Escaping the lab

This weekend was so nice, I actually spent only 10 hours at the lab! I went outside, there was sun and it was glorious!
So glorious!*
The intense data collection period for my project is almost over. My deadline is Friday. There will be some long hours this week but hopefully things will return to normal soon (and return to blogging!). This weekend really reminded me how important it is to balance work with a non-work life. It was great to foster new friendships here and have some fun but I missed the Grackle. He came to visit me last weekend , but between my data collection and the Grackle writing his proposal, we mostly worked. 

I can't wait till my weekends involve both the Grackle AND escaping the lab. 

*One of my adventures. Anyone recognize the band? It will disappear soon....


Lab baby

My PI had her baby this week!!! In a ridiculous display of professor geekdom, she texted us 2 hours after giving birth. We got 3 emails that night and all were about lab stuff and journal club. Not even a single baby picture yet! 

A couple other professors have asked me how things are going now that I am 'running the lab.' It is funny because I'm really not. All the grad students are pretty independent and the lab tech ends up with more responsibility than I have for the daily ins and outs of the lab. Plus, Rt-H is ridiculously plugged in. So far, the students have bounced a few more questions off me than normal since it is easier to ask and get an immediate answer than email Rt-H but nothing too out of the ordinary. We will have to see how 3 weeks of absence differs from 3 days....


Back off, bitches!

The Grackle was propositioned today....for our dog! Despite being in school with this woman for 5 years and TA-ing together she never knew about our pooch. Our dear doggie is a beautiful, ex-show dog German Shepard. Apparently, a normal 'oh you have a dog?' conversation quickly turned to 'does he have papers?' Pretty soon she was asking if we would breed him to her dog! 
Grackle politely declined the offer but I am still laughing how quickly office conversation can turn strange! Not that any ladies could resist this face.....


Waste of a day!

Today started out slowly. The facilities guy had to do some work in my research room so I waited till he was done to start work. Right as I start doing my first 2 hour data collection, the lab tech tells me about a power outage to our floor. We freak out and get all the essential equipment for my data collection switched to the back-up power system. After 20 minutes, everything on the back-up power system shuts off but the normal power remains working. I give up on the data and unplug everything. 
2 of our 3 big, fancy machines which must run constantly have quit since they are also hooked up to the back-up power. Freak out number 2. We get the facilities guy to check it out and find out that we blew the fuse on our back-up circuit by adding my equipment to it. Now, the 2 big machines are running again, but we are still waiting for the regular power to go out. Big machine 3 is still hooked up to regular power. I run to a hardware store so we can string a contractor-grade extension cord across the hall to tap into a different back-up power circuit. Eventually, the regular power goes out. But big machine 3 still isn't working! Freak out 3 that the outage itself could have fried the machine. 5 hours wasted since finding out the power was going to go out. Lab tech realizes that each big machine has multiple cords. All must be on back-up power. One is labeled with tape saying "must be on back-up power" but is not even plugged in to anything. The grad student trying to figure out that part of the system didn't bother to read the tape. Grrrr. 

When I left, everything important was working. Hopefully it will stay that way. 

Today was the first day that Rt-H stayed home due to her impending baby. Things without her around better get easier!


Back again!

We made it back, again! Actually, we were back a week ago but I've been locked away in the lab since then. This trip was easier that the first because it was shorter but held its own challenges. We drove into tornadoes (but didn't have to camp in the rain!) and pulled a couple of 18 hour days but ultimately got our work done. Given that this was the second trip for the students, they were not in as good of spirits as they were for the first trip. This time, they knew what they were in for! There was a feeling of quiet determination compared to the first trips' feeling of a boisterous, big adventure. 

The worst part of the trip for me was getting injured. I took a couple of hard falls landing on the part of your hand where the index finger meets the palm both times . It was purple within a minute and painful to the touch. I tried to finish out the work we were doing, but had to take a breather so as not to scream, swear or cry in front of the students. It was all I could do hold it together. My old labmates, advisor and current advisor have all seen me upset to the point of tears. Heck, I was crying when I passed my proposal defense. It is like crying is my only stress response. But for some reason, I really didn't want to lose it in front of students when I was suppossed to be 'in charge'. I just kept replaying Tom Hanks in my head telling me that there is no crying in science. It worked. In the end, there was a whole lot of cussing when out of earshot, but no crying. Is this what it means to be responsible? After more than a week, my hand is still bruised and puffy but I feel pretty good about being able to handle such an obstacle. 

Anybody else had to learn to censor themselves in front of students?


I'm back...but just for a second

Everyone survived the research trip! Being 'in charge' was really not too hard. Rt-H was accessible via text/phone when I had major issues (like getting locked out of our van due to key fab failure in the rural deep South). Despite bad weather and bad equipment we got more work done than planned and returned a day early. I got slightly annoyed around day 5 at the 22 year old first year. She had warned me that she complains a lot....and boy was she not kidding! That and her 'what I know is right and anything new or different is wrong' attitude just got to me. Smooth sailing other than that.

Research-wise it was a super successful trip and I have been locked in the lab since our return. This science is so, SO hot you guys!! I am just at the very start of the project, but can already see that it is going to be fabulous data to work with! 

We leave again tomorrow morning at 6:30 for another trip. This time I've got the 22 yr old, a guy (another first year) who asked if his girlfriend could come along because she doesn't want to be alone for 4 days (she is not coming due to her work schedule, space limitations and the ridiculousness of complaining about getting lonely when you have to spend 4 days with yourself. Doing so to a postdoc who hasn't seen her husband in a month doesn't help!) and a second year who was so anxiety-ridden on our trip in February that she broke down crying at dinner because of the prospect of driving in snow flurries. Thank goodness it is only 4 days this time! 

Hopefully on the other side of it, I will get to return to some semblance of a real life. 
Off to pack...