Sunday, December 30, 2007

84 Seconds

I'm at work tonight, kind of late. I was supposed to be pretty busy, but I forgot to tell my cells that they had to cooperate, so now I'm mostly just babysitting a couple of longer experiments. I keep trying to feel sorry for myself, but I've actually had lots of company on iChat, and I just can't get up the momentum. Darn you, friendly people.

Mostly, my role tonight is to make sure that the compressed air tanks running into my cell incubator don't run out. There are two tanks attached to the incubator, and they alternate: 5 minutes on 1, 84 seconds on the other. 120 times. They flow at pretty high pressure, so it takes 3 full tanks to get through the whole treatment. Today, I had a couple of partial tanks to use up, which means lots of tank changes.

Now, this isn't actually difficult, as long as some moron hasn't tightened the regulator to the point where it requires superhuman strength to get it open. It also isn't that hard when you're changing the 84 second tank, since you have 5 minutes while it's off. It's the 5 minute tank that's the problem. You have 84 seconds to close the tank, pick up the wrench, loosen the regulator, put the wrench down, unscrew the regulator, get the regulator started on the second tank, pick up the wrench, tighten it, put the wrench down, and turn the tank back on. If nothing goes wrong, it's a piece of cake. Of course, the threads on the 5 minute tank and the 84 second tank go in opposite directions, just to make sure you can't accidentally put the wrong kind of gas into the incubator. It's a helpful feature. Especially if you can remember that the 5 minute tank is normal, and the 84 second tank is backwards. No, wait, maybe it's the 84 second tank that's normal and the...

Let's just say that I've been swearing a lot today. Especially at the moron who keeps over-tightening the regulator. For those of you following along at home, I've changed all the tanks several times today. That means, after the first change, I would be the moron in question. For some reason, that doesn't reduce the swearing.