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DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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June 3, 2009

Random Questions

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Posted by Derek

Not much time for a post this morning, so I'll throw out a few questions for the readership. Feel free to answer any, all, or none:

1. Does it bother you, or by contrast make you a bit proud, when you tell someone that you're a chemist and (as happens in about seven out of ten cases) they say "Oh, that was my hardest/least favorite/most boring subject when I was in school"?

2. How many thousands (10s, 100s of thousands) of dollars of unused equipment is sitting in dusty, unused storerooms at your company, because someone ordered it years ago and either (1) never got it to work, (2) was the only person ever to get it to work, or (3) found that it worked, but what it did wasn't worth doing that way?

3. Have you ever set up a reaction and thought "Boy, I sure hope that this doesn't work"?

4. For the drug discovery people out there, what per cent of compounds you've made over the years would you guess dissolve in plain water to any real extent? Is that figure going up, or down?

5. What, off the top of your head, would you say in retrospect is the most time-wasting chemistry you've ever ended up doing?

Comments (37) + TrackBacks (0) | Category:


1. You're Pfizered on June 3, 2009 8:30 AM writes...

1. Never bothered me that most folks hated organic chemistry that I've met outside of work. At least they think I'm somewhat smart (I'm fooling them all!)

2. You forgot to add in there about when companies lay folks off what happens to the excess stuff. The company I worked for, when it had a big layoff a few years ago (of which I was a part of), wound up just throwing a whole ton of glassware and equipment away. Very frustrating.

4. Less than 10%, probably by a wide margin.

5. The current scale-up I'm working on. I could be making other compounds with the material I'm pushing through, but I need to get large quantities of this gem (said very sarcastically) so that our leadership can check off a box that says "ran x compounds in vivo in 2009".

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2. Dynastar on June 3, 2009 8:37 AM writes...

1. You think chem is bad, try having a math degree.

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3. Don B. on June 3, 2009 8:45 AM writes...

I never set up a reaction that I did not want to work.

I have seen countless amounts of equipment put into dumpsters with changes in "management" & downsizing.

I once had a member of the Sierra Club say "that chemists & the pharmaceutical industry were resposible for overpopulation and destruction of nature!".

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4. Tot. Syn. on June 3, 2009 8:53 AM writes...

1. Nope - but it does bother me when people think that chemist = high-street pharmacist. And that PhD = not-a-proper-doctor. But then I'm easily wound-up

2. Most of what I work with (machine-wise) is recycled from other companies that shut-down, so I think we do okay. And the stuff that we're done with gets passed-on elsewhere. And there's not too much unused stuff.

3. Yep. Na/Hg amalgam reduction. Hated making that stuff. Goddamn fireflashes...

4. I've only been doing the med-chem thing for a little-while, but not many; perhaps 10%.

5. My Masters project? Yep, 6% yield over two steps to make a DNA intercalator that didn't work. If I hadn't had a cracking Summer Research Project just prior to that, or a year working at UMSL, it would have made me dump chemistry as a career. Grrr.

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5. qetzal on June 3, 2009 8:56 AM writes...

Not a chemist, but re #3:

I occasionally run experiments that I hope don't work. Usually this happens when I've observed some potentially interesting result, but I'm worried it could be due to some artifact. I'll run an experiment designed to show whether the possible artifact is actually responsible, and hope the experiment 'fails.'

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6. Jim B on June 3, 2009 8:57 AM writes...

1) I mostly get "Oh, do you work in Boots (a UK pharmacist)?". Cue steam coming out of my ears as I explain the difference.

2)Not much actually, most of it's equipment that broke and is stored "because we might fix it one day"

3) Many, many times.

4)I'm a carbohydrate chemist, so most of them.

5) Polarimetry of a series of compounds when I'd already obtained the rotation of the enantiomers.

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7. Vader on June 3, 2009 9:05 AM writes...

I'm a computational physicist, not a chemist, so the list of questions would be slightly different, but yeah.

I can't help but cringe at the "Oh, I hated physics" comments. But then I remind myself that this gives me a comparative advantage that I've been able to translate into a comfortable salary.

I don't think I need to say much about unused equipment in my field. Our "apparatus" gets obsolete in about six months, so the company lets us replace it every two years or so. The old stuff ends up sitting in the network manager's office where it doubtless provides hours of amusement to the occupant.

I can't say I've ever written a program where I hoped it wouldn't run. On the contrary, I have once in my entire career made a significant change to a computational physics program that actually ran correctly the first time.

Computers and water never mix.

I've written a fair number of programs which, after grinding away for days, told us nothing we could not have figured out with a back-of-the-envelope calculation.

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8. MiddleO'Nowhere on June 3, 2009 9:06 AM writes...

1. A little of both. Proud because I got a degree in a less common subject (there were only 15 chemistry graduates in a class of ~6000 at my college). A little sad because a bit of science/chemical literacy would go a long way in preventing hysteria in the public at the latest danger "CHEMICAL!!!". Stuff like the vaccine/autism mess.

2. $100,000+. Don't forget the equipment that is too expensive to repair and even more expensive to replace. It's kind of nuts when the cost to just have someone come out and look at a piece of equipment is $1500. This is probably more a problem in academic labs.

3. Yes. Two reasons come to mind. The first is when you realize there's a shorter 2 step route to something when you've worked out/been using a 6 step route and you don't want to look like a moron for having used the longer one, "See! The simpler pathway won't work, which is why I need to use all those protecting groups." The second is when the successful synthesis of a compound will drag things out for another year.

4. Never done drug discovery, but very few of my compounds are water soluble. I even made one that was only sparingly soluble in almost everything, but not soluble enough to get an NMR or mass spec of it. And no, it wasn't a PAH.

5. Peptide couplings for macrocycle formation. The yields got progessively worse as I coupled more peptides on, and we never successfully closed the macrocycle.

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9. madkathy on June 3, 2009 9:36 AM writes...

1. I work in chemistry outreach, so to some extent, my job is figuring out how to address that segment of the population. I have discovered that most people who thought chemistry was hard/hated/boring simply had bad teachers and/or the chemistry was poorly communicated. When they have a chance to see what chemistry is, what science is, and the many ways the benefit from it in their daily lives, they often remark "I wish I'd known that sooner."

The fix for this is more support for our elementary, middle, and high school science teachers. Many of them are teaching with limited resources and training in their subjects. A lot of science-types acknowledge the problem, but aren't sure what to do. It may be as simple as donating old journals or science magazines to the local chemistry teacher. Or, regarding question #2, see what you can do to get some of that old dusty equipment into a high school or community college. Take it (with company approval, of course) to the school and spend an afternoon showing the teacher how to use it. Talk to them about what you might've used it for.

When we have more effective science teachers, we will have a more scientifically literate and less science-phobic society.

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10. T.S. Hall on June 3, 2009 9:45 AM writes...

1. As an academic, it bothers me. I always think to myself that the reason people are generally scientifically illiterate and there are so few scientists has a lot to do with the sad job we do in teaching the subject.

2. As an academic, I advise contacting your local masters granting comprehensive universities (MCU) and/or primarily undergraduate institutions (PUI) every once in a while and let them do a spring cleaning for you. If you did not write it off completely yet the company can call it a charitable donation. God knows the MCUs and PUIs can't afford to repair or replace their equipment, so only give the stuff that works.

3. All the time when I am hypothesis testing/disproving.

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11. MTK on June 3, 2009 10:25 AM writes...

1. It usually bothers me more than anything else, because I really don't think it's that hard.

3. All the time. As others have mentioned, it's usually for control experiments or something similar when you're testing a hypothesis. It always stinks when you have to toss away what you thought was a good hypothesis due to actual data.

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12. partial agonist on June 3, 2009 10:27 AM writes...

With regard to question #5, that is easy.

Following up on HTS screening campaigns is boring enough, but once I wasted literally months when compound after compound was resynthesized and found out that every lead was a FALSE POSITIVE.

Now, the screening wells passed QC by LC/MS, mind you, at least for their organic components. But when the wells themselves were purified by HPLC, no activity was seen. We gathered it was an inorganic impurity messing up the assay, and found this out after a good two/three months of synthesis, since the assay folks wanted to test a bunch of compounds "all at once" instead of a few at a time because the assay reagents were expensive and short-lived.

So, the chemists put in months of work, got no leads validated, no publications emerged at all since "Hey, nothing worked!" and there was hardly even any intersting chemistry involved in doing the resynthesis either. To top it all off, the managers (non-chemists) were not too impressed with the productivity, of course measured in active compounds, that quarter.

The only positive was the lesson learned to never get anywhere close to excited about any HTS results until all of the "best" compounda are remade, rigorously purified by HPLC, and have their activity confirmed.

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13. Alex on June 3, 2009 10:50 AM writes...

Meh, try having a degree in physics and philosophy. The only people that don't think you're insane are the philosophers that can stand maths.

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14. Anne on June 3, 2009 10:52 AM writes...

1: I'm an astronomer, so I have a choice: if I want to encourage conversation, I say "I'm an astronomer" and usually get "oh cool!" as long as I don't go on to mention I use radio telescopes. If I want to discourage it I say "I'm an astrophysicist" which gets me a glazed look that says "I don't even know what that is".

2: We've got a fair bit, but nothing on your scale. It's mostly computers here, though there's an old radio telescope on the roof gathering dust. Now at the observatories that's another story - there's a 140-foot dish that's still in service only because they train students on it once in a while...

3: Oh yes. Usually when my plate is completely full of urgent papers and we get some telescope time on a new source: "I hope this doesn't do anything interesting, I don't have time to write it up!"

4: Not really applicable, though at least we don't lose our telescope time to bad weather (short of windstorms or snow). In fact we get telescope time when the high-frequency observers get rained out.

5: We've been having an utterly miserable time trying to get a decent position for this one pulsar. We've got a low-frequency position for it, but the beam size is huge. We tried gridding at a higher frequency, for the smaller beam, but that band is just packed with radio interference, much of which looks exactly like the pulsar. At the next higher band we'd need a zillion pointings to cover our low-frequency beam. At this point I just want to live with our sloppy low-frequency position and forget any high-frequency observing.

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15. HelicalZz on June 3, 2009 11:06 AM writes...

1. Not a bother, but not an ego thing either. Probably someone who wouldn't want to talk to me for too long anyway, or better that we chat on a different subject. I did used to enjoy telling people who asked me what I did that I 'make modified DNA', then stick my hand out for a shake -- always good for a double-take.

2. Plenty of unused equipment. But it isn't worth all that much (10's of Ks). No reason not to call a used equipment dealer and move some of it along if you have a whole lot. Donation is usually only an option for new equipment.

3. In context, perhaps. I do recall thinking, I hope this doesn't work better, or this won't scale well (either scary or impractical). Not really the same as hoping for failure, but similar. Of course there is always the outside suggestion of 'why haven't you tried this' that doesn't garner enthusiasm, but again, more in the better than failure category.

4. Dissolve in water, plenty, but I've often been nucleoside focused (not now though, but I'm not cranking compounds either).

5. Time wasting? There is a lot of process development work that turns out just exactly like you expect it would (intermediate solution stability and such), but really does need to be done and documented. I can see chemists argue that it is time wasting, but I would argue it isn't (I'll give in to monotonous though).


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16. Bored on June 3, 2009 11:07 AM writes...

I agree with madkathy #9. Any subject can be made interesting with the right teacher. My career in science began with watching "Mr. Wizard" as a kid. Granted, he was a guy on TV, but he inspired me.

Sitting in front of a bored professor, even if he is discussing human sexuality, is boring.

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17. Dster on June 3, 2009 11:12 AM writes...

1. I grimace and wait for the 'big pharma' conspiracy theories and alternative treatment theories. Most times this doesn't happen, but it sure is annoying when it does.

2. Hundreds of thousands. Easily. Mostly in unidentified pieces.

3. Yes, anything that involves large amounts or frequent use of a dangerous substance.

4. N/A, I'm in process dev. & don't make new molecules

5. Time wasting: RNA purification alternatives. Stick with Ethanol & salt!

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18. David P on June 3, 2009 11:18 AM writes...

1. It always seems to be in the doctor's office or the dentist's when I hear that. And it always makes me smile. What is much rarer to hear someone say 'oh chemistry, I loved chemistry in school'.

2. Not too much of that, more of older equipment that has not been fixed but might be 'one day'. And then is slowly cannibalized for parts...

3. Oh yes. If it works means I have to repeat it. Sometimes that is more trouble than it is worth. Though, come to think of it, it is usually 'I hope this isn't active' after a 5 step synthesis with a horrendous yield and painful purification at the end.

4. Dissolve in water? Yeah it is low. Most of the kinase inhibitors I ever made were more like brick dust. I think that 10% figure quoted by others is probably generous unless the definition of dissolve is equally generous. Usually we work for an active then try and improve solubility - I'd say it is going up as it is definitely a consideration as the drug discovery process continues.

5. I must be lucky as I can't think of an obvious answer for this one beyond chemistry done between in vitro data ('oh, active!') and cell data ('oh, it's dead').

Fun questions!

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19. milkshake on June 3, 2009 11:26 AM writes...

since I became synthetic chemist I started living in the lab, I stopped meeting non-chemistry people so the awkward comment (about how hard is to learn chemistry) come up rarely; the last time I heard it was like 4 years ago, from a real-estate agent.

I want my reactions to work of course but many times I prayed for my compound to turn out to be lousy so that the synthetic procedure wouldn't have to be repeated.

Expensive equipment: I bought a prep HPLC from Waters once and it turned out to be a complete clunker - imbecile software, imbecile engineer (like from Fargo the movie) and the autoinjector and fraction collector never really worked. We used it couple times for manual runs before we bought Shimadzu prep HPLCs and unfortunately we never got around to return it - it is still sitting there under the bench in our instrument room. Occassionally we get yet another proposal from the Waters sales reps that for mere thirty thousand they could upgrade it to make it actually work.

Water soluble compounds: making them is not the point (anyone can slap an amine sidechain on a brick). The main thing is not to make insoluble compounds that precipitate from all solvents including DMSO. Most successful drugs are often pretty water insoluble but they dissolve in lipids.

Time wasting chemistry: once I spent a month bringing up optically pure material that I then proceeded to ruin all in one experiment. A bizarre story thats too long for the comment section.

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20. weiss on June 3, 2009 12:36 PM writes...

I love question 1.

If you actually want to talk about your career/profession as a chemist with a new person you've met, then i strongly suggest not answering the "what do you do?" question with "i'm a chemist." Because they will say "i was bad at/hated chemistry in 10th grade." I've spent years trying to understand WHY people say that stupid response and how to avoid it.

Believe it or not, it's YOUR fault if you get the "i was bad at chemistry" response from someone - not theirs. Your statement of "i'm a chemist" is too jarring/abrubt and out of the realm of their expectations, so people have no way to relate to a newfound chemist in their midst. So this poor new person is trying to think of something to fill the gap in the conversation... and all they can think of is their terrible high school chem class. Also, they are most likely intimidated and are scared that they might say something stupid or non-sensical and you'll look down on them.

One strategy to avoid this awkwardness is to slowly lead them on a journey that logically ends with you being a chemist. They say "what do you do?". Build a little suspense. Answer it with a lead in to a longer story like "it actually took me a long time to choose a profession - i always loved puzzles but really didn't want a desk job." This will start a dialogue where by the time you actually say "chemist" they'll be interested and it will make sense. You'll probably get this response "oh, that's really unique, but i can see how chose it."

If it's a peer you're talking to at a social situation you can answer it with a joke like "i'm a cage fighter... can't you tell?" or "my CIA cover is generally as a scientist..." and have them guess your job. The person probably didn't actually care what you do for a living, they were just going down their boring list of questions to ask random people they meet.

Don't be afraid to divert the conversation for awhile and keep it lighthearted until they are actually curious about what you do. Then tell them how you decided to be a chemist, and what you do on a day to day. How it's "like sculpting with a chainsaw," or how it's "sort of like being a really anal chef..." etc.

You might actually be the only chemist this person EVER meets, and you have the ability to shape their perception of the whole field.

It's your fault if you force them into the "i hated chemistry" line, so don't be angry with them!

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21. Dylan on June 3, 2009 1:11 PM writes...

I'm not a chemist, but I thought I'd just agree with the obvious point about the quality of the teachers being a big contributor to people pursuing science. I really enjoyed physics and chemistry in high school, and when I entered college I was leaning to majoring in physics (with a second major in Philosophy, shout out to Alex). The first year of physics classes though completely dissuaded me from the idea though, they were the most boring classes I ever took, with the professor only lecturing for about 20 minutes (in a very dull monotone) and the rest of the class spent working on monotonous problems. I figured it was physics 101...was it too much to expect for things to occasionally explode?

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22. Slowandugly on June 3, 2009 1:11 PM writes...

1. I enjoy it. After the inevitable comments, I tell everyone that it is actually very easy, as wittnessed by the number of morons I work with.
2. The most obsolete equipment here is the research staff.
5. Writing coupling constants for a paper.

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23. R. Reeves on June 3, 2009 1:56 PM writes...

1. I am proud to be a chemist and love making chemicals, I would not judge how other people do anything else or expect expect them to understand my passion for synthesis.

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24. startup on June 3, 2009 2:36 PM writes...

1. I don't care one way or another. I assume that people say that to get some sort of response out of me, so I don't bite.

2. Enormous amounts. My former CTO was constantly in the search of a silver bullet which would make his ideas work so there was a steady stream of scale-up and purification equipment, much of it was never even unpacked. He was also under impression that the current analytical technique is faulty in some way and the next will prove just how good and clean his brainchildren are, but at least most of that hardware was useful.

3. It was my primary reason for quitting from my last position

5. Preparing a large set of ligands with substituted aryls only to find out that phenyl works the best.

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25. Paul S on June 3, 2009 2:37 PM writes...

1. I'd say there's a bit of bother and a bit of pride mixed in there. The ratio depends greatly on the attitude of the person I'm talking to. If they come across as "Why would anyone bother with something so difficult?" (What I call Math Is Hard for Barbie Syndrome) then I tend to dismiss the person as an uneducated irritant. Call me prejudiced, but there it is. If the attitude is more "I'm glad someone is doing that, but it's not for me," then pride tends to be in the ascendant.

And then occasionally I come across "I could never get that, but it interests me." Those are often very enjoyable conversations.

2. I'm a consultant, so I work for a lot of different companies. I couldn't give a dollar value, but I can say that every company I've ever worked for seems to have a used equipment graveyard.

4. I would have to offer an off-the-cuff guess here, but I'd say the proportion of water-insoluble compounds is increasing. I even see formulations in which an oral compound is designed to dissolve in water (perhaps in a syrup) and then convert to a lipid-soluble form in the stomach.

5. My most time-wasting chemistry was probably some analytical work for a patent-infringement claim involving a specialized paint. The client absolutely would not listen to our advice (we being the analytical lab he had engaged). Instead he brought in a Ph.D. consultant who was so incompetent that he got paint all over his business suit by hand-agitating a tube of paint and toluene that was sealed with nothing but parafilm. I don't even know how many wild geese that man ended up having us chase.

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26. DrSnowboard on June 3, 2009 3:16 PM writes...

1. Bothers a bit, because they never got to the interesting bit. I usually say its just cooking, thanks to Heston, most people get that now.

2. Thankfully, not too much (though new biologists always seem to need a new piece of kit). We'd been around the block before we got here so had seen the Great White Hope discard pile before.

3. Only during PhD and doing the 'without catalyst' control.

4. Only intermediates really, the ones you want to be able to extract..

5. Forced Combichem secondment, allegedly to show its application to new scaffolds for an existing project. Thiatriazoles, easy chemistry to a useless scaffold in drug terms, using chemnistry that doesn't work for real world substituents.Pathetic.

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27. Lou on June 3, 2009 4:38 PM writes...

I'm so happy to know that someone else did Na/Hg amalgam stuff!!

I'm not a chemist, but I like telling people that I was trained in chemistry. Being a hardcore physical science and all, you know.... :D

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28. CMCguy on June 3, 2009 4:49 PM writes...

1. I find it a bit funny and usually don't tell them I found it easy (Agree with comment about typically involves a bad teacher which is why I hate p-chem)

2. Every place I have been had several such items with the wasted costs ranging for 10s to 100s of Thousands. Size did not matter and both big and small companies would invest in fancy new tools that didn't work as advertised, broke easily or were so complicated no one would use. Additional experience in that had some ancient instruments that were more reliable that the new replacement technology so did work to maintain.

3. Many times wanted a failure, either by design because was exploring/verifying control limits so didn't wish to have continue runs (so guess would be a success) or due to fact that it would if positive result be a huge paradigm shift to an unexplainable realm (and mean even more work).

4. When I was doing discovery most analogs were insoluble beasts that we trusted could make a useful salt. Trend always seemed to be increase activity with worse aqueous solubility.

5. My Post-doc

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29. Jan Teller Jr on June 3, 2009 6:03 PM writes...

1. In my country if you want to pursue a career in physical sciences, very often you are underpayed and underated. Hence, you´ve got two options a) Living with it and do what most people do once they get a permanent position which is... b)emigrate

Socially speaking is widely considered a Dr. is a guy who wasted his 20s not earning enough cash to get a live, and who doesnt get the recognition given in anglosaxon countries to PhDs.

So yeah, usually we dont care but if you say people that you are a molecular engineer rather than an organic chemist you will get extra-consideration points.

2. In the UK.... but here we just have money to buy coffee and solvents. (And yeah, sometimes we´ve pondered the possibility of using coffee as solvent and caffeine to do some templated self-assembly-ish..xD)

3. Yep, when something is concerned to nasty or lenghty procedures.

4. Happily I havent been in that situation,yet.

5. Mmmhhh, interesting question. No comment. :D

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30. Jan Teller Jr on June 3, 2009 6:06 PM writes...

Forgot to say, thanx a lot for the post on POCl3, it is been quite useful, guys.

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31. BustedRobot on June 3, 2009 8:02 PM writes...

to # 26. Dr Snowboard, Point 5: thiotriaozles useless as drug scafgold-fullstop, or useless as drug scaffold for your target ? You see the scaffold a lot in HTS libraries.

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32. DrSnowboard on June 4, 2009 7:35 AM writes...

Well, it's true the chemistry never made an active one as aryl substituted thiatriazoles didn't play ball. I would have a prejudice against them for PK but I'm sure someone will point out a marketed one, or maybe not. I put them with triaminotriazines, first thing you do is take it out.

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33. Norepi on June 4, 2009 2:34 PM writes...

1. What offends me more are the people who assume that I'm a pharmacist (how "medicinal chemist" is equated with "pharmacist" I'm still not sure), and ask questions like "wow, was pharmacy school hard?" For the rest, generally, it is a pause followed by "" and then an abrupt subject change.

3. When I'm trying to prove myself wrong/right, sure.

4. I've made a lot of gucky polyamine-type molecules. Most of these are water-soluble to the point of being able to do 1H NMR in D2O. Most of the rest one can get into about a 4:1 mixture of water:DMSO. So I'll say 20%.

5. Most hydrazone cleavage methods in existence. Gosh, some of these things are just impossible to work with, IMHO.

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34. London_chemist on June 5, 2009 6:32 AM writes...

1) I did get a guy serving me in a supermarket asking me to recite the periodic table--I think I got as far as krypton. My standard reply is to say that if more people were good at chemistry, companies would have an excuse to pay us even less!

2)My present job--not much as we started from scratch and don't have much cash. My first employer--i hate to think. Especially a lot of the first stuff to be made for parallel synthesis/purification

3)No. Why are you doing it if you're thinking that?

4)What's "any real extent"? I once worked on a program where the lead was very insoluble (mcg/mL) but was 50% orally bioavailable and efficacious in animal models. If its potent enough, you don't need much....

5)Most of the stuff for my last employer (no names, but its big, american and has a blue logo.....)

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35. CMCguy on June 5, 2009 3:27 PM writes...

Derek- I suppose others like me would be interested in hearing how you would answers these questions? (although in some senses you have already in past posts)

PS If you attempt to post anonymously as "Reeking Owl" I think we'll know.

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36. Anonymous BMS Researcher on June 5, 2009 3:52 PM writes...

2. I was once part of a project to evaluate a rather expensive piece of hardware that another part of the company had decided wasn't useful for them. So we had it taken out of storage, paid its manufacturer to get it back into usable condition, etc., so we could have a go. After a few months we concluded the thing didn't meet our needs either. I dunno whether this time it went back into storage, got adopted by yet another group, got sold to another company, or given to some academic.

4. As others have noted, a lot of our compounds are brick dust, and the percentage that just won't dissolve in any of our vehicles "not no way not no how" seems to be increasing.

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37. Anonymous on June 8, 2009 9:33 AM writes...

> 1. You think chem is bad, try math

I majored in math, and I work in IT, and between the two, the "Oh man, I hate / am terrible at that" reaction may occur slightly (but only slightly) more frequently with math, but it typically has a lot more vehemence and feeling behind it when it's said about computers.

It's the difference between "Oh, I wasn't very good at math in high school, say, how about that ball game?" versus "Grrrrrr, if I ever get my hands on Bill Gates I will rip his lips off and shove them where the sun don't shine."

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