Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I think I may be a wee bit spoiled sometimes

My hubby would say all the time but that's on the home front. I'm actually talking about work today. You know, the one I've been complaining about? Well they did do me right on a few different levels. Let me start with my direct bosses, the 2 lab managers Gina and Joseph. They both rock. Really they are great people that work hard for their lab workers, of which I am lumped into. In a bastard red headed step child kind of way since they have no idea how to run a mass spec, much less what the hell I am doing. But that's ok, I love them still and I don't expect them to pick up my slack anyway. Not that I have any slack seeing as how this lab is still not air conditioned. But they are working on that!

So when it was realized that I needed to have a lab built they gave me a catalog and said order up! So I did, one thing I do know how to do is spend other people's money. In the previous labs I worked in we had a never ending cash flow because the names I worked for were big names in a wee little posh snobby industry. Actually the biggest name, everybody bowed to the name of John Yates III, he is the man to be in mass spec. I had no idea when I answered the ad in the paper. Hell I was working for him for 2 years before I knew it. Somebody at a conference was amazed that's who I worked for, I just knew him as the boss who was never there.

Consequently when I ordered all the stuff I needed for my little mini me lab I ordered all the stuff I was used to. Hey I knew it worked well and it was important that I had stuff that worked and worked right. One of these products was different sized adjustable Eppendorf pipettors (liquid measurement dispensers). They're like $350 a piece and I need like 5 or 6. The lab proper had pipettes they used on occasion but I had to have my own set that wasn't used by anybody else. Mass spec is neurotically anti social, you can't share anything because I can see every level of contamination and I need measurements to be precise. No dropping of my pipettes by some other lab slacker. The pipettes they have in the lab proper are not the same as mine. I don't know what kind they are but they look nothing like mine and work differently. They don't need the precision I do so this does not surprise me. All right am I sounding high maintenance yet? Yeah, it's a mass spectrometrist thing. When I worked in a group I always wanted to have t-shirts made that said "Does not play well with others" because under no circumstances would we share anything of ours. You couldn't even walk past our instruments because they were modified so that the fronts carried and open live electrical charge. It'd shock the living crap out of you. Nice huh?

So today I needed an experiment run to make sure that I didn't have user error going on. I had to have my boss Joseph do my dilutions and see if his looked like mine after running them on my instrument. Oh this was going to be fun and I knew it. The problem with becoming a lab manager is that you end up not doing much lab work and mostly meetings and paperwork. Yuck, I like my lab work, it's comfort food and it makes me happy. So I set up Joseph in my lab, locking the door behind us. Only 3 keys exist and 2 owners of said keys were in the room, the 3rd was out of the building. Perfect, he would be left alone to do lab work which is rare in and of itself. He's the go to man in the building so he's never left alone.

He was in my lab for maybe 15 minutes and he comes back out and pulls up a chair next to me. He needs help. It was so cute! He hasn't done serial dilutions in like 6 years and let me tell you, they are a pain until you wrap your mathematical brain around them. I'm going to go on the assumption that ya'll have no idea what I'm talking about so here:
Say you have a solution of juice and you want to dilute it down.
100% juice to 50% juice, you just take out half and add water right?
Now lets say you want to have
100% juice
50% juice
25% juice
10% juice
5% juice
1% juice
0.1% juice
0.01% juice
See how that makes it more confusing? For the 100 to 50 to 25 you can just go half to half to half. For 100 to 10 to 1 and the 50 to 5 you have to do 1:10 serial dilutions.
Did I lose ya? It's ok, I lost Joseph too, that's why he had to come to me and be pointed in the right direction.

Here's the even funnier part. He came out later when he was done and was like "WOW, those pipettors...."
And I said "Liked them did you?"
And he oohed and aaawwed over them. I said they were like the Cadillac of pipettes and he said no, more like the Lamborghini. Apparently he's never used ones like them before. Positive displacement baby, it's a whole other kinda feeling....
High maintenance much? Yeah that's me baby.

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