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I arrived at the new Philcon hotel in Cherry Hill around 7pm and found the Green Room where they had my registration info. There was a moment of confusion when I was calling myself a Guest and they thought that meant that I was related to an invited pro. I was informed that in their terminology, I am a Program Participant. I wandered around to find where everything was and did a quick tour through the Dealer's Room. It was rather small and filled predominantly with booksellers this year. I bumped into [personal profile] hughcasey who asked if I would be willing to sub for the moderator of an 8pm panel titled, "Tracing the Superman Theme: From Neitzche to Iron Man." Sure, why not? After all, I've been reading comics since 1975. It turned out that the moderator was driving in from Boston and could not quite make it to the panel. There were two other panelists, one who was another scientist/comics geek and the other who had actually read Neitzche. We had a lively discussion about how various heroes from comics, books, and film met the characteristics of the Ubermensch. It turned out much better than I could have hoped.

Then I went to my friend John Ashmead's talk on "How to Build a Time Machine" along with several other members of my SF book club. He covered the time machine in both fact and fiction, including describing several physics papers that have been published on the subject. Very interesting (and he kept his quota of puns to a minimum). Next I wandered through the Art Show (also very small) and the Meet the Pros party, which was held between the art and the gaming tables. I saw the Program Chair, who apologized to me for having been put on 10am panels on both Sat and Sun, when I had requested no panels before noon, and that was unexpectedly nice of him. I saw most of the usual suspects who go to Philcon. I stopped by the Con Suite, where there were only 2 people and at that point decided to head home.

So several of my panels have been moved, but alas not the 10am one. They did tell me that they have found someone to sub for me for the Sat morn panel, so I'm not going to stress about making it (although several of my friends have told me that they were looking forward to seeing me on it). Here's where I'll be as of the last schedule change:

Sat 10am Redrawing the Tree of Life: the New Taxonomy
Sat 3pm Super-Mega-Crossovers and the Fans Who Hate Them
Sat 5pm What Does a Scientist Do, Exactly?

Sun 10am Xtreme Neurology

The Sat 5pm panel is supposed to be part of the Children's programming track, and they asked me to make it interactive, so I've brought a model of a brain (instead of an actual brain). It does seem a bit odd that they scheduled something for children at 5pm, which is well known to be the hour of melt downs, but we'll see how it goes.

Got gas for $1.75 Full Service - the real bonus to having the con in New Jersey!


Nov. 17th, 2008 09:31 pm
logisticslad: (Default)
It's been being a tiring but productive Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in DC. There are over 31,000 attendees this year. My first student and my two collaborators had very successful posters and presentations. In fact, my collaborator who gave a presentation gave one of the best talks that I have ever heard her give. She was very nervous, because as an engineer, she doesn't really feel comfortable speaking to a group of biological scientists, but she did great. She also handled questions very well and even solicited my input on one of them. Several folks thought she was my student because of that, but I set them straight and it was all ok :-)

I had dinner and drinks with my old college friend Murray and some of his friends and that was fun. I had lunch with my old college roommate Will, who is a journalist and was covering the meeting. Several people who used to work with me stopped by to say hi (including Kyle who worked for me to six summers and Mark who worked for me before him) and it was great to catch up. There was a Drexel alumni social (to celebrate that it's been 10 years since the bankruptcy and that things really have recovered) and a Spinal Cord social, so I had to miss the LGBT Neuroscientist social which was scheduled against one of them this year. It's been nice being recognized by a number of spinal cord researchers whom I've been seeing at meetings for the last several years. I'm now high enough on the food chain that they seek out me and my work because they're interested in what I'm doing (just like I do for some of the bigwigs in the field).

My new shoes have been holding up well and my feet are not even too sore from breaking them in. I'm liking my new Ecco's!

I haven't really eaten at any place that has been exceptional on this trip. The food options have been ok, but not particularly memorable. Of course, having to eat dinner at 8:30 or later has been rough, but this year it's been more about the networking than the food.

Tomorrow is going to be very intense. Three of my students are presenting posters in the morning session, along with a number of my colleagues. There is also a busy afternoon session, including a talk by Brenda Milner, one of the people who worked with the famous amnesiac H.M. Actually, the large talks have been pretty good this year - I particularly enjoyed the one on Birdsong, by the woman whose 50 page review I use to teach that topic in one of my graduate course. However after tomorrow, I'm pretty much done so I've decided to take the train back tomorrow evening and miss the last day of events.
logisticslad: (Default)
Despite the naysayers who never believed that it would finally happen, today I have cleaned off enough of my desk to set up my computer and printer back on it! I've been spending about 10 min a day sorting through papers and after 2 months, I finally struck desk. Now I can use my little back desk (where the computer had been living) for other things, and I can look out my window while I'm on the computer again. I still have plenty more stacks of papers to sort through, but I am delighted to have made progress!
logisticslad: (Default)
Why College Men May Hear 'Yes' When Women Mean 'No'
April 22, 2008 Faulty male introspection may explain why men so often misinterpret women's indirect messages to stop or slow down the escalation of sexual intimacy, according to new research by UC Davis communication professor Michael Motley.

I thought this sounded interesting. Does this match people's experiences?
logisticslad: (Default)
Today I received the wonderful news that my promotion has been approved by the Executive Faculty!!! It still has to be signed off on by the highers up, but my Chair assures me that that will be a formality. My official title is now Research Associate Professor and I am now considered Senior Faculty. This will come with a major salary increase (that will be backdated to the beginning of the year!). It feels so gratifying to know that all the hard work is paying off.
logisticslad: (Default)
It's been intense, but well worth my time to be here. I made a number of good connections, got excellent feedback on my work, and had fun with my colleagues and students. Several of us drove to the Monterey Aquarium for a few hours. I was thrilled to see the sea otters!!! We got there during their feeding time and so got to see them do tricks for treats! I bought a t-shirt and a set of stuffed otters for my nephews and niece. We also saw sunfish, which are huge and prehistoric looking, as well as jellies, octopi, and lots of other neat looking fish. I enjoy aquaria very much. All of this inspired us to have sushi for dinner :-)

We had the awards banquet tonight and one of our students was a semifinalist for the poster awards! Tomorrow, we all meet for breakfast and then drive back to SF to wait for the plane. It's been fun, but I'm looking forward to returning home.
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Today began my 10 hour trek to the 12th International Symposium on Neural Regeneration, which is held at the ASILOMAR conference center in Pacific Grove, CA. I got up at the unjedly hour of 5:00am in order to drive to the airport for my 7:50am flight to San Francisco. The highlight of the trip was bumping into Jeffrey Sebelia, the winner of third season of Project Runway, who was buying breakfast at the Au Bon Pain in the Philly airport! I recognized him by his distinctive neck tattoos. Other than that, the plane ride was long but uneventful as I travelled with most of my research group. Once we arrived, we claimed out bags and my colleage Scott and I rented a car and drove 100 miles south to the conference, stopping for lunch and to by a map along the way. The facility reminds me of a summer camp on the beach. There are lots of small buildings with a dozen or so rooms. The rooms have no tv or telephones. Cell phone signal is sparse and there is wireless access only in the main building (although my room is close enough to get a faint signal). Apparently, this is intentional in order to create a more personally interactive atmosphere. There is a dining hall and we are all on a meal plan. Tonight we had dinner and then a talk followed by a social (which I ditched, being too tired). The conference has programming from 8am to 11pm each day, with these group meals scheduled inbetween posters and talks. There are about 200 people here and it looks like it could be pretty intense. On the other hand, we are in a park right next to the beach, which is beautiful, and I've already seen seabirds, deer, and a racoon. There is a sign posting advice on how to scare off a mountain lion in the event that we see one. Walking on the beach trails is a traditional conference pastime. Overall, it should be fun, but it's going to be work and not a vacation.
logisticslad: (marge)
I was dithering about whether to take one or two weeks off for vacation starting today until I spoke with my Dept Chair on Friday. After I handed him the paragraph he had asked me to write for his grant, he told me that he still hadn't submitted me for promotion, because one of my key recommendation letters hadn't come in. I sweetly asked him to see if he could expedite that and then informed him that I was going to be away for TWO weeks. Of course, I discovered that I have some work to do today while I'm off, but it directly benefits me to get it done now (I'm editing one of my student's papers for submission and I realized that I hadn't finished it before I left). Sigh.

So this is why I spent much of the weekend watching a marathon of America's Next Top Model :-)
logisticslad: (super)
I feel like I am in the midst of many long term projects this year, both at work and at home. Taking [livejournal.com profile] yesthattom's advice about time management to heart, I have been trying to break them down into manageable portions that I can accomplish each week. That way, I can always feel like I am making progress.

So today I returned to the task of painting my bathroom. Some of you may recall my story about how hideous the original bathroom had been with three different kinds of wallpaper, a sponge painted ceiling, and wooden molding. Over the last three years, I have removed the wallpaper, covered the plaster with drywall, sanded everything down, primed and painted the ceiling white and the walls a light blue color that Benjamin Moore calls "sapphireberry." I liked it, but I didn't like the contrast that it made with the wooden molding. So I decided to paint the molding a darker blue. Actually, since I had left the painter's tape up for so long, I realized that I had grown attached to that color, so that's the color I've chosen to paint the molding! Today I primed an painted the bottom molding, and I think it looks great! I've also painted the rims of the hideous metallic green light fixtures the same color and may even get around to reinstalling them some day. The next steps are to remove the tape from the upper molding and paint that, and then take a tiny brush and work on smoothing out the transitions between the dark and light blue paint.

It felt good to accomplish this today and the cats helped by staying out of the way while the paint was drying.

My next house task is to decide whether or not I'm actually going to replace the gas forced air heater this year, and possibly get a central humidifier and air conditioning. I've obtained several quotes and I feel like I'm close to making a decision. The hardest part will be planning out how to afford it. Since I don't truly know when my potential salary increase will take effect (that will come whenever my promotion happens and the earliest would be end of January), I am trying not to count on that in my plans.

Another long term task that has been going pretty well has been my weight management program. I've been eating more mindfully, keeping a food journal and documenting my increased exercise in order to figure out how to reverse my creeping weight gain. Success! I have lost 5 pounds over the last three weeks, and I am very glad to feel like I am finally getting a handle on managing this.

I've been working from home one day a week starting this summer and that has allowed me to make progress on a number of backlogged work projects. Because of that I have been able to submit three manuscripts, get four others to the point of being submitted soon, and submit four abstracts for conference poster presentations. That's excellent productivity for the summer!

So by focusing on what I can accomplish on a daily or weekly basis, I am avoiding feeling overwhelmed with all of these long term projects. I'm proud of myself for making it happen and look forward to keeping it up through the upcoming rollercoaster ride that the Fall often is for me. Stress reduction through progress is a wonderful thing!
logisticslad: (Default)
Thanks to everyone who offered their advice through my very first poll (which I can do now that I have a Permanent Account). I did indeed take it to my family BBQ, where my cousins and nephews devoured it with gusto (sorry [profile] puzzld1, there wasn't any left to save for you). I did feel kind of dirty enabling my young impressionable relatives develop a taste for the evil zucchini (but I suppose it beats buying them cigarettes or alcohol :-) Anyway, we had a lovely time celebrating my Dad's 80th birthday with my brother's family and my visiting cousins from Arizona.

For those who don't know, zucchini has become my Totem Vegetable - that of which I do not eat. This is because back in college, I spent 2.5 years working on The Great Zucchini Project for my undergraduate thesis. This consisted of growing thousands of baby zucchini plants in the dark and then harvesting their stems and mashing them up in a Cuisinart in order to extract proteins out of them to study for my experiments. I helped characterize the function of the growth hormone transport protein, which would allow the world to build bigger and better zucchini (It turns out that zucchini have the biochemical oddity of concentrating this protein in the base of their cells, making it much easier to isolate). This resulted in a successful thesis and my very first paper published in the journal Plant Physiology. After all this slaughter of countless zucchini plants, I completely lost my taste for it (not that I liked it much to begin with). The last time I knowingly ate zucchini was when my supposed "friends" (to those of you reading this, you know who you are) bought me an order of fried zucchini sticks to celebrate my thesis defense (oh the irony!). Since then, I have avoided the stuff in vegetable medleys, Chinese food, stealthily baked into chocolate cakes, and wherever else it may lurk. I have extended this dislike to the creation of a personal policy by which I do not consume anything that I have done experiments upon. In addition to zucchini, this list includes: rats, rabbits, scorpions, sea amenones, and pufferfish. Good thing I don't work on people !-}
logisticslad: (Default)
My cute summer medical student, baked me a loaf of zucchini bread to thank me for giving him the opportunity to work in my lab over the summer. He's thinking of applying to the MD/PhD program as a result of his experience. He and his wife and baby are all super nice people and I definitely appreciate the gesture. The only problem is that he has not been around the lab long enough to hear the story of why I no longer eat zucchini. I thanked him for the gift, but what should I do when he asks me how I enjoyed it?

[Poll #1021088]
logisticslad: (Default)
We had a work trip to the Phillies game today and it turned out to be a lot of fun! About 35 people from work came and we all sat together in right field, but the view was pretty good. Fortunately, the threatening rainstorms never materialized and it wasn't too hot out in the cloudy sunshine. The Phillies played the White Sox and actually won 8 to 4. We saw a Philies home run and a grand slam! The starting Phillies pitcher had been brought up from the far minors, but he did a credible job. We stayed through the whole game and enjoyed ourselves. I found my brother at the game with some of his work buddies (one of whom was the guy who created Effexor for Wyeth), so it was extra fun hanging out with him there, too. He and my parents all have season tickets to the baseball games; I go once every other year and don't really follow it too much. But it was nice to spend a day away from work.
logisticslad: (Default)
I had to miss both [personal profile] mujetdebois's initiation event and a trip to see my nephews today in order to attend a birthday party for one of my bosses from work. It turned out to be more fun than I expected. It was held at an art gallery in Norristown (her husband is an artist) and it was a nice mix of work folks, artists, and family. They had a piano player doing showtunes and I ended up singing with a group of slightly inebriated guests for about an hour. I sang pretty well, and in the end had a nice time. It reminded me of how much I miss going out to piano bars. I'm gonna have to organize a trip sometime...
logisticslad: (Default)
So as I had said, I got up with the dawn and went to the conference only to discover that the main hall did not open until 1:00pm. So I sorted out my itinerary with the staff there and then went for a walk in Olympic Park and found my way to the Georgia Aquarium. That turned out to be a fun way to spend a few hours. One must pass through metal detectors in order to enter the Aquarium, which made me wonder what had gone on there to inspire such a level of security. Among the sights were sea dragons, jellies, sea otters, giant groupers, whale sharks and beluga whales! They had an unusual layout, with six different exhibits that branched off of the big open main space and funnelled you through a path to see the various tanks. Each exhibit was organized around a theme and if it hadn't been so crowded, it would have been much more enjoyable. As it was, I did get to see everything, but there were a lot of people jostling each other to get close. I could have watched the two sea otters all day! They are much bigger than river otters, but still incredibly cute. There were five beluga whales there as part of a breeding program (one was actually in the medical tank being treated for an illness) and they were very cool to see. The attendant warned us that since it was a breeding program that we might see some (ahem) breeding displays. None occurred while I was watching, except that the male had his nose against a rock and was casually flapping his tail to stay in place while the females all ignored him. It looked like typical human bar behavior and made me laugh.

I went back to the convention center and began looking at posters and running into people I knew (despite their being over 30,000 people here). I was glad to see one of our grad students who had defended yesterday and successfully passed (it was a close thing)! After several hours of hard core science, I took the shuttle bus back to the hotel to rest for a bit and then returned for my evening meeting. That was fun as we gave an award to the Editor in Chief of Science magazine for his efforts in promoting Neuroscience education. So now if I ever am successful enough to submit a paper there, he knows who I am! I then spoke to my three grad students to make plans for dinner. Well, it turned ou that their plane had been delayed and that they were very tired, so we agreed to fend for ourselves and I came back to my hotel. There had been enough of a spread at my evening event to count as dinner, so I got some dessert and here I am. So it's 8:30 on a Saturday night in a city I've never been to, and I'm going to soak my tired feet, read a book, and go to bed. The strange thing is - I'm actually happy with this decision, since I am pretty worn out from my busy day and it's all on again tomorrow.
logisticslad: (Default)
Why does traveling make one so tired? All I did yesterday was spend a few hours in a car and on a plane and a lot of waiting around. But after a short walk from the hotel to the Peachtree mall food court for a quick meal, I came back and crashed out for the night. I was asleep by 10:30 (which is unheard of for me). I'm now up with the dawn (another rare event). It could be that I am unconsciously resting up in anticipation of the exhaustion that is to come. Well, the conference starts at 8:00am and goes until 5:00pm today, after which I have to attend a meeting of the Association of Neuroscience Departments and Programs until 7:30pm.

I spent an hour last night creating my itinerary from the searchable database only to discover at the end that my computer does not have the software to convert it to a printable format. Sigh. I'm hoping that they will have some way to do this at the convention center, else I'll simply wander around until I see something interesting. And with several thousand posters and talks each session, plus exhibits, there is likely to be something to see.

Ok, time to go to work...
logisticslad: (Default)
I'm here in my fancy hotel, the Marriot Marquis in Atlanta for the Neuroscience conference, Travel was basically uneventful and it was fun to ride with some of my students. I've got my complimentary internet connection working and am going to explore the Downtown area in search of dinner in a little bit. It's sunny and low 70's here and the room looks nice, although the hotel pool is down for renovations :-(

Dark Ages

Jul. 21st, 2006 01:00 am
logisticslad: (Default)
Bush used his first Presidential Veto to nix a bill to lift some restrictions on embryonic stem cell research. There were not enough votes in the House to override the veto, so policy stays as it is. That means that a very small number of pre-existing embryonic stem cells remain available for research use if supported by govt funds, which is not a scientifically viable situation. The worst part is that he vetoed it on moral grounds - what happened to separation of church and state?
logisticslad: (marge)
I had a morning of meetings today followed by a short trip to Temple University for the Philly Society for Neuroscience meeting. Actually, it turned out to be a slightly longer trip than expected as I got a bit lost hunting down the building that housed the event. I served as a judge for the poster session. Two of my students entered and did very well (tying for second - a bit of a shame since we only gave out one prize for first). I told them that I was very proud of them and better yet, my Dept Chair had come and got to see how well they compared to students from other local programs. He and I had a nice talk about having the Dept financially support one of my students which would be fantastic for her and a solid endorsement of my mentoring capacity! We stayed for the guest speaker and the fun presentation of how Brain Awareness Week at the Franklin Institute went this year. That's when neuroscientists and students do demonstrations about the brain and the senses for 6-12 year olds. It looked like it was a blast this year. I had done it awhile ago and I have to remember that I would love to volunteer for that again. It was a very energizing meeting and it is always fun to see what people around the area are doing.

This evening was my SF book club meeting at Borders in Bryn Mawr. We discussed Octavia Butler's novel Wild Seed as a tribute to her recent passing. Since the facilitator couldn't make it, I ran the meeting (still in my suit from the afternoon conference, so I looked very professorial). We talked about how Butler specifically made her characters Black, which was novel for 1980, when it was originally published. It's about a pair of immortal psychics with very different value systems and it explores the theme (which is present in many of her works) of how someone can willingly submit to enslavement and control by someone else. It is heavy on character interplay and thematic discussion, but low on plot. I liked it a lot and most of the group enjoyed it, too. It is still in print and has something to say about how things are today.

I got home and vegged by watching American Idol. They were singing the American standards, which they did very well and I had perfect vegging complete with purring cat. Then I checked my email and discovered that the paper that had been rejected by one journal as being not that interesting to them was enthusiastically and rapidly accepted by the second journal with only minor edits (we had resubmitted it only three weeks ago). This is an important paper for both my student, who is trying to graduate, and myself as it will help establish me as a researcher in this particular field which should help with the grants. What a difference the choice of journal can make!

Thanks to [profile] puzzld1 for the new icon!!!

Good news!

Mar. 17th, 2006 06:31 pm
logisticslad: (Default)
I received word today that I will be awarded one of the grants that I wrote last month!!! This is a small grant from a local fund to study rehabilitation from spinal injury, but every little bit counts. I am very happy!!!
logisticslad: (Default)
I've opened a window to enjoy the fresh air and am sipping coffee in preparation for going to the gym. My new kitty, Sawyer, felt comfortable enough to perch on my bed this morning and enjoy the sunbeams. Stayed up way too late last night rewatching Rent and then the Making of Featurette, which turned out to be longer than the movie! I had a good week and am looking forward to a relaxing weekend before my Med Neuro class starts on Monday.

I feel like an evil genius! I negotiated a particularly difficult political battle yesterday to help rework how we propose grad student applicants for acceptance into the program. I have strong diplomatic skills and am not afraid to use them. I also discovered that my four year service was up on one of my committees, and my Chair will let me rotate off so that I have more time for my other responsibilities. I am submitting my third grant this weekend. All this productivity helps balance out the disappointment of having had a paper rejected (mainly because the journal that we sent it to thought that it should be published elsewhere). It's amazing how a little sunshine makes everything seem so positive even after a mild winter!


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