Happy May Day comrades! Workers of the world unite!


We have some exciting news out of Seattle on the solidarity front: mayor Ed Murray just unveiled a plan to phase in a $15 per hour minimum wage. The plan is not perfect, and our resident socialist city-council-woman Kshama Sawant will be fighting for improvements. However, this type of progressive policy making is just another reason I am proud to be an American, and STOKED to be a Seattle-ite.

Dale Chihuly is another reason.
Dale Chihuly is another reason.

It appears as though Seattle’s May Day marches proceeded peacefully, which is a refreshing change from the past two years. Big kudos to the Seattle Police department for keeping the peace while promoting freedom of expression. The SPD website encourages residents to “come on down and revel in your First Amendment rights, hang out and enjoy the crowds, and take all the May Day selfies you can.”

Unfortunately, selfies marching with the Marxists was certainly not in the cards for this proletarian PhD candidate, my buddy Bacillus needs all of my attention: survival assays were on the agenda today.

I like to use the first of the month as an opportunity to reflect back on what I have done and set goals for the coming weeks. I must be honest, I was less than thrilled to look back at April: I feel like this month FLEW by (I always say that) and I know that some of my objectives fell by the wayside. I considered calling a mulligan on April, and just doing anotherThings I like Thursday” (or, sometimes Friday) style post; I could throw a few selfies and youtube videos up, justify my decision to put chocolate on my oatmeal this morning with a link to this New York Times article, and call it a day.

This happened
This happened

I also briefly considered doing a post consisting entirely of Rogers & Hammerstein show-tunes re-written to incorporate the word “Tacoma,” in preparation for my race this Sunday. I even started working on some lyrics while I was swimming this morning.

I get some of my best thinking done in the pool
I get some of my best thinking done in the pool

“Ooooooooo Tacoma, your aroma is seeping into my brain,

That paper mill, sure is a thrill,

And the stink just might drive me insaaaaaannnnnneeeee…..” (sung to the tune of “Oaklahoma”)



Clearly I am resisting reflecting on April with all of my might. However, setting goals without taking the time to self-examine and evaluate is like the architecture of the EMP museum: kind of strange and largely devoid of anything resembling a point.

I LIKE the architecture of the EMP, but you must admit, with all of those smooth edges it isn't very pointy
I LIKE the architecture of the EMP, but you must admit, with all of those smooth edges it isn’t very pointy

I set goals in the hope of self-improvement. I put them on my blog to hold myself accountable. It’s time to stop beating around the bush and engage in some self-reflection.

Here were my goals, and here’s how I did. Letter grades are too negative (reminiscent of  “Arrested Development,” or my Alma Mater, UCSC) so I graded myself using animals.


1) SERIOUSLY make sleep and recovery a priority.


I did about as well as the Dodo did as a species
I did about as well as the Dodo did as a species

I should just get this goal tattooed on my forehead. Study after study has demonstrated that sleep is vital to emotional and physical well-being. Runner’s world is calling sleep “the new cross-training.” Yet, I still can barely manage to consistently get seven hours per night. Lately I find myself finishing up a blog post, or installing new cabinet pulls in my kitchen, then glancing at the clock and saying “how is it 10:15 already!?”

To be fair, these are really cool cabinet pulls
To be fair, these are really cool cabinet pulls

April has been busy—I’ve been doing experiments like a madman at work, and I ran LOTS of miles as part of the peak phase of my marathon training. However, I’m coming to realize that I will ALWAYS be super busy at work, and I will ALWAYS be running lots of miles, regardless of what else is going on in my life. I’d always rather be busy than bored, and I love to run.

I set myself up for failure with this goal by not defining it in concrete terms. I respond very well to rubrics and protocols. “Make sleep a priority” sounds great, but it is so easy to make other things a priority when nine o’clock rolls around and you realize you probably ought to do some laundry or you’ll be going commando at work tomorrow…for the third day in a row.


2) Step up my fundraising efforts. 

The Luwak says: you did OK, you could have done better
The Luwak says: “You did OK, you could have done better”

I have raised $730 for the Seattle Human Society. I am proud of what I accomplished, and SO grateful to all of my friends and family who have donated.

THANK YOU! From the bottom of my heart. Llamas are for LOVE

And yet…I feel as though I could have done more. I set out on this fundraising journey with no hard-and-fast dollar amount in mind. Because I didn’t know exactly what I was working towards, my fundraising efforts were burst-y and stochastic. I feel honored to have been given the opportunity to use my training to contribute a cause I believe in. I’m disappointed in myself because I know that I probably could have raised more money for the animals if I had been more consistent in my efforts. I hope to continue working with the Seattle Humane Society—becoming a charity athlete gave my training new meaning. However, in my subsequent fundraising endeavors I will be sure to start out with a specific, attainable, yet aspirational amount. Nevertheless, if you are reading this: it’s not too late! My fundraising page can be found here.


3) Write.

I'm giving myself a Pygmy Goat for success on this one!
I’m giving myself a Pygmy Goat for success on this one!

I forgot that writing was one of my goals for April! I can unreservedly say that I am pleased with how this blog has developed. I feel like I am finding my voice as a writer and I enjoy the writing process. I loved writing about the bacteria I work on, Bacillus subtilis, as well as the reasoning behind my patriotism. I am proud of the post I wrote on Earth Day, and it’s fun to make motivational posters.

I’m going to keep on blogging on. I welcome your feedback, as well as any suggestions on what you’d like me to write about.


4) Drink more wine.

The fugitive duck is disappointed in me
The fugitive duck is disappointed in me

Man, this was supposed to be my FUN goal, I got all excited about going to wine school, and I thought I would be a master sommelier in thirty days or less.


I managed to drink some Beajolais with Alli, but I was so distracted by the hustle and bustle of moving that I really didn’t take time to appreciate the aromas and savor the flavors. Fortunately, wine-school is an ongoing series, and there is no reason I cannot take remedial wine-school.

Incremental progress, right?


Even though I didn’t sleep as much as I should or hit the bottle as hard as I planned to during April, I still managed to accomplish part of each of my goals. I also am coming to realize that when I set goals I need to frame them in more concrete terms. Because of this I am NOT going to formally commit my aims for May in writing yet: right now they lack structure, and I want to define my objectives more clearly. Also this blog post has gone on long enough. Thanks for reading my navel-gazing everybody!


What were YOUR goals for April? How did you do?


Have you ever fundraised for a charity? What did you think of the experience?


Most importantly: What’s your favorite Showtune?

The correct answer is: “Mein Herr”

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