Tuesday, May 10, 2011
For the past 8ish months, I have been doing hard core analytical chemistry. Analyzing samples of particulates collected from that torturous six weeks in Bakersfield. Analytical chemistry is fun, and I totally geek out on it, especially when it takes this number of syllables just to describe the technique: negative-ion high-performance liquid chromatography / electrospray quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry. Or, well, (-) LC/ESI-Q-TOF MS, which is also sexy in a chem dork kind of way. Oh yes, chemistry is sexy. Don't let anyone tell you differently. Also, I'd like to know what weird searches just got redirected to my blog thanks to the last few sentences. Whoops.
I've been one of the major users of this particular instrument, and have even thrown my name in the hat as a potential namer of the LC/MS. Because these suckers have personalities. They get into snits - the nasty ones that put you back two months in your research. And unless you talk nicely to them, they'll inexplicably decide to do weird things like make your reference compounds disappear or your pump back pressure oscillate. Ornery is a good word to describe them. But like most other inanimate objects, they do seem to listen and understand if I do the same. So even though it makes the others in the lab look at me funny, I chat with the LC as I get it going, pat it when it does what I want, and check in on it every couple hours when it runs my samples. I think it appreciates the attention, you know?
So when the lab's power supply had to be replaced, which caused a turbo pump in the MS to freeze up, which pushed out when I could get my data to a scant week before I needed it for a poster presentation? I was not happy with little mister LC/MS. But I was happy with the lab staff, who busted ass to get a refurbished pump into the instrument as quickly as possible and then were perfectly fine with me commandeering an entire week on it once it was back up. These are good people. More than just good people. They were, in my opinion, 150% deserving of cake. And balloons. And confetti. Probably beer too, but I'm a bit wary of bringing alcohol into academic buildings (although the bottle of champagne I saw in the fridge just last week was gutsy of someone).
In the interest of making this a more accessible cake to the masses, I didn't put pears and prunes in it - instead, pecans and hunks of chocolate stud this bundt. Because really, who wouldn't want a huge, cake-shaped chocolate chip cookie??
Last Week: Mocha Marbled Loaf Cake
Next Week: Maple Cornmeal Biscuits