Casey Doucette is a PhD candidate at the Maine Medical Center Research Institute. She studies bone biology and chronicles her time in graduate school on her blog, Bonehead Adventures. In her spare time she enjoys playing dodgeball, obstacle course racing, and gardening.
A penguin walks through that door right now wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here?
A 4-foot penguin just walked through the door wearing a sombrero, which is unsurprising considering that I have only had 3 hours of sleep in the past 24 hours. I begin to wonder if I’m hallucinating; perhaps the combination of sleep deprivation and caffeine overload has finally taken its toll.
My new companion warns me to get some rest before I destroy the experiments I’ve been working on for the past two days, but I can’t say that I fully trust his advice, seeing as he’s a talking penguin. Maybe he’s a figment of my imagination; an attempt by my subconscious to convince me that this “one last piece” of data for the abstract won’t make the difference between a poster and an oral presentation.
I start to daydream about the scientific breakthrough that must be behind a talking penguin, only to realise that I’ve lost my place on the 96-well plate I’ve been staring at for the past five minutes. The maze of columns and rows has melted into one giant black hole of reagents and samples. Luckily, my compulsive nature means that my tip box has been keeping track of my progress while I’ve been zoning out. The soothing classical music that’s been playing for the past few hours isn’t helping in this fight for focus, so I switch to something more upbeat.
Since lyrics are distracting, dubstep is essentially the only other option. The synthesised sounds blend together to form an energising mix of futuristic notes and fast-paced beats, and I’m motivated once again. After a flurry of pipetting, the plate is finished and it’s time for incubation; I look up to find that apparently this talking penguin is also a talented dancer. His robotic dance moves are hypnotic, and I find myself staring off into space once again, wondering how I could go about creating talking rodents.
I’m yanked back to reality by the sound of a timer going off, only to realise that I’ve fallen asleep at the bench. My penguin friend has disappeared and I’m relieved to find that this was all just a dream. I decide that I should go home and rest, so I pack up my things and close up shop, barely noticing the sombrero hanging from the door handle as I leave.