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Polymerase chain reaction is a cornerstone of molecular biology research. Using short pieces of single-stranded DNA called primers the previously invisible becomes tangible.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


I was in front of a class today. It was never a part of my job description, but early on my bosses realized I could do it, do it well and derived some satisfaction from it. So, there I was standing in front of 9 advanced high school students teaching techniques in molecular and cellular biology. We also discussed biotechnology in regards to medicine, agriculture and the environment. With my teaching skills dulled by atrophy, there were a couple of awkward moments. It was fun, a little stressful but, in the end, well worth my time. I stayed a couple of hours afterwards to attend to my other job responsibilities.

Back when X-Men was just comics and only starting to branch into other media like video games, my friends and I used to try to determine each other's mutant abilities. A friend was called “Rouge” because he could blush on the spot. I forgot another’s nickname, but his mutant ability was to hear any joke or story and be able to make it funnier. Mine was being able to watch a physical skill and then be able to execute it better than the demonstrator. And like Wolverine, Storm and Jean Grey I’ve been both blessed and tormented by this gift.

The truncation, “Jack of all trades, master of none,” haunts me into what is, if I am lucky, my middle age. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I can teach. I can manage. I can entertain. I can build and fix. I can administer. I can provide care. But what is it exactly that I am supposed to be doing? What is it that drives me such that I can’t wake in the morning without it being on my mind? I know the answer. Let’s keep that for a later meditation. For now, I think it useful to look back at the longer, certainly more hopeful integral of the quoted phrase above.

“Jack of all trades, master of none, though oftentimes better than master of one.”

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