My new PI, it turns out, is a little bit of a hoarder. He recently inherited some new lab space, and with it came decades of equipment, supplies, and reagents from its previous inhabitant. He kept all of it. There are solutions dated from the first term of the Bush administration, boxes of unidentifiable and ancient-looking apparatus parts, and drawers full of vintage pipettes, power sources, and surgical tools.
I recently remarked on new PI's mild hoarding tendencies to one of the techs. "I don't think it's really that he's a hoarder," he said, "it's just that he thinks he might one day have a use for these things." Aha! But that is the EXACT hoarder line of thinking, is it not? This is my understanding, at least, from the one time I watched Hoarders. I feel it's worth noting that this is not a show to be watched while one is eating.
One of my tasks has been to get a particular technique up and running for the lab, and new PI was hopeful that I'd be able to piece together the setup for this technique from one or more of the magical boxes of parts lying around the lab. After much brow-furrowing, nose-wrinkling, and confused, desperate Google Image-searching, I finally came to the conclusion that the pieces just did not fit together in the way we wanted them to. Turning to my razor-sharp logic and well-honed powers of persuasion (I did, after all, just negotiate a startup package), I convinced PI to spring for a shiny new setup.
The cloud that lay within this lovely silver lining, however, was that the setup wouldn't arrive for another three weeks. Not acceptable! Three weeks is approximately 1o% of the total time I'll spend in this lab, and I'll be damned if I'm wasting it waiting for my fancy apparatus to come in. So I did what any good scientist does in such situations: I got all MacGuyver on that box of parts.
It's amazing what you can do with a little lab tape, styrofoam, tin foil, and a 24-well plate, is it not? When I showed my PI the final product, his eyes lit up like a kid on Christmas. In fact, I think it made him happier than he'll be when the new setup comes in. Naturally, I'm quite pleased with myself, not only because I made PI so happy, but because I'm able to be much more productive. Once the new setup comes in, I'll be ready to haul.