Japanese blades

ceramic.jpg
*Yawn* Saturday bliss, no hurry, no obligations – even though work has been so pleasant, interesting and at the same time challenging that I almost feel depressed about not working today. (Almost.) (And, in any case, I’ll be at the office again tomorrow, as the VCD workshop begins with an official mingle-in day…) I spent most of this week in various preparations for the project – I’ll be sort of continuing the project from last summer, with a few additions that would make anyone jump around with excitement.
First, there are new mouse lines, with two different kinds of genetically encoded fluorescent markers (meaning that, all the cells expressing a particular protein will be also expressing a fluorescent dye). Since the two marker dyes have different emission properties – ie, they are different colors – it is very easy to pick up for electrophysiological measurements those that express one or another or both. This is not a small feat in the structure I’m going to be working on since very little is known about the cells and their functions there, and the different types of cells are not discernible by morphology alone, at least not yet since the basic work is still missing. (And, then we can knock out a gene or two in these double-labeled animals, and see whether the knock-out (KO) results in any changes in function in labeled or non-labeled cells… so, enormous amount of knowledge just there waiting for me…)
Second – some of you might remember me jumping around already last summer for being able to use a lamborghini -class setup, with high-grade electrophysiology, infrared optics, confocal laser scanner and 2-photon laser scanner… well, now, in addition to the optics being enhanced by differential contrast prism, this setup (later to be called the Leica setup) will be practically used only by me. Free working hours!
And, most importantly – for the first time ever I think, I don’t have a deadline, no-one is breathing into my neck, asking stupid questions like ‘why there are no results yet’ or even telling me that while I am (spiritually?) preparing for my project I could do a couple of very easy and straightforward experiments using chewing gum and shoestrings as a replacement for the precision instrument set up I am working on…
In other words, I have time to think this over, to find out the best way to proceed with things. So, I spent a day waddling in literature on DCN current clamping,, found out recipes for extracellular and intracellular solutions and preparation procedures, selected those that sounded most convincing, made orders for missing chemicals AND took the time to find out about those chemicals I was not familiar with. Spent another day designing experiment data sheets for keeping everything organized – this was fun, somewhat similar to designing RPG character sheets:) Designed sort-of-databases (I know too much about databases to call anything based on Exel sheets such) for keeping track of my mutant mouse lines and the specifications of drugs – I know from experience that if such plans are not made in advance, the day-to-day work is always pressing and interesting to believe that ‘oh, surely I will remember THAT, NBQX is *always* uset at 40 micromolar…
As the final touch for my new, good scientific life, I was given some new blades to do the slicing with. I am not sure if they’re comparable to Hattori’s blades, but the ceramic blades with 1 micron sharp edge good for a month of cutting seemed really to make a difference. Even though the two first attempts at DCN preparation were not perfect, the slices looked much better than any I did last summer: smooth surface with plenty of healthy cells just begging to be patched. In the end, I did not patch any – but got close enough to call this a succesfull week.
One further accomplishment: I managed to prepare sort-of japanese food in sort-of japanese way: using the frightening gas stove and a rice cooking machine. Not bad at all. Even though, it’s rather difficult to screw up rice and thinly sliced marinated beef…