Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Postdocs without purpose

So this weekend I went to a going-away party for a friend who is going to be a consultant. Just by chance, I ended up sitting with a couple of postdocs who had gone to grad school where I had gone to college. They hated my favorite professor, so you can imagine I had to suspend judgment until they said they did postdocs in chemistry only because they didn't want to deal with getting a real job and didn't know what else to do.

These are the people who need to get fired, ASAP.

I'm sorry, but if you're a postdoc by default, because you're so lacking in creativity and motivation that you can't think of anything else to do with your PhD, you definitely don't deserve to get paid to work in a lab. And you probably didn't deserve a PhD in the first place.

Anyway we all drank a lot and changed the subject-!

In fact, I'm feeling the effects of too much Ethiopian beer, Sangria and Mike's Hard Lemonade this weekend. How to turn Tuesday into a Monday: have a hangover.

Meanwhile, my lab meeting went well, and I am starting to feel stressed about all the experiments I obviously have to do before I will be anywhere close to publishing another first-author paper. But I have plenty of ideas on what to do, it's just a matter of getting it done and avoiding too many stupid technical glitches along the way.

And user-error. Don't forget the human factor.

The good news: one of my collaborations finally got accepted for publication, at long last.

One down, one not yet submitted, and one not yet written. I guess this is a spread I should get used to.

I still think we need some kind of culling machine to separate the unmotivated losers from what a real postdoc should be. They're seriously dragging us down.


Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Stem Cell Research Is Not Murder

Okay, I am sufficiently annoyed at how ignorant and irrational this stem cell debate has been lately, that I am going to lay out some facts here for those who might feel underinformed.

1. Stem cells do not come from killing babies. Do you know how big a stem cell is? A blastocyst, which is to say an early embryo, is approximately the size of the period at the end of this sentence. That is all you need to start a stem cell line.

2. I have a hard time believing millions of Americans, as Bush put it, would really be offended by stem cell research if they really understood what it is and what it could do if we were allowed to pursue it.

I have a hard time believing- and maybe I'm being optimistic here- that there are really millions of Americans who believe that life begins when the sperm is engulfed by the egg. And yes, that is really what happens at conception. Kind of grisly when you picture it that way, huh?

I think there is probably only a number in the thousands, maybe the hundred thousands, of people who know enough about conception to understand what it reallly is and still choose to believe that this is a definition of life.

Do you realize that anywhere from 50-90% of human conceptions end at the 2-cell stage naturally, from failed cell division? Yes, this is the kind of thing I work on. And if you know anything about cell division, it makes sense that this insanely complicated process must fail quite frequently, and it's a good thing we don't try to save every defective cell that ever existed and turn it into an all-suffering, poor excuse for a human being.

3. More to the point, how many lives could be saved or improved through stem-cell therapies? Sure, it's going to be years down the line before these therapies are available for patients, and there will always be risk involved. But it would be a whole lot better than anything we have now. As I heard a bioethicist put it recently, any parent in the world would choose their child over a petri dish any day. If your kid/parent/best friend/spouse were sick, would you have a hard time choosing what to sacrifice? Sure, any time we crush bacterial cells for research, it's a sacrifice of a tiny microscopic life. But it's not a sin.

4. That said, and here is where I get fed up with Christian doctrine, I really think some of the older Indian philosophy makes more sense on this point. If you are so concerned with microscopic life forms - and that is what the embryo is at conception, microscopic - do you kill bugs? How many gnats and mosquitoes have you killed without a second thought? How many spiders? Or do you go out of your way to avoid killing bugs? Bacteria? Is taking an antibiotic going against God? How many people in this country follow religions that believe using antibiotics is a sin? Thousands? Millions? Are there really millions of people in this country who believe they will go to hell if they take penicillin?

More to the point, is an embryo really any better than a bug? Yeast? Bacteria? Let's be fair: if life counts at the single-cell level, then it shouldn't matter what kind of cell you are.

5. Stem cell research is not going to result in human cloning. At least, not in our lifetimes. I hate to break it you folks, but cloning cells and cloning animals are two totally different things. Even if stem cell research pans out in the next 20-30 years, human cloning won't even be an issue for a whole lot longer. Outlawing stem cell research now to prevent human cloning is a really good example of cutting off your nose to spite your face (and everyone who has to look at the bloody, gaping maw in the middle of your head).

Monday, May 23, 2005

rolling merrily along

So this weekend I hung out with a bunch of women scientists and felt distinctly un-feminine. The emphasis on family and being naturally nurturing made my stomach churn. And the tendency to award scholarships to women with families also seems like a mis-step to me: how many hard-working, talented young women are out there who don't have children and don't want to? I felt like a minority.

But then I was flipping through a journal and saw that one of my colleagues - with whom I am likely to be competing for academic positions in the next year or two - published another Cell paper. And I started thinking, geez, if I hadn't had to waste so much time fighting the discrimination and general bullshit at my grad school and as a postdoc (directed primarily against women, and specifically ME), how much farther along would I be right now?

I guess I was thinking about it because my advisor is moving, and a couple of women confronted me this weekend to say how annoyed they were that she is abandoning them with very few female professors left in this department. It's not like there are many female professors where she is going, on the contrary, there are just as few. You just can't win.

And also, I was annoyed because a couple of the more successful, full-professor women sat on a panel and complained that not enough young women apply for faculty positions, and that's part of why there aren't more women faculty.

Like us not applying is the problem.

But when you think about it, our phones are not ringing off the hook with people letting us know about opening that haven't been advertised yet. Meanwhile I can name several young men I've seen sitting on career panels saying how their advisor's old drinking buddy called up and told them about a job that would be open for applications in a few months. Women are stuck searching for ads, and by the time the ad is out, you're already behind.

Needless to say, I'm going to send my CV and research proposal to those two professors and tell them to feel free to include me in any and all job searches they might know about. I'll be damned if they're going to accuse me of not applying!

Friday, May 20, 2005


Okay, I don't usually do memes, but since botanical girl tagged me on it, and it sounded interesting enough, here is my meditation on things I have never done.

I have never:

1. Been skydiving.
2. Been scubadiving.
3. Seen a ghost.
4. Smoked.
5. Surfed.
6. Believed in god.
7. Been married.

I've done a lot of things, most of which I won't list here. But I can juggle and walk on stilts (though not at the same time). I've skiied and swam and travelled a respectable amount for someone my age and income level. I speak more than one language and I play a handful of musical instruments. I kickbox, rollerblade, and do yoga. I've studied ballet, tap, jazz, and African dance. I paint my own toenails, thank you very much, so I don't know if that counts as a pedicure. I drove across the entire country in a car with no airconditioning. (that sucked, btw). I worked as a translator for deaf people making phone calls. I have helped a friend in and out of her wheelchair, onto and off of toilets. I have marched for gay rights and been proud to do it. I've meditated and had visions of the future that turned out to be true (although not very useful). I've published poetry and read it in public. I've given the toast for a friend at her wedding. I have lost family members to cancer and (very) old age. I have lost friends to mental illness and suicide. I have a friend who is HIV+.

I saw Allen Ginsberg perform when he was alive.

I have doubted myself, I have criticized others loudly, I have been criticized roundly. I have been discriminated against. I have been scared, I have been depressed, I have given up, I have quit, and I have been brave.

I have gone out of my way to have new experiences, to not be bored, to have things to write poetry about, to take advantage of having all my limbs and mind intact and functioning.

For my career, I have done Western, Southern and Nothern blots. I have run gels with agarose, acrylamide, and urea. I have stained cells on glass and plastic, in and out of human tissue, with various dyes and antibodies linked to dyes. I have worked with viruses, bacteria, mice, frogs, yeast, and plants. I have used fluorescent and electron microscopes. I have solved protein structures with X-ray crystallography. I have purified, cloned, sub-cloned, transfected, blotted and detected DNA. I have used at least three kinds of radioactivity. I have asked questions no one wanted to ask and answered questions no one thought to ask.

I am more than overqualified. And I am vary rarely satisfied.

TTPGIF! (thank the pagan gods it's friday!)

Actually my week is just starting to get interesting.

So, first things first, I really liked Star Wars. Overall I thought the acting was improved, the storyline was good, but the action scenes a bit longer than they needed to be (you know it's a bad sign when the fighting goes on so long you're actually bored... the last Matrix movie was worse for that, though).

Turns out I am going to miss a chance to meet with an editor of a Big Journal because I am leaving that day on a very inflexible trip. Gotta love it when you're getting screwed by only a couple of hours of bad scheduling.

Went to a graduation today where the professors started their usual bent of competing for whose student had the most Cell/Science/Nature/first author papers. Gotta love that, too. But hey, free food (and alcohol).

Met with a new collaborator today and am optimistic that will pan out as another middle-author paper. Hoorah!

And, possibly best of all, I had an experiment work. Perhaps even more to my credit, it was one that my undergrad did almost entirely by herself, which I think is a darn fine example of what a great teacher I might someday turn out to be.

They should pay me to do this stuff!

So, the weather is nice, I just had a free beer, I'm finishing another round of the western, and then I want to go home and go to sleep. I'm sure it won't be that simple, but in my perfect world, I would have earned at least a tiny fraction of a day of rest.

And thank you, pagan gods, for the inexorable march of time, the ever-changing weather, and the assurance I received today that my inflexible trip overlaps the worst part of monsoon season, with humidity rivaling that of Houston, Texas in summer. Goody!

My main concern now is getting up at the crack of dawn tomorrow: I have to figure out if I want to wear nice clothes to schmooze in at this conference. Always hard to choose between comfort and appearance, since they never seem to coincide. Even harder to make decisions pre-coffee.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Cells: Gotta love 'em, gotta hate 'em.

Grrrrr. My "stable" cell lines are doing that thing where, for the last few aliquots, they lasted 10 passages before they became 'unstable', but this time they only made it about 3 passages, and my last 2 experiments didn't really work because of this.

So I don't have a lot I can do right now. I can't order anything because we can't spend any money (I do have things I need to order). I can't do anything because I don't have cells. I can't write anything because I don't have data.

I like science because I'm rarely bored. But right now I'm just not in the mood to read about other people's wonderful research, when I'd rather be doing some of my own.


In other news, I am going to see the premiere of Star Wars tonight with some friends. So I have an excuse to leave early today. But I am carpooling so I don't have my car with me, so I can't go home early even though I'm done now...

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Scientific publishing is doomed.

So, maybe I've mentioned before that my paper still hasn't come out as an official publication, although it was accepted something like March 1st. Now, the journal that accepted it is owned by a giant conglomerate publishing company that now owns some large percentage of all scientific journals.

And they're a bunch of wankers.

Seriously, you wouldn't believe how clueless these people are. It's to the point where, more than once now, they have claimed not to have received an email from me regarding some niggly point about reprints ordering or authorship rights or something, and I've had to forward back to them not only a copy of my original reply but also their reply in response, indicating that, not only did they receive my response, they also responded to it .

Our fate is in the hands of complete morons.

What's even more incredible to me is the rates they charge for reprints and color figures. This is all coming out of taxpayers' pockets? And going directly to support these people who probably shouldn't be employed in the first place?

Really makes you think maybe Bridget Jones was one of the smarter ones after all!


Cloning by e-mail

Ahh, so the digital age will save you every time (I think). My advisor was annoyed that I had tried to clone this thing myself (somehow I doubt she would have cared if it had worked!). She insisted that I try writing to this japanese sequence bank and ask if I can get the clone they have listed in the database. They wrote me back right away with a pile of Materials Transfer Agreement stuff, and a request for ~ $200 worth of fees for the work and shipping. I'm now waiting for my advisor to agree to this, since the money on my fellowship is pretty much used up for this year, and I haven't received word whether I've been officially renewed yet (with concomitant spending money availability).

Meanwhile, I'm annoyed because my experiments seem to be very sensitive to timing, so the experiment I did yesterday was pretty uninformative and I think I know what I need to do over... I just wish I could get my cells to magically grow faster. Anybody know how to do that?

Also, irony of all ironies, my lab meeting got postponed for a week. So I have a little more time to scramble to put some more stuff together.

Fortunately for me, after a loonnnng discussion about potentially attending a Dueling Piano Bar for the first half of the bachelorette party evening, we managed to agree not to go at all. Hooray! The new plan sounds more expensive but hopefully a bit less irritating.

And, tons of stuff to do today, so I should get going on it. Of course it's sunny out, and I'm tired, and I'd rather be at the beach.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Feels like Monday, but it's not

So, my new primers came in yesterday. They didn't work, either. I'm stumped. I am, of course, trying it one more time today, and then I realized I poured my gel with not enough wells to actually run all the conditions.

yes, I am awake. However, I can't get over this craving for another cup of coffee and a donut, of all things.

Someone in my lab suggested I should try to clone it out of a different tissue source, so I am going to see what I can get to work with. I am thinking this particular part of my project is doomed, though.

The good news is, one of my other experiments worked, suggesting that my original hypothesis was correct. So I am frantically running around trying to do a bunch of experiments now that I'm more convinced I'm on the right track. Not very convinced, though, so we're also going to try to send samples off for independent verification that this is not another bizarre mixup with an indirect, although interesting, effect in my assay.

In other news, I have to go to a bachelorette party this weekend, and it's sounding like it could be really hellish. I barely know these people, so I'm wondering why I couldn't have come up with some plausible excuse... oh wait, I did! I managed to squirm out of going to Vegas, so they decided to have the party locally instead. And then, for some reason, I balked at squirming again.

I'm a horrible, antisocial person. I know this. But when they send emails telling us to dress up and "Show what you got", or something, the idea of pantyhose and heels just makes me want to go to bed early in flannel pj's.

And... what else. This morning I was reading the alumni magazine for my college. There was a reference to a joke about women who attend only to get their "Mrs" degree, and it made me physically ill. The only person I ever met who proudly admitted to being on the prowl for a husband (aside from several female PhDs I know who put off commitment for their careers) was someone who did not attend my college. I sincerely doubt there are that many girls attending Ivy League schools with marriage as their only goal in mind for their four years - and tuition.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

That's why they call it RE-search

Well, sigh. After Hedwig's last comment, I am sorry to hear that Starsucks is not accepting applications from PhDs who can't seem to hack it on the "competitive" (read: political) job market in science.

I am feeling like a hack, that is for sure.

So, when last we visited our heroine, she was proud to have finally obtained a PCR product and was anxiously awaiting the sequence confirmation.

Well, turns out it's the wrong thing. Guess why? Oh come on, you know you already know the answer!

Yes folks, the sequence I used for designing the primers was wrong. I give up, I think everyone should know that NCBI is just chock full of errors. If they're not going to curate the sequences, there is just no point is having it around. It causes more problems than it solves.

Someone brilliant in my lab finally told me she uses the Sanger database instead, so I went and checked, and sure enough, that seems to be a lot more trustworthy.

And guess what? All the other sequence alignment problems I was having were also due to the sequence being just plain wrong. So I am back at square one again. Fortunately I only lost about a week this time.

Ha ha ha. Oh, research is so much FUN!!

The whole idea of scientific method is supposed to be based on the concept that we can build on those who went before us. Right? But if you can't trust the most basic assumptions, like, public databases should at least be checked for MAJOR ERRORS , it's all crap.

We are the singing, dancing, crap of the world!

Anyway, at least if I were kicked out of this lab, I could honestly say I made a go of it, I tried, and now I can justify working in a coffee shop and singing for tips, or whatever it is people do when they are unemployed musicians. Somehow I think "unemployed musician" is looking a lot more appealing right now than this pointless banging my head against a brick wall, waiting to see if my advisor is going to hit the fan when she finds out about all this random circular chasing-my-tail I've been doing lately. And here I was hoping to have it all figured out by the time I give lab meeting!


Wednesday, May 11, 2005

PCR = karmic payback time.

Well, I got a PCR product on Monday, did a little victory dance and set about the next few cloning steps. Everything seemed to work just like it was supposed to, blue-white screening and all that, picked the white colonies. I got one of my clones. The other one = NADA. So I went to try to purify the PCR product, but it was all degraded.

I'm trying not to cry, but I have just about had it for today. I started a new PCR to try to bootstrap from the one clone I did get. I transformed a vector I had almost run out of, which theoretically will get me to the same place...

I have a ton of microscope data I haven't had time to look at, among other things I think I thought I would do this week. Now I'm so far behind I can barely remember all the stuff I wanted to do.

Meanwhile, the publisher of my paper just sent me the same stupid copyright form for the 3rd time. I still haven't seen galley proofs. It's much clearer to me now that these people have no idea what they are doing. Or they just don't care.

The other night on the Daily Show I watched a clip of George Bush with the president of Latvia, who is a woman. Then I was reading in the Penn Gazette about the former president of Ireland, who was also a woman.

What really gets me is that Bush gives his standard, as Jon Stewart puts it, fridge-magnet speech about Freedom, yada yada, but I don't feel Free. If I were free, there would have been a black woman president by now. Or at least a black president. Or even a jewish president. God forbid, a woman president at all!

Lab funding

So one of my biggest pet peeves is people who waste lab supply money on things you can make yourself for pennies and only a little bit of work. I agree that really time-consuming things- like, say, pouring protein gels- that you do a lot, should be farmed out if you can afford it. But making competent bacteria, for example, is a royal waste of money in my book.

That said, you can imagine my reaction when I found out that a certain person who has been driving me nearly to violence with all her stupid questions told me that the reason she doesn't know how to do anything is because her old lab just bought all this stuff, from the most inane little sample loading buffer to any and all other things you can think of. What amazes me is that despite all this money, she doesn't have any protocols of her own, know how to conduct an experiment, how to design a way to test a hypothesis, how to look up different techniques that people use, how to choose controls, etc. She doesn't really know how to use pubmed.

And now for the kicker: she has her own lab. Yes, that's right. There are people like this who are employed as professors.

Some days I just want to go work at McDonald's, I swear. It just requires too much black humor to see how taxpayers are benefiting from this system. Or how a system that values and promotes someone like this would ever see any value in me- I'm the total opposite! Clearly having actual skills has nothing to do with success in this business.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

I love working weekends!

No, seriously, it's actually really peaceful when it's sunny out and I have the whole lab to myself. Reminds me that I do like benchwork. I really do! Really helps to remember that sometimes. And it's nice to be able to work without being interrupted with questions every five minutes. It's amazing how bothersome that can be when it's happening every single day.

Someday, I will have an office, and office hours...

Actually, I did get interrupted with some questions, but they weren't too intrusive. I met someone new today, this woman who works in another building and teaches the main undergraduate lab course here. She came by wanting to use our microscope, and we ended up chatting about her project. Her stuff seems cool and she had a really good, mellow vibe, like she's in here on the weekend because it's fun and not because she's really stressed out about rushing to publish or whatever it is the rest of us are rushing around for.

Remind me again why it seems so important to give lab meeting, apply for a grant, and present my stuff at a meeting all within the next month? It does sound a bit crazy when I see it in print.

Anyway I am convinced I will have this PCR problem beat by the end of today. If the stuff I'm doing now doesn't work, it will never work. That much I am sure of. I will have exhausted the possibilities. So here's hoping it works, because if it doesn't, I may have to abandon this whole pile of data because I won't be able to follow up on it. And that would be a major waste.

I also stained a whole mess of coverslips, but at this rate I won't make it to the microscope (I already missed the slot I signed up for, although it seems unlikely anybody else would care on a sunny day!). So I think I will be here tomorrow regardless.

Went to lunch with a friend, talked science the whole time and wasn't the slightest bit bored or annoyed about it. And that's kind of refreshing. I think it's helpful that this friend works in an area close to mine. And she's always interesting to talk with, she's animated and articulate. It's a nice change- I can't really talk to the people in my lab about science at all.

Human contact is definitely overrated if it's with the wrong humans. I always agreed with Sartre, in general: hell is other people. Lab is soooo much better when it's just lab, and less of a busy beehive.

Friday, May 06, 2005

See: Fingernails, holding on by

Punching bag helped last night. Might have to use it again tonight, although I'm flaking out on going to a bar for a friend's birthday (I already celebrated with her once) because I said I didn't feel well (I really didn't feel well before I had coffee this afternoon). I realize I'm being lame and antisocial, but I'm really not in the mood for shouting matches over expensive froofy drinks. Would rather try to exercise and get rid of residual work anxiety before engaging in true avoidance behavior: watching Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead for something like the 10th time. That might involve a Mike's Hard Lemonade. Does that count as froofy? It was on sale at the grocery store...

Had tons of scary nightmares just before I woke up this morning. One involved going shopping with a friend and coming out to discover my car had been towed and was nowhere in sight. Another involved an Itchy&Scratchy-like cartoon, with a lot of violence. And it wasn't funny.

Gave journal club today, it went fine. Don't know why I was so worried about it.

Worked on the westerns, still confused.

Checked on the PCR primers, decided it is probably the cDNA prep that is bad. Realized this too late in the day to make fresh RNA. Will be working a full day tomorrow.

Received the 'replacement' reagent that was supposed to clear up all the confusion of the last week or so, what with the naming mistakes, etc. Turns out the info sheet they gave me doesn't match the info on the company website, so I had to send them yet another email asking what the hell is going on.

Needless to say, I'm fed up with this company, and it really makes me wonder how many people out there are using these reagents, seeing an effect, and not realizing that they're targeting the wrong thing?? Not that I'm convinced designing my own reagents would be any better. I'm wondering if my initial terror of this technique wasn't on the right track.

Am not feeling like I accomplished a single goddamn thing today. Nor am I going to, as I would like to get home before it is pitch-black outside, and I have no intention of doing any work once I get there.

Will be working a full day tomorrow. Will be fun to see what the mystery replacement reagent does in my assay! Ok, won't be fun. But will hopefully help my conscience. And I can always try the miserable PCR one more time in the hopes of doing some actual cloning (sometimes cloning can be so rewarding when everything else isn't working...)

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Trying to stay motivated?

Today has been one of those days.

Someone commented on the tremenous pile of papers under my desk and suggested I should get a cardboard box, like that hadn't occurred to me. I tidied up the pile even though I'm too lazy to finish filing all the papers, because I don't really have enough filing space, and it requires a lot more shuffling around to force things to fit in space that's really too small.

I need my own office, with gigantic file cabinets. Oh yeah, and a secretary.

Someone turned off my western blot before it was finished. I don't know who it was. When I asked around, someone else said the same thing had happened to them earlier today, but we don't know if it was the same person.

Meanwhile, the westerns we did today didn't really work. I can't really conclude much from them.

I'm still waiting for stuff to come in the mail. I'm telling myself I'm conserving my energy, or something, so that when the stuff comes I can really plow through a bunch of experiments, but it just makes me tired thinking about all the work I have to do.

The data I collected yesterday, which is really pretty, turns out not to be as statistically significant as I originally thought. I'm still not sure if my 'control' is messed up, or if I'm just looking at something that doesn't really exist much above background. I've had problems with this 'control'- it's one of those things that supposedly has no effect, but I swear it looks a lot different from my untreated control, leading me to believe that the phrase 'no effect' is somewhat misused...

I wrote a new paragraph into my grant. But I can't leave it that way. It needs a lot of work.

And I edited a paper I'm not an author on. I strongly suspect I've done more work on it than one of the people who is an author, but I don't think I'll say anything to the first author. I might just ask her to write me a recommendation letter when I apply for jobs.

Which may not be for years, at the rate I'm going.

At lunch, I heard horrible stories about politics in science. My favorite was the one about the senior professor who invites a naive, female assistant professor to his hotel room and then proceeds to attack her. She fights him off, and ever since then, he blocks every paper she tries to submit to one of the (many) journals for which he is a member of the editorial board.


Am trying really hard to think of something good that happened today. Or will happen today.

I skipped two talks I was going to go to. Not sure I missed anything there.

Uh... might have to get some exercise tonight. It might have to involve my punching bag and a lot of noise.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Work ethic

So, the last week or two I've talked to a couple of my friends from grad school who are doing really well. One just gave a talk at a huge meeting, and she said it went really well. One of the other onees is being wooed by all the big pharma companies, nationally and internationally, for jobs with many more digits of $$ than I'll ever be making.

What stands out to me about them is how hard they work, ALL THE TIME. They have this amazing work ethic. I used to have that, but I guess I've been influenced by a) the west coast attitude of, you have to live your life and be a person as well as a scientist, or you'll go nuts, and b) all the crap that has happened to me, reminding me that if you work your tail off and get screwed by some political thing, that is just 5 years of weekends you can't get back.

Anyway, in keeping with my renewed hope that the early bird chops up the worm and gets protein out of him, I am doing a little of everything today. I have a Q-PCR running now, as well as another attempt at that other PCR I've been fighting with (Attempt #5, here we go). I'm about to quantitate protein to run a western blot, and I'm going to stain some cells before I leave today. So I will be Ms. Efficient PhD, thank you very much, and hopefully have time to see one of my friends tonight (who really needs to vent about her father, who has Parkinson's, and the whole experience of realizing he needs to be in what they call "Assisted Living").

Having said that, I have 3 minutes until my timer beeps. I actually prefer days like this, even though I know I'm putting off working on my grant and will probably regret it later.

In other news, I found out today that when we go to Japan in a couple months, we've been invited to give talks at a couple of universities (even though the meeting we're attending only wants us to present posters). Not that we'll get job offers in Japan, and we wouldn't take them even if we did, but at least it helps us justify extending the trip. Hooray for my international career (hahaha).


Monday, May 02, 2005

This site powered by delusions of eventual success

Well, I am on my 4th round of optimizing PCR (finally got a smear and considered that a big improvement over getting NOTHING). Cross your collective e-fingers, everybody!

Meanwhile, and I was pretty relieved about this, my experiment on the weekend kinda worked. I still couldn't bring myself to come in on Sunday, though. I sat around and looked at my data, trying to figure out if it's really what I think it is... I'm probably blinded by optimism again, but I think it supports my hypothesis, my crazy hypothesis, that I came up with about 2 years ago and wasn't crazy enough to actually try testing until now. I figured, what the hell, at this point my whole project is questionable, what have I really got to lose?

So... being potentially right is always good. But it means I have a helluva lotta work to do. And I suspect my advisor will be pissed if I tell her about it. That may have to wait until later.

And, I have to give lab meeting in 3 weeks. No stress there!

I also have to give journal club at the end of this week. Bad enough sitting through journal club. Presenting a paper I didn't pick, I'm not sure I fully understand, on a topic I don't particularly like, will be a special kind of joy.

Lab meeting today was really painful, and I sat there squirming (we all did) at all the blatantly missing controls, wondering if my own work looks that bad to people who aren't working on it?

Anyway I am trying to remind myself that the truly successful are usually people who always envision only the best for themselves.

I also registered for a local meeting for women in science. I have to go to a bachelorette party that same night, so, it will be a very long, very girly day. Not particularly looking forward to that. Could really use some small doses of girliness on a regular basis, rather than all in one lump.

Mostly trying to keep busy in a hands-on sort of way, I am just not in the frame of mind to try working on writing my grant. Somehow that's a whole other level of delusion I just can't get to right now.