Monday, November 30, 2009


Submission complete! Just in time for me to claim this manuscript as an accomplishment for the year in my CV update. And even though it didn't take me all day to finish some edits and submit, I am tempted to call it a day. Damn you, false sense of progress!

Today I made an effort to find a general practitioner in Small Town, and was told that they would have to "talk to the doctor" and call me back regarding new patients. Um...what? Either the guy is taking patients or he isn't - are you going to run a background check on me first?

Also, I finally hired a DJ for our wedding - apparently this is something I barely accomplished in time, since everyone seems to be booked. WTF is up with that? People are far too organized.

I guess this means there's nothing pressing left but to deal with the giant stack of! I want my Thanksgiving vacation back.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


This paper, my friends, it is drafted, and is on its way via email to those who might be willing to provide some feedback. And it's only Tuesday (just barely) - sweet.

I realized that I haven't produced anything entirely new in over a year. Revisions, conference stuff, sure, but not taking a blank Word document and making something out of it. I forgot how good it feels to get something accomplished. Good thing I remembered, because there's another one on the burner just itching for some typing time - in December.

And tomorrow, I am sleeping in a bit, because I don't have to be at the gym at 7 am to guarantee myself a spot on my favorite aerobic equipment...because I have my very own, and it's sitting in my house right now. So I will get up and I will NOT go outside in the cold and I will work it out in my own house, and it will be awesome.


Today was lame and depressing, for no good reason, and I didn't get much done. Until about 10:30 this evening, when I was hit with the most productive 1.5 hours I've had in several weeks. Apparently I should work late more often. Tomorrow? Is it possible that I might get this thing out for commentary tomorrow?

Sunday, November 22, 2009


This weekend, I bought food. I also bought that exercise equipment I was wavering on. I'm quite excited, and am fairly certain that both of these purchases were good investments.

Partner's advice on buying exercise equipment was, "just admit that you're addicted to exercise! But it's a good addiction, so buy the equipment, because it will make you happy." Never underestimate the power of a cranky lady, I suppose. I'm still slightly nervous that it won't work out for some reason and I will have wasted a non-trivial sum. But I don't think so; I'm only doubting it at all because of how much the damned thing costs. It will be delivered on Tuesday, and then I guess we'll see. A random dude I met at the store gushed about his recent purchase of the same thing, so that made me feel a bit better.

Also, it is now the season of Silk Nog. I think that warrants mention and joy.

The first part of this week is mandatory "finish the manuscript" time. And then there will be food, followed by editing.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Today I overslept, by a LOT. I usually bring in my phone as a back-up, as I'm prone to oversleeping...apparently I am still dependent upon the two-part wake-up call, because the one night I don't do it I totally fail to wake up on time. I didn't miss anything, but I didn't get to the gym...and so the saga continues.

This week has been a bit intense for the LAL household - I have failed to clean, cook or shop. We're running out of food and our house is disgusting. We've been living on leftovers and Partner's famous "throw whatever we have into a pot" soup (which is actually really good, because Partner is a good cook, unlike others who live here).

Everyone I know is announcing pregnancies, which is annoying me for some reason (I blame them for making me feel old) - such that Partner and I had a conversation earlier about how impossible our current lives would be in terms of procreation. As in, completely, utterly, not possible for us to even consider having a kid unless someone quit their job. Not really relevant to life right now, but an interesting observation.

This manuscript really needs to get finished by early next week, or I'm in deep shit. It's about 1/3 finished minus figures and formatting. 3000 words isn't particularly long, so I think it's doable...though I am taking Friday night and Saturday to decompress, so we'll see how Sunday goes. There may be some late nights in my immediate future.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

applying to a SLAC

Having spent part of today reading the first pile of applications for an Assistant Professor post at SLAC, I'm feeling pretty good about the applications I sent in two years ago. I'm a little surprised by what people send in; a few of them I not only won't suggest for this job, but I really want to chastise them for wasting our time and their postage. Some things I just assumed were common knowledge when applying to a small college:

- Don't refer to the school as the "University"
- Don't tell us how the success of your research depends upon graduate student labor
- Don't send us only a portion of the materials that we asked you for

And then there are the more nuanced things that I was looking for, but rarely saw:

- Is your research doable with the resources SLAC can provide? And if not, how will you deal with that problem?
- How does your research make use of/involve/teach undergraduates?
- How does your previous experience relate to what you would do here? Teaching experience is great, but if it was all at the graduate level I want to know how that translates. What could you teach that we currently offer, or are missing?
- Why are you interested in a SLAC, specifically?

I know a lot of these are just people throwing their previously prepared materials into a new envelope, and I understand to some extent why people do that. But if you aren't going to take the four minutes to actually stick in our SLAC's name and say something about undergrads, you're wasting your time. I'm by no means an expert at this, but even I can see how ridiculous some of these apps are. Lots of people also seem to have great research backgrounds, but say nothing about applying that at a small school or bringing it into their teaching. They should spend more time on the teaching statement; too much research without an equivalently strong teaching philosophy makes me think that they don't really want to be at a SLAC.

More to come - I'm sure there will be more gems in the next pile.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Yesterday I hit another trough in my regular cycle of exercise-related sanity. Mostly because I've spent three days this week grading until 1 am and therefore didn't have the energy to get up the next morning and work out. Too many days like that, and I'm bemoaning my horrible physical state and making Partner generally crazy. And then I make popcorn, because if I'm going to be out of shape I might as well do it right.

So the question now becomes: is it worth dropping yet another pile of money for the one piece of gym equipment I use all the time, to have at home where I can use it regardless of the hour? And then I could ditch my gym membership, but that's a drop in the bucket compared to the total money pile required for this purchase.

Partner is pushing to buy, probably because he's tired of dealing with my insanity, and he argues for a "quality of life" value. Also, I'll soon be turning a number that ends with zero...that might make me feel less guilty about spending so much cash on myself.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

the other side of the fence

I was recently asked to serve on a search committee looking to replace a failed tenure bid. I am way too excited about this; it's for a department that's a bit out of my area, to the extent that I might not know WTF the applicants are talking about in their research statements, but I get to see what it's like to be the chooser instead of the beggar, and I think it will be fun. Even with the decent pile of folders that I already have sitting in my office. I'm expecting some "oh my god I did this in my applications too and it's such a mistake!" revelations, so we'll see how depressing it is as a learning experience. Can't be that bad, I guess, since they did hire me. Right?

Today I also received a phone call from a Senior Faculty member asking me to serve on another campus committee. This puts my service load at five committees (including the above) plus faculty meetings, student advising and mentorship/research supervision. Those committees are not all equivalent work loads, and two of them are not permanent assignments, but it's still a huge jump from the "service free" first year. I don't know how this compares to other SLAC faculty or even other faculty at my SLAC - I may ask around to see what other people do in terms of service load. But, honestly, when Senior Faculty members call you to say "hey we want you to do this important thing for us" am I going to say no? No, I am going to say yes, even if I'm up to my eyeballs already, because at a place like this not doing that kind of service is a Bad Thing. I often receive general advice from more experienced academics, who all say that "you need to learn to say no!"-- and ok, that's fine if I'm saying no to the public, or to extra student projects that aren't my problem, or to student groups. But the Senior Faculty do not get No, and that's just how it is. So I just hope they stop asking me for stuff, because my service is becoming a bit crazy. Sometimes fun, but crazy.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Things going through my brain at the moment, to be spewed on the blogosphere so that I can sleep instead of thinking about them:


-- I've agreed to pursue a local research project with a tenured colleague in a very different department.

Pros: relevant to my experience, local, doable a few hours at a time, gets me kudos for networking between departments, easy to involve students and work into one of the classes I teach, forces me to network with local government people relevant to my work.

Cons: research of minimal relevance/importance and probably only publishable in small/local journals, I have a lot of crap going on already, if I can't get enough students on board I'm going to have a shitload of crap lab work to do, and if it doesn't work out or if I somehow am viewed as abandoning the project my colleague is also one of the people who evaluates me for promotion and that could be really, really bad.

It's too late now, but as we get started this is making me nervous.

-- I've become a total slacker in some ways...I think it's just because so much is going on that I have a hard time motivating myself to make use of small pieces of time. I find myself wasting chunks of the day online or doing life-related stuff when I should be doing work-related stuff. Or I come home after work and don't open my laptop at all. This is bad, and I need to stop doing it.

-- I got an extension on a manuscript and still haven't bloody worked on it.


-- We are trying to find thermal curtains for the downstairs that aren't ugly, and this is proving to be an impossible task. I think we will have to go with a separate lining layer and a regular curtain.

-- Our house has ridiculously weird window sizes, so I'm buying the closest relevant widths and hoping the blinds work. If not, we'll have to go custom, and that will suck.

-- We got that bloody expensive boiler installed, and have yet to have a completely functional system. First one thing was leaking, and now another thing is leaking. Damn you stupid heating system, function why don't you!

-- Today we went to the local ginormous hardware store and I found out that I could get an entire kitchen's worth of very nice cabinetry for way less than I thought (provided we install it ourselves). Partner says we can't have a new kitchen until we pay off all the current crap and get married. Damn you, practicality!

-- I need to start going to bed instead of blogging at night.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

things I don't get to say out loud

To my students:

- "I have to be somewhere" is not a valid excuse DURING the designated lab hours. You do have to be somewhere, but you're already here, so suck it and do the work.

- I'm more than happy to write you letters of recommendation...though you might want to think about coming to the lectures if you want me to say anything good about you.

- When I tell you to "dress appropriately" for outdoor work in November, that does not mean flip flops and soccer shorts, and you therefore do not get to whine about the cold.

- The fact that you asked me about the paper topic three days before the due date does not give me hope for your future.

- Handing in the exact same thing for two different drafts of a paper is not ok, particularly when you basically plagiarized the first time.

To my various colleagues:

- You take things far too personally, and you need to get over yourself.

- Please don't drag me into your research agenda for my expertise just to pretend that you know what you're doing, thus embarrassing both of us in front of people who actually do know what they're doing.

- Why does tenure turn reasonable people into crazy people? WHY?

To various strangers:

- Please don't work out in clothing that hasn't been washed in years. I don't care if that smell is moth balls or sweat, it needs to move farther away from me.

- I hate you when you drive around with your loud car stereo. I also hate you when you honk for no damned reason. Knock it off.

- Christmas is still two months away. Do you really need to put up giant inflatable snow globes right now?