Thursday, January 22, 2009

why I am not a physicist

I'm opting for the green arrow. Although, even Genesis starts with chaos... and there are lots of pieces one can build from. And maybe even leave some out?!?!

Friday, January 16, 2009

How much are you worth?

It's an interesting question after reading about the transfer fee that the Soccer* team Manchester City might pay AC Milan for their player Kaka. (The British and the Americanlinks.) Not to go all "shocked and all" but they are willing to pay £108 million to Milan to get him and then pay Kaka £500,000 a week.

Let's think about the amount for a while. £108 million to the team. For one person** to move from Italy to UK. And then pay that same person £500,000 a week. That is roughly $750 000. Per week.

The coach of Arsenal says that Man City doesn't live the in the real world Well..... I guess one of the richest men in the world might have another real world than the rest of us poor people. Because, to him, I am sure I don't exist.Nor you. Not really. We are, if I am positive, small cogs that make the wheel turn. Seriously, that probably scares me more than anything since it is a "I want, I get" and come to think of it - maybe it is a scary place... not trusting anyone apart from someone who has as much money as you?

(I am sure I can manage that if someone were to hand me £1 000 000 000 .... trust my present friends, not gain too many new and try to keep on the low down... or what do you really do with all that money? Buy the lovely hockey team? Cure cancer? Put some money into fighting starvation and help clean water? But since it is even less likely for me to get the money than me getting an offer to pose in Playboy [what would I say? "No, I am a feminist and don't like the concept and don't want everyone to be able to see my nakedness. It's for special people only". Or "Yes, instant fame for 15 mins and can I please bring the pipette and an agar plate to show that scientists can be sexy too"?] I don't think I have to think about the implications for that either... since it's not likely to happen.)

I disgress (into Playboy of all things....). Let's go back to the salary question. The general American houshold income (according to NPR yesterday on my drive home) is $40 000. That is about a twentith (nineteenth) part of that salary for the player, but per year. I know, you can't compare but really, it makes it all a bit more crazy to think about. (Both that the average American house hold is not earning that much, although I wonder what the median income is.... )

Anyway, this was leading up to the discussion (the much more interesting one) about how much did the Canucks really pay for that Sundin? Considering that even WITH Luongo in the goal last night they lost. And they have lost the last four games they have played. And, to add insult to injury, they have been at home doing this.

Really not good. I hear the sniggering in the back already "why, not even one of your teams.... [trust me, the word teams is very well articulated] made it to the play offs. I am so sorry"... sure. (I'm sure the Red Wings will roll into the play offs but as stated before, not really more than eye candy at the moment. The REAL interest lays elsewhere. Or should it be "lays elsewhere", ah well....)

With these words I have to go to work and make good for my salary. Although it is not near the $750 000 a week, it is still very needed for me in order to pay the bills.... Maybe one day I will be able to say that I have earned $750 000 but my guess is it will be in total, before taxes, after working for about 25 years... wow! I am so happy I know math :)

*I realise that I use the term soccer... football should be written instead. And I should, if I ever would write about American football write AF. I guess it might happen after this weekend when the Superbowl is about to happen?!

**Furthermore, I guess one can ask - is this a new form of slavery? Since you are bound by contracts and can't move to a place you choose. And in that case, isn't a cage a cage even if it is in gold? (deep thoughts a morning like this.) I guess it is not called a slave when you get paid? Or does it? (I think I will leave this pondering for another day. It feels a bit post modernistic/feministic/leftish to wonder about the artificial freedom of the [labour] worker who has to please the boss who pays the salary the worker need... oh the joy of philosophy and power discussion. But as I said, another day. this is the day of writing research abstracts and solving the bacteria problems. And, more importantly, it is the day that Battlestar Galactica resumes and we get to see what happens after the found Earth!! Sci fi channel, tonight!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

When the flame is not there...

I have written before that when you have a certain feeling, a “surety”, the road doesn’t change even when it turns rocky. In other terms, when in doubt, keep steering forward, keep the course. All will be fine in the end.

It’s when the feeling isn’t sure. When the certainty isn’t there, that’s when the doubt starts to peck a little nagging hole. “Is this really what you want?” “Is this really worth it?”

And you are left with the question, “What’s going on?” and “What do I really want to do, since the road seems to be gone, the marsh land is everywhere and by God, how did I end up out here” (Yes, a slight feeling of silliness may appear too.)

That is almost where I am now.

To speak plainly. To have been involved (I use the term kind of loosely for “regular” people) since I was 14. To have been infatuated and then turning into admiration [for a certain tall, blonde Swedish Prince] since he played in the wrong team in Stockholm. Our nemesis.... it was a Romeo and Juliet story back then. He on that team. I, on the other (figuratively speaking of course, women didn’t play on the men’s hockey team yet).

Then he moved across the sea, to the province of Quebec and ended up in Toronto - in the lovely Canada. My heart was set. And then it was there, lost in the Leafs, fairly undisturbed throughout the years. Through the losses.... through the occasional wins... through the amazing points and goals He scored. And then came spring 2008.

That’s when I started to really falter. I wrote about it (here, first here ), my eyes were turned towards the Red Wings, the “Swedish team”. And I felt more confused than ever.

I know, I have left out the story about the side love - the Western team. I can’t be blamed for it, and it has never been a problem in my relation with the Leafs. They both know that the only way it would turn into a problem is when both of them meet in the Cup final. And oh, what a horrible punishment for me it will be then. They are quite sure that would teach me The lesson of having split loyalties... and I would never ever forget it, be sure of that.

Well, this last summer my love finally started to loose hold of my heart. Mostly because the Prince was not in agreement with the Leafs. It felt like someone was scorned, not necessarily wrongly but still it turned into a much uglier affair than it should have. (Granted though, most love affairs end with a mess, and usually someone innocent have to clean it up.) Very well, in the end the Prince decided to move to the Canucks and settle there. (Leaving the poor Leafs* in a worse situation since they did not have the possibility of replacing him properly.)

Surely that should have satisfied me? (I even wrote "I would have understood Vancouver")The Prince and my Western team in one. What could possible be wrong with that? Well, they say that once you have started to see the actual man behind the Prince, there is no turning back. Well, “they” were right. The shining armor isn’t really that shining anymore, the Prince is more of a cousin distant to the throne and the white horse turned out to be a donkey.

What’s a poor girl to do then?

I guess I have to suck it up and really show who has a heart in all this. Who has faith. And most of all, a donkey can be darned cute. And who needs a Prince after all? (You need someone who can score... goals... and win...)

I am not lying though, it would help immensely if the Canucks would stop loosing three games in a row. And of the Leafs could win at least one of those blasted plays against the montreal canadiens....

And I think I will have to get that Canucks shirt to upgrade my previous one. It’s what they say; in for a penny, in for a pound.

(I think Cath and Scientistmother might agree with me, although I know that they don’t share my love for the Leafs....)

*I have to say though, the Leafs - bless their hearts - have a silly management. Seriously, I don’t know what they have been doing but it ain’t right. And I don't know if I will survive the next time they meet the mc, the sniggering at the house will be too much... End of silly rant.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Celebrating and bragging

In order to remove the harsh post regarding the common sport of hockey (that got Cath mentioning that I would clubber anyone with the red leaf… ) and move on into the world of science. (Side note, I am much less angry now. Still a bit annoyed with the audience that booed at the “other team”. See, where I come from, you can boohoo at your team doing a bad game, not at the other team. Sportmanship! That’s what we call it. End of hockey rant until the Canucks game with the newcomer Sundin….)

I’ve been trying to muster courage and energy to go through that protein that hasn’t work. I should do more this afternoon and maybe it will be worth the money to give to someone else to do it. It didn’t help my enthusiasm that another post doc on the floor got the same protein from one of their collaborators and to do experiment “X and W” whereas W is a variant of what they know I will do with the protein (that I don’t have yet – but they do). It made me a bit cranky before Christmas but I decided to leave it and just let live. When the post doc in question came by yesterday though, to ask me for some ELISA help I was reminded that really…. I don’t need to help, but surely it would be childish not to?! I am tempted to start up collaboration with their collaborator (protein!!!) as well, but I have a feeling it will be like diving into a pool with a lot of sharks while I am still a little fish – so maybe not right this minute. And I should really be able to purify this protein, I just need to think, fix and produce.

Secondly, I want to go to this marvellous conference this summer and I thought about applying for a little travel grant. The interesting part, or the more complicated part, came when I realized that I am supposed to be recommended by “a person” who also need to be a member of this “European” society… my problem? My mentor is a member in the “American” society, I am a double member since I am from an European country… and I don’t know which is the best approach. Apply with a recommendation from my former professor, member of the E, or with my present PI and maybe not be eligible? When in doubt, ask. So I emailed the society and left it at that for the week. Need to tweak my “very interesting abstract” as well. Meeting with PI next week to see what is best to put in that abstract, what can go in abstract number two and what can be abstract number three.

Since my PI isn’t really thrilled that I want to go to the expensive European conference, I have promised that I will go to at least one more American conference to present work there. I have money so I can probably go to three, since the little one is going to be cheap (close by and very specialized) and the third is in the fall when I have some more money allocated. Still need to tailor the abstracts for the differences…

And third, this would be the bragging, my article is published electronically and I can find myself and it on pubmed. Wohoo!! My first “first author article” as a post doc! (Never mind the time it took.) What strikes me is that it will be more than 6 months from the time of “accepted” to the time of ”paper published”, which in turn is 4 months from “recieved”. It’s the sort of thing that makes it really hard to celebrate and think “end of a project”. Ah well, I am trying to see the next article to get written before June (good luck with that) and then I need to look into the other smaller projects on the side to see where I am with them.

So far, in the year 2009, I haven’t really been as keen about this research (I’ve been very interested in being at the house and sleep and rest though…). It feels a bit lagging and a bit slow. What to do then? Grab the thing that I have to do, side project finish former postdoc’s work, and actually get on with it. Said and done. I will now try and make a list of all the things I need to do to get that ball rolling.

And next week, when I have time, I will give myself a celebratory drink – as tradition – to really enjoy the publication of those small 9 pages that represent a lot of time at strange hours, not to mention thinking, tweaking and double checking. Considering how important every first author paper is in the world of Academia anyway, I think we all need to celebrate them and enjoy those few seconds of relief, pride and happiness!

Tata for now!