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Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Back at work

Yuck. Yesterday was my first day back at work. I managed to stay awake and strolled into work a little before 10. In my lab that is largely regarded as "the crack of dawn" so I felt rather proud of myself. Of course I wasn't the earliest, and the first thing I did after getting through the security doors (naturally I had left my security card at home and my locker key) was join 3 exhausted looking colleagues for nice cup of coffee. They too were on their first day back and after being in work for almost 30 minutes were recharging with caffeine and wishing they were back in bed.

Obviously the firs thing to do after coffee was plug in the laptop and open my email... 69 new emails. Joy. My Dad of course scoffed at this - after all he had 250 when he opened his mail after christmas - but I'm not a middle manager and actually have to work for a living. Email is supposedly a useful communication tool for me, not my raison d'etre. Half of the mails I had already read, since I forward stuff to my hotmail account. Most of the rest had been filtered by hotmail as junk - and rightly so. Remember I said that I hadn't received any Nigerian begging letters or won any lotteries lately? Wrong - they just hadn't made it past the filters. Naturally the University doesn't filter mail so they were all waiting for me. Most amusing was the $100,000 I won in the "Mother Theresa Games" - which conjured up images of a raison in a habit doing the long jump.

Well, the rumours are true. SWMNBN is hoping to move to the office by our lab. When I started this job I was aware that SWMNBN was... difficult... to work for. But I comforted myself with the knowledge that she worked on the otherside of campus with her own group and our paths would cross once every couple of months. Well that was a naive thought. Our "progress" meetings have escalated in frequency to once every 3 weeks on average, meaning that if experiments don't work first time (all too common I'm afraid) there is no time to correct the problems and repeat things - leaving me feeling like a slightly backward chimp as I try to spin things in a positive light. Having grown accustomed to the "tell me what you are going to do and let me know how it went" style of management practised by my PhD supervisor, the "we are having a meeting on this arbritary date and I expect results" style of management was something of a culture shock. Now that SWMNBN's lab has shrunk from several postgrads and postdocs to Me, myself and I it looks like micromanagement from over my left shoulder will be the order of the day for 2005. Time to dust of the CV...

The rest of the day wasn't too bad. At the moment I am remaking some engineered yeast strains which I inadvertantly killed before christmas. I see no reason to bother SWMNBN with this cockup, I think I'll just discretely recreate them. Moral of the story? Freeze all new strains immediately in long term storage instead of leaving them on agar plates on the bench to die. Bugger.

The rest of the day was spent trying to find a comprehensible, lead-me-by-the-hand, website explaining how to perform the statistical test ANOVA. I used to have a great little book aimed at A level biologists (High school level for non-Brits) that showed how to perform all manner of basic statistical tests. Some would argue that a book that explained basic maths with examples such as "Ranjit and Selena were catching insects down by the river..." and showed their working could be a little patronising for someone with a doctorate in molecular biology - but the damn thing proved so popular that some bugger "borrowed it" and I can't find it.

Good news however on the insomnia front. I nodded off shortly before midnight last night and am sitting here refreshed at 7am. Looks like I am going to shock my colleagues again by coming into work before 10am for the second day in a row. Wonder how long I can keep it up?

"Celebrity" Big Brother
I was asleep before the live feed so I have no idea how the new housemate is faring. In what may well be a stroke of genius, big brother has thrown a ninth housemate into the mix. The 71 year old astrologer and pet psychic... Jackie Stallone. Yep, Brigitte's former mother-in-law. The 2 haven't spoken since 1987 apparently, when Brigitte and Sly divorced. The woman is patently mad as a hatter, and apparently capable of telling a person's fortune by looking at their arses. You couldn't make this stuff up. Apart from the obvious frition between the former relatives (Jackie wished for Brigitte to fall in an earthquake crater apparently), I look forward to some fireworks between her and his sulkiness John. Kenzie looked shell-shocked and Germaine looked as if she had just fallen through the looking glass. Bez seemed unaffected, he probably assumed it was just a drug flashback and she'd be gone in the morning.

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