Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The strange Swedish tradition...

This article: Sweden's bizarre tradition of watching Donald Duck.... has a slightly arrogant, yet sort of accurate, description about one of the oddest traditions in Sweden. Everything makes more sense if you remember/know that there was only one TV channel in Sweden until 1969 and then another one open and then there were two until.... 1987. Yes, when I grew up there were two channels, an agreement not to show American cartoons (unless on Christmas) although the last thing sort of deteriorated a bit in the early 1980ies since I know I saw some stuff Saturday mornings for 15 mins.... (and no commercials) I do remember the other animations I did see though, in black and white until a colour TV entered into the house in 1985 maybe?

It was a lot of cartoons with origins from France, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and other countries before the Berlin wall disappeared. We also had some Swedish cartoons, dolls and other children's show - but not too many. However, I was fairly happy with all of this - but Donald Duck in Christmas was awesome. And it never did bother me that it was the same show (with one exception in the end) every year.

I guess not having a VCR or DVD at the time made it more interesting since I couldn't see anything apart from when they showed it on TV?

With this little memory recount I want to say "From All of Us to All of You" a Merry Christmas and hope that the holidays are good to you. For me, I always enjoy rest, relaxing and reading books. Family is lovely, food is great and rest is excellent.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

christmas cookies with a science twist

I love these....

More of these (Drosophila cookies anyone?) and lots of non scientific geeky ones can be found here: NotSoHumblePies

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Fat girl with the cookie

I realize that it is way too early (and most likely wrong) to say something like “I’ve made a mistake” when it comes to job choices and reality. However, the last couple of weeks have been like a fat girl trying to defend the choice of eating a cookie in front of a swim suit collection and other people trying them on, trying to suck their stomachs in and telling everyone else that they are fat although everyone knows it the fat girl who can’t have the cookie since she is the one who is fat.

Bad analogy probably but that is sort of how it feels, looking back. I don’t have a good name for what I am doing now. I don’t have a fancy title. I am not tenure-tracked. I don’t really do research, as far as “real” researchers see it, but as far as Joe Schmo looks at it I am. As of now, there is no “professorship in the future”. There is “an unknown future, with more open doors” though.

I think half of this strange feeling would never been here if my papers/articles were done, written and accepted. If the old place was “done”. If I was sure that my name would be the first one in line of the authors, even if it looks a lot like the remaining experiments (done by someone else) will give excellent data that fits in perfectly in what I have done so far… and I am not in the lab anymore and last time that happened, well – I wasn’t on the paper in the end. I don’t think that will happen now, but the order of the names may or may not be as I want them. And my paranoia is increased due to lack of addressing the questions that are sent in emails… however, I would think that it’s just me and not real. And when the writing process starts I would assume it will feel better…

And in any event, this is not as much a question of “did I do the right choice here” but “what is it really that I am feeling missing?”.

Partly what I am missing is the same thing that I didn’t like before. Working with driven people: driven people who want to publish, to contribute to the larger field (they want fame and fortune too) and can plan their own stuff and are not only at work to sit out time. Of course, I feel more like (again) I am the one who is naïve since I know that this is not the “truth” of science in Academia today. I know that my main reason to leave my post doc, at the time I did, was because it would’ve been up within the year anyway and the job I got wasn’t going to be around in a year. It was other things too. Like a little nagging feeling that however much I wanted to do science, I wouldn’t be the recipient of the ever so needed grants…. Not within the next couple of years anyway. And the whole “buddy complex” is not including me as much, I haven’t been involved in major collaborations where people seek out me or where I did seek out other people. I was quite happy in my little lab with my bench and my research on a smaller scale trying to sort out my problems.

And then of course it was the “outside circumstances” like visa and living in another country and personal life etc. all adding up to thinking “new avenues to pursue might not be that bad. After all, another route gives more options later in life”.

However, after being questioned for a number of times “oh, you couldn’t hack it” and “what is that” [as a response to my current job title] I have the fat girl feeling… and I have “defended” myself. All this tells me that I am much vainer that I would’ve hoped for. And that I am one of those who places emphasis on job title, professor title, research fame and glory … that it makes me feel important and worth something. And now, being in a middle ground for research I realize that my thinking is actually pretty disgusting and pathetic. I have somewhat become what I didn’t like in all these “slightly arrogant professorship aspiring people I have met during my years as a post doc”.

And I need to reconnect with myself and realize that I miss research, the Academia, the 10% when the experiments did work and everything was hunky dory glory with sugar on top. And this is OK and valid. However, I need to remember the other things too; the not having time for friends and family, not sleeping that much, feeling sad when the four weeks of experiments did not work and threw it all in a fit, never knowing when I could go home since it depended on when the bacteria had reached their good OD… etc. etc…

For right now, after the talk I just listened to, I realize that I crave the attention of giving a good talk based on my research that I devoted a lot of my time to over the last 4 years and hearing people applaud it and ask questions to me, since my opinion matters.

Attention whore. My secret persona… good thing I didn’t expect Santa to bring me lots of gifts this year anyway :)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

teen mom

It's has nothing to do with science but MTV is showing Teen mom, a show about women who give birth to their babies the get pregnant with in their teens (read: before high school graduation) and their relationships and their options to life. One couple is opting for adoption for their baby, two others are trying to stay together with a new little one between them and the fourth one is a single mom staying with her mom. (I might have missed someone here, since I am not a regular viewer. At least one of the moms "lost her virginity to a guy who promised to stay with her and then she got pregnant".... and some of the dads think a strip club is a good thing to do in the evening apart for hanging out with their child....)

It's interesting though. The show is focused on the moms, some of whom are not really eloquent or nice to their loved ones... Although, for me it is especially intriguing since some of my friends (with PhDs mind you) have talked to me the last couple of months in terms of "I was an idiot, I should've just gotten preggers as a young girl and had my children then. it all would've worked out"... on that, I have nothing.

This show makes it a bit easier on my "I have nothing" since they have nothing. some of them have nothing in love or money and therefore can't go back to high school, the can get their GED but, that's not the same. One of them just started crying since she said "I screwed up my own life..." and she is 17... well, let's hope she and the others get it together. The men, I don't have anything positive to say there either....

It's good for me to remember this though, when talking to my friends about the whole baby at any cost discussions. And what the dad is for... among other things.

The other thing, which seems very inappropriate right now, is that I am SO excited about Datbreakers coming to the cinema in January. Sam Neill AND Willem Dafoe in a vampire movie. Yeah, I am so there :)

obviously this is a cue to go to bed and sleep. I just need to see the end of Teen moms and resist the urge to go to New Mooon in the movies. None of this really hard, but I am starving....

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Nobelprize and Swedish golf clubs

It’ a bit of a mix this one. Today is the ceremony for the Nobel prizes in Sweden. All of them in Stockholm, apart from the Peace prize which is handed out in Oslo. I find the prizes in physics, medicine and chemistry the most interesting.... actually before the literature one the last couple of years. I guess it might be because I find the literature ones harder to relate to these last 20 years since I have read a lot of the “old” ones from the 40ies and 50ies.

Anyway, I digress. The interesting thing about today is one article that the prize winner in 2000, Dr Arvid Carlsson, writes in one of the Swedish papers “I wouldn’t have gotten the Nobel prize (if I was a young Swedish scientist) today”arguing about funding and the conditions of young scientists today. He talks about the Swedish situation, although I would think it is slightly similar in some other countries considering the situation in the US and the UK. It’s interesting since it proves, yet again, that the scientists and the politicians/Funding masters do not have the same concept of reality or how to reach greatness.

One of the main arguments from Dr Carlsson is that he would have never gotten the Novelprize today, since back in the day he was given funding that was sufficient for two technicians, a few PhD students and another person helping out when he was a young scientist changing (!) fields. And this group was the founding core of the research he later got acknowledged for in 2000. And as he says, “a young scientist today might get money for a research technician but that is not enough”....

Let’s hope that the research climate of funding could be discussed (again) soon since, at least in my very humble opinion, the present system isn’t really working. If nothing else, I can tell by looking at the three biggest funding agencies in Sweden and look at who (and which groups) they have decided to fund. Let’s just go with that it is not as easy as it once was.

The other thing on my mind has been the latest week of jokes sent to me, via email and other people. “I hope you don’t have a golf club in the house...” (to which I responded, “as far as I know it shoudln’t be a problem unless someone is cheating?”) I’m not really into the whole “the world needs to know and we all need the update of what goes on in that house” if it wasn’t for a few things. First of all, when you get involved in selling things based on your character (your morale and your life values) then you need to realize that this might follow you if/when you make a mistake. Maybe it would’ve been better to be viewed as a “slightly good person but no one is perfect”. Even then, it might be a hard sell to be exposed as someone with 5+ excess people in your marriage (that the other person might not even know about on top of it), even without the concept of having one extra wife for more than half of your marriage.

It’s all good though, and I wouldn’t have given it a care in the world if the wife was in on it. Some people argue that “she would know about it and then it is ok”. Sure, if she knew she might have thought this and that - but as far as I remember since this whole thing started with a strange car crash in the middle of the night and those elusive golf clubs.... I guess she wasn’t in on it? That said, I don’t find the jokes fun (I’ve been told that I don’t have any sense of humour before) partly because I don’t like physical violence between spouses fun. I also understand that there might be a bit over reaction to think like that.

Anyway, what I was thinking about when I started writing this post was more along the line of “the higher you get on the ladder, the mightier the fall”. And I really hope that this situation does not escalate into something where people do things that are irreversible. I get that feeling when the vultures are circling and other stars have been circled before ending with loosing more than their hair.

One interesting thing though, the only woman so far, involved in all-the-high-stakes-men-having-affairs-being-exposed-in-the-press-the-last-couple-of-years, NOT to “stand by her man” was also the richest one.... Mark Sanford's wife, who isn’t only an heiress but mother of their four sons. (She moved out of their house and took the children with her after lots of things were revealed.) All the others have stood there and said “I support him” or something to that effect. Never mind what I think I would do (I’m not an heiress but then again, I haven’t married into money either), I find it intriguing that the money/marriages these families/men have are so much about money and pre-nups that people do not talk more about business arrangements rather than love. I might be the greatest cynic, but it sure looks to me like “if we marry and you give me children and the illusion of a happy marriage, I’ll give you a lot of money when we divorce later on after I have spread my seed a bit more - after all, that should make both of us happy in the long run, right?

What my grandmother told me ages ago still holds true I guess; “Be careful not to mistake money for love, and be sure not to give it all up* for a man who can leave you bitter and poor. Have some insurance, like your own money or career and then hopefully your relationship will be one between partners where both of you want the other one to be happy.”

And I get reminded that I didn't see that show "The Good Wife" that is all about this.... maybe it is on hulu for me to recap?

*no, she wasn't talking about sex, she was referring to the over all picture - with morale, status, self worth.... that kind of "all"...

Monday, December 07, 2009

tired rant

Well, ain't this fucking fantastic? I end up with 2 points in the NFL pool this weekend. TWO! I have NEVER been this bad. I think it would have been easier to pick random and not even given it a sensible thought. I know, I take this a bit too serious but really? 2 lousy points. And last week I was shared first... with 12 points... yeah... pride and fall and all

Then the stuff just came tumbling down starting last week. I know I have said it before but either I need to remove my feelings or people will just have to stop telling me "truths". This chic doesn't want to know. Not now anyway. It's a bit stressful trying to be perfect (family things, friends, worker etc) and I know that I should just keep on walking.... ah well, all will be better on the other side of Christmas, right?!

And I guess the good thing is that I realize how much of my performance anxiety is linked to my former life. Dear gosh, writing papers... yeah, not my thing if I don't get any feed back. Writing in the blind, not so much. Writing summaries and analyzing data, sure I can do that in my sleep.

By the way, if someone writes you an email, please answer their questions if you write back. Don't avoid answering the questions FIVE emails in a row when other stuff are getting asked. I mean, that makes some people nervous, and some people upset. And if you cc someone, let them at least see the first email in the row so they understand what's upsetting.

Ah well, I'll go back doing my chores and not thinking now. Need to finish stuff... and avoid getting nervous about this article stuff. It's not like I am the only one responsible, right... (hollow laugh, real hollow)

It will all be better after Christmas. And next year has promise to be better than this one, that was better than last year that was a thousand times better than the year before that.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

bent shall be crooked or something to that effect

This "The horror of Horace" might be one of the best things I have read the last couple of weeks, no months actually. It is a sarcastically written piece in the debate back in Sweden of when children should start to learn English in school. Currently I think it is 9 years of age, I was 10 years old when I first started saying "hello, my name is ..." and "it's raining cats and dogs outside" and the question is now if the children should be even younger. (Note; school starts when you're 6 years old... and it's been suggested that children should start English at the same time as Swedish. The people opposing this states that most research indicates that it is best for a child to know their native language well before learning a new one... whichever category you may be in, I am in the "not at the same time as Swedish corner" since I think the article is pretty much spot on how many people actually come off as to me.... when it comes to English and word knowledge etc.)

The whole thing can be summarized fairly well in the title: Many Swedes say that we Swedes are not so good in English as we self believe. But they who say so are not so good in English themselves,

It would be up until I was visiting the UK as a teenager when I found out exactly how hard it is to get certain things right. And today, in my everyday life as "living in the English speaking country as I do", I still have horrendous problems. Three things stand out (to me at least, I probably have more problems than those, but those are the most obvious ones). Prepositions, like "in room temperature" or "at room temperature".

Then there are the "proverbs/sayings", ordspråk in Swedish - the thing that is called "wordspeech" in the article (somewhere here was when I started laughing when I read the thing). "Water on a duck" (it's a goose where I come from) or "better safe than sorry" (nothing like that at all) or "the gaggle of geese" and a "school of fish" (the last isn't really the same, but sort of and there are geese...).

And the last one, the adverbs.... when it is well and when it is good? When can I say poorly and when is it poor. Sometimes I do remember the rules and how they were told, but most of the times I just go with what ever feels right. (And we all know where that may lead us? Into the article or lots and lots of "so" (), which is so (sic!) nice in Swedish... not as much in English.)

I wonder though, if it is as funny in English as it is when you can see the Swedish behind it? Does it look only like a person not knowing English at all has written something crazy and wierd? Or does it have some charm to it? If you dear native English speakers could give me a hint if it is funny for others than this Swede or if it is just another example of peculiar humour..... ;)

...and if someone can tell me the proper proverb/saying for "it shall be bent in time, what crooked shall be" as mentioned in the article, I will be VERY happy. Maybe something with "sooner rather than later?" but it doesn't quite capture the actual thing...

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

how stupid can you be?

I'm sorry but this is the most stupid thing I have seen in a long time. The story in the Globe and Mail I mean, really? You are taking a swing at your OWN goalie? And then the kicker, nothing is done from the NHL since it is "better handled inside the team". Yeah, they better handle it.

And it is not even my team.... the Florida Panthers... but I like Vokoun. Or just dislike "within the team wacks on the head from stupid teammates who go unpunished".

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Every Killing* begins with a K

To paraphrase one of the most annoying commercial on TV at the moment, imho. The "Every kiss begins with Kay". For you who don't know, Kay is a jeweller store chain... and soon is the most important time of the year, apart from Valentine's day and Mother's day of course, for diamonds. As the commercial goes, it is fairly obvious. Woman stares into fireplace/snowstorm/other random semi-romatic place when the man sweeps up from behind and present the little box .... they kiss and they live happily ever after. Sometimes there is a baby in there and the woman holds the baby and the man sweeps in from behind and the baby has the present in her/his hand. Or there is a voice over with a little reading story "once upon a time Santa was in the house since the man loves his wife so..." or something like that.

Don't get me wrong. I love romance as much as anyone. I am just a tad bit over-sensitive about this whole "if the man loves you, he would give you a diamond necklace/earrings/ring/wedding and engagement ring", which implies that if he doesn't give you [expensive] things, he doesn't love you. (Since the commercial is played quite a few times when I have happened to be in front of the TV, the amount of them that I have seen might influence the irritation I feel?)

Of course, maybe I am just bitter - after all, this starts the thought process "how many diamonds do I have?" ;)

side note:

I can see this as an easy quantitative measurement of "how much does he loves you" (like papers from researchers is a measurement as discussed at Nature Network) if it wasn't for a few simple things. It's too simplistic, poor people can love too, and how does the man measure the love from the woman then? (I mean, she doesn't give things to him.... implying she doesn't have money and all that jazz.) Or maybe that was never part of the equation since she (one assumes in this fairy tale a la historic times/50ies) agrees to marry him after he proposes? So many questions, so much irritation from this women's rights/feministic corner. All because of one silly commercial... sometimes I just wish I didn't care so much about small things. Or just saw a romantic moment with a man loving a woman giving her a diamond necklace, not a political statement. It's Crazy(Christmas)times for sure.

And I know that there are a lot of women out there who make less than their husbands (therefore making sense that the richer gives the less rich etc) and I do like getting pressies from my loved one (and other people, I don't discriminate - I like pressies). It's just the whole combination and that it is all about EXPENSIVE things to PROVE you are WORTH it (the love?). That's my main rub, today as yesterday as - most likely - tomorrow. I like pressies in general since they show that someone thought of me. If they are expensive I tend to be more uncomfortable... if they fit me, I am happy. Special pressies are better than expensive ones. Then again, I am not in it for the money or adoration from others who oogle my stuff and think I am rich. Come to think of it, maybe that is my main problem? ^^ Nah, I probably have a good heap of them. (seeing that I am ranting now, time to stop and prepare for the work week!)

*Killing here is me. Me getting killed, a small part of me dying every time this commercial comes on (a lot!). Or me killing the TV or the commercial or shouting at the telly and the people in the commercial... nothing drives me more insane than realising that I am humming the jingle in the lab while pipetting buffer. I mean really?!?!?! Talk about subconscious imprinting.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

my own new tradition

What I did about this time last year - 4 hours loosing 5 lbs - repeated itself this year. I guess it might be my Thanksgiving ritual? Although, I am not sure on why I got ill this time around. Everyone else ate the same food, no babies, no strange stuff but the same onset as last year (36 hours give or take). My only other guess would be that I am sensitive to some of the food served for Thanksgiving (dressing? mashed sweet potatoes with pecans on top? deep fried turkey?) or that my belly just can't handle the massive amount of (fatty) food* at the same time with loads of sugar as dessert? Or that it was that little sneak taste of the omelette I made Friday morning, it was runny eggs, which is something I am franticly scared of here....

That is why I am grumpy at home a Saturday night** when I really wanted to go out and not feel like a non-social person. I have been thinking about it for awhile since I am feeling slightly angry lately. I think it is a combination of lack of exercise (long story) and missing research stimulation (too much time to think and feeling like I don't have much of a life since I am not working as much anymore) and this leads to that I feel like I might not have that many friends anymore (on this side of the pond as well as the other side since I have been gone for quite a while now).

Or, which might be very likely too, it is partly because it is Christmas time soon (December is slightly stressful in itself) and I had some family things going on in November.

All in all, the new routine needs to be implemented. And the paper needs to be written (promised PI to have the draft next week). But most of all, I need not hugging the toilet anymore since my stomach muscles are aching, my head is throbbing and I am hungry and nauseous at the same time. Ack ack ack, poor little me (this is irony, in case it doesn't show). But I can write for the weekend "lost 4 pounds even with two cans of coke and some water and one toast" Who needs exercise? ;)

*Bred salmon is one of these foods... a bit too sensitive for my belly... too fatty :( Something that runs in part of my family.

**consuming "Supernanny" might not be the best way to cheer up, but it sure shows me that other people seem to be having quite messy lives with lack of friends too. Although, two episodes have to be the end of it, better to watch a somewhat more teenager movie - Jumper. Who said being alone on a Saturday night and not being able to drink nor eat has to be boring :)

And this is just too strange not to post : "The romans said it better" about a hedge-fund male boss (an Oxford Classics graduate) in London who is sued for sending a quote in latin.... from Catullus... to a younger female looking for a new job.... ah well, who gets disturbed by something in Latin? After all, it is used as a good ending of a powerful speech! (I mean, I can surely curse you out in my strange language without bothering anyone right? no? pah. Just because latin isn't spoken as a "living" language... ;) )

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving part II

After all, I am very thankful that the centrifuge did not really move of its platform but rather only moved two inches when the rotor was uncentered. After all, it could have been so much worse.

Although, it was my nightmare come to life in the lab. And this AFTER I weighed my tubes and balanced it all very properly. (It should be said here that the lab does not have what I would call a proper scale - as the one Justitia has as a statue - where you can weigh the tubes in the "things you place in the rotor. Here you only weight the tubes and balance them, not completely satisfying for me... the centrifuge scared person since I was an undergrad and imprinted with how bad it would be if the centrifuges were to break down since all the department used them.) And it was discovered, the "things you place in the rotor and where you place the tubes" were the ones unbalanced and probably the cause for the wobbling that lead to the centrifuge moving.

Not that it really matter to me since I still started my day with an unbalanced centrifuge that wobbled.... and there I thought I was going in for a nice, quick day before the Thanksgiving weekend.

All is well that end well though. The centrifuge was not damaged (Thankfully!) and I could get it fixed and now it is like nothing happened at all. I am happy for that (and I could solve my centrifuge things with aliquoting and using the micro centrifuge for the time being.)

For this I am more thankful than people in general would understand. Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Monday, November 23, 2009


There was a time when I fell asleep with a special album in my ears. I clutched my pillow. I cried. I tried to breathe since it felt like the was no air. I tried to welcome the numbness when the pain disappeared. I felt strangely comforted by the feeling that there was someone out there who knew the pain I was going through.

Somehow, that made me feel less pathetic (after all, what is a heart breaking compared to all the horrors in the world?). And it felt more like it was ok to have a smaller industrial luxury break down in the world today. After all, it was my world that had crumbled. My future as I knew it at the time that had disappeared. My hopes and dreams that had been destroyed. The pieces were everywhere and impossible to put back together. And everything seemed so very uncertain and not worth believing. And everyone else seemed to be so happy and shove it in my face. (The last thing is the worst to admit, the fact that I didn't like to be with my happy friends with everything that I did not have. The feeling that I was the "wrong" one, and they were the true ones. They were not the disappointment to their parents, or to their friends, they were the shiny happy beautiful people. It was one of those times when the solitude and the friends without the perfect life stood out more than ever. Sorry, but it is true. And if nothing else, I at least understood that nothing would be better if they ended up in the bad pile I was in at the time, which lead me to wish for happiness for others...)

It's funny though, in hind sight, when I realise that I sort of treasure that time (afterwards and treasure might be a weird word). As in, I treasure the fact that I know what it feels like when the world as you know it stops (and all is lost and destroyed). It doesn't matter that someone else might not have had that much of a problem "breaking up" or "saying good bye to someone who died". I feel that it has made my life with more colours. In hindsight, not at the time. It is after all a very important distinction.

At the time, I hated it. And I wouldn't wish it to anyone. (I don't really want even my worst enemies to experience those moments of absolute emptiness and feeling of despair when it feels like the world is caving in on you and nothing is what you thought it would be, or sane for that matter. It was truly a dark time. But you know what they say, "it is darkest just before the sun rises". However pathetic it is to say; I believe it true. And the sun did start to shine. And life started moving again. You just have to give it time. Patience is the name of the game. At the time it sucks though. Don't let anyone fool you into something else. Sorry, but I do believe that - it will take time, and you need to be able to be open to it.)

And the old saying from Nietzsche (got to have one of the Germans on your side) the "whatever does not kill you make you stronger". And at the same time, don't forget "when you look into the Abyss, it looks into you". Having that in the back of the head kept me going at some of the less proud moments (not to focus on how many or few of those there were).

But most of all, it is a reminder that some of the people who surround you has never experienced some things. You know, the things that shape you. Some of the more "profound" experiences in your life. The loosing of a parent, or another older person who you were close to. The friend who killed themselves, and you were left to understand why. The break up with someone you thought you would stay with for the rest of your life. And for some, the smaller things like the betrayal of your best friend since kindergarten. Or just a simple "we have to let you go from this job, nothing personal". Or "we don't like you, we are the cool gang at the school".

Actually, it does not matter what it is. Although, it is a reminder to me when I meet these shiny, happy people whose worst experience is "something you would think is smaller than the experience you have had" (or however it can be described). Then I have to remember that it is all in the eye of the beholder and that a "smaller thing to me" might be the most profound experience they have had and that it is big and important to them. (A bit like the first crush who doesn't respond the same way back... for a teenager it is huge. And no laughing matter.) And I feel sort of blessed that I can relate to some of the less fortunate people in my surroundings since I can sort of understand them.

This is not a competition on who had it worst before now. This is simply my Thanksgiving thinking. And to remind myself about that fact that I can draw experience from the things that have happened in my life and that have touched me. Rather than to be bitter about the past, draw some learning from it. And try to be happy about the future, a truly happy future with a lot of open doors.

And of course, that I can't even begin to sat how thankful I am to have my friends and people around me, who keep me sane and make me feel like I have a place in this world. (and yes, that would include you the readers of this sometimes slightly more emotional blog ;) )

(And this had less to do with science, or having a PhD. Normal transmission will resume soon. Promise.)

Friday, November 20, 2009

perfect thinking

I've been mulling over a few things the last couple of weeks. Mostly since I have been talking to a few of my friends who are, due to various reasons, stressed and confused. Mostly about so called "life issues". And most of them stem from a slightly obsessive idea about being "the perfect .....[person/wife/girl friend/daughter*/scientist/all together in a bunch]". I've tried avoiding getting caught in the same line of thoughts. I say tried since I have found myself down this path way too many times.

It reminds me about that time when my late grand mother bragged about me to her sister when I got my undergraduate degree. The sister replied "well, does she have a boy friend though? My grand daughter has a very nice boy friend". Another time, it was about the idea that having a PhD degree might be fine and dandy "but does she have any children?" or "is she married"... alas, then the degree might be an ok consolation prize, but be aware that without the markings of a successful marriage and offspring there really is no good enough here.

My friends are in a bit of a pickle, together we can be a "perfect person" with degrees, jobs, spouses, children and even throwing in a few taking care of the older family - but on our own, not so much. One of my friends has been asked for the better part of the last couple of years why they don't have children. She mentioned it to me earlier this year since they are not able to conceive, or so it seems at least. She wondered to me how much information she "has to give these other people" who are poking and asking when they will be a "real" family. She would want nothing less than to have a child but feels very much like a failure since she doesn't seem to be able to. (Her words "everyone seems to be able to get pregnant nowadays. I mean, normal women get pregnant even when they don't want to.") One of the other ones has recently understood that maybe her choice of spouse is not completely supported by her family, thus making the whole thing very infested. (Same thing there "normal women can have a good relationship with a man and their family, but why not I?") And yet another one has "failed" on all accounts since she is single and child less with a negative reporting on a fancy job too. ("I tried to get educated but now there are no jobs around and I am not getting younger so I guess there will be no children".) Well, isn't life grand sometimes? And soon the holidays are coming up, guess why it's all up in the air right now? (Most stressful things tend to get to the surface around December, imho, since all these things tend to focus on families and blessings etc.)

I really didn't set out to write this post in a whining state, nor complaining. I am just a bit sad that there seem to be so much pressure on being perfect and that this thinking is infesting the thoughts and actions of my friends (and mine). It is like all they do is to second guess themselves about "how can I become this image and sensation of being the perfect person". And then I haven't even started complaining about the body issues and weight and health things. Scchhhez.

It is clear to me, a day like today when the sun is shining outside and I am off work enjoying a bit of rest and quiet, that there should be so much more to life than this [almost] constant pressure, striving and worrying. And that it would be absolutely great to be able to just disconnect from the brain and just BE [happy and content].

Alas, I guess my hope is that I can move towards that place where my I don't listen to my brain chatting about achieving all these "goals" but rather just live my life as it is and be happy with all the blessings I do have and focus on them, rather than to point my icky finger at the things that aren't perfect and nag in my mind that I should not allow myself to be happy until I have fixed them. (wow, a sentence of 4 rows..... that's a lot even for me.)

With this I am off to try an enjoy the days and my life and not get stuck in the worrying and thinking too much. Happy weekend everyone!

*as a side note, blogger spell checking does not recognize the word daughter.... very strange.

Monday, November 16, 2009

close doesn't count

I was soooooo close of getting first in the NFL pool this week. Even if I lost track of the Thursday game and missed filling it in.... And then I was the only one thinking that Cleveland would be able to loose with less than 11 points against the Ravens. Don't think so. Duh.

Funny since I like the Ravens but the last couple of times when I have "believed" in them it has been like a slaughter and no wings left on the nice birds.

With this little blurb, I'll say congrats to GenRep for winning this week (and to PiT who went passed me with her tiebreakers... Grrr.. one day I will get you!!! :) ) and good night since it is time to sleep!

(although, when I look at the "weekly performances" I am in green with 9 and counted as the winner.... a bit strange. Am I supposed to be happy and a winner or confused and annoyed being third?!)

Friday, November 06, 2009

sand painting

I was just blown away earlier tonight when I found this link at a Swedish blog. I had no idea. It is super. I ended up watching a bunch of other videos at youtube too. She was the winner of "Ukraine's got talent" and her name Ксения Симонова transcribes into Kseniya Simonova. She has her own website too. I don't understand how she does it, nor do I care. It was just absolutely mind blowing to see it. It's only 8 mins long but it will pass in a second! Go look!! Go now!

(It says on the wikipedia that this performance was the story about Ukraine from the Great war with Russia and into the World War II.... hence the 1945 in the end. I wish I could know the lyrics or what songs there were in the beginning...)

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Title? Honeymoon is over?

I think maybe the honeymoon is over. After short weeks, I am starting to think and wonder... and of course this comes in the middle of the week. Oh what I would give for a wine night with my old friends right now. Just chatting away like we did as graduate students, for hours and hours at a time. Discussing life options, values and dreams. Especially dreams and future plans.
Why do you dream about that? Do you still dream about that? How is this 30-something years crisis going to be resolved.

Do you like your job? Have you been able to find an answer for all those people telling you that "your new job title doesn't sound too impressive" or "huh, imagine that - you traded your post doc to that low a title?" (I never in my wildest dreams remembered people being this focused on the job title. No it is not Director. So sorry. Just something lower than that.) I know, I shouldn't care. Funny thing is that I didn't when I applied for the job. I just thought (yes, probably very naïvely) that it would be so nice with a permanent job where I would learn new things, while using old knowledge and build on my experience, and have a bit of supervisonary responsibility too.

Try something new, that I haven't tried before. And that it wasn't bad that it was in a new line of work - something I haven't done before - something that would open doors into more "secure line of work". Something that would make me more marketable and more versatile in the future. Job market isn't too impressive at the moment in my opinion.

All my thinking before. Now? I'm just a tad bit bummed by all these comments about my less impressive title and the talk that it is sad to see that I sold myself cheap for a permanent job and no research career. And all in less than a month.

Not to mention how disappointed I am in myself for letting them get to me. I hope my brain can start fully functioning very soon and that I can relax once again in the full knowledge that it doesn't (really) matter what people say or state, it's what I feel that is important. Too bad though that some of these people were people I respected and liked... guess it is never too late to re-evaluate people?

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Grumpy is good

"In a bad mood? Don't worry - according to research, it's good for you." According to this news paper article I read today - I'm not lost in space. (Some people would say that I might be a bit on the grumpy side... or the cranky one...)

From the article "An Australian psychology expert who has been studying emotions has found being grumpy makes us think more clearly. In contrast to those annoying happy types, miserable people are better at decision-making and less gullible, his experiments showed. While cheerfulness fosters creativity, gloominess breeds attentiveness and careful thinking, Professor Joe Forgas told Australian Science Magazine. ..//.. Those in a bad mood outperformed those who were jolly - they made fewer mistakes and were better communicators. ..//.. Whereas positive mood seems to promote creativity, flexibility, co-operation and reliance on mental shortcuts, negative moods trigger more attentive, careful thinking, paying greater attention to the external world"

See, I knew it wasn't that bad for me to entail my grumpy side. Although, I wouldn't call it grumpy as much as being a tad bit neutral and not overly cheery and positive. It's at least appreciated when trying to trouble shoot or plan long term experiments...

It's actually interesting. A few years back (what I would refer to as "the dark ages") I was trying very hard not to let off to my work colleagues that things were awful. Especially the administrators or people I met everyday but weren't close to. I always smiled, was "sort of cheery", asked a lot of questions to them about their kids and life and fun times (it's funny that people who get asked a lot of questions most of times forget to ask you anything in return since it is so fun to talk about yourself... ) and avoided any more answers than "oh, fine" when asked "how's it going". A lie of course, but as said before people aren't really interested in how you are when they ask it in the morning. It's simply curtsey. And I was brought up to be polite.

Anyway, the interesting part for me was when some of these people found out what had happened (just this year) and they were shocked. "Why, I had no idea, you were always so happy looking". Ha. I guess it's something I said another time when I was accused of being bad at lying. I may be bad at lying when I don't care if you notice, or if I want you to know that it is not the simple truth. When it comes down to the real shit though, the stuff that I want to be left alone and not anyone else poking about, then I am quite sure you have no clue.

And I probably shouldn't be that proud about it. I think it means that I have trouble letting people in.

Then again, as the article stated > there might be a place in the world for me too. How positive for me! :)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

what do boys dream about?

It's my question after I having read a long discussion about vampires and the interest they evoke in (young) women. There is a graduate student, in Sweden, preparing her dissertation about vampires and the view of them through history (and of course the sexual innuendo in regards to the biting, blood and the Hunger). And the Twilight books and "True Blood" by Charlene Harris and their popularity among teenage girls. And then they filled in with the newer series "Vampire Diaries" with a nice, good vampire and his evil, dark brother*... (I think it is a sad thing they didn't mention Angel from Buffy the vampire slayer, not to mention the World of Darkness (WoD by White Wolf) vampires - although in this they don't necessary fit the "nice man who refrains from biting the innocent".) Of course, the story about the vampires, and especially these newer ones, are about young looking men who refrain from hurting the young woman who is interested in him.... he is not interested in "violating" her, nor that she should "give herself up too easily" since he is truly and more truly in love with her. (I could go on and on about this subject since I find some of the newer stories - yes Twilight - a bit too simplistic... )

Clearly, there was no mentioning of Anita Blake (by K. Hamilton) nor the WoD vamps.... where some of them might be more or less chivalrous but never forget; they're only in it for themselves and if you are in the way, you're soon gone.

Anyhow, that was a slightly sidetracked comment. I was trying to state that I, maybe since I am a girl?, have read a tonne of different teenage books with vampires, Heathcliffs and other romantic figures you can dream about as a young (or not so young) woman. My experience of "male teenage books" would be old school Hardy Boys books, Biggles and some comics and role playing game books... although here is where I start wondering. What do boys (young male teenagers) read when they dream about sexual encounters and/or romance? Since I don't really remember too much girls in the Hardy boys (but there was two sisters, right?) I am really drawing a blank at the moment... Somehow I don't know if Buffy is the poster girl for "dream girl"... or the moping teenage girl Bella in Twilight? Can anyone help a poor thinking post PhD woman here? What is it boys dream about? What stereotypical girl/dream exist for them?** Is it porn all along? Or is it something more male figure with a girl side kick?

*evil brother is older and has, imho, a more mature look and therefore might be more attractive to the "already lost girls who are looking for the bad boys". This of course, my home crafted explanation and nothing with any research behind ;) I haven't mentioned the Ann Rice books since none of the articles I have read so far talk about them. I don't know if they forgot that Louis is a nice, kind vampire and Lestat is the evil one... then again, they are slightly more mature and slightly homoerotic at times and therefore not really a young teenage woman lure (nevertheless, I know girls drawling over both Louis and Lestat when reading the books).

**I also wonder a bit about the whole thing in general. If the "romantic dreaming" for girls is a trying to prepare for the complicated life of mixing romance and sex? If the whole thing is just a gender-bender-get-the-girl-to-dream-about-true-love-and-not-think-too-much-about-sex-for-fun-or-being-used ? Or maybe just the dream about the everlasting love and the man who will sweep the woman off her feet and marry her and live happily ever after? Do boys dream about that too? Or is it an age issue and it is different in the late twenties?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

it's not you

It's me.

there is nothing when something comes back with "simple answers" and nothing extra....


I'm just paranoid. Duh.

Monday, October 19, 2009

life in a cubicle

I live in a cubicle now. Funny, I have never lived in a cubicle before. I am not sure that I will like the cubicle life per se but maybe I was just spoiled with never having a space in the lab but rather in an obscure closet somewhere in a corridor... that meant I could leave my paranoia alone since no-one saw my computer, my notes or heard me if I was on the phone with the mother country*. And my notes on the wall were left unread by others than me.

Everyone seems nice. Although, maybe a slightly bit strange. As coming from this scientist, maybe I shouldn't throw rocks in the glass house?

My main concern, at the moment, is that I felt a bit frustrated. I guess it is as expected, with me being a tad bit on the stress side as well as "wanting to be effective from scratch", considering someone has worked on average too much the last couple of months. After all, when I left work after 8.5 hours today I was still the last to leave (not the last to come in mind you) but I know all people would still be in my (old) lab... and I felt tired, mostly from being on top of my game and wondering (worrying) if I bit off a too big a piece (rather, picked the wrong morsel** all together)... but I still liked it overall. It feels nice to be in a place where I will not have to go in on weekends. And where I still decide what to do during the day (as much as one can). And I get to help others with their job.

Hopefully my newly bought work clothes did not shrink in the laundry... that would be a bit of a bummer... since I am wearing them tomorrow for a training part. With that, I will go to bed to be a productive former post doc tomorrow.

*I guess the quick fix would be never to talk on the phone for a long time with mother country, but it is hard not to have even one conversation during the week considering the time difference. On the other hand, I guess I could take my phone outside and go for a walk during lunch since I will consider food intake and exercise outtake. Ah well, it's all going to go well for sure.

**I got a funny look (not the first time either) when asked on if I was a productive post doc... and truth to be told, I think it will be considered quite OK with three first authors and one or two second author papers in high impact journals (but I am not there yet, still a few of them to finish writing so no counting chickens before hatching). But that response from me has triggered some surprised looks and comments like "and you still wanted to leave?" or "really? that is great. but...."

I don't know if it's because they assume that I got this (non research but more tech) position because I couldn't hack it or because they are surprised I would want to leave Academia? The truth? I wanted to try something that I find will give me a slightly more secure job as well as maybe not killing myself in the lab with the weirdest hours. If I don't like it? I hope I don't hate myself. I mean, it doesn't really matter if I have to work much in the lab or not, if I can - I will. And then end up alone with maybe some nice papers and no friends when I am old. I think we have talked about that before. What good is a C/N/S paper if you have no family or friends when you are old? How much does a paper warm your heart? Trust me, considering the dropping rate of my friends and social gatherings the last couple of months I am in the outskirts now... better pick it up and move back in the circle.

Thursday, October 15, 2009 it's going out of style

I'm throwing things away like it will never be a need for trees or post its ever again.

It's funny, considering I HATE throwing things away (you know, in case you happen to throw something out that would have come in handy one rainy day), that rather than save up time to do a good sifting through in a timely fashion I end up with the "alternative technique" also known as "The Box Technique".*

First, I throw away some stuff that I know I will never use again.
Second, some stuff will be very important to save, so they stay.
Third, that pile of "maybe maybe" will end up in a box that will be labelled "can be thrown away in three months (or a year)"

I started the box technique since I know that I am bad at throwing things away. I put things in a box and put it under neath the bed or in the closet. And then wait... maybe 1 year? And if I haven't gone into the box or wondered about some of the things, they clearly aren't as essential as I thought.

I guess there will be a lot of boxes in the house for a while now.... all these papers and things relating to the articles not yet written... not to mention other things like biology books, chemistry handouts, conference abstracts etc.

But the fridge got cleaned yesterday. And I have started cleaning out the freezer.... but not the BIG one. Ah well, I am sure that most of it can go to the trash, sad but true. Time to do do more, and chat less.

*the other option is to be on the phone with a friend and chitchat since that keeps my brain occupied and hinders it from thinking "hm, really shouldn't throw that away in case this and that happens". This alternative is better than the third one, which would be called the desperate one, i.e. "slightly drunk makes decision making easier" (again, it is overriding the over thinking part that is key).

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

the wet blanket

Concealing is not the same as lying. I know it is not the same thing, in the eyes of the law and for some other people, lying and concealing. It's a bit like the distinction between "not telling" and "lying", which in some laws are considered the same thing as illegal. The fine line between writing all the details in the M&M section and only write the bare minimum needed to repeat the experiment. Compared to data sets that are missing and not up for investigation by reviewers and new readers, it might seem trivial?

I still have a bit of a problem with it though. The distinction I mean, since I seem to be "over-explanational" and wanting there not to be any potential misunderstandings. where some other people are happy to leave it at that. When is the concealing actually worse than lying? When is it really wrong? When people draw faulty conclusions based on inadequate information? Or when you tell the bare minimum but do not clarify parts that might be misconceived? And I know that it is not as easy as it seems. And it still hurts sometimes when the deception is obvious. I guess it is part of "growing up" (getting more cynical again) and realizing that things are not what they seem, and the truth might be worse than the illusion.

Although, it is interesting on how many people want the illusion rather than the truth. Wanting the illusion and the dream in their head rather than the harsh reality. This is what we wanted to do, what we know think that we did (and not swirl around, whisper small incantations of "lovely bacteria grow for the soul has been sacrificed"). The truth hurts, the lie is unnecessary and too obvious, the concealing is there as a comfort blanket. However, some would say the blanket can reveal itself to be both damp, wet and blowing away when the winds pick up. And then it is very cold and gruesome and not protecting but rather weighing down and a nuisance. Who really knows you and your motives? Who really cares about it? And most importantly, does it really matter as long as you are happy in your made reality where you are king and everyone else are dancing around, clueless about what really goes on?

Friday, October 02, 2009

First rule

(no, it's not "you don't talk about Fight club".)

NEVER make stuff up.

Alternative solutions:
* "I did not have the time so I didn't do it"
* "I forgot"
* "I lost the paper I wrote down the result on"
* "actually what ever that is true works here"

but never ever make stuff up (and guessing would be in this category). Especially not if you make a stock that your collegues and/or friends and/or collaborators will use^.

And then people wonder why some scientists are control freaks? Yeah well, doesn't surprise me.

It's such a shame though. Yesterday was one of the absolute top 10 days I have had as a scientist! Absolutely wonderful results from an experiment that has been in the works for over two years. And this morning started with grinning faces and talks about C/N/S paper for me (we'll see if that really happens but maybe).

I guess it is only to try and not blow the fuse and find the happy place again and then regroup. It's not like it is the first time.... (I just thought it was "the last time" last time...)

^yes, you will look like a complete idiot and a lying piece of something when it is concluded that something crucial is wrong and not adding up.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

It's over

And then it was the 30th of September 2009 when it was all over. Sundin retired from playing NHL and hockey*. After selling his house (mansion) in Toronto, finding a blonde Swedish woman to marry in the bright summer in Sweden and trying to win that Ring once (let's forget about the pathetic 7 months that lead up to the try) he decides to move back to his home town of Stockholm and start a new chapter of his life.

He might not be the greatest Leaf in times. (No, I don't think so either.) But he will always be one of the greatest. And most definetly one of the most important Swedish hockey players. Who can forget the awesome goal against Fetisov? Or other ones in the crunch time of the game. Not to mention the whole "we are going to be great once again now when Sundin is on the team". He sort of made the Swedish spirit those nice years in the 1990ies. (Everyone understands that it was several others too, like Forsberg and Salo, but in effect - without Sundin the team was severely crippled.)

You'll find a great video here , the first one in the article, not the second one. Funny enough, lots of goals in the video are from the MTL (Montreal Canadiens) games. Ha, there you have it. He scored against the greatest fiends there are. For that and all the Swedish spirit and being from the best city in the world, THANK YOU! (as if he would ever read this, duh.)

Now I have to sign up for Cath's Fantasy Hockey League... and choose who to pick for my team. One less obvious one but there are more Swedes.... and a whole lot of action coming soon!

*some people wants him in the Olympics next year.... I would like to see him somewhere else than on the ice though. It is over. No dragged out ending like last year. Not again. Be brave and be proud. And please do something good with all the money and the time now!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Lars and the real girl

In the midst of some stress and work stuff (unbloggable) I ended up in front of “Lars and the real girl” last night. I cried a lot. I got laughed at, a smaller, little laugh since it was quite strange to cry about a movie that could be quite pathetic and a mistake. I guess I cried mostly because of the fear in Lars, the fear to love and allowing to be touched, was so great that he made himself in a safe place with an inflatable doll. Like a small child, having a close relationship with a doll or an imaginary friend. The safe relationship becasue you decide what is going to happen, how you feel and that thing will not be able to abandon you (since it doesn’t exist). You can even go as far as making them leave you, thus enable yourslef to grieve for their “leaving you but you have to pick up the pieces and go on”. Like a controlled impact that you know will happen but it is much easier to handle if you know when it will come.

I have a friend who has a feature like that. He has never broken up with a girl friend, in his words. The girl friends have always broken up with him. Even though he maybe didn’t want the relationship - the girls have walked away feeling like they broke up with him. Leaving him able to be “the sad one” and dwelling in the pool of emptiness and abandonment. (I realise now that I might be overexaggerating at the moment, that happens early in the morning with less boundaries.) Anyhow, the movie reminded me of my friend, some other friends and of teen-me. Emo is the new word for gothic was then I guess? Red wine, poetry and gothicism. In the movie, the whole town is trying to help Lars, by accepting the doll (Bianca) as a real person.... therefore, accordingly to the Doctor in the movie, help him somehow work with his delusion.

I guess what really made me laugh was when the priest sits down with the family and close friends of Lars to discuss what they should do. “What would Jesus do” the priest asks. (It was one of the more clear comical parts of the movie, other than that I would say it was less comical and more.... maybe drama?) Jesus would of course never condem but only love. Even if the person is somehow not really there...

It also reminded me of “Happyness”. A very strange movie that I can’t state that I like or not. It was there. It was disturbing. It got me thinking. And it sure was a very wierd movie. Like some independent movies are. Although, they are not bad just because they are weird. The weird is just the word for me to describe them, like 'disturbing' it just means that I need to think and process them.

With that, I need to go back to work. Trying not to be a basket case of emotions induced to tiredness and stress, stop the crying and look yet again as the successful post doc who has everything under control and being quite sane (the Swedish proverb I'm thinking about would translate into “having all horses in the stable”, sounds much more fun, but I have no idea what it would be in English. "All ducks in a row?").

(this is what happens when I listen to my you dear readers who state it is much more fun to read posts from the venting/stressed/nonbalanced post doc :) )

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

trying to finish

I'm finally home and about to go to bed. "Finishing it all up" (as in all the projects and make sure it is a done deal for publication) seems a bit harder than I thought to start with (non-realistic thy name is Dr C). As a friend said the other day "finishing up means stopping doing experiments at some point". Go figure. Well, maybe in a few weeks.... because right now it is a few more intense days. At least the results seem good *knock wood* at this time.

I will try and resume some normal posting soon. When I feel like I have something to say that isn't
a) whining
b) venting
c) complaining
d) feeling sad and slightly stressed

Let's give me another couple of days, right?!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Changes in the future

I have been hinting here and there that there are changes in works for me. I guess now is a good a time as any to spill the beans.... (and not be as secretive.)

I will not be a post doc for very much longer now. (I guess this means I need to change the title of the blog, or end it... hm, didn't think of that before. I guess it could be ‘dreams and hopes of a scientist’ or simply ‘dreams and hopes of a female PhD’? Suggestions or comments are happily taken.)

I have been granted the opportunity to move into a more industrial setting (yay!) and doing something that does not require me to be in lab late evenings nor weekends. I will be using a lot of my previously acquired (laboratory and research) skills and most likely pick up a couple of new ones as well (read; proper people management and more non-academia skills). This is part of why it has been more quiet than usual here - I have simply tried to finish my projects before I transition over*.

I am not sure that all of it will be as done as I would have wanted it to be (is it ever?), but regardless, I feel that there will be a smaller paper trail following my departure from my present position. And the closer I get to the “starting date” the more I can feel that I am not the poster woman for change. (No worries though, as long as I can get a week to finish and clean up my bench/freezers/fridges/lab books, I should be good to go.) The latest hurdle that arrived today got on my nerves a bit more than I anticipated but hopefully that will be solved too, to everyone’s happiness.

For now, that is all I can do. And see my dreams and hope for the future unfold faster than I thought.... :)

*ha, to be “finishing up” is somewhat of an oxymoron since it seems like for every experiment I am done doing another one rears its head. Soon enough though, there will be no more time for more data collection, only collecting and writing the conclusions. And some conclusions I might add. It does look quite promising, even for a tentatively gloomy one as me.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

broken angry record

I’m feeling like a broken record these days… or maybe not a broken record as much as constantly annoyed, irate and angry at stupid people. Stupid people, stupid news papers and then most of all stupid people in charge. Why must you make these foolish comments that get repeated time and time again? They are wrong! And how can you still repeat them. Shame on you for lying through your teeth.

I realize that I should practice the whole “being a duck and letting it fall off me” but I am the type of person that want to correct people when they say wrong things, especially when it comes to “know it all type of people” when they tell “how it is” and it really isn’t. And I am listening in… or, as it’s been the last couple of times, reading blog posts or opinions.

I could go on and on, but it would do no good. I have to realize that this is neither the time nor the place to correct people. They will believe what they will but what really pisses me off are all those “experts” who continue to tell the world “the truth”. I mean, I can’t technically be mad at a Joe Schmo who says things about vaccinations and influenza (I’ll just have to live with that everyone is entitled their own opinion, no matter how wrong I might find it) but when people with a degree (PhD but more often these days the MD) talk nonsense and decide that they can speak for a whole other field than they have their expertise in…. well… that’s a different story. They give me a bad name. So therefore I can get annoyed with them. Really annoyed. And mad.

It’s that thing about appearances. They can sit there and pretend that they are experts in this other field, because they are called Doctors (really half of them should be referred to as physicians but whatever) they know absolutely everything and they are all so bloody SURE on what’s going to happen. Put on a white coat and then look into the TV and go “well you see this is how it is going to be”. Or they write some nonsense in a newspaper article with statements like “everyone knows” and “it is obvious” and “this is the right way of looking at it” and then you read their specialty is nowhere near virus, immune response or bacterial infections… I would be closer starting to dabble in telling people about T-cells and I would never even consider it. Then again, I am not an MD who knows it all, duh.

Whatever happened to fessing up and stating “We are not 100% sure on what will happen BUT this seems like the most likely scenario” or “considering that the risks far outweighs the benefits it is best to do this”. I know that I would want to believe that people can fill in the blanks on their own… but they can’t. Everyone seem to be looking for a new mother and father to say “believe me, life is Black or White and we will take care of you” when in reality it is a blurry grey mess and most everything has to do with “risk assessment” and weight worst case scenario against best case scenario and see which is most cost effective and/or reasonable to live with.

I started writing a thing last night about basic stuff that people haven’t seem to understood yet. Like :
* virus and bacteria are two different things
* virus can not be treated with antibiotics
* Tamiflu is not antibiotics
* many of the bacteria causing pneumonia today are antibiotic resistant
* it is likely that we will not have too many antibiotics to help against a bacterial pneumonia in the near future
* vaccines today are not as bad as the ones in the 1970 where there was a problem with too high antigen content and mercury as an adjuvant
* influenza is not a “simple” disease, even if we in the developed world perceive it as that

But then I realized that this would all be redundant. Throwing pearls for swine and all… The people who are interested in knowing already know. The other people are not interested in learning…
I guess I’ll go back to my little lab bench and stay there. Happily away from the discussion and the endless “no, you are telling LIES to people”. (And trying to stay away from the dream dystopian future that I sort of want to happen where no antibiotics work and people start appreciating that maybe it wasn’t such a splendid idea to just ignore all the warnings and actually be thankful for vaccine technology instead of bashing it with lies, misconceptions and conspiracy theories.)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Addiction with (non)trust

I have said before, I have a slight addiction to LMN. Lifetime Movie Network. That and some other shows some people laugh about and consider the viewers romantics saps with decreased mental ability and too much fantasy-romantic-world.

Sure I thought, I’d give it a go. Not watching these shows like Army Wives, Drop Dead Diva or some romcoms... nope. I’d go back to the real shows. The shows that real people watch^. Like Simpsons, Family Guy or wait, maybe CSI and Law&Order. It should probably be noted that I am an old fan of Law&Order since I was a teenager. And CSI (the original set in Vegas) and I were an item during a longer time although we have fallen apart the last couple of years. (Too complicated to keep fixed times when you don’t have a VCR or a DVR or a Tivo. Not at problem nowadays.)

I drift... I ended up with a Law&Order marathon the other night. Not the original L&O, since they have new spin offs nowadays, but the Special Victims Unit. And then some Criminal Intent. The first specializes in sex crimes (many against children and/or exposed people like illegal immigrants), the second is focused on "more serious crimes" or something equal to that. Not the happiest moments of reality or crimes as one might understand.

After a few episodes I was amazed how good a detective I think I would make since I picked out the perpetuator in the beginning... (hm, or maybe I just have seen one too many episodes or read too many thrillers/police novels?) the worst part was when I realized part of how I deducted it all. First rule?

*Never trust anyone.
*People aren’t really nice, at all.
*Everyone is out for themselves.
*Love always have one person loosing. (no, not the one loving less)

And did I mention the “don’t trust anyone?”

Hm. Went to bed with a slightly unsettling feeling in my belly. Feeling more distrusting about people in general (I already have some issues with delegating and trusting other people doing my research and this other stuff didn’t really help on a grander scale of things), more insecure of the world and thinking that maybe no attachments to anything would be the securest way to go in the future. (mental note; don’t form attachments with your research. Or at least not too much.^^)

Then I snuggled with my pillow. Laughed and decided that only one (ok, maybe two) episodes of L&O is allowed henceforth. No overdosing on hate, insecurity and jealousy. And maybe the reality portrayed in the L&O is as concentrated on one angle as the more “romantic sappy” series that I see on the telly?

^ I obviously haven't mentioned the scifi and the discovery addiction but we'll get to that another time.
^^ got a question from a person the other day. “Do you dream about your research?” The answer would be yes. Especially now, under stress. The person laughed and said “I’ve never done that. I just shut off when I leave the building!”.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A few hints..

When you start a new job, if you want to make a more professional impression that is, do not enter your new work place and tell people how they should run things. Especially not loud, nor in front of other people, especially not students. And most especially not if you are…erhm.. .not correct. That is embarrassing, mostly for you. And people might be annoyed with you.

Then again, most people understand this. Then there are people with less people skills. They do not necessarily get this.

And of course, if you are somewhat of a jerk to some people for a few days please do not get surprised if they do not want to help you the next couple of times you "ask for assistance". After all, you were the one stating “why do you do things that way. We never did it that way where I was. This is a stupid way. I don't want to do this this way” and toddled off with a grin, happy you “laid down the law” or however one can put it.

I guess it is an eye opener exactly how annoying it is to hear “we don’t do it like that where I come from” and I should be ashamed for saying it so many times. Something about that glass house and stones from within… then again, nobody’s perfect.

So, with the risk of sounding trite…. Tread lightly the first few weeks in a new environment. Like someone told me, why might be more obvious to some than others, “you have two ears and two eyes but only one mouth – wonder why?

With that, I rest my case for tonight. I really need to sleep.

Monday, August 10, 2009

change or (/of) routine

It’s no surprise for people in my vicinity that I am not the biggest supporter of change. I don’t think they would say that I am a coward (i.e. not afraid of change) but maybe state that “she likes routine”. Routine does not necessarily mean “predictable”, or so I try tell myself. After all, is there anything worse than to be called “predictable”? (I guess more positive words are reliable or trustworthy.... but still, I get the vibes of “old, traditional and reliable” being the code words for “boring and routine” and we all know that the “daring, unpredictable and brave” person wins the prize in the end of the movie?!)

Ah well, if you wonder which category you end up in, there is nothing to indicate to you if you like change or routine more than to have either new people in the lab (“why do you do things _that_ way. I want to do it like this.”) or try and start a new job.

I have experienced the first one for a couple of months now, it is quite interesting (I could probably write “annoying” or “exhausting” or “eye opening” but I’ll satisfy myself with interesting). The other one is something I probably will experience before the New Year start. (Yes, I am not only apprehensive of change, I am also slightly superstitious and will wait and talk more about changes until they are set slightly more in stone.... but it looks good so far and a normal person would celebrate already. Then again, I am the one more weary of “don’t laugh too early” or whatever it would be as a proverb in English.)

Oh, and if you ever want to test how humble and northern Scandinavian (or Lutheran or “not liking to tote your own horn”) you are, I recommend writing eight or so letters of recommendation for yourself to promote you as an outstanding researcher and excellent person. And to ask the prominent professors you know to sign them of course. Let’s say I score high on the L-scale.... Lucky me that the hype wasn’t all in my head.