[Histonet] Re: Polyester wax (with earlier citations)

Paul Bradbury histology.bc <@t> shaw.ca
Wed May 5 14:32:09 CDT 2004

Hi Steve,

Your descriptions bring back a flood of memories ... the wax tea pot, 
Leukhart's embedding rings, sticking the blocks onto wooden blocks, 
taking them off again at the end of the day, etc. Safety precautions had 
not even been invented in those days. When I first started in Histology, 
there were five of us in the lab and every single one smoked a pipe. So, 
embedding, trimming and sticking on the blocks involved three of us ... 
all chuffing out smoke. The conversations that took place during these 
times were priceless. Sadly, this opportunity was lost with the advent 
of automated embedding centres..

All solvents went down the drain, old specimens were dumped into the 
sink to allow the formalin to drain away. There was no fume hood, so the 
formalin fumes were thick enough to cut with a knife. In retrospect, 
dumping solvents and fixatives down the drain was not the best idea!... 
but at the time, that was standard practice. However, despite these 
horrendous practices, we are all still alive and well, and all went on 
to accept senior positions around the world..

There were no productivity units to count, no QC/QA demands (apart from 
self-imposed ones), no intrusions from mis-guided administrators. We had 
time to work on our own projects, investigate new procedures, and read 
journals looking for new methods. We made all of our own reagents from 
scratch (hematoxylin, Schiff's reagent, fixatives, etc) We sharpened our 
own knives. The camaraderie was wonderful, there was no bitching or 
whining, going for a beer at lunchtime was a routine practice. We did a 
great job, we went home happy, and provided great service

I would not give up the new developments in Histology 
(immunohistochemistry, monoclonal antibodies, disposable knives, or 
automated stainers, etc ) they have produced quantum leaps in quality 
and diagnostic accuracy, but I sometimes I despair that the new 
generation of technologists have missed out on an invaluable learning 

I firmly believe that I am a better histologist from my experience ... 
if something didn't work there was no service rep to call for advice, it 
was up to us to figure it out. The most respected "mentors" on the 
Histonet (who I won't name to avoid embarrasing them, but you know who I 
mean) are all the product of this bygone age of Histology. The Histonet 
serves a great purpose as a knowledge base and resource for advice, but 
there is no substitute for self-motivated learning.  The books and 
journals are all out there ... waiting.

Okay, I am done. Time to get down off my soapbox. The sermon is ended,

Paul Bradbury
Kamloops, BC
(formerly Nottingham, England)

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