Robert (gurdonark) wrote,
Robert
gurdonark

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Paramecia

I love looking at drops of water through a microscope. Sometimes I value my education according to important small things I learned, such as a 9th grade "shop" class that taught me how to make concrete (who needed that French elective, anyway? Did the French class get to join the Future Farmers of America?).

One thing I learned from my extensive reading as a youth was how to make a great culture for amateur microscopy. The ingredients? One broom straw, one jelly jar (used but empty) and water. Pour water into the jelly jar, place the broom straw in, and let stand for days. Soon, one has quite a culture of protozoa.

I remember the oscillating cilia of paramecia, the way that rotifers looked vaguely like Norelco razors, and the whip-like flagellation of too-green euglena. Last year, I bought from Goodwill one of those new cheap microscopes which comes with a TV-type projection screen. I imagine it would be good to see paramecia "on the big screen". But I have not used it yet. I am reaching a point in which I must go and do all the little things I have set aside for doing.

Ever since I visited the wonderful Jazz Museum in Kansas City, I've been intrigued by the notion of how much can be done in a small space with simple displays and good interactive audio/visual. I fantasize about setting up a similar museum, devoted to ants, or protozoa. Then I imagine that for far less money, I could set up a website or LiveJournal featuring just such things, giving pleasure without charging admission. Then I go back to daydreaming about protozoa, with far less purpose.

I believe I learned about making protozoa from broom straw from one of those German tropical fish guides, translated into English. Those German fishkeepers wrote often about feeding fry protozoa. I never raised any fry more difficult than, say, the simple black mollie. Livebearers such as guppies and mollies can be raised on flake food if need be. They also love mosquito larvae, which are fun to catch, and readily consumed, but have a bad habit of turning into mosquitoes if not immediately consumed. But I like the idea of feeding fry protozoa. It's like giving invisible ambrosia to a fish.

Maybe if I'd been a scientist, I'd stare at tiny things in microscopes all day. Perhaps, instead, it's a science teacher I'd rather be, liberated from the need to help anyone make a profit or avoid plowed scientific field, but free to stare into microscopes, and up at stars.
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