Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Just the facts, ma'am

One of my chief responsibilities as a medicinal chemist was to record all my activities in my notebook. I was to write my experiments in such a manner that those 'skilled in the art' could reproduce what I did. I was to never put opinions in there such as This might have worked if I didn't spill most of it on the ground or put emotional responses such as Three f**ing weeks down the drain! or Lesson learned! Never trust anything so and so publishes!

If something worked well, I didn't draw a smily face or a sad face when all I got from a reaction was black tar. Occasionally I described crystals as 'beautiful' but that was pushing the envelope. I once descibed some crystals as opalescent and soon after my boss, who must have read my notebooks after I went home told me the correct term was 'nacrelescent'. The notebooks belonged to the company as did everything that I made or wrote. It was still considered polite to ask to see someone's notebook. Later, we had electronic notebooks, which I hated, which anyone could read what you were writing and there was no Statcounter attached to it. I assume it was protected by numerous firewalls as the last thing the company needed was for a competitor to hack into it.
While we were cleaning our parents' home out, I found my mom's diary for 1949. She would have had no trouble adjusting to recording just facts in a notebook as the diary consists solely of facts; no emotional responses whatsoever. I found only one 'emotional' word in the whole journal which was the word 'adorable' used to describe baby hamsters. She further described the baby hamsters to look 'just like little hamsters'. I suppose if she were pressed to describe herself, it would be that she was as tall as a 5'6" tree.
A sample entry for Tues. June 14, 1949

Married 4:00
Prestbyterian (sic) church by Dr. Lemon-reception at League
1st night at Pantlind Hotel in Gr. Rapids 150 miles

For the description of the honeymoon, she recorded the name of each hotel and what their daily mileage was.

Nowhere does she say how she feels.

Shanna and the boys are off to see the other side today. Shanna can only whisper as she has laryngitis. I went to the Y to work on my neglected muscles. The drastic storms predicted yesterday turned out to be only a little drizzle. Still it is much cooler.

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