Wednesday, September 27, 2006

So little time.

So now, on top of all the crap I have to do here, the potential move is going to require a bit of time investment before I have enough information to make a decision. Not only do I have to research the place, the people, the facilities. And hunt for a job for the boyfriend. But they're already asking me to do things for them. This is good in some ways, since clearly they respect and want my opinion. But it makes me worry- will I be as exploited there as I am here, and for all the same reasons? Would I be walking out of the frying pan and into the fire?

For the moment this is just stewing in the back of my mind, because I really don't have time to do anything about it, and clearly I'm pretty stressed out or I wouldn't be blogging this much!

Hooray for free therapy.


Today was pretty awful. It started with a talk by someone who is sort of a competitor, in the sense that it's a fellow postdoc who works in the same area, and we're more or less at the same level re: years of experience.

So you can imagine how that would make for a nerve-wracking morning already, but it went differently than I expected: the experiments this group is doing make NO SENSE. What scares me most is, I'm not sure everyone knows that. And I'm really torn about whether to tell them where they're going wrong.

On the one hand, I might get points for making good suggestions that help them out.

On the other hand, they might not (probably won't) listen to me, so what's the point?

If they did listen, I'm 99% sure they wouldn't even acknowledge me for 'helpful discussions' when the paper came out.

And then there's the part where they're kind of a bunch of assholes, and the bad part of me just wants to watch them hang themselves. With or without being able to say 'I told you so,' either way, it would work in my favor.

And there's a part of me that's afraid- for me and for Science As A Whole- that they'll get away with publishing this crap in a high impact journal.

So that was an interesting meditation. Very motivational.

Um, really not.

But it did make me think a little more about this idea of wanting to work with people who are smart, yes, but nice, also. A Word A Day had a quote recently about this:

Kindness is more important than wisdom, and the recognition of this is the
beginning of wisdom.
-Theodore Rubin, psychiatrist and writer (1923- )


Then I had a bunch of paperwork to do.


This is stuff that normally an administrator or lab manager would do, except that the ones here are either too stupid to handle it, or too lazy to do more than the bare minimum. Or maybe I just don't have the privilege of working with any of the good ones.

Then I had a meeting, which was fine, I guess, except that I was sitting there thinking about all the other stuff I need to do, and an hour ended up feeling like a really long time.

It was the second day in a row when I called my boyfriend and made him go out and get dinner with me (read: too tired and busy to go home and cook something healthy, will regret this by the weekend), and then came back to do benchwork in the evening, when the building is empty.

It's so empty that the janitor walked in on me the other day and apologized, since he said normally no one is here 'this late.'

It's not really that late.

And I really do like it, except for the part where

a) I don't get to see my boyfriend much at all
b) I have to get up early tomorrow and do it all again without having been away from here for even 12 hours.

Somebody really does need to figure out how to make at least a few days of the week 36 hours long. Then I would be fine.

But bad days can be less than 24 hours, on this schedule. Then if things suck, you can just go home and start over the next day. Didn't Anne of Green Gables always say something about how every new day is like a blank slate?


Q: If a postdoc works late and no one's there to see it, does it eventually pay off?

A: Here's hoping.

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At 9:58 PM, Anonymous Fitz said...

About the "competitor" - sounds like if you made some helpful suggestions to them they would not even recognize them. But maybe they would appreciate your interest and think well of you if you made some token conversation/inquiry about what they did and how that led them to their conclusion, especially if you spin it more as admiration as opposed to bafflement. And then...leave it at that. Any more effort on behalf of that group is probably a waste of your time. It is not really worth discussing things with people in the hopes that you can be thanked in their Acks section. Your time would be better spent making sure people don't view your work the same way you viewed the work of that lab. And writing down your own ideas. When I was a lab manager I got really tired of planning entire experiments for my mentor's grad students. It wasn't just knowing I would never be listed anywhere on the paper, it was a huge effort and frankly the responsibility of my mentor to teach his students.

About paperwork: get used to it! As a faculty member, I do a nutty amount of paperwork whether it is for grants or lab stuff or things my chair (a woman) asked me to do. Sometimes, it is actually about science.

At 1:54 AM, Blogger MissPrism said...

Best of luck with your decision.

I love your week-rescheduling idea. We should be able to shove an extra day in here and there sometimes, too. "I'll finish the paper on Wednesday, which gives me all of Cheeseday to write the talk I'm giving on Thursday".

At 8:23 AM, Anonymous Angela said...

As someone no longer activly working in science due to life happening, I would like to respectfully suggest that you consider the option of moving somewhere "undesirable" but good for career. New places can be surprising in my experience. You are clearly unhappy where you are now and a blank state (I just love Anne of Green Gables) can be a wonderful thing. As a side note, let the boyfriend find his own job. If he wants to come with you, he should be motivated. That's my two cents. Not worth much but I am much happier now after applying above advice to my life even though I don't have the PhD but I do have a happy husband and daughter.

At 3:27 AM, Anonymous Greg said...

"This is stuff that normally an administrator or lab manager would do, except that the ones here are either too stupid to handle it, or too lazy to do more than the bare minimum."

Why should they do more. By underperforming, they have suckered you into doing their work. I bet you let them take the credit, too.

It's a skill some people have. You can easily identify them : they are the happy oblivious individuals, surrounded by a bunch of miserable sods.

Quite often they are the local manager. While others were doing their work, they were currying favour and, incidentally, demonstrating their management skills, with you as evidence.

I think you should reread your entry for Sep 21.

Also.. this is probably harder to do.. ask yourself, why isn't the boyfriend hunting for his own job? Doesn't he want to be with you? No, it's not complicated.


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