My Big Picture (tongue only partly in cheek)

So, I don't currently have a working drawing program on my computer so I have to make a Google Image collage to illustrate my most mostest pulled-back biggest picture, my philosophy of my world on days when I am not OCDing about something stupid that bothers me, my Zen of path through science-human-space.

We each have our little place in it, our little walk through all the possible avenues, and just like vision (and macro lenses) we can only focus on the part right in front of us. Probably it's only practical to expect to clearly see about the next year or two of plan in any great detail. I point myself in the direction I want to go, starting at the "chemistry" paradigm point and going towards the "biology" paradigm cluster. A zoom in on the detail of how I get there would probably look like this:

Except that most of the other nodes around me, and most of the path I had taken and will take would be a lot fuzzier to the eye. A good strategist will learn how to zoom their lens back just enough to see the next set of decisions to make, while keeping active on the current processes until they reach some degree of maturity. Not saying I am a good strategist yet, but I hope to learn how to be one by paying attention to what's going on around me.

So what is everyone's personal goal? Usually to make both their paths and destinations "important." But of course, importance itself has a lot of stochastic elements and the ultimate measure would be to be 'right' about it, right about how this crazy universe/space/world/us REALLY work. But what is "right?" To go really philosophical about it: how do we know it DOES work any particular way and that we're not affecting it just by trying to look? Just because I find some spit on the cat's hair I managed to tweeze out of the box with my incredible intellectual power, I still don't know if the cat is alive or dead or even if it's a cat or maybe a RASCAL that ate a cat...

SO to get back to things that don't wake me up in the night impressing the weight of the vastness of existence on my soul, what I really want to be able to do is maximize my experience at and travel between focus nodes, and not get bogged down with either the nodes themselves, nor the paths the lab ends up taking to them.

For the purposes of communicating as a human with humans, I'm calling this "STUDYING SIGNALING BIOLOGY USING CHEMICAL TOOLS" and we will work towards doing a very good job of making whatever we need to get information about cell signaling that allows us to make more emergent observations about how that stuff is REALLY interacting in there. If I can mature in my strategic abilities, we'll be able to be both thorough and flexible, and not get stuck in the mud of either our tools or our questions while still being able to make both of those things valuable to the overall enterprise of understanding how stuff works, to gradually add elements of information to the drawing until we get a picture of what the whole thing looks like.

To put it an even sillier way, I plan on rolling my chemical biology katamari through the paradigm world and picking up stuff as I go, and hopefully by the time I retire it will be so big I can even stick things like WHOLE PEOPLE and cars and stuff. Right now it is real tiny, so we can only pick up little additional methods and small observations and such, but with some luck and luck I make myself by being sufficiently strategic, it will grow fast enough.


(**you can find the sources for all my images by looking at their links with right click, thanks to the people who gave them homes on the internets for me to find**)

How long did it take until you did your first experiment?

Hey, to any PIs out there who read this (and who can do me a linky-favor and get more to come add to my database), answer me this:

How long did it take from your start date until the day the first experiment was done in your lab (whether by you or someone else in the lab, doesn't matter)?

I'm polling to get a better metric of how much my lab setup lady is setting me forward, both for her benefit and mine. I start 8/18 and I'll be counting off the clock starting then!

***THIS IS NOT A COMPETITION but rather a way to gauge how useful a lab setup lady can be***

Blah such sparse blogging

In case anybody's still reading...

I know I have been very lax on writing here, let's suffice to say the actual on-the-ground-real-time process of transitioning from a post-doc to an assistant professor is FRICKING CRAZY. Particularly, as I have mentioned before, if you get involved in creating, organizing and teaching at a four-day-long proteomics course that takes place during your last week in your post-doc lab.

When I get to my new lab home I am sure I will have plenty of time to write about what's going on while we get daily deliveries of all of our machines and bits and pieces and I start feeling out my place in a new department. I already have some topics to address for new lab logistics, but just no time, so I hope to get to those in the next few weeks.

The goodbye dinner

Why do I feel like it was sort of like my wedding, where it flew by without my really noticing?

All those other peoples' goodbye dinners I attended that seemed so significant... aww I am getting sappy. I am glad I managed to avoid having to say anything or I might have cried. I'm such a girl.

Any formative experience leaves one vulnerable with the recognition at the change--this is not a world where vulnerability is rewarded, and so it's scarier than most other things you can encounter here. I know what I was given and what it did for me, and how it and I were some kind of gestalt version of what people usually hope these things to be, and I am more grateful than I can say. Really all you can do is hope you provide this for someone else someday. CHEESEBALL.