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! :)