Thursday, December 30, 2010

home!

We made it back without any trouble, despite all the flight issues here in the States, and it's nice to be home. The cat even seems to like us - for today. We also brought back some sort of fabulous Asian flu bug (nothing with an animal name descriptor to our knowledge) which is forcing us to cancel our plans to host a New Years party and is making me less than thrilled about the amount of work I have left to do before next week (as if I needed another reason for that particular attitude).

Partner got through most of this flu while we were gone, which means that I saw a bit more than he did, but it also means that he's now taking care of me while I hack up my lungs. Still, it was a nice trip - I'd really like to see more of Asia, but I'll probably have to wait until I forget the uncomfortable details of 14-hour flights. Our next vacation, at least, will definitely be closer to home.

I have about three weeks until my Winter field season starts up, with another plane ride and a really long trip on a bus. Before I leave I have to start the term and submit a grant proposal; maybe it's a good thing that I'll be having a calm New Year's Eve!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

brrr

It's friggin cold here in Small Town. The kind of cold where you notice every single crevice and window frame where low temperatures seep into the house. The time of year when Partner vows to never buy a house more than 20 years old ever, ever again. If we didn't have plants I would keep all the curtains closed for the extra layer of insulation.

Not much is new around here. I guess I'm not worthy of government funding, since I worked not at all on my grant this weekend. The more I write about something the more I don't like the idea/project/data, which means I go home annoyed and grouchy at the end of the day. I have no idea if that attitude has anything to do with the actual validity of the project, either, which makes it hard to keep writing. Tomorrow, I shall slog on regardless.

Here's a question. Is it bad form to use the same few primary descriptive terms in the majority of recommendation letters that you write? I think they're valid descriptive terms in all cases, but I wonder if it's bad that I seem to apply them to most of my good students.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

travel

Time to take a look at the travel schedule for the coming months.

This month: overseas vacation
Next month: overseas field season (very short!) with a day to see a friend while abroad (yay!)
March: 10-day field trip with students several days' drive west of SLAC
Summer: overseas field season with students and, if my grant gets rejected, some serious work adding data to our pilot project
Summer: mandatory trip to see my family

Note, no spring conferences! It's a miracle! A miracle made possible by the fact that there are THREE conferences I would like to/need to attend, and they are happening in September, October, and November. I will probably have to skip at least one, and that sucks. One is the big annual conference for my field and I plan to bring students; one is relevant to my primary field project and I should probably be there. The third is subdiscipline specific and is always a lot of fun. Guess which one I'll probably have to miss?

Partner has to come see my family with me, and I hope to drag him out for a week during the summer and, hopefully, to at least one conference. I always say these things, though, and they rarely happen. Partner, this is why I got you that jerk of a cat. I know you are grateful.

break

Winter Break Pros:

- Sleeping in
- Exercising every day!
- Time to clean, cook, and otherwise make life more livable
- Peace and quiet in the office
- No grading
- Last-minute dinner plans in the next town over can be accommodated
- No bringing work home with me at the end of the day
- Vacation (eventually)

Winter Break Cons:

- Every committee on the planet decides to make up for all those missed meetings during the term
- All the work I put off because I was too busy during the term
- Having to come up with interesting gift ideas
- End-of-year progress reports
- Student recommendation letters
- Library closes in the middle of the afternoon
- Too many odd jobs around the house competing for my time
- Being at work at 5:30 on a weekday and having to stumble through dark hallways because, apparently, no one is expected to be at work at 5:30 during break
- Realizing that the next term is coming up SOON, and I'd better get ready for it

Hmm...I think I need to work on my Pros!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

fun!

Having just been reminded about this month's Scientiae AND having just received my early christmas gift from Partner (a KINDLE!), maybe it is time to stop whining about work. Maybe it is time to start giving myself a break. Which I don't think is entirely possible, considering that yesterday I ran errands, cooked, cleaned, painted some woodwork and some repaired walls, worked out, spent some time with a friend and STILL felt guilty that I hadn't done anything research-related. It's a sickness, as we all know.

This week I'm hoping to schedule a classic margaritas-and-guacamole get-together with a good friend of mine, with whom I occasionally turn into a complete glutton. But I think that's good for us, especially since we're both under a lot of stress most of the time. I think we all need an excuse, and not just on holidays (though not TOO often), to just eat and drink whatever we want to with the people we most enjoy in this world. I also say that knowing full well that I've kicked my own ass with P90X all week, and therefore can afford a night out.

I've recently been down on my career, probably due to the end-of-term grading and stress (a very wise colleague always cautions that we should never make decisions about the next field season at the end of the current one, and their advice most likely applies here as well) - mostly about how much work goes into a job that pays what it pays. I need to get back my graduate student mindset, where I was really excited that someone else was paying my way across the Atlantic twice a year, and teaching lab was an opportunity instead of a chore. I still have that attitude, and a real excitement to be back in the classroom, for a few weeks each term, but it seems to erode more and more quickly. It's particularly annoying to see colleagues who don't do research - at a SLAC they are not hard to find among the tenured - and who are therefore not away from their families, don't spend their breaks writing grants, don't spend their own cash going to conferences. Somehow it seems unfair that I work this hard, sometimes.

I don't know why I let myself get into that mental spiral. Would I CHOOSE to stop doing research if I was told that I had "met" whatever standards were present for tenure? Would I stop going to conferences? Would I work less? No. But somehow that tenure "standard" makes what would otherwise be opportunity into imposition; I imagine I would change nothing but would feel much better about it if I wasn't expected to perform. It's funny what a mindset will do. I'm sure I could get away with fewer conferences, fewer field seasons, if I wanted that to happen. I just need to get my brain in the right place.

Hence! An entire half of December will be spent Sans Work. I will not be bringing my laptop. I will not be bringing articles. I will not be rewriting or grading or preparing lectures. I will have a Kindle and a Husband and I will be out of the country, and that is going to be FUN, even if I have to beat my brain into submission.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

bah

The end is in sight. I don't think I've ever given out so many bad grades. A lot of it comes from students who just didn't turn things in on time. No matter how many times I try to tell them that turning in C work on time is better than making it B work but turning it in three days late, since I cut a significant percentage for each day, they never seem to do the math.

Small grant is in, grades will be done tonight, I might leave the house tomorrow. Exciting times. We also got a dusting of snow, which makes it officially December in my brain.

Monday, November 29, 2010

winter!

Thanksgiving, the true beginning of the winter (or so it seems). We had a nice mix of family time and personal time over the long weekend, and now we're back to the grind. Which for me consists of a veritable mountain of term papers from two different courses, which I've been avoiding by finishing up a small grant proposal and grading exams. Soon there will be no choice. Help.

Assuming I survive the grading blitz, the rest of this month will be NSF GRANT WRITING. Part of me is really excited to be getting back to research-related writing, while the rest of me just wants to sleep. I'm hoping to balance those things with course prep for January, planning my spring-break field trip, and exercising. If I can actually FINISH my first P90X series (lean schedule, which I started in August) by the end of the year, I will be really happy. I think it will happen, since I only have three weeks to go, and now I will probably manage more than 2 or 3 official workouts per week. The next question: start P90X classic, or wait for next summer?

I should probably worry about the grading first. Unfortunately.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

letters

Dear collaborators:

I realize that you are not exactly up on what my field requires, which is why you asked me to help you out. However, you cannot just write down "use big expensive equipment", as per my suggestions at the end of last year's field season, and then stop communicating with me. This leaves us with me just finding out that you intend to use "big expensive equipment" next season, which I do not own, cannot get for you, and actually costs a considerable sum. Next season is also essentially next month, once you count time lost for holidays. I get the feeling that I am going to be the one looking like she didn't pull her weight here, and that annoys me.

Dear students,

"I tried to find out but the person I contacted never got back to me" is not an adequate final project result. Take note.

Dear plumber,

While I'm happy that our shower is now working the way it should, I really wish I could say that you managed to do that without calling me "hon". You leave me no choice but to try another company next time.

Dear cat,

You're a jerk. Please don't attack the plumber or try to escape into the freezing cold back yard, just because you can.

Dear Small Town,

Why did you stop selling organic potatoes? I really don't want to go back to eating pesticide potatoes. You stink.

Love,

LAL

Saturday, November 20, 2010

space

My laptop is yelling at me to remove files from my C drive. This is how old and overused my laptop has become...and a reason why I need to find time to talk to the computer center about a new one. In the meantime, I've been backing up and then deleting a lot of old folders...including my dissertation files. I know, that's ancient history now, and all those papers have been published. Still, it's somehow meaningful to finally press "delete" on that one.

Classes are done and I have hope that I will get a lot of grading finished before we head out for Thanksgiving with Partner's family. I also hope to write a short grant proposal. All this hope, and yet today all I did was rake leaves and cook.

This year I don't have much space in my winter break. Last December I repaired and painted our living room walls. I had delusional visions of doing the same to our dining room this year, but with grants and course prep and student recommendation letters I'll be lucky if I manage to work less than I have during the term. At least we have a mandatory vacation, in the form of expensive plane tickets that have already been purchased. No way am I dragging my work computer overseas if I don't have to.

Tomorrow, to the office!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

cheese

I like that the readers of Inside Higher Education are encouraged to read only those blog posts in which I reveal my inner crazy person and rant about my students. I suppose that should teach me to stop being crazy and stop ranting about my students. Should. You know I really love them, though. Right?

In other news.

I was asked to share the vegan mac and cheese recipe; this was my first attempt, and I used this version, which was actually pretty good. I added broccoli and onion, I used half of a tofu block instead of 1/4, and I cut the garlic powder and salt by half. I would actually suggest cutting the spices to a quarter of the recipe amount unless you are a big fan of garlic and salt (and you can always add salt later). I halved this recipe as a whole, which fed two of us plus leftovers.

If anyone has good vegan mac and cheese recipe suggestions, I'd love to try something else and see how it compares (R.B. I will be trying that one too)!

Speaking of vegan cheese, I highly recommend this recipe for nacho "cheese" dip. It's fabulous and easy, and we have it fairly regularly with burritos or tacos. Don't burn it, though, because it tastes really bad when you do.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

weekend!

Holy crap I cleaned my house. SO AMAZING to have a clean house.

Other things I did: slept, did laundry, ate, completed TWO good workouts, bought groceries. Found a pretty good vegan "mac and cheese" recipe. Finished writing wedding thank-you notes.

Things I didn't do: grading. Hence, my Sunday night of make-up grading begins...now.

Friday, November 12, 2010

more

As I continue to slog through term papers, I've found two more, not as blatant, examples of plagiarism. One student has pages and pages of info with no in-text citation. The other lifts direct text and cites it but without quotation marks.

So. Furious. These fucking kids.

I already have one student in the official system for plagiarizers. These guys are less horrible offenders, but they will be failing the assignment as a result. Maybe it was my fault for assuming that my middle-level class full of juniors and seniors would only need a 20-minute refresher on citation before they wrote a paper. Stupid me.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

the married 15

I read recently that newlyweds often gain weight. Maybe just because they were dieting pre-wedding and then gorge themselves on all the things they had been missing as soon as they don't have to fit into their nice clothes anymore. I like to joke that now my husband will be stuck with me even when I'm fat. Partner seems amused by this, probably because he knows that I have an exercise addiction. If he's lucky I won't get over that particular character flaw.

I am definitely heading in that direction, perhaps as a "married 5" right now, but only because of the necessity of regular late-night grading sessions this term. Around 10 pm I often bribe myself with a snack or a drink, particularly on those days when I never had time for lunch. It doesn't help that this schedule also prevents regular physical activity. So, feeling pretty gloppy these days, in general, and hoping that I won't end up sitting in front of the TV until the wee hours of the morning, out of habit, once this term finally ends.

Monday, November 8, 2010

things I can't post on Facebook

To my students.

Fucking little plagiarizing bastards. I hate that I grade your crap all term and now I get a paper full of straight paragraphs from someone else's book, and I have to fail you and I've wasted how many damned hours this term trying to teach you something. Fuck.

This is college, people. I know you have issues. I know SLAC in particular, and probably most schools who aren't Harvard et al., go out of their way to bend to your whims and make you feel loved and whatever, but this term I am totally burned out on your personal problems and parental issues and if you try one more time to make me feel bad for you I will scream.

Also, when I go out of my way to make concessions for your personal issues, your scheduling conflicts, your whatever, don't even email me three hours before you want to do the makeup activity and ask for the worksheet. On a weekend. When I'm out of town. And if that lack of courtesy on my part pisses you off, great. I'll fail you, no worries.

To the few of you who have shown a real interest in improving your work and actually learning something, thank you. I love you, I really do, and you make the rest of it worth while, even if sometimes I can only focus on the few idiots who make my life difficult.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

burnout

Yesterday I jumped back into work after getting home from my conference late on Tuesday night. Today I couldn't focus on anything, making limited progress on my grant application and doing no grading at all. I gave one class a free day to write their term papers and I pretended to be interested in a discussion section. I am two weeks behind in my grading, and I have more big papers coming my way at the end of the week.

I am debating whether the decision of which NSF division to submit to, given that I could actually choose from two different options, should really be based upon which has the later submission date. I'm guessing the answer is no, but that might not stop me.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

conference time

Back to the big yearly conference, where I am now old enough to semi-recognize people all over the place. It's a little frustrating. The one person I approached turned out to be someone I met at a workshop a few years ago. But sometimes I think I'm just being crazy.

I'm also now old enough that conferences are more like work and less like "fun with old friends." Old friends have students with them, and I'm coordinating an alumni event, and giving a talk that I barely prepared at all, etc. etc. At least there are still drinks...and free dinner paid by people in the non-academic aspects of -ology. Can't complain about that.

Friday, October 29, 2010

considerations

Let's say a job became available in a place where you would really love to live. Everything else about the other job: nature of the position, type and ranking of the institution, was almost exactly the same as your current position.

Would you apply?

Or, perhaps rephrased: is it always a bad idea to apply for other jobs pre-tenure, particularly when you're happy in your current position but wouldn't mind living somewhere else?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

things

The busiest part of the year, which always seem to correspond with conferences. I also find that this is when I get requests to review manuscripts, which at this early career point I feel obligated to do if there's any chance that I can make the time. So, doomed, as usual.

We recently learned that avocados can taste like pumpkin. We're making the assumption that the avocados we purchased had been stored with pumpkins...but it still seems strange that such a thick-skinned fruit would take on other flavors. Also, a note to Monsanto: avocado and pumpkin do not go well together.

I got almost 12 hours of sleep last night. It was amazing.

That is all.

Friday, October 22, 2010

one

One of those weeks. Those weeks when every day you collapse into your office chair at 4 pm and wonder where the hell the day went, and try desperately to get all the stupid little important crap finished before everyone leaves for the day, but fail and end up with a pile of unaccomplished little jobs by the end of the week. I hate it when I feel like I have to be in hyper-drive all the time, grading until I'm exhausted and then going to bed but so aware of the fact that I have only a few hours to sleep that I end up lying awake, then dragging myself out of bed way too early to do it again.

Sometimes I have to wonder, aren't I supposed to have time to THINK?

At least one accomplishment this week - we now have a dumpster full of construction debris, instead of a pile of debris under our deck, which is where the remains of our bathroom have been living since the summer. Partner definitely outdid himself, taking out four walls and one floor of really thick concrete and hauling it all outside. At least I was around to help him drag it down the driveway.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

movin'

Tickets to Asia, I has them! Exciting! We have not previously managed expensive foreign travel - Partner hasn't been anywhere out of North America yet, and I usually am limited to stuff that is work-related. Could this be the beginning of significant change? Perhaps!

I'm also already discussing my next summer's schedule with my research team - looks like I may be abroad for at least six weeks again. I'm ok with that, really, but I'm also not opposed to taking a year off. Since it will all come down to money, this is a good place to be - not set on things happening but willing to make use of the cash if it happens to appear.

I will be going abroad for a few weeks over the winter, for sure. Luckily I may get to see a friend of mine who also works in that part of the world. Hooray for overlaps!

Exciting plans. I just have to make it through the current term. I received an email from a student this evening with an assignment attached, with ended with "hope to see you soon!" What does that mean, student? Sigh.

Friday, October 15, 2010

life goes on

Today I walked into class to find a huge "congratulations!" written on the chalkboard - somehow my students heard that I got married last weekend. Very nice of them, and proof that you really can't keep anything to yourself at a SLAC.

I've now almost made up for the time I didn't spend working last weekend, after many late nights of grading...but it was worth it. We had a blast, saw lots of people we hadn't seen in a while, and really enjoyed having most of the people we like best in this world all in one room at the same time. It's a little sad to think that we'll never experience that again.

Since then, we're back to real life, Partner is working late nights and barely making himself a presence in the house, I'm grading until 1 am, the cat hates us all. I'm already trying to figure out my schedule for next summer, and theoretically completing a draft of this grant by mid November - this will indeed be a miracle.

I've spent my evening trying to figure out whether we can really, reasonably, affordably visit a friend of mine living in Asia. I really want to make it happen - we'll see if the airline gods grant me non-outrageous airfares. It would be nice to go somewhere WITH Partner for a change!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

dear

dear other department's seminar series:

On a day when I had no leftovers to grab and no time to make lunch, much less time to go buy lunch, and am currently starving in my office desperately prepping for my next lecture, the least you could do is avoid leaving five untouched meaty pizzas in the hallway with nothing for vegetarians to scavenge. You stink.

Me

Friday, October 8, 2010

this is it

Wedding time!

Today we spent a lot of time with our families: uncles and aunts who haven't all been in the same place in many years, new babies, new introductions.

For the record, this whole "big wedding" thing is totally worth it just in accomplishing the above. I forget how nice it is to see everyone all at the same time.

Monday, October 4, 2010

the on-campus interview

My annoyingly endless search committee assignment, as you may have guessed, goes on...primarily due to an inability to find someone we want to hire after the person we tried to hire backed out. I get the feeling that many of these people never do that "what not to do on a campus interview" google search - and they should. Oh, they should.

I would like to just state for the record: people, we really want to be able to hire you and be done with this nonsense. You looked good on paper, or we wouldn't have invited you to campus. You were even good on the phone, or, again, you wouldn't be here. Just don't fuck it up and you may get a job. The following should not be earth-shattering suggestions, but sadly, they seem to be necessary.

- Don't get tipsy, much less drunk, even if other members of the committee may be having another beer.
- Don't focus all your attention on the perks of faculty status (the gym, the free football games, term breaks) and ask nothing at all about our students, research support, etc.
- Don't get too friendly. This includes making attempts at "hip" handshakes when we say goodbye as well as telling us too much about your personal life.
- Don't say anything that could even be misconstrued as "bashing" anyone, no matter what your opinion may be regarding the political or other leanings of this institution.
- Don't assume you have allies. You probably don't.
- If you aren't being asked to give a separate teaching demo, keep in mind that your job talk is all we have to determine how you would handle a classroom. Actions speak louder than words.

I hope the rest of you jokers on the list get your act together before you show up. I have other crap to do, people. Please let us hire you.

Friday, October 1, 2010

swamp

I was already behind on my grading due to my overload, which had a big assignment this week. Today I'm getting new papers and an exam to grade, I'm running a field trip this weekend, and I just got manuscript proofs that are due back on Monday.

Have I mentioned that I really need to get my house in order before next week? It's a disgusting pit at the moment, and I've been putting off mowing the lawn in the hopes that if I let it go until the last minute I'd only have to do it once before the wedding. The last minute may have arrived in this case (as in so many others). Whose bright idea was it to get married in the town where we live?

On the plus side, I have everything wedding-related done except program printing and centerpiece arrangement, and it looks like it will be sunny and dry on our wedding day. Assuming these longish-term weather predictions can be trusted.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

calmness resumes

A friend of mine was intuitive enough to figure out that the straps on the dress brought it up just enough to make it tighter (held around a slightly wider portion of my ribcage). I'm having some friends bring the necessary equipment to chop the straps if I decide I don't want to deal with them. It should still be ok. Maybe I can tuck them in - they're fairly small/thin.

My temporary bridal insanity has ended. Note to future brides: don't let alterations people put straps on a strapless dress and then send you home without a final fitting, even if they insist that "they shouldn't make any difference".

I finally got an evening with Partner today, as he got back at a reasonable hour for once I didn't have any evening responsibilities. I even got in a workout. A good Wednesday, as long as I can avoid thinking about the fact that I have one more weekend to clean my house before both of our families descend upon us.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

bridezilla

Tonight Partner asked me if I was "going to be like this" until the wedding. He said it half-jokingly, as if asking that question might make it not come true. He said it knowing that it was true and his only defense was sarcasm.

Tonight we tried on the wedding clothes, and I found that a dress I picked up on Wednesday night and which seemed fine at the time is now kinda tight around the chest. Not necessarily visibly, but definitely from the standpoint of obtaining adequate oxygen. I'm wondering WTF this means, as I did have the lady put on straps post-fitting (to guard against my inability to wear strapless without pulling on it) but otherwise have done nothing different.

Semi-panic: do I have it taken out? Do I assume that it will be fine, since it was a few days ago? Do I try to lose approximately 1/4 inch between now and then in order to have enough space?

Shit.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

killah

I have survived this week - we'll see how it goes next week. Today I had all kinds of plans to work on my grant, but it looks like instead I caught up on some sleep and will now be in grading jail for the rest of the day. I'm loving this cooler weather that has finally rolled in, and at least I can work at home with the windows open and take care of some laundry.

Saturday is also nice because it means I get to see Partner no matter what his work schedule. Lately he's been rolling in with just enough time to eat and get to bed, and often I've missed him completely because I had to be somewhere in the evening. It sucks to live with someone and still only see them when one of you is asleep. Hooray for Sundays - even if next week will probably be the same lame pattern.

One of the students in my freshman class referred to a "General Custard" in an essay. Hilarious and depressing, all at once.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

in which my body begins to degrade

I will never get a six-pack pre-tenure.

I haven't had the time to work out since Sunday, and it looks like Friday will be my next window of opportunity. Unless you count mowing my lawn, in which case on Monday I did get some exercise. I'm particularly peeved because I've been doing this P90X thing, and I was really doing well keeping to the schedule (plus getting results, so I don't like being set back by life). Boo academia. I knew this would happen, but that doesn't really help me deal with it.

I am officially taking on too much crap. A friend of mine suggested I learn how to say no. My Chair suggested I might want to say no. I did not say no. I'm an idiot.

Monday, September 20, 2010

making grades

Stupid cable networks, changing their late evening schedules so I can no longer grade papers in front of hours of Scrubs reruns. Damn you!

Today is the first big return of graded papers to my freshman class. I'm sure some of them will no longer be as happy with me as they have been. Yippee.

This past weekend: Oktoberfest. This past weekend: didn't get enough work done. Coincidence? Hmm.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

students and email

I know a lot of people have off-limit hours during which they don't respond to student emails. Many people only email a few times a day. I'm more of a "see what's in the box every time I switch activities" kind of person, which I know is not as efficient but sometimes lets me jump on things that come in, in time to help someone out or benefit myself. I'm not so much worried about my time spent on email as I'm thinking about the fact that I generally respond to student emails whenever they show up, and I wonder if I'm cultivating this "immediate gratification" attitude in my students as a result.

My reasoning is that I tend to lose track of email if I don't respond within a reasonable amount of time (a few hours, at most). Things otherwise get buried and I never get back to them. I want my students to feel valued, and one of my personal pet peeves is people who don't reply to/who lose track of emails, so I try to respond in a timely manner. Often, that means I have to do it as soon as it shows up.

People tell me that I should just make email folders and sort things to be dealt with later. I really think that I spend the same amount of time replying to a student's question as I would filing that email into a folder somewhere, so I figure I should just reply and get it over with.

What it all comes down to is that I just wrote back to a student at 11:45 at night...and I can imagine that some other professor someday will be cursing me when a student shows up one morning complaining that their midnight emails had not yet received a response.

Am I the enemy?

bits of today

I'm secretly hoping that one of my potential honors students changes their mind, because I didn't anticipate three, and I think three might kill me.

My office is right across a small hallway from my Chair's office. This means that even when my door is only open a crack, I can still hear what's going on at Chair's office. I've noticed that students who come by looking for Chair tend to knock on the door, wait a few seconds, and then TRY THE DOORKNOB. Seriously students? So, if the door is shut but the knob turns, what, you're going to walk in and apologize that you opened the door when the occupant of that office had obviously already ignored your knock? WTF? I'm tempted to unlock my door and leave it shut, then pretend to be in the middle of something like putting on my shirt when a student barges in. I won't really do this, but it would serve them right.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

to publish

The Chronicle has a short summary, "Let's Stop Publishing Research Papers" of a paper making a version of that argument (maybe more accurately "let's start supplementing research papers more rigorously"?).

Don't these people go to conferences? Isn't that the point of said conferences? Maybe my little subfield is weird in the fact that it's small enough for me to keep up with most of the major things going on - arguably not the case for everyone.

Also, I think there's something significant to be said for a plea to the scientific community to review in a timely manner, or refuse to review in a timely manner. My last paper was almost a full year in review due to people not doing reviews. Say no if you don't have the time. This wasn't the highest-impact journal in the land, but it was something well respected in the field; well enough that it should have a much faster turnover rate (and yeah, the editor wasn't particularly great, but there can sometimes be some room for improvement in our collegial contributions).

I should probably just be grateful that I'm not working on stuff that changes on a monthly basis.

pleasantly surprised

I expected this term to be the worst incarnation of a Term of Doom. Here is what I'm doing:

- teaching a half-credit overload
- teaching a new freshman writing class
- getting married
- co-coordinating a conference session (but it was combined with something else, so my workload went down significantly)
- supervising two honors students and two senior research students
- supervising three independent study students
- writing my first NSF grant
- stupidly expecting to get any data analysis done
- serving on three faculty committees
- stepping back into my role as the primary household member who does all the cooking and shopping and cleaning, as Partner goes into his overtime-heavy portion of the year
- trying to actually exercise 6 out of every 7 days

I'm probably just being overly optimistic at this point, but so far...not as horrible as expected. Why? Well, mainly I think it's because my lecture course is a repeat (lectures are already written!), and my new freshman class is CAKE compared to writing lectures for a technical science course. I can handle discussion and writing review; much less effort than putting together lecture slides. My overload is also a repeat, mostly discussion and grading.

Considering that the grant-writing is just beginning, I'm probably still going to suffer this term. But now I have a little bit of hope that I might survive the experience.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

boo

I had forgotten, stupidly, that I can't expect to be able to print anything after the working day is over, as the building printer is a piece of crap that jams immediately upon being left alone without the faculty secretary. And then the queue of print jobs just sits there, waiting, all night long.

So glad I need to print about 60 pages of stuff before 9 am.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

today

- Was informed of some "unspoken" pre-tenure "expectations", with no idea whether the source of this info is correct and no way to verify it. These expectations are not particularly terrible things to have to do, but still annoyingly unspoken and unverified.

- Was advised by some first-year students that my bike lock is far too flimsy, as they've "heard that there are a lot of bicycle thefts around here!"

- Was invited to serve on an admittedly extremely minor committee in service to one of my primary academic societies.

- Found out that I can buy a poster commemorating the publication of my recent article. Really? Do people buy these things?

- Successfully obtained our Marriage License

Saturday, September 4, 2010

it begins

The first faculty meeting, the first advising meeting, and the annual "feed your freshman advisees" night are now past: officially the beginning.

Wedding dress alterations: officially almost as expensive as the dress itself. Leave it to me to buy a dress with four different layers that need to be hemmed (and to not notice this feature beforehand).

Also leave it to me to start having field trip cravings, particularly for the far western US, just as the term is beginning. At least the weather is finally nice in Small Town!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

this n' that

I have paid the wedding photographer.... and thus begins the great "emptying of the savings account" of 2010. At least we are pretty much set in terms of wedding stuff at this point. My dress even arrived a full month early, along with a friendly "come get your damned dress right now" email from the store, where they apparently can't tell the difference between September and August.

I have also just about finished my contribution to our bathroom remodel; once Partner puts up some woodwork there will be a little more painting, but otherwise it's all him, and it will therefore probably wait until December as he goes into super overtime for a few months. Super overtime that will pay for our wedding, so I'm not complaining.

What else is new? I'm baking cupcakes, at 10 pm, for a new student event on Saturday just because I couldn't think of when I'd get another chance to do it between now and then. I'm still completely unprepared for next week, and I get to spend half of tomorrow in meetings before partaking in some enforced socialization with my peers.

Oh, beginning of the term, no matter how long it takes for you to show up, it's always too soon.

Monday, August 30, 2010

yarr

I had a bridal shower this past weekend. I didn't really know what to expect from a shower, but apparently it's completely expected that you will get gifts from people you've never met, and they will be happy with some cake in exchange. Interesting. No complaints here!

Blah! Too. Many. Things. All of which need to get done before next week. All of which I don't really want to do. I'm also a little annoyed by this transition-to-term time period - there are some people who aren't really around, there are summer students who haven't yet cleaned up their stuff in the lab, but I really need to get things ready to go and get things moving. But then, it's my last chance to do anything useful on the house, and work out on a daily basis...but I also know that once the term starts my efforts at grant-writing and manuscript development will be cut down significantly.

The summer seems to destroy all of my time management skills.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Type A

I have some neighbors who drive me nuts with their inefficiency. They'll mow 1/4 of their back yard, then leave the mower sitting around and go do something else. Knowing that this irritates me probably provides a decent glimpse into my Type A personality.

Guess who's messing with the basic requirements of the Freshman class that I'm teaching for the first time!? Yep. I need to teach stuff that does not piss me off, I have decided, so I'm tossing some of the common material. Suck it, planning committee, you make bad decisions.

My overload is now official for the Fall, which means that I'll probably not be seeing Partner at all (not awake, anyway) one day a week. And then I'll have at least four students doing independent work, plus lab people. I guess the lesson here is: never assume that things will be better next term, because shit happens.

I find myself generally existing in a state of low-level irritation these days. Apparently I've had too much leisure time and not enough pressure. Type A, anyone? I'm actually looking forward to having to BE places. What is WRONG with me!?

Time to go work out, and maybe burn off some of this bad attitude.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

productivity

I have painted walls, my friends, and it makes me happy. I'm sure someone who knew what they were doing wouldn't have ended up with the "ok-looking plaster wall" effect on new drywall...but, I am not that person. I also succeeded in finally treating our deck, which was in serious need. This leaves me this evening with legs covered in paint, wood stain, and blood - from where my evil cat attacked my ankles, apparently as punishment for leaving her alone all day while getting things done.

I probably don't have to point out that all this home productivity is the direct result of having so much work-related prep still to do - I have syllabus drafts for both of my classes, at least. That's something...right? Even if I haven't read the books yet?

As the result of more reorganization of major requirements, I get to both overload this term AND turn one of my courses into a class that would count toward SLAC's writing credits, of which students have to complete a certain number before graduating. This means upping how much writing my students do by a little bit, and adding mandatory revisions. It also means that BOTH of the classes I'll be teaching this coming term will be writing credit courses - which is not how I would have planned it had I known. I'm not really looking forward to this term any more, in case you were wondering.

Maybe I WILL paint the dining room after all...

Monday, August 16, 2010

breakage

Partner is off for a week in a much nicer place (weather-wise) for work. As soon as he left, our washer stopped working. Universe, I know that n=2 here thus far, but I'm not enjoying this particular correlation.

In other news, I bought a dress. Apparently I was down to the wire there - who knew it takes so friggin' long to ship dresses? Why are you so screwed up, wedding industry? Not everyone buys these things two years in advance.

Friday, August 13, 2010

squeak

Today I had a surprisingly great experience with my cell phone company, after I sent them a complaint regarding our last visit to their store (where an employee lied to us directly in the hope that we would get a smarter phone instead of the basic data-less type that we already have). They called me and apologized and everything. Hooray for evil corporations with monopolies on network coverage who are at least nice to their customers sometimes.

They also made some suggestions regarding my inability to reliably text to the states from foreign cell phones. This seems to be an issue just for this carrier, and I've tried to get help with it in the past, but today was the first time anyone made useful suggestions about what could be done. Why is it such a crap shoot to get good customer service? One day it sucks, the next day the person you talk to is fabulous.

Today I also made a giant pile of spackle dust as I attempted to smooth out the joints in the bathroom walls. I think it might be semi-ok, and since the rest of our walls are crazy plaster with decades' worth of repairs and irregularities, I'm hoping that these new walls won't look too bad in comparison even if I do suck at this.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

the grouch

Partner is back to work and I'm attempting to mud and tape wallboard. If you've never done this, believe me when I tell you that it sucks. And I won't have as much time for it as I thought, as I just found out that I will in fact end up overloading this fall (with compensation, but still) due to the last-minute loss of our visiting hire. Shit. Our backup also fell through.

I will also briefly declare, for those of you who may someday be wedding guests, that if you can't know whether you will show up until way past the rsvp date, that means you can't come. Sorry kids, but I'm not paying for your food and renting your chairs on the off chance that you will show. I know not everyone has a lifestyle that allows them to rsvp - sorry, that means you won't be attending many weddings. That's life.

Another tip of the day: fruit smoothies are really gross if you let them get to room temperature.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

wedding prep

Partner took a break from the bathroom remodel (now that we have a toilet, the rest is just details!) to help with some of the wedding shopping. We successfully purchased wedding rings AND his outfit today, which is real progress. We scandalized the employees of the clothing store by revealing that I have not purchased a dress, yet Partner is now all suited out. I guess we are weird like that.

I can only hope that my search for my clothes next week goes half as well.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

lessons for the month

I know, it's August now....but I'm in denial. So, lessons from the month of July:

- Once your committee/Dean makes a job offer and the candidate accepts it...don't throw away all your written notes about the phone interviews you conducted.

- Students don't ever understand the concept of "summer" as "professors/staff may be unavailable". I'm also a little surprised by just how many of my students are around during the summer.

- My colleagues also don't seem to understand the concept of "vacation". It's only a couple days, people, I'll be back on Monday. Gimme a break.

- home projects always take at least five times longer than anticipated

It's probably better to refer to these as "reminders," since I SHOULD have known them all, at the very least. Hello, August.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

july

I have almost finished the pile of stuff that really had to get done this week. Hopefully tomorrow will be the end of it. I've also survived a particularly useless workshop on teaching writing to undergraduates, which I was at least paid for attending. I feel a funk coming on, my normal post-fieldwork funk, perhaps, which I would like to stave off until we have a functional toilet installed, at the very least.

Interesting things this week:

I filled out my first FBI background check form, for one of my former students. I'm surprised that very basic internships seem to warrant FBI background checks.

I have to dive back into search committee work, very briefly, and I'm not thrilled about it.

Some of my students who are around this summer came by to pick up some equipment and get some advice regarding their summer projects (which I'm not directly supervising, but which are related to what I do). I needed that reminder that my students are awesome, because they are. Those brief conversations gave me some enthusiasm for the fall, even if I've used it up in the past few days.

I think I may be dragging Partner off to a vacation somewhere next week, regardless of the state of our house and the remodel.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

home again

I finally made it home to my amazing mattress (I've missed it so!) and fabulous new shower, courtesy of Partner's bathroom remodeling skills. I'll overlook the fact that for now we're still using the basement toilet - it will be worth it.

And of course the return means an immediate jump into all the things that need to be accomplished State-side. Or even just things that required reliable internet access, and therefore had to wait until now. Convenient that the Scientiae Carnival is requesting status updates and future directions this month, because I feel that a list would be useful.

Current Events:

- Roof. We have a recurring leak that was apparently not dealt with completely last year, when we had some repairs completed. I need to immediately become the person who harasses roofers and waits around for them to show up.

- Bathroom remodel. While Partner made amazing progress and got rid of all the debris, there will be floor tiling and drywall hanging to finish, plus toilet/sink installation and final details/painting (eventually!).

- Yard work. Today I weeded the worst of the waist-high weeds that had taken over our sidewalk while Partner worked 60-hour weeks and tried to build me a functional bathroom. I can't blame him, he just had too much going on. But now our house hopefully looks less like an abandoned lot. I would really like to finish removing stone borders from our gardens, since I just can't keep them weeded. I finished about 1/10th of this job in June.

- Prep. One of my courses is a repeat of something that went pretty well the first time, but the second one is a freshman class that I've never taught before. I'm not even really sure how to approach it yet. I need to figure that out, soon.

- Vacation. I need something, even if it's just a weekend. We might try to get away to a yet undetermined location in early August.

- Wedding prep. While we have all the venue details and guest issues finalized, we have yet to acquire wedding clothes or rings. We need to get organized!

For the Fall:

- Manuscript. I now have TWO papers in press for 2010, so I'm in good shape for the short term, but I really need to get the statistics finished for a paper I've been planning for two years now. I started this in the field, but of course nothing ever gets finished in the field.

- GRANT! This is the year of Large External Grant Application. I need to get an NSF submitted, and after this summer's field work I finally feel ready to do that. Feeling ready and writing the grant, however, are two different things.

- Future Scheduling. This fall I'm going to need to request my junior leave, which means I need to figure out what I'm doing for junior leave. I might apply for a fellowship to live in Foreign Country and do some research there related to my summer project, but I also need a backup plan. I also am considering directing a study abroad program in a different foreign country, where I actually know the language fairly well and spent some time as an undergrad. I would like to do it, but I'm not sure that it's the best idea to be gone for a semester before I go up for tenure; I would have some students from SLAC, but not all of them would be directly related to my institution.

- Get married. Somewhere in the middle of all of the above.


Year three is starting soon, and I can't believe that I've been here that long. Time flies when you have no free time, I guess. I'm starting to feel that I'll finally have some time for non-teaching things, maybe even a chance to fix the parts of my courses that need some help. I'm sure this will not actually be the case if I'm trying to write grants and fellowship applications, but at least I might have time to do that writing. I think I'm settled in, feeling centered. Knowing what to expect, to some extent.

I think some of this is related to our financial situation, which has finally settled into something resembling what I would consider stability. We have some savings, we're no longer living month to month, and this month we PAID OFF my student loan. That event by itself made me feel a little bit more like an adult. We've come a long way from our first few months in Small Town, when we were timing our purchase of those things you need in a new house, like trash cans, because our finances were so tight. It's taken me this long to stop feeling like an impoverished graduate student, though by rights we've been doing pretty well for the last year or so.

In short, I have new confidence in where I am and where I'm going. I think I'm making good tenure progress, I think I'm finally ready to dive in to my new research project abroad, I'm not worried about finances. I think the next few years will be exciting, and I'm looking forward to them.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

dear professor

Today is Final Logistics Day. Last chance for meeting important people, arranging shipment of samples, putting things into storage and paying bills. Very very early tomorrow morning I get myself to the airport and breathe a sigh of relief.

If I get ONE MORE email from a student who wants something from me and begins their message with "I hope you're enjoying your vacation abroad" I think I might scream.

Monday, July 19, 2010

back to civilization

The season is over, and we're back in the city finishing up the final paperwork/reports/finances. The students are officially no longer our responsibility, and we have access to regular showers and internet. Even though I'm looking forward to getting home, those things alone are really, really nice right now.

This season was short, but it was also extra tough for some reason that none of us can really describe. Maybe it was the more intense working schedule that we followed to make up for the short season; maybe it was the particular mix of personalities. We also dealt with some difficulties, including theft and health issues. But we made it through, and for the moment that's just fine.

On the plus side, this season I did manage to make some serious progress on developing what I think are fundable research directions, and while I was in the field I had a paper accepted. That made me feel especially productive, without having to do anything. Overall, an acceptable season.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Updates from the almost-field

Almost one week into my time here and we're almost ready to head into the field. Housing arranged, equipment rented, permissions acquired, staff hired, etc. etc. We've had to "hurry up and wait," for most of it, but at least things move slowly forward. We'll have some time for preliminary work, and then the students arrive later this week; by then we should be ready to dive in.

Partner is home right now, tearing apart our bathroom. I've been working in this part of the world for six years, and he's never gotten to come along. As a graduate student with no say in arrangements, and no cash, that wasn't going to happen. But even as a PI I've yet to make it happen - partly due to logistics, partly due to money, partly due to Partner having a job of his own. One of these years I'm going to drag him here with me, but so far he's been the cat sitter (and this year, bathroom remodeler). Poor guy.

I admit that I will appreciate one more night of bed/shower/internet. But it will be nice to get things rolling.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

out for the summer

....or at least a month and a half. Tomorrow I pay the airline a pile of cash in order to get my heavy bags full of field gear on their way - and then I sit down for a long, long trip. See ya in late July.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

followup

I need to work on my blogging follow-up. I talked to my GP about the rabies vaccination, and while he didn't really know anything about the vaccination he did manage to find out that I can get a titer when I'm back from the field. Which is great. Except that he also tried to talk me out of maintaining my vaccination - as if he knows anything about where I work. He also doesn't seem to get that this has now been a several-hundred-dollar investment that I don't want to waste by letting it lapse. Grr.

So. I will figure that shit out in August.

More recent busyness:

Finalizing grades. Discussing departmental course changes. Meeting with my Dean and asking questions about tenure progress. Submitting a manuscript revision with the hope that they don't reject, since this particular thing is not something I can turn around for another journal. Being talked into writing a CAREER, apparently just for the hell of it.

Yesterday I shopped for clothes. All. Day. I don't really enjoy shopping for clothes, but I managed to get what I need for the immediate future.

Now, to pack.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

on gendered pronouns

I've been grading student exam essays. In a few questions I make them discuss the likely positions that would be taken by various people on particular subjects - people such as scientists, economists, etc.

Some of the students have been using feminine pronouns when discussing the scientist's point of view, in theory because I'm their professor. They do this even when all the other pronouns are masculine. So, hooray for providing some sort of role modeling, I guess.

I'm saddened by those few essays where, even when every other hypothetical figure has a feminine pronoun (generally these are essays written by females), the scientist persona is MALE. The economist is a she. The member of the general public is a she. But the scientist is a guy. Makes me want to go back in time and end this course with a completely off-topic discussion of gender roles in the sciences.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

road blocks

I work in fairly remote areas, where there are lots of roving dogs and other random wildlife. I highly doubt that they would ever cause me problems, but since it might be a day or two before I could get myself to a medical facility I have maintained the pre-rabies vaccine series for the past six years. This is, might I add, an expensive series of vaccines that require a booster every 2 years. When I lived in City I would just head over to the county health clinic and get my shot, no questions asked.

This week I've been attempting to find a place to get the booster shot, since it's time for the booster and I'm leaving for the field in less than two weeks. The county health center in my city doesn't carry it. The county health center in the large town north of us doesn't carry it. The county health center in the town south of us DOES carry it, but they WON'T GIVE IT TO ME because I am not a veterinarian.

Motherfuckers.

Apparently IF I can find a place to do a titer and illustrate that my antibody levels are low, they will give me the shot. The fact that I called my local doctor's office and they said, "how would we test for that?" does not make me feel confident that this will be a useful option.

I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow. I'm hoping my doctor will just order the damned vaccine. I hope they can do it before I leave. I am full of rage at the idea that some damned panel of jackasses gets to decide whether my specific situation warrants a particular vaccination. What, are people doing pre-rabies as a recreational drug or something, that we need to dole it out only to "qualified" recipients?

Fuck.

post-classroom

I just spent more time in the lab than I have all term. How bloody depressing is that!? Yet, kinda nice to get some lab work done; I'm now finally finished with a tedious cataloging/sample treating job that I could only get a student to partially finish during the term. Peeve of the day: discovering that at least 1/3 of the glassware needed to be re-washed. This will have to go on the training list for the fall.

Some of my grading is done, including Senior projects: for the most part I was really happy with my research students. They did good work, with a single (and not unexpected) exception. In comparing myself to my colleagues I think I gave out more A's for senior research than is the norm. Maybe I have low expectations? Maybe I just got lucky this year with motivated students?

Now, because I still feel like crap, I will go home and do nothing for a while. Hooray for getting things done.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

seven years

Happy Anniversary, Partner! Too bad we're both too busy today to do anything special ;)

Monday, May 31, 2010

I need a break before my break

Finals are finished! - now grading. And grading and grading. And giving a makeup exam. And grading. I'm heading to the field in two weeks - this week is grading, next week is manuscript revisions, and somehow I need to get vaccinations, deal with crap I've been putting on the back burner, get samples prepped for sendoff prior to my departure, make sure I have all my field gear, etc. etc. I should probably go to the nearest larger city and get some new field clothes. Right about now I kick myself for that pile of "I'll deal with this after the term ends" stuff.

Also, today I woke up feeling like crap, so now I get to put "get over this cold" on my to-do list.

Dear SLAC: your academic schedule sucks.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

more student crazies

One of my classes has a cumulative final exam. This cumulative final covers material that has already been tested during smaller exams. These smaller exams each had their own review sheets. The students are insisting that they want a NEW review sheet for the final exam, for which I will copy and paste the review sheets from the tests they have already taken. Apparently this is what it takes to make them happy.

I have not yet come to understand the mindset of my A students who, despite being very smart and getting A's, are still grade-grubbers who argue with me over every single point lost. I'm not sure the loss of good will is really worth those points, kids, because sometimes I do round you up to the next grade if you're very very close and have worked hard all term. If you beg me for points after every single exam, I am less likely to do this.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

random

Clothes on the line today for the first time in a while! Perhaps only the second time this spring. Hooray, the rain is gone for a bit (but it will be back - and now it's much more summery hot out, which I like less than the rain).

Today Partner made fabulous sticky buns for breakfast and an amazing potato dish (with grilled eggplant) for dinner. Unlike most of his cooking, he actually followed a recipe to make the potatoes, which means we can do it again! This happens so rarely that I'm excited (sometimes something delicious does not come out well the second time, because he makes it up as he goes along).

I also discovered that both of the high school sports records I set remain among the "top 10" records for my school. My high school was not that big, but I still feel good about this fact.

I think I may actually be starting an end-of-term taper in workload, until the ultimate grading pile appears. One more reason to require student presentations during the last few days of class. The Fall is also looking less heinous - I'll be doing one repeat and one new course, but the new course will probably not be as much work once I get some of the material prepped over the summer. At least, this is my hope. I expect to be writing two big grants over this summer/fall; my workload may not be that much better than it was this term, but I should at least get to go to bed at a decent hour on a more regular basis.

field trip free!

I am finally DONE with field trips for the term! (well, unless you count that fact that we're bringing students into the field this summer. At least they have to get there on their own). Field trips are fine, but they kill the majority of my weekends, and I am therefore excited to be finished.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

student research

I have a colleague who has mastered the art of incorporating students into active research, and I am totally jealous. This person teaches an upper level course with an entire lab section that just pumps out publishable data. This person has Seniors doing research that I would qualify as Masters projects. This person is going to write a grant with me, hopefully, to get cool toys so that both of our students can do more of this fabulous cool stuff.

I don't think I could manage the same level of student application, even if I tried. My colleague has an advantage in part because their track has more student participants, but I am also at a disadvantage just because I haven't been here very long - right now I have a few students doing cool things, but the depth just isn't there yet because the students haven't had as much opportunity to take the prerequisite courses from me.

Luckily for me, this person probably does science most similar to my own out of anyone else at SLAC. It's different enough, but we have some overlap. I'm hoping to learn something from, finally, a qualified mentor. Not that people haven't been supportive - it's just taken me this long to figure out what's what here at SLAC and find people who do good research and who, perhaps, are the people I would like to view as models of my future self.

Monday, May 17, 2010

personal peeves

Dear unemployed dude who moved in with his elderly mother-in-law next door,

It really sucks that you lost your job in the Big City and had to move in with your mother-in-law in podunkville. I'm sure your life isn't exactly fabulous right now. However, your goddamned barking dog is driving me nuts, and I'm about to lose my shit. Particularly when you decide to grill out at 9 pm on a weeknight, simultaneously letting your dog sit out there with you and bark. 5 pm, that barking is annoying, but I get it - it's nice out, and I have no right to impinge on your use of your family's property (given that you sometimes attempt to shut that thing up). 9 pm, not cool. Please, for the sake of my sanity, move the fuck out.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

wild

Tonight we met our friendly neighborhood raccoon, which (from the sound of it) may have been involved in the death of some other creature shortly before it exited our yard. I've also heard that we have some neighborhood vultures. Which is pretty cool.

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now - unfortunately that light enters into an airplane cabin, which will take me off to summer fieldwork very shortly after graduation. I'm not ready for that - but I guess the million hours of flying time might be enough for me to get my head in the game. I can hope.

Until then, only one (ONE!) more field trip, lots of grading, a manuscript revision that I will somehow have to fit into my life...enough that June seems very far away. Too bad for me, that is not the case.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Getting the job at a SLAC

This year I served on two different search committees, and I learned that what I put into my job application for SLAC was right on target. I likely got the initial interview because of my cover letter, given that I'm sure many people had similar experience. I was surprised by how many applications I read over the past few months that were completely wrong for a SLAC - I know some people just shove dozens of copies of the same materials into multiple envelopes, but there's seriously very little value in spending that postage if you aren't going make even a minimal effort at customizing a letter.

If I was going to give someone advice, based on my recent experience, this is what I would say:

- If you want to work at a SLAC, it helps if you attended one yourself. If you didn't (and even if you did), make a case that a SLAC is where you want to be. How do you know anything about the SLAC environment or values?

- Don't mention graduate students. Don't mention graduate projects. If you've taught grad classes, fine, but don't tell us about your great research directions for Masters students. We're tossing you in the trash as soon as we read that, since you obviously didn't care enough to look up our webpage.

- Similarly, don't discuss online courses or distance learning unless you know we do that. This may not be a trigger for everyone, but at least one colleague I worked with this year sent those applications right out the door.

- Don't make yourself sound like a research superstar, because we'll be thinking, "this person wants to be at a research university". If your research is awesome, that's great, but don't discuss all the fancy external grants you're going to need to get things started. Instead, focus on how your research is accessible to undergrads, and how you're going to get students involved in your fabulous work. The higher-end your science, the more you need to make the case that you really want to focus on the undergraduate involvement.

- In a similar vein, if we do call you, make sure you have a realistic view of the resources that a SLAC can provide. If you need million-dollar equipment, you probably shouldn't be wasting everyone's time with your application (and I doubt you would be), but even lower-end needs can sometimes be outside what a SLAC can do. If you need more than we can give you, be prepared to talk about local options for collaboration.

- Convince us you really want to teach. References to students as keeping you from your research, needing a lot of hand-holding, etc., while definitely true, aren't going to make us think that you'll be a good teacher.

- Thank you notes (or emails) are nice. Follow-up emails that provide more details about courses you could teach, research ideas you had, etc. etc., are not helpful, aren't going to change my mind about you, and make you seem desperate. Even if you are desperate, keep it to yourself.

- Know as much as you can before you talk to us. This may seem obvious, but only a few candidates knew course numbers for our courses, and those who did know the details really stood out.

- When we ask you about what you might be able to teach, there are definitely some wrong answers. It may be tricky: if you can figure out whether this job is replacing someone specific, that would help, but being gung-ho to teach all of Professor X's courses is not a good thing if Professor X is staying. SLACs can't afford a lot of overlap. Be ready to suggest a course that isn't currently in the catalog, and focus on the areas specified by the job advertisement.

- Have questions for us! These may be more related to local things, housing markets, schools, whatever, but having questions makes us think you're actually interested.

Although much of the decision-making depends on the committee, there's a lot you can do to make it to the top of the list at a SLAC, since very few people actually included most of these in their applications and interviews. And if all of the above sounds obvious to you, you're probably fairly well set for the SLAC job market.

Friday, May 7, 2010

repetitive

Recently, we hosted a candidate for a visiting position. I went to pick up this older gentleman from his lunch with students. Because he was still talking to one of them, I sat down and waited, and then introduced myself as, "Hi Dr. X, I'm Me", thinking, perhaps stupidly, that he had been told that someone with my name would be meeting him at this time.

His response? "Are you a major?"

Sunday, May 2, 2010

students

Students! Please spare me. I have some suggestions.

- If you turn in an assignment during the final period of the day on Friday, don't email me at 7pm to ask if I have graded that assignment yet. Your professors are just as excited about weekends as you are.

- Use GOOGLE before you email me. The fact that all I send back is a Wikipedia link means that a) I am way too nice and b) you're a moron

- When I sign my email with my first name and provide a signature line that lists me as "Professor X", do not reply with "Mrs. X,"

- When emailing me on Sunday night to ask questions about an assignment due Monday, please don't expect me to actually walk you through the problem set via email, because I won't.

- As a general rule, "I'm usually a really good student" is not considered a valid excuse. Also please keep in mind that I have access to your academic record.

- Always, someone else has it harder than you. I know those people, and they're still doing better than you are.

Friday, April 30, 2010

novelties

Today I had the pleasure of discovering that the fire alarms in my building are not normal siren-type alarms, but instead feature a male voice that asks for our attention, notifies us that a fire has been reported, and tells us we should proceed to the nearest exit. I found this a bit confusing at first...and then I found it much less horrible than the siren-type alarms, to the extent that I could finish what I was doing, pack up my laptop and grab my jacket before leaving. This is probably a bad thing for fire safety...just a hunch.

The other day I was exiting the library and overheard a student on a cellphone stating that she was going to see if her professor "would fall for that whole 'I emailed you the wrong document'" thing, by sending in an old assignment and using a few extra hours to finish the current assignment. Student, I wish you could know that you just killed any chance that I will ever accept that particular excuse ever again...yes, I do realize that this is likely a sham no matter who's trying it, but I like to think that sometimes people really do just attach the wrong document. I try to be nice until I find good reason not to be, but now I hope this comes back to bite you....take my class and try it.

Today, finally, student research! A brief glimpse of a cool question someday to be answered...and then back to lecture.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

bumps

This month's Scientiae Carnival is asking for stories of bumps in the road. I'm sure everyone has a contribution that could be made, but it got me thinking about how to define that particular idea. Is it still a bump if it doesn't go away?

I'll try not to bore my readers with yet additional descriptions of my slow death by this term's workload. Hence I am awake at 11:30 pm about to start writing my lecture for tomorrow, only to blog instead (classic!). My inability to handle the Spring took me by surprise, in part because this second year had been going so...functionally. Except that I hadn't been doing two new classes at once: eight lectures a week. As soon as I step out of the classroom I'm writing another lecture, and I've additionally (idiotically) covered for three lectures a colleague had to miss, taken on student researchers and independent studies, and spoken at a conference.

Partner is equally oversubscribed - working long hours, getting home just in time to eat dinner and go back to bed. Sometimes I don't see him for more than a few minutes, and the one weekend day he has off is often a day I need to use for a field trip or lab day. I know we aren't the only ones living insane lives; however, I am concerned that this is somehow seen as normal for a "young working couple". This isn't normal, and it shouldn't be. We shouldn't be working 15 hours a day each, throwing dinner together, barely managing the most necessary of chores. Our cat is perpetually pissed off that we leave her alone so much; if our schedules overlapped more she would probably kill us in our sleep.

Thus the question: why? The nature of Partner's job makes it necessary for him to work these hours during particular parts of the year. He could quit, but he won't unless there's a better option out there. The nature of my job makes me rationalize current insanity with the idea that this is temporary. But I wonder if it really is. Next term I'll be doing one repeat and one new course: will I have more time for research? Will I get more sleep? Will I be so accustomed to my current schedule that I'll feel GUILTY when I get to go home for dinner? Will I watch TV for fun and feel bad about it? Do I really think that I need to run myself like this in order to make a decent tenure case? Might I be focusing on classes when devoting time to research and neglecting my lectures would be better for my career?

I like to think that I came to a SLAC to allow for a more reasonable life, one not ruled by the power of the external funding agency, one where I might someday have a free evening once in a while. I like to think that this reasonable life is still possible, out there somewhere over the tenure rainbow. Or maybe I should stop waiting for that mythical future and try to create a more sustainable life for myself right now.

Sitting in my home office, the full moon caught my eye out our back door. I never notice the moon, it seems, when I'm not living in the field. It's nice to be reminded that it's still there, even when I don't have time to pay attention.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

predictable

Guess who's writing lecture until the wee hours of Monday morning!? At least that means I win my own bet - winner!

Accomplished this weekend:
- did two good workouts
- cleaned the kitchen and bathroom, did all the laundry
- ate two really good dinners
- watched one movie
- slept. A LOT
- went grocery shopping
- graded student papers
- emailed students about grades etc.

I actually got an email from someone asking to postpone their makeup exam because they don't have the book, which "makes it difficult to study". WTF student. And I thought you were one of the sane ones.

The other thing we did today was a trip to the local giant hardware store, to price out our potential bathroom remodel. Our one functional (as in, not in the grody basement) bathroom is in dire need of an upgrade. If Partner does it, which he claims is "no problem" (apparently it will be easier if I'm in the field at the time, because I stress him out), it will be not insanely expensive. We might actually do it this year, though that may not be the smartest decision since we still have to pay for our wedding. And we might do something fancy for vacation, since a friend of mine will be living abroad and we'd love to visit. But. I am excited by the prospect of a bathroom that does not scream "decaying remains of the 70's" when I walk into it. We'll see.

Now, back to the Powerpoint. Damn you, Powerpoint.

Friday, April 23, 2010

weekend dilemmas

The weekend! This one is rare, without scheduled field trips, conferences, lab work. My seniors are wrapping stuff up, and I don't really want to get involved in things I won't have time to finish before my summer field season. Hence, the classic weekend dilemma.

Partner has one day off a week: Sunday. I am, by Friday night, sick of doing course stuff, making lectures, grading. I need a break. I want to sleep in tomorrow, work out, drink coffee, clean my disgusting house. Maybe take care of some logistical stuff, or do some writing, but I do NOT want to look at Powerpoint slides. However, because Partner has Sunday off, I want to spend that day with him. If I don't put together Monday's lectures tomorrow, I will therefore wait until Sunday night. Inevitably, Sunday night rolls around and I have two lectures to write, papers to grade, emails to respond to; I'm up until ridiculous hours of the morning, beginning the horrible cycle of my sleepless work week yet again.

I know I should suck it up and sit down to work tomorrow morning. But that is really hard to do, particularly since the last few weeks have been so brutal. My brain is tired. I'll bet against my own ability to break the cycle, no matter how much sense it would make to do so.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

lunch

Today I was rushing from classroom to office right before an afternoon field trip, when I happened to pass by another department's seminar - as well as the pizzas left in the hall to encourage student attendance. Two slices came with me to pick up the vans.

That's pretty much how life goes these days. Hopefully sometime I'll have something to say other than "I'm busy!"

Monday, April 19, 2010

surviving

Conference time is over again - this time with lots of stuff purchased in a bigger city (REI! Whole Foods!) and the acquisition of several pounds of good restaurant-related weight gain. I gave my first talk on a new project, with success all around.

However, general insanity continues, with work completed on the way to the conference, a manuscript review submitted via hotel wireless, my talk written primarily the night before, this morning's lecture written this morning (and too short, damn it!), this afternoon's exam written with half an hour to spare. I'm getting really tired of such short lead times, even if I am making it work, however barely. Also, I forgot to bring lunch today and didn't have time to go find any.

I cannot handle you, Spring.

Monday, April 12, 2010

changes

Today I went to a podiatrist, and my diagnosis has been shifted to cuboid dislocation, with verification limited to very expensive MRI results that I don't think I'll be getting. So, while I may never really know, the location of the pain seems to support that hypothesis. Still a lot better than it was, and not really limiting mobility any more.

Plus sides: Got my federal return (yay!), going out of town for a few days for a conference (change of scenery!), and some of my service crap is finally wrapping up. Also the wedding planning is drawing to a close in terms of preparation.

Down sides: I'm expecting my first really negative student evals this term, because I'm just barely making things function, and I'm not sure it's going to get any better. I wish I could remember whether my first term was like this or not. I expect that a major criticism at my next contract renewal will say something about "takes on too much at once".

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

they can't be serious

Dudes. I'm currently teaching an intro class that is offered regularly by my department, but this is my first time teaching it. It has no official (scheduled) lab component, yet it still fulfills the sciences requirement at SLAC. Which is justified, given the material this course covers. However, I had not previously appreciated the extent to which having a lab section discourages the seriously science-phobic from taking a course.

I'm dealing with an entirely new level of student, and I'm having trouble adjusting myself down to their level after teaching within certain expectations for almost two years. I know this is my problem and I need to fix it, but sometimes I just can't believe what comes out of their mouths.

A few examples. Student A last week raised a hand in class and after stumbling over a question, said, in complete earnest, "can you just start over?" Student B asked me to clarify what these crazy things called "log rhythms" are. Student C, after an entire lecture focusing on X, came to my office and said..."so, what is X?"

If this was my first term I would be seriously concerned that it was all me, and I was just really bad at teaching. Instead, I think the nature of this course makes students believe it will be an easy science requirement. My friends, that is not the case, and I hope you've figured it out by now.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

worst term ever

Maybe that's a little bit less specific than it should be. This is not necessarily a horrible term in the classroom. I have some awesome seniors working with me, I'm teaching new courses and learning a lot, and I'm racking up a lot of service work that will make my CV look fabulous (and maybe even lead to an eventual reduction in my service load).

I am also, however, generally doing shit for about 10 hours a day, such as teaching, meeting with people, helping students with problem sets, grading, helping students in the lab, and purchasing supplies. Most of the time I eat lunch. Notice that these 10 hours do not include any preparatory time, nor do they, most of the time, include exercise.

Therefore, I have recently been doing 4-5 hours of post-dinner class prep, leading to extreme sleep deficits. Not making me happy. Also, I'll probably have to take an extension on a manuscript re-write, and hope that's ok.

I know this is nothing exciting for other academics. But even my first year, I don't remember being this insane and sleepless. The second year sucks more.

Monday, March 29, 2010

diagnosis

I broke down, and I went to the doctor, and I got a supporting opinion that I actually have a stress fracture. This is shitty. It's not so painful that I can't get around, any more, but with the nice weather it's going to be hard to avoid a run or two. Maybe in a few weeks. Perhaps this will motivate me to FINALLY go swimming at SLAC, which I have been intending to do since my first term here.

Today I designated a lab manager = senior doing a lot of work in the lab. Not much for them to do as part of this "position", but at least now someone who is actually in there on a regular basis will be keeping an eye on things.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

I'm as bad as they are

I put off my lecture-writing this weekend, until after dinner on Sunday night. This wouldn't have been a big deal, except that I discovered at this point that I did not bring the textbook home with me. So. While I will have a lecture for tomorrow, it may or may not actually cover everything that they were supposed to read. Although, since they probably won't read, I guess we cancel each other out.

I may not have done any lecture work this weekend, but I got a lot of housework and garden prep done - the person who lived here previously was apparently a big gardener. I love the fact that we have perennials arranged artfully behind stone borders, and I didn't have to think about it. I don't like having to haul all the dead woody materials out of the beds every spring and make a lame attempt at keeping those borders looking nice. We tore out a lot of the garden space previously to do vegetables (and will now have to import our own lead-free dirt to continue doing so - probably not this year, which makes me sad because that means we have to cut out the potatoes). I would like to maintain the rest of it as flowers just to help us sell this place when the time comes - as much as I'd love to have a stress-free yard, I'll probably be keeping it as is for now, spring annoyances and all (although it is a nice garden, once the work is done and things have grown back).

Also, I am becoming addicted to my wedding registries - not because anyone has looked at them yet, or because I even expect to get the stuff I put on there. It's just fun to make a wish-list. I should really stop.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

back to work

Break is over! How did that happen! And why am I always surprised? This one was not bad - I took a few days off and still did most, though not all, of the work I wanted to do. I unfortunately did not get to some revisions and a review that I will now have to squeeze into a weekend somewhere. A weekend that will likely also have a field trip, because this spring is going to be field trip-tastic, for better (sunshine! seeing stuff!) or for worse (planning! orchestrating! stress!). On the plus side, my lab is now more functional, since I had time to set up some equipment. Fun equipment. That, at least, will be entertaining.

On the home front, we are not accomplishing any much-needed yard work, Partner has been ill for several days (which seems likely to continue), and I am about to give up and go find out whether I did something worse than I thought to my foot, which continues to make me a gimp. As a result, I have not done much cleaning, despite the spring-cleaning bug, and I've been on a yoga-only regimen. Which is ok, except that I'm starting to get antsy for something more...raw. Or maybe, something that takes less mental effort. This may be a sign that I should keep it up, because I have not previously run into this mental resistance to yoga, and it's very interesting.

Also, when it's nice out, it's rough to be limited to the floor of my living room.

Spring is going to eat me alive. Bring it.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

I run, therefore...?

For some reason I always think as "runner" as a mindset more than a description of an activity...and I don't count myself as a runner, even though I occasionally do go for a run. My insane friends who are always signing up for races and worrying about times - those are runners. They do it because they love it; I do it because I'm addicted to exercise and sometimes it's nice to go outside.

This week was the first week for running outdoors around here, and I was curious to see how it would go. My winter (and middle-of-summer) workouts are primarily elliptical work, weights and yoga, and even though I think those do a pretty good job keeping me in some kind of shape, these runner friends of mine had me doubting that elliptical workouts were really up to par with a run. I was therefore pretty happy to find that a 5k was no problem my first day outside...definitely a transition in terms of impact and a few particular muscle groups, but cardiovascularly it was all good.

It's too bad my second time out ended with weird foot pain...my uninformed opinion is that I did something to a peroneus tendon. I guess it's ok that it's snowing then, because I might be doing a lot of seated yoga in the near future.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

thoughts

I was always comforted, as a graduate student, by the idea that my research was so specific to a particular place, and in general obscure, that no one was really going to care beyond my immediate group of colleagues who are also interested in this place and its problems. Finding, now that a few things have come out of this work, that other people are paying attention, I find both flattering and surprising. Maybe this is the way to go - no disappointment on finding out that I'm not a superstar; instead I'm thrilled that three strangers give a crap.

Other randomness:

Uploading figures to editorial sites takes friggin FOREVER. I would rather be making a chocolate cake. Soon, soon.

Today we picked up a new toy for Partner. Hint: it has wheels, and doesn't fit in the house.

I would like spring a lot more if it didn't also bring out all the barking, whining dogs that live near us. I don't hate dogs, but I'm getting closer to that feeling as I have to listen to them bark all the time.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

break!

I get the feeling that this break, like all breaks, will fly by. So far I'm off to a decent start, though, with lots of grading accomplished, some lab maintenance stuff done, a grant review submitted, and my house cleaner than it was last week. I even took Sunday to do nothing useful.

I also get to step back and think about my personal life. I'm finally starting a retirement fund. This makes me feel really, really old. We're going over some work we want done on the house in the next few years, and trying to prioritize. I might paint something (always a bad idea, yet necessary).

Things to look forward to:

- sun, and the ability to bike to work
- tax refunds
- outdoor labs and projects
- drying laundry on the line

Maybe I will buy some deck furniture. Or maybe that's spring fever talking.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

techy

I'm having a bad week with electronic doo-dads and software. This may be related to the fact that I'm teaching two technology courses this term and they all have projects due pre-break. So they are panicking and trying to do things that they shouldn't be trying to do. I'm pretty much burnt out on this particular topic right now, so it's good I won't be doing it again next term.

Maybe it's just bad luck that I also have a very expensive piece of equipment that stopped working, and some imaging software that isn't doing everything I need it to do. Both the tech support people for these various items seem to be traveling and/or otherwise unavailable -- considering that my tech support for the very expensive item is over in another two weeks, these dudes had better call be back asap.

Sigh. Maybe I should just turn off my computer and go sit in the sun, lest I break something else.

Monday, March 8, 2010

pm

Up too late, revisions, grant deadline planning. Getting things finished...finally!

Contemplating a summer of insanity (schedule-wise).

Reviewing a grant that is super awesome and makes me wish I was doing something more super awesome. Except that I can't handle anything that awesome right now...but I can dream, I suppose, about having the time and resources for awesome.

I never realized that would be a trade-off. SLAC, or awesome. I guess I should have seen it coming.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

indulgence

I had a very enjoyable, very irresponsible weekend in which my only work-related activity was turning off the lab oven at an appointed time on Saturday morning. I had plans to finish revisions (yes, those same revisions, which are now mandatory for tomorrow) but work-related plans somehow were not foremost in my mind.

Instead, Partner and I did wedding stuff, like registering for presents (which is far more fun than I had anticipated, and I had expected it to be fun) and ordering invitations. We also had our very belated Valentine's Day dinner, since Partner was gone over Valentine's Day and this was his first full weekend home. And, finally, we had a fabulous Saturday night with good friends, which we don't do often enough. Between all of that, grocery shopping, working out and sleeping in...there went the weekend.

I hate meeting burn-out...a week full of meetings makes me tired and grumpy and ready for a break, even though I haven't actually accomplished anything useful. The result is continued procrastination on things that would be productive and relevant to my career.

Tomorrow I will have to try to balance the two, since there will be meetings, but I'm really pushing the edge of how long I can hold onto this stupid manuscript.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

boundaries

Meetings have been eating my life these last few weeks. If the break wasn't coming I would be in serious trouble even in my lectures, since what I've been spending the majority of my time on lately has been oriented toward curriculum development, study abroad, various student issues and search committee stuff.

Every once in a while I wish I could see what I'd be doing right now if I was at a large university - I'm definitely happy to be free of the more pressing stress of needing external grants to keep myself viable, but I get the sense that I wouldn't be sitting in meetings talking about what students do in their free time, either.

Speaking of that free time, some of my students have friended me on Facebook, which I accept while putting them on a filter. They, however, seem to have no concerns regarding the fact that I can read what they post. TMI, students. TMI.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

pushing it

Becoming faculty has been, to some extent, a struggle of balancing things for the greatest future benefit. As a grad student I grabbed every opportunity I was allowed to in terms of field projects, collaborations, experiences. I've worked in a lot of disparate research areas as a result, but I think this set me up fairly well to be the only person in my specific discipline at a small school. I feel more prepared to be a generalist, because I have had introductory experience in many areas, in addition to learning a lot about my particular dissertation topic.

I'm starting to think that I failed to make a break in this particular aspect of my graduate mindset - I have continued to say yes to most field opportunities and collaborations, in addition to forging connections when I needed collaborators to answer my own research questions. The result is that I find myself over-subscribed, working with a number of colleagues in different departments, and having to choose between projects that overlap each other in time.

In some ways this will probably be good - SLAC loves interdisciplinary collaboration, so I'm definitely doing myself a favor there. However, I should probably start to be a little more careful about what I can actually take on given the amount of time I have, the time it takes to train students, and the percentage of my life that I want to spend in the field. This last point is of particular sensitivity lately - even short field projects add up when you have many of them, and at a teaching college I have to be careful to be around and not allow my students to see me as "unavailable". And, perhaps the most dangerous trap of the field scientist, I need to make sure I give myself time to write - a break in the teaching schedule shouldn't automatically be considered "field time".

And of course all of this I knew already - it was advice I was given when I took this job, and advice I largely ignored because who knows how many field opportunities there might be? What if this one turns out to the be the most exciting research ever? What if it falls through, or we don't get funding? I needed a backup...and then I wanted to help out a colleague...and then I wanted a local study for easy access...and then I was contacted by someone new...etc. Maybe I'll know that I've succeeded as faculty when I manage to make this all work together, and stop saying yes no matter how excited I might be about new research prospects. At least until tenure.

Monday, February 22, 2010

card me

Last week I was mistaken for a student. Twice, on the same day. This has happened before, but usually it's once a term, or even less frequently. Keeping in mind that SLAC is an undergraduate-only institution, this bothers me just a little. I also realize that I will likely be garnering very little sympathy from readers.

Maybe I should just be happy about it, while it lasts. Maybe, as a friend suggested, I should start wearing makeup in an effort to age myself. I think this is a bad idea due to a number of issues, but primarily because I have never learned to wear makeup and I don't think it's going to happen at this point. My toiletry needs are also already damaging enough in an environmental sense, and I really don't want to add to that if I don't have to.

My own thought is that if I dressed more professionally this wouldn't happen. I'm not sure this is true, but it's what I suspect. I usually wear jeans with a decent-looking and not-too-revealing top...as do most of my colleagues. SLAC is not the kind of place where people teach in ties and high-heels, for the most part. But I also like being comfortable, and I'm usually doing a lot of moving around during the day, so I'm just not willing to wear something nicer that would cramp my style.

I guess that means that I'm choosing to look young and to allow people who don't know me to assume that I'm a student. So this is an issue of my inability to take personal responsibility. Interesting. Maybe I'll start keeping track of misidentifications, so I can quantify my physical decline over the next few decades. Sweet.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

check

Today I'm whittling away at the stuff that has to come before those final manuscript revisions. I finally finished my field report from my January trip. I'm giving a talk to important people re: my other field project, this weekend, and then that will be out of the way. I have dinner plans for the next two days, lunch plans tomorrow, coffee plans on Sunday...and hey, I only have six meetings scheduled so far for next week. Not so bad, if only it would stay that way.

One of my advisees just emailed me to let me know that they can't come in for advising tomorrow, because they're going out of town. Even though they had two weeks to schedule an advising meeting, and tomorrow is the last day they can do it. I wonder if they noticed that they're taking my class next term. Not a good start, kid.

I'm itching to know the specifics of SLAC's tenure consideration of publications. I realize that papers that were in press when I came here aren't going to help me. But what if I did part of the analysis here? What if I did all of the revisions here? Would things count here that wouldn't necessarily be useful at a larger University? Hmm. I probably shouldn't actually ask. But I wonder.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

no pressure

As an undergrad I studied abroad. As a faculty member, I'm now being pressured to direct the program I attended as a student. This is something I had thought about doing someday, but I certainly hadn't considered doing it SOON. Now I'm all upside-down. Should I apply? And if I decide to spend six months in this country, whose language I still speak better than the language spoken in both of my current research areas, how do I get Partner to come with me? How do I deal with it if he can't? Which of my other two field projects do I ditch in order to make my directorial year manageable? What will my Dean say if I want to be gone for 3/4 of the year (which would be directing this program + one field project)?

Crap.

I have been teaching a course fairly regularly, which is new at SLAC. I'm not teaching it, for the first time in a while, during the Spring. So now I have requests from Seniors who wanted to take it, and can I please work with them independently if I'm not going to be teaching it? I'm not so much of a sucker that I would normally say yes, but since they're seniors I have a hard time saying no, especially since this is a skills-based course that might help them get a job someday.

Maybe I am a sucker after all.

I've actually been checked up on (checked up upon?) by someone who reviewed a paper I submitted a while back; the reviewer wanted to know how the resubmission went. This is nice, but it makes me feel really, really bad that I haven't actually resubmitted yet - and the fact that I was planning to get the new version out to my coauthor this weekend, or next week at the latest, probably doesn't save me, does it?

Crap!

I'd like to blame my recent field season + service load. Maybe I'll still do that, even if it's only partially valid. I will say that being on a search committee has reminded me of all the things I liked about SLAC when I interviewed - that's particularly nice now, as I drown in a sea of overdue obligations.

Also, I will yet again be co-chairing a session at the big fall conference. Yay for getting the session passed, I guess. It wasn't so bad last time...at least my co-chair will be the primary contact this time.