1st Annual BLC Christmas Letter

I’ve never written one of these (shocking, I know)- but for today’s post I thought I would follow the grotesque time honored tradition of the Christmas letter.

What made me think of this? Last night I received such a letter from my Uncle whom I adore and who is undoubtedly the finest writer of the irreverent Christmas letter that there is on this earth- and he inspired me to give it a go. I’m fairly certain that I can’t live up to my Uncle’s pristine example, but I’ll offer you my own pathetic first attempt at the genre anyway. Usually I send cards and pictures- each with a somewhat lengthy personalized handwritten note… but I’d have a tough time doing this for the readership of this blog… so here goes:  … *cough* (Damn this is hard.) *cough*

Dear BLC Readers:

This year has been a wild ride for me and my lab. We started the year as 8, and have cut the size of the lab by 1/2.. .so many students are now off the payroll for reasons that are all good- but the nest is starting to feel a little empty, so I’m unsure whether to say *yahoo* or *boo hoo*. Dr. ExcellentVeterinarian worked her tail off establishing a new animal model, and left the lab with her degree that she was planning for in hand in June . She is now gainfully employed in the job of her dreams, near her family in freaking icy cold Northern State…. and is thus … off the payroll and on her own two professional feat feet. She’ll be taking care of your lab animals, and she had a real life bench science experience with a tough-ass advisor- so for all you basic scientists- she’s gonna be on your side… if you stay on her good side.  And I’ve got to say, correcting her thesis and editing her paper while writing my A1 submission for the July 5th deadline, nearly resulted in the homocide of was nearly fatal for your humble narrator.

My three wet behind the ears (I’m so joking about that!) charming and excellent undergraduate students left me, and matriculated to professional schools. Empty nest, big time.  You may see them in the future- in exam rooms you or your pets might visit… rest assured they will know how to do a gram stain and streak for single colonies.  And, if you or your pet have got diarrhea I promise you they’ve got all the differentials down cold. You can thank me for that anytime. And my dear vegetarian-veterinarian summer student, who got a paper out of her 12 week summer rotation, is in the home stretch of professional school… I’m giving her a year or two in practice… then I’m pulling out all the stops and recruiting her back to the nest again.  I can’t stand to see her get away. I just want her to be happy.

Now for the mishaps and missteps of the year. The federal grant agency gods haven’t been as forthcoming as YHN would have liked, but I shall not be deterred. Although I’ve got severe grant writing fatigue- but I’ve also got that I’ll-show-you burst of energy about things that one gets from reading reviews that aren’t particularly insightful. And hey- I’ll consider it my Christmas gift that of those reviews are a snap to rebut… so I’m already planning my thoughtful and careful response next assault on to the reviewers… Wouldn’t it be awesome if they got DrDrA fatigue and gave me the money just so I would stop pummeling them with proposals?? Yeah, yeah, yeah that’s bullshit-  but don’t burst my bubble right now- a girl can dream.

It’s been a good year with IACUC and Recombinant DNA protocols/approvals/committees- but I’m having a little tiff with Biosafety. When a job they promised would be done in two days shut down part of my projects for 6 months- I lost my sense of humor. I’m willing to overlook this for the next two or three days and be charitable because it is a sacred holiday for some people and all- but the reprieve will be brief. Furthermore, a failure of common sense on their part in the handling of infectious agents  is a serious thorn in my backside- that is my new year’s resolution to rectify.  And this is the paragon of laboratory safety speaking.

Now the trophy tally of CV building type stuff:


  • Papers published 3
  • Papers under review: 2
  • Papers in revision:1
  • Papers in Prep: 3


  • Federal grants submitted 3


  • Graduated 1 graduate student
  • 1 graduate student-mother-of-3 with permission to write (hurray!)

I know what you are all thinking- but it would be a complete failure as a Christmas letter without even the slightest bit of bragging.

And last but not least- the blog. I’ve laughed, I’ve cried, I’ve cursed a lot… I’ve written quite a bit. The comments and discussion amaze and astound me. I’ve learned a fucking lot of new cuss words developed a whole new vocabulary. I’ve met a whole bunch of excellent colleagues and mentors (Physioprof, JuniorProf, Abel Pharmboy, Drugmonkey, Bikemonkey, Dr. J&Mrs. H, ScientistMother, Anonymoustache, Whimple, Bugdoc, ScienceGeek… and the other regular commenters here…I’m sure I’ve forgotten some of you), and some from my field have stumbled across this blog and discovered my identity… but that’s ok with me… but sheesh don’t blurt it out on the blog. I’ve developed an extreme propensity to procrastinate online an affection for my fellow bloggers and their excellent writing. The number of hits and pageviews on this blog in 1 month is about equal to the number of hits  my non-anonymous family blog got in 3 years.I’m going to have to teach my mom to be a little more web-savvy… and perhaps the numbers will become more equal between the two blogs. Thanks in advance for your help mom.

I think it is slowly time to wind this up (but I probably should have done that about 3 paragraphs ago).. but hey- if you all continue to read this blog- I’ll get another shot at the Christmas letter next year, and oh shit won’t that be fun??  (UUUgh… perhaps I should just post my Uncle’s X-mas letters!)

Love, DrDrA

P.S. I almost forgot the SERIOUS business.  I’d like to wish you all happy holidays. I’m kind of a Scrooge as far as Christmas consumerism is concerned so there will be no gifts, but I am all for togetherness- in family, in friends, and in people with like interests and concerns, and those of you with different and thought provoking perspectives. I started this blog on a complete whim back in March of this year, and although I love to write, it’s you people who keep the discussion interesting and the ideas coming to me. Thanks for stopping by, reading, and participating here!!

**and please don’t take this too seriously- I actually love the Christmas letters I get from family and friends!


26 thoughts on “1st Annual BLC Christmas Letter

  1. jc, ScientistMother, Academic, and Odyssey- Happy Holidays to all of you… and all the best in 2009! Thanks to all of you for participating on this blog!

  2. yay merry christmas, happy holidays, happy channukah, joyous kwanzaa, and anything else I forgot!

    Here’s to a well funded new year!

  3. Pinus, juniorprof, and Dr. No (I love that name, BTW)-

    Happy Holidays and I’ve got my fingers crossed and I’m worshiping the funding gods for us all! Happy New Year!!

  4. BugDoc- Same to you BugDoc, we’ll talk after the new year!

    Abel- You are very very kind, thank you. It’s been delightful getting to know you a bit this year- I thank you for your friendship. Happy Holidays to you, Pharmgirl, and Pharmkid!! And all the best in 2009!

  5. For someone who doesn’t like consumerism, I am surprised that one has a career like the one suggested. For one thing, the practice of being in a laboratory that inevitably consumes a lot of resources– space, energy (intensely cold freezers, ice makers, all the electronics of the trade), and consumable (and not usually recyclable) materials speaks of another consumerist-type lifestyle. I ask that the future allows us to think about the lifestyle we’ve chosen and to consider what taking care of the environment (people and planet) means. Consumerism just isn’t buying lots of presents from Big Box Store X.


  6. Carlysle- For someone who doesn’t like consumerism, I am surprised that one has a career like the one suggested.

    Huh? While doing biomedical research does consume resources, it is not a ‘consumerist-type lifestyle’ – it is working for the betterment of public health. I do agree that there is little awareness in the laboratory for the amount of consumables used and for how use might be reduced, and consumables might be recycled. This is something that has bothered me, and we actively work to reduce the amount of consumables that we use in my laboratory. How? Using reusable pieces instead of disposables whenever possible (i.e. glass pipets, vs. disposable plastic, glass culture tubes instead of disposable plastic etc). Doing these things comes with their own compliance issues that are perhaps not appreciated by the general public, until there is a laboratory accident…

  7. That is great that you are using glass pipettes and the sort, but think about all of those disposable plates. Think about how all of that FBS has to be disposed on the red bins and how so much of what we do use cannot easily be recycled. It takes a lot of money to run a lab and as we currently train so many people to also use up these consumables, it becomes a vicious cycle. There is no honorable mention out there for which lab recycles the most and without incentives there, science really is quite wasteful. This has also bothered me a lot. I am at a point in my career where I am beginning to reflect upon these things– as well as to reflect upon how we are using postdocs, trainees, etc. in the lab. Thanks for your comments… Didn’t mean to spark anything, but wanted to shake things up to think a bit about how we are dealing with these types of consumables…

  8. Carlysle- No, that’s fine- no worries. Yeah- I know. I worry about the amount of plastics used in the laboratory. I don’t see an easy way around much of this, as many of the things I do involve infectious biohazards and hazardous chemicals. Hard to recycle.

  9. Happy holidays to you too and I’m so with you–I hate giving presents just because it’s Christmas. The list-exchange just makes the whole thing feel silly, but without it I get some weird stuff….and I just loathe having “stuff.”

    There’s my scrooge moment out. Enjoy the winter break–you’ve really deserved it with such a productive year!

  10. Dr. J & Mrs. H.- For me the gifts are just for the kids- I’ve tried to convince my family that if they must give me something they should give money to charity in my name- or give me the money and I will give it to a charity of my choice (I love http://www.kiva.org, and http://www.playpumps.org). Stuff is just not that important to me…. not everyone is like that though- I recognize that.

    This is all part of the reason why my favorite holiday is Thanksgiving, what’s better than a day off to cook, eat and hang out with family. No baggage, no gifts, no shopping, no he wants, she wants… no big hoopla. What could be more perfect?

  11. 1. Excellent letter, thank you.
    2. Merry Christmas, belated!
    3. I very much wanted to get around to writing one of these myself, they’re so fun. The time got away from me. Is it too late? I may give it a go, anyway.
    4. Your blog is great- informative, friendly, and realistic. Glad to have you here on the internets. 🙂

  12. Why thanks very much CE- Happy belated Holidays to you as well… and Happy New Year! Thanks for reading and participating here- I enjoy your blog as well! As for the holiday letter- it’s not to late for you -you could be the first to pioneer the new years letter!

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