I think you’re gonna like it! I think you’re gonna feel… like you belong!
(here, not in the freezer)
This blog evolved out of some Twitter chats after Ed Yong (of Not Exactly Rocket Science fame) visited our lab and, like many visitors before him, got a kick out of the freezers full of outrageously awesome animals that are my pride and joy. Subsequent tweets on and after 29 Feb, 2012 got me joking (well, 75% joking) that “I suppose it would be timely if I launched the “What’s In Your Freezers, John?” blog..” Those jokes quickly matured into more serious thoughts (prodded on primarily by Mike Taylor, and later Dave Hone) about how fun it would be to do a very niche-y science blog about the cool things that are in my, and others’, freezers. And so here we are.
I intend for this to be a heavily image-based, text-lite blog, showing off some of the zany critters that we keep in cold storage and a little bit of what we do with them. If it catches on and people send me their fun pics of their research freezer specimens to showcase too, well, great!
In coming posts you’ll see some giraffe bits, rhino feet, and more. Stay tuned! But first, some admin…
WIJF Blog Disclaimers and FAQs:
OK let’s get this out of the way so we can have some fun. Some basic rules and statements:
1. This is site is about the underappreciated role of The Freezer in science. It also is often about celebrating the joy and wonder of organismal morphology, which researchers’ freezers help preserve. It is also about what it’s like being a scientist that gets to investigate that joy and wonder in a daily basis.
2. The above item means that sometimes the blog will (1) get gory, so kids and those with a weak stomach may not find it to be the best blog for them; and (2) get silly, so those who can’t stand stupid puns and geeky antics may need to find more boring places to go.
3. Although I may discuss the wondrous contents of our lab group’s research freezers, the site is not officially affiliated with the Royal Veterinary College, my funding agencies, etc. My views expressed here are my own. This is an independent, personal blog done for fun on my free time; fueled by enthusiasm and whimsy. (But if the RVC/funding agencies want to take credit for things they like, I cannot stop them!)
4. The sources of specimens shown here are not normally disclosed. They come from various places; zoos, parks, private collections, museums, etc. All sources of course are legal, following DEFRA, CITES and other regulations. Some of those sources don’t like people discussing the sad reality that animals die in captivity, as they do anywhere. Some animals might have been put down for ethical reasons. It’s a PR issue, among other things, and we respect our donors’ privacy. I don’t get into all that rigamarole here. See item #1. Stay on target. Requests for more information about specimen sources will generally be referred back to this item.
5. The site is not really about my broader research or promoting my worldview. It’s not about discussing the latest research by my colleagues or buddies, either, unless it relates to item #1. It’s not a palaeontology blog, by any means (but neat fossils may be included with a “Stone Cold” or “fossilicious” tag). It’s about item #1. I’ll try to be assiduous about staying focused on freezer-based science.
6. I heartily welcome submissions of images, with brief blurbs, from other research labs, showing off their cool freezer-based research. C’mon molecular biologists, I bet you have some cool freezers and stories to tell! You are welcome here, too. It’s a big tent! First one to send me a picture of a deadly virus stored in their research freezer wins a chocolate dinosaur or something.
7. This may never come up, but I don’t display images here of human cadavers, or other images that I deem potentially offensive or inappropriate. That is always a judgement call. See item #2. I aim not to exploit the awesome nature of anatomy in any nefarious way, but rather to share how impressive it is– something the public doesn’t get to see often, because the media can be very squeamish.
8. I may sometimes accidentally switch between first and third person when talking about myself. I do odd stuff like that because it amuses me or because I don’t care. My quirks are my quirks, and this blog is a chance for me to cut loose and not bother with some conventions, pedants be damned. As the blog has John’s name in it and I am John, there is an inherent tension of identity. Similarly, John has not one but multiple freezers, but will often speak of The Freezer, perhaps as an almost Platonic ideal– although I have one giant walk-in freezer that could be called The Freezer.
9. I don’t market freezer brands here. Marketing spammers begone! But I do joke about making offerings to hoary gods such as Maytag, Whirlpool and Frigidaire.