Requiem for a Meme

Long, long, long overdue, but I’m finally getting around to that old “Favorite Lab Things” list. For those of you just joining us, the “favorite things” meme was, I believe, started by Chemjobber, and plenty of other chemistry blogs hopped on board. Although I’m quite late to the party, I’m generally quite late to just about everything so don’t take it personally. Here’s my thoughts on my top 10 favorite things in (around) lab.

  1. Clickable Sharpies: This one’s a no-brainer, but for labeling anything, these bad larrys are where it’s at. If you don’t have some, get some. Despite their utility, I think I’m the only one in my lab who swears by them. Apparently everyone else is still fumbling with caps…
  2. The 500 NMR: So nice. Unbelievably nice. Ridiculously nice. Even “crappy” results look good. Furthermore, otherwise “underconcentrated” samples come out with pretty decent resolution, and overconcentration is rarely an issue: I’ve been able to have enough material for a ~5-10 minute carbon, cued up a proton, and a carbon, and with no further parameter tweaking, I get nice looking spectra of each. I only hope to have the need to run a bunch of 2D spectra sometime soon, just to further abuse it’s power.
  3. Grooveshark: Imagine Pandora. Now, imagine Pandora, without the ads, without the limits on how many songs you can skip, and being able to play any song you want, when you want. Because that’s grooveshark. To be honest, the “radio” feature is way less in depth than Pandora’s (you’ll get pretty highly similar stuff, as opposed to the broader range/individual musical aspects that pandora uses to generate a radio station). However, the weak auto-radio aside, you can cue up a playlist to last all day, have the radio fill in the rest, and if you decide you don’t like a song, you never have to decide if it’s really worth it to skip it.
  4. Headphones: When at my desk, and listening to my beloved grooveshark, having headphones is key. That way I can listen to what ‘ere I please, without becoming an nuisance to the girl at the neighboring desk. Besides, she’s new, and I’d like her to think I’m as not weird as possible. My playlist of Lilly Allen, followed by Crystal Castles, followed by Wagner, followed by Manowar doesn’t really support that.
  5. The purple “Cobalt” brand gloves: Best gloves I’ve come across yet. They slide on and off of glove-liners with ease, and don’t get clammy. The exterior is nicely textured for extra grippyness. They don’t rip sometimes, immediately as you put them on. The deep bluish/purple looks totally cool. They’re no more resistant to solvent than normal gloves, but it seems that the quality control is just better over at Cobalt. Best part: they cost the same as the standard, light blue, cheapo quality nitrile gloves. Shame that we just ordered a whole bunch of the cheapie gloves – my own personal stash of cobalt gloves comes at the generosity of a friend whos lab stocks them…
  6. Glove liners: Also a no-brainer. Easily forgotten when they’re there, but quickly noticed when they’re not.
  7. Post It Notes: For the longest time, I didn’t really use post-it notes, up until about two weeks ago. I honestly don’t know what took me so long. They’re nifty and not surprisingly, pretty useful.
  8. Beer.
  9. The burrito place next door: it’s so good, and it’s open til 8. Keeps me fed and happy for hours. Also every 10th burrito is free.
  10. Antics: Chemistry is all well and good, but a lab with zero personality would suck pretty hard. Labmates who are helpful and intelligent are nice. Labmates who are helpful, intelligent, and willing to play dry ice baseball from time to time are nicer. If you find you rarely take part in antics to any extent, you’re probably one of those soul-less people that would make lab suck if it weren’t for such antics. Or, maybe you’re in industry, where I’m sure dry ice baseball is more heavily frowned upon…

honorable mention: Hood-mounted speakers. I haven’t put this into practice, but two labmates have put computer speakers inside their hoods. Seems like a good enough idea, and cheap speakers are easy enough to come by, and disposable enough (there’s probably a pair kicking around your department right now in one of those piles of discarded computer parts)Only definite downside: finding an appropriate music player that I wouldn’t mind leaving in lab/touching with gloved hands…

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One Response to Requiem for a Meme

  1. Chemjobber says:

    #10 is a longtime favorite of graduate school; I’ve had a labwide rock/scissors/paper tournament.

    In industry, yeah, you probably couldn’t get away with it. But you get paid a little better, hopefully.

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