Friday, October 30, 2009

ignorance is bliss

Our secretary is a true sweetheart, but is also rather fond of drama, especially if it is totally unnecessary. A recent example includes someone attributing her name to a work order incorrectly. This would usually involve a simple "that wasn't me" phone call or email to rectify, but for her she planned out an involved strategy of who needs to be contacted and provisions for difficulty with backup plans. In reality the order actually has nothing to do with her at all, excepting the bookkeeping error, and she could simply ignore the problem and it would go away.

Typically when I talk to her, like after a morning greeting, I'm prepared for some sort of soliloquy on her crushing life events. I try to remain stoic throughout. She's a sweetie, so I don't want to shut her down, but I also don't want to add fuel to the fire. Typically I give her some noncommittal remarks, and, if I actually have any knowledge of the area, some help.

Today she was extra excited and proceeded to tell me a story about a man who had some rare condition and had kept a gorilla in his basement and fought with it for several years until it had actually killed him, even tearing off his arm at one point. I, politely, called bullshit, and recommended she check it on She continued like she hadn't heard anything so I nodded, repeated myself, she continued, I spelled for her, and then left. A little while later she said she had found the article and tried to give it to me, so I chatted with her, but didn't take the article and left.

Eventually I had a minute and was curious so I actually looked it up using some nice generic, but defining terms, and it popped right up as hit number one. As it turns out it's an onion article, and her lack of understanding was so goddamned hilarious I couldn't decide whether to tell her or not. In the end I told her. There was no practical way to follow the progress of the story as she told it to other people, so the entertainment value was pretty much used up, and it was time for some modicum of damage control.

Friday, October 23, 2009


It's hard to say if this is completely and utterly awesome, or just another interesting blip on the radar that may someday make it into textbooks.

JACS ASAP, DOI: 10.1021/ja9061097

I had and organic prof. years ago who referred to fullerenes as full of shit arenes, due to all the press they had garnered with little real applications found. They still have produced relatively little, especially when compared to sibling compounds such as carbon nanotubes, but every now and then something really neat like this comes out.

Also I learned a new word today, that I wish I hadn't: Suicidality.

Monday, October 19, 2009


This went to ASAP a little while ago. The method is interesting, and apparently successful, but the thing I liked most about it was one of the footnotes.

It's a bit unfortunate that a good method needs to be supported for not being catalytic, or any other little darling of the day, but it's nice to see it done once in a while.

It seems like most people who use buzzwords, especially in the title of the article, really do the buzzword in question a disservice, and it has little to do with the method besides poor advertising.