Monthly Archive for May, 2006

procrastinators unite!

I’ve always been a procrastinator. And it’s always worked for me. Here’s why.

Forget studying for that test! I need to clean the desk/study/house! Besides, the test is still a whole two days away. Don’t I need to turn in that progress report? Well, it’s not due till June so I’ll clean up my desk here at lab first. Then I’ll make that table for my experiment tomorrow. Since I need it by tomorrow, after all. My major professor is on my case about making sure our new data analysis program works but I really need to organize my laptop desktop first. Why? Because I have no need of this program until I actually get some data from my experiments. Until then, why bother? And then there’s the whole studying for the qualifying exam thing. Important? Yes. Big and scary? Yes. Am I studying for it now? No. Why? Because I have a million other things I need to do first, like brushing the dog, cleaning the house, writing in my blog. Blogging is this procrastinator’s dream—there’s always another post I have to write right when I need to get to some annoying task or other.

Ah…to be completely unproductive yet productive at the same time—I’m truly living my life at my pace. :)

how to ruin a brilliant scientific career

Get married!

This article describes a study that found that scientific productivity decreases with age, but less severely in never-married men.

“The productivity of male scientists tends to drop right after marriage,” says Kanazawa in an e-mail interview from his current office at the London School of Economics and Political Science in the United Kingdom. “Scientists tend to ‘desist’ from scientific research upon marriage, just like criminals desist from crime upon marriage.”

Kanazawa’s perhaps controversial perspective is that of an evolutionary psychologist. “Men conduct scientific research (or do anything else) in order to attract women and get married (albeit unconsciously),” he says. “What’s the point of doing science (or anything else) if one is already married? Marriage (or, more accurately reproductive success, which men can usually attain only through marriage) is the goal; science or anything else men do is but a means.”

Huh. Interesting. So being a scientist is like buying that red hot Ferrari? It’s all in the name of nabbing a mate? And here I had always thought that being a nerd wasn’t exactly the way to get women. But then again, maybe being a nerd is the way to a brainy woman’s heart, because of course, if you’re nerdy, you really have no need or desire for a hot not-so-brainy wife…

So what about women? Yep, we’re not immune to this decline either. And we actually have it even worse since there is never a good time to take time off to have and raise children without significantly setting back our careers. I myself have noticed that I’ve become more mediocre/sand-people-like in my academics ever since getting married—not so much numbers-wise since I still have that 4.0, but in that I don’t devote as much time to my professional development (attending seminars, studying, lab) as I did when I was single/in a not-so-good-would-rather-avoid-it-by-staying-at-lab relationship. All of a sudden, I’ve decided that pursuing my career and being the best aren’t nearly as important as being married and spending time with my husband. But I still have that drive inside of me that surfaces from time to time (more often now that I’ve been so rudely knocked out of that whole blissful newlywed thing by my in-laws) that reminds me that I will never be able to live with myself if I just half-ass my way through my career. It’s my ego telling me that I can’t possibly be okay with not being the best at what I do. Two years ago, I was willing to stay forever single and childless to achieve my career goals. Now I’m married and willing to give the whole having kids thing a chance (if only so that I pass on my highly-evolved-super-smart-yet-still-good-looking genes). I just don’t know when. And I still don’t really know if I ever will even have kids because of the blow it would deal to my career—not only due to the fact that I’ll have to take time off but also because my priorities just might change and I won’t be so intent on being the best anymore. Which I suppose isn’t so bad, but try telling that to someone who’s spent her whole entire life being (or at least trying to be) the best. I don’t know if I can make that sacrifice for little rugrats who just might ultimately hate me anyway. So all I can do is find some sort of balance for now and eventually decide (sometime before my biological clock stops ticking) whether or not I want to torture myself some more by procreating.

But of course, some say that marriage just might be good for a scientific career. In my case, marriage sure helps with financial stability. Not in that I needed someone else to pay my bills or to eat well since my stipends cover them quite well (one of the few perks of being in an MD/PhD program) but for my frivolous purchases—like this blog and my binge-shopping adventures among other things.

However, I have to disagree with this argument for how marriage is good for a career:

He was sitting against his pillow in bed with his laptop in hand. His busy, multitasking wife (a management consultant and mother of twin toddlers) was also working on a laptop, seated right beside him. The two were tending electronically to their demanding jobs, but they were also instant messaging each other, obviously on the same emotional “bandwidth” in their devotion to both career and marriage.

Uh. You’re sitting next to each other and you’re instant messaging each other?! How is that any different from sitting in your respective offices and instant messaging each other? Why can’t you just speak? Is speaking really that much more distracting than instant messaging?! So do you do instant messaging foreplay too? And those laptops must really get in the way during sex—not to mention dirty… Okay, I’ll stop there.

Then there are the marriages that don’t survive a scientific career. No big surprise there. Can I add medical career too? Lawyer? Any highly specialized field that requires long hours and lots of work? The big issue here is having a spouse who is not in the same field as you. I always thought that I would end up with another doctor or at least someone in the sciences (Oh who am I kidding? A dentist is not a doctor…and neither is an optometrist or pharmacist—it was physician or bust.) because of the difficulties in talking meaningfully with someone not in the same field about my experiences. And I’ve been in a (obviously failed) relationship with a fellow med student and found that it was really much easier to talk to him since we were going through and learning the same things. But it still didn’t work out. Enter my future husband whose career has absolutely nothing to do with medicine or research. I never thought that it would work because he knew absolutely nothing about my life or my career. But I was wrong. All that really matters is that he is intelligent enough to follow my crazy INTP rants—understanding the substance of the rants down to the atomic level is not necessary as long as he gets the general idea. But I can see how this difference in careers can backfire on other couples. It is frustrating sometimes to explain things that we take for granted as obvious, which in fact are not. And I guess that the patience (on both sides) eventually wears thin when steps are not taken to better the situation.

And finally, there’s the issue of not being able to meet someone to marry in the first place. Being in lab all day and studying all night isn’t really conducive to meeting potential mates. And besides, there’s the bigger issue of whether someone is willing to commit to someone who may move across the country in a few months/years and who may very well spend a large part of their life moving as they are recruited to different positions. Who will actually put up with having to uproot their family every so many years? Or with delaying (or never) starting a family to wait for you to establish your career? These are issues that any potential mate needs to be made well aware of before things get serious. And even so, it will still be hard for your mate to come to terms with moving to Middle of Nowhere, USA when the time comes.

Ah…the life of a scientist—a complex-not-so-fun-at-times balancing act. So I guess we are human after all.

grand rounds 2.36

Oops. Thought today was Monday. But it’s not! Which means Grand Rounds is up at Kidney Notes. Enjoy!

skin deep (season 2, episode 13)

Just got back from out-of-town for the holiday weekend. Too tired to write so here’s another House-isms post for today. I promise I’ll have some real material tomorrow.

WILSON: How’d you get here?
HOUSE: By osmosis.

Infarctions hurt. That’s what they do.

HOUSE: Could be good, could be bad. Thanks for the differential. Any other options?
WILSON: Have you ever considered a career as a motivational speaker?

It’s a very simple equation: more pain, more pills.

ALEX’S DAD: Who are you?
HOUSE: I’ll be the one saving her life today, assuming she’s dying. Who are you?

Cat fight and cataplexy on the catwalk. Cool.

HOUSE: I take it you’re married.
CLINIC PATIENT: You must be psychic.
HOUSE: You must be witty.

Is it okay if I save her life first or do you want to make sure Daddy doesn’t get visitation rights to the grave site?

No, lets keep playing pin the diagnosis on the supermodel until she’s dead.

The more I talk to you, the more the pain floods back.

Put your clothes back on. I’m going to cut your balls off. Then you’ll be fine.

If I wanted to be psychoanalyzed I’d get Wilson to give me the shot.

DISCLAIMER: All copyrighted content is the property of its respective owners.

sex kills (season 2, episode 14)

FOREMAN: His right testicle is almost twice as big as his left.
HOUSE: Cool.

When guys have brain-crotch problems, it’s usually the result of using one too much and the other too little.

HOUSE: No, I don’t want to know who gets the chocolates. I want to know who you’re having the affair with.
WILSON: Fell on his head as a child. Tragic.
HOUSE: Norwegian chocolate. Frankly, you buy that stuff, the terrorists win.
WILSON: Some people bottle up their feelings, have them come out as physical pain. Healthy human beings express feelings such as affection by giving gifts.
HOUSE: Gifts express guilt. The more expensive the expression, the deeper the guilt. That’s a $12 box, so that means you haven’t slept with her yet, or she wasn’t that good.
WILSON: It’s not all about sex, House.
HOUSE: Really? When did that change?

You mean calm as in peaceful lake on a cool summer evening? Or in the lesser used meaning of nothing can ever bother you again because life has absolutely no meaning? High dose of depo provera will chemically castrate you.

HOUSE: Wilson! How long can you go without sex?
WILSON: How long can you go without annoying people?
HOUSE: No seriously, a week? A month?
WILSON: I’m not having an affair.
HOUSE: I didn’t say you were. Not in this conversation. I’m talking about a patient!
FOREMAN: People have impulse control, we don’t need sex.
HOUSE: Well not like air, but as a biological imperative, sure we do. There’s two things we get stupid for: money and sex and since money rarely enters the bloodstream…

Hi, I’m Dr. House. I hear you’d rather die than admit you had sex.

HENRY: I assume that you’ve been in love.
HOUSE: Is that the one that makes you pants feel funny?

So what is it? A disease that attacks his brain, heart and testicles. I think Byron wrote about that.

Seems there are other ways to kill people besides having sex with them.

If you really cared about me, you’d find me a better corpse.

Big fat sloppy heart beats no heart at all.

Three minutes ago her organs were officially declared not viable. Time to go dumpster diving.

CAMERON: We’re going to cure death?
HOUSE: Mwahahahaha. Doubt it.

WILSON: No. Let’s just say. Does it occur to you that maybe there’s some deeper guidance than keeping your mouth shut? That maybe a friend might value concern over glibness? That maybe…maybe I’m going through something that I need to have an actual conversation about?
HOUSE: Does it occur to you that if you need that kind of a friend, that you may have made some deeper errors?

She’s a fridge with the power out. We start poking around inside, the vegetable goes bad. No offence.

Sex with teenagers isn’t interesting? Where did you grow up?

CAMERON: She’s positive for gonorrhea!
HOUSE: I think that’s the first time those words have been uttered in joy.

DISCLAIMER: All copyrighted content is the property of its respective owners.

clueless (season 2, episode 15)

I don’t want in! I want sleep!

You’ve got money. At least until the divorce is finalized.

Awesome. A sex fiend with a swollen tongue. Just think of all the places I can make Foreman search.

CAMERON: His wife arranged it for an anniversary present. If you ask me, if two people really trust each other, a threesome once every seven years might actually help a marriage.
HOUSE: Okay, I say we stop the DDX and discuss that comment.

Since most patients can’t tell their ulna from their anus, I’m guessing this guy also doesn’t know the difference between choking and suffocating.

If it makes you feel better, half the patients who come into this place have some sort of crotch rot.

Now I have good reason to doubt those doubts.

Don’t you ever eat anything that doesn’t look like it’s been rolled onto your plate by a dung beetle?

Complete moron working with power tools – how much more suspenseful can you get?

And you’re protecting a complete stranger based on some childishly romantic notion that people are all so happily married they don’t want to kill each other!

CAMERON: He’s gonna need a lung transplant.
HOUSE: He’s becoming more attractive by the minute, isn’t he?

DISCLAIMER: All copyrighted content is the property of its respective owners.

goodbye, fellow lab scut monkey

Ah, the bonds that we lab scut monkeys form. Societal lines blur and disappear as we perform endless meaningless lab scutwork together—grad student, “secretary” (aka major professor’s personal bitch), and lab assistant—those titles are all surpassed by the bonds of lab scut monkeydom. So it’s hard to see one of us go because we’ve come to care for each other and because that just leaves all the lab scutwork to only two lab scut monkeys. But we’re also happy to see our fellow lab scut monkey escape lab scut monkeydom and move on to greener pastures. It gives us hope that we will also one day escape the confines of lab scut monkeydom. Well, my other fellow lab scut monkey will also be escaping soon enough, leaving just me.

I know I’ve been in the lab way too long when I’ve lost count of the people who have come and gone. I wonder who will be the next victims of my major professor’s empty promises and bloated narcissistic ego. He’s already found one for secretary lab scut monkey, who I admire for staying as long as she did with the way he treated her and especially for standing up to him. This whole standing-up-to-unreasonable-major-professor thing was apparently contagious as all of us lab scut monkeys caught it, leading my major professor to make sure that new secretary lab scut monkey is as submissive as submissive can be. He even gave up on the (rather ridiculous) requirement that his secretary lab scut monkey have a science background just to have the submissiveness, which just goes to show that submissive trumps anything.

But I think he will still be in for a rude awakening. Even the most submissive person, after putting up with his overly inflated ego and all the crap that comes with it for a long enough time, will turn un-submissive. That’s what happened with the original secretary lab scut monkey and with me (I just took a lot longer). There’s only so much that we will do for someone as ungrateful and full of himself as him. Until fellow remaining lab scut monkey and I escape lab scut monkeydom, we’re going to sit back (with our chips and soda) and watch it happen with new secretary lab scut monkey.

yet another reason why i’m not cut out to be a surgeon

Besides the fact that I’m clearly not Type-A enough (though I’m working on it)?

Well, the answer is video games! In this study, surgeons who warmed up before surgery by playing Super Monkey Ball for 20 minutes right before performing surgical drills made fewer mistakes and were faster. Well, I’ve played Super Monkey Ball and I sure suck at it. I’m also no good at any other video game except for Karaoke Revolution, which I doubt will help me here. Now I can blame the fact that I won’t be a surgeon on my parents for not letting me play video games when I was little (nevermind that I didn’t want to play anyway). How convenient.