Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Challenge Accepted

I think my lab thinks she's being hilarious.  Hilarious in the way that children think it's funny to run away from their parents in the mall and hide when said parent is exhausted and in a hurry to leave.

I guess in this analogy, I'm the parent and my lab is my child.  It might be an apt description - I do blame my lab for my grey hair and for taking the prime years of my life.

 Last week, a coupling failed.  This coupling was kind of a mess to begin with.  Some previous students had taken some rubber material and wrapped it around the two joining pipes and taped the seams with electrical tape and then threw a few metal clamps around the whole thing and called it good.  It baffles me that it didn't fail before.  It baffles me that it was sufficient to hold any portion of a vacuum.  But it held.

Thanks to this custom part, I had to go through two different couplings to find something that somewhat worked.  Even then, it wasn't perfect but I'm beyond the point of hoping for perfection.  While waiting for the parts, I opened up the coupling and cleaned out the system from oil and iodine.  As I struggled to squeeze myself in and out of that tight spot and maneuver around wires and piping and equipment, I was struck by the fact that this was something I had never opened up before.  As I cleaned and worked, I thought about my fingerprints which covered almost every inch of my lab and I marveled.

I smiled and told my colleague, "I think it's official: I have now fixed or maintained everything in this lab."  And then I knocked on wood just to be safe.

I think this is where my lab thought it would be extra hilarious to do something.  It was like she thought I was issuing a challenge.  Everything?! Just you wait.  I'll show you.

Today, I was planning on running my experiment.  I turned on my laser and started working through the laser few things I needed to do.  But there was a loud noise coming from the iodine pit so I went down to investigate the new leak in the pneumatic valve system (fittings spring leaks every few months there).  Except it wasn't a leak.  It was the regulator spouting mist all over the iodine pit.  I hung my head and went to go find the lab tech for some help in figuring out what was even going on.  

After opening it up and cleaning it out with no success, we decided the regulator was officially broken and needed to be replaced.

Hahaha, I get it.  A new something to break.  I spoke too soon.  Joke's on me.  Very funny, lab.  You're so clever.

But remember?  In the analogy, I'm the tired parent who really just wants to leave in peace.  This isn't really funny anymore, right?  Well, kids never seem to pick up on the "The joke is beyond old" sentiment.  And my lab doesn't seem to get the hint either.

Ok, lab.  Well, keep running around.  You may think you're running me down but I promise you're wearing yourself out.  Nap time is coming.

He who laughs last...

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