Posted by: fireweaver | July 30, 2008

head + desk

i’ve just noticed that my desk at home is nearly the same pale-cherry color particle board as the one at work. perhaps i’ve noticed the similarity today after my eyes repeatedly approached the cherry particle board at work at increasing velocity.

in general, i like working for a contract research organization (CRO to the peeps not in the biz). it’s nice to actually own the whole place ourselves, instead of having a hundred different lab groups desperately stake their claim on their own tiny fiefdoms. in other words, surgery AND radiology AND the lab space are all able to be scheduled by me (ok, us, anyone in the facility, of course) whenever i like, instead of negotiating with dr.freakazoid for 15 miserly minutes with the MRI. and all my people are my people and we all work toward a common goal, and we sing kum-by-ya a lot, you get the drift. perhaps the best part? brilliant but bumbling scientists that have no business actually IN the animal facility? well, they don’t live at my place, so they’re not roaming the halls messing things up. they provide us with a protocol, we provide them with samples & data, and as long as both of those things happen relatively on schedule, everyone is happy. they don’t have to mess with the animals themselves, we don’t have to mess with their neuroses (much) ourselves. it’s nice.

and every so often, i’m reminded of that, when i do have to deal with one of those scientists, and we’re just obviously not speaking the same language. there is somewhat of a different skillset involved in being a supreme statistician or a superstar PCR guru – things that involve manipulation of numbers or molecules at the bench – than there is at mastering the way a whole animal model works. that’s why us research vets are there, to help these guys fig out the strengths and limitations, among other things. and an animal is clearly not a computer model (because, well, if you had enough data to program the computer to the same richness of output, you’d already know all the answers, negating the need for either, but that’s a different conversation); it’s more in-depth and honest, but it’s not cold and clean, it’s a bit messy. to wit:

brilliant scientist: i’m standing outside looking at this data, and the sky is blue and there are clouds.

me: yep, that is true.

b.s. (no pun intended, hahahaha): but…there…are clouds.

me: umm, yes. it being the sky and all.

b.s.: but it needs to be blue.

me: it is blue. and it has some clouds. it being the sky and all (ps: it gets hard to say this all polite-like after a while. and this conversation goes on in this vein for a somewhat lengthy while).

some of his points are all kinds of valid, and there’s things i can do about some of them. but that sky? never going to be uniformly flawlessly blue. always gonna be some clouds in your data, people, that’s why control groups are necessary for comparison. we all know that, but maybe he just wanted to inform me there were clouds. thanks. i see ’em.



  1. So you know you’ve spoken to the zen soul of my heart.

    And at the same time made me desperately want to work in some sort of place like yours (ie: no hordes of bumbling scientists, moronic little student children, and also shooing away every other idiot that bumbles their way into my domain), and on the other hand, I can no longer see how it’s possible to force myself to walk into my lab tomorrow morning without gunning down 96% of the people I come into contact with.

    I’m off to have another drink now.

  2. 1. ANYONE would go postal in the circus/day care of your lab.

    2. girl, i dun TOLE you we have a job for you! come on up!

  3. Babe, you’ve been away from Texas too long. Sky don’t necessarily have to have clouds in it.

    But I get your point. 🙂

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