Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Falling to Autumn

Not too much blogging going on obviously. Things aren't bad, just kinda meh. Why? Let us count the ways:

1) Return of illin'. No, I don't mean harkening back to early hip hop, I'm talking viruses. Day care center strength viruses. Day cares where the vast majority of parents are health care workers, shipping their gunk into school, letting it percolate among the young'uns, whereupon it descends upon fresh victims. I've already had one GI bug (seriously, WTF is that? They never tell you that before you have kids), and we're all getting over a head cold. Luckily though, the little girl fought it off well, didn't progress to an ear infection. *knocks on wood*

*knocks on formica*

*knocks on cinderblocks*

2) Watching young scientists get chewed up and spit out by their so called mentors. I've been in this business long enough to see some ugly stuff, and I realize that's the way of the world. But why does it seem to happen to women more than men? Maybe I shouldn't let it drag on me. What's the phrase? "Not a fucking Care Bears tea party?" There, now I feel better.

3) I have to sit through 8 one hour ethics training sessions, to fulfill some new NIH requirement. This is a total waste. No one in their right mind believes this will really change behavior, do they? It's just window dressing. I have a feeling I'm gonna be a pain in the rear in this class.

4) The filament in the pipette puller just broke, so now I get to make a new program. *sigh*


Balazs said...

Now that you mentioned viruses, I have a TRPM7 knock-down lentivirus which seems to be of no interest of anyone in my lab at the moment, designed for rat and one for C3 designed for rat too. Are you intersted?

Balazs said...

BTW, I appreciated your post on the "Tale of two grounds", thank you for that!

Nat Blair said...

Thanks Balazs!

Glad you liked the grounding post. It was actually helpful for me to write that post; it crystallized a good bit of disconnected observations.

I'll ask the M7 people if they have any interest. We've typically have had more luck with siRNA rather than other methods, plus they might be using the knockout animal. But it could be helpful.

Namnezia said...

In my lab we threaten anyone who breaks the puller filament with a horrible, horrible death... There's even a sign, so that there is no ambiguity.

Balazs said...

Nat, don`t bother too much, I am in QC, CA and that thing is probably not worth the shipping.

But there is a more serious issue here. I`ve just spotted your old post explaining the liquid junction potential. I may have missed something but I don`t think you ever continued posting on the subject. Which is actually my point that is I think patch clamping needs some thorough demystification. I used to be a hardcore mol. biologist and now I have to do patch clamp. For a first reading I was directed to the Axon Guide. Screw that. How comes that all those wonderful discoveries in molecular biology that used to be as revolutionary as patch clamping at their time are now transformed into easy to use tools that anybody, even an electro-physiologist (pardonnez-moi) can use with ease? Without having a clue about enzymology for example. And again, I was given to read the Axon Guide while the technique itself took me about, let`s say three days to learn. At most.

Your blog comes up in Google in quite a distinguished position, so you definitely have some potential here in translating all those horrible nightmares which appear in the form of circuit diagrams and equations in Axon Guide into usable knowledge. So it will measure up to a 10x EcoRI buffer in simplicity. You have the potential, but do you have the courage?

PS.: That question is quite provocative I know, but i will leave it like that and see what happens.
(Later... Nooo, don`t shoot, pls don`t...)

Nat Blair said...

Actually, the new puller filament turned out not to be too big a deal. I think it took me about a half hour to get a decent program. But that's also after years of using the same glass and same filament sizes. I long ago figured out that Sutter's recommended initial heat and velocity settings weren't appropriate.

@Balazs - heh, I've actually had the 'how to measure liquid junction potential' post drafted up for some time, but I was looking for some photos I took of the process (lost in a few computer moves, including a misguided FreeBSD install).

But I got the photos out last night, so I'll see if I can get the post up in the near future.

Your broader point about demystifying electrophysiology is well taken though. There is a lot of tacit knowledge about the technique that currently can only be learned from a more experienced practitioner. Perhaps this is because some of those techniques are resistant to standardization.

Still, more explicit demonstrations and descriptions would go a long way to making things easier on the novice. I do aim to do more of this in the future.

Balazs said...

I did not want to be too hard on you, you cannot take the blame for the situation. I am also a father of two, and I think I know what it takes being a father and combating in research every day. Your blog has already helped a lot and I was just greedy enough to want more. Besides, my scream for help was heard and that helps too! Hope we are still cool!

Nat Blair said...

Dude, don't worry about it. It was more along the lines of, "yes, I was thinking about doing that, now it's nice to know Balazs would find it helpful."

Trust me, if I didn't like your suggestion, I wouldn't hesitate to either ignore you, or call you out for it. I follow the Physioprof school of dealing with commenters. :) So, we cool!

Fatherhood is great, but it's hard to mix with science (still, let's be honest, I'm guessing it's easier than motherhood and science - lower societal expectations).