Friday, May 28, 2010

Font Size, Spacing, and a 15 Page Proposal

There are all sorts of permutations of formatting for an NSF proposal. I've tried many, and my favorite was Arial, 10 pt font, and 1.5 line spacing. The proposal looked great - but my program manager said it was too sparse and needed more words.

So now, I'm working on my CAREER adding 'words' to fill in the gaps. And now I find myself at 10.5 Times font with single spacing. Is that too small? 10 is the minimum font size, and I think that 10 is really tiny for people with reading glasses, etc.

So what is your favorite formatting for an NSF proposal?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010



I have pink eye, so I must miss work. Sparky has pink eye. Spend 90 minutes at Dr. and Walgreen's for pink eye.

Receive notification that my lab's second paper has been published online.

Eat leftovers for lunch.

Sparky goes to bed... his eye looks worse.

Work on CAREER.
Sparky wakes up and later Mr. JP finds him chewing on a pack of Bonine (motion sickness pills). Looks like he only ate a little...

Make bread.

Sparky's eyes are way worse, and now he is very very drowsy. Sparky won't eat dinner. Call poison control - they say he'll be fine.

Check email and see that another grant is rejected. Now I have nothing pending.

We have a house showing at Sparky's bedtime so we pack up a very drowsy, loopy child and take him to Office Depot. Home again, Sparky goes to bed, and we poke at him every 30 min. He fusses (which is good).

Now I have time to think about how much I hate rejection... so demoralizing. I enjoy the job, but the rejection makes me dislike basic science at times. It was my second time around on this one, and I thought I had addressed everything. One reviewer had even sought me out at a conference to tell me how awesome that proposal was. I really thought I was going to get it. Should I wallow in a fresh game of Chronotrigger, make vegan pies, or dive into my work to get rid of all this frustration? Rats.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sparky Sez


Awwwwwww. Now that makes me want to have another...

Friday, May 21, 2010

Top 10 Standards

Some of my old classmates from graduate school have set incredibly (unrealistic?) high standards for their long term careers.

One peer went on the market in 2007, and only got interest from schools ranked 10-25. He was a graduate student at the time, and so decided to pursue a post-doc to increase his chances of being at a top 10 school. He has very vocally said he would accept nothing less. He is currently in his 3rd year as a post-doc, and the faculty market has now dried up.

Another peer has been lingering at a National Lab/Research Center, waiting for the number 1 school to call. His work is outstanding, as is his character, but he's been waiting for years... He, too, is vocal that he will accept nothing less.

These exceptionally high standards have left my two peers in alternative situations where they are in never-ending post-docs or well-regarded positions at governmental institutions. I get the impression that they think my institutions (future and current) aren't good enough. And maybe they would look down on me? But I'm currently living my goal, and not in limbo. Unlike a jilted bride to a top 10 school.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

More Gray Hairs

The bathrooms at the NSF have some weird lighting that make all my gray hairs illuminate like light bulbs. I was sitting on a panel, went to the bathroom, and saw a fresh crop of gray gnarly worms growing out of my head. I plucked them out, and moved on. Maybe that bad lighting is causing all my proposals to get rejected.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Goodbye, Spring Semester

The final grades are turned in, and I suddenly have so much more time (to work). I'll be spending the summer writing proposals, getting preliminary data in the lab, arranging the move, and moving.

This last semester has been a big one with lots of changes. I survived the proposed elimination of my department. Mr. JP and I secured positions elsewhere at an ideal place. I got a paper published and another one accepted. Lots of rejected grants :( I taught another class successfully. I wish I had written more proposals, but the proposed doom of my department had frozen any productivity out of me. This semester has been good considering the final outcome.

Goodbye, spring!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Email My Husband If You Want To Reach Me

Mr. JP and I are excited about moving to our new university, where we will be in the same department together. A weird side-effect of being a married couple in the same department is this whole email thing. An administrator will email my husband only with critical information, addressing the email to both of us. My husband doesn't regularly check if I'm on the recipient list, so this information doesn't reach me until something annoying happens. The same is true the other way around where I'll be emailed with information and my husband's name has been "forgotten".

I'm sure this is a genuine oversight, but it is still frustrating. We're married as "one" person on a spiritual level. On a professional level, we are two persons and have two separate email addresses!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

I was so sick that my Mother's Day went by in a daze. Mr. JP was at commencement, so Sparky and I were alone at home most of the day.

I remember Sparky whining all day over something. Sleeping in front of Sid the Science Kid. Trying to put weed killer in the front yard and getting to tired to finish. Damn dandelions. And then giving up on the day all together and just playing Super Mario on the Wii. Mr. JP got me some awesome cards, and the night before took me out for vegan food. Yummy. Just wish I felt better.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Ebb and Flow

My graduate student's future is secure. He can move to the new U. and get a PhD from the old prestigious U. We've figured out funding, visas, and thesis committees. So I can breathe a sigh of relief...

But, now my awesome post-doc tells me that he cannot move to new U. His wife doesn't want to move to the new U area. She wants to remain near the big metropolitan area near old U so that she can pursue her fine arts studies. He is heartbroken because he wants to make the move, he loves the new U area, and has many friends there. But his duty is to his wife. Further complicating the issue is that they are international, so if they cannot find a job soon then they must leave the U.S. and the wife cannot pursue her fine arts studies here. I empathize because I know too well how two-body problems can work. I will try to find a position for him with colleagues, but funding is so tight here. I hope it can work out for them.

Monday, May 3, 2010

On Time Management

I am a bit of a time management nerd. I used to wear a digital timer on my belt so that I could time every minute of my work day from coffee breaks to manuscript writing. But lately, I've been in a funk. I've been surfing the internet (gasp!) and overmultitasking to where nothing sticks in my brain.

I recently attended an NSF workshop for junior faculty that reset my clock and I think I'm back on track. The most effective piece of advice I heard was concerning email. Checking email consumes time, and it takes X minutes to get back on task after checking the email. If you check your email 20 times a day (yes, you really do), then you waste 20X minutes getting back on task. A solution is to check your email only 3 times a day at prescribed times. I tried this for a week, and the change was immediate. Instead of checking my email (all the f**king time), I forced myself to focus on other pieces of work. For the first time in ages, I was able to leave work satisfied with my day's accomplishments. Let's keep it up.

So I think that *wasting* a day attending a workshop may have ultimately saved me 20X minutes per day...