Thursday, October 30, 2008


I can haz been tagged? Yes, apparently. And since there are those among you who believe I never respond to memes, here goes the 6 random things that you never really cared to know about Nat. Gripping reading, truly. Hopefully you all don't have grants or papers to finish, because you might just be spending all day today reading and pondering these 6 little pieces. First, the rules:

1. Link to the person who tagged you. River Tam! but I think someone else did too! Not sure who though.

2. Post the rules on your blog.

3. Write six random things about yourself.

4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.

5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.

6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

So here goes!

1) I'm an obligate left sided person. Writing, eating, kicking a ball, hell even my left eye (R.I.P.) has higher acuity. The right side is only good for sleeping on, and mousing, or using a manipulator for electrophysiology. In fact, I find it hard to do the last two with my left hand. Years of training apparently can overcome the natural preference I suppose.

2) I have a family nickname, that nobody else calls me: Bugs. In fact, when my family refers to me by my name, it feels weird.

3) I started grad school at Stanford. During the whole interviewing process, I never thought that I'd end up there, but I was interested to see the department I applied to and also to see California. Yet when I visited, I could really get the sense that it was a special department, and came away convinced that it was the right place for me. And it was great. But the whole residency match process didn't want to cooperate, so when my soon to be wife matched to do her residency in Boston, I immediately started the process of trying to find a place in Boston to which I could come. We had already lived apart for nearly 2 years, and there was no way I wanted to let that continue. Actually in the end, it all worked out for the best. The only thing I miss about California is the weather.

4) When I was a little kid, whenever someone would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I answered zoologist. And though I'm not really a zoologist, I am a biologist. So that's pretty close.

5) When I entered college, had no intention of majoring in biology. I thought I'd do something like economics or study languages or something. In fact, as a second year I took a series of non-major biology courses to fulfill the Core requirements. But it turned out I enjoyed them so much that I completely switched over, and never once looked back.

6) I had to retake a driver's test in 2005 after 11 years of not having a driver's license. I had (stupidly it turned out) let mine lapse after I went to college and my parents moved to England. During that time I was living in Chicago so it wasn't much of an issue as public transportation was fine. Of course it stunk in California, which it turns out it not made for pedestrians. But after a few years driving around Boston, I'm back to being the mediocre driver I always was!

Okay, I won't tag anyone, but if you're reading, feel free to join in and blame me!


Arlenna said...

ME! I tagged you, and I tagged you first! Read your comments, silly man. :P

So, when you were at U. Chicago taking biology classes that you ended up loving (right?), who was your teacher? Did you ever take Steve Kron's class?

Nat Blair said...

Gah! I knew someone else tagged me, and I couldn't remember! Sorry Arlenna. I think Tam stuck in my head with her smack talk of always ignoring her meme tags. :)

Steven Kron, I don't think so. And now to be honest, sitting here with the first morning coffee, I can't actually remember those non major bio classes I took, though one was a cell bio class. I have a much better memory of the initial major classes (complete with lab!). Now I'm curious though; I'll have to see if I have a transcript somewhere.

Arlenna said...

You would definitely know if you had been in Steve's class--it's kind of famous at U of C for being ridiculously hard but extraordinarily rewarding. He has freshman work on understanding, interpreting and presenting on very complex research papers from labs at U of C, even though most of them start our having never even worked in a lab. Students either love him or hate him for it. There's this 'cult of Steve' that the superkids have built up around it. He loves it.

Nat Blair said...

Oh, sounds like I would totally have loved him. But then I'm a big time geek who totally loved the whole U of C experience. The academics were hard as hell, and the social scene was in many ways...lacking...but it was a really great experience.

As for bio classes I took that I did love, the ones that really stand out were Dottie Hanck's Neurobiology course, which was ion channels and synapses. That was a really great one, and hell, in lab we did two-electrode voltage clamp of oocytes and tried to patch clamp cells. I haven't strayed too far from that, though somehow finding the pipette in the microscope isn't as hard as it used to be!

The other one I really remember was Mike Labarbera's Invertebrate Zoology. Great course. And he was hard as hell too (one of the reviews of the course said the grading was 'draconian'). Looking back though, other than general invertebrate taxonomy, the main thing I remember learning was the relative surface area to volume rule as animal size increases, and the meaning of tautology.