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.