Thursday, May 31, 2012


So, I think I might try to get back to blogging.

Do I shake the dust off this old blog or start from scratch?

It's been so long, it probably wouldn't make a difference and starting over can be exciting (unless we are talking about cloning.) Not to mention, the blogger interface is so different that I could barely figure out how to post.

Well, whatever I decide, it's likely to be a slow start. I do hope I can build up some momentum though.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Five more days

In five more days I am presenting my data to the department. It's not really that big of a deal as far as presentations go, but I don't want to embarrass myself in front of people I see on a daily basis. Not to mention, having a seminar looming has many positive side effects.

1. Extra motivation.
I try to keep myself moving at a steady pace in the lab, but despite my best efforts, sometimes motivation is lacking and I don't accomplish as much as I should. When a presentation is looming, it provides that extra little bit of motivation to get more accomplished.

2. New data.
Thanks to the extra time and effort put into lab work, I have an entirely new data set. This is not only great for my presentation, but it is also going to make my progress report for my post-doctoral fellowship that much more awesome. Of course, this data is all meant for a publication and I'm so close to wrapping up this paper I can almost taste it.

3. Analyzing Data
Putting a presentation together requires thinking about your data, something that can sometimes get overlooked when you are working your ass off. I often come up with new and interesting ideas when putting together a presentation and end up even more excited about my project that before. This is particularly nice since I am typically feeling a bit burned out as the seminar approaches due to aforementioned longer hours and quicker pace. It's like putting the seminar together is the cure for working your butt off in preparation for the seminar.

I didn't get everything accomplished...maybe 85%. The damn weather and crystal violet were determined to get in my way. While they did slow me down, I am still pretty happy with everything that I got accomplished.

Anyone else find motivation as a result of giving a presentation? If not, what does or are you one of those people that stay at optimal motivation all the time (a.k.a. people I am totally jealous of.)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Yep, it's been that kind of day.

I started the day off well enough. I woke up on time, I made myself some coffee (bonus) so that I wouldn't need to stop on the way. I get in the car and proceed to work, quite proud of the $1.50 I am saving. However, about 30 seconds later, the universe decided that today, I would provide it with comic relief or something.
Here is a break down of the events - and I'm just hitting the easy-to blog about items. Just imagine how my experiments went today.

1. Sweet ass (not the good kind).
While drinking my coffee on the way to work I realize that my coffee tastes awful. WTF? I ask myself. After another sip, I come to the conclusion that the giant container of half and half I just purchased isn't plain, it's french vanilla. GROSS. My coffee tastes like sweet ass!

2. My boob is really wet and warm.
I decide that my need for caffeine far exceeds the taste of the coffee so I continue to drink it. I'm having trouble drinking from the travel mug and decide there must be something wrong with the spout (or whatever that slide-open thingie is called). Oh well, slow coffee is better than no coffee. Right? Several labor-intensive sips later I notice that my left boob is feeling quite wet and warm. OH. MY. FUCKING. GOD. The coffee is leaking from under the lid and is now all down the front of my shirt and has apparently, soaked through my bra.
I consider going home to change, but cultures are waiting for me and my shirt is navy, so I ignore the signs of the shitty day to come and proceed to the lab.

3. Somewhere between 2X and 3X.
I arrive at my bench to find all the media that I prepared yesterday. The best thing I can say about the media is that it is sterile. Unfortunately, it also looks like it sat in the damn autoclave all night as the final volume is less than half of the starting volume.
I'm starting to feel a tantrum coming on, but I can find no one to take my rage irrationally out on at this point (lucky bastards) so I take a few trillion deep breaths and continue on with my day.

4. The sink stops working.

5. Fucking crystal violet!
I'm nearing the end of an adherence assay and start making the crystal violet solution. This go well until I try to filter the solution. That's when this happened:

Then I remembered that I was wearing relatively new shoes.

Five minutes into cleaning the mess.

Drink please.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dumb F**king Donkeys Strike Back

I’m sure this is common in many labs, departments and offices: Some dumb fucking donkey (DFD) takes advantage of a good situation and everyone suffers because the people in charge prefer punishing everyone instead of confronting the person who is actually causing the problem. These instances might include, but are not limited to the following examples.

DFD situation #1:

DFD takes advantage of ordering by claiming that PI approved the purchase of an expensive reagent or kit (or whatever). After the item is ordered, it is discovered that permission was never granted and PI was completely out of the loop. This happens a few more times and involves the same person.

Solution: Enforce a new rule where ALL orders must gain approval from the PI, causing orders to get placed only once per week as PI does not have time to review orders multiple times a week.

DFD situation #2:

DFD refuses to turn in packing slips when an item arrives. This of course, pisses off the purchasing department, ultimately resulting in the lab manager getting bitched out.

Solution: Instead of speaking to DFD, the entire lab gets a 20 minute lecture on packing slips, what they look like, what they are for, why they are turned in to the purchasing department and what happens when they don’t. The tone of this lecture is extremely condescending and most lab members leave irritated because they don’t appreciate being spoken to like a child. As expected, DFD seems clueless and the problem continues.

DFD situation #3:

Instead of working a full day, the DFD comes in late and leaves early. Unfortunately, this DFD is the lab manager, so ordering is delayed; work orders for equipment repairs are put off, sterile items and media run out, etc. Lab members complain to PI.

Solution: Instead of asking the DFD to work more than 4.5 hours/day, the lab chores that DFD doesn’t want to do are redistributed to the lab members that actually work, i.e. post-docs and grad students.

Personally, I don’t understand why it is so difficult to confront the person who is causing the problem. I’m learning to take this shit in stride and file the experiences under, “Behavior I will not repeat when I obtain my own lab.”

Any DFDs in your lab/office/whatever

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Friday Funny: F**k you and your f**cking cheeseburger

I don't know if I've mentioned this before or not, but I am from Texas. Although I don't share many of the opinions and views expressed by the inhabitants of my home state, I do love the Texas fast food burger joint know as Whataburger (when I was little I thought it was water burger). Like any establishment open 24h, drunk idiots tend to congregate at Whataburger just about the time the bars close down, my drunk ass included. I like it in particular because they start serving their breakfast menu at 11:00 p.m. and nothing prevents a hangover like a bacon and egg taquito or two.

Anyway. While illustrating one of the things I loathe most (stupid, redneck, white dudes) it also features something I love and rarely get to witness; a total douche nozzle getting exactly what they deserve followed by public mocking on YouTube.

I know it's kind of long, but I suggest hanging in until the end. It's worth it. Enjoy

Friday, January 14, 2011

I can't say I'm too surprised.

I am not big on making resolutions. That's not to say that I don't make any, but they are usually the same and I tend to make them multiple times of year. Two of my on-going work resolutions are: (1) stay up to date on freezer stocks and (2) keep the lab notebook current.

I fail miserably at both of these on a regular bases because I hate making freezer stocks and am always putting off my lab notebook. In 2011, I've once again decided to make good on these resolutions. I've given myself the pep talk, the motivational speech, gone through the reasons why this is beneficial and how it would actually save me time in the long run, etc. If I was a wrestler or boxer, all that would remain was some screaming and hitting myself about the chest.

I wish I could report that this was my year, but sadly it doesn't appear so. I've really tried to make freezer stocks. I've grown some strains (3 or 4 times), but the cultures just end up sitting on my bench slowly dying until I decide to put them out of their misery and send them to the autoclave. This is the typical bottleneck in freezer stock-making.

The lab notebook is actually going a bit better. While I am not quite current, I am only @ 1.5 days behind. Not too shabby considering I've been as far behind as 6 months.

I'm not giving up. I am officially recommitting myself to the great freezer stock-making extravaganza of 2011. Let's hope I stay on the wagon.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

More time please?!?

Magnum, PI is very supportive and has no problems with his post-docs starting families. In fact, he was quite excited when I told him I was expecting and immediately told me not to worry about any decreased productivity that I might experience during the time before and after I gave birth. He went on to tell me about several other female post-docs that started families while in his lab that were able to balance work and life and move on to successful careers. This was wonderful news and it was a relief that he was fine with and understood that a decrease in productivity would to occur. Unfortunately, I was not fine with this then and I am still not fine with it now. It nags at me.

The fact that my project went to hell in a hand-basket this summer does not ease the constant nagging voice that tells me I am falling behind, that I am not producing enough data, that I am not getting as much done each day as I possibly can. I know that I just can’t work the hours that I used to, yet I refuse to except that this means that my productivity must also slow down. (I know, it's silly, but it's how I feel.) As a result, I’ve tried to make up for the lack of time in the lab by trying to utilize every single minute of time. I make plans, I organize accordingly and I multi-task like it’s going out of style. Unfortunately, I still find ways of not getting everything done and it drives me crazy and makes for a cranky MXX.

Take today for instance. I chose to stay home for a few hours this morning so that I could write and submit an abstract for ASM. I can’t seem to get a lot of writing done at work due to constant interruptions, but by staying at home, experiments are not getting done. I prefer to write the abstract at work during incubations, PCRs, etc. I tried this initially, but it didn't work out. On to plan B; work on the abstract at home during the evening. Unfortunately, my husband is working around the clock this week as a major deadline is approaching for him, so all child care falls 100% on my shoulders. Mini-xx goes to sleep at 7:30, but that’s when the never-ending chores start. After that I just want to go to pass out. So, on to plan C; take a few hours at home and push the abstract out the door while simultaneously NOT doing experiments. This is what I did, but I feel like it wasn't the best use of my time. I always think I can be doing something else while writing, especially something as lame as an abstract.

Anyway. The decreased productivity is constantly on my mind. I recently brought this up to Magnum, PI during a brief conversation. I stated to him that I was not pleased with how far behind I had fallen regarding my project. Specifically, I anticipated a paper being submitted at this point. He looked at me like he thought I was crazy and told me he was more than pleased with my work since joining his lab. He told me he thought I was too ambitious and that my expectations were slightly unrealistic. I’m glad that he is happy and it’s great that he is pleased with my progress, but somehow this doesn’t quiet the voice in my head and unfortunately, I still can’t see how my expectations are unreasonable.

To me the expectations aren’t the problem, I am. Cutting myself slack is not something I have ever been able to do. Instead, I’ve decided that I need to find a way to add another 5 hours to my time in the lab…at least until I get back on track. Putting in an extra hour or two everyday is not going to work. This would completely fuck up things at home and besides, I need a chunk of time. So, I’m thinking that if I can stay until 10pm two days a week (instead of just one), then maybe I can begin to get back on track. The downside is obvious, I will miss another night with mini-xx. On the plus side, it will keep me from putting in serious hours on the weekend, which I don’t want to do as these are the only two full days I get to spend with my family.

Oh I don't know. Now that I am reading what I've written, it does sound a bit crazy.