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If I only had a brain

The problem with brains is that they’re soft.  Really soft.  So soft that the crash helmet that is your skull isn’t even enough to protect it from a decent knock to the head.  If nature can’t solve a problem then I don’t expect that I can.

The problem with scientists is that they want their brain specimens in as close to perfect condition as possible to dissect them.

The problem with abattoirs is that they are in an incredibly competitive industry with tight margins and food standards criteria that put a lot of demand on their workers to meet targets that most of us couldn’t cope with.

When those three problems collide this is what you get:

bucket o' lambs brains

The demand for brains at the beginning of this term has been stronger than we’ve ever seen before.  Sadly, the quality of the brains that has been delivered has been the worst we’ve ever seen.  This is a combination of the industry having to catch up and deliver whatever they’ve got in the aftermath of the natural disasters we’ve all experienced this summer and the person whose job it is to get that brain out into that punnet not being too particular about the final product.

Lucky for you I am here to defrost them, sort them and repackage them so this is what you get:

6 pack of lambs brains

Over the past few weeks we have sorted hundreds of punnets of brains with about 50% of them being good enough to package up like this.  At this stage we have no information that supply is going to be affected by the floods and cyclones, however I would be very surprised if it wasn’t.  I really think that there is probably going to have been significant stock losses that haven’t been assessed yet.

Here are a few tips to give yourself the best chance of delivering a really good specimen to your classes:

  1. give us as much notice as you possibly can that you are going to have brains in your order
  2. defrost them slowly in the fridge and be very careful when you handle them
  3. prepare the brains by soaking them in 20% methylated spirits for up to 48hrs before the class to give them a bit firmer texture

If you’ve got a tip about brains that will make a Labbies life easier then please let us know.  It would be great to be able to publish a series of tried and true hints and tips on dissection written by the people who know best.

Miss Vivi

Feb 8, 2011

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The Meat Men

This won’t be news to you, because you have been rolling this rock up the hill for years, but I still find it incredibly frustrating to negotiate with The Meat Men.

A case in point – I had an email from a customer who mentioned that the hearts I supply were in excellent shape but the hearts on the plucks were sliced to ribbons.  It’s a fair question.  Why is it so?

Strangely, the supplier who sends me such good hearts only supplies terrible plucks – the liver is torn from removing the gall bladder, I can’t be guaranteed that the heart, tongue or much of the trachea will be there and the lungs are often sliced open as well.  In the event that the tongue and all of the trachea are in place the trachea is usually sliced open along the entire length making it difficult to inflate the lungs.

Conversely, the supplier who gives me the good plucks refuses to work with me to supply hearts in good condition.  This is the reason that the hearts on my plucks are cut to ribbons.  On balance, the overall quality of the plucks with the sliced up hearts is better than the plucks from the heart supplier, so I choose to use them.

Hopefully, as time goes by and I work on the relationship with the supplier we will be able to sort out these things.  In the meantime, if something really important needs to be sorted and I just can’t get through then I’m not ashamed to resort to putting Mr Vivi on the case.  For some reason the words spoken by a 6ft, bearded, deep voiced man on a motorbike is able to be heard loud and clear by the Meat Men.  If only they knew that, when push comes to shove, he’s much more of a softie than little old 5’5″ me.

Miss Vivi


Jun 11, 2010