The Saga of Reginald the Recalcitrant

Friends, let me introduce you to Reginald.

autoclave1Reginald may look like a standard oven, but Reggie is something much more special.


He is an autoclave, an indispensable part of the human female’s Lab Prep team, and 110% my devoted minion.

Reginald gets pressed into service on a regular basis, sterilizing media, pipette tips, and glassware, and rendering biohazardous materials somewhat less noxious.

For him to operate properly, the steam has to be working, all the moving parts need to be working, and his little computer brain has to be firing on all circuits.  Otherwise, the human female and her staff aren’t treated to the sweet, sweet aroma of baking agar.

So recently, Reggie and I launched a campaign to turn the human female into a gibbering mess.  First, I had him clench up his door so that it wouldn’t open.  The repairman was called, and he manged to get the machine to unclench.

Next, Reggie went on strike and wouldn’t work at all.  The repairman came back out and determined that it was most likely one of the three computer boards that constitute Reggie’s brain. Because We Are All Scientists Around Here, he put this notion to the test by purloining the control boards from an autoclave in a lab in a different building and trying them one by one.  Lo and behold!  When new main board was swapped out, Reggie woke up and grudgingly started working.

Did I mention that Reggie is a 1997 unit?  This is lateish middle age in autoclave years.  Finding a new controller board to replace the bad one is going to take some time.  In order to inconvenience even more people, the repairman has decided that the lab from which he stole the replacement controller board is just going to have to make do with only the two new autoclaves they have.  The human female gets to keep the trial board, and he will look for a new card for the unit from which it was pilfered.

While this was going on, I arranged that Reggie’s steam manifold should clog and need to be rebuilt.  (It’s the local water–it’s full of badness.)  Also that the little printer that logs sterilization cycles should be printing on the back of the paper roll, so that the whole roll has to be removed before anything can be read.

More tinkering.  Finally, finally, the human female and her staff had a working autoclave again.

For the time being.  Because, let’s face it, it’s only a matter of time before Reggie blows a gasket–literally–and finally shuffles off his mortal coil.  Or his main steam valve, or whatever.

Thus, the human female having to write another one of her cheery little Notes of Doom and Impending Expenditure.  I.e., “The autoclave is threatening to die, and we should be thinking about replacing it.”   There are rumors that the human female could get a used hand-me-down if someone else gets a new one.  Or that a new one could be possible when the mythical second floor renovation takes place, because autoclaves will be needed on that floor.  The Department’s Chief Bean Counter has said he will ask for three autoclaves for the second floor, so that if funding is short, he can grudgingly accept two.

I love this.  One more thing in the human female’s life that is unresolved, with the promise of future misfortune…

It’s good to have plans.

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