Category Archives: Graduate School

Some Agreement

Wal-Mart, unions unite on health care

WASHINGTON – Executives from Wal-Mart and three other large U.S. employers on Wednesday joined union leaders in calling for “quality, affordable” health care for every American by 2012.

However, they did not propose any specific policies to achieve this goal, or commit to spending any extra money in the near-term to provide health coverage to more workers.

So what exactly is the agreement all about?

Yay! I can blog again!

A semi-productive day in the lab today. Worked with some data, tutored undergrads in various lab techniques, did a little with the manuscript. Wrote a tutorial on accessing/using PubMed and how to access journals.

Not too busy of a day…unlike yesterday during which I was busy and was here for 12+ hours.

Unfortunately, for some reason I couldn’t access my blog for a good part of the day…alas a lack of posts.

Nevertheless, I have found some things of interest to share later today…but I’ve got to see to an experiment right now.

Bored in the lab

I’m in the lab still…bored, very bored.

Why you ask?

I’ve got my rats running an experiment which takes 8 hours. Due to circumstances not under my control, the rats didn’t start till ~10AM, meaning I’m here till at least 6-7PM if not later. And I’m sick of reading journal articles as well (what I’ve been doing most of the day)

So here’s a quick post….

Today at a glance

It’s gonna be an interesting day for me…

I’m heading into the lab this morning where I’m going to be visiting with my rats (yes, I’ve got a new bunch of 24 lab rats). They need handled and weighed. Yeah, it’s a mundane activity, but it needs done. There’s also some paperwork and red tape that needs taken care of (the joys…)

Then I’ll hop onto the LIE and head back to campus, where I’ve gotta set up and then administer the lab practical that I spent this weekend writing. I’ll waste an hour or two proctoring the practical, gather up the papers, and then I’ll likely head back out yonder to the lab (now do I take Rte 25a or the LIE to the lab?) to do some more stuff.

Finally, depending on the time I finish at the lab, I may meet some people for dinner…but that’ll have to wait and see.


So I’m in the awkward position for writing a lab practical (read as final exam) for the course I TA’d this past semester.

I’m not sure if writing a final is going to be easier or harder than taking one?

Enjoying work

I had another full day today, most of it spent in the lab. Today was scheduled to be a busier day in the lab, which was good in a sense that I get to learn more new things (in terms of scientific knowledge and techniques), get to do things–so it’s positives all around.

I’m alo finding myself really enjoying what I’m doing when I’m working in the lab–a feeling I’ve not had for a long time with regards to work. I wake up looking forward to the day ahead and what I’m going to be doing.

I don’t think that this type of feeling is necessarily something that’s unique to the sciences either. One of the things I like about science is the constant discoveries that one makes as they work; but I’m sure others have analagous feelings in their work as well.

For those who are curious as to exactly what I’m doing right now…um, le me just say that you’d probably perfer it if I didn’t tell you the details (the gross-out factor). I’ll that I’ll say is for now is that it has to do with Behavioral Neuropharmacology.

What a day!

Today was, well, an interesting day to say the least. I’d rather not elaborate right now, (I’ll save the story for another day) but I had a whole bunch of new experiences today, and I’m not just talking about learning new lab techniques.

I know it’s only been two days so far, but I’m really enjoying my current lab rotation. I’m really learning a lot and liking it!

Okay, back to the books

New Lab Rotation!

Yay! The day I’ve long been waiting for has finally come! I’m starting a new lab rotation today!

I’m hoping that this one goes better than my last one did–definitely.

I’ll post about tomorrow evening…in the interim, scroll on down and read the posts from the past few days

Update: I guess you could call it bad luck. I show up and the PI wasn’t in his office, and the lab was locked. Turned out the tech was in the animal facility at the time. Oh wel, go figure!

On the other hand, I did get all of my paperwork taken care of, got my car registered, and now have my official DOE ID badge.

I’ll go back tomorrow I guess…

The rest of the day

Went to a Hillel dinner this evening, and I must admit the food was rather good. Not as good as the deli “teaser” the other night mind you, but the food was decent and much better than anything Aramark ever dished out.

There was also a “viennese” dessert spread (which I passed on) but that many people raved about. This went along with a speaker who talked about the history of Viennese Jewry.

It was a nice distraction from what awaited me in my inbox when I got home from school this afternoon. I received the preliminary questions for my qualifier exam. (I’ll explain the whole exam format in a later post). Granted, I knew that the questions were coming, but nonetheless, I wasn’t looking forward to it. It’s going to be a busy two months.

Hopefully I’ll have some good dreams tonight….rather than nightmares

Graduate Students and Unions

Over at NRO’s: The Corner there have been a series of posts (see here, here, here and here)

As a first year graduate student, in the sciences, this is something which I’m able to discuss with familiarity.

Being a student at a State University, there is indeed a graduate student union, appropriately named GSEU: Graduate Student Employee Union (sorry, no website available). The GSEU is part of the bigger union the Communications Workers of America

Now I don’t quite know how graduate studies work for students in the Humanities and Social Sciences. From what I’ve heard, they’re the ones who make up the largest part of the union and are the ones constantly pushing for things.

In the sciences, things work differently. Almost all programs, as part of admission into the program cover a student’s tuition and provide them with a (small) stipend. This is not for nothing though. It is expected that these students will be working as Teaching Assistants for a pre-designated period of time. Then in addition to that the students are also expected to work in the laboratory of a program’s faculty member, spending long hours in the lab doing research. In that sense, the stipend is the equivlent of a “salary”.

So when it comes to Unionizing, many of us in the sciences don’t understand why we must have dues to the union deducted from our paychecks, We don’t necessarilly see a need for a union–unlike say the students in the humanities who (from what I’m told) are not guaranteed TAing assignments, stipends or things of the sort.

This begs the question, is it really necessary for graduate students to unionize? If so, shouldn’t membership be optional?

Good day or bad day?

Okay, ignoring the obvious fact that today is indeed the dreaded April 15th, today has the potential to either be a good day or bad day for me.

On the good column: I did get to sleep in, there’s Neuroscience Happy Hour today (free food + drink) and Hillel has free Shabbat Dinner (free food!)

In the bad column, word is that today will likely be the day my classmates and I receive our preliminary questions for our candidacy qualification exam (uh oh!)–meaning two months till the exam itself!

Will today wind up in the good or bad column? I guess I’ll have to wait and see.


Last night the campus Hillel held a “sneak preview” of the new Kosher restaurant/dining hall which is supposed to soon make its debut on campus: Delancy Street

There were all sorts of meats (cold cuts, fresh carved, hot dogs) out available to sample, in addition to different salads, and some really tasty Kinishes.

It was very good stuff…and from the looks of things, it’s reasonably priced as well! I hope that it will ultimately open soon!

mmmm….Kosher meat…mmmm……..

Next Tuesday, at Delancey street is going to be “Roll with the Rabbi”–Sushi making. Perhaps I’ll go, and try it out (even though I don’t like Sushi)

Attack of the nerds

uh oh…

Looks like the geeks/nerds are going to be descending on Stony Brook in droves this weekend!

It’s the annual I-CON Gathering (a.k.a. “geek fest”)

Definitely not my genre or type of thing. However, I’m sure there will be some bloggers in attendance. It looks like Bill of Leaning Towards the Dark Side is going to be in attendance.

Me thinks that I’m going to avoid the University campus this weekend. (Unless there’s good drinking taking place–in which case someone let me know where!)

To the lab

Tomorrow morning I’ve gotta get up early as I’m heading to Brookhaven Nat’l Lab for a lab safety course

(I’m not going to disclose the name or subject content of the course–just incase there’s some potential restriction on my doing so. You know how the government can be).

I’m actually looking forward to this course, as I’ve completed the first part of it online and now it’s the classroom portion, and the subject material is very interesting to say the least.

Speaking of which, I shouild probably get to bed….goodnight

No Chalking?

Back at Brandeis clubs constantly used chalk to advertise their events.

Little did I know that now at my new institution, chalking is technically a no-no.

Chalking on College Campuses

According to the University Student Conduct Code, chalking the pavement and walkways around Stony Brook falls under the “respect for property” clause, which prohibits actions that can potentially damage school property. The Student Conduct Code does not specifically mention chalking, but it is classified as a form of graffiti, which is directly banned on campus. Students caught chalking are therefore, violating campus policies.

How many cubits…

were used by Noah in his ark?
It’s pouring outside today, and supposively the city may be in for up to 2 inches, so who knows how much we’re gonna get out here. Yuck.

I’m TAing lab today…and that’s all I’ve got to do in terms of classes. I’ve also got some reading to do for homework, but I’m not so concerned by that. Just a yucky day.

Perhaps last night’s flight back was a bad omen. It was a very bumpy flight…so much so that the captain told the flight attendant not to take out the beverage cart. Then when we finally landed in Islip, the pilot apparently didn’t know his directions as he headed the wrong way on the tarmac, on the opposite direction of the terminal which we were to head to. One of those little baggage cars had to race down the tarmac to flag our pilot to tell him to go the opposite direction. That must’ve forshadowed today’s dreary weather. And now my TV isn’t working right. It’s turning itself off automatically randomly. Argh!

I’m sort of drawing blanks right now as for anything else to say.

Just saw something on the news about the White House Easter Egg Roll….uh, what’s the deal behind that?

Oh crap!

I was talking to one of my professors yesterday who told me about this:

Brookhaven lab would be devastated if the House approves proposal by the Department of Energy

Shit! I am/was really interested in doing a lab rotation at BNL and perhaps learning/studying neuroscience and imaging.

Then comes along this news…oh shit….I may really be screwed right now.

Come on Congress! Cut some other stuff instead!
May I suggest the NEA?

The end of Ethics

No, society isn’t going to hell in a handbasket or anything of the sort.

Rather, I’ve just got my last Ethics course today (hooray!)–thank goodness the course is going to be over and done with. It’s truly been a waste of time.

Thank you to the Federal Gov’t for making me take this course.