On Significance and Acceptance.

•October 31, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Recently I contacted a program here on campus that I had some dealings with when I was at a different institution.  They seemed confused as to why someone would approach them offering help, were not very creative, and overall it didn’t go well and I left feeling pretty pissed.  See, I wanted to work with this program as a part of my broader impacts for the GRFP.  The ideas they gave were uninspired and wouldn’t really fit with me.  However, I have come up with a brilliant idea.  It is much bigger than me, and requires some level of cooperation from multiple labs in my department, and probably a few labs from other departments as well.  So, regardless, it is ambitious, but it is something that has worked on other campuses and I have seen run well.  Today, I got my first shot of support from a body that is larger than myself, a body with actual authorization and recognition.  It is looking like this is going to be something that will work, and I am excited.

In other non science news, we were invited to go to church somewhere else, and we accepted the invitation.  It turned out to be a great experience, as the people were exceptionally friendly.  The best news however was that another person I go to school with attends the same church and small group, and it may be a group of people we will meet with on a weekly basis.  It was so nice to have the two people we knew there, but everyone else was so welcoming, it was awesome, and I am looking forward to meeting with them again.


Patient Ferris Wheel

•October 20, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Pam is sick again.  She has been having the exact same stomach cramps she had before her second surgery.  I guess her doctor* has said there may be a serious problem.  I am not sure what that means, I really am not sure what anything means.  All I know is we can’t afford another surgery.  I am not sure how we got through the last three.  It couldn’t come at a worse time too.  I mean, there is no financial aid in sight, and Pam is looking at changing jobs.  Of course, every employer wants to hear, oh and I won’t be able to start for six weeks after you hire me.  I don’t know what the fuck to do.

*One of her three

Your place in line

•October 13, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I’ve been reading a lot of Sapolsky recently, if you’ve never read any of his work, I recommend you do.  He has pretty good insight in to what makes us tick, and I like to evaluate humans as animals, one of my favorite books is The Naked Ape.  Anyways, I was thinking about how baboons, and many animals set up dominance hierarchies, which caused me to wonder, why don’t humans?

After a few moments of introspection, it became clear to me that we in fact do.  The hierarchies just aren’t enforced in the same manner.  For instance, the hierarchy I am in runs as follows.

President–>dean–>provost*–>head of my college–>department head–>advisor/faculty–>our model organism–>grad students with bikes–>Me

If we had undergrads I suppose they would be underneath me, but we don’t, so I am at the bottom.  Ok, but what about the rest of the world?  Well, they have hierarchies too, for instance, the military has a clear hierarchy.  Corporate America has a hierarchy ascribed to it, pretty much everyone responds to a boss of some sorts, who responds to a boss, who responds to a boss, who owns the shit.  So, our hierarchies are different but clearly still there.  Most of them are hierarchies where we walk in to them, and it is fairly clear where we stand on the totem pole.  However, there is one place where no hierarchy is given.

High School.

All of a sudden everything smashed in to sharp focus.  In high school, we make our own hierarchy, which explains why high school fucking sucked**.  The students are left to establish a structure of who is in power and who isn’t, and left to their own devices, they fight and scratch and make their own.  Once it established, a lot of time is spent reinforcing it through teasing, fights, gossip and other methods.  We really aren’t that different from baboons are we?

After some thought, I began to ponder, college is similar to high school, no real structure to it, just a bunch of people interacting, why don’t you see similar behavior and clear social structure like you do in high school?  I have no fucking clue.  I’ve speculated a bit though, maybe because colleges are so much larger, the times you interact with someone multiple times is reduced, making nay hierarchy so fleeting they don’t matter.  Or perhaps my college was different?  Regardless I am not really sure, but it is an interesting thought experiment.


*What the fuck is provost?  Are they higher or lower than a dean?  What the hell is a dean for that matter?

**Guess where I was on the totem pole?

Thursday, or Monday?

•October 13, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Today doesn’t feel right.  Right now, I’d usually be getting ready for lab, but not today.  We don’t have labs this week for whatever reason, so I am here at home telling myself I am working, when in reality I am writing a blog post.  I really only need to study for a test, and write some grants, both of which I have under control.  But, as you can see, I’m not doing either.

Pam has been feeling rather poor of late, her headaches continue to be horrible.  I’d like to get some answers to what has been hurting her, but anyone with a chronic issue that tries to find answers will tell you, it is a long road.  On the bright side, she is applying for 3 new jobs.  One she applied for in the past, but I have  a feeling she has a good shot this time.  The other two are in a completely separate field, but would be good moves for her, assuming they have healthcare.  She absolutely needs healthcare.  We will just have to wait and pray for a phone call.

It is the middle of the semester, things are mundane and boring.  A routine, you wake up every day, knowing what to expect and kind of go in to an autopilot.  Then all of a sudden finals smack you upside the head.  I am ok with that, I need some autopilot.  I’d like these last few semesters to end.  I’m ready to be done, but I still have two years.  Sounds so long…


•October 3, 2011 • Leave a Comment

More of my study organisms are dead.  We’ve had high mortality since the project started, and we’ve been adjusting the project since day one in an attempt to keep my study organisms alive, but sadly, mortality remains at an unpalatable 60%.  I am beginning to feel more and more as if I am standing on a sinking ship and am trying to nail the holes shut, and every nail I put in a board opens another hole.  Perhaps this melancholy will lift, perhaps it won’t, but in the meantime I am worried about my thesis.  All I want to do is defend and get a job.  I’d be happy with that, I can deal with that.  I am positive things aren’t as gloomy as they appear, as busted projects have been pushed through before, but it sucks dammit.


•October 1, 2011 • Leave a Comment

WordPress apparently made some changes on me, it has taken me a half hour to figure how the fuck to put a new post up.  Bastards.  I have also found that the window in which you enter blog posts is laggy.  I am not sure if it is my new computer or if WordPress made some changes to their overall format.  Regardless, I now compose my posts in Word and then past them in to WordPress.

I am contemplating starting a blog with Pam.  It wouldn’t be a chronicle of our lives or anything like that, it would focus on a specific aspect of our lives, how we have dealt with it, and what we do to stay alive.  Obviously, our personal lives would creep in to the blog, but the focus would be a label we have, and how we deal with that label.  I think it sounds fun, we will see what Pam thinks.

Academically, I had a presentation the other day, it went as well as could be hoped for, so I was pleased with that.  I think one presentation a year is sufficient until I get some actual data.  Next Fall, when I have data, I intend to present anywhere my advisor will let me, but for now, my objective is to acquire some funding and keep trucking through on my classes.

Speaking of presentations, I recently watched a professor give a presentation.  It was very good, his science was not in my field, but from my point of view there were no major flaws in his work.  However, towards the end he veered in to a very activist realm.  He was showing others data, and not nearly as completely as he had shown his own data.  I don’t think what he did was inappropriate, but it was interesting how you could feel a change in the weather when he stopped showing data and results and started talking about more abstract concepts.  I think I need to stew more on where the line should be drawn between scientist and activist, does credibility in one area help or hurt credibility in the other.  We all have things we advocate for, and I feel scientists should advocate for things they are passionate about, but I think how we do it is important as well.  Like I said, I need to think about this topic more…


•September 22, 2011 • Leave a Comment

So, recently I have begun to explore employment options after I graduate.  I was mostly set on one career path, academia.  Recently, I have learned a couple of other routes may be open to me, so I will break down the following in order of desirability*.

1. Academia:  being a college professor is still my ultimate dream and goal.  It will likely be at the community college level, but I would enjoy that quite a bit.

2. Industry:  This last weekend I met a guy who works for the pharmaceutical industry, and well, he made a convincing case for working for them.  I would miss teaching, but it is hard to turn down money when you’ve been on a Ramen diet the last 9 years.  I could always do this for a while and then go in to academia after I’ve paid off some loans.

3. Teaching:  I recently learned that I would be able to teach at the high school level without any further certification or education.  I would have to get my certification later, but there are programs set up to make that possible.  It also turns out I may have an advantage over other candidates as there is a shortage of science teachers.

4.  Non-profit:  There is a group of non-profits I could work for, it wouldn’t be ideal, as I would be wasting my Master’s degree, but I have a strong application, as it has been an interest of mine for many years.  I would enjoy the work as well, but I think I would prefer a different route.

That is the general breakdown, I’d really enjoy the top 3 for different reasons, but could deal with all four at least temporarily.  Since I have begun looking in to my options I feel better and better about them every day.  Yea optimism!  Now if I could only finish my damn thesis….


*Likely to change on a whim…