Don't Shake the Flask

Because you don't know if it'll explode

Month: October, 2008


Booking Through Thursday: Conditioning

Are you a spine breaker? Or a dog-earer? Do you expect to keep your books in pristine condition even after you have read them? Does watching other readers bend the cover all the way round make you flinch or squeal in pain?

I dislike marring the book in any way. So yeah, I think spine breaking and dog-earing are sacrilegious. But I’m beginning to think that however I feel about other people doing stuff to their books depends on the mood I’m in. Right now, I’m feeling sort of apathetic so at the moment, it doesn’t matter what people do with the books they own. Lending people books is a different matter. If I don’t trust you not to mark up my texts, I’m going to suggest that either you get your own copy or go to the library (where the threat of fines might impede some people from being too grabby with the highlighters).

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The Thursday Threesome: Daylight Savings Time

Onesome: Daylight– Savings Time is up here in the US this weekend. Ready? Set? Go? …or will you just wake up and worry about it sometime Sunday?

Um, I’m going to pretend that there is no Savings Time so I can get up earlier (and perhaps get a bit more done).

Twosome: Savings–? Hey, do you use coupons when you shop? …and do you go looking for them online?

No. I dislike shopping, so the less time I have to devote to buying stuff, the happier I will be. (Besides, 99.9% of coupons are for items I wouldn’t buy anyway.)

Threesome: Time– to batten down the hatches where you are? They’ve had snow in Ohio and Ottawa; and we may not hit the 80’s this weekend in CaliLand: is Winter approaching for you?

Today, it is kind of balmy–even when I got to lab at 6 AM. But there are colorful leaves everywhere.

Catfight Imminent

This afternoon, I stepped out of the lab building and my ears were assaulted with:


I blinked. Turned. And saw some girl screaming at another girl. I’m no spectator. I’m an out-and-out coward sometimes. Back in high school, I stayed the heck away from any erupting catfights. They literally get bloody. And I have no desire to be collateral damage. So I backed away slowly and took off.

(If somebody called me names, I’d probably just take it with minimal flinching since I’m not much of a crier. And end up pounding my frustration out on the keyboard.)

Damn, Duct Tape Doesn’t Solve Everything

Sticky tape generates X-rays. “At some point we were a little bit scared,” says Juan Escobar, a member of the research team.

Man, you’ve got to love research. (I wonder if this will be a contender for next year’s Ig Nobel prize?) Besides, that quote just made my day. It totally sparked a new avenue of ideas to use for my Nanowrimo biopunk/horror novel next month.

Eavesdropping, Heh

There are just some subjects which naturally possess bawdy comedic value. For instance, students taking “repro” classes–where labs involve heading out to the farm, getting the animals excited, and collecting ejaculate.

One student had told her professor about a conversation she had with her straight-laced mother who had expressed some horror about the labs. In response, the young woman had replied, “Well, that wasn’t the first time I’ve had semen on me.”

D’oh! That’s just not something your mother wants to hear.

The Little Things That Are Screwed Up

After lending a sympathetic ear to an undergrad ranting about the incompetence of a certain someone and talking to another grad student about people who get a degree simply for the degree rather than actually being interested in the field that they study–I’ve been musing about a very obvious conclusion. Disinterested people are particularly ill-suited to the field that they work in.

Yes, I know, I know. Due to life circumstances and societal pressures, not everyone can have their dream job. And even if everyone in the world were slotted into their dream jobs, you’d still have to work with people whose personalities completely rub you the wrong way. (Heck, I probably annoy a bunch of people. I simply can’t help myself from occasionally making snide remarks about grad students who are only in lab for two or three hours a day because they’re on “coffee breaks” or are “studying”.)

Anyways, on a completely unrelated note, I guess I’m feeling kind of resentful too. People who work less hours than I do get told that they shouldn’t work too much. No one ever says that to me. Most of the time, I feel like I haven’t worked enough. People get time off for really random reasons. I feel like I can’t.

A depressing thought: I’ve heard that people working in human resources can earn more than twice that of tenured professors. What the hell does human resources do that’s so important to warrant that kind of money?

Pulling My Hair Won’t Solve Anything

Sometimes, I think, I have no patience any more. When people are not “quick on the trigger” (so to speak) on things which I consider really simple, I get annoyed. When people don’t do things they could have done in five seconds but leave things to pile up so I have to do it in order to get my stuff done, it’s frustrating. I feel all this inexpressible anger at people being lazy and incompetent even though I know that it’s impossible to change anyone’s laziness and incompetence unless they choose to do so.

I need some stress balls or something.

No One Looks At It Anyway

I usually make a point to avoid the “NaNoWriMo Ate My Soul” (formerly “I Hate Myself and Want to Die”) forum. It’s depressing and sucks all the energy that could have been used for something more productive into some self-pitying void.

There is a thread, though, about people complaining about other people looking at their writing notes without their permission. Oh horrors! They’re invading my privacy! And I’m mostly thinking, Get over it. One part of human nature is to want to know the secret. If you tell someone that you’re doing something but make it a point to not show them you’re efforts, they’ll become curious–and if they don’t have any bit of self-restraint, they’ll pry.

I put myself online. I’ve blogged for seven years and I put parts of my prep work up every year. (But not the first year–only because I had no prep work that year.) And you know what? Very few people care about my writings or my life. Most of them are random people online. People in real life visit, find it tedious, and never visit again. If everything’s already there to peruse at your fingertips, it becomes uninteresting. So take it from me, hide in plain sight.

(Cross-posted at Writing Sya.)

I’m Probably the Butt of Someone’s Joke

Why the hell would some random teenage boys accost me in a busy grocery store to ask me some stupid questions?

I’ll Take Some Surly Undergrads, Please

Sometimes, I wonder why certain people have PhDs when it’s obvious that they just don’t get it. Example, this morning. From another lab, a support scientist with a PhD comes in to do some stuff since we have some equipment that they don’t. He asks me how he’s supposed to sterilize some media as he points me to a protocol that some other grad student had written down in her lab notebook. The protocol says, rather obviously, filter sterilize.

“So do you sterilize by UV light*?” he asks.

“No. You filter sterilize.” I point to those exact words in the notebook.

“So you use the UV light.”

“No! You filter sterilize.”

“What filter?”

“You know, a 0.2 micron filter?” At his blank look, I go into a detailed explanation of what a filter is, why someone would use one, and how to use it. With extensive arm motions to emphasize my points.

“Oh, a filter,” he says. “So I stick the media under the UV light…”

No!! You don’t use a UV light at all. You sterilize with the filter.”

That blank look again. And I still don’t think he got it when I had to rush off to a seminar**. Or maybe he thinks he’ll just play dumb so I’ll do the work for him since I’m just some lowly grad student and all. As if. I have my own projects to worry about. I really don’t envy the people who actually have to work with him.

*At this point, I’m thinking, Who the hell sterilizes liquid with a UV light? Are you freakin’ daft?
**Which happened to be on stress-relief, curiously enough. How timely.

Well, I Got A Button That Says “Zing!”

I just got back from a lecture that was more like a motivational speech. And you know, I view pretty much any type of speech designed to fire people up with a large dose of cynicism and skepticism. I think motivation (or my motivation at any rate), comes from within. I don’t really give a damn how much someone yells screeds on the microphone. In the end, if I’m doing something, it’s because I want to. Not because some person who makes a living yapping in front of audiences says so.

One factoid that the speaker threw out: that women who walk faster achieve more. As someone who walks slower than other people simply because I’m too short and too cautious when navigating ice covered hills, I think someone made it up to make exercise fiends feel better about themselves.

Addendum: Oh, and you know the saying that there are no dumb questions? Well according to the speaker, apparently there are at least two. 1) “Is this going to be on the test?” (asked in class) and 2) “Do you have anything important to do?” (asked of a prof famous in his field).