Archive for: April, 2011

Choosing a core facility is sort of like dating...

Apr 20 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

I've been recently shopping a particular core to get some work done and this process is pretty damn similar to dating. So far here are the types of cores that I've encountered:

Core of ill-repute
I'm avoiding you guys like folks avoided the leper colonies back in the Middle Ages. I here rumors and whispers of how horrible you are, taking precious sample, "processing" them and coming up with no results. And then you ask for more sample. Also scouring publications to see who has used you lately and for what turns up jack squat for the past couple of years. Not a good sign.

High $ Hooka Core
You better have some boucou dolla bilz y'all or else this core won't even talk to your brokeass. Your costs are so exorbitant that it might be worth while for me to buy the instrumentation and do the damn work myself.

Waiting by the phone for the Core to call
They seem to have ability to do what you want them to and are reasonably excited. You give them your samples and you wait. And wait. And wait. And wait. You stop counting the days and rather measure the accumulation of gray pubic hair because it takes so damn long to get results back. I'm can't sit in wait by the phone for the rest of my life waiting for you to call with my data, I've got to publish this crap.

The High Maintenance Core
They will do the work and they will do it at a reasonable price, but they're going to make you work for it son. There's no cover sheet for your submittal form, oh that is no bueno. Back of the line Holmes! You better make sure to dot the i's and cross the t's and stroke the ego's of this high maintenance facility

The Easy Core Next Door
This is my favorite core of all and the one that I am going to work with. Not too expensive, this core also understands that your lab is on a budget so they won't order foie grois at dinner. Not only that, you don't have to wait around for ever. This core is pretty easy and will give up the data in no short time. Just give it what it wants. Thank goodness for the easy core next door.

8 responses so far

Good Times, Bad Times, you know I've had my share...

Apr 11 2011 Published by under Lab

So these past two weeks have been a bit hectic at work and has felt like a roller coaster ride.

Bad Shit
-Plated too many cells for an experiment and totally shot two full days worth of work.
-Our stewards in purchasing lost their fucking minds and forgot to get around to my orders for a whole week. Throwing off my timeline for some of my experiments.
-IBC bullshit, nuff said.
-Re-freakin-diculous cloning strategies to get this sequences out of certain vectors and recombine them in this vector with these tags. My notes and flow charts are littered with landmines of profanity and phrases of self-loathing.

Good Shit
-Genomic RepairWife and I made gyros this weekend, delish.
-Churned out a bunch of data in the past week in a half. What does it mean? Still working that out, but mo data is always good.
-All caught up with my experimental notes.
-My softball team Quien es mas macho is now 1-1 after rebounding from a loss the first week. We almost coughed up this game too after having a 19-2 lead. We ended up coming out of the last inning with a 19-11 win.  The team name was chosen because none of us can speak Spanish and most of the guys are IT nerds and a few of them have never even picked up a bat before.
-Went jogging out on the trail

Overall its been a good two weeks. Now its time to ride the wave of momentum.

Post title comes from the popular Led Zeppelin song, "Good Times Bad Times," which is the first track of their first album...

3 responses so far

Take yo lumps

Apr 06 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

I think one of the biggest thing a trainee has to deal with during their formative years is criticism. You don't want to be noob who comes up through the lab and never has their ideas challenged (read shredded to pieces, incorporated into an effigy of oneself that is to be set on fire while the lab members dance around it and whack it with sticks). The first time you get that upbraiding by your PI or a committee it is going to suck. And its going to sting. But that's okay, it should sting, it means its working.

No one enjoys being criticized but it is so very important to the learning process. We challenge ideas everyday, if you cannot survive having your own challenged and don't have the ability to respond in a rational manner, you need to get out now. When I get criticized it literally feels like a sucker punch to the gut. Its the realization of I could have done better or should have thought about this or that. But to me that voice in the back of my head softly calls out, "Are you sure you should be doing this? Maybe you aren't cut out for this."

When faced with doubt and self-loathing you come to a serious fork in the road my friends, you either let it eat at you or you "sack the fukke" and do better next time. If you let it really dig at you, its just going to create this festering wound that just makes you a bitter person. I have seen this before as other trainees take the jab to the face, then turn all kamikaze and go out in flames. There is no glory in getting knocked out the game, you have to take the beating it makes you grow both personally and professionally.

Also, don't just brush aside this negative assessment of you as the rambling of fools or those that do not understand you or what you do. That's a perilous road to travel and probably someday you'll be whining about how fucked up the system is and how the deck is so stacked against you (Wahhhhh, but I need my A2!!!!!) over at Rock Talk.

So when you get cracked upside the head with the clue stick*, STFU and take your lumps. Learn from it and be a better person.

*h/t to Abel Pharmboy for my own intellectual ass kicking.

6 responses so far

The squeaky wheel gets the grease...

Apr 05 2011 Published by under Lab, Uncategorized

but that damn piece of equipment behind me that has the high-pitched squeak is about to get destroyed.  I swear if I had a gun on me, I would have Elvis'd that thing today.

3 responses so far

Genomic Repairman's Bookclub: Am I A Monkey?

Apr 04 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

So this is my second go round at the book club where I toss out a suggestion after I hit you with a bevy of books the first time.  So today's book is,

Ayala is a former priest, who went on to study evolutionary biology, win a National Medal of Science, and serve as president of AAAS.  I'd like to say that someone turned me onto his book, but that would be a lie.  I picked this book up for next to nothing when trolling the bombed out and depleted science section of my local Borders that was selling off everything.  This is actually a great book to explain evolution to laypeople and might actually be useful to get that Tea Party card-carrying Shiite Evangelical Christian neighbor of yours to actually change their views on evolution being some kooky idea we devil-worshippin heathens espouse.

So in the book, Ayala hits up his 6 big questions of evolution:

1.  Am I a Monkey?
2.  Why is Evolution a Theory?
3.  What is DNA?
4.  Do All Scientists Accept Evolution?
5.  How Did Life Begin?
6.  Can One Believe in Evolution and God?

We all can debate question #6 until we are blue in the face so I'm not going to touch that one with a 10 foot pole.  I consider questions 2, 4, and 5 to be focal to getting the point across to people that evolution is real and is driving diversity.  Ayala does a great job of explaining the difference of the solid foundation of factual evidence of theories and that to us the term means more than your "theory" that the asshole down the street is stealing your newspaper.  Do All Scientists Accept Evolution? Most do but not all, answers Ayala, but the ones who have poured over the data and knowledgeable with this field do.

It's a quick read that is nice to give non-sciency folk a feel for what evolution is, how it works, and how its not some hairbrained scheme Chucky D cooked up while trapped on a boat.

2 responses so far

Sitting, Waiting, Wishing...

Apr 03 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

ain't just the name of a Jack Johnson song, it is kind of how I am feeling right now.  We have a new trainee who is set to start in the lab rather soon and from very reliable sources I have heard that they will be working on my project.  Now no one likes anyone to poach on their patch but there are some different directions that you can take this project in.  I'm kind of coming to the crossroads of this as I have previously spent a lot of time on reagent development and getting certain facets of the research in place.  Which avenues will be open to me and which ones will be roadblocked for the new trainee to pursue?

Hell if I know, my PI hasn't told me.  In fact he hasn't even let me know that this new person will be working on my project.  I have to be honest I think he is dragging his feet and doesn't want to cause a controversy.  But some lead time would have let me know and I could have preliminarily explored some side projects that could pan out to be great.

So science blogosphere, what is the appropriate etiquette for adding a new person to a project?  How do you tell the trainee what's about to happen, divvy up the work, etc?

3 responses so far