Pond Skimming

pond skimming

Santa did it!

Funding Success Rate


Ouch. Yay research…



I’m a little offended that these are all fair matches:

fair match


Great comment from Chemjobber’s repost:

pizza home delivery

Predictions suck

painful predictions

This is painful.

Chemblog Roundup: 1/7/15-1/13/15

I try keep up with the goings on in chemistry, both in the literature and chemblogs (see blogroll on the right). I follow both through RSS (via feedly), but mostly lurk, posting links here occasionally, and commenting on posts/reddit not frequently enough. I’m going to make an effort to work on both. The former I’ll address by sharing my favorites every week (hopefully every Tuesday?).


Compound Interest: The Chemistry of Decongestants
Not the Lab: Minty Fresh Terpenoids
In the Pipeline: Teixobactin: A New Antibiotic From a New Platform?
Chemjobber: Revisiting graduate school and mental health with Vinylogous Aldol
Compound Interest: Teixcobactin: A New Antibiotic, and A New Way to Find More
Not the Lab: Revisiting grad school and mental health with Chemjobber



Shit My Reviewers Say: Untrustworthy
wswcgs: After answering every question successfully during my presentation

2014: My Year of Books

I guess I never made this post in 2012 or 2013, since I wasn’t updating much, but in years past, I’ve posted everything I’ve read for the year. I tend to obsessively track everything, including reading, for which I use Goodreads.

This year, I aimed for 60 books, and made it 70. I peaked in 2011 with 108, but I’m pretty pleased with 70. That’s including a few audiobooks, which are marked with asterisks. My recommendations are bolded.


Crime and Punishment [Fyodor Dostoyevsky] (3/5)
Fluke: Or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings [Christopher Moore] (5/5)
A Serpent’s Tooth [Craig Johnson] (5/5)
The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir [Bill Bryson] (5/5)*


Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle [Washington Irving] (2/5)
thunderbolt kidSouth of the Border, West of the Sun [Haruki Murakami] (2/5)
From the Earth to the Moon [Jules Verne] (2/5)
Seldom Disappointed: A Memoir [Tony Hillerman] (2/5)*
Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance [Barack Obama] (4/5)*
Tsar [Ted Bell] (2/5)*


angel's gameBad Monkey [Carl Hiassen] (4/5)
Fahrenheit 451 [Ray Bradbury] (5/5)
Round the Moon [Jules Verne] (1/5)
Shades of Grey: The Road to High Saffron [Jasper Fforde] (4/5)
Inferno [Larry Niven] (4/5)
Search the Sky [Frederik Pohl] (3/5)


The Angel’s Game [Carlos Ruiz Zafón] (5/5)
making moneyWhat the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures [Malcolm Gladwell] (4/5)
The Appeal [John Grisham] (5/5)*
The Storm [Clive Cussler] (2/5)*


The Litigators [John Grisham] (4/5)
Wintersmith [Terry Pratchett] (3/5)
After Dark [Haruki Murakami] (5/5)
shipbreakerThe Caves of Steel [Isaac Asimov] (5/5)
A Thousand Splendid Suns [Khaled Hosseini] (4/5)


Making Money [Terry Pratchett] (5/5)
Sundiver [David Brin] (3/5)
Into the Black [Evan Currie] (2/5)
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings [Maya Angelou] (4/5)


L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America’s Most Seductive City [John Buntin] (3/5)
Binary: A Novel [John Lange (Michael Crichton)] (3/5)
Shipbreaker [Paolo Bacigalupi] (4/5)*


Bossypants [Tina Fey] (2/5)
magiciansThe Heart of a Woman [Maya Angelou] (4/5)
The English Girl [Daniel Silva] (4/5)*


The Perfect Assassin [Ward Larsen] (3/5)
Lost [Gregory Maguire] (3/5)
Something out of Nothing: Marie Curie and Radium [Carla Killough McClafferty] (3/5)
The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II [Denise Kiernan] (4/5)
androidThe Lost World [Sir Arthur Conan Doyle] (2/5)
Five Weeks in a Balloon [Jules Verne] (3/5)
The Merry Devil of Edmonton [Unknown] (1/5)
The Merry Devil [William Shakespeare] (1/5)


The Magicians [Lev Grossman] (4/5)
The Secret Galactics [A.E. van Vogt] (1/5)
The Broker [John Grisham] (5/5)
wonderSix Days of the Condor [James Grady] (3/5)
The 47th Samurai [Stephen Hunter] (4/5)
The Android’s Dream [John Scalzi] (4/5)
There But For The [Ali Smith] (2/5)
Sphere [Michael Crichton] (4/5)
Sputnik Sweetheart [Haruki Murakami] (3/5)
deadThe Dog Who Came in From the Cold [Alexander McCall Smith] (4/5)*
The Book of Spies [Gayle Lynds] (1/5)*


The Survivors of the Chancellor [Jules Verne] (3/5)
The Sandman, Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes [Neil Gaiman] (3/5)
The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow [Cory Doctorow] (3/5)
Revenge [Stephen Fry] (3/5)
playerRatking [Michael Dibdin] (4/5)
The Black Hole [Alan Dean Foster] (3/5)
State of Wonder [Ann Patchett] (5/5)


The Blockade Runners [Jules Verne] (3/5)
Star Island [Carl Hiassen] (2/5)
Dead of Night [Jonathan Maberry] (5/5)
Ready Player One [Ernest Cline] (5/5)
colorlessThe Listening Woman [Tony Hillerman] (4/5)*
Tommysaurus Rex [Doug TenNapel] (5/5)
The Strange Library [Haruki Murakami] (4/5)
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage [Haruki Murakami] (5/5)
The Lagunitas Story [Tony Magee] (4/5)

Lots of really solid books. All new books. In fact, my goal for 2015 is to only re-read books. I never re-read, because there are always so many more books to find. But if I enjoyed lots of books, wouldn’t they be worth re-reading? In fact, if I never re-read books, what is the point of owning them? Other than decoration and lending them of course.

Tracking is going to be a little annoying, because Goodreads doesn’t have a good way to track re-reads (though they’re supposedly working on it), so I’m just going to be tracking manually until they get that implemented.

60 is a pretty reasonable goal, in recent years I haven’t gotten below 62. Here are my stats from Goodreads, though I joined in 2009, so anything before that is me guessing and relying on my poor memory. It’s probably reasonably accurate, I didn’t used to read as much, and Goodreads probably definitely motivated me to read even more.


I’d like to hit closer to 100 again, but instead, I’ll aim for 70 books in 2015.

Tweet your own adventure

Mental Health in Graduate School

crazyChemjobber and Vinylogous just put out a second dialogue on seriously discussing the issues of mental health in graduate school (and industry), if you should go to grad school, and if it’s okay to quit.

First round: Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Second round: Part 1, 2

You should read these to gain some insight if you’re:
1) In grad school
2) Thinking about grad school
3) Did grad school
4) Have friends/family who are/were in grad school

Essentially, you should just read these; it is really important insight. Grad school is nowhere near the same as college. Personally, I have no disillusions as to how easy I had it. Luck played a role for sure, but the right approach, putting myself in the right circumstances (in and out of lab) made all the difference.

I had an amazing PI, group, and friends. I worked hard, but avoided burnout. I played hard, but avoided slacking off too hard. Everything really just worked out, so I loved grad school. Would everyone? No, hell no. Could I do it because I was smarter, more dedicated, or some other arrogant reason? Hell no.

Go read those posts, and hopefully you can think a little differently of anyone who started/is in/finished/quit/didn’t go to grad school.

[Photo: Christopher Lange]