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        Dear Abbe
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Dear Abbe,

Are there microscopy-type gangs? If so, are they dangerous or involved in illegal activity?

Suspicious in St. Louis

Dear Suspicious,

Mein Wort! There are indeed such nefarious groups that wreak havoc around labs and society meetings. I was just discussing this with my good friend, Rich Marten at Alabama, who was involved in a gang (Sons of Aberration) early in his career and is now an expert with the MSA Gang Activity Committee (GAC) on “Scope Gang” behavior and rehabilitation. He suggested several signs to watch for when identifying potential gang members: a propensity for using Fomblin grease as beard balm or slicking back the comb-over, asking for the “dark room,” and carrying a variety of Inox jewelers tweezers in their lab coats. At meetings they sport tags with ribbons on their lanyards. Most of these gangs are also involved with “Focus-Interest” groups. Some of the more notable gangs are the Blood FIBS, the Nuevo Crystals, and Hell’s Dislocations. I am not sure if their activities are illegal as much as annoying: distributing bindles of silica gel for a “dime,” offering “service contracts,” and altering internal EDS parameters to get a “better” result. It’s a dangerously nerdy world out there, so be safe and know the signs.

Dear Abbe,

I’ve been noticing a strange glow on the phosphorescent screen after I turn off the filament on my old TEM. I suppose it’s always been there, but I just now noticed. Does this mean my tip is always being stimulated and will this eventually affect scope performance?

Frank in Akron

Dear Frank,

Großartig!! I am as excited as you to hear about continuous tip stimulation, however sometimes this may be an indication of a more insidious issue, such as a lowered work function causing increased emission. My initial advice is to contact your Personal Service Engineer before taking drastic measures. Although I could elaborate on the Dark Current of the Force, I will refrain since Disney may be reading my life’s work for future film adaptations. Instead, I will use this occurrence as a crass opportunity to promote Abbe Labs’ current work on extended tip usage. We have been working on a method for Wehnelt augmentation and tip performance enhancement for quite some time, especially now that I’m finally showing signs of aging. I would go into details, but my patent attorney, Herr Rechtsverdreher, Esq., is sitting conspicuously behind me wielding a classic oak lab bat. Let’s just say that, with the right mechanical inducements, tips will be performing optimally for more years than necessary.

Strange glows have you worried? Turning off a filament not providing needed relief? Herr Abbe will provide stimulating answers. Whether you want them or not.