Monday, August 31, 2009

Shallow thoughts

Sometimes I feel like experiments are performance art with no audience.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Blogrolling, Junction Potential Style!

I recently started following Jerry Coyne's blog over at "Why Evolution Is True"and I wanted to highlight it in case it flew under other folks's radars. Jerry is a prominent evolutionary biologist, and is well known for his critiques of intelligent design and other creationist gobbledygook. His essay, "The Case Against Intelligent Design: The Faith that Dare Not Speak Its Name" (here) is required reading for anyone interested in the subject.

Today's issue of Science has Jerry's review (sorry, behind paywall) of Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirschenbaum's book Unscientific America. It's definitely worth a read (check back at WEIT, as he might be able to post more of the review there), though a little more shrillness would help. ;)

Now, I'll admit I'm somewhat partial here, seeing as Jerry teaches at the University of Chicago (oh, dear alma mater). In fact he taught the required evolutionary biology class back in 1995 when I was but a larval biologist. Sadly though, at the time I was a fairly uninspired student of the subject, making me wish I could do it over again now. Maybe in another life.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Oh my god, I'm so sorry I forgot...

...our blogoversary.

However, there's no doubt that this is much better than forgetting my wedding anniversary. I suppose, back in mid-June, that I should have connected the sighs of freshly minted M.D.s and Ph.D.s with the start of my blogging. Instead all I could think was, "Why the hell are these people milling around when I'm rushing to pick up my kids at daycare!"

So more than a year has passed, and though I haven't had much time to write a coherent blog post, I do have time for:

Nat's Bullet Points Highlighting the Last Year!

  • Successfully (more or less) integrated a new family member into the finely tuned machine that was Family Blair (HA!). There are posts aplenty conceived to cover this, from the innate differences between kids, to balancing the demands of two kids with work/science. Sadly, balancing the demands of two kids with work/science means writing these posts doesn't happen. Still though, the productivity hit after the second kid was MUCH more minor than after the first.
  • Finally published a good chunk of my work covering the modulation of a particular TRP channel. This project has been tortuous at times, yet through many difficulties, I stuck with it. The result is somewhat limited in its scope, but the treatment is thorough. Hopefully it will prove useful to those interested.
  • Started collaborating with another group on a cool new project. Things seem to be progressing nicely, and it has been a lot of fun.
  • Actually made some progress in finishing up my final paper thesis work. Or as I like to refer to it, My Own Personal Albatross.
  • Have the prospect of starting another collaboration, that would help me complete some older preliminary work.
  • I have totally regained my calcium imaging mojo, after neglecting those long lost 1997-1999 era skills.
  • Lastly, I finally came to the realization that it's no use to fight against the core of my own personal scientific style. Sure, some parts can (and should) be bent in response to outside considerations. But to fight against the core will lead only to madness.
  • I haven't made sufficient progress on the other side of the story to the TRPC channel regulation. The conceptual framework is basically there, and I've got tons of planned expts, but little time to carry them, or the requisite troubleshooting, out.
  • I didn't complete the manuscript of My Own Personal Albatross. Really though, I blame the daughter. I thought I had 6 more weeks!
  • I haven't done enough to move from heterologous to endogenous systems for studying TRP channels (TRPCs in particular). There are a number of reasons this is tricky, but honestly, that potential trickiness has prevented me from really trying. That's got to change.
  • I definitely haven't been able to get any sort of blogging routine down.
Overall, that's not too bad. Sure, I could always have done a lot more, like learn Esperanto or program my own electrophysiology software in COBOL, but it was a pretty good year.

So what did you accomplish this past year?