Friday, November 16, 2007

The Infamous 20-Hour Work Day

In graduate school, I once worked a 20-hour day, which I failed to accomplish last night... thankfully. Working a 20 hour day isn't necessarily the part of this story that is interesting. The day in question was about four years ago and my boss had asked me to change to a different project, one that had been tried by another graduate student (without success). The project involved isolating mitochondria from liver cells. To get the mitochondria, as you may have guessed, required me to have, in my possession, a fresh liver sample. Where might someone get a fresh liver sample? The answer: undergraduates. Well, actually, it's wasn't an undergrad liver, it was a pig liver obtained from the university meat lab. I had to go onto the "kill floor" and wait as the liver was extracted from the recently euthanized hog. No, the animal wasn't killed because of me, that was previously scheduled, but the livers are just disposed of, so these places don't mind giving away livers for research purposes.

I had no experience in working with any tissues prior to this and I had no idea what I was doing. I had a procedure from a research paper from 40 years ago as my guide and no one in my group could provide any guidance. Eventually, I plugged through the procedure to isolate the mitochondria and the initial testing to make sure that everything was OK before I headed home. This first isolation ended up taking 20 hours (7am to 3am the next morning). Here is where the humorous part of the story comes in. By the time that I was doing my last liver prep, I could do the same amount of work in about 4 hours (start at 8am and finish at noon). Experience makes all the difference. I was never particularly fond of doing this prep, but I only had to do the extraction once every six months. Slaughterhouses do not have a very friendly atmosphere and I wouldn't be upset if I never had to set foot in one again. I don't foresee any trips in the near future because I'm not working on a project that would require it. So, for the next year or so, I should be slaughterhouse free.


Completely random entertainment for the day - check out this video. It's an offshoot of the Mac/PC ads from TV, but this time it's a full length rap video (not starring the actors from the TV spots). It's quite humorous. Enjoy.

1 comment:

gina said...

i cant even wrap my head around a 20 hour work day! although, i can dream about a 20 hour work week! that's something you can dream about in your two hours of sleep!