A Comic by Adam Robbins

Friday, March 26, 2010

X-Rays and Happy Meals

I'm-a-try something new here.

There's no comic today. Just a text update. I had a couple of comics ready to go in mid February, but stuff came up and I had to put the pen down for a bit. Unfortunately, once you get out of a comics routine, it's hard to get back. There's some new ideas a'cookin and hopefully I'll find some time to put pen to paper and draw more comics soon.

In the meantime, I have a fun story to share.

I work at an orthopaedics research lab. Without getting into too much detail, a project I'm involved with requires my coworkers and I to look at the leg bones of mice with an X-ray. The mice are anesthetized during the brief process. In order to make for an effective X-ray image, we needed to devise a way to keep their limbs outstretched. Solution? Use medical tape to gently hold them to a flat surface without screwing up the X-ray.

But what surface would we use? Kai, who is visiting the lab for a year from China, handed me three candidate materials: The cardboard lid of a test tube box, a plastic lid from another small box, and a thin plate of glass. We decided to test all three on some object. Looking at my desk, I found a few things to choose from.

My workspace.

There was an obvious choice to be made here. But I was able to rationalize it practically. The prosperity charm and the wedding snowglobe both had glass (or... lucite?), which could bend the rays and affect our readings. The Millennium Falcon was not only plastic, but it had a few screws and even a spring inside - that's right, the Millennium Falcon shoots across a table on wheels when you squeeze this grippy-do taht attaches to the back. It's awesome.

Side note: Why do I have assorted Chinese tchotchkes on my desk?

...and on my wall?

The overwhelming majority of the other people in my lab are Chinese. About a week after I started working here in September, a new researcher joined, also from China. Her English was okay, but she needed a pocket translator every now and then. She gave me the prosperity charm, saying that it is good luck for "earning a lot of money." When I asked what animal it was on there, she typed something into her translator and pointed to the result on the screen: "Shit." I kept a straight face. Perhaps it's a bull? And that translator is totally programmed with slang? Maybe it's a pig. I have no idea. I recently learned from a friend that animals in ancient Chinese art don't look like their natural counterparts because most artists didn't bother to go out and look at actual living animals; there was just a traditional way to draw each one, and that's what everyone did. Weird.

So that's my Shit charm. Next to it, is a snowglobe. When Jingming, who also shares my office, got married, she brought in several of those to give out, along with some Hershey Kisses in a tiny mesh pouch attached to the globe. Inside the globe is a tiny groom carrying a tiny bride. There's lots of hearts and characters for "Double Happiness" along the side. It's cute.

Finally, above my screen is a tassle with the character for "Good Luck." Kai gave it to me for Chinese New Year. He has a fish version hanging on the wall over his screen. He and I are Good Luck Tassle Buddies.

I think I'm going to have to bring in some matzah for everyone next week.

Which brings me to The Millennium Falcon! Yeah, I know, Chewie and Han sit on opposite sides. Shush.On a drive from NYC to Providence last month, my car made a pit stop. Not hungry (or self-loathing) enough for a full McDonald's meal, but still wanting one of their Star Wars happy meal toys on display, I ordered a Mighty Kids meal. With fingers crossed and all the midi-chlorians in my body influencing the cashier, I hoped the Millennium Falcon was the toy of the day. It was. Victory.

BUT I DIGRESS! Having selected the prime candidate for my X-ray experiment, I gathered the necessary materials and went down to the animal lab.

Suited up and ready to go!

Xin was already working at the X-ray machine, but he let me use it between scans.

Wait, the X-ray machine has lasers too? It's a very good day to be a lab tech.

Moments away from scanning the ship, it felt good to succeed where Darth Vader failed.

Alas, the scanning crew was never able to finish the --- *turns and walks away*

Three quadrants covered plus one control. Mmm, Science!

The results are going to be published in an article entitled 'The obstructive nature of various materials when used in OH MY GOD I GOT TO X-RAY THE MILLENNIUM FALCON.'
Conclusion: Cardboard rocks!

My objective completed, it was time to return upstairs with my findings.

Hahahaha... just kidding! It was time to take some pictures of the Millennium Falcon around the animal lab!

Rejected booze names: 'Forest Moonshine' and 'That's no Moon-shine.'
Just to be safe, it was wiped down.

Don't worry. The cage was empty. Plus, mice prefer the back seat of X-Wings. (Source)

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About the Author

Providence, RI, United States
Adam is a recent graduate of Brown University, where he earned an Sc.B. in Biology.

Legal Fun

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License. This means that you're free to copy and reuse any of my comics (non commercially) as long as you tell people where they're from. More specifically, you don't need my permission to post these pictures on your website (and hot-linking with the image URL is fine). Just be sure to include a link back to this page. Questions? Email me at AdamHRobbins at gmail dot com.

Also, to be fair, the wording of this was borrowed heavily from the CC License on Randall Munroe's Xkcd