Archive for: June, 2011

9 1/2 weeks

Jun 27 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

You might think the title of this post is a desperate attempt to lure in unsuspecting new readers, innocently searching for 1980s cult erotica. But nine and a half weeks is, in fact, the exact amount of time left until my first official day at New Job.

And  I.    Am.    TERRIFIED.

I have this recurring daydream/nightmare (what would you call a nightmare you have when you're awake? Is there an actual word for this? "Daymare?" Eh.) in which I'm alone in my beautiful new lab that I've painstakingly designed, inch by inch, and it's empty. I sit in my office, paralyzed with fear that I'll buy the wrong kind of microscope, somehow get screwed out of my new lab startup discounts, order too many/not enough...I don't know, bottles or whatever. The point is that I can't make it happen. Failure to launch, as they say.

So, what can I do to avoid a deer-in-the-headlights moment of such epic proportions and potentially catastrophic consequences? I've been working on a list of things to get myself in gear, get my head in Professor Mode. What I've come up with so far is below, but I would looooove your suggestions in the comments. New profs, did you do anything in the few months before starting your position that made the transition easier?  And are any of my list items bad ideas?

1. Talk to vendors. I'm aware that some of my big ticket items can take several months to ship, and so I've been getting in touch with vendors, figuring out who my local reps are, etc. One even has a mini showroom at my current institution, so I was able to go and get at least a cursory look at what my options are from that particular vendor. I officially have access to my startup funds on July 1, so in theory I could start placing orders this Friday. AWESOME/SCARY.

2. Protocols. No matter how much fancy equipment I do manage to get into the lab, I can't run any experiments until I'm cleared by various institutional boards to do so. Getting my protocols written and approved as quickly as possible seems like a no-brainer.

3. Organize my grants. I have several well-received but unfunded grant proposals sitting in my hard drive, collecting dust. Time to tighten them up, reformat for new mechanisms, and get them back out.

4. Email everyone I know (in a professional capacity). A decade of conference attending plus a generally social personality has left me with a decent network of colleagues and peers, many of whom I imagine would be at least a little interested to know that I'll be starting a lab.  I hate sending out mass emails, but if it opens up a dialog that results in even one collaboration, I think it will be worth it.

OK, what else? Have at it!

20 responses so far

You know the interwebz have invaded your soul when...

Jun 22 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

[We open on Dr Becca and J in the living room of their fabulous apartment. It's a familiar scene--they sit side by side on the Todd Oldham for La-z-boy Dexter sofa (in Espresso), legs propped up on the coffee table. J browses the baseball blogs, while Dr Becca flips through unread Instapaper articles on her iPad. Suddenly, she sits up.]

Dr Becca: Ooh! I know! I can make the invite for our 4th of July party!

J: Sure, go nuts.

Dr Becca: What should we call it?

J: Um...4th of July party?

Dr Becca: I think we can do better than that!

[She furiously types and swipes, swipes and types, and presents the final template to J.]

J [brow furrowed]: What's "e-piece-oss?"

Dr Becca: It says EPICSAUCE, silly!

J: WTF does that mean?

Dr Becca: You know, like epic. But epic sauce.

J: Why do you say the "sauce" part?

Dr Becca: I don't's just something people say on the internet.

J: This is a thing?

Dr Becca: It's totally a thing!

J: I don't think our friends will understand what we mean if we call our party "Epicsauce 4th of July Party."

Dr Becca: Really?

J: Really.

Dr Becca [pouty face]: But...but...oh, fine.  But the party WILL be epicsauce, you know!

J: Mmm-hmm.


11 responses so far

Meme me up, Scotty

Jun 16 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

There's this thing going around--a meme, if you will (and I will!),  wherein a blogger asks his or her readers to divulge personal information about themselves. Just kidding! Sort of.

It goes like this, thanks to Ed Yong, (and thanks to Drugmonkey, Odyssey, and GertyZ for keeping it going):

Tell me about you. Who are you? Do you have a background in science? If so, what draws you here as opposed to meatier, more academic fare? And if not, what brought you here and why have you stayed? Let loose with those comments.

In particular, I'm interested in this last bit, and in particular particular, whether you found me because of the TT job search advice aggregator. I've noticed that a number of legit websites (like University career links, individual lab home pages and whatnot) have linked to it, so I'm wondering if for some of you, this was part of your introduction to the larger world of academic blogging.

I want to get to know you, you crazy people! Let it all out.

47 responses so far

A long weekend in New Job City

Jun 09 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

I'd first like to make clear that the similarities between "New Job City"--the perhaps thinly-veiled pseud for my future place of residence and employment--and New Jack City, the critically acclaimed 1991 Wesley Snipes crime drama, have not escaped me. I have faith, however, that my lovely readers (that's you!) are astute enough to discern the subtle distinctions between the misadventures of an almost professor in a pleasant college town, and the gritty tale of a drug lord in 1980s NYC.

J and I returned last Wednesday night from an extra-long Memorial Day weekend in NJC, and all in all we had a lovely time. New Job put us up at a swanky hotel that had just opened its rooftop pool, and so we were able to get in some quality lounging time in between apartment hunting appointments and general exploring. And eating. HOLY HELL, did we stuff our faces for five days. Thank you, NJC, for this nice new food baby I'm carrying around. It's squishy.

This was our first extended-stay trip to NJC, and I do have to give props to its cleanliness, and to how nice people were, and to the surprisingly good beer selection that almost every restaurant we went to had. J is way into the Belgians these days, and we were happy to see that we could get some really lovely ones almost anywhere. At one point, I saw a unicorn in the foam on the side of my glass, which I feel like has to be a good omen!

Goal number one of this trip was to find an apartment, which we did, and then we didn't. I'd been hoping that apartment hunting in NJC would not be as supremely soul-crushing and horrid as it is in New York, but this was not to be the case. Apartments are maybe slightly less expensive, but not to the point where we were skipping down the street all sing-songy, "We're going to live in a PA-LACE, and we're going to pay no MON-EY!," plus NJC has its own set of real estate issues, like the fact that they don't really "do" Aug 1 lease starts. Gah.

The bigger problem, as I've discussed before, is J's job situation. Should we be looking for an apartment that requires two incomes to pay the rent, or one? Though we found a totally beautiful apartment within walking distance of New Job Campus, we decided it would be a little scary if I were signing over 3/4 of my salary for an indeterminate amount of time. So we let it go. Bye, beautiful apartment!

Goal number two of the weekend was for J to kick ass on an interview, which he totally did! He's been invited back for a second, although it seems that we still won't know one way or another until after we need to have found a place, which is frustrating. But encouraging!

Goal number three of the weekend was for me to meet with the architects at New Job University to feng shui the shit out of my new lab. After many, many discussions over the past few months on where each lab bench should go, how big to make knee cut-outs, and whether I want cabinets or shelves on the walls (both!), it was finally time for the fun stuff!

It has pretty much always been my dream to be surrounded by fabric swatches, carpet samples, and furniture catalogs, with a green light to let the interior designing princess in me free. Can you picture this? I think you can. I had an absolute ball working out a color scheme for the lab, which you can see below.


Very important to create a lab that highlights one's footwear. Mostly white for the floor tiles, with blue & green accents. The gray swatch is the lab stool fabric!

Now, here is something fascinating/awesome. The architects offered, in all sincerity, to put the chemical structure of a molecule of my choosing into the floor design. I am thinking about this, but in the end, probably not. The molecule that would make the most sense with respect to my research is a little too complex given the shape of the floor, and nothing else I study really singularly defines me, you know? It would feel disingenuous.

I also (are you even still reading? I told you this was a juicy post) met with my faculty mentor, and we had a great chat about the future of the department, which he seems to be actively trying to get me involved with. Already I am going to be on the next faculty search committee! I am SO looking forward to seeing things from the other side, I have to say.

And I REALLY can't wait until they start building my lab! Fret not, lovely readers, there will be pictures. I've got some great "befores" that are just waiting for their "afters."

13 responses so far

How to make a real Pisco Sour (and what to do with the remaining egg yolk)

Jun 05 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

I've got a big fat post in the works with all kinds of juicy goodness regarding my recent mini-holiday in New Job City, so for those of you who remain interested in this Great Space Coaster ride of a career path I'm on--and let's face it, you're DYING to know what color scheme I went with for the lab--watch this space.

Tonight, however, let's talk cocktails. Now, normally I find Physioprof's recipes to be of remarkably high quality, so imagine my surprise and disappointment yesterday when he posted this sad, sad excuse for a Pisco Sour. One of the defining features of this decades-old drink is its super frothy head, something that can only be achieved with the help of a delicious, salmonella-free egg white, and as you can see, this is a glaring omission in PP's version. Here's how to do it for reals:

First, gather your ingredients. You'll need

2.5 oz Pisco
3/4 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 oz simple syrup
1 egg white
dash Amargo Chuncho bitters (but Angosturra will do just fine)


1. Add all ingredients except the bitters to a shaker without ice. When making egg drinks, you need to do what's called a "dry shake" first, to optimize the emulsion. Shake the shit out of it. There! You just did your first dry shake.

2. Add a bunch of ice to the shaker, and shake the shit out of it again. I am so serious--shake it until you feel like your arm is going to fall off, or you can't feel your fingers from the cold, and then pass it to your significant other, your BFF, your cat, whatever, so that THEY then shake the shit out of it until their arm (or paw) feels like it's going to fall off.

3. Strain into a cocktail glass. It should be sort of a cloudy, pale yellow on the bottom and super foamy on the top, which will allow the bitters to be all pretty when you drizzle them across, comme ça:

The result is a creamy, nutty, slightly lemony, slightly sweet, totally delicious drink. You can enjoy it while you're making good use of the leftover egg yolk in my...STEAK TARTARE!

Oh yes, we are all raw all the time here. No, no we are not, it's just that a gas main broke in our neighborhood recently and we didn't have any hot water or cooking gas for like 3 days, so we're sort of in that "no-cooking" mentality, you know? Maybe you don't know. It's cool.

Anyway, steak tartare is something that is incredibly easy to make but seems really fancy and also a little risqué (OMG raw meat!), making it a great thing to serve at parties. Peeps will be impressed, I promise. But it is also so good and so easy that maybe you just want to make it when you're staying home on a Saturday night watching baseball with your cats! Hypothetically speaking. Nobody's judging anybody, here.

You want to choose a relatively lean cut of meat--tenderloin is best, but something like top sirloin will do just fine, too. Stay away from stringier cuts like skirt steak, and obviously whatever you get, get it from a butcher or other meat purveyor you trust. Chop up a few ounces real small, and throw it in a bowl. Add maybe a teaspoon and a half or so of finely chopped shallots and chopped capers, a dollop of dijon mustard, and top it off with a generous splash of Worcestershire Sauce. The actual amounts of each are totally up to you and your taste--one of my favorite places to get steak tartare serves it with a little tray of all this stuff so you can doctor it however you want!

Mix all that up with just a pinch of salt and a ton of black pepper, and then lay the egg yolk on top. Stare at it, and take in the beauty. Mix thoroughly, and then serve immediately with something crunchy and salty--crackers, tortilla chips, toasted french bread crostini, no matter--they're all just a vehicle for getting that delicious melt-in-your-mouth tartare in your face.

And there you have it! Raw eggs--good for cocktails, good for snacks, good for the SOUL.


18 responses so far