Tuesday, December 22, 2009

W O M M

I have come to this blogger page several times in the past few days, just to vent out and left without typing anything because I just didn't feel up to it. I have all kinds of holiday blues now. Taking time off before the rest of the world does is not such a brilliant idea after all. :p

We worry so much about things out of our control..I have gone into a downward spiral over the past few days, worrying about my parents, their health, my dad's retirement blues, my grandfather's health, fiance's brother's surgery..OMG. It's got to stop. Life happens, and one just needs to accept that stuff is bound to happen along the way. We make the best of it, deal with shit, find joy in the good times and just move on. Life was never meant to be fair or perfect. I need to remind myself of this little ditty every once a while.

Also, there's only so much worrying one can do for someone else. At some point, you've got to let go and give the other person the credit for being able to deal with their situations.

There's a dept. party today..I hope that it cheers me up..but I doubt that will. I need to start going back to the gym- I know that did wonders for my mood.

I will also brave shopping crowds and sticky sweet christmassy store music and go shopping this weekend. I need a serious winter coat. And a decent pair of shoes that won't turn to mush and freeze my toes when I walk in snow-puddles in them. And may be some nice new clothes? :)

I promised to list a few happy things to pep me up. Amongst them are 1) I have some kind of a plan taking shape as far as my job search in India goes. I went to a job-search seminar some weeks back and they mentioned that the one year it takes for someone to find a job is not all about applying to jobs for a whole year. It is actually building up a network of contacts, researching companies and job profiles to identify what you want, so that, when its about 3-4 months left to finish your current job, you are in a position to write customized cover letters for each position/company you plan to apply to , and have an internal contact in each place that you send your cv/cover letter to. So I am working along that plan, already managed to find a couple contacts, and that feels good.

2) I also have a lot of plans work-wise for my daily lab-life, to keep things structured and on-the-move. That plan looks good. And there's the post-doc fellowship I got! :)

OK, I think I did a fairly decent job shaking off all that negativity, so off to work I go!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Snow weekend

Was awesome. I managed to create this crater-like depression where I sat planted on the couch for most part, watching the snowfall outside. Lots of chai, hot chocolate and Malgudi Days and The Office to keep me company.

A long time ago, I put together all the Hindustani instrumental music from my collection and from cds from my sister and friends' collections into a single CD for a friend. I had a lot of fun putting it together, but I realized that I never sat and heard the whole thing myself. My playlist of choice is mostly peppy stuff- mostly "bad" bollywood dhinchaak. But I finally heard this collection over the weekend, and wish I had done it earlier! Some lovely, calming/soothing/beautiful tracks in there.

It's Monday morning, I need to get out of the house finally, and I am terrified of stepping out now. :-o

Friday, December 18, 2009

More jet-lag inspired

Work plans: My plan of action is to get as much done for that minimum publishable unit as I can in the next one year, while simultaneously hunt for a good (industry) job in India. My (self-imposed) deadline for all of this is Dec 2010. When I assessed things few months ago, that seemed like a reasonable one.

It so turns out that one of the starting material for which I had been proposing all my studies on has yet to be generated- and I have ended up taking the responsibility for generating it. I don't begrudge the responsibility so much-just wish I had known earlier- someone has to do the dirty work and if I need this material, I may very well be the one generating it- even if it is going to be used by others in addition to me. Plus, it is the unique aspect of my study- using anything else other than this doesn't make my study that appealing.

Now that I am actually getting my hands dirty in the technique of generating this starting material, I have realized its a far from standardized protocol and there's a lot to be done. I can easily see the next 3-4 months will be lost in just perfecting the technique, before I can start generating the samples for my and others studies.

My boss has also signed me up for the analyses of some of the other studies stemming from this material. What all of this means is that I will still be generating starting material into March, and actual experiments begin April or so.

Then, for me to bring things to a winding up point by Dec to a large extent means that I really won't enjoy fully the fruit of of these 3-4 months of hard work. Experiments that are planned with these samples easily span a year. This procedure of generating samples is quite labour-intensive, and I will have ended up using a good chunk of my time here just generating samples that others will end up using after me.

I guess I can ask to continue to be part of the downstream analyses by working in a remote way, but that also requires liaising with other experts on campus so me going away will not really make me the best person for those analyses then.

I am trying to see what would be the best time to tell my boss that I plan to curtail my post-doc by the end of this year. If I do it too early, I run the risk of being sidelined from now itself. If I wait for too late, I may end up being signed up for tasks that I won't probably get to do, and also end up not making the best of my time here.

Overall my boss seems like a nice guy, who definitely has post-docs interests in mind. But there's no telling.

I also see myself slowly inching into that zone where I will find it hard to cut my work short here and return to India, the more I invest in it. I can keep feeling that a few more months might be ok, and then some more. Now I also got this fellowship, which expires in June 2011, so it will be quite a sorry waste to throw that away before it runs out or when I could even possibly get it extended.

Sigh.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Jet-lag-inspired

I was definitely being ambitious when I thought that I could return to work the very morning my plane landed, and actually even attend a talk. I ended up dozing off at the talk, in clear view of the speaker, literally doing that thing where people nod and fall off and suddenly wake up with a start...only to end up repeating it. Sheesh. I left the talk half way through because I figured that would be less insulting to the speaker than dozing off repeatedly and almost falling out of my chair.

The India trip was awesome. Week 1 was in Bombay- I pretty much stayed with B although various versions of the story were blatantly passed around to whoever asked- I have never lied as much to my parents all my life as I did for that one week-towards the end I had gotten pretty good at it. But I decided to do what I had to keep all parties happy and just have a good time without worrying or feeling guilty. It worked just fine. Except for the nosy bai in B's house nobody else had a problem. Good friends happily co-operated and told lies on my behalf. :) After all, I am sure they all did this at some point or the other- except that it was ten years ago and not now! :)

Bombay was fun- getting to meet my closest friends- and meet with B's close friends- and putting B through the "giggling girlfriends of TGFI" test, :) and having all my friends approve him whole-heartedly. :) Eating ALOT of food. Greasy, heavy, spicy food. Had to have it all. Vada pav and dabeli and regular water served in steel tumblers at ShivSagar with the waiter's fingers dipped into them didn't bother me at all. But a Rs 85 hot chocolate at Baristas did - I guess it was because of the dead fly found at the bottom of the mug after I had downed the whole thing.

I guess the one thing that struck me the most different about Bombay- I was there last 2 years ago- was the horrible traffic bottlenecks every where, and the fact that auto-wallahs don't go where you want them to. Each time I called a rick, they would contemplate my destination for a few seconds before just shaking their heads and taking off. It took me 3-6 tries each time I wanted to get into an auto to go someplace. I don't blame them for being picky seeing the sorry state of roads, traffic and everything all over the city.

The high point of my trip- well one of them- was making it in and out of the second class ladies compartment during rush hour from Kurla to KanjurMarg. Mmm hmm- I almost lost my specs in the frenzy but kept bragging about it like a typical NRI for days after that. :)

Hyd was also fun, but a bit fragmented. Too many things were going on. We had guests at our place for 2 days, which was fun, but took away from family time, and just made things more hectic. But the fun part was watching my dad reminisce with his friend about their good old university days- and my mom and aunty poke fun at them. :) My mom is recovering from chikun gunya- so it was quite disturbing to see her still suffering from it- having trouble walking about etc- and not fully enjoy things she usually does- like good food and shopping. That made me a bit sad.

Then my sister and niece and landed up there and surprised/shocked my parents. :) More fun and more craziness ensued. Of course, in the middle of all this the Telangana nonsense was going on- so my parents would get all paranoid about letting me go out too far so time was just spent at home- which was okay. My niece's favourite game was "I can't see properly, I have chikun gunya in my eye". My grandfather was in our hometown and not keeping well- so my dad was a bit preoccupied and eventually took off to check on his dad. B came over to hydie the weekend I was flying back to US, and spent time with all of us. He joined in the family craziness and it was nice to see him fit in effortlessly. My niece-who had gotten used to seeing B on his occasional trips to NJ when I visited them-and then began missing him- was excited and happy to see him and complaining about him leaving so soon. A day after B left, I headed back to US via Mumbai- stole some more hours with B and got on the non-stop flight to JFK.

When you have limited time with people close to you, its very hard to strike a balance- on one hand you want to make that time totally worth it- by trying to cram in all kinds of activities in that limited time- and at the same time- you want to be able to relax and not feel the weight of the numbered hours- and be able to simply enjoy their company without doing anything. I ended up doing a little bit of both- but constantly found it hard to walk this line. That said, I will always be thankful that I got to do it.

The past 3 trips I made to India, I had lugged my laptop with me - to work on that paper from my Ph.D. that was still in review. This time, it felt great to go home without my laptop and without that paper hanging like a sword above my neck. Then, while in hydie, I got the awesome news that I was awarded a post-doc fellowship from a private funding agency. Few months ago, I decided to write out a proposal and apply for whatever few fellowships I could- mainly because it would help me structure my research goals and plans for the next couple years- and also because it was something I planned on doing while in philly but never did- so I wanted to do it for myself. I am super kicked about actually being awarded one, now. The money doesn't even cover my salary fully, but it looks great on my CV and is a huge morale-booster for me- to have my research proposal evaluated by an outside committee who found it worthy of funding. Post-doc fellowships are quite competitive, hard to even be eligible for if you're not a US resident/citizen, and even more hard if you've crossed your first year of post-doc, so I feel really good about having beaten all those odds and gotten one. The news made my return to the US that much more easier, and I'm able to look at my work with a renewed enthusiasm and excitement now.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I'm back, baby!

Just got back from a 2 week trip to India. Was so good to be home. Just one week at home in hydie (the other one week was spent in Bombay with B) was painfully short- but, I am not complaining. I am lucky that I got to go, have a wonderful time and feel refreshed. Coming back home (to the US), the loneliness of my apartment here hit me. I will soon get to work, get busy, and the loneliness will go away, but for now, it's quite pronounced.

I don't know what to call home anymore. I think that my parents home will always be my home- whether they are in Telangana or Rayalseema or wherever. My current place in the US is definitely home for me, for now. Hmmm..

More later, just felt like establishing some familiar ground by blogging.

Monday, November 23, 2009

No cake for me!

Woe is me!! The birthday party I went to this past weekend had three yummy looking cakes set out. I cut myself a huge chunk of the ice-cream cake which looked like it had a thick layer of ice cream on the top- that turned out to be 5 inch thick frosting. It was yuck. Then today at the cafeteria they were giving out free pieces of cake with a meal and of course I grabbed a box and came to the table beaming while precariously balancing the cake, my plate of food and glass of water without a tray. Free cake? I was in heaven. I just ate the cake and it tasted horrible. Perhaps even stale. A good lesson in what to say next time when offered free cake in a cafeteria. "No, thanks". Not beaming and grabbing as if one can't believe the stroke of luck. Eugh. I cannot believe this is happening to me. :( :( I seem to have gotten some really really bad cake streak going on.

When I go to India I am going to eat cassatta. mmmmmmmmmmmm

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Weekend that was

I had to go to a friend's son's birthday party this weekend. Clueless about what to get a 9 year old, I decided to stop by Toys R Us and simply pick up whatever gizmo is the latest rage with 9 year old boys these days.

Then I got really late because of various tiny mishaps at home so as I wearily made my way to the train station near my place, I decided to walk into one of these local stores near the station..those very desi-looking "All-purpose" gift stores that have all kinds of wares. I really didn't expect to find anything there, but decided to give it a shot. I was super-thrilled to find this. When I was a kid, one of the neighbour kids (also featured here) had this game (his dad got him from the US), and I remember going to his house to play it with him all the time. It is a two person game where each one gets to place all kinds of war-ships (Tankers, submarines etc.) on a grid, and the other person has to guess the placement and effectively take the ships down. It was so much fun! The whole flood of memories came back- of me running off to Tinku's house, envying his fancy american game, and us playing enthusiastically and keeping score. Later my dad showed me how we could play it using paper and pencil even if we didn't have the fancy board set. It wasn't as much fun of course, but still worked. :)

So I happily picked it up and bought some gift-wrap paper to wrap it in. I asked the guy if he would lend me supplies so I could wrap it there. He was a sweet desi guy that instead offered to wrap it up for me, (Remember the good old days when you walk to the roadside store and the "uncle" wraps up the present in this loud ugly "marble" paper, free of cost??? :)). Of course I had to pay for the gift wrap here but at least there was no "Gift wrap section"on the 12th floor where you leave your gift, pay $10, get a receipt, and have it wrapped in all kind of fancy paper and put in a big ass paper-bag (another $2) , all to be torn apart by the kid in a matter of seconds. This desi uncle neatly cut only as much paper would be necessary to wrap the box, nicely wrapped it up and also offered to hold back the rest of the paper for me so I could pick it up later as I was going on the train then.

I was super kicked by this little gift-buying experience- such a contrast to the time I went to Toys R Us to pick my niece a gift and was just totally overwhelmed with all these choices that I had no clue and wanted to run out of the store.

The star gift of the evening, however, was this gizmo a friend got the birthday boy. Poor little battleship cannot compete with these for sure so I know that my chances at being "cool aunty TGFI" are fast dipping, instead I'm pretty sure I'm getting slotted into "Weird boring aunty TGFI". :/.

In other news, I came up with an awesome strategy over the weekend. Allow me.

In telugu weddings, one of the rituals involves the bride sitting demurely inside a basket, while her maamas (mother's brothers) lift that basket. When my sister got married, ten years ago, she was a demure slim young bride, and my uncles did this quite effortlessly.

Ahem, enter TGFI. I think I have just got my ticket out of a traditional wedding ceremony! My plan is to stuff my face until I get to India next week, and the parents drop all plans of traditional wedding after taking one look at me, in the best interests of my uncles.

What you think eh?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Wedding negotiations

The marriage talks have started in my house. How many people know of "Simple" indian weddings? I am not even referring to opulent ostentatious weddings here as the alternative, but talking about a simple, private marriage ceremony with just the immediate family, followed by reception where all friends and family are invited?

That's the kind of wedding I'd like to have, ideally.

One of the advices I got, was that the wedding is the parents' prerogative, and if they want to go and spend all their hard-earned money on booking a hall, having day(s)-long ceremonies, feed the guests, put up out-of-towners, then you should just simply defer and let them do it.

It just doesn't sit right with me. There's money being wasted that could be put to much better use, to either charity or even the newly-weds embarking on their new life together. For foreseeable and unforseen medical expenses that will crop up. And, there's perpetuating this ideology that marriages are supposed to drain you of your finances just to put up a good show. And finally there's all the complications that come with it. Gifting, jewelry, clothes. Gosh. The very thought makes me tired. My parents don't have spare money sitting around, B and I are in low-paying careers as it is and make very little, save even lesser. Yet, my parents (mainly my mom) will not agree to a simple, practical, no-frills marriage.

At the same time, I have realised how hard it is to argue with my parents about these things. I guess it's difficult for the parents/grandparents to come to terms with the fact that the bride and groom are 31-year olds with an opinion of their own as against the old times when they just took charge and the bride and groom went along, not knowing any better or not caring.

Sometimes I think a quiet registered marriage in the county courthouse would've been the best way to go.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Yeah baby!

It's not like I got any paper published. Heck- I don't even have any in prep or in anywhere near. But this is as sweet a victory. I got a check in the mail today for two hundred and forty dollars from the medical clinic. The cost of having to see a doctor at this clinic when I had just moved into this city and didn't have my insurance papers, although I was covered by my employer. Then I had to fill out tons of paper work to claim the money. After one round of endless chasing, Blue effing Cross Blue effing Shield then sent the money to the medical clinic instead of me, because apparently that's how they are set up to pay. Yes, the money I paid in cash, from my pocket, gets "reimbursed" to the clinic. Then I had to spend another few months co-ordinating between the insurance co and the clinic, badger and stalk the clinic, until I finally received my check today. In between, of course, the usual happened with my forms "getting lost in mail", getting "mangled by fax machine" and god knows what else. If I hadn't kept up, taken down names and kept detailed notes I know for sure I'd never have gotten my money back.

Two hundred and forty dollars. I can't believe I had to work so hard for it. Twice.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Weird day

Today has been all sorts of busy and weird. I come home in the evening, had bags of groceries with me so set them down, and find that my apartment door is ajar. I experienced some deja vu thanks to this so I stepped back to check the door, it indeed was my apartment.

I was dead sure I closed it behind me while leaving. I was honestly a bit spooked by now, so I left and went back downstairs to check with the security- who was away on a smoke break or whatever. I bumped into my neighbour who said she had been in and out of her apartment in the daytime and didn't notice my door open. So I called the cops, and told them I was afraid of going back into my apartment. They came, checked out my place and it was all ok. Frankly, the only thing of value in my apartment is Kalia, my macbook. Kalia was right there where I had left him. The cops went through all the closets in the house (and there a bunch of them) and by this point my worry had shifted to how messy my apartment was and how these random cops were being privy to it. :)

They left advising me to change my lock and keeping my fire escape grill closed.

The only other explanation I can come up with is that the super came in to check on a leak or something and left it open. But the super really only comes in after I leave him at least 3 nasty notes complaining about something- and he always leaves a note in the door every time he's in the apt. - and none of that was there this time.

I am still slightly disturbed by the whole thing. I hope I wake up to some easy explanation tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Political correctness/ legalities aside,

If someone (who comes across as outgoing, perhaps a tad defensive) reveals in a job interview that they have been through a divorce, do you think its inevitable that it will raise flags about their personality/get-along-ableness etc.? Do you think its fair? And, and, and do you think the reaction to a divorced male versus divorced female job candidate would be different?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Counting down

I have decided to take the much needed break and make a quick trip to India. Will leave over thanksgiving and come back in two weeks. So I have 12 days between now and the time I plan to leave. 12 days to clean up apartment and get it into order, to work like crazy and get experiments up to speed, to book a ticket, to do some shopping and packing.

Its a much needed but I'm still not sure if it's a wholly deserved break, work-wise. I am not at a breaking point now- I am more at a point where things are beginning to pick up. But I've realised, that in my kind of work, there's never a definite breaking point. For the first time I have decided to let work take a backseat and ask for a break unashamedly. I don't think I'll ever feel ready to take a break, so I'm just going to take one anyway.


Also, have to work on convincing my parents to "allow me" to spend a week in bombay with B before I go to hyd. I really don't know how best to do this. At 31, and having lived on my own for 8-9 years now I find it ridiculous that I have to ask for permission or possibly lie or fudge the truth to my parents so I can spend some quality time with the boyfriend. This is another first for me. In the past, I've always put my parents and their sensibilities first, wanted to be totally true to them, and possibly ended up jeopardizing relationships.The fact that my parents are mostly very open, supportive and trusting of me only makes it harder to deal with this conflict. It's been a lot easier to live life on my terms in the US- I reconciled to what they don't know won't hurt them- but going to India for all of two weeks and trying to negotiate for all this is going to be a challenge.


I remember the time I went back to India in 2007, just after I graduated. I was going to hyd for the first time since my parents had moved there. I sprung upon them my newfangled blog-friends who were going to be at the airport in hyd, and wanted to spend my first weekend in hyd with them. I was really not expecting my parents- especially my mom- to be too happy with this- [My mom has never been a fan of me spending overnights at friends etc.] - going off for a weekend with friends they never knew of- as soon as I landed in the city?. But my parents were awesome. There was not even a protest-they just wanted me to go and have a good time. (It's a different thing that my mom called me on the said friends' phones every few hours :)) -But I still remember what a blast that weekend was, and what a wonderful way it was for me to begin to accept the fact that hyd was my new home.

Although, when you say "Boyfriend" its really not the same and there's a completely different set of alarms going off in mom's head, but I was just reminded of how good sports my parents were, when I was really not expecting it.

In any case, the next few days are going to be exciting, very busy and there will be lots to look forward to. I'm already working the other list-of things to do while in india- I'm excited and hope dearly that things work out and go smoothly.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

W O M M

I've gone from tired to irritated to stressed to happy to tired to irritated...in the last twelve hours- gosh- I'm not able to keep up with myself anymore!

Just being nice is not always enough. Things need to get done.

Sometimes I wish I was better at standing my ground. Sometimes I give in..-by being "too nice" for whatever reason. I need to stop doing that. Once I've made my feelings clear, there's no need to feel bad or apologetic about them- when the person then offers to straighten things up, I should just let them do it.

I have to wake up early tomorrow. I signed up to help someone out with something and for some reason have no inclination to do it any more. I don't know why. I hope I feel better and more enthu tomorrow.

A long distance relationship is a lot of effort. Sometimes, it gets tiring. One gets tired of the missing, of the trying to keep up with one another, of the staying in touch. Of the helpless feelings of wondering when and how the long distance will end. Of trying to treat things delicately because ugly fights over long distance are really not fun. Of being mature and patient. Because one has been the exact opposite of that and knows that doesn't help. But if the very problem is not going to go away, may be childish kicking and screaming at least serves some short-term appeasement.

Another deja vu that has been bugging me of late is something at work. Most signs point to something else but my over-alert self sees potential danger and conflict in even the smallest hints.

My only "amway friend" called me the other day. She told me she missed me and thought of me often. Are you freakin kidding me?

I think I need a break. Today my neighbour chided me for coming back so late from work. :) But I really don't do this everyday, today was unusual.

Need to go sleep. Tomorrow is another day.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

small, sweet victory

Who doesn't absolutely HATE it when the vending machine swallows up your money and doesn't return change or some such malfunction. It irritates me like no other. May be because of the simultaneous snack deprivation associated with the moment..or the thought that I'm overpaying for a piece of candy as it is, and then lose more money...and as a frequent vending machine user I have had several such moments.

So today I went up to the machine and got into a similar fight with it when it wouldn't return my dollar bill and the snack I wanted was out-  and this sweet looking guy in a tie was standing behind me. I asked him in a slightly irritated tone if he wanted something and he said no, and tried to step away so he didn't seem like he was rushing me- and then I explained to him about how the machine wouldn't return my dollar back. He said "Oh" and then tried to jimmy the return button, when it didn't work, he fished into his coat and got out a big bunch of keys and unlocked the machine and took out my dollar bill from the stack of bills the machine amasses and gave it to me. Oh my god-he was the vending machine guy! this totally made my day- I could've hugged him. :)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

W O M M

OK: number one pet peeve of the day:

when people try to call you (its not an emergency and i'm no doctor anyway) , and, upon finding your phone engaged or no answer, KEEP ON CALLING CONTINUOUSLY FOR THE NEXT FIFTEEN MINUTES. Like its some stupid hotline and there's a prize at the end. Then, after all that, when you finally return their call, they will tell you "Arre! Kidhar hai tu..kab se try kar raha hai ...."

LEAVE A MESSAGE. AND LEAVE ME ALONE. DO NOT KEEP PRESSING REDIAL LIKE ITS A GAME.

Ok this has happened very often- my mom also does it- she will call twice in the span of 10 - 15 mins and then get all panicky and stuff. gah.

I don't have much else on my mind actually. heh. :) Feels so much better to get that out though.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Audience question (for the male readers out there)

If the woman you're going to marry asks you to tag along her last name to yours, so that both of you end up with the same hyphenated surname, how would you respond?

A) I'll do it if you want me to / if it means so much to you/ if I have to / if you withhold sex if I don't
B) No , its simply complicated. Are we going to be Mr and Mrs Patel (girl's last name)-Krishnan (guy's last name) or Krishnan-Patel or what?
C) No, I never asked you to change your name either
D) No, its not worth two people changing their names, why don't you just become Patel-Krishnan and that's the last name we give our kid too
E) An enthusiastic, yes! let's do it!  :)
F) Other (describe your answer please)

And while you're at it, please also explain how you will deal with kids names in each case?? Because that's one of the biggest factors in changing names, identifying a family, etc.


For the female readers out there, how many think this is a non-issue, and the current common resolution to this (I see most women retain their maiden surnames and add their husband's last name to it, the kid gets a hyphenated last name-but actually the mom's name ends up as a middle name and the dad's name ends up as last name) is just fine?

For the record, one of my classmates in grad school tagged his wife's last name to his- so they both were Shah-Patels. ( in which Patel would be the girl's last name). All the girls thought his guy was the coolest guy evar and all the guys hated him for doing this. :)

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Shout out to visitor from bangalore news agency

Somebody from a bangalore news agency IP visits this blog sometimes..I was wondering if you could help me out with a personal favour?

Please email me at trillian26@gmail.com if you read this.

TIA :)

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

On the veracity and accuracy of published work.

I had blogged earlier about how I was slightly surprised and concerned by my P.I's attitude towards literature, and his lack of faith in it. I am now beginning to see why.

While I am not naive, I admit to being slightly idealistic, and expecting others to adhere to strong scientific standards as I would. Therefore, I would expect, that if a study says it has performed a certain analysis and found something, within that framework, I expect that to be a carefully analysed and reported set of results- even if restricted to the data and conditions the authors used. There really should be no room for ambiguity once you start looking at the data in the context of that paper alone. And if there is, it should be pointed out in the paper. If the authors miss it, I expect peer-review to catch it.

I spent the past few days trying to make sense of a huge study, published in 2006 in the journal PLOS Medicine The list of authors has a handful of big names on it, and the paper itself is one of the first large-scale studies of its kind in its sub-field with some very promising findings, that can very well serve as a starting point for several other investigators such as me.

When I downloaded all the supplementary data (this is data that is not published in the main text of the journal to save on space) and tried to cross-compare different analyses within the paper, a lot of findings were not holding up. This is not to say that the data was wrong or falsified, but that statements made did not match up to the data shown, and several inconsistencies spanned the paper.

Because of the scale of the study,  badly organized and labelled figures and lots of discordance within the published paper, I spent days just making sense of all of it and putting it down in a way I could understand and explain to my P.I. Thats when things began popping up that didn't make sense or were confusing.  I wrote to the first author who responded that I was over-interpreting the data and there were some caveats (that weren't spelled out in the paper). If I set that aside, other discrepancies still existed- and when I pressed some more, leaving out all my interpretation and simply quoting the paper and his data;  I was told that  the individual experiments in the paper spanned a period of 3 to 4 years and during which genome builds/ chip annotations had changed and hence the discordance.  Hence, some aspects were indeed confusing and my best bet was to re-do the analysis to find what I needed, and that is why the raw data files were provided with the paper.

While I understand the dynamic nature of sequence data and chip design, I would expect that such discordance, when reported in a single paper, would be addressed by the authors as the paper is published, and it should not be left to the reader to have to spend precious hours poring over the data trying to make sense of it, engage in communications with the author, and then, eventually, be told to download the raw data and re-analyse it in order to find the answers to their questions.

Even if the authors did a bad job presenting their work in a careless and possibly wrong way (I won't know until i re-analyse ,and I'll be damned if I waste any more of my time on that), what role does peer-review serve? Finally, the scientific community suffers because of time spent in following wrong leads that were not thoroughly researched in the first place and high profile, high impact journals actually publish what is essentially incorrect or invalidated information.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

work woes

So the other day I had an epiphany of sorts in the middle of the night and woke up and wrote a long rambling email about it to my boss- explaining how I thought one of the basic ideas in my project was flawed. Thankfully I didn't send it, because it wouldn't make any sense. Instead I haunted his office all day and as soon as he made an entry I burst out with my fears.

Turns out I had very good reason to be concerned. But the boss said that this was one of the limitations of our set up and its kind of the un-written assumption that everyone operates on for lack of anything better. It was like having that parent-child talk of "we have to make do with what we can get". Sigh.

Then yesterday I stormed into his office once more and went into rant mode- about how I thought I was chasing a unicorn or pot of gold or whatever metaphor u want to use for something that probably exists in only our fantasies. Again he gave me a patient listen, had another talk that almost sounded like a shrink session to me, and suggested that I explore other projects if I wanted, but not to give up on this yet. And admitted that yes, it was hard, and harder than it seemed.

I am not against doing difficult things- heck - that is where the challenge lies. However, I have been a bit burned by my previous post-doc and clearly a lot more cautious now- about trusting boss people who do not have your interests in mind, about chasing pet theories of others, and, above all, about wasting precious time without a back-up or more feasible project running simultaneously. And the worst part is, I began this project thinking it was reasonably straightforward- and that is why it is more frustrating that this is not moving forward. This was the easy-peesy project I had in mind- the other "Back up" is actually harder!

So I have decided to give this two more weeks. Step it up, test the hypothesis on several candidates at once, and see if even one emerges as a promising candidate. In two weeks, if I have spent all my time and not gotten a single lead, I am going to start pushing this on to the back burner and move on to the other project, which also I need to step up.

The good part is, at least, my boss is receptive to my concerns, respects my professional opinion, and is not entirely bereft interest in my well-being. Thats the only good thing I could glean from all of this.

Sigh. Onward and upward.

Monday, November 02, 2009

The weekend that was

Was awesome. Until now. But I am not going to let one annoying thing spoil all the fun I had. So I am recording the fun part here.

1) Surprised my sis, b-i-l and niece by showing up there for Halloween. Took my niece trick/treating. It was all so much fun.

2) Gained an hour overnight. This has never failed to make me super happy- all these seven years.

3) Met up with my cool pilot friend and my best friend from school who just got back after a vacation. Was fun to hang out in the city, go shopping etc. with CPF and simply a huge relief to have BFFS back in town. Yay!

Nothing works like your girlfriends telling you that you've put on weight. Woe is me! But I have started yoga and eating right so hopefully will fix this problem. Meantime, sample this conversation

CPF: You've put on weight, tgfi.
BFfS: Ya, I also thought so, I was going to say but didn't.
Fat TGFI: Yeah, I know I know. CPF already pointed it out earlier
BFfS: Shouldn't you be losing wt, what with boyfriend gone and all that
Fat yet gracious TGFI: Anyways, both of you have lost weight
CPF: Are you kidding me...blah blah...
BFfS-absolutely-lacking-in-grace/tact-dept: Yeah, thats how it seems when you gain weight- everyone else appears as if they have lost weight.

With friends like these....:)

4) presents :)

Friday, October 30, 2009

W O M M

I missed out on my friend's wedding in India, and he called me while he was on his honeymoon to wish me on my birthday. What an absolute darling. Today I called his home and I yelled into the phone "Hi Auntyyyyy!!!" because I thought it was his mom- when it was actually the newly-wedded bride on the phone. Why do I do stupid things like that? She seems like a good sport though :)

After 7-8 years here, I'm finally warming up to the idea of Halloween. I think its mostly because of my niece and her excitement at wanting to get a costume etc. I also am beginning to enjoy the general festive excitement around during this time. And then there are lots of creative costumes so it can be fun. In the past- I always avoided Halloween parties because I didn't like the idea of it..This year I wish i had a few friends to go out into the city with and check out the hungama.

My sister just called me in slight consternation. She says my niece walks in the same way I used to walk as a kid. And when I was a kid- all through school too in fact, I walked the exact polar opposite of a dainty girl-like walk. My sis and others called me "ghoda gaadi" and my mom admonished me many times to stop walking like i had springs in my feet. My sis is not at all happy about my niece inheriting this trait. I am proud of her- go forth and gallop dear girl, no need to adhere to stereotypes. :D

Been over few days of bitching and moaning. All kinds of stuff bothering me: work has been sluggish as hell and other stuff too. But today I feel all cheered up. I am excited about the kids in my building coming trick/treating for halloween. That should be fun. I hope they come. And I'm reminding myself to think happy thoughts, find the good things to be happy about, because it is true, I have a lot of things to be happy about.For one i'm glad I can still get excited about small things in life- be it kids dressed up for halloween or a friend's wedding, or a cool paper that just came out and i can't wait to discuss it with other english speaking folks so i just took the initiative and joined journal club with the lab next door. Yay! :)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

W O M M

A very close friend of mine is stuck in what sometimes seems to me like a really unhappy marriage. I have gone through all sorts of phases- from wishing I had been a better girlfriend so I'd be up to speed with her life and choices when she started going out with him- then wishing I had voiced my disapproval when I finally found out who it was - then actually trying to vaguely tell her to reconsider- but there's only so much you can do from long distance- then even feeling happiness for her that her parents agreed to their marriage- but actually secretly wished they hadn't- then hearing her complain endlessly for the past 2 -3 years- and then seeing things for myself and wondering if things were really as bad or if she was just telling me the annoying parts and leaving out the happy bits- or if she had just not come to terms with the basic socio-economic-cultural divide between herself and her husband and never would.

whew. long sentence.

There were times I felt my friend's constant cribbing, unhappiness- or at least the way she projected them to me- via email, chat etc- were so overwhelming to me- but wondered if that was just her little vent and chance at offloading what was a clear conflict between the way we had been brought up and the house she ended up marrying into. Even later, I'd tell her to get out of it - but the next thing I know, she is working hard on having a child.

My friend is not dumb. Far from. She's smart and well-accomplished for herself. I don't think I'll ever have a realistic picture of the life she leads- all I hear are rants, cribs, complaints, general unhappiness. And they always end with "but you don't worry about me". When I visit her and her husband- he seems alright- yes- the socio-cultural divide is huge- but he respects her parents- is familiar and friendly with her family members- and these little outwardly signs made me wonder if its all that miserable as I was perceiving. Of course I don't get to witness his overbearing, dominating and suspicious attitude with her, or the fact that his mom makes her life miserable in petty ways and he won't stand up for her- all these things I only hear from my friend.

Today I asked her what she wanted out of life? Did she want to continue like this- did the good outweigh the bad enough? She said she has given it a thought and decided that she has to take life as it comes.

I know its easier said than done to get out of a marriage- especially in India- but I know of my own cousins who have done it- if anything- to just maintain their sanity. It is for nobody else to say what constitutes reason enough to get out of a marriage- if it something you simply are not equipped to deal with- its probably wiser to get out than compromise with a lifetime of unhappiness/dissatisfaction etc. And only you know your breaking points.

I have made a very cold decision today- to "be there" for my friend as her sounding/venting board- but only as long as it doesn't bring me down. In the past- it used to bother me- we have grown up together- and it pained me to see that she was having such a tough life. But I really think that she seems to have accepted her lot- for whatever reason- and its pointless for me to get agitated/dragged-down/debate in my own head about the kind of advice I can give her- or even feel remotely responsible for anything.

I don't know if I'm perpetuating her self-fulfilling cycle by being a passive listener. I feel compelled to say, every now and then- if its so bad what are you thinking about having a kid for? But I think thats the point- its probably not so bad- or not bad enough for her to be inspired enough to get out of it.

I have just decided to be slightly detached. Because I think at this point she needs to make her peace with it- find her own happiness in whatever way she can- or else seriously contemplate ending it- if it is indeed as miserable. I really don't know how I can help. I am out of ideas and, I am afraid, out of sympathy.

Monday, October 26, 2009

W O M M

I had a terrible terrible dream last night and couldn't sleep for the rest of the night. I don't remember anything about the dream except the image of my mom crying. :( I so badly need to get it out of my head..I hope this post does it.

I had a lousy day at work too. Went in late, got nothing done besides getting my brain fried analysing data and ending just where i had begun. The good thing is, I reached out and asked for help before I waste any more time just trying to figure it all out myself.

I keep thinking about money. How I haven't saved any, how I will return to India in a year or so and have no savings of my own. Stupid post-doc life. I need to stop dwelling on it because there's really nothing I can change- rent will always be more than half of my paycheck- unless I move in to share a place with someone which I will never do. Besides that, I live a pretty low-maintenance life and can't exactly see what I can cut down on- except, may be eating at the cafeteria for lunch- which is really pretty inexpensive but the only regular habit I can break to save any money.

So many minor irritants in my day. Including all the errands I need to run around the house. I think I should just start doing them and will automatically feel better.

Over and out.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

May be it's time to accept it?

Signs that this was not my second 29th birthday...

I slept through the 12-midnight hour and very grumpily and groggily took enthusiastic phone calls wishing me a Happy Birthday.

:)

Had a Happy Birthday nevertheless. Phone calls, books, nice time at a friend's place ..people that couldn't be here ensured that I had a good time any way. Felt nice.

Will celebrate it all over again with niece soon..and that will be my second 29th. :)

Monday, October 19, 2009

rant

I have no sympathy for the Chinese and their terrible English and total lack of communication skills- because the majority of them make no effort whatsoever to improve their English- stick to speaking in Mandarin amongst themselves even after spending years in the US grad school and post-doc system. And it just ends up being a frustrating experience to get things across and deal with them.

Grr.

Which all reminds me of a funny episode in lab the other day. My chinese labmate is introducing me over email to another professor, and he says "Another guy from our lab, TGFI, will be contacting you".

When I explained to him that guy is male, he profusely apologised and said "but I hear some people say "Guys" to women too!"

:)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Blogrolling

As in, this blog is on a roll :p

W.O.M.M

1) HAPPY DIWALI EVERYBODY!!!

2) Sometimes I have no sympathy at all for other peoples' complaints. Whatever it might be- I feel that they should just suck it up- of course, they are not very serious complaints- simple- life-stuff-that I am whining about too, other times. But I just get into one of these moods where I become totally bereft of any empathy- and just want to tell people to grow up and get over it. It happened to me today when someone told me they were missing old times, someone else was complaining about not feeling very well (this person is always complaining though- it gets old) yet another was worrying about experiments (really, darling) and then one more person sharing his job and money uncertainties. Sometimes, especially online- it comes across as cribbing when they are just sharing thoughts- so I guess i need to take it with some distance.

3) I met a really nice person today. To see someone make it through all kinds of hurdles, not yet reached where he wants to be but that much closer- and openly offer advice and tips in what I know to be a very competitive field- just left me with warm fuzzies. Hope he succeeds in attaining his goals.

4) I got some sad news about a good friend from school who lost her mom to cancer. Been feeling really really down about it. She lost her dad to cancer several years ago and now her mom. And she's just my age. That is so rough. I don't even want to begin blogging about the myriad of thoughts that flooded my head once I started off. :(

5) I am going to clean up and light my awesome electric diyas and improve the mood around here. Happy Diwali y'all.

Facebook Shacebook

Facebook is giving us new meanings to all simple english words. You know how a facebook friend is not necessarily a "Friend", a facebook poke is doesn't involve anything sharp or pointy or poky, etc.

One thing I have yet to understand is this "likes" business. Somebody has some thought, pithy saying, self-absorbed fact, slogan or joke, and a bunch of others go about "liking" it. I do not understand what it is they are liking here.

"Sunita made awesome batata wadas"
Eeena, Meena, Deeka and 3 others like this (thumbs up sign).

OK, so do they like batawadas, sunita, or the fact that sunita made the batata wadas?

Then

"Jeff supports Obama's Health Care reforms"
Tom Dick and Harry like this. Again, what is it they like?

It gets more complicated when

Mala is missing Mumbai during Diwali
and Sonu and Pinky like this.

You like that which Mala is missing, or the fact that Mala is missing something?

I've even seen (I kid you not)
Natalie: "R.I.P. dear friend Victor. you will be missed"
And Joe and Moe like that!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

rant rant

WTF is up with the weather. its freezing cold. and rain. ugh.

And i'm sorry for all this TMI but I need someone to please explain it to me why the eff the restroom on our floor in the building is such a mess always. I mean unless people are taking a shower in the wash basin I don't understand why there's water all over the place around the basins, on the floor...and do people have no civic sense and cannot clean up after themselves-whatever the heck causes them to throw water all over the place- even when you have a never ending supply of paper towels spewing from anywhere the outstretched arm can reach?

What nonsense.

Headache mein pain. stay out of my way please.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Migraines

It wouldn't take a genius to figure out that one of the most frequent triggers to my horrible migraine attacks is skipping a meal. To my credit, I don't do this too often, but when I do- mostly out of laziness- I pay a very heavy price for it. I skipped dinner last night and "forgot" about lunch until late afternoon, subsisting only on my breakfast (cereal and fruit) until then. The resultant migraine was so severe and blinding- I could barely see where I was going as I made my way to the cafeteria and got myself some food. Once the headache and aura begins to take shape, there's no stopping it with any medication. I came home, head in my hands and escaped into a dark room for a while. I hope that today's suffering will be a lesson for me, to never skip meals again, to eat well and to eat on time.

I am so tired.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Meet the parents

B the boyfriend went to meet my parents in hyd. My sister and I had discussed prepping him for this momentous occasion, but we finally realized that there are some things in life nothing can prepare you for. So we just let it be. In retrospect, I wish I had prepped him on a few basic things- like to not say "Yes" each time coffee was offered- or warned him about ugly swing..

Copious coffee consumption & ugly swing aside, I think it all went well. My dad went to pick up B from the guest house he was staying at. While B expected my dad to be waiting downstairs, my dad somehow managed to find his way up into the lobby right outside B's door. So when B came out expecting to see the guest house manager, he was face to face with my dad, and totally lost and clueless. Once they successfully overcame that awkward introduction, they set out home. Then on the way some car banged my dad's car and more drama ensued. But on the streets of hyd this is an everyday occurrence. So I guess that one was just brushed aside and they moved on.

Coffee # 1 was offered as soon as B got home. He readily nodded and downed one cup of my mom's awesome filter coffee. There was general chit chat..B met with my grand dad and then got offered and unflinchingly accepted coffee # 2 along with samosas. Now in my house we don't drink coffee as if the plant is going to go extinct or as a replacement for water. Coffee is had once in the morning, and may be once in the evening, if at all. But it is offered, for the sake of courtesy and in keeping with true south indian hospitality. Soon after coffee #2 it was made known to everyone in the room that they were out of coffee powder. B was also witness to a mini-argument between my dad and mom about who should've remembered about the coffee being almost over. One would think he'd make a note to refuse further coffees. Nuh uh- he hastened to add that he then overheard my mom asking my cousin to pick up some coffee powder on his way to our place and so felt reassured. How nice indeed.

At some point I called, and my mom, dad and B were in the balcony enjoying the view. After my dad and mom spoke to me, they passed on the phone to B and apparently politely left the room, one after other, so B could talk to me at ease. Heh. :) B said he was having a nice time, but it was not until I prodded (how could i have not?) that he told me in a shocked whisper that there was this hideous swing, and, to top it all, a green parrot atop the swing that he had to try really hard to not stare at. I sympathized and suggested keeping his head bowed down rest of the evening to avoid looking at parrot.

The family then went out to dinner..more conversation..now my cousin is a bit of talker and can get quite carried away discussing politics/economics/cricket/music what-have-you. Apparently B would notice my mom glazing over every now and then and so would cleverly bring up my niece Kavita and her antics..and succeed in making my parents' faces light up each time he did that. Smart fellow. For dessert they ordered Qubani ka meetha and an argument ensued about whether it was anjeer or apricots and B sided with my mom first, then finally decided it was a mix of both, trying to appease all sides of the argument. Well done there too. Then they returned home and called it a day.

Next morning there was coffee #3 and #4 and breakfast. B insisted on seeing some of my childhood photos. Now this part I forewarned my parents about, but it was of no use. They brought out all the albums that were there around, and I get to hear, from B, later on, about an "awesome" photo of my sister and me grinning, standing in our nighties. Also references to my "bob cut". Why, I ask, WHY? And B also noticed that I was frowning in all my childhood pics while my sis was grinning from ear to ear. Well, she clearly had more practice than me, given that there were such few photos of mine ever taken. I'm sure poor me was wondering what one was supposed to do when confronted with that black thing. Anyway, that saga is for a different day. B got my dad to take out his photos of his university days, and talk about them- my dad did a lot of talking for the generally quiet person that he is. Then the conversation drifted to food and B made the mistake of telling my parents that he doesn't eat brinjal and got the patent mini-lecture from my dad about how one must eat everything etc. etc. Hahahahaha! I'm so glad! :)

Later they had lovely Andhra lunch made by my mom, followed by payasam and post-lunch as they sat around chatting my dad was nodding off to sleep sitting in the chair. My dad always does this, and he manages to snore too - it can be very embarrassing. So my mom tries to cover up for my dad and B manages to laugh it off and say "Yes aunty, TGFI does it too". WTF. Then the fool gets asked, by mom , "She does it too? How do you know". (implying, were you two living together, by any chance?). And so B has to hurriedly cover up with some lame ass "once we went to a friend's place for dinner and a movie and she dozed off...". Yeah. Not cool.

Some (more) coffee and payasam later its time for B to leave for the airport- my dad takes him to the airport and they enjoy more chat about my dad's university days and B's family etc. etc. Apparently there was never a bored awkward silence moment.

When I called my parents to get the low-down, they were both very happy and upbeat and full of praise forthcoming for the boyfriend. I expected my dad to say "nice guy" and leave it at that, but he was way much more generous and vocal in his approval. While I never really doubted that this would go well, it was so nice to hear my parents so enthusiastic and happy about it. They said all the good things they wanted to say, and their parting lines were:
my dad: "Congratulations TGFI, very good choice". :) (aww)
and my mom: "But he drinks a lot of coffee, no?". :)

Thursday, October 01, 2009

I have a plan

I feel good about it. Charted out my experiments and plan of action for the next 6-10 months. It gives me a roadmap to work along, and ensure that I do a good job at this post-doc, however long I'm going to be here for. I have decided to stop this constant battle in my head about "what if i leave in a year- what am i going to achieve.." kind of defeatist attitude and just work on my 12 month plan.

I also love the post-doc atmosphere I am in. Granted, I've only been in one other place before this, but I also have lots of friends who are post-docs all over the place, and as a rule, its mostly been a whiny-bitchfest type atmosphere. Over here, the post-docs also whine and bitch their share, but it is accompanied by proactive steps being taken, and a very strong sense of community and network-building. A couple faculty members take active care to oversee post-doc quality of life, and that feels good. Being in a vibrant city like this, with ample scope to network not just within the univ but outside with other univs also helps a lot.

I came across an exercise to help you introspect and better identify an ideal career path. It involves looking back on your entire life, and writing down 15 - 25 occasions that met the following criteria

1) you played an important role
2) there was a successful outcome
3) you enjoyed yourself while doing it

Then, select 7 of these occasions and write a story about each, including

1) The goal
2) The obstacles that had to be overcome
3) Explain your actions step by step
4) What was the result
5) Any specific measurable outcome to prove your achievement.

The idea is to identify recurring themes throughout your life that show what you are good at, what you enjoy doing, and the way you enjoy doing them.

I just listed a few of my stories and the recurring theme at the end "what was the measurable outcome" was always "I / we won a prize for it". :D Perhaps I will blog about my seven stories..or not..but I wanted to write about the exercise because I think its a worthwhile one and anyone who wants to assess their career path should try it.

Monday, September 28, 2009

W O M M

I tested out, for the first time an online grocery website called peapod.com. The online grocery shopping experience was fun. I spent less than 20 mins- I had a LONG list since I'm out of everything at home. It was nice to be able to shop by category, compare prices etc. easily. I could also incorporate some kind of calorie-counting if I wanted to, but I didn't go that far. I didn't have to stand in a long frustrating queue, and I didn't have to worry about carting and hauling my stuff home. My groceries are supposed to arrive tomorrow morning, and i am super-excited and awaiting them. :) They have a free-delivery deal for the first time, if you spend  a minimum , so I easily did that by stocking up on non-perishables and replenishing all of my regular stuff. Stay tuned for update.

I think I have a basic witch-hunt problem with my experiments. I keep going after the wrong thing, with full zeal and over-thought experiments, only to find out that the culprit is something else. This has happened a few times now, even though I base my "witch hunt" on pretty logical observations. I guess i need to rethink strategies to deal with some of my trouble-shooting skills.

I am so close, yet so far, to the exciting part of my project. So many months went in just developing a plan, getting hands wet and standardizing assays. Some of the grunt work is still left, but I can also move along to the more exciting stuff. It has been fun so far, I just need it to speed it up now (i.e. put in 12 hour work days). I really need to work with the end-goal of a paper in mind. Minimum publishable unit.

I found out that I cannot travel to India to attend my friend's wedding. am super-bummed. Two of the friends from that group are going to be there- it would've been so much fun to go! :(

The long-distance relationship is becoming a way of life. Not sure if that's good or bad, or, just life. AT&T now has an A-list- where you can enter phone numbers of 5 people not on an att plan, and  talk to them without minutes being deducted. (Thanks to confused for the tip). It works only for the $60.00 plus plan. I have managed to put my calling card access number on there, and its so  much nicer to not to have to keep track of my minutes now during daytime india calls.

There is a short-cut to my lab I used to take, through a not-so-nice area. The street is dotted with lots of construction labourer people, some of who would make cat calls or just stare/comment when I passed by. I insisted on taking this route, armed with my mace and staring past them, mostly because I knew they were harmless but also because I felt like I had to stand up to my right to be able to take a shorter route and not have to give in to the idiots. For some reason, I have now stopped taking it. It was a subconscious switch- may be because its getting darker earlier and I actually don't feel safe walking that way, or may be because I actually enjoy the slightly longer, roundabout walk. It could also be because I'm making it out of the house early and not in a rush. I am not sure why. But I am happier for it- the subtle feeling of irritation that I had to put up with every morning is definitely something I can do without.

I have been talking to some really smart people about my project to bounce off ideas. My ideas have been received really well from them, and that makes me feel very good. I also realized that its such an uplifter- a word to all struggling scientists out there- don't feel inhibited to walk up that smart professor on your floor and discuss your stuff. Most of them have an endless amount of creative firing going on in their brains 24/7, and are excited enough about science to indulge in you. So just spend some time crystallizing your ideas and then go and  ask for their time- may be email them a little gist of your project to pique their interests and set the stage. Thats the fun part of academia- free exchange of thoughts and resultant brainstorming. I guess in grad school we had committee meetings that served this purpose- as post-docs- if your fellow-lab-mates are just quiet and speak only when spoken to, and other post-docs are too busy in their own stuff- its worth giving the professors a shot and a shout-out.

Over and out.







Friday, September 25, 2009

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Writing versus typing

Most of my ph.d. thesis and a large component of my papers - especially the discussion portions, i hand-wrote. I have actually filled up several notepads - not just with scribbling and and doodling but full-fledged sentences and paragraphs. Even now, while writing out a research plan for myself, I choose pen and paper. Later on, I transcribe my notes to word and also use some mind-mapping tools like free-mind. I have always been able to think better, have my ideas flow better when I'm writing on paper. While typing on a screen, I often feel a little intimidated or find it difficult to keep my thought streams going. I can also accommodate and organize my thoughts- which are often spilling over in all different directions- when i'm writing on paper, so that i can keep track and come back to some points later. This helps a lot in the early stages of conceptualizing a project or writing out hypotheses, rationale, evidence, IF-THEN flowsheets, etc. I just bought one of those stands/easels type thing that you can place next to your monitor, so i stick my notepad on there and transcribe my notes into a typed out document so i can share it with others or just store the final form.

Today I came across this tip on productivity.com and felt one of those happy, i've-been-doing-this-all-along type feelings. :)

There was some research done into what parts of the brain were triggered when writing at a computer versus what parts were triggered when writing with a pencil and paper. The experiments showed that writing by hand triggered activity in significantly different portions of the brain than when writing at a computer....

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

because i can't rant against this shit enough

Just got off the phone with my health insurance providers. apparently my claim hadn't been filed yet because "my claim form seems to have gotten folded and the information needed wasn't visible."

Although they did have  my cover letter  with my membership # etc. visible - so they could trace it when I called, but to expect them to reach me to tell me that my claim form got mangled by their fax machine would be a bit much, no?

That's Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield for you. Useless people.

Monday, September 21, 2009

LOOK WHO'S BAAAAACK

Or so she says. Of all the blogs that went and disappeared into bloglivion, her disappearance made me the saddest, and her re-appearance has made me the happiest. :D

Everybody please welcome back and remember to bug Jane to update from now on!

In keeping with tradition, a round of celebratory drinks on the house! :)

YAY!

Friday, September 18, 2009

random gyaan for the day

A small degree of detachment is not such a bad thing..

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Every step he took would rock my world. Not anymore

It worked! (and no, I'm not referring to an experiment there).

I posted a very nice note on upstairs neighbour's door. I signed it with my name, and also said it was a polite request telling him/her (although i am tempted to guess it is a guy stomping around) to be mindful about the noise he made when he walked about, and that i understood that the bad soundproofing in this old apartment building was mostly to blame.

Well- I just got home an hour ago- and can already feel the difference! I can actually feel like I can hear more restrained movement, instead of my shelves and china rattling and walls vibrating. I am so kicked! May be i'll write him a thank-you note now. :p

That brings me to something that just crossed my mind- how come I am not complaining that much about experiments not working? It is not due to lack of experiments not working, that much I can tell you. It is a lot of things. I think work pressures have gotten less disproportionate thanks to other significant events in life, thanks to living in a city where there's so much more to do and distract myself with, and also, thanks to a very considerate boss. We discuss my stuff every few days and he is aware that I'm struggling to make some things work, while moving ahead with some others. He may not have the best troubleshooting tips- but at least he is aware of my progress, my roadblocks, and is encouraging, always.

I think I have definitely set a lot more achievable goals for myself in this lab- and one might argue that they are not stellar or nature-paper material - but you know what, I am getting something done. I have spread myself over several little projects, so that something or the other is moving ahead while others attain back-burner status. And the piecemeal approach is working very well- while at the bench, I am viewing each mini-project as just that- so it doesn't overwhelm me. But the bigger picture that I hope to put together when all of these little ones work will indeed be some cool work. Something that nobody has shown and something that nobody I know is pursuing. I always had a penchant for the obscure - it worked in my favour during my Ph.D. - even though getting there was more painful than if had a chosen some more tried and tested paths, I see myself taking a similar path here. My eyes are not set on a Nature paper - just to fit pieces of the puzzle that I am curious to answer.

I find a lot of my grad-school level of motivation and enjoyment towards science coming back now- coming up with ideas in the shower- enjoying discussions with my boss and my overall enthusiasm for my stuff. I don't remember feeling this way at all at my previous post-doc- the whole thing was just one single pall of gloom, always bringing me down- and yes, my goals were set a lot more higher. Both the projects I was working on then were tough, high-risk ones- and I suffered from absolute lack of advice and help- and intense pressure and the feeling of being incompetent. I am so glad I got out of there before it made me a wreck.

The trauma stayed with me for a while, though. It is only 9 months since I left that place, but every now and then I'd think back to those days and it would bring me down. Recently- I bumped into an old acquaintance from there. I thought seeing him would serve as a reminder of those horrible times- the times I worked until 2 AM and the times I dragged myself to the lab- but it was actually very different. I was so glad to meet him- he was one of the nicer people I knew there- and it just felt good to catch up with him and realize how, both of us, who were unhappy in our respective labs, have moved on since then, gotten out of our unhappy situations and seem so much happier now.

Yeah- this experiment seems to be working too! :)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The weekend that was

Was nice. Met some people and "networked" in the true sense of that word for the first time ever. Glad I made this beginning in a mostly approachable group of people.

I spent 8 hours (to and fro) on a bus, it was nice. Very comfortable bus ride and I was happy for not choosing to drive in the crappy weather. Instead sat atop a double-decker bus and watch the rain, read, surfed the net and ate my packed food.

Double-decker buses and the front window seats still make me giddy with excitement. :)

Loved watching the bus snake out of the city, recognize familiar street-sights etc.

Came back to the city and had a great time with G and her husband. Great food, fun conversation that leaves you feeling warm on a cold rainy day.

Sunday has been a drag. I lazed mostly- but I think I needed it. I cleaned up a bit, cooked etc.

Discovered I am becoming my mom in so many ways. :/

Also discovered that i am becoming one of those annoying people in a relationship who wants to set other people up. Bah! I am trying not to, I promise!

I am going to finish up the cleaning and go to bed early. Tomorrow I will print out previous post and stick on upstairs neighbour's door. They are driving me C-RAZY!

Dear Upstairs Neighbour

Do you have a mini bowling alley in your apartment?

Do you have pet elephants?

Are you elephants?

WTF is up with the loud pounding noise every time you decide to walk across the room? Why do they cause my kitchen shelves to rattle?

Admittedly the sound-proofing in this building sucks, but a little less elephantine behaviour on your part would also help. Especially after midnight.

tia

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Heh

Filled an online employment form with Astra Zeneca India: "necessary" information included marks from SSC, HSC, BSc, MSc. and Ph.D.! Here's where my mom can say "I told you so". :)

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The weekend that was

I pushed going to my sister's to Sat morning after getting some work done in the lab. I drove- which was a first for me by myself- and it was really painless for the most part- although I was already worrying about the return right then. :)

Saturday was my niece's birthday. We had a good time-lots of kids, fun, screaming etc.

In the midst of the party, my sis got a phone call from a friend- one of her friends from high school met with a tragic accident and died while on holiday with his wife. This was someone we knew very well from being neighbours in the colony and growing up with together. My sister and I decided to drive there the next day to meet his parents and brother who had just flown in from India.

We spent all of sunday at their place- it was a horrible situation and I really have no words to describe it. A young grieving wife- very distraught and shocked parents- and their younger son- who was junior to me and i've always considered as a kid- holding the fort up bravely for the sake of his parents. It was just horrible and made you wonder about the unfairness of life, the finality of death and all those things.

A very standard reaction to sad situations is "I don't know what to say" and that pretty much sums it up. What do you say in a situation like this, when standard words of condolences fall painfully short and seem very very shallow? I learned that being there is enough, even if you cannot say much. It meant a lot to the grieving parents that we showed up- for aunty- we were a reminder of the happy times her son had, the happy growing-up memories- the fact that her son meant many different things to the various people that came there- was some kind of comfort. In the same vein, people that knew their son and had close interactions with him were able to contribute to some amount of cheer- however short-lived it may have been- by sharing happy memories of his antics, his likes/dislikes, etc. Bringing his several facets to the fore, as each person knew a different side of him.

I think the heaviness of this experience is going to stay with me for long. I keep having visions of aunty and uncle and the little brother. Life is so unpredictable and so precious.

For lack of a better title, Hmm.

Been thinking a lot this- turning it over in my head, and hoping for time, distance and some amount of discussion to give me some perspective. Resorted to blogging it as it always works best to clear my thoughts.

I am 6 months into my post-doc now, and because of the way things have panned out with B the boyfriend having to return to India, I have started planning my return too. This was not how I had originally planned my life/career. The grand plan had been to get some solid post-doc experience (which translates to 3-4 years and a 1st author paper). This would then make me competitive for the next phase in my career: a "Real" job: the first preference being industry, and if that turned out to be horrific, then still leave a door open for me to return to academia, thanks to aforemetioned "solid post-doc experience".

My plan was also, to return to India eventually-- may be after the combined post doc + industry experience, or after the post-doc itself if a good opportunity presented itself. After meeting B and the way things have unfolded for him, it just seemed like I would be doing this return earlier than planned.

My plans are not mine alone any more, ever since I opened up to the idea of getting involved with another person. As if getting there wasn't complicated enough, and sprinkled with requisite goading from people closest to me - who were then worried about me "getting too individualistic/independent/set-in-my-ways", worried about me not ending up with a life-companion, warning me about being "too picky" etc. not to mention my own questions and doubts- having finally gotten there- I can hear my own little voice in my head go "I told you so". :) Not fun.

So fine- I need to get past questioning "how the hell did I get here" part and take stock. Over the year or so I have been seeing B, I arrived at the conclusion that here is a guy I foresee living together with, for better or worse, raising a child with, and living my life, carrying on my professional and personal pursuits with etc.

B is now in India and doesn't have the option of moving back to the US due to a family emergency. The way I see it- my current post-doc is but a means to the end- of me landing a "Real" job- and if I can land a "near-ideal" even if not ideal job right now in India, and work my way up from there, it makes sense to cut-short this post-doc and move back to India sooner rather than later. I have just begun sending out enquiries and feeling my way for the job-market and my opportunities in India.

The biggest motivations for me to do this are both practical and emotional. I'm almost 31- would like to embark on a married life, and have a kid, within the next 4-5 years. That is an important priority to me. I cannot see myself stay here for the next 3 years - hoping and working towards that paper that would make me more competitive, return to India when I'm 34, get married, and have a baby right away. Then there is a part of me that would like to be with B sooner rather than later, help him deal with his situation that is not the happiest right now, and will only get progressively harder as time goes by.

Where does that leave my career? Something that i have spent several painful years building up, enjoying the facilities to do research in the US and pretty much gotten used to making it my life. Life back in India is going to be nowhere close- and will it mean that I have put to waste all the years that I invested so far?

Advice from people closest to you fulfills the role of the devil's advocate. In all big decisions- these are the people that are looking out for you and only you- and are questioning your decisions with the sole idea of ensuring that it is the best for you. Nothing in life is zero-risk, and their job is to remind you of the risks- and make you carefully reconsider taking them.

My parents and my sister- who know me the best- seem disappointed, and wary of my readiness to "throw everything that I have painstakingly built for myself here" and return to India, which would involve a step-down career-wise and be wrought with uncertainties and dissatisfaction. With good reason, I believe, since any impulsive decision I make now comes with the danger of self-brought-upon bitterness later, which could be quite dangerous. Better to think through carefully, practically, and have all safeguards.

If I write down my options going forth from here it would be:

Work hard at my post-doc and pull off a long distance relationship for the next 3 years, if the relationship doesn't "stand the test" then at least I will not have sacrificed my career. (Costs: strained relationship, difficult life and doubtful baby plan)

If the relationship does stand the test, then work the baby into it- become that super-mom/scientist/all-in-one person that a lot of people aim to be and may be actually succeed. Who knows? (Costs: sanity)

Or else have a kid/adopt post-35 a lot of people are doing that too. Deal with those complications then, at least I will have had a successful post-doc to show for (hopefully)-and the self-assurance that I didn't make any sacrifices on my career. (Costs: strained relationship)

Start looking for a job in India right now- make the best of current post-doc- have something to show for it on paper (most realistic : second authorship). Take the closest-to-ideal job offer I get in India in the next year. Return to India, invest the same effort in building my career there, alongside family etc. (Costs: significant career compromise and uncertainty in career. For a person, who, for the longest time has equated sense of self-worth with my professional achievements- this is a significant risk. Won't know until I take the plunge).

Hmm.....for now i'm just going to go have a beer.

Friday, September 04, 2009

W O M M

Its so cool- autocomplete on safari automatically enters the titles of my W.O.M.M. posts. heh :)

There's a lot going on in my head that I need to sort through, dwell on, act on or throw out without a second thought. Such a mish mash.

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Its time for a stay-at-home weekend now. I have been running out the door for the past several fridays now, and today I am just dragging my ass, not wanting to leave. Its time to clean up, sit back, relax with a cup of chai and just take my time mulling over stuff or reading a book or whatever I feel like doing.

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Last evening, my mom had her mangalsutra snatched by some thug on a scooter when she was walking on the street near their place in hyd. There were 2 other people on the road when it happened, but nobody could do much of it while the bastards took off on their scooter. She lodged a police complaint and apparently the police were very polite and courteous and forthcoming. But I don't think there are any hopes that the chain can be retrieved. My poor mom. :(.

I can't even begin to imagine the sense of violation and insecurity my mom must be going through. These days, most everything can be written off with a "Yeah, its commonplace, hota hai, kya karen.." Petty thefts? hota hai.... Broken relationships? hota hai... Family crisis? hota hai....But its not the same for the person directly affected by it, and in turn, for those close to that person. That is why responses like that irritate the shit out of me. Of course sab kuch hota hai, but I wouldn't be talking about it if I weren't affected by it. So if you don't have anything better to say then take your smug hota hai shit and stuff it.

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Why do I want to get married? I am trying to answer that question. Why does anyone ever want to get married? Yeah, beyond the sex-benefits and dishwasher/driver benefits, and sperm-donor with desirable qualities type benefits. Hmm.. may be I should've asked my self this question before I created a profile of myself on hindiwordformarriage-dot-com. But back then, I guess I was also only thinking about the sex/dishwasher/driver/sperm-donor issues myself. :p

Then if I think really hard I come with the very miss-world-esque "I've met someone and I'm ready for this next stage and want to be married..etc." kind of answer- that a small part of me is still not buying completely. What do I mean by "Ready for it"? Why does one have to be "ready"?

I guess all these years of marriage-is-not-important/necessary/the-be-all conditioning is not going to be easy to erase.

----
ROFL Conversation between my niece Kavita and her friend Nick we bumped into

Nick: Hey Kavita where are you off to
Kavita: We're taking her (pointing to me) to the train station
Nick: Is that your Grandma?

What the EFF? Stupid kid whose parents must be in denial and won't get his eyes examined, is what I think.
Stupid Nick.

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There's always going to be people better than you, who have achieved much more than you. There's no end to it. There are also as many people who haven't done as well you. Why would you refuse to compare yourself to the latter group and always give in to comparisons to the former, and feel bad about yourself? A much healthier attitude would be to recognize your strengths and weaknesses for what they are, applaud your own capabilities and set your own goals. Easier said than done, I guess.

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Can someone please point me to some happy R2I blogs? I want to see examples of people that have gone back to India, gotten over the initial readjustment phase and are happy to be back.
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Before New York: A National Geographic Feature

"When Henry Hudson first looked on Manhattan in 1609, what did he see?"

Check out this interactive map on Nat Geo: where researchers have rediscovered Manhattan's original environment block by block. Its pretty cool.

The article is here.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

W O M M

Its very painful to have to let someone you care about fall and learn for themselves, because they simply leave you no other choice. There is always the worry of how hard he might fall, and how much he will learn- how much will the fall worsen the problem instead of helping it. Don't know. You don't want to end up feeling responsible later for something you then think that you could have avoided. But quite honestly, I doubt if you could've stopped it anyway.

My soon-to-be-4 year old niece came home crying about how some girl in her class hadn't invited her to her birthday party. :( What a terrible feeling to expose a 4 year old to. Just another one of life's early lessons, I guess.

I walked into a toys-r-us to buy a birthday present for my niece. OMG. The stuff there was overwhelming. I almost ran out of the place without buying anything- it was chaotic - not just because of the crowds, but also because the mind-boggling array of options you can choose from to buy a present for a 4 year old. What nonsense.

I have never been a big fan of big-box stores. They reek of consumerism, over-priced-ness and foster this very distorted perception of what's cool, what's therapy, and what norms govern "fitting in". I hate the mall culture that has overtaken big cities in India too. Its just plain sad. I find that one of my favourite places to street-store-watch is actually Harlem or Little Italy type places - with all the random all-purpose-stores on the street- that have all odds and ends clothes, plastic-ware etc. in one place- stuff dangling from the ceiling etc. So remindful of some of those "General stores" in India. :)

Spending the day in a library- with tall shelves of books and serious studious faces all around me-getting some focused reading done- having a few bright ideas strike- sounds a great day to me- and that is what I did for most of today.

I met up with an old friend yesterday in the city. She and I were infamous for sitting in the first bench and giggling through class in class XII. Way back then, she had said she wanted to be a pilot, and I said I wanted to study more about DNA and get a Ph.D. in it. We recently regained contact and met for the first time after 13 years (thanks to orkut) both doing exactly what we said we would be. I was quite in awe of her pilot career, and she was as nonchalant about it. She had flown a plane to the US for the first time, but has traveled all over in her past 5 years as a pilot. Am sure life as changed her in several ways, but she is still the same simple, unpretentious person I remember her as. It felt good to see her and even if she brushes off her pilot status- I continue to be in awe.

Infidelity in a marriage, casual sex and promiscuity seem to be gaining fad-status in India. Sad.

dear anonymous

Who left a comment about the airtel $0.01/min calling card. You have transformed my life..or at least one component of my bank balance by seven-fold. :p

Many thanks are due.:)

Monday, August 31, 2009

There actually exist some people

that are entirely devoid of a sense of humor. These are wonderful people with hearts of gold - but they just don't get it. At first I thought it was me- when every light-hearted statement of mine would be returned with a rationalization, or when every dirty joke I made would be killed by some reason or, even worse, a quizzical ?? expression. Having witnessed this reception to other peoples' jokes too, I now know for sure its not me. It is them. They are just inherently deficient, and yes, I refuse to waste any more of my awesome jokes around them.

I wonder how they get by life without such a basic trait?


Sunday, August 30, 2009

The weekend that was

Was great. It morphed from a sulky rainy friday to a sunny saturday. I had to drag myself out of the house given my rotten mood, but I had no choice but to go to this wedding. A small very private ceremony. A very pretty bride and and a smiling groom by her side. A dozen friends of the couple. Vows exchanged and the couple was married within minutes. The lady mayor who conducted it was a really friendly person, accommodating our loudness and also offering to take photos of us with the several different cameras that were being toted. I was really expecting a staid mayor and a more formal, clinical process, but the whole thing was actually very nice and warm. Some informal photo-sessions in picturesque downtown. A fun-filled lunch and wine and good food and all that good stuff. This was far from your typical desi wedding, but had all the elements of mirth, warmth and happiness without the unnecessary frills. There was no stressed out family, no overbearing photographer, no cheesy photo-albums to show for it. And oh, No gift registry either! :) I liked it very much- I have always been against the expectation-laden and big money-spending fest that weddings often tend to be. This was pretty close to my idea of a nice private ceremony- with a few modifications that would involve a temple in India instead of a court, include my immediate family (and consequently exclude the wine. :p) etc.

It also fulfilled some of my wedding-craving -after having missed all my friends' weddings over the years. it was nice to finally attend the wedding of a close friend, to be part of the celebrations of their big day. And even though it was amidst a bunch of people that I didn't know- they all made for very nice and friendly company, which I think was largely a function of the wonderful people the bride and groom are. Cheers to the happy couple!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

One of those days

Of feeling tired and despondent. And managing to stop just in time before the self-pity-party takes over.

Shit happens, life is like that, things get better, eventually.

In the meantime- focus on the positives, remember all the good things you have, take charge and sally forth! :)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Losing out on serendipity

My sister is a social media dinosaur of sorts. She never had an orkut, won't get a facebook, and doesn't know what twitter is. She reads blogs though, thank god for that.

When I tried to convince her to get a facebook - show her how much fun it was reconnecting with old school friends, finding out what they're upto, visiting a place and getting dope on it before going there..her response was "some things should just be left to chance - randomly bumping into a school friend will be so much more fun than "facebook" ".

Here's Damon Darlin making a similar point in the NYT. It's ironic that he talks about the development of algorithms to "recreate serendipity" !

Just like most personal blogging is losing its charm for me now, and updating inane updates on facebook has stopped being funny about right when it started, I think I've made a head start into avoiding personal twitters- the only ones that I keep track of are ones a handful of people whose opinions i'm curious about and link interesting things, and those of organizations and groups that I am a part of, that help me keep track of their events, publications, etc. That stuff is handy and helps me keep abreast of a variety of things on a single platform. Even then, it can be a lot, and I have learned to just not be compelled to click on each and every link that someone else posts.

Most have gone through or are still going through the phase of welcoming this information deluge with open arms, taking in all of it, wanting more, and finding it hard to say no. Eventually everyone gets saturated at some point, learns to distill all this content, pare it down using whatever parameters they choose, and strike a balance of sorts. Perhaps people like my sister are doing well to stay away from deluge now, and wait until the hype dies down so that- for eg. "mindless tweets" only occupy 4% of twitter, the system attains some kind of equilibrium, appropriate apps are worked out that help one access this information overload in more manageable ways.

I hate good-byes

Said good-bye to another friend today who is leaving the city for a great opportunity elsewhere. She's a relatively new "friend", but it sucks to see her go- I have had a great time getting to know her. I was looking forward to hanging out with her, exploring the city and imbibing some of her wonderful qualities that I find really hard to come by.

OTOH I'm happy for her for all the good things this move brings to her..and plan on visiting her sometime..hopefully.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"Why primary care doctors are fed up" (from cnn.com)

I have always bitched about what a pain it is to be able to get relatively immediate care for non-trivial yet non-emergency heath issues in this country, drawing from a series of bad personal experiences and several anecdotal ones. This commentary by a PCP in California drew my attention to the "other" side, a side that my medico friends have often tried to make. Until recently, I wasn't even able to recognize that the doctors are also inconvenienced by and as opposed to the the tiresome health-insurance nexus as patients are.

http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/08/25/harris.primary.care.doctor/index.html.

Quoted from there:
"..........How many times has an anxious patient come in demanding an endoscopy who I examined and then decided to treat less invasively for three to four weeks first? Few of these patients are happy no matter how many times I explain that it is reasonable to treat their reflux symptoms for several weeks before endoscopy.  This delay in referral has led to many tense moments in the last 20 years. The cost savings to the system is thousands of dollars each and every time I am willing to make the call and go with the treatment. My reward is about $55 from Medicare and private health insurers........."

I am at work now, so will perhaps update this post with more of my comments at a later point. Just wanted to set a place-holder for it..In the meantime, comments space is open for discussion (As always ;))






Thursday, August 20, 2009

W O M M

I made the awesom-est idlies for dinner last night. So yeah, it was out of a mix (MTR rava idli mix- they already come with chopped cashews and what not-yum.) - just added lots of fresh finely chopped kothmir (cilantro) and sour dahi and it was ready to cook. Wish I had sambar but ..another time.

So I think my tummy hurts this morning from overeating. :)

Highlights of this past weekend:

Open air roadside cafe in the city : getting slightly tipsy over a really strong Long island iced tea..with my sister! Its a big deal for me because my sister doesn't drink and i've always felt conscious about drinking around her- in fact I'd never done this before until now. My sis was super-cool putting up with my tipsiness and turns out that was another self-imposed hang up of mine.

Got another friend to meet her and was also excited about hanging out with them together. Most people who have met my sister really like her right away-she's a very no-nonsense-tell-it-like-it-is bindaas fun person (and i really couldn't care bout those that might not have liked her..) - so i've always enjoyed introducing my friends to her. It only gets problematic when people go "OMG you two are so alike"- neither of us considers that a compliment. :)

Waiter-with-a-slight-attitude- who was immediately taken down by 3 girls :)

The beach with my niece. Building sand-castles with my niece and other kids. Playing cricket. Sitting in the sand and reading a book. The only thing that struck me was severe paucity of hot shirtless guys. Stupid family beach.

Getting court-martialed by a grand-aunt about my marriage. It then struck to me that single girls who live near family might have to go through this kind of crap of so often- in many ways they may have also learned the tricks to deal with it- it was just off-putting and left a bad taste in my mouth.

Overall fun weekend. the week has been very busy..and..not really as productive. Need to rethink my project- and am so out of ideas. :/ Will give it a renewed shot today.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

QOTD

"Look, it's hard enough without you also beating yourself up. ".

From Ms PhD's blog. So true. So true.

The one outstanding quality my PhD Advisor had was an unbeatable optimism. I am far from there- I am, in fact, very cynical and constantly being hard on myself. I'm going to try every day to be a little less negative and a little more positive about myself, my abilities and my career goals.