Archive for the '[Etc]' category

Using the Balance FAIL

Aug 18 2010 Published by under [Etc]


I have just returned from 6 days in the middle of nowhere trapped in a small house with my mother in law. Just when I thought my irritation level could not get higher, I entered the lab to discover that someone had blown something up in our balance.

People, I ask you, have I not suffered enough?

Last week, this balance was white, and the benchtop a solid brown. Now, there is a crater in the back of the balance, the interior is covered in burnt soot, and the benchtop has been irreparably singed. No attempt at cleanup seems to have been made.

Memo to the perpetrator: If you were not injured by this incident, feel free to swing by my bench, and I will injure you myself.

Let's use our heads, people. Work with air sensitive chemicals in a hood. Clean up after yourself. And if you blow up a piece of equipment, have the decency to bring it to someone's attention so that it can be dealt with appropriately.

xoxo CE

4 responses so far

Is it Luck, or do I Suck?

Aug 03 2010 Published by under [Etc]

There is this phrase that some people I know like to throw around:

"The harder you work, the luckier you get."

Uttered by Gary Player, a golfer, at some point in history of the universe. Now, in theory, I like this quote a lot, particularly as it pertains to golf.

But I have totally soured to its use in the context of science. In fact, it irks the shit out of me. And here's why:

1. Sometimes you work really, really hard, and you don't get lucky. [Example, this one from my personal library: You've been trying to do this THING for two years. You've tried everything you can think of. You assemble data, make a list of attempted techniques, tuck a box of tissues under you arm, and sit down for a meeting with your advisor. Advisor looks at your junk and says, "Well, looks like you've found 15 things that don't work. Now all you need is one that works, goddammit." Super.]

2. Sometimes you get lucky without doing jack. [Example: You are a lazy ass and don't do much work. One night you get lit, swing by the lab, and in your drunken stupor start singing "I Want You to Want Me" to your African chipmunk pancreas cells. Without delay, the cells start producing diamonds.]

3. Most irritating, however, is the implication that if you don't get lucky, then you haven't been working hard.


The astute (and good-looking) reader may suspect that my disdain for the quote stems from my general lack of luck in the scientific arena. And there is some truth in that, of course. But I cannot cry and complain that I have nothing to show for all of my years in the lab, because that's just not true. When it comes to science results, however, everything I've gotten has been the direct result of work, not luck.

And this phrase seems like nothing more than something lucky people say to one another.

17 responses so far