Productive Sunday

Sunday was a decidely unadventurous day, but that’s alright – I can find peace and quiet in the mundane!

I opened at the bookstore, which means I started at 8am and was able to leave at the nice, early hour of 1:30pm.  This is my favorite shift *ev-er*; I get to put in a respectable five hours and I still have the best part of a weekend day available to enjoy.  To add to the awesomeness of the shift, it was a beautiful, sunny 70°F when I left the bookstore . 

After work I got my gardening groove on.  I decided to go straight for the seedlings this year, except for chives and parsley which should pop right up from seeds.  I tried the Mpls Farmer’s Market, but they’re not open until April 24th – boo!  So, I went to Home Depot…on a weekend afternoon. *shudders*

This will be my third year gardening at the apartment.  I live next to a bus stop in a semi-okay part of South Minneapolis with no private (fenced) yard or garden spaces, so I have developed a very easy-going attitude toward my plants: I put the pots outside by our window, and if someone tips ’em over, ah well.  I haven’t had any hooligan-type shenanigans yet, which makes me happy.  This year I planted one grape tomato plant and some herbs: Rosemary, Oregano and Basil.  Oh, and the chives and parsley. 

In other gardening news, my mentoring program has rented a plot at one of the local community gardens, and all matches are invited to join in the fun.  So this year I might get a chance to grow some root veggies (carrots and kohlrabi!) and vining plants (beans)!

After the gardening came the laundry and dishes.  Our laundry facilities are so much like college, except without the worrying so much about someone stealing your clothes thing.  I’m not a big fan of laundry (or the $2.50/load charge), so I usually put this particular chore off until I have 4-6 loads to do at a time.  Sunday was a six-loader.

After that was dishes.  I don’t mind doing dishes – there’s something mindlessly satisfying about filling the sink and…oh wait, no there’s not.  Really, dishes kind of stink too, especially after cooking fancy-pants dinners that require lots of pots and pans.


About the time dishes were done, it was time for a quick dinner and laundry-folding with House, M.D.  So all in all, it was a very productive Sunday, although I did get distracted by the internet…a few times.

Productive Sunday


Ah yes, spring has sprung.

Being a rare biologist in a land of chemists and engineers does have the advantage of making me looking totally badass when nature literally rears its head.  While my coworkers cowered in disgust or panic, I was edging forward as close as I could without scaring my subjects into the bushes (and without screaming like a girl and ruining the badassness of the moment).

There are FOUR snakes in this photo!

Yeah for zoom!

Making out under the garbage can.


Need a kidney? Try Facebook.

It’s the crazy month from chaosville!

I’m involved in two projects at one job:

One is scheduled to be done by end Q1 (March 31st).  I’m leading this project, and directing the work of five people.  In the department scheme of things it’s a low priority project, but as a personal goal it ranks very high on my personal success plan (ewww…company-ese).  In real language – if I drop the ball, I look like an incompetent dumbass, and I’ve wasted the time of at least five co-workers.  I like this project, so devoting time to it isn’t a problem, so much as over-devoting time to it is.

The other project is a high-profile company objective that is affecting corporate financials, so *everything* associated with this project is a priority.  Each experiment needs to be done about five minutes before marketing or QA thinks of it. 

And I’m still pulling 20 hours/week at the bookstore.  Yipee Skippy.

On less stressful note, we put all of our tax return and a chunk of bookstore money into the gaping maw that is our credit card debt – and paid off another credit card!  Yeah!  One (smallish) credit card and one (larger) credit union loan to go!  It’s time to start reading the MCAT study guide again…!!!

There’s a great article in the Variety section of today’s Star Tribune (author: Kristin Tillotson) titled Friended for life.  In a nutshell:   Christ Strouth needed a kidney, Scott Pakudaitis had a kidney, and no big deal because hey, they’re friends.  Well…facebook friends.  These guys were friends of friends…they barely knew each other…and they conducted all of their conversation about the transplant and donation via social media like Facebook and Twitter.  This story is pretty amazing.  I was always in awe of the generous people who donate bone marrow (ye-owch!), but an entire organ? Christ Strouth also has a video of his story on youtube:

Need a kidney? Try Facebook.

Med school seems really far away today.

I’m following a Plan that is designed to get me into medical school (getting through medical school is an entirely different Plan).   I actually started this blog to document my journey from undergraduate and career gal to medical school candidate, and the closer I get, the more of an influence this journey will have on my blog entries.  But unfortunately, I’m in the earliest stage of The Plan, which is Getting Out of Commercial Debt and setting myself up financially to get into medical school (MCATs, supplementary classes, med school entry counsultants, researching med schools, med school application fees, traveling to visit schools – the list can go on and on depending on how one chooses to get there). 

So I am currently in the part of The Plan that involves a lot of money-making, making sure said money goes to the credit card companies or savings (not on new iPads), and staying very calm while I get more and more impatient to be studying medicine.

Hence, two jobs – one of which, thank goodness, is vaguely related to medicine.  Aside from adding to my science background (immuno- and biochemistry, cell culture, in vitro diagnostics, statistics), my work here is  strengthening my experience and knowledge of decision-making, setting priorities, multi-tasking, discovering and working with limitations, schedule planning, leading teams and assigning work, cross-functional diplomacy, business hierarchies and decisions, working with regulatory agencies and other big-picture issues that may prove useful when working in medicine.

This job experience also mean that I have acquired the ability to occasionally relate to Dilbert cartoons and Office Space.   For example, here are some excellent, and admittedly out-of-context, quotes that have recently come from various meetings:

That’s an unfair test because it sets us up for success, and we don’t want to set ourselves up for success.

Lean-Six Sigma is like communism: It works great in theory. – This one works great for any number of procedures and ideas that one doesn’t like.

It’s not a real vacation unless it inconveniences your co-workers.

We’re on target to get nothing done!

Boss: She’s mastered the science of getting SOPs approved. 
Worker: I’ve mastered the science of nagging.
Co-Worker: Yeah, she’s the Charles Dickens of the nasty-gram.

Yep, just like being a factory worker during undergrad helped me want to stay in college, this career – extraordinary work experience aside – is a wonderful motivation to stay on-track for medical school.

Med school seems really far away today.

I love my customers.

I just met a gentleman who wanted to sign up for the bookstore’s educator discount. While he was filling out the registration form, I asked what subject he taught, and he told me he taught high school biology, with an emphasis on ecology and evolution – Yeah! We traded favorite authors and podcasts (also, dude had to be in his 60s, so he’s hip, he’s with it), and he shared his guilty secret: He loves to antagonize his evangelical fundamentalist young earth creationist students (even though he’s a Christian) Hehehe…mean ol’ guy!

2/20/10 – 11:32pm CST

So Cafe Witteveen was kind enough to repost this story on his blog, and I was surprised by some of the comments that it received.  It seems I made the professor sound like a bit of a jerk when I said that he loves to antagonize his students.  So for any readers over here who might agree with that assessment, allow me to add a bit more context so you can see where I was coming from.  The professor was talking about the argument between ID and evolution in his classroom:

“I have to admit that one of the joys of my job is antagonizing my students – I mean, when one of my kids tries to tell me that that intelligent design has to be true, I challenge them to tell me why. I just sit back and listen and and occasionally ask: Why do you believe this?, and How does that support ID?, and after they have successfully defeated their own arguments, we get down to the business of learning about evolution.”

Sounds perfectly reasonable – a successful teaching strategy, and not jerkish in the least!

I love my customers.

Sinisterly Apologetic?

I work with a gentleman at the bookstore who is as kind as can be.  Picture him: Well-dressed in a sweater vest and slacks.  Well-groomed, shaved.  6’3″.  Pattern-baldness, white/gray hair, mid-60s.  He always has a twinkle in his eyes, and a smile for customers and co-workers alike.  He hands out Halls cough-drops like candy to his co-workers because, as he puts it, “in this line of work, having a clear throat is a good thing”.

That last sentence is a bit odd, isn’t it?  Well, that John in a nutshell: He’s just a little odd.  Somehow, his social mannerisms are slightly skewed.  I’d never really given it much thought – I just assume he’s getting a little senile, or that there’s some combination of generational and “how he was raised” gap between him and us.  I assume he’s putting up a wall between his professional and personal life, because conversation is always kept to the smallest,  most surface nicities.  In fact, he only has a short list of nicities that he pulls out at work:

To co-workers
I’m glad to be working with you. 
I really enjoy working with you.  And I’m not just saying that…I’m too old to say things I don’t mean.  I really do enjoy working with you.
How is your day going?
  (Response will be some variation of either: “I’m glad to hear it“,  or “Well, I’m sure the situation will rectify itself.”
Today has been character-building (this is in response to “how are things going today”.  If he’s managed to sell a couple of memberships, then things are going “very well”.  If no one’s buying, the day has been “character-building”).

To customers:
I hope you enjoyed your time in the bookstore. (He repeats this line two-three times during a transaction). 
May I tell  you about our discount savings membership?
Goodbye.  Thanks for coming in today, and I do hope you had a good time at the bookstore.

In my opinion, this is all fine and dandy.  Dude’s polite, if a little annoying and impersonal.  But I don’t need to have personal connections with all of my co-workers.  For myself, I believe that my work takes up a fair amount of my life, and therefore I should enjoy what I do and with whom I interact, but if I manage to make a few friends I’m fine.  With everyone else, all I need is a work connection – professional, able to get the job done without any unpleasantness or drama.   

But my manager has another theory.  You see, there is a darker side to John – oh yes, readers! – prepare yourself for this horrific tale: 

John apologizes. 

That’s it.  But really, John apologizes a lot.

I never noticed this until I became a head cashier (HC).  As an HC, I have to write up people when their drawer is more than $5 off of target.  Well, one day I had to write up John, and he was devastated!  He tried to offer me money for the difference, and I had to tell him, no, unfortunately that’s what we call “fraud”.  For a week afterwards he hounded me, asking if his drawer was correct, offering to pay the bookstore back for the missing money, pulling me aside at random times during a work shift to assure me that he was sorry and he wasn’t here to “cost the company money”. 

I spoke with my boss about this behavior and he went into a rant!  He thinks that John’s over-the-top politeness is false and insincere.  He thinks that John is purposely overly apologetic when he does something wrong, as a means of negatively reinforcing the idea that “disciplining John is a pain in the ass, I’d rather just ignore the transgression than try to address it”.  In fact, he’s trying to think of a way to sit down and discuss this with John, because he (my manager) thinks the customers and coworkers are bothered by John’s behavior. 

I’d never considered John’s mannerisms a problem, but apparently some people do.  I googled “overly apologetic”, and there appears to be support for the idea that over-apologizing is a sign of a deeper insecurity or self-esteem issues, and a symptom of general social ineptitude.  But still, I just think John’s a sweet guy who has a problem with short-term memory.

If any of you wanderers who have found yourself at this post care to contribute: Do you have any opinions, or experience dealing with overly-apologetic people?

Sinisterly Apologetic?