How not to succeed as a grad student

The lab I work in is generally good, although we have one kinda dopey grad student. I didn’t catch on it because you can’t tell who’s a good grad student based on whether or not they look dopey. He seemed affable whenever I talked to him so I never picked up on what everyone else picked up on, which was that he’s a dumbass. Also he’s messy, both with respect to his personal workspace and his use of equipment.

In retrospect there was a time at a group meeting where the professor grilled him on how he analyzed his chemical reactions, and I had to stifle laughter at his responses because he was making terrible mistakes and skipping really basic steps.

Anyway, today I was talking to him about what he was doing, and he mentioned off the cuff that he was doing something similar to what I was doing — we’re using the same underlying technology to look at different cellular targets. But his cellular target differed from mine in a number of ways that would make the underlying technology pointless in some contexts, so I asked him the question, “So given that there are small molecular inhibitors of [that target], why are you doing this [roundabout way of inhibition]?”

He didn’t seem to understand, so I kept asking him what the significance of his research was, and he picked up a grant (that he had written) and started to look at it for the answers. At that point I was grilling him and I didn’t want to, but I was genuinely curious at why he was doing a project that was potentially meaningless. His failure to answer or even understand the basics of my question caused me to ask more questions and I guess ‘grill’ him about his research.

Everyone kept a straight face but apparently thought it was hilarious that I was grilling him and he couldn’t answer. I’m told that his confidence was low because the professor thought he was incompetent so scaled back his project.


League of Legends Championship

I occasionally have been known to play League of Legends. I enjoy the game, and it’s the biggest PC game in the world at present, with a correspondingly massive presence around the world. So the Season 3 championships were happening, and they launched an initiative to have viewing parties, so I figured I would show up to one that was hosted by a gaming group on campus.

The bought out an entire sports bar for it, and that  wasn’t enough space. I had to stand in line for 45 minutes in the rain to get in. Lucky for me I had an umbrella. They had 400-500 people show up when they’d only planned for 200. In line I met some dorky, ugly, and extremely poorly adjusted people. I talked a lot with a fat white dude, he was alright. There was also a disgusting autistic guy complete with fedora and trench coat. He launched into inane diatribes, factually untrue and only tangentially related to the topic at hand.

Occasionally some normals wanted wings but didn’t know what the line was about. They were like, “What’s the line for?” and “What’s League of Legends?” I talked shit about them in earshot because this is the one place where us deviants have power over normal people. “Filthy casuals,” I said, “Fuckin’ normals.” They looked perplexed. They have 364 days of the year to eat wings and watch football. I have this one day to watch League.

I was also generally sociable there, both compared to others and relative to how I normally act. I’m like king of the nerds or something. But the bar was standing room only and my legs and back hurt after a while so I went home after the first game and watched the rest at home. SKT destroyed Royal Club 3-0.

There were maybe 20% girls there but they were the kind where you look at them and you can tell that they’re gross and damaged. They also seemed to be shit at League. Also girls tend to main support, but I also main support so I can’t really criticize them. Anyway, it was moderately fun, I would defs go again. You’re happiest when you’re a fish in the sea.

Also when I came home, my new roommate was getting massively shitfaced and she just passed out in the bathroom after vomiting copiously.