Thursday, August 6, 2009

Summertime and the living is easy....well not really

Hey, what just happened? It was just early June, the summer was ahead of us, BBQ season and everything looked so good. Summer, it seemed, would never end. If it were only so simple, and so sweet. One common misconception is that summer for academic folk is the time to relax and reflect upon the academic years accomplishments. Unfortunately, that is not the case when you are doing research to pay the rent where we actually look forward to summer all year as the time of year when the teaching loads ease up and we buckle down to in the lab to get our research programs rolling again. To add to the summer load, most granting agencies decided that the end of summer would be the best time for grant application to be due. So instead of floating our summer days away down at Wreck beach, we are (mostly) scrambling to keep the lab funded and the data flowing.

So here's a quick list of my 'highs' and 'lows' for the summer.

Low: the email message in my inbox last week from UBC with the subject header 'explosion at the Life Sciences Centre' (where the lab is housed). A blown transformer working overtime to cool the building during a rare Vancouver heat wave leads to an extended power failure and deep freezer meltdown. unfrozen reagents=bad times. Everything we use and store, lives at -80C and when it melts, doves cry.

High: Visit to the East Coast for a Gordon Conference in June. Not only did we shore up some good collaborations state-side, the trip did double duty for a visit to see my sister and nephews in Upstate NY. Always a treat!

Low: Summer cells. One downside of doing molecular biology is the use 'real' cells. While our need for data is not diminished in the summertime, for reasons currently unexplained, cells are just not right in the warmer months. go figure.

High: The completion of the first Ahern Lab manuscript that is currently under review at an undisclosed Journal. WooHoo!

Low: August grant deadlines. What cruelty. A grant deadline on August 30th? Don't they understand what this does to our August vacation plans?

High: Visit by long time friend, Brad Neu, in July. A few good hikes and road bike rides up the local mountains confirmed my truly horrible physical condition. While I was pushed to my career best Grouse Grind time, I spend most of the trip on the ropes. I got one word for you Bradley: Rematch.

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