Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Home is Wherever I'm With You

(Edward Sharpe and Magnetic Zeroes)

We're here! We've got our rent house opened up, and the moving truck comes tomorrow to unload our home. Our labs are already delivered, and we view them tomorrow as well. So exciting!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Notes from the Road

We're on day 3 of the road trip to the new U. We're visiting my sister, Dr. Mom for a couple days before moving. We've got a car load of baby crap, board games, and expensive chemicals that the movers refused to pick up from the lab.

I caught Mr. JP spraying Febreeze on his pits because he couldn't find his deodorant.

The day that the movers were packing us up, I found out that a grant couldn't be transferred (!?). We're all over the place here. I've stopped being stressed over stuff because it could always get crazier!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Chaos Reigns

The movers are here, packing up our house. We should get on the road tonight...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Walking, Talking Lawsuit Waiting to Happen

A contemporary of mine is at the conference and we've been spending time together because we don't know other attendees very well. Getting to know this contemporary is... let's say, frustrating. He tends to steer conversations towards topics that make me uncomfortable in a professional situation. Let's make a list, and think of how many times I'm trying to hit my head on the wall while he's espousing these ideas to complete strangers...

1. "Women faculty don't work as hard as women because they take too much time off for child caring. I know one female colleague and she works from home once a week. We all know that she isn't working, but taking care of her kid." [said to table full of women including myself]

2. "Catholicism is a tainted religion" [said to a table full of Catholics including myself]

3. "Asians are just ignored. We never think of them." [said to a famous Japanese professor while I was at the table]

This guy just makes me want to scream! He's a tenured professor at a large state school, too. I don't know what to do when I encounter someone so tragically bigoted. Correcting him only resulted in arguments. And I don't like to argue, so I just gave up. Sigh.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Another Conference...

I'm at the 2nd conference. We move the day after I get back.

My talk was a big hit. I had disproved a Famous Scientist's work, and presented my results to an audience containing the big people in my field (including Famous Scientist). After the talk, FS told me he liked my work, and then he thanked me for citing him! The founder of my field also liked it, and spoke with me for ten minutes about what to investigate next.

So... this conference is at the most inconvenient time in my life, but I'm finally on the map within my field!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Last Day at DayCare

Today is Sparky's last day at Day Care before the move. He knows that something is up, and he has been reacting to it. We tell him everyday that we're moving, and that soon we will have a new house and a new day care, and that we're going to have lots of family around this month. Still, he's moody and clingy. He's been desperately hanging on to an empty bottle of bubbles for two days now. Sparky is almost 2, and even little guys get upset about a move. Grandparents will be around for the move so Sparky will have some security there. I don't ever want to move cross-country again!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Parting Ways

I've been saying my goodbyes quite a bit this week to colleagues. Most are happy for me, sad to see me leaving, but understanding.

Saying goodbye to graduate students is more difficult. In the past two weeks, four female PhD students have come into my office on separate occasions to say goodbye. All were crying or nearly crying. None are members of my group, and some I don't know well. I've always made a point to say hello to them, and maybe chat for a few minutes - but I didn't understand how much that meant to them until I've got them crying in my office. I feel like I'm letting down women at my Ivy League U, but I've got to go and take care of myself and my family. I'm sad that yet another woman (myself) is leaving this Ivy League U. It's very difficult to retain women here.... we could spend a long time talking about why, but not on a blog. Anyways, I think that female graduate students are suffering because of the lack of female leadership here. Nuf said.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Lab Handbook

A colleague of mine has developed a Lab Handbook to outline how to write papers, prepare presentations, make up graphs, etc. so that the group is all on common ground. Given that no one in my group is using spell check or citing papers for their manuscripts, I think it is appropriate to make up my own Lab Handbook. My intention is to outline the lab standards and to streamline communications between myself and lab members.

My Lab Handbook will have the following sections, but I'm looking for more. Please send suggestions.

1. How to Write a Manuscript or Thesis
2. How to Prepare and Give a Presentation
3. Standard Lab Practices for Preparing Our Samples
4. Your Suggestion Here

Monday, July 12, 2010

Spell-checking as a sign of intelligence

For all of the papers, manuscripts, presentations that my student send me - all have blatant spelling errors in them (100% of them, not joking).


Have you thought about how it makes you look when you can't spell rudimentary words? I am so tired of wiping your ass!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

How to Cite Thee

How many references are appropriate for an article?

How many for a communication?

Or a proposal?

My post-doc sends me a very nice paper that will be submitted as a full article with 16 references (Gasp!). I'm frustrated because the low # of references implies that they have only read 16 papers in the last 6 months or so. And I'm frustrated because part of my editing process will involve looking up references to support our findings. Yes, I'm a PI and should look up all these references anyways, but really... a post-doc can only find 16 citations???

Anyways, my preferences are 40+ for an article, 15+ for a communication, and 50-100 for a proposal.

Friday, July 9, 2010

To Exist or Not

My link on Ivy League University's webpage has been deleted... as if to say that I am dead and gone...

It's strange to me because I still come into work nearly everyday at ILU even though I am unemployed for this month.

When I saw that my link had been removed, I felt hurt - but why should I feel hurt when I was the one that walked away from the job?! It's like getting un-friended by someone on Facebook.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Is Cheating So Easy?

NY Times has an article on undergraduates cheating in their courses. I guess I'm not "with it" because I had never heard of some of these websites that "help" students complete their assignments. Cramster and Course Hero were mentioned, so I went and checked it out. At Cramster, there was a place holder for the textbook I was using, but no solutions were available. At Course Hero, there were no solutions available to courses from my discipline. I imagine with time that these things will change.

Do you care if your students cheat on homeworks? I am ambivalent about HW cheating because it is such a small portion of the grade. However, if I caught cheating on HW, I would turn it in.

Do you care if your students cheat on tests? Here, I care very much. My exams are open book and open notes, so to cheat would require students communicating with one another during an exam. Not cool. There, I would turn it in, too.

I've only taught 13 students in the last two years, and none have cheated. My next course will likely have 70+ students, so I'll have to keep my eyes open.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

And In Other Poop News

Yesterday's incident reminds me of my lovely undergrad days at Big State U. There was a Poop Bandit who had a habit of pooping in people's trash cans (when they accidentally left their dorm room doors open) and of pooping on the floor next to the toilet in the unisex restroom.

Everyone thought (incorrectly) that it was me.

The front office put up a sign in the unisex restroom kindly asking that the Poop Bandit poop in the toilet and not on the floor. The Poop Bandit apparently didn't like this sign, because shortly thereafter, he or she wrote "NO" on the wall using their own poop. They were never identified, but their activities ceased afterward...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Aiming for the Toilet

No, I'm not talking about #1 - I'm talking about #2.

I go into work today at my Ivy League School and find that someone has sprayed poo all over the bathroom stall. It looks like this Ivy League person stood on the toilet and then let it all loose. In a women's restroom. At a f&&ing Ivy Leagues school. Come on people! These are tomorrow's leaders...

Sunday, July 4, 2010

1/2 Way Through The Madness

We've got just two or three more weeks left here, and I'm scrambling to stay on top of things. I've got 1 of my 2 grants submitted, I've attended 1 of my 2 conferences, and I've got one manuscript floating around with the post-doc that isn't moving with us.

The conference last week sucked the life out of me, and I've spent every spare moment this weekend sleeping or vegging out - which isn't helping me work on that other grant...

As for 4th of July celebrations... we did manage to set off an a**load of fireworks in our backyard. Who cares about the neighbors complaining, because we're moving anyways!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

On Envy

I am quite honestly envious of some colleagues and friends my age who have gotten PECASE or other young investigator awards. I want to whine, "But when's it gonna be my turn!" Of course, I realize that you have to write proposals, submit, talk with PMs, etc in order to get awards. Happily, my friends who get these awards are humble and genuinely deserve the recognition. Yet it is so easy to compare my success (or lack of?) with their recent accomplishments. Faculty a year or two ahead of me tell me that "it will come." I'll keep hammering away at the proposal process.

(So rather than whine to them, I'll just whine on my blog.)

In the big picture, with funding rates so low, one may have to submit 10 proposals to get one award where a funding rate is 10%. That's purely based on statistics, not taking into account the quality of the proposal, but the point is that a lot of effort goes into getting a little bit of money. Some older faculty who enjoyed high funding rates in days of yore can be unsympathetic. And others fully understand because they, too, experience the same current funding rate.

I am now at a conference where many junior faculty that I admire talk about how they work all the time and don't sleep. I get lots of sleep and work at my own pace, but I'm scared that it isn't enough to keep up with them. If I could just get another grant, then maybe my whining would stop :)