November 25, 2003

You'd pay attention to me too if I had feet sticking out of my face

A couple of days ago there was a bloodbath in my lab. I was calmly sitting at my desk designing primers when I heard a great deal of profanity coming from the other end of the lab. When I went over to see what had happened, I saw Nate (a grad student) clutching his horribly lacerated thumb. Apparently Michelle (another grad student) had been using Nate's scissors to cut some very sticky tape, leaving said scissors gummed up and un-usable. Nate had been trying to clean them and had cut himself in the process. Michelle, of course, felt pretty bad about gumming up Nate's scissors and making him cut himself, so she quickly offered to clean them for him. Seconds later, Michelle was cursing like a sailor and clutching her finger which was also horribly lacerated. At this point, I went into smarty-pants mode and decided to use the power of chemistry to clean the scissors. I would prove to my unfortunate lab mates that the scissors could come clean without injuring anybody. I took the scissors from Michelle (who was trying to fend off our post-doc from China, who was insisting that Michelle should douse the wound in ethanol before she put a band-aid on it) and found a bottle of acetone. I then poured some acetone on a paper towel, which I thought would cut through the glue like nobody's business. However, when I went to pick up the towel, it felt like a bee had stung my thumb, and I swore a blue streak. At first, I thought I had accidentally poured something a little more caustic than acetone on the towel (like TFA), but when I examined my stinging thumb, I discovered that I had somehow cut myself in the process of taking the scissors from Michelle and placing them on a bench. I became convinced that the scissors had some kind of magical powers and refused to have anything else to do with them. At this point, our PI walked into the lab (perhaps because he could hear all the profanity from his office) and proceeded to make fun of us all.

The next day when I came in to lab, I saw a note on the white board (in the PI's handwriting) that said "There have been (1) day(s) without an accident involving scissors"


Posted by doug at 04:19 PM

November 07, 2003


I defended my comprehensive exam proposal yesterday. It wasn't half as bad as I thought it would be. Those of you that know me have seen how I can get super obsessive about things (playing bass, mountain biking, building computers, playing tribes, etc.). For about the past month, I have been eating, sleeping, and breathing Salmonella pathogenesis. Apparently I had a pretty good understanding of my topic because I anticipated almost all of the questions the faculty were going to ask. It was actually kind eerie giving the presentation because they weren't interrupting me all the time like I thought they would. In fact, the whole thing only took a little over an hour instead of the usual two and a half to three.

Now that it is all over I feel like a man that has just gotten out of prison after living there for 40 years, and immediately robs a liquor store because he dreads the freedom of the outside world. I kind of miss having one focused little question to obsess over 24-7. Now I have to turn my attention to all of the assorted projects I have going on for my own research. sigh...


Posted by doug at 10:54 AM