Thursday, June 19, 2003

I've had occasional problems with a reactive airway since I was a small child. I don't have asthma and I haven't been formally diagnosed with any of the "reactive airway syndromes" that pop up in the medical literature. However, "reactive airway" is what my doctor calls it, and some of my friends who have seen it in action can confirm that I can launch into an impressive wheezing fit if something -- even a drop of water -- tickles my throat the wrong way. Today at lunch it was triggered by a fragment of basil chicken chili, nowhere big enough to mechanically obstruct my trachea but sufficient to make everything slam shut the minute it got just slightly down the wrong path. Since there were only about five people around in the cafeteria and I had no way of knowing whether any of them would know what to do, I managed a quick self-Heimlich over the back of a chair. Worked like a charm; add this to the list of Things That Are Good To Know. I think it scared the bejesus out of my lunch partner, but I sat down and we continued our conversation as though nothing had happened. Just one more example of "landings you can walk away from".

Returned to the lab to find my officemate talking to a campus police officer. Some idjit had managed to get into our locked lab in our absence, dump out the contents of Eric's backpack, retrieve his Palm Pilot from same, stuff the backpack with both of Eric's laptops, and run like hell. At least that's how we reconstructed the crime. Other valuables in the lab -- bicycle, stereo, lab equipment -- were untouched. We've had laptops stolen from the building before -- and a couple of times, the thief or thieves have thoughtfully backed up the data from the hard drive and left freshly burned CD copies for the bereaved owner. We don't know whether our lab was hit by the same crew, but it's surreally reassuring to know that there are polite criminals around. We're still being careful to lock all the passageways in the lab complex, though. I wish Nigel were still around to provide added security. ("Bite 'em, Nige!")


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