On Discipline

A word of warning, I write this as therapy for myself.

In the last couple of weeks I’ve had a couple of incidents with my daughters that were totally frustrating to me. And of course, there is always commentary from the peanut gallery (read parents) on how I’m handling parenting, whether my daughters- esp. my younger one are growing up to be little delinquents. I don’t know which is more frustrating- the disciplinary problem, or the peanut gallery commentary.

It all started the other night on my way home… I got a call from BigA… saying that littleA just put Elmer’s glue in her dinner. Continue reading

Schedule: The Next 6 Months..

Yesterday I felt things spinning out of control so I decided to make a schedule to put above my desk (maybe on my forehead would be better) of all the grants that I’m writing/ participating in in the next 6 months. My colleague called it ‘ambitious’, I call it ‘insane’.

That’s 8, count em- 8 federal grants in the next 6 months. 1 A2, 1 A1 (I’m bein’ a pessimist), a new NIH submission, 2 non-NIH resubmissions, and 3 new submissions as co-PI.  I better get those manuscripts off my desk before the shit really hits the fan here in a couple of days. That’s 4 manuscripts … 1 in revision that must go out this week, 1 in revision that we are finishing experiments for (that’s keeping me up nights), 1 review that must go out this week, and 1 that is only in need of a discussion that must go out SOON.

This landscape will be complicated by teaching … not so much, just 8 lectures in the next 3 months or so, but still complicated.

Stick with me, it should be an interesting ride!

The Ugly Story of Texas Curriculum Standards

This shit drives me up the wall.  When, when, when are we going to learn this:

….scientifically illiterate boards of education should leave the curriculum to educators and scientists who know what constitutes a sound education. (italics are mine)

Speaking as someone who sees those high school kids when they get to college, and med school- I’m begging state boards of education members to know the limits of their expertise, to keep their personal beliefs to themselves, to stop using their position of power to evangelize in PUBLIC SCHOOL SCIENCE CLASS, and generally to knock off the nonsense and let those kids learn some actual SCIENCE in science class.

It would do these kids a huge favor, and make my job easier.

Unsolicited Advice: Writing Part IV… A Proper Paragraph

So, let’s see, we’ve covered sentences and passive vs. active voice… I’m doing things a little out of order. I’m going to try to build on the sentence, and take you all to the paragraph in this one.

I somehow feel that this is high school stuff, or maybe even elementary school stuff.  I’ve seen BigA write some quality 4th grade paragraphs that put the writing of undergraduate college students to shame. However, I recognize that she is extraordinary and that public education in this country might not be what it used to be (Sniff,… sob!), that my dad may have been only dad holding the red pen to a kid’s writing in high school, and that I was a prolific letter writer in the snail-mail era.

Good Education+Tough Critic+Lots of Practice = Ability to write killer reasonable paragraph.

The paragraph is a unit used to convey a unified thought, Continue reading

DFH, part 3…

Me and Bikemonkey are having a little competition of the DFH (that’s Dirty Folk Heroes… for the uninitiated)…. touched off by Pete Seeger.  For you, Bikemonkey- I’ll pull out the old Billy Bragg…

Although I realize this really falls more under protest than folk… but when he does this on the acoustic guitar… it’s folk! And this…

Although I have to say I’m feeling a lot better about the youth of America in the last 6 or so months…

Pete Seeger on the Mall..

Ok, I thought the crying of inauguration day was over… and then I found this in my reader…

…posted over at Effect Measure (Go over there and read the whole post) …. and I’m awash again.  I grew up listening to Pete Seeger, and I have a love for American Folk Music, and the movement that this music represents, instilled in me by my father. I love this Woody Guthrie classic… with and without the forbidden verses, I had to share.

Dear DrDrA… (Postdoc vs. Technician?) (UPDATED)

I received the following letter:

Dear DrDrA-

I was going through your blog yesterday trying to find any advice about whom to hire as a first lab personnel when you start a new lab. Is it ideally a technician, experienced, or fresh? Or a postdoc? I have interviewed a postdoc candidate who is eager to join and a too experienced lab assistant whose boss has lost all the grants.  Somebody advised me never to hire a postdoc until I get somehow established, because he/she will just grab my projects and be gone with them. If you could give me suggestions, I would appreciate it very much.

Sincerely, Fresh Jr. Faculty Member (!)

I wrote a little reply, and here’s what I said.  I’m blogging it though, so y’all can add your 2 cents worth- and remind we where we have had this discussion before.. Continue reading

Overheard at DrDrA’s house…

Top 10 things overheard in DrDrA’s house in the last 24 hrs:

10. Dad says we can take our swimsuits and go in the pool. (From BigA,… it’s 70 degrees here and suddenly they think this is the tropics.. I’m cursing their dad right now).

9.  You need your hair cut, I like your hair a little shorter! (From yia yia (greek for grandma)… about my hair…)

8.  How’s that for daredevil! (From the bigA after jumping into the 50 degree pool …. to do one better than her sister who took the stairs in.)

7.  Can I borrow your car so I can go get some shit? (From DrMrA who put in a vegetable garden plot for littleA the last couple days.)

6. Want to practice mitosis with me? (DrMrA made some new visual aids for teaching and wanted to demo them for me)

5. Should I make cheese AND spinach pies? (From yia yia… needless to say, all diets are off for a while.)

4.  I don’t wanna practice for my piano theory test, because I can already do it perfect. (From littleA while being exhorted to practice for tomorrow’s piano theory test by her mother…)

3.  We are out of yeast and onions… (From DrMrA …Sheesh, grandma has only been in the house 24 hrs. and we are ALREADY OUT??)

2. Can I have an email address? (From BigA… and she got one… and now she can bug love on me by two different methods while I’m at work, instead of just one).

And… drumroll please…..

1. Mommy, I want to be just like you! (From littleA while observing my dog walking technique)  AAAAHhhhh. I’m doing this job right, I think- not the dog walking, the mommy part!

(And I’m waiting for my father-in-law to tell me I got ‘little fatter’ since he has last seen me… I’m giving him about 3 more days…)

“Men can have it all, women can’t” (UPDATED)

Oddly, while I was watching the inoguration live stream from the New York Times site this morning- I noticed this little article entitled ‘In ‘Geek Chic’ and Obama, New Hope for Lifting Women in Science’ right next to the streaming window. I vowed that I would go back and read it after the speeches were over.

And I did. The article says pretty much what you would expect and what we who work in academic science all know. This pretty much sums up the latest:

Some would like to see novel approaches to treating systemic problems that often work against women’s scientific ambitions. Mary Ann Mason and Marc Goulden of the University of California, Berkeley, have gathered extensive data showing stark male-female differences in the family structure and personal lives of academic researchers at the top tiers of the profession.

Surveying outcomes for 160,000 Ph.D. recipients across the United States, the researchers determined that 70 percent of male tenured professors were married with children, compared with only 44 percent of their tenured female colleagues. Continue reading

Descriptive vs. Hypothesis-driven, part II

You people are writing my posts for me. On my recent post about descriptive vs. hypothesis driven research commenter Whimple picked up what I thought was a fairly dead thread… and said (among other things)…

“Is the difference between a descriptive hypothesis and a mechanistic hypothesis that the mechanistic hypothesis is falsifiable?”

Regular and thoughtful commenter DSKS replies…

A hypothesis must be falsifiable period, whether broad and weakly-focused (omics, “fishing expeditions” and so forth) or narrow and explicit. I think the latter is what is often referred to as “mechanistic” science, even though all science is ultimately directed towards establishing cause.

I think the current brouhaha about “descriptive science” conflates two separate issues best described by the following examples:

1) The serendipitous discovery: The investigator is testing her prediction that Treatment A will increase Variable X. During analysis, however, she discovers a trend indicating that Treatment A also appears to have changed Variable Y. Continue reading