Sections of fly guts on the TEM:
In my great quest to conquer all the microscopes in my department's Optical Analysis Facility, I was most excited to try my hand at the TEM. But before I could view the glorious world only revealed through the power of electron imaging, I needed to take my resin-embedded samples, trim them down to the perfect size, and gently fix them to a grid. Sounds simple enough, but alas, science is never as simple as it sounds.
No, instead I found myself face to face with the ultramicrotome. More beast than machine, it preys on impatience and rash action. My training had taught me the steps to taming said beast, so in a battle worthy of minstrels' songs, later named by witnesses as the Battle for Microscopic Trapezoids, one lone explorer squared off against the mighty ultramicrotome. As winter gave way to spring, the resin blocks began to take form. Slowly, their points were meticulously carved into shape and ready to be sectioned. With the April sun beating down my back (metaphorically speaking, since I was in an air conditioned room) and sweat forming upon my brow, I slowly lowered the block to take my first section. In that moment, the ultramicrotome decided to strike, armed only with its glass knife, to destroy my perfectly honed trapezoid of tissue and resin. Blood was spilt (glass knives can be very sharp) and tears were shed (not physically, but mentally), but hope was not lost. After a long month of carefully planned maneuvers and many more trapezoidal fatalities, the blocks were finally reshaped and once again ready to face the ultramicrotome. Through precise movements and undaunting patience, the blocks were sectioned into thin trapezoids and fixed upon a grid. From there, it was smooth sailing to find and capture an image of the ever elusive fly guts on the TEM.
While that battle was long and hard-fought, it taught me a valuable lesson when dealing with an opponent as unwavering as the ultramicrotome: "Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet." And seeing those pictures for the first time were oh so sweet! A beast as spirited as this one should not be defeated; instead, it should be appreciated and respected. What started out as a battle for dominance has now resulted in a productive and rewarding alliance between man an machine. I guess you can call me "The Ultramicrotome Whisperer."