Sunday, May 25, 2008
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Hiring someone seems like a trivial task, but lately I have discovered how difficult a job this really is. A few weeks ago we posted an advertisement for the PhD position that we hoped would have been filled a few months ago. Curious readers can check the ad out here. So, the past weeks, I’ve been receiving CVs in my email inbox. Most of them are rather good, yet not outstanding. That is what makes this so difficult…how can you differentiate all these people with good grades and varied experience in research? Somewhat unexpectedly, the majority of the applications are from East Asia, mostly India, but also China and Pakistan. These applicants have respectable CVs…but in the wrong field. Most of these people are working in applied fields like molecular biology and biotechnology; none of them seem to have much background in evolution. So why would they be interested in my basic research? My only conclusion is that they desperately want to come to work in the west. Though this probably sounds prejudice, I doubt I’ll give them that chance. I think I could only hire someone after actually meeting and talking with them. This is only reasonable, because I’ll be working closely with this person for the next couple few years. Next week, I think I’ll make a short list and try to invite some people to give talks. We’ll see how that goes…
A miscellaneous addition to this post, I watched a great movie last weekend, Bubba Ho-tep. This is a strange, yet awesome movie, and it happened to be on TV last night when I came home from Edgar’s Cocktail bar (“hippest” bar in Plön). The story is brilliant. Elvis is not dead; his impersonator is. Elvis stopped performing after his career peaked, let himself be replaced by a gifted impersonator, and then lead a quiet life outside of the limelight. Now, he is stuck in a Texas retirement home, depressed, impotent and waiting for death. What could bring back a little rock n roll back into his life? A soul sucking mummy. Yeah, awesome. As residents start dying in their sleep, Elvis teams up with Jack to stop the mummy and thus be free to die with an intact soul. Jack is a black retiree living in the home, who believes he is JFK (they painted me this color!). More awesome. Elvis is played by Bruce Campbell, a cult hero for his performances in Evil Dead and Army of Darkness. It comes highly recommended from me (as if that meant anything).
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
I think we skipped spring here in Germany. A couple weeks ago, I made the yearly decision to switch from wearing my winter coat to wearing my rain jacket. This is always a tough call…is it gonna stay warm enough or is it get really cold again? This year, though, I seem to have switched directly from a winter jacket to no jacket at all. As soon as I began to wear my rain jacket, it was so warm that coats of any kind became unnecessary. So, I ask, what happened to spring? Not that I’m complaining, the warm temperatures are enjoyable (though they also hamper productivity…who wants to work when the sun is shining?). It is just peculiar to go from a winter jacket to t-shirts in a matter of weeks. I expect those kinds of apocalyptic weather swings in Nebraska (they had quite a nasty snow storm a few weeks ago and now it is tornado season), but not in boring, predictably dismal N. Germany.
In any case, with warm weather, people begin to strip off their layers of clothes, making their figures more and more visible. Most of my adult life, I have inhabited so-called college towns, in which a substantial part of the population was rather young. Thus, at the risk of sounding chauvinistic, summer was always a pleasant time of year to observe women in far more revealing outfits than one was accustomed to after a long winter. Now, though, I am living in Plön…population 13,000, hardly anyone between the age of 20 and 30, and a disproportionate number of people over 60. Not much to get excited about. In fact, in my subjective opinion, I find the residents of Plön to be rather unattractive. Maybe in small towns there is less incentive to stay fit or to wear clothes bought in the last decade. I could imagine that there is a real relationship between average attractiveness and city size...though I’m too lazy at the moment to search the literature databases for such a study.
Saturday, May 03, 2008
I really can't believe we got this experiment published in Proc. B. So, out of pride, I felt compelled to post this.