Tuesday, November 25, 2008

a day of oopsies

I have worked really really hard today in order to (hopefully) be totally done with this set of experiments before thanksgiving. I did six activity assays, more than I've ever done before, and will be in the lab for another 1.5 hrs waiting for the experiments to finish. They take about an hour to set up, then sit for 2.5 hours, so lots of waiting. Despite my fabulous experimenting today, I have been a royal doofus. Hopefully my extreme doofus status will not mess up my experiments, it hasn't thus far, but a lot can happen in 1.5 hours.
I began my day of arriving at work, getting out of the car, attempting to open the back door to get my computer out of the backseat and the door was locked. I put my hand in my pocket and no keys. Oh no. Tried the door again. Locked. Oh no. Look in the ignition. No keys. Keys are in my mouth. Not sure how they ended up there, but thrilled they are not locked in the car. Laugh at myself in parking garage (hopefully no one was around). Doofus moment #1.
Middle of experiment, adding radioactive compound. Two ice buckets. One for radioactive compound and one with current experiment in it. Checked radioactive ice bucket to make sure threw away unused diluted radioactive compound. Good. Realized I'm still using diluted radioactive compound and did not throw away, it is in the current experiment ice bucket. Doofus moment #2.
In the midst of all these experiments, I was feeling rather parched. I filled my water bottle, set it on my desk, open, and proceeded to spill it in my lap and all over the floor. Luckily it was just water, and I didn't spill it on my computer, cause then I would have cried. Doofus moment #3.
Hopefully I'm done being a doofus for the day, I don't think that I can handle any more of those moments, especially considering all I have to do is finish up these experiments and drive my tired bum home.

used book stores!

I have been in love with used book stores for at least 15 years (no surprise, I love being around books, why else would I have worked in a library for 6 years and enjoyed it most of the time). At used book stores, you never know what you will find, and you can trade in old books and get new ones (to you). It is a wonderful idea and so much cheaper! New books are ridiculously expensive, especially baby books. A few pieces of cardboard glued together and that's $8-$10? My nephew has LOTS of books and most of them are either from used book stores or garage sales. He actually has a new book that is one of those pet the animal books, and there is a toucan in the book. The toucan has a very shiny nose, and baby likes to kiss the toucan on the nose. It's hilarious, but I'm getting off topic.
Used book stores! I went to a used book store on campus yesterday in search of "the Nutcracker." My cousin is in the ballet this Christmas (Joffrey ballet's production in Chicago) and my grandpa doesn't know the story, so my mom wanted the book so that he can know what's happening before going to the ballet. At the used book store, I stumped the worker at first, but then he found not just one but two Nutcracker books, and those two books were less than $10! So fabulous!
So, maybe with the crappy economy, save money and buy used books, you will find what you're looking for, and maybe something else, too! For less than you would spend on new books!

Monday, November 24, 2008

holiday flavors

While the christmas holiday is getting closer and closer to being upon us, it is frustrating that the commercials started weeks ago. Thanksgiving is this week (what happened to October and where November went, I don't know) and after Thanksgiving the commercials are allowed to start, and won't be annoying anymore. But what I do think is a major advantage to Christmas starting before Thanksgiving is the holiday flavors. The holiday flavors of coffee (yum)! The holiday flavors of candles (sniff)!
I am enjoying my pumpkin spice international delight flavored coffee right now, and in a week I will probably have opened my vanilla spiced rum international delight and will be enjoying that tremendously as well. I wish these flavors were available for even longer every year!

rug shopping

Since our wonderful new house has laminate hardwood floors everywhere, we need to invest in rugs. At least one rug anyway, for the living room. I would like to make the rugs that will go in the bedrooms, since they would be less traffic areas, but the living room needs a sturdy rug. I have therefore been looking at lots of rugs online. (Another fabulous way for me to avoid writing my thesis). I have determined that I have two criteria for our living room rug: It must not be the super busy madness that so many area rugs are and It must not be over $150. I have really fallen for a rug that has a few tree branches scattered across the rug, and of course it is $500. Sigh... this is why I want to make the rugs, because the ones I really like are $500.

I'm also thinking that I want to make the curtains for the house too. My mom is giving me one of her many sewing machines, so I think I could make the curtains pretty easily, as long as I can figure out how to use this sewing machine. I want to turn one of the bedrooms into a craft room, with the sewing machine, and a place to store all my yarn and stuff. Hopefully I will have time to do crafty stuff, I really enjoy it, and I haven't done any projects in a few months. With all my struggling to finish my thesis, I'm itching to make something, but I need to finish this gosh darn thesis first!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

unibrow boy hates women. how to deal?

I am writing this post after being completely baffled by a certain graduate student's attitude, existence, etc, and from this point on I will refer to him as unibrow boy (I'm sure you can determine how he has received such a nickname).
Unibrow boy rotated in our lab a little over a year ago as a first year graduate student. While in the lab he worked for our post-doc at the time and basically did the same experiment for the entire eight weeks with a few variations, and not very successfully. He would disappear for hours at a time, mid-experiment, he would stand in the lab's darkroom reading papers and making hand gestures at the papers, and he was really an all around strange dude. He also got arrested for public intox while rotating, but at least he was not in the lab being publicly intoxicated. He already had his master's, I cannot remember what in, but something biochemical or biologically related. Our post-doc asked him to look up some papers on the project he was working on. He did not know how. www.pubmed.com has gotten me through graduate school and I cannot imagine having done any of this without that wonderful site. Unibrow boy wrote his master's thesis without ever looking at pubmed. When our post doc asked how unibrow boy got his references for his thesis, his response was "encyclopedias." While encyclopedias contain a LOT of useful information, they are not published fast enough to contain the information needed to write a thesis, master's or otherwise. So, we learned very quickly that unibrow boy was not a good fit for our lab, and those are just a few examples. I also got the feeling that he had a problem with women. I had never really met someone that made me feel like I shouldn't be in graduate school, the sciences, etc, but something about unibrow boy just said that he did not like women, and he certainly did not like taking direction from a woman, even if she was a post-doc. My boss didn't believe me when I told her, because she is a woman and she couldn't imagine a person who had a problem with women working for a woman, but I stood by my feeling. The post-doc was convinced he was gay (not that there's anything wrong with that), but I still thought he just had a problem with women.
I have since found out from other labs he has rotated in and the lab that he eventually joined that he does have a problem with women. He was told he was doing the wrong thing by a senior female graduate student in a lab that he did not end up joining and he told her "women don't talk to men like that where I'm from." This ended badly, as you might imagine, and he did not join that lab.
The lab he did end up joining is also run by a woman. She does really interesting science, has been published in Nature, and has lots of clout in the department. She also is somewhat psychotic and has lost many graduate students to other labs or master's degrees. Someone who is that strong and has no problem yelling at her students you would think would put unibrow boy in his place. PI and unibrow boy are from the same town. PI therefore accepts unibrow boy's behavior as normal and does not put him in his place. There is one other male in the lab and he will be graduating in the next year or two. Unibrow boy will not listen to any of the female graduate students and I guess basically pretends they don't exist, except to take the solutions that they have prepared for themselves. He will take people's solutions, use them up, not replace them, and then scream if they try to use any of his solutions. He also throws things, at centrifuges, in sinks, anything he can grab he throws, hard, and at any object that has made him mad. With someone who behaves like that in the lab and a PI that tells you that you are not working enough when you are working 90 hours a week, this PI is really going to lose everyone.
Yesterday, I was heading to our department's cell culture facility (mammalian cells need lots of love and commitment and we therefore have a facility in which to maintain this love and commitment) and unibrow boy was heading out. He blocked the door so that I couldn't enter and our conversation carried out as follows:
UB: do you know where they are? (pointing at the custodial person's cart that is down the hall)
Me: Where Laura is? Our custodian?
UB: yes.
Me: I don't know, why do you need her?
UB: I spilled media.
Me: There are plenty of paper towels in the lab, use them to clean up the media.
UB: I used paper towels but I need to completely clean the floor.
Me: Well, I would check the first floor for Laura.
Unibrow boy went in search of our custodial person and I went in the lab. He spilled media in a great big circle and put down five paper towels to contain the circle. He didn't do anything to clean up after himself and went on to find someone else to clean up his mess for him. I was so mad, and part of it is because I get the feeling by his attitude that he thinks women are here to serve him. I did what little I needed to do and went back in my lab with the door locked so that if he couldn't find someone else to clean up his mess he wouldn't come to me. As if women are here to clean up after his lazy bum. I stayed holed up in my lab for another hour and then went back to the cell culture facility to check and make sure the mess did get cleaned up. It did, but unibrow boy also left the vacuum pump on when he left. He is such a problem. Someone needs to put him in his place. I suppose I could have yesterday, but I am not comfortable picking a fight when no one else is a around (it was 11 pm). I don't even like to leave the confines of the locked lab that late at night, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, and see what happens.
I am so glad he is not in our lab. Honestly, there are way too many alpha dog women in our lab for him to handle, but I really feel bad for the women he works with now. I guess I can't really call it 'works with', it's more like 'works next to' or 'non-works with'. And from what I know of them, they are not alpha dogs and they do not speak their minds. So, no one is prepared to tell unibrow boy what's up, and he is going to continue going through life being a complete jerk to women, using encyclopedias to research his project. Such a problem.
I certainly hope this is not a problem I ever have to deal with on a daily basis, ever.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

the advantage to the long shirt

I have discovered a new advantage to the trend being long shirts. I have heard several people say they like the new trend because it is better for the pregnant person. Being that I am not pregnant and don't plan on it for another few years, this is not an advantage to me. What have I determined to be so great about long shirts? If you forget to zip up your fly, no one knows!

Is this mannequin's fly down? Can't tell!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I experience extreme joy when I save lots of money at the grocery store. I love that they tell you what percent you saved on your order at the bottom of your receipt, and yesterday I save 62%! I'm thrilled if I reach 40%, so obviously I was very successful at the store yesterday. And part of the reason for my success:
Both of these websites offer coupons that they automatically load on your kroger card. I believe shortcuts.com loads the coupons on both the kroger card and marsh card and you can redeem them at either store. I digress, you don't have to clip a single coupon, you just tell the website which ones you want and they are on your card. Then you get a super fun email the next day letting you know that you redeemed some coupons and how much you've saved so far. So far I think I've saved $9. And you know what that $9 went to? The shoes that altered my universe!
Also, upromise.com offers ecoupons that they also load on your kroger and marsh cards, but instead of taking money off your bill, the money is saved for college. upromise.com can be used to pay on salliemae loans. link your loan and voila, you are on your way to paying off those pesky things! yes!

big 3 bail out

there has been much discussion lately on whether or not the big three (being GM, Ford, and Chrysler) should receive moneys from the government in order to not sink. being that several members of my family are either retired or still work for GM, this hits very close to home. My mom is worried that they are going to lose their insurance, my grandpa is worried that he is not going to be able to live out his remaining days, and my aunt, well, her husband already lost her job with GM and now she's worried that she will too.

On a less personal note, this debate over the bailout affects 2.5-3 million jobs directly. And 20 million jobs indirectly. And probably 5-10 million retirees directly and indirectly. In a failing economy such as this, why would the goverment consider leaving 30 million people jobless and pensionless, not to mention the loss of all the healthcare benefits. I agree that the American car hasn't been competitive with the foreign car over the past twenty years, but they have gotten much better recently. They finally recognized the need for fuel efficiency and are really working on being better.

My dad bought a 2006 Chevy Impala SS in September of 2005. The poor car has been in two accidents, but neither accident was the Impala (or driver of Impala)'s fault. Other than that, this car runs beautifully. Because it is an SS, is has a V8 engine. What is amazing about this V8 engine is that when on the highway, 4 cylinders turn off and the fuel efficiency quadruples (first ever engine to do that). Now, city driving this car tends to eat some gas, but it also has lots of power. That was always the draw to American made autos, the POWER (insert Tim Taylor grunt here). My dad just purchased a 1984 Chevy El Camino SS (he has an SS obsession, it's true). This car is 24 years old and beautiful. Not the most fuel efficient (again, V8 engine and this one doesn't turn off any cylinders), but runs and looks great. Though my dad is now tooling around town in a purple el camino, he thinks he's the coolest man around (not sure yet if that's a good or bad thing).

Don't hate on the Impala, it's so pretty!

I drive a Honda, but I bought it used off a friend. If I were to buy a new car, I would buy GM, granted I get the family discount, but I will buy GM. I will drive my Honda until it croaks, we will have hopefully paid off Adam's truck, and I will buy GM. Heck, I might even get the Chevy Volt (they super fabulous new electric car available in 2010... plug in, charge it up, and go!).

The conclusion to my little tale, bailout the big three with stipulations. Letting the livelihood of 30 million people (and who knows how many children?) collapse is so not cool. Yes, this sucks, yes, the big three kind of got themselves into this mess and didn't really do a whole lot to get themselves out, but letting them fail should not be an option.

Something entirely unrelated, today I am wearing the shoes that would alter my universe (see previous post). They truly have altered my universe. They are so pretty, my feet look fantastic, and I have gotten so many compliments. Even from a professor who ignores I exist except when drunk, when she likes to drop many f-bombs about many topics. In my post about these fabulous shoes, I was sad that I couldn't get them in my size from shoebuy.com. Imagine my surprise (and glee) when I found them at smartbargains.com for $25 less than shoebuy! And in my size! Oh the joy!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

hello from spunky

My mommy has never let me use the computer before, but I have a lot to say.
First of all, mom cooked some chicken dish for dad's birthday tonight and didn't give me any chicken. The entire house smells like chicken and it is makes me very hungry and I'm drooling all over the floor. After this weekend, I thought that she would reward me for being so good with some chicken, but she hasn't.
And this weekend, she took me to this place she calls "grandma and grandpa's". That grandma person cooks a lot and always lets me lick the bowl or plate. She's the best. Grandpa is kinda grumpy and doesn't pet me a lot. I even jumped in his lap to help warm him up to me, but he just knocked me down. I haven't figured him out yet. But, then, this small person came over, he's the same size as me and chases me all over the place. When I try to relax he runs toward me and tends to flail his arms at my face. Everyone keeps telling me to be nice, but what about him! I give him kisses and he laughs, and then everyone else laughs, so I suppose that small person is okay. He gets a whole lot of attention, everyone follows him around the house, even MY mommy. He does throw food and get in trouble, but then I get the food. I got lots of cheerios and even some sausage this morning. All in all, I had a nice weekend, but I need some chicken to show for it!

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Today was one of my more productive lab days. I always end these super productive days feeling very proud of myself. And I find myself some incentives to get through and force myself to wbe even more productive. Today I had two incentives. I am heading back to visit parental units tomorrow and by being super productive today I think that I can stay until Sunday instead of heading back here Saturday. My second incentive, that I decided to award myself with after I finished my fourth experiment today:
so delicious. i love productivity!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

my thoughts on presentations

Something that PhD's must be able to do is stand up in front of a group of other scientists and talk about their research. Now, this is a somewhat scary thing to do, I will honestly say that I do not feel I have had enough practice at doing this. I was fortunate enough to take a class on post-translational modifications in which we each had to give two presentations: one on a book chapter and one on literature about a different chapter. And neither could be about our own research. What I learned from that class was helpful for setting up presentations. Because the audience was fellow students, the prospect of talking in front of people was not quite so scary, plus everyone had to do this and couldn't talk about their own research, so, everyone was equally clueless (or equally knowledgable) about the topic.

The most important thing I learned is: WHY DO WE CARE?
Sounds simple, doesn't it? The conferences I've been to in which professors are chosen to give talks, a few post docs and graduate students, but mostly professors, and I spend most of the time I'm listening to presentation wondering, "why do I care?" It is so obvious that these people like their research and care very much about advancing the area, but why do I care. You crystallized a protein, big whoop? Why that protein, what does that mean??

I will be presenting my thesis soon (January is coming up super fast!). I could jump right into the research. But then no one cares. Instead, I will talk about mandibuloacral dysplasia and restrictive dermopathy, hutchinson-guilford progeria syndrome, and hiv-related lipodystrophy. Diseases are very helpful for pointing out why we should care. So what if the protein is less active with a certain mutation, why do we care about that mutation? because it causes mandibuloacral dysplasia. Now my concern is going to be, will 'mandibuloacral dysplasia' turn into a tounge twister during my defense and will I then be unable to talk?

Tonight I went to a talk about Interviewing. We have a Women in Science group here at school and different people are invited to speak. A math prof gave a talk tonight about interviewing in academia. She read off her powerpoint slides, she had almost no inflection in her voice, and I was going nuts sitting my seat wishing I was doing experiments instead of sitting through that load of crap. The second speaker was much better, so my feeling of time being wasted was saved a little bit. This is why I don't often go to these meetings, even though there is free food.

So, first things first, why do we care? if you cannot answer that question by slide #2, redo your presentation
a picture says a thousand words. and then you don't read off the slide.
don't read off the slide.
practice practice practice. and breathe. and don't put the audience to sleep by turning into a monotone monster.
hopefully i'll remember this when i defend my thesis. rah rah rah

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

These shoes would alter my universe

I have been stalking these shoes on shoebuy.com for two reasons,
1) cannot afford, and
2) not my size. but I love them...

Ceasar in Blue Nile by Jessica Simpson, $58.95 if you are a 7 or 8 and lucky as can be

I just cannot say enough how much I would enjoy looking down at my feet and these beauties were looking back at me! And restalking these shoes and looking at how pretty they are I've found the serenity I need to deal with my underling. And Lyle Lovett "Friend of the Devil" just started playing on the Grateful Dead channel (www.sirius.com/gratefuldead), adding to my much needed serenity. I haven't heard this in 10 years... so fabulous!

Monday, November 10, 2008


I have a confession to make: I love looking at people's handwriting. I love fancy handwriting. And anything I really like I try to imitate. Another confession: I also love getting compliments on my own handwriting. A couple of weeks ago, one of my labmates was trying to imitate my N, something that she was finding very difficult and made me laugh a lot. I am a lefty with good handwriting, something that I have found to be very rare, and I take pride in the fact that mine is good. I am sharing my little handwriting obsession to the world because of the following:

Someone in the department defended her thesis last week and I was looking at her photos on facebook. Her cake has super fabulous fancy handwriting on it. No matter how nice I can make my handwriting on paper, I cannot do it on a cake. If I had free time, I think I would practice cake icing writing to try and make it look that nice.

I have edited out new phd's name, but I love the F, I couldn't get rid of that. Isn't that such fabulous fancy cake writing??

what to buy

After spending a few hours walking through our new house on Friday during the inspection, I now have a long list of things that we will need to buy. Some things we will need right away (towel racks for the bathrooms, fire extinguisher, curtains, area rugs), others not until the spring (lawn mower, screens), and then there are the things that I want but will have to wait (recliners, a new bed, a new dining room table). And what is helping us so much through all of this? The economy having gone down the tubes, all sorts of stores are closing. It is really scary, but so helpful for us to get good deals (hopefully). Linens N Things, Value City, and Circuit City are all closing. Bring on the liquidation sales! Though I doubt I will find anything I need at Circuit City, stuff I want, but not need, and I need to focus on what I NEED right now.. shucks! And I don't need a giant HDTV.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

mythbusters air cylinder

Proper safety procedures state that all air cylinders be chained to a wall at all times, no matter what air is in said cylinder. Mythbusters proves why in a controlled environment:

This slightly freaks me out. And adds to my list of things to run away from in the lab.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

sweat pants and toddlers don't mix

My mom bought my nephew some cars at a garage sale (baby loves loves loves cars and tends to destroy them) and baby was playing with the cars outside. One of them my dad thought was pretty cool and then my mom told him that the wheels were not right. So, my dad picked up the car to investigate how to fix the wheels and baby got a little mad. He used my dad pants to pull himself up and protest my dad having the car, but instead of pulling himself up, he pulled my dad's pants down. WHOA! Writing this I'm laughing out loud... so funny.
Moral of the story, use a belt or sweat pants with a drawstring!

Monday, November 3, 2008

park play turned yuck

My mom told me a story tonight. She took my nephew for a walk and went to a nearby park. One of the park toys was a tube that baby fit in and so my mom let him crawl through. Or, at least, started to crawl through. He stopped in the middle of the tube because there was some dog poo in there to play with. As a loving aunt, I am disgusted. As a dog owner, I am disgusted. I do not take my dog to playgrounds, much less let her play in the kids toys. I cannot believe that someone was so disgusting that they let their dog poo in a child's toy and then not clean it up. I'd like to put a paper bag of dog poo lit on fire on their front door stoop and ring the doorbell, and I'm being completely honest when I say that I have never wanted to do that to anyone before.

on a better note...
new house update: inspection friday!

New Shoes!

I bought a new pair of shoes last week, they are so excellent. I think they are the tallest shoes I've ever purchased (2.25 in), but they don't feel like it at all! I bought them in brown, not the icky color below.House hunt update: We are accepting the counter offer proposed by the seller. Now we just have to have the house inspected and get our mortgage! I'm trying to not get excited yet, but I am pumped!