Various Lies

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

out of my sight, out of your mind?

Picture 6.png

Call me a conspiracy theorist who distrusts the wankers that ran the rig, the wankers in charge of all this and the wankers in government who are rubbing their hands with glee at scandals and soundbites, but did those fucking wankers kill the video feed too?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

..we are told that this is the end...

...A design for life.

Damn. Homesick. Long day. Need beer. And a fight. Maybe I can combine...

We don't talk about love
We only want to get drunk
And we not allowed to spend
As we are told that this is the end
A design for life.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Where did all the nice idiots go?


Sometimes you can amaze yourself at how bad you can totes haz teh FAIL

Back when the earth was young and I still had a ponytail and hope in the future I moved the US. I had to go through a veritable fucking suite (pronounced 'sweet', dear friends, not 'suit') of bullshit in order to successfully integrate. Finding a place in grad school was, in retrospect, the easy part. I had to take a battery of (very expensive) standardized tests called a GRE because apparently my degree in biology wasn't enough...I needed to somehow prove I could also read AND write AND do simple sums. Crazy...cos in the The Motherland one usually doesn't progress to university without first proving oneself in high school... Anyway, I studied for this asinine hurdle and got scores that were above average. Nothing grand, but I really didn't a fuck if the Dean of the College was worried about my ability to guestimate the square root of 6, or determine that colour is to tone as spectrum is to [fill in the blank]. Having been raised in a military family I have an innate terror and hatred of authority, so I was actually prepared to fail and throw it in their face, but I digress.

Once I got here I was thrown headlong into a turmoil I couldn't have prepared for. Ordering even a sandwich was a challenge..."two countries divided by a common language" is a cliche because it's true (which is also a cliche, but let's move on). I couldn't find a sandwich shop, but did stumble across a place called "Subway" that instead of being a gateway to a subterranean transport system was a sandwich shop. The gormless fuckwit behind the counter looked at me, I girded my loins and made my first purchase, my heart hammering in my chest.

"Hi Sir, welcome to Subway! What can I help you with today?" He asked, so cheerfully I used to think they must be medicated.

"I'd like a cheese sandwich please," I replied and experienced for the first time the look of utter incomprehension I would come to know and love over the next decade. Because once you go off script, They can't improvise.

"Hi Sir, welcome to Subway! What can I help you with today?" This time spoken through clenched teeth, sweat beginning to appear on the poor imbecile's forehead.

I spoke as if to a small, slow witted child, "I'd like, a cheese, sandwich. Please." And when this didn't elicit any response I too began to panic, because fear of social awkwardness is endemic to my people. Thankfully the poor boy figured out that it was I who was the fuckwit in this conversation, and he tried to take control.

"Well, sir, I can do you a sub with just cheese and veggies, would that be OK?"

It was my turn to start sweating...veggies? Are you fucking with me? Veggies are potatoes and carrots and so forth. Why the everliving fuck would I want a potato on my cheese sandwich? Thankfully he gestured at the salad bar in front of him and I just yelled "LETTUCE" at the top my lungs hoping he'd go away and I could flee.

"OK sir, cheese and lettuce. What kind of cheese? We have Jack, Provolone, Swiss, Cheddar, American..." like something out of Monty Python, the scene just kept unfolding. I finally got my cheese sandwich, the last hurdle being the pair of us working out he meant Alfalfa sprouts (which I know as "cress"), and not Brussels Sprouts.


Tideliar fixed the moron with his best "YOU FAIL" look during the "Great Sprouts Incident" of '98"

I discovered after a while that the blank look I got when I spoke was natural for a central Pennsylvanian when confronted by a white person with a non-American accent. I took to speaking, pausing and just repeating myself, giving my 'server' time to parse the information that I must be 'not American.

Things were no easier when I went to get my Social Security Card. This little piece of paper and the 9 digit number on it rule your entire life in the US. You almost literally cannot do anything without this number and must memorize it and be prepared to divulge it constantly. Curiously, its importance underlies a massive flaw in the "system" over here, because knowing someone's SSN (and maybe just a little trivial information, like their birth date) allows you clone that person's life. And yet one is forced to give it out over the phone when calling banks or credit card companies, universities use it as a form of student ID. It is the least secure and most important number in the life of any American, and needless-to-say identity theft is a major problem.

After I got my SSN I was able to get my driver's license (or indeed, licence), and that set another row of hurdles which I had to o'er leap, or else fall down. Americans find driving to be a fundamental right, much like owning guns or yelling at people (if you're a Republican) in the name of so called "free speech". I assume these things to be privileges which one earns, but Hey Ho, and indeed Nonny Nonny, I'm just old fashioned that way. Thankfully this assumed privilege of driving and the fact that one gets one's learner's permit while barely weaned from nanna's teet mean that the driving test is ludicrously fucking easy. It's designed that even a 14 year old can pass it and head out to cause mayhem and untold misery on the innocents around him. I had to parallel park in a space you could, to quote my dad, fit a fucking double-decker bus in. Then, having proven my chops, I was told to turn right out of the driver's license center, after 100 yards, turn right again, then again, and then again. Having successfully negotiated one small block of houses, I was told I had passed and presented with my new license.

This was many years ago and I still enjoy the semi-regular ritual of renewing my license. Because, as a foreigner, I am obviously not to be trusted with something so important without being forced to undergo a pointless rigmarole on a too-often basis. I can't remember how often I had to renew my license in Pennsylvania, but it was regular. When I moved to Tennessee I was surprised by a whole new suite of bureaucratic bullshit.

Tennesseans' get a regular looking license, one views it horizontally, the picture is on the top left, and again on the bottom right and there are all kinds of watermarks and hologram thingamajigs on there. But when I moved here us Dirty and untrustworthy foreign types were given, after much procrastination, a bright pink, vertically viewed "Permit to Drive" that said in bright red writing "NOT VALID FOR IDENTIFICATION", along the top. This, of course, meant that one had to carry one's passport with one to serve as ID. The bullshit inherent in this system is that I needed my passport and visa to get the fucking thing in the first place. So I was forced to carry two forms of ID on me, especially if i travelled. Although times have changed and I now have a regular looking licence, I am minded to relate that even after the 9/11 attacks I flew domestically (including through D.C., our mighty Capitol) without once showing my passport. Indeed, the only time a so called "official" of any rank refused to accept as ID a card saying in bright red letters "NOT VALID FOR IDENTIFICATION" was a kid selling beer at a festival a few years ago. My buddies wanted to kick his ass, I gave a $5 tip and had them buy my beer instead.

Anyway, the entire point of this TL;DR rant is that today I returned to the DMV to renew my license again. Now bare in mind in Tennessee things move slowly.

Very. Fucking. Slowly.

In my home town your average staffer or petty bureaucrat is a self-entitled douchemonkey of the first order. Everything is difficult and time consuming. The DVM takes this to the nth degree. Thankfully they are also usually badly trained and ignorant, because the people above them are lazy, self-entitled douchemonkeys too. Last time I needed to renew my license I was missing a vital piece of paperwork: the visa stamp in my passport had expired (it's only a travel permit, the actual visa approval or visa notice is another piece of paperwork). I was able to bullshit my way through this mishap with little trouble,

"This here visa has expired," He said, fixing me with a myopic squint I took to be his best effort at a steely glare.

"No, that's the travel permit. It means I can't re-enter the country if I travel abroad, but obviously I can be here legally to work. Look here's my work ID badge." I showed the badge, which does indeed have a picture of me on it and magnetic swipe on the back. I assume this was OK because only a couple of hours later I was in possession of newly re-issued drivers license. This time, however, I was not so fortunate. It turns out some complete fucker has taken it upon themselves to educate our pubic serpents public servants in how to do their job properly.

"This visa stamp has expired," She said. I noted the use of the word 'stamp' and began to get nervous. After all, I was 20th in line when I got to the DMV and it had taken me over an hour just to get this far.
"No, that's just the travel permit. My visa is fine, look here's my work ID."

"No. This is the visa stamp and your I-94 is here, so if you're legally working you should have an I-blah blah blah."


Tideliar protests at the DMV. But to avail. He doesn't have the right documents. Game Over dude.

She listed the immigration documents I should own, and probably do, somewhere, but my mind shut down at this point. I tried to argue my case, but she was unmoved. The utterly efficient and well trained harridan would not be swayed. So 78 minutes after arriving at the DMV I left, red-faced (see above for note about social awkwardness), and the victim of several dozen schadenfreude laden-smirks.

If looks could kill I would be the subject of a statewide mass murder manhunt right now.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Sometimes you got it...and sometimes you really, really don't

I pride myself on being somewhat of a wordsmith. I do a lot of editing and writing, both scientific and technical and non-sci/tech (2pts). Sometimes, when blogging, it's easy to get lazy and just spew out a train of thought (2pts), and I often regret those posts. I rarely re-edit once I've posted something though; I prefer to get my thoughts out when I can in a medium such as this.

I used to write a lot for an e-Zine,and although still nominally on their staff I haven't submitted anything for over a year. I did a bit of editing, but finishing my postdoc and changing jobs removed a lot of the ire that fueled my creative juices (2pts). And now a lot of my job is writing and editing so I get a little less joy from just writing for the hell of it (proper, crafted pieces, as opposed to a 500 word blog post).

Over at The Hermitage recently, our heroine, The D-List Monktress was bemoaning having to write, and at VWXYNot, Cath posted something about the writing process that was apposite to your hermitage's woes (although I can't find it now). Cath's post was of something her PhD advisor gave her to help her with the writing process, with the block that can from having too many ideas in your head to get them out, that your perfectionist nature makes you want to get it write (boom boom!) first time. The gist of the piece was the best advice a writer ever gets:


It will never come out perfect first time, so just get the ideas out and edit, edit, edit, edit. And it is this self-editing that I think is a key to the process of becoming a better writer.

However, one must first get the thoughts out, so here in its unabridged glory, is the abstract I wrote yesterday when I was braindead after a 2 hour meeting planning a clinical trial grant resubmission I'll be working on. Time to edit methinks...

"Most experimental science generates vast amounts of data, and analysis needs are often unmet. Behavioral neuroscience is no exception to this, and we find ourselves at the brink of a precipice, to fall into which will be to admit the loss of serendipitous discovery because we are overwhelmed by the mountain of data on the other side of this awful mixed metaphor. blah blah science and shit This is clearly totally awesome and will help overworked scientists to find some really cool and likely groundbreaking new shit. Fuck yeah."

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Unfortunately the embedding is disabled, so you have to go to YooChoob to watch it. Assholes.

Anyone who knows me knows I am a huge Star Wars geek. So, this is about the coolest most awesomesauce thing in the whole fucking Empire. Plus, I utterly HEART Alica Keys (ad Jay-Z is pretty cool too)


No longer Anakin
Formerly a Skywalker
Son's next rebel hero
But I'll be Sith forever
I'm the newest Dark lord And since my training years
I can choke from anywhere
Yeah my force is everywhere Used to run with Obi Wan We were both best buds foreva
But after three movies Now I've got a blood vendetta Grew up on Tatooine
No vegetation Catch me rolling through the cosmos in a moon-like station to Leia's home nation Death Star wrecks it Now princess knows, Vader ain't one to mess with
Flying through the trenches
Blasting rebel noobies
What happened to the fat one
Think he died of heart disease All that's left is this guy
Chasing him in my TIE I won't deny That his force is pretty damn high
Damn i just got wiped out
Falcon shot the back of me
Spinning into outerspace
But I'll be back definitely

In Star Wars Empire is out to find Leia Death star plans in R2 Shoot the exhaust port Kenobi may now be see-through But the force is within Luke
Let's hear it for new hope, new hope, new hope
[Vader: You're welcome Obi Wan... I made you a ghost!]

Catch me rockin boots and a cape like superman
Hell, I made wearing black more famous than that Jay-Z can
You should know I'd find you, hiding out at Echo
Now I got a Blizzard Force eliminate you quick yo
Welcome to the planet Hoth AT-ATs hit the spot Walking tanks are too legit
But they fall down a lot Check the front, check the back, cant find the Falcon yet
We need them all alive, so no disintegrations Boba Fett 8 million asteroids, where'd your little ship go?
Get me to Cloud City, I got Lando on my payroll
Me I gotta double check if carbonite's ok If freezin's safe for Han
Doing Luke the same way
New deal Lando
Ain't no pardon
Kid blew up my boys
Rest in peace Moff Tarkin
Turns out we are family
Embrace your dark fate
Dad and son together, yo No way the emperor's safe, cause...

Now Han Solo's a coffee table
There's nothing Luke can do [Vader: Should've joined me, bro!]
He's on Dagobah
With some dyslexic Jedi dude
Right hand still got sliced through Looks like they struck back, struck back, struck back

Lightsabers grinding
Palpatine's smiling
Cause he knew it would come to this The light side is blind with casualties
Who do evil casually, then gradually become worse
Don't fight your destiny
Wasn't a great dad, true
Absent all the while
No happy times behind us, and plus, now I'm killin' you
Keep fencing mister, 'cause now I sense a sister
You don't go bad, maybe I'll enlist her
Now Emperor wants you, only wants me rubbed out You controlled your anger, stayed light side devout Watch out kid, he's got lightning bolts to immolate Uh-uh, hell no, daddy powers activate
End this prune with a badass murder suicide
Bald headed, mask off, heart melted kid you were right Burn all my gear so those Ewoks can't wear it again
Do it, I'll be watching you, a ghost, name of Anakin

Destroy new Death Star's generator
Ewoks to the rescue
Blast through to the core
This Regime's gonna be brand new
Galactic Empire's through
The Jedi have returned, returned, returned

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

How about a shock collar?


Yes...and that really is the point isn't it, you moron?

Once again in the Department of Slightly Hysterical Information Technology the crazy has risen its Medusan head and fixed me with a steely, petrifying glare. Not 24 hours after telling the world I'd thrown in the towel we're pretty much back to normal. This morning I received word that we are, after all, submitting an abstract to Massive Research Conference this fall.

And the deadline for submission is in under 48 hours.

And the main lab has used its allotment of submissions and seeing as I am member of the Professional Society running this Massive Research Conference I need to submit the abstract.

Oh Reader, Reader, Reader, I hear your thoughts through the interwebs, I really do...

"Dude, seriously, Tideliar you're being a fucking lightweight. Just submit the fucker already and go back to your manicure."

Alas, not so fast, dear Reader. Apparently I need to write the motherfucker too. This is because one of my programmers (Programmer1) has been working 50% FTE on a project with this group and we're gonna submit an IT-database style abstract. The only real problem with this is that Programmer1 can't write the abstract because knows neither how to write one and what to put in it anyway. He doesn't know the Science behind the work he's doing.

So, the conversation went something like this:

PI: "Tideliar. I need to submit an abstract for Massive Research Conference"

Me: "Cool. So?"

PI:" "Well, you're a Member of Professional Society and we need you to submit it."

Me: "And...let me guess, I have to write it too?"

PI: "Yes."

Me: "not unless I get first author."

PI: "OK"

Me: "shit. Ho hum. Fuck. Alright. What project?"

PI: You know that one that Programmer1 has been working on?"

Me: "Nope,"

PI: "The one with the mobile camera tracking device thing that goes into a report generating function thing?"

Me: "SRSLY? WTF? Dude? Which letter in N.O. left you confused?"

PI: "That one. Oh yeah, LOLz @ U, it's due in less than 48 hours. Ciao."

And now, with the clock a tick-tick-tocking away Programmer1 has yet to present me with anything, let alone a finely crafted 500 word synopsis of what he's been working on and why it is Super Fucking Awesome. I can't even find him. Apparently SysAdmin thought he was with Faculty, and Faculty thought he was with SysAdmin and Programmer2 and Programmer4 think he might be in the bathroom. So, to preempt any further meanderings I asked the Head of Clinical Research to catheterize him.

Unfortunately, as she stared in shock, agog at the thought that I was serious, the rest of today's 15 cups of JetFuel(TM) coffee kicked in....

"yeah. I'm serious. I want Programmer1 catheterized. Then he won't need bathroom breaks so often. Hmm? What's that... no I don't suppose I am serious, after all, I'd need a fucking microchip tag to locate him if he went AWOL anyway. Wait a fucking minute! Can you do that too? I bet you can! Then I'll know which building he's in at least...but how will I find him within said building...I know, don't interrupt this is fucking genius! A shock collar. A shock collar...we can do it all at once! Put a shock device in the neck of the catheter! That's make the little bugger squeal! Wait! Where are you going?"

Is it just me, or does this happen to you too? Does everyone leave everything to the last minute all the time?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Marching to the beat of different drums


Last week I had an epiphany. And a mild nervous breakdown. OK, that's a vast and unseemly exaggeration, yet more poetic than the truth (I left half a day early because I was fucking knackered from nervous exhaustion). I had scheduled Thursday and Friday off work because old friends were in town, but by Wednesday mid-morning I felt so shitty I just left. I went to bed at noon, woke up at 4pm, ate, went back to sleep, woke up at 8pm, ate and went back to bed and finally woke up again at noon on Thursday.

In two days I got 28 hours sleep.

Guess I was a bit burned out, huh? Last night, as I lay in bed trying to sleep, my stomach was in knots and for the first time in the 18 months since I left the lab bench I dreaded work on Monday morning. There is so much tension and bickering and ill communication that it is becoming almost unbearable at times. I dreaded the thought of having to meet with my boss and senior staff and hear the endless litany of how shit things were. I fight hard to get things done right and done on time, but I am bench scientist by training, not a project manager by training. I don't know how much is me fucking up, and how much is the inherently dysfunctional nature of academic administration. Shifting goalposts on shifting sands.

One of the last things I did last week was get us (me, by boss and a faculty member) registered for a Big Important Conference at a Big Important Government Lab we need to collaborate with. I managed to get them to bend the rules so we could register late (they had to do extra work because we're all on non-imigrant visas). I looked at how we might submit a 4 page proposal and I began to prepare a presentation in case one was needed, knowing that I would be the one to give it. I knew how important this conference was because the Big Important People of Science from the Government Lab had recently come to visit and I was impressed by The Powers that Be that we had to collaborate. I knew if I did well at this I could ingratiate myself with the Important People and that would be a good career move, possibly a job in the future.

Well, just now I was told to cancel the meeting registration and withdraw from the conference, because it's too close to our graduation here at work. Oh yeah, and we're not looking to collaborate with them now, but with Prestigious Private University. And I need to arrange a meeting for that instead, but I can't go because someone has to stay behind and watch the 'kids".

And you know what? I'm glad. I don't fucking care anymore.

I'm not faculty, I don't have metrics to meet. I write grants, but I get no recognition because I can't be a PI or co-PI. I am just a staff member. And that's fine. For now, my health and sanity are a priority, and I am going to enjoy being just a Program Manager and staff member. My day finishes at 5PM, my weekends are my own and I have plenty of annual leaved saved up.

Y'all fret about the big shit. I'm gonna write my blogs and book reviews again, and go to the gym and maybe enroll in a master's program to keep my mind busy. I feel better already.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Idiotometer hits top of scale...

I swear I am running out of fucking patience in a big way. People's utter fucking inability to get their shit together and think before acting is sucking the fucking soul from my body.

I am a gnat's fart away from seriously losing my fucking shit.

I am not your father
I am not your babysitter
I am not your fucking nanny

I pay you to do a job. Occasionally you will need to think instead of blindly pottering along like a fucking bug on a wall. This should be self-evident in that the minimum education to work for me is a Master's degree.

If I have to send one more motherfucking "reminder" or "warning" over trivial shit it will end very badly for someone. Probably the person who gets the fucking email/phone call from me telling them to clear their motherfucking desk out.