Org Prep Daily

January 25, 2007

Your colleagues can make you age faster

Filed under: industry life — milkshake @ 5:49 pm

born6b.jpg Credit: Adolf Born

Here is couple of things that always help me – to feel less charitable. The things that make me dream of smell of napalm in the morning:

Silicone oil slick in ultrasonic bath
Strange red crystals all over the bench and chunks of hygroscopic stuff melting on the balances
Keyboard and mouse dissolved into a puddle of plastic goo
Fraction collector racks with the fractions sitting in the hood for weeks at time
Fraction collector that collects in between the tubes after somebody changed the defaults and put a wrong rack in
Mysterious yellow gunk off the prep HPLC column, in your fractions
NMR sample depth measuring device that somebody toyed with
Two spinners on top of one another with broken tubes, in the magnet
Five opened bottles of the same solvent in the shared solvent cabinet
An uncapped bottle of anhydrous non-denaturized EtOH on the bench overnight
A shared reagent bottle that has last few crystals left on the bottom but was not re-ordered
Your new bottle of NaOtBu – left outside your desiccator, half-closed and with a nice crusty layer in it
Swern oxidation, and Borane-DMS worked up outside the hood
Indole, p-chlorophenol and DCC dust on the floor
Crappy pop and gangsta rap playing full blast
Your scissor, pliers, screwdriver that never make it back to you again
Drying stuff from ethyl acetate on lyophilizer
Half-liter of aqueous ammonia evaporated into shared oil pump

(I have observed these atrocities over number of years and couple of jobs. So if any of my current colleagues is reading this, please be assured that this complaint is not about you.)


  1. Uncapped bottles of NMR solvents
    Rotavaps with crusty crap from people bumping into them
    Unlabeled substances abandoned on the bench tops and by the balances
    Shared pump oil with plenty of evaporated water
    Lab mates’ purchase orders for things we already have
    Quartz UV cuvettes with scratches
    Unflushed toilets and soiled toilet seats
    Printers and copiers with empty paper trays

    Comment by Paul — January 25, 2007 @ 6:39 pm

  2. Anyone who abuses the vacuum pump I’ve fixed twice in the past six months
    A month’s worth of glassware stolen from labmates and left painfully dirty in someone’s hood
    Insomniac coworkers who are really assholes if they don’t sleep
    Sneaky people when I am working in the hood
    Leaky siphon breaks
    GC/MS abusers
    Sinks made too shallow to be practical for anything
    Too-few cylinder holders in a new building
    Gloves that are too large (almost all of them, including some x-smalls)
    Glass stoppers that appear to fit large sep funnels but don’t seal properly resulting in a bit of a dichloromethane shower

    Comment by Ψ*Ψ — January 25, 2007 @ 7:41 pm

  3. Chemical bottles put back empty (not even a couple of microliters or crystals, vapor and dust if anything)
    Chemicals left on the floor of the stockroom.
    Chemicals with big “REFRIGERATE!” or “FREEZE!” labels on them in the stockroom.
    1L roundbottom with 50 mL of product in the -78 freezer.
    Empty solvent drums strewn about the stockroom.
    Flasks continuing to spin under vacuum on the rotovap hours after the last bit of solvent evaporated.
    TLC plate scorer used to cut through plates by gouging the same groove over and over again.

    Comment by Zinc — January 25, 2007 @ 10:09 pm

  4. I mostly hate people that can’t (or wont try to) fix a vacuum pump, computer, rotavap or hot water bath without first dinging me about it, as if I would be somehow less inconvenienced by having to fix them.

    Comment by Kyle Finchsigmate — January 26, 2007 @ 12:04 am

  5. ppl best just stay away from my two hoods or else, that’s what I’m saying

    Comment by anon — January 29, 2007 @ 2:00 am

  6. I think it was the “or else” part that got me into trouble recently. My pre-Christmas e-mail was deemed to be written in an un-seasonal spirit by my colleagues:

    “Hi everybody,

    I am writing to you because I would like to remind everybody about being considerate to others when using the shared equipment.

    My complaint about Combiflash use is that some people now habitually leave their fractions in the fraction collector, leave their spent disposable columns on the instrument, leave the instrument turned on overnight, walk away with Combiflash fraction collector rack (and do not bother return it).

    When you use Combiflash, please clean after yourself. When finished please don’t forget to discard your spent column. Dump or take away your fractions but leave the fraction collector tube rack/tray in. (The instrument tube rack is not for storing your fraction – if you are unable to analyze them please put them somewhere else.) At the end of your work, please turn the instrument off and clean it up a bit (if you happened to spill stuff over it during your work). If the solvent waste bottle is full, please empty it.

    Also, whoever took the fraction collector rack tray with the handles from one of the instruments, please return it. The instrument cannot be used without the tray.

    Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. (Or else)

    Happy Holiday”

    Comment by milkshake — January 29, 2007 @ 4:24 am

  7. That e-mail your sent is pretty tame.

    I can add to your list. In the past year:
    -Hair in the LCMS guard column
    -Plugging the LCMS with CuCN
    -Loading 1g of insoluble sample on the 21 mm dia. prep HPLC
    -Using hexanes to dissolve the pump seal on the RP-HPLC
    -My glassware disappears from the oven that I put it in last night
    -Ejecting my NMR sample in the middle of a 2D experiment (and it isn’t even possible to do so from the computer console!)
    -Driving a 16 guage needle through the seal on my new 800 mL bottle of nBuLi for 1 mL… with no nitrogen inlet.

    Comment by atompusher — February 6, 2007 @ 3:34 am

  8. How is it even possible to get hair into the guard column in the first place?

    Comment by Ryan K. — February 7, 2007 @ 7:15 pm

  9. How about using 7.5L of solvent from the solvent system without reporting it.
    Leaving samples sprawled on 3/4 of the slots of the HPLC auto-sampler for 3 months.
    Breaking the big column and then supergluing it together so that the bottom explodes when you try to run a flash
    Leaving your experiment running after your time is up and locking the screen so I can’t save your data and get my work done.

    Comment by Watson — February 11, 2007 @ 9:33 pm

  10. Taking diethyl zinc out of the glovebox to work with, weighing pyrophoric substances on the open air balance during a thunderstorm.

    Comment by Organic Chemistry — February 14, 2007 @ 9:54 pm

  11. So did the guy actually turn himself into a zinc-moron alloy?

    Comment by milkshake — February 16, 2007 @ 12:01 am

  12. Using oil pump without cold-trap (I don’t remember which excuse he had) or with ice-water (!).
    Plenty of bottles of n-BuLi that only have some white solid left in the fridge (someone just to lazy to discard the empty bottle?).

    But the highlight was connecting a bottle of compressed air to protective gas line. It took our lab some days to figure why all reactions under protective gas went wrong (I had a Me2CuLi*LiI turn green), but no accidents happened.


    Comment by ChristianPFC — August 22, 2013 @ 4:19 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: