Saturday, March 31, 2007

*dance of coding triumph*

I have just written a long and hairy computer program...

And it compiled! And worked! ON THE VERY FIRST TRY!!!

Take THAT, Evil-Archaic-Language-From-Hell!

I am one of the only grad students in the immediate vicinity who knows how to program - thus, in need of someone with which to share my triumph, I turn to the Internets. (whether it's programming or doing that fancy long-named bio benchwork that usually sounds way cooler than any of my research*, I'm sure you all understand the first-and-only-try brand of excitement).

*dance dance dance*...

*Biochem friend: "I have to run a poly-trans-methyl-thissy-thatty-whoserface-iptase this afternoon. What are you up to?" Elli: "Poking a computer."

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Coming Soon: Talks, Teh Tehsis, and The Office Space Follies

While I was hoping to keep blogging during spring break, it appears my plans were cleverly foiled by the arrival of TB and various fun escapades in Hot State. I couldn't actually finagle leaving for spring break for $$ reasons, and given our schedules it was easier for TB to visit here (and, of course, grad students aren't REALLY students so we don't get spring break, much like how we are not REALLY employees and only get paid part-time). Suffice it to say that much relaxation ensued - I worked from home when I could, I got to reap the various bonuses of having my partner *around* (*:D*), and we clocked the fastest "vacation" on record, taking off to another part of Hot State for about 40 hours over a weekend and cramming in much outdoor fun. Life is good when TB is around. Sadly, he has just left, which always makes things seem a bit quieter around here. It also tends to have me listing in my head the conversations we were supposed to have had but never got around to - those State-of-the-Union-type long-distance relationship questions ("Where's this going, anwyay?" "Are you happy?" "How's the future lookin'?") that are really preferable to have face-to-face. Sigh.

Fortunately, I have a new season to keep things interesting. I tend to parse life by vacations, so in a way it is kind of nice to be solidly cemented in the "post-spring-break" portion of my semester, where I expect several things to be dominating my time and energy:

1) Talks. I am actually giving several talks in a few months: Big Scary Talk (at a meeting), Fun Interesting Talk (for people who could be helpful with what I have come to call Teh Tehsis - see #2), and Mandatory Talk (standard-issue student presentation for the department). The one thing they all have in common is that they are unusually long - 15 minutes to 45 minutes (who schedules 45-minute talks anyway?) Individually they're nothing to panic about, but...that's a lot of Powerpoint slides.

2) Teh Tehsis. In addition to Dr. Awesome, I have two advisers here, Dr. SuperWoman and Dr. Talks-A-Lot. Dr. SuperWoman is totally amazing and constantly encouraging me to think about Teh Tehsis, people who might be able to help me, fellowships that could come in handy, field work that sounds interesting, conferences or meetings I should go to, etc. It'd be nice to see this take shape a little more over the next semester.

3) My college dorm had something called "Room Draw" every year, where we picked new dorm rooms, and it was ridiculously overdone - a person's graduating class, their current room size, how many semesters they had been in the dorm, and their relationship with their past and future roommates and neighbors were all factors (we were also all geeks so there was always an attempt to stick all of this into a mathematical formula. Yeah, that worked great.) I assumed this was one of the more ridiculously-elaborate student-designed systems.

Then I heard about the upcoming Office Space Follies, the grad-student-governed process by which we all choose new workspaces. Oh my fucking god.

They count years you've been here. They count your officemates. They count your windows (yes! Some of the students here have windows! We realize how lucky we are). They count your square footage. They count the SUM AREA OF DESKTOP SPACE. They consider whether you're at masters or Ph.D. level. If you want to move into an office, you need to charm everyone in that office to make sure it's okay - and since they're moving too, you pretty much have to sweet-talk every grad student who could possibly be sharing a space with you. Some people want to be near their adviser's office or their relevant workshops/labs/equipment/whatsits. Some people want to be as far away from those as possible. Perhaps most ridiculously, the TEMPERATURE of the office is a major factor - some people make their offices insular little cubes of heat, while others use the A/C to cryogenically freeze their officemates, so everyone gets a "Hot/Cold" tag and attempts are made to pair likes with likes.

Yes - it is nice that the grad students are in control of these decisions and the department basically lets us go where we want among the designated grad spaces. Yes, it is nice that we all appear to care so much about each others needs. But for the love of god, this is so elabroate that it is discussed months in advance and all research grinds to a halt during the actual process. And most people wind up dissatisfied and grummbling about it for months to follow ANYway. I propose we all line up at the front steps, fire a starter's gun, and sprint pell-mell through the halls: whoever gets to a space first claims it.

So, expect developments in the next few months. And I promise I won't disappear again!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

an open question to professors:

Are you hiding from us?

More specifically, are you hiding from ME?

I have been hunting for a single word of help all day. ALL. DAY. I'm TRYING to use a particular doohickey with a horrendous users manual that rife with mistakes. I can dig through and handle 90% of the mistakes, but there are a couple funny little snares I can't fix, because I am a first-year grad student who has never touched one of these things before. In search of answers, I have gone to the guy who oversees said doohickeys. I have emailed the guy in another country who wrote the manual. I have emailed the techie guys. However, it has been suggested that I find professors who have actually USED the thing and asked them.

I have now gone to no less than four professors' doors, and they are not here. I started trying at 10AM this morning and have been returning every hour or so. No dice. I am not looking for an answer to "what is my purpose in life?", but something more along the line of "The manual is vague; am I working under conditions A or conditions B?" Anyone who has used this thing could answer the question in five seconds. But they are all gone. ALL of them. Gone. GONE. All day. There is no departmental seminar. There is no all-day faculty meeting. There are no special secret pow-wows. Where are they?? Some of them have students, for god's sake - what are their students doing these days?

I know grad students occasionally hide from their advisers (just this morning I did a side-dive into the ladies' room to avoid starting ANOTHER "I just had an idle idea for something you should do that will be pointless and take four weeks" conversation). I'm SURE that advisers occasionally hide from their own grad students - after all, we can be pestering and curious little pains in the ass. People in my department also do their fair share of traveling. But - jeebus. The odds of the four guys I need ALL being away at the moment seem pretty slim. Can we just have some kind of, like, tagging system in place?:

"I'm in, knock."
"I'll be back soon."
"Out for the morning/afternoon."
"Out for the day, don't bothing looking for me"
"Out for your entire graduate career."
"Nobody can see the great Oz! Not nobody - not nohow!"

It's all I ask. If nothing else, it would cut down on my curious and foolishly-hopeful trips down to hall to see if doors have magically opened or will suddenly start responding to knocks.

Despite the fact that some of the grads around here are lazy kids who roll in at 11AM and out at 4PM, many of us are here from 9AM until 7 or 8PM every day. If we are here for 11 hours a day, you'd think that we'd OCCASIONALLY intersect with the people whose help we actually need.

*cutting self off before a rant about how much longer we work and how much less we get paid gets going full-bore. Back to my puzzle of a doohickey...*

...i like that word. doohickey, doohickey, doohickey. it's satisfying to say! try it! doohickey, doohickey, doohickey...

Monday, March 19, 2007

and Happy's back!!!

As I got caught up on what I missed this week, I wandered, sad and forlorn, over to Happy Feminist, only to discover that she's back!!!

Sounds like she's had an enormously trying time over the past few months, but hers was the very first feminist blog I started reading and I am SO GLAD she's going to back among us! Good to see you back, Happy!

The Silence of the Students

[apologies for the temporary break-induced silence. now back to your regularly scheduled peanut butter]

One of my classes last semester was a small one, comprised of four women, a guy, and an older female professor. Throughout the class, getting the group to answer questions was a painful, painful process. In part this was because the professor asked either really tangential questions or really obvious questions - she once literally asked, "And when we add one to this number we get..." and refused to move on until someone assured her that we could add. Throw in twenty seconds to tune back in to what was already an easy and ignorable lecture, plus a minute of everyone staring at her in disbelief, and you have an ample amount of wasted time.

What got me is that, half the time, when a person decided to pipe up for the sake of moving on, it happened to be the guy - the class focused on his particular subject of interest (not true for the rest of us) and the professor was his adviser, which encouraged a lot of "eager-to-please" sentiment. However, whenever he answered she would jump down the girls' throats for letting the big bad boy trample our voices and "get" all the questions. Because, clearly, we're too meek and feminine to brave the pressure and answer "1+1". In addition to reminding us loudly that we were, after all, the poor oppressed female majority in the class, it made the poor guy feel like a white male entitled jerk who mowed down his female friends in class, all for daring to express interest in his subject.

At first I was just flat-out annoyed: "My vagina has nothing to do with whether or not I talk in class!" Thinking about it a little more, however, it seems that this is not an entirely ungendered behavior - although perhaps not in the way most people think.

When I don't talk in class:
1) I don't know the answer. Simple. Some people love to pipe up with harebrained guesses, but usually professors take these off on a long and pointless tangent. I prefer not to be the cause of that.

2) The answer is indescribably obvious, i.e., "1+1". The moment a question like this is asked, I am off to the next page of my notes to finish the to-do list I am writing or get back to my proofreading. Everyone in the class unarguably knows the answer - let someone else answer it, I'm busy.

3) I've recently tuned out, probably from the question asked in #2. At this point I usually have something of an urge to answer the question, sparked by guilt, so I'll put a super-contemplative look on my face and pretend I am intently focused on working out the mysteries of the question. This can sometimes be rather ridiculous when it turns out to be another question along the lines of #2. When singled out I'll usually just say I wasn't paying attention. Why not? It's the truth.

4) This is the one that strikes me as gendered: I won't pipe up if I know the answer. By definition, if I am certain of the answer then I assume the question must be easy. If someone like ME knows the answer, so must everyone else. And answering an easy question is like answering a "1+1" question - what sort of tool bothers to show off their mastery of something so easy? If I answer such a easy question, people will think that I actually find it challenging and worth answering. And that's embarassing. And embarassing is bad. Girly silly bad. I highly doubt that guys think this way, that they have this fear of being assumed incompentent because they actually admit they KNOW something. Quite a weird thought process, if you think about it.

Honestly, the only time I'll answer a question is the exact situation when most psychologists think females WON'T - I'll pipe up if I'm unsure of the answer but have an idea. It seems to be the only situation where I - or anyone else, for that matter - will benefit from my speaking up, i.e. "I have an idea, I wonder if it's right, if I answer the professor will tell me and explain, if it's wrong, why that is." (of course, in a discussion-based or journal-club sort of class/seminar, this model is a bit different and we all talk substantially more).

Do other students think this way? Do other WOMEN think this way? Why don't you/didn't you talk in class? (come on professors, you sat quietly and squirming just like all the other boys and girls, admit it). Was it a serious sexist issue? (I've BEEN in a class where being female = uncomfortable speaking up. Not fun.) Did the males overrun the class by never shutting up (also not fun)? Did the teacher simply suck? Was the material too hard? Too easy? We're a pretty vocal and confident and intelligent group, so why exactly are grad classes so silent?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

that most fabulous of mistakes...

From a grad student's point of view, anyway...

Sent an email to my field's major professional organization about an upcoming conference. I got a nice prompt reply. The cool mistake? The email began as follows:

"Dear Dr. Blogger..."

:D I LOVE when they do that...

...unfortunately, I am not actually Dr. Blogger yet, and must still take my qualifying exams. Damn.

The "I Can't Use Monday As an Excuse Today" Playlist

(disclaimer: excessive indigo girls has been purged from this list in the interest of variety)

The lucky 13 featured on random shuffle for the day:
1) Suddenly I See - KT Tunstall (wakeup!)
2) Chemistry - Seminsonic
3) Make It Easier - Indigo Girls <--highly recommended for fellow grad students
4) Same Old 45 - Sarah Borges
5) Coyote - Joni Mitchell
6) Hey Driver - Lucky Boys Confusion
7) Origin of Love - John Cameron Mitchell
8) World at Large/Float On - Modest Mouse
9) Candy Everybody Wants - 10,000 Maniacs
10) The Antikythera Mechanism - BT
11) Liar, Liar - The Castaways
12) The Factory - Seven Nations
13) Not a Pretty Girl - Ani Difranco

Saturday, March 10, 2007

(belated) Friday rant

Conservationist Rant:

I heard about this thing on the news a couple years back. Naturally, my reaction was that it was some ridiculous fantasy devised by those great idiots who think that every square inch of the planet should have an entrance fee and a gift shop. But no - apparently, this shit has been built and is opening. Soon.

Summary: they've built a huge ugly glass walkway sticking out over the rim of the Grand Canyon that will cost you $25 to take a step on; this is a project of the Hualapai tribe, and this is their land. Ideally, they want to make a big huge resort called Grand Canyon West there, with hotels and casinos and god knows what else.

That article is a bit old - it took a news feature and a glimpse at a story in the paper to alert me to the fact that yes, people actually are this stupid.

I will devote more time to why this sucks so much in its very own post - but I really hope I don't have to explain it too hard. To be clear: this is an endorsed and supported endeavor of the Hualupai, but my problem is not with them. Native American issues in this country are very complex and troubling, but I would probably say with certainty that if the reservations and tribes were not so systematically shafted by the government, they would not find themselves in a position to look for money in the hypercommercialization of their own incredibly beautiful land. So my beef is not with them.

For the moment - I am fucking furious about this whole thing. And I'm sure I'm on the reasonable end of the spectrum. Edward Abbey, from whom I stole my blog title, wrote about the dangers of destroying this very place. And his mega-devotees have a particular, er, approach to dealing with things like this. Just sayin'...

Grad student rant:
Scenario that has played out in my inbox:

Department Grad Committee: Hi grad students! Some of you are doing research-for-credit courses right now, so remember, your midterm evaluations are on Day X. [these are a new feature in this department] Remember to email us a brief summary of your progress by two weeks from today so that we can familiarize ourself with your situation! And remember that if you miss deadlines on these research-for-credit courses, you lose 10% off your final grade, so please keep the due date in mind. See you on day X."

Whiny grad students: "Waah waah this is so unfair! Why do we have to do WORK for something that HELPS us? Why does it affect our grade? That's not fair! The Department Grad Committee hates us! We should fight!"

Me and the other reasonable grad students (all three of us): "It's. A. Deadline. Haven't you ever heard of grant deadlines? And it's an email - it's not even a page long, it's like a paragraph. And it's not even graded - you just need to *hand it in*. And you have TWO WEEKS. In the time you took to send the other grad students all your whiny emails, you could have written that single email summary and, I dunno, be out having a life. Calm. The fuck. Down.

Whiny grad students: "You don't understand it's the principle blah blah. We don't mind writing summaries and handing them in on time in theory, but why should we be penalized for not doing actually doing it? Why does the Department Grad Committee put so much extra pressure on us? They clearly hate us!"

and on. and on. and on. this email thread has been alive and well for nearly ten hours.

Please - please - all of you who are advising students - we are not all like this. They are giving us a bad name. Some of us actually do our work during the day instead of complaining about THE SMALLEST ASSIGNMENT EVER for an entire day via a flamewar. I swear.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Five questions!

Propter Doc wants to know...

1. Which character from Harry Potter do you think you are most like, and why?
Ahhh, I'm a Harry Potter junkie :) My first thought was Hermione (what other character would happily subject themself to grad school?) but after thinking about it a bit, I'd have to go with Tonks. After all, as an Auror, Tonks certainly went for plenty of extra study after finishing at Hogwarts. She may have some issues with clumsiness, she doesn't let them get in the way of being a badass at her job. She is upbeat and talkative to point of being annoying, and has a familiar-looking irreverent streak. And I can slide into a funk with the best of them, as Tonks so understandably does in Half-Blood Prince. (Lupin also happens to be my favorite character).

As a professor I hope I'm Professor McGonogall - I have a seriously under-used capacity for being really strict, but if you read closely, she's got a touch of mischief under the tartan.

2. How did your blog get such an interesting name?
Okay, nobody's guessing :P One of my favorite books, randomly, is Edward Abbey's The Monkey Wrench Gang. I certainly don't agree with all of Abbey's views - he a cantakerous angry misanthrope - but he readily acknowledges this fact, which makes his writing lovably rebellious. He was also a persistent and important voice for conservation at a critical time in history. (He also happens to write exquisitely.) Anyway, the term "monkey wrench gang" refers to the motley crew formed by the book's four central character's. At a point in the book he is writing about their troubles deciding on a name. I had the book on my desk when I was naming my blog, flipped idly to that section, and landed on "Peanut Butter Cabal" as one of their rejected choices. I like peanut butter. I like the word "cabal". It clicked!

3. If someone handed you 1 million US dollars to do with as you pleased, what would you do?
Huh - I think about this a little more than is probably healthy. First: loans. LOANS. Kill my loans. And kill TB's loans. Then...probably invest about half, upgrade my travel/outdoor gear and travel around the world, donate to a few charities close to my heart (breast cancer research, National Parks Conservation Association, music education in my home town). Hire an agent and try to launch my subversive side career as a wanna-be writer. Shell out for maybe one or two pairs of fancy consumer-whore designer-ish jeans, since in my experience the more overpriced pants are, the closer they come to actually fitting my atypically-proportioned legs (grrr). Finally, just look around for cool stuff to see/do/do for other people! I think after traveling the world and possessing $1 million my views would have changed a bit - I'd want to find out what they had become!

4. What did you most want to be as a child?
I swear I'm not making this up - I wanted to be a Useless Scientist. Typically it went something like "I want to be a ballerina/firefighter/movie star/President...or a Scientist!" The brand of science changed occasionally - marine biology, astronomy, paleontology, archaeology, oceanography, physical anthropology - but one particular discipline always made the list. And here I am today. On bad days this can either be really reassuring ("I'm doing what I've always wanted to do!") or really discouraging ("...THIS is what I've always wanted to do??")

5. Is the glass half full or half empty?

Half-full. It takes a lot of successive crappy days to get me all the way to half empty. And by then I am usually ready to smash the damn glass.

Okay, I think now I should offer to give someone five questions! Anybody?

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

On authorship and being female

So my thought focuses on something I've recently read over at Zuska's blog:

(hey, I just figured out how to do block quotes!):

In the man's world, when you publish a paper, no one suspects that your advisor/collaborator really did all the work.

This comment interests me. A lot. I don't typically feel I'm experiencing sexism when something goes wrong for me in science (although I wish I could say the same for some of the bratty privileged guys I know, who whimper "Life is easier for you because you're a girl!" every time I kick their asses in science). But this quote struck a chord with me.

Just yesterday, my adviser Dr. Awesome (the guy I've mentioned several times previously) passed on an email from a scientist neither of us knows, writing about a few papers we published a little while ago, praising the coolness of the topic and asking a few minor questions. Cool, right? The authorship on this research (there have been a couple papers) has been "Undergrad Chick [me], Dr. Awesome, Dr. Dude, Dr. Dude2, etc..."

The email was addressed to Dr. Awesome and Dr. Dude, and CC'd to me. At the wrong address, no less. This is also not the first time something like this has happened.

I am not quite sure what to think about this. Dr. A is relatively well-known in this field. It is made clear in one of the papers that I was an undergraduate when we did the work (typically you can't tell, you just see a name and their school or research facility, but the undergrad program that funded my participation is acknowledged in detail). Personally, if I had a research question that I wanted answered, I WOULD be more inclined to talk to the professor rather than the undergrad, regardless of who was male and/or female in the situation. I readily acknowledge that I am a little grad student and that I probably need to work my way up to a point where I am considered a scientist on the same level as Dr. A.

I just find it unsettling. At this point, yes, it is almost certainly the "Undergrad, Dr., Dr." sequence rather than the "Chick, Dude, Dude" sequence that is getting me slighted. But at what point should I started calling them on it? I'm a grad student now, so my name and affiliation are all that get listed - they won't know if I'm a pre-PhD student, PhD student, postdoc, or even a new faculty member, they just see "Blogger, Elli T., at Hot State University" At what point is there no longer an excuse for slighting the student in favor of the adviser? Grad students may not have Ph.D.s and big lists of publications, but they are doing research - sometimes very excellent research, and sometimes research that they are better-versed in than their advisers. So at some point it might stop being student status and start having something to do with gender.

On a related note...

When I was getting ready to write and submit that first paper, someone - I don't even remember exactly who - reminded me that I would soon be picking my "published name", the moniker that would appear in every publication I ever put forth (I have no intention of changing my name if I ever get married, so I will indeed be "Dr. Blogger" for the rest of my life). This person warned me that I should really go by "E. T. Blogger", since it would conceal that embarassing fact that I was female and increase my odds of getting treated as a proper scientist.

This annoyed me. Firstly, my name is not "E", it is "Elli"*! Secondly, I didn't like being told to go to any special lengths to conceal who I was - my male counterparts were being told nothing of the kind, i.e. "Hide the fact that you're male!" (yes, I know all about that infamous study looking at how papers were regarded depending on the gender of the author name - does anyone have a link to that? - and it still doesn't change the fact that my name is Elli!)

I am starting to wonder if people will see "Female" as a first author and automatically look to the second author for - reassurance that a male was involved? Confirmation that the paper is actually worth reading because a "Dr. Somebody" is behind the girl at the top of the list? I'll be interested to see how this plays out over the next few years.

I'd also really like to know if anyone else ever got that "Don't let on that you've got girl parts" warning when putting their names on papers. What did you do? How has it mattered?

*obviously, my name is actually neither, but work with me...

Monday, March 5, 2007

failing to be Fabulous at fifty

I usually put The Today Show on in the morning while I'm eating breakfast and perusing internet news/blogs. There are PLENTY of issues with The Today Show that I won't get into at this time (since I often blog in the mornings, I'm sure I'll have plenty more chances), but I finally had to respond to one of their regular features.

It seems that every few days they run one of those "Fit And Fabulous At Fifty" type deals. It usually features some rich skinny author-type woman with a decorative Ph.D. who is forty-nine and just hysterically happy about it, probably because she looks like a thirty-year-old with a few token "lines" on her face. She will swear up and down that every fifty-year-old female viewer could hot too if they'd just *decide to be fabulous*. They'll usually march out a few other already-naturally-gorgeous women, slap some $50 makeup products on them, and point out how being fifty is really no reason to stop obsessively prettifying yourself every morning.

I get a different message from this; namely, the message that "getting older is no excuse for not still trying to look like the Hollywood set". It's an impression that you can look GREAT (where "great" = "skinny and young") if you would only just get off your lazy potentially-fabulous behind and make up your mind to be snappy-happy. In other words, older women are no longer allowed to, god forbid, stop obsessing about their appearance just because they're "past their prime". It's extending the lookist idea that women should constantly be maximizing their Hotness Potential to a wider and wider age range.

I can see my future in my mom. She would never EVER be featured on this show because - holy crap! - she spends her evening with a book instead of with wrinkle cream, and she eats big gooey decorated cookies with her grandkids instead of daintily nibbling on a few crackers to watch her figure. She walks, she hikes, she lifts weights, but she does so to stay healthy, relax, and enjoy the outdoors. I love the way she looks, but she looks like a nice, happy, and well-lived fifty-something mother and grandmother who doesn't think that hiding the bags under her eyes is vital to her status as a Today-Show-certified woman.

I'll admit it - I may not dress stylishly or wear make-up, but I tend to try and look nice on a day-to-day basis. Particularly when I see The Boyfriend or go out with friends, I tend to break out the skirts and nice jeans, brush the hair, and dust off the make-up. I realize that everyone, male and female and young and old, prefers looking good to looking bad, but personally, I can't wait to get away from it - to be the cantankerous old lady scientist that runs around in T-shirts and fleeces and hiking boots with deep wrinkles and flywaway gray hair. I want to dig out the studies I've read about menopause as a revolution for more discussion, but the short version is that many women find a new lease on life once traditional tenets of femininity are out of the picture - they write, they paint, they travel, they generally feel an enormous sense of agency in their own life. I really hope that when I'm fifty I'm obsessing over getting some pottery into a local artists' show or patching up my old hiking boots for a trip to Thailand, rather than worrying over my wrinkles and listening to The Today Show trying to remind me that looking fabulous at fifty = BEING fabulous at fifty.

Friday, March 2, 2007

another good part

Another good part about being a Useless Scientist: catching specials on National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, PBS, etc. that focus on your discipline. It's very fun to see the coolest parts of your science boiled down into good concise little summaries for the general public, and it's heartening to see how...well, COOL and EXCITING they make everything sound. Kinda reminds you how neat this stuff is. It is also very cool to see a scientist or team featured whose name you recognize. And it's rare but EXTRA-cool to see someone you've met in person, studied with, or know (true, it's usually an old white guy, but some of my favorite scientists are old white guys! Let's not hold it against them.)

This has nothing to do with fame (well, okay. ALMOST nothing to do with fame - because how famous do you really get on the National Geographic Channel's Thursday night special?), but I'd love to be on one of those shows someday. As a little kid I got into science in part by watching Nova, Nature, Discovery Channel, etc., and seeing these scientists that appeared to have big exciting glamorous lives, and it'd be very rewarding to be on the flip side of that at some point, hopefully showing a curious kid somewhere how exciting science can be.

Of course, this would mean I was propagating the belief that scientists HAVE those big, exciting, glamorous lives. For this I can only apologize to any successfully seduced kids one day in the distant future when they are grad students.