Thursday, April 24, 2008

What peps you up?

I'm having a progressively worsening week, which seems to be culminating today in a kind of ultimate death-by-thousand-pin-pricks, very depressing way.

Unfortunately I have a couple of things I'm supposed to be doing today and tomorrow which I know will be good for me in the long run, but only if I can try to have a Positive Mindset.

I was doing pretty well last week, but this week I feel like I've been running away from a steamroller and just not running fast enough.

I feel cartoon character flat.

So far nothing's working. Somebody quick, give me a pep talk. I need puffing up.

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At 1:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"There is no 'i' in team"

It's a seven game series, so don't despair because of one bad result. Plan to come out on top and move on to the finals.

If you don't take any shots on net, you don't score and you don't win the game. Make sure you give it 110%. After all, this game is 90% mental.

At 2:24 PM, Blogger hypoglycemiagirl said...

Your current visitor count is 325306. Mine is 4448. You totally win that battle. Good enough? Not really, eh? Emm, look at this, at least it will make you smile. Maybe.
Oh, I suck at the cheering up thing.

At 2:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry you are feeling so blah ... Here are a few things that I try when I'm needing a good pepping up. I guess I should add I'm most often frustrated by situations involving other people so my solutions tend to be more solitary in nature...
1. Go outside - power walk for a few minutes, take some nice slow deep breaths, and if you are lucky the sun is shining and you'll get that added bonus!
2. Shut the office door, put on your favorite funky/fun/happy music and dance around like crazy for a few minutes. No skill necessary, just reckless abandon.
3. Stretch. Turn off the office lights, put ipod on with relaxing music and just do long stretches and breathing.
4. Dog therapy. If you love animals that is. Good thing about the college environment is there is almost always a cute puppy running about in a public space. Dogs rarely fail to lift my spirit.
5. Take a shower. Ok so it isn't the most environmentally friendly idea but when I'm really having a crappy day a long shower with some great smelling bath lotion usually helps me shake the blues.

At 5:22 PM, Blogger Schlupp said...

You go! You totally rock! How could the inventor of the hugely successful Google Car and Google House ever fail?!?!?!?

At 6:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes, being a postdoc sucks but you won't be a postdoc forever! doesn't that cheer you up?

At 6:16 PM, Blogger Ms.PhD said...

Anon 1:37,

I like shots on net. If it were just about the game, that would be fine.

The problem is the refs are on the take. I feel like I'm constantly getting slammed into the boards and the other team isn't getting any penalties for that or for hooking or icing or any of it.

Meanwhile they keep saying I'm offsides when I swear I'm not. But I keep ending up in the penalty box where I can't take any shots at all.

I need to work on my % mental.

I think I've been blogging a lot longer than you have. Still, points for effort. Thanks!

Anon 2:33,
Right now I wish I had a pet. I'm sorely missing my walking partner from grad school. Walks definitely help but I don't really like walking around campus alone.


You win, that made me laugh. I've never been called an inventor before. =D

Not sure I'm the first person to come up with those... definitely have to credit profgrrrl for the proof of concept.

At 6:49 PM, Blogger tnk0001 said...

I'm a bit late one the cheer up train, but look on the bright side, even when the steam roller catches up with the cartoon characters, they somehow puff back up and are there for the next harrowing misadventure. The same seems to work out in real life, unless of course we are not talking about a metaphorical steam roller. If it is in fact an honest to god real life steam roller, I recommend turning quickly, gets me away every time.

At 7:03 PM, Blogger Ψ*Ψ said...

Pep talks don't do anything for me. Kittens work, though!
If all else fails, you can always sniff the ether. That always makes a bad lab day better. :)

At 7:05 PM, Anonymous Opi said...

Whatever is bad comes to an end eventually. "Eventually" can be rather far away, but it's there, so think beyond. And, on particularly dreadful days, you always end the day on the best note... because sleep feels best when you're tired!

At 11:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i got out of this bizness about a year ago, and have not read your blog in about that long.

now it's so easy for me to see what a cult academia is. it's just like any other cult. it is so pathetic. and if you were to see what I'm seeing you would be horrified. i feel bad for all of you; you're like those people in FLDS people in Texas.

their civil rights were violated. we pay a price for freedom, and sometimes that price is terrible and disgusting, but the alternative is the authoritarian slave state that ALL 3 candidates are actively in favor of.

and i bet you think ron paul is "radical."

i'm so glad i'm not a lab rat anymore.
but the way i worked synthetic chemistry.

i wish i was smart and could have studied physics. they tend not to be brainwshed slaves like the bio/chem people.

good luck and god bless.

At 2:22 AM, Anonymous JaneB said...

Not so good at the cheering up lark - can't even cheer myself up!(well it's nearly the end of semester, my cat is very ill, it's not sunny...)

But remember genius is 1% inspiration 99% perspiration. Quite a lot of success (for those of us who aren't 'superstars') is about keeping going - doing good work and keeping going through the 'walking uphill through treacle' days and doing our best to put on a professional face even when we're seething or hurting.

The most cheering thing I can offer is 'this too will pass' - because it does, there'll BE another great data collecting day, a 'my paper got accepted' day, a 'wow that student thanked me' day, an 'I can't believe I get paid to learn cool stuff' day. And make sure you're good to yourself this weekend - yoga class, a fun book or movie, something tasty and healthy to eat (raspberries work for me). You deserve it!

At 7:23 AM, Blogger El said...

I go for a walk. Normally just down the street, window-shopping or people-watching, but preferably in a place with as many trees as possible. Portable music device with happy music (I prefer Lily Allen, myself-- something about English accents makes me happy, and her music is especially sunny) optional but suggested.

At 10:20 AM, Blogger Ms.PhD said...


what do you mean, late? i'm still in the puffing process.

huffing and puffing like an emphysemic (is that a word?) wolf trying to blow down a brick house, that is.

person whose name i can't spell,

hadn't considered resorting to ether. might have a beer with lunch today. that's permissible on a friday, right?


sleep is good. but i had weird dreams last night that didn't give me any great insight into anything. and i could have used at least 2 more hours to lay in bed this morning! maybe tomorrow.

Anon 11:14,

I agree that it's a cult and that our civil rights are violated.

I don't agree that I'm brainwashed.

I don't really know anything about Ron Paul. I guess I should know more so at least I can have an opinion. Otherwise I'm remiss as a blogger, the blogosphere might kick me out.

I don't agree that people studying physics are any better off than we are. Their job market is also a giant firehose aimed at a tiny funnel.


My last 'paper got accepted' day was so long ago, and so anticlimactic, that I can't really imagine that. I have no faith that it will fix everything if it happens, or that it will happen in a way i can celebrate.

And I get paid so little that the "I can't believe I get paid" part is pretty moot.

Haven't learned much really cool stuff lately. It wears off a lot faster than it used to.

A "student thanked me" day would be good enough. Too bad I haven't had one of those in a while, either.

Yoga class is on the docket, as is kitty time. I would get a book but don't really have time to read the kind I want (the kind I can't put down for several days) and don't want to read anything else.

Was thinking about seeing the new Michelle Williams/Ewan McGregor/that other guy movie. I can't remember the name of the other guy or the title.


Didn't know who Lily Allen is. Not sure if I'd consider her lyrics sunny at all, based on the bits I heard on iTunes (?).

People watching would be good if I had somewhere good to go near my office. Unfortunately the people here are not at all interesting to watch. They're mostly a horrifyingly homogeneous, personality-free bunch.

Which must be why I always feel like such a sore thumb.

At 10:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. Exercise (turns off the brain).

2. (awww)

3. Beer.

All in moderation, of course!

At 2:33 PM, Blogger Andrea said...

Not sure where you are, but I've always found that sneaking out of the lab, getting some ice cream (especially one of those cookie/vanilla ice cream bar things that have like 10,000 calories), and walking around the neighborhood with my IPOD works wonders. Even if it is only as long as it takes to eat the ice cream. Just getting the sun light seems to help.

But I'm in SoCal, so the weather is usually pretty conducive to my sneaking out.

And my paper eventually got accepted to Science - 1 yr later. My thesis advisor is still a word I probably shouldn't type. But he is chaired, so what can you do...

And I have to agree about the physics vs. bio comment. Though I think you might have meant engineering vs. sciences, because physicists have long postdocs too (and sometimes multiple postdocs). I was a physicist, now I'm an engineer for pretty much that reason.

At 5:53 PM, Blogger Ms.PhD said...


You published a paper in Science?
I no longer feel sorry for you.

At 7:05 PM, Blogger EcoGeoFemme said...

For short term pepping to relieve afternoon drowsiness, I do jumping jacks.

For more serious situations, I remind myself that I've never had a day that didn't end. Or I tell myself to just do one little thing and then I can stop, or do my work for some small amount of time, then I can stop. That usually gets me going. Otherwise, I go find somethingn else to do. It might be lower priority but at least I get something done. My last resort is a Twix bar when I reach a goal.

At 10:09 PM, Blogger Dr. Jekyll & Mrs. Hyde said...

I had a brutal few days too, with today being the worst of them. The last couple of days things haven't even worked enough to try to get data, let alone actually get it.

I am focusing on JaneB's advice about perspiration. Sometimes it's just the act of getting up and trying again that makes me feel better.

Or, depending on the data, worse.

At 3:37 AM, Blogger Ms.PhD said...


I do that too! But I gave up the Twix bar routine after grad school when I realized I tend to feel worse the day *after* I eat sugary things.

I think I felt worse today partly because of the ice cream I had yesterday. I had a healthy dinner tonight and felt much better for a few hours.

But now I can't sleep, probably because I'm hungry! Gaaah.


I'm sorry to hear that. I think data withdrawal is part of my problem. I'm in a benchwork suspension phase right now and it makes me worry that if I ever had a faculty position involving none of my own benchwork, it would be really bad for me and anyone who had to deal with me.

I don't want to be one of those PIs who goes psycho with impatience...

The ultimate thing to cap off this week was that someone I went to for help handling a problem at work told me I am too negative.

I hear this a lot on my blog but not usually in real life.

So I naturally wanted to scream at them that of COURSE I'm negative and oh BTW telling someone they're negative is a NEGATIVE CRITICISM and is probably the BEST way to make them more negative about everything!!!!.

But I didn't. Because that would be combative.

It occurred to me just now that I heard there is one super arrogant grad student who has been going around telling everyone I'm So Negative. But I hadn't put it together that her PI (who adores her and that is part of why she's so arrogant) has started using it as his catchphrase for describing me.

Which, at least so far as I can tell, is how these things get spread around.

It's so funny in a very sardonic way. My theory is that the arrogant grad students hate me because they're all afraid they're not actually better than me, but right now the only thing keeping them sane is the mindset of "Well that won't happen to me because I'm better than she is. "

And the PIs all hate me because I'm saying everything they believe deep down (- the publication system is fucked; the funding system is fucked; all the good people quit and the best science is going in the toilet because the system in general is totally corrupted) but are too afraid to admit.

I caught one of these PIs the other day trying to avoid ranting about the publication system despite obviously having FINALLY come to realize what the rest of us already knew - that in our field everything is controlled by the editors at the Tabloids and they don't really have the expertise to make good decisions.

Oh it was so funny to watch him realize that I saw what he wanted to say and saw him choosing not to say it.

Schadenfraude. For that and for hearing that someone who screwed me over lost funding. I am a bad person but that was the best news I got all week.

At 10:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope you're cheered up by now - but just wanted to let you know that I think you have found a great way to discuss the ups and downs of science- just reading your blog and the diverse comments that come in are extremely important to me! And also: thanks for the words of advise you have given me a few times (one of the anons) - you seemed a pretty good person-reader which i think is very important in any profession. And when you're down: just sulk at the bottom of the pit for a while. You know yourself: you'll get out again! And again. And again!

At 2:37 PM, Blogger Dr. Jekyll & Mrs. Hyde said...

Hey, I had a question for you about how to help people who are in a strongly negative slump, but it got super-long so I posted it at my site. If you have a chance, I'd welcome your thoughts.


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