Saturday, August 08, 2009

missing you

dear blog,

i miss you. but i'm totally paranoid about the whole tenure thing. and so instead i think of you often and ponder the day when i'll return. (other things in this category include: drinking with colleagues, exercising, vacation, expressing my opinion, etc)


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I see you in my sleep

So last night I had a crazy dream where I went sailing with Articulate Dad and then we met up with The Here and Now (a blogger that doesn't actually exist)* for lunch.
First, I don't sail. In fact being on any body of water makes me nauseous. Second I don't actually know Articulate in real life. Third, I have been barely blogging at all for quite some time (as you are aware) - so why am I suddenly dreaming about it?

*Ok, I just looked it up and there is a that involves LOTS!!!! of WORDS IN ALL CAPS!!! and even more exclamation POINTS!!! so I'm not linking because I'm pretty sure I don't want to meet this person in life or in my dreams. It appears to be written by someone with the name JAYE which reminds me of my very first college roommate Jae. She was younger than the rest of us - 16 or 17 or something like that (shh, I was promised to secrecy) and was obsessed with finding a bodybuilding partner. She introduced herself to everyone and I mean everyone like this: "hi I'm Jae J-A-E" Her real name was Jill (shh, another secret). She had posters of boys wearing spandex sitting on bikes hanging in our room and a gigantic Garfield bean bag. I told her she was a perfectly fine roommate but I didn't want to be her friend and she slept in the hallway with Garfield. She moved to another dorm over Thanksgiving and later dropped out. The End.


Sunday, September 09, 2007

The Week in Quotes

"Bunnyhopper!" [TheKid] - A new phrase we taught TheKid to use when he is angry, instead of hitting or throwing something. It's fun, try it.

"You are treating me like a man and I don't appreciate it one bit" [TheHusband] - Because I keep asking him to do home improvement related things and doing none of them myself.

"YES! YES!" [TheHusband] - While doing this [pictured] home improvement project. See - he likes home improvement projects.

"How about I split it with you?" [former landlord in Isolation U] - They attempted to charge us $175 for cleaning up the most disgusting basement ever. Problem - the basement was the most disgusting/stinky basement ever long before we moved in. If anything they should have paid me for cleaning it up when I moved in. His argument, understandably, was that I should have called and complained when I moved in. My argument was that there was no way they could have thought it was clean and stink free before I moved it so I guessed it was a consequence of renting a house built in 1900. I'm happy enough, I guess. He was reasonable and my 45 minutes on the phone paid of.

"hey Daphne" [TheKid] - He is madly obsessed with Scooby Doo lately. He always plays Scooby, TheHusband is Shaggy, and I'm Daphne. I tried to tell TheHusband that Daphne was Fred's girlfriend, but he is persistent.

"mama, I'm hot! I need a Popsicle" [TheKid] - upon waking up to an unexpectedly hot morning.

"and I understand she is very busy" [TheChair] of my dept when introducing me to someone. That's good, right? Now I just need to produce something.


Thursday, August 23, 2007


This round of the postdoc carnival is dedicated to regrets. I'm a new assistant professor following a 3 year postdoc and I definitely have a few regrets.

I was very successful in grad school, coming from a top lab with many publications - I had my pick of several postdocs. The decision about which to select wasn't easy and I'm not even sure if I can remember why I decided against several of them. I finally decided on PostDocLab because my 2nd choice would require me to learn all new software and hardware and I didn't want to waste my time. As it turns out, they changed hardware during my first year, so it wouldn't have been an issue at all. PostDocLab was also close to my parents and I had just found out that I was pregnant. I guess the point is that it was the safe choice - presumably easy transition, close to home, famous guy, how could I go wrong? My first regret is the lab I picked. It's not that it was awful or anything; we just never clicked and were not productive as a result. How could I have known? Well, it would have been nice if people in his lab were honest. They completely misled me about his management style and availability. Maybe they just don't know any better. Maybe I asked the wrong questions.

Our plan was to work on projects in the same field but using a different technique and incorporating more information about one aspect. Let's say my field is Popcorn. In grad school I studied techniques of making popcorn in an WhirleyPop and which WhirleyPop creates the best popcorn. In my postdoc, we planned to study techniques of making popcorn in an air popper taking into account the chemical structure of popcorn and how that interacts with the air popper. The problem is that the air popper cannot be dissected and to really understand how it works (given that I just can't take it apart and look) is sort of a black magic. PostDocAdvisor is the inventor of the air popper, so it shouldn't have been a problem I thought. Except it was. One hour per week when he was in town was not enough time to understand the air popper no matter how hard I tried. And besides I already know how to make popcorn in the Whirley Pop and every time I tried and failed to make popcorn in the air popper, I thought "but I can already do this in the Whirley Pop and the Whirley Pop makes far superior popcorn in my opinion, so why bother" I didn't really give the air popper a fair chance but that is partially because the goal of simply learning to use the air popper is not a meaningful goal as a postdoc. Unless the air popper can do things the Whirley Pop can't do and I'm not convinced that is the case. I should have persisted and learned about the chemical structure of popcorn because that is useful regardless of the mechanism for making popcorn. But I didn't. I decided to continue studying the Whirley Pop because I knew I could pump out a few publications easily. I essentially just informed PostDocAdvisor of my uses of the Whirley Pop but didn't really collaborate with him in any meaningful way. My second regret was not formulating a solid research agenda for my postdoc.

At the core of both regrets are that I did not push myself hard enough and/or outside of my comfort zone. Part of this is just my cautious nature. The other part is being too worried about # of publications rather than acquiring new knowledge. Now, I'm trying very hard be open and receptive to new areas of research, even if it means I have less knowledge than a first year grad student. I'll let you know how it works out.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The return of Thursday Confessions: Dumb and dumber version

I finally received a new (to me) filing cabinet. I've been waiting quite some time and was anxious to finish unpacking. I tried opening all the drawers to organize the remaining boxes that had been sitting on my office floor for entirely too long. Some of the drawers would open, some would not. Repeat for 30 minutes. I kept trying to figure out exactly which drawers did and did not open because it seemed to be a random selection each time I unlocked the cabinet. Locking and unlocking (maybe one didn't "catch" the lock mechanism or something like that I thought) them. Pulling and tugging to try to get them to open. Poking the metal lock bar (or whatever) that appeared to be the problem. I received a 5 inch scratch. And another 2 inch scratch. I yelled silently. I whispered threats and ultimatums to the filing cabinet. (I don't want my new colleagues to think I'm a complete nut, at least not yet!) I quit, extremely frustrated and sent a note asking for a new filing cabinet. Then after a break, I decided to try again -- I really wanted to finish unpacking! Repeat swearing, tugging, and turning the lock for another 15 minutes when an innocent person walked in to tell me something (not related to filing cabinets). Seeing the desperate and forlorn look on my face, he asked what was wrong. He turned the key and opened each drawer in turn explaining that it is a safety precaution that only one open at a time. Guess I haven't had a new filing cabinet in quite some time. Models from the 1960s don't have that feature.

We have a snow blower purchased for an incredibly good price before we moved from IsolationU. We recently purchased gas to put in the snow blower despite it being August because (apparently) they must contain all relevant liquid products or things stick or gum up or some such problem. (Liquids were emptied before we moved per moving company guidelines.) TheHusband filled up his much-loved-snow blower with oil and gas and then tried to start it. It didn't start. Repeat approximately 55 times. He quit, came into the house and spent lots of time looking on the web for solutions. The next day he tried to start it again. It didn't start. Repeat about 15 times. He quit, came into the house and called the manufacturer. They told him of qualified service people in the area. He called service people, who told him that it was "Lawnmower Season" and they don't look at snow blowers during Lawnmower Season (obviously!) They said to call back in the middle of Sept (apparently that is when SnowBlower Season begins, mark your calendars.) Yesterday he tried again. Once. It started. I asked what he did, and he indicated that he noticed a small problem. Clearly trying to distract me by talking about flowers and grass and dinner plans, I became even more interested and asked repeatedly until he answered. He didn't put the key in the ignition the first two days. The snow blower works just fine, as long as you put in the key.

Which is dumb and which is dumber? I don't know, you decide.


Monday, August 20, 2007


I've been trying to fix 2 problems on my (brand new) computer for hours and hours and hours during the past week. I've tried everything. I've even restored the system to a previous date (which is a frightening thing to do). I've unistalled and reinstalled a bazillion pieces of software. I've restarted the computer six hundered thousand times. Finally, finally, finally I fixed it! And it was such an easy ridiculous fix that it is almost crazy. The router claimed to have the most recent update but I ignored that and manually reinstalled the update and tada everything works! I can't concentrate on work because I am so thrilled that I finally solved this problem. I feel like I deserve a vacation.

In other news, we went to a nearby lake this weekend and it was just beautiful. We went on a short boat excursion. We ate fish sandwhiches and fried oysters in a lovely little garden. We sat by the lake and watched kids skateboard. I love exploring new areas. If the act of moving wasn't such a gigantic pain, this love would be enough for me to move every few years. But I hate moving. So I'll just have to explore the area around NewUnivCity until I know every little town and village within a 3 hour drive.

Is it strange that wearing a sweatshirt in August made me insanely happy? Fall is almost hear!

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Welcome to the Neighborhood

(as we get into bed last night)

apparently: did you lock the car doors?

TheHusband: no

Apparently: arrgh, why not?

TheHusband: we have an alarm, what difference does it make?

The correct answer is hours of sleep, that is what difference it would have made.

At about 3:30 this morning, I awoke to my car alarm. Of course, it took several seconds to register that the noise was. And what felt like several minutes to first turn off the house alarm*, find my way downstairs, and find the car keys. As I picked up the car keys, the alarm stopped. And then it went off again. I walked over to the window to look out, holding the house alarm key in my hand** and wondering if this was a smart move. I saw no one, but noticed that the light inside my car was on. So I went upstairs and woke The Husband who was sound asleep*** and called the police. The Husband wanted to go outside but I told him just to wait. The police came and noted that the car door was open. I checked and nothing was missing. The only possible things to be missing are: an umbrella stroller, reusable grocery bags, a car seat, medical records for The Kid that are patiently waiting to be dropped off to the new doctor, about 78 cents, a few pens, a coloring book or 2, the requisite umbrella, flashlight, and jumper cables. I guess the alarm scared off the would-be-thief of 78 cents. The police didn’t take a report, I guess it is not illegal to open up a door. Though, quite frankly I think it should be illegal to wake me up (and presumably a few neighbors) at 3 in the morning.

I already have a slightly paranoid mind when it comes to personal safety so I’m not happy about staring this chapter of my life feeling uneasy. I am, however, very grateful that we had a home security system installed the week after we moved in or I would definitely not be able to sleep at night.

* because we have motion detectors and it will (allegedly) sound if we go down the steps without turning it off

** it has a panic mechanism that call the police automatically, if only I could remember how to activate it

*** who wakes up when he senses that The Kid is awake even though The Kid has not made a sound, but somehow sleeps through 2 rounds of our car alarm

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