Monday, May 28, 2012

A new calling in life

I've realized my calling in life.  Ok, well, at least my secondary calling, seeing as science is the first.  Anyway, my great new idea is.....

obedience training for men

Clearly men need this.  And it wouldn't so much be obedience training as training in the things that women find offensive or just annoying.  One such example would be asking a girl who you run into once a month if she will Facebook your buddy the next time she and her girlfriends hang out because he's new in town.  Obedience training would teach that the man who sent said message shouldn't be so blatant about trying to get his friend laid.  It would also teach the man on whose behalf the message was sent that he needs to make less sucky friends if he wants to "network" in his new hood.

Another key lesson in ♂ coaching will be to cultivate the habit of actually listening to what women say and using this information in their decision-making process.  For example, if a female conveys that she is tired and doesn't feel social, then then ObT4M would emphasize that the male should not expect her to go out, and will have to come to terms that if she's cranky at the bar that this is directly related to her assertion earlier that she didn't want to go out.  This learning component would also highlight a man's ability to avoid conflict by tailoring his comments to the comments a significant other has made about her day;  ie if she says she's exhausted because she cleaned up the cat puke after she got home, the course will contrast the different responses that would be elicited by a comment on how messy the counters are vs an offer to make dessert.

The preceding examples are just a sampling of the topics I'm prepared to cover in ObT4M and as such fully expect that this idea will make me a millionaire.

Inter-gender communications (or lack thereof)

Excerpts from an actual conversation

Woman: You're welcome to hang out but I understand if you have to go because of your plans in the morning.

Man: What?

Woman: You can stay, but I know you have to drive up to see family early.

Man: ...I don't know if that's an invitation to stay or not.

Woman: It's an invitation to hang out, but giving you an excuse if you really need to leave.

Man: Oh.

This misunderstanding could have been avoided if the woman had been more careful to specify the meaning of her words.

Example 1
"You're welcome to hang out."
Meaning: Your continued presence is to my liking.

Example 2
"I understand if you have to go because you have plans in the morning."
Meaning: I respect that you have a prior engagement and this may effect the time of your departure.

Example 3
"It's an invitation to stay, but I'm giving you an excuse if you need to leave."
Meaning: I'm beginning to think you're an idiot.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Good guys finish last because we let them

Usually I start my rant posts with an apology but I'm not even sorry for this one, because it needs to be said.

What the hell, America? I tolerated the "goofy guys drinking and having fun" phase of Will Ferrell's golden years. I put up with the Taylor Swift songs of endlessly repetitive themes. I understood the 2-month period characterized by the inclusion of acai berry in virtually every food product ever to "boost antioxidants!"

But Charlie Sheen again? Really??

Why are we doing this?  Didn't we decide that he was a loser?  Weren't we disgusted by his irresponsible and excessive parties?  Didn't all of us worry about his daughters?  Haven't we lost count of his failed marriages?

I, personally, am generally offended by crude and sexist media productions.  While it's one thing to enjoy a manufactured story line and fictitious characters, it's another for us to revel in the sleaze of real-life happenings. (This is the only reason I can conceive for people being interested in him at this point.) Sorry to be a downer, but (unlike Sheen) I think we as society need to take a little responsibility.  People like him, who wouldn't imagine doing a real day's work make a living off of the interest of other people- us.  Can we stop pretending that our votes "don't count" and our personal lives don't overwhelmingly influence the society we live in? To me, the fact that Charlie Sheen is being transformed into a media icon /personality (when every production he's been involved in for the past ten years has been truly mediocre, at best) is the ultimate proof that you don't need accomplishments to become rich, famous, and popular.

I'm not just picking on ol' Charlie boy, although his putrid antics of last year and the fact that his thinning hair is somehow overlooked when women in the media over the age of 25 are considered old hold a special place in my heart.  Ask almost any person on the street and they will tell you that they think society is going to hell in a handbasket.  But they're probably the same people tuning in to watch one of the various tv depictions of the Kardashians or some Teen Mom reunion episodes.  I'd also bet that half the people who fervently support higher taxes on the country's richest citizens are also Sheen fans- and take for granted that their entertainment comes from exactly the thing that they protest.

I can recall a conversation from childhood between two of my friends in a car; the mother who was driving asked each of us if our mother had given us permission to see a particular PG-13 movie (I think it was Kindegarden Cop??) at a sleepover. I confirmed that my mother had, and then the friend whose mother was driving confirmed that the third girl was allowed to watch whatever she wanted. The third girl responded, "Yeah, my mom doesn't care."  People don't want to believe that what they watch, play, or listen to influences real life, including the development of a child.  But I think that's an irresponsible claim; an excuse to not feel bad about monitoring and limiting their own exposure to shoddy entertainment.  Supporting media that has utterly no substance other than a cheap thrill erodes the dignity of our society and insults our collective intelligence and creativity.  (I want to comment that this category excludes works like Fifty Shades of Grey and Hunger Games, which deal with unpleasant subjects but ultimately make us ask crucial questions about we feel about these upsetting topics and what stance we will take on them in our lives.)  Giving attention and support (and thus money!) to institutions such as The Bachelor/ette (hasn't this show been making a public mockery of marriage for the past ten years?!  Why aren't so-called traditional marriage advocates protesting this??) and other Jersey Shore-esque shows that have no plot and little to no real point that survive on surprising and revolting (or exciting!) viewers endorse irresponsibility and, to be honest, smut.  I don't think that censorship is the answer; far from it.  I just think that as a society we should show our own good taste and let people like Charlie Sheen get what they have coming: a long future of unemployment.

And maybe once we prove that we don't like all the  crap being produced nowadays we'll get writers and producers that will actually make interesting shows and movies.

The Rantesse

Friday, May 18, 2012

Want ad

Wanted: romantic companion

Athletic woman in mid-twenties seeks immature and annoying male partner to plan exciting outings that will never actually be carried out.  Passive-aggressive tendencies required.  Emotional baggage from childhood and/or previous relationships preferred.  Requirements also include either an acute fear of commitment triggered by pleasurable companionship OR crippling levels of co-dependence.  Jealousy a must.  Attractiveness is not an issue so long as you are overly conceited and full of yourself while somehow also harboring a burning self-hatred as well as intermittent episodes of depression.  Ideal first date would be lunch on a weekday at a chain restaurant inconveniently far from my work on your day off; I'll know you by your tardy arrival wearing an old t-shirt.  Bonus points if you recommend the salad to me and then order a steak, or if you wink at our waitress and call her "hun."

Please contact through the most impersonal form of communication available without using correct spelling or full sentences.

Although I'm normally a proponent of dating websites, right now I'm just wholly frustrated with trying to find anyone who is my match. And at least with this ad, the guys responding won't be a surprise.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

It's a proven fact that (if your file works at all) it will not be the version that you carefully named after the contents and time, nor the one you got lazy with and gave a generic name such as "Test10pm" OR even the one that you gave some random name like ugh. No, the file that works will be the one named something totally ambiguous AND containing swears, insults, and made-up words.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Which hill?

There are periods in everyone's lives, I think, where it seems that you are fighting a losing battle. And then there are periods where it seems you're fighting endless battles in an ill-advised, all-out war.

I'm going through one of those periods now. I've grown significantly over the past few years and shared some of the lessons I've learned here on this blog and incorporated countless others into my daily and no-so-daily routine. Before I started my PhD, advisers wiser than myself told me that earning a PhD is not only about gaining scientific knowledge, but also about becoming independent and gaining the experience needed to plan, finance, and execute a project. An integral part of this process that I've struggled with is making decisions. On the other hand, this is also one of the areas in which I have made the most progress, and the extent of my progress was certainly tested this week.

Previously I felt the need to gather many opinions on every option in order to make the most well-informed decision, essentially a way to hedge my bets. It's not a bad strategy for someone unfamiliar with the area in which they're making decisions, but as time went on I knew that I needed to move away from this method. While this sounds logical and to make the best decision and gain the approval of my boss, I began to realize that I was putting excessive amounts of time and energy in every decision (and probably annoying the heck out of my colleagues). What I really needed, besides experience, was a little bit of confidence. I've written before about the negative effects anxiety can have on one's life. Anxiety can prevent you from building confidence by clouding your brain with needless details and second-guessing/over-analysis. It can also wear away at the confidence you already have, with endless nagging doubts and repeated recollection of painful or embarrassing mistakes.  Having fought this anxiety through therapy, medicine, the support of friends and careful attention to the times that I may not be thinking clearly has done wonders to build my confidence. Now able to trust myself, I find decision-making much easier and can recognize mistakes not as the entrance to the path of ultimate failure but as (still sucky) learning experiences that I can overcome next time.

As a side note, I know I've mentioned before that my mother says that God makes us face the same challenges and learn the same lessons over and over again because each time they're different. I know this is one of those cases for me; I never intended to be in a position where I needed to make important financial and personnel decisions, but that's right where I'm headed as a scientist. And I've already gotten a taste of both, at least in an advisory position as a senior graduate student and in my position as an officer in various graduate student groups and planning committees. That my destiny is to learn to become an independent decision-maker is highlighted by the fact that I am more independent than most people my age; for the better part of my grad school career I've been without a romantic/life partner to discuss and share everyday and larger matters with, and as I get older my friends become immersed in their own daily lives and less accessible (though still equally, if not more, supportive and lovable!).

So I've gone from an obsessive, under-confident flip-flopper to a confident and experienced decision maker and even leader. This was definitely tested in the past few weeks, as I had to make several large decisions in a short amount of time that affected both my work and personal life. Looking back on my decisions, I feel that I made the right ones. Inspecting these experiences ever more closely, I have also realized that even when I asked others for advice, I was truly alone in the decision making. I've said (in softer wording) to friend who have to make difficult choices such as following a boyfriend's move across the country that you have to take care of yourself, because no one else will. And that is what I truly came to understand recently, not in a bitter way, but in a deeper way; I am making decisions about my life. Even if I make one that I feel is right, and which turns out to be right for me, others might not see that because they're not the ones living it. And, as Rilke says, "the point is, to live everything." These past few weeks I was tested in making decisions on everything- from sending back merchandise at work to choosing to inquire about apartments to even more difficult and interpersonal decisions. As one decision as followed, seemingly endlessly, by another, my resolve began to weary. And I did turn to my friends for advice and comfort- but I realized that it was more for comfort than advice. And having been comforted, I was able to more peacefully listen to what my heart and experiences were telling me was the right thing.

I always make graduate school and being single out to be very difficult struggles to deal with. But I know that any life is filled with struggles, and that this is my journey to growing up. It's not for me to say if it's objectively harder or easier than anyone else's. But I can say that I am enjoying it, and doing everything I can to make the most of it.

The title of this post was generated by a conversation with my father, when I was asking for advice and he advised me to decide which hill I wanted to defend. We may not choose the same hill, but we can help each other think about which ones are important and why.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Kitty cats

Sometimes kitties fall asleep under the bed.
Sometimes this is after they ran under the bed while play-hunting and got distracted.

Sometimes kitties fall asleep in the hamper.
Sometimes this is a hamper with dirty clothes. Sometimes, this is a hamper with clean clothes.

Sometimes kitties fall asleep on top of the cabinets.
Sometimes when they awake they insist they can't get down.

Sometimes kitties fall asleep on TOP of a blanket.
Usually this is a blanket that you would like to use.

Sometimes kitties fall asleep UNDER a blanket.
Usually this is when you are looking for them for a long time.

Sometimes kitties fall asleep in the closet.
Usually they settle down directly under your best black dress.

Sometimes kitties fall asleep in the sun.
This can make you resentful of their carefree life.

Sometimes kitties fall asleep in your neighbors' recycle bin after running away.
This can make you wonder why you put up with them.

Sometimes kitties fall asleep on your lap
and that is the best.

Shoutout to Chelsea and her silly kitty for the recycle bin story.
posted from Bloggeroid

Friday, May 4, 2012

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Story of Thursday nights in the lab

4 pm: Thesis defense of a student in another lab

5 pm: Congratulatory reception

6 pm: Dinner with a friend from college

7:30: Leave restaurant, full, happy, and ready to go back to lab to set up a program to run overnight.

7:31: Invitation from a grad friend to commiserate over stressful week; offer of free drink

7:33: Arrive at restaurant #2

8pm: Leave restaurant, happy, mildly bloated, and ready to go back to the lab

8:10: Arrive at the lab to find a fellow student also working "the evening shift." Catch up and laugh about labwork.

8:20: Sit down at computer

8:25: Remember what it is that you came in to do; scrutinize appropriate files

8:40: Realize you overlooked a certain factor when making the original file; begin to format a new input file

9pm: Search for the original versions of raw data files to use for the new input file that were made >2years ago

9:03: Eat remains of stale brownie you had been meaning to remove from your desk drawer

9:19: Incorporate all data into a new input file

9:20: Program crashes, losing new input file

10pm: Save recreated new input file in three directories

10:10: Attempt to load recreated new input file into analysis software program

10:12: Program reports error when trying to read file

10:23 Having determined what the problem with the input is, go back to recreated new input file and fix it by referencing the original raw data

10:30: Discover duplicate file names, panic

10:31: Realize that duplicates may be copies of each other

10:32: Determine that duplicates are not copies of one another, panic

10:33: Advil

10:45: Working through your tears, confirm that duplicate files are indeed identical copies, except one has extra characters/gaps/etc at the end

10:46: Beer

11:00: Finish recreated new input file with duplicates removed

11:05: Watch YouTube videos with labmate

11:20: Recovered from your crisis, reorganize folder and delete incorrect files

11:30: Load input file into analysis software program

11:32: Run analysis; labmate singalong

11:45: Receive output file. Click Save without remembering to change the default folder

11:55: Find the output file in SoftwareAnalysis/folders/data/analysis/defaults/temp

11:56: Save output file in 6 backup locations

11:58: Wake up from adrenaline-crash, post-elation-induced mininap, check email

12:01: Realize that you forgot to include reference/control/other critical sample data in recreated duplicates deleted input file

12:02: Despair.