Friday, February 03, 2006

Minor triumph! and, What I learned in grad school

Ooh, had fun fixing a piece of equipment today. It's basic maintenance, but it's my job to do this stuff, and I had never done it since the last person in charge of it left.

If nothing else, it was really gratifying to realize that

a) I'm not intimidated about taking things apart
b) I've learned how to read and make use of (even cryptic) equipment manuals
c) it worked on the first try.

When I was a grad student, I had that girlie handicap that I was terrified of breaking things. I had gotten yelled at as a child for breaking a ceramic sugar bowl and just assumed everything else in life would be like that- better to stay away than to get yelled at.

Somewhere along the line I realized something about research in general: nobody really knows what they're doing. They're just kind of figuring it out as they go along.

I think this is fundamental to the reason I like research: despite the hierarchical crap, the principle that anybody at any level could potentially make a huge discovery is really important to me. I like the idea that everyone be treated as equally as possible and have the same opportunities.

When I started grad school, I think I thought they were going to 'teach' me something. In fact, I mostly taught myself, and I think this is the whole point of grad school: learning how you learn best, and gaining the confidence to do it on your own, so you can go beyond the boundaries of what's already known.

When I say "taught myself", I mean, I learned how to ask questions, who to ask about what, when something could be looked up, when to work hard, and when to move on.

So, I didn't do much today, but I'm happy with what I did. It's a stupid little thing to be happy about, but I'll take what I can get.

And, should get to do some fun stuff this weekend looking at a ton of slides I've been making this week. I'm going to work during the Super Bowl... I love lab when everyone is on holiday. It's not that I'm totally antisocial- if anything, I enjoy the banter in our lab. I just like knowing I can hoard the toys.

Mua ha ha ha ha! THEY'RE ALL MINE!!!

for a coupla hours, anyway.

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