Ersatz

My new favorite word, describing my not-favorite things

Over the last year, ersatz has become a very useful word. In my words, the definition is:

“Ersatz, adj.: Describing an inferior good, substituted for the real thing due to conditions of wartime scarcity.”

It originated in German during WWI rationing (e.g. ersatz bread made with sawdust). I think I first learned the word in elementary school, from A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 6, “The Ersatz Elevator”. But recently, I’ve been using it more and more.

For example, in the lab I wear nitrile gloves in order to protect my samples from contamination. The normal kind we get are purple, but due to supply chain disruption we’ve been getting these blue ones that are super thin. Today one of them was so thin, that a hole ripped open at the base of the thumb shortly after putting it on.

There are also ersatz pipette tips that either jam or fall off, and ersatz tubes that won’t close properly. The list goes on and on. Even a well-funded lab can’t get some things these days.

So when an inferior good lets me down, I mutter, “damn this ersatz crap”.

P.S. An update on the F31 application

Since my last post, on top of my normal research work I’ve spent about 48 hours writing for the F31. This includes writing the parts that my advisor was supposed to write, although I did get some help from our lab manager. I estimate I’m about 70% done.

Anyway, this is why I haven’t been blogging as much as I’d like.