Don't Shake the Flask

Because you don't know if it'll explode

Month: March, 2009

Idiot or Impervious?

It’s snowing like gangbusters and I noticed a bald person walking around outside without a hat. I have lots of hair, yet I’m also wearing a hat. Am I just a wimp or have I witnessed a sort of machismo that I will never understand?

So Today

I spent approximately twenty minutes, starting around five in the morning, digging my car out of the snow to go to lab. It was a fairly busy morning, so by the time the afternoon rolled around, I was tired and on autopilot. Thus I totally did not appreciate it when a professor, who is not my advisor, comes around asking me about when I would get results for some experiment that his grad student was doing. “You should be asking her about the results,” I wanted to say–but this was not the sort of professor any measly student should be talking back to. When he gets angry (which seems fairly often), it’s not pretty. Sure, it’s obvious he wanted the results yesterday (don’t they all), but I said “tomorrow” anyway–full well knowing that he’ll try to badger me again the next morning just when I walk in the door.

Or Someone’s More Sleep Deprived Than I Am

As I was about to pull out of a parking space, some old dude walks into the space between my car and the next car on my left. All right, I figure, I’ll wait until he gets out of the way until I actually back out. But then he stops and opens the driver’s side door.

“What the…?!!!!”

“Oops, sorry.”

Apparently, he had mistaken my car for his, which was on the right of mine. Sure, they’re the same color, but other than that, the shapes of the cars were different. Plus, the headlights of mine were on and I was sitting in it. Maybe this is just a wake up call that I should be even more paranoid than I am and remember to lock all the car doors once I get inside.

Sad Commentary on My Life

It’s after spring break and even if half the week is over, some people are still trying to get out of the vacation mindset. So I overheard the Microscope Lady telling an undergrad wondering if I’m in lab:

Of course,” in disbelief. “She practically lives here. I’m surprised she still hasn’t installed a cot.”

Well. I’ve decided that cots are for wimps.

Just Electroshock Me Now

Another student in lab had somehow finagled me into a dinner. (“You spend too much time in lab. You deserve to get a free dinner! Ha ha! You can’t back out now, I just sent an e-mail to the coordinator to say that you were going.”) It was for a professor at the University of Michigan who is going to give a talk about getting more women into science tomorrow. There were some interesting things bandied about during the dinner (such as unconscious biases during the hiring process and the Advance Program at the NSF)–and I really wish I had the time to attend her lecture tomorrow–but there are experiments in lab that I cannot put off.

However most of the evening I spent feeling very awkward and out of my element. Maybe it’s because I spend too much time in lab and being a loner. I knew none of the grad students at the dinner (except for one person, who was more of an acquaintance) and I mostly sat bored and annoyed because I am terrible at small talk. I don’t see the point in it. Everyone else was just so chic and talkative and demonstrating how much they were like professional women. There were even freakin’ business cards being passed around.

At one point, the guest of honor even tried to engage me in conversation, but I feel that it was a complete failure on my part. For that, I’m sorry. I simply cannot compete with all the other graduate students making themselves look smart and sophisticated–and frankly, I don’t see the point in trying if everyone else is yapping. It probably fueled everyone’s bias that I was just another Dumb Asian Girl who can’t say anything else except where I’m from and what research I’m doing. It’s unfortunate that I cannot entertain people with anecdotes that will be amusing rather than making myself look silly and stupid*. But what can an antisocial introvert do, if positive impressions can only be made by the gregarious?

*One might argue that that’s the whole point of amusing anecdotes. You’re supposed to poke fun at yourself to make people like you. But I’m paranoid–I always assume that anything that I say will not be construed as a fun personality. Rather, that people will think that I’m an idiot.

Woohoo! Out of an Entire Building, I’m Dead Last

(Refer to the previous post.)

Undergrad: “I’m glad I convinced you to do this, because this means that I’m not last!”

Round 1: 18/33

Round 2: 4/16

Zombie Time

Well, today was DAY 1 of the Grand Crazy Experiment In Which I Have Doubts That It Will Work*. Unfortunately, I won’t know if we’re on the right track until tomorrow morning. This is the experiment in which I’ve sacrificed all my weekends so far this semester and that for the following week, will involve me getting up at freakishly early hours in the morning and staying late in lab with no lunch breaks (but bathroom breaks, if I’m lucky!).

Don’t be surprised if there are no posts until April.

*I am not exactly a pessimist. My motto is, “It could be worse.” Which it very nearly was last week during the experimental preparations.

There Is No Hoop

I don’t care about basketball, which I feel I can safely do because it has no bearing on my life. However, two basketball-mad undergrads have been trolling through all the labs in the building to hand out blank basketball brackets. They’ve been pestering me to fill one out. I replied with grumblings about lemmings and peer pressure, but they didn’t listen. Instead, they somehow got my advisor to apply the torture screws.

Fine, I filled one out.

But I didn’t do this in any sensible way. I didn’t do it randomly either. Rather, it’s a weird and obnoxious method–I took all the nicknames of the teams and ran it through the Library of Congress Catalog via a Sooper Sekrit Search String. With the resulting call numbers, I ordered all the teams alpha-numerically.

And if this method happens to yield more than statistically random results, I will eat my figurative hat.


It’s fascinating listening to other people yelling on the phone. In this case, the caller was berating the person on the other side about being stressed out over nothing*. It was not a sympathetic call. Such as:

*No one will take you seriously if you stress out!

*People will think that you can’t handle a promotion if you’re stressed.

*It’s a biological problem. Go see a doctor!

*This is just normal everyday stuff. Suck it up!

While I think there are cases where some people like to panic over small stuff that don’t matter in the whole scheme of things, I thought the caller could have been a little more tactful.

*Although what this “nothing” was, I never found out.

It’s Too Early To Be Chic

Usually whenever I hear noises from above, I chalk it up to my upstairs neighbor being weird and obsessive compulsive. But this morning around 5 AM while groggily contemplating the clunk-clunk-clunk of heeled shoes, I wondered if she had ever heard of slippers. With slippers, she wouldn’t have to track dirt around her apartment with her outside shoes–so she wouldn’t have to use her hacksaw/vacuum cleaner so often. But maybe that’s too haus-fraus for her.

Or those could be the pair of heels she only wears at home. In that case, there’s either some fetish cosplaying going on, or there’s a bit of the 1950s leaking into the small rip in the space-time continuum over my head.