Don't Shake the Flask

Because you don't know if it'll explode

Tag: work

Moving In, Sorta

I don’t know why I’m up at this atrociously early hour in the morning typing this up. All I want to do is to sleep in. I really haven’t had much sleep for the past month as I was prepping, packing, and moving to San Diego. Well, actually I do. I’m waiting for the property manager to drop by so he can secure the water heater in case of earthquakes.

Moving, I suspect, can make or break a person. Sure, I’ve talked to my parents on the phone to get their advice on things, but this is the first time I’ve done this big of a move by myself. (I did most of the move from Idaho to Montana myself as well, but that was a relatively simple four hour drive away. And my dad did visit to help me find an apartment…) My cousin lives here, at least, but she’s a pretty busy person and the only thing I can count on her for is to be stuck by needles as she’s a voodoo priestess…er…I mean acupuncturist.

A word of advice on apartment hunting in San Diego (or probably any large growing city)–be prepared for fierce competition from other potential renters. I guess I’ve been spoiled by living in small towns the past decade where you could see an apartment and then at your leisure, go back a day or two later and ask more questions. Here, it pays to be a bit aggressive because apartments can go off the market in hours. But don’t look desperate and take the first thing that comes along. I managed to nab a pretty nice apartment for a reasonable price (for the city). The only downside is that I will have to commute. However, even with all the gas and driving, I’ll still save money because the rents for apartments closer to work are almost twice as much.

This was also the first time I bought a car myself as well without anyone else tagging along. I think it helps to have a mindset that is not impulsive and not be dead set on a particular car even though you’ve done your homework and already have one in mind. And as for aggressive sales people, say “I need to think about that” and “No” frequently. Keep your poker face. The thing is, America has a kazillion cars. Even on a very limited budget, you can afford to be picky. Unlike apartments, there’s always supply.

As for the DMV, everyone recommends making the online appointment. But that’s only good if you can go two weeks (or later!) after you make that appointment. If you need stuff done as soon as possible, take the whole morning (or better, the whole day) off and go to the DMV two to three hours before it opens and wait. (And if you’re really prepared, take a folding chair. And maybe something to read. Personally, I passed the time by cramming for the driver’s written test.) Make sure you also look up the opening hours and possible unexpected closures online so you don’t get caught off guard. And above all, be zen. The San Diego DMV is nothing like the DMV in rural Montana. In Montana, you can just saunter in a little after opening hours and there’ll probably be only three or four people ahead of you.

The traffic here, as far as I can tell, is never good. It’s just either stuck or not stuck. Once the movers get here with my stuff (and my dedicated mp3 player), I’m going to load in podcasts and audiobooks to make the drive more amusing. If anyone’s gotten this far into this post, let me know your suggestions for podcasts and audiobooks! I’m pretty omnivorous on podcasts, but the narrator for an audiobook has to be pretty good for it to work for me.

And as for work, well, my co-workers seem like nice people. But I think they’re nuts for thinking they can have any meaningful scientific meetings with the boss on Saturdays. I have no problem meeting up with the boss to discuss science. I also have no problem going into lab on weekends to do an important experiment. But meetings? Weekdays only, please.

We Need Skydiving with Microscopes

In a recent conversation, a post-doc expressed her disbelief that our boss’s kid was extremely upset after a sports injury when she was majoring in something completely different at college.

I explained: “When you can no longer do something that you love, of course it’s going to make you sad.”  If something that you enjoy for fun is no longer accessible to you, wouldn’t you fall into a depression, too?

The post-doc didn’t get it.  In her thinking, the kid should have been relieved that the injury wasn’t so serious as to prevent school work from being done.

This got me thinking about different mindsets.  There’s this saying in academia about “working hard and playing hard.”  People do both, but it seems that they only truly care about one or the other.  For one person, career and academics are the only important things.  Everything else is extraneous, a way to let off steam, or merely a means to an end.  Dividing one’s attention is deemed frivolous and unfocused.  For other people, passions aren’t restrained to any one thing.  Spreading it out, for them, is evidence of a full, well-rounded life.

People can be successful with either mindset.  Yet I find myself wavering, in limbo.  To the singularly focused, I may seem like a dabbler.  Some find it abhorrent that I’m not chained to the lab bench 24/7 let alone frittering away my time scribbling in this blog.  And then there are others who are too polite (or not) to tell me that I’m a dud for not taking advantage of every  weekend to go skiing, paragliding, or even attending stamp collecting conventions.

In either case, I kind of feel bad for not being driven enough to suit certain tastes.  Or not interesting enough to be bothered with.  But there’s nothing I can do about it.  So I’ll just keep trudging along, as I am.