Jun 242015

For years, I have been trying to have regular physical exercise without much success. I tried to run or swim, but between the unpredictable weather, my travel schedules, and monthly cycles, it is hard to keep a daily practice. I also tried the 7MWC. It is fast, but so hard and painful it is challenging for me to keep up.

I took some Yoga class during graduate days, but for some reason never liked it. For many years, I considered Yoga not real exercise. Recently I started doing YogaStudio from my iPhone, since it had amazing reviews. It has 15min, 30min, or 60min readymade classes, focusing on different things at different levels. This is something I can reliably do daily either in the morning or at night (actually nice to do right before bed). At the beginning, my mind kept on wandering around, thinking about some research problems, family errands, the need to buy something or write an email. But recently I did the Yoga studio with a friend, and noticed her smooth and deep breathing. I tried to mimic her, and realized that the long and even breathing naturally keeps my mind focused and relaxed. It has been great, and I now bring my yoga mat even when I travel.

Another colleague mentioned that it is important to have some daily exercises that will get our heart rate to > 150 beats / min. I started practicing climbing stars, as it definitely jumps by heart rate. I often park at P4 and my office is at the 11th floor, so going up and down 15 floors is becoming a routine. I read from a book “Better Than Before” that the benefit of exercise doesn’t have to come from rigorous exercise, rather the basic movement of walking, stretching, wiggling, going up stairs could be most beneficial. This is definitely encouraging, so I am trying to keep these simple things when I have a min or so.

P.S. Learning that a lot of the successful colleagues that I admire, e.g. Bing Ren, Terry Speed, Peter Jones, routinely run, I am trying to give running another try. I am surprised to find that after my recent stair exercises, getting back into running is not that painful.

Jun 102015

Recently I noticed something. For a popular software tool that handles big data, like RMA, BWA, DESeq, or MACS2, the community usually gives it enough credit, because users often cite these tools in their studies. However, for web database resources that people can quickly look up, they are often extremely widely used and yet not get enough credit from citation. Examples include: UCSC genome browser, CBioPortal, and BioGPS. They provide user-friendly visualization of public data, so people can refine their hypothesis or check things quickly. Unfortunately these tools (unless bundled with another biological study), rarely get published well beyond NAR. However, in terms of their value to the scientific community, how are they not as good as a Cell Resource paper? I hope the community will consider the number of visits / queries in evaluating the value of such web resources, instead of their published journals and citations by others.