Sunday, June 27, 2010

The bitch that I am....

Sundays in the lab are my few hours of escape.  I don't come in for a full eight hour day- more like two or three hours-- but it is enough to save me a day or two of frantically running around like a chicken with my head cut off during the week. I usually do a few transformations and some plating, some cleaning, some planning for the week, some catching up in the lab notebook.  Nothing too serious (as in a full day of assays), but enough that I can hit the ground running on Monday morning.

I love Sundays in the lab.  Why, you may ask?  Because it is quiet.  Because no one is here.  Sure, Big Boss Man may pop in to check his e-mail or to work on a grant or something (since he lacks the modern convenience of having the internet at home) and the research scientist who drives me crazy during the week is usually holed-up in her office searching the internet for the latest-greatest ways to rear her spawn-but for the most part I can sneak in, close the lab/office door and work in silence (OK, silence as in no one bothering me--Metallica and Hinder are still playing away on the iPod).  Sundays are my days to recharge.

I can normally play nicey-nice and smile and are helpful and great to talk to, but I harbor a deep, dark secret.  If I don't get some downtime away from people, away from being on my game, I will totally and completely loose my shit.  I need that downtime where I don't have to put in the effort to carry on a conversation with anyone.  I have noticed that if I am severely lacking in that "me time", its a struggle for me to not look at someone and tell them point blank "I don't give a flying fuck." when on a normal day I don't mind hearing about their latest escapades, or the fact that your child is teething or they can go "poopy and pee-pee in the potty" (yes, this is how the 40-year old woman talks to me) or that you can afford to have the windows redone in your house.

Well, folks, it seems that today is not my Sunday.  I came in a few hours ago made the coffee and settled in for a few hour incubation that would leave me free to start working on my poster and such.  The tunes were going, the floor was deserted and Dr. Zeek was happy.  Until the phone rang.  Our new visiting scientist wanted to come in to set-up a column today to save himself some time.  No problem, I can set you up a bit.  That was two hours ago.  Where is the soap?  Where is the gradient maker? Where is this? That?  How is this? How is that? Can you help me set this up?  I don't mind, really--and I am trying not to be a bitch-but I guess I feel like one.  Yes, I will set up the column for you.  Need some tubing? No problem.  Mop for the flood? Sure, here it is...AGGHGHGHGHGHGHHHH...

This, my friends is bad enough.  Then, crazy research scientist comes in and starts telling me how I am setting everything up wrong.  Snide comments about how she wouldn't have done things this way or that way.  The other RS just sat there and watched.  I made it clear that he could do it anyway he wants.  She of course wants to redo the set-up for him- he is perfectly content leaving thigns the way they are since I appear to know what I am doing.  Then the "conversation" begins--and I quickly dart out the door. 

Of course, the conversation between the two of them--of which I have NO involvement in- then moves to my lab.  Not that they don't have their own lab or anything- I just think they couldn't stand the thought of me sitting in my lab by myself on a Sunday, enjoying the solitude.

Now normally, I give two shits and cheerily carry on a conversation. But today, it's hard.  Not even hard-down-right frustrating.  It is Sunday, and I hold my Sundays sacred. 

Looks like my two hours is turning into six since I do have some things I need to get done and now I feel like a bitch.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Poster Virgin...

Things have been crazy here.  Beyond crazy.  Downright chaotic.  Between the wedding (and all the various drama that goes along with standing up as a bridesmaid), the following nearly week-long intercontinental pow-wow with our collaborators here at post-doc university and getting the visiting professor/research scientist up to speed on my project and what he will be doing this summer-I have had little time to breathe, let alone blog.

I finished the initial drafting of the PPT slides for Big Boss Man's upcoming talk at the conference we are going to go to in July and decided to start working on my poster. 

That is when it hit me.  In all of my academic career, I have never, ever had to make a poster.  Ever.  Including undergrad- that's nearly  13 years of advanced education.  I am a poster virgin.

Not that I have never attended a conference before- but I have always opted to give a short talk instead of laboring over the intricacies of PhotoShop and Illustrator (and by now I am a PowerPoint whiz-not that it is that difficult to master).  I like giving talks.  I enjoy standing in front of a crowd and putting my "Dr. Zeek. Woman of Science-" hat on.  Could be that all those years in theater and drama in high school have finally paid off, because not only do I love to give talks, but I am fairly good at it as well.

But today, I must embark on a new adventure, expand my horizons, explore uncharted territory, fumble through vector-based vs. bitmap-based drawings and figures and schemes, much like the kid in the backseat trying to clumsily unhook a bra for the first time. Hopefully, I can avoid all the pitfalls that seem to plague the n00b posters.

May the PhotoShop gods smile kindly on me and, as always, any advice, tips and truly horrific stories are always welcomed.