Various Lies

Friday, January 16, 2009

Hey, Ho the Bitch is Dead

Fuck me.


My fucking grant is done. 24 pages of closely spaced fucking genius.

NOW I understand what all the fuss is about.

And what a fucking disaster it is. The project is great, worthy and deserving of funding (obviously). I wonder if this grant, this white elephant, this stillborn, this Wormwood of a grant, reflects that.

I tried REALLY hard on this, but I am second guessing myself all the way to the proverbial bank right now.

I am a neuroscientist. A good one. I've got over a decade at the bench and the skills to prove it.

I am not a computer scientist, an oncologist, a clincian, a database administrator, or indeed a tissue bank pathologist. These people will be reviewing my grant.

...I hope they don't laugh. Seriously. That's my biggest concern.

No one gets funded first time, even new PIs. I fully expect this grant to bounce back, but I want it to bounce back with a half-decent score and reviewers comments. We can address these comments and submit something truly epic next cycle - at the end of the year. I dread this bouncing back with a big fat, federal "Fuck Right Off" stamped on it.

I'm actually nervous of showing it to my collaborators in case I get a "What the fuck is this piece of shit?" in reply. Fuck my ego.

Anyway, all I have to do now is write the bibliography (EndNote? That's for pussies who don't like typing!), finalise my budget, and write the justifications for the budget, the personel and the number of Principal Investigators (who between them conributed about 30% of the writing).

And my IRB.

And my data sharing plan.

And my human subject approvals.

...wait...this fucker isn't dead after all!

Fairwell, dear Charlotte

I've been playing drums, off and on, for a long time. I am nearly twenty-fourteen, so that makes it more than half my life. I have played many, many, many gigs with many bands. I've got a lot of stories and a lot of fucking great memories. Some may appear on this site from time to time. In fact, one of the driving forces behind me leaving the lab bench was to try and get my life back, meaning I could join a band again. I haven't played drums in anger for two years now. I even have two kits; an accoustic and an electric. Gathering dust.

Ho hum.

Anyway, I was saddened to see this article, mailed to me by my chum NorthernStu, who had the undefinable honour of being my first bass player. This is the venue we played our first ever, real life gig at...

The Princess Charlotte is going to close. The Charlotte is a brilliant, raggedy, shit hole of a pub in downtown Leicester, UK. It's the city I grew up in, after leaving home at 18.

I remember the gig vividly. I was so fucking terrified I think I actually pissed myself a little bit. You realise very very quickly, within the opening bars of the first song, that pricking around for a couple of months, getting high and "jamming" is not the same thing as actually learning and rehearsing songs.

You realise even faster, the sound man is drunk and probably a cunt, and your monitor mix is so wank you can't even hear your own drums, let alone the vocal cues you're relying on.

You realise that when bands posture on stage, and the guitarist comes right up the drums and headbangs and it's so fucking cool you want to die and go to rock heaven, that what they're really doing is signaling each other because they need the cues to stay in time and on tempo. Because they can't hear a fucking thing.

Years (and bands) later I was proud of my ability to sit behind my drums, alone in a rehearsal room, and play an entire set from memory, with no accompaniment.

I learned a hard lesson the first time I played The Charlotte. It has stood me well, in bands and in life. Practice Hard, Prepare Hard and Play Hard.

We'll you miss, you beer-sodden old bitch.

Monday, January 12, 2009

...seriously?... a perfectly typical cross-eyed, screaming M-town style Cluster-Fuck it turns out that the Co-PI on the grant I'm writing isn't actually Faculty yet. He's an associate director of one of our Cancer Institutes, has been working here for several years, and already has funding. We don't even pay him anything, the entire appointment is virtually an honorific to make getting funding easier.

We're fucking broke because the state slashed our budget. We're under pressure to get funding which is why I, a fucking neuroscientist, am trying to write a grant on development of a fucking pharmacogenomic tissue database, and the fucking powers that be won't make the damned PI a fucking faculty member!

I now have to have two drafts of the grant, one routing all the patient-data collection through the cancer institute, and one through the community unit. I need two sets of Letters of Support, and two fucking budgets.

I have five days to finish this white-elephant and the important "Research Design" section is about 200 fucking words long. Because no one knows how we're going to do it yet!

I haven't slept for two weeks, I'm smoking nearly 40 fucking cigarettes a day and I now have a semi-permanent nervous tick over one eye.

Professor in Training and my junior faculty friends are very aware of how I feel right now. For any non-scientist reading this, try and imagine a huge fucking cluster fuck with jobs on the line. Like, I dunno, the car industry or something.

Friday, January 9, 2009

...Food Glorious Food...

In my office, almost everybody is from Thailand.

It is lunchtime.

The smell of glorious, homemade Thai food is literally making me drool at my desk.

And it's making me homesick! Somehow the smells have combined to generate, within my olfactory cortex, the delicious, marvellous smell of my dad's best Roast Beef Sunday Dinner...

Slow roasted joint of beef (roasted with red wine), real gravy, roasted potatoes, parsnips, carrots, maybe some peas or cauliflower to go with it. All to be washed down with a bottle or two (or three) of fine, deep, throaty Merlot.

...I can fucking taste it...

And what am I having for lunch? A fucking banana!

Fuck this, I'm off for Soul Food. It might not be particularly British, but at least it's home cookin'

...Elderly Academics, elderly academia...

I have a post I want to do about this at some point soon, but this shall suffice for now.

I'm trying to get our Vice-Chancellor to sign a copyright disclosure on some software we've developed. Like all senior academics she is frightfully busy and notoriously hard to track down. I just left my office to go stake her out and wait (behind a potted plant or some such ornament), when she entered my office with a lovely, confused looking old man in a lab coat. It took me a moment to recognise our Chancellor...

...Why, pray tell, is our VC giving a guided tour of our offices to the Chancellor? When twas only three weeks ago he burst into my office saying,

"This used to be mine! I like what you've done with it." And then wandered off again...


Monday, January 5, 2009

...Time Gentlemen Please!...

Well, the fan is spinning and the gods are shitting freely in the astral wind. At some point I fear the two will connect.

The current egregiously fucked financial situation (guilty as charged... don't give people like me limitless credit. Duh?! We will spend, and of course we won't pay you back. That's why we're putting stuff on credit.) has left everyone in the lurch, especially state-funded institutions such as mine. Our President and his executive staff have taken a voluntary pay-cut, which means ours (less voluntary; my 5% means more to me because I earn substantially less than the president) are iminent.

But we've been told there are no plans to start laying people off yet. This, as anyone who follows the trials and tribulations of European Soccer knows, means lay-offs are coming, and soon.

My boss just got called to an emergency meeting with our Chief of Staff. He is a man I look highly upon, and has a position to which I aspire. However, he also has the crummy job of firing people (individually or en masse). I think he hires too, but individual group leaders can reap that praise.

Sometimes shit rolls up hill, and I have a horrible feeling the anti-gravity fecus cannon is aimed at the floating astral shit of the gods.

Watch this space...

Friday, January 2, 2009

...Here I go again...

It appears that I'm about to relaunch my blog. After almost a year of inactivity on the old Some Lies, welcome to the new. I did actually get confused by Blogger/Google when I created a Gmail account and managed to lock myself out of my netscape account, but I guess I got un-lazy enough to just migrate my banner over here and start again.

There are many reasons why the old Some Lies is dormant, and as many reasons why it will stay that way.

So, welcome to the new Some Lies. Most of what you'll read here is true to a certain extent. But seeing as they're my stories I shall change names, faces and details as appropriate. Other times I'll just make shit up.

Oh yeah, I swear a lot too, so be warned.

Like anyone reads the first fucking post anyway...