11 January 2012
By Blanka Sengerová
To liven the forum up a little bit, here is a light-hearted New Year's post. Just before Christmas, our stores had a Christmas party, which essentially involves lots of the suppliers setting up stalls in the seminar room and trying to sell you their services and products. In my line of work, this means enzymes, gels and gel tanks, platereader plates, antibodies, cell culture kit, slightly bigger pieces of kit and things such as that. Most of us dutifully go round the stalls and listen to their spiel, but mostly for the freebies that they inevitably bring with them (this year there was also a magician, although I think I was too early for him, and last year there was a 'shoot the pipette tip' competition!). OK, sometimes it's useful to hear about their new products, but I guess you're not going to change to their new site directed mutagenesis kit - sorry to the non-biochemists on here - even though it's faster until you've used up the 5 reactions you still have in the freezer. And in terms of buying large scale equipment, most of us postdocs and PhD students don't really have the buying power for that.
But the point was the freebies, I wonder what the most funny/pointless/silly freebie is that you've got from suppliers?
I currently have a BioRad frog that ribbits when you hit it hard enough to set of the mechanism inside it, there's a Roche toy polar bear climbing the lamp in the living room (Roche also have good wildlife wall calendars this year is the third time I'm using one as my wall diary next to the computer desk), for a while our radioactive fridge key had a green frog keyring, and somebody else in the lab got some magnetic chromosomes to stick on the fridge (plus there is a fridge chart with smiley faces and a little window so you can show how you're feeling today). Then there are the obvious useful lab additions like an eppendorf lid opener, floating racks for waterbaths (particularly the one that is chromosome-shaped), and the reps also seem to like to bring bottles of wine (often to raffle) and chocolates to entice you to their stall. [It all reminds me of the time when my brother and I, from our own initiative aged about 11 or 12, cycled round most of the car dealers in our small town and asked for the freebies they could offer us - came up with pens, stickers, an Italian basic ditionary, keyrings and all sorts of tat that is great for an 11 year old but probably not to grown ups].
So what is the best/silliest freebie you've got from your own (or not even your own) suppliers?