Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Stupid Journal, you finally got me your editorial decision, only 1.1 years after I gave you the damned manuscript. I will revise this damned thing and give it back to you, and you'd better not take another year in deciding to publish it, you bastards.

At least this came back in time for me to include it in my review materials, since an editorial "revise and resubmit" is way better than me just saying "hey I submitted this paper, ain't that great?" Also, I have a hard time believing that a two-year review is really that useful, since I just got my feet under me. I guess we'll see what they say.

I have a different manuscript due in one month, and yet NOW is the time that by brain decides to come up with interesting grant ideas and get me all excited about writing up some stuff for NSF. Likely just so I can see how much they hate it in the spring, and fix it for later. But I guess being excited to write SOMETHING is better than complete and total apathy. At least if I revise one manuscript and submit another by Nov., I should be guaranteed something in 2010, keeping me on my one-paper-a-year goal, which in turn should keep me from going into a blind panic as I approach year six (but I shouldn't be worrying that far ahead...should I?).

Saturday, September 26, 2009


I tend to function on a system of piles (hey I know I'm not the only one!), particularly when I get busy. Unfortunately for me, I had a fairly complicated system of such piles in my office left over from last Spring, and I had forgotten exactly what the system was supposed to be. So I've been working around some "unknown" papers and things so far this term, until today. I knew that I had some papers somewhere that I had collected for the manuscript I'm trying to write right now, so the time had come to actually re-organize my office and enter all of that new material into my EndNote program.

I know this doesn't really count as "writing," but honestly nothing was going to get accomplished until I figured out which papers I already had and which ones I really needed to go find in the library. Also, I've been in this office for just over a year now and my filing cabinet drawers just got labeled this afternoon. A few hours sacrificed to the gods of organization, but it should pay off fairly soon in the form of knowing where the hell my references are. Plus now I don't look like a total slob, which is nice when I have students coming in for help. It's always awkward when I have to move a pile of folders before I can look at their work.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

kicking my ass

This term, life is really getting in the way. I haven't been writing (as you may have noticed) - I also haven't been doing any of the other million things I'm supposed to be doing. I haven't been getting to bed early enough to get up early enough to get my ass to the gym, which means that I'm about to go exercise-deprivation-crazy except that I've squeezed in a couple of half-hour yoga sessions just to keep myself sane.

Partner is also crazy, working way too many hours plus a commute, and often getting home with just enough time to shower and eat before having to get to bed in order to get a decent amount of sleep. Which means that I'm on house-stuff duty, until his schedule slows down (in a month or two). I don't mind doing the house stuff, like taking out the garbage, doing the laundry, grocery shopping; I have way more time for that stuff right now than he does (in the sense that "way more time" means "any time at all"). But it is bad timing that we're both going insane at the same time.

Also, I think I've actually found a wedding photographer (will be meeting hopefully next week). Maybe a DJ. Maybe a baker. Maybe I should be spending my time on other things. Probably, yes. The fact that our roof is now leaking just a little bit is not helping me deal with my list of people I need to call, even for non-work-related purposes. Once the wedding "vendor" stuff is out of the way, I will be happier.

Partner and I both have family stuff going on. We both have business-related travel coming up. We both end up spending the few hours we get on the weekend (= Sunday) doing something together instead of working on whatever needs doing, which is always nice but doesn't help us to get ahead.

All this is pushing me one step farther toward canceling my early-winter field work plans (mid-winter field work plans are still a go, and also part of the reason I don't want to be gone for several weeks during the early winter). At this point I should probably just say they're canceled, since my list of cons is quite a bit longer than the pros and there's really only one person who would even be slightly annoyed at me for canceling. Since that person is a student of mine they'll just have to suck it up.

So, Fall 2009, you are kicking my ass, and I hope that having acknowledged that fact means that you'll let up a little. Seriously. Don't give me anything else to deal with, or I think my head will explode.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

And a writing I shall go

Ooh look at me, I actually sat my butt in a chair this afternoon and WROTE. My fifteen minutes extended to about an hour of highly distracted writing (Tuesday is my teaching-all-day day, so I wasn't at my writing prime), but I got some shit done. This is good, because I have a manuscript due on Nov. 1st that I had not even started until now. I know, I am a huge slacker. But I'm aiming for about 30k words, as represented by my new status bar on the right, and I hope to keep up this fifteen-minute thing (especially since that 1% being displayed right now is kinda bumming me out).

It helped, actually, that EVERY SINGLE student in my lab this afternoon decided to blow off everything that didn't absolutely have to be completed in the lab itself, and they all took off early. Awesome for me, not so awesome for you crazy kids when you figure out that the stuff in the manual is hard, even if it is strictly possible for you to do it in your dorm room. Have fun!

Also, I may have a DJ. And I found two available photographers with whom I will have to argue about details. Woot.

Monday, September 14, 2009

best intentions

Ah, yes, so...that 15-minutes-of-writing rule that was to begin today, shall instead begin tomorrow. Interesting things to note:

Advising students, as it turns out, is a huge, ginormous, immense and stupendous time suck. I had no appreciation for how much time this steals from your day-to-day work life...also, half of them aren't even my advisees, and yet I end up advising them. WTF? I guess I feel appreciated, kiddos, but seriously. GO talk to YOUR advisor, and not just to tell them what we discussed.

I am way too easily distracted by the fact that I am supposed to be planning a wedding - we actually set a date right before I left for the summer, and now that I'm back I have to get shit organized. It's not for about a year, but still, I let that serve as an excuse and I allow myself to do a little googling over my lunch hour and suddenly I've killed an hour. Today I failed to exercise OR write, and I have to stare at that lunch hour of wedding planning as a very bad, bad influence.

Tomorrow I get to make up for my missed 15 minutes from today. Hear that, self? Do it.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


I couldn't help but take a screen shot of this. Unfortunate advertising decisions there, peeps, but congratulations on 50 years of poisoning the world.


Apparently writing about death makes some people wonder about your mental health. For future reference, I considered a variety of scientific careers that would have led to a much more professional interest in death than my current path, so when (if?) I write about death it's because I find it interesting (in an abstract sort of way) and not because I'm having personal difficulties. In case you care. All is well in the land of LAL.

While I'm not depressed, however, I am having some trouble getting myself out of "summer" mental mode and into "holy crap it's year two and I need to get shit done if I'm ever going to get tenure" mode. This is not helped by the fact that prior to this year I had maybe one month of summer fieldwork a year, and after spending so many weeks abroad this year my brain is saying: wait, we should have at least one more month free before we have to dive back into a work schedule! To bad, brain, time to get used to the new schedule. Seriously.

On the good side of things, I have a lab completely constructed and almost completely equipped and I'll have students in there starting this week, and that's awesome. I am also free of my previously-mentioned visiting colleague, which means I don't have to share my space. Call me petty, but that also makes me happy.

On the not-so-good side of things, I am annoyed by the following:

- paper still in review, after ONE YEAR. Slightly more than one year, really. WTF journal. Also, you appear to have updated the status recently, so I can't even harass you about not updating the author status, which was my previous excuse to harass you.

- colleague who promised data in late spring has still not provided data. I have hope it will happen soon. I think they feel bad at this point, which works in my favor.

- lots of new project ideas, but no time to implement all of them. And the one I actually really want to go forward with is the one for which the required equipment has not arrived. Of course.

Things are going well so far this term, if such a thing can even be said this early in the term. And I am, starting TOMORROW, implementing a 15-minutes-per-day writing rule for myself. Everyone keeps saying it, from bloggers to academic career guides: writing during short periods of time on a regular basis is absolutely essential to getting shit done. I know that, and I know that it's what I should be doing, and yet I haven't done it yet. Tomorrow I begin.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Miles to go until I sleep

When you spend a lot of time walking around in the field (or doing various repetitive tasks in the field), your mind tends to wander. In my case, I end up making lists of things: stuff I want to eat when I get home, stuff I want to do when I get home, things I should try to prioritize during my second year. And, sometimes, most likely ways to die.

In my personal accounting, based on what I do with most of my time in the field, should I die while working the most likely causes would be:

1. Car accident
2. Falling off of a cliff (on foot/in a car when this happens is probably 50/50)
3. Disease/medical condition. Something insect- or water-borne and/or my appendix bursts too far out in the field. I like to think that my Evac. insurance would prevent this from becoming deadly, but if I'm honest with myself I know it probably wouldn't.
4. Bitten by poisonous animal/insect/whatever
5. Something dog-related: mauling might be more likely, but I also count rabies, even though I have the vaccination that would buy me more time and I keep it up to date
6. Equipment-related accident. Large metal things falling on my head, in particular.
7. Shot by some yokel (I don't really think this is likely, but I guess it should be on the list because it's strictly possible). This category also includes bullets falling from the sky, which is probably a more likely scenario than intentional shooting.

In contrast, in the States I think my list looks something like:

1. Cancer
2. Car accident
3. Other accident (ya know, I fall off a ladder, or do something equally stupid)
4. Flu/other communicable disease (I do work with snotty students)
5. Heart attack/stroke (I don't think these likely, but I guess they are strictly possible).

The top causes of death in the States, as reported by the CDC are:

1. Heart disease
2. Cancer
3. Stroke
4. Chronic lower respiratory diseases
5. Accidents (unintentional injuries)
6. Diabetes
7. Alzheimer's disease
8. Influenza and Pneumonia
9. Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis
10. Septicemia

Honestly, I expect it to be Cancer many years from now; when I go into the field I don't really expect that I won't be coming back. But these are the things my mind spends its time on when I'm busy doing other things, like walking. Morbid? Maybe. A good time-waster when you need something to occupy your brain? Definitely.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

visitors and plans

My mother has been visiting, and generally giving me good advice about how to arrange/decorate the house and garden, both of which have seen very little change of late. This is not all that important in terms of home decor, but we probably should have kept up on the weeding a bit more. I think mom is happier with us now that she's had a chance to get her hands dirty.

What I find both perplexing and fairly amusing is that our evil cat HATES, HATES my mother. Our cat is always more Partner's cat than mine, and usually dislikes visitors in general, but she's been a little jerk to my mother since she arrived and hasn't let up. The cat hisses and swipes at my mother's feet, sits on the guest room windowsill just to throw a fit when my mother enters the room, and makes a point of being in my mother's way. The hissing is a little intense, even for our cat. I wonder what it is about my mom?

In the meantime I'm attempting to line up my year of conferences - I keep telling myself that I need to branch out and attend conferences X and Y that I've never been to, but yet again the abstract deadlines have gone and I didn't submit. There are also at least two smaller meetings that I had told people I would try to make but which I will probably not be attending. Oh well. I do have a session I'm chairing at the large fall meeting and an invited talk at the smaller spring meeting, so maybe that's plenty.

Partner's busy fall of long work hours and minimal home time started today, and mom is leaving this weekend, so I'm expecting to get down to some serious work starting Monday and I might get to come up for air around late November. Let the fun begin!