Friday, June 19, 2015

Failure: a poem

[clears throat]


by Chemjobber

The literature brings forth innumerable procedures to torture a chemist

A chemist has nothing good to report to their managers

Fail Fail Fail Fail Fail Fail Fail

This was written in the style of the Seven Kill Stele, a stone rumored to be set up by 17th-century Chinese rebel leader Chang Hsien-chung. 


  1. 七殺碑


    The Seven-Kill Stele

    Heaven births ten thousand things to nurture man;
    Man does not have a single benefit to reward Heaven; (alternately could be read - Among men there isn't one good one (man) to reward heaven)
    Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill!

    But the actual ending on the physical stele is not "Kill!" etc., but rather:
    The ghosts and spirits know (this), so contemplate and measure yourself.

    or perhaps along CJ's lines -
    The section heads and managers know this, consider another line of work.

    or even -
    The lab super and managers know this, time to polish up the old resume.

    1. Thanks very much, and likewise to you. Actually that 明明 repetition bothers me a little, maybe a better read for that is "clearly understand?"

    2. @ Chemjobber - you could call it "Keeping Cynicism at "Bei" or a Stone Parody"...

  2. "It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you have lived so cautiously that you may as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default." --J.K. Rowling

    Brush it off when you can.

  3. When I worked in the lab I used to have a comic on my wall of two chemists talking at a bench were one said something like "we learned 10 things that don't work" and even though in general not much of the experimental misfires get reported in the literature where often wondered if someone else already knew that hard truth I always did feel gained learning and understanding of the reaction/process so when it did work had more confidence for success and control.

  4. LEAR:
    Then fail, fail, fail, fail, fail, fail!


    Failure, failure, failure, failure, failure.

    1. Actually -

      There was a chemist in a lab
      Who seldom if ever would crab,
      Buttoned up to the throat
      In his grandmother's lab coat
      Fail, fail, fail, fail, fail, fail, fail!

      - Eddie (draft copy)

      (Not the king, Lear, but Edward, who was also a king, but this is not from that Edward, but rather another Edward, who was perhaps more of a queen).

    2. Or better still,

      There was once Lear, a king,
      And Edward, also a king;
      This isn't after that Edward,
      But rather another Edward:
      Lear, who was more of a queen.

  5. The Iron ChemistJune 19, 2015 at 4:24 PM

    Is it just me or does that sound like something that Jaqen H'ghar would say if he were a chemist?

  6. Just hit the Makers Mark. Pass out asleep. And have another shot in the morning before you got to work in the morning.

    Working hard and having negative results to show for is evidence of your honesty and integrity

    1. I'm living proof that you can have too much of a good thing.

  7. Dear CJ, attached please find some consoling Houseman stanzas that sum up the process chemistry:

    Now hollow fires burn out to black,
    And lights are guttering low:
    Square your shoulders, lift your pack,
    And leave your friends and go.

    Oh never fear, man, nought's to dread,
    Look not to left nor right:
    In all the endless road you tread
    There's nothing but the night.

    1. (rumble from underground) "That's Housman."

    2. With Apologies to Everyone But Particularly milkshake and Housman

      The Compound Oxidizes Black

      The compound oxidizes black
      The burner's flaring blue;
      Put the tube back in the rack -
      It's just some tarry goo.

      It's gone bad somewhere, you dread
      Yet, the procedures must be right;
      And for the endless tasks ahead
      You only have all night.

  8. Join the army if you fail. - Bob Dylan "Subterranean Homesick Blues"