Click here for a Thanksgiving message from our former Commander-in-Chief.
Archive for: November, 2010
It's the day after Thanksgiving, and I'm fortunately no longer resembling the beached whale that my husband had to roll through our front door last night. Impaired mobility with unstable glucose levels is no way to begin the holiday season.
Since my body is now capable of directing bloodflow to my brain instead of to my digestive tract, I'd like to coherently tell you about some of the things that make me feel good. Scicurious had the nice idea of writing about an item, a person, and an idea that makes us feel thankful.
An Item: For me, this is a no-brainer. Multi-channel pipets. These puppies have cumulatively saved years of my life, and have enabled me to test thousands and thousands of mango extractions instead of hundreds. These tools make my research possible. Now, I am a connesieur of multi-channel pipets. So let me tell you about my favorite varieties.
- The Vanilla: 12-channel multi-channel pipet. Twelve dispenses for every stroke! Oh, you are my foundation.
- The Chocolate: 8-channel adjustable-spacer. This pipet is seriously my hero. Imagine making 200 samples in microcentrifuge tubes. Oh, you want those in 96-well plates, do you? Without this god-send, you will be transferring those into your 96-well plate one-by-fucking-one. Want to test your samples in quadruplicate? Ha! That is 800 strokes. But with this puppy, you're down to 100 strokes- you spread out your tips, suck up from the microcentrifuge tubes, then condense your tips, and dispense into 96-well plates. Lalalala!!!!
- The Rocky Road: 8-channel electronic adjustable spacer. Turns those 100 strokes into 20. Now this is bad-ass. Increases my pipetting throughput 40-fold, and drastically reduces errors.
A Person: There is another postdoc in my lab- let's call him Jake- who is pretty much the best colleague ever (for me, at least). He is competent, insightful, super-smart, responsible, supportive, and an absolute pleasure to be around. We come from vastly different backgrounds, but we have found ways to collaborate. Through these collaborations, he has helped me to broaden my experimental skillset tremendously.
Jake is the kind of person that I can approach with anything. I am depressed about research and need support? Jake is there for me. I'm having trouble with a colleague? Jake gives advice, with a touch of humor. Something has gone well? Jake always wants to hear about it (or at least pretends to want to hear about it), and he is always happy for me. He helps to make the challenges of work bearable, and he helps to make the successes all the better.
An Idea: Entropy. Specifically, from the second and third laws of thermodynamics, that, when a system does work, entropy increases with time. Or, in other words, when I do work, the disorder in my life will increase with time. This idea great reassures me that, indeed, I am not a fuck-up, and that I am simple conforming to the laws of thermodynamics. Now, if I could only get this point across to my husband...
Happy late Thanksgiving to my readers (US or elsewhere)! I am thankful for all of you, too. It's nice to have a space where I can come to share my life with you, scientific and otherwise, and to have conversations about the related challenges. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday (or a wonderful Thursday), and had the chance to spend time with family, friends, and too much pie.
Postdocs are supposed to be able to carry out their own experiments, no? They're supposed to, say, actually DO things?
A friend of mine was helping a new postdoc in his lab get started, and generously spent a good deal of time showing this postdoc the ropes. Postdoc wanted to start doing Assay X, which takes all day. So, first, my friend showed Postdoc how to do Assay X. Then, when Postdoc was ready, my friend watched Postdoc perform Assay X to make sure he was doing everything correctly. And it all looked fine.
Now, Postdoc is hounding the shit out of my friend to do all of his Assay X experiments for him. The reason?
Postdoc "trusts my friend more than he trusts himself".
Fucking absurd. And of course it's not a one-time incident with this dude- conman seems to be his profession of choice over postdoc. Where do these fucktards come from? The harder I work, the more these people piss me the fuck off.
I'd like to thank all of my readers who participated in this year's Donors Choose challenge. My giving page has thus far accumulated $564 in donations, which have supported 1,000 children through 12+ projects.
Because HP was generously matching all donations provided through the science blogger challenge, those of you who donated should have received an email in the past couple of days containing a unique coupon code for approximately the amount you donated, which you can now use towards any project of your choice. I took my coupon code and donated to several more of the projects on my giving page, and I would encourage you to do the same.
Of particular note is the project Apple-Ka-Dabra, which I would love to see funded. Mrs. S teaches students in a high-poverty region of West Virginia, and she is requesting 8 scientific investigation kits that her high school chemistry students will use to teach nearby kindergarten students. I think this is a fabulous project, particularly because the older students will be interfacing with the younger- it will be a great way to bring the spirit of teaching alive in these high school chemistry students and to foster a sense of scientific community. If you are inclined, the project is only $146 away from completion as of today.
I promised a prize to a randomly-selected reader who donated through my giving page- and the winner is Rad Scientist!! Rad, please contact me through my email (contact page at upper right) and we will set something up.
Thanks again to all of you. Things have been tough around here with too much traveling and too many ailing/dying relatives. I am hoping to resume regular posting again soon.
There I was, tucking my pretty pressed shirt into my skirt, sliding into my velvet blazer, layering on my favorite pearl necklaces that felt so cool against my skin. There I was, drink pressed into my left hand, ice cubes jingling, working the human connection with my right. Shaking hands, smiling, throwing down witty banner to the amusement of my companions.
All this bullshit, while my grandmother lay in a hard bed many miles away, moving toward the end of her 97 years. Simplicity at the end, the in and out of breaths that are heavy while she sleeps.
There I was, checking my reflection in the mirror, smoothing a shiny pink gloss onto my skinny little mouth. All while my aunt applied Vaseline to the lips of my grandmother- you see, they are cracked and dry because she hasn't had anything to drink in 4 days.
This week, my life will go on, but hers will not. Today, this day, I can look toward the future. I have the privilege of considering where I will be in 10 years, with my love and my children and my dreams. She does not.
I am not there. I am never there, it seems, because science takes me elsewhere. And sometimes it is too easy for family to equate distance with caring. If I lived down the block, you know, I would love them more. If I saw them every Sunday, if I shared meals and more frequent conversation. If I took an interest in the people who raised me, the people who will always love me the most. Why do I have to be so far? Why am I always somewhere else?
But next week, I'll be there to hold my father's hand. To grieve however it is that I'll need to grieve at the end. To lay my hand on the ground, to give thanks for what was, and for what is. That is what I can do.