Lots of things going on, but nothing substantial enough for a stand-alone post. So here are some bullets!
- Having read numerous articles about how bad it is for you to sit all day, even if you’re very active at other times, I’ve decided that I want a standing desk. Well, what I really want is one of those adjustable desks that moves up and down – standing all day isn’t very good for you either – but they’re ridiculously expensive. When I’m at home I sometimes take my laptop into the kitchen and prop it up on a stack of books on the kitchen counter, but I don’t have an equivalent at work, and we just don’t have the budget for adjustable desks. So, a few weeks ago, I cleared a section of a shelf on our team’s bookcase, and now use it as a desk whenever I have any hard-copy reading, editing, or drafting to do. It’s not ideal, and I’m only spending around 5% of my time there (yes I track things like that) because so much of my work requires me to be at my computer, but it’s better than nothing!
Bookcase, as seen from my desk
- On a related note, a colleague has had a genius idea to get more people to be active during the work day. This is the same guy who runs all the work sports pools, and this initiative is along similar lines – everyone who wants to play puts in $5 and grants permission for their card swipes to be logged, and then for every day in March that you take the stairs from the ground floor to either the 5th or 6th floor, you get one entry into a draw to win the whole pot. (We share the building with another organisation, so we only have access to some floors, and have to swipe in (on the way up) and then out (except on the ground floor) of the stairwell). I think there’s about $400 at stake by now, and people are getting really into it – there’s even a side competition for the fastest climb to the 6th floor. I haven’t entered that one (my shiny new asthma’s still bugging me – yes, it has become chronic), but I did log my natural pace time at the beginning of March and will see if I get any faster by the end of the month. I was taking the stairs a lot before I got the cold that gave me asthma, but had been using the elevators since then, so this was a nice motivation to get back into better habits!
- I have a notebook that I take with me into every meeting to jot down useful information, action items for transfer onto my to-do list, silly stuff that might make a good blog post, etc. When I first started my job, I wrote down every little thing that sounded like it might be important, so there’s a LOT of potentially very useful information in there – but I’m terrible at finding it amid all the other crap. So I’ve started spending 15 minutes a day transferring the important contents of the notebook into an Excel spreadsheet, with different tabs for different projects then different codes for different topics within the project, so that I have a searchable archive. I just type in the very basics, but specify the corresponding date and page number in the notebook so I can easily find more details. It’s already coming in very handy, to the extent that my supervisor has noticed and says he’s going to start doing the same thing. I get through about two weeks worth of notes in 15 minutes, so I’ll soon be caught up and will start just adding that week’s notes at the end of the day every Friday. I highly recommend this approach, and just wish I’d thought of it sooner!
- I’m really very excited by the two papers in last week’s Nature describing circular RNAs with regulatory function. As with the recent discoveries of chromothripsis, RNA editing, and epigenetic modifications of RNA, it makes me wonder what other Big Deal phenomena are out there to be discovered. I’m also very curious to learn how long it takes other labs to jump onto this kind of discovery – the member of my team responsible for fielding sequencing requests from other institutes says she hasn’t had any specific epitranscriptome or circular RNA sequencing requests yet, but will let me know when she does. Methinks it won’t be long for either…
- The birthday card I got from my colleagues last month is a) very apt and b) very useful:
- I’ve taken it down now, but keep it in a drawer for easy access; my primary work drinking partner sits diagonally opposite me, separated by a divider, so I can wave the card over the top of the divider to discreetly invite her out for after-work drinks without disturbing anyone else. Her birthday card has a glass of wine on it, so she can reciprocate in kind.
- Work is fun!