Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The road to science is paved with mice

I really didn't want to make this post. I didn't want to post at all actually but my raid shark rodeo was canceled and I had some time on my hands. I had originally planned (I'm trying for weekly updates by the by) a sombre explanation of what the research I'm sacrificing my time, effort and mice is all about. But unlike the mice in question, last week's topic isn't dead yet.

No, enough of that. Actually it was

My meeting with the principal investigator-the guy who cuts the checks-went pretty much as I expected. Actually a hell of a lot better then I expected, since when I told him what I'd discovered about the mouse colony he just kind of breathed in sharply and nodded. He asked if these faulty mice had been used in any experiments? I said I'd checked, and no. He thought a minute, weighed the options and said he guessed I'd have to get rid of them. I nodded, said I'd get right on it. And I did, (damn it) the very next day.

I was thorough, and since my records were kept carefully I could identify every errant cage in the rack and put a little mark on them. I'd considered doing the deed myself but the easy way was just to easy. One of my minions the animal technicians would take care of them when they came in to clean the cages the next day. I lingered, wrapped in a cold shawl of Catholic guilt, thinking about all the ways this was very very wrong. And then I left. And that weekend I got good and drunk against the express advice of my gastroenterologist.

Monday back to work, and inevitably back to the now much emptier room where we kept our mice. In the back of my mind was a command from the underboss the director of mouse work to not forget about the old breeders of this colony, since they were to old to be used again. Since they weren't on my record sheet I'd probably missed them in the first pass. Sure enough, wedged between the wall and the mini-fridge there was the cage of the old girls. Still with the original ordering information, which I quickly scanned.

Then I put the cage back on the rack.

Then I muffled my screams with a handy lab coat.

Yes Dear Reader, my records were faulty, and the mice had been bred exactly as they were supposed to be. No miscegenation, oh outraged Victorian pedigree keepers, those 180+ mice were as pure as the driven snow. Were. Because now, they are dead. And I killed them. Perhaps we will meet again.

The weird thing is, I really have no idea how to even admit to this. Definitely, via means I haven't completely worked out, it's my fault and I'm retarded. But in a completely different way from what I've already owned up to! I was right, when I set up their breeding 9 months ago. But I forgot that, and then I mislabeled them in my records, and then lost the original paperwork. Before I could figure out what had actually happened I reported what seemed to have happened and then the mice were doomed doomed doomed.

So I might be wrong sometimes, but I can also be wrong about being wrong, and that's something to check before getting all kill crazed.


The Silly Addiction said...

Is there any way you can just not mention this? I mean, your boss probably wouldn't have been any the wiser about your last screw-up if you hadn't come clean.

Thomas said...

No news is good news is what I'll go with here. The first screwup was lab business, since the boss needs to know what is or isn't available. This final bit of information is really only interesting to myself and other lovers of grim irony. This does count as irony yes?

The Silly Addiction said...

My yardstick for measuring irony has always been "is the statement more ironic than a corresponding line in Ironic by Alanis Morisette". If the irony of your statement is less than or equal to that of the lyric, I'm afraid it doesn't qualify.

So. Let's run the test.

I'm thinking the most relevant line is "It's like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife". In your case, it's like ten thousand lab mice when all you need is ten thousand different lab mice. So far, so subpar.

However, you swiftly add another layer of howling embarrassment when you murder the wrong mice. If you were Alanis Morisette, the lyric would now read "It's like ten thousand mice when all you need is exactly the same mice".

As an English person, I consider myself to have a finely honed sense of irony. And even I don't know if this qualifies.

So fuck it. You're ironic!

I really do think!