Sunday, July 30, 2006

Nobody Cares About Your Blog

Was shopping with my 'best' friend when she, laughing, pointed out a t-shirt emblazoned with this sarcastic phrase.

She knows I have a blog, but I've never sent her the URL (plausible deniability!) so I don't know if she's figured out where it is or whether she actually reads it.

I guess she thinks it's stupid for me to ever mention it to her at all?


I'm writing because of angst, rather than any sort of good news.

It's frustrating because I'm always worried about revealing any kind of details that could identify me, but there are some things going on lately that I really want to write about, so I'm going to try to continue to obscure just enough while still giving you the main ideas.

A lot of stuff happened this week that has me pretty upset.


I had a meeting last week where a male friend kind of hijacked the conversation about my work, and while I know he meant well and probably didn't even realize what was happening, the senior PI in the room was looking to my friend to give suggestions on my project, instead of looking to me. Thanks, pal.

It's what I call the 'little birdie effect':

A woman suggests something, some time goes by, a man suggests the same thing and everyone congratulates him on a great idea. The man doesn't remember that he heard the idea from a woman's voice, instead the idea just 'came to him' as if 'a little birdie told me.' So he's in the clear because he didn't mean to steal her idea. He literally didn't realize that he didn't give credit where credit was due.

I was thinking about this because I was reading Absinthe's stories about her experiences at Fermilab and wondering if some of her stories could also be explained this way: we don't even register on their radar, so when they overlook giving us credit, is it because they're deliberately trying to screw us over, or because we don't exist?

So I'm feeling like I'm not supposed to have a voice, from the 'nobody cares about your blog' smackdown to the little birdie effect.

As usual, I'm afraid that if I'm too much of a squeaky wheel, I get labeled as 'hysterical female' (aka 'paranoid' in today's vernacular). But if I don't say anything at all, I get flattened by the wheel of a very large truck.


Oh and then, just for kicks, I went to see an acquaintance in a burlesque show.

Yes, they were wearing pasties and everything.

It was bizarre. But not what I expected. Mostly I was suprised that it wasn't more shocking, that it didn't turn me on in the slightest: it wasn't sexy.

And it was oddly empowering, in the sense that they weren't perfect bodies and they were obviously having a great time prancing around with their asses hanging out.

But I'm not sure how I would have felt about going to see something like that with my boyfriend. He probably would have found it sexy... I'm not sure if I want to know.

And I found myself wondering what sorts of day jobs these women have, because much as I worry about having a blog, I could never do something like that! So here's hoping, in some ways more than others, that nobody cares about my blog.

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Friday, July 28, 2006

I made it to Friday.

I am exhausted, overwhelmed, and just want to go home and take a nap. Actually I still want a vacation. I always want a vacation.

Work is going well. Almost too well: I have people clamoring to help me with my project and pushing me to do more experiments to prove my theories are correct.

This is all great, but it makes me tired just thinking about all the stuff I have to do.

Meanwhile, some people still want me to move to Science Blogs.

In an effort to see how much Google Ads has helped me, I checked my PayPal account for the first time today.

Guess how much money I've made from this blog?


And that's okay. It's been really therapeutic and I've gotten some great ideas from comments from people. You've helped me make decisions (like waiting to get the new laptop) and encouraged me when I needed pepping up.

So I just have to get through today, and tonight I get to see my boyfriend and relax, because it's OK not to work on Friday night! And actually I probably will take all of tomorrow off, too.

But sometimes I just feel like the cartoon character of the guy who got caught in the snowball, little hands and feet sticking out as it barrels down the mountain.

see for example this guy, the snowball man in hell:


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Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Struggles of Scheduling

Joolya made a great suggestion that I should take a martial arts class, and she said I'm not allowed to use time as an excuse.

Don't worry Joolya, I have plenty of excuses!

I love martial arts. I would like to take a class.

I don't have

a) money
b) energy
c) time to commute to one
d) a schedule that works with anyone else's.

For a while I was doing sports and felt guilty all the time - about leaving work to go to practice, and about getting to practice late because I couldn't get out of work early enough.

Sometimes I was doing jumping jacks while still getting dressed because I missed the beginning of warmup. Some of you know that goes. If you don't know, try doing jumping jacks while putting on a sock or tying your shoe. Just try it.

So I would sit in my car every time I got stuck in traffic, debating whether it was worth it. Sometimes I would be so late I would have to miss practice altogether, since the policy was that you couldn't be more than a certain number of minutes late. And then I had rushed out of lab and wasted all the time in the car... for what?

Ultimately I stuck with it for a couple of years, until the place changed and it wasn't fun enough anymore to cope with the commuting.

So then add in e) time to find a new place.

But there is no day, Monday through Friday, that I can be sure I can leave at a certain time EVERY WEEK. It's just impossible to really commit to anything besides lab.

And no matter what I do, as soon as my boyfriend or I pick a sport to coincide with the other's schedule, it gets screwed up. If we're not careful, we don't see each other awake all week.

For example, my boyfriend used to have an activity on Saturdays, so I found one on Saturdays. Then he stopped doing his activity, and for a while I would resent having to get up and go while he slept in, looking so adorable in bed! Then he found a new activity and mine ended. So lately I blog and do chores on Saturday mornings, at least until I find another exercise activity for Saturday mornings. Sometimes it's great that I can sleep in if I'm tired. But mostly I'm jealous because he's off being healthy & non-science while I'm here being... housewifely? Seriously though, he's pretty good about sharing chores, I just really hate the scenario where I'm at home doing them alone and he's out having fun!

aside: (This is one of the things about the lab lifestyle that I'm getting too old for.

It used to be fun to go in on the weekend! I know that sounds lame, but in the summers I appreciate the free air conditioning. In general I appreciate seeing only the people who really want to be there.

In fact, I generally prefer working on the weekend to working during the week, just because of the reduced population, being able to blare my music if I want to and wear flip flops if it's hot out. Who's gonna know my toes aren't covered?

But. I'm ready to have technicians and students to pick up some of the more tedious stuff for me so I can work hard during the week and not have to feed cells on the weekend. Weekend mornings are my protected time, but weekend afternoons are fair game for demands of lab.)

And if I pick a sport where I can go 'any' day, I tend to go less often. I have a gym membership but it tends to fall by the wayside on busy lab weeks.

Really what I need is a personal assistant to do all my chores and organize all my bills at home and papers at work. Until I get one of those, priorities are the following:

1. Stay sane.
2. Get work done.
3. Sleep.
4. Hold relationship together with boyfriend. (sorry, boyfriend, but I think your priorities are the same, so at least it's fair. Or are we doomed?)
5. Exercise.

So everything after #1 is required for #1 to work, but the actual order varies every day. Most days it's the order I listed. At least one day a week sleep is at the bottom, and at least one day a week work is at the bottom.

But I run around a lot at work and lift heavy things... that counts as exercise, right??


Thursday, July 20, 2006

To get a new laptop, or lust after one from afar?

Been reading up on the new MacBooks. I'm tempted to get the black one, partly because I'm still nostalgic for my old square black G3 (I don't care what they say, I hate the 3:2 aspect ratio and I'm sick of the gray).

So here's my thinking:

1. has been only ~ 3 years since I got my G4, and I'm poor.
2. it's new- might be better to wait and not be the beta-tester.
3. it's new- prices might keep coming down?
4. various uncertainties about whether I'll someday need to do (more) 3D graphics (than the occasional amount I do now) and be better off with the MacBook Pro
5. no excuse not to use Windows-based applications
6. No universal binaries yet for Photoshop or Office
7. tiny screen might be annoying
8. reviews say mixed things about glossy screens, etc.
9. have to buy a DVI adaptor?? Annoying.

1. I like the new color- it's stupid psychological stuff, but I'm ready for a change
2. Would be lighter than my G4- I have to lug it around a LOT
3. Would be WAY faster
4. no excuse not to use Windows-based applications
5. glossy screen might be nice
6. it's actually not that expensive for what you get

Got any opinions on this? Anyone reading this blog try them out yet? I'm tempted to head over to the store this weekend and drool on one.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

I think I'm an Outlier

Was reading this link over at Thus Spake Zuska today.

Here's the thing: I'm wondering if I'm in a minority of people who actually really love academia and just think it needs some tough love. It may be idealistic, but every once in a while I meet someone else who feels that way and think, geez if we could just get these people together, we might have something good.

Bu it's weird for me being a postdoc now. We're in an age when the movement toward mainstreaming 'alternative' careers is increasing, and people who want to stay in the system- especially women - are viewed as, at best crazy, masochists at worst.

I've found that women tend to view women like me as masochists.

So here I'm one of the ones who want to stay (I think). I don't think I'm brainwashed or just 'following the path', as some older female professors claim to have done. (My favorite was the chancellor-level MD who said she just went from med school to postdoc to professor to dean and never thought twice about any of this progress because it all came so easily to her!). If anything I've been clawing tooth & nail to get to work on what really interests me. And I'm thoroughly convinced that there's no way I could do the work I'm doing in academia anywhere in industry.

So I've run out of people to talk to where I work. The few women who have similar interests are younger than me and naively competitive (and a bit arrogant, which I try to ignore); the older ones are burned out and bitter (not that I can think of any of those- I may be one foot in that category, but we don't have a support group on campus).

The men who should be my 'peers' either view me as threatening, or want to 'collaborate' with me in ways that make it clear that they would steal my stuff if they saw even the slightest opening (needless to say I need collaborators badly enough that I'll take what I can get and just sleep with one eye open).

Anyway I guess I'm just feeling really isolated again- which was why I started this blog. It's been a while and my situation has changed a lot but never really improved. In theory I've been slowly moving in the right direction and things might start to improve soon, but for the time being I've got a lot of stuff to do that has me locked in my office alone. So I'm wishing this stuff was done so I could move on to the part where I get to know new people and continue my hunt for like minds.

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Monday, July 17, 2006

Priority Number One: Avoid Irritation

Ugh. The Year of the Dog continues, and then some. I'm really hoping today can count as part of last week, and that the annoying streak will come to an end.

And sooner would be better.

Finally got the back-ordered shipment I was waiting for, but it took 2 weeks longer than it was supposed to, and now I have to thaw fresh cells. So I have to wait a few more days to even try the experiment.

Finally got the approval code I was waiting for- a week late. Not sure what kind of trouble that's going to cause, but I'm worried the whole thing I was trying to get approved will have to wait another month, since the committee that does the reviews doesn't meet very often.

Why, you ask, the snafu in the first place? Because the person left a message for me, and nobody gave me the message.

Went to a lab meeting today that basically consisted of evidence that an ongoing project (not anything I'm involved in, thank god!) has been complete crap for, at a minimum, years. Possibly longer. Possibly decades. All because of sloppiness. The poor person who figured this all out is wondering if they're now allowed to work on something else. I just sat there adding up all the tax dollars that went to this project.

Complete. Crap.

Meanwhile, I thought I made a new friend this month, but New Friend is having some personal issues that make me want to steer wide & clear for a while. There's only so much I can take of other people's bad moods when they won't even let you in far enough to at least explain what the hell is going on.

Was kind of hoping I had a new friend, though. Very sad. Got any suggestions for a nice platonic gift to get someone who is clearly having a rough time of indeterminate nature?

Meanwhile, I'm pretty sure WWIII is breaking out, between Lebanon, Korea, Iraq, and our impending economic doom.

Here's the new scenario I came up with:

I reach the brink of actually getting a faculty position, and then:

WWIII breaks out.

Most scientists will be out of work, because there will be no money. Since we don't believe in war and in particular find bio-weapons to be completely unethical, we refuse to use our scientific skills to develop weapons.

We sell all our stuff and move. We spend most of our time experimenting:

with new ways to cook beans.

The rest of our time we spend to collect ration cards. So we can buy beans.

Then, when the Men all come back from War, all the faculty positions go to Men.


On the bright side, I got a little zippy extension thing for my ID card, so that's kind of fun. You know, with the retractable stretchy cord so you can slide your card without having to actually take it off.

Yay, Zippy!

Yes, that was the absolute highlight of my day.

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Saturday, July 15, 2006

great posts I found today

Joolya's Productivity Metric is not particularly original but very nicely executed.

Menstruation for Men is kind of gruesome but funny. I think the most amusing part of it is that, when I think of my boyfriend menstruating, it grosses me out. Probably not what Lucy intended when she wrote it, but it's an interesting perspective on how he must feel about me. Lord knows I could do without the whole issue altogether.

Google Ads are Not Lucrative This guy ALWAYS makes me laugh.

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Friday, July 14, 2006

The Annoying Week Is Over

This week was crummy. Not awful, not great, just irritating. Just a bunch of stupid little things.

Something I ordered two weeks ago never came in. The admin went out of town. Took a while to get the PO# and the phone # of the company.

Called and left a message; got called back; tag you're it; finally got the answer that it had been shipped out 2 weeks late and they didn't know why; yes they will reimburse me for the 2-day shipping charge.

In the meantime I had to call a friend and beg what I needed off a lab full of people I'd never met before. I did a lot of that in grad school and still dream of a day when I can save those favors for something worthwhile instead of administrative screwups!

The administrators also screwed up something with my benefits, so I had to go in not once but TWICE to sign stuff, and it's still not fixed. Not clear whether I'll get my paychecks on time this month (or at all).

Then a staffer told me I couldn't reserve a room for a meeting, but I found out through semi-secret channels how to do it online and ended up solving the problem that way. Why the STAFF seem unaware that it's possible to do this, I don't know.

Had to move some stuff in the boiling heat, that was great fun. Sweaty, stinky, exhausting fun. Didn't have time to go swimming, either.

Am starting some new projects that involve me being in the extreme minority as a female. I'm trying to get used to this concept of walking into a room and being the only woman there, but it's still weird. Definitely limits what I can convince myself to wear to work. Makes getting dressed in the morning one of the most stressful parts of my day.

Oh and did I mention dealing with everyone else's bad mood? Apparently nobody had a good week.

The upshot of all this:

Wasted a lot of time in meetings & dealing with administrative shit this week, so got no experiments done. So I didn't get my usual data fix. So I will probably want to go to work tomorrow to look at my one new piece of data & try to use that to plan something interesting to do next week. I'm afraid if I don't, I won't be able to enjoy doing anything else all weekend. Very pathetic, I know. But I might die of boredom if next week is more of this crap. And the best defense is a plan to be too busy to notice all the bullshit going on around me.

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Monday, July 10, 2006

This is what a feminist looks like

From a comment:

What is a feminist ? I really have never come to grasp a concrete definition of this. I know that feminine = womanly, and then there is the -ist. I still don't get it.
And how come they are mostly ugly and lesbian looking. It seems feminists are the least feminine women

I think this was meant to be facetious, but it brings up some interesting points:

Is being 'womanly' in a 'feminine' way a good, bad or neutral thing?

Why does everyone think lesbians are all butch?

Why is a butch woman routinely stereotyped as being ugly? It's really not the case that these things are in any way linked.

I'm stumped by these attitudes, because I just see the world in a different way.

I'm somewhere between sporty tomboy and nailpolish girly. I'm ambivalent about the whole 'feminine' thing- I think it looks good on some people, and it's fun to have men look at you like you're irresistable. But, I don't want to personally suffer for beauty. Pantyhose sucks. At the end of the day, I'm sick of wearing an underwire and can't wait to take it off.

Men: try dressing up in women's clothes, a la Mel Gibson in What Women Want and you'll see what we mean. You'll gain a new appreciation for the unfairness of it all. If someone said you had to do it every day, you wouldn't.

And re: your obvious jealousy of lesbians, GET OVER IT.