In other news, I've been hazed and vetted by the genetics department. I actually, like, know people now. Highlights:
Sally hated to present to physicists. It wasn’t that they were loud or raucous; every question was politely held to the end. It was just…
“Are you sure your data is significant?”
She sighed. “The trend goes up,” she answered.
“But not by much,” her interlocutor responded. “And it sort of oscillates,” someone added.
“What’s important is that we’re hiring more diverse applicants,” she insisted.
“But we’re not getting more diverse applicants,” someone called from the back of the room. “If the pool is unchanged and we’re accepting more people, doesn’t that just mean we’re lowering our standards?”
On my way to catch my ride to Monterey, I got lost in a golf-course. I didn't even know the campus had a golf-course, but in retrospect I'm not too surprised.
The first event of the weekend was our introduction (read: public humiliation). Doug (who knows Steve from grad school, I think, wacky!) asked me what the U of C mascot is and quizzed me on the date of the Great Chicago Fire. I don't remember (1873?). Man-Wah pointed at me and said "You have an interesting hobby. What is it?" to which I responded, after a moment, "I take classes to be a circus performer." The crowd was half-full of people who didn't actually believe me (which I find sort of amusing) and people who did (mostly professors or students I had told this to on a prior occasion, and who remembered). It also set the tone for the rest of the retreat: one out of every three professors, before giving their short talks, would say "My circus trick will be [x]", where x = doing this talk without coffee, doing this talk in under fifteen minutes, impersonations, and in one case a cartwheel (I'm doing my first rotation in her lab).
I have a first rotation lined up! I'm not sure what the specifics will be, but I will be working for the next 10 weeks on DNA methylation in induced differentiation, or something like that. I have been told I will be e-mailed about it. Now I just have to worry about not embarrassing myself the moment I set foot back in a lab. Eek.
Somewhat surprisingly, my incoming class is full of gay men. (Edward, Erik, and Ernesto. I swear I am not making this up, their names do all start with the same letter.) As in, there is only one straight guy. (His name is Biff, but he is not named after Back to the Future. Again, I swear I am not making this up.) There's a bet going between two upper-classmen that his sexual orientation won't last a year. The girls are, perhaps, less straight-out-of-a-wacky-and-poorly-conceived-television-show. But except Lia they mostly stayed in at night, which was lame. So for the first night, and for volleyball (which we were terrible at), I was one of the guys (TM). It was fun.
I got to the winner's circle in the first-night poker tournament! And then promptly felt pressured to bet less cautiously in order to move the game faster, and lost. But I beat two poker sharks in the process, and they were shocked. I should have stayed cautious. Oops! But I've been challenged to a rematch, so I should work on my poker face in case that happens sometime. (Next year, for instance).
The karaoke competition was more like a talent show than a karaoke competition: costumes, altered lyrics, song and dance numbers, the whole shebang. We (the incoming class) was pressured to sing, so I convinced them to sing "I Will Survive", and everyone joined in. Unfortunately, I had a migraine and basically had to leave half-way through. Lame! Instead of doing karaoke, one of the smaller labs put together a presentation on studying the bsh-2 (pronounced bush two) knockout mutant in C. Elegans. They found two mutations had arisen that abnegated the effects of bsh-2: mcn-1 and obma-1. It was actually reasonably well done, but most everyone was drunk at the time so they all found it hilarious.
PEOPLE HANG SILKS FROM THE PULLEY SYSTEM IN THE ROCK CLIMBING WALL! (Sorry, I had to shout that.) This is something I wanted to do SO very much, and they already do! My first-week job, perhaps, will be to find these people and ask them to be my friends. Or, you know, at least let me practice with them (I have my own silks and everything).
Also, in the interest of honesty, I'm going to issue a warning: classes are about to start (on monday), so I won't be posting to this blog as much as I have been. I'll try to update at least once a week. But hopefully, you know, I'll have a life.