Friday, March 31, 2006

Pseudonymous Dog

See she's turned her head so you won't know the true identity of the Princess Pup. More importantly, you can't see her cute cute tail.

This is a picture from last May on one of our adventures in the field together. If you look closely at her hind legs, you can see she's been swimming. And now she's about to investigate a hole at the base of the tree.

That's all I've got for you this Friday, folks. My undergrad and I just had a 2+ hour meeting, and now I've got to actually get stuff done on a Friday afternoon, so that I can enjoy the second half of A&E's Pride and Prejudice (Colin Firth!) this evening.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

What spring break?

One of the unfortunate side-effects of being ABD is that I no longer feel deserving of treating myself to time off during that week when all of the undergraduates disappear. In the years of doing my PhD, I've never gone anywhere for break, but often I would not work (or work at home) for most of the week. This week, however, I've intended to work hard and produce a lot, free from the distractions of most emails, meetings, and seminars. But apparently I was destined to get some time off each day.

Monday, I had coffee with ChemGuy. We do this ~once a week anyway, but this week was the first time it was nice enough to sit outside. Tuesday, S and I walked downtown for a very belated birthday lunch. Wednesday, NewGirl and I had our REI adventure for most of the afternoon. Tonight, NewGirl, S, and I are watching an old Pride and Prejudice mini-series (though we might not make it through six hours). Plus, this morning S and I rearranged our office and my cubicle suddenly feels a whole lot bigger. Actually, it is 18" longer but 4" narrower. I have no idea what tomorrow has in store for me, but I am sure there will be some pleasant distraction from work. It must be spring...

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Random bullets

  • I just had to put ~$1200 on my credit card to book travel for the interview next week.
  • I haven't written anything coherent in the past 2.5 days.
  • I've got to put together a teaching presentation and the parameters of it are so wide open as to be actually intimidating. Teaching anything -ology to any level. What sort of guideline is that?
  • I could really stand to talk to my advisor (both about the job stuff and, god forbid, about some science), but he's on vacation this week, then we'll overlap briefly and then I'll be gone. So it'll probably be almost 2 weeks before we get a chance to meet.
  • There's no way I can finish my PhD in 4 months. Who was I kidding?
  • Both of my interviews have no managed to schedule themselves right on top of my ovulation. My career is sabotaging any efforts to have children.
  • But at least I'm getting to go to REI with NewGirl this afternoon. My dividend has been burning a hole in my pocket and I think I'm going to get a pair of cute Keen sneakers and maybe a sports bra (no pic!). I don't actually need any more outdoors gear (at least until we move somewhere), plus the local REI store stupidly doesn't carry any whitewater gear (which I do love to covet).

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

another interview

In the home state at a undergraduate-only teaching-intensive institution. I think I'll squeeze in a visit to Writer Chica and maybe my family. It feels slightly unethical to accept an interview for a position that I don't think I'd take, but I could use the practice interviewing and I don't want to close any doors before I need to. And it feels slightly unethical to piggy-back a fun trip with an interview (at the department's expense), but it doesn't change the plane ticket cost at all.

My week suddenly got much busier. I think I'd better get back to work.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Women Writer's Meme

From the Fabulous Mon

Instructions: Bold the ones you've read. Italicize the ones you've been wanting/might like to read. ??Place question marks by any titles/authors you've never heard of??

Allcott, Louisa May--Little Women
Allende, Isabel--The House of Spirits
Angelou, Maya--I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Atwood, Margaret--Cat's Eye
Austen, Jane--Emma
??Bambara, Toni Cade--Salt Eaters??
??Barnes, Djuna--Nightwood??
de Beauvoir, Simone--The Second Sex
Blume, Judy--Are You There God? It's Me Margaret
Burnett, Frances--The Secret Garden
Bronte, Charlotte--Jane Eyre
Bronte, Emily--Wuthering Heights
Buck, Pearl S.--The Good Earth

??Byatt, A.S.--Possession??
Cather, Willa--My Antonia
Chopin, Kate--The Awakening
Christie, Agatha--Murder on the Orient Express
Cisneros, Sandra--The House on Mango Street
Clinton, Hillary Rodham--Living History
??Cooper, Anna Julia--A Voice From the South??
Danticat, Edwidge--Breath, Eyes, Memory
??Davis, Angela--Women, Culture, and Politics??
Desai, Anita--??Clear Light of Day??
Dickinson, Emily--Collected Poems
??Duncan, Lois--I Know What You Did Last Summer??
DuMaurier, Daphne--Rebecca
Eliot, Geroge--Middlemarch
??Emecheta, Buchi--Second Class Citizen??
Erdrich, Louise--??Tracks??
Esquivel, Laura--Like Water for Chocolate
Flagg, Fannie--Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
Friedan, Betty--The Feminine Mystique
Frank, Anne--Diary of a Young Girl
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins--??The Yellow Wallpaper??
Gordimer, Nadine--??July's People??
Grafton, Sue--S is for Silence
??Hamilton, Edith--Mythology??
Highsmith, Patricia--The Talented Mr. Ripley
hooks, bell--Bone Black
Hurston, Zora Neale--Dust Tracks on the Road
??Jacobs, Harriet--Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl??
??Jackson, Helen Hunt--Ramona??
??Jackson, Shirley--The Haunting of Hill House??
Jong, Erica--Fear of Flying
Keene, Carolyn--The Nancy Drew Mysteries (any of them)
Kidd, Sue Monk--The Secret Life of Bees
Kincaid, Jamaica--??Lucy??
Kingsolver, Barbara--The Poisonwood Bible
??Kingston, Maxine Hong--The Woman Warrior??
??Larsen, Nella--Passing??
L'Engle, Madeleine--A Wrinkle in Time
??Le Guin, Ursula K.--The Left Hand of Darkness??
Lee, Harper--To Kill a Mockingbird
??Lessing, Doris--The Golden Notebook??
??Lively, Penelope--Moon Tiger??
??Lorde, Audre--The Cancer Journals??
Martin, Ann M.--The Babysitters Club Series (any of them)
McCullers, Carson--??The Member of the Wedding??
McMillan, Terry--??Disappearing Acts??
??Markandaya, Kamala--Nectar in a Sieve??
??Marshall, Paule--Brown Girl, Brownstones??
Mitchell, Margaret--Gone with the Wind
Montgomery, Lucy--Anne of Green Gables
??Morgan, Joan--When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost??
Morrison, Toni--Song of Solomon
??Murasaki, Lady Shikibu--The Tale of Genji??
Munro, Alice--??Lives of Girls and Women??
??Murdoch, Iris--Severed Head??
Naylor, Gloria--??Mama Day??
Niffenegger, Audrey--The Time Traveller's Wife
Oates, Joyce Carol--??We Were the Mulvaneys??
O'Connor, Flannery--A Good Man is Hard to Find
??Piercy, Marge--Woman on the Edge of Time??
Picoult, Jodi--??My Sister's Keeper??
Plath, Sylvia--The Bell Jar
??Porter, Katharine Anne--Ship of Fools??
Proulx, E. Annie--The Shipping News
Rand, Ayn--The Fountainhead
Ray, Rachel--365: No Repeats
Rhys, Jean--Wide Sargasso Sea
??Robinson, Marilynne--Housekeeping??
??Rocha, Sharon--For Laci??
Sebold, Alice--The Lovely Bones
Shelley, Mary--Frankenstein
Smith, Betty--A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
??Smith, Zadie--White Teeth??
??Spark, Muriel--The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie??
Spyri, Johanna--Heidi
??Strout, Elizabeth--Amy and Isabelle??
Steel, Danielle--The House
Tan, Amy--The Joy Luck Club
??Tannen, Deborah--You're Wearing That??
??Ulrich, Laurel--A Midwife's Tale??
??Urquhart, Jane--Away??
Walker, Alice--??The Temple of My Familiar??
Welty, Eudora--??One Writer's Beginnings??
Wharton, Edith--Age of Innocence
Wilder, Laura Ingalls--Little House in the Big Woods
Wollstonecraft, Mary--A Vindication of the Rights of Women
Woolf, Virginia--A Room of One's Own

For this list I at least feel like I've read enough to post my response. Is it a good sign or a bad sign that I haven't heard of so many of these books/authors? I think I'd be up for reading a lot of these that I didn't italicize, but I tried to limit myself to ones that I have told myself that I was going to read (at some point in my life). Got any recommendations for me?

quilt blogging

Here's the latest quilt I've been working on. This one was a joint effort between S and I for a grad student who works down the hall from us. She's due tomorrow and was in the office today sending off her first thesis chapter to her advisor. Last night there was a baby shower for all of her co-workers and we presented her with the quilt. One of the other women there said "I can't believe you made's quilted and everything." Actually, it's not (it's just tied) but we didn't correct her. To me, this is the cutest baby quilt ever.

It was really fun to work on this project with someone else. We were able to put together the top in just one one evening. S sewed and I ironed and it went really fast. Plus, I learned a nifty technique for making triangles. I've also working on the quilt for Navy Mom but it won't be done before her baby arrives (she's scheduled for a ceasarean tomorrow). After that, I don't think I have any baby quilts to work on for a while. Maybe I'll make something for myself. A graduation present?

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Women in science books

I've been adding to my Amazon wishlist a series of books about women in science. But before I spend hundreds of dollars buying the whole selection, I was wondering whether any of my fabulous could make any recommendations for me.

Here's what I've found so far.
Have any of you read of any of these? What did you think of them? Were they helpful? Well-written? Is there something else you would recommend?

Friday, March 24, 2006


So here's what my desk looked like for much of yesterday afternoon and evening as I ran matlab, caught up on blogs, and worked on reviewer's comments all at the same time. Then this morning I was reminded (by Time magazine) how bad for your brain and your productivity excessive multitasking can be. Oh well. Do you think anyone would notice if I worked on the baby quilt while I sat in a defense?

BTW, I'm loving hearing everyone's tea preferences. There's a few in there that I'll definitely have to try.

Thursday, March 23, 2006


I have taken over tea and sugar duty for my building. You just can't trust the coffee drinkers to keep the supplies and varieties of tea at adequate levels. Here's the way it works: We have a 180F water tap, so brewing tea is a cinch (and so are those instant soups). Coffee drinkers pitch in $10/month and tea drinkers contribute $5/month for all the beverage, milk, sugar, splenda, can drink. Someone is in charge of buying a gallon of milk each monday, someone gets gourmet fresh ground coffee, and someone buys the teas and sugars. And for the next few months, that someone is me. (as if I didn't have enough to do already).

Armed with $60, I bought 400 packets of splenda ($14!), 10 lbs of sugar ($4.15) and about a billion boxes of tea bags. Celestial Seasonings was on sale (buy one get one free) so I went pretty heavy on the herbal stuff, but I made sure to get several kinds of black, green, and decaf black tea. The next morning I put about five boxes out on the counter and left the rest on a shelf just above (and about at eye level). We already had boxes of Sleepytime and English breakfast open, and I added Earl Grey, Orange Spice, Chamomille, Peppermint, and Green to the mix.

That was 2.5 days ago. The first box to be opened was the Peppermint (within minutes of me putting it out). So far no one has openened the Earl Grey or Green. Someone put the chamomille back on the shelf (unopened) and brought out the Perfect Pear White Tea (my new favorite). The Orange Spice and Peppermint are rapidly disappearing. There has been no noticeable change to the English Breakfast.

(This seems like one of those word problems from 7th grade math class....How many different people are drinking the teas?)

But really I just thought it was sort of an interesting social experiment. Despite all the health benefits of green and black teas, it prefers that my coworks prefer herbal. As do I. I've got a mug of Orange Spice next to me right now.

What tea do you drink?

such a frustrating morning

All I needed to do in my GIS program was a few simple tasks, yet it has taken me all morning and I am no closer to being finished than when I started. ARGGGGGGGH! And, if and when I do win the battle with GIS, I get to figure out how to do some new analyses in Matlab. Some days I think I'd rather be in a less quantitative field, then I wouldn't have to spend so much time fighting the computer. How's the market for Luddite PhDs?

UTA: It's now 4:30 pm and I have finally moved on to Matlab. Of course each of my files is 80 Mb so I'll be here for a while.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

I'm back!

I just wrote 250 words (good ones too) in the past hour. And I've got an idea for how I want to structure one section of my paper (maybe the whole thing). So I don't even have to feel bad about the fact that I am taking time off to have a skim-milk hazelnut steamer with a friend. Yum.

World Water Day

Though March is filled with many a reason to celebrate (equinox, St. Patrick, Pi, Ides...), today I'd like you to take a few minutes to think about and celebrate water...H2O... agua...wasser... 水... вода... l'eau.

Today is World Water Day, a United Nations-designated annual celebration of water. This year's theme is water and culture, which "draws attention to the fact that there are as many
ways of viewing, using, and celebrating water as there are cultural traditions around the

Water is a basic human need (We can go weeks without food but only days without water.), yet 1.1 billion people lack suffi cient access to safe drinking water.

Water is a force of destruction (witness Hurricane Katrina), but floods brought rich, fertile soils to some of the world's most productive agricultural areas.

Water is used in our baptism, and to carry away our dead.

Water splashed on our face in the morning invigorates us to face our days, and the sound of rain, waves, or a gurgling stream is the most pleasant way to be lulled to sleep cozy in our tents at camp.

So take a moment today to raise a glass and to celebrate water.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

writer's block

So my resolution to write 250 words a day (non-blog?)....Friday I squeezed out 199, this weekend nothing, and today only 90. I could make excuses about how I need to finish some more data analysis before I can really write up the results or how I should read that stack of articles before working more on the intro, but I won't.

And, even worse, my writer's block has spilled over too blog thoughts. I just feel to fractured right now to really compose any posts. So I won't.

But just as soon as I get over this hump, I'll be back.

Happy equinox.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

iTunes Oracle Meme

If you don't feel like reading yet another self-indulgent meme ... stop right here.

Seen all over the place: Most recently at BrightStar's and AAYOR.

Instructions: Go to your music player of choice and put it on shuffle. Say the following questions aloud, and press play. Use the song title as the answer to the question. NO CHEATING.

Note: This is surprisingly fun to do. Try it.

How does the world see you?

"All my heart this night rejoices" Cambridge Singers/John Rutter
(Well this is sure starting auspiciously, but I know for sure that I don't have a Messiah complex)

Will I have a happy life?
"All I Want is You" U2
(Since I'm already married, I could take this as a yes. But I suppose "you" could be my unconceived children. So the jury is still out.)

What do my friends really think of me?
"You Were Meant For Me" Jewel
(Aw Shucks, ya'll are great too.)

Do people secretly lust after me?
"Geek USA" Smashing Pumpkins
(Apparently only the nerds)

How can I make myself happy?
"A Moment to Myself" Macy Gray
(Seems strangely appropriate)

What should I do with my life?
"The Old Apartment" Bare Naked Ladies
(Not sure what to make of this. That I shouldn't let go of old relationships? (the context of the song) or that I should renovate houses?)

Will I ever have children?
"Wungal" David Hudson
What the hell! I got a wordless digeridoo tune! I want a new go around.

What is some good advice for me?

"You" Stellar
(What sort of advice is that? Sample lyric: "You're unaware that the fool in me still cares...for the fool in you. This makes me sound like I'm hung up on some old flame, but I'm not.)

How will I be remembered?
"Stupid" Sarah McLachlan
(UH OH! But I do really like this song. What does that say about me?)

What is my signature dancing song?

"Santa Monica"Savage Garden
(this is SO not my signature dancing song - not sure what is, but this is NOT it. In fact, I can't imagine dancing to this song. It's a little creepy.)

What do I think is my current theme song?
"Sunday Morning" No Doubt
(not really.)

What does everyone think my current theme song is?
"Better Be Home Soon" Crowded House
(Yep, I bet that's what Princess Pup and Business Man think every day. But I don't think they know the tune.)

What song will play at my funeral?
"Castle on a Cloud" from Les Miserables
(At least it will be recognized that I had dreams.)

What type of men / women do you like?
"Happy Woman Blues" Lucinda Williams
(This one should have come up as my current theme song.)
What is my day going to be like?
"It's Alright (sic)" Indigo Girls
(not too good, not too bad. I got a nice walk with Princess Pup in this morning while it was sunny, sewed a little, ran errands with BusinessMan and then went to school to do work, and soon I'll go rent a movie and go home to a fire in the stove and a happy husband and dog...and with that I'll get back to to work).

Friday, March 17, 2006

Don't let this be the last thing you read this week!

An incredibly depressing but intriguing analysis of why there aren't more women in science. Take it from me, it's not what you think it's going to be. Kudos to Grrlscientist for pointing this one out.

I would discuss the article, but for now I'll go back to work acknowledging the fact that apparently I make career decisions like reckless testorone-laden teenagers.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

World-class Women seminar line-up

Just in: The theme for this year's seminar series in my field at my U: "world-class women" in -ology, filled with some of the biggest names around. It's so great to see something like this, and I can't wait to interact with the speakers.

Counting my words

Following on the heels of so many great writers and facing up to my own recalcitrance toward writing (and obeying Ms. Mentor's advice), I have decided to write something for my next paper each day until the cursed thing is done. In fact, I have decided to write 250 somethings per day. I figure if those in the liberal arts can turn out 1000 words or more, I should be able to write something abstract length and still play with excel for a while.

Yesterday, I succeeded in writing 257 words. Today (so far), 260. And that gives me one page, single spaced, 12-pt TNR, 1" margins, space between parargraphs but no indent.

And I've also gotten some other things done. Yesterday, I met with a nutritionist and later S and I put together the front of the baby quilt for the woman down the hall (due Mar 28). Today, I did a yoga class and had lunch downtown with my husband. Tonight, S and I have the final concert of our symphony subscription and we are going to enjoy a nice dinner beforehand. Oh, and I've done some reading and data analysis too.

And I've also caught up on most of my blog backlog. So many people writing so many excellent things. Two of them really caught my eye. First, a really excellent post (from 2 weeks ago) by Dr. Free-ride on what we as scientists should are qualified to comment on as experts in our research area, our field, and science in general (and on what we should not claim to be experts). Second, seen over a girlscientist's , the Yellow Ibis t-shirt company. They specialize in science (mostly chemistry) shirts and they have some really nifty stuff. Two of my favorites are shown here. Feel free to make a blogger happy. And I'll get back to work!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Which student were you?

(Because I can't focus my thoughts enough to make a coherent post, and I've been meaning to do profgrrrrl's meme anyway.)

In Kindergarten: I was the average student, lapping up "Alphabet Island" with the rest of the class, failing at tying my shoes (learned in third grade), and too blissfully young to be aware of my social status. My mom was on maternity leave so I remember her volunteering at school, and my teacher was amazing.

In Elementary School: Probably the roughest part of my childhood. In first grade, one day I woke up knowing how to read and from that point on, I read everything. I was smart and the school didn't really know what to do with me. They had a few G/T programs, but I was smarter than the other kids even there (not bragging, I just was). Adding to my awkwardness, I was a complete social misfit. I went to a small in-town school, where everyone walked from the surrounding neighborhood. Everyone, but me that is. I had to take 2 buses to get there. And, in 2nd grade my parents separated, divorcing in 4th grade. I was one a very small (and socially rejected) minority of kids in class with divorced parents. I could go on, but most of my memories are social not educational, which tells me either that I didn't learn much in school or that the social lessons were much more memorable.

In Middle School: Our G/T science program gave me a group of science-loving, string-instrument-playing, German-taking geeks to hang out with and middle school was my first social bloom period. I learned a lot about doing science, public speaking, writing, and life in general in my science class, got moved ahead in math, took my first college course, and was generally so happy with where I was that when my 8th grade schedule got so complicated the principal offered to move me into 9th grade (and the high school), I refused.

In High School: I was the kid who participated in every club possible, because that was the only time I got to see my friends. Then they graduated (they were 1-2 years older than me) and I moved most of my classes to the local college. The college was definitely a step up from HS, but aside from Calc II still didn't challenge me as much as I wanted. I didn't want to be the smartest person in class without really trying. I didn't want to be the smartest person period. I was valedictorian, won lots of awards and scholarship, and appeared on the front page of the local newspaper multiple times my senior year, and I wanted out.

In College: My second social bloom period. Ah, the stories I could tell (but won't). I went to the hardest school I could get into, and struggled my freshman year with 3 science classes a semester, serving on student council, and having a boyfriend. Sophmore year I learned to manage the work load, fell in love for the first time, and got mono. Junior year I began to burn out on the work load and question my aspirations, but then I went abroad spring semester. And abroad was wonderful. The only reason I came back at all was that I had started dating BusinessMan right before I left. I graduated 1/2 way through senior year. I didn't have any more requirements, wanted out of the city and the stress of my tough-as-nails college environment, and wanted to be near BusinessMan (we were 1100 miles apart).

In grad school: I entered grad school 3 weeks after finishing undergrad, quit a project that I despised, lost my funding, and supported myself through the rest of the program. I had intended to take time off after my MS but realized part way through that I wouldn't be happy in the sort of job I could with the MS, so I applied for PhD programs. And here I am. My undergrad and MS experiences prepared me well for the PhD process; I knew what I wanted and how to work on my own. My relationship with my advisor has been good, although there have been plenty of times that I've been frustrated because he can't help me with technical stuff. But he's mentored me through the things I really needed to learn: how to write grants and papers; how to network professionally; how to be a successful academician.

Am I ready to be done being a student? Undoubtedly, yes. My cello teacher told me once that the goal of every teacher is to mold students who no longer need them. Am I ready to be a teacher? I can handle the classroom environment and the undergrad advising. Can I see myself with grad students next year? Yes, but I wouldn't want to be my first grad student. I think the going would be rough as I make the transition from student to advisor.

Monday, March 13, 2006

I got nothing done today

How frustrating to come back from vacation and be eager to work and then have the day eaten up by a series of meetings and trying to regain some organization and momentum from the distractions of the past two weeks.

Random observations/events (i.e. random bullets o' crap [note: credit due to the person who coined that phrase - I just can't remember who])
  • Got reviews back on my submitted paper. (thinking about writing more about this one)
  • Got a phone interview for friday with a teaching-intensive university (very different than Big School in just about every respect)
  • After snowfall (!) last week, this weekend was sunny and gorgeous and I got three good walks in with the Princess Pup. (saw a great blue heron in our stream)
  • And I made progress on the next baby quilt.
  • Hardest interview question: "What would you consider the #1 school in your subdiscipline?" I don't pay attention to rankings!
  • I really really need to get writing on the next paper. Where's the fire under my butt when I need it? That's one thing I dislike about academia, so much of your success depends on self-imposed deadlines for pieces of projects.
  • We're making portobello burgers tonight. I'm gonna give up now and head to the grocery store and get the mushrooms. (that last sentence is interesting standing on its own.)
Blogging neither quantity or quality right now, promise to improve.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

A media consumption frenzy

I have been a big consumer of media this weekend, so I figured it was time to share some of my opinions on the things I've been reading/watching.
  • The New Yorker March 13th edition has an article on Bush's politicization of science policy (sorry, not available on-line) decisions ranging from stem cells to emergency contraception and climate change. There isn't a lot of new information here for someone who's been paying attention but its well-written, seems comprehensive, and would be a great place to get an introduction to what the fuss is all about.
  • Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-rabbit was a delightful way to spend Friday evening. Clay-mation is amazing artistically and technically, and the story-line was both original and cliched enough to be very enjoyable. While basically kid-friendly, there were a few pieces of adult humor (Wallace wearing a cardboard box with a label saying "contains nuts"). I actually laughed out loud a few times. Apparently, despite its Best Animated Feature Oscar and what I had thought was a good reception, the picture has been a money-loser for Dreamworks. So support insanely complicated artistic endeavors and rent this one, if you haven't already seen it.
  • Saturday night brought a bit more adult fare with the viewing of Walk the Line, the Johnny Cash and June Carter movie. It was a good movie, but I wouldn't say great. It didn't compare to Ray in terms of totally winning over a viewer with no built-in connection with the musician. Joaquin Phoenix was amazing as Johnny Cash, but I was less impressed by Reese Witherspoon (who, incidentally, won Best Actress for the role). But I think that's less because of the skill of her acting, and more because I've seen her in so many other things. After a while, prolific leading actors only start to seem like themselves. They have certain characteristic facial expressions and mannerisms that appear in all their movies. Once I pick up on that, I have a hard time enjoying their performances. So Reese has joined the ranks of Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, and Tom Cruise. But I guess that's not bad company in which to be. Anyways, it's an interesting movie. If you like biographies or country music, definitely check it out.
  • Finally, I stayed up until 2 am on Friday night reading "Hard Truth" by Nevada Barr, the umpteenth in her Anna Pigeon mystery series. I've read six or seven others in this series, and I've enjoyed them all. This one I kept reading until late at night because I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep without the mandatory "happy" ending. It was much to disturbing to let invade my dreams. The series in built on an interesting premise:the protagonist is a 50-ish woman park ranger (Anna), and each book places her in a new national park. The author is very familiar with the workings of the park service, and she does a nice job of intricately fitting the story to its setting. Anna is a strong, independent woman, as are all of the female characters, and I get a lot of joy out of passages where she is observing things in the woods around her. But this book was far too dark for me. The plot hinges around the abduction of 3 pre-teen girls and a sociopathic child rapist and mass-murderer. While Barr is careful to spare us the most horrific details, she is very clear to imply that the children have undergone things incredibly brutal and sadistic. And that's just to much for me. I think it may be the last of her books that I read. (Interestingly, the first reviewer on Amazon's page for the book says pretty much the same thing.)
Based on this list, I'd be really interested to see what ya'll would recommend for me.

Friday, March 10, 2006

my day off

I am taking today off (sort of). The intention was to take it completely off - in a laze-in-your-pajamas sort of way, but that hasn't quite happened. After the Princess Pup insisted that I get up at 7:15 am, I did have a leisurely breakfast, skimming cookbooks for a vegan risotto that my husband would eat (an impossibility apparently). I then walked the dog while listening to Nature's podcast (damn scientific hobbies). Next I read Real Simple for an hour on the couch. At that point I either needed to take a nap or make a to-do list, and unfortunately I chose the latter. The to-do list reminded me that I did need to do some yoga, take a shower, and then (horrors!) write thank you letters for my interview. Now 3.5 hours later, I've surfed the blogs, painfully composed and sent off the thank you letters and eaten lunch. BusinessMan has come home- apparently there is no reason for him to work this afternoon-I wish that were ever the case for me. He is blaring the TV at the other end of the house and wants to enlist me in grocery shopping and can recycling this afternoon. I had intended to return to the couch with a mystery novel or work on the (unstarted) quilt for Navy Mom. But I fear that my afternoon will consist of the grocery/can trip, doing laundry, and writing yet more thank you cards (for birthday presents). Then BusinessMan will convince me to eat dinner in front of the TV and watch some stupid movie until my bedtime.

I guess its still a day off, but not the one I was envisioning. But sometimes, a bad day off is better than a good day at the office. Right? Right?

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Blog Against Sexism Day (late)

So yesterday was "blog against sexism day" and as I am catching up on my bloglines only today I missed the boat (again). For more timely posts from women science-types, go here, here, and here.

This is actually a timely topic for me as I contemplate my interview experiences. (The interview went well (i think), and I should find out in a few weeks.)

Fact 1) The department lacks women role models and has very high tenure expectations.

Fact 2) As many of you know, BusinessMan and I have been trying for some time to have a child.

Big School is a major research university, with all the demands that come with that status. They do not tenure everyone that starts there, although they don't hire multiple people for the same tenured line. Recent women hires have not succeeded at getting tenure. Whether or not these women attempted to have a family pre-tenure is not clear. Science Department acknowledges that it has a "diversity problem."

I think I am energetic enough, creative enough, and driven enough to get tenure there. It would require a hell of lot of hard work but I am capable of working long hours and can be efficient when I need to be. Teaching, mentoring grad students, funding and publishing research would pull me in lots of directions simultaneously but I would be professionally fulfilled and challenged, job attributes that led me to the PhD in the first place.

If I don't get tenure, or decide to leave before then, I would have the latitude to go to another R1 school, go to a lower tier school, government research, industry, or whatever the hell I wanted. In contrast, it's awfully hard to get that R1 job after being at a teaching school for a few years.

Ok, so it should be a simple decision. I give Big School a try and if it isn't a good fit, I go someplace else. I like living in different places anyway.

But. What about my family plans? If I get the job (a big if of course), I see 4 options (or some combination thereof).

Do I take everyone's pat advice: "Oh, you're so young [27], you can have kids after tenure [7 years]"? Then I'm 34, BusinessMan is 37. We're planning on having 2-3 kids. What happens if conception doesn't happen right away then?

Do I give it a few years first to get myself settled and somewhat accustomed to the job and then start trying again to have a kid? This seems to make the most sense to me. I'm guessing that I'll know within 2-3 years whether I am cut out for this institution (and whether I want to be there anyway). Plus, I may have a better sense of how having a kid will be "taken" by my male colleagues and dean. Hell, maybe I'll even have a female colleague by then.

Do we keep trying now and if a kid arrives, I forge ahead after minimal leave, by hiring a nanny or letting BusinessMan be a stay-at-home dad? This, of course, is the typical male model and the one taken by the men of the department (as well as the only female grad student with kids). While BusinessMan has offered to stay-at-home if we were in this situation, I'm pretty sure that its not what he dreamed of being when he grew up (or when he married me). Plus, I'm pretty sure that I don't want to be a "childless mother" - too wrapped up in her own career to play with her kids. Please note, I'm definitely not suggesting that all working mothers are bad (as I've said before), just that I think it could be easy to be an absentee mother given the demands of an R1 career.

Do I take a stand for women scientists everywhere (or at least at Big School)? When we have a kid, I take a leave, using the tenure-clock stoppage and when I come back to work try to be reasonable in balancing the demands of my job and my family. Tenure consequences be damned; there are always other jobs. It's important to do what you believe is right, and I think it's right that I be allowed to be good, productive scientist and a mother.

Right now this is all just food for thought, things to ponder while I wait to hear whether I get the job. I am inclined towards the combo of wait-and-see and take-a-stand approaches, although if I like the job that approach might morph into a post-tenure-hire-a-nanny position.

Why is this blog post titled "blog against sexism...?" Because men, even the most enlightened ones, don't have to confront these issues head on the way we women do. That was really brought home to me during my interview. We have a long way to go.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

left to do

from Friday
  • work on the job talk - make a pretty title slide, figure out how to integrate recent results, decide what to cut if too long
  • practice job talk
  • get a massage (2 pm)
  • study faculty bios (focusing on search committee)
  • continue to brain storm research ideas (this is the hard one)
from Saturday
  • practice job talk for advisor (11 am), husband (?), dog
  • finish studying faculty bios and identify probable collaborators
  • get cash and other sundries for trip
  • call mom and refuse to let her grill me
  • tentatively prioritize research ideas (1, 5, 10 years)
  • practice short summaries of my research (1, 3, 10 min) and interests (?)
from Sunday
  • practice job talk
  • have husband mock-interview me
  • pack (incl. extra clothes, raincoat, papers, computer)
  • anything else I haven't gotten done by then
  • take a walk with the dog and husband
  • go to bed early
So as you can see, all the planning in the world can't help if you don't actually get things done. Back to work for me.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

tonight, tomorrow, and the next day

Done Today
  • studied faculty bios, researched interdisciplinary research centers and relevant other departments' faculty
  • came up with a rough wish list for start-up costs
  • delved into the byzantine and bizarre world of federal funding opportunities
  • made multiple copies of CV and gathered together transcripts, teaching evaluations, course syllabi, manuscripts
  • had a pap smear
  • printed out a few short, recent articles by search committee members and potential collaborators (to skim later?)
  • study up a few more faculty profiles (my goodness this is a huge department - 2-3 times the normal size for my field)
  • go home and walk dog, stopping to pick up a RolyPoly sandwich for dinner, supplementing with steamed spinach
  • look through the booklet on teaching philosphies that a friend lent me. try to figure out some semi-coherent answers to those inevitable teaching questions
  • try to sleep without dreaming of interview stuff
  • work on the job talk - make a pretty title slide, figure out how to integrate recent results, decide what to cut if too long
  • practice job talk
  • get a massage (2 pm)
  • study faculty bios (focusing on search committee)
  • continue to brain storm research ideas (this is the hard one)
The next day (saturday)
  • practice job talk for advisor (11 am), husband (?), dog
  • finish studying faculty bios and identify probable collaboratos
  • get cash and other sundries for trip
  • call mom and refuse to let her grill me
  • tentatively prioritize research ideas (1, 5, 10 years)
  • practice short summaries of my research (1, 3, 10 min) and interests (?)
The last day (Sunday)
  • practice job talk
  • have husband mock-interview me
  • pack (incl. extra clothes, raincoat, papers, computer)
  • anything else I haven't gotten done by then
  • take a walk with the dog and husband
  • go to bed early
Questions to You
  • Should I prepare any sort of (really sketchy) syllabi for courses I am interested in teaching? What if they are non-standard courses (i.e., can't copy anyone else)?
  • Am I missing anything?

March's to-dos

March 2006 goals

  1. (already in progress) Firm up plans for post-doc with my advisor if no faculty jobs are forthcoming
  2. get complete draft of Paper 2 to co-authors
  3. reach 150 pounds
  4. take 2 consecutive weekdays off just for me (read, sleep, exercise, sew, eat vegan)
  5. complete 1 teacher visit (done!)
  6. complete regression model for grant-on-the-side
  7. start writing grant-on-the-side paper
  8. Complete last of field work for inclusion in dissertation
  9. do my best possible job at the interview and (hopefully) land the job

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Where is she? (the map meme and other random thoughts)

As seen over at AAYOR (and probably elsewhere, I am seriously behind on my bloglines)

Get your own

I'm actually really proud of having been so many places in the US, although there are some states that I haven't seen very much of (SC, DE, & AR come to mind). But I am going to a conference in one of those states this summer. Plus, Navy Mom is moving to Alaska in a few months, so that gives me a great excuse to get up to the last great frontier.

I've been running around like a crazy person since 6:30 this morning with a mere hour in my office. Now I'm off to craft night to work on the latest baby blanket. Tomorrow should be more sane, but there's absolutely no way I'm going to be able to take this weekend off. I've penciled in two days when I get back from the interview....we'll see whether I can keep that committment to myself.

Confidential to the friend I spoke with today: I'm sending lots of long-distance hugs and love. Take care of yourself and know that I am always here for you. Please don't feel bad for taking advantage of my listening ear, that's why we have friends. :)