DT #196, 15 July 2014 (Sierra Grande Pinot Noir)   Leave a comment

Sierra Grande Pinot Noir


What happened with our Stan?
Did he jump or was he pushed?
No matter, he’s gone.

Name: Sierra Grande Pinot Noir
Type: red wine
Venue: house

Review/notes: In order to speak freely about the scientists we manage, the permanent staff sometimes nickname them.  Usually, it takes a few days or weeks before it is obviously necessary and often it never is.  The names that really stick are the ones that jump out at you during their inductions, though.  “Millets” is one, to refer to one guy who is hyper like a puppy and simply intense (Millets, in tents–that one wasn’t mine but I’ve been using it without having to explain twice).

“Stan” just left us suddenly and without fanfare which is completely out of character for him.  We would have expected that he would have expected ticker tape and rose petals and dancing girls and, at the very least, an elephant at the inevitable parade in his honour.  The first week here, he bullied an undergrad into overwriting a senior doctoral student’s instrument booking because he needed it more than she did.  A couple of weeks later he installed his own PC in the office without notifying IT because they wanted to check it over before putting it on the system; he just stole someone elses IP address and went ahead without telling anyone as only the great might dare to do.  These two events were the first of an endless stream that damaged tenuous bonds of trust I had worked years to build up within the group and the department.

So, we called him “Stan,” and I often called him that when speaking with him but I think he just thought I was an idiot and/or insane (and fair enough). He started treating me like a human being not long after I dumped him off with a senior faculty member who is also a member of the House of Lords and patron of an international medical charity (and who has a reputation as somewhat self-promoting and eccentric) who was seeking collaborations with mass spectrometry groups and who I already knew that the boss (the real boss, not Stan) wanted nothing to do with.  At the very least, I thought, he would offend this person in a way that the class system does not tolerate (Oxford is still fairly medieval), or at the most he would weasel funding from — and then be bound to — this kook that I actually adore but just don’t want to work with.  I think the titles and his then early tenure kept him uncharacteristically diplomatic, and nothing really came of the effort.

The inspiration for the naming came from a plaque I spotted for Arthur Stanley Eddington and the architectural review it inspired; if our Stan hasn’t already commissioned one of these for himself I will bet that he does within the next year or so.  According to one of the post-docs that worked with him (or, FOR him, depending who’s telling the story…or despite him, even), he has recently been telling students that he’ll give them references when he moves on because he has “more and better” contacts than either of the faculty members he was serving directly under here at Oxford, a statement so delusional that it actually stuns most that hear it, even secondhand; perhaps he mistook the dropping jaws for awe and gratitude.

Regardless, I checked to make sure he was really gone and that confirmation served to explain the birdsong I heard at breakfast and the sweet smell on the warm, light breeze as I walked to the labs [not to mention the palpable lack of tension in the space].

This should have been champagne, but there are a lot of Stan’s out there and we get more than our fair share.

[DT =Daily Tipple, explained in DT #000 here]

Monthly consolidations/compilations: January

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