In Threes

They say bad things happen in threes. Well, I’ve had three fairly rotten things happen to me in the first four days of 2014.

Three problems.

Luckily, three solutions too.

The first was an ‘Oh crap!’ moment on New Year’s Day. I was bee-bopping down the road on my way home from work (because, yes, I had to go to work that day). I look up. Blinking red and blue lights behind me.

Yup, I was being pulled over.

Now, I don’t get stopped very often. This was the third time ever for me. I was sure I hadn’t been speeding.

Officer asks for my license and registration and then points out to me that the inspection on my car had expired in December.

Now, he could have given me a ticket with a big ol’ fine on it. Instead, I just had to get it inspected and a receipt to the town hall before February. The car was inspected yesterday (and passed). To get the receipt to the town hall will be nothing. Whew.

Problem 1 – solved.

The second happened on the morning of the second of January. We got this massive storm Hercules over night and a foot+ of snow in our driveway. The driveway is long.

I started to use our snow thrower, which promptly ceased to throw snow. We (my husband and I) had to shovel the entire driveway by hand.

I shoveled a few more inches off of it later in the day.

Then the next night we got another foot of heavy blown and drifted snow.

I started shoveling while the husband swore at the snow thrower. Then, clunk, a chunk of wood jamming the blades of the snow thrower fell out and, yay, the snow thrower started throwing snow!

Problem 2 – solved.

The rest of yesterday was relatively free of stress and problems. I couldn’t go anywhere because my car was getting inspected and the roads were too dangerous to want to go anywhere anyway.

So I got a snow day from work. The down side to this, of course, is that I had to come to work today (Saturday).

Things seemed pretty normal when I came into the lab. I decided to start the mass spectrometer doing something to get it primed for the set of analyses that I meant to run today.

But nothing happened.

I looked closely as saw that one ever-so-important light was off. The one labeled ‘Emission.’ This means only one thing: The filament is burned out.

This is how it's supposed to look. Today, that lowest green light was off.
This is how it’s supposed to look. Today, that lowest green light was off.

The $500 filament that you can only replace by shutting down the whole system and risking it not starting ups again was broken. The mass spectrometer is just a very expensive heat source without it.


Here’s where I actually impressed myself. I actually did have a spare filament sitting around, so I took a deep breath and shut down the mass spectrometer. It took me about 20 minutes to change the filament and get everything back together and restart the system.

It started up again. Whew!

Feeling optimistic, I also changed the ash tube in the elemental analyzer, since it’s the device attached to the mass spectrometer that I need to use.

Everything went smoothly, so I went to my office and wrote a few recommendation letters before coming back in to check on things and weigh some samples.

Well, I’ll be darned if the mass spectrometer isn’t behaving better now than it was before the filament died. It pumped down quickly and I actually have been able to get the system running analyses… today!

Problem three – solved.

They say troubles come in threes, so it would a reasonable assumption that I should have a few day’s respite from bad news, right?

1 Comment

  1. Janet says:

    I cannot imagine living in so much snow. Glad you were able to overcome your three’s.


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