Friday, October 22, 2010

Data woes

Things I learned about MY data today while trying to troubleshoot my friends data:
  • multiplying by 1243.27 is not the same as multiplying by 124.327
  • milli means a 10^-3 multiplication, not 10^-2
  • combining these two mistakes into one cell calculation means that all of my data is off by two orders of magnitude
  • using this cell (cut and paste, drag and drop) for all the other calculations means that all the data in the sheet are off by two orders of magnitude
  • copying this cell into two other sheets means that all of that data is off two orders of magnitude as well
The good news- the data is not published yet.  The not great news-- I have made a table of these results and have sent them around to the other collaborators and to my PI.  My PI used the data in a talk he gave in July.  My boss will probably think that I am a big, huge fucking idiot....wait, I am a big fucking huge idiot.

Even crappier news-- I had my friend in the other lab trying to figure out why she was getting results that were two orders of magnitude lower. So because of my stupidity and lack of calculating/checking formulas ability I made her doubt was she was doing.

It has been a shitty week.  I have decided that either I am never going to do an excel formula calculation again OR I am going to write the formula by hand in every cell.

I feel like an idiot.
A big one.

I just want to go home.... 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

And the cloud has lifted....

Mr. Dr. Zeek and I have had a fairly major issue/problem in hometown city that we have been dealing with since we moved to post-doc city more than three years ago.  It has been ongoing and, while not putting a strain on our marriage, has caused numerous stress-induced discussions, tears and frustration. 

We have almost always been on the same page as how to proceed, what actions to take and how to deal with this problem.  At the beginning of the year, we both had decided to throw in the towel, stop fighting and say enough is enough (with the problem, not the marriage--).

As of today, it is done.  The problem is no longer there.  It's over.  Finished.   While somewhat anticlimactic, there is a huge weight gone right now.

Sorry for being so cryptic, just know that there will be much celebration in the Dr. Zeek household tonight. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pissing and moaning...

It always seems like I am posting things when nothing is going right, when I am down in the dumps, when I want to scream in frustration.  So, as a change of pace I decided to post a good thing or two.  For the past few months nothing has been working.  Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zero.

But I kept plugging along-and seriously, boys and girls- when it rains it pours.  It seems like the three main points of the project are working.  All at once.  In the span of three days, I had data in hand that was (a) clean (b) relevant and (c) pretty fucking cool.  That was about a week ago.  Now on to finishing it all up.  So good news on the lab front.

I still need to wean my new undergrad from asking me "Is this mixed?"  I think tomorrow her and I will spend some quality time together where I will teach her the finer points of making a homogeneous mixture and properly reading the level of solution in a graduated cylinder.  I may even use a sciencey-term or two.  With everything going on and struggling to get the preliminary data for an abstract for a conference (due in two weeks)- methinks I have been neglecting her a bit.

So, a happy Dr. Zeek will go home, watch some football (eh, maybe-doesn't seem like a "thrilling" game tonight) and relax in the new king-size bed Mr. Dr. Zeek and I just purchased.  I didn't realize how small our old bed was until I slept the whole night through without Mr. Dr. Zeek's elbow in my eyeball.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Dear Mother Nature...

I thought we had an understanding.  After the first frost of the year, you would stop with the pollen, ragweed and all the other nasty, but necessary, crap that puts me in allergy hell.  Last week, you decided to give us our first taste of fall- with not one but two nights of frost.  I was happy-no, I was thrilled.  I thought--no more sneezing, no more allergies.  On top of that, I thoroughly enjoy fall.  I enjoy being outside in jeans and a sweatshirt, I love cuddling up at night under my blanket as the temperatures dip below 35 degrees.  I truly do.

But today, Mother Nature, I woke up to a beautifully sunshiny morning.  65 degrees at 7:30 am (and why I am awake at 7:30 am on a Sunday is another story entirely).  OK, so not entirely "fall" weather in almost the middle of October, but I can handle that.  What I can't handle is the sudden onset of some of the most severe allergies I have ever had.  And only on one side of my face.  And the itching.  It is extremely annoying to have only one nostril completely plugged up and one eye constantly watering/puffy and swollen.  I fear doing any delicate work in the lab today because the sudden, violent uncontrollable sneezing attacks could cause me to stab my eye with a pipette or spew snot into my bacterial cultures. Why did the frost not take care of this?  Why, Mother Nature, do you feel the need to torture me like this? 

So, I beg of you, Mother Nature, please go back to your normally scheduled programing and give me fall back.  With all the frosty nights you can.  Teasing me like this is just mean.  I would like to be able to breathe normally and not carry around wads of Kleenex with me wherever I go and and not have people treating me like a leper because it is not allergy season and they all assume I have some super-cold.

I promise that if you do this for me I will not bitch when the first snowfall comes.

A stuffy miserable Dr. Zeek--

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Up for air...

I have been extremely quiet because, well, I have been extremely busy.  No shit, eh? Who isn't.  But writing four (yes, four) recomendation letters, a progress report for my fellowship, a section of the NIH grant our lab is submitting in a few weeks and keeping my noobie and not so noobie-undergrads in line these past three weeks has done little for my sanity, let alone for my progress.  That, coupled with the stomach ulcer diagnosis, finding out I was highly intolerant to penicillin (the hard way), a two week round of tetracycline/some other antibiotic and a four day treatment for a yeast infection (and not necessarily just where you were thinking-- ever have a fuzzy, yellowish-tongue? ya, not fun to say the least) has left me tired, worn-out and crabby.  I have been short with everyone at work lately.  I just want to be left alone to run some experiments.  Let me surround myself with bacteria and proteins and assays.  Let me delve into the piles of data and make some sense of it all.

I am an introvert who plays an extrovert on TV.  I need to recharge if I have had people around me all day long.  Interaction with people all day is not in any way restorative to me, it's just plain draining.  I am perfectly content without talking to anyone all day long-I do not need to be the center of attention and quite frankly, it makes me uncomfortable if too many people are staring at me/putting me on the spot at one time. Things like that make me break out into a cold sweat.  When my mom and mother-in-law threw a wedding shower for me, I absolutely dreaded it.  I did not want to sit on chair in front of everyone and open presents, or give a toast or anything like that.  The wedding was the same way.  Since we got married in a very public place, there were a lot of people there who stopped to watch.  It was, probably, one of the most uncomfortable things for me. 

So, you are probably thinking "Uh, Dr. Zeek, that does not bode well for your career as a scientist.  How can you give talks at meetings and stuff?"  Well, here is the thing, when I give a talk it is not Dr. Zeek giving the talk, but Dr. Zeek the Scientist giving the talk.  Wait, let me explain.  I was into drama big time in high school.  I loved being in character on the stage.  Why?  Because I was no longer me-geeky, nerdy high school student- I was some other person.  And I loved it.  I didn't mind being on stage having everyone stare at me, hang on every word because I was no longer me, I was "cowgirl #2" (when we did Oklahoma) or bitchy "Aunt Jenny" (from I Remember Mamma).  It was the same sort of thing when I was a bartender.  No longer was I the somewhat awkward nerd trying to get through college, I was "the sweet-flirty bartender".  I played a role.  And it made me money.  I quickly learned that I was great in front of a "crowd"--weather it be acting, behind the bar, or giving a talk as long as I treated it as a "role", rather than just being myself up there.  As long as I don't have to play the role of "myself" then I find that the panicky feelings go away and I am confident, smooth and totally at ease. 

When I give a talk, I am no longer Dr. Zeek, the go to person in the lab who can never say no.  I am now "Dr. Zeek the Scientist"  and it works.  Now, mind you, I don't completely loose my personality, my wit, charm, grace (wait, grace I can't loose because I don't have to begin with), but I just throw all that into playing the role as the scientist giving a talk.  I can play the role well.  Now, does that make me a fraud?