Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Ode to the semicolon

Oh the poor semicolon, it's not quite a colon but it is more than a comma, yet it is often misunderstood. I'll admit that I am not all that knowledgeable on semicolon usage but I've always known you use a semicolon to separate a list of things that started with a colon. I figured that was pretty much the extent of normal semicolon usage. Only those that used the semicolon beyond that rule were just crazy English freaks. Recently though, I've had my eyes open to the proper usage of the semicolon. I had my sister read over a blurb about my research experience and besides her usual comment about my improper comma usage I got a lesson in semicolon usage. At first I thought she was just being crazy because really, no one uses a semicolon, so was it really important that I didn't use any? Apparently it was. She then pointed me to a website that had examples of the proper use of semicolons. I was surprised to find that my favorite words to use in writing all required the use of a semicolon: in addition; however; otherwise; and therefore. Who knew!?! Since becoming enlightened on the proper use of the semicolon I've decided to use it whenever needed. I'm sure when my supervisor reads my thesis he will wonder what's up with all the semicolons, at which point I will direct him to the website. After all, scientists may write papers but that doesn't mean they actually understand proper writing style. I, however, will be trying to change science writing one semicolon at a time. Now just to grasp the usage of the comma. I've never properly understood the comma.By the way, I'm sure I've missed a comma or semicolon somewhere in this post. Be nice, I'm a scientist.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

A bit of tension?

So I sent my supervisor a diplomatic yet firm email stating I didn't not enjoy his garbage picker comment. Now either he didn't read the email or he is ignoring it (and me) because I haven't heard anything from him about it. I get so frustrated with him sometimes. Since he is miles away I don't see him daily therefore email is our main form of communication. I call him sometimes but those phone calls, which you would think would only last a few minutes, end up taking hours and he just suggests more experiments to do which at this point aren't necessary. Hence, I avoid phone calls with him.

A week ago now I sent him a manuscript to read over and see if there are any changes needed as well as an email regarding the grant and the funding situation. Have I heard even a peep? Of course not. Grrr... he makes me so angry. I think it's time for a reminder email to see if he even read the initial emails. I'm betting I get a reply asking me to re-send the manuscript because he can't find it now. That's easier said than done though. The man keeps his inbox so full and the email space they have where he is now is pretty small therefore I can't usually email him big files that contain figures. This means I have to send it to a grad student in the lab there by instant messaging and then he burns it on a disk for my supervisor. I'm guessing my supervisor has misplaced that disk. God, sometimes I swear he is a child and I spend more time making sure he does what he should than I do focusing on what I should be doing. I will be SO glad when this PhD is over.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Just add garbage picker to my CV

I got the most unbelievable and idiotic email from my supervisor today. It pissed me off so bad I couldn't help but laugh. Here's the email...

Could you please make sure that there are at least 15 empty sturdy card board boxes for me waiting to be packed up (if you need to order the boxes then do so...otherwise just collect them out of the trash...but pick the good ones). And a few rolls of duct or sealing tape. I will be in town the last week of march to close down my office.
My favorite part is the "just collect them out of the trash" and to add insult to injury he has to add "but get the good ones". I thought at first I would just ignore the email and pretend I didn't get it but then I figured I had to at least say something to him about it. Maybe it's my ego or the demeaning tone of the email, which sounds like it's a request but it's more of a demand that makes me feel it requires a reply. However a reply requires a lot of tact since I don't want to break the cardinal rule of grad school - "don't make your supervisor mad at you". I was thinking something along the lines of, "If that email was a joke I didn't find it funny". That way hopefully he will realize it pissed me off and if the trash picking comment was a joke he will realize it really wasn't funny. If the email was meant to be serious maybe he will realize he is overstepping his boundaries with his requests of his grad students. Or else he will just read my reply and think, "Whatever". Either way I'll feel better for saying something.

Monday, March 13, 2006

The one question I hate to hear come out of a student's mouth

I handed back my students' quizzes the other day and at the end of the lab one of my students came up to me to inquire about why he got some questions wrong. I'm fine with that. It's good that they are interested in knowing what they did wrong. There was this three part question and he got the first part wrong which then meant he got the second and third parts wrong as well since they had to do with the first part. It's unfortunate but that's how it goes with questions that have multiple parts. Then came the dreaded question - "Even though I got the first part wrong I answered the second and third parts based on my wrong answer in the first part and technically they are right based on my wrong answer so can I at least get part marks?". NO! It's still a wrong answer. Putting a wrong answer then answering the next part based on your wrong answer doesn't make your answer right? Where did students ever come up with this idea? Do they get marks for this in high school? A wrong answer is a wrong answer I don't care if it was right if you base it on your first wrong answer. IT'S STILL WRONG!!! I mean come on, if you were an accountant and you entered a company's profit as $20,000 instead of $50,000 and did all your subsequent calculations based on the $20,000 amount it doesn't mean that all the other calculations are right. The spoonfeeding of students is getting way out of hand.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Busy, busy, busy...

You know you're busy when...

... you are on your way to school in the morning and you ponder for quite some time whether today is Tuesday or Wednesday.

... you don't even have time to watch the Amazing Race. What's worse is even though I taped it I didn't even have time to watch it all at once. Having to watch an hour long show in installments is just sad.

... people complain to you about how busy they are and end up dumping stuff on you to do because they are oh so busy and you just want to punch them. Yes of course, you are the only person in the entire world who is busy. Suck it up and do your job! (phew, venting frustration is therapeutic).

... you don't have time to update your blog

Aside: I find it ironic and amusing that the Blogger spell check does not recognize the word 'blog'.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Things overheard in the hallway

Sometimes the comments undergrads make while walking down the hallway cause me to shake my head. Today there was this girl and her friend who had just left their lab and I guess they must have gotten back a lab report or something and this girl was not happy about it. Her comment was:

If you're not an English major then don't mark like one

I'm guessing that she didn't like that her science TA corrected her grammer and writing. Right, because only english majors need to actually write. Has she never heard of science journals? Where does she think the ideas for the experiments she does in her lab came from? Out of the blue? No, someone at some point published that result. That's right, they used the english language and grammer to actually write something scientific. Blasphemy I tell you! And the department wonders why undergraduates are lacking so much in writing ability.