Saturday, April 25, 2009

Mothers in Science

I'm going to echo several other bloggers, including Mrs. Comet Hunter and mrswhatsit in pointing out here and here a link to the free online publication/book from the Royal Society. You can download the .pdf file (mine is downloading as I type) here. It's called Mothers in Science: 64 ways to have it all and it looks great! Can't wait to start reading. Go check it out.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday afternoon flick

Another great cell biology demonstration movie for you on this fine Friday. They're kinda fun, maybe I'll make it a feature?! If you know any good ones, send me an email or leave a comment... enjoy!

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Whenever I think of spring, I think of lilacs. My grandmother's house was surrounded by and the whole long driveway lined with lilacs, purple and white. My mom's house also has lilacs, and that heady smell wafting in through the windows in the evenings is just about paradise for me. My grandmother passed away last year and her house was sold. I'm really missing her these past few days, since the lilacs started to bloom in PhDCity. So Nanny, these are for you.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Privilege Meme

Privilege Meme
I saw this over here at Chick with PhizzleDizzle and how she reflected on the current trials she's going through... when you look back on your whole life it helps you realize how much you've had it easy and makes the rough spots seem more manageable and way less dramatic/important. So I thought it would be a good exercise for me too. So here goes. I should start out by saying that my family was not rich by any means, but we were also not the worst off in our community either. Actually I think that challenges faced growing up helped make me a stronger person (albeit one who is rather paranoid about not having enough money to make ends meet, like we might be facing in the next year or so.)

The items that apply to me are BOLD

1. Father went to college

2. Father finished college

3. Mother went to college

4. Mother finished college (I'm the only one in my immediate family who went to college)

5. Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor

6. Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers

7. Had more than 50 books in your childhood home (books were very important to us growing up and we were frequent library goers)

8. Had more than 500 books in your childhood home

9. Were read children’s books by a parent

10. Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18

11. Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18 (swimming, piano and one summer with a canoe/kayak boat club)

12. The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively (? no idea, I guess so)

13. Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18 (my parents didn't even have a credit card - I got my first when I went to college)

14. Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs

15. Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs (I paid every penny with scholarships and student loans - all of which I paid back just before defending my PhD thesis)

16. Went to a private high school

17. Went to summer camp (I was in guides/scouts and spent a few weeks over the years at few geek camps that I won scholarships to)

18. Had a private tutor before you turned 18 (I worked as a private tutor for others...)

19. Family vacations involved staying at hotels (never! We went to grandma's house)

20. Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18 (I was the hand me down and second hand clothes store queen!)

21. Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them (I've still never owned a car)

22. There was original art in your house when you were a child (my aunt and uncle were art dealers and gave my parents a painting)

23. You and your family lived in a single family house

24. Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home

25. You had your own room as a child

26. You had a phone in your room before you turned 18

27. Participated in a college entrance exam (eg. SAT/ACT) prep course

28. Had your own TV in your room

29. Owned a mutual fund or IRA in High School or College (I still don't own anything like this!)

30. Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16 (To go to the aforementioned summer camps)

31. Went on a cruise with your family (never been on a cruise)

32. Went on more than one cruise with your family

33. Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up

34. You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family (no way, that we all knew, and I helped pile the wood for the winter!)

From "What Privileges Do You Have?", based on an exercise about class and privilege developed by Will Barratt, Meagan Cahill, Angie Carlen, Minnette Huck, Drew Lurker, Stacy Ploskonka at Illinois State University. If you participate in this blog game, they ask that you please acknowledge their copyright.

So nearly a third were true for me. I don't think I was really so bad off though. We managed to have a lot of fun without a lot to live off. Still, I think a lot of my drive to get an education etc comes from wanting to be more financially secure than my parents. I'm already there so I think I have a lot to be thankful for, and I feel privileged.

Monday, April 20, 2009


Husband finally heard back on Friday from the second and last interview he had for a Tenure Track job. He didn't get it. It wasn't so much of a surprise, since the successful candidate was supposed to hear back nearly a month ago, but I guess I figured as long as he didn't hear no, there was still a chance. Now, it's really final. There won't be a tenure track job for him. So now what do we do? He tells me that actually the longer it went without hearing back from them, the less convinced he was that he actually wanted the job, so the final decision actually comes as a bit of a relief, if for no other reason that now he's no longer stuck in limbo and can move on to something else. Sure he could stay in his current toxic environment longer and squeek out another paper, sure he could take a 2nd postdoc and try for TT job again in a few years. But he's already in one of the top labs in the world in his field and has a C/N/S paper from him postdoc. If that's not enough, why would he expect it to get better? I totally understand that, and acknowledge that there aren't enough TT jobs out there for everyone, and even that maybe it's not the path for Husband. I just wish he/I/we knew what WAS the right path and how to get there. So now we're facing a two body problem of totally different conditions than I thought we might... two unemployed at least temp stay at home parents-to-be with no health insurance does not a healthy family make. I'm stressed, the bad dreams have started again and I'm trying to fight the anxiety but I'm just not sure how. ugh. what a way to start the week huh? I'm sure it's just a bad day, and things will get better. I just wish I really knew that 100% for sure.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Not much to say...

Hi there
Not much to say these days... mostly I think my brain is too foggy to actually string enough words together to make a post... I don't know if the little one is going through a growth spurt or what but I'm exhausted. And I slept 10 hours last night. I'm so fortunate not to have any real problems so far except for this extreme tiredness, but damn, I want my mind back!
In other newz, my paper was published online recently, I've had several emails from old friends and colleagues with their congrats and got our first reagent request today. Finding your name on Pubmed kicks a$$. :)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Well that's artistic....

So someone showed me this video yesterday... it's a long one, but worth the watch. Stanford sure was on special kind of place in 1971. Enjoy! tRNA! :)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Tracking progress

Katie over at Minor Revisions just wrote a post about Guidelines for managing work/life/sanity. It's a great post, I'd recommend checking it out. I was especially interested in her guideline for tracking progress/Keeping records.

I'm working on a presentation for a few days from now and I was dreading it because I felt like I didn't have anything to show... until I started outlining the slides and realized I'll be fine. There aren't any major breakthroughs of mechanistic insights into how protein X does function Y, but there are some smaller steps of progress along the way.

Keeping track of small step progress is a weak point for me, I feel like I'm working but like I have nothing to show for it. And since the past several weeks have been a challenge in all sorts of ways, I know for a fact that I'm not being as productive as I should be. I'm setting up experiments that I never take the time to finish, or I'm counting on one or two key things for making a figure for the presentation, and when they crap out on me and don't work (trouble with transfection efficiency it seems, they're experiments that I have very little past experience with, and I think I'm struggling with some technical issues) I'm feeling left stranded. Still I am getting some things done. I'm in the tool building stage of this new project, and I've prioritized tool making over hypothesis testing because of the time frame invovled in making the tools. I'll get my part of the construction out of the way and by the time the finished product is ready, I will have had some time to test out a few more functional experiments. It's a logical decision, but I just wish I had more to "show". It's hard to make a figure of your midi-prepped DNA constructs...

So how can I make it better? I'm already constantly making to do lists, but I find myself adding more to them than I am crossing off, so rather than help me see my progress, they add to my stress level because it looks like I've done almost nothing because what I can cross off the list is so much smaller compared to what I have left to do. I think I should start making a slide whenever I have a finished product to hand off or work with. These are obviously never going to be paper figures, but they will help me for things like group presentations and progress reports. We'll see... for now, I have to get this presentation ready and then get back to the bench for more of those little steps.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Sunday morning lab time

While I'm quite persistent about taking Saturdays off from the lab (I basically never come unless it's really really urgent and/or husband has to come to do something really really urgent and I tag along), I actually really love to come in on Sunday mornings, direct from Mass. Especially one like today, with the lab quiet except for the hum of the fridges and freezers and the sunshine streaming in through the big windows. It's so calm here, and it was such a beautiful trip to get here. I won't stay very long. Normally I time my exit just as others start arriving, but I have some cells to passage and plate for transfections tomorrow, and a few protein gels to pour so they're ready to run first thing in the morning. Hope everyone is having a nice Sunday.