Thursday, March 26, 2009

I got me my own internet connection

Yeah! Let's hope this sees me blogging more. Also a resolve to go to work early, come back early and have time for other things, instead of what I do right now, which is go late, come home late, sleepily eat dinner and crash.

(I know, I've said it before, but I'm saying it again. Got to start somewhere, right?)

Career planning: As I had blogged earlier, I want to get serious about planning more concrete goals for myself for the near future. Also read this very interesting interview with science editor Barbara Strauch today in the New York Times, and am increasingly becoming attracted to the idea of Science journalism. I need to explore this a bit..perhaps by doing some science writing to start with..

Also want to explore science education/outreach. I think that will be cool.

Just brainstorming. Hopefully I'll have more solid ideas in due time.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Seize the day

Spent the weekend with my sister after what seems like ages since she finally got back from India. My 3 yo niece is now a total chatterbox..full of smart repartees and lots of mischief, and lots of desi-fied expressions and mannerisms. An absolute darling and growing up so fast!

I think I have relinquished all rights to complain about lack of time. It doesn't get any better, ever. Unfettered and independent at 30, all my time is mine alone. I watch my sister and her hubby juggle crazy work-lives, taking care of a kid and all of that, and can't help reflect back on my rather luxurious time-spending habits. In my daily chores, I am not the quickest unless I have a train or plane to catch (And sometimes not even then) and hate being rushed by anyone else. I like doing things at my pace..which is mostly slow, distracted, thinking of a zillion other things while doing one. This has got to change, even if to just make better use of what I have now, and more to prepare for a much more meaningful life than what I lead now.

Got to run. :)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

On discipline

Staying off gtalk at work...except when I give in to spells of boredom once in a while. But I'm getting really good at staying offline during work and very happy at the way it is making me more productive.

Taking stairs- yet to start going to the gym, (hope to soon), but i'm taking the 3 flights at work and another 5 flights at home. Been doing that for a few weeks now, feels good!

Now I need to start showing up to work early every day. Just how do people manage to do that? I suck at it. :(

Friday, March 13, 2009

Suggestions invited...

For dealing with coworkers-with-bad-breath problem. Please help!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

W.O.M.M. #39

So I tried to keep from writing another W.O.M.M. post so that I'd actually take the effort to compile a decent post. That was not happening. So I caved in to the temptation of yet another W.O.M.M.

(For the uninitiated, WOMM = What's On My Mind).

I can actually hear the person in the apartment above mine snore. Yeah, I kid you not. Its so eerily clear that when my phone rang, I was whispering on the phone, feeling like I was talking aloud in the same room as a sleeping person.

I had a bunch of visitors over the weekend, the first visitors at my new place. I love having people over. I love the loudness and noise and laughter in the house. I totally enjoy the planning, the cooking, and the in-between getting hyper. :) And also the fact that it forces me to clean up the house, the effects of which last for a week at least. :)

One set of guests were totally unexpected. That made it even more fun. My childhood best friend's kid brother (L, not a kid now) and his 3 friends were spending spring break in the city and needed a place to stay as their hotel reservations didn't work out. As they made their way to my place, they contemplated picking up some beer, but decided against it, as L was afraid that "TGFI-didi might be offended"). Heh. Imagine his surprise the next morning when he opened the fridge to find some food. I was not at all surprised when I woke up and found him already on his first beer of the day. I managed to do some touristy stuff along with them and also meet up other common friends..all in all was fun to be a part of 23-year-old silliness. :)

My pleasant surprise moment was when I came home on Monday evening from the lab to find that these guys had cleaned up my place. The trash, recycle etc. was taken out, the sink was clean and the floor was swept clean. I totally did not expect this, least of all from this bunch of holidaying youngsters who just came home to sleep, even less so from "my kid brother L", as I was witness to how he was spoiled growing up. Made me very happy, very proud, and very thankful. There are few things better than leaving home with a full sink and coming back to an empty one. Just like that! :-)

They've left now and the place is kinda silent again. Except of course, for the snoring from upstairs. I guess I should go sleep too.

Oh Oh Oh. I finally saw Slumdog Millionaire and did not like it. The soundtrack was really good, and the movie was pretty slick. I am not surprised it won those Oscars, though. It definitely played to the galleys, especially the Western audience. The scene were the white woman gives the kid a bunch of 20 dollar notes after he has been beaten up by a local guy ..saying "I'll show you what America is all about". What was that? Ugh. At some points it was almost parody. I couldn't stand how Anil Kapoor's accent switched from Indian to British while speaking English, how his character was pretty exaggerated (no game show host would treat anyone like that). I could not relate to slum kids talking in English, or the local goon saying "Make me a sammich!". (And the wife making him a lettuce-sandwich!).

Film-making is a business after all (Danny Boyle apparently said at the movie premiere that he did not intend for the movie to send out a social message) ...and I don't think it sent out any social message. It reinforced (mostly true) stereotypes of slum-life..and was built around a masala plot. In that sense, it was just another movie and I have no issues with that. I realise that the movie was made for an international audience, so I'll just say I couldn't get myself to enjoy it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


I have a few friends I talk to regularly..quick catch up on my way home from the lab (when its not freezing/windy as hell), or other fill-in times. With them there's no phone tag, because nobody's keeping count...and I rarely ever leave a message for them, - I know we will get to talk very soon, and the whole point of the phone call was to just talk. They are also the friends to call when I'm stuck and need directions or bus schedules pulled off the internet. And when these begin to disappear from my phone's memory of recently dialed numbers I know its high time to put them back on the list where they belong. :)

Then there's the other kind who are so hard to reach by phone, that the list of things I am dying to share with them keeps growing, and we end up having a marathon phone session which is the result of an organized and planned phone-date of sorts...those are fun and liberating in a different way.

What was the point of this post? Nothing really...just something that I got thinking about last evening on my way back from lab...and wanted to put it down.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

So close yet so far

Again and again and again. I've gone through cycles of sheer frustration, depression, absolute hatred and "push yourself" - type self-motivational bursts to keep me going. in addition to encouragement, words of comfort and silent listening ears proffered from good friends and my parents. This May, it will be 2 years since I graduated. But my paper has yet to see the light of the press. 5 3 revisions, no less, with the same journal and same set of referees and cycled through different editors. Stupid stubborn arguments. Nit-picky pointless corrections. Never end. Frustrating long distance collaboration and discussion, dealing with different peoples' schedules, deadlines and priorities. The paper is never top priority for all the authors at the same time.

I really did not want this ghost to follow me to my second post-doc. At this stage, I would be happier off complaining about a post-doc paper, not still ranting about my phd paper. I even spent 4 days of my short 17 day trip holed up in my room in India this time working on this beast. It just gets exponentially harder. And then the thought of revising and resubmitting to another journal is not really encouraging because we feel like we've gotten this far with this one set of cranky reviewers- and for "such a good journal". I guess that's the carrot at the end of the stick that has kept me dangling thus far. And the fact that the decision is not mine alone. I've reached the end of my tether now. Unready as I am to call it quits, I am just going to take a long, deep breath and dive into this again.

Sigh. Bawl.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Assorted thoughts

I've been here a month but have yet to get a paycheck. I'm teetering on the edge of zero balance and trying not to build up any more credit card debt. So I have held off any non-essential purchases until I get paid. That includes curtains and internet, amongst others. I am not sure if any of those are non-essential- the curtain-less apartment/ bedsheets held up by clothespins look is driving me crazy and every time I am online at home piggy-backing on sluggish wireless, I get all riled up and frustrated as if I am entitled to a full speed connection from my neighbour's apartment without paying for it. Sigh. The department secretary said she would put in a request for a pay advance while the payroll department sorted out my papers. So lets hope things get better soon.

We had crazy snow today. It was a pain to walk in, cold as hell but still a beautiful sight once safe and warm indoors. I wanted to go out and build a snowman but was already late for work. And on my way back all of it was mingled with keechad and not so beautiful any more.

Note to self on windy days: leave the dangling-hook ear-rings behind, safe at home. Lost one of a new pair I picked up for Rs. 25 from General bazaar during my trip home this time. Pah.

I miss blogging. I don't do much of it mostly because of this internet situation. Also been busy with moving, settling in, etc. I long to write decent sized, well constructed posts as against random collections of W.O.M.M and such.

I have resolved to pay attention to what I wear to work. I carried over my scruffy t-shirt & jeans look from grad-school into my first year of post-doc, and it was never an issue. But I noticed that a lot of post-docs around me took care to dress well, so when I began here I started with adopting a "no T-shirt to work" policy. I am enjoying it, actually, and it doesn't really take me that much longer, just some more thought. On this trip to India, I asked M to gift me a pashmina stole/ scarf and she, in typical M style, ended up getting me half-a-dozen of them, pashmina and silk, in different colours. Now I get to try them all out and co-ordinate with my outfits. That is fun. :)

That is all I have the time for now. So much more on my mind, but I will have to blog about it later.