Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Save me from Divorce!

Monkey comes with me to campus everyday 5 days a week. Which means we spend alot of time together in the car, listening to either the radio or my musical tastes, which I have no problem are decidedly pop. Trust me when I say, I like music, but know very little about it. As in a long time ago, I was all whatev about R.E.M and saying I don't even like their stuff, when Mr.SM pointed out I was singing along to their music. I looked at him (I'm not lying) and said thats R.E.M?

Mr.SM still gets frustrated with me for not knowing about certain Allstars Jazz to blues to Rap (which seriously I don't understand, we've been together for over ten years, has he not realized I know nothing about music or sports??? why be freaking surprised). You name the genre he knows about it. He LOVES musics, as he tells me on a regular basis, death metal got him through his teenage years. Just to make the dichotomy of our tastes clear, Mr.SM grew up in the middle of no where listening to Ozzy Osbourne and Metallica. I grew up in the middle of suburbia listening to Wham/George Micheal and Madonna. Last year when I could only afford to go to one concert, it killed me to have to choose between them. When I asked my husband if he wanted to go to George Micheal he responded that I couldn't drag him there with wild horses.

Which is not say that he doesn't appreciate pop. He was amused that monkey can sing along to Black Eyed Peas and Lady Gaga. That he will sing usher on his own (really how hard is usher).
However if he finds out that monkey was singing along to this:

I am pretty confident he will divorce me. So I need y'all to suggest child friendly music to listen to on our commute. I need music that will not make me want to kill myself, but also not filled with profanity, degrading to women etc. I pretty much like anything except metal. Suggestions would be appreciated.

I would just like to clarify that I do not want any child-targeted music. I will lose my mind (especially right now) if I have to listen to a modern day version of the mini-pops. Nor do I want monkey's musical education to be as poor as mine. I envy individuals who grew up in families that could appreciate music. I intend to put the little guy into guitar lessons etc. I just have an issue with him singing about brushing his teeth with a bottle of Jack or how he wants to smack that ass...

I know hard!

So far I'm thinking, K'naan, bob dylan, sloan, dixie chicks, feist.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Help from the cell culture folk

I need a little help from you dear readers. I need to know the purpose behind culturing cells in a serum free medium. I'm thinking its to control for things like growth factors that are present in serum, but i'm not sure. I have so many other things to find, learn and figure out that I'm hoping you can save me on this one.

pretty please with sugar on top? I'll even tell you how I made Src my bitch.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

As usual Zuska does it again

I have no problem admitting that other people (especially other feminists) are way more articulate at expressing my thoughts/ feeling/ point of view then I am. For a variety of reasons, I find it hard to get all my thoughts / feelings/ opinions formed into coherent posts.

Well Zuska has written an awesome post on work life balance, all the different scenerios it encompasses and has challenged the male scibloggers to take a turn:)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Dear Src Kinase

I hate you.

I hate how everyone can say everything about all the million freaking things you and your sibling do. How your structure can be simplified down to being between 52-64 Kda, with 4 main domains SH4, Unique, SH2, and SH3, but no one explains what happened to SH1? Did s/he run away? Get cut away in some post-translational modification?And What the fuck do you do? I don't care what you whole extended freaking family does, I only care about you specifically and how do you do it. You ancestor resides in my invertebrate animal model, the ancestors of all your cousins do not - I do not care about them. I am new to learning about you and your culture of kinase activity. I need an introduction to Src for dummies, not an intensive look at me and my family and all the freaking shit we do.

I know you're inactivated by phosphorylation of your c-terminal regulatory tyrosine (Y527) but I also know that phosphorylation of your Y416 in the activation loop is more important. As in your Y537 can be phosphorylated and but you will still be fully active if Y416 becomes pY416. How the fuck is that possible if SH3/SH3 intramolecular interactions are supposed to have you snapped shut and locked?

the only good thing is that your adaptor proteins are relatively easy to understand.

get your shit together please,

that is all

Kind Regards,

Condolences Massimo

I hope you weren't too devastated by yesterdays loss. I'm not going to say anything other than I feel your pain.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Step up to the plate DrugMonkey

You asked why you were brought into the conversation? Because you've said you are an ally. You have stated on your blog that you believe that gender equality in science is a good thing. Yet you rarely talk about some of the balancing issues or the parental issues. I have the link up that shows you think its important. Yet outside of that post originally done 2 years ago, you don't talk about fatherhood or balancing fatherhood and partnerhood with science.

Mr. SM stresses about child care, he stresses about balancing all his responsibilities, he stresses about making his career successful without costing him his wife/family. I am friends with male PI's who've just had kids that struggle with this. I have male grad student friends that struggle with this, but they don't always feel comfortable talking about it. The only male bloggers (that I know of) who have mentioned this stuff is PLS and PalMD. I don't think PLS does too much writing about balancing, but he does on occasion discuss the joys of daycare, sick child and travelling too much. PalMD has many posts about taking his daughter on rounds so they can spend time together and the women in his life. They make it OK to be dads, scientists and partners. This is important for everyone.

We live in a patriarchal society and until we change some of the "normative" ideals we will not achieve gender equity. You once wrote a post on shifting the window in regards to politics of extreme rightwingnutism. I can't find the link, but essentially it was how the extreme right is so extreme that it shifts what is palatable or acceptable to the right. If you blogged regularly about balancing your non-academic responsibilities or your kids( aka Dr.Freeride, Dr.Isis, DrdrA), you're reframing the problem not as a women in science issue but as a person in science.

Jim Austin is partly correct when he's says that alot of women have the majority of household responsibilities, but its not always true and I'm not sure its the majority of the time either. If I was to list out the household chores, I would be forced to admit that Mr.SM does more of them, they're just not critical to day to day life. I like to bug Mr.SM that he'd fall apart if I left because I cook and do the grocery shopping. We share the kid stuff and the dogs stuff. If he left I may have food, but I'd have no clean dishes, no clean laundry, a dirty house and a overgrown yard. This arrangement works for us, as it does for most working couples. Yet what he does it not seen a the normal thing an equal partner does. I'm supposed to be grateful that he pulls his own weight. I"m supposed to be happy, I'm so lucky. WTF? Partly this is because of the traditional culture I'm part of, but its also how science and society kinda works.

I left my original PhDlab for a variety of reasons, but one of the main reason was the inherent belief that kids were someone that your partner dealt with. When my PI was struggling to balance the needs of his scientist wife and his job, he was seen as being "whipped" and she was unreasonably selfish. When he had to write a grant with his kid on his lap, "where the fuck was his wife" was openly said.

You need to write about balancing your life with your science as you said yourself the The father/PI who is seriously concerned about gender equity in science will go out of his way to exhibit his status.

If the d00ds hear from d00ds, they're more likely to think about it. You're not going to change my inlaws or my parents, but you can shift the way the issue is viewed.

Monday, June 7, 2010

A reminder of why I blog

I haven't been blogging about science in the last few months. Its partly been because I know a few of the individuals around me know I blog and its partly because I don't really know what to blog about in terms of science. I mean do you really want to hear about how much I love my supervisor as lab mates?

But a reader recently sent me a personal email, which has reminded me that I've never really blogged about science, but more about science policy and the importance of improving the environment for increased diversity.
ust wanted to say thanks for your blog, and for blogging about diversity (and the lack thereof) in the science blogosphere.

I am not a science blogger, but I am a postdoc in engineering, and I read a lot of the science blogs regularly. I am Indian (sorry, I am not Punjabi, I'm Bengali -- and there aren't that many Bengali women in science either :-) ). I too was beginning to feel for a long time the "whiteness" and "otherness" of the science blogs, and your posts just hit the spot. So thank you!

This reader has reminded me that I need to start advocating for those changes. I just won't be starting until after my comps:) 6 weeks to go!

Be forewarned, I may start blogging about RIS complexes and tyrosine kinase pathways!

Yeah poop!

We did very slow switch over of SMDogs food from very expensive, no perservative, no filler food to Kirkland Premium brand (yes that would be costco brand dog food) and there is no more diarrhea! Over the last week she's had more kirkland brand than the other stuff and her weight gain has been noticeable. We're very excited and find it a bit ironic that it was the "good" stuff that wasn't very good for her. We figured it was the food because if we had a high quantity of white rice mixed in with her dry food she was fine. I'm so happy that her tummy is all well.

Her confidence is getting up there as well. She's starting to challenge my authority which is good in terms of confidence, but bad in terms of training. I hate being harsh with dogs, but I need to be....

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Diversity - its a fine balance

So most of you may have heard about the shit storm the newest member of the science blogging community has gotten into. Isis, I think rightly, took offense to some of the stuff that GMP wrote on diversity. I will say that personal hygiene comments DO NOT belong in a post about cultural diversity, full stop. I live in a city where probably 80% of the worlds countries are represented and I have not seen a case where lack of cleanliness was part of the culture. A lack of cleanliness is a personnel issue not a cultural diversity issue. I know Whitey McWhitersons who have come into the lab dirty and smelly and I've been around people of my own community where I've been fuck buddy you stink! Sorry GMP that was a huge mistake to lump that into a post about cultural diversity.

Lets talk about the fine balance of cultural diversity

I read the original post, but did not bother commenting because as I read her response to comments it appeared to me, that she wasn't actually listening to why it pissed people off. I read upto AA's second comment and up until then GMP's attitude was its my lab, its how I choose to run it, I'm ESL and its how I had to be and oh God the Arizona example...just bad.

Lets agree on somethings. Having a strong foreign accent isn't necessarily a black mark. I know many people who are quite successful despite being difficult to understand because of their strong Irish, British, Australian accents. In general, <- not true across the board, certain accents are perfectly fine and non-threatening. Its the Mexican, Latin American, Indian, Asian accents that tend to piss people off. Because you know, we're don't really belong here.

Let also agree that not all people have the same opinion or experience, but can we say that we don't want to become the Borg and assimilate? Assimilation does not lead to diversity and when you preach conformation, you're preaching assimilation.

We can all agree that command of the English language is important to succeed in North America. Many large cities have china towns, little india's etc. These communities are great because new immigrants have an established community they can join. But its a double edged sword. It also discourages integration. My parents frequently complain about the recent Punjabi immigrants who haven't learned English and don't expand their circle of interaction past the large Punjabi expat community. It leads to barriers for woman and children who need to access services or rights that they didn't have in their countries of origin. The idealistic image of integration was my son's first birthday party, which was a traditional huge Indian affair. All our friends and family (of various shapes and colours) were in a hall, with tons of food and drink, dressed in our colorful outfits, dancing to bhangra. On all the big screens the hockey game was on and we were all watching. The CBC has hockey games with Punjabi play by play. That is awesome.

The negative is that many "traditional" attitudes exist and are hard to break down because some immigrants are not embracing the best of what Canada offers. I have been heard complaining of relatives who have lived here for >5 years yet don't speak English. They have no incentive because they can work for an Punjabi run company, bank where there are Punjabi speaking employees. But what happens if they have to access the legal or health system? They argue against giving rights to women/ gays / lesbians, using the same argruements that were used against giving my parents rights. Again this is not a blanket statement because everyones' experiences are DIFFERENT

I can understand GMP's desire to encourage strong command of the English language, but she muddied the waters when she brought in the food and cleanness issues. In one of my comments to Isis's post, I commented how I am still hesitant to eat my Indian food in the lab because of all the negative commentary as I was growing up. True Diversity is celebrating both our similarities and differences, working toward blending to make a better environment for everyone.

I'm not sure I personally agree with an English only policy, mentoring is a challenge. You can know what you went through and say that your students have to do that OR you can recognize that what you went through is bullshit and work to ensure your students don't have to go through it to.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Last week I had my pre-meeting. We discussed the main themes for my comprehensives. Can anyone say freaking wide open spaces????? The general topics are huge, things that I haven't looked at since undergrad. Seriously so much as changed that I've been told my old Alberts Molecular Biology of the cell is outdated. Not outdated as in all textbooks are outdated, but outdated as in no longer a good starting point for a new topic as in the overviews and general concepts are no longer true. fuck me. must go bury my head into EGFR signaling, Src Kinase / tyrosine kinase papers. URGH.

I fucking hate microsoft

it should not take me >45 minutes to figure out how to download and install your fucking updates. Your stupid ass program should not be crashing everytime I open files created on your fucking program