Wednesday, June 28, 2006

My weekly hell

I am currently sitting in teleconference meeting with my boss and my fellow group members. Out of the 5 of us (including the boss) 2 of us present the data that's been generated over the last 2 weeks since we last presented. Typically, because my boss is such a control freak, these meetings last approximately 4 hours.

When it's my turn to present my data (like it was today) I can stay alert. I have no choice because I get so ticked at my boss, I can't help being alert. When my labmate presents, I usually zone out (at least partially - he can spring a random question on you at any time) and surf the net or work on something else that needs to be done. Don't worry, she does that when I present, too, so I don't get mad.

When it's the alternate week, when the other 2 labmates present, I could spend my time better by napping. Not that I callously don't care about the work that they do, but I simply don't care what they do. If they need my help, I'm happy to give it, but mostly it's my boss being all control-ly with them, and I have little to nothing to add.

We have these meetings in a small conference room with a white board and that can provide some comic relief as we write and draw the stupid things that come out of my boss's mouth. What's even funnier is that he sees himself as a paragon of science. He gets this particular tone of voice when he assumes the guru position to sprinkle us with nuggets of his "wisdom." How he got to where he is in science is beyond me, and I really wish that some of his colleagues could hear the drivel that comes out of his mouth. Their respect for him would plummet.


Anyway, I just thought I would update you on what was new with me, and the hell I am currently enduring. I also want to thank you for posting your own blogs - they give me something to do instead of drooling on my own shirt.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


I've never tried uploading a pic to my blog before, so I thought I'd try it today. Can you tell I'm procrastinating?

This is a picture of a former pet of mine named Stumpy. Stumpy was one of the offspring of two adult beta fish (Siamese fighting fish) that my old boyfriend and I bred at home as a little science experiment. Out of the hundreds of babies that hatched, Stumpy was the only mutant born without a tail.

Sadly, Stumpy met his demise over Christmas 2 years ago. It got just a little too cold in the apartment while we were away and we came home to floating beta fish. Kinda sad. They really did have personality, and they'd get excited when you came home, much like a small jittery dog, minus the peeing on your shoes.

OK, back to work. Enjoy!

Watch this

I’m pretty anal. If you know me, you’re not surprised at this admission. If you don’t know me, now you know. I like to have a place for everything and everything in its place. I like to, no, scratch that, need to plan ahead. I try my damnedest to always be on time. I live by my watch.

That’s why I was so surprised when my watch battery died and I went for 3 weeks without replacing it.

I’m shocked at my behavior. That’s really not like me at all. I’m kind of proud of myself. Maybe I’m not as tightly wound as I thought. Or I’m surrounded by so many other time pieces that having a watch is overkill. I’d rather be proud of myself for not having a meltdown about my watch.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

I just wanted my eyes checked

Since I’ve become too old to be on my parents’ insurance, I’m forced to go to places like Pearle Vision and D.O.C. for my eye care needs. On the recommendation of my labmate, I started to go to a D.O.C. This guy is the strangest eye doctor I’ve ever been to. I’m thinking he might be bipolar, for starters. At one visit he may be very chatty, and during another he can be short and almost disagreeable.

He always looks like he just walked out of wedding party with his collarless button-down shirts (with the hidden buttons!), sometimes paired with a vest (and not just some knit vest, but one that looks like it’s part of a tux). Half the time I expect to see him with a cummerbund.

He keeps a portrait of his bride displayed prominently on his counter. No, this isn’t odd quite in and of itself. What’s odd is that it’s not angled for his viewing, but for the patient’s viewing. It’s as if he’s saying “I am married to this beautiful woman. Don’t believe me? Look, I just came from the wedding. I’m still wearing parts of my suit.” Makes me wonder if he gets hit on a lot by his patients or something. Whatever. I can honestly say I’ve never been tempted.

Add to that the fact that he’s always trying to sell me something, usually some new and improved contact lens. I take the free trial pair of lenses and try them for the week to two that he recommends. I’m instructed to make another appointment if I like them (if!), so that he can see them in my eye. Invariably, I don’t like them, so I don’t call. The next time I have an appointment he asks about the trial lenses and then doesn’t believe me when I tell him I didn’t like the way they felt, or how they fit. Why would I lie about that? If they really were better, I’d be buying them in bulk. No questions asked. I survive by my contacts. I’m sorry, but the lenses you’re shelling aren’t to my liking. Try again. He was really disappointed to discover that my vision is too bad for Lasix eye surgery, but I got the canned sales pitch about it anyway.

I can’t wait until I can get a job with real health insurance.

Monday, June 19, 2006

That strange pallor

Being a perpetually “shiny” (or “greasy,” depending on how nice you want to be about it) faced person, I’m always on the look-out for products to help me with this issue. I’ve tried soaps, astringents and powders. I’ve used blotting papers, rice papers, and mattifying lotions. Either they last all of 15 minutes, are horribly impractical (I’m not whipping out the blotting papers every 15 minutes) or never work in the first place. Thinking my fate was sealed, I was pretty excited to see mineral make-up coming down the pike.

Being in science, you’re not punching a clock. You can more or less make your own hours. As long as you get your stuff done, no one cares when you do it. Knowing this, AND that the mall is way less crowded during the week, a labmate and I took a long lunch to get the free make over / trial use of the mineral make-up at the store. Now I know that if the sales lady looks a bit frightening, that should be your first warning, but labmate’s looked pretty normal. On top of that, we found out that they don’t work on commission, so that balanced it out.

There were about 5 steps/layers to this process, consisting of various foundations, cover-ups, setters, bronzer, blush and “veil” (whatever that hell that is). About 3-4 steps too much for me. I don’t know why exactly it is, but I’m just not used to seeing myself made up. Most women look at themselves in the mirror and are pleased and amazed at the transformation. Without fail, I look in the mirror and see a $2 whore. Maybe I’ve just never had it done up right, or I wear make-up too infrequently, but it never looks good or right. And it certainly never looks like something I could replicate at home.

In the car, in the parking lot, in the natural light, we re-examined our faces in the car mirrors. We were not pleased. I thought my labmate looked passable. It was certainly more make-up than she usually wears, but maybe if she applied it instead of having it applied to her, it would look good. I, on the other hand, looked like I was wearing some sort of strange mask. The make-up is supposed to give you a “natural glow” but on my skin, the natural glow looked like crappy B movie special effects synthetic skin. But I wasn’t shiny!

Back at work we took a short detour into the bathroom to wipe off a few layers before asking the opinions of our coworkers. It didn’t help. Our coworkers were thankfully honest and agreed that mineral make-up was not for us – especially considering that it changed in every different light condition. It was creepy, and I can’t afford to carry around my own lighting everywhere I go. Needless to say, I won’t be investing in this stuff. Bravo for the women who find this to be the answer to their prayers. I will go back to waiting for the next new-fangled product(s) to hit the market. If you see anything, let me know.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Geeky Scientists and Proud of It

The lab that I work in/around is a pretty congenial place. I like a majority of the people enough to hang out with them outside of work, and find myself having at least one good laugh every day. One of the women likes to do nice little things for everybody once in a while, like buy donuts or bagels out of the blue, or make brownies for no good reason (not that making brownies in and of itself isn't a good reason). But what she bought for us this week takes the cake (can you tell I'm hung up on food right now?).

"Evil Mutant Scientist" and "Labcoats are sexy"

These are the pins she ordered for us off Cafe Press. We couldn't be more thrilled. They go perfectly with the "I'm a scientist. Let's experiment" Molson beer labels she also collected for us.

We are fully embracing our geekitude, and we like it.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Devil's in the Details

How hard is it to read? I mean, really. An email that consists of 3 lines should be pretty easy to read and comprehend. And if you don’t comprehend it, don’t get pissy with the author. She can’t read it aloud to you because she emailed it to you, assuming that you could read.

I’m in the process of scheduling interview visits to various institutions. Inevitably I get “put in touch” with assistants to the professors I’ll be interviewing with. These assistants are in charge of working with me and the professor to coordinate our schedules as well as my flights.

So, I emailed this woman the following:

“The dates that I am available in the next 6 weeks are:
June 19-23, 27-30
July 3-7, 11-25”

I dare you to tell me that I was unclear.

She emails me back to ask if I approve of a tentative flight schedule she’s researched for me. She has me flying out of Cleveland on July 10. Is July 10 one of the days that I am available? No. No, it is not. I have a very important meeting scheduled for that day, which is why it didn’t make the list of “dates I am available.” It’s not like I somehow mistyped 11 when I meant 10. The 1 and the 0 on the keyboard are not anywhere near each other. Also, out of that 3 week period in July where I indicate the dates I’m available, doesn’t it kind of stand out that I omitted July 10?

So, I emailed her back, nicely explaining that I cannot travel on July 10 due to a meeting that cannot be rescheduled. I asked if there were any way that we could work around this, because I understand that she’s trying to coordinate my schedule with 3 busy professors – no easy task and I’m really trying to be sympathetic.

Her emails with me since then have been short and all sense of niceness has evaporated.
Look, Honey, it’s not my fault that you can’t read. Don’t take it out on me.

I get the same kind of guff from my boss who also can’t read, nor can he comprehend what he “reads.” This kind of behavior really grates on me and this was just the last straw – hence the rant. I expect more from so called “professionals.”

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Stop and Smell the Roses / The Trifecta

Thought one:
Over the weekend I've found and people will literally stop and smell the roses. Outside of my research building is a row of pink and white rose bushes that are blooming pretty dramatically right now. As I watch people walk by them, a large number of them actually stop to smell the roses. I don't know why I'm so surprised and tickled by this. Hell, I do it too. I guess I've never seen a cliche/idiom come to life quite like that before.

Thought two:
In other news, my fellow grad students and I have decided that universities should have a policy that any and all professors that work there are required to take 3 very important clases/training courses: 1) Management [for their finances and personel], 2) Ethics [because lord knows there's a lot of shady things going down every day], and 3) Mentorship [because they are, by and large, horrible mentors]. If the students are required to take ethics classes, I think the profs should be, too. In fact, it's more important for them because the students have very little pull in such matters.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Slowly backing away from the edge

I'm slowly disenganging from my panic. It's sinking in, the sad reality that it is. And now that I'm taking steps to do something about it (as much as I can - I am Fortune's fool!) I feel a tad better.

I've posted my resume.
I've broken the news to my boss and he didn't have a negative reaction (quite unusual for him, so I'm grateful).
I have a list of places that I want to look into.
And I'm checking to see if I can extend my Aug/Sept lease out to November or December (I'm anticipating the worst).
I've also scheduled a committee meeting for July 10.

I think that I'm looking at graduating in October/November now. That was the hardest part to get a handle on - the part that had me pressed up to the edge. It's a bitch when you can see that light at the end of the tunnel, but no matter how fast you run, there's somebody else moving that light farther and farther away from you. Damn light-movers! Damn you all! To a dark, tunnel-ly hell! May you be perpetually tormented as you tormented in life! I really should get a pulpit that I can thump as I damn. I think that would really make it official. Or at least FEEL official.