Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Battle of the Bottle Cap

This has been a pretty busy week at work. I'm going to be learning a new technique -- I won't say what or for what purpose, as it would decrease readership if I had to track everyone down to silence them. Not that I would ever, ever do that--but I digress. Anyway, we ordered new chemicals for this procedure, and the other day I decided to open one of them and start preparing some solutions.

This particular chemical is ether (I think I can safely say that). You may remember it from high school experiments with fruit flies. It's a dangerous, flammable chemical, so it's sealed for my protection. Under the regular cap was a bottle cap. There was a hole in the center of the bottle cap, displaying a liner under it.

I have a Swiss army knife at work; it was a freebie at a seminar I attended a few years ago. It has two bottle openers on it, but neither one of them would catch the crimps on this bottle cap. I tried using a couple of other tools, including scissors, to pry it off, but that didn't work either. The best I could do was rip the metal. I then tried puncturing the liner, but that was pretty tough too. I probably wrestled with that bottle for fifteen-twenty minutes before I managed to "open" it. I'm not quite sure now how I ripped the liner off, but the metal cap remained in place. I couldn't get my pipet (a device for measuring liquids) into the the hole I created, so I had to pour some of the ether into a beaker first.

After all that work, you'd think it would be easy to close the bottle. No such luck. The metal cap stuck up, so I couldn't get the cap on straight. This is a big problem when you're dealing with something like ether; it could evaporate and fill the lab with dangerous fumes. The best I could do was pound the ripped edges of the bottle cap into the bottle so I could put the cap on. When all was said and done, I probably spent a half hour just on the ether.

I'm all for safety in the lab, but I'd like to be able to open chemicals without hurting myself. I'm still amazed I did all of that without the clutz factor catching up to me.

Anyway, that's been the most exciting thing I have to blog about. Still editing Lennon's Line and writing a bit of Key on the side. But now I want to goof around a bit with a game I downloaded from Yahoo! last night.

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