Sunday, March 29, 2009

Overcoming challenges

I made a mistake for this carnival - I read some other posts and got tounge tied... they were very good! But I will try and make something out of this subject.

So, how did I overcome one of the big challenges in science and what might that have been.

Well, I remember the day after my world had fallen apart the first time* saying to a friend, “I thought the hardest part of being a graduate student was going to be the actual science, not the politics around it. And not my feelings about myself and my selfworth”. Truly though, it turned out that half-way through my graduate studies the funding was drying up.... the lab, who had had more than 10 people when I started was slowly decreasing and my first publication was still nowhere in sight. I had gotten stuck looking at a protein and did not know yet that it is imperative that you set out “I can look at this problem for X months and then we evaluate and reconsider”. Since I was on my own in this, I had tried this and that and then some more this and some more that and I knew that when (any sane person will think “if”) I found the lovely ligand my paper would be there... and since I needed two first authors at least to graduate (the rules at the time) I really had to get my first one after halftime.

So, I wasn’t really prepared for the talk with my Advisor - maybe you should move on and leave this since it is not working!? I didn’t see the other things surrounding us as the Department and the Uni was short on money, and my group the most... fellow scientists who had worked together for more than 15 years had to quit and leave the lab... and there I thought I was going to stay. I was a graduate student and had put my first two years in the lab and had worked really hard... but no publishable results yet.

Well, after an initial though of throwing all my samples out of the freezer, kicking the computer to the floor and scream “WTF! You can all go to hell!”, I regrouped (cried my eyes out for a day or two and had support from my very best friends) and did what I had to do; I decided to fight for my graduate position. After meeting with Head of the Department, other professors and working every day for two months with what I had and making a plan on “how I would be able to graduate within 2 years”. In order to do this I met with some professors I knew since earlier, bounced of ideas with them. Asked if they thought it was possible and realistic?! And what I could use as leverage and how to deal with people in general in a situation like this. I think what I learned the most of those discussions was that someone on the outside will see the situation much more clearly and will help you distinguish between “It’s about you” and “It’s about them” and”It’s about the science”;which, when being a small graduate student who wants to be able to graduate since, it is very hard to start over again after two years is very very crucial to know.

How it ended? After I presented my plan (complete with some hints that “Professor X and Y thought this would be a good idea and angle to look at”) I got not only a “Green light for proceeding” but also “the Department will help pay for your trip to that important conference this summer”. I guess the only lingering thing was that I didn’t feel that I really trusted my place in the Department as well as my Advisor for a while....

Some time after this, as in nowadays, I don’t think it was that different from what happenes in many labs... with many graduate students.. but I learned that I needed to look out for me - noone else will do that for you (might have been something I should’ve known when I started but in any event, I knew it then) and that there are many things you can do if you just keep on having some contacts.

Overall, I think I can summarize the experience in a few points:
Noone will look out for you but you
It is important to have other people than your Mentor/Advisor that knows you and your research (it would have been so much harder to fight the whole thing if I didn’t have three other profesors and the Dean on my side)
You can try and perform much more than you think to start with but most of all.... think really hard if it is worth it, the fighting, since by far the most comments I got at the time was “really, can’t you just quit. It would be so easy and then you can find something else to do”. Even when most people knew I “always wanted to finish”.

My thoughts today? That I should’ve asked for guidence a bit earlier but most of all - the important thing is not to win but to not give up and leave a situation when you are not ready. And to have an eye out for “situations” and realise that it is not always (very seldom actually) about you but rather a bunch of things that collide and will affect you.

And even when you go through situations like these, there is a way to restore the relationship with your Advisor and keep in contact and bounce ideas and so on when you are a post doc. I guess it could be renamed “no being bitter but seeing history as a learning point” and wanting to go forward, rather than staying in the past?

With that, I will end this and hope that it made sense.

*second time was when I started my post-doc but that is not for today... but I learned something out of that too.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

saturday night

....I never knew I could feel like this..... like I have never seen the sky.... want to be inside your kiss.... every day I am loving you more and more.... listen to my heart... can you hear it sing.... come back to me... and forgive everything... seasons may change, winter turn to spring..... I will love you to the end of time.....

....Come what may...

...I will love you until my dying breath..

.....and my eyes are filling up with tears. I am such a cry baby when I am not even loving the movie. Not really. But I adore Baz Luhrmann's tricky play with old songs, revamped and then new words. The scene with Roxanne that turns into a "three scenes at the same time with very big intensity that is scaring" is especially beautifully made. His other movie Romeo+Juliet is one of my absolute faves though. Especially when Mercutio dies - "A plague o' both your houses! They have made worms' meat of me" and "If love be rough with you, be rough with love. Prick love for pricking and you beat love down". The use of the "swords" but they are guns... and the Capulets with John Leguizamo as Tybalt - "Romeo, the love I bear thee can afford no better term than this: Thou art a villain" and all the other good actresses and actors that are there. A very good movie indeed. Don't get scared by Leo and his young face. Or Claire Danes, they are shining and it is good to see young people play young, innocent love like that.

This brings me to remember "Titus" by Julie Taymor. A truly great movie too. (So, I like Shakespeare... maybe even having a slight obsession, ok... the secret is out!) Jessica Lange is .... I lack words.... great? amazing? And Alan Cumming makes his case as the Emperor of Rome. Hopkins is good too, but there are many good ones in this - a group effort to make a slightly strange play into a different movie. The scene with Lavinia (if you know the play, you know which one I mean) as the start of the true terror is breathtaking, with a swamp and the evil brothers circling like hawks on an innocent dove with a damaged wing.

I figuered I will give my list of Shakespeare movies that I have watched a bit too many times (and by no means are the ones made in black and white before 1970 bad - I just have a thing for these since they are slightly different). Nothing beats Laurence Olivier's Hamlet from 1948. The man was a genius.

The list>
Henry V (Kenneth Branagh directs and stars, together with Emma Thompson, Derek Jacobi and Brian Blessed. A very young Christian Bale is seen as the "boy" and the battle of Agincourt is one of the best done as far I as know.)
Much ado about nothing (Kenneth Branagh and a whole heap of the lovely ones... Brian Blessed, Richard Briars, Emma Thompson, Imelda Staunton and many others... this is actually a happy one)
Othello (Laurence Fishburne pairs up with Mr Branagh as Iago. A marvellous performance and Ms Jacob is good as Desdemona but really, you need to be very innocent - not too much more. Nathaniel Parker is good as Cassio, especially funny since I seem him now as "Lord Lynley")
Romeo+Juliet (as I spoke about higher up)
Titus (Jessica Lange, Anthony Hopkins, Alan Cumming and Colm Feore)

and.... Richard III (Ian McKellen teams up with Annette Bening, Maggie Smith, Kristin Scott Thomas and a heap of good actors in an "almost WWII Richard" that has paranoia everywhere.)

There are many others of course.... but if I had to pick and choose for people to realise why I love Shakespeare and the dramas I think I would choose those ones.

And if one could show one play it would be Macbeth, in London with Rufus Sewell. It was absolutely fab! Very toned down decor and many things that just were based on him and the dear Lady. She is truly the woman behind the man, the woman who instigates the lot of it. An interesting character indeed. Reminds me a lot about Iago, the other one who might not commit crime by themselves but creates the crimes....

With this I will go back to my Saturday night and see if I can find a good movie to watch. (Somehow I think I might end up with an episode of True Blood since I still haven't seen them and would like to know if it really is what all say it is.)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday drinks at 10 am

It isn’t really that bad, promise! I just decided at 10 am that I was going for Friday drinks later on tonight and asked some colleagues if they wanted to join in. Funny enough plenty said oh gosh yes!

It will be the start of a weekend off (note; just need to ask someone to remove plates tomorrow so I don’t have to get in). I feel slightly bad of actually planning to take 64 hours off work, but then again I am sure I will make it up somehow. (Hey, experimental cycles start next Monday for another 20 days…. So yeah, not too long time off.)

Anyhow, I was contemplating a thing I ran into earlier this week that I have been trying to grasp since. I got thrown a “juicy”* stories that I had missed had been “all over the last couple of months”. I am a bit ambivalent talking about it, since it concerned real people and real lives but it still boggles and bothers me so...

Let’s just say I understand that you may feel attracted to one of your colleagues (I mean, you probably see them more than your partner if you are a post doc anyway) but to sleep with them while your partner is working in the same Department? Not to mention that there is this age-old (oh God I am so tired of seeing it everywhere) thing that the man is tenured and at least 15 years older and the women is… yes, you guessed it, working in his lab. I mean, I am trying not to go all ballistic, right-wing-conservative-all-young-women-are-sluts-and-all-older-men-are-pigs but it still rubs me wrong. He is her boss for f's sake. And this is science and being a post doc is a temporary position where you need your PI in the future, right? (and a whole lot other things on top of that.)

But hey, at least I am not in that Department. It’s not affecting me. Not like the person I know, who is working in said Department and has had a bunch of awkwardness for awhile…. It’s not a nice, friendly atmosphere any longer, go figure?! Collaborations aren't really running smooth between the labs. I should just be able to walk away and not think too much about it. It is just one little thing…. I don’t understand [how she would dare do it]. (Him, I don’t relate to as much since I am not a 50+ tenured male professor cheating on my wife…) As I heard this story it flew my head “wow, either she is extremely brave or just stupid. There is no way I would dare mess up my professional life like that.” (Not that I would want to either, but that is beside the main point here. I am simply trying to figure out why I have been giving this so much thought and what I wanted the Head of the Department to do – ethics and affecting others etc.)

So, what I am having trouble grasping is how this is working out in the head. The idea that I would sleep with my boss is really very far away. And it has nothing to do with him per se. (See, I would think I would argue the same thing even if it was some gorgeous hunk/Nobelprizewinner/whomever you think of.) I wouldn’t know what that would lead me apart from being cast into a cess pit of rumors (we all know how little the world of science is), gossip, negative trash talk and what-you-know. I don’t think it reflects too good on the professor either but in all earnest – I think the older you are, the better you can get out of this one. And of course, it is fairly obvious that I don’t think “oh it is love and then you don’t get anything out of it” since I have a slight feeling that I would really make sure it was nothing to do with my position before I started this “true love” thing. (Let’s not go into my view of the “true love” and cheating, that is really beside the point here but yes, I see the small hints of cynism too.)

Anyway, I just wanted to share a tidbit of why I feel the need of a drink and having a nice weekend off work in a house far far away from work. Now I just have to convince my bacteria to grow fast enough so I can shock them and plate them before 5 pm! Grow babies, grow!!

*this is how one of the not-so-close-people described it to me. Had she known some of my history, I am sure she wouldn’t really use the word juicy about adultery/cheating….ah well, it’s just a word, right?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

response to response

I promised not to blog from work… and now I am fleeing annoying bacteria, an elusive protein production and realised that YFS had responded to comments on her post about “American postdocs”.

See, I noticed that I was mentioned in the beginning of the post and read my statements and the answers to them. (I noticed that my spelling mistakes were [sic]ed and got annoyed that I still can’t spell taught.) Anyhow, I think YFS’s response answered a lot of thoughts I had about “where she is coming from” and “why she would think that way”. I also realised that maybe it was hard to understand what I had tried to point at in the comment?!

Therefore, I will try and explain one key thing that clearly did not go through (the language barriers or rather, my shortening my comment and trying to keep it simple).

But then Chall said: I don't think this makes it "another factor working against you" - if nothing else because the key ingredient of getting that faculty job is networking/knowing the field/being known in the US and as a US born,bred and science thaught[sic] with an american [sic] mentor you have a huge advantage against at least the average foreign post docs.

Which raises a point I want to address.
1. Just because I have an American advisor does NOT give me, as an American female postdoc, a default advantage.
All of my peers are foreign postdocs who have the same advisor.
It's more important that our advisor LIKES us, which means that we have to meet certain expectations. So far as I can tell, the expectations for Americans are different than those for foreign postdocs.”

Lets start with the last thing first, since I think this is key. “It is more important that our advisor LIKES us” – yep, it is. Although I guess you could go for respect you or something in the similar idea. And the likelihood that your Advisor will like you usually increases if you are like your Advisor, i.e. coming from the same background, sharing cultural markers, social ladders etc. (Interestingly enough this is written in another comment, where it is used as Russian/Chinese PIs stock their lab with Russian/Chinese post docs.) It is also one of those things that is repeated throughout every seminar I have been to “people usually pick someone that resembles them” as an explanation that men tend to favor men, since they can ‘identify with them’ or like the "Southern men who likes football and beer identify with other Southern men" etc.

Anyhow, that was part of what I wanted to say but more importantly – what I meant with my whole first comment was that if you are born and raised (i.e. doing your undergrad/grad work) in the US and you speak English, you have had a much better opportunity to get to know more PIs and Professors in the States*. Not to mention you will come from a lab/uni that is known within the States … and therefore you will have an advantage against the foreign post docs.

[Like I would pride myself with having better connections when/if I apply for a position back in my home country since I have spoken to most of the peers/professors in my field, they know (of) my professor and his work etc.]

I guess I also need to clarify that I did not write this out of a “poor me, this is why it will be so hard for me to get a faculty job here in the States**” but rather to try and explain why some PIs don’t really see the point of “wasting” their contacts on foreign post docs and why it might be considered as an advantage for the “American academic” who has had at least 5 years (mostly more than that) extra to “connect” with people in US Academia.

All this is of course based on one large assumption that you “understand” that networking is important and that you most likely will get a job due to the people you know (or know you or know of your work or knows your old Advisor).

I would nothing else that to be able to send in my application to a job advert that I have seen somewhere, get selected out of my wonderful merits and then go for an interview. Oh no, I would LOVE that. (Did I mention that I think my merits are decent and quite good?) But I really don’t think that is going to work. And I am sure I wouldn’t place all the eggs in that basket.

Why? Because of all the people I have met and talked to, about how they got their job, most of them (if not all) stated either “I know this guy who told me about an opening they didn’t advert” or “funny enough, it turned out that A’s aunt worked as a HR and she gave me the name of the person looking for a job” or “I got in touch with the professor of the committee and s/he said they were looking for a person most interested in K”.

None of them responded to an advert and got selected. It might be that I have forgotten about my friends who have gotten the job in that way? Or it is the fact that, especially the last couple of years, there are much more people applying for a shrinking number of positions and therefore you need not only be a good scientist, but also with a grant, connections, collaborations AND stellar recommendations from important people in the field.

Instead of saying something snarky I think I will leave it at this.

And I understand that we can have different opinoins and I might be misunderstanding things and assuming things that aren’t “true”. But I do know one thing for sure, trying to explain why things aren’t going your way with kicking all the foreign post docs out of the equations isn’t really going to get you anywhere. (well, it will get you bitter maybe.) Trying to find a way to get around the problem (if there is something like that) might be a more productive way of solving the situation. After all, does it really get you a new job by stating "It is because I am a woman and they don't like to hire women"?

(I have ended up with that thought a bunch of times, and my key way out of that for me destructive thinking is to focus on "HOW and WHAT do I have to do in order to 'fix' this then?" And more often that not it has ended up with me realiseing that there often were something else there, like a connection I could make, and get through the obstacle. It is not going to be easy. It is not "fair" but it is life and the one thing you have to decide is how to handle things like that. Crying "it's not fair" sure as hell isn't going to help. And I know, since I have really done that and nothing good really came out of that. Bad things however, planty. Actually doing something and being proactive, effective and working hard did something. It still sucks at time though. Sure. It would have been awesome to have had that silver spoon and Advisor who gave me The job and getting the money/grant and everything I ever wanted but seriously, who gets that? And isn't that just daydreaming from the few few people who seemingly glides through life with no problem. The rest of us are working hard and trying to make it worth while.)

The other thing that struck me was “So far as I can tell, the expectations for Americans are different than those for foreign postdocs”. See, this might be more interesting to discuss (or maybe not) since this points to the everlasting “do I think she can pull it off whereas I don’t question that the guy can” as well as “foreign post docs are more desperate/worse/better since they moved from their home country”.

I feel that I don’t have the time to get into that right now (I am still at work) but maybe I will try and write about that soon enough. However, don’t hold your breath since I think it is a bit complex to group all “foreign” post docs into one group and compare them to the “American” post doc group since we had a hard time distinguishing between “American**” and “American****”.

I am more likely to go on yet another “women and men are treated differently and by jolly gosh, yesterday I heard about one of my post docs friends being known for always crying in lab meetings when people gave her criticism and I really do hate the tear factor and being a women ….

That said, off to the lab and trying to work through the problems so I can get my next publication and more chance of landing the next job!

*the people who are on the study sections and decide who gets money…. And on the hiring committee.
** I will have more problems than that. IF I would like to try out for a faculty position here, which I think I do not since Academia and I might not be as much as I previously thought.
***being ‘true’ American, born and raised here
****having done your undergrad/grad/post doc and now being American citizen but still born in another country American

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Intermission – happy tune

Before the normal ranting and complaining continues, here will be a little happy tune (and maybe one bitter remark but it is warranted).

So, for the bitter remark first…. More like my personal pet peeve in the world. If you give a presentation and the graph/data you are presenting has not come out as “significantly different” when you did the statistics, i.e. the standard deviation within the groups makes both groups similar (even if the median line of one column is above the other) – please refrain from stating “as you can see the two groups are different”. This especially if the groups contain n=3 (mice)…. And the variation within each group is larger than the “mean values of the groups”.

Enough said about that. (just one more; why do people continue to do this? Why?)

So, now The Happy Tune!

The grant based on my research was funded!! Wohooo!! It might not be an R01 but I don’t care. Funding based on the stuff I have done = I have done some stuff some people find interesting! (And worth continuing, one might add.)

Now, off to interpret more interesting results and see if I can try and summarize that paper too :)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Do microbiologists dream of electric bacteria?

In my case, nope. Do the microbiologist dream about various things better left in history and memories? Yes. (I know the analogy doesn’t really work since as far as I know, I am not an android... But then again, the idea of going into work every day makes me wonder about that too sometimes… nag nag nag)

I wanted to elaborate this whole dream thing, especially since I wrote a long rant about translation and being lost in it. They have things in common you see. Why? Well, it is a known fact for the one of us who have moved to a new country where our native language is not spoken that one of the things that change once you “adapt into your new environment” is when you start dreaming in the new language.

For me, that took about two to three months… then I woke up one morning and though about my dream and it was all in English. That was definitely cool, yet somewhat unnerving. Why? Well, I have dreamt in English before. The one thing about that though is that I knew I was dreaming… or that I thought I was in a movie or so… since I was talking English. Nowadays I more often than not dream in English although after a little vacation in my native land I retorted back into speaking my native tongue, even in my sleep.

It is quite confusing though, now when I am back in my English speaking country, to wake up from a dream that has its settings in “real life” and having the characters of my “real friends and acquaintances” and things that happen that aren’t really strange per se. What do I mean? Well, it might not be strange that one of your friends is pregnant, or that two of your colleges are dating or that your oldest friend in the world is talking to you in English, but it is not “true” and only happening in the dream. When these sorts of things happen in the dream and they are not only directly related to me, they are also intertwining my history and my memories to create something that has never happened…. Like you have a real memory with people, just that those ones weren’t the ones who were really there and then you mix up their language into English and then it is all very skewered. A bit like reality on crack I would assume… or maybe just looking through the looking glass and everything is tinted in green (like in the OZ books).

On top of that there is this language thing, which leads me to end up fairly confused in the morning. I wake up and have to stop for a second and think it all through. Did it really happen like that? Where am I? (I know, it sounds cheesy, like one of those amnesia movies but really – sometimes it is fairly confusing waking up and not knowing if I am supposed to speak English or something else….) What is going on? And most of all, do I dare turn around and look at the walls and the rest of the room? What if I am not really there….

Not to mention that having a real history moment play out in a dream, but change the ending into something you don’t recognize nor like, makes it all very scary, imho. You know, like those scary movies where everything seems just normal …before the sky comes falling down, the zombies start chasing you with blood from their eyes and mouths and you find your parents in the basement with an axe in their heads…. Just to name a few lovely images that sometimes happen after you watch Dawn of the Dead or 28 days.... (Let me tell you, if you drive a car and there is a road underground and one above ground… even if you think you will save time going underground. STAY away!! Take the scenic route and give yourself a few more hours, ok!?)

I will now go back into the lab and start hunting my bacteria down (with antibiotic nevertheless and not guns) and think about my next post, which will either touch on the subject of sin, or be a part of this months Carnival about "Tell us about that most firey fire through which you have had to walk in your scientific career." as decided by Candid engineer I guess I need to make a decision about exactly how candid I will be, and how much of the dreams I would tell....

Friday, March 06, 2009

clanging cymbal

"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing."

the next paragraph is very well known and ends in "...greatest of these is love".

Funny enough, I had a whole post written about feeling down about being a women in science, being reminded about some facts that I really did not want to get thrown in my face (by a male professor no less) but at this moment it feels less interesting.

Guess this is one way BSG rubs me (reruns)?!

Or just to be greatful in general in this lenten time?

If nothing else, I have to say that looking back (something I am quite a master of) and taking in what is now - it feels darn good. So far traveled, so many bridges crossed and hopefully so much stronger. And it is wonderful to be able to breathe again. To hope again. And the other things too.... :)

That said, I wish no one that journey.... but it could have been so much worse.

Time for bed!

I wrote this last night and then pulled the post since I thought it might be too sappy/personal. Then on my way to work this morning I listened to NPR and the reporting from California and their Supreme Court in regards to the case Proposition 8 and my first thought was "why is there so much hate? Surely they should focus on not being clanging cymbals or all knowledgeable since as long as you do not love, you are indeed an empty shell. And it is so much easier to hate, mistrust and be set in your ways than to really open your heart and mind to your neighbour. Why not take on the challenge to truly work with the words?"

Then I decided to post it anyway. Happy Friday everyone. And if nothing else, maybe think about how it would feel to have made a huge decision and now maybe nothing is as you think it might be because laws are changing and people are more inclined to exclude than include.

It's a bit hippie-like but "Can't we just all love each other?" [Or at least try and tolerate our neighbour and leave the judging to God. If nothing else, it was reported yesterday that the highest traffic to porn sites comes from Utah. All in all, 'the first to throw a rock anyone????' If you now claim to know the book so well.... Love vs hate....]

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Graduate vs post doc

After a long weekend of nice relaxing time (and somehow avoiding doing anything useful apart from some cooking and dashing into work for a short hour or so) I find myself in lab for a long week stretching over 10 days. I was presented last week with a graduate student who stepped by my office and asked “since you seem so focused at your work and liking it* – could you help me out maybe?”. It turns out that the graduate student isn’t happy at all. The graduate student isn’t sure s/he wants to continue, if there is “any worth in it since s/he wakes up in the middle of the night with anxiety attacks” and most of all “doesn’t really see the end since the advisor doesn’t think it will be done within the year”.

I sat there and listened to the venting and thoughts. I tried to start with the everlasting “I know, I have been there too” and tried explain (not the best word, maybe correlate?) that it is nothing strange that you would feel this after being a graduate student for X years. The main difference between the graduate student and myself (my former graduate student self might be more accurate to say) came when I tried to explain where I came from and started with “I knew that I wanted to finish”. This graduate student didn’t know if s/he really thought it was worth it. “It’s not going to be my key job interest anyway”. Huh. Especially in reagards to my recent trip back and keeping up with my former fellow graduate students and what they do now, I really did not know what to say... (apart from a "are you sure this is not because it feels right now as if you aren't going to finish?")

Well, I think we had a good chat from the graduate student’s perspective but from mine…. I don’t know. I realized Saturday (not to mention Monday morning when I stepped into the lab) that the main difference between being a graduate student and being a post doc [for me] is that the former is aiming for the coveted PhD title and that is the finishing line of the hard labour. The post doc however, has a more elusive finish line… and now that I think of it, I can’t really tell what mine is. The next paper? The (assistant) professorship that I am not sure I covet anymore? The new experiment I start next few months?

Personally, I have recently dreamt of a 9-5 hour job and some connection between experiments and writing things… Needless to say, my post doc might not be the straightest way to this job. On the other hand, as so many people have said in this time, due to the economic reality as well as other things as life in general, the straightest way isn’t always what you need or what you get. Not to mention the fact that I like my post doc at the time. I want to see where my experiments end up and want to write my papers for them.

I just know I have to remember to keep one thought on the future and be proactive about assessing my strengths and improvements if I am ever going to get that “other job”.

The graduate student? Well, s/he said they wanted to talk to me some more as well as going to see a therapist in order to see if there is something more to this “thought process” than tired grad nerves.

*if nothing else, I look like I am enjoying my lab time since people find me both focused and liking my job... I can't say they are wrong at the moment, it is interesting times.