Sunday, December 13, 2009

Obsession (and other randomness)

I have to admit, I have a slight case of OCD. M&M's (and skittles) must be arranged by color and put into even rows before consumption, at dinner, mashed potatoes and gravy must never touch the other things on the plate and all of one thing has to be eaten before moving on to the next (which is why KFC's chicken bowl made me cringe), books on the bookshelf must be arranged by height (not alphabetically) and all the spines must line up, when taking pipette tips out of a box, they must be removed in lines, starting with the right hand corner, and so on and so on.

My obsessiveness also extends into experiments. I want to make sure they are done "right" whether that means running more points for a double reciprocal plot or running at a ton of different concentrations. When bigboss man suggests to run a four-point plot, or check things at three concentrations, a little part of me dies inside. And, its something I think I may need to get over. Its hard for me to run a "quick-and-dirty" check on something to see if its worth pursuing further. Now, mind you, things don't usually work on the first try. In fact, I have a "rule of three" in my lab- the first run gets you used to the experiment and almost never works as plan, the second run gets you "some" usable data, but usually entails working out the small glitches and the third and subsequent runs are the ones which you can usually trust.

And it has backfired on me a few times. Once, when working on a extremely complex form of inhibition, bigbossman looked at me and said there is "too much data" and it is making things confusing. So now, I have to change the way I present things to him so that it doesn't look so confusing.

There is another form of obsessiveness that appears to take things over. Since I have no little Dr. Zeeks running around and Mr. DrZeek is pretty self-sufficient (ok, so I do most if not all of the cooking-but he know how to order from the pizza place) I have a tendency to spend a lot of time in the lab. A lot. Not as much as some people (my brain cuts out after about 10 hrs of solid lab work-- people there for 12-15 hrs a day are freaking superhuman in my eyes), but enough that I come home exhausted. And spending a Sunday afternoon in the lab (after football that is) is nothing for me. Mr. DrZeek has no problems whatsoever with it, but still, I feel guilty. But I enjoy what I do, and I have some hobbies. I just seem to spend an inordinate amount of time in the lab and working from home, for that matter. My parents have recently said that I was selfish, self-centered and obsessive when it came to work. Because I am trying to make a name for myself, publish as much as I can and just do really cool science. Is that so wrong?

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