When life isn’t fair

We’re more like the monkeys than we think. In one classic research experiment, Frans de Waal found that caged monkeys will give researchers rocks in exchange for tasty cucumbers. But when one guy gets paid a delicious grape, and the second gets cucumbers for the same work… well, he…

When do you have enough?

I still remember the day that my fellow student Joe Vohlers died. News spread quickly on campus, and we set aside textbooks to gather in cramped dorm rooms, televisions blaring. We were stunned. Joe had keeled over suddenly from heart trouble, gone from the popular crowd to — dead,…

Who does the choosing in life?

I started this (too long!) essay about two years ago. Dear reader, feel no obligation. This is imperfect and at times inelegant, but I’m posting to refer to and build upon in the future. 1. Choosing to be a Homemaker I didn’t start out caring about gender, the chromosomes and cultures…

Being a better manager

My first embryonic manager experience was not my strong point. Working on a research team in Mongolia, I was suddenly set in charge of two feisty local girls while our leaders were out of the country on side trips (story). Hmm. Those two were a disaster, but I also wasn’t…

Being a better assistant

Having spent years in assistant roles, it has been intriguing recently to manage new assistants. Compared with prior posts, helping to manage has me seeing many ways that I could have improved as an assistant in the past. So if you’re trying to train your new manager, or yourself, here…