I spent the day giving the Wonder Drug Company good value for their money - cranking out a load of intermediate for other folks on the project and getting analytical data on some other samples. And talking about that sort of thing reminds me to link to a chemistry blog that I wasn't aware of until recently: a grad student named Dylan Stiles, who's working for Barry Trost out at Stanford.
Stiles is running just the kind of blog that I would have if. . .well, if the Web had existed back in 1985 when I was a grad student. Actually, it was probably a good thing for my graduate career that it didn't, come to think of it. That's the era of the "old timey" NMR machine in this post of his, which makes me wish I could find a photo of what we considered an old-timey machine. Ah, here we go: scroll down to the middle of the page, to the picture under "1976-1977". I used one of those things, and no, you didn't have to load coal in the back of it and wait for the boiler to fire up. It just looks that way.
At any rate, Stiles talks about the reactions he's running, with drawings and schemes, and takes photos of the crystals he gets and other oddities around the lab. I really wish I could do something similar once in a while. I obviously can't talk much, though, about (for example) the heterocycle I finished up today, except to note that the reaction used an unseemly amount of straight hydrazine, like nearly half a liter, and I was very glad to see the back of it. And I'd like to show some photos, too, but the Wonder Drug Factory has a "no camera" policy, and I can see why, what with chemical structures drawn all over the place.
But there would be some things to show off: I dropped a big stirbar right through the side of a one-liter pear-shaped flask the other day, for example, producing a perfect Pyrex analog of a gourd birdhouse. All I need to do is flame-polish the hole and find a way to stick a stopper permanently into the ground glass joint, which is a task that I've always seemed to be pretty skilled at, and I'm in business. See what you're missing?
Anyway, give Stiles a look if you're a hard-core organic chemistry geek like me, and if anyone knows of some other chemistry grad student or post-doc blogs, please send them along. I need to differentiate my blogroll a bit more, and that would be a fine category to have.