Dr. Hand-Waver and I usually ‘meet’ (currently via Skype) on Fridays, but since I had an all-day mediation session last Friday, we rescheduled the meeting for Tuesday. So, by the time we talked, it had been ten days since we last met. And what ten days they were!
I’m not sure what Dr. Hand-Waver has been up to, but she’s been spending long hours in the lab lately, focused on her own project. She has less than three weeks left in her sabbatical at Famous University, and she’s frantically trying to figure out new techniques while she still has her collaborator around to help her.
For me, the ten days consisted of:
(1) trying to do what Dr. Hand-Waver asked me to do, and having my experiments flop–probably because I was
(2) preparing for mediation, which took a lot more time than one might expect
(3) two full 8-hour days in the mediator’s office, trying to hammer out an agreement with UnlikelyDad. At the end, we thought we were there, and then UnlikelyDad refused to sign the agreement
(4) spending the weekend banging my head against the wall, wondering if UnlikelyDad would sign the agreement before the trial paperwork deadline
(5) spending most of Monday arguing with UnlikelyDad, saying that no, I would not change this thing that we had agreed on in mediation; no, I would not change that thing either; and okay, I will change this one thing. Just one, that’s it. Sign it or go to court. He said he would sign it, then he started asking questions about other stuff he didn’t like…then he stopped talking to me completely
(6) spending a sleepless night on Monday wondering if he had signed it or not
(7) nearly collapsing in relief when my lawyer got a copy of the signed agreement early Tuesday morning, just as she was about to make one last change to the trial management certificate and send it in
Despite all this, I did really try to get work done. Even on Monday and Tuesday, when I spent a good bit of the day talking to my lawyer and/or soon-to-be-ex. Nonetheless, on Tuesday afternoon, when I talked to Dr. HW, I was still feeling like I’d just gotten off a particularly wild roller coaster: disoriented and dizzy.
Dr. HW said: “So, tell me about this data you sent me.”
I replied: “Well, you asked me to determine how Factor X affects this thing, Y, we are trying to measure.”
Dr. HW: “Why did I do that?”
Me: “I don’t remember.”
Dr. HW: “Hmmm, neither do I, though I recall vaguely that it had something to do with T’s work…”
Me: “Yeah, that sounds vaguely right.”
Dr. HW: “So, what’s this first data set?”
I explained what I did, then added: “But you can see that I got really wonky results for some reason.”
Dr. HW: “Did you make a control for this or that?”
Me: “No. But I tried to fix some of the issues on the following day. Look at the next set…I’m pretty sure that it shows that X massively increases the levels of Y.”
Dr. HW: “Those are high readings. But the blanks are high too. Why is that?”
Me: “Whoops. How did that happen?”
And so on and so on…
All in all, I think this had to be the greatest ScienceFail!Week I have ever had. Both Dr. HandWaver and I were a bit confused by the end of the meeting, and we ended up pretty much scrapping that sideline (for now) and going back to what we were doing before.
But I think that I will get better results from whatever I do from here on out. Not because the project is better planned, but because I can focus better.