don't have stingers.

Asian Giant Hornets. Definitely bad news. How to play defense.

Obligatory.

Slarti's link didn't work (for me), so here's another obligatory reference.

Works for me.

;)

Fixed in place. @%&$ing typepad.

For what it's worth, you can no longer omit the "http://" part of the address. If you do, Typepad will (at least sometimes) fill in the first part of the link with the obsidianwings URL.

Once again, the "improvements" that have been added to make the software "easier to use" and "more user friendly" have turned ou tto actually make it harder to do what you want. It's enough to make a person wonder if those folks who go on about "user friendly" have ever actually spent some time with real live, you know, users.

Once again, the "improvements" that have been added to make the software "easier to use" and "more user friendly" have turned ou tto actually make it harder to do what you want.

Feature creep.

Coders gotta code, if they don't have something useful to do, they'll make something up.

@thompson: Yeah, I'm familiar with the concept :)

Let's just say that for this particular coworker, we did not hold a good bye lunch before they left. Instead, we held a good riddance lunch after they left, which was among the best attended lunches we've held in the nearly 20 years I've been at my job.

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