My peeps are the best. They are incredible. When there is a problem, everyone steps up. Everyone stays late. We do large animal work, and its challenging. Beyond the usual lab problems, concern and care and husbandry for the animals is a challenge. Baby mammals need to be fed every 2-6 hours depending on age. That means somebody is going to have to do a 2 am or 4 am feeding. We have enough peeps that the 2am feeding person doesn't have to show up for 8 am surgery. But sometimes there is a problem.
Late yesterday afternoon, an animal pulled out of a piece of surgical something. The animal was in discomfort. Taking care of this problem was paramount. It trumped: exercise class, dinner plans, etc. (Note: it does not trump child care, but that is not a problem with the current peeps). Everyone stayed. No one said "do you still need me?". The animal was in good shape and resting easy by 6:30pm. Everyone went home. Some peeps (me, too) showed up at 7am to fix what went wrong so we could still get data from an animal. That is my commitment, my promise to these animals: your life makes a difference. We will take care of you, we will keep you from pain and discomfort, and we will get data that will make a difference.
We did one fix-it, and now are heading back to the scheduled surgery for today. Everyone is here, and ready to go. People are a bit tired, but that's what happens when you run 12 hour days for 2 weeks. The data are good. I love my peeps.
Newly discovered downside of being at an almost-MRU. IT sucks. I have to say that IT at my last major MRU wasn't great. But they never did what these idiots have done.
We have been having massive ongoing email problems. On the desktops. On the laptops. On the phones. On teh intertubes. Then yesterday (because this is the boonies), a truck hit a pole, not on campus, but on the street leading in, and took out the entire internet. For about 8 hours. In the middle of the day. Let me tell you how that enhanced productivity (and no, if you don't waste time on the web, losing it means losing all sorts of useful tools). (and yes, I am pre-internet, so don't fucking lecture me on the joys of unplugged work. I'm not in the fucking mood).
So starting this morning, email was once again not working, at least on teh desktops. But Ok on the web. So... I went to my phone (which I usually don't use during the day at work), and lo! they fucking locked me outof my (private, self-paid-for) phone. I spent an hour on the phone (office, deskphone) with AT&T who basically said: "sorry dude, need to do a complete factory reset. I don't care if you have 5472 entries in your phone book, etc etc. We can't do this. Privacy laws, you know".
I was reluctant to give up all the Good Stuff on my phone. I was also reluctant to get my not-inconsiderable-ass down to an ATT store so they could do this. And, after much cursing and grumbling, .. lo! teh email started working. And lo! I could logon to my phone using my UNIVERSITYpassword. Not any password associated with my (private, self-paid-fo) phone. The frigging IT department took over my phone.
Moral: I need two phones, one that the uni can take over and cause minor email related inconvenience and one that they can't.
One of my favorites is Arvo Paart, to whom I have been listening since mid-1980s (my first job!), in particular Tabula Rasa (possibly his most accessible piece, if you're starting. Here's a New Yorker article about him). I came to Paart by way of Philip Glass (who has a new autobiography out). I find the minimalist music to be clear, and when you listen, far from simple. Another is Veljo Tormis (whose Litany to Thunder is a more vigorous piece).
Right now I am listening to Heino Eller who I heard this morning. This 1917 piece is a little more lush/lyrical than what I heard, the 1953 5 Pieces. But its a start.
Advertent is the opposite of inadvertent. Advertency means paying attention, taking heed. It is the process of being advertent.
Sometimes I'm just blasting through life. There are problems. There are people with problems. There are animals with problems. There are problems with my talk, my grant, my life, my goddam bank account. I tend to lose attention.
My talk. I was going to say I have become one of the olde farts about which I used to complain. That I dashed off my talk and didn't put energy/time/effort into it. One of the old farts who stands, or usually sits, at a table and Holds Court.
But I haven't. I went to all the posters in my society, I reached out to students I didn't know and asked about their work. My sense that I have become one of the jerks that doesn't put energy into their talks isn't true. What is true is that writing and giving talks has over the years become much much easier for me. What is also true is that I no longer obsess about the very small stylistic/design issues that keep one up at night in the hotel the night before one's talk. I was able to do my talk before I left, and didn't take a computer. My shoulders thank me. My talk was good. I had good context that put my work in a place that others could understand. I made good specific points. I made my peeps co-authors and had their names big on the first slide. Someone noticed that, and asked me about it. I love my peeps.
Other things that were good: Talking with tweep friends. Breakfast with @doc_becca: her hand-nails are the same color as my toe-nails. I saw Mom. Seeing Mom is always good for me. Mom looks good. Mom always looks good. I love Mom.
I missed the tweet-up on Sunday night. I missed it because I had dinner with one of my long-time collaborators. He is in his late 80s and gave a kick-ass talk at the meetings. I said to him that I am now older than he was when we started working together. It's been a long time. I am a scientist because of his intellectual generosity. I love the tweeps, but dinner with him was the second best thing that happened in Boston to me.
The best thing was having dinner with my nephew who is an undergrad at Tufts. He is going to major in geology. Woot! woot! (I was a geologist in a previous life. Um, that would be before you were born, but after I was). We went to a fancy restaurant in Harvard Sq and had a fantastic time. I love my nephew. He is smart and witty and a great person to talk with. The two hours went by way too quickly.
I also learned a lot, heard some good talks. My favorite was on sea horse tails by Dominique Adriaens. Great biomechanics. Great research and a good solid story about why something looks the way it does and works the way it does.
There were some not great things. It is always wonderful to see people, and talk with people. But I was left with some real concerns. Nothing new. The same story about survival in science. Survival in all the age groups/generations. But it was very visceral to me. These merit a separate post, and this is coming.