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2007-08-13 - 12:17 p.m.

...I wonder if orangutans work on temporary contracts..

So today I went over to the main office and signed several authorization forms - spraying my signature all over the campus so that I will be authorized to do ANYTHING. Glad that THAT problem was solved.

Now we are beginning to deal with this week's lab issues: the fume hood. I have a fine fume hood. It's really lovely - filled with dust, but...otherwise, just lovely. EXCEPT...

The acid sink. The acid sink was installed at the BACK of the hood, more than a full meter away from the front of the hood. Now, I don't know how long YOUR arms are...but I'll bet that they are not more than one meter long.

So the only way to reach the acid sink is to stick your HEAD inside the hood. Now, just in case you haven't dealt with fume hoods before in your life: they are there to trap and ventilate toxic fumes, which means that it is basically a BAD IDEA to stick your head inside them.

And in fact it's clear that the original designers of the fume hood KNEW that this was a bad idea, because the contractors clearly had to drill a special HOLE through the back of the fume hood to make a space for the sink there - even though there is a perfectly acceptable built-in pipe connection at the front of the hood.

So...given that I was basically tired of dealing with all of these lab issues, I decided that there was only one acceptable way of dealing with this problem: ignore it, and hire orangutans for grad students.

Turns out that orangutans have an EXTREMELY low unemployment rate in Canada. (Very few people know this, actually). So instead, I hired the Dean's daughter (who, by the way, shares absolutely no similarity with an orangutan, apart from those obvious genetic connections that Darwin first brought up).

So, the dean's daughter thought that this whole fume hood setup was a stitch. Right up there with the broken clock that was taken away two weeks ago because I am 'not authorized' to change it. (the clock, by the way, is still in the shop - which provides no end of amusement for my lab workers). Anyway, the dean's daughter thought the defective acid sink was a stitch - and shared this humor with her dad.

The next day he came in with a possy of people to look at the sink. All three of them (one of whom was very very tall) tried to reach the acid sink. And failed. They reminded me of the dollar sign value attached to the hood, and suggested that something this expensive really SHOULD be installed correctly. They promptly advised me to contact the building design manager (again). sigh. (Remember the guy who wanted to charge me for not following the plan?)

All right. All right.

So this morning, I emailed the manager dude. And promptly got an "ON VACATION" response. DEEP SIGH. You might look back an entire year to my first encounter with the August "On Vacation" scenario in Canada. Because really, Canada is right up there with France when it comes to the August holiday. Personally, I think that August holidays are a good thing, but I do also think that it is worthwhile to provide a name and contact info for someone who will help with your job when you are away. Silly me.

The guy did at least leave a name of someone to contact if the problem is an emergency - "JC Smith." JC Smith has no contact info, and does not work at Mountain U. Now, the prospect of typing "Smith" into a search engine just doesn't fill me with I don't think I'll be hunting down Mr. (Mrs?) Smith anytime soon. Guess I'll just wait till the end of the month to deal with the sink.

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