Archive for the 'BlogBlather' category

Happy 2017!

Jan 01 2017 Published by under BlogBlather

Happy New Year everyone!

Generate knowledge.

Act like a decent person.

Oppose and illuminate the indecent behavior that crosses your path.

3 responses so far

Twelve Months of Drugmonkey (2016)

Dec 22 2016 Published by under BlogBlather

I've been doing these year-end summaries for quite some time now. Previously I've posted a link to the first post of every month. For this year I'm going to shake it up and post the last entry of the month.

Jan: In the NIH extramural grant funding world the maximum duration for a project is 5 years.

Feb: There are these moments in science where you face a decision...Am I going to be the selfish asshole here?

Mar: Jocelyn Kaiser reports that some people who applied for MIRA person-not-project support from NIGMS are now complaining.

Apr: The Ramirez Group is practicing open grantsmanship by posting "R01 Style" documents on a website.

May: By now most of you are familiar with the huge plume of vapor emitted by a user of an e-cigarette device on the streets.

Jun: A Daniel Sarewitz wrote an opinion piece in Nature awhile back to argue that the pressure to publish regularly has driven down the quality of science.

Jul: The other lesson to be drawn from recent political events and applied to science careers is not to let toxic personalities drive the ship.

Aug: From the NYT account of the shooting of Dennis Charney:

Sep: The NIH FOAs come in many flavors of specificity.

Oct: Imagine that the New Investigator status (no prior service as PI of major NIH grant) required an extra timeline document?

Nov: So. A federal judge* managed to put a hold on Obama's move to increase the threshold for overtime exemption.

Dec: If you love the NIH and its mission, your mantra for the next four years is a simple one.


3 responses so far

Seven jobs

Aug 05 2016 Published by under BlogBlather, Meme

Someone asked about your first seven jobs on the twitts:

It's especially interesting to me because I have on again, off again conversations with a peer or two about how the employment history of academic trainees makes a difference. In essence my position boils down to thinking the more you've learned to work hard in shitty jobs, the more you are able to see academic science as a fine privilege that deserves a little bit of hard work. And the less you see it as your entitlement by birthright that functions as an optional vocation that should reward you with a comfortable life regardless of performance.
(#7firstjobs might be entertaining)

My answer was:

1) baby sitter: Probably the first thing I ever did for cash. 11 years old? maybe? It was basically the covering for the parents going out on a date type of deal. So, very easy work putting the kids to bed and watching television for a few hours. We didn't have a teevee so that was part of the compensation as far as I was concerned.

2) lawn mower: I always mostly enjoyed the mowing of my own lawn as a kid. A straightforward job with a clear endpoint. And you could look at your work and see a difference. So I mowed a few lawns around the neighborhood. Not totally sure start and end dates but lets say before the age of 12. Pretty easy money.

3) forestry labor: pulling christmas trees out of the woods in knee high snow, fertilizing and trimming trees in the summer. tree tagging. maple sugaring. clearing stuff from place a to place b. off and on from about 8 or 10 to mid teens, I think. Learned all about getting the thing done, no excuses*, in this stint. And about actual hard work. And, eventually, something about the rewards of being the guy the boss can trust to get the thing accomplished.

4) table waiter: for a few years I worked summers at a Gordon Conference location. three meals a day and all the breaks in between to screw around with the other kids who worked there. high school years.....MAN we had fun. One summer at a real restaurant- better money, shorter overall hours, but way less fun.

5) contractor crew: Dumb labor of "move all this heavy shit over to where the skilled people are" to start. Also "hold this". Eventually learned a little bit of framing, sheetrocking, insulation and some other stuff. Formative job for sure. 10 h days, 4 days a week. Work, home, eat, shower, sleep, off to work again. Trying to get in my bike training- remember that post work scene in Breaking Away? Like that. Working next to 40-50 y old guys for whom this was all it was ever going to be. Boss who rode you no matter the fact you were a dumb laborer (in pay) because he expected you to act like an experienced carpenter. Another really clear lesson about being the guy who gets shit done- my friend joined the crew at same time and was fired in two weeks. Ended a bust ass exhausting summer and went back to school where I wrote a tuition check for essentially the entire amount I had earned all summer (lesson learned, Dad, lesson learned).

6) dishwasher: really brief stint in a nasty, cramped kitchen of a pretty chi chi resort restaurant. The meals we got when on shift were phenomenal, but the work...I may never have been so grimy in my life before or since. Had some exp with industrial dishwashing due to number 4 but...ugh. This blew.

7) music festival roustabout: Built staging, ran spotlights, picked up the talent from the airport. Don McLean (American Pie fame) was an asshole. Remaining Mommas and Poppas were cool. Bonnie Rait concert was amazing.

How about you, folks? What were your first seven paying gigs?

*One of my favorite lines, issued in the context of putting hay into pickemuptrucks, from the boss of this outfit (who is kind of uncle-like in my development as a man): "Don't wish it up there, Randy!".

42 responses so far


Jul 29 2016 Published by under BlogBlather, Careerism

The other lesson to be drawn from recent political events and applied to science careers is not to let toxic personalities drive the ship. 

Yes this means not giving them control over anything that is really important. 
But it also means not letting them control you to the extent you are reacting to them, more than doing your thing. 

It applies to grant and paper revisions. It applies to the science you do, how you do it and who you choose to work with. 

It means you need to wall the toxic actors off in their own little silo, only dealing with them at need or desire. 

13 responses so far

I should really post something science related

Jul 28 2016 Published by under BlogBlather, Day in the life of DrugMonkey

Really I've been meaning to, Dear Reader.

I've been distracted by a couple of work related things.

But I do want to draw together a thought from the Democratic convention speeches this week and the profession of science.

We are stronger together. Science works best when it is collaborative...we all parrot this truthism at one time or another. And we do collaborate. Within our laboratories if nothing else.

There is also competition. No doubt, no doubt. Very pointed in some ways. We've talked about the long odds of making it through to the professor chair, of getting the grants funded and of getting the paper published in just the right journals.

It's tempting to go low.

Michelle Obama says she always goes high when they go low.

She's right, you know? In the short term it may cost you a bit. Missing that opportunity to do dirt to your professional competition may let them advance in some small way beyond you. Maybe a not so small way.

I'm convinced, however, that taking the high road tends to work out better in the long run.

My confidence in this was wavering a tiny little bit in recent times. It's nice to be reminded that people who act the ass eventually are going to pay a price. You can get by for a little while but eventually, eventually, you are going to run out of those willing to give you a benefit of the doubt. Run out of friends and supporters. Run out of collaborators.

Because when it comes right down to it there are many scientific collaborators out there to work with. If you develop a bad reputation, they will choose others.

It took until this week to see a full slate of unreserved admiration and respect for the political life of Hillary Clinton on display. To my recollection anyway. It took a long time for her. I don't know that she always took the high road but she sure didn't take many low ones, especially given the vitriol directed at her over the years.

So I'm not saying take the high road because it will lead to immediate recognition and reward. It may take some time. It may never occur.

But hey, at least you can look yourself in the mirror every day without flinching.

11 responses so far

Sunday Sermon

Apr 24 2016 Published by under BlogBlather

I just want you to think about that which you do. 

53 responses so far

You meet the nicest people on the science blogs

Mar 17 2016 Published by under BlogBlather

I was recently reminded, again, that the science folks on social media are pretty good folks to know. If you happen to notice that you will be travel overlapping in a city with someone you only know via the blogs or the Twitters, reach out.

It won't always be possible* to meet up for a coffee, beer or meal, sure. But if you can work out the scheduling, it is well worth it.

In other news, I finally got a chance to meet Dr. Rubidium. So that was nice.

In case you missed it on the twitters, she's Scientopia's latest newly hired Assistant Professor, starting in the fall.

Please join me in congratulating her, if you missed the chance to do so on Twitter.

*and yeah, I know, creepers are on social sci-media too. Be circumspect. Get references from people you trust if you have to! 🙂

3 responses so far

A comprehensive guide to using social media to your advantage

1. Entertain yourself.

7 responses so far


Nine years.

Nine years ago my dismay at the way certain Ecstasy and pot enthusiasts conducted misinformation campaigns online, and dismay over certain realities of the scientific career arc reached a threshold.

I had been reading science blogs and, particularly, several ScienceBlogs, so the outlet immediately presented itself.

Much spleen has been vented and my sanity kept near the critical line.

I've read comments from people that I would have never known, still don't beyond the confines of this blog in many cases* and learned a great deal as a consequence.

I've gotten to know people in my field that I would have known only at a handshake level. I've gotten to know some fantastic people in other fields or walks of life that I would have never run across.

In short, it has been a lot of fun writing this blog over the past nine years.

I can quit anytime I want.
*as recently as the last few months I've had a long term blog commenter out self to me and I was shocked to discover it wasn't a woman like I thought.

24 responses so far

Twelve Months of DrugMonkey (2015)

Dec 19 2015 Published by under BlogBlather, Blogging

Jan: Here's to wishing all of my Readers a fantastic 2015. May your grants be funded, your papers accepted and your promotions obtained.

Feb: Some people try to get into a mental frame for grant writing with disruptions of their normal workaday routine.

Mar: There is one thing that concerns me about the Journal of Neuroscience banning three authors from future submission in the wake of a paper retraction.

Apr: challdreams wrote on rejection.

 These things may or may not be part of your personal life, where rejection rears its head at times and you are left to deal with the fall out.

May: Neuroscientist Nikos Logothetis (PubMed) has informed his colleagues that he is stopping his long running nonhuman primate research program.

Jun: First of all, if you don't understand that anything featuring groups of humans is in the broader sense "political" than you are a fool.

Jul: I still get irritated every time a PO gives me some grant advice or guidance that is discordant with my best understanding of the process.

Aug: Sometimes, I page back through my Web of Science list of pubs to the minimal citations range.

Sep: How many staff members (mix of techs, undergrads, graduate students, postdocs, staff sci, PI) constitute a "medium sized laboratory" in your opinion?

Oct: Are you familiar with any Universities that award some sort of official recognition of the completion of a postdoctoral term of scientific training?

Nov: PAR-16-025 invites applications for the R50 Research Specialist award.

Dec: It emerged on the Twitts today that sometimes postdocs can defer student loans and sometimes they cannot.

One response so far

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