22 March 2005


On days when I have time for lunch, I wander in from the "science suburbs" (a/k/a portable) to visit with my department colleagues. I always enjoy these lunch breaks. You see, we're all just a bunch of nerds. But it makes for the most interesting conversation.

The day after I'd had a charley horse in the middle of the night, I went in to bandy around the possible cause of such a thing with my cohorts. I told them that I'd been thinking about something in the wee hours. Another teacher looked up and said, "Me, too! I was pondering the genetic relationship between my wife, my son, and my dog." So much for talking about calcium uptake and motor units in my leg. But I admit his topic was more interesting.

Or...a time recently, when we went on a hunt to find out how being gallbladder-less would impact fat absorption. (40%...which is nice to think that everything I eat is now "half the fat," however it is also "half the fat-soluble vitamins.") Once, we hauled in a "kelvinator" another teacher picked up free from a biotech company that was getting new equipment. And when was the last time you got to talk about which local butcher would saw a bone in half for you...provided the condyles were in place?

One of us has been a physical geologist and a nun (but not at the same time). One has taught in Saudi Arabia. Another grew up in England and has a PhD from the University of Glasgow. One has the boundless energy and enthusiasm of a puppy, coupled with an insatiable curiosity about the world and all too many puns for expressing his thoughts. The range of experience and information people have to draw upon is astounding to me.

Sometimes, we talk about the goofy things we do for kids. Like the teacher who kissed a sea anemone just to see if it stung. Or the one who purposely set himself on fire as a safety demonstration. Should I mention how my department chair put liquid nitrogen in his mouth and its "steam" came through his nostrils, making him look like a dragon? Or how about all the men rocked out to "Mole Thing" (think "Wild Thing," but for Mole Day) at a pep assembly this fall?

It's never dull at lunch. (Few things in teaching ever are.) We laugh and blow off some steam. And rarely do we talk about our students. Lunch is a time to revel in our collective scientific knowledge and amuse ourselves with it. And if you don't think this really does qualify us as "nerds," you should see the official school pictures for the yearbook---where people are decked out in Einstein wig, lab coat, and thick goggles.

Gotta love my department. And lunch.

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