Sunday, September 28, 2008


This weekend I attended my college reunion, and it was far more fun than I expected. I went to a SLAC only a few hours' drive from Small Town, so it wasn't too much trouble to attend, but I didn't have high expectations. I figured I would catch up with a few people, get away for a few days, see how things had changed and maybe get some work done. Instead, I got nothing useful accomplished and I'm still paying slightly for a late night last night. But it was totally worth it.

I found that people haven't changed at all, except that we all have a "plus one" that we drag around now. My college has changed very little; I could almost trick myself into thinking I had never left.

I got to visit my old advisors as well as one of my favorite professors, who was (and still is) an adjunct, though she's no longer working for the SLAC that I attended. It was interesting to talk to her now that I'm on "her side"...we discussed teaching, student attitudes, and whether everyone should really go to college. I was reminded of how shitty a place academia can be, when someone as amazing as she is is scrambling for positions. I can only hope I do half as good a job with my gig.

I'll be looking forward to the next reunion, when I'm sure I won't be the only one in my class with a PhD (I was surprised -- I assume someone out there has theirs as well, but didn't show up) -- there are plenty of people still working through their grad programs. I do admit to taking a small amount of pride in having that title when a room full of classmates didn't...which probably makes me a jerk.

Now it's back to work, with a lingering jealousy left over from a visit to the fancy science building at my alma mater.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I love Wednesday

I think I've finally gotten myself into functional schedule. I'm teaching one class with two lab sections this term, lectures M/W/F mornings and labs T/Th afternoons. While I'd eventually like to have a whole day for research, this is fine for now and makes me structure my time a little bit more than I would have to with a full "free"'s good for really cutting the chord between grad life (where I often woke up at 10 am and worked late) and real life (where I get up at 7:30 and that's probably later than most).

The repeated lab section on Thursday means that I have minimal prep work to do on Wednesday afternoon and evening.

I really like Wednesdays.

I should probably be using this afternoon as research time, even though I'm tempted to get ahead for Friday so I'm not prepping lecture all day on Thursday. But I am getting better at using small chunks of time productively - like this morning when I spent the one free hour before my lecture working on a revision. Except that I tried to finish a figure and ended up having to run to lecture. Then I had to come back to my office for my Powerpoint, which I had forgotten.

I guess now I just need to get better at the transitions between teaching and research. They never talk about that part at the faculty development meetings.

Friday, September 19, 2008

I need a counter! For counting!

Anyone know of a webcounter that I can install on a page made with Seamonkey? I've tried stat counter and site meter -- stat counter does nothing, while sitemeter just records my own visits (and yes, I know there have been visits to this page by other people). So maybe I'm just doing something wrong with site meter, but a little html shouldn't be that hard to install.

Maybe I'll eventually break down and go back to Dreamweaver. Maybe. I'm not sure I'm that desperate to see who's visiting my academic page.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


I'm using the course management system Moodle for my current class...I was reluctant at first, because it's not very pretty or customizable, but it was easier than getting a separate web page set up before the start of the term. And now I'm becoming a convert, because it tells me when the students signed on and what they looked at. Awesome. So now, when the slacker who left my lab an hour early without even looking at the second half of the assignment claims that he couldn't find the background materials, I can pull up his Moodle history and show him that he hasn't even logged on this week. And I will also know who's doing the reading ten minutes before class.

I think this is the same voyeuristic side of me that enjoys wasting time on Facebook coming out during the workday.

In life news, we finally joined a gym a few weeks ago - having regular access has made life much better. Stress levels are down compared to August, even with the whole job thing.

House painting has progressed in stages into another room -- we need to cover the ceiling in the office, and for that we have to wait for additional paychecks. But painting of walls can continue. Yesterday Partner discovered that the ceiling in Bedroom #2 (eventually to be the one we use, because it's back off the street and farther from the associated noise) was wallpapered, then painted. A long, long time ago. Who does that?

In a week things get more hectic - for some reason I'm going to my college reunion, and then big fall conference. I should be getting ahead...instead I'll probably be watching Flight of the Conchords, season one.

Monday, September 15, 2008

in which I complain about things that I should have expected

My chair, while a very nice person, has been assuming that I know all kinds of things, even though I specifically told him that I was not provided with an official mentor of any kind and really have no other source of discovering things like how to use the printer shared by all the faculty in the building. I really want to ask him why he finds my ignorance surprising (because he really seems to).

I have also apparently been left off of a semi-critical faculty email list, leading to complete ignorance regarding faculty meetings and campus events. And again, I'm supposed to magically know who I should have contacted. Blah.

I got my first "Mrs." from a student today, via email. It had to happen eventually, I suppose.

I officially feel old.

I wanted to do a food demo today, but couldn't get the food in question to do what its packaging states it will do (namely, become food), and therefore I have to go buy more of it tonight and see if I can force it to do my bidding by tomorrow morning.

Even with all that, I'm enjoying this gig so far. My students are pretty cool. And ask questions that start with "isn't it also true that..." and "how do you know that..." Pretty sweet for intro level.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

nothing interesting

We've had, ya know, a little rain the past few days. And it turns out that yes, the garage roof does leak. At least now we know where. The basement, at least, is almost perfect. Given a choice between the two we're pretty happy with a leaky garage.

The cat has yet to accept the presence of a washing machine in her house. Whenever we use it she sneaks up to it and watches it, then walks quickly past the laundry room as if it was going to bite her. Today she hissed at it. However, I'm getting more cat love these days, and Partner is less the favorite, maybe because now I'm the one gone most of the day. If that didn't also mean I was having more blood drawn on a regular basis, it would make me very happy.

Friday, September 12, 2008


Is it bad to drop the USB end of a USB mouse in your coffee? Or will it still work once it's dry?

Also, I don't think I should have to respond to reviewers who question the basic tenets of my field in their commentary. Like questioning the potential age of well-known and accepted events. Obvious craziness should really be dealt with by the editors.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


So far:

- I failed at producing a revision I had hoped to finish before the start of classes, and still haven't gotten around to hauling it to the top of my "to-do" list.

- A coauthor holding all the pieces of another manuscript revision due very soon isn't returning my calls or emails.

- I have a promising new collaboration in New Country for next summer. Very exciting.

- I decided to go with my original "big conference in the Fall plus International conference in the Spring" plan. But I still get my name on abstracts for the others, so it's a win-win.

- I still don't have a phone, a trash can or a name on my door.

- I made the mistake of visiting the space provided to another new proffie in a field with more funding. I am feeling insignificant this afternoon. Also, some of my space is still under construction.

- I'm starting to see where the "vision" of my chair is completely at odds with the functional reality of the things I'll be doing. I plan to just do things and assume he'll say something if he has issues...for some things he's just going to have to suck it up, because it just can't work the way he had assumed.

- I'm managing more consistent early-morning-rising than ever before. Maybe I really am an adult now.

Monday, September 8, 2008

sorely tempted

Oooh...Dell mini. It's so cute. It's so small. It's so reasonably priced. I might just do it. 1 gig would be just enough to have internet functionality, Microsoft Office and the one mapping program I need in the field.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

the first year...conferences?

I should probably wait and see how I handle the first few months of this job (and, getting a paycheck would be good, too) before I start to plan my travel. But I'm starting to plan the year and I'm torn:

I'm so far going to Big National Conference in my field this fall, and debating about other options for additional travel.

Option #1 is a conference I've always wanted to get to but never managed to because it's held during my prime field season time; this year I'm not going into the field, so I was thinking maybe I'd try to submit for Option #1. However, I'm not sure I'll actually have the time to get a decent presentation together, and I'll probably have enough going on in the late fall/early winter.

Option #2 is a spring conference in a field that isn't really mine, or exactly my subfield either, yet I work with a lot of people in this field and my work is relevant to theirs. It's usually more useful for networking than presenting or learning new things.

Option #3 is an international conference in my subfield, which will include a workshop on an awesome method that I have no experience using. Downside is it falls toward the end of the spring semester and will be expensive.

I'm assuming that I'm crazy to even consider four conferences during my first year as an assistant professor. I'm killing all my allocated travel funds with the conference I'm definitely attending in the fall, so cost may help me decide. I'm leaning toward Option #3 only, but I have time to figure it out.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Just in time for the start of the semester, my laptop is giving me warning signs of impending doom. During a workshop this summer it decided to flash the "hard drive not found" message, causing a minor panic until a few reboots brought it back to life. This wouldn't have been so alarming if my external drive hadn't been in storage...and then since things seemed back to normal I of course didn't bother digging it out. Yesterday the 'y' button decided to take on a life of its own, alternately demanding input so that my tyyyyyyyypyyyying looked like thyyyyyyyyyyisyyyyyyyy...and then refusing to work at all. That has also miraculously healed itself, but today I dragged out the external drive and backed up the small amount of work that got done over this summer.

C'mon laptop, you can survive! You're only 1.5 years old! Gimme a break!

I dislike the college computer policy, which makes me log on to their network in order to use my office desktop. This would be no big deal if I had a functional connection, but they have yet to provide me with that. Or a phone. They're lucky I shell out for decent internet access at home (well, I'm an addict, so there's no chance I wouldn't pay for it at home, but still..)

I finally have a drivers license for New State. And as usual I love my license photo more than most photos of me; I'm apparently never as photogenic as I am after taking a written exam, sitting in front of a colored cloth.

And there goes the summer.