Archive for ‘This Misery of Janie Jones’

November 21, 2015

I hate forms. Especially those that give the wrong information. Seriously.

by Janie Jones

I have spent a vast number of hours lately chasing down members of the Janie Jones, Graduate School or Bust, Fan Club.  This highly stressful begging for letters of recommendation so that Grad School will deem me worthy of another 4-6 years of torture culminating in the honorable degree of PhD, yielded as many as eight people willing to perform this august task.

I figured once I had eight confirmed yes-es, I didn’t have to approach the remaining 3 or 4 people on my list of potential fan club members.  I felt quite satisfied that I would be well represented.  I collected their permission to submit their contact info.  I collated all their contact information.  I prepared instructions for them on how to access the online submission site.  I sent them the downloadable pdf file for their convenience.  I sent the troubleshooting list in the event that technology was not on our side.  I prepared a brief statement of my intent for them so they would know what I was planning to do my graduate studies on/about.

And then I accessed my online application account and started inputting all the relevant info so my fans could comply with my request.  Lo and behold.  Even though the graduate school application directions say that three recommendations are required, it specifically says there is no maximum.  So imagine my surprise when upon merrily clicking to add my fifth fan club member, the system would not allow any additional people to be added. WTF?

The recommendation provider queue was apparently full.  Why would the instructions tell people there is no maximum when there is clearly an upload limit???  Had I known I’d only be allowed four fans in my club, I’d have planned that quite differently, as, it just so happens, the four fans who I hadn’t added first are people who I have actually done research work with at Stickittoyou U or hold massive sway on campus.  Dr. Smythe in the Lyme lab.  The Dr who is head of the seed lab where I work.  My prof who I was an undergraduate TA for last year in the cell biology lab.  And, my prof this year in the genetics lab who is the assistant director of the graduate study program.  MY BEST, MOST TOTALLY RELEVANT PEEPS CANNOT BE ADDED because I apparently only get four even though the directions say there is no maximum!!!

Hysteria ensues.

*@&!  #^%$

The remainder of this post is edited for foul language to the point there’s no point in going further.


November 18, 2015

What’s the matter with you?

by Janie Jones

Due today:  Biochemistry lab report on the inhibition kinetics of lactate dehydrogenase.

Due tomorrow:  Rough draft of paper on the epistatic gene inheritance of GloFish.

Due Friday:  Rough draft of the presentation on the immune evasion properties of sGP in Ebola virus.

Monday:  Genetics exam on gene transcription, translation, operons and gene regulation.

Due next Wednesday:  Term paper on ten weeks of study encompassing seven laboratory experiments on lactate dehydrogenase and my final Ebola sGP presentation.

didi at typewriter


Oh, yeah.  And a bunch of other “small” homework assignments are also due between now and then.  If you find me either asleep on my laptop, or electrocuted from the tears of frustration and exhaustion I cry while I type, you will now know why.

November 12, 2015

Thursday Quote Du Jour: And here I thought my butt was sore from sitting and studying all the time

by Janie Jones

Sometimes the littlest things in life are the hardest to take.  You can sit on a mountain more comfortably than on a tack.

~Author Unknown

November 11, 2015

You’re a Wonder, Wonder Woman

by Janie Jones

Wonder woman I wonder



November 7, 2015

Just call me Dr. Jones. Some day. Maybe.

by Janie Jones

So, today was a hallmark date.

I officially began my graduate school application process.  It took the better part of the day.  I had to dig up unofficial transcripts from high school and 4 different colleges I’ve attended over the years.  I had to fill out a ton of forms, write an essay about why I want to get my PhD, another about what qualities I would bring to the graduate school, and I had to send letters to people asking for recommendations.  Before I can complete my application I need to get my GRE scores and I need to get confirmation that the people who I ask for recommendations are willing to give them.  Then, I send $75.  If the graduate school thinks I am worthy, then I have to get all official transcripts from my high school and all the 4 colleges I’ve attended sent in.  After that, if my official transcripts confirm I’m still worthy, by April I should know if I will be allowed to torture myself for another 3-5 years in pursuit of my PhD.

It is sort of daunting.  I have to admit, there have been a lot of days in the past year or so when I have doubted whether I want to commit to more time in school.  I don’t really know what I’m getting myself into.  Most people say it’s tough.  Then again, calculus was tough.  Physics was tough.  I’ve been on the tough circuit this past couple of years.  I haven’t always performed as brilliantly as I’d have hoped, and I am quite tired.  As Forrest Gump would say, “I’m kinda tired.  I think I’ll go home now.”  But I have no home to go to, so I guess I might as well keep on running this race and, in just a few more years I could hold the ultimate academic title.  Knowing I am this close, I don’t think I could be satisfied with not going the full distance if the powers that be in the admissions office will let me in.

And I think they will.  I mean, I just have this feeling.  I hope it’s not bullshit, but I do think I could do well in graduate school.  I don’t know why I feel this way exactly.  I just really think this is what I’m supposed to do.  Sure, I don’t know everything.  I certainly haven’t maintained that A average.  But I have yet to give up, and science is 90% being too stubborn to quit even when you have no clue what you’re doing- yet.  That’s the beauty of being a scientific researcher.  You don’t have to know everything.  If you did, you wouldn’t have a job anymore.  Research in science is all about not letting what you don’t know stop you.  You learn along the way, and the more you learn, the more you realize there’s a ton you don’t know, and so you do more research.

And “we” don’t know a lot of things yet about Lyme disease and the bacteria responsible for it.  I can do a lot toward a doctoral dissertation studying them little bugs.

So, cross your fingers for me.  Pray I don’t have to blog 5 months from now that I’m a washed out, has been, PhD wannabe.

It would be way cooler if some day you could be telling all your friends you read the blog of the famous Dr. Jones who discovered a way to prevent Lyme Disease and cure chronic Lyme Disease back when she was a strung out, neurotic undergrad.

Heh.  Paging Dr. Jones….

November 4, 2015


by Janie Jones

I spent two weeks on a complex lab procedure that was theoretically supposed to yield a visual representation of my success at isolating lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) from raw chicken breast muscle.  The process is a SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) procedure followed by Ponceau dying and then a Western Blot.

The idea is that the SDS-PAGE procedure separates the molecules you might have in your sample by size and, knowing the molecular weight of LDH, you can locate where it migrates to in the gel.  Then, you transfer the protein to a membrane and add the Ponceau dye which is supposed to allow you to see bands where various size molecules have migrated into the gel (which you have transferred to the membrane).  But then you remove the dye and add two antibodies.  One that binds specifically, and theoretically, only to your LDH, and the other binds to the first antibody and a chemiluminescent substrate.  The membrane can then be put in a special machine that can visualize the luminescent tag on the second antibody to prove the bands you see in your Ponceau dye are actually the LDH you hope to find.

Have I lost you yet?  Don’t worry.  I don’t understand it much either.

And this is proved by the fact that I just got my images back and have to write a report by noon tomorrow on this:

Ponceau image 2

This is my Ponceau image of my membrane.  See all those bands?

Me neither.  There should at LEAST be one band in each row.  But as there’s no bands at all I can’t even tell where the rows are.

And this is my Western Blot:

Western Blot image

Yeah.  So all those black smudges highlighted in purple?  Garbage.  There should be just one smudge in each of lanes two through seven.  So, maybe lane 7 has some LDH.  Or maybe not because obviously something is wrong as I have way more going on here than I should.

I just looooove when I put hours of work into something that didn’t work and I have no time to figure out why before I have to turn in a paper on it.

97 days of class until graduation.  97.

October 14, 2015

A lack of forethought on your part should not constitute and emergency on mine

by Janie Jones

I have five different instructors this semester.  They all seem like basically nice people.  Mostly I enjoy the subjects.  But three of the five just can’t seem to get their poop in a group and give consistent and/or advanced information on when and what things need to be done.  I am getting a lot of eleventh hour emails about this assignment or that meeting that need to be added or changed.

Last night, for example.  I got an email apparently at 7:46 pm saying my 10 am lab time needed to be moved to 9:50 am and might run longer than the original time even with moving it up ten minutes.

Unlike most night owls, I was already in bed at this time.  So this morning chances of getting a message to and from the instructor before I actually am now expected to show up are quite slim.  The problem being that as I can’t be at the lab at 9:50 because I have a class that doesn’t end until 9:50, I kinda would like to know if I should even bother to show up.  You know that whole lack of transporters crap kinda makes getting from one place on campus to another a little slower than instantaneous.  Heaven forbid, too, I might need to go to the bathroom or anything.  But if I can’t complete the task in the original time allotted, should we just reschedule?

Now this particular professor is pretty flexible.  I’m 99% sure she won’t make a big deal out of it one way of the other.  Either she’ll be go ahead when ever you get here will be fine, or she’ll be we can just reschedule, no problem.

However, another of the teachers is really good at having assignments scheduled to be due on Mondays, but not providing the assignment information until sometimes late in the afternoon on the Saturday before.  While it is true I spend most of my weekends doing homework, I think it’s pretty crappy that it’s implied that I’ll just be able to drop whatever is going on on Saturday and/or Sunday to make time for an assignment if I already have plans.  Mondays I usually have pretty much open for homework after lunch, but if you don’t know what the assignment entails, it could take a long time, and I don’t want to deliberately wait until Monday afternoon to find out that this thing is going to take 3 or 4 hours when I have other homework to do too.  Let’s be realistic.  If you knew when you handed out the syllabus at the beginning of the class that an assignment would be due on nearly every Monday of the semester, why can’t you get the assignment information out to us more that two days ahead?  Especially if those days are weekend days?

It is a HUGE pet peeve of mine that professors EXPECT you to have no weekend.

And then there’s the professor who is so unprepared that he usually doesn’t post the lab assignment until a few hours before class.  It’s really hard to come prepared for a lab where you will have to make calculations and do a multi-step technique if you only just got the procedure when you walk in the door.  Then it’s a mad rush to figure out what you’re doing and get done on time.  Or, he won’t tell you what he’s discussing in lecture ahead of time.  Normally not so big a deal, but it’s a very small class and he likes to ask the students lots of questions during lecture.  Sometimes there are mammoth pauses or literally guessing games to figure out what answer he is looking for because we had no idea what to prepare.  The second or third week of class I asked if he could possibly put up lecture notes or some outline of what would be discussed in class the night before and he said “No, I’m too busy.”

I have a lot on my plate.  I’m often too busy to do the homework they assign.  I’m often not available to jump through hoops, adjusting my life around their inability to be organized.  And, I am a very organized person.  In order to balance everything I have to do in a day, week, semester, my time has to be budgeted sometimes down to the last minute.  More often than not my time budget is woefully inadequate to do everything I have to do in a respectable manner.  So when other people’s screw ups mess up the delicate balancing act and my limited free time is impinged upon or I lose time at work or on homework assignments I get really mad because their problems have caused me to fail to some degree.  If things out of my control cause too much havoc in my life I end up in a really bad place emotionally.  We are doing everything in our power to keep Janie out of such places, but we can only do so much.

My moral to this story?  Nine-tenths of college is learning to insulate yourself from the incompetence of others, even those who are supposed to know more than you.  The better you can be at not being ruffled by the mistakes of others, the more successful you’ll be.  When you graduate, if you manage to do so and not go postal, you should get an honorary PhD in Bullshit Management.