Thursday, September 15, 2005

Bad day.

This time of year is really hard for me. I lost someone a few years ago to suicide, and it happened to be around the same time as 9/11, so now with Katrina almost coinciding on the anniversary, I'm having flashbacks to national disasters and horrifying phone calls with bad news.

Last night I was sad because I felt like I was starting to forget him. We worked together, it's not like we dated or anything. So it was especially strange to have a very vivid dream last night, and there he was! It was very normal, I guess it was my imaginary version of what it would be like if he were still here. I still don't understand how our brains can store all this information and recreate it so perfectly, but my brain won't do it on demand, at least not if I'm awake. I always liked the way they had holographic recordings of people on Star Trek. I could use one of those.

Anyway this morning I was really depressed when I woke up. I guess you never really get over losing someone so young. He was the age I am now.

I forced myself to come to lab and start getting the administrative burden of my grant shifted onto the appropriate administrators. Of course I was chastised by people I have never met before, I'm sure I made a great impression with my obvious complete lack of clue.

I guess what annoyed me the most was that nobody seems to want to teach me the correct way to do this. Granted, I hopefully will never have to do this same kind of grant again at this same university, but I really don't like working in the pitch dark.

Then I decided to go ahead and start learning LaTeX, which doesn't seem that hard, but once again, there are no step-by-step instructions. This is what I hate about trying to learn programming. All I need is a list of reagents and a protocol. E.g., here are the parts you will need, here is how you make them, here is what you do with the parts to put them together, here is what it will look like when you're done.

Nobody seems to want to do that in the computer world. They hand you a gigantic dictionary and tell you to write. No grammar, no examples of books like the one you're supposed to produce. It's ridiculous.

Which would all have been okay, except that the coffee place was closed at 3 pm when I went down there- WTF??? I so don't deserve this today.

Anyway I think I am just feeling really isolated and needing feedback. I hate sending these job applications and not hearing anything for months. So I don't feel like doing more of them, the psychology of it says "what's the point"?
I need some kind of Pavlovian trigger. They should send you a cookie for every application you send in. You know, some tiny token of acknowledgment.


At 6:01 PM, Blogger thePsychologist said...

I hope you feel better Ms.PhD.

And hey! You're so right about LaTeX. Getting past the initial stages was the worst for me. I had no idea what to do. The documentation said, "now compile this"...I don't care how to right my name upside down, just tell me how to actually compile it! So, that's pretty much how it was I guess. But good luck with that! And I'm really impressed. I don't see many outside of physics/math learning LaTeX.

At 6:15 PM, Blogger Adam Solomon said...

Yeah, hope ya feel better too!

If you're having issues or need help with LaTeX feel free to e-mail me (ramparts [at] or, if you have AIM, IM me (GuitarManARS).

PS I agree with Jason, never knew that anyone outside of physics, math, astro, etc. would use LaTeX...but it's certainly helpful!

At 6:36 PM, Anonymous BWJones said...

Have you applied to the Huntsman Cancer Institute job I told you about?

At 1:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you using Latex on a MAC or on a PC?

For a PC, download WinEdt (not Winedit). Their website has a lot of stuff on how to get started. You will need some other software as well - ghostview etc. And some sample files.

For a Macintosh, here is where to start:

Working with Latex on Linux is slightly more tricky and may require more command-line sort of stuff. My university had a Latex thesis package with all the necessary instructions and sample files.

At 8:51 AM, Blogger Ranger of the West said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one with a biology background who is using LaTeX. When I started using a LaTeX, it gave me fits. The whole WSIWYG paradigm of Word goes out the window. You might want to check this link out:
LaTeX for NIH Grant Applications. Also check this out: LaTeX and BiBTeX for Molecular Biologists. Finally this tutorial and this one on using BiBTex to create your bibliography.

At 8:57 AM, Blogger Ranger of the West said...

Sorry, one more thing. If you want to use LaTeX on a Windows machine these are great tools:

MikTeX is a TeX implementation for Windows. You can use it with
. It is a LaTeX editor for Windows. It makes things a lot easier for writing LaTeX docs.

At 9:31 AM, Anonymous Sharon said...

LaTeX has such complexity and yet you can use it quite simply, but I really haven't seen any simple user-friendly intuitive guides to getting started, which is a shame because there should be, the basics of LaTeX that I use every time I write a paper are really not that hard!

Anyway, I just wanted to say, if you ever want to see some examples, I would be happy to send you some.

At 11:24 AM, Blogger Ms.PhD said...

I had seen the LaTeX for NIH Grants, but none of the others.


And thanks for all the encouragement.

At 9:53 AM, Blogger Chuck M said...

A long time ago I wrote a 4 page "getting started with LaTeX" document.
It follows your reagents + protocol format.
You can download a pdf copy Getting Started with LaTeX (4 pages - pdf )


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