Tuesday, September 30, 2008

As heard through my window:

"I saw a picture of her recently, and it looks really natural!" My new, oh so charming neighbors. They have also been blocking the entire sidewalk with their car. I've been vacillating between leaving them a note about it or just calling the police with a complaint. 

Campus is crawling with signs and shirts encouraging students to rush. The quarter has definitely started!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Meeting Purgatory

Our lab meetings are typically two (painful) hours on a weekly basis. Our meeting style is a blend of the worst attributes of the meeting styles described by Candid Engineer: meandering, disorganized meetings that serve primarily to update the PI on the recent activities of the two or three people scheduled to present. Actually,  I'm not sure that "present" is all that applicable, as the typical example involves a student reporting the state of their experiments verbally, without any visual aids beyond a whiteboard drawing or two. Occasionally someone will bring a laptop and show a few pictures or videos, but a talk with an outline that was written before the meeting began is very rare. Inevitably, the conversation becomes an exchange between the PI and the student speaking. A few  individuals have been known to fall asleep in the middle of the meeting. 

Today's meeting topped all of the others on the scale of painful. Only one student presented information, and he even managed to drag the laptop across the hall to show us a few images. When he seemed to be wrapping up around the 45 minute mark, I was excited. Then the presenting student started showing us a few images from the trip he took recently with his church group to a South American country. Initially, I thought he had prepared a little slideshow for us in the style of  'what I did on summer vacation' report. This struck me as odd to begin with, but the truth was worse. It soon became clear that he was showing us every single image he had taken during the two weeks he was abroad. Every. Image. We say many, many images of small children, mountains and rural animals. One hour later, we were finally released. 

Next time I need to think on my feet and find an excuse to leave when the first picture comes out.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Wrote abstract. Gave to advisor. He says  "Looks great! I'll just make a few edits and we can send it off." ("Really? " I think.) Advisor rewrites the whole thing.

It does read much better now.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

I just spent the last hour throwing out an obscene amount of infested food. Fortunately, most of it wasn't mine, as most of my nonperishable food is ensconced in the safety of jars and cans. Unfortunately, neither of the roommates were here to help with project decontaminate the pantry. My former roommate moved to the Midwest and left an enormous amount of various types of tea and many bags of unidentified product from the bulk bin. Some of it is identifiable (red lentils), some not so much (white powder... flour?). The other roommate is off galavanting in Europe for the month. His shelf was by far the worst, with the biggest larvae crawling around (ew, ew, ew) and several bags of decomposed something at the bottom of the pile. Lovely. That box of extra small gloves my former boss let me keep is certainly handy!

I'm in the process of writing an abstract for a poster. My first ever, in fact. I'm having a difficult time writing with the assumption that certain unfinished work is in fact done, but fortunately we decided to leave off the gene-from-hell and only include stuff that has already been cloned. That only(!) leaves some site directed mutagenesis and data collection to be done, which seems reachable. 

I'm leaving for a tropical island in a few weeks with some family friends to spread my stepfather's ashes. We are doing other fun activities as well, but the impetus is the spreading of the ashes. He wanted them spread at a cabin where he and my mother stayed during their honeymoon and where he later spread my mother's ashes, so off we go. As the trip approaches I find myself dreading it more than I anticipated. It's a funny, conflicted sort of dread because (a) I'm very excited about the other activities we have planned and spending time with the people going with me, and (b) I feel pretty stupid whining about going. Oh, woe is me, for I am forced to travel to a tropical island. Nevertheless, I think I may be officially freaking out. A couple of days ago I started weeping while talking about my parents, which generally doesn't happen, especially in public. And yet there I was, weeping in public. The thing is that I feel like I should be doing something active to combat the freaking out, but I'm not sure what. Talking or writing to dead people is not very cathartic for me, and I can't imagine what else to do. So, I wait. 

I also managed to bruise my foot badly enough to impair walking by smacking the foot against a chair leg. I spent the whole evening iced, elevated and paranoid because the last time my foot came in contact with a hard object and swelling resulted, I had broken my toe. Helpful hint: when a foot swells to the point where the accompanying shoe no longer fits, it's a bad idea to hike on it. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

My university has a student survey going on, and they have gay, bi, and queer as separate options for orientation, as well as female, male, trans, genderqueer and decline to state as options for gender identification. Surprising and awesome!

Friday, May 2, 2008

I just finished writing a little program that will generate a user-defined number of random (or pseudorandom, I guess) dna sequences of user-defined length, compute the length of the longest common subsequence of the first sequence compared to all of the following ones, and then give you the average length of the LCS. I think this is my most involved program to date. (Completely useless, but whatever.) Perl is several orders of magnitude more fun than C.

We recently got midterm scores back in my molecular biology class. The average score on the 150 point test? 60. Painful. 

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Spring is here on the West coast, and summer is looming. Last weekend I ate ~ 1/2 flat of strawberries. By myself. I also constantly feel as if I'm coming down with a cold, but it's just allergies. Oh, and I managed to sprain my ankle and consequently missed out on a trip to local-ish National Park for bouldering.

But back to the plants.. The garden is looking good. The backyard is weed-free (or nearly so), and cool things are growing:

(L-R: A ladybird on the persimmon, the artichoke in the front yard, tomato and pepper seedlings.)

The magic cloning kit had failed thus far to magically get my insert into the vector. I have 1 or 2 more things to try before giving up and switching my energies to other stuff. The other stuff sounds more interesting and I would probably get an opportunity to apply/learn more perl along the way. On the other hand, I'm a little stubborn and it's driving me nuts that I can't get this thing to work. This particular insert has been successfully put into another vector before... just not the vector that I need. I am actually feeling pretty cheerful about work, a little zen about the magic-thwarting insert now that I've mostly given up. Plus, my second round of transformation worked and the plan for the rest of the week is to play around with the cells on the scope. Fun!