If anybody was wondering, yes, I'm still alive and kicking; or more specifically right now, shoveling. New England just got its second blizzard in as many weeks, give or take a few days, and this is what the aftermath looks like.
The conference is over so at last I have some time --it was so much hard work-- to give my testimony of how hard it was. Being a scientist, you know. Going to conferences in exotic locations (like Bariloche, Argentina). My friend Ben can tell you how hard it was, seeing me drag myself to the dark conference room, like a cockroach scuttling underneath a rock, while he went off into the sunlit, radiant natural beauty of the surrounding lakeside forests. (what a bastard, no pity)
So, here is a snapshot of my so-called hard life (TM Ben 2010), specifically the view we had from where we poor traumatized scientists took our coffee breaks. Not too shabby, I suppose.
Or administrative assistants, or whatever you want to call them.
The good news is, I haven't really composed an ode, so I won't be inflicting any bad poetry on the world (today).
But really, they do make the world go round. In fact, they rule it. They have the power to make your life much easier in the face of admistrative formality -- or to make it absolute hell.
I've just had a brief and incredibly productive telephone conversation with a secretary at the FNRS (the people who pay me my fellowship salary out of the Belgian taxpayer's pocket) and I have to say, while email exchanges with the FNRS are often fraught with frustrations and delays, on the phone they're absolutely stellar.
In short, I'm all set (administratively speaking at least) for my Great Austral Trip starting tomorrow. About which more details will be posted as the situation develops. As they say in the catastrophe-reporting media.
Yes, I know, it's dry for months and suddenly when it rains, it pours. What can I say, I'm glued to my computer to finish this coding project (Operation Bacon-Brains) but I need sporadic 5-minute breaks; these posts are the result of that. Sorry.
Aaaanyhoo. Country music! Yes. I quite like it. Very laid back, and often bittersweet. And this is my favorite country song ever, I think.
Sausage raviolis make a wonderful 3:40 AM snack. Yummy little sausage links for breakfast, or Canadian bacon? Canadian bacon bears little resemblance to regular bacon. DNA segments are not entirely unlike strips of bacon. If I had a pet pig I would call it Francis.
I'm back in Boston after a week of lab retreat in Maine. I have ten days to revised my analysis program, complete the genome analyses I've been working on, compile the data and put together my presentation for the IPBC conference in Argentina.
Nevermind hurricane Earl -- he'll soon be downgraded to tropical storm, if that.
The real hazard? There's a new driver at large.
As of today noon(-ish), I am the proud holder of a Massachusetts learner's permit, which authorizes me to drive a class D motor vehicle (otherwise known as a "car") on the roads of the Commonwealth.
Oh, FYI, Massachusetts likes to call itself a commonwealth rather
than a state -- blame it on East Coast elitism if you will, that's what
Real Americans(TM Sarah Palin, 2008) do all the time.
Not that the piece of paper means much -- after all, I've been driving around (mostly supervised by my lovely tutor, "she of the nerves of steel", but occasionally on my own) for over a month now (in perfect legality, with my Belgian license which is valid for one year from the date I enter the US -- and that gets reset every time I hop out and back into the country) but eventually I do want a US license, if only so I can go out for a drink without carrying my passport around. This is a significant step in that direction (primarily the license, not the drinking), and it proves that at least I've made an effort to learn the local rules (i.e. I passed the written test).
Speaking of local rules, "turn on red" is my favorite. Basically, you're allowed to drive through a red traffic light if you're turning right (or, under some very specific conditions, left). I'm still getting used to it, but it is incredibly convenient.
Alright, this is me with my wannabe code monkey hat, singing the praises of a Unix command-line tool. I'll try to translate things into English where I can, but my apologies to y'all normals out there if I fail.
(Hey, at least it motivated me to write something on this blog! Nothing for weeks, then suddenly it's post upon post... what can I say, when it rains it pours.)