Thursday, February 25, 2010


Well, I have already mentioned what the papers do back home when we play.... or rather, when the Swedish team compete in the Olympic.

Yes, you guessed it. That's the headline for today.

Why? Because the men's hockey team (part of our pride and joy since they are a team and not one single individual who usually cracks under pressure) played Slovakia yesterday in the quarterfinal... and they LOST.

Earlier yesterday I watched team USA take on Switzerland, they won in the end but let me tell you, it was not a convincing game for the US team. Suisse played extremely well and made their goal solid impossible to penetrate (until the first and only real goal; open net doesn't count in my book).

Then Canada whooped the Russkis. I don't know what happened, but Nabokov (the goalie) didn't have a good day.... When I went to bed Finland was taking on the Czechs and Sweden was going to play Slovakia late around midnight. And then I woke up....

Finland did their job, after 2 periods of nothing, they scored and advanced to the semifinals to meet USA. Sweden failed. After watching the first two periods courtesy of my dvr, I have to say that I really would've wished this Slovakian team to meet the USA in the semifinals, not Canada. Why? Because I really think they could beat the USA without too much trouble. They play fast hockey. The recoil very well and they move and shoot. However, I am weary that they will win against Canada with its "shooting the puck at goal machine" :)

I guess the Olympic committee (and lots of Americans) want a Canada-USA final. I don't. And it's going to be hard to go to work today considering that one of my coworkers is exactly the epitome of the American sports person... and he's going to tell me exactly what the game looked like last night. Although, in his world the USA played a good game against Suisse....

Anyway, this is my way of trying to get over the big disappointment that I currently feel. And it's not really getting better to remember all the finals/other games that are played/run today and during the weekend. So many occasions to loose yet again. Gone is the nice feeling of GOLD yesterday in the cross-country relay, and the hope for the women's curling will probably be shattered by the Canadian team currently number one... and then Anja can fall in the second run today, and then she runs again Saturday...

Truth about the game? The Slovaks played really well and the Swedes, we did what we normally do.... we slouch and do our 'lagom' way, and then realise that we haven't really done what we should and get surprised. (Like the second goal, two forwards attack the Swede goalie and the defense is not really there... they're at the blue line... ) Sometimes I wonder what the coaches tell our players, since it isn't "If we don't win today, you all SUCK" but maybe "let's go play some hockey and hope for a good day". See the difference? I'm not a fan of the first tactic but sometimes it is a good tactic.

But since the coach clearly had "too many people on the ice"; leading to a penalty and then the first goal and then the second goal within 2 mins, I am not sure that he said any at all. And I can tell you, Swedes playing with 2 goals against them in this tournament play like they have almost already given up.... "like the lagom people we are" And Hossa, Gaborik, Sekera and Chara are nothing 'lagom', they were the ones I was afraid of before the last game. And they brought it.

Time to stop whining now and move into work clothes. I really need that coffee and happy times right now because when I go into work soon I need to be a confident Swede....

Sunday, February 21, 2010

loosing bets ;)

So, I lost the bet against Cath we made about the Canada - Sweden women's hockey.

But I got a video made to me!! :) It is here.... and that nice looking 20 dollar bill is not in my pocket, but rather I will donate American Dollars to the bike ride Cath is going to do.

Let's hope that they men's hockey turn out differently ;)

And of course, that the Swedish women grab the bronze medal. Although, no more bets about that... there is already some kind of bet going on about the female curling team and a gold... and of course, the "how many medals will your country win". I think I put Sweden down for 3+3+4, and we are already at 3+1+2.... without the women's curling gold, the Anja going downhill and hockey. It will be interesting.

Again though, THANKS Cath! Lovely video!

for Science Girl - the Baby shower post

I never had encountered a baby shower before I moved to the South of the States. Back home, we are a bit too superstitious to throw parties and stuff before the baby's out.... ah well, I have to say that I find it especially good with a shower if you are in "another part of the world but your family" since it is going to be helpful with all the stuff and things and talks from "other people".

I had a slightly hard time writing this post though. I don't have children, and I haven't been to many showers... I guess we could have done a "measure of baby belly" compared to all the attending other people? (yes, that is as awkward as I find to write it - chubby girl I am.) Or simply a few of my own hopes and suggestions coming from being a baby sitter and having close friends with children.

Don't stress about being "the perfect mother". You will be perfect for your child. Don't waste energy on the getting caught up in the "game of comparison" between other women and their family situation. It's hard, I know, but try and push thoughts like that to the side.

Don't stress about not loosing baby weight as fast as all the crazy celebrities. It's probably going to go away in due time, if you want it to go away? Other than that, who cares if you look different after a baby? That said, be careful if/when you start exercising again after the birth since the body is slightly different and ligaments etc
might need more time to get use to pressure?!

Do enjoy the new life! Maybe allow some time for just the three of you to hang out and acquainted before all the crazy friends and family come by and want to tell you how to do all of it "the right way". My close girl friend at home told me she really loved that time with her first baby since it was such a shock (even if they knew she was coming) to have that little one in the bed and oh... so small feet and that little
mouth and .... I think you get the picture :)

Oh, and maybe buy some new clothes for you that are "in between clothes" since most of my friends hated their maternity clothes but couldn't really wear the clothes they had pre-pregnancy. Just to have something at home before the birth so you don't have to solve it once you get back home from the hospital.

And if you want a suggestion for a new type of shirt; these shirts are the thing! Even if you don't want to breast feed "in public" the ones I know who has a shirt like it, love it since it feels "less naked and less hassle". I think you can find them in other stores (although I have always bought them at H&M and brought them with me to my present place as a pressie for some of the new mothers I have gotten to know here.)

Well, I think that this is what I think.... maybe a little wish from the egalitarian Scandinavian that the father will have a possibility of experiencing the joys of diaper changing and snuggles and burpings and all - so you two can share the experience and that the baby can get a close connection with her father.

And oh, FisherPrice toys (especially in wood) are awesome to play with. I still have my plastic car garage and my cash register since my childhood (they are currently on a tour to one friend), they are a bit pricy but they will last a life time!

Best of luck and hope it all goes well!

Friday, February 19, 2010

olympic stuff (and an apology)

First things first, I am sorry I have dropped the ball on the Superbowl betting we had going on. Maybe it was because I got upset about the Vikings falling out... or just other things going on. I will really really post a summary this weekend. Promise!

Then we move on to the Olympic and the reason for this post. The last couple of days have been a bit of emotional roller coaster. The medal hopes I had, (3+3+4) as posted on Cath's page, are not out of the loop yet, but there was cross country skiing and then biathlon... and the Swedes did good the first day, and the second (2 golds!). I woke up after the second one and read a newspaper that said "God is Swedish" (as written in a Norwegian paper since they had appalling bad two days. Don't worry, they got their act together and pummeled for medals and are up to a total for ever of 102 at the moment. No use crying for "little brother" anymore).

And then the third day came, and it all went bad. The Gold hope in downhill crashed in a HUGE crash tumbling 60 meters in 104 km/h. Thank goodness she was non-broken bones after that. The cross country and biathlon people forgot how to shoot and ski (lots of tears and despair) and as a kicker; the women's hockey team didn't seem to know how to shoot at goal. The male hockey team did win against Germany, but it was a bit unsettling to see no goals in any power play situation.

I know, I shouldn't be that upset considering two major points:
Sweden vs Canada in women hockey has ended 60 times with a Canadian win, 1 with a Swedish
Canada has a great league and in Sweden hockey is very much still a man's sport.

Still though, it hurt to see it end with 13-1. I mean, 7 shots at goal.... for the WHOLE game? Compared to Canada's 41 or what ever it was. Pummeled. Or, as it said in the paper the morning after "We got slaughtered". (yes, we do live and breathe winter olympics back home. It's not necessarily by choice, the largest TV channel is throwing out other programs and showing sports for 2 weeks. It might not sound a big deal, but on average there are 10 channels in Sweden... although for many people (me included) TV1 and TV2 (State TV channels), TV4 and TV3 would be the only ones you get as a "base coverage". No food network, no CNN, no BBC, well I think you get it?!

So, one day is "GOLD", "God is SWEDISH" and the next day we have "FIASCO", "SLAUGHTER" or (and I sort of like this one) "7 out of 10 doesn't believe Sweden's going to get gold in Hockey" - this was after the opening game against Germany.And yesterday "Sweden is the worst of the big teams in hockey" Nothing like a little home support, isn't it?!* :) It's also after knowing that the goals scored (2) was probably not going to lead to a comfortable win compared to Finland (the foes in hockey).

Let's put this in perspective. I have never experienced an Olympic "out of my country". I therefore forgot one crucial thing. There would be no focus on the Swedish athletes in a competition. The sports may be on NBC, but they are not going to focus on the Swede trailing in on a 14th place (or a 45th place).

Not to mention that the American commentators are not loving the Swedes. What I mean? Well, listening to the down hill combination commentators yesterday (Anja, who fell the day before, was up and going down the same slope she crashed in... shins and calfs and thigh bruising non withstanding) would have had you believe that Vonn was the best skier after Jesus (not that he skied, but you get the picture). It was OK to me, until the voice said "oh... Parson is making small mistakes all through the hill" (really?) but felt better when she conceded "she is a tough one though, the Swede, no one would've thought she'd be up and competing today". No, that's correct. She might be a tad bit insane - but I can argue that for anyone who wants to do Super-G - but golly, she's going for it.

The second thing that's hard is that the people I work with, and some of my friends, don't really understand why I am so obsessed with this. Frankly, I didn't think I would be quite as crazy but then I remembered that I am interested in winter sports. Although, the key thing is probably that this is the one time my little Nordic country can show that we can excel in some sports. And of course, there is the country competition between Sweden and Norway in skis, and Sweden and Finland in hockey. I don't know what anyone competes against Denmark in but I am starting to remember that their curling team isn't too bad (and they did beat the US last night!).

So, for the next week or so I can look forward to Canada women beating the US women in hockey, ( a slim chance for a bronze since apart form the two first teams, the rest of them are fairly equal in bad-/goodness), hopefully the Swedish male hockey team can pull it together (the defense was good, the offense; not to impressive) and beat Belarus** and Finland.... and then the curling women get undefeated in the round robin (China tonight), and Anja in her remaining down hill if/when she decides to go...

I guess I have bored everyone except Cath with this post, and maybe her too :)

Now, time to read the papers and marvel about that Bronze from yesterday!
UPDATE> The Globe and mail has a splendid article about the Swede.... :)

*See, we started this Olypic by being high and mighty (some of us) "we're going to do great"... and then after the first huge loss and bad competition we crept back into "we aren't too good, Sweden is a small country" and that's where we are now. Since we don't get too disappointed if we loose now...but very happy if there would be a win. "Look, even if they/we are bad we can win!". It might sound a bit backwards, but that's the Swedish approach. Don't think you're something better than the rest (unless you are Anja, she can bring it - always!).

**there are some nerves about this. See, Sweden lost against Belarus in 2002... VERY embarrassing and it really really really got out into our shoes. We were SAD (and bad). So, there might be something of a feeling that anything apart from a loss might be OK... althoguh, everyone who thinks we should go for gold knows that we need to dominate and beat them. lots. We always have a problem with the Finns you see... brother people and all... long history there...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

go looking for happiness

[this post is a bit all over the place and I probably should work on stringency and rewrite it. However, I have put like 3 disclaimers on here now that "it's work in progress thinking" so maybe someone will see through the fog and get what I am thinking about?]

It's been a bit of snuffles over at PLS about a post he wrote on post doc positions. I've been thinking a bit about lots of stuff, go figure, and at the moment I am running late for a meeting - but I wanted to scribble down a few thoughts.

First, I wonder if all this isn't part of some kind of "search for happiness". A thought (or belief if you want to call it that) that when you work in a job you thought you want, you will feel perfectly happy. Like "a perfect fit" like all the romantic stories we read.

That TT people, most of them (and most especially the "old" ones) are happy and carefree and not worrying at all. And that is the standard people look for in their post doc or tt-job. And then it's morning and life doesn't really look like that people feel fooled and start crying foul.

I mean, truth be told - how many people do you think are "in perfect control of their lives and not need to suck up to people"? Really? Because I can think of only a few of them (yes, Donald Trump is one) and the rest of us have to please at least 3 people (if not the review committee at NIH in order to get grants) and have days when we need to just do work and get over it.

It's like the idea of facebook (bear with me, I said it was scribble down quick thoughts) where pretty much a tonne of people are putting up their children as their own profile picture (or ultrasound photo). And then the comments flock "wonderful, lovely, how fun for you" etc. Or more of " the best job in the world" ... " lovely flowers from her perfect husband" etc. It's all a competition to sound like you are perfectly happy and get people to envy you and make you sure of your choices. Confirmation by others for security.

Guess what? I think people forget that most of these things are "for other people to think that all is great". Doesn't mean that things aren't good. No, that's not what I am saying, it's just not perfect.

Same with work. It seems to be some kind of assumption that "post docs are used all the time and all other jobs people are not". Well, I have my own experience of post docing (as can be read in a number of posts here as well as some more in the future). I can say there were times when it sucked, a lot. There was also times where things were absolutely great.*

My point? That "regular jobs" aren't fun all the time either. Somehow though, a lot of people whom I know not in science, don't have an assumption that there jobs are supposed to be all that great - or absolutely fantastic. Many of them regard it as "a job that pays the bill". And they don't dislike it per se, they have other things to do in their spare time.

Scientists, and here I talk about me too, tend to have main focus on their research. Sure, I like extramural activities as much as anyone, but one of those things I have realised after leaving my post doc is how much more time I have on my hands (and I still read papers and try to write a few of them too) than when I was running around in my lab pursuing those leads and thoughts. I guess this means that scientists might think that they should get more money since they "like" the work?

I disgress and move away from the point I was trying to make. I'll try and summerize in short;
maybe there is a disconnect in the feeling of "how wonderful a perfect job should feel and what is reality"?

(not the best summary, but i'm in a hurry.)

*I have issues with post doc positions in general and I will explore these in my next post when I have more time to make it coherent. Let's just say this "I really wonder if it is cost effective to have all these people with a PhD trying hard to get through the post doc and then to the tt track since a lot of them aren't going to make it into tt... and it is harder to explain what type of skills you've gotten as a post doc when looking for other types of jobs. A disconnect is what I am more concerned about... anyway, that's for next time.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Coming up for Air

I drove home yesterday listening to my favorite radio station when I all of a sudden had my eyes filling up with tears and an enormous feeling of emptiness flooded through me. Being winter, and the roads as one could expect, I wasn't really happy about the blurry vision but since I was almost home I continued to drive while trying to figure out why the tears were rolling down my face.

Of course, Air. Bach was an early acquaintance of mine. He often is, if you play the flute. And Air is one of the pieces I was so very proud to have mastered once. Of course, then it was the solo of one of the worst funerals I have gone to (if there is such a word, maybe all funerals are hard for the people who are family and close friends?). Anyway, it was a dark church, a morose day in the fall when the skies never falter to be just that dull grey with no hope of either snow nor sun. And in the middle of the service the flute started to play this magnificent piece while the loss and the loneliness of the remaining family was so very obvious for people to see and feel. I don't think I was that young but surely a bit naïve and unexperienced in life, but it was definitely one of the experiences that ended up lingering inside me.

For a few years I didn't get the opportunity to perform Bach - I'd moved into earlier music (Händel comes to mind) - and the memory faded... until of course, I get surprised by it and it sneaks into my ears and heart and reminds my little tear channels to start leaking.

This was supposed to be a happy ending (after all, that's what most people strive for - right?) so I can happily tell that after the piece was done and I sat there in my car drying the tears from my eyes and cheeks, I felt better. It's sometimes like that for me, a good cry and then move on and be done with it. I guess if I was a scientist in the earlier times I'd be on board with the whole "people consist of different fluids that need to be in balance". Although, for me it would be more likely to be recommending a "good cry" than a "bleeding" ;)

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

my seven non-blogged things

I alluded in my previous post that I was thinking about things I haven't blogged about. I finally thought of some (I don't think I have blogged about them at least). The meme I got tag from was here over at Amanda's place (And I did dance ballroom dancing one time in my life, in competition! Wasn't too impressive though, but it was great to learn early on how to foxtrot, cha-cha and some rumba and samba.... shake those hips but keep shoulders steady!)

Pets: I have and have never had pets. (I have worked at a farm though, with animals, and I was quite good at riding horses. But I am scared of cats and dogs… or maybe rather the people who have untrained dogs?) I just read this in the New York Times and again I am stunned. Why would you want pets if you don’t really want pets… you want something “that fits into your lifestyle” and therefore declaw cats and debark dogs?

It’s like when I went on a little vacation out in the outback of a southern state and found the cute cat at the bed and breakfast. The owners said “she had a sister but she’s dead now. They were both declawed as indoor cats and then my daughter didn’t want them anymore and we took them in. However, they are outdoors here. One day some dogs came round and the cat couldn’t climb the tree to hide but got chewed to death.” Excellent, first declaw the cat so it doesn’t destroy your precious furniture – then leave it defenseless outside. And you think that I am boring not wanting a pet?

I sometimes don’t wonder anymore about people who buy their couches and leave the plastic on top of it “not to make it look worn” (true story). Why did you buy it? Well, it looks good right? I guess the same thing applies to the cats and dogs that are "changed into quiet and non clawing things"?

Plastic surgery; I have a small fascination for plastic surgery. I’ve thought about a tummy tuck – if it wasn’t for the fact that I am terrified of surgery in general (read: “bacterial infection and pus” not to mention the face that your whole tummy is going to be open and there have been reports about the stitches loosing and the whole pack of intestines falling out….”). I would rather take those money and go on a retreat for 4 weeks. Retreat for body and mind, someone to cook for me and time to exercise for me. I’d love it. Anyone have like $6000 to donate?

I do find it fascinating that 25% of women between 18 and 25 in Sweden apparently has done breast surgery. I am still baffled. I did read the % of nose jobs in college girls in the US too… And then I haven’t even mentioned the “swan” shows… or the idea behind that surgery can “fix” you although it might be mostly in your mind that you need to be “fixed”. Hm, maybe there is a post in there somewhere, if I can find the link to science.

Child rearing: Since I don’t have children of my own, I’ve been told numerous times that I can’t have opinions about this. I find that comment funny in general since we tend to think that people can have opinions about lots of things they haven’t really done (drug legislation for example) Anyhow, my views on this is that I do think you shouldn’t coddle kids too much (read helicopter parenting) and coming from where it is illegal to spank/hit children I am not a fan of corporeal punishment either. Some of my co-workers are very strict on punishing their teenagers and I find myself a bit baffled (I wasn’t punished as much growing up), I am not sure on this “no TV for two weeks and no computer for one week” just because someone “talked back to them”…. But I guess it is hard to imagine for me, childless as I am. It would be interesting though, to see if it would be terribly different from being a huge part in bringing other people’s children up (as a common baby/child sitter) since if I can hold my temper with other people’s kids – I’d be able to do it with my own too, right?

Playing an instrument: I am a fan of every child learning at least one instrument and/or singing. My point? Learning to read keys. It’s really quite simple, once someone has given you the starting points. And it is also a window to understanding the “classical music” and maybe listen to other types of music than is on the radio all the time, not to mention the voice over/mood music in thousands of movies (how many times can Mozart’s requiem be played as an ominous move?). I have enjoyed being able to play my instrument of choice as well as learning on my own to play the piano (dabbling at least) and the clarinet. If I had one chance to start again, I'd go with carinet or oboe...

Politics in general: I haven’t written much about politics in general apart from my feminist views/rants and some science funding questions. Why? Because I find the discussions in general raising more questions than giving answers. There was a time (and some of my family were very happy then) when I would declare “I don’t speak to X and Z since they are [right/left] and only disgusting, stupid people are that way”. Oh the easy times. I have a diverse setting of friends, most of them (I have to admit) do share (most of) my political views, but there are some who don’t at all (especially not when it comes to taxes and rates)… then I moved to the US and things were not as easy. I think it would be safe to say that even the most right-winged person from my home country would be less right than the most right-winged person here. Why? Because there is an ingrained idea about government [funding/size] back home. Here? (in the south?) Not so much.

Not that it matter to me, since I have already singled out a few questions where I know that if my friends and I differ it will be hard to see eye to eye and still be friends. I call them “key issues”, and no – I will not voice them here. Too complex and too personal, but some of them are in the same camp as “women being worth the same as men” and things like that.

Private/Personal things: I’ve mentioned, and especially in the beginning (some posts have been taken away with time) some things about my personal life. Then I decided that it wasn’t where I wanted to go. Something with “getting a larger audience” made me play the cards a bit closer to home. It’s also because I don’t know if (or doesn’t want it to) matter if I am married or single or divorced or living as a mormon… (I’m not, a mormon that is) To me it mattered to say that I was female, although my nick name is ambiguous from the early times of internet for that exact reason.

Funny enough, I don’t find the rants about “how sad I feel” or “how challenging this has been with work” as private. Maybe partly because I find it honest to say “it’s not always easy to be a post doc” and that were the best posts to read for me when I started reading all these science blogs. If I want lies and pretending, I can just look out the window or go to the cafeteria. Not always that helpful for the impostor syndrome.

iPhone: haven’t written a word about iPhones or Droid. I feel very happy having an older phone since then I can’t surf the web all the time, which I would do. I am a bit envious of people who have an iphone, sometimes, but overall I don’t think it would be a good thing for me right now. I would be on the darned thing all the time... (moderation isn't really my best word).

And the seventh thing I haven’t written too much about…. Lies, well I have talked about that. Deception and infidelity, touched on it too. Hm, let’s go with Travels. I love travelling to new places and eat new food and see new people. That said, I have never been really good with going to a new place and sit by the beach. I have never been to Asia nor South America. One day I wish to go. I haven’t seen the true sand dunes in Arabia (but boy would I like to). I would be thrilled about the opportunity to see the southernmost tip of Africa (and the penguins) and the pyramids of Egypt would be super cool to see too. I have many places to visit, most of them I would find more fun to go to if I knew someone who lived there (or go with somebody since so far I have travelled a lot on my own). One of the perks with knowing science types, although there are limits where the labs are and where the conferences are held, would be that there are an easy "excuse" (read, actually do it!) to go an visit and see new places. (Although, conferences might be out of scope for a long time forward. But new found friends/people from the blogosphere might be a small reason on the side?)

I’ll end with a little hope and dream of my own. I would love to be able to look back at my life and note that I did accomplish something (maybe publish a book I have been working on for a while, although in non-English and probably for a small/minuscule target group). And I would love to have peace of mind and relax in the present and just enjoy it, without thinking through every decision I make a thousand times and feeling worried about it getting destroyed and ending in disaster. Oh, and can I wish for a great retirement check too? And peace on earth?


PS. I realize now that I probably should blog a bit about money too.... I haven't done that before so maybe next post will be something like "the money of science, or not" ... ? After all, there are lots of us trying to find that marvellous place where money isn't the key worry part of existence, right?