Friday, November 22, 2013

A well-oiled machine

Sometimes people are the best thing about life.

Sometimes they're not.

I think the most common and most hinder some problem between people is communication. People don't say what they mean. I get that. Sometimes you'll say something, and realize you're not sure it came across right, but then get nervous and feel that if you explain it again the other person will feel as if you're treating them as someone with inferior intelligence. Other times you're not sure if you're understanding something that someone else said, and don't want to make yourself look silly for not getting it. And then there are those really bad situations, where both parties think they're communicating efficiently, but neither of which is actually talking about the same thing as the other one.

This is can pretty frustrating at work in general, especially when working with a team or with other teams. In a team situation wherein implementation is dependent on multiple people, things can change quickly and it's easy to let communication slip. It's hard to keep up! I work in many such situations, and even when on my own, I have so many things going on that my plans often change. But one thing that I can say with certainty is that it's always appreciated when I give people a heads up when I have to modify my schedule.

This happens a lot in science because sometimes things don't work correctly and one needs more time than they thought. I'm currently pretty lucky in that my team of research undergraduates are committed and will often accommodate any changes that need to be made for the research. Sometimes I take this for granted, especially when something comes up during a period of exams etc when my students are very busy, or when I have less time to be in lab than usual (such as currently, since I'm trying to crunch data, work on my CV, etc, etc, etc). I also take for granted the fact that my lab team communicate with me VERY well, which I am reminded of when I have to deal with someone who does not do so.

Communication for the sake of facilitating coordination of work and sharing of equipment is yet another skill that is invaluable for scientists, and yet woefully under-appreciated. For 90% of situations, I would rather work with someone who is of normal intelligence with good organization and people skills than someone who is exceptionally intelligent. The bottom line is that the former will cause less stress, which I think is pretty important. Everyone reading this should feel welcome to remind me of this entry should I ever be in the position of hiring employees!!

Thursday, November 21, 2013


InvisAlign: in response to your claim that "most people" won't even know you're wearing the dental appliance, from what I've seen only a blind person won't know you're wearing them. They're probably more comfortable than braces but let's stop pretending.

Fiat: I hate every one of your commercials. Being Italian isn't an excuse to be sexist in America. Up yours.

Angie's List: we're on to you. We know that "no company can pay to be on Angie's List." But that doesn't mean companies can't pay to get OFF the list... there's a suspicious lack of negative reviews on the site and we all know how much people love to write bad reviews, spitting and foaming at the mouth. Something tells me auntie Angie isn't as selfless as her marketing implies.

posted from Bloggeroid

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Perfect evening

Eating chocolate ice cream and pomegranate seeds with my honey while watching Walking Dead :)

posted from Bloggeroid

Perfect evening

Eating chocolate ice cream and pomegranate seeds with my honey while watching Walking Dead :)

posted from Bloggeroid

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Dumb things that guys say 3

"Please do X. I could do it myself, but I don't want to."

A 50-something year old man, after his turn looking at a faraway galaxy through a state of the art telescope, "Can we look at something more interesting?" (Shout out to Chelsea for relaying this to me)

"Fine then! You're no longer my number three!" (Quoted from Bridesmaids, definitely deserves to be included in DTGS)

"It was fine I was in her bedroom because her kids were home!" (Nope not true, nice try)

"Want to video chat? I'll show you my bedroom, it's in the basement."

"What's your favorite thing about yourself? Mine is my... well, you know ;) (And when accused of making an uncomfortable situation) Oh code on, it was just a joke!"

"Doing it the hard way week make you feel more useful."

Day 1: "I really have no idea if So and so wants X."
Day 2: "I think that if So and so wants X, we should do Y."
Day 3: "I really feel there's a good chance that So and so wants X, so we need to do Y."
Me: "Well, did you ask So and so if she wants X?"

Text from an ex, three months after breaking up: I owe you an apology. Can we get together for coffee? (After message that phone contact only is preferable, he fails to call or initiate any additional contact)

"I hate when people clean before they have guests. They're just trying to hide the fact that they're slobs."

"I would totally blow off my friends for you if you weren't on your period and we could have sex."

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Gender bender

I attend a fiercely PC, liberal arts university where the health center once had a total of twenty different classifications for one's sexuality. Despite this, I haven't given the issue of gender much thought in recent years (except for the time when a student demanded to know why I referred to male pine gamete as "sperm"... in which case I guess I didn't give it much thought either, my answer being, "Because they look exactly like sperm.")

Recent events in the lives of my loved ones has gotten me thinking, and doing some research. I read in one document that children can show "gender dysphoria" even before they hit puberty. Gender dysphoria is linked with being transgender, the desire to live as the opposite gender. I don't think that this link is definitive, however.

I remember myself as a "pre-teen". Few people who know me now would recognize me. I wore loose-fitting clothes and refused to do anything feminine to my hair. I was interested in taking things apart and able to quote every Star Wars movie. Besides a handful of events (my confirmation, the 8th grade dance... ....were there any others??) and holidays, I refused to wear a dress or skirt from third grade until my junior year in high school.

This sounds pretty much like "gender dysphoria", no? When I look back I thank God how lucky I am that no overbearing school officials or psychologists got in the way. Because I didn't want to be a boy. I just didn't want to be treated with the disrespect that I saw as the norm for women.

I'm not making this up. I remember watching shows and movies and thinking how unfair it was that the only girls in adventures were princesses, and they never got to do anything fun (there was definitely some anime involving mechas where the princess had to stay at mission control all the time while the guys got to go out and blow stuff up... please comment if you can remember wth this was called). My Barbies did a lot more search and rescue missions than fashion shows. And then there was all of the blatant boob-lust in the 90s.... it may have been a prevailing theme since the beginning of time, and maybe it was just my own dawning comprehension of lewd jokes, but I remember it as a period when women in the media were eye candy, at best. (Now at least they demand respect even if they purposely market themselves as eye candy. That's better, right...?)

Anyway, my point is that even as a child I was disgusted with how women were treated in society and I was having none of it. So I decided to hide my womanly features and deny any related constraints placed upon me as a female.

As an adult, I have much more control over how I'm viewed and treated, and am comfortable with balancing my femininity with more "masculine" activities and interests. Tonight, for example, I decided to fix my phone charger and in the process challenged myself to run an electric tea light off AA batteries (a challenge because the light required 3V), and after I was done, I had a private fashion show to pick out a dress for the formal I'm attending this weekend.

Deep down, I'm still terrified at being pigeonholed into being a "woman", at least as others may see women. I get anxious whenever a partner puts their work over mine, the societal default since men still often make more money and women often take long breaks to raise the children. On the other hand, I'm very comfortable and confident in my femininity. I'm sure that when I was twelve, my mother never would have believed that this would happen, and I can only thank her for standing back (for the most part) and letting me find my own solution. I know that others might not have the same outcome and identify themselves as transgender. However I think it's important to recognize the distinction between wanting to be treated in a certain manner, and wanting to live a different live in a different body- especially when your subject is a nine year old.

She's come undone

I read a book by this title once. It wasn't very good, but I still love the phrase. It sounds so poetic and sad. Have you ever come undone? Sometimes I feel like I'm coming undone at the end of every single day. Tomorrow is another drudgery of responsibilities, the panic of stress and uncertainty of whether or not you've made  any progress.

I don't always feel this way, but sometimes I do, and the short, cold days of the New England fall and winter don't help.

I try to fill the need with food, but it's never quite reassuring enough. I watch TV to try to find a thrill, something uplifting or exciting that will satisfy whatever need this is. I talk to friends online until they all wander off to bed, but I'm still awake, looking, searching, waiting. Is this sadness or anxiety? I traipse through this state every so often, and have done so ever since I was a teenager. Then, my subconscious percolated on the possibility of my secret love returning my interests, while my body wilted from exhaustion.