i have taught them well

I Have Taught Them Well

The human female’s Prep Staff and the Teaching Assistants spend an inordinate amount of time trying to train the students to take proper care of the expensive equipment the labs are stocked with.  I spend a not inconsiderable amount of my time going around behind them and teaching them all my bad habits.

Pipettors, now.  Those are practically my stock and trade these days.  I haven’t actually counted how many the students have manhandled out of alignment or flat out broken. They absolutely do keep trying to abrogate the laws of physics and put 1800 microliters in a pipettor that holds 200 to 1,000.

And behold the fine job they have done with this one:


They’ve discombobulated this one so thoroughly that the numbers no longer align!  That little beauty is going to have to have a little vacation and a nice trip back to the manufacturer to see if it can’t be cured of its dialular scoliosis. There’s another few that have been over-dialed so much that the piston-plunger has come right out and the pipettor is in two pieces.  I’d show you the photos because I love them dearly and shall treasure them always, but they’re just too gruesome. This is a marginally family-friendly blog, after all.

And then there are the microscopes.  Expensive, heavy, AND delicate, the trifecta of accidents waiting to happen.  The students insist on stealing eyepieces, using the coarse focus with the higher magnifications and ramming the objectives into the slides, smearing the focusing oil all over the lab when using the 1,000x magnification, tying the cords in knots, and putting them back oh, so improperly.

How should a microscope be put away?  The checklist goes something like this: Remove the slide.  Rotate the nosepiece so that the low power objective (the shortest one) is in position. Raise the stage, fold the cord neatly and tuck it between the stage and the light, and then lower the stage. Cover the scope and then put it into the cabinet front-first and hand-hold facing out so that when the cabinet doors are shut they don’t slam into the eyepieces.

Now, all that sounds much more complicated than it actually is.  A toddler, if he could somehow heft one of the heavy things, could do it.  I’ve convinced the college students, however, that it’s just too much trouble, so the human female and her staff are confronted with scenes like this:


That is stunning.  I’m not even sure how they got that in there!  The cord’s under the stage, all right, but this uncovered mess has one of the long objectives still rotated into place.  And then there’s the placement!  Whoever put this away transcended backwards and opted for sideways and SLANTY!  I sort of want to track this person down and shake their feckless little hand.

And wait–there’s more! There’s a bonus! My new favorite person has left the last-viewed slide in place.


Well done, anonymous student! Well done.

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This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things, Part III: Oh, Flannel…

Midgardians have a lot of holidays and special days.  Every time I turn around, some politico or commission is designating this or that day National Navel Lint Day or International Gorgonzola Week or some such nonsense.  Just plain silliness, if you ask me.

Perhaps the oddest one of all is Red Nose Day.  Ostensibly, it’s a fundraiser benefiting small, sticky humans.  A few years ago, the mortals in this house purchased a nose, intending to take it with them on their trip to London, since Red Nose Day fell during their time away.  Once there, however, I distracted them until the perfect moment, at which point I reminded them that, in the U.K., Red Nose Day comes only every other year and they were the only ones feeding everyone else’s coulrophobia.

It’s become something of a tradition—the humans find the nose and swear that this is the year, the day approaches, I distract them until Red Nose Day has come and gone once again, and the Nose remains unworn.   Since the human female’s housekeeping “routine” doesn’t specify where the Nose is supposed to reside between failed attempts to actually participate, the Nose moves about from spot to spot.  For the past year, it has been sitting on top of the tall case that holds the humans’ collection of music CDs.


Fandral’s mustache!  What was that?  It sounded like it came from the living room.  Stick close behind me, Sigyn, and let’s go and investigate.

There’s something red on the floor.


Oh.  It’s just one of the kitties’ foam balls.  Whew!  For a minute there, I thought we were being burgled or something.

But hey–what’s with all the holes?  And what’s all the fuzz from?


And why does Flannel Cat look so guilty?

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