Sunday, December 21, 2008

-35 degrees below?!?

The wedding went great, and the 12 inches of snow that came the night before (started at midnight and ended at noon on the day of the wedding) didn't put a damper on the wedding. The bride was gorgeous, the venue amazing, and was I ever glad that I decided to wear pants rather than a cute little dress (it was damn cold and snowy). After a day of "recouping" from the open bar, MrDrZeek and I headed back home this morning. Much to our surprise, we walked out to the mini-van in the morning and smack dab into the middle of the freaking Arctic wasteland. -35 degrees (F) below zero (wind chill, my children, -5 degrees F as a real temperature). Funny, once it gets 15 or so below, I can't seem to tell the difference between that and 35 below zero. But I am just weird like that.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Holiday Craziness

Craziness. Absolute craziness. MrDrZeek's cousin is getting married this weekend (yes 6 days before Christmas, although from what I hear they got an awesome deal on the reception hall because of the date), which means we will be traveling out of town for a few days. The wedding is on a Friday, forcing us to drive in Thursday afternoon (only a 90 min drive) after he gets off of work and preferably before the 10-12 inches of snow gets dumped on us. Since MrDrZeek's sister has flown in from the state colder than ours, we plan on staying in town an extra day or two.

Sounds like fun, eh? (Did I mention there is an open bar at the wedding reception?) It will be, and I am looking forward to it, but there are a few drawbacks. For example, I usually leave Christmas shopping till the last minute. OK, not absolute last minute, but let's say that I do tend to "push" it a bit. I now have one less weekend to shop (and with 12 people, between MrDrZeek's family and min, to buy for, it can get hairy), but to make up for it, I took off this afternoon during my two hour incubation time and got 90% of the shopping done. In one hour. Wait, let me say that again. 10 gifts in 1 hr. Not bad.

So, after heading back to the lab, I sat down and wrote a list of what I need to do tonight/tom before I leave. (Another 1 hr incubation is the best time to make a list). I love lists. I make lists for everything. My monthly list of important things, weekly lists, daily lists, lists of my lists. Crossing them off gives me some sense of accomplishment, even if it is something as small as "Make 10 mL of buffer Y" or "Take simple measurement".

I digress. So, on tap for tonight/tom (mind you I have until 2:30 tom--this is when MrDrZeek will whisk me away in the van-yes, we own a mini-van and no we do not have any children-off to places unknown..well, OK known...never mind, I digress again). So here is the list for tonight, in no particular order:
  • dishes and general tidying up the kitchen (we have a cat-sitter coming, cannot let her see the house in total disarray)
  • clean the litter box
  • clean bathroom
  • wrap birthday present for MrDrZeek's sister
  • cards for MrDrZeek's niece and nephew (since they will go back to state colder than ours with MrDrZeek's sister)
  • wrap present for MrDrZeek's coworker (actually for his two kids-long story) since tomorrow will be the last day he will see him till after Christmas
  • Pack clothes for 4 days
  • make sure wedding outfit is packed along with necessary jewelery/shoes/hosiery, etc
  • make sure MrDrZeek's new shirt fits
  • and he likes it
  • and it isn't wrinkled
  • put on fake nails (yes, I am wearing some fake lee press on nails since I have bitten/tore up my nails so bad they look horrid)
  • find camera
  • find camera batteries
  • find my sanity
  • trim MrDrZeek's hair (didn't know I was multi-talented, did you?)
  • haircut/color etc. tomorrow at noon (yes, I do the girlie thing every once and awhile)

Somewhere in there I need to also take some measurements, set-up an overnight experiment tonight, and get together the goodie box I have of things for my collaborator who is driving in tomorrow morning. Doesn't seem too bad, and it is a lot of piddly crap, but sometimes it jut seems a tad overwhelming.

The really cool thing, we come back Sunday night, work (both of us) on Monday and Tuesday, and then get to make the trek back to the same place for Christmas Eve/Christmas Day family stuff (we get together with four families in two days, its quite interesting). Did I mention I wanted to work on the manuscript too, since I have thrown down some awesome science (and some not so awesome since the system isn't behaving). I don't know how people do this with kids thrown into the mix. I have a hard enough time looking after MrDrZeek, myself, and the furball, let alone throwing another person into the mix.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Snow Day

So, I stayed home today, officially citing the weather as the major reason, but honestly I needed a day away from the lab and, more so the lab dynamics (more about this on a different day). So, I got up at my normal time, went through my normal routine, and here I sit, dinner ready to go in the other oven when MrDrZeek gets home, papers have been moved from the backpack to the coffee table, and still having absolutely no ambition to read/organize/write. I have checked all my normal websites and comics, checked everyone's blogs, and the second pot of coffee is finished brewing. *sigh* this was supposed to be a great day to get everything done......

Monday, December 8, 2008

Sleep, Snow, and Summary Statements

Time just has a way of getting away from me. Its been a long week and looking back at things, it doesn't seem like I got as much accomplished as I wanted to. I brought home a back-pack full of papers to organize for my manuscript, but after feeding MrDrZeek, doing up the dishes, cleaning the litter box and vegging on the couch for a bit, they are still sitting in my backpack, untouched. I should go through them tonight- and its not like I am not excited about going through them, finding pieces of previous work and whatnot that backup the really cool science that I have thrown down in the past few months, but...I don't know. Curling up with a book right now sounds so much more inviting.

I managed to finish the materials and methods and results section on the big manuscript, and my boss seemed fairly impressed by it this morning. One of the things I love about him is the 45 min to an hour turn-around time on rough drafts and things like that. It was an ego boost, going over everything and finding only minor grammar things (if you haven't realized, grammar is not my strong point). We discussed the re-submission of my NRSA fellowship in April. The summary sheets weren't as bad as I thought they would be. I have to completely rewrite my research plan, though. They liked the ideas, hated how it was organized, and want more big picture/hypothesis driven aims/research plan. No big thing.

What was surprising was what they said my referee's had said in my recommendation letters. I was surprised to hear how much my advisor and committee members in grad school "respected my abilities" and "fearlessness in taking on new challenges" (yes, that was a direct quote from the summary statement, cool no?). Now, the thing is, from the way my advisor talked about me when I was in grad school, you would think that he questioned if I was able to feed myself and tie my shoes in the morning. Wonders never cease.

So, all in all, its been an OK week. Nothing bad happened, nothing great, but OK. And, its snowing! As in snowing a lot (I believe we heard 15 inches by tomorrow night when the winter storm warning is over). I like snow, I like winter, but I hate waiting for the bus in the cold. I hate being cold. No, detest being cold. Who knows, maybe they will shut down the buses tomorrow and I will have another day off.

I was going to blog about a bunch of other things tonight, but my brain is NOT functioning (could be that I was up till 1:00 am last night watching a documentary one of my college friend's cousin did. If you get a chance, watch it! No, really, watch Dear Zachary , it was amazing) and I am too tired to think about anything but crawling into a warm bed with my latest read (even though I have read it already--have I mentioned I am a Stephen King junkie?) So, yeah...bed, book, sleep..not necessarily in that order.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

It's not my fault....

This is nothing more than a pure, unadulterated rant. Not about science, not about funding, not even about the fact that I still don't have any comments back on my fellowship and the freakin' resubmission date is only 10 days away!

No, this is a rant about the lack of personal accountability people have in almost every aspect of their lives. That and how the consequences of our actions is what really causes people to grow up and become responsible.

I have noticed, and it seems to me to be a more recent thing, the lack of personal accountability people have. Nothing, and I mean nothing, is ever their fault. It is always something or someone else's fault, but never ever due to their own inadequacies, stupidity, ignorance, or (brace yourself) laziness. And maybe I am noticing this more and more because it is pissing me off more and more, but seriously people, step up, bite the bullet and take it. And by it, I mean the fallout for whatever it is that you somehow managed to screw up, be it equipment in the lab, financial woes, a job, anything. Just for once, swallow the "It wasn't my fault", suck it up, and say "yes, I did it, I am sorry, let's fix it." All I am looking for is a little freakin' humility, a touch of humbleness, a whole lot of sincerity, and a plan of action so this never ever happens again.

Now, I understand that shit happens. I am fully well aware that there are extenuating circumstances beyond someones control, and the "Its not my fault" sometimes is warranted. BUT, in those cases a "Its not my fault..." can be and should be followed up with a "but here let's fix it this way" not a "its not my fault so I completely wash my hands of everything and you can deal with it because...well its not my fault."

At first I thought this was something I saw happening in the lab. You know, younger less experienced members come in and use new equipment which they have no clue how to run. Rather than asking for help, or even better, getting trained and then getting careless, they royally screw up common equipment and then "forget" to tell someone it happened. Honestly, I won't be pissed if you come to me and say "Hey, I am having problems with ten-thousand dollar piece of equipments, I think I seriously FUBR'ED* it, can you help." Now, I will sigh, and maybe huff and puff and possibly lecture a bit on the need for being careful, but I will be a lot less pissed than if I go to use the equipment, dick around with it for an hour, find the problem, hunt you down since you were the last person to use it, and you tell me "I don't know what happened, but it messed up when I was using it." And, to forget said details of what you were doing, thereby compounding the troubleshooting problem pisses me off even more.

But, and here is the thing I realized, that this is not just a problem in the lab, but a problem that is now seemingly permeating every aspect of myl ife. Lost your job, oh no its not your fault. Not your fault that you couldn't get up in the morning for work, not your fault that you couldn't get out of bed after a night of drunken revelry, not your fault that you are a tool. Nope, they had "it out for you". Yep, big giant freakin conspiracy.

So, that brings me up to my second point. A person with no consequences never becomes responsible. Ever. Responsibility is not, in my humble opinion, dependent on age. It is dependent on the consequences for you irresponsibility. The more the severe your consequences are for screwing up, the less likely you are to screw up again. By having people always bail you out, having someone always there to trow you the lifeline, never being allowed to fall flat on your face, you loose some part of yourself, or it is never allowed to develop and you have no real consequences for anything that you do. Then why bother changing, why accept any responsibilities for your actions? And seriously, how bad are the consequences. So, now, say you screw someone over, honestly what is the worst they can do? Unless you are in with the mafia, which unfortunately I have no connections to, the worst someone will really do is ice you out. BFD. No really, if you didn't really care that you were screwing someone over by being irresponsible and lazy, then you sure as hell are not going to care if that person never talks to you again.

So, there it is my friends. A big huge rambling post about nothing, but something that I had to get off of my chest before it exploded. I seriously cannot believe, sometimes, the crap people say and the crap that they pull. Really, people never ever cease to amaze me.

*FUBR- F***** up beyond repair

Monday, November 24, 2008

5 things that make you go hmmmmmm.......

Five things meme

Five things that I was doing ten years ago:
1. Second year of undergrad
2. Realizing that I loved chemistry more than biology
3. Working full time as a waitress at the local Bar and Grill
4. DRIVING (I had just gotten my driver's liscense)
5. Sinking money into my first car (a 1985 Cadillac Seville)

Five things on my to-do list today:
1. Work on my paper(s)
2. Tutor (in about ten minutes)
3. Set up controls for some new, cool experiments
4. Do dishes (home dishes, not work dishes)
5. Catch up in my labnotebook (at least from the last few days)

Five snacks I love
1. Chocolate
2. Dark Chocolate
3. Did I mention chocolate yet?
4. Popcorn
5. Ummmm....chocolate covered peanuts

Five things that I would do if I were a millionaire
1. Pay off my student loans/MrDrZeeks medical bills
2. Give a bunch to the fam
3. Buy some toys for us (ohhhh, think of all the books from the used bookstore)
4. Another trip to Alaska
5. Cancer/MS/Diabetes research

Five places where I have lived:
1. A house (that we actually owned!)
2. 7 different apartments in an equal number of years
3. A college town
4. A semi-major city
5. On one of the coasts

Five jobs I have had:
1. Bartender
2. Waitress
3. Short-order line cook
4. TA
5. Post-doc

And I am not tagging anyone because everyone has already done this thing. I just needed to kill a few minutes before hitting the bus....

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Figured you out....

I have a manuscript to write. Maybe two. I have all the data (with the exception of one minor experiment we are doing to confirm stuff from a previous paper), all the important references, an outline of the results and the main points for the discussion. So, why am I sitting here blogging? Why am I putting off just getting words down on the page? Why am I cleaning my lab bench, organizing drawers, and just in general doing everything in my power to put this off?

There are multiple reasons why I procrastinate, but I think the biggest one has to do with my own personal impostor syndrome (and yes, I did just send you to Wikipedia- I know, bad form). Now, my PI knows I can write, knows I can do the experiments and knows that I have a great story to tell. Problem, I feel like I cannot do the story justice, that I cannot push this where it needs to go, that, I in not so many words, suck. Stupid, no?

I didn't realize how pervasive the impostor syndrome was, or that it even had a name until the TA coordinator called me on it when I was in my last semester of grad school. He was giving me a hard time for being too critical on myself during our TA self-evaluations, and in retrospect, he was probably right. But where is the line between self-deprecation and having delusions of grandeur? I tell myself that I am smart (OK, somewhat smart, not Einstein smart, but I can hold my own) and that I got my job not just because on of my committee members knows my boss, but because he saw potential, but do I honestly believe that? Hell no. And no matter how much faith people have in me, no matter how well I do, no matter what I can accomplish, I think there will always be that tickle in the back of my brain, warning me that I will let everyone down, that I won't exceed expectations, that they will figure me out...whatever.

All I know for sure is that I work my ass off, I do what I do, and try to do it well. That's all I can do to get myself through the day. As for writing the paper, well I think I am going to rack some tips, organize the sterile culture tube drawer, maybe autoclave some trash, do a load of dishes, sort my mail...then maybe I will open the manuscript.doc file and play around with the font and formatting. God, I am horrible sometimes!

Friday, November 21, 2008

The waiting game...

How in the world am I supposed to resubmit my fellowship application on Dec 8th without first having seen the comments as to why it scored so poorly (49 percentile..well, at least it got scored and didn't get triaged)? I have become obsessed with checking the era commons for my review sheets, just like I was for the fellowship scores. In fact, I really hope they don't keep track of how many logins you have in a day, because they would probably look at mine and laugh out loud. And, by the time the April 8th deadline rolls around, I'll have been in post-doc lab for a little over a year-and-a-half, which means my chances of getting funded in a "new field of interest" are going to be zilch. zero. nadda. Its not so new to you after you have been doing this for awhile and hopefully have two papers in press at that point.

Maybe I should just ride it out on the RO1 grant for the project (which the PI is more than happy to let me do), but there is always that line in faculty job applications "must be able to secure external funding" or have a track record for securing external nationally recognized blah-blah-blah--- where the University is making sure you can bring home the bacon. That little line makes me wonder if I should not try to find another fellowship, not so much for the extra money (which would be nice- although from what I have been hearing/comparing, my PI pays on the higher-end of the post-doc salary scale), but for the line or two on the CV. I mean, I can't tell the hiring committees that I helped write the RO1 grant and things like that, it doesn't matter what you help to do, rather what you yourself does.

Maybe I will take the long weekend (after partaking in turkey and stuffing and all the yummy goodness that is Thanksgiving at MrDrZeek's family) and do some hunting for other fellowships. It will be a good way to procrastinate on the two manuscripts that I have uber-data for and a really good story to tell- it just seems a tad daunting at this point. The coffee is done brewing and I have a bajillion graphs to start making, but maybe I will go check the era commons one more time for my review sheets.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Science and laundry and dinner oh my!

I would think that for a first blog post I would come p with something prolific and profound to say. Something. Blogging sounded like a good idea, especially with all the fantastic, blogarific, female-science bloggers out there that I aspire to be like, but after playing with the colors and the templates and all the pretty buttons, my mind can find nothing to blog about. Let alone anything interesting that anyone would want to take pause and read.

So, here I sit, procrastinating on writing my first first-author paper in new post-doc lab, wondering when my new boss is going to figure out I am an impostor, when my old advisor is going to revoke my PhD, and when MrDrZeek is going to pull the laundry out of the dryer (we are an equal opportunity household- I clean and do dishes, he does the laundry. I hate doing the laundry, and cooking, well we split that up).

I have no LittleDrZeeks running around, and really never plan on having them. One of my biggest pet peeves, though, is when people tell me (well, us really since MrDrZeek does have some say in the whole birthing process) that we are being selfish. Selfish, for not having children. That I, as a woman, will not be fulfilled until I have children. That my self-worth will be decided, not by how many first-author papers I have or how much really cool science I can throw down, but by how many little pups I have in tow.

Now, please, before everyone gets in arms, I have a huge amount of respect and support for women who choose to have children and a career, especially in academia where there is such a stigma and poo-pooing on having children. If you can balance a career, do incredibly awesome science, and still look hot doing it (Yes, if you are reading Dr. Isis, I mean you), more power to you. I applaud you, I respect you, I admire you. But that does not mean that I am any less of a woman because I choose not to have children. That I choose to focus on my career, on my husband, on doing the things we want to do, which, I am sorry mom and dad, does NOT include having small DrZeeks running around the house. Does this make me less of a woman? Nope. Does this make me selfish? Maybe, if MrDrZeek wasn't on board.

One of the things that I find ironic about the whole thing is that motherhood is the big white elephant in the room, that it is frowned upon by those in the "old boys club," but choosing not to have children is met with a similar sort of disbelief, shock, and almost horror. Like there is something crossed in my wiring.

Anyways, I have babbled on long enough about this, just something to think about. Now I really should be looking at some data, getting things ready for tomorrow, and maybe helping MrDrZeek fold the laundry. Tune in next time for a slightly more coherent post, maybe with some pretty pics and figures- I am after all a scientist.