Friday, February 29, 2008

This post is dedicated to ...


The instant fixer of bad moods anytime, anywhere.

God bless chocolate.

And special shout out to Ferret: i hope you got it now, fool! :p

W.O.M.M. #9 (The missing one)

I hitched a ride to work today. I could not afford to be late for 9 AM lab meeting Again. Especially considering that I was presenting. It's hard to run in the freezing cold and the wind against you.

This is the second time I've hitched a ride (like from a random car passing by) ever. The first time was in Bombay, with 3 other girls, on the western express highway, One day when there was a bus strike. We got a ride from this guy (with green eyes) in a van. We were all holding our breath (and mentally practising screaming and self defense moves) till we got dropped off. We could've simply taken an auto, but they were hard to find given the strike and the time of the day (evening). The line between being adventurous and foolish is thin.

My first presentation in this lab (not counting my interview ;) ) went off well. Not my usual stellar performance given that I was working on it till I got out the door and had an hour of sleep. But it was good. I was reminded of the rigor and training PhdAdv. gave me in making good presentations. It is definitely not wasted.

Most importantly, I got lots of good feedback from the group on all the issues I've been having. Its such a nice feeling- to present to a large group and get useful feedback. I think that makes a productive lab meeting. In the past, by the time our group got big enough, I was way past the stage of feedback for most purposes. This felt good. I hope things pick up now.

I think I've an inherent attraction for unchartered territory. I love the challenge. I love being where no one has been before. The risks and costs sometimes outweigh the thrill factor. But i can't get away.

I should've learned by now when to stop hitting my head against a brick wall and stick my neck out and get help, or give up! (Not in the complete sense of giving up, but in a practical sense). I need to work on that some more. It's a pathological addiction to just want to work things out, by myself, beyond practicality and smartness. I found out from the suggestions in lab meeting how futile that can be. Not good.

Oh Oh Oh Happy Leap Day y'all! :)

And p.s: link pick for the day: indeed, the stuff life is made of. (Via DesiPundit).

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Will someone please tell me

WHERE ON HELL did that nasty tradition of smearing cake over someone's face on their birthday originate? Or pouring tons of food over their head? Spoiled leftovers. Good food that could feed a few hungry mouths. Raw eggs? seriously? How is all of this supposed to be remotely fun or celebratory?? Who cleans up all that mess? I just do not get it. I knew of folks who did it (something I heard of only here in the US at desi parties), but was never actually at a party where people did it. I am sure I would've left such a party right away.

And I just saw the most disgusting video of this on this blog (which doesn't advocate it either) but everyone in that video seems to be having such a good time (except the birthday boy)! Je ne comprends pas!

Warning: video has very disturbing content. Watch at your own risk.

If anyone reading this blog has ever indulged in this most nasty way of celebration ever, explain yourself here and leave the blog immediately!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Nobody tags me

and I had been feeling quite sad about that. So Vida Loca made my day by tagging me, without me having to beg and beseech anyone for a tag. Thanks babe!

In her words "I am supposed to link to previous posts about Family, Friends, My Love, Something Interesting and Self"

Since I am in the mood for some (more) self-indulgence, lets see.

Family: I'll pick this one about my parents' transformation into fawning grandparents. It's only gotten worse since then. :p
Oh, I think I also want to link this one ..its nice.

Friends: Ah! Where do I start? They've made appearances all over my blog..but I guess this one summarizes some of the closest friends I made in grad school..and this one reminds me to take the effort to keep in touch with all of them.

My love: Heheh. This letter to my love wins hands down. I know you all loved it too. :p

Something interesting: Hmmm..How pathetic is this? I cannot pick a single post that qualifies as interesting! :'( I want to die.
OK, lets link this Women in Academia argument that is one of my personal favourites...I am still not sure it qualifies as "interesting". There is not a single post in my blog that i read and go "hmm..interesting.." :(

Self: ah! that's quite redundant, don't you think? The whole blog is an exercise in self-obsession..embarrassingly and shamelessly so, sometimes. So I'll go with this one, where I describe one of my proud moments in life. OK, this other proud moment also merits a mention because it made me feel all happy when i read it just now. :-)

My other complaint is that people I tag never complete my tags. :( So Yeah, i tag all who read this post, and if you want to restore my faith in tags, please complete the tag and leave me a comment here when you've done so. :p

Friday, February 22, 2008

Behind the lens

My grad school work never involved much "pretty" looking taking fancy pictures at the microscope, doing three, four colour stainings and merging them and all that cool stuff. So everytime I was at a talk or at a meeting, I always was in awe of people who showed these colourful slides with beautiful images, using different colours to bring out their point. Now I am doing a lot of this stuff myself. After hours and hours spent in the dark room and playing with image editors, I am finally getting a hang of this stuff. I still can't make as beautiful pictures, but I am getting there. The best part is understanding and learning how it is done, realizing that something you always admired and held in awe is actually do-able by you. Such a happy feeling.

In other news, i am quite shameless. After resolving to keep decent hours, telling all my lab mates about resolve to get there early and leave early, promising my boss to show up early in the morning so we could touch base, I have slumped back to keeping obscene hours, staying back late, waking up late, mixing night and day...and the cycle continues. Unlike Lutom, this is a big lab and my erratic habits have an effect on the rest of the lab. I will also learn a lot more if I am around when the rest are. And its not even that safe, I don't think, to be returning home at such unearthly hours alone. I really don't want to do this. But i can't break the cycle. It's a hopeless addiction to indiscipline and being whimsical. I am also far behind on my reading, something I cannot afford to right now, given that i started pretty far behind as it is. Discipline needs to make an appearance. NOW!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Yo Yo

What do you do when you find yourself enjoying something despite all kinds of resistance from within and all alarm bells going off? Do you give in or do you hold back? Or do you simply give up and give in with the hope that once you do give in, it won't be there anymore to taunt you?

For example something could be a box of delectable Lindt milk chocolates.

Recruitment weekend

When i am bored and have nothing better to do, or when i want to avoid work, or at times like these when I can't sleep and no book helps, I log into my old univ account to check out whats going on in lutom, in my old department. I still get mails addressed to the listserv, and while its mostly "does anyone have a little bit of such-and-such i can borrow", sometimes there are small discussions that can be fun to watch as an outsider. :)

Right now there is an upcoming recruitment weekend going on. Basically, prospective grad students for this Fall semester are flown in from all over the country to interview and be shortlisted for admission to the grad program. This was one of my least favourite events in grad school. It reeked of superficiality, an over-enthusiastic attempt to sell ourselves and reminded me of some stupid promotion event by a company. Imagine the slight amount of stress one has when one is entertaining guests: you want to make a good impression, you want everything to be tip-top, AND you are slightly inconvenienced by it all but cannot show it. Well, recruitment weekend was like that, only worse. Anywhere from 15 - 20 students are invited, and are put up at host students' places for the weekend or at the campus lodge. A huge effort is made to make the weekend fun-filled and activity-packed- they have to get a good feel of our research, or town, our social fiber and basically be convinced that this was the best school to go to. There would be breakfasts and dinners organised, everyone was bullied or emotionally blackmailed into attending and showing up in big numbers. The pressure to put up your best side was just annoying. Faculty would be dripping with saccharine sweetness and extra bright smiles all weekend long. Now i am all for being a good citizen in a community and partaking in such activities. What put me off was the overkill, the whole "Show" that was put on. Frankly, social activities in our department were pretty limited to faculty/student recruitments and an annual retreat of some kind. God knows that people tried at various times (including me) to extend this kind of socializing to happen more regularly, but it met with varying degrees of success. Typically, the same crowd showed up to all dos and the ones that remained holed in their labs working on their experiments never came out. The few that spearheaded the efforts soon got tired of it and was never sustained. Now, given this very rare social interaction, when a bunch of people (Scientists, no less), are forced to spend time together outside work and be all schmoozy, they run out of things to talk about pretty soon. So we are left with really bored to death people who'd rather be doing their own thing or working away in the lab. Instead, they have to put up this whole show about being a super-friendly department and the charade just begins to stink at some point. Then there is this huge pressure to go out of your way to be nice to the recruits, no stepping on their toes, watch everything you say...blah blah blah.

The sad bit was that our dept was a great place to work in. People are generally friendly, helpful with your science, good buddies, and the town was a nice place to live. There was really no need to put on an act because we were pretty cool the way we were. I never understood the reason to go out of our way to prove it to these kids in that span of two and a half days.

This rant really had no point, but I was just reminded of how much I hated this dog and pony show of a recruitment weekend.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Is there such a thing as Desi-punditable?

This is a rant.

I commented on a DP link just now as follows

Nothing against the original poster but really- what was so desi-punditable about this post? nothing exceedingly funny, or nothing about the writing..i don’t know- is it just me or are DP-linkers just going all about the place linking left right and center in a bid to increase links? I like the idea of bringing more blogs to the attention rather than linking to regulars, but still. and i guess it’s all subjective after all…what rocks my boat need not rock yours. Phew, forgive my rant, but i actually preferred the days DP had very few links but quality ones. Don’t blame me for having higher expectations from DP, it did cater to them at one point.

My rant is not directed at that specific link, or the linker. Overall, I have stopped enjoying reading DP links, I think as a filter-blog, they are don't seem to have much of a filter going on. Then again, everyone has different likes and penchants and i don't see why the linkers should satisfy mine. May be my irritation reflects a change in the group of people who link for DP and hence a different genre of links, different ideas, i don't know. But DP was the only filter blog I ever followed, and it gets frustrating when you see several links in a day, not a single one being remotely interesting or funny. Or else most of them being predictable and cliched. I guess i should just stop reading them, like i'd tell someone who came to my blog and said they found my writings boring and cliched. I wouldn't argue.

What would i consider desi-punditable?

1) Quality writing: this is not entirely subjective. Good quality writing, well organized thoughts, etc.

2) Real humour: not cliched stuff. Not silly juvenile sense of humour. (there, i need not be in agreement with anyone)

3) Some amount of originality. not banal stuff thats linked to all the time

4) Controversial links are good to whip up the debate

Yeah, i am not entitled to any of this when i read DP, a filter blog run by people who have full time jobs and lives to lead. Anyone know of any better filter blogs?

Aside from this rant, I must say that I noticed many more new blogs have been linked on DP in the recent past than earlier. So for that, they must be commended.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Smooth. Sexy. Black.

Remember this post? All your comments actually helped me follow my heart and stick to buying a mac. Introducing Kalia, my shiny new MacBook! We are currently in the getting-to-know-each-other phase and it has been pure bliss.

yay! :)

In other apple-related news, I went to the Apple store on 5th Ave in NYC. While the building and the store itself were pretty impressive, true apple style, I was expecting a lot more for the hype. I am not sure what, though. It was of course, crowded as hell like a mela of sorts, with long banks of computers, ipod stations, gaming stations set up and every one of them being used. After we left the store and were back out in the cold I realised that I had dropped my cap somewhere..we went back in with very little hopes of retrieving it, given how crowded the store was. But this super helpful store-rep told me they had kept it, and gave me my cap back! That was my favourite part of the experience. :) It's not some ainwai cap either.its a really cute black one and has always gotten me compliments..I would've been really sad if I lost it. I am not going to use it for the rest of the season now.

Posted from Kalia

Friday, February 15, 2008

w.o.m.m. # 12

While on the topic of late nights, I remember back home in India when we were in school and I'd start dozing off at my books instead of studying at night, my mom would point to the lit windows in the building across ours and say "Dekh, Tinku abhi bhi padhai kar raha hai". Of course, I grew up hating Tinku. But it egged me on to sit up and study some more. Now I don't think any of that will ever help. The motivation has to come from within. Or from a deadline. :)

For the control freak that I am, sometimes I long to let go completely. I don't remember the last time I felt like that, except that it was such a nice feeling. May be someday......
 I'll go sky diving again. :p

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

random (Sleep deprived rant)

you know its time to get out when it makes you more sad than happy. when you hate what its turning you into. none of this is new to you.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Yeah I did it again!

Last night was the night. Once upon a time I lamented about how I didn't think I could pull off all-nighters any more. Yesterday an experiment I have been working at for the past month or so showed promise. It consumed all my attention ever since I found out it was there I was, making plans and controls and setting up more experiments to take it forth..and before I knew it it was 2 am. And then 4 am. Sometimes its like an addiction.."just this one thing and I'll go". The added fun came from doing it just for the sake of seeing what happens next. No pressures, no deadlines involved. Finally I stole a nap on the couch. In my coat, hat and gloves because the building turns down the heating after midnight and it was freakin cold. I woke up, finished my work, locked up the lab, and left the building at 6:30 am. Watching the morning people come in. The cold morning air waking me up. Feeling the rush, feeling totally invigorated. I had forgotten how this felt.

It's a nice feeling :). Lets hope the cells are doing well. :)

no crap policy

i refuse to take crap from anyone. so when i am forced to take it from someone who doesn't even matter, it irritates the heck out of me.
ignore me, i'm ranting

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The sound of music, live

I miss going to see good live music. Back in Lutom there were several opportunities. You could just be taking a walk around downtown and stroll into a bar when you liked what you heard from the outside. The music spanned a large variety and it was easy for me to find what I liked. Some local bands soon became my favourites, and I tracked them whenever they were playing. I also had one professor who played in a band (And hence my incurable crush on him :D) and a couple other friends who played and I tried to catch their shows always. Of course, of the larger live music experiences are the two performances I went to, Sting in 2004 and U2 a year later. That was quite some experience, quite a show, Sting was as sexy and as charismatic as ever and U2..well, they were just simply U2. Sigh.
Every summer in lutom we had this most kick ass music fest, which was all about walking around in the sun, several podiums set up where good alt/rock/jazz/celtic/indy music was playing. Something for everyone. There were mini-amusement parks set up for the kids. It was like a fair of sorts. I loved the atmosphere. Loved the sound of music. I am yet to find where to go in philly for nice live music. I am sure downtown would be the place to find it, but I feel less safe wandering about downtown Philly by myself than I did in lutom. Perhaps its the familiarity thing. Also familiarity for the kind of music...I am not sure what to find where. My taste is quite adaptable and largely inspired from what I get exposed to. Back in lutom we also had a big music thing going on in the dept., where the entire building shared their libraries on itunes, and I got to hear all kinds of stuff that I decided I liked and just picked up along the way. I just realised how much my listening has stagnated here. Just listening to my limited collection of classic rock and dhinchaak bollywood music. I need to start exploring again, my ears are getting bored.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Putting yourself first

Disclaimer: no parasites have been harmed in this letter. :-)

Dearest A,
You are going to hate me for this, but I am going to have to do it anyway. You thought you would never forget, but it seems to me that you choose to, at least sometimes. And for those times, I want to remind you. Remind you of all the hurt, the disappointments, the broken promises that once were. All the times you felt you were in control, but really weren't. All the warning bells you chose to ignore in favour of the sounds you wanted to hear. The times you thought you were very clear about where things stood, about what you wanted, but deep down, you wanted that much more. That which you knew you wouldn't get. All those conflicts you faced about how much you wanted to give and how much you were allowed to take. The feeling of being cheated, and not even being allowed to feel that way. The lines drawn by your sensible self got blurred before you knew it. And it was always the wrong place, wrong time, wrong person. You were left nursing the hurt. You always shook the dust off and moved on, but you know it was never easy. They say that we are all adults capable of being responsible for our decisions but I can't help wanting to tell you this. You are less fragile now, I am sure you can take any blow life throws at you. But I don't think you have to. And may be you're right, everyone deserves a second chance. But I wish you'd say that about yourself first.

For the first time ever I wish you read this blog.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

No regrets?

I always prided myself in having no regrets over my own actions or experiences. Suddenly I think that is not true anymore.

I don't even think it is necessarily a bad thing.

My new philosophy is no regrets about regrets.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

News that makes me happy

It's getting harder to find anything in the news that provides joy or hope, but here are a couple links that made my day

Hope: Shimla cops fight against eve-teasers

The Himachal Pradesh police has launched a month-long campaign against anti-social elements, including eve-teasers........

(A police dept. spokesperson) warned that according to the New Police Act which has already came into force eve-teasers could be fined Rs 5,000 and given eight days imprisonment.

Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal had directed the police to control crimes against women.

And much joy: First wife thrashes man at his 'wedding'.

“Mukesh kept his first wife in the dark and was about to marry another woman. His first wife turned up at the wedding venue on Tuesday night and thrashed him with slippers and abused him. Reena was also carrying her wedding photographs when she came to the venue,” said a senior police officer.

Police said that Reena went up to the stage where the rituals were taking place and beat up her husband. As the situation became evident even to the family members of the bride, they too joined Reena and began beating him.

(thanks to confused for the second link)

Friday, February 01, 2008

Recipe for instant irritation

Take two memorable events from your life that refuse to go away even if you want them to. Put the worst parts from each together. Re-live.

Enjoy. more morose posting I promise. I just had to get that off my head. And the nasty weather here is really not helping.

On XX and XY.

I wish I could say with confidence the results of that poll. But the numbers (49 xx, 30 xy) are clearly inflated so we should just call it an aborted experiment. Sorry. :(.
Thanks to all that voted (once). :)

Next time I'll get one of those poll thingies that prevents multiple voting from the same ip or something.

I still think girls rule. :)

And boys will be boys. No, no justification in that statement. Just damned repeated realization dawns.