This Is What Happens When You Sniff Too Much Ammonia

, , , , , | Learning | November 17, 2017

(Because of a specific chemistry assessment, several students need to come in after school to do lab work.)

Classmate #1: *pouring solution* “Ugh, the ammonia smells.”

Classmate #2: “Don’t insult the ammonia. The ammonia has feelings, you know.

Classmate #3: “Ammonia was my best friend for a year.”

Shirley, They Can’t Be Serious

, , , , , , | Working | November 16, 2017

(My coworker, responsible for quality, sees me.)

Coworker: “Ah, [My Name], is there any news on the microscope repair?”

Me: “I’m going to call the engineer shortly.”

Coworker: “What if he doesn’t want to be called shortly?”

Me: “Well, as long as I don’t call him Shirley… Or was that not supposed to be an Airplane joke?”

Coworker: “Eh?”

The Gloves Are Off

, , , , , , | Learning | October 19, 2017

(I’m the teacher’s assistant for a freshman biology lab class. I’ve worked with this professor for several years, and he’s as much my friend as he is my professor. Today’s lab is about running DNA on electrophoresis gels, which involves a lot of fairly hazardous chemicals. After the professor gets done explaining the concepts, he picks up one of the gels with his bare hands.)

Me: “Dude! Put some gloves on! Do you want to get cancer?!”

Professor: “Eh, whatever. I’ve already had all the kids I’m planning on having, and I figure I’m bound to get cancer, anyway, given how often I work with this stuff.”

(I face-palmed. I will say though, I’ve never seen so many freshmen scramble to get their lab gloves on that quickly!)

Being Weird Won’t Kill You

, , , , , , | Working | October 2, 2017

(I’m a research student, and I am also employed by the university to help prep labs for undergraduate classes and take care of the lab animals. It’s worth noting that I have a fairly dark sense of humor, and occasionally make ridiculous statements that I have no intention of following through on. It’s been a terrible day, and I’ve just gotten even more bad news.)

Me: “G**d*** it! I want to murder something!”

(My lab manager is silent for a few minutes, and I start to worry that I’ve scared her.)

Me: “I don’t actually want to kill anything; I’m just upset. Sorry I freaked you out.”

Manager: “Huh? Oh, you didn’t scare me. I was trying to think what we had that you could kill. Normally I’d have you gas the extra fruit flies from the undergrad genetics lab, but they won’t start that lab for another few weeks. We don’t put any of the lab mice or fish down unless they’re sick and at risk of infecting the rest of the population. We have a couple of plants in the greenhouse that got mites and need to be thrown out. I guess you could shred those, but it’s not exactly cathartic. Maybe you could re-pot the botany department’s soybeans? At least you’d get to stab the potting soil.”

(By that point I was laughing too hard to be upset. Nice to know my manager is so willing to roll with my occasional weirdness!)

Unfiltered Story #90919

, , | Unfiltered | July 16, 2017

I once took a biochemistry lab course in college. The textbook was a photocopy of a draft the professor was writing. We were to be his guinea pigs! Well, the labs were scheduled for 3 hours long, but we never could finish the assigned work in less than four to six hours and had to stay late doing it.

In one lab we had to work up beef liver (for mitochondria, if I recall correctly) and ultracentrifuge the mix. Several of us put our glass test tubes (which dates this adventure, if you’re “in the know”), spun it down, only to pull out broken glass tubes!

I don’t anger quickly but I anger hot! I immediately checked all the glass centrifuge tubes and spotted asterisk-shaped cracks in the bottoms of more than half of these. I dropped these from shoulder height into a metal trash can and watched them shatter. (I figured that that was about the same stress they’d get in an ultracentrifuge.) I then went to the stockroom and got a bunch more, and repeated the processed until I had enough crack-free tubes to finish the lab work.

The teaching assistant was appalled, but there wasn’t much he could say (or dared to — I was pretty pissed off), as it was obvious that the cracked tubes could not survive the ultracentrifuge and should never have been issued to us in the first place.

I heard later that the professor never published that lab manual…

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