Thursday, March 1, 2012

Genetics is so cool

In another life, given a friendlier first year science major course schedule (yes, 8am class 4 days a week is why I didn't take chemistry my first year in college and therefore probably why I didn't realize until much later that chemistry and science are MY FAVORITE!), I probably would have gone into genetics research.  It's really amazing.  I'm still geeking out about that lame "if I were an enzyme, I'd be DNA helicase so I could unzip your genes" joke from basic biology... anyway...

I was just reading a really neat article about a study of alcoholic and non-alcoholic brains (of dead people, that is) to see if there was a difference in what genes were expressed.  They found that the alcoholics were expressing some genetic code that is generally thought to be "junk" and the authors wildly speculated that the junk mRNA being expressed was contributing to the alcoholism as well as being caused by it.  That's a pretty interesting idea, isn't it? That something we do changes our brains' genetic expression, which in turn changes our behavior?

Admittedly I don't totally understand the entire article in detail, and I totally didn't even try to read the original study.  Despite now nearly 2 years of learning to speak medical and scientific garbledy-gook, genetics has an advanced version of the two that I am not at all well versed in.  Don't think this means you shouldn't go read the article though! I just bet, dear reader, that you are far smarter than me right now.  Case in point: I'm about to tell you about my lovely night at work in brief.

So it was a slow night at the community pharmacy where I work as an intern/tech tonight (yay! usually it's insanely busy somehow) so I was filling more prescriptions than average rather than handing out prescriptions like candy at a parade.  There was one for an ointment that we stock in a 4 or 5 pound tub that needed to be filled for 90 grams of ointment (this is that slimy stuff you put on your skin that's oily, in case you were wondering).  Options for measuring slimy stuff into a small container: either weigh it on the scale we may or may not actually have, or take an appropriately sized container and eyeball it.  The ointment jars come in ounces instead of grams though.  MATH! NO! Flashback to Calculations, which I did very well in, but IT WAS SCARY! 

For the life of me I couldn't figure out how many grams to an ounce and gave up and asked the pharmacist, who not only told me, but also showed me about where on the jar to fill the thing to (very nice of her, indeed).  Then I beautifully (I mean elegantly, pharmaceutically elegantly) filled the little tub up and reshelved the big one.  About 3 minutes later (and maybe 4 prescriptions filled) it dawned on me that I needed to go get the big tub for the pharmacist to check that I'd put the right ointment into the little jar... clearly my mind works very slowly these days... or... I could never get the hang of Thursdays...

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