Old Enough to Know Better, Too Diva to Care

Yesterday, The Engineer and I spent most of the day at the emergency vet clinic with Scout….it was not necessarily how I had planned to spend the 2nd to last Saturday before Christmas.  Not that any weekend is a good weekend to take your fur baby to the vet, but I was already feeling slightly stressed on the Christmas project time line.

The morning started out normally enough.  I got up and went to the gym while Roo and The Engineer napped.  I got home, showered, and had a coffee FaceTime date with Lil B.  The Engineer finally dragged himself out of bed after nursing his first hangover as a 29 year old.  We were just getting dressed to go run some errands and grab lunch when I spotted it……..a large section of torn up carpet next to the bathroom.

Exhibit A…..the carpet

Now…..Scout-a-Roo has a long. lengthy, and impressive history of eating things she isn’t supposed to, but carpet has never been one of those things.  While I was attempting to google how we might go about fixing the carpet, we discovered something else.  She had eaten the wings and legs off her beloved duck toy.

Now, her beloved duck is several years old, and he’s needed some emergency surgeries of his own.  I’ve repaired and patched several holes but mostly they have all been due to use and abuse…..and the occasional severe whipping around.  Scout likes to make sure he’s dead before she gives him to you, she’s considerate like that.  I had recently just had to apply a large patch to his whole abdominal area, but he was living to see more play days.

It seemed like 2 wings, 2 legs, and all that carpet was too much for Scout’s tummy.  Occasionally when she was little and would get into something I would induce vomiting at home.  I was hoping I could do that now and I could get the bulk of the material out of her before it started into her little intestines.  Normally, we wouldn’t know she’s eaten something until she either decides to puke on her own….or we find bright decorative chunks of fabric around the backyard. :/  If it had maybe been one thing or the other I might have just left her to her own devices….she is semi professional in this capacity after all.

We dosed her will a round of hydrogen peroxide and then we waited.  We waited through the loud tummy gurgles, and I sat near by with a garbage bag and hoped for the best.  Sadly, the best never came.  The gurgles came and went but no wings or carpet ever arrived.  I couldn’t find anything online about what to do if you attempt to induce vomiting but it doesn’t work, so I finally caved and called the vet.

We ended up needing to take her in to the vet, initially because hydrogen peroxide can cause ulcers if it isn’t treated and neutralized.  The vet took some X-rays, I think mostly because they didn’t believe me when I told them that these random things she eat tend to hang out in her tummy for really extended amounts of time.  Sure enough, a whole little puppy tummy full of “stuff”.  We were assured that one round of nausea inducing medicine ought to do the trick, so we waited and sorta listened while they worked on her in the back.  At one point I think they sort of inverted her to try and get gravity on their side….the force was not with them.

When the vet is scary, you feel pukey, and you’ve brought great shame on the family.

15 minutes later they came back to inform us the medication hadn’t had a strong effect on her, but that they would try it again.  Apparently a single dose of the medicine is suppose to make them vomit until they dry heave…..Scout was having no part of that.  They can only dose the medicine once an hour….and we still hadn’t eaten…..it was around 4pm by this time so we left to come home and eat and then said they would call.

About an hour later they called…..tummy still had something in it, but they had gotten “a large amount of carpet”.  “I’ve never seen a dog with this level of iron stomach, but I think we should try one more round again in an hour”.  Clearly this guy has never met my dog….she’s the pukiest dog I’ve ever had, but she never pukes multiple rounds in a sitting.  So, we sat at home another hour, and waited for a good phone call.  Finally, they called and said they thought they got everything out and the x-rays were clear.

The list of items they got out of her stomach–

  • A large amount of carpet
  • A sock……that we didn’t know was missing
  • Maybe 10……1x6inch rag stripes from my entry rug….that we didn’t know were missing
  • 2 duck wings
  • Anything else potentially wrapped up in the carpet ball

Several hundred dollars and some hours later, she came home and is generally fine.  I’m hoping that she’s learned her lesson, but honestly that seems unlikely.  We did leave her for a few hours today with the torn up carpet and rug booby trapped….everything was undisturbed when we got home.  Hopefully she ate something and it didn’t feel good, so she kept eating things to try and fix the first thing but who even knows with dogs.

Winter Has Arrived

It’s officially that time of year!!

  The wind, freezing rain, and snow have arrived and brought with them a sense of winter and Christmas.  The Engineer and I weren’t even planning on being home this weekend, we were hoping to go down to Momma MisHappening’s to spend the weekend trying to fill my turkey tag.  That just isn’t going to happen.  Nothing about sliding down an ice coated interstate for 80 miles and then sitting in a blizzard waiting for a turkey to waddle on by sounds like a good time.  So instead…..I shall be catching up on laundry and crafting!  I’ve got several craft projects I’m working on, and some I can’t share until after the holiday….but there is one I can share and maybe you can use for some Christmas decorating!

CRAFTING TIME IS HERE!  

(Best said in the Charlie Brown sing-song style) 

So, let’s say that hypothetically you’ve been hunting , and that those hunting trips have been successful.  Let’s also assume that you’d like to take a more nose to tail…I prefer snoot to toes….approach to using the animals you bring home.  Top that all off with seeing some expensive feather spheres and wreaths in shops about town (Here’s looking at your $70 foam wreath at Scheel’s :/ )….and you’ve got yourself a full blown holiday crafting project on your hands!

You may or may not have noticed, but pheasant feathers are frequently used in boujee arts and crafts.  I happened upon some expensive pheasant feather spheres while we were on vacation in Virginia, and instead of paying I decided I could make my own.  Nothing like some feather decorations for The Engineer’s upstairs man loft!  Sadly, the only pheasants that have made it home to me have already been cleaned and vacuumed packed breasts.  While delicious, pheasant breast doesn’t contribute a ton in the crafting department.  So, I used the next best option….duck feathers!  The ducks have been arriving at a fairly steady rate, so I’ve had my choice of some nice feathers.  They are a little bit more work then pheasant feathers, but they get the job done nicely.

To start, you’ll need to prep your feathers.  I plucked the bellies of 2 gadwalls and 1 northern shoveler specifically, but any variety you have that you think looks nice will work just fine.  I kept the species separate as they are slightly different colored, but feel free to mix if you like that look.  It would be better if you have some early season ducks before they become fully plumed and downy soft for winter.  

Duck feathers are very oily, and that oil can slowly degrade the feathers once they are removed from the ducks, so you’ll need to clean the feathers.  This is the hardest part of the project honestly.  I filled the kitchen sink with some warm water with a few drops of regular Dawn dish soap.  Place a colander down into the water, and slowly and carefully add handfuls of feathers and swish to clean.  Pull the colander up and rinse the feathers well with clean water.  

Now…..to dry the feathers……ugh.  I placed the feathers into grocery bags and then used my hair drying to blow the feathers dry.  You’ll need to maintain a firm….but not too tight so the air can’t escape…..grasp of bag around the neck of the dryer.  Also, make sure that the air hole you leave isn’t too large.  If it’s too large, the feathers will shoot up and out of the bag as they dry….which will lead to feathers floating all around you bathroom…….been there done that!  Honestly, this isn’t a great method for drying feathers, but it got the job done.  It’s annoying and VERY time consuming, but it works.  You’ll probably want to leave the feathers sit for a couple days and stir them occasionally to make sure they dry completely.

So fresh and so clean clean!

Now that everything is clean and dry, we can officially get crafting.  You’ll need to pick up a few supplies from your local craft shop.  Some good craft glue, tan or brown paint, a cheap foam brush or two, and some floral foam spheres of whatever size looks good to you.

Start by painting your foam.  If you can happen to find foam that is already dirt colored feel free to skip this.  I didn’t want to risk any of the green foam poking through so I gave them all a rough coat of paint.  It doesn’t have to be pretty or even, we are just looking for some camouflage here.

I recommend using a good tacky craft glue to place the feathers.  There are some cons to such a thick glue, but the pros greatly outweigh them.  You’ll want to start placing feathers from the center top and work down.  Begin by smearing a layer of glue on about the top third of the sphere.  Start layering on the feathers working in concentric circles around the sphere.  If you find that your feathers aren’t sticking, or if portions seem to be lifting, it might be helpful to put a tiny amount of glue on each feather before you place it.  I found that putting some glue on a foam brush and dragging the feathers carefully across it worked to smear on a very thin layer.

If the bases of your feathers are especially downy…or quill-y….you might want to gently trim them.  I ended up having to trim every single one of the gadwall feathers, they were just too fluffy.  It can be hard to cover up all the downy fluff, although if you don’t mind some fandom fluffy tuffs then just glue the feathers as they come.  

Every 3 circles around the sphere you’ll want to apply another ring of glue.  Use the foam brush to carefully dab on the glue.  You’ll want to be carful not to get too close to the previous row of feathers.  If you snag one it’ll pull bits of feather in weird directions, or maybe even pull the feather off depending on how recently it was placed.  Just use your finger or a toothpick to smooth the feathers back down, and if that doesn’t work just layer another feather or two on top.

Continue until you reach the bottom of the sphere.  You’ll end up with a quill end or two visible at the bottom of the sphere, but it’ll be alright….no one but you will ever even know.  Plus, just put that side down!  Let your spheres dry and then use them however the wind takes you.  Mine are destined to be nestled into a garland upstairs in the man loft!  I didn’t apply any sealant to mine, but depending on your intended use you might want to hit them with a thin spray coat of a sealant.  I wouldn’t recommend anything you’d need to brush on, it will just disturb the flow of the feathers.

Lab Queries: How Low Can You Go??

Welcome back from Thanksgiving Break!! 

This week we will crack open the analytical textbook and cover more math!

We are going to figure out how to go low.  I’m not talking about dropping it low on the dance floor….or limbo, although if anyone is interested in some friendly competition I’m sure we can arrange for that to happen at next year’s FELC.  Any takers!? 😊

How Low Can You Go??

Sure, I know those instrument companies are big on posting lower detection limits for all of their instruments, but you can’t take that answer as the gospel truth.  Those posted detection limits are created under the most ideal operating conditions.  It’s the same as car companies who post that their brand new, super shiny, fresh off the production line vehicle has an average 48 MPG HIGHWAY…..we all know that’s not true! Maybe it’ll happen once if the wind is blowing in the right direction….but it really isn’t a fair indicator of how your vehicle is going to operate day in and day out.  Standard detection limits on instruments are the same way,it might happen, but it probably won’t. 

Setting detection limits is a journey you and your instruments are going to have to go on together.


It’s after Thanksgiving….I have no Christmas shame!

IYou may or may not have noticed, but several of the tests we run on ethanol, at least finished product ethanol, are searching for an answer very near to 0.0…..or as close as we can realistically get.

  • Methanol
  • Copper
  • Chloride

These are all test results that typically you’d typically expect to see very low-levels on.  How do you know that your instrument is capable of seeing levels that are that low effectively?  Low level detection is one of the most difficult things we ask of our instruments, so it’s important that we know exactly what we can and cannot expect.

Calculating your Detection Level, or DL is a pretty easy and straightforward process.  First things first you’ll need to run a good calibration curve, but let’s assume you’ve read all the blogs and you’ve already got that step done!  Find a standard with low values, similar to where you hypothesize your DL might be.  You’re going to analyze that standard 7-10 times.  I don’t recommend doing this over time, just run them back to back.  Unlike Control Limits which are calculated based on instrument shift over time, DL can be calculated based on a snapshot of the instrument.

For the math portion, start by taking the standard deviation across all injections for all the components.  My table also shows the average, but you won’t directly need that for DL calculation, but it is good practice to check your repeatability recovery….the average over the known value*100 will get you there.  If your repeatability recovery isn’t inside of your control levels we discussed in Common Calibration Conundrums and Other Laboratory Queries Part 4, you’ll want to rerun the study with a higher standard level.  It could be that you’re too close to your instrument’s detection level.

The Detection Limit is then calculated as the Standard Deviation value times 3.143.

There statistically are several ways of calculating a DL,but this is the easiest and for most laboratory purposes will work just fine.  In my above example, my IC can see sulfate peaks down to 0.0026mg/L and chloride peaks down to 0.0084mg/L.  Now, that’s absolute bottom low as you can go level on my instrument.  Do I routinely analyze samples at that level….no.  There is a practical level for using your instrument.  In my case, I don’t consider my instrument practically capable of analyzing samples below 0.25mg/L, and I wouldn’t report any levels lower than that.

Hopefully this will help you dial in the lower limits of your instrument systems, and guide you toward some practical levels of analysis and reporting.