Friday, May 01, 2009

Photographic Memory

So, I have a camera. I brought it to silks class last night. And foolishly forgot to exchange the standard-installed 32MB SD card for one of my 2GB SD cards. Which means that after about 10 seconds recording the preparation for the cool new drop I learned (Monica calls it the 'mission impossible'), the card was full and no more pictures or videos of Elizabeth. It pretty much looked like 10 seconds of me flailing about midair. So I'm not posting it, much as I'm sure a few of you would get a laugh out of that.

On the other hand, the trick (which I promise to get video of sooner or later) is really wacky, and somewhat terrifying. It's one of those things that you have to train your body to be used to -- on the verge of very painful, and half the neurons in your head firing saying "I should be falling to a concussive death right about now; the only thing that's holding me up is this tenuous knot that I don't trust." Of course, the other half are firing to say "Wait, what the heck do I do next?"

And then there's the moment when you're suspended fifteen-or-so feet up, horizontal, arms as wide as you can, fabric over your shoulders in an impromptu harness, holding on tightly, and paused midair. And then you slowly let the fabric slide through your hands, and you rotate head-over-heels as you sink to the ground. Flip, flip, flip.

And then there's the best moment of all, which is when you land on your feet, shrug the fabrics off of your shoulders, step out of your impromptu harness, and walk (or in my case half-walk half-skip half-trip) away.

So, to those of you to whom I promised pictures, well, maybe next week? I am hopeful. I am more hopeful about taking pictures of the garden this weekend, which will almost certainly happen, 2GB SD card or no.

In other news, I have fabric burns on the backs of my knees. There's this evil, evil climb (called a knee climb?) which if I ever figured out probably wouldn't give me rope burn, but apparently my knees are not strong enough to clamp on to the fabric, and as such they slide, to interesting (and not altogether pleasant) result. Honestly, I can see the choreographic value of the climb -- it keeps the silks separated and you in the middle, which is the starting position for a large number of tricks, and besides it looks fairly cool -- but... ouch.

In other other news, I think I have a strange talent for remembering lots of random details about a person but not their name. I ran into a post-doc by the coffee machine today (strange only because it's the Pathology coffee machine and we're both Geneticists), and she said hi, and "I think I remember you from the retreat," and I responded, "Oh, I remember you, you're in so-and-so's lab, you're a post doc, and you presented in CIG this fall."

Of course, I couldn't for the life of me remember what her name was. Score one for creepy!Elizabeth. I guess it's better than one alternative -- which is, remember absolutely nothing about anyone, rather like my father -- but I'd sort of like to remember people's names every now and again. Maybe I should write them down, like flashcards. If I work really hard at it, I could become good at remembering people's names. I wasn't too terrible when coaching, although there were definitely a couple of kids who got the worse for it. But that's how I am, I guess -- I'll remember that your second cousin from Missouri's new husband does R&D for GM, but I won't remember that your name is Jim.

She asked how the rotations were going, I told her they were going quite well, and that it just came down to choosing a lab -- and that I was a bit nervous to do so. She said to choose based on the relationship with the PI over the science, because the science is good at pretty much any lab here, and having a good mentoring relationship with the PI can make or break a PhD. Which I sort of agree with, and I sort of already knew, and my "problem" is not really a problem so much as a surplus of good choices -- two out of my three rotations have been interesting projects, with good and accessible mentors, in friendly labs that I could get along with. A couple of the more significant differences between them have recently dissolved, as well. So that's awesome, because they dissolved in the 'potential downside disappearing' way instead of the 'potential upside disappearing' way, but it means there are fewer clear-cut differentiators to make my decision on.

What even makes a good PhD lab? I've heard everything from "The science. The science will sustain you." to "The environment; good environments lead to good science, bad environments lead to burn-outs and misery." I think it's probably somewhere in between, especially someplace like where I am, where everyone is doing "good science", and the question becomes more what is personally interesting to me. But that's never been much of a guide, since "what is personally interesting to me" has always been a terribly broad category (at least I've gotten out of the 'a' word careers: I will be neither an Acrobat nor an Author, or perhaps I will be both but neither as a profession).

I went to a talk on Wednesday, and the majority of each of the three labs I rotated in was present. The talk was very good, and very interesting, and the fact that all three labs I rotated in were there was a demonstration of one thing: even though I have interests in a wide variety of areas, I have narrowed it down in terms of what I want to study. (Of course, narrowing it down to something like "Chromatin Regulation" doesn't say very much; what aspect of chromatin?) I guess I just need to start drawing up a flow chart, full of positives and negatives, and really thinking seriously about the choice I'm faced with. Talk to people outside of any of the labs; they will most likely have advice. Because general subject won't get me anywhere and managerial style or size of the lab will only get me so far. Any suggestions?

4 comments:

ayn said...

Hooray camera! I'm excited to get to see shots/vid of all the things you've been doing, finally. =)

Also, I'm glad that it sounds like your lab options are good, though I know it doesn't make it an easier to make a decision. Good luck!

Ed Finn said...

Yup. Make a list, a table, a diagram with circles and arrows, a flow chart, a spreadsheet, a powerpoint, and cross off items one by one. Then decide -- go with your gut, based on none of that. But all of it having been necessary. And I do remember your name, at least.

the idiot said...

you could try writing their name on their forehead, with a sharpe

Elizabeth said...

@Daniel: That could work, but I think people would appreciate sharpie attacks even less than me forgetting their name.

@Dad: You're right; it's just mom who calls me Susan.

@Ayn: Pictures with my next post, I promise!