Tuesday, March 31, 2009

3 cheers for me.

I ran this morning. I made the conscious decision to go for a 30 minute run even though Mr.SM took his nano with him. I was committed enough to run without music. Amazingly I was so enthralled by the beauty around me that I didn't even notice the lack of music. Can I say I LOVE LOVE HomeCity.

30 minute meals

Like Candid Engineer, I have no war style pictures to go along with this beauty of a recipe. I do not have time to be taking pictures when I get home at 6pm with hungry child in tow and a hungry hubby waiting to be fed. I made this last Thursday, and takes ~30 minutes to prep and cook. My mom was given this recipe by a friend of hers, Shirley May. Its been one of my comfort foods ever since so thanks Shirley May!

Broccoli Chicken:

Enough steamed broccoli to cover the bottom of a casserole (I buy fresh flowerettes, saves me time as I don't have to cut anything)
Enough chopped chicken to layer on top of the broccoli - you can use either boneless/skinless chicken breast or boneless/skin chicken thighs. I've done both, personally I prefer the dark meat for juiciness and flavor
cream of mushroom soup (1-2 cans, depends on the size of the casserole)
2 tablespoons of mayonnaise - Do not use miracle whip, it gives a weird taste.
Dash of lemon juice
Graham masala to taste
grated cheddar cheese
bread crumbs

While the broccoli is steaming, chop and lightly cook the chicken.
In a bowl mix together soup, mayo, lemon juice, and graham masala, set aside.
Once the brocolli (and whatever other veggies you want to throw in) are steamed and the chicken is cooked, layer as follows:
broccoli, chicken, soup mixture, cheese, bread crumbs. Cook for 20-30 min at 350.

While the casserole is cooking, I will usually make some rice using the chicken juices.

Both monkey and hubby love this dish. Time savers are buying the pre-shredded cheese and pre-cut broccoli.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Those undergrads are killing me again.

Either I was really really smart as an undergrad or our education (at least in Canada) is going to hell in a hand basket today. The course I am grading is a 300 level science course which is designed to teach students how to write a scientific research paper for submission to a science journal. Notice the emphasis on science! We are not teaching them to write, we are teaching them to write scientifically.
I am the first to admit that I do not have the best writing skills, especially on this here blog. I tend to hit publish without proofreading. I type out my thoughts and go. However this a personal blog. Anything that is submitted in a professional setting, ie emails to professors, help lines, research proposals, scholarship applications etc are read and reread to ensure I am clear and concise. If I am submitting something (ie scholarship application), I will re-assess >100x myself, then I will have a colleagure, friend, mentor review the application multiple times prior to submission. I do not think I ever submitted the following paragraph as part of an undergraduate research paper:
"More studies have show that the relationship between a and b has recently been found in longitudinal and cross-sectional studies in men and women" *
"With cross-sectional studies looking at factors such as l, m, p, and e level strengthen the difference in the mean of a between group1 and group2 is even more significant. Also the supporting references that central c leading to r, this ripple effect alters metabolic state and increases the chances of disease 1 and 2. These trends move closer to null; there is a significant difference amoung group1 and group2" *

* For obvious reason I don't want to say what the particular research was, the last thing I would want is for someone to figure out who the students are. Any health reseach subject can be subsituted into the italicized words. For example if you were studying Parkisons, that relationship between aluminum intake and parkisons has been..

How do you say to a student, go take english classes???

Saturday, March 28, 2009

I blame ScienceWoman

I had intended to blog about science today. I intended to post this video and explain to you all the beauty that is imaginal wing discs and my proteins of interest. I was going to wax on about how Arlenna isn't the only one that can take pretty pictures.

Instead I give you this:

Thanks to sciencewoman, the monkey is obsessed with elmo. He sees my school bag and he will drag it to me saying "elmo, elmo, elmo". My son, who never ever agrees to give me a kiss in exchange for something he wants, ran across the living room jumping with joy to give me a kiss after I said "OK, give me a kiss and you get elmo". Seriously, that boy has yet to want anything bad enough to give a kiss. Doesn't matter if you're offering a toy, food, juice, milk the answer is always no. Elmo is a drug that gets me kisses now.
My son has now mastered not only the ability to open my lovely ibook and turn it on, he can use the touchpad to launch programs. I walked into the living room to find him with both the computer open and FireFox open, madly banging keys to try and get elmo on. It will be a matter of hours before he will figure that out too.

Yet the boy does not talk.....

At least I can watch BSG while he watches that damn elmo's song for the 1001th time....

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Running is like science OR Why I need an iPhone

I have started running again. Friday was my fourth run in the last 1.5 weeks. Which is the most consistent I have been with running since I was 7 months pregnant. Yes I ran while pregnant. I made it to 7 months, at which point I could no longer run uphill, and since I live on the top of a hill..well duh, I had to quit. Inspired by all you crazy running moms / bloggers, I started up. Plus if I really want to have that second child, I better get in shape (as in get some strength and stamina) before we start trying.
Anyways back to the point. So Friday, I enter into the trails near campus and start off at my usual pace. It was raining, but I was in trails and enjoying the feels of puddles, mud under foot. I was jumping over branches and being one with nature. However, I had never ran in these trails before and I wasn't sure they do a full circle back to where I started (and where my car was parked). At about the 20 minute mark of my "30 minute" run, I started to wonder if I should turn around and back track to my starting point. I usually have a good sense of direction and was pretty sure that the trail I was on had turned back toward my start point. It is at this point, when I kept going forward that I realized science and running are alot alike.
What the fuck is she talking about you ask? Well, the night before I had read Ambivalent Academics post on when to walk away from a project. Every week / month/year that she worked on it, made it that much harder to say 'fuck it' because that much more time had been invested. And that is how a run works.
When you don't know exactly where you will end up, when do you just say fuck it and turn around to run back the way you came? If you are aiming for a 30 minute run, do you turn back at 15 min? 20 min? 25 min mark? Every minute longer you forward is an extra minute you'll have to run back, so what do you do? These are the thoughts that went through my mind as I ran through puddles, jumped over creeks, and tried not to trip on the tree roots crossing my trails. Do you know what I learned on Friday?
It is best to turn around 20 minutes into your '30 minute' run. Otherwise you may end up on the other side of campus at the 35 minute mark. If this happens to you, it is best to follow the road back to campus otherwise you may end up 30 minutes outside of campus at the 65 minute mark of your 30 minute run. Just saying. Oh and it is a good idea to run with your bus pass, so that if you end up 30 minutes outside of campus after running 65 minutes for the first time 2+ years, you can jump onto a bus to take you back, instead of having to walk back (because you can.not.run.) in the pissing cold rain.

Surprisingly, only my shins were done. I went for a run today and did not get lost. yeah me.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

An Open Letter to JLK

On my birthday I had a bit of a rant about how I wished/wanted academic life to be. Many of you posted birthday wishes and commiserated in the misery of it all, however JLK's comment made me realize that I might of made it look like having a family and going to grad school was insufferable. This was her comment:
Your post struck a nerve with me. I really, really want to be a mom. But I also really, really want to be an academic. It's not that I necessarily feel that those two things are mutually exclusive - it's more that I feel like I will have to suffer in order to have both. I will not choose a PhD over children. But I don't know how I'll feel about myself for the rest of my life if I am forced to make that decision.

JLK - you don't have to choose to PhD over children or children over a PhD. You can have both. The ability to have both may not be easy, but honey nothing that is rewarding is easy. That 20+ minute run through the trees this morning was torture at times. The feeling when I finished, knowing that am not as sore as I was last week, was worth it. Being a mom and a grad student is bloody hell hard, but not for the reasons that you may think. I find it challenging because:
  1. I care about what people think of me. I have learned not to care but I do. So when my first Phdlab mates implied that I was using my child as an excuse, it was devasting (I'm sure the post about that is somewhere in the archives) or when someone accused me of not pulling my weight because I asked the research technican to take plates out of the incubator, it made me self-conscious of getting an easy ride. You can not let shit like that effect you. You will need a thick skin.
  2. I do not always connect with my fellow grad students. For some of them, my life with a child is totally and completely foreign to them. They have no concept and some just don't care about monkey's stories these people are crazy, who doesn't bust a gut laughing at the antics of my child?? I miss out on socials and other networking opportunities. I also do not get to participate in as many clubs/ committees as I would like.
  3. I need to be super organized and have amazing time-management skills. More often than not, I will have to say no to going for that cup of coffee with my lab mates because I need to get xyz done before TIME so that I can p/u monkey. That is not to say that I can't have lazy days, or go for coffee but the reprecussions are more severe for me. Planning and being careful while doing experiments are super duper important because I only have a limited time. I can't stay the extra hour to re-stain the blot because I forgot to put in an antibody.seriously,?? yes I have done that...
What you need to figure out is do you really want both? If the answer is yes (as it was for me) then you need to figure out how to do that. For me it was this - Change Supervisors.
Although my Old PhD lab and OldGradAdvisor was full of nice people, and very supportative of men and women, it was not supportative of parents. New Advisor and New lab is. When I decided to find the new supervisor, it was not an easy decision but it had to be made. If you go through the archives, you will read how I agonized over figuring out what I wanted. However, I was only willing to continue on the PhD path if all four of the conditions were met:
  1. PI was a good mentor
  2. PI was a good scientist (ethical and high standards)
  3. PI was understanding and supportitave of parents.
  4. PI knew and did not have an issue with me having another child.

Grad school is hard, regardless of whether its in the hard sciences or social sciences. If you are going to embark on this road, you will have ensure that you have a strong support system. I love my life. Its hard, but I enjoy coming into work. I really do think about my research all the time. I may not be reading articles 24-7, but I am thinking about what experiment next, what questions I should be asking. I am passionate about it. If I have to leave my child, I damn well do for something that I love.

I am sure Nicky, Fia and all the other mom/scientist out there would agree.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Turn to face wall, bang head.

I drove 45 minutes came into the lab yesterday, on a Sunday, so that I could spend 5 minutes setting up embryo plates (essentially putting little plates on the bottom of where we store our flies). I did this so that I would be able to run an immuno-precipitation while collecting some microscope images, that whole trying to be efficient so that I can graduate in a timely manner without killing myself philosophy?
Yeah will the stupid flies did not lay eggs and my scope died after taking 1 image. FUCK me.

Friday, March 13, 2009


I've been found out!! Our lab is in a long open space lab area, which we share with 2 other PI's. We're on one end, and the infamous PI#1 is on the other end and cool PI is in the middle. The post-doc in cool PI's lab has been reading the blog for awhile and connected the dots after she meant monkey (Hey! - now that I know you read, you have to leave comments!). Thankfully she kept this information to only herself and the PhD student in her lab (Hey R). Both of whom are keeping my secret. Thank you!!

Thursday, March 12, 2009


I feel like I have been doing nothing but treading water these last few months. I keep doing these once a week, want to let you know that i'm alive posts. URGH. need to respond to JLK, let her know to hang in but more eloquently. I should be happy that I have NO time to blog during the day b/c science is happening....yes that is it.
Ran today, 27 minutes. not bad since I have not ran since God knows when. lets hope i can keep this up.

will try to come up for air again soon.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The BBC Book Meme

I'm a little late to the party, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE books. I do not get to read many anymore, but I would read novels all day if I could. I've taken this from ScienceWoman, she had a BBC book list and then a real book list

BBC Book List

Apparently the BBC reckons most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here.
1) Look at the list and put an 'x' after those you have read. (I'll bold)
2) Add a '+' to the ones you LOVE.
3) Star (*) those you plan on reading.

My list is below the fold.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen+
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling*
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott

12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien++++++
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck 29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Berniere
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Miln
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery +++++
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood++++
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett -+
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad (had to read this for english 101, hated it)
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl ++
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo.

I've only read 19, gosh I totally would've thought I would be higher up

OK, here the second list from the BBC big read website.

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
19. Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
22. Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone, JK Rowling
23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
26. Tess Of The D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
30. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
38. Persuasion, Jane Austen
39. Dune, Frank Herbert
40. Emma, Jane Austen
41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery+
42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
53. The Stand, Stephen King
54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
56. The BFG, Roald Dahl
57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
65. Mort, Terry Pratchett
66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
67. The Magus, John Fowles
68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
71. Perfume, Patrick Süskind
72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
74. Matilda, Roald Dahl
75. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding
76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
78. Ulysses, James Joyce
79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
81. The Twits, Roald Dahl
82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
83. Holes, Louis Sachar
84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac
91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
95. Katherine, Anya Seton
96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez
98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
100. Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie

11, Not bad.


That is how old I am. It was my 32nd Birthday yesterday and I was feeling pretty good about it. The monkey bought me a most beautiful bouquet of flowers, and a very sweet card. Mr.SM devoted the day to me. Literally he did, made me breakfast, went with monkey and I to the local kids science museum thingy, went shopping downtown, had a nice lunch out, then came home to chill. Literally, the whole family took a nap, then we rented season two of Battlestar Galactica. We watched disc one while enjoying a nice Chilean Merlot. Mr. SM did not turn on his computer, answer his phone or look at his work all day. Monkey took such a long afternoon nap that I had to actually wake him up at 6:15pm and he went to sleep again by 9pm. I purchased a membership to the science museum thingy, it obviously tired the guy out so we will be making the trip again. Plus he LOVED it there, start screaming when we left because he did not want to leave.

Anyways I was feeling pretty good and then I saw ScienceWoman's post. We share a birthday, so she's a full 2 years younger and way ahead of me career/education wise. I normally don't care about these things, but at 32 I get tired. I want another child and sometimes I just don't know if can do this. DrDrA had a post up about the low morale in science. I left this comment in the post, which really didn't have much to say about low morale due to funding, but about balance.
I love science. I really do, but I don't love it more than my family or my life. For example, right now the monkey is sleeping and I am relaxing by watching a movie and blogging. That is my preference. Yet I feel that I should be reading papers, analyzing data etc. I don't love science enough to make those sacrifices. I want my PhD, but I want it without costing my family time or friend time. I want study while I am at school, perhaps read a paper or two in the evening, if I feel like. I want to go to bed by 10pm. I want to be able to come home and make have with my family. I want to spend my weekends doing family/house things, not going into the lab or stressing about papers.
When I read Dr.Isis, DrDrA, PiT, I think I don't want that life, but I want that job. I want to have my cake and eat it to.