Sunday, November 30, 2008

Consider yourself warned

It appears that over the last couple of weeks, the science spawn have been creating some havoc. And according to at least one Mommy Scientist, my monkey is the root cause of the bad behaviour. I wish I could say that Dr. Isis was misinformed, but I have been told by more than one person that my little boy is a challenging, busy busy little boy. Plus have you seen the pictures??? Those are just the ones where you can't see his face. Trust me when I say that there are many many more, with him smiling away. Or flashing these big brown which makes it really really hard to get mad.

Seriously, how can you get mad at those eyes?

The point is that if there is trouble to be found, my monkey will find it. Yesterday morning, he found more trouble. On saturday, saturday folks, monkey decided that 6:40am was the perfect time to wake up, happy and full of energy. I don't know about you, but on saturday I prefer waking up after 7am. When it is light out (the sun is up), like a normal human being. Thankfully, I had put up the baby gate and shut the bathroom door before going to bed friday. Thus, when monkey woke up, gave me a kiss and said buh bye before crawling out of my bed, I thought "knock yourself out kiddo". Really how much damage could he do in living room where everything is put away?

I woke up a 7am to my child lying on his tummy playing with my computer sans pajama pants and diaper. Those items of clothing were sitting on the couch.

You have been warned. You have been warned.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Blog roll Updated!

It was actually very very easy as blogger as this nifty option which imports your google reader list. The option was not available when I first set up the blogroll that updates with your posts. Please take a look, if you are not a reader of any of these awesome blogs you totally need to check them out. If you would like to be added, just let me know.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

How often do this happen

Received in my inbox today:

Dear Member,

You may have recently received an email from us welcoming you as new member of Mountain Equipment Co-op. We mistakenly sent this message to new and long-standing members alike. Sorry about that. We've identified the cause (classic human error) and we'll do our best to ensure it's not repeated.

Your willingness to receive email from us is important, and we try very hard not abuse the privilege. If you've been an MEC member for several years, hopefully it's not too late to officially welcome you!

We sincerely apologize for our error. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us at 1.888.847.0770.

Best regards,

I've always knew MEC was a class act

Monday, November 24, 2008

He does not speak

But he will figure out within hours how to overcome the gate that is preventing him for reaching my desk and therefore my computer.(sorry I don't know how to rotate pics in blogger and i'm too lazy to fix it in ilibrary).

He has also fully transitioned into Big Boy bedtime routine. I am not allowed to hold him and neither his dad nor can I lie down with him. We are distinctly told "no AAway".

Oh and he's figured out how to open doors, which means we have to get those stupid doorknob covers otherwise we will have more of this:
It also means we have to put a chain on the front door b/c he knows how to unlock the door.
But he doesn't speak more than a few words.....

Totally fucking annoyed

There is a post-doc in our lab who is very introverted. Being an avid reader of another introvert, PiT, I have tried hard to not dislike this particular individual. Even though he totally rubbed me the wrong way by claiming that "it is a waste of money to publish those how to hire/keep women science brochures because look how many women are working/studying in the life sciences, heck they are the majority in life sciences research. White men are the minority." Really?? in what fucking department, is what I wanted to say. I stayed mum.

Sorry that was a tangent. Anyways, Introverted Post-doc (IPD) does not say good-morning when he walks in and has not said 2 words to me since I've been here. Since he is highly introverted, and my highly extroverted personality can apparently be hard to deal with, I have not taken it personally. Like I said, I am trying not to dislike this individual. IPD annoyed me with his comment about the hiring women and annoys me every morning when he doesn't say good morning. I strongly feel that it is rude to not say good morning especially since he'll say good-morning to the PI as he walks by her office as well as one or two other lab members. However being rude does not = bad person. Rude / ill mannered people can still possess other qualities that would deem them to be nice overall. However, IPD has also demonstrated that he is inconsiderate.

Our lab is focused on dissecting flies in various stages of develoment, from embryos, larvae, adult flies. Which is why we have 2 dissecting microscopes as well as sign up sheets for them. No one ever signs up right now as there seem to only be about 2 of us using them at any given time. Today is not one of those days. Only one of the 2 scopes is in the dark room. When mounting flourescently labelled disc, its important to do that in the dark room. This morning I had to mount labelled discs for use in the afternoon. Prior to my bitching I will fully admit that I should've signed up for the scope in the dark room. I totally take responsiblity for that. If you have NO flexibility in which dissecting scope you can use, SIGN UP in advance. Totally totally take responsibility for that.

This morning I had 3 things to do when I got in. Eat breakfast, load a gel and mount discs. My gel was fucked up by labmate (this is another post) so I ended up having to remake the gel. It took me ~1 hour to get that done and then I went to use the dissecting scope in the dark room. IPD had just sat down when I walked in.
Me - "Hey are you going to be long as I have to mount a couple slides"
IPD - "I just sat down so I will be awhile"
Me - "Ok, well I just need it for 10 mins so when you take a break let me know"

If I was in IPDs position, I would've been like, oh why don't you use it then as I'll be awhile. Why put someone hours behind, when I can wait 10 minutes. IPD did not do that. And yes I know, he has no obligation to either. But here's the thing. There will come a time when he'll need me to do that for him, and I will. Why, because its the nice thing to do. It is what makes labs cohesive.
Plus when he went left the scope to workon something else for a bit and have lunch, he didn't tell me! For fucks sake buddy, when there is a piece of equipment that is in demand, be fucking considerate and let others know they can use it, especially if they have freaking asked you to let them know.!

I am really really trying hard not to dislike him. But he's not helping me.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Go join in the discussion

Both Arlenna and Ambivalent Academic are having a really really good discussion about women's menstrual cycles and how they effect our perceptions. I am to damn tired to get involved. Co-incidentally, I think my fatigue is having to do with pill I'm on, it tri-cycline and I get all bloated and ehh in its second week.

I have alot I want to say, but I'm tired. So I wont. Good night

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I must have fucked up syndrome

Its my own personal version of the impostor syndrome that others have talked about. I don't really believe that others will find out I don't belong there, its more that I will have to admit to myself that I don't belong here. That everyone was right when they said I should think about business or med school or anything but research. Despite all my protestations of enjoying it and being good at it, I really am not good at research. Which is horrible feeling because every thing I do becomes a confidence vote, proving to myself that I made the right decision. Case in point -Did my SDS gel not set - it must be something I did. The acrylamide went bad? Whew!!! Thank God it wasn't something I did, maybe I can do this.
This week it was the PBS that was fubarred. I had a bunch of wing disc dissections to do yesterday but the larvae were not co-operating. Everything had a weird consistency, the imaginal discs look "off" and I was just not able to dissect out the imaginable discs - they kept disintegrating. First I thought it was b/c I was hungry and hadn't done dissections in about 2 weeks, so just needed to practice on a few. After butchering 10 maggots, I had lunch and hoped I would get my mojo back. Nope something was up. Troubleshooting, perhaps I had put too much triton X in the PBS? After triple checking my calculations (seriously how hard is it to figure out how much 10% triton X to put into 100mL PBS to have a 0.1% triton x solution?), I eliminated that as issue. Maybe it was just a mojo / stars not aligned issue - lets retry in the morning.

This morning, I retried again, 3 maggots later I knew something was up. The only thing that changed between yesterday and 2 weeks ago was that I made up 10x PBS. Granted this was the first time in 3 years I made 10x PBS, but its not that hard to make. Especially Drosophila PBS, its 3 freakin ingrediants - NaHPO4, Na2PO4 & NaCl. Not hard. Only reasonable conclusion (in my head) I fucked up measuring out 3 reagents. I really really should not be here. OMG I'm Dr. Jekyls BF!!!
To see if something was wrong with PBS, I re-checked the pH of 1X PBS solution. PBS for flies can be anywhere from 7.0-7.6 and this solution ended up being over 8.0. WTF?? I had pH'd the 10x to 7.5. Granted I did not recheck the pH when I diluted it to 1X, but I have not experienced ddH20 changing the pH that much before. I must not have used the pH meter correctly (again because it somehow so technically challenging). How could I screw that up? Conclusion - Either the 10x PBS was pH'd incorrectly or I fucked up measuring the reagents so its not buffering properly.
Nothing was left to do, other than to remake the 3 ingredient 10X PBS, diligently checking and rechecking that I have the right reagents, the right weight, everything is completely dissolved before pHing etc. I added enough HCL to make the 10x PBS have a pH of 7.4. Guess what the ph was after diluting to 1x? Over 8! I diluted using ddH20 had been stored in a carboy, which is apparently very alkaline.

Long story short - the carboy h20 is very alkaline for some reason. Always check the ph when diluting down 10x solutions. The carboy H20 was what fucked up my PBS, not me. Whew! I am not blog fodder, maybe I can do this whole PhD thing!

Science never works, its all about the process and troubleshooting. I can not use the results of experiments, or the fact that something does not work as some sort of assessment of my capabilities. I really really need to learn that. You may read me saying that alot. I've read that if you repeat something 5 times before bed it will come true, whadday think?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Off to buy makeup

I need some sort of pick me up after today. The boy slept in until after 9am so I figured he was still feeling under the weather as he is normally up at 6:30am if he goes down at 8pm the night before. Using that logic that he was under the weather, I figured he'd have an easy morning and then go down for a nap and which point I wound continue reading Fly Pushing. Hahahahahahaha!!!

Now that all the parents have stopped laughing at my stupidity, err craziness. Let me enlighten you to what transpired. The boy woke up, he brushed his teeth, changed his clothes and ate breakfast. Then he went stir crazy. He brought me his socks AND his shoes to demand we go out. Its beautiful warm fall day so I took him to kick the ball around, went to the mall to buy him some long-sleeved shirts and then we went for lunch with Aunty JV. He's under the weather, had some fresh air and stimulating morning so he'll sleep when we get home.
1.5 hours later he was finally down for a nap that lasted long enough for me to read the email from my mom with the subject "if we die". Yep my mom gave me her death instructions by email. The monkey is now in the process of calling long distance and destroying my bedroom, but I just need to hide. Funny because if I was any where else I would be missing him. Anyways I'm taking a lesson from Mel and going to starbucks and buying some make up from MAC


On another note, I need to update my blog roll desperately. I have way more blogs in my reader than I do posted. If you should / want to be linked leave me a note / send me an email. I'm hoping to update at some point this week

Monday, November 17, 2008

When to have kids

This post came out of the comments to Dr.Isis's post about balancing work and family. PhdGirl, JLK, Labness and others have asked the age old question: when is the best time to have kids? is it easier during grad school or during your post-doc? What about during the tenure process? Of course there is no perfect time and everyone has to think about their own personal situation. I chose to have my first kid right when I started my PhD. I did this for a number of reasons, the primary reason being age. I was 30 when I started grad school for the second time so waiting until I was done was not a viable option. Having the monkey right at the beginning meant that I was not putting any research on hold (or so I thought). The other advantage is that when the monkey is sick (as he is today) I feel only a minimal amount of guilt as no one is dependent on me. Only my career or timeline is being affected. As a PI, I would have students, post-docs, meeting etc which I suspect make the whole juggling aspect harder.
As a student, I make my own hours. In most lab situations, no one is clocking when you are coming and going, so if you need to leave early to get your child ready for Halloween or take him to the doctor, its OK. The key to having kids while doing graduate studies is having both a supportive and understanding supervisor and labmates. For me, even if my supervisor is supportive, having lab mates sniping about me makes for an uncomfortable environment.

What about the challenges? For one being able to attend those darn 4pm seminars. Due to my personal situation, I am on daycare p/u and d/o duty so its impossible to attend after-hour anything. Hopefully that will be changing, but for now I find the inability to attend the social events and some late seminars makes me feel disconnected from the department. At my oldgrad lab, we used to have fridays@five which was basically hanging out and having beer, it was where friendships were formed, collaborations started and a sense of community established. Once I had the monkey, I could no longer attend as his daycare is off campus.
Not many grad students have kids, so you'll be the odd one out. But as like Dr.Isis, sciencewoman and all the other moms that work, I have learned to work really efficiently. Like today I should get at least 2 articls read, plus my blogs while the monkey sleeps on my lap. With that I must go read some science :)

Friday, November 14, 2008

I found a solution

Thanks to some very amazing gals for some great suggestions. Oh and welcome AA! Last night I wrote down a bunch of proteins that I thought would work: coracle, scribble, yurt, ankryin. This morning was going to go through are HUGE antibody binder to see if (a) we had non rabbit antibodies for any of the listed proteins and if not, then to find out which proteins did we have non-rabbit antibodies against. I would then at those proteins and see if they would work. Does that make sense? As I was stumbling into work, carrying my freshly brewed cup of coffee I was bitching to myself that it sucks that I couldn't just visualize freaking GFP on a western since we have a like a million different stock of flies whose proteins are fused to GFP. I took a sip of coffee and then the light bulb went off, why can't I use flies from Neurexin-GFP stock (the neurexin protien is tagged with GFP) and then just use a anti-GFP antibody? Neurexin runs above 100 so problem solved! yippee.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Protein suggestions anyone??

Okay so the western blot from hell did not work, as expected. I am not sure if it did not work b/c the antibody whose specificity I was trying to confirm did not work or b/c there was not enough protein on the blot or for some other random methodological error. I rerunning the gel and will stain for my protein of interest, along with another abundant fly protein that does not run at the same size of my protein. I am having problems finding that well known fly protein. My protein should run somewhere between 50 kDa and 30 kDa. Actin is out, Tubulin is out, spectrin is too big (280 kDa on 10% gel + a 30 kda..eek!). Discs large is also out. Suggustions please???

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Kiss my shoe loving, science loving, hip hop dancing loving brown ass. Or Fuck You

Considering I've called out CPP for name-calling during a discussion, I will say up front that I totally know I am being hypocritical and not following my personal mantra of always being respectful during disagreements. Sometimes I am just too angry.

Renee who left a rather racist and full of shit comment on Dr.Isis recent post talking about rising above name calling. I fully agree with Isis on the not resorting to demeaning name calling so despite originally referring to Renee with some denigrating epithets, I have erased them. I however stand by what I said in my comment. FUCK YOU. I guess I have calmed down, or maybe not.

Renee - I hate to be the one to inform you of this, but you come across as hating women because you do. You also appear to very prejudiced against other groups for rather stupid and ignorant reasons. For anyone who thinks the following statement is not indicative of racism is wrong.

I don't like most black people not because of their skin color, but because I don't like hip-hop and dancing. I don't like most women because I don't like shopping and romantic comedies. I do have female and black friends, however, because they don't belong to those cultures; they belong to my culture, which involves sci-fi, anime, and board games.

Lets deconstruct that statement:
"I don't like most black people not for the color of their skin" - do I really need to explain how not liking a whole group of people based on the color of their skin is um racist. Yah, Yah I know she is saying that is not true, but yet she she is grouping them by their skin color. Based on their skin color, she is assuming they enjoy hip hop and dancing and then using that as the reason she doesn't like them. First its not that she is not friends or doesn't associate with them. She dislikes them. So Renee do you like white people that enjoy hip hop and dancing or is it just the black people who like hip hop and dancing? Why not say I do not like people who enjoy hip hop and dancing? Would that not be the more accurate statement if you weren't first catagorizing on race first?

And how about that assumption that most black people like hip hop and dancing? I agree that that hip hop is heavily intertwined with black culture but that does not automatically mean that all or even most black people enjoy hip hop over and above other musical forms (Lenny Kravitz people, Lenny Kravitz! (not to menion many many others)). Many many black people actually strongly disagree with large aspects of hip hop and some of the messages encompassed within the hip hop culture and are actively involved in opposing it. The assumption you made is akin to assumming that if you're catholic you automatically hate gays and are pro-life. If you're not racist then you're either naive, ignorant or stupid.

How about that last part of your statment "I do have female and black friends...they don't belong to that culture...they belong to my culture" - again why is "your culture" of sci-fi, anime and video games exclusive from hip hop or black culture? - (Note that I separated black and hip hop culture, because although intertwined, they are separate). You are assuming that black people as a whole do not enjoy any of those things. Why can sci-fi, anime and/or video games not belong to that culture?

Lastly, the derogartory tone (again racist / prejudical undertones) with which you refer to those cultures that you hate is rather alarming. Hate is a pretty strong word. You are hating someone for the type of clothes they wear or the music they listen to? You actually judge the seriousness of someone based on whether they like shoes??? You have issues. As I write this post, I am wondering why I have let someone as narrow-minded and idiotic as you keep me up and get me so riled.

Because it people like you, that are in positions of power, who when I walk through a door decide I am a not smart / capable based first on the color of my skin, second on sex and then how I am dressed. And I have not said a word or done a task.

It is because of people like you that Barack Obama did not win by a greater margin.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The joys of science

So I am really enjoying the New Grad Lab (NGL), partly because I've gone back to what I know well - fluorescence microscopy. This means, after learning how dissect the imaginal wing discs from larvae (not very difficult), I've been staining and imaging up a storm. We are interested in Protein X (that I was moderately involved with in old Lab) and the role it may or may not play in the blood brain barrier, or blood nerve barrier as its known in flies. The antibody I've been using to stain for protein X is for the vertebrete form of the protein but it seems to be cross reacting well. So far I've been trying to figure out the optimal working concentration which is not as easy with wing discs as it with cells. If I was using cells (as in cell culture) I would've collected a few dishes and set up a dilution series and had the working concentraion figured out in a week or two. Unforunately with wing discs I need ~ 20 discs / stain with each 20 disc dissection set taking about 2 hours. I don't know about you, but I can only spend about 4 hours staring down a stereoscope before I feel nausaus and my back and shoulders hurt from being hunched over. This combined with the time it takes to actually image and deconvolve image stacks = 2 months before we have a working concentration. I think I've found a good working dilution (by complete fluke!) and set up this week to run a SDS-PAGE so that I could do a western blot to confirm the specificity of the antibody. Do you how many days it has taken me to run the freaken protein gel? According to the date on my lab book I started this on wednesday. Three days later and a good number of attempts later the fucking gel has FINALLY set. Thankfully I have learned not to immediately start wondering WTF with me that I can't set a stupid gel to set. Though I would now like to say WTF. Its a bloody SDS-PAGE???? How difficult is it to mix together components!!!
Well apparently quite difficult when critical reagens like the acrlyamide and temed have gone off! This morning was spent making up small volumes of stacking gels to determine first if it was the temed (since we have like 6 bottles of temed we had to test them all), than if it was the acrylamide. We have determined the acrylamide is off for sure, so we've ordered more in. To make sure I don't fall to far behind, I bummed some acrlyamide off a neighboring lab to make up yet another gel. 3 days later I have an acrylamide gel sitting in the fridge waiting for me on monday morning. Lab work is 90% trouble shooting. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Monday, November 3, 2008

Go Watch NBC NOW!!

They're re-running the presidential bash clips, freakin awesome!

She is being a hypocrite

Over the weekend a brouhaha has begun over the NEJM article that was well publicized in the mainstream media. I am no epidemiologist and it has been a few years since I was actively involved in developmental cardiology as a research topic so I am even more removed from cardiac rthyms. I have little to say about the validity of the findings. I am more interested in discussing how science should / should not be discussed, appropriate forms of criticisms as well as the overall immaturity / maturity of scientists. Dr. Isis discussed her opinion of the paper in her normal witty, sarcastic and disrespectful manner. Yes disrespectful. I personally did not take offense to her tone or manner, as I said in the comments. But I also do not take offense at SNL, the Daily show, The Colbert Report or even Mac commercials. Others do take offense, and as DrdrA pointed out, this is an international forum with multiple cultures that have a variety standards of what is or is not correct behaviour.

If Dr.Isis would like to critique scientific journals using a statirical take on it, she totally should because she is rather funny. BUT (you knew their had to be a but) then she is going to have to expect (1) comments that she may few snarky (2) realize that she is NOT modelling the behaviour she herself demanded and (3) understand that just like she doesn't always find her colleagues funny not everyone finds her funny.

I would also like to point out that the authors have made it very very clear that they do not have a problem with individuals / blogs discussing they report, they had an issue with the tone of the original post. Which brings me to CPP, what the hell is the point of name calling on a post that was meant to be a scientific discussio of the findings? If you want to name call, go do it on the original post. Seriously, you are an intelligent individual and by reducing yourself to the standards of my monkey, you are no better then the sick fuck republicans that you hate so much. Dialogue is so important if we are going to move forward on a variety of issues facing us. Can we grow up just a bit?

The biggest issue of all that has come out of this is how the mass media protrays researcher articles / letters. Jansky made a very good point in his comment about how the media choose to pick certain comments and not others. How do we has scientists ensure that our findings are correctly conveyed to the great community?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Madonna, Madonna OK

How was Madonna? It was OK. for the <$100 I paid for my ticket, I was happy. If I had I paid for the >$100 tickets, then I would’ve been pissed.
I’m not sure how much dancing and “production” one can expect from someone that is >50 years old, I for one was impressed with how fit she was. What I wasn’t impressed with is that she did not start until 9:30pm when the tickets said 7:30pm. Obviously I expected a delayed start, that is only reasonable when you have >50,000 people filing into a stadium. Which is why concerts usually have opening acts. They entertain those front row VIP’s that paid $600.00 for an evening of entertainment. The opening act entertains those fans that got in and are waiting for everyone to finish buying their concert paraphernalia, beer, water, popcorn etc. They keep us going for the 30min – 1 hour that they concert may be delayed. But TWO hours late. Woman I could’ve gone home, showered and most importantly kissed my monkey goodnight. I would not have had to freshen up with some baby wipes in a washroom stall at work (FYI, baby wipes are surprisingly good at freshening one up!).
Once she came on she was as good as could be expected. Any fan knows that Madonna’s not the best singer / dancer but she is a damn good entertainer. I was disappointed with her production and her effort. She barely engaged the crowd, did not have well choreographed dance routines outside of “Vogue” number. There was a lot of jumping around and guitar playing. Yep guitar playing, that annoyed the crap out of me because she ain’t no guitarist. The exception was the hard rock version of Borderline that was wicked! I totally want a bootlegged copy of it.
She took 3 FULL song breaks, as in the dancers were on stage but she was not. Again, she is older so maybe she needed them, I don’t know. When she sang anything before the Ray of Light album, I was totally into it. The more recent stuff was hit or miss for me. I knew some – Music, 4 minutes, Die another Day (she wasn’t on stage for that one) but pretty much nothing from the sticky and sweet album. I definitely was not the only. The crowd went nuts for borderline, material girl, etc but would quiet down for anything that was recent.
Her multimedia effects were very cool and she had a carachi band for La Isla Bonita, You Must Love Me and her new Spanish song. The carachi band was amazing. Overall it was a good show, but not as good as Lenny Kravitz or Pearl Jam for crowd engagement (and obviously those two have amazing music). Janet Jackson’s Janet and Velvet Rope concerts were way better for overall production. Yes I am that old. I will post pics when I get a chance. Now I must go read about epithelial cell development in Drosophila Melanogaster – you know that research that has no public good.