Archive for: February, 2012

A Day in the Life...

Feb 28 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

Apropos 28-and-a-PhD posting at the Scientopia guest blog I offer this...my day today.

0800 - Arrive in the office, immediate pow-pow with Business Manager about staffing issues that must be dealt with today if we are to get a new hire in place by the end of next month.

0830 - Grab a coffee and a shifty smoke. Go for a pee. Check email (25 in inbox)

0900 - Meet with Clinical Trial PI and coordinator (and student) to review database. Discover my staff didn't run a final test yesterday and there are still bugs. Fast-talk like a level 15 thief to keep our noses out of the shit.

1015 - Meet with visiting life science rep from a databasing company to discuss our work and future expansion plans.

1025 - Scientific Director hijacks meeting

1135 - Finally force meeting to close before I pee myself. Run to bathroom whimpering.

1140 - Very unshifty smoke

1143 - Impromptu phone call from collaborator at local institute updating me on developments in our area and inviting me to join the Board of a new research initiative whilst trying to wrangle promises of support for a proposal I haven't read yet

1235 - Phone battery dies. Shifty smoke. Grab lunch.

1300 - Panicky student intern interrupts lunch with request for information on his recent work performance. Break his heart.

1315 - Angry consultant interrupts lunch demanding to know why he hasn't been paid yet

1330 - Meeting with possible project collaborator for development of a campus-wide training tool

1500 - sprint to bathroom, shifty smoke

1515 - Discover why consultant hasn't been paid

1530 - Meet consultant for a shifty smoke and break his heart. Promise to try and fix.

1545 - Meet with payroll staff to discuss how to get consultant paid, and watch incompetence reach literally jaw-dropping proportions.

1600 - sneak out of room as world war three begins due to aforementioned incompetence

1615 - Follow up with my business manager regarding our 0800 meeting and submit final job description to HR

1630 - Meet with my staff to discuss the morning's clusterfuck and arrange another meeting for 0900 tomorrow because there's no point in talking about it today.

1635 - Arrange two more meetings for tomorrow and watch my calendar now fill up completely

1700 - start writing this blog post

1705 - Associate Director joins me for an impromptu chat about a personnel issue

1735 - Finish this blogpost and try and sneak out before email arrives

1737 - minutes from today's meeting arrive with SOW errors...

1738 - Scream, post to blog, shut down laptop and storm out, ready for tomorrow.

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I'm all in

Feb 09 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

I play a lot of poker. Well, more accurately, I used to play a lot of poker. When I first moved to Memphis I was broke and waiting for my first month's postdoctoral salary was hard. Doubly hard because new postdocs really make a shitty salary - I started on $38,000 which was, at the time, the NIH standard salary for someone of my experience. My postdoc mentor was kind enough to arrange an advance for me which helped cover rent and groceries for the first month, but that naturally meant a smaller paycheck for the first two months in order to pay back the advance. And as much as new postdocs are enslaved to the lab for 14 hours a day, we are also often gregarious creatures who need to blow off a bit off steam in the pub and the thought of sitting at home, on the floor listening to the radio waiting for my furniture to arrive from DC and my paychecks to catch up with my meager lifestyle was not an option for me. So, I found a local poker game to play in, and one game became two, which became three, and within a few weeks I was playing poker five or six nights a week.

There are a lot of analogies, metaphors and aphorisms about the game of poker and the game of life. I've written before about the language of poker and the language of science. I've written elsewhere, now long gone, about the thrill of the game, of having a winning hand and knowing it's a winning hand. And of the darker thrill of thinking you have winning hand and playing it out, sometimes against the odds.

I'm back in the game now, and I'm all in.

I can't go into details really, but suffice it to say I am playing for the whole stack right now. The cards are dealt, I know what's in my hand and I've got a better than evens chance of being correct at guessing the hands of some of the other players. I can see the cards on the table and I've got a great hand. I might even have the winning hand. But there's one more round of betting left in the game and the stakes are so high I had to fold and lose everything or just go all in.

I called the bet and went all in.

Everything now rests on the actions of one more player. The play decides my future, immediate and long term. I hope the bet is called and the chips are all on the table. I hope we go there. Everyone stacked into the pot. But more than that, I hope when that bet is called and the cards are shown that I have the hand I think I do.

Win big or go home. I'm all in.

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