Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Naaaaaahh... really??? Me???

Ganked from the Doc...

What Be Your Nerd Type?
Your Result: Science/Math Nerd

(Absolute Insane Laughter as you pour toxic chemicals into a foaming tub of death!)

Well, maybe you aren't this extreme, but you're in league with the crazy scientists/mathmeticians of today. Very few people have the talent of math and science is something takes a lot of brains as well. Thank whosever God you worship, or don't worship, so thank no deity whatsoever in your case, for you people! Most of us would have died off without your help.

Social Nerd
Literature Nerd
Drama Nerd
Gamer/Computer Nerd
Artistic Nerd
Anime Nerd
What Be Your Nerd Type?
Quizzes for MySpace

Potpourri and other smelly stuff

I'm back. Did you even know I was gone?

I've just got back from a two week vacation. A week of it was at the beach, with the other week being taken up by a few days at the in-laws and traveling. I now feel more relaxed than I have done in a very long time. I guess I needed the break. Not doing any email during that time probably helped too.

Work was just a little tumultuous right before leaving for our vacation. I very nearly kicked one of the summer undergraduates out of the program. She had a family reunion to attend in California. When she was accepted into the program she asked if she could take a week off to go to that, plus see some friends. I told her a whole week out of a ten week program was too much. We compromised and agreed on four days. Well, she took a whole week anyway. I booted her, but after much begging on her part I relented and let her back in (I'm just a big old softy - but I did make her sweat). Around the same time I realized that my current research wasn't going anywhere and had no real future. A good friend, RP (Doc, you know who that is), had tried to gently tell me that at a conference earlier this year, but it took a few months for me to catch on. Perhaps he shouldn't have tried to sugarcoat it...

Anyway, you'd think realizing that my research program was reaching a dead end would be devastating. Perhaps it should be, but oddly enough I've found it energizing. There is a related area of research I've been looking to move into (intrinsically disordered proteins if you must know), and here's my big chance. I have a good hypothesis to work on, and I know how to test it. I have one model system that will be good for this. I just need to find another one, preferably two, so I can test the generality of the hypothesis. So over the next few months I'll be writing up the last two or three papers from my current research program while switching to the new one. That should keep me out of trouble for a while...

On an unrelated note, DocStymie put me on to an English band called The Maccabees. Check them out. They have the one album and it's called "Colour It In". If you have an English sense of humour you'll probably really enjoy "Latchmere". It's got a wave machine.

Okay, the sibs have each posted quiz questions. I guess it's my turn.

What's the difference between a duck?

Alright, alright, so it's an oldy... How about this one?

Who said "Never confuse efficiency with a liver complaint"? And in what movie?

Friday, July 06, 2007

Busy, busy, busy

It's been a busy month or two. I've been trying to get that book I'm editing finished so I can send it off to the publishers. I'm not sure I'll be doing another one any time soon... I'm also running a summer research program for eight undergraduate students, mostly from Appalachia (seven of the eight). That's been an enormous amount of work, but also a lot of fun. Mostly. Some highlights:

Welcome to the Big Smoke

On their second night in town the eight students decided to venture out to a local Mexican restaurant. They were seated next to a table with three flaming gay guys. Did I mention it was happy hour? Half price Margaritas? Make that three drunk flaming gay guys. Remember, these kids are almost all from small towns in a very impoverished part of the country. So these gay guys decide to make friends with the students. They even invited them to go watch the cross-dresser show the gay guys were appearing in. And one took a real shine to one of the male students (the female students thought this was the funniest thing they had ever experienced). A good time was had by all (except maybe the male student being hit on), and the gay guys paid for the students dinners...

We'll Send Then Home Better Than They Came (In More Ways Than One)

The students don't have a lot to do in the evenings, so they joined the campus athletics facility ($20 for the whole summer). They've become addicted to spinning classes given by this guy Patrick. Apparently Patrick could make a living as a motivational speaker - he pushes the students way past the point at which they thought they would collapse. They come in each morning exhausted from the class the night before, but they keep going back... And I'd bet that at least half these kids had never worked out before coming here.

Well That Was Awkward

The one bad part of this program so far (and hopefully the only one), came to a head last week. One of the faculty mentors was verbally abusing one of the students - the one working in his lab. This faculty member apparently has a history of being verbally abusive to the people in his lab. I had to pull the student out and put him in another lab (much to the student's relief). The really awkward part? This faculty member is very much senior to me. Thankfully, my chairman was ready to back me up if need be.

Fun, fun, fun.