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  • Day545

    Greasy bones mess up labeling

    March 9, 2019 in Canada ⋅ ☀️ -28 °C

    Before we begin, please allow me to share the good news that my toilet and plumbing have been working with perfection since I last wrote. Yep, turns out getting to the cause of a problem rather than just treating the symptom gets you a consistently flushing toilet!

    Currently at work, there is actually almost a full complement of staff in our group. This is practically unprecedented. It has been fantastic for allowing the jobs and tasks to be done properly. It also has allowed me time to try and work backwards and try to address some of the shambles. It's clear that previous staff were doing their best, but with limited capacity, it is not physically possible to do the job fully. We all know this. Put out the fire and leave the building a wreck.

    Once such shamble relates to bacula. Improperly boiled penis bones, like any bone, seeps oil and grease over time. All those bones at the museums we've all seen are the product of meticulous, tedious boiling/macerating/cleaning/etc. It's not an easy task. So yesterday, I walk in and pull out a big plastic bag of greasy bacula from the "f**cked up" box. Yes, we have a box for all the f**k ups no one knows what to do with. I ask what the deal is and I'm told that the markings identifying the individual bear that the bone belongs to was not properly written on the baculum and thus, got smudged off with the ensuing greasiness. Now, the task is to take each of these bacula and examine them under a microscope to see if we can make out any faint, etched ID marks. Huh. That is what my life is now? Taking greasy penis bones and examining them under microscopes. Cool.

    You just never know what type of "problems" have to be solved here.

    For the last couple months, we've had a student intern. She is in college for biotechnology and it is solely designed to teach students all lab procedures, equipment, and assays so they can go get a job in a lab anywhere doing most anything. She wanted to come North and cut up teeth to try and age animals. Part of her work has been helping me establish a repeatable, understandable process for inventorying extra teeth. Typically, only 1 tooth is necessary to get an age. But, we ask for 2 because sometimes 1 breaks, etc. Teeth also have dental ligament tissue surrounding them that we've purposefully left on. This is because if an animal is harvested but there is no tissue available to run DNA for identity, the dental ligament could work. So, our student has been pulling off hundreds of old, sometimes rotted, tooth ligament tissue from individual teeth. I walk in the lab and it smells of death. She looks up and grins with a pair of pliers in one hand. "This is SO fun!" she exclaims. "But, I think I have rotted tissue on my sweater cause it sometimes flicks off. But that's okay!"
    Huh. Okay cool. I walk out again.

    Rotted teeth tissue. Greasy bones. I think I'll go run stats.
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