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The Slacker’s Guide to Halloween

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Ah, Halloween. It’s one part angst at having to come up with a costume, one part childlike joy at the prospect of getting free candy for no reason. Here at Genome Technology, we sympathize with the lackadaisical, so this guide’s for you: Halloween with as little effort as humanly possible.

You’ll find just about everything here among common lab supplies. So get to it! Decorate a pumpkin, get your costume on, and hit the hallways for the only day in the year it’s OK to take candy from random strangers. Our last piece of advice: we hear core labs give out candy corn. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Step one: pumpkin decoration

You simply won’t be festive without an anthropomorphized gourd in your office window, but the idea of actually hacking one apart, scooping out its entrails, and then dealing with sticky fingers all afternoon isn’t your cup of tea. Try this instead.

   You’ll need:

 • 1 pumpkin (failing that, check the refrigerator — there’s bound to be something that was put in there months ago that didn’t start out as a pumpkin but now bears a striking resemblance to one) 

 • 1 slide marker

If there’s something even art class failures can draw, it’s that go-to model org C. elegans. Draw the nematode undergoing a mutation or cellular procedure dear to your heart. We chose the let-7 mutant for ours.

Step two: costume design

The Lunatic

   You’ll need:

 • 1 lab coat

 • Duct tape

Easy as pie: put the lab coat on backwards, and tape the sleeves across your chest to make your straitjacket. Note: This costume is not especially conducive to trick-or-treating.

Evil Study Section Member

   You’ll need:

 • 1 suit

 • 1 placard (try a piece of cardboard glued to a tongue depressor)

To convincingly play the Evil Study Section Member, simply slip into a good suit and decorate your placard to say “No Funding For You.” Note: As this costume may not be funny to actual study section members, we advise against wearing it in Bethesda.

 

Vacationer

   You’ll need:

 • 1 pair of lab safety glasses

 • Plastic tube from water distiller

• Hawaiian shirt (or tie-dyed lab coat with cut-off sleeves)

You may not remember what people on vacation look like, so this costume could be tricky. The safety glasses and plastic tube can be fashioned into a mask and snorkel, and the aloha shirt will complete the look. No socks allowed.

Your Favorite Chromosome

   You’ll need:

 • 1 monotone outfit

 • 2 pairs socks to match your clothes

 • Tape of varied colors

After getting decked out in your monotone outfit, use the tape to stripe your arms and legs (your p and q arms). Scientific accuracy is not necessary for this costume, though we give extra points to those who choose a chromosome and stripe it according to actual gene location. When finished, don’t forget to cover your telomeres with the matching pairs of socks.

 

Step three: trick-or-treat preparation

When you were a child your parents always had some orange-tone plastic bag for you to use. But if you, like us, are not entirely sure where the special Halloween bags come from, you’ll need to find something else to stash your haul. Check under the desks and in the back of any closets in your lab — you’re almost guaranteed to find at least one conference bag that’s just waiting to be put back into service!

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