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February (2)

PSA: It's cold, buy a Carbon Monoxide Detector.
Thursday, February 10, 2011

Cold Fusion
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
January (2)

Going back
Thursday, January 27, 2011

Fun with Jackass
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
2010 (33)
December (4)

The 12 days of (Lab) Christmas
Friday, December 24, 2010

I really hope there isn't a number 3
Thursday, December 9, 2010

So why don't you have more papers?
Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Picking a project
Thursday, December 2, 2010
November (2)October (7)

As promised: Geeka and A Cow
Saturday, October 23, 2010

Finishing something
Saturday, October 23, 2010

A cartwheeling Geeka
Monday, October 18, 2010

Some Classroom got funded, I get embarrassed.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bounty for Donor's Choose
Wednesday, October 6, 2010

If I couldn't be a scientist
Tuesday, October 5, 2010

That's not the shape of his head.
Friday, October 1, 2010
September (6)

Glutton for Punishment
Saturday, September 25, 2010

I talk to machines.
Friday, September 24, 2010

World's worst Journal Club.
Monday, September 20, 2010

The IACUC Chair
Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hell, I did know then, I just didn't know it until it hit me.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Stuff Geeka Likes: The Toys Edition
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
August (9)

How I ended up a scientist.
Saturday, August 28, 2010

Monday morning crapped on my head.
Monday, August 23, 2010

Naming your equipment
Thursday, August 19, 2010

Stuff Geeka Likes: Inaugural edition
Thursday, August 12, 2010

Silent Squee
Wednesday, August 11, 2010

In which I come clean
Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Having a bad day
Monday, August 9, 2010

My blogging philosophy
Friday, August 6, 2010

Balance? We don't need no stinking balance.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
July (5)
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Hi! I'm Geeka. I've been a scientist for, I don't know, it seems like forever, I guess since I started college, so, like 15 years? Anyhow, this is where I'm going to give my take on a bunch of stuff. I'm usually a little bit out there (that is, I don't see the obvious at the outset), which means that you are probably going to have to deal with reading such topics as: Interpersonal relationship training for scientists, my lab pet peeves, how to get along in business when you just came straight out of academia, trying to deal with having a life and being a scientist, really odd topics for a paper, random stuff I found on the internet that made me shoot coffee out of my nose, you know, (ab)normal Geeka. Why the title? Because at the very heart of me, I'm a virologist, and while I don't necessarily do that now, it's how I view the scientific world.

My posts are presented as opinion and commentary and do not represent the views of LabSpaces Productions, LLC, my employer, or my educational institution.

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

There is something that graduate school does to you that isn't right. You spend a lot of your time wishing that you were somewhere else. And lo! You find out that you get to go to a scientific conference, a meeting, and what could be better than an international meeting? An international meeting during Oktoberfest.

Alas, you have to attend with others, and this is where things go wrong, horribly wrong.

I have had the fortunate experience of being able to travel as part of my graduate school tenure. I don't knock it. I don't think I would have ever had the chance to go to these places had I not a rather unique boss. That is where the story gets interesting.

My grad advisor is a strange man. We will call him Jackass (cause he once got in a yelling match with my predecessor that involved threated punches because he called grad advisor a jackass under his breath). He could be the most socially awkward man that I know. He is an eternal pessimist. He, I don't think, actually has any interest in the science that his lab does. He does not work well with women, more out of being uncomfortable than being a jackass. He blatantly ignores rules, never is on time, and is unbelievably forgetful. (We are now great friends since I've graduated.)

We (me, labmate and Jackass) show up to the airport, only to find out 15 minutes before we are about to board, that our flight is cancelled. Jackass immediately goes into a tailspin:

"We shouldn't get on this plane. We should go home. I don't want to go to Germany."

Labmate and I decide that he is just being his eternal pessimist self. He, our leader, won't do anything about going to find out about the next flight that we have to get on. I go stand in a line that doesn't go anywhere. Finally, USAirways decides to put on us another flight to get to Philly that may or may not allow us to catch the connecting flight to Munich. However, these people won't let us get on the flight that is going to Frankfurt. Somehow, I can't see how it is better to let us stagnate in Philly for a night than to actually let us get to the country we are trying to get to.
We end up missing our connecting flight. At this point, I realize that my whole raison d'etre for the past 2 month was for naught. I was scheduled to present my data a mere 2 hours into the first of the meeting days. I was now going to be somewhere over an ocean while some german guy is going to be calling my name. I need a shower, some bourbon, and to get away from the positive thought sink that is my boss.

Our bags are on the way to the Fatherland. The hotel restaurant is closed. There is bar food, but only one bartender (who was the most amusing thing that I had seen all day). We have almost 24 hours to kill in Philly. At this point, I just want to be either home or our final destination. Perhaps the most annoying thing is this: Jackass, who is the first person to complain about anything, ceases making decisions.

Dr. A has become moody, like a woman. His two female graduate students, one slightly more disappointed than the other, are trying to make the best of it. We know that we are all in the same boat, and yet he is acting like a spoiled child. He is vocal about 2 decisions during our stay in Philly:
1. That we had to go to the Franklin Museum.
2. That we didn't need to call the hotel in Germany, because they would hold it for us, because we were international customers.

I, of course, know better. I demand coffee. I demand Starbucks. I demand this for several reasons: I know that they have internet access at Starbucks. I know that I can email the meeting organizers to tell them that we missed our flight. I can email my husband and make him call the hotel. I also know, that with all the one on one time with me and the boss, I need a rather substantial amount of caffeine.

Why make my husband call the hotel? Because he can do it without my boss watching. Jackass was adamant that we didn't need to call.

In the next few hours, llittle goes wrong. Some airport restaurant won't take the airline vouchers cause USAir is going under. We are all getting sick of each other. We get on the plane. We sleep. We wake up. We land. All of a sudden I am in charge and we are in Munich.

Well, I am not really in charge, only sort of. Mostly because I can speak some German. I can get some directions. I can read the U-bahn schedule. I can translate menus.

My temper starts to go at this point. We have missed our direct bus shuttle from the airport to the little hamlet that the meeting is in. So it is my job to get us there by train. No problem. Jackass doesn't understand why we don't need to take a 45 minute train into the center of Munich. I keep trying to make him understand that there is an auxillary station much closer to the airport. Finally, I have to appeal to his sense of wanting to take a shower and a nap. I explain that this is going to add 2 hours to the trip. He finally lets me lead. I take off to the subway station. I have been here before. I am in my element. If he wants to slack, I am not going to have anything to deal with him.

Time goes on. We take naps on the train. We listen to music. We don't talk to each other.

The boss is not well prepared for this trip. He has done no investigation about the city we are going to. He gets annoyed because I have to go to the bathroom and we make him watch our luggage. Finally we realize that we are close to the hotel. last.

They didn't hold our hotel rooms.

The city's hotels are booked. After all there is an international scientific conference going on.
There is one room for us.

In another hotel.

That we have to share.

By now, gentle reader, you have noticed several things. My male boss has to share a hotel room in another country with 2 female students. That the students are sick of him. And lastly, he is unprepared for this trip.

I make a last ditch effort to ask the hotel matron if there is another room; there isn't. I turn to our boss and try to explain that:
"We are all adults. It is only for one night. We don't have any options. We will get over it."
We take turns taking showers. We take a short nap. We go to the first day of the meeting. We have a cafeteria dinner. We adjorn back to the hotel.

At this point, we all have to get some sleep. Labmate and I have to share a bed. Jackass's cot was a mere 6 inches from my right foot. We all get ready to sleep. Sure, it is a little strange that my boss gets to see me in my sleepware, which is just a long sleeve t-shirt and sweatpants, but I am dealing with it. Hell, I am fully covered. He takes this time to announce:
"Girls, I don't sleep in these pants."
To which I snap:
"Well, we don't have our glasses on, so it isn't like we are going to see anything."

We all start reading, or working on the computer, or listening to music until we drop off to sleep. Wake up was going to be at some ungodly hour chimed by labmate's watch.


Labmate and I wake up. We get ready. Jackass is still sleeping, complete with a breathy snore. Labmate and I look at each other. Neither of us wants to touch him to wake him. Most of all, we don't want to disorient him so that he gets out of bed sans pants.

I have a brilliant idea. I have a piece of music on my mac that is perfect for this occasion. I boot it up. He sleeps thought the inital sound. All of a sudden, the room is filled with swelling music and:

Good mornin', good mornin'!
We've danced the whole night through,
good mornin', good mornin' to you.

Good mornin', good mornin'!
It's great to stay up late,
good mornin', good mornin' to you.

Jackass sits up in bed. Looks at me, cause he knows that it was my idea to do something like this, and I am a morning person, and says:
"Shut. that. annoying. music. OFF."

Now this isn't the final hell that was our trip to Germany. It doesn't get worse, but it never really gets better.
As for the rest of the time, there wasn't enough beer in the breweries or tents at Oktoberfest that could make it better.

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OMFG. Trip from hell. You get the "patience of a saint" award.

Brian Krueger, PhD
Columbia University Medical Center
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Wow, that's the trip from hell. My worst grad school PI travel experience was driving on snow covered roads in the Rockies to get to a Keystone conference. PI decided he wanted to test the traction control of the SUV we rented. So here we are in the middle of a snowstorm on a narrow mountain road swerving in and out of lanes at 65mph. I really wonder what he was expecting, either the car would maintain traction, or we'd all die a fiery death flying off of the site of a mountain. I don't like those kinds of experiments.

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That is awful! My worst experience was when a cabbie assumed that I was my PI's daughter. When we looked mortified, he quickly then assumed that we were in a 'romantic relationship' (to use his words). Sadly, my mortified look was matched by the one on my PI's face.

Lady Scientist
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If this doesn't make you a saint, I don't know what will. All I can say is thank all that is good and holy that the worst thing I had to deal with was the lack of coffee at a 6am flight with my PI.

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Oh, this doesn't even count the trip to Australia. We stayed an extra week because PI wanted too. It took us 3 days to get there. After the conference there was a *cough* pub-crawl* in Sydney, in which one of us drank too much and had to be practically carried back to her hotel room by her PI.

On the same trip, Jackass was trying on some jackets (?, I can't remember, something like that), and came to get me, because he was thinking of buying one, and wanted a second opinion. So he finds me, brings me back to this outdoor mall stall, tries on the jacket, and the seller stands next to me, and starts talking about how nice he looks in it. I kind of look at Jackass and made some comment about moving to a Montana ranch. The seller looks at me, and reiterates that he looks good in the jacket, and how I should tell him to get it, because we will look so nice together walking down the street hand in hand. Jackass didn't buy the jacket.

After his last family vacation, I got an email that went like this: Hi. We're back. Remind me to tell you about the horrible heat rash all over my legs.

Jackass is kind of nuts. I am clearly wackaloon.

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It sounds like you two had a very unique relationship! Good times!

Genomic Repairman
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I think we are going to start a pool to see when Geeka shanks Jackass, who wants in on the action?

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I've been following her blog for a couple years now, and I will bet $50 she never shanks Jackass. She has grown to close to him, and it would just be anticlimactic to the plot of the story.

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Genomic Repairman said:
I think we are going to start a pool to see when Geeka shanks Jackass, who wants in on the action?

I think that I'm going to work my way up from a 'Gibb's Head Slap", gives me something to work towards.

Jones? Have you commented at my old blog under a different name? I don't seem to recognize you.

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Never under this pseudonym, but I have posted before. I'm having a slight identity crisis due to an inability to get my wordpress open ID to work....
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