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Thursday, March 31, 2005

Magic Life Escape Hatch

I'm going to apply for a job. An actual job. I haven't filled out a job application since I was a sophomore, and I certainly never had to make and actual resume or cover letter.

I have no chance of getting this job, but it just might be My Ideal Job (aside from a career sitting on my ass knitting and watching Degrassi for $50/hour). As a copy editor with Nature Neuroscience. They're actually looking for people with neuroscience degrees and they don't require editing experience, and I imagine they pay a decent amount. Though almost anything would pay better than grad school.

So this job would get me out of grad school awfulness and out of my long-past-fun relationship. I'd get to move to NYC (okay, that is a bit intimidating - the whole Manhattan real estate thing) which might be rough but could be awesome. And I really really think editing at a scientific journal is something I'd enjoy and be good at.

In other NYC-related news, Future Jewish Husband is coming in to town in a week and a day. Conveniently, the bf that I'm sick of will be out of town. I really hope Future Jewish Husband and I get on well, but at the same time I don't because it isn't much of a leap from Future Jewish Husband to Life My Grandmother Wants Me to Have. But still, he works for Elliot Spitzer! Hot!

I really really hope I at least get an interview. Though what would I tell my advisor if I got the job?

Look, I've just jinxed myself. Looks like more unending lab drudgery for me. The rats are still giving me hives. I bet copyediting is one of those jobs that won't make me get itchy rashes. Is it too much to ask?

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Damn You LJers!

Saw this on a few LJs that I check...and I totally kicked ass.

Bacardi 151
Congratulations! You're 134 proof, with specific scores in beer (40) , wine (133), and liquor (86).

All right. No more messing around. Your knowledge of alcohol is so high
that you have drinking and getting plastered down to a science. Sure,
you could get wasted drinking beer, but who needs all those trips to
the bathroom? You head straight for the bar and pick up that which is
most efficient.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
You scored higher than 76% on proof
You scored higher than 86% on beer index
You scored higher than 98% on wine index
You scored higher than 94% on liquor index
Link: The Alcohol Knowledge Test written by hoppersplit on OkCupid Online Dating

Hot For Teacher (or TA)

So. I have it on semi-reliable authority that one of my students has a crush on me. Apparently one of my students, the one whose friend is our future lab tech, saw this student at a party. This student was exceptionally drunk and asked my other student whether she knew me. Of course the girl knows me, I'm her TA for fuck's sake. Note that the crushboy student isn't even one of my "special" kids. Yikes. And this boy confessed that he likes me. The real issue is, she told me exactly which student it was so now I can't quite look at him because I want to giggle. I'm flattered and all, but...he's my little sister's age!

The upside is he isn't dumb and he isn't unattractive. He just isn't at all my time. Though I will admit that if I had to be stranded on a desert island with one of my male students and would be required to procreate, I guess I'd pick him. Though one other student makes a close second.

You know, my advisor dated one of her undergrads when she was a TA...and married him. Nice to know I can still reel 'em in, even if they are only 21.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Lab is Fun When Nobody is There!

The advisor is away this week. Woohoo! The weird part is, I'm spending less time there yet getting more done. So when she comes back I can still say, "look at all this science!" but I still get to watch Gilmore Girls on syndication when I get home. This is way more fun than the craptastic in-lab-all-the-time windowless hell that is usually my scientific life.

My talk last Friday apparently went well, though I still didn't get any actual data to put in it. Even the people who didn't have to tell me I did well told me I did well, so that was good. Then...the mayhem that is the post-Neurobehavioral Retreat open bar! Woohoo! For generally polite mild-mannered people, scientists get rather boisterous when drunk. There was yelling, and one of the techs (not from my lab) got all huffy since she was the only Bush voter at the table and stormed off. Look, we scientists are a logical bunch and if you say you voted for Bush yet you're a biological scientist, we're going to ask you why you did it, okay? It wasn't even rude questioning, it was the kind accompanied by our blank stares and open jaws, like "seriously? You really did that?" But we were all drunkety drunk drunk, as Lex said. No hard feelings, at least not on my part.

And what do you do if you think one of your fellow grad students may be developing a crush on you, and you love him to death, but not in the naked way? Especially with the rule against dating other scientists, especially those in your very same small program? Yikes. The weirdness is, there may actually be a peer that I do have a (little) crush on, and it isn't this one. Eep. Of course, I'm getting little crushes on a number of people right now. I think I should wait until the end of the term to initiate the Big Scary Possible Breakup Talk with the bf, since we do live together and all. This is all too messy.

The other grad student in the lab is now a father. Oy gevalt. I just cannot imagine it, especially since he is still in classes and hasn't done his prelim yet. You get enough sleep deprivation by virtue of being an overworked grad student, adding crazy new parent sleep deprivation isn't going to win you anything and will probably just make you crazy.

And I have germs. I can feel them breeding, reproducing in my throat. Bastards. I'm trying to flush them out with crazy fluid consumption levels. It isn't quite working, but it can't hurt. I bet this is the fault of too much contact with nasty germy post-Spring Break undergrads. There was just an article in the DP on how STD testing spikes when they all come back from Spring Break. Dirty dirty spoiled little rich kids. Here's hoping none of them come to office hours tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

And Then There are Days the Electron Microscope Makes You Cry

Because the stupid ancient pre-Berlin Wall collapse machine just fucking REFUSES to work and I really really need a nice EM image of a PHA-L terminal in the PAG to round up my otherwise fluffy and data-free talk for the fucking retreat Friday morning that I had practically no warning of. And you curse and cry but no, Zeiss machines just don't respond to emotion. Heartless bastards.

So I finally had a (smallish) nervous breakdown in front of my advisor about all the horribleness of the lab and how I've been feeling about this whole damn science thing anyway. First, she made arrangements for me to use an electron microscope that may actually work. Wow. Then, even though she still hasn't actually told me about firing the lab tech, she did say she's be hiring one of the actually-competent undergrads to be our tech. So even if the other grad student is off dealing with his impending infant, I won't be totally alone. AND she doesn't seem to have a problem with me doing some non-science too, like learning to proof/edit or advising the BBB kids (which apparently consists of telling them that they just don't have the grades to go to med school and getting paid for it) or even - this is the fun and exciting part - concurrently getting my MBE with the PhD, if the damn neuroscience people will let me do it. So I think I might cancel that application to the USPTO and stick it out. Plus, patent firms are way more likely to hire me if I finish the damn PhD. I think I actually work better sometimes when I have more to do - as long as it isn't all science, all the time, I focus better on the actual doing science part. My advisor seemed really taken aback at how upset and dragged down I've become lately. I think she realized she had to capitulate a bit or I'd just leave.

So things might almost be looking up. At least once I get this talk over.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Timwatch 3/13

Ummm...so Condi is prochoice? I guess she really won't be running for President.

I cannot believe that Congress has nothing better to do than hold hearings on the use of steroids in professional baseball. I do understand that drug abuse in pro sports is a problem, but is it really a Big Congressional Hearings type of problem? Can't we just drug test them and kick them out of baseball when they test positive? And I'm really upset that Henry Waxman is so ugly. Really, I like the man's work, but he does not come across well on TV. And for the man to go from the (awesome) exposure of how much abstinence-only sucks to steroids in baseball? Way to lose esteem, Waxman.

Of course, I could still be bitter over the lack of hockey. Hockey is the only actually worthy team sport anyway. Sigh.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Was My Aunt Actually Right?

While I was visiting my grandfather last week, my aunt made what I interpreted to be a snarky comment regarding my appearance. Specifically, "you're really thin. Did you do that on purpose?"
I should mention that my aunt is a size 6 and her daughter (ie my cousin) has giant breasts but yet no ass at all and is about as big around as my pinkie. I mean, I didn't think I was fat before. I got up to a whole size 6, and while I guess that is sort of big for someone only 5'1" it doesn't seem like something to comment on.

But I went shopping yesterday. And I bought a skirt. And I was a size...zero. Now, I don't think that grown women should be that size. So I'm a little freaked out. Since I didn't do it "on purpose" - I'm just really stressed and busy and I walk at least three miles every stupid pointless day. But still, this is scary. Nobody who actually sees me every day has said anything, just my mom and my sister (who always have something to say about my weight no matter what it is) and now my aunt. Should I be worried? Does size even mean anything, anyway?

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Descending Into Lab Hell

So the lab part of my life has been bad and is getting worse. My advisor's main grant is up for five-year renewal and if it doesn't get picked up, then - oops! - no money! Currently the grownups in the lab (ie, everyone but the neverending stream of semi-competent undergrads) are as follows: me (third-year grad student) , second-year grad student with gf about to give birth (um, so he'll be otherwise occupied soon), a lab tech, and my advisor. Not exactly a big lab. As it stands, my fellow grad student and I do a lot of basic lab maintenance stuff - ordering, cleaning up, that sort of thing - that really isn't part of what our program expects us to do. Lab Tech is tired of getting shit on by Advisor (and rightly so) has been planning on leaving sometime in the summer. The plan was to hire on one of the undergrads that has - gasp! - actual scientific competence at the end of the term, have Lab Tech train her, and for all of us to continue on out merry labtastic existence.

Except that's not what's happening. Advisor mentioned that is she didn't get her grant, she might not hire a lab tech. Excuse me? I'm sure as fuck not going to be her grad student and her lab tech. I expressed my doubts about how the lab would actually function in that instance but in her odd passive way, Advisor totally deflected all of my concerns. And apparently, while I was off wasting time sitting in the goddamn nursing home Friday...Advisor fired the lab tech. Without warning. Without actually hiring someone else. Without consulting any of us who actually, you know, do the goddamn research (since she hasn't even touched a rat or done any of the actual lab-running in YEARS) about whether we'd still be able to function.

We'll see. This may finally be the thing that drives me out of graduate school. I mean, I'd have a master's if I left now. I just cannot believe this. I've made it through classes, the prelim, I'm actually doing okay with the life-consuming TA requirement. I thought maybe I'd make it. But now? I'm not so sure. It isn't even the prospect of having to do all the lab-running myself (without any extra cash, I might add). It is that I've seen a side of my advisor I do not like at all. Between this random firing and the fact that my advisor has had her nanny in the lab doing stuff for us (after also suddenly firing said nanny - seriously, people, so not allow your unhappy domestic employees to come into contact with your students, since the employees know all of your nasty secrets and will not hesistate to spill them) I'm not sure that this woman is really someone I want to have to work with. I don't want to have to depend on her for my degree. But there isn't anyone else at this school I'd want to work with, either, especially since switching labs would involve totally starting over, something I just do not have the energy for.

Ugh. I'd hate to give up. But how much is this degree worth in terms of my sanity?

Sunday, March 06, 2005


My grandfather is dying. Slowly. We think he has Parkinson's, but he has also had a number of subdural hematomas so his cognition is pretty spotty. After all the fighting with my sister and guilt from my mom about not seeing him (I'd last been in hellacious Long Island last December for my cousin's bar mitzvah) I went on Friday. I took the train and just stayed for the afternoon. He is hollow, a shadow, drawn skin over bones. He is dying, it is hard for him to eat, and he has a living will so no feeding tube.

And I don't feel anything. Really. I'm not sad, or angry, or even upset. The only thing that upset me was seeing my mom so upset.

What is wrong with me? Why don't I feel anything? This is my grandfather, and whatever negative feelings I have about my grandmother, he's always been separate from them. I should be crying, or angry, or something, but I'm not. I saw him, saw how far gone he was, and still nothing. I think my mom and sister expected me to finally lose it when I saw him, and I think they're mad, or at least confused, that I haven't. I know he is going to die, probably within the next few months. I should be crying or reminiscing. He is going to die and I'm totally unfazed.

I must really be an awful person. I don't think I have a soul at all. Real people feel things, they cry and scream and rage at God when they see someone slowly and painfully taken away. When their grandfather can hardly speak and can't walk and barely recognizes them , most people would feel something, would cry on the train on the way back. He's going to die, and I feel okay. I can rationalize it and say well, he's old, he's suffering, it is better that he go. But I haven't even had to rationalize, I just don't feel.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Typing is Ruining the Handwriting of the Next Generation

So I have all the exams I have to grade. At least enough people have dropped the class since the first one so there are now only 139 rather than 148. I wish it were all ScanTron. Multiple choice tests are so much better for everyone involved.

Alas, I have to sift through some of the worst handwriting I've ever witnessed searching for coherent answers to things like "what sort of postsynaptic modifications would decrease the size of spontaeous end-plate potentials by 50%?" Shoot, I'd probably just scribble nonsensical semi-letters and hope my grader got so fed up trying to read it that they'd just give me the points.

I, however, am the sort of TA who will take off points without bothering to try and decipher the crap that passes for handwriting from these people. I don't have a vision plan, I'm not getting paid for this, so I sure as fuck am not going to sit there straining my eyes over whether a kid has actually written the word "presynaptic" when all I can make out is "pray mac this" which I suspect is a concept totally unrelated to neuroscience.

Also, kids? There is a very big difference between "elicit" and "illicit". One is how you make a neuron do something, the other is how you get sued for sexual harassment. Figure it out.