Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Itty Bitty Conference

I'm crashing a small conference that is taking place at my college. It's tangentially related to my research, and I really enjoy poking around poster sessions, so it's been a really good opportunity.

MORE exciting, however, is the fact that I can pretty much understand everything. Obviously not everything, but it seems like I have come to the point in my studies where it's not really a struggle to follow along in a (well given) seminar, or get the gist of a (well written) poster. I don't get lost every 5th word.

Look at me, I'm becoming a REAL PERSON.

(Reading back over those short paragraphs, I feel a bit depressed. Is this even something to be proud of?)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Normal dangers

I'm still afraid of acids. I work a lot with neat nitric/sulfuric acid, and I find it completely terrifying. I thought that after working with this stuff for > a year, it would be no biggy. And it really is! If I splashed some on myself it would burn, I would deal with it, and then I would have a war wound and a story. That's really not so bad. But every time I pull out the bottle I see drips and splashes everywhere.

The real question is if I normally drip and splash this much and I'm just noticing it because of the substance? Am I really so sloppy at bench work?

I would also feel much better if I had some functional pH paper. Our is all 100 years old and doesn't actually turn colors.

In other more exciting happy news, my PI is about to drop a big sum of money to buy me some new toys! I feel like my project is finally gaining some traction. It's using a new method and the collaborator and student that started it are gone (one in a more dramatic manner than the other), so I was thinking that the whole thing was going to putter out when I left. But it looks like she's putting in a real investment right now.

It's better than Christmas. Hurray :)

Monday, June 13, 2011


Training myself on Autocad for the third time this year. First time was with my once-advisor, who I'm not quite ready to get into yet since he still makes my blood boil. Unfortunately he wiped the computer I was using of all my designs/ autocad 2006 when he left for industry in the middle of the semester. But a lab near home nicely let me redesign during my break! So I speedily learned autocad 2004.

Now I'm back at school, helping my postdoc with a nice little side project. That requires autocad. The good news is that I managed to shanghai a student copy of autocad 2011 (mac) from the architecture department. However the interface is, again, completely different from the past two versions.

Oh well, gives me something to do (no, my Important Chemicals have not yet arrived). And this copy is on MY computer, so no rogue advisors are going to get to this one.

I am also in the process of collecting all of my research related materials and backing them up (in four places). Is that paranoid?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The safety people really have a purpose

It's been a while. The summer research dash has just started, and I'm trying to get as much as physically possible done while I can give it my full attention - which is made difficult by the fact that my Important Chemicals seem to be hitch hiking their way to my lab from Alaska.

Because I have nothing better to do, I have been clearing myself my own bench space in the neighboring lab. Professor S hasn't done lab work in about 5 years, is a complete pack rat, and also very territorial. This is not a good combination.

I put the half full bottles of highly flammable chemicals sitting on the bench under the hood. I tried to clean up the questionable, mostly crystalized chemical spill in the hood with EtOH, IPA, acetone, windex (I haven't been able to wipe it up yet). I put the safety hazard slips that were scattered among the layers of crap in a neat pile, ordering them from oldest to newest (the oldest: October 2003). I gave the unopened (unfrozen) "freeze on arrival" box (date: July, 2008) to our waste manager. I collected the unlabeled beakers and tubes of liquid and put them in a corner of the hood.

And after I had finally cleared off the bench, I began scrubbing it down, promptly cutting myself on a shattered beaker that I had not seen because in was hidden by a quarter inch of grime that coated the entire bench.

So the summer hasn't started well - but at least I'm not going to be bumping elbows with my lab mates anymore. To all you PIs out there - just... don't let it get there.

Monday, March 21, 2011

My lab report

because I'm wading through a terrible lab write up with no real interpretable data, I bring to you...
My Favorite Lab Report Evar.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The end.

I have a lot of really exciting and interesting trips coming up (down to Baltimore, up to Montreal, all in the next 2 weeks!)but I have no time to even think of enjoying them. I like all my classes and all the work I have to do. But this semester is kicking my ass and I really can't get up on my game.

Last week was horrendous, work wise. Lots and lots of work, with some very strong implications at this point of time that I didn't actually do all that WELL on that work. Fine. That was fine. I was going to catch up over the weekend, make some time for enjoying myself, and soldier on to greatness.

Unfortunately, that's never how it happens. I ended up getting a stomach virus/ food poisoning/ I don't even know what and spent the majority of my weekend dry heaving in the dorm bathroom. Had to take a day off of classes because I couldn't walk down my own hall. Have eaten nothing but saltines in 3 days. And all of this has changed this week from something a bit hellish but manageable to simply unthinkable.

So now I know my limit. I am past it. Right here.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Liberal Arts Education?

I was sitting in Humanities Class the other day when the professor started a random hate fest on science students. It basically went along the lines of how we are androids that don't understand art or emotion, and don't truly understand what's important in life because we're too busy grinding away at minutia in order to fill in a big fat hole in our souls that we don't even know exist. Scientists can't, or won't, lead well rounded lives because they are incapable of caring about anything but their work and will die sad and alone.

I immediately jumped up to declare what a close minded statement this was, and thanked Humanities Professor for perpetrating a stereotype that has kept women out of science for a century. I continued to applaud him for deepening the rift between the sciences and humanities and really getting into the spirit of a true liberal arts education, before storming out of the classroom in a whirlwind of Righteous Fury.

Of course I don't have the balls to actually do this. I basically just sat and sulked while students chimed in with their stories about all grind no fun science majors who don't really Understand the Truths of Life. It was miserable, and considering I'm still thinking of it 4 days later, I probably should have just hopped up and given him some sass.

Liberal Arts Education my Butt.