Open Thread #1

December 11th, 2010

Hello friends,

I miss “The Wall” from the old blog.  It was a chance for everyone to share thoughts and links unrelated to chemistry.  Something is odd with this WordPress theme in that it doesn’t allow comments on pages (versus posts).  Rather than going too far into the code, I figured I’d just replace the wall with an open thread.

Feel free to share your thoughts on vending machine snacks, best brands of bar soap, movies/TV…whatever.  Nothing is off topic.  You can even plug stuff.  Direct us to your latest paper, share your favorite YouTube video, or brag about your new book. 

And because knowing is half the battle, here are some tips for how you can comment like a pro using simple HTML code:

“This is how you <b>embolden</b> text.”

This is how you embolden text.

“This is how you <i>italicize</i> text.”

This is how you italicize text.

“Here is the <a href=””›link</a>, good buddy.”

Here is the link, good buddy.

“Here is the pic: <br><img src=””>”

Here is the pic:
Chemical Ed Vomits

60 Responses to “Open Thread #1”

  1. Paul Says:

    I’ll start off with a song stuck in my head:

  2. McChemist Says:

    On your old site, didn’t you once sing the praises of the Corrs song ‘Summer Sunshine’? You really seem to like them.

    I find their music, or at least the one album of theirs I once listened to, too unabashedly happy for my tastes. If I listen to more than two of their songs in a row, I’ll feel like I need to go listen to some Elliott Smith or something.

  3. Paul Says:

    Guilty as charged. Here are my top 5 Corrs songs:

    1. Old Town
    2. Runaway
    3. Summer Sunshine
    4. Breathless
    5. At Your Side
    6. Radio (bonus!)

    I also love their versions of Dreams and Toss the Feathers

  4. Mike Says:

    I like the Corrs+Bono version of “When the Stars Go Blue” — easily my favorite Ryan Adams song.

  5. Mitch Says:

    Ummmm….. you should be able to enable comments on posts. If you need help let me know.

  6. Mitch Says:

    *posts = pages.

  7. Paul Says:

    Thanks, Mitch. I might actually take you up on that offer. Messing with this theme is on my list of things to do over Christmas break.

  8. Joel Says:

    You should make a page that tracks all of the different hats Ed the Dog has worn!

    That reminds me, I need to send you a picture of my blog magnets in use.

  9. Paul Says:

    @Joel: I was actually thinking of making a gallery of Ed and friends. You’ve seen regular Ed, Santa Ed, Old Ed, Vomit Ed, as well as Orgo Bunny and Math Chick. You have yet to see Hipster Ed, Baseball Ed, Orby the Fly, unnamed Penguin, and Jackie Jaws the Jaded JACS referee.

  10. Paul Says:

  11. bad wolf Says:

    Was i the only one bothered by the ACS Organic Divisions’s decision to not print and distribute a softbound copy of Organic Syntheses this year? no discussion, no vote, no change of dues. i for one am going to miss it.

  12. Hap Says:

    I was unhappy when they got rid of the hardcopy Organic Division blue book for national meetings, and complained to the Org. Division – they were nice about it, but basically told me that ACS pulled the money for it, so it wasn’t happening. I assume (but don’t know) that something similar happened with Org. Syn.

    I miss the blue books more than hardcopy Org. Syn., since the meeting rosters are impossible to browse and difficult to print in the current format, and I liked to look at the structures, which is available in a monster PDF (six hundred pages of abstracts is difficult to put together, much less browse).

  13. Paul Says:

  14. Chemjobber Says:

    Yeah, I was meaning to do a post on it, but forgot to. I really will miss those little brown books.

  15. Paul Says:

    I never bothered saving those books. Their contents never justified the use of shelf space, especially since they can be found in the library (or online). I wish we just got a free ACS Style Guide every ten years instead.

  16. James Says:

    When did Chembark stop being “a boring blog about chemistry” ?

  17. Paul Says:

    Oh, it’s still boring…but you all no longer need to be explicitly reminded of that fact.

  18. Chemjobber Says:

    I think I just like carrying them — they’re just the right size and they’re chock full of goodness. Maybe the iPad will have the same effect, but I don’t think so.

  19. bad wolf Says:

    Thanks to a retiring professor or two i have a very thorough Org Syn collection. I liked that they just started putting in the photos of the submitters and checkers; a friend got two photos in the same volume. The email i got said they were using the $ to support an additional 0.5 grad student fellowship? That doesn’t sound like a lot of money.

  20. McChemist Says:

    The ratio of song posted by Paul to songs posted by someone who isn’t Paul is too high in this thread.

  21. McChemist Says:

    Well, I tried to embed a video in that last comment, but it didn’t work. Maybe that’s why nobody else is sharing music videos.

  22. Paul Says:

    Yup…it looks like you have to log-in to embed stuff. I don’t see a way to toggle this off in the WordPress panel, so just post a URL and I’ll embed it.

  23. Paul Says:

  24. Paul Says:

    Top 5 Desserts at Fast Food Chains:

    5. McFlurry, McDonald’s
    4. Churros, Del Taco
    3. Hot Fudge Ice Cream Sundae, McDonald’s
    2. Dutch Apple Pie, Burger King
    1. Caramel Cheesecake Bites, Del Taco

    Honorable Mentions (RIP): Strawberry Shortcakes at Roy Rogers and the fried apple pies McD’s used to sell.

  25. Hap Says:

    Two nominees:

    1) Jamocha shake, Arby’s (not a big fan, but people go nuts for them)

    2) Chocolate turnovers, Arby’s (I like those)

    Considering cost, I’d also likely rank the Wendy’s Frosty ahead of the McFlurry (though the mixins are nice).

  26. McChemist Says:

    Lets all listen to some Iron & Wine:

    Also, what’s Del Taco? Something out west?

  27. Paul Says:

    Yup…Del Taco is like Taco Bell, except they also sell the worst hamburgers on the planet.

  28. Paul Says:

  29. Anonymous Says:

    I’ve been reading this blog for a while and need some help: the lab I have moved into as a first year PhD is not particularly well organised. Any tips for good chemical cataloging systems (obviously alphabetical doesn’t work too well), and is barcoding worth the expense? What about centralized databases/spreadsheets, are there any commercial programs available (or free ones)?. Anyone with experience doing this please chip in!

    I understand that there will need to be a lot of horrible games of “guess what chemical this unlabelled bottle contains/ used to contain but has now leaked on the freezer floor” but hopefully at the end of it all we will have a lab where not only will I know if we have a certain chemical I will be able to find it without risking my health.

  30. Hap Says:

    Derek Lowe had a post on this topic…

    I don’t have any personal experience though – my lab didn’t have a very good system.

  31. Chemjobber Says:

    Anon9:49a: Do you have to do this? Are you *really* willing to take this on? Don’t, if you don’t have to. It will eat up a lot of time, you’ll be frustrated and no one will appreciate the hours and days of hard work that you’re putting into it.

    [This moment brought to you by cold-blooded bad lab citizenship.]

  32. excimer Says:

    I just noticed that Paul hated on Del Taco’s hamburgers above. I have never eaten a hamburger at Del Taco. Who the fuck eats hamburgers at Del Taco? Seriously. In my 21 years of living in the same city as a Del Taco have I ever actually seen someone order a hamburger there. Especially on Taco Tuesday, which was, in college, the best day of the week.

    …I miss Del Taco. And other seedy Mexican dives that never quite made it to the Midwest.

  33. Paul Says:

    @excimer: I had to run the experiment. Fortunately, the burger was only a supplement to my Macho Taco meal. It went into the garbage after one bite.

    @Anon: I am a fellow idealist, but in this case, I have to agree with Chemjobber. You do NOT want to do this. Such an effort was the biggest failure of my time in grad school, and I am still embarrassed of it. There is simply too much effort involved in getting it done, and chances are it will be for nothing. If neatness is not already ingrained in the culture of the lab, a first-year grad student sure as hell won’t change things.

    I’d recommend trying to organize a half-day group clean up to get rid of all the unsafe items in your inventory (ancient, broken, unlabeled, etc.), then focus your effort on keeping your own bench clean. And if you do go trying to clean up old stuff, be very careful. Talk to the EH&S people in your department so you can deal with any nasty waste issues that pop up and can minimize having to mix old chemicals into waste containers. Such a clean-up effort (of old chemicals in a muddled inventory) was what sent me to the hospital for four days as an undergrad.

    Good luck.

  34. J-bone Says:

    Paul, if you haven’t had the churros that the vendors sell at the border crossing you MUST have them. I STILL have never had one as good as those and I’ve sampled many a churro (although I’ve pretty much given up on it now, none of them are as good).

    The vendors usually have a big box (about the size of a small cooler) that’s slung off their hip or belly.

    I endorse excimer 100%, Del Taco is the bomb. I only recently had the caramel cheesecake bites and they were a bit sweet for my taste, but still delicious. And I appreciate that their hot sauce (Inferno or Del Scorcho, I can’t remember) is actually hot, not hot-for-people-who-can’t-handle-spicy-food.

  35. Friday round-up | The Safety Zone Says:

    […] Starting in the blogosphere: The Pump Handle says OSHA must wash its hands of permissible exposure limits, comments at ChemBark address whether a first year grad student really wants to initiate a chemical inventory […]

  36. excimer Says:

    At Illinois they hire student workers (usually chemistry majors) to do the inventory inputs. That’s really the only way such a monumental task like that gets done, outsourcing to slave lab- i mean undergrads.

  37. Hap Says:

    Congratulations on your Nature book review.

    Oh, and having Wolfie question your publication record is like having your scientific and intellectual honesty criticized by James “It’s nice and warm here in the pocket of the oil industry” Imhofe. Just saying.

  38. Justsayin Says:

    Although Wolfie’s question is not completely unjustified. Working for Whitesides and Gray and not having a single first author paper in a JACS-quality journal is disappointing and unbecoming of someone who has worked with these heavyweights. Plus nobody can deny that Paul is something of a publicity hound.

  39. Hap Says:

    I don’t know about Gray – I didn’t think that the volume of papers from his group would be consistent with getting lots of 1st author papers. In Prof. Whitesides’ group, there have been a lot of grad students with JACS and Nature papers, but I don’t know who was first author on them (if the grad student rather than a postdoc was first, other than the professor). The volume of papers from the group suggests that even if one gets papers, they likely wouldn’t be mostly JACS/Science/Nature papers.

  40. excimer Says:

    Number of papers Scott Denmark had as a grad student: zero. He did alright.

    Let’s not confuse number of 1st author papers with scientific aptitude and capacity for insight and hard work. You don’t always get to choose your projects.

  41. Aspirin Says:

    Although as a person, everyone knows Denmark is akin to the bag for a feminine hygienic product one might use on a warm summer day. God save Paul from himself if he turns out that way.

  42. Paul Says:

  43. Chemjobber Says:

    “Number of papers Scott Denmark had as a grad student: zero. He did alright.”

    Really? REALLY? Wow — I had no idea.

  44. Hap Says:

    Denmark’s papers are really good, though I was told when looking for a grad school that his students were scared of him. That probably wouldn’t have done me much good as a person.

    Origin of life is not a field replete with first author JACS papers, I think. There may be a Nobel Prize in it somewhere, but there’s a lot of dross to dig through.

    Of course, if ability to criticize/analyze someone else’s work is proportional to publications, then I’m screwed.

  45. Chemjobber Says:

    In my (very limited) experience, I’ve found him approachable but certainly potentially intimidating.

    Seems to me, though, most male professors that are physically somewhat largish, verbally extroverted and more direct than average are found intimidating. Sometimes, it’s true; sometimes, it’s just the first layer of a person.

  46. Matt Says:

    @Justsayin and @Hap Harry’s group publishes much more slowly than most people realize. Harry is very cautious about the research results coming out of the group. Most of the science is really pchem (in inorganic/bioinorganic clothing) so the work is meticulous and thorough. Harry does publish more quickly when something novel is synthesized. But, that isn’t the main focus of the group.

  47. Hap Says:

    No, I assumed Gray published slowly – that was my point (that you wouldn’t expect a plethora of pubs from someone in Gray’s group).

    I talked to Prof. Denmark once on the phone, and haven’t ever seen him or talked to him in person, so I have no idea what he is, and whether people had reason to fear him. I don’t know that about most people, though.

  48. Chemjobber Says:

    Snow day!!!!!

  49. Paul Says:

    Um, wow…

  50. yonemoto Says:

    Impressive, but I feel like this is only encouraging July FIFTH PARTIES.

  51. Paul Says:

  52. Paul Says:

    A fantastic miniseries with great music:

  53. Stewie Griffin Says:

    Probably a bit late to this particular party but I saw this on this week’s Nova Science episode about the origins of life: Nature 459, 239-24. Pretty amazing IMHO.

  54. Paul Says:

    @Stewie: Only two years late to the party, but that is indeed fantastic work by Sutherland & Co.

  55. Paul Says:

  56. Paul Says:

    A delicious blend of chemistry and history on today’s Sporcle:

  57. Bender Says:

    Hap, this is your doing, right?

  58. Hap Says:

    No. A briefer Cleveland Tourism video would have been a picture of Devils’ Night with “At least only our rivers burn.”

    I’m sure the C-bus sequel will come out. “We’re boring, and our paper thinks it’s God, but at least we’re not burning.”

    I’m understanding a little bit of the dislike for Boozer, but I still can’t figure out why he would have promised that he would re-sign in Cleveland. Maybe he lied and he was being an a-hole, or he made the same kind of mistake in the moment that normally ends in a bad marriage or “Heaven By The Dashboard Light”, or there were electrodes involved. I don’t know.

  59. Paul Says:

    Can anyone translate this page?

  60. Redmewsevism Says:

    Regproj test

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