Friday, November 30, 2007

Jammed film developers

"Not again. It just happens too often"

The lab tech who works next to my lab was complaining to me about the film developer in the darkroom.

Ever since I joined the current lab, it has been an issue about how often the developer breaks down, or maybe I should say "get jammed". There are only two developers in the building and one of them located on our floor is an antique. The lab tech next door is in charge of taking care the antique so no wonder she gets so frustrated.

"Did you know the one downstairs is also jammed?"

The one downstairs is a more modern model and as you can imagine most people use that one instead of the one on our floor. Now if that one gets jammed and no body fixes it, we may all just call it a day and go home. That is how vital the film developer is for everyone's research.

"No way" I said.

"They were both jammed with a cardboard paper" she said.

This must be someone new I thought because I had a student who I supervised last summer almost made the same mistake. It is a common mistake if no body tells you what a film looks and feels like because films are sandwiched by two cardboard papers in the film box.

We decided to talk to administrators of the building and see if they can do something about it. It tuned out they have tried many ways to fix this problem (put the jammed film and notes on the wall, send out emails to all the Primary investigators, spread the words etc) but none of these worked.

"We are spending so much money getting maintenance to fix the film developers" one the administrator told us. "It is happening way too often and I used to get so mad every time it happened" I could see how mad she used to get by her facial expression.

So in the end we decided that doing something is better than doing nothing. We put up signs right next to the dark room and posted the cardboard that was jammed inside the machine.

We shall see what will happen.

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