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

Ian Montgomery ian.montgomery <@t> bio.gla.ac.uk
Thu May 6 05:54:47 CDT 2004

         Here I am in sunny Glasgow living in a time warp. Automation, 
what's that? Hand process, make my own stains, sharpen knives, name it and 
I'm still doing it. Well apart from wooden blocks, gave that up 30 odd 
years ago. I'm such a sad case that if you ask me what a particular 
chemical in my store is for I'll tell you exactly and how much is used. Sad 
thing is, I'll be retiring shortly and all the knowledge will go with me.

>Hi Paul,
>Lots of good times;
>but you forgot about the blistered finger tips from sticking those wax
>blocks on wooden blocks(the smaller the block-the bigger the blister!), and
>all the hand processing, which mainly involved much frantic dashing about
>twirling multiple pots of tissue to provide agitation!
>Who can forget about mouth pipetting whilst eating sandwiches at the
>staining bench and brewing the tea over a bunsen during waiting times!
>If I recall correctly, the pipes were full of either St. Bruno flake or
>'Herbal' tobacco and between chuffs of smoke, most of the conversation was
>punctuated by phrases such as "eh up", "y'whot", "gerroff" and "owd ya
>tight", interspersed with "cool man", "crazy daddy" and "all gone". Ahhh...
>sweet memories.
>Bryan Hewlett
>Hamilton, Ont.
>(formerly Nottingham, England)
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Paul Bradbury" <histology.bc <@t> shaw.ca>
>To: <Stephen.Eyres <@t> sanofi-synthelabo.com>; "HistoNet Server"
><histonet <@t> pathology.swmed.edu>
>Sent: Wednesday, May 05, 2004 3:32 PM
>Subject: Re: [Histonet] Re: Polyester wax (with earlier citations)
> > 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
> > experience.
> >
> > 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
> > Canada
> > (formerly Nottingham, England)
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > _______________________________________________
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> > Histonet <@t> lists.utsouthwestern.edu
> > http://lists.utsouthwestern.edu/mailman/listinfo/histonet
> >
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Dr. Ian Montgomery,
Graham Kerr Building,
Institute of Biomedical & Life Sciences,
University of Glasgow,
G12 8QQ.
Tel: 0141 339 8855
Office: 4652
Lab: 6644.
Pager: 07625 702883
e-mail: ian.montgomery <@t> bio.gla.ac.uk 

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