Thursday, February 28, 2008

Mistakes, mistakes, and how to avoid them in the first place (yeah, right)

I have been having a hectic time working on my research, mainly in the clean room. Do I have results to show for it? Umm... not really. That also depends on your definition of results. But I have been making a lot of mistakes, occasionally making me feel quite stupid. However, I have also been learning a lot. I think the equation is working out somewhat to
2 x knowledge - 1 x feel stupid = 1 x wisdom (net gain!)

A little bit of introspection led to the following "net wisdom" about mistakes in the clean room (and probably life in general :-) ):

1. You cannot avoid mistakes (...unless you avoid working altogether, and besides you and I are also not God)
2. You don't become stupid as a result of a mistake (I went about telling all my lab mates about this really stupid mistake while etching my lasers...because h^&*, I have etched these things a hundred times and I have never done something like that before. Most of them looked at me and said, "Hey I hadn't thought of that...I'll watch out for it!" )
3. You can avoid the same mistakes (mostly)
4. If you think you are making unnecessary or the same mistakes, it is usually one of only two things:
a. You are in a hurry (My devices don't like being hurried. If I do hurry, the looks they give me make me want to curl up and die, and is unsafe to hurry when working with such a festival of nasty chemicals)
b. You did not think the process through, and started working without a plan (I put negative contacts on my lasers without doing enough research on the new photoresist I was using...the contacts looked like nice fluffy pillows instead of rectangles. Sure, that's what I wanted to do next: bury my face in a pillow)
5. Don't fret. Learn and move on. See the humour, and Chill. (My colleague ZZ said one researcher's bad laser is another researcher's good photo-detector....heh heh heh)

It's been working for me the last few weeks. Wish me luck in keeping it that way.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Good news and Bad news

How good is good and how bad is bad?

Here is some good news and bad news since the beginning of this year:

Bad: A shooting in the neighborhood
Good: It wasn't me, and it has awakened the grad students to work with the univ admin to bring about some changes (let's install more lights, let's run more buses)
Good: It made us all introspect and be grateful and connect to each other in ways we never had before.

Bad: Some armed robberies
Good: It wasn't me, and we are having school mixers to let people know their neighbours (no you don't need to report that person as a suspicous individual hanging around the complex at night, because it turns out he is your next door neighbor you is studying starlight or something)

Bad: A paper submission got rejected. All three reviewers thought it was unworthy of the journal (How dare you?!!!)
Good: If they had accepted, then I would have had a bloated ego, and hey they say we can still submit to a "lesser" journal. Now that counts for Something.

Bad: I caught a bad cold and cough.
Good: 4 friends came to check on me over the weekend, and kept me supplied with hot beverages and curries to clear my congestion. I felt like a spoilt princess.

Bad: Looks like I am going to miss another conference submission deadline.
Good: I am working really very hard (or so I think)

Bad: I gained weight.
Good: I could have gained more Bad: I Gained Weight!
Good: Ummm...Maybe I'll exercise now Bad: I GAINED WEIGHT! :-(