Wednesday, December 31, 2008

One more pointless w.o.m.m before 2008 ends

1) So this whole thing about "What are you doing for 31st???" is a tad irritating. I've spent several New years eves just sleeping through it, being woken by my mom to eat cake at 12 midnight and going back to sleep. Growing up, I just found it basically impossible to stay awake past 10 pm, and didn't feel bad at all about missing out on the building party or stupid inane tv programs or whatever was the buzz around the midnight of 31st. Even after I came to the US, I recall at least one of more new years eves I just stayed awake like any normal day, took/made a few phone calls at the strike of 12 and went to bed. It was no biggie. Other times I had friends over, went out, braved crazy crowds and had a nice time too. But frankly, I think its quite over-rated, and totally not necessary.

2) Audience question: How many of you readers out there have attempted to set your friends up on a date? Were you yourself single when you did that? I know its a typical thing for a lot of people who're themselves involved in relationships to do, [perhaps stemming from plain and simple envy of your friend's happy and single status] but I am wondering how common it is for single people to set their friends up? Just wondering..

Happy New Year and all that...

First off, sorry for not responding to your comments to earlier posts. I have been busy with all kinds of stuff. and not in the right frame of mind. I will get to it eventually, when I've settled down a bit.

 Happy New Year to y'all. As I sit here with my chai and watch the snow flurries outside, I can't help reflect a bit. My biggest take home from 2008 is not just "Shit happens", but "shit will happen". :) And I'm not being all negative about life when I say that. I think my operating policy from now on is to expect stuff to go wrong. Life is, after all full of twists and turns and in there lies the fun.

I am also getting ready for my move, checking out apartments etc in newcity. I had my first culture shock when I went to check out a place to stay, lets just say it was a rude awakening. And a good sign of what to expect. Again, I'm going to grin and bear it. Because I'm in for a slew of such changes, compromises and settling for what I'd never have thought of. In the bargain, I get to work on something I'm excited about, with a seemingly nice boss, and get to leave the hell that was my workplace in Philly. Yeah! I'll take that. Plus, I get to live close by to people that matter. And several other fringe benefits this city offers when you can see past the dirt and grime. It's going to be another adventure.

The other very important lesson I learned (again) is not to beat myself up over eff ups. The extent of damage caused by that is worse than the actual eff-up. People screw up all the time, the key is to learn, pick up and move on. I know, oft-repeated words but I need the reiteration.

Finally I need to, really need to, really really need to learn efficiency and discipline. Cannot do without it going forth from here.

And life is a lot more than these momentary upsets. Spare a thought, some effort and possibly some money towards the truly lesser-privileged.

2008 brought a lot of good things too for me. Definitely neutralises a lot of the shit that happened. So there: shit will happen, valuable lessons will be learned and good things will come along. :)

Happy New Year all of you! :)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

W.o.m.m #35

Most of the time I get away with a lot of rubbish ranting to either (willing or unwilling) friends or to this blog. But today I want to throw in a little bit of perspective.

By the time my mom was 30, she had been through 3 pregnancies, lost one baby and was bringing up me and my sister in a nuclear family. She was running a household on a shoestring budget, seeing my parents through troubled financial times. And by that I don't mean missing out on luxuries like eating out or shopping for unnecessary stuff. More like getting by with essentials, being resourceful to manage with whatever money my dad brought in. And giving us the best of upbringings.

There were no blogs, no support groups, no nothing. No time to sit and belabor every single decision. Common sense, economics and lessons from senior women dictated most actions.

I am sure there are stories of several other struggles, bigger, longer than this. But this is the one that is closest to me.

Today I am 30, [Edited to add: I AM 30 does not mean I turn 30 today. If you are an astute follower of my blog, you should recall my turning 30 post. thu bevarse!] single, worry about complications to life that marriage might offer. The money I make is mine alone, with no encumbrances I have no need to budget. I have all the opportunities and resources to access, and I choose to dwell and waste time over the most insignificant issues. To the point that I often lose track of the big picture.

What a waste. I just have it too easy.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

w.o.m.m. #34

Lots of random disconnected thoughts invading my head. Typical of a slightly stressful time with deadlines looming.

1) I've realised I've a huge fear of "finishing". Am in the process of tying up loose ends in my project here, and can't get myself to put the "final" stamps on things. Keep wanting to redo, wondering if I can repeat things, when its abundantly clear that a) NOBODY CARES and b) there is no time even if someone did. So why don't I just cut loose and let go? I've finishing issues and letting go issues. Some of the resistance to call something "Final" I think stems from lack of confidence in my own work. To keep thinking it can be improved upon. Have struggled with this lesson earlier, every time I had to submit a paper and then finally with my dissertation. I must not let it do me in again. I should learn that this is an ever-evolving process, and the claims I make are right within the framework I present them in. So long as I'm not making over-reaching claims, I am correct, and that is that. And that is all I have the ability to do right now. And all I need to.

Must not fear finish! Must embrace and celebrate finish! :)

2) Been thinking about other confusing and absolutely unrelated issues too. Like marriage. And having a baby. I've had a very strong maternal/nurturing instinct in me for the longest time. Now I see my sister and b-i-l struggle with daily issues of bringing up my niece, and hold up a relationship, a life together and it all strikes to me as extremely challenging and makes me wonder if I can ever pull it off. If I even want to. I guess seven-odd years of living by myself, for myself (long distance relationships being a "convenience" at that) have made me very comfortable and possessive of my life as my own. It is, after all, the only way I've known, so I'm pretty clueless about any other way. I feel like singlehood offers one set of challenges and married life a different set. It's hard to qualify which is better than the other. Atleast singlehood is reassuring in that whatever challenges come your way, you only have to think of yourself. There is only one variable in the equation, one opinion, one individual at stake. Selfish. yes. But safe. And bereft of so many complications that the alternative presents.

It doesn't help that in order to actively resist the social imposition that "well-wishers" have thrown at me time and again about "finding someone", I've built up a very strong defense against the implied necessity of having to share your life with someone. I strongly uphold the notion that while it's nice to be able to share your life with a special someone, it is, at the end of the day a lifestyle choice as much as staying single is, and not an absolute necessity as most people have you believe.

And so when I sit back and think of it all, the single life strongly beckons, as a very attractive alternative.

Garbled thoughts. Will be readdressed. Right now I'm listening to some awesome santoor by Pt. Shivkumar Sharma to calm my nerves, and looking forward to playing pretend games with my niece. :).

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

W.O.M.M #33

I recall making such resolves before (and not sticking to it), but I'm going to try once more.

On several occasions, I've let people get away with being snarky and nasty to me, either because I felt any more nastiness on my part would be futile, or because I didn't deem them important enough to retaliate, or because they were too important to me, and hence I didn't take the nastiness along with its implied mean-ness, just let it slide as a good friend having a bad day.

Not a good policy in any case. So from now on, I'm going to return snark for snark, nastiness for nastiness, immaturity for immaturity. Let's see how that goes.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Grinning and bearing it

I can't wait to get out of my current place. This last week is going to be excruciatingly painful. What makes it worse is the superficial niceness of certain a**holes that I could totally do without. But if there's something I'd like to take away from this experience, its this art- of being able to mask my feelings and pretend like I care. I am learning to grin and smile affectedly when all I want to do is give one tight slaP.


Monday, December 22, 2008

The kind of sh*! that gets my goat

Tens of thousands of children in Bangalore miss out on their polio vaccine due to mass hysteria caused by some unfounded rumour of death of children due to the vaccine. Ruining all the effort that goes into campaigning and organising a vaccination drive. TV media of course, does their bit to propagate the rumour-mongering.

TOI link here

World Cafe Live and NYSC

So as the lone suggestion came from a local to this post (although i know from my past sitemeter obsession that there are more than one locals that read this blog) (*glares in the general direction of philly IP addresses*) I went to World Cafe Live on Thursday night to check out some good live music.

Now, WCL happens to be home to another memory, that of meeting up with this blog buddy and an awesome evening spent, blossiping and catching up with the counts on election eve last month. :). However, there was no music that night thanks to election mania.

This past Thursday night a party was just clearing out as we went in, so the bar area was very noisy in the beginning with folks all tanked up post-happy hour. But we got some really good seats across from the stage, at a perfect viewing and hearing distance. There were five artists on stage, each of them independent artists and they went about one after the other playing their stuff and they went around the circle 3 or 4 times. Some I liked, some were not my type, but something for everyone, I imagine. They were a part of the New York Songwriters Circle, an interesting concept I just learned about.

WCL itself is pricey , the food was good although not much to choose from for vegetarians. The place is kinda upscale, folks were dressed up. The drinks were awesome. I had this yummy strawberry shortcake something that was simply de-lish. The sound system was nice and it was a pretty nice setting to sit back, relax and enjoy a good performance. The noisy crowd at the bar pretty soon quieted down when the artists were introduced and began singing. The best part is the location, just a stones throw from the train station so we could catch most of the show and make our last train home.

I had a very nice and cosy evening. It was, however very unlike my past live music experiences, though, which were primarily in small town lutom, where the crowds were more intimate, the music and artists much more familiar, and the whole idea was just no-frills-good music and little else. Of course, a lot of that came from being there for so long and identifying the local artists I enjoyed going to on a regular basis, so that is that.

But I've struck that one off my list, and in style too, so on to other stuff on the list like packing and writing. Sigh.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

More on alternative careers in science

When I was in grad school, a professor held a class called "Non traditional careers in the life sciences". Each student picked a non-traditional career option and found a few people in it, interviewed them, we had a questionnaire we prepared in the class and all of us got these questionnaires answered by whoever we were interviewing. It had questions like job satisfaction, pay, what the work involves, how to get in, etc. etc.

I am in the process of packing and moving and hope to unearth my notes from that class. It was a good way to get a feel about what else is out there. Will post more when I find those notes. But I just remembered what a great idea the class was. Any one who's ever going to be in academia or is already in, must think of conducting a class like this. Grad students in the life sciences, may be you could suggest this to a suitable prof.

On asking for help early on when stuck

1) No, it doesn't make you look foolish.

2) You'd look foolish if you didn't take advantage of resources and tried to be heroic. Time is paramount. Never forget that.

3) Nobody is going to actually do your job for you. They will just give suggestions.

4) Be prepared to trust the help you get and take it seriously. For whatever its worth, even if it doesn't answer your question entirely.

5) Asking for help stimulates discussion. You learn a lot, and its fun to discuss this stuff with people who like talking about it.

6) Involving others also means a pressure to get the task done quickly, rather than drag your feet over it in isolation and be buried in complications you don't understand.

7) In the end, there will always be a part you will have to figure out by yourself, you can get your kicks from that.

8) (Obvious but) Reaching out for help speeds things up exponentially. I just wrote to folks from my old lab last night about trouble I was having with some analysis (At PhdAdvisor's behest). I already got a reply from one of them this morning. The fact that he spent time with my stuff at 1 am last night makes me feel so thankful. And while I was sleeping, someone who knows this stuff helped move it forth a great deal.

One of the many lessons I've learned the hard way.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Good live music in Philly

TODO this weekend: In the midst of all the packing, organizing, lab work, blah blah blah, I want to go check out a nice live band (classic rock/jazz/alt) in this city before I leave. I crave for some live music, haven't had any since I got here, and I can't leave without getting at least a taste of it.

Any locals that read and want to recommend? Please do so!

TIA

QOTD

"Happiness is the best revenge"


My inner vengeful scorpio is going to work hard on being very happy from now on.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

What do i want to do eventually?

My renewed highest priority goal during my next stint is not to publish, find ground-breaking discoveries, write a proposal, or anything. It is, to aggressively research, explore and find out what I want to do for a living. If its bench science, then in what capacity? If not, then what? I will brainstorm on this time and again, and want to remind myself not to lose sight of this goal. For every idea I want to explore how feasible it is, how to go about it, what it would entail to get a job in that field.

Some of the ideas I got are

* Research associate type position
* Creating teaching tools for science students (very exciting..what prospects?)
* Mentoring students, teaching positions..
* Industry R & D
* Science communication, outreach, liaison..work for scientific organisations..

Feel free to add in comments

Friday, December 12, 2008

Self-tagged

From LVV. A few of her answers have been blatantly copied to save my carpals and tunnels. I have no work to do, a slight buzz and hence all this blog diarrhea.

1. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? No. But my name has a beautiful meaning. I love it!

2. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED? Few days ago. (It's a monthly ritual) (I know, TMI)

3. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? Yeah actually.

4. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH? Dahi chawal, lemon rice.

5. DO YOU HAVE KIDS? No

6. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON, WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU? Hell yeah!

7. DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT? Not on my life.

8. DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS? Yes. WTF.

9. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? Did.

10.WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? I've no such thing.

11. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF? No.

13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM? Chocolate. I want! Now!

14. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE? Umm..what they say, accent.

15. RED OR PINK? Red

16. WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF? Procrastination, I can be disorganised. Yeah. me too.

17. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST ? My friend M. Miss her a lot. Very often.

18. DO YOU WANT EVERYONE TO SEND THIS BACK TO YOU? Whoever wants to.

19. WHAT COLOR SHOES ARE YOU WEARING? None right now. But all I have are browns, blacks and a pair of white sneakers.

20. WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE? Biscotti.

21. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? Cricket creaking.

22. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE? Sky blue.

23. FAVORITE SMELLS? Freshly baked bread, lab smells, earth after rain.

24. WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE? B.L.

25. DO YOU LIKE THE PERSON WHO SENT THIS TO YOU? What a stupid q. pass.

26. FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH? None whatsoever.

27. HAIR COLOUR? Black. (with greying streaks :/)

28. EYE COLOR? Black

29. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS? No

30. FAVORITE FOOD? Gulab jamun, paneer anything, idli sambar.

31. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS? Happy endings

32. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED? Dard-e-disco. :)

33. WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING? White with pink and blue pin stripes

34. SUMMER OR WINTER? Summer!

35. HUGS OR KISSES? Hugs. Huge warm tight hugs. I want. :(

36. FAVORITE DESSERT? GJ.

37. MOST LIKELY TO RESPOND? ??

38. LEAST LIKELY TO RESPOND? ??

39. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW? Waiterrant, White Tiger

40. WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? Ahem its a trackpad.

41. WHAT DID YOU WATCH ON TV LAST NIGHT? The Office. ROFL.

43. ROLLING STONES OR BEATLES? Beatles

44. WHAT IS THE FARTHEST YOU HAVE BEEN FROM HOME??? The US of A.

45. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT? Many.

46. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? Small town in A.P.

47. WHOSE ANSWERS ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO GETTING BACK? Everyone

Calm after storm

Things have a way of working themselves out, they say. Cliched, yes. But quite true. After a little over 3 months of apply apply no reply (I had totally written to, followed up, and done all those things one is supposed to do..to 60 odd labs) in the span of a single week I had 3 near offers. I traveled to lab #1 to interview, got the offer, came back to Philly, took care of an experiment, went to lab #2 for a second interview (they had offered me the post earlier), was almost ready to make up my mind, and while at lab #2 I get a phone call from lab #3 with a near-offer. Rented a car and drove all the way to lab #3, because I had to convey my decision to lab #2 by the next day, and didn't want to lose out on lab #3 without giving it a complete fight. Returned to Philly from this crazy exhausting travel and made up my mind on the Amtrak on my way back.

I had been belaboring this decision for quite a while. I knew I'd get the offer from lab #1, and when I heard from lab #2, I spent all my time obsessing the choice. To the point of making me sick. Then all of a sudden I found myself driving a rental car on a 4 hour drive to go interview with #3. For a decision I was obsessing over for so many days and in all that excel-spreadsheet glory, I would have just one night to make up my mind regarding #3. When I was telling my baymate how that was one of the craziest things I ever did, she retorted with "What, crazier than jumping off a plane or into a ravine?". Heh. I think yeah, crazier.

I am finally going with #2.

A good decision-making trick my Ph.D advisor had taught me was to pretend that you've made up your mind, sleep over it and see how it rests with you for the next day or so. I played that game with #1 and #2 , and definitely felt much more at ease with #2. The interview with #3 eliminated it right there, so that kept things from getting any more complicated.

The honest truth is that I wouldn't have gone for either #1, #2 or #3 were this last year, and were I interviewing fresh out of grad school, and were I not desperate enough to leave my current place. I'd be looking for a bigger name, a more experienced advisor. But then, when I had a choice last year, I picked this current place that fit all those criteria, and it didn't work out too well for me.

And now, #1, #2 and #3 are what I had to work with this time around. So lets see how this pans out.

I've good feelings. And after several weeks, today I feel calm. And happy.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Someday..

Someday, I hope to be very successful in whatever it is that I am doing..finding a cure for a deadly disease or making sense of a tiny biological event in the cell..and I hope to look back on this very rocky past several months and be able to think of it fondly, proudly, think of it as my testing time, and how I made it out with minimum damage, helped by lots of love, TLC, support, good advice and willing listening ears.

Someday.

For now, I go forth with cautious optimism. A new beginning is in sight for me. A new city, a new post-doc position, a new puzzle to solve.

Yay! I can't help be excited.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

One of the smarter things I did

was video-taping my defense-talk. It was the most polished talk I ever gave, and watching it now makes me feel so good about myself!

And yeah, reading that post too. :)

And I was lucky I had D who did such a good, professional job of taping it. I must write him soon and ask how he's doing.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Stuff

I'm so tired. I did nothing of consequence the past 4 - 5 days. Except deal with a horrible sore throat that morphed into a racking cough and fever. I feel like shit. All I want to do is sleep, and even that is difficult thanks to the cough.

Workwise, I have the emptiest feelings ever. I drag myself to the lab, just to do the bare minimum to keep the cell lines alive. I couldn't care less about my experiments, how they turn out, trouble-shooting...reading..nothing! Nothing holds my interest any more. Ever since it became clear that I was going to leave, I have just totally given up. Its a liberating feeling and a slightly sad one. I wish I could be more resilient. But it seems like I choose not to. For someone who identified mostly with work, this is a very empty feeling. And along with losing interest in science, I find that I lose interest in everything else too..the books I am reading, blog-hopping, cooking, everything.

Am desperately hoping for a new beginning. The equivalent of shaking off the dust from my sheets and starting afresh. But in these tough times, It's a bit much to expect..and the opportunity is still as elusive as ever.

But as far as the job hunt goes, I am still optimistic. And oddly very aware of my strengths that make me a good candidate. I just need to seize the next opportunity that comes by and make it work for me.

In the meantime, I should temporarily shake off the dust from the current situation and make the best of what I can salvage here. At the very least, its healthy and will keep me agile and busy, rather than make my brain rot and fester in self-pity parties. I've had enough and more of those, and they get old soon.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Terror attacks in Mumbai

Hope you and yours are doing okay.

There's thanksgiving holiday cheer all around me in the lab. Then I open up my browser to this news. Sent out a bunch of smses. I heard back from some of my close friends back home. Still waiting to hear about others, some that work in those very hotels.

Such a horrible senseless act. Shame on those bastards.

Prayers for all those in danger or affected.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

W.o.m.m. #32

I miss M. Sometimes nobody else can substitute for that non-judgmental listening understanding ear and laughing company.

As I am writing this post, tubes sit on ice waiting to be processed. And I find myself telling them..I don't care about you, you little pieces of DNA. I don't care if you disintegrate, die, or stick to a complex I can never pull you out of. I just don't care anymore. How about that, eh?

Realised how good that feels.

Also just realised it's not entirely true. A small part of me does care. So I shall go rescue them to appease that small part of me.

But if they don't make it yet again this time most of me won't care. So there.

How we cling on to advice from all and sundry in moments of confusion. Must always remember, that each person's advice comes from a certain perspective..there is really no such thing as unbiased opinion, they are all influenced by whatever experiences that shape that person....and that may not apply to us in totality..or sometimes even remotely.

Blog therapy is awesome. I was in such a funk since this afternoon..and suddenly I feel fine.

Friday, November 21, 2008

I have yet to read the book

And I'm already inspired.

After reading about Lilavati's daughters on Abi's blog, I had my dad buy me the book. He just received it from his friend in Bangalore and I got one of those 6 AM smses from him this morning: "Call when you can". I was asleep, then busy, then preoccupied with all that I have going on and decided to wait until I was in a better frame of mind to call him. He calls me in a couple hours..and says he hasn't put the book down since he got it in the afternoon, and can't wait to discuss it with me! His enthusiasm has traversed the trans-atlantic phone call and its such a pity I couldn't continue discussing it with him.
"Follow your dream", he said, "and don't let anything hold you back. Thats what this book is all about. I can't wait to send it to you- who can I send it with?"

The best way to start my day today.

Update: My dad has been having me call him and reading out parts of various awe-inspiring and very real stories from the book ever since. I think I am going to end up "reading" it via the phone before it gets here. :) Thanks, Abi. :)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Hmm

Just having a hmm moment here. Not sure how I feel about certain things. Not sure it warrants any further discussion. Just hmm.

:-)

P.S: I just realized that hmm can be a great way to resolve so many issues. Hmm it away and no more discuss! If only every niggling thought afforded that kind of indifference.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

W.O.M.M #31

1) I need to remind myself to let go. Everyone's entitled to their share of feeling wronged, sense of entitlement, grudges, petty hang ups, whatever. I don't have to go about fixing it all. I shouldn't even try. Especially when I don't know what it is. A little bit of indifference/distance/detachment is good.

2) Deep breaths. May be yoga even. Now's a good time.

3) No more pizza. for a year.
I don't eat pizza too much, to be honest. But on the rare occasion I do, it makes me sick. ugh. I think all those years of free pizza lunch, free pizza seminar, free pizza whatever in grad school are catching up.

4) I was seriously considering a trip home..now that won't happen. Bummer. On the other hand, I have this slight fear that if I go to India now I might just not want to come back. Ever.

5) This is a nice city. But the lack of friends and all the unhappiness at work have resulted in me having absolutely no attachment for the city after having lived here over a year. I'm excited about the prospect of moving to a new place. One thing I am hopefully going to do wherever I go next is to buy a car and get a life of sorts.

QOTD

"The mind is its own place, and in itself, can make heaven of hell, and a hell of heaven."


-Milton, Paradise Lost

Now that I have to do this all over again

I'm on the job market again. This first post-doc has been largely unhappy, unproductive and overall miserable. It's partly me, mostly the boss ;), and over all just "not the right fit". But if there's one thing life has taught me, it is the importance of getting out of a bad situation earlier than later. So I decided its best to cut my losses and leave, rather than get into a comfortable non-productive zone or kill myself trying too hard to make it work.

How did I go wrong in picking this place? What am I doing this time round to make sure it won't happen again?

Well, there are no guarantees. But to ensure that my next stint is a happier one, I have decided to pay attention to the following

1) DO Not get carried away by glamour. I did when I picked this place.

2) Do not start off with two high risk projects. Plan such that one project is in my area of expertise, the other can be a discovery/broadening horizons/learning new techniques experience.

3) Find a mentor I'll like. I knew there were personality "quirks" about bossman before I joined this place. I thought I could "deal" with it. Clearly, I couldn't. I found it very difficult to go up to him and get help mostly because I couldn't stand him and worse, couldn't trust him. Even though he was of little help the few times I did reach out, not going to him often enough has definitely hurt me. Moral of story: the smallest whiff of negativity, difficult personality, etc. should be a blaring sign to keep away. Call it paranoia, but there are enough nice people out there to have to settle to work with a difficult person.

4) Be really incisive an finding out if past experiments (even if they have been published by the lab..its time to wake up and smell the coffee..) have been reproduced by others. I spent a year chasing something I was told was "done by others"..when I have finally come to learn, piece by piece, that nobody could ever get this exact experiment to work, besides that one successful attempt that got published. Definitely not a good choice for my first project.

5) Find out what a lab technician's responsibilities are. I always thought that they were responsible for overall upkeep of lab and making sure things run smoothly. It is not always the case. Often, especially in mid-size to big labs, they have full blown projects of their own, and the lab running smoothly depends on collective effort of all. Which often translates to empty cartons when you go to reach in for that pack of tubes or plates, and a few conscientious people doing all the grunt work. If you're one of those, bitterness sets in soon.

6) Just for me, I need to pick small labs. 3 to 5 people. Thats what works for me.

7) A relatively young mentor, still in the ascending phase of his/her career. They are motivated, and your interests are important to them. Avoid places with a clear revolving door policy and rapid turnover rate.

8) How do I ensure the decent personality bit? I am networking with old pals from my masters in India..or friends of friends..orkut and facebook to the rescue. Trying to find links to the labs I am applying. Writing to at least 3 people, preferably post-docs on the lab alumni list asking them if they'd recommend the lab, and about their experiences. [I did that when I joined here too, except I just heard back from one and it was a very positive reco]. If they have nothing positive to say besides "the lab is well funded", you know there can be issues.

9) Reach out to the people I know are looking out for me. I'm heading homewards now. Ph.DAdvisor and my old professors from lutom have been really supportive. Ph.D Adv has been forthcoming with suggestions of people I should write to who she knows will make good mentors..and I have a good reputation in my Ph.D field that make me a prize candidate there.

9) Work back my confidence and a positive attitude before I go interview again. The reassuring part is that people are remarkably understanding about a post-doc not working out. In my case, bossman also has a reputation of sorts so people that know him seem even less surprised about my situation.

10) I have learned a great deal out of this experience. Very important lessons and I think my first taste of real-world life. Its taken a good many weeks of depression, self-doubt, self-flogging, dissection and all that good stuff, but I have now come to believe its happened for a very good reason. Onward and Upward!

11) The market is tight right now. I have sent out over 60 applications, to labs all over, and heard back from a handful. (I started in October). But that is the name of the game. Another friend sent out a 100. And heard back from a few, and found a great position eventually. So there.

Monday, November 10, 2008

On optimists

Its easy to be optimistic, constantly pointing to the bright side, when you're listening to somebody else's woes. And don't get me wrong, its very nice and very important to have people do it when I'm wallowing in my own misery that's made to look worse than it is by my own mind.

But the ones that inspire and affect me the most are the ones that can constantly look at the brighter side when they're in a tight spot themselves. They don't let anything bring them down. They believe fully and completely that things will come around..and only focus their energies on the positive.

Its an amazing trait..and a very infectious attitude. Cheers to the forever-optimists, and I'm so glad I know a few of those. :)

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Thank god she doesn't read my blog.

So, like I posted in the earlier post, I found out that we could call the NYT and order a back-issue. When I did that, I was given a few options: of staying on hold for 27-45 mins, of leaving my number and having them call me in 27-45 mins, or of leaving my number and specifying a time for them to call me back. Way cool! I thought. And left my number for them to call me within 45 mins.

No call came. I had to turn my phone off after an hour since I was in a meeting. Of course, then 3 calls come from them and all I had was mechanical noise in my voice mail.

I call back the 1-888 number for back-issues, mentally prepared to go through the whole thing again. Instead, this time I get a recorded message saying that if one was specifically looking for the back-issue of Nov 5th, they were now available on the website at nytstore.com. Else we could continue holding.

I had mixed feelings at this point. In one sense, I was very impressed with NYT and how they rose to the cause and made things to streamlined in a tech-savvy and efficient fashion. Another part of me didn't want the NYT that badly any more. If it was going to be on sale like some damn merchandise that anyone could get, it just seemed less special. In any case, I decided to go online and buy it.

I couldn't access the site for the longest time. Finally gave up. Tried a few times, and had the same problem. Soon after, instead of my browser just hanging, I began to get a message that read "We are experiencing high traffic volumes. Please try at another time. Don't worry, there are plenty of Nov 5th copies available".

Heh. So people were flooding the ordering website now. Think of the number of crazy people out there.

:p

I decided to wait it out a day, counting on their promise that there were plenty copies.

In the meantime.. remember her? Yeah, her. So I have gotten really friendly with her over the months. Being a regular face in the library and one that always offers feedback, asks questions etc, we developed a good rapport. I approached her on Thursday and asked if she had a copy of yesterday's NYT. She showed me where the old newspapers for the week are stacked. I asked her what happened to them at the end of the week..she said they got recycled. Exercising some self-restraint so I didn't come off as some despo trying to get my hands on the paper only to e-bay it, I asked if I could have them instead. She willingly and happily agreed.

So now I have a copy each of the NYT, the WSJ AND the Philly Inquirer. Is that cool or what?? :)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The New York Times 5th November 08

If any of you kind readers can find a print edition of today's NYT and save it for me, I'll be forever indebted and also reimburse cost of paper (not the E-bayed ones for $20!) and postage. :p
Or if you're around here we could meet for a coffee, may be?

TIA

Update: Apparently you can back-order a copy from the NYT itself. Trying right now..

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

On finding the right response

I've been in difficult situations of late. Not knowing what would be the "Smart" thing to say, trying to protect my interests, dealing with sticky situations, risks, etc. I have also screwed up by being upfront and brash, so I have learned the hard way to take things slowly, think before responding, etc. I have been consulting with a few good friends, briefing them, taking their opinion. As one would imagine, opinions are conflicted, people come from various perspectives and not necessarily aligned with your own. I am tired of repeating my story to 2 or 3 different people, but I remind myself that one's gotta do what one's gotta do. I take in these different opinions, sit back, evaluate, and find myself coming full circle. Responding in exactly the way I'd have done in the first place: that is, to tell the truth. Be straightforward and frank. Because at the end of the day, its important to be open and honest in order to be understood.

Hope it works.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Quote World Unquote Series

So this is the last place to find a sports-related post, but even if I wanted to ignore it, I wouldn't be able to.It's Philadelphia, they just won the "World" Series (Baseball) after 30 years or something and people are going C-razy! Cars are honking all the way down the street, I can hear the cheering from the bar two blocks down the street from where I live and fireworks going off everywhere. It's nice. Pepped me up. I am trying to ignore my beef about them calling it the "World" series...that crib has gotten old now, no?

P.S

So the birthday was fun and all, but the downer? Drunk me forgot my jacket at the bar. It was a nice black leather jacket- bought from Dharavi when I was first getting ready to come to the US way back in 2001. My best friend N and I went from store to store, haggling. N made sure I got the best deal, nice looking, well-fitting jacket. N has always been that kind of friend for me. Takes me shopping and always either insists on paying for my stuff or makes sure I get the best bargain. Its so much fun to go shopping with her.

I was looking at the photos from Fri night. In the beginning, you can see the jacket piled on my backpack beside me. Towards the end, along with that glazed eye look I adopted, the jacket is nowhere to be seen. I imagine it slipped off and fell on the floor and nobody noticed.

Called the bar and asked them, they say nobody turned one in. It also had my nice (and only) pair of gloves in its pockets. I feel so bad. It was a nice expensive jacket, got compliments and envious looks every time I wore it. More importantly, it had such a fond memory associated with it. N accompanying me patiently and uncomplainingly in the slush and mud in the rainy season in Dharavi.

It didn't really matter to me that N forgot to wish me on my birthday this year. (A first). I messaged her and reminded her to do so. It really sucks that I lost that jacket.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

So

I can strike "hit on random guy in bar" off my list now.

Yeah, the big 3-0 was celebrated in style. :) Cannot divulge all the details, but suffice to say that I'm still kinda sorta hungover from Friday night.

Cool bar. My best friend from school and a couple other friends. Not having to wait for a table in said cool bar. The end of what was a very stressful week in a string of stressful weeks. Evening kicked off with an awesome chocolate martini. Presents. Good conversation. More drinks. Hmm. Things get blurry here. There was cake they tell me, and a candle that said 29, just to appease me. I don't remember. But that was a sweet thing to do.

Said random guy also had a girlfriend there with him, I was told later. Heh.

It's a good thing I don't live in New York. :D

As I am told about the events, I've traversed feelings of disbelief, embarrassment, remorse and finally arrived at pride. Indicating it was time to brag on blog about it. :p

Thursday, October 23, 2008

W.O.M.M #30

Drivers in Philly are absolute Jerks. With a capital J. I've decided to invest in a nice loud industrial strength horn that can be attached to Basanti and honk away my frustration at all those buggers that think they rule the roads.


Went hiking to capture some awesome fall colours this past weekend. The North East is truly beautiful this time of the year.

Things are only as bad as you make them out to be. Repeat 10x.

W.o.m.m. #30 couldn't have come at a better time..and I swear I didn't plan it this way. :)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

More on superstitions

OK, my life in the lab is not really looking up these days so here's another post on something antipodal to science. While on the topic of irrational beliefs, one of my closest friends (also a scientist) has the most annoying blind belief due to which she refuses to be in a photo with her close friends. She believes that the friendship suffers if she takes a photo with them! I know! Stupid, silly, very annoying and the reason why I don't have a single photograph of her and me. Always bugged me to no end.

Our friendship has been one of the most rocky friendships I've ever had, for a variety of reasons. But it has stood the test of time, misunderstandings, spats, disagreements, distance and everything in between and beyond. Today a mail from her completely out of the blue brought me out of my bad mood and got me thinking about her and her silly superstitious beliefs and how just a few lines from here had such a happy effect on me..and I realized, for whatever its worth, I'm glad we don't have a picture together. :)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Nazar lag gayi

How many people share their complete irritation for that belief with my friend S? S abhors that notion like no other. I, on the other hand, (shamefully, for being a scientist), have a good amount of belief in the phenomenon. And I think I've jinxed a lot of things for myself in the recent past.....
just thinking.....

What I did this weekend.

Instead of me taking the bus, train, etc and visit my sis and co, they came here instead. My sis stayed back, while my niece went back with her dad. The father-daughter team are pretty self-sufficient and oblivious to the rest of the world as it is. I totally enjoyed spending time like this with my sis and sorta kinda playing host to her. We called my mom in the morning and lots of gossip was exchanged, arguments ensued and shouting over each others voices followed. Fun. We should do this more often..

In other news, I took off sitemeter. Now there's only one thing on here that just counts the hits, and I don't have any clue what my password is to that site so I will never bother with it. This is kinda cool. Liberating. I will live-blog withdrawal symptoms as they set in. And let me take this chance to tell anyone that knows me in real life and is reading this blog, be nice enough to let me know, at least? :p (Sitemeter is gone but paranoia remains, apparently. ;) )

Friday, October 10, 2008

Question

How does one bridge the gap between knowing what to do and then actually doing it? So you bitch and crib and rant about your situation to anyone who's willing to listen. People give well meaning advice, and you're tired at some point because its not anything you didn't know.

Less talk, more do. That's what I need.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Its about to go

Every once in a while I feel like changing something about this blog. Having threatened quitting more than once, found the most awesome template ever (or in any case too lazy to change that now :p ), changed the format of posts, taken archives off and on a few times, what is left now? I feel like messing with it yet again. Like they say, keeda. So, I've decided to take off sitemeter. Ooooooh. Scary thought. I am addicted to sitemeter in an almost pathological way. Its borderline disgusting even to me. So may be if I take it off, it will put an end to one of the many ways in which I waste my time, and will be liberating too. Now I wont worry if that login from lutom.edu is someone who knows me or that hit from hyderabad india are my parents or that person from philadelphia who spent 3 hours on my blog going through all my archives lives right next door!

What say? Shall I? Shall I???

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

This tangled web

I need a simple day. I'm not asking for miracles, or even experiments that work. I'll take failed experiments. That, in my book, is pretty normal. I want to wake up on time, go to the gym, go to lab, write detailed notes in my notebook, get most of the things on my very achievable list done, feel good about myself, come home, make chai, chat with a friend or two ..just simple small talk..gossip..inconsequential stuff... Or chat with my niece. Or ask to talk to my niece and hear her say "no...!!" :) Read a book..go out- weather permitting, make dinner, eat, sleep. That's all I want.

No shockers. No curve balls. No sad stories of anyone else. No stressful conversations. No emails that bring me down. No fukat ka mach mach. No worrying. No wondering. No pondering. No post-mortem-ing. No nothing.

I want.

Friday, October 03, 2008

On getting a foot in the door in industry

After an unsatisfactory year at this post-doc I have been exploring my options to get into industry and realize that at this point I am stuck in the post-doc rut , thanks to my "Academic H1 visa only portable within educational institutions".

As a grad student in the life sciences who are given to believe that a post-doc is the only way to go after the Ph.D., I think now, in retrospect, that the O.P.T period is actually the best time to explore your options to get into industry. It's tough and next to impossible, agreed, but but you have one less thing going against you, namely your visa status. A year or two of post-doc doesn't change that much except in terms of contacts, if at all. You are now in a sticky academic H1 which is pretty useless in applying for an industry position, doesn't matter how much cooler your c.v has gotten with more papers and what not. Five years into a post-doc, you should havee gotten ahead on a Green card application and hopefully that will help your chances in industry. That is assuming you survive the five years in post-doc hell without too much psychological trauma. ;)

So my advice to all you poor sods passionate about biology and still struggling in grad school, pull out all the stops to try for an industry position for as soon as you graduate. (If you at all want to explore that route). Get contacts, circulate your C.V around, get a head-hunter, do everything you can to try for a position then. If you are indeed successful in landing a job, you can always return to academia after a year if you decide you hate industry. If you do very well, your company can (may be ?) help file paper work for a corporate H1.


Any others with more experience in this please do chime in.

I recall a time I used to get into desi gatherings and all of them discussing visa and green card and find that terribly off-putting. Guess what?
heh. Never say never, they say.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

QOTD

You just do not know enough to be pessimistic.
-anon

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

On relationships

Going through a happy experience, all the while preparing for it to end is unhealthy, takes away the fun, cynical.
All in the name of self-preservation, so its not entirely irrational or unfounded, I guess.

You give as much as you can, you take what you can deal with. For the rest, the time will come.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

It's all good

Things have been quite stressful at work..and I had been pretty miserable and non-productive. I decided to get away from it all and catch up with M, one of my close friends from my grad school days who lives 1 hour away. I slept most of the way on the train to her place, partly due to being tired from everything and my brain in overdrive. I don't think M's husband was expecting to see me get off the train with a bike seat in my hand, but I explained to him how I had to rush to the train station from the lab and park my bike at the station and hence... He was just relieved to know that I wasn't swiping parts from here and there to build my own bike. :-) As soon as I met M, I felt a sense of calm and relief wash over. It was a day really well spent, we talked about good old lutom days, bad lutom days, my current work woes..boys, Palin and everything in between. Mostly it was the warmth, that nice familiar comfort and the feeling of unspoken support that I enjoyed. Not to mention her awesome cooking and sitting relaxed on the couch while her husband made us chai later in the evening. Things have a way of working themselves out, they reassured me, and reminded me of all those battles I fought and won when I was in Lutom. I'm going to go with them on this, and work my way through this time too.

Yeah. It's all good. :)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Random

As a rule
Man is a fool
When its hot
He wants it cool
When its cool
He wants it hot
He always wants
That which is not

-Anon

One of those verses that made the rounds in "autograph books" in class X. For some weird reason I was reminded of it. Rings so true right now.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Saturday AM random

So I was in the midst of a Saturday laundry-cum-check-on-cells-in-the-lab-cum-clean-up-apt-for-company-is-being-expected morning while listening to desi radio on itunes (i've discovered yet another channel) and generally trying to get into an upbeat mood. The folks in the house across my apt. building are having a yard sale, so I stopped by there on my way from the lab to see if I needed to buy any junk that I didn't need (there is a difference between need to buy and need for the article). Suddenly I hear my name being shouted from a distance "TGFI! TGFI!") - I turn around and look up to see my neighbour, yelling from her window "TGFI! Dekho to unke paas istri hai kya!". I checked with them and waved the istri back at her. "Accha main aati hoon neeche" she said.

Now this is the kind of stuff that puts a smile on my lab-and-laundry Saturday. Weird and inconsequential as it may sound.

P.S: And I go down to find ALL the machines in the laundromat free. My day's about made.

Friday, September 19, 2008

W.O.M.M #29

I have had more drag-my-sorry-ass to work days than yay-i-can't-wait-to-go-see-how-that-expt-turned-out days.

I need some better company. I need to hang out with some more of the go-getters types. The ones I hang out with these days are either totally complacent in post-doc hell, too young and still in grad-school hell (poor sods), or just quietly doing their thing and making their way up, but not very vocal about it. I am not blaming my company for my current state of mind, but I need a change. At least I'm not hanging out with super-negative-the-world-is-about-to-end type people any more.

What I really need to do is to submit that paper. I can't get myself to do it. I never knew any one thing could be this hard. Or that any one thing was capable of ruining your happiness so single-handedly. Which is what I've let the paper do to me. Its like accelerated grad-school depression all over again and worse. What a bitch.

Any grad students reading this, NEVER leave your lab without submitting your last paper. I've said it before and I'll say it again.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

First year-itis

A year over at my post-doc. I am a lot of things I said I wouldn't be when I started: demotivated, disappointed, losing interest, floundering aimlessly, have struck off academia as a life-long career option..

I still like what I do. I enjoy science. I love mentoring. I do a great job communicating my science (Whatever little there is).

Am trying to see where I should go next. Not too sure. More later.

------------------------------------------
SOTD: So much to say: Dave Matthews

And my hell is the closet Im stuck inside
Cant see the light
And my heaven is a nice house in the sky
Got central heating and Im alright
Yeah yeah yeah cant see the light
Keep it locked up inside dont talk about it
Talk about the weather
Yeah yeah yeah cant see the light............

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

On writing obituaries of people you never knew

Warning: Rant ahead
OK, I realise this is a sensitive topic but I need to get this out there and I also need to know if I'm the only one that feels this way about it. This is the second "In memoriam" post I have read on Sepia Mutiny, where they take it upon themselves to write a tribute to a desi victim of an unfortunate and tragic accident. When the person writing the post has never had anything to do with the victim in person. They cull all kinds of details about the person's life from orkut pages and what not and put together a post personalizing the tragedy in all kinds of ways. With an underlying connect of "That could've been me". You know what, "That could've been me" is a sentiment that applies quite widely. I think this kind of obit (the one written on Minal, a victim of the Virginia shooting incident was the other one that really rankled me) actually undermines the grief that people who actually knew the person and are dealing with the death feel. First of all, picking up from someone's orkut's page that they liked ear-rings is about as superficial you can get. All of a sudden adopting her to be your sister or whatever, and writing a whole dramatised post on it is just too shallow for me to take. If you never knew a person, what gives you the right to expound on them based on a picture of the person you paint without any authority whatsoever? Do you realise that you never knew this person existed until they passed away in a terrible tragedy, and all of a sudden you research the web and come up with a post like that? It almost trivializes the unfortunate incident. Its one thing to show solidarity at a time like this, a whole different story to take it upon you to write on it in such an affected manner. Grief of a loved one who has passed away is a very personal sentiment, not a free for all. There's much better ways of writing a tribute to someone without bringing on this kind of enforced connection.

It gets my goat even more when people in the comments praise these posts and talk about how much it touched them. That's when I begin to wonder if its just me.

/rant.

Monday, September 15, 2008

In a hypothetical situation

if you were just introduced to the new grad student in your lab called Tom, and he comes to talk to you about your project, and you tell him all about it, cracking nerdy jokes, etc. etc. and as you see him grinning more and more, you keep upping the nerd humour, DON'T. Because its very possible that his name is Jeff, not Tom, and the grin on his face keeps getting bigger because you insist on calling him Tom throughout the conversation.

Sheesh.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

W.O.M.M #28

On being too hard on oneself: If it spurs one on to better their performance each time, its probably worth it. At least its working. But if that is an end in itself, almost like beating yourself up is a punishment for bad performance and you let it rest at that, deluding yourself that you've made amends for the poor performance via all that self-beating, its really a lost cause. Might as well be happy with mediocre performance, and well, be happy.

No?

Then do better.

And with that, I shall stop being hard on myself about being hard on myself. And will try to stop being hard on myself too :p at least when its serving no purpose except overall misery.

In other news, I've a glimmer of hope that one of these really hard experiments I have been busting my ass on might be working. It's kinda sorta too premature to tell, but its the best I can offer now. We will know soon. Watch this space! :)

After all the let-downs and unsuccessful experiments in the recent past, I still get that flutter in my heart :) as I go to check the results after repeating an experiment for the nth time. It seems like I'll never learn the art of detachment. Science is, indeed, an abusive lover.

----------------------------

Some day I will be able to stop pretending that I am too cool for some things. Some day I will be able to admit to my feelings. Some day, soon. It can't be that bad. It could even be nice, if I let it.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Flower power

I could write about my fun weekend celebrating my niece's third birthday...-we went to this farm in NJ where the kids fed the animals, squealing in delight as the sheep licked corn off their tiny hands, went on a hayride around the farm and oooooh-ed in collective delight at the birthday cake, etc etc. It was all such fun. Except the part where one of the guests asked me "Oh, you're (tgfi's sister)'s sister aa? The one who has to get married?" ROFL. I guess that was funny too, in its own way, and put in perspective the whole "I love how desi NJ is" feeling I always get when I go there. Heh. Well, I guess that was the gist so there. I can also get all carried away and senti about how my darling niece is THREE YEARS old, but seriously, don't want.

I could also write about how, ever since I discovered a way to cut my travel time to/from NJ by 30 mins by a train-bus combination, I have been taking the liberty to stay back at my sister's on Sunday night and come home Monday early morning, able to go to work right away. I have been super-thrilled about the discovery, and proudly explain it to people who have lived around here for a while and still didn't know about it. Thats exactly how I figured it doesn't excite everyone as much, so I'll leave the gory details out of this post. (Plus, then anyone reading this could figure out where I live).

That brings me to how I missed my connecting bus today because of a totally unhelpful conducter (yes, the same connection I was raving about 2 lines ago) and how miserable it made me, set me back by a whole hour and had me twiddling my thumbs at the train station for about 40 mins, sulking and angry.

But tales of missed buses and trains are way over done here, so we shall let that pass too.

Which then brings me to what a rotten day I had today, after that splendid weekend, experiments (that I slogged over on Friday night and Saturday) being a total bitch, and then all kinds of downers from people close to me..that I am finding it hard to put a finger on what exactly brought me down..but it could very well be a combination of all of it. Again, experiments bombing is kinda old news on here, and the other stuff is yet unresolved and unsorted to blog about..SO, I decided to dedicate this post to flowers and the unique cheer-upping effect they have.

I picked up this bunch of flowers at the farm we went to for Kavita's birthday, and they were the freshest, most vibrant looking flowers I've seen in a while. All the way home, through the missed bus and the ensuing spat with the conductor and then the long wait at the train station, they invited admiring glances from one and all that passed by me. Several stopped to ask "Are these from your garden? They're so fresh!" or just remarked "Beautiful flowers!" I like to think they brightened up the dreary Monday morning for more people than just me, and also totally neutralized my misery while waiting at the station for forty minutes. It was hard to keep the scowl on my face while holding this beautiful bunch of flowers. And when I went to work and read email and got mired in the daily grind, I had totally forgotten about them, only to come back home after a long day's work and find them sitting pretty and bright on my table. :) How can anyone not like flowers?

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Dowry

Rant alert.
Dowry shouldn't even be a word any more. But we know it is very much a real issue far from being eliminated. Over the past year or so, I've heard of at least 5 cases of dowry: as in a sizeable sum of money being given by the bride's family to the groom's family during the wedding. All of these cases (both "love" marriages and "arranged") are from middle-class or affluent families, where both parties involved are well-educated, ostensibly "forward" and what not. What the fuck exactly happens to all of that suddenly? I don't get it. I am yet to reach a stage of smugness where the sheer ridiculousness of such things leaves me unfazed. It gets me most riled up to see that women whose parents have invested in a strong, well-rounded education for them amongst other things, women who are smart, very vociferous in their daily life and workplace, let themselves be party to the pratice of dowry. Really, WTF is all I have to say. Because I have heard all kinds of ludicrous justifications in the face of all of this. Women adopting a passive stance "My parents can afford it, so why bother and kick up a storm"; or "This is an old tradition, no point fighting it if that's what the elders want" etc. etc. Or it is that horrible desperation to "Get married" that pervades the indian strata - so a demand for dowry cannot be an impediment, after all "its a nice family, girl and guy like each other, horoscopes match, girl needs to "get settled", what's a few lakhs or crores or so being demanded, eh? especially when one can afford it.." What? What happens to self-respect? And really, how many times in your life do you, as an adult, just blindly follow what your parents say?? And here you are willing to accept this without questioning it, let alone calling the police and putting those people in jail because that is what you need to be doing. How much of respect do you have for a guy who is willing to put a price on you or the marriage? Yes, dowry is discussed, even bargained in these instances. It disgusts me that the girl allows it to happen. And don't even get me started on how low I think of the boy in question. How, then, can a girl allow herself to marry this person and live a life with such a spineless person? And the point is not about keeping elders happy or that your parents can afford it, the point is perpetuating this crime, a battle that scores of poor, lesser privileged women are constantly fighting in a very sordid and gory fashion. And here you have people spending lakhs of rupees on ostentatious weddings and bargaining dowry without batting an eyelid. SHAME ON ALL OF THEM!

/rant.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

This, that and the other

1. I stuck to my resolve of no work this past weekend. Of course I had to check in to do some routine stuff to keep the cells alive etc., but that's all I did. I feel so relaxed and refreshed. Went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. My first time there which is sad considering I've been here a year. But better late than never, I guess. It was a lovely afternoon. Had only enough time to check out the Nandalal Bose exhibit that was going on. Also the European Armour Museum. Nandalal Bose's paintings..especially the ones on Shantiniketan reminded me a lot of my dadu. My neighbour's grandfather and thus mine too...Dadu was big time into art and poetry and always encouraged me to find place for it in addition to academics. Dadu lived in Shantiniketan during his last years and still has a lovely house there that I want to go see some day. For now, I have resolved to go to the PMOA more often. Hopefully catch one of the Friday Jazz nights sometime soon.

2. So in my refreshed happy mood I decided to pick up a few groceries on my way from the gym. I was biking back home, wind in my face, humming a song, thinking about my experiments, and didn't realise that the plastic bag tore and half my groceries flew out. Chota mota stuff but still sucks. I backtracked and picked up most of it but am missing a small packet of some spice. But it was kind of funny too. (For the record I always carry my backpack or a grocery bag and avoid plastic bags but this was on a whim and I didn't have any bags...) I stopped at the seven-eleven and got a milk crate to tack onto Chameli now, to prevent such occurrences in the future. :)

3. Happy Ganesh Chaturthi all of you!!!!!!. I really miss Bombay and home now. :( Some years ago, I'd get by with these pangs of home-sickness during festivals by telling myself that its a question of a few more years and I'd be back home, enjoying all of that. Now it doesn't seem that simple any more. Or that certain. Makes me all the more sad. :( :(

Anyway, Ganpati Bappa Morya! :)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Tagged

I got tagged by a chirpy paaro. :)

I am supposed to list 6 unspectacular quirks. Here goes

1) When I get really overwhelmed by emotion, I have been known to faint. :)

2) I talk to myself aloud.

3) I get this great feeling of accomplishment when I beat others to reach a spot first...like when we're all walking in a group to get someplace, or crossing the road...or taking a bus. (must get that window seat!) Most of the times nobody else is even aware that there is a competition of sorts going on, until I scream out "First!".

4) If I start eating a bar of chocolate I have to finish it. Never heard of saving some for later.

5) I am extremely giggly. And loudly so.

6) I have to fold and put away laundry as SOON as it comes out of the dryer. I hate doing laundry.

Bonus 7) I am extremely argumentative. Most times I persist just to stretch the debate, and its largely sprinkled with a healthy dose of (my quirky) humour. If the other person doesn't see the fun in it, it gets pointless.

Thanks chirpy paaro, for tagging me. (Nobody does, these days..(sad sigh) ;) ) I tag anyone who wants to take this up, its been going around for a while.

No title

The answers I am trying to find everywhere else are all in my head. I think I'm a bit scared of looking in there. Also there's way too much stuff to go through before I get to them, and I don' t have the patience for that.

Nobody else can be responsible for ruining things for you. Its your own choice.

Things are only as complicated as we make them out to be, right? Got to remember that.

The long weekend is here! I am not going to do any work, or even intend/plan on any!.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Note to self

(I have no idea anymore if I'm taking a break to blog, breaking the blog break, or whatever the hell) :p

Stop wasting time worrying over what never was, and what never will be. Do you realise the futility of the exercise? Really! There are several, much better ways to kill time.

Dear Librarian

I like that you are so friendly and helpful and always approachable. But have you considered that you're a tad too chatty? I mean, for a librarian..in a library! Shush already!

Can you please tone it down a notch?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Cool

Didn't realize that filling some of those annoying captchas was for a cause. Methinks I need to bring back word verification on this blog then. ;)

Stressed

My mom suffers from a chronic skin ailment. That surfaces in the worst possible ways when she is stressed out or irritated...causing her to itch uncontrollably. I remember all the fights we had..the shouting matches and arguments finally giving way to the sound of my mom's nails grating against her skin. It was so disturbing, the fights would automatically stop and leave me feeling horribly guilty for bringing it on.

I've inherited the exact same response to stress. Today was the last straw in a string of unhappy days. As I sat down, scratching away at my red skin, the same sound and the same skin reaction as my mom- I was reminded of all those scenes at home...the exact issues which were the bone of contention between my mom and me came back to my head. I reminded myself so much of her at this instant, except that my itching bouts are not even brought on by a bratty daughter...just me.

Ah well. Life hai, fight hai. This too shall pass and all that jazz. The itching has finally stopped and I'm going to sleep..tomorrow is another fight.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

For your listening pleasure

I just rediscovered a bunch of cds I had "lost" when I moved. It's the happiest feeling ever in the midst of all other misery in my life these days. Amongst them are two nice desi/part-desi bands, have been around a while. Do check out (if you haven't already)

The Unseen Guest

From their page
They manage to incorporate Western music with traditional Indian instruments in a way that makes it genuinely new, avoiding patchouli-scented cliché or Bollywood bombast.

and

Thermal And A Quarter

They like to be called TAAQ if you must, not T.a.a.Q. Some more trivia on them from their page:
"9. Thermal And A Quarter is perhaps the only rock band in the world that has not written a single song with the word 'baby' in it"

:)

P.S: (still on blog-break, came up for some air)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

thought of the day

(still on blog-break, came up for some air)

What is worse than shirking and avoiding a task? Actively "not doing" it. Sitting at it for hours on end and "not doing" it. or anything else. The inertia becomes all-consuming and a very hard to break out of cycle. And the damage slowly builds up and accumulates into really bad, irreversible repercussions.

I hope I learned something out of all this.
Sigh.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Break interrupted for public service announcement

If your night-time minutes on cellphone start at 9 pm, and you make a call at 8:55 pm lasting for over 2 hours, all of it will be billed to your daytime minutes and you will get a whopping bill for overage.

Just fyi, next time you're slightly tipsy and count on the clock in your house thats 5 min fast and make a long, giggly, gossipy phone call.

b!@#$%DS AT&T

At least the call was so much fun..just sucks that two people are now paying for it. :/

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Short break

This blog is on a break. The blogger much less so. brb

Meanwhile audience question: If you were not a [fill current occupation here] what would you be?

If I were not a scientist, I'd be a baby-sitter or involved in early childhood education. I think little kids are most fascinating and unlimited sources of joy.

Or I might have been a union leader of some kind.

You?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

On Coworkers

My colleagues at work are great company for most- very social, great sense of humour, and all get along well. So we do beer nights and movie nights and all of that goes very well. I am enjoying it because I was in a one-person lab for most of grad-school so this is awesome. But I know for sure that I will never get into close friendships with any of them. Like most big groups, there's a significant amount of back-biting and bitching here, something I just don't have the stomach for. So while they are super-nice to you on your face, the minute one person in the mix is missing s/he becomes the subject of conversation and ridicule. It's not like that's all they do, but they do it a lot. They recycle the same nasty jokes about a person, and when the subject of their criticism is back, suddenly its all sugary sweetness. I thought I had left behind this kind of behaviour in high school. These people here I'm talking about are either grad students or post-docs. It disgusts me every time I see it, and of course the thought does cross my mind as to what they discuss about me when I'm missing. I don't really care though.

I have dealt with it mostly by resorting to plugging in my earphones and going back to work when this begins. Or just nodding and smiling. A few times I have called the person out on it. Like when my bay mate went into bitching mode about xyz "You know I really like xyz and she's a great friend and very smart but she is slacking at her job and it affects the rest of us.." I told my baymate that if I were a good friend I'd rather be told in the face that I was not doing something right. My bay mate did not take that well at all, as I anticipated but I was getting sick of her bitching. I have also broken away a bit and made friends with people from neighbouring labs to go to lunch or chat with. That does help to keep it healthy.

Sometimes the sheer superficiality of their groupisms, affections, friendships and congeniality irritates the hell out of me. Other times I feel that I need to stop being so uptight about it and just accept it as a part of group dynamics. To some extent gossip is healthy and natural, and I guess we all need to vent and bitch. But the two-faced-ness of it is a bit much for me to take. Eventually I think I'll get thick-skinned to it, its already bothering me a lot less now.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Note to self

Trust your gut instinct. It has always worked for you. And you have always regretted the times you did not trust it.


People lie. All the time. through their teeth. And people are also very capable of coming up with explanations to explain away every lie. Not. worth. anything.

Desist from painting everyone with a wide brush. It's most easy to give in to, but you know it doesn't paint the correct picture.

It's never too late to admit that you were stupid/foolish/got taken for a ride. And no one is infallible, so its ok if you did. The important thing is to stop denying it, be able to face it and remember the lessons you learned from it.

Sometimes I can't stop wondering Why? Why me? How me? But when I step back and take it all in, it just makes me laugh. :)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

On (writing) buddies

C is one of my close friends from grad school and our lives are running on amazingly parallel tracks right now, both in and out of lab. So we are supposed to be nagging each other on our writing and help finish up our respective papers...today I call C to get a status report as we hadn't touched base in a few days. I have in front of me our shared google document where we are listing goals for the day, etc. I am in full serious mode and this is how the conversation goes as soon as I call:

Me: C, kya haal? Kidhar tak pahuncha paper?
C: Tgfi, paper shaper to koi ho nahin raha, lekin lagta hai ladka phans gaya hai.

I think thats mighty productive. :-)

Friday, August 01, 2008

W.O.M.M. #27

The first comment to a blog post (not counting inane ones like "gold!" ) is always the most exciting to me, for some reason.

I have discovered I have this compulsion. Of taking a seemingly empty tube of face wash or toothpaste or any such thing..and squeezing out at least 5 more uses from it. So what looks like a flat empty tube that needs to be thrown in the trash can to most people calls out to me like no other. And I can't rest till I get that last bit of lotion out of the inner sides of the tube. Koi ilaaj hai iska?

And while we're at it, I cannot stand it when people squeeze the middle of the tube of toothpaste either. Why would anyone do that? Why???

-----

Recursive paranoia: like that bungee jump ..I keep coming to the same spot and then freak out, unable to let go any more. After a point every small thing sets off warning bells, instead of being simply enjoyed. Unlike the bungee jump, I'm not that sure I even want it. A small part of me is curious about how it will be if I take the leap, a small part frustrated at my freezing up. Rest is all clouded by all encompassing fear.

Talking to m, the guy who probably taught me more about commitment/relationship-phobia than I ever knew myself, and exposed me to the ugly face of this has actually helped. I told him how much it freaked me out that I am now starting to sound like him. :) Most people wouldn't take that too kindly. Luckily m understands. And presents a great case in favour of letting go. Coming from him, i might even buy it. But it is left to me to finally make the leap.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Iqbal

Yeah I know I am late to this party..by a few years may be. :-) But I just unearthed the dvd from my stash and realized I had never seen the movie. So I finally got around to watching it today. Couldn't have been better timed. While the big obvious message..follow your dreams..definitely hit home, there were other aspects of it that invoked the warm fuzzies and made me smile. The two women threatening the coach not ot dash Iqbal's dreams..the chatty bespectacled kid sister quietly weeping at the fence watching her brother play...how the dad finally relents and they go to see his match, only they can't afford tickets..Iqbal's untiring pursuit with the drunk coach..the teacher-student relationship between them.. all of these were so well done. I don't watch too many desi movies so the rare one I see also ends up making me miss random things about home..like autorickshaws, and the desi kambals. No comforter-shumforter can provide the warmth and cosiness of a kambal.

Another thing about the movie was that it served as a refresher on the kind of ties our parents have with us. Over the years I have become slightly impatient..distanced, "Americanized"; I daresay, as far as my parents go. I can't deal with their (sometimes, to me) overbearing worry and concern about me. But in Iqbal, the mother's blind faith in her son's success, the father's obstinate stand that he knew what would be best for his son..the complicated web of hopes/dreams/reality and how he deals with it on a daily basis..was beautiful. It's hard to explain the kind of message I got out of all that..but I'll just say it reminded me to be bit more patient with my parents next time I am beginning to get irritated by their concern.

Nice, feel good movie. I should go sleep now.

W.o.m.m. 26

I just found out about two of my classmates from grad school who have landed tenure track positions at big big name universities. These were people from my session..they did graduate a year or so before me, but even then..that means just a 2 year post-doc period!

It leaves me feeling many things..am really happy for them..they were both really nice people, very smart too, always willing to answer my questions when I had doubts etc. Granted that in their sub-field which is so much more theoretical, publications move faster and the short post-doc is not all that surprising. I have pretty much kissed good-bye the dream I ever had of getting into the tenure track rut. It has very little appeal for me now. But a small part of me is going to feel sad every time I see someone else go up and do it, and wonder what if..(And then I immediately recoil and remind myself of the reasons I made my decision).

Ah well. I am supposed to be inspired by this news. I'll try. :p

--------

The key to letting go is to really, truly let go. Not let go superficially but comfort yourself secretly that you may get it back some day.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Cool!

Snap out of it!

I have been terribly unmotivated at work past few weeks. I know some of it is because of the bloody paper from my ph.d work that hasn't gone out yet. It's sticking like a thorn in my side and yet I can't seem to push it past the finishing line. So close, yet so far. It's getting exponentially harder each day.

My current work is also not reaping any interesting results. I have procrastinated on some experiments so much that sometimes I feel overwhelmed and don't know where to start with them. I have two projects, both super cool and interesting and do-able but both slow. Painfully slow. Frustrating. And currently, both failing miserably and hence off-putting.

All of this makes me a generally unhappy person. I've taken time off, I've done fun stuff, I've gone out and met friends..but there's an underlying sadness because work is not going the way I'd like it to. I've realised that my work pretty much defines me as a person, that is not going to change however much I fight it or ignore it. So I just need to go with it. I also realised recently I have it so much better than a lot of people. I have so much to be happy about, excited about and be proud about, professionally and personally. I need to stop dwelling on the mistakes, the "impossible tasks" and the lofty goals. I need to start small, start, chug along and I know I'll get there. Stop beating myself up, stop magnifying small mistakes into huge crimes. Trying to constantly aim for the stars while refusing to get out of the trenches hasn't ever worked, has it? I should know.

The goal for today is just to get through my very do-able to do list. Nothing grand. Small routine tasks to take my experiments forth. Best of luck to me.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

random cravings of a sick mind

sick as in ill, ok?

rasam rice

bombay

home

drive in movie (do you realise how these are near extinct these days? i love the concept- its one of my top favourite date things to do )

sleep

cable tv

Monday, July 28, 2008

I am

tired
happy
sleep deprived
puzzled
angry
disappointed
thankful

all of above. all at once.

yes, Pri. thank you for your moral support and words of encouragement. I made it to NY and back, 4 trains and 3.5 hours each way and no (mis)adventure. Are you proud of me or what?

and since we're doing acknowledgments thanks to Shripriya for eating tips in NY and confused for for train tips.

The blogworld is such a supportive place. What would I do without y'all?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Please

Nothing is black and white. If i say I hated papayas earlier, and really enjoy them today, I shouldn't have to feel the need to hand out disclaimers each time. Likes and dislikes need not be an issue of principle or responsibility every time.

sigh. And its just a freakin papaya, for crying out loud- not my stand on abortion i'm changing.

/rant

"Can you please call now?"

How would you react if you got a text msg like that from your dad? My dad has this MOST ANNOYING habit of sending a one liner like that. Or "please call when you get time". It used to alarm me in the beginning and I would hurriedly call back only for him to tell me something totally mundane and nothing urgent. I then realised he was just using some preset saved message and just sent it whenever he felt like talking to me, or was just too lazy to type a more descriptive message. I wish he would include some context, or take out the "please". I have told him a few times, but of course it hasn't changed. Having realised these messages are not meant to cause panic, I have stopped panicking over them. On good days, I laugh it off as one of my dad's quirks and on bad days I grit my teeth nd mutter under my breath when I get a message like that out of the blue. Today I finally ranted it out here and feel much better...

But I always call him right away. :-)

Friday, July 25, 2008

On missed buses

I think back to the opportunities I let go..and while I may not necessarily want to get them back now (not that there is any way I can), I want to make sure I don't miss another that might, after all, take me where I want to get.

I have eaten my words on several occasions, mostly after having to suffer the consequences. This time I willing to do some pre-emptive eating of my words. :p

W.o.m.m #25

QOTD: Nothing will work unless you do.

I want to start spending less time online. To start with, not sign into GTalk while at work. Even if I only chat very rarely between experiments and stuff..its eating into my time now and there are better things I can do. When I was in grad school, I had mostly stuck to my "no IM at work" policy, and it worked out really well for me. Now that I use my own personal laptop in the lab I feel tempted to sign in. But it's going to stop from today. So lets see how that goes.

Question for y'all: When you surf and find interesting articles, blog posts you want to read etc. but can't get through them and would like to come back later just to read how do you save the links? I am not talking about marking unread in a feeder, because some of these are not blogs/feeds I have on my reader to start with, just stumbled upon by chance or blog hopping. I wouldn't want to sit and bookmark all of them either. So all you netizens, tell me what you do?

One of my lab mates is the most careless when it comes to working with radioactive stuff. It has been bothering me for a few days now. Yesterday I told him he needed to follow some rules, he was being inconsiderate towards others. My Ph.d advisor was crazy-anal when it came to using radioactivity in the lab and i can't understand how someone can be so inconsiderate and careless. He leaves soon, and just for the fact that he is an overall bad lab citizen even though a nice guy, I'm not too sorry to see him go.

Two post docs I know lost their jobs because their P.I's grants didn't get renewed. One prof on our floor has greatly downsized for the same reason. It's scary.

Some links

On the important skill of multi-tasking in your post-doc. A very timely post for me, so I thought I'd share.

I certainly spent postdoctoral time writing papers from my Ph.D. research, but I also worked on my new research projects and I enjoyed doing both. This fondness for having simultaneous projects at different stages of 'completion' has been a characteristic of my career, but I first discovered this during my postdoc.


And this one where the author Zuska blogs about her D & C procedure. I almost passed out half-way through the post while reading it, but decided to steel myself, drink some water and made it through the post.

I will actually quote her sidenote with which she ends the post, the post itself has all the gory and not so gory details of the D&C.

A side note on women and gynecological procedures:

Many women are survivors of sexual abuse or sexual assault. For them, even routine gynecological exams can be a traumatic experience. A procedure like a D&C, which places one in an even more vulnerable state, can be even more difficult to undergo. It's important to be able to communicate openly with your health care provider about your history. A good gynecologist will talk with you about your fears and explore ways to reduce anxiety. These can include simple techniques like making sure that the health care provider tells you explicitly everything that he or she will do at each step before proceeding, and checking in with you periodically to see how you are doing. If you find it difficult to advocate for yourself in this way, you may want to take a trusted friend with you to your exam. Most gynecologists these days are aware that sexual abuse and sexual assault are all-too-common experiences for women, and that they can affect a woman's ability to tolerate exams and procedures. But if you run into someone who is not sympathetic, don't just put up with it, or worse, avoid taking care of your health because of it. Find a new doctor.


FYI, A D&C (Dilation and Curettage) is a procedure that involves expanding or enlarging the entrance of a woman's uterus so that a thin, sharp instrument can scrape or suction away the lining of the uterus and take tissue samples. This is usually done as an adjunct procedure ie, other procedures follow the D & C. (see this for details)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

On relationships

I like

Being able to take liberties
Long cosy conversations
The TLC
Exclusivity
Feeling special
Letting go

I don't like

The ensuing fear of involvement, possibility of hurt, disappointment
Being responsible for another's feelings
Being answerable to another
The emotional investment
Having to let go
All of this makes it feel like a "jhanjhat" I can do without.

Unfortunately there are no guarantees in life. Some risks are worth taking, and some hurt is worth living through.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

For the last time

Dear TGFI,

Gate number is different from seat number. Mixing them up will get you nowhere. At least not on a flight.

I am getting tired of your nonsense, really. Also mixing up the name of your destination with the name of the airport you are flying out of will do no good. Except make you look like one big fool, screaming at the kiosk machine for not processing your request while you insist on wanting to fly to the airport the machine (and you) are currently standing in.

Yeah, seriously.

On second thoughts, an intelligent machine will not have that option, no? They need to upgrade in airports.

Sorry for 2 am rambling. I just got home when I should've arrived at 11:30 am because, of course, remember that am flight i booked at pm instead? sigh

Friday, July 18, 2008

W.O.M.M #24

To someone in particular, yes, I miss you every now and then. But that last phone call reminded me why I am glad to just miss you in a fond way, and not have to deal with you on a daily basis.

To someone else in particular, I had one of those 3 am awakenings again last night. Allergies, bad dreams, fighting with the air-conditioner. And yeah, I realised then that I missed having the liberty of calling you. But then, thats what friends in different time zones are for. :)

The bicycle has been christened Chameli! Thank you, aequo animo. :)

Oh yeah. My latest gripe. A colleague F and I went to visit one of our friends G who recently had a baby. G's parents were in town and we were treated to a wonderful home-cooked south indian meal, thanks to G's mom. As we were getting ready to leave, F gets asked if he'd like to take home some food, but I am not even asked! (And to top it all, F refuses, like a fool!). Why? Because F is a guy and is not expected to cook for himself, while I'm a girl and should be able to cook for myself and less deserving of getting some leftovers to take home?? Damn stereotypes.

As I remarked to F about it on our way back in the car, F, who happens to be an excellent cook - expert dosa maker and what not said "I don't know why you are so worked up, I am the one who should be offended, if any.". :)
sigh.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Reminders because I need them

1) Sometimes you have to tell it like it is. No matter how much you care for the person or how it might affect them

2) Having done that, stand by it, don't wallow in guilt

3) Sometimes, many times, most times, you've got to put yourself first.

4) Sometimes a giggles-filled phone call with a friend can do a lot in lieu of a real life hug.

5) Sometimes you've got to let go. Stop dwelling on shit. really!

6) The one person who is always capable of making you feel better about yourself..is yourself!

7) If you think you're beaten, you are. If you think you can, you can!

Cliched, but true.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Best friends

How many best friends do you have? I don't see why one can't have more than one. I've a best friend from my childhood days, a set of best friends from school days and two from my grad school days. How they got that title? Mostly, by just being there.

Close friend sounds more appropriate than best friend, perhaps, but i like the ring the sound of "Best friend" has to it. "she's my best friend!"
:)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Assorted rants


Top on my list of what I hate about living in the US is how hard they make it for one to be able to see a doctor. Anywhere between 3 - 6 weeks waiting for an appointment with a GP. What a joke. It almost seems like I should just block a few dates every few months and hope that if in case I need to see one, it be around then. And there's no in between. Either its that or the E.R.! And when I finally get to see the doc, it will be a few minutes, brusque, rushed conversations and this whole meherbaani attitude, both from the doctors and the staff. I hate this current doctor I have and that whole office in general. Any surprises then that I put off seeing the doctor as much as I can? I am trying to switch now and hope I find another one close by.


Just found out that I screwed up an experiment. Added the wrong reagent. 8 plates of cells and 4 days of work down the drain. Genius TGFI.

Also just found out that I screwed up a reservation. Booked a 930 pm plane instead of 930 am. Breathtaking Genius TGFI.

Yeah. Just wucking fow.




Loop

Its all too familiar. To want, to get, to not want, to be scared, to want to run. I am not sure what it will take to get out of the safety of this comfort zone. It all seems too demanding and not inspiring enough. It shouldn't seem like a chore, like a task waiting to be struck off a to-do list, right? Most times, thats what it seems like to me.
And so I run around in recursively twisted logic. It's getting tiresome.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Thought of the day

You know you don't have enough nasty people in your life when you start getting sensitive about things at the drop of a hat and make life difficult for your own self. sigh.
get. over. it.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Black book, blue book

Throughout grad school I worked on mostly one project at a time. Of course there were many sub-parts going on simultaneously, back ups etc, but they were all aimed at answering the same question, the basis of my doctoral dissertation. When I started my post doc we outlined two projects A and B. Project A was taking up immediately from where someone had left it, and had an experimental framework outlined. But it required so much groundwork and set up, while project B required so much of my understanding of the literature and conceptualization, that A had been consuming all of my time for the first year. B is supposed to be my "main project", my baby, and it has only taken off in fits and starts whenever I got time from working on A. Finally, A has taken off, and I have attained a degree of confidence and command over it so that I can now work on getting B up and running too. Now I am actually doing what they tell you to do all the time, work on 2 projects at a time. And I am loving it!

A and B are entirely independent of each other. So I go in everyday and open up my black notebook, which I record my experiments and observations on A. Somewhere in the middle of the day I switch off from A almost completely, switch gears and start thinking about B. I open up my blue notebook, design, plan and conduct experiments for B. It's like living two mini-lives in a day! They both employ different techniques and different experimental models, so I am learning a lot of new stuff now and getting to play with very different tools. They are also aimed at answering very different questions, and I am beginning to enjoy juggling between the two disciplines and the mental gymnastics of jumping laterally from one thought process to the other. And there is the thrill and rush having all of these different things to do and stay on top of, which gives me that kick to see me through the long days.

And every once in a while, A provides a vague insight or segue into B or vice-versa, and those are delightful moments, like unexpected bonuses. In the bigger picture, A and B are also after all pieces of the same huge puzzle: understanding how and why cells do what they do.The plan is to make the two roads meet at some point in future, and I am excited to see how and when that intersection happens!

50k



I waste a good bit of time poring over the stat counter data on this blog. Part of it is my innate paranoid self. The other part is just a fascination for being able to track traffic, see where readers come from, search words etc, as many might share.

Today at some point this morning a visitor from Bombay pushed the sitemeter over past the 50k count. Yay! I am glad it was a visit from bombay. :) Here's a shout out to all you people who indulge my nonsense and read this blog. Thank-you! :)