Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Your first in-person conference in a while? It's okay to not be cool.


Hey! So I don't know who needs to hear this (hopefully no one) but I feel like ASMS is a lot of people's first in-person conference in a long time. 

As what can only be described as the paradigm of mental stability in the proteomics community, I'm probably not the person who should be typing this, but I'm going to anyway.

If you're super fucking freaked out about a your first in-person meeting in a while, that's totally okay. 

If you're super cool and not freaked out at all about your first in-person meeting that's also totally okay. More power to you, yo! 

We're a small, but rapidly growing, community of weirdos who have some really odd common ground.

We're the minority of scientists who think that proteins and metabolites (and lipids and glycoRNAs, etc.,) are what really lets us know what is happening in a biological system. It is not even close to common knowledge that mRNA abundance doesn't quantify with protein abundance in mammalian systems. We're the outsiders who know this.  

We're the minority of scientists who know how to convert biological molecules to goddamned charged gases and move them around in vacuum chambers to not only identify them but accurately quantify them. Ever explained what you do to a taxi driver? You should. I have. Maybe I can't shut up, OR what we do is fucking bad ass. 

We spend a lot of time quabbling about who named what first and who's dumb p/q/r/s/t/z value is the best method for identfying something that we have 14 more points of evidence that thing is what we say it is than literally any other scientist who measures anything else on this planet in any other way,

but weird stuff like that also makes us a community. (It's still weird, though, most of those other assholes are using rabbit blood to quantify stuff and reviewer #2 in our field is like "where is your y6 ion in this 24 amino acid sequence, if I consider every possibility of amino acid structure that could have occurred by chance in the course of protein biology in the history of our planet there iiiiiiis a second possibility...)

All rambling aside, we're in the middle of a global pandemic that isn't over. ASMS is doing a stellar job of making sure that we're safe, but its both cool and natural and legit fucking okay if you're stressed out.

If you need time to yourself, take it. 
If you need to bow out of something where you don't feel comfortable, do it. 

If you're an analytical chemist (weirdo) and you start justifying the viral carrier load off an estimation of the total volume of air capacity in a given space to make yourself feel better about being somewhere, maybe you should just take a break. It'll be easy for peer pressure to feel like a thing. We all have our own capacities for exposure, risk and stress.

I was going to go with a title of "it's okay to not be okay" but apparently that's a soap opera in South Korea or something, but that's what I wanted to write. The world today isn't normal. Take care of yourself, and I bet you this little community of weirdos will have your back. 

Joke as required by blog rules after this many serious statements: 
And if you're totally cool you can always use the excuse that you're not to ditch a mass spec sales rep with your bar tab. Always works, and, come on, y'all have to have some sort of guess what the margins are like on one of these boxes. They're a solid 70% profit. If someone is selling a mass spec, they can cover a few shots of Patron. (To the sales reps in our community...you're welcome!) 

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