Friday, December 31, 2010
Here's a first go. Perhaps a proper pome will come to me over the weekend; if that happens I'll post again!
don't be infected by the bitchiness of other people's bitching, just fix the problem
pet the cats
play with your toys
make sure everybody has toys
have another chocolate
to the cats purring
Thursday, December 30, 2010
It’s been a calm week at the lab. I like this time of year, when the year-end rush is over (or given up on!), everyone’s on vacation, finally a bit of peace between the two party weekends. It might be nice to travel and see my family for the holidays, but that always turns out to be so hectic and bothersome. Stations and airports are crammed, and may close for bad weather for any length of time, plus since so many people are traveling it’s more expensive, more hassle, and there’s never anyplace to sit down. Forget it! Travel in the off-season.
So what sort of year has it been?
Every year, it always seems to have the busiest year ever. Which in a way is true, since the annual activity report shows that, yes, we did churn out more reports than ever before. (This doesn’t have to mean we did more work, just that we were more successful at it. No matter how many times you repeat an assay, only the one that worked becomes a result.)
By a lot of measures, I was busier, but not by one of the measures that my boss has really been leaning on me about: publishing. The lab has three new permanent employees, which makes the lab as a whole busier, which makes me busier because I’m the one to manage all those people. The lab must attain accreditation in the near-ish future, which may seem far away, but we are so far away from being accreditable that it’s urgent to act now. I can’t delegate much of that work until I come up with the framework for how to do it.
That’s why it feels like the heaviest year ever.
There have been worse years. The one I spent as a post-doc at Yale was pretty awful. The second year of grad school was horrid.
But this year I feel I’ve really done all I could to make things run, and it’s just quantitatively too much. I’m tired. Thank goodness this week is just coasting, or I would collapse.
On the other hand, this was also the year I got off my duff and joined some new social circles. Italian on Thursdays, which I fully intend to go test in Italy. Bridge on Wednesdays and assorted Saturdays, where I’ve become an appreciated partner. I’m learning people’s names, becoming comfortable playing a session without too many mistakes. Last night I acquired a regular partner, even, so I won’t always be arriving to play and have to wait to see who else might show up on their own. It’s neat to become part of the group, not just a visitor.
Travel happened. Of course!
There was San Sebastian, on the spur of the moment. Wonderful place. Must eat my way across Spain some day. Poitiers for one of those long weekend explorations I really must do more often. Strasbourg for a conference, in the January snow.
And a magnificent road trip to see my family and some friends in the States. We had everyone together for once, as only happens every few years. I even picked up my last Southern state: Alabama. Just three to go!
And New Year’s Eve? well, I think I’ll just relax at home. If the weather’s good, a day hike or an overnight train somewhere might be in order. I’ll work on Monday’s Poetry Bus ticket, finish up the Best of 2010 photo album, and take plenty of naps in preparation for the full-speed-ahead first Monday of the year.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Over the summer, I sent around a draft of the paper, and it came back that it might be very useful to complement the mutation information with info on the expression of some pretty common markers that interact with the genes we found mutated. That would tell a more complete story, and the work wouldn’t take long. Just five protein markers.
Five isn’t too many.
Fine. I did all that analyzing and hoped to find the new data neatly confirming what we were learning from the mutations and consolidating the tumors into a small number of groups with similar biology. Getting a handle on the biology might give us new therapeutic options.
Only, no, that didn’t happen. For every two the same, one was different, any way you looked at it.
It was like thinking that (kilt + bagpipe) might = Scots, and then assessing haggis just to be sure.
Well: kilt could be Scot or Halloween, bagpipe could be Scot or Breton, and haggis could be Scot or just weird. And none of the bona fide Scots are required to have kilt or bagpipe or haggis at all!
Things just fall into chaos when you don’t have enough samples for the p values to get really small.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Monday, December 27, 2010
I’m not sure a poem is forthcoming, but I will tell you about my most disappointing gift.
I was 8 or 10, and the apple of my grandfather’s eye. When he came to the house and deposited the presents for my brothers and me under the tree, he held mine out with a mischievous smile and said he just knew I was really going to love it.
Oh my, I thought, I’m going to love it! What could it possibly be? The package was long and thin, with something lumpy inside that rattled when you turned it upside-down. I spent a whole week wondering what could it be, with such an odd shape, going back again and again to shake, squeeze and fondle.
Finally, Christmas came.
Usually, we’d go straight for the gifts from “Santa”, because they were always the most fun. Santa always gave toys, never a pullover. This time I went straight for my mysterious gift from Granddad, tore it open at last, and what dropped into my lap but an old string of beads of mine I’d forgotten at his house over the summer.
Hey, that’s no present at all. It was as if my grandfather had given me nothing. I hope I kept from crying, but I don’t think I did. I know he really did think I’d be thrilled.
Friday, December 24, 2010
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Sorry I'm late this week for the bus. The Weaver of Grass suggested Star, take it as you will. So here we are:
It was shining in the north
didn't look so far away
looked as if you could touch it
if your finger were just a bit longer.
Let's go there, she said,
We'll see it up close
See what it really is.
So they went
across the fields and beyond the river, up the mountainside
They went through villages and cities and saw things they'd never seen before
They went through place where the language was strange
and the food indescribable
They saw new friends and old relatives,
were waylaid, made progress
they went on and on, as the seasons turned around them
forever on, crossing oceans, growing old.
They journeyed until they were as close as they could get
Leap high and catch it!
But it was just as far away
Catch the bus here!
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Poem pretending to be shoes.
Poem among our Fabulous National Champion Rugby Team's books.
What it says is here.
Friday, December 17, 2010
I received a card yesterday from a close relative, one of those studio photo montages of the family in their finery. Flipped it over to read the message, and it was just blank.
I’ve been checked off a list.
I was really irritated. From cousins I’ve seen twice in my life one might expect a simple signature. But after having sent a package of cottony/wooly items of my own design and execution, plus some chocolates (they will like the chocolates, at least) off to them just last week, it’s kind of a splash of icewater to get this card. I was hoping for a letter, some news, something personal that confirms yes, we are family.
Then I remind myself that it’s not a race, no scorecard. So what if I sent them something? That’s up to me. There’s no quid pro quo going on.
What do holiday cards mean to me, anyway? That might have nothing to do with what they mean to my relatives.
In the chilly evenings of the end of the year, I like to take the time and catch up, or at least connect, with my friends and family, and writing holiday cards is a large part of that. I love to write, and all year long I tell myself I should find time to write to people (not just to the mostly invisible audience of the blog), and all year long I don’t get around to it. Card season is the warning light that I’ve really got to get down to it. Sitting in a corner of a busy pub, with a glass and a fountain pen and a stack of cards is a great way of passing an hour, repeat as necessary.
Some years I write reams. I include extra pages in with the card, which is crammed with writing top to bottom and maybe some on the back.
What I like about sending cards is taking the time and sending a personal message. If there’s a pre-printed message, I add one of my own, but usually the whole message is mine. This is me. I’m wishing you well.
What I like about sending cards is imagining my card being placed on a mantle among the others, so colorful and diverse, in a soul-warming bouquet of happiness and good thoughts.
There is, of course, a second motive to all this sending.
More Shootouts here!
Thursday, December 16, 2010
That's International Put Your Poem In A Shop Month, for you reasonable people who do not concern themselves with leaving small pieces of paper in mercantile establishments. The rest of us, we know what it means.
Thing is, all the shops around here are full of french people. They’re expecting french poems. For a while I was thinking to write my missives in English, as I usually do, but it's possible that the surprise of coming upon a random poem like that is startling enough and if it were in English people would just crumple it up and toss it aside. So I've come up with this:
Il vient tard, il part tôt
Occupé avec ses soucis australs
Si nous, on fait un gros, gros fête
Plein de champagne, plein de cadeaux
Revient-il nous voir ?
and will be printing a bunch this evening for placement on Saturday.
Wish me luck!
Ah, yes, that's:
comes late, leaves early
occupied with his southern concerns.
If we have a great big party
with lots of champagne, lots of presents
Would he come back to see us?
Monday, December 13, 2010
This one is off to South Carolina. The jam; not the wind-ups. They're off to Scotland.
Friday, December 10, 2010
The other cats are classic feline layabouts whenever they’re inside, but Sienne likes to play. And play, and play. There’s a whole collection of things under the kitchen cupboard/table that I’m not really looking forward to finding again when I move some day. Anything at all that ends up on the floor there is great fun at night, until it ends up out of reach.
Then there’s the Shoelace. Hours of fun can be had chasing the Shoelace as it is dragged along the floor and over the armchair (where Bandersnatch is trying to sit with some dignity).
Sienne is afraid of people, except for my brother. For four years now I’ve had the same guy come feed the beasts while I’m away, and he has never once even caught a glimpse of her.
Sienne does not go out. Well, she will go out if I’m out in the yard. But she doesn’t go out when I leave for work, or overnight, like the others do. She’s a homebody cat. She likes to be on things. On the towels, on the desk, on the tall armoire, on whatever there is to be on.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
What? More than a week?
I'd better get on the ball, then, if I'm going to get (two of) these out in Saturday's mail. I have just printed out the list of our seven participants. Cut it up. Folded up the bits. Picked three.
The winners of the Fabulous Present Giveaway are.....
I was thinking of assigning the gifts randomly, but we all know how Titus feels about small windup toys. And then there's a warm scarf in dark green wool & alpaca that's shaping up very nicely, but Mark lives in the land of No Wooly Scarves Necessary, so that may be better with our friend steven of the Frozen North. Send me your snail mail addresses by email, and happiness is on it's way!
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Monday, December 6, 2010
Where the melt drips off the eaves.
Queen Anne's lace nice & frosty.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
I leapt up in the morning
happy for Saturday
bright sun through the window
cats fervently wanting out
Let's go out and pick fall leaves from the lawn
and taste the last apples from the trees.
I open the door
and the cats come barreling back in
It's cold out, Mom!
the garden is covered in ice!
December has come.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
1. A jar of home-made jam. There's apricot-thyme, apricot-ginger, apricot-lavender, blueberry, cherry, and blackberry left in the cupboard, so specify a preferred flavor if you have one.
2. A scarf that is yet to be knitted (don't worry about that - scarves go quickly!). Cotton, wool, alpaca, and rayon available.
3. A pair of wind-up dinosaurs, about 2 inches tall.