Wednesday, December 29, 2010

(non science) update inbtw holiday one and two....

I might not really call it holiday but.... hmm... "the time you spend a lot of time moving in between places meeting ppl, eating more food than you want, sleeping odd times and talking* constantly. *doesn't have to be you talking, "engaged in conversation" might be more on spot with what I mean.

I am tired at the moment, the sort of wouldn't mind a vacation from the catching up on holidays that  I am currently enjoying. It's been a few things keeping my mind working in over time even at night, when the rest of my body wants to sleep.

These constant questions; i.e. also known as "what are you going to be when you grow up" but now masked as "so, when are you moving home**?" or "you're not getting any younger you know"*** and "you're over there since you make a lot of money there, right?"****

And then a few of those "the old - they're old now" and I am not really sure on what to make of it. It sometimes breaks my heart. One thing is for sure though, you can't change other people. And old people are set in their ways. (Doesn't make for a wonderful relaxing concept all the time though ;) )

But I can play in the snow, sleep in some mornings, read lots of news papers in native language and maybe in the end feel a little less confused when I embark on the flight back to where my home is now. I have some thoughts on the post doc experience, the city to move to, the disappointments of failure, the confusion of uncertainty and other things like that.

Although, right now I will go back to the glögg and the saffronbuns and rest a little before the next "visiting with family and friends" start tomorrow again.

Happy New Years in advance! (the internet is splotchy.....)

** home = place where I was born, or country I was born in... or any place where they are - not necessarily where I have much conncetion. The saying would be "anywhere were you are closed so you can get 'home' to us more often. Often typed in with other comments as "we haven't seen you in ages" even when these things are a bit embarrassing obvious when others, who live in the same country, haven't been visiting either.... so... distance might not be the key thing, but rather interest to travel or making the effort rather....

*** want to venture a guess what this is about? Didn't think so. It's a bit more complicated than I care to venture into here... but I'm getting to a point where I wonder if I am the insane one. One person did in all honesty tell me that "going out on a Friday would solve it all and no need to worry afterwards".

**** again, it might have been a good paying gig once in a year like in the 80ies. Nowadays I am getting less or equal pay than people over here (and less social security and sick leave etc) but I ... HAVE a job.. and I got a job when I moved... again, it's apparently very hard to explain to some people.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

have a little... trap alarm?

I have a little something to blog about among all the unbloggable things in my life right now....

You know that you've been away from the (old) lab for a long time when you walk into the cold room to pull some plates out and you slip on the Big bag with unmentionables in it (read: things in an biohazard bad that need to be in cold room to die and not smell too much in the open room) and accidentally press the button close to the door..... BAAAAAAAAAAAAP (or however one would make the horrid sound look like in writing) and you panic since you can't turn it off....

My thought was "it's the fire alarm. Shit. It's direct to the fire department". And then some of the people still on the floor came rushing there and the nice (but oh so overly nice) guy show up to turn it off. Since it was the "trapped in the cold room alarm".

Yeah. Stealthy move. Not.

At least I got a compliment out of it since I apparently looked hot (in the cold room). And I now know that I ever get trapped people would get there quickly to save me....

Next time, I'll remember how to disarm the alarm. But I at least never have used it and thus never knew how to disable it. I guess what the running joke will be the rest of the week...

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

my twelve months....

A little "end of the year meme" that I maybe should've waited with until I had something for December?

Jan Happy New Years! It's been a bit of a break from the Internet with the holidays and all

Feb I alluded in my previous post that I was thinking about things I haven't blogged about.

March am a bit scared now.  

April Most of the people who "know" me get surprised when they find out that I test as an introvert as Mayer-Briggs.

May As I have mentioned several time... Law & Order and I have a bit of a relationship.

June How you deal with stress, failure and other external factors that collide with your internal thinking is very different. 

July So, tonight I watched both "He's not just into you" and "Titanic" and read Scienceblogs. 

Aug This story "What broke my father's heart" in the New York Times made me cry when I read it.

Sep Sometimes, just sometimes, I get so blasted tired of people. Certain people that is.

Oct As a young member of various organisations and movements I came to the realization that maybe I wasn't really a team player. (The disclaimer is actually first but still, within brackets; "As a side note, this was written prior to the Vikings game tonight" )

Nov One of the questions I have gotten since I moved to post doc city* is "do you think in your own language and then translate in your head"?

Dec A little "end of the year meme" that I maybe should've waited with until I had something for December?

Monday, November 29, 2010

hockey pool week 7 AND 8

After some misunderstandings and snafus (I still don't know my mac as well as I would think) I hereby present Hockey pool week 7 and week 8!

(As is obvious with the slope I lost momentum for week 7) but more importantly the winner was Gerty-Z with a whooping 40 points! WOW! The rest of us lined up as follows; Ricardipus, Cath, Lavaland, Bob, TomJoe, SM and me as a last place holder....

Week 8, ended yesterday and ScientistMother stands as winner with 35 points!! Congrats! The rest of us lined up as followed; Lavaland, Cath, Gerty, Riciadipus, me, Bob and Tom as the last place holder for the week...

Now, I have to go and cry in the corner since I forgot to change my picks for this week and therefore probably will have some less points again.... darn!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

tale of two languages

One of the questions I have gotten since I moved to post doc city* is "do you think in your own language and then translate in your head". And I try to explain that it took about a month (give or take**) being surrounded by new language before I dreamt and thought in that language and that there is a certain strangeness in the thoughts. What I mean with that? 

I mean I think in English most of the time. I describe my feelings in terms of English. Not when I speak to my old friends back home, or my family - since I speak mother tongue with them but it's sometimes like I have to translate my thoughts back into mother tongue since I have them in English (currently since I live here). Sometimes it's difficult to translate them into the "same" word and that is a bit odd. I mean, I'm not surprised when I fail to explain my feeling in English, when I know what I mean deep down, but having trouble explaining the English expression into mother tongue? Quite annoying.

It's sometimes confusing. And there is a disconnect. The feelings I describe in English isn't always as "feely" as they would be in Swedish. As to describe it, it's sometimes more like watching a movie and knowing what they say but it's not connecting as much inside as it would be if it was in Swedish. Like the experience when someone calls you a bad word in "not-your-mother-tongue" or having to curse in another language***.

I made a mistake in teaching my coworkers some of the worst words (in my language) when I started my post doc. They laughed and thought it funny and for some short time, they said them to my jokingly in the lab. I had to tell them that it wasn't going to work anymore since it wasn't a joke to me when I heard the words. Funny enough, when they said the equivalent words in English I didn't really care. They were sort of uncomfortable though... if I said their words... The test did work and we all decided to stop trying to be "funny".

Anyhow, it's interesting that it's like having two different lives - one in mother language and one in second language.

And then the kicker. 

Sometimes I wake up and feel strange about my dreams. I have recollections about them being about my friends back home, the ones I've known for several years, and it's been very normal... but yet, something is odd. And then I realise that the problem is that my old friends were speaking English, and the voice over in the dream was in English as well. It doesn't make sense, since when I think about them all is in description in Swedish. And even if I can correctly translate words, they don't really mean the same...

Part of this was something I thought about when thinking about science since a lot of lingo back home is still in English (after all, we are not Icelandic or French where they make a new word but we use the English word most times and "make it Swedish") and that makes a challenge to talk about certain aspects of science in Swedish while most people know the English word anyway. Partly it was about my feelings and why it's harder to grasp certain things when they are spoken in English. Interpret people and their actions and words are hard to start with. Doing the same things in another language, a whole another problem.

It's like the second one of disconnect... I spoke to a friend back home a bit back whose mother is really ill. It was one of those times when I realised, yet again, that "I'm sorry" and "jag är så ledsen för din skull" aren't connecting the same within my heart. The latter version really hits home. I guess that is one of the reasons I sometimes rehash conversations in my head and translate them to really "feel" what was said and felt. It's just not the same when I speak my new language. It's like the defense if down in my ow language, whereas it is still a sort of wall in front of my heart in English.

I guess I could try and explain it better if I state that it could be the same that I usually need to read poems out aloud in order to feel the words. Or, I am just like a child trying to learn how to read? In any event, I need to hear the words as I read them in order to feel the emotion behind them (plus, it makes me read slower when I read aloud so maybe that is the reason?)

If nothing else, read the poems and words out loud from here and see if they make more sense... or more emotional?

Then there are those poems I read as a young woman, the ones I would like some of my newer friends to read and see if they like them as much as I do.... although I am not sure the read the same in English (the ones that exist that is). Partly maybe since poems are so hard to translate, considering the words and the context that makes the whole thing hard to make the same beautiful poem. I guess it might be the same in general when you translate although I tend to think poems are extra hard to make "right".

If interested, Edith Södergran and Karin Boye are two excellent poets whom I am not sure are found in English but are quite the quintesse of poets (imho). They are mostly on the dark side, or at least some of their romantic ones and others questioning life, but maybe that is quite the thing with poets? Emotions, mostly the bittersweet ones... but yet so eloquently written and perfectly describing the feelings and motions in order to make it easier to us who doesn't have the elegance of expression to know what to strive for? Or just expressing them?

*another country with another language than my mother tongue, and the question arise (sometimes after people ask if perhaps we speak English in my country) when established that I do have another language as my first one...

** it all depends on if I'm surrounded with only the new language or if I speak my native one a lot every day... if that makes sense? Even if I read the new paper every day, and talk to my family often, it's not the same as speaking it every morning and on and off during the day.

*** cursing has been shown to me being one of those things that doesn't connect as much inside when someone calls me a bad word. I mean, I get upset - don't get me wrong there - but the same context in native language is way more upsetting. When I was younger I spent some time in France, speaking French and almost ended up in a really bad situation since I said some very rude words that really didn't mean that much to me.... partly since it was another language. Safe to say, that wasn't true for Same thing that been explained to me by people who work with immigrants in my own country and their use of foul words in Sweden, since it doesn't connect that same way to them when they say that. In short, it's easier to curse in another language since it doesn't speak to you the same as if you were to say it in your native language.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

...not in Kansas anymore...

Every once in awhile I forget where I currently live, post doc city. Needless to state much more, it’s a whole different place than where I grew up on the other side of the world. Funny enough though, I seem to forget every once in a while, like these last couple of weeks when I’ve encountered some of those things that make me go “ahh…. Maybe not the best plan silly! What was I thinking?”.

Let me just go through one of these things that makes me go “ah” (other people might not really go ah… ). I think it at least gives me some credit that I haven’t mentioned any of this to my family nor friends since I’m not too sure they’d approve or see the funny. Although, one of the things I realized was that I’m getting visitors in a few weeks and my friend’s boyfriend wasn’t too keen on visiting. Although,he was even less inclined to let my friend go alone to “that city since it is DANGEROUS”. My friend replied “well, chall has lived there for many years now and she hasn’t gotten killed or attacked yet” … ehh… I’m not really going to tell her too many details, and especially not right now when they’ve already booked flights and stuff.

So, one of these nights I realized driving home from a friend out in the suburbs that I needed gas. I had thought about it earlier in the day but gotten off work a bit late and therefore didn’t fill the car on the way out… Although, I got a bit worried since I saw the needle heading down to ‘E’. I therefore did what a responsible person does, and pulled into a gas station and up to the pump. Somewhere here I probably should’ve realized that if the “credit card function” on the machine is cancelled so you have to go in and pay with cash and tell the person behind the counter than you need gas for $20, maybe there is a reason for that? Not to mention that certain neighborhoods might not be the best to visit on a Friday night?!

Well, I’d already gone inside when this thought occurred to me and I wasn’t going to leave then (plus that getting stranded in the middle of the road without gas is just plain too embarrassing) . Silly me, not feeling scared or anything, although I was quite clearly not like the other clientele in there…. The woman who stood next by the counter while I handed over my 20 commented that my accent pointed out that “I was not from here” – her male friend next to her smiled and showed his golden grill while he looked at me and her. I don’t know why I just didn’t keep my mouth shut, but I guess like always, I’ve learned ignoring people usually leads to more problems than others. So, I stated that I wasn’t indeed not from around here (anyone could’ve done the math by looking at me in the store but hey…) but had moved here awhile back. She shooed and smiled and said that it was so cool that I was from exotic place (I’m pretty sure she had no idea where I am from but again, not arguing at 11 pm in a gas station in some neighborhood where I probably shouldn’t have been in the first place) and that with my hot body (yeah?!*) and that accent and exotic story – “I’d make a killing strippin’”.

She offered to take me over to the place where she worked in case I wanted to make more money than my current day job or just “to get some extra cash”… I just smiled and said “thanks, I’d need to think about it but it was so nice of her to say that” and with that I moved out towards my car to go home. After that exchange it really didn’t face me as much coming back home realizing that there were two men getting into a car outside when I clearly could see a gun from one of their belts…. Did someone say “de sensitized”? Another place indeed…

*A part of me thinks this is the best comment evah! I’ve never been offered a compliment that I would have the body to strip or do nude jobs… (apart from Croquis) so either my weight loss/exercise has paid off, or (which I might be inclined to think) she was sort of bending the truth… or the strippers at her place are slightly bigger than the “average stripper I’ve seen in all the Hollywood movies” and while in Vegas? Anyway, I spent half the way driving home thinking about what had happened and trying to visualize me in a strip joint. Needless to say (?) I couldn’t help but laugh since I would most likely not “kill with my mad skillz” but rather not really working the pole as much as falling on the floor and suffocate while trying to suck in that tummy….

Monday, October 18, 2010

Hockey pool week 2

Congratulations Bob for being the winner of Week 2 (and also being the current overall leader)!

Here are the results*

*Maybe this type of graph would be easier to see for the first few weeks at least? I've sorted it so the most points are to the left, and the ones with the least points (over all) are in the right....

Monday, October 11, 2010

The I in team*

(As a side note, this was written prior to the Vikings game tonight. Of which, the first half led me to ponder what it really means packing lots of talented people together - doesn't mean they can work as a group. Second half though, made this disclaimer partly unnecessary... until the death with 1.30 to go in the fourth quarter. [VERY BAD WORD!!] Just learn not to throw those interception with less than 2 mins to go... learn from mistakes in the past. LEARN!)

As a young member of various organisations and movements I came to the realization that maybe I wasn't really a team player. After another couple of years as an undergrad (remember all the "group work"?) I pinpointed my problem a bit more. It's not really that I don't like working in a team. Actually, I love working in a team since I know that 1+1+1 can make 5, it's that I have two main issues.

First, I dislike working in a team where the leader is not good. (I guess it would be more honest to say "worse than I would be as a leader and maybe that I consider myself a decent one due to experience and training".) Second, I dislike working in a team where people don't pull their weight. (Probably need to clarify since this comment has led to accusations about being an elitist in the past.) The key thing is in the effort, not necessarily the execution! (And this sort of loops back to the leader thing, that a good leader imho does not ask impossible things from their underlings. Tough things, sure. Impossible things that don't fit their character - not so much.)

This all seems fairly obvious (at least to me). When you are hired to do a job, you take pride in doing the job well. And as long as that happens, there is no problem. Team work for everyone!

Well, I guess it's obvious where this is going?!

What happens when you encounter the other types of people... like the ones who either have no interest in doing a good job (I guess they can always end up in the fired pool?); the ones who have made it a talent to walk the thin line of doing "exactly that little in order not to be able to be fired but also not doing much at all"; or the ones, as I have discovered more in more recent times, actively try to undermine the team effort (hopefully in order to make themselves look good - I can only hope this is the reason since otherwise it is just plain stupid)?

Needless to say, the last category really pisses me off. The other two categories aren't making me happy either - and I wonder if this is one of the main concerns I have had the last couple of years. Where you work more with people who "only sees the pay check in the end of the month and don't really care too much about the job"? This isn't something I think it more common outside of science per se. I know a lot of people not in science who still take pride in doing a great job, maybe because they see it as  a moral thing to do? However, I do think that if you don't work hard and try and do the best you can - you'd probably get tossed out of science (or other competitive environments) pretty fast?

And the team work with people who don't pull their weight usually leads me to enter the "I'll do it myself since then at least I know it'll get done". It's not really the best solution, since it means more work for me, less work for them, and in pay I guess they "win". But at least I can stick to my morals and thoughts about doing a good job. And the job gets done (the most important thing!). Best solution would be to try and improve their work ethics... anyone see the mountain moving? Didn't think so.

Well, I won't go into details in regards to recent times, but I have been going to the gym a lot lately**. Adrenaline and frustration are best worked out on a heavy bag or a treadmill... and hopefully the feeling of accepting "enough is enough" and "it's ok to give up sometimes and stop trying to change people but the only thing you can do is to change your situation"will decrease since I do worry about where that feeling will lead me to do every once in awhile.

In certain less dark moments I guess I could see this as yet another "learning experience". But dang I am getting very tired of all this "learning through being sucker punched just because I believe in people". I don't want to end up building (more) shields and refraining from trusting people (even less than I tend to do anyway).

I guess I just don't get people. Period.

*reference to Buffy season 4 episode... as well as the sport term "There is no I in team", meaning that the team is one unit - comprised of individuals but they are not counted as individuals... only a team!

**I've managed to gain (!) weight (not more than 1 pound or so). Although, when measuring waist lines etc I've lost centimeters so... building muscle might be nice but it's throwing me off my "loosing weight effort" and making me even more annoyed... maybe just date the treadmill more and the punching bag less in the week to come.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Alone on the ocean in a dinghy with one oar and no working compass nor map

I mean, a little dinghy where someone neglected to bring a GPS or any fancy stuff (nor a sextant) but rather a regular (sea) map and a compass. However, it's now been obvious that the compass is broken and the map is faulty (reefs not marked out, nor correct sounds and islands).

Even if I saw the sun and could take some bearing on it, it's hard to know which direction to go when you don't know where you start from and (in the middle of the ocean, no land anywhere in sight). And with only one oar, you'd better be careful on how to make it work so you aren't only going in a circle (never done that, duh).

I need a new navigation system, pronto. I'm tempted to break the oar into two smaller ones, but being a bit clumsy I guess that could end real bad (one oar is, after all, better than no oar).

And yeah, I am not sure what I would do if one of those luxurious yacht show up; my dinghy might be small and non-flashy, but it is mine. There is something to say about that, I guess. Maybe a long rope to allow towing so I can still have an option, and not get thrown off in the middle of the ocean sans dinghy? That would indeed be worse. (always try and find the worse situation, at least you are not in that right now...)

Oh, I think I see a leak. Better rephrase that whole story; "in a leaky dinghy taking in water in the middle of the ocean".

How splendid.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

adapting the Gordian knot approach

I think I will really try to adapt to the "Gordian knot" approach. The more I think about it, the more it is clear that there is something to be said about some of these things.... no more "why?" or "maybe they did because of...". Just simple; solve the problem as lying before you, and don't worry about loose ends.*

I'm the first to say that I am prone to take on the 'Sherlock approach' (i.e. proper deduction) and try and deduct from certain observations... However, I'm probably not as observant, nor impartial/unemotional, as Sherlock and therefore my deductions are more likely to be off and slightly wrong. Not to mention that sometimes even Sherlock made things a bit too complicated. Most often, I have realised, people aren't that complicated - they "just do" things.... without that much thought behind (avoiding a difficult situation, emotional outburst, just not liking it... no real thought there, merely instinct and being slightly cowardy maybe?)

No, there is something to be said about "looking at the situation and not trying to explain, rationalize or deduct anything but take it at face value". It is what it is, and you make your action after that. No more, no less.

No more Diplomacy moves (strategy game based on knowing when to stab your ally in order to concer the whole of Europe). No more pseudo-psychology studies. Just, I see B and therefore I will do C. (One could be tempted to start asking "why did B come up at all" but see, that is the thing I will start trying to avoid. According to my sources, the "why" is a entangled web that in the end, might not make you much more happy anyway... the situation is there and the action needs to be taken. "Why" is a sub-important thing.)

I will say though, that avoiding asking the "why", and tumble down that road, is without doubt going to be my main obstacle. After all, I love trying to make sense.... and usually need the why in order to understand what happened. But as it's been said before: some actions don't make sense, and even if they do - that's not the problem. The problem is what happened and what you will do in response". And for that, you probably don't need to know "why it happened in the first place" for many occasions.

Focus on the action, not the feeling?! Yeah, I might need some luck there.

*so witty in the morning

Monday, September 20, 2010

loosing the faith

I'm about to give up. The last couple of months, as well as last night's*, experience is pointing me towards a sort of unsettling thought. That maybe it's never going to be about what people tell you in "truth". Or honesty at all. Maybe you just need to ignore what they say but rather just go for other angles and what you see? (And that is what you get.)

I've been at these cross road before. (Anyone who's read this blog earlier know that I have wandered down the path before and pondering why I bother listening to people and what they say, when it is really all about what they do. Like you tell children; "they don't do what you say, but what you do". And then of course, I would be silly not to repeat it "actions speak louder than words".)

I guess I'm mainly tired of being played like the fool - or acting the fool believing what's said (the lies) when all is pointing towards something not being said but I stay the course since they stated something different?

My main problem probably, as always, is that I am too logical and too rational. I do a "cost vs benefit" ration on most of my behaviour and others'. (Probably why I tend not to lie since most of the times the benefit isn't worth it. Of course, that is because I feel bad when I hurt due to the lies of others, assuming others might do the same, and tend to think gangrene is worse than a clear amputation, if you know what I am referring to?)

My main problem then, is that when people do things to others, as well as to me, I tend to try and explain it. Logical. And rational. And I have a starting point of looking at "what do the gain" and, probably more important, "what does the easiest way out mean"... and easiest in my opinion would mean "less messy" and "least explanation to others".

In a simple example, at a work place; if you are working in a closed space - say a BSL3 suite - and you are using the (almost to) last equipment and you get out of there and know that someone is going in there the next day. What would you do? (You don't want to do much work...) Would you go back into the suite with all the stuff you know would be needed when the next person goes in there? Would you tell the person you know going in there what they'd need to make their work? Or, as a middle ground, would you tell someone (maybe someone who is in charge of the suite) that "these things are missing and need to be replaced?". Or would you do nothing at all?

I'm the first to say that the first would be a "sucker thing" to do, above what you might need to do. (in this example, I'm not saying I would do that... maybe put the things needed into the air lock so it's obvious for the next person to bring it in with them. Telling them since I know they are going in there - no brainer.) But, the second or third example would be in line of what I would call "needed to do in order to do a good job and being a group member"...

Although, if you do the last option... at least be a decent enough person to not assume that anyone would do anything different to you (if you were the person going into the suite). Let's just go with "do to others what you expect them to do to you", since for a rational person it at least makes sense (and I would think that is not a super-Christian thing to do... but maybe I am wrong?). Or, "actions speak louder than words" but in my opinions you don't get to bitch about it if you were to enter that suite and find out that what ever you needed in order to to your job is not there. See, as a rational and logical person (as myself) this behavour doesn't make sense.

And to be annoyed and hurt if you were called on this behaviour? And lie about why/what happened? (I didn't do that!) Yeah... you got it.. In my limited rational book, that doesn't make sense since it is... more foolish that being played.

Did I mention that I am currently out of patience and being the nice girl (or doctor... or human) when other people are trying to fuck me over? Yeah...

And here I thought I was trying to save my soul (or personality) and being the good person, even if it cost me some slaps in the face... but once you start thinking kicking me when it looks like I am falling, it's no game. There are limits to my foolishness and niceness. However, I really hope that I can keep coming back to the "not looking at people as if they are lies pieces of dirt who wants to get ahead no matter what". But I'm starting to really questioning why it's worth it? Maybe I should just look out for me, all the time and not care anything about others? After all, there are a lot of people in the world like that...

(I just feel like that means I am giving up on the good in people... It's maybe about a grey scale? I've never been good with mixing black and white that much - apart from in clothing, of course.)

*election night in Sweden. People get the government the deserve and want... right? ehh... we're in deep trouble now.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

choices and re-evaluation

The last couple of weeks have been a bit of a "pondering time" for yours truly. Partly unbloggable things, partly things that are right on target to blog about. I've mentioned a few times that I find it interesting (if not down right hard) to re-evaluate your dreams and hopes when what you thought were your dreams turn out not to be the right ones... the TT track is one example. Realizing that you might not be as bad as you sort of thought (hey, never said I was on target with my self assessment) and redefining the goals might be good for you, but it is also hard.

At least if you are anything like me, who doesn't do change that well. Or I guess, in honesty, that I do changes fairly well - it's the uncertainty prior to the decision I am particularly having problems with. The time in limbo, when it is unclear what will happen and what to prepare for.

Anyhow, the last couple of weeks I have received two emails that made my mid boggle a bit. And then there were some things at work that made my mind almost explode. Let's start with the emails, since I have gotten to think about them. They are both similar, not "real job offers" but rather "hey, I remember you and we have an opening at this place and we thought of you and wanted to ask if you wanted to have your CV moved into 'the short track pile into HR with a special recommendation' since you have expertise we need and want". To say my ego feels stroked would be correct.

Main "problem"? That both these jobs are in a very different place than I currently reside. And both of them have been in major US cities with international big corporations/governmental ties, i.e. BIG cities.

For the first one, I wrote a very kind and flattered reply stating that at this time, it's not the right move but very happy you kept me in your thoughts. The second one is the one making things a tad bit more complicated. It would be a nice job (more into my field of expertise as well). Let me rephrase that, it'd be a really interesting and great job on the career ladder... but I am not really interested in moving where it is. Not really, but that could be just a flux right now.

I've mentioned some time ago that my main problem for turning offers down is that I have a problem realizing that there might be new offers around the corner and I don't need to move quickly and take that job right away. Especially since it is not my dream job, although a good one, and I currently have a job that fits my career ladder move/what-have-you.

Of course, unbloggable things make these decisions less clear cut. And making my mind a bit muddled, as in "why I should make the decision" or "base the decision on". I've always been a firm believer in "moving towards" rather than "moving away". It might lead to the same decision in the end, but they are vastly different inside. And I am tired of moving for right now. Or maybe I'm just tired in general?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

that is Doctor "Girl-with-panties-in-a-twist" to you

Sometimes, just sometimes, I get so blasted tired of people. Certain people that is.

I mean, I know that I look sort of young and especially since there is no ring on the finger, nor kids in the family, and that I smile and giggle sometimes. But seriously, I need to go back to the more morose and "dressed up woman" rotiune in order to get some things that others get automatically.

I don't like flaunting my title. Especially not to people I work with, and who work for, me and personally I have a problem asking an older woman who cleans my office to call me "Dr LastName" when I call her her first name, and then she can call me "chall" (first name) and we are chatting away. It just doesn't sit right with me to ask someone (especially) older and nice to go with Title. So, we're in the clear.

It's other people who doesn't necessarily get that. You know the meetings when all the male doctors are referred to as "Dr X" and "Dr K" and then it goes to "chall", P and R - and you can see some notes from the meeting and see this. And when (if) you call it, some people will start mumbling "oh, she really thinks that's needed. Such a girl behaviour, getting her panties in a twist about something like that". Well, you know what? If the shoe fits.... and I worked darned hard for that title, therefore go with "Dr Panties-in-a-twist" if that makes it easier?!

And the funniest part - once it is out that I have this title  - it automatically makes me older and that gives me some more respect since apparently I am not "fresh out of high school"... (since that is something added onto the "experience account" and therefore gives me more respect... Dr G had something to say about this in a blog post a week ago but I won't go into that now).

Me? I always get surprised that the other part of the equation (the part I use to think matters more than anything almost) is forgotten and not taken into account. I moved across the bleeping world! You think that would count for something in the "experience" account and maybe indicate that I am not as young as they might think?

Ah well, now it is weekend and I will go do what Americans do best - shopping ;) And probably be called Maam all the time, which I sort of like since that is all women over 19 here in the Southern city I live in, and not the more "younger" Miss... (as I go on the West Coast when I was there on vacation last year).

Note: Part of this confusion or reluctance of being called "Dr Last Name" would be that in my country of origin, we are great fans of "first name" basis and not "paying too much attention to titles since we are, after all, equal"... this cultural difference (title calling in general) might be one of the biggest things I've tried to adapt to in post-doc city). I'm trying at least.

Ms Chall, PhD ;)

Monday, August 30, 2010

rejection sigh...

Well, I got to be happy for a few days, but today all hope was squished. "Not clear of the kind of conceptual advance which would generate interest from our reader".... [paraphrasing] Ah, it's probably much better though, to get rejected without even getting sent out for review. At least it was very quick. Now the manuscript can get sent to another journal.... if I just can figure out a better [more appropriate] one.

Feeling a bit bummed though. Really wanted this to work. It would've been my best IF so far...

Then again, maybe that wouldn't mean too much ;)

Off to scout for a new vanue, and I think C/N/S style is out. (read: not general enough, nor conceptial apparently... duh) The hard choice is going to be which way we will have to rewrite it towards... huu....

I guess I can give it a night and grieve/feel bummed/mope before I pick it up and reformat the whole deal. Yack.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

You make a huge mistake

…in the middle of the day, aka lunch time. I started reading a little thing about the swine flu debate… and realized (again) that I won’t be able to be quiet nor calm. Some people are just too scary for their own good.

Since I’m busy today I can’t write my piece right now, but I will have too soon. I can however jot down a few bullet points. All of them since it makes me cringe how little people really understand “causality” and “correlation” and what this “statistical significance” really means.

Let’s start with simple biology;
*Virus infections can not be treated with antibiotics

*Actually, apart from some anti-virals that work against some viral infections, we humans have nothing real good to fight a viral infection. Hence the interest and need for vaccines

..and then on to the more hard to argue about since they are so… taken out of thin air?!

* Pharma is not out to kill us all, really not.

* Even if Pharma is only around to make money, they don’t want to kill everyone (especially not their potential clients who will buy drugs)

There are some mix ups of all these arguments which makes it really hard to argue the case. Why? Because the whole discussion focuses on A,B and then logically D,E and G. If you are to point out that in fact, “B is wrong, C and F are missing, and D doesn’t follow B, but sure, G is a bit tough” then the focus will be “G is a bit tough, huh I TOLD you so!!!” and all other points are forgotten since one of the statements were sort of true….

* I agree completely that the WHO screwed up on the “non disclosure” factor of which affiliation the researchers who were involved in the reference group had. I thought it would lead to, as it has, the whole “if you’re hiding it, it’s because it’s fishy”. That was real stupidly done. (Doesn’t influence what I think about the reasoning though…)

* If the vaccine hadn’t been done, and the pandemic would’ve flooded us, and people died en masse… you think anyone would’ve been holding back? Nah. We call this the classical “damned if you do, damned if you don’t”.

*The link between side effects of the swine flu vaccine and people, compared to the “seasonal flu vaccine” and side effects is going to be real interesting to study. Why you might ask. Because the swine flu vaccine was made exactly like the seasonal one… with the same mixings… apart from [drum roll] the actual virus. I guess my fascination as a scientist is key here- imagine if it is something with these epitopes that trigger something. Or, as some of us fellow flu scientists hypothesized, it might be a “huge cohort” and “underlying factors” that aren’t obvious to start with. Sure, x sounds like a large number. Comparing x to 10000x makes it less… so… still going to be investigated of course.

And my main source of irritation right now.

WHY are people so prone to listen to some person who hasn’t gotten any relevant experience (never mind degree) in the subject at hand and believe in them?!?! I mean, seriously. Would you believe Person A on the street telling you that newer models of air planes are unsafe to fly in because they have heard one other person telling them that and they liked this other person?

If you wouldn’t, why trust some person stating “anyone with a degree is associated with pharma, and therefore trying to make money of you, and not caring about your life. Me however, with no knowledge in anything related to life sciences or body functions, I know the real deal here”.


Time to go work and hopefully I can let go of this childish “let them all have viruses next time and see what they say then” attitude. Got to save the children, even if their parents are trying their hardest not to, right?!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

comfort pants got to go

I don't know about others but I have some comfort clothes in my closet. Clothes I never really wear, really should get rid of but never seem to do. Why? Because somewhere it feels better to me to look at 15 pair of pants and think that I have a choice of pants. In reality though, I only wear 3 pairs of them. 3 are too big, they fall off. At least 4 are too old and torn, that if I were to wear them, I'd be in risk of being asked if I wanted change. And then there are a couple I never should have bought in the first place since they don't really fit.... either in style or model. I mean, a pair of jeans in really light wash that are tight with rips?

Sometimes relationship are the same thing. The times I've heard "it is friendship", but could you really call them in time of need? Are they more of "acquaintance" than 'friends'. In Swedish there are three words many use in order to sort this out in your head; 'vän', 'kompis' and 'bekant'.

The last one, 'bekant', is most likely translated in to 'acquaintance'. Someone you sort of know by name/face in the circle of friends but not too much more than that. It's the other two that I have a problem with here in this new place of mine. Especially since I have a distinct feeling that there is no difference between them when I translate into English. My 'vän' (in Swedish) is someone I can call whenever I need them. My 'kompis' (in Swedish), is someone who usually listen if you're out taking a beer or something like that. Not the one who would bail you out, and probably not listen to you inner feelings or more serious stuff that goes on. Less messy, less strings... but it's nice 'friendship' and you can think of it as the group of 'friends' who you go camping with for the weekend, not all of them are you 'friends' but as a group you're friends. Maybe it would be 'associates' or 'pals' or something? But I think it's more likely 'friends' and 'close/real friends'?

I've had reason to think about this once again here in post doc city since I realise that I have plenty of 'kompisar' but not many friends. Although, for argument sake I would probably state that I personally don't have many 'close friends' '(nära) vänner' since that's in the definition for me about friendship.

I guess partly it's my thing, my mistake of not trying hard enough to socialize and let people in (but I don't think you get these friends easy or fast... and then you might still have some friends on the other side of the world - granted, hugs are hard to get through email and phone calls). And that things can be over analysed and over defined, since it is about emotions and not quantifying or intellectualize abstract things.

But, I have to say that it does hurt when you think you have a friend in someone, and then you understand that it's not true. Nope. They are really more of a 'kompis' or even an acquaintance you've know for a longer time and not a friend who really cares about you and the former friendship you shared. It sort of sucks. Although, to be fair, it's what life is. And you do assess, adapt to the knew situation and move on.*

And that's where the comfort pants come in. I'm starting to think I will clean out all the pants I don't wear, since the comfort of looking at the multitude of pants is severely diminished once realizing that I really won't be wearing some of them in case of the other ones being out of place - after all, I have a bunch of skirts and dresses and need not the fake comfort anymore!

Bad pants out, good pants stay; that will make a cleaner day.

[as a side note it seems like there's been some research (OK, it's not this year) about "Americans suffering a loss of quality and quantity of close friendships since 1985. Interestingly, 25% have no close confidants..." more from the same study, "it shows that the dependancy from friends to family rose." I guess it points towards one of those things I've found more obvious here, that men and woman are not supposed to be friends; and that the most important thing is to have one spouse with whom you share it all and no one else.

It's not all bad of course. There might be something to having a close family instead of friends... and blood is thicker than water etc. Still though, I think key thing is that you have someone, or three, people who care about you and whom you care about too. Opening up and trusting someone, the question is mainly to choose wisely on whom to trust.]

*in theory, it sounds easy.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

my life with cats and dogs

[I wrote parts of this earlier in the week but since I'm currently on my xth night of not sleeping well, I figured I'd share it. It has of course, nothing to do with science... almost nothing anyway. It was either this post, or a little one about comfort pants in the closet ... I'll save that one for another day.]

I have a little problem that people in general don't really understand. See, I'm not a huge fan of cats - nor dogs. I mean, I like small kittens.... and puppies are cute. Big dogs though, and big cats with teeth though, not so much. One could say I am sort of scared of them even. It's not better since I know that they can feel (smell or taste of whatever you call it) that someone is not loving them and they turn more nervous. It's that sad thing that the more nervous you are, the more on edge they become. You know, like in a horror movie when one person gets all the others riled up and then the guns, knives and craziness come out? And all could've probably been avoided if everyone just shut up and went in their own little corner.

Usually I'm fine with it though, if the pet's owner (or the one the cat owns looking at it from their perspective) is at the house with me. Well... that's not the situation when you are cat or dog sitting. Huh. One thinks a PhD could've figured that one out. (duh) Alas, it seems like this particular doctor didn't really put that into the equation when offering to help out.

To add insult to the injury - the cats (I've noticed it is more a problem with cats since I see their claws and fangs once they look at my) seem to take extra pleasure to be where I am to make me more fidgety. Sleeping? well... when the cat wants to snuggle in the bed I'm sleeping in, they can clearly sleep well. Me? Not so much. Not to mention that I am terrified of accidentally roll on top of them so they get a reason to claw me. (Hence loving the closed door, separate living quarters from the litter box, sleeping pad and the food. I don't feel that evil then for closing them out. Doesn't stop them from making all sorts of sounds when they want your attention though. But that's another thing. I can usually close that out pretty well... sort of.)

It's not out of nowhere this fear (or whatever one should call it) comes from. As a child my family cat sat a cat who turned out to be a bit on the bad side. Not to blame him really, he lived in a family of three kids who weren't gentle with him. He went after me one night in my sleep... and I clearly live to remember it. And have attributed most of the species with the same behaviour.

Ah well, the true kicker of the story is that I am not scared of other animals people tend to find scary. Horses for example. Not a problem. Could have something to do with the fact that I've been around them for a long time and have encountered a lot of tricks to do when they decide to play rough. A good thing to know might be that unless the horse is really out to harm you and takes aim from a long distance, you just cling to the head and hold on to that. Then they can't really hurt you. Of course, it helps if they have a "mouth/head thing" on since that is what you rear them in with. And clutch onto.

I'm clearly not mentioning the absurd idea of being a researcher with a fear of rats... and mice... the mice thing I got over real quick. Let's just say having a project that depended on you being alone with mice and working with them several hours a day for a really long time is a great motivator. Still not super keen on going after male breeder mice to pick up from their cage, but I can do it. To be fair, pregger female ones aren't too nice either - or when they have dropped a litter and you need to change the bedding. (And no, rats are still out of the equation. Even the dead one I saw a few days ago while out walking the dog I'm currently the best friend of. She loves me. And I have to say, she's not as scary as other dogs. And less scary than the cats.) Even rabbits are sort of on the bad side (big teeth and I'm sure you've seen the Killer Rabbit?).

And then I'm not even mentioning birds. huu.... virus and bacteria from I don't know what. And a viewing of "The Birds" when I was way too young. Still fidgeting when being outdoors and eating a sandwich and those sparrows or crows come hopping... guess that could also have something to do with seeing crows while mountain hiking and seeing what they can do to a deer... I know it might have been dead when they started, or at least half dead but still... those beaks and eyes, now I'm clearly not sleeping soundly too night. Way too vivid imagination for being a bright girl.

And yes, I can see that this might make me sound like a scared, slightly pathetic person. Then again, I've been confronting my fears about mice, cats and dogs (even if I agree that one of the cats really gave me hisses and showed teeth that I had never seen before and I wasn't the cockiest but then again, I was barefoot and in short shorts....) so at least I'm working on it... Loose dogs in the street though, still have a long way to go with that (and no, I doubt it will ever happen. I like my body too much for that ;) ).

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

the meme

I thought about the meme from ComeHunter (Alyssa) for a long time (ok, three days)... then I decided that I probably won't do any better with longer time to ponder. I don't like short things... I am a fan of Graham Greene and Kafka but I seem to be more of a three row sentences kind of girl.

So, without further ado - I think this is what it's going to be:

Sciencey blog with emotions, sometimes too personal, it's venting ;)

Of course, I could've mentioned something about feminist, female and the idea of science and work place... but that wouldn't fit in 10 words. I guess I think I am more complex sometimes. (or wordy. duh) Or it's just all venting... venting... and more thinking, dreaming and hoping...

(and ellipses... always too many of those)

Friday, August 06, 2010

TCM = August with stars = "movies this weekend"

TCM (Turner Movie Channel ) has this thing this August; a star a day. Today is Ingrid Bergman. And tonight I can watch Notorious (spy story in South America with a touch of Nazis). If I was awake in the middle of the night it will be a showing of Gaslight, in case you are interested in a very fascinating story on how an evil man wants to drive his wife insane before electricity was as it is now. And I guess I'll record Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde due to work hours, since she is quite remarkable in that one too.

All that talent and that face... she might be one of the most gorgeous women of all times... she managed something that was, especially in that time, quite extra-ordinary. She and an Italian director (yes, Rossellini) had an affair while both of them were married to other people. Although, I guess since they ended up being married to each other for 7 years, having three children (among them the beautiful Isabella Rossellini).

It got her on the bad list, took a toll on her career; she didn't do much between meeting R in the middle of the 40ies and early 50ies, even if I'm sure the children surely took some time. She was "too much of a risk" in Hollywood, not to mention what the intended audience thought... box office, ticket... revenues... But she got back in the game and made Anastasia, got an Oscar (then got divorced the year after that... in case someone is interested in counting all female recipients who get divorced after reciveing their Academy Award - a side note) and kept making movies until her death in 1982. Murder on the Orientexpress is another one of my old faves (closet Agatha Christie fan, that'd be me - kept a list and didn't stop until I'd read them all. It's like 82 books or something like that. Side note again.)

To me she's always been mixed in with Ingmar Bergman (no relation at all!) since they both were Bergmans, Swedish, famous and known by many outside of the little country in the north. If you can, watching her movies is lovely. Granted, I get envious about that face a lot of times. She made quite an impression in the start of her career since she filmed without much makeup at all - she had clear skin and a healthy appearance!

And tomorrow is Errol. I can enjoy Robin Hood in the afternoon (that fighting scene in the stairs is one of the first ones I remember seeing. There is that one and the Ivanhoe - not with Errol - from 1980 that I am quite certain triggered a slight interest in medieval reenactment and acting in general.)

Then it's a comedean Sunday; Bob Hope. Can't say I have even been a great fan of comedy but "I'll take Sweden" looks interesting, although it is Sunday morning but who knows? Maybe that movie from 1956 fits perfectly with waffles and a slow Sunday breakfast? I have to admit that I haven't seen it but the story about a man who moves to Sweden to stop his daughter from marrying a beach bum (in Sweden? in the 1950ies? Maybe the writers mistook California and Sweden...) ah well, it sounds like it could be a fun movie.

Monday has Warren Beatty and then after that I haven't picked all the movies to drown in. It's going to be a lot of options... Kathryn Hepburn, Paul Newman, Clint Eastwood, Olivia de Havilland, Lauren Bacall, Peter O'Toole and many many more. It looks like I am going to have lots of diversion from everyday life, which might be a good plan.

Dream a little dream with a movie... and prolong the nightly dreams.

Now, time for work!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

brain death vs heart death and DNR

This story "What broke my father's heart" in the New York Times made me cry when I read it. I remembered a feeling that I had many years ago, when I watched my grandmother in her hospice bed.

I remember talking about the guilt for a long time afterwards. The feeling that I had that "it has to be over soon" ... and I wasn't even talking about a long time, not in comparison to others.

And this story reminds me about another blog post about Alzheimer's (as well as about a friend of mine whose father had early onset Alzheimer's and what that did to her family). And the whole issue of "living the life" and what we humans can create nowadays.... now, when we have lovely medicine that help so many so much. But sometimes it creates these problems. And the decisions that are made, maybe not intentionally but they turn out to be "for our own good"... rather than the good of the other one.

I'm not trying to say we should stop invention or use of modern medicine. But just maybe, sometimes we should slow down.. and make the decisions a bit slower when we are allowed to think about the consequences of our decisions.

And if nothing else, that we all should contemplate the "Living will". If something were to happen to you, what do you wish would happen to you? Resuscitation? DNR? Organ donation? Medical research? All organs intact? And even more simple decisions what would happen with the body.... cremation or not? Spreading of ashes? Or not? Church services? Where? What?(And here where I am currently living they have a tradition of open casket and a viewing.... yeah... It's very non-familiar to me.)

I have had these talks with my parents. I mean, they have told me what they want for themselves. Actually, we have talked about it a bit too often for my liking. Funny enough (it's not funny at all but I can't think of another word), when I voiced my thoughts they replied "but you will not die before us so you need to write it down for someone else" (at the time I silently wondered who would be the one to take my thoughts and wants... since I did not have someone who had shared my life for 30 odd years like they have). I guess it will be someone involved with my life in the future when I finally die? That said, I made my first will when I was 23.

Why? Well, I was abroad in a foreign country and a few of my close friends back home came (well, come, I guess since it is still true) from not so fortunate upbringings and did not have too much money. And I didn't think my parents would want my savings and funds... (As it turned out, they both really want me to give my life insurance and other funds to someone I care about, and not them. As earlier mentioned, they really don't want to contemplate that I might accidentally end up dead before them. Since it is not "natural" I guess.)

So, along with all the other strange things I hope people talk about with their friends and loved ones - will and organ donations would be among that.

If you were in a car crash on the way to work tomorrow - would your wishes be known to your close ones? If not, please take a moment and think about it...

[on a side note, my Itunes turned on Placebo "Protect me from what I want" when I was in the middle of the post. Sounded fitting somehow.]

Thursday, July 22, 2010

the thing with PCRs... I don't fancy at the moment

If you forget to change the flourophore [spell check wants it to be froufrou now wouldn't that be more fun?] to the one you will use in the RT-PCR protocol that the machine uses as a default setting, it doesn't matter what you did because the whole thing is read wrong and no, it can not be changed afterwards.


That's when you redo things.... and then redo things... (because you forgot something else, or missed something small but since it is real time quantitative PCR it is sensitive... and yeah... sloppy you...) Just button up and redo it. Try not to shake when you pipette the small (minuscule) volumes and make 1000+ dilution series (OK, I might be over exaggerating just a bit).

I ended up designing new primers for sequencing... since it came back "wacko-we-don't-want-to-bind" last time again. Now, I have a new batch of purified fragments (just the idea that I am sequencing PCR fragments makes my tummy cringe but that's what they want....and truly, it makes it less impossible but still...) and should probably send them in with the "semi-old" primers anyway since it doesn't hurt to try - and hope is the last thing that dies, right?!

On the flip side I guess, I've been sort of the boss all this week since my boss is gone on vacation. It's interesting being the newest hire but being sort of in charge. Even if it doesn't increase my pay, or is visible in my job description... really, mostly it's about taking responsibility for things (and do more stuff for others), but it has felt a bit fun.

Now, time to leave soon. Just need to finish that sequence order...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

How to drive (some) co-workers insane

Easy stuff…. Some of us are more sensitive than others…and this mostly revolves around open cube land… mostly…

When you step away from your desk to go to your lab or lunch or wherever you might go… please;
* Leave your pager (yes, the one you should wear on you since that is how people can get in touch with you) on your desk and let it have LOUD as signal

* Leave your cell phone with a LOUD ring signal and put it on the desk (not in a purse/desk/bag, although with certain loudnesses this might work too.)

* Never disable the “message repeat signal” so in case someone phones you and leaves a message, the phone can give a [by you preset] signal to remind you [if you were there this is] that “you have a message waiting”. Make sure that you put it on "remind me until I listen to the message, repeat every x mins"

If you are at your desk;
* Never lower your voice when you need to talk on the phone, especially not if you need to use a speaker phone (I mean, after all, it’s much more fun when you can listen to both sides of a conversation, right?) or if you are calling personal/private phone calls from work with some type of [private] comments (about friend/family/co-workers).

* Never reply to an email or a phone request when you were the one initiating the whole “we need to get this done yesterday”. Oh no, not you. Someone else can spend their whole day waiting for you to return something… and then, to further make it funny, please change your mind on what is priority number one and look surprised when this isn’t done. Because you didn’t do anything wrong… you had to run some personal stuff in the middle of the day…

* And as a kicker,(an old classic) if you take the last (second to, third to, anything less than 10 in an everyday item) vial/bottle/thing don’t bother letting anyone know that you did this since then [someone] could order more and actually not be out and having to run around like crazy looking for something vital to do experiments…. But if that meant that we could all go home and have the day off, sure…

Oh and one last thing…. If you can change an important file and save it in a magic place without telling people where you did this – then they might actually remake the file from scratch which will be funny once you tell them that “oh, but that information is already assembled in a file I saved over there in the magic cabinet without telling anyone”…

If you manage to do three out of these things, I know one person who would grow mildly irritated. If you did all of them in one day – yes, I know someone who’d go mental and be planning for an early leave since clearly she’d do more useful stuff at home than in the mad house with ring tones, bleeepings and loud noices.

(and no, head phones are not an option since where [some people] work over head calls are used to contact people when needed… since we don’t know where they are… light sedatives might be an option… maybe… ;) )

Friday, July 09, 2010

friday night rant about science and feminism

So, tonight I watched both "He's not just into you" and "Titanic" and read Scienceblogs. After that session I felt a bit over-thinking. Let's start with the simple.

The first movie is linked as a "girl movie". It started out OK, and let me put this right now - I like the genre, especially on a girly night - , and them it sort of all ends up with all "women want to get married whereas men don't need that confirmation" [yeah, don't think that all the time but certainly hope it's not true]. Apart from that, and all generalisation about men and women plus the fact that the girl who doesn't get it is a blond (Scarlet Johansen), it's a decent movie that made me think about the whole thing of looooove and that "when/if you really love her/him you'd d anything to keep them happy". [again, a simplified version about life ihmo.]

And then Titanic on top of that. This is where I started to think about science since Jack dies in the middle of the North Atlantic and freezes to death. I wondered if Rose actually would survive that much longer on top of that barge (spelling?) compared to Jack. (I also realize why Titanic was such a memorable moment for me since the worst ferry accident in Sweden happened a few years earlier from the movie, and the idea of being in +2C/34F water is quite scary if you have ever taken a bath in 32F/0C water.... since you know the freezing feeling of the brain, the movement of the body etc.)

And then it was the realization that before I moved to the USA, I had never actually seen a female professor give a lecture in a short, nice looking, (sort of sexy) dress. After I moved, there was all confusion in my head. Why? Because all my profs and the others told me was "look good in a [dress pants] suit and don't wear a skirt because this will put emphasis on you being a woman" and then I had all these women presenting in short skirts and tops. I didn't think too much about it until after the time I ended up presenting my conference paper in a nice top (not low cut) and a skirt and the comments I got afterwards was sort of in the like of this "wow, you look like a real women" and "wow, good looking legs" and things like that... but we did never talk about my research.... all my other talks and presentations were me dressed in a pants suit, or a pants and a nice top.

What I wonder is, is this just me? (Since I would love it to be only me and this particular moment.) Or is it the strange thing about being "female"/"womanly" and dress like that and then some scientists (men in this aspect as I am thinking about) are just going for gold?

Just lots of thoughts ... obviously..... a Friday night like this... and won't even go into the Angel episode I'm watching right now.... ;)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

"it's like high school... but not really"

I recently got an email from a former colleague where she was ranting about her new PhD student, who has this concept that science is all about brains and "if you are smart enough, you can get the professorship and publish in C/N/S when you do grad work". She wrote me partly because she wanted to see how I am doing in my new position, partly because she had some news of her own and (as she stated) "you were always the one not to bs. Have any suggestions on an analogy I can use to explain the slightly bigger thing here? I miss your wit with a smile after the cynical statements".

ehh... although I guess there is something to it? Even if it just felt a bit like the "ask the lonely sometimes talkative, cynic over there in corner who makes some people feel a bit awkward".

The last few weeks have been educational, in some regards. Basically, I love the fact that most of us were brought up with the idea that "as long as you do a good job, you'll be rewarded for it". Well, my only beef with it? (not the only, but the main one.)

That the world doesn't work like that. (it's a great fairy tale though.)

Sure, we'd like that people who work hard and do a great job get rewarded. I mean, how would you get people to do that otherwise? (There are those strange people who take pride in doing an awesome job without payback but alas, we are mostly slightly strange and the odd ones out who other people tend to laugh at and make do their work just because...)

So, the plan is simple; tell all children that being a good moral person who works hard and strive to make the world a better place will be the thing that gets rewarded.

Well, reality check?! Not all that likely. More likely, the person who suck up is going to get stuff before you, no matter how good you are. Or, in science, the person with the best ideas might not go anywhere since it has to do with how you present the ideas, who you ally with, who gives you money and a whole lot of things that has little to do with your actual research/lab work.

And that, if you don't work in Academia, there is a great chance that the middle manager will be someone that didn't do their job all that well but since people couldn't fire them - since they did didn't do anything that wrong, they know the bounderies - they "replaced them" by moving them semi-up and to the left where they now can decide over others but hopefully not complain as much to the people in charge who were tired of hearing them.

Yeah. And I wish for was that I could've been taught this little story a bit earlier than mid20ies.... 30ies... what ever age it was, it felt like too little, too late you lovely idealistic stupid person who wants to do a good job all the time and take pride in it.

I guess it's just one of those things you have to experience to get?

Now, how do I phrase that in a less sarcastic and more positive way in an email?

Btw, Charmed has a nice episode about looking into the future and staring at your choices from the past... something to do with "not settling" and "all you do have consequences" and "you decide what you want to happen". Not much to do with this post really, but as I run with analogies and popular cultural references I'd thought about now. Maybe there's a rap song somewhere with phrases like "they're gonna try and take you down, you don't shoot but stare them to the ground" or something.... (can you tell it's been a while since I listened to the 'talk'... )

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Parental leave

Another of those articles in NYT, this time about the Swedish phenomena "parental leave". It's titeled "In Sweden, the men can have it all". I have to admit, it's not all roses and there is something to be said about the problems on being viewed as "the woman who probably will take 10 months off with pay" when being in their 30ies and looking for a job, but in all pales when faced with the realities of parents in other countries (mostly thinking about the US right now, obvious reasons).

Anyway, I have high lighted some things from the article that I find interesting.
"Among those with university degrees, a growing number of couples split the leave evenly; some switch back and forth every few months to avoid one parent assuming a dominant role — or being away from jobs too long. The higher women rank, the more they resemble men: few male chief executives take parental leave — but neither do the few female chief executives. "

"Eight in 10 fathers now take a third of the total 13 months of leave — and 9 percent of fathers take 40 percent of the total or more — up from 4 percent a decade ago."

"In Sodermalm, Stockholm’s trendy south island, the days of fathers taking only two months are clearly over. Men with strollers walk in the park, chat in cafes, stock up at the supermarket..."
This was one of the things I haven't thought about too much but was made clear to me last year while on vacation. My travel companion pointed out, a number of times, how many men in groups with strollers that we saw... all over the city... and on the bus... and they seemed having a good time and there was no women around these small children. It was indeed one important moment for me too. I clearly forget that my upbringing and traditions are indeed different than here in the South. (I'm not saying dads aren't involved here, I'm simply saying it is less overt and less easy.)

"Claes Boklund, a 35-year-old Web designer taking 10 months off with 19-month-old Harry, admits he was scared at first: the baby, the cooking, the cleaning, the sleepless nights. Six months into his leave, he says, he is confident around Harry"
I would think that most mothers are fairly scared around the baby the first few days too... but society kind of tells us that "women automatically knows what to do"...

But, all of this must cost money. What's the numbers?
"Taxes account for 47 percent of GDP, compared with 27 percent in the United States and 40 percent in the European Union overall. The public sector, famous for family-friendly perks, employs one in three workers, including half of all working women. Family benefits cost 3.3 percent of G.D.P., the highest in the world along with Denmark and France, said Willem Adema, senior economist at the OECD."

This means, for regular people, that the income tax is somewhere around 32% (as a starting point for average income person) and rising, tax on stuff you buy in the store (alcohol and tobacco and gas excluded - these are higher taxed goods) is 25%. And a number of other taxes will add on. What do you get? Among other things (no tuition on universities, schools and lunches included in many schools);

"With full-time preschool guaranteed at a maximum of about $150 a month and leave paid at 80 percent of salary up to $3,330 a month, “people feel that they are getting their money’s worth.” Parents may use their 390 days of paid leave however they want up to the child’s eighth birthday — monthly, weekly, daily and even hourly — a schedule that leaves particularly small, private employers scrambling to adapt."

And then the last part, as I mentioned in the beginning, "Small businesses find it particularly tricky to juggle absences, said Sofia Bergstrom, social insurance expert at the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, which represents 60,000 companies. Worse than parental leave, she says, is the 120-day annual allowance for parents to tend to sick children, which is impossible to plan and which is suspected of being widely abused"

In general though, I wonder if it isn't the last comment of the article that sums up my own feeling about life and the ponderings about moving back. "Graduates used to look for big paychecks. Now they want work-life balance."

Remember, 5 weeks of vacation a year..... that's not too bad either. But sure, you will not be Rich and someone will take money from you to redistribute them to others. And one lands in the discussion that "it might not be great, but it seems better than the other side of the spectrum, at least in my humble opinion". And I don't know what I'd do if the US decided to implement some of this thinking for potential dads... and mothers... considering that where I currently work there is no fatherly leave, and only a few weeks of unpaid maternal leave, which I find appalling. Then we haven't even approached the strangeness of "sick child leave".*

*most of my experience with this here in the US have indicated that it is ok for many non-hourly people to just leave work in order to go and pick up a sick child... it's also sort of understood if one doesn't come in one day due to child's sick, even if it might not be mandated by the work policy... this imho is strange since it gives off an idea that it is ok to "sort of lie", not to mention that others have to pick up the slack. It would be so much better with a more realistic system, that allowed for both men and woman to take care of their children in an orderly fashion. After all, don't we want involved dads and women with jobs? (maybe we don't?)