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From:"Morken, Tim" <>
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When I was learning electron microscopy I was told a story by a machinist
who was making a part for the EM. He was asked by a customer to cut some
one-inch-thick metal rods to a certain length. When the machinist asked how
exact the length had to be, the customer told him he wanted them all exactly
the same. The machinist took this to mean he needed to use super-precise
measuring equipment and spent a considerable amount of time trimming the
ends so all the rods were "exactly" the same length. When the customer
picked up the rods the machinist asked him what they would be used for.
"Hydraulic jack handles" he replied. The machinist realized he had could
have cut all the handles to the required length in less time than it took to
make sure one rod was the "exact" length asked for. Moral of the story? Be
sure you know what is really being asked for and know whether the
measurement is critical or not. It may save a lot of aggravation! 

Tim Morken

-----Original Message-----
From: []
Sent: Tuesday, August 29, 2000 7:01 PM

Louise Taylor's like:

>>I want to ask a REALLY DUMB question: How does one accurately measure out 
Tween 20<<

I'm amazed at the variety and ingenuity of the answers that have already

There's one kind of dumb question - the one that's not asked! Homely details

of laboratory practice like this make or break experiments - and, even more 
important, often are worth more for laboratory safety than all the MSDS's
Right-to-Know Stations the Herrn Inschpektors beam at.

I remember who taught me how to hold an ordinary glass pipette - how to grip

a pair of scissors to avoid fatigue during a lengthy dissection - and one or

two who tried to teach me how to tie a surgical knot (maybe that's why I'm a


On a different topic, I quite missed Bruce Castleman's book, and am grateful

to John Kiernan for resurrecting his shade.

Bob Richmond
Samurai Pathologist
Knoxville TN
and gladly wold he lerne, and gladly teche (Chaucer)

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