There is a saying in Spanish about “los pequeños detalles que hacen grande el amor.” The small details that make love great.

I was thinking about it today.

Nuclease-free water.

We are doing PCR Thursday as part of the soil project. First PCR reaction in our brandy new PCR machine, and then second electrophoresis run ever in our brandy new electrophoresis set. Laugh if you want. I used to do research in Cuba, using stockings at the end of chromatography columns and candle jars instead of CO2 incubators. Life is good.

I had decided to play safe. No PCR from scratch, let’s get the ready-made beads. For the first trial, we can do with ready-made buffers. Let’s not risk the experiment.

But I forgot the small detail. High quality, nuclease-free water, per the protocol.

We’ll get it by Thursday, somehow. But it is funny, at the end.

We made all those considerations about PCR, ready-made beads and the sequencing place, the ethidium bromide disposal, and the filter to take pictures with the transilluminator. But we forgot the water.

And David Foster Wallace’s commencement speech comes to my mind:

There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”

Tomorrow will be another day.