Friday, September 26, 2008

Dr. Isis you are wrong.

I know I am risking alot with that title, but damn it I disagree with my friend Dr. Isis and I am not afraid to say it. Dr.Isis is the laboratory and domestic goddess and in her infinite wisdom is to letting everyone know that you can be both a fashionista AND an amazing intelligent scientist, these are not mutally exclusive traits. This is important because many of us fashion loving, shoe loving female STEMers get the distinct impression that being the pretty one in the lab can be a distinct disadvantage. I appreciate that Dr. Isis is a tad on the narcissitic side and lets everyone know that her hottness has nothing to do with her success. So why do I think she is wrong?
I think that she was wrong for giving the blanket advice that square - toed shoes should never been worn. I agree that the shoes in Figure 2C were exceedling ugly, both in terms of fabric and styling. I disagree that they unattractiveness was due solely to the toe-shape of the shoe. I have some beautiful square toed boots, I'd post a picture but I'm in the lab, so instead I will provide you with evidence of shoes I would love to purchase but can not afford.

Exhibit A can be purchased at GravityPopeIf I had $525.00 cdn, I would buy these boots, these are beautiful, who can not love those buttons?

Exhibit B can be purchased at Freedman Shoes, which I would also purchase if I had the $449.95Exhibit C can be found at Stuart Weitzman. I'm not a big riding boot person, so I am not sure I would purchase these if I had the $535.00 but I can still appreciate their beauty
Dr. Isis, if you need more evidence, I will submit to your wishes, just realize that asking me to look at boots that I covet but can not purchase is the harshest form of torture that could be exacted on me. I know you will not punish me simply for challenging you, as you are not that type of Goddess.

Your Humblest Servent,

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Still just one replicate

Thank fully at that! Like sciencemama, I have been freaking out this week that I was pregnant. Unlike her though, I did not buy a pregnancy test because then that would confirm my fears. Yes right now being pregnant is a fear. Plus I was already showing, so I really didn't want to see the little plus sign. Yes I said I was already showing, that little jelly belly ponch that I just haven't been able to lose, was not a ponch but was a little baby growing inside. That period I had last month meant that I must only be a couple weeks along but its the second kid so you start showing right away. That belly was not going away no matter how much I sucked in the tummy.
Well this morning the crazies have subsided. Mother Nature has arrived to let me go back to fretting about normal things like what am I going to make for dinner tonight. I hate bloating.

Oh and I start the pill tonight. I can't go through this every month.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Little quirks

Every lab has its little quirks and now that I am in the second week, I am discovering all those little things that made life easier at old institute. Not that I would go back, but there were some perks to being at a facility that believed in farming out as much as possible. For instance, today for the first time in 2 years, I had to make 10x and 1x PBS, plus I will now have to autoclave and sterilize my own solutions (including H2O). Old institute believed that making stock solutions (and filling tip boxes) took away from valuable science time, so we had a Core Technician, who made all the PBS, sterilized H2O, FBS, and cell culture additives for the whole institute. It saved the labs money as we ordered in bulk, but it also meant that a whole lot of people took Core Technician for granted (which is why she is leaving).
I am not sure if I have a strong opinion for or against institute wide stock solutions, but I did feel a pang of annoyance at not being able to make all my solutions because I had not first made a bunch of stocks. Plus it seems silly for each lab member to have individual stocks, a bit repetitive. However, I also know that pang of annoyance I felt, when a certain lab person in old lab was not careful with lab stocks, leading to contamination and fubarring reagents for other people. I guess this is why I do not have strong feelings one way or the other. I see the benefits in terms of time and cost savings, but I also know that one mistake (or one persons carelessness) can have huge ripple effects in that system.
The other interesting quirk is that we use all glass here. From little culture tubes, to actual graduated glass pipettes. The less plastic waste the better is the theory. I felt very old school learning how to use some of these things because quite frankly the only glass that I have encountered was for beakers, flasks and pasteur pippettes. The one quirk that I will love is that I no longer will have to weigh out PFA, our head technician believes the extra cost of the 16% PFA ampules is worth the reduces risk to our health and safety. Making PFA was never so easy!
Things are still going well. I am feeling out the dynamics and learning to manage the strong personalities. If anyone knows of a good fly genetics for dummies book, I would greatly appreciate the recommendations.

On the other front, I asked PI1 for tea. I basically told her that I took her advice to be selfish and that my decision had been made only a few days ago. To quote "I appreciate the offer and the assistance, and I hope to still able to learn from you. You can forgive me and I'll buy you a tea or you can just hate for me 5 years. I would prefer to know now please". We went for tea. Here is hoping I am on her good side. If not, I am sure she is not the first, nor will she be the last person, that I piss off in my lifetime.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Drum Roll Please

Okay, so you have all been patiently waiting to find out where I landed. For any newcomers that may or may not be out there, lets recap:
I quit my lab in end of July and interviewed with PI#1. She is a very successful, strong, larger than life scientist. She totally understood my situation and invited me to interview her students and post-docs. That interview left me thinking WTF! Her students made me wonder whether there was such as think as professionalism or even proper training / mentorship in science. I did recognize some of the good points, which were that her students felt comfortable enough to be honest, were well respected and were focused on individual projects. Although the lab had problems (as every lab does), they were more based on personality differences vs project stealing or authorship issues. This interview occured right before PI1 was leaving for vacation. I specifically mentioned that I would like to make a final decision before Sept 1/08. She said she would let me know after the 27th when she got back.
As you know, I had emailed several PI's but she was the only one that had responded and I wasn't feeling very hopeful. I ended up applying for a job, talking about the importance of networking and at the same time emailed PI#1 to ask whether she had made a decision or not.
I don't know why I never blogged about at what happened, but basically PI1 emailed and asked me to come in for an orientation, but was very clear throughout the meeting that she had not yet made a decision. She was once again leaving on trip so before I left her office for the day, I told her I was committed to her lab, but that I needed a decision from her so that I knew whether or not to consider other opportunities. She replied that I needed to be selfish and singleminded in my pursuits if I wanted to pursue a PhD. So based on her advice and that of others, I recontacted some PI's, had a really good interaction with PI#2 and her lab.
PI2 was supposed to get back to me by wednesday of last week, and by friday morning she had not said anything. Right before we left the house to begin the crazy weekend, I emailed her. She responded a few hours later (not that I knew that until monday morning) saying that she would be delighted to have me join the lab. She apologized for taking longer than expected, but all my references had not responded in a timely manner.
The decision had to be made very quickly and I choose PI2. There are no crappy politics in her lab (as far as anyone mentioned), she was professional, would be on sabbactical in the lab, for the next year and was able to make a decision quickly.
The crappy part is that we share a lab space with PI1 who realized that I took another position and is pissed. I ran into her the day she returned, before I had an opportunity to let her know I've gone somewhere else, and she realized I had taken a position. She is pissed as she claims she was about to say yes to me. I told her that I understood our last conversation to mean that she would not be sure for awhile and that it would be better for me to look elsewear. Apparently I assumed to read her mind.
Mr. SM doesn't seem to think she deserved to be told prior to me saying yes to #2, as she was not giving me a clear answer, and had close 1 month to say yes or no. Although I agree, I still think she was willing to give me an opportunity and was willing to see my potential, that I should apologize and try to mend fences. I hate to leave relationships on bad terms and it never hurts to have someone in your corner. Plus, I understand the reasons why it took her so long to make a decision. She wanted to speak to everyone concerned which is difficult when you are always travelling. I also think that on a regular basis I would need her to make decisions and do stuff, but because she is so successful and traveling always, her inability to contact the relevent individuals and make decisions would be repeated.
Mel I know you're happy!
I am feeling more confident in this new lab. There are ton of women around, its family friendly. But its only been a week, however if things continue this way, I may start to be more open about who I am and where I am.
Thank you to all of you for your wonderful advice and support. Especially Cath and Mel

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Typical Gong show Indian Wedding

As I have mentioned many times, I am a first generation canadian born to punjabi parents. In Punjabi culture, weddings are not simple small affairs. They are multi-day community events. This particular wedding was even crazier for us, because is very close to both the bride and grooms family - brides father is a member of my FIL's group of best friends, while the grooms father is also in that group PLUS a business partner. Needless to say bride is like Mr.SMs sister and the groom his brother. The brides family does not live in the same city or area as the groom and traditionally weddings are held in the brides homecity. This meant that all the invited guests had to travel to wedding city, on the day before the wedding and had to have the prewedding party or maiya / mehandi party on thrusday.
Thrusday night I wore the sexy shoes (the gold pair) to the mehandi party. It wasn't too late of a night and I didn't drink. The monkey did okay falling asleep around 10:30 pm, we left around 11:00pm, so I was asleep in bed by 11:30ish.
Friday we woke up at around 8am, the boy bouncing off the walls. Mr.SM went for a run while I tried packing mine and the monkeys things. We left the house at 11:30am to catch the 1:00pm ferry that would take us to WeddingCity. The rest of the grooms family was catching the 3pm ferry, but I figured that monkey normally sleeps at 1:30-3:30pm so it would be an easier and more relaxing ferry ride if we went at 1pm because the monkey would sleep on the ferry. Yeah, I know wishful thinking! The boy slept on the way to the ferry so that at 1 pm he was raring to go. And the Mr and I just wanted to sleep. We made it through the 2 hours ferry ride with a very awake monkey who passed out on the 1.5 hour drive from the ferry to WeddingCity.
We just wanted sleep when we got to our hotel, but the monkey (along with his almost 3 year old cousin) did not let that happen.
My niece is a very intelligent, very stubborn, has not been given boundaries child that my MIL can not handle. My MIL is not very good at taking care of kids, which is why (despite being indian) I pay for daycare. This also means that I took care of not only the monkey but his difficult cousin on both the ferry and at the party of friday night, when all I wanted to do was SLEEP. By 9:30pm the monkey was tired, I was frustrated and we were both cranky. My niece was tired, hungry, uncomfortable in her clothes and also CRANKY . Pj's, a clean diaper, a bottle of milk and the monkey was asleep in his stroller, while a few vodka 7's had me in a better mood. Plus I told off my MIL. Seriously she didn't brink PJ's or any milk for my niece to the party. Mr.SM and his little brother left the party to buy some milk from the store, I changed my niece into a clean diaper, the extra of sweats and Tshirt that I had for monkey and then fell asleep in our cousins' arms. The poor girl was exhausted.
We were home by 1pm and up at 7:30am to get ready for the wedding, which apparently started at 8am. Perhaps that should've been communicated to us at some point during the planning of this think??
My feet were done after 2 nights of heels, I barely survived the wedding. We made it home by 6:30pm, had the monkey in bed by 8pm and were asleep by 9pm.
Sunday we woke up a 8am and relaxed until 4 when I had to start getting ready for the wedding reception, which I was MCing along with the mister.
The grooms family kept changing the program on us. So we were literally making adjustments on the fly. It wasn't a great MC job but considering it was my first, I think it went ok.
After, I had few more vodka 7's and didn't get home until after 1pm.
Monday morning I checked my email to find out I was accepted in the new lab and they were expecting me that morning. I quickly got ready to start in the new lab, hungover, with sore feet and a sore back. GREAT first impressions. BUT we had fun and I looked great and did not end up falling on my ass.
I know you're dying to know which lab. I promise I'll fill you in this week.

Monday, September 15, 2008


Just started in new lab, exhausted and hung over from CRAzY family weekend. Will blog about wedding, and which lab I'm in once I recover.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Envy can be an evil thing

But sometimes it can be used for good. Dr.Isis has her beautiful boots and her naughty monkey cheery pops, Mrs.Spit her gorgeous heels. Well, readers, I can not watch others enjoy the world of shoes without joining in. I used to have the best shoe collection, it was envied by all who knew me. The collection has taken a hit with the acquisition of a mortgage and a monkey. I have not been able to add to it as often as I would like. Important, will be worn on a regular basis shoes have been added on a 'as need' basis. But those shoes that you love, the ones that I covet and would've purchased in a heart beat if not for said mortgage and monkey, I have not acquired. Say something like a pair beautiful silver BCBG that looked similar to these Arturo Chiang's that were $135.00
They were absolutely beautiful, but not something I could purchase after putting a kabosh on Mr.SM's desire to purchase a new itouch (note to self, do not kabosh hubby's dreams until after visiting the local Freedmans Shoes). I did however wander over to our local Winners and Shoe Company stores to purchase these beautiful babies for <$50.00 TOTAL out of our chequing account.
I will be wearing these over the next few days at the HUGE family wedding I am attending. A wedding that is huge by Punjabi standards (4 days of festivites, >800 guests). My feet will probably kill me and my back will be put out if I have to hold the >27 lb monkey for more than 10 minutes but I will look DAMN good!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Don't want to jinx it

Which is why I haven't posted about how the interview process went with the lab. I found out tomorrow if I get to choose between this PI and option 1 (who is out of town again). Not sure if I mentioned that I went to her Lab Orientation last week. Needless to say, as in every lab there are some difficult personalities, but each and everyone answered the following questions in the same way. What are the lab dynamics like? Is the lab social? Supportive? Encouraging? The answers?

Good, no, yes, and yes. You will get all the tools and help you need if you ask. I think that is key.

I get frustrated when people except to hold your hand. I was annoyed about a lot of thinks about PhD Lab (so don't know what to call it any more!), but one of the big ones was that when I asked for help, I wasn't getting it. Which is CrAZY! If you ask for a protocol for a specific experiment and the person who is the expert doesn't give it to you with all the necessary information (ie what antibodies to use and what concentrations with what controls), like PP with his first recipe. I shouldn't have to go back to you over and over for information you should have been given in the first place. Nor should I have to waste my time reinventing the protocol if you have one. It is inefficient use of my time and lab resources.

Anyways my point being was that everyone seemed quite nice and friendly. Especially family friend.

Keeping my fingers crossed. Former GradAdvisor emailed saying he gave a glowing reference and hoped I kicked ass.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Hope runs eternal

Last week, I freaked out. A month of sitting on my ass with nothing to do but take care of a sick kid and wait for others to make decisions was driving me bat shit crazy. I am not good at not having something to do. I start getting depressed. I get anxious and I drive my family insane. I start to question my decisions, whether I am on the right path or not.
Today, I am feeling a bit better. I have followed advice that was given and recontacted some PI's. One PI interviewed me today, the other said sorry no room. The interview went well. She asked why I was leaving and I was honest that chaos was ensuing and I was putting myself first. She seemed excited about my possibilities and is arranging for me to meet the lab on Monday. She was honest that I would have to TA or have my own scholarship, as far she is concerned it is my career so although she has expectations she will not hold my hand. I gave her my analogy of what I think a graduate experience should be:

Throw me the ball and I run with it, when
I'm having difficulties I'll throw it back and we'll play pass the ball.
As apposed to right now where I am having to find the ball in a dark room with a blind fold on.

She liked my analogy.


If I move into her lab, I will lose my scholarship because she (unlike the first PI I interviewed with and currentPI, she is not comfortable keeping me on a scholarship that is not being used for what it was granted. (To me, this shows integrity)
She demands high quality work
If she thinks your slacking, she will ask for weekly meetings but otherwise it upto you to determine what you need (not a micromanager)
She believes in teamwork and guidance. Some students are looking to finish so she would like overlap
Already trying to determine timelines and needs
Has a post-doc on mat leave and is hoping she takes a year

It will take me awhile to finish if I do not get another scholarship as I will have to TA
I am learning a new field of study
I will be doing a lot of microscopy work, which sometimes drives me nuts.
Her students take 5-6 year so to finish.
I think that is nuts, but not bad if their TAing at the same time.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Why I love blogging

Because of this blog, I received some excellent advice from Mel and Cath, which I acted on. I have a meeting with another PI tomorrow. Keep y'all posted.!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Recipe Wars

I was very excited to sit back and watch the fight for supreme domestic God/Goddessdom going on currently between Isis and PhysioProf, mainly because I thought I was going to have at least 2 dinners taken care of for me. I had planned to try each recipe before voting and critiquing. However, PP obviously doesn't get what makes Isis the supremed Domestic goddess. It is that she is able to make wicked mouth watering meals that don't require me to go to a gourmet food shop or put things in little cups. Sorry but I don't have time to be prepping duck confit with a tanzamian devil running around, all for a meal that isn't really a full dinner. Isis at least gave a recipe that could be made into a meal. Not one that I could make because monkey isn't old enough for shellfish, but still it will be doable in the next year. Isis wins week 1 in my books and it looks like she is wining the vote right now