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February 18, 2002
A Couple of Days Off
I won't be posting for another day or two; I'm taking tomorrow off from the Wonder Drug Factory and heading out with the family. My chemistry can get along without me just fine, and the people that report to me will most likely be even more productive without me around.
Leaving the lab for a few days was much harder back in graduate school, of course. The main reason was psychological. It took at least six months after I got my PhD for that voice in the back of my head to stop telling me to get back in lab, that I was wasting time. Every hour that I wasn't trying to finish my project was an extra hour that I was going to spend in grad school. This mental nudging didn't just occur when it should have. No, I felt this way when I was doing frivolous stuff like buying food, or putting gas in the car.
The second problem with leaving the lab was that I had a lot of chemistry going on simultaneously. I persisted in thinking that I'd remember every tiny detail when I got back. So I'd return and find a bunch of flasks, helpfully labeled with things like "large batch," "other fraction," or "N." My first day back in the lab always involved a lot of staring up at the ceiling, trying to remember what the heck I was doing.
Of course, many of my days in the lab involved some staring up at the ceiling. The difference was, on those occasions, my lips were moving.
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