Friday, December 02, 2005

Dysfunctional Materials

A couple of months ago, Dr. Hari officially changed the name of our research lab from the Materials Physics Laboratory to the Functional Materials Laboratory, as "functional materials" is the new term for "applied materials" and the buzzword for getting funding.
Well, as you may guess it was a very short leap to Dysfunctional Materials Lab which is fitting. Us grad students spend 9-10 hours a day in very close quarters. We travel together and go through very stressful times together. We are protective of each other and are unable to hide anything from each other. In short we are very much like a family, and like most families we consider ourselves to be slightly dysfunctional.

Take for instance yesterday, when one of my labmates-we'll call him Cheesehead to protect his privacy- came to the lab proudly showing off his new tackle box that he bought to hold his sample preparation tools. Since he makes samples in the next building over, I admit this was a good idea. It was the execution of the idea that created issues.

He spent the better part of an hour loading up his tackle box with things from around the lab. When he called me over to check it out, I took issue with his blatant monopolizing of two pairs of tweezers.

Me: Cool, Cheesehead. Are you going to leave those tweezers in there or are you going right now to make a sample?

Cheesehead: I thought I'd leave them in here so I don't forget them whenever I go over to NNRC.

MB: But that pair right there is my favorite pair of tweezers.

CH: Well, when you need them they're in the box on my desk. Help yourself.

MB: Why can't you just leave them in the community drawer with the others and take them when you need them?

CH: Why can't we leave them in my tackle box and you can take them when you need them?


Five minutes later-

MB: You know, Cheesehead, it's really giving me anxiety that you are planning on keeping my favorite tweezers in your tackle box. You lose everything.

CH: Really? It's driving you nuts? Good. Here. How about this?

He storms into the other room and opens the drawer full of the remaining tweezers, grabs a handful and puts them in his tackle box.

CH: And while I'm at it, I'm taking a ceramic boat too.

He never uses the ceramic boats. They're mostly for my stuff to sit in while they're being cooked at 900 degrees Celsius.

MB: Cheesehead, you jerk! Put that back! You don't even use that!

CH: I'm taking your diamond scribe too.

MB: Oh, no. You DIDN'T just take my diamond scribe. I swear to God, Cheesehead. I will beat your ass.

CH: Try it.

Well, Cheesehead is about 6'3" and 220 lbs so I new very well I couldn't actually beat his ass. I settled for feebly slapping his arm and stomping back to my desk. I also threw in a "I'm telling Dr. Hari you took my diamond scribe. "

This morning when I came into work the ceramic boat, the diamond scribe and most of the tweezers were back where they belong. My favorite pair however is still in the tackle box.


lefty_grrrl said...

That bastard! Looks like you'll have to put a lock on that tackle box. ;)

sylvia said...

If you describe your favorite tweezers in great detail and steer me in the right direction of finding one, I'll get you one -(engrave your name on it) for Christmas. No one should have to fight for their favorite tweezers in or out of the lab!

mom said...

oh this so reminds me of the "pen wars" at work. working in a pharmacy the drug company's give us some really cool pens. one year while promoting an eye drop they gave pens that actually had a minature eye chart that you could pull out and test your vision. they have pens with bubbles that actually show how stomach acid is resolved by taking their antacid etc. but nothing caused quite the stir as the viagra pen that they passed out last year around the holidays. oh the genius in making the pen tip slowing rise out of the pen shaft, ready for action! but unfortunately they only had 6 pens for 18 employees. oh the scratching kicking and biting for those pens! and the people that eventually got a hold of those pens could never use them. they'd set one down to answer the phone or help a patient and poof they'd disappear just like that. someone near and dear to me actually suggested we execute a "pick and roll" (see basketball dictionary) to try to lure a pen away from a coworker. DO NOT LET THIS REST NATALIE!

Scott said...

That doesn't sound dysfunctional at all to me. It sounds like normal bickering. I got a good chuckle from this.

jenbeauty said...

I like how you stomped away. Classic girl move!! lol

cheesehead ex-roomie said...

I would recommend the next time you need them you use them from the tackle box and put them back in the community drawer when you are done. (better yet put another pair in the tackle box. Cheesehead isn't likely to notice unless they are his favorite too.) Then there are two in the tackle box and the favorites are in the community drawer. (Oh and if he ever claims not to lose things ask him about the spoons.)

Silly Packer fans.

mr. schprock said...

This makes me wonder how well everyone shares the flux capacitor? Or can't your little lab generate the necessary 1.21 gigawatts of electricity needed to power one?

magnetbabe said...

a lock is a good idea. better yet, maybe I'll rig it with shock buzzer.

if I steered you in the right direction, you would be knee-deep in lab supplies catalog. don't worry about it, I'll go to Dr. Hari, has the money and I'm his favorite ;)

That's hilarious. I remember some of the awesome stuff you've brought home from the sales reps. I never saw the erect pen though. That's a keeper.

You're right, that's normal bickering. However, you should see us on trips. I'll have to write up some of the stuff that goes on at conferences...

Stomping and slapping. Those the extent of my moves.

cheesehead ex-roomie-
About a half hour before I saw your comment, I had taken back my tweezers to use them and replaced them with a pair I don't like. We'll see if he notices. If he does, I'll just say "SPOON!"

Mr. Schprock-
The 1.21 Gigawatts is a piece of cake. It's the 1983 DeLorean that we are having a hard time getting a hold of.