Sunday, June 29, 2008

These days I sometimes want to stab ice picks through my eyes.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Some thoughts on how to evaluate your choice of job. Also applies to choice of profession if some professions are famous for having uniform job opportunities.

"A friend of the author says that most medical doctors choose the wrong specialty: "They pick based on what part of the body they think is the most interesting. They should really pick based on whether or not they want to have the responsibility of running an office, having employees, and marketing themselves or whether they want a shift job and can walk away at the end of the shift." She finds some of her colleagues less than optimally happy because they chose to be plastic surgeons and don't enjoy being the boss and not being able to take eight weeks of vacation per year. On the other hand, she finds some emergency medicine doctors who, while they enjoy the freedom and flexibility to work as much or as little as they choose in any given year, would prefer to have the responsibility and prestige of running their own practice.

A person who says "I love Chemistry and therefore I will become a chemist" is potentially making the same mistake as these medical doctors who end up in the wrong specialty. There are many aspects to a job other than what exactly you occupy your mind with. Here's a partial list:

  • work mostly collaboratively?
  • meet a lot of new people?
  • work mostly with competent people?
  • work mostly with interesting people?
  • able to see the direct impact of one's work?
  • able to teach others?
  • get to travel to interesting places on a regular basis?
  • able to leave work behind when you go home at the end of the day? (or do you have to prepare, read email, answer phone calls, etc. when at home?)
  • able to take long blocks of time off for exotic travel?
  • cog in a large bureaucracy?
  • satisfaction of being the boss?
  • value to employers increases with age and experience?
  • able to move to any part of the country and find a similar job? (or effectively stuck in one or two cities where an industry is concentrated)
Different people will assign different values to these aspects of work. Extroverts and introverts might assign opposite values to the "met a lot of new people" aspect, for example. Probably the easiest way to evaluate what kind of job the average person most enjoys is to look at the kinds of job for which the average person is willing to volunteer. ..."

- 'Women in Science', Philip Greenspun, February 2006

A sexy fuzzy monologue on the state of the universe. Some Perl included.

(Link courtesy of CL.)

Friday, June 20, 2008

I am now looking at some months of my blog archives, from early last year onwards. There are only so many reasons why I go through what I've already written.

1) First, to confirm a minor correction of fact: I met Bee only last July (or was it June), but I had been reading good books almost continuously since the beginning of last year. So when C said my writing had improved since about a year ago, it correlates with my meeting Bee rather than my reading good stuff as C and I had first thought. Bee was, naturally, very disturbed by this when I brought it up to her. =) since we never talk about writing. We simply write what we want to. Individually.

2) After running through my archives from early last year onwards, I cannot fathom what was so different about those that started from June thereabouts, compared to those predating June by a few months, such that C would have noticed a difference.

3) DSG came into my life because he started reading my blog from about June last year onwards, too. He can't explain why he finds this place interesting either.

4) None of the above would make me write a terribly narcissistic review post like this ("oh look how beautiful my home is!") except that I was going to write one anyway because I tend to read through my archives when things in my life are not going well. What is in there reminds me that I have endured worse things and come out not destroyed, but instead better than ever. In some way the things that are stored here remind me that I am a whole person (who, perhaps, used to write better?) and that I will be that way again.

So that's it for the justification. I now note one other thing: that I find my writing here constrained by mysterious people whom I know nothing at all about. Are you really as paper-thin as you appear? What sorrows lie behind your smiling eyes? And why do I feel like I'm the stalker for simply asking you these very routine get-to-know-you questions.

Because I cannot write about the blood and tears and sorrow I used to feel free to write here about, but have coincidentally not written about during recent times. Strangely enough, you have become enough of a friend to me that I wish not to alienate you. I just wonder if you knew what you were getting.

You might call this an issue of informed consent, yes.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A simple story: The Myth of Sisyphus.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

For some odd reason, your name looks very intimidating when properly capitalized.

Probably the vertical line of symmetry for each of your initials.

... okay that took me all of 2 seconds to figure out. No more problem! Whee!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Duly noted that cousin's infant son RH is of the right size, shape, weight and facial expression to strongly resemble a Philip Island fairy penguin.

Still a little tired, but feeling better because I now understand fully why I was tired. Thank you all for the well wishes. :)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

"... Over the past 30 or so years, the ecosystems of basic and clinical research have diverged. The pharmaceutical industry, which for many years was expected to carry discoveries across the divide, is now hard pushed to do so. The abyss left behind is sometimes labelled the 'valley of death' — and neither basic researchers, busy with discoveries, nor physicians, busy with patients, are keen to venture there. “The clinical and basic scientists don't really communicate,” says Barbara Alving, director of the NIH's National Center for Research Resources in Bethesda."
- Translational research: Crossing the valley of death,
Nature 453:840-842 (2008) (news feature)

I was thinking about other chasms of death that I'd encountered recently during my attachment. The valley between basic researchers and physicians could be otherwise described as the ideas-based and the meat-based perspectives. (Don't look at me, I didn't come up with the word 'meat' for this.) I miss the focus on ideas. I miss the obsessive-compulsive reading for hours on end that I used to do.

I wonder at the extraordinarily hierarchical structure of my attachment workplace, that appears to leave the rank-and-file foot soldier as a disempowered admin drone dealing with meat-based problems. Most of all, I miss being able to speak in complete sentences in English to my colleagues. Surely the last is not an unreasonable expectation.

I am very tired, and feeling very sad.

Thursday, June 05, 2008


How to obtain XYZ

Academic users can now fill in the form below - the binaries + instructions will be E-mailed to you within 48 hours. (options for Requested Platform are Linux/x86, IRIX, FreeBSD/x86, MacOS X (Darwin))
If you are a commercial user, this form is not for you, see here for further details on how to get a commercial license.
Please be patient after submission, while an underpaid postdoc carves your personal version of XYZ from granite with his bare hands.

Monday, June 02, 2008

From takchek.

The Rogers Indicator of Multiple Intelligences
created with
You scored as Visual/Spatial

You probably feel at home with the visual arts, maps, charts, and diagrams. You tend to think in images and pictures. You learn best by looking at pictures and slides, watching videos or movies, and visualizing. People like you include sculptors, painters, surgeons and engineers.















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