Wednesday, July 07, 2010

here's some salt water dear - go feed the weeds

Way back in the olden days, Tiff here was a bona fide scientist, with a master's degree and everything. She played with dangerous chemicals, breathed deeply of various and sundry carcinogens (oh, the sweet smell of beta mercaptoethanol in the morning), got to manipulate genes and watch plasmids glow under UV light. It was all so fascinating and rewarding, the search for snippets of truth among the vast muddle of genetics.

But after spending the day doing the hard work splicing and dicing double helices of mystery, a body does get tired of the intense thinkiness, and so was born the '4 o'clock behavior.' Admission - it wasn't ME who invented it, rather it was a meme among the UVA med center microbiology unit research staff; but still, I take claim for introducing YOU to the concept.

4 o'clock behaviors are those things you do to keep busy at the end of the day, after all the gut work has been done and your samples are slowly migrating down giant sequencing gels (hahaha! Dinosaur! Me!) or the bugs you've transfected have been swabbed onto agar and nestled nicely in the incubator for the night, or when you've read sequence until your eyes are dry (again - hi Tiffosaurus! Nobody READS those things, machines all do it now!). 4 o'clock behaviors were normally chose from among the following:

  • stacking tips back into empty tip boxes to prep them for sterilization
  • cleaning off the bench and laying out fresh Chucks and supplies for the morning
  • getting glassware to the autoclave room
  • feeding cells
  • putting away fresh new chemicals

The 4 o'clock behaviors were a gentler way to end the day then by simply dashing off once the last nugget of sciencing needed to be done. Because we were the lab techs and post-docs, there was pretty much none lower than us on the research food chain, and so we did our scut work at the stroke of 4, knowing that a half an hour of prep work would allow us to dive right in the next day to the excitement of exploratory science!

How very eager we were. Cute, eh?

Sometimes I wish there were 4 o'clock behaviors here that included a sense of preparation for the coming day. However, beyond reviewing my calendar for the next morning there's not a whole lot of wrapping up that's needed when the entire extent of the mess you make in one day is the sandwich wrapper in the trash can, and when 'wrap up' is still at the far end of a 3-month timeline.

What are YOUR 4 o'clock behaviors, if any? Do share, won't you?

(And note what time I posted this. 4:07. Heh. I might be onto something)

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