I'm currently at my in-law's house and head to my hometown tomorrow. Here's some bulletz...

  • Damn, Major-Midwest-Metropolitan area are you trying to kill me? -6 degrees. Windchill of -40. Blizzard warnings. WTF!
  • My computer died upon arrival in the Midwest yesterday. Nothing happens when pushing buttons. Luckily, we were able to get my hard drive out and everything off of it.
  • Whew....because I did not back up anything recently! Like the final edits to my dissertation...
  • The lack of computer and holiday will make blogging light this week.
  • I was supposed to submit a paper this morning, but the dead computer kept me from doing so. Tonight, my advisor sent me a review paper about the exact same topic. Timing is everything!
  • I totally lost my fantasy football championship game today. It was super fun all season and the heartiest congratulations to the Grackle for kicking my ass and winning the whole thing!
  • In real football news- Go Bears! Playoff hopes are still alive if they win over the Pack tomorrow night. Bears football + current georgraphic location = love!
  • I'm totally put off my department/academia/the bs that goes along with it right now. A faculty member shared some information with me that they should not have. This put me in a very difficult position. I decided to tell them how uncomfortable knowing the info made me and that I felt it was inappropriate to tell me the info. Yeah, that did NOT go well. At. All.
  • Is it ever ok to stand up for yourself to faculty people?
  • Thankfully I still get to leave! Next week, I'm cleaning out my office and then not going back to the department, ever! Or at least until I have to for a joint conference presentation with my advisor next month...
  • The other consolation is getting away from it all for such an enjoyable week. We attended a big family party tonight and will relax with family and friends for the next few days. Not working for a few days is sooooo nice.

Well, with my laptop lacking state, I might not get to reading many blogs this week- I hope everyone has a great week and a nice, relaxing holiday. Travel safe and stay warm!!


Scary key lady

This week I have been getting things set for the next phase of my academic life and tying up ends at my current institution. Luckily, Grackle will still be here if I miss anything. Some of these little things are fun. It is very exciting to renew all my society memberships and put my new information on them! 
Other tasks I am dreading. Cleaning out my office is sloooooow going. Plus, with the holiday, I have to turn my keys in tomorrow. This is the worst task of all. The key lady is a miserable, old woman who seems to have no joy in life except making others suffer. She ignores you when you walk in, takes forever to check information and always lectures you about something. One time, after I spilled something, she yelled at me for taking paper towels out of the bathroom near her office. If you don't have your ID number....well, watch out!
There is just no possible way that my key-turn-in will go smoothly. I will be very lucky if I get my 2 dollar deposit back. This is my own fault though. When I started, I put lab tape on my keys to ID them and now, 5 years later, the lab tape is still there and it is not coming off. Even if the tape comes off- the gluey residue will not please the key lady. 
I'm going to try some acetone tonight but any other suggestions for removing old lab tape? 
I really don't want to get yelled at (and could use my 2 dollars)!!

UPDATE: I skipped the acetone (just did my nails) and scrubbed away (ok, grackle did it for me). It was clean enough and I got my money back. After perusing my file, she told me that I had returned all 10 keys I had over the years and was in her good favor. Who knew? 



One cool thing about my new apartment is that the landlady is letting me pick colors for when she repaints. I'm tempted to do something trendy* but doubt I would actually go through with something like that. Maybe just for the bathroom or something....

The main living space is my main concern. In our house, we have a big red couch and a little red loveseat. I will be taking the loveseat with me. In an attempt to make my apartment all homey and awesome (because our house is both homey and awesome), I had the thought that I could have the apartment living room painted the same color as the living room in my house. 

Is that weird? 

*like purple, because I am loving purple right now.


Update on moving

I looked at 6 places. Fell in love with the idea of living in a downtown area but nixed it since it was farther from school, more expensive and not dog friendly.
In the end there were only 2 to choose from. 

1) 1 bedroom about 5 min from school. New (but very small) kitchen and new bathroom. Very cute. Boring, but safe location. Landlady works in my department. Listing said no pets, but she agreed to let me have visiting animals. Cats, dog and husband! Financially do-able, but I'm not going to be paying off any credit cards or buying a new Anthropologie wardrobe anytime soon.

2) 4 bedroom house with 3 roommates currently but one is moving out will not to be replaced. Nice house, nice roommates. One is afraid of dogs but willing to compromise. Other is allergic to cats. One in my department has reputation for being very social and a bit of a partier. Also seems to be a bit bossy/know-it-all (10 minute instructions to other roommate about exactly how she should cook fish...and it was only seasoning, butter and foil). One is a smoker, but only outside. But it is goodbye-credit-card-debt-hello-cute-shoes cheap!

I decided on the 1 bedroom. The whole roommate thing was a little too much for me. With the new job, an upcoming field season, and a house and husband in a different state I don't want to worry about whether or not it is my week to buy dish soap. The smoking roommate is an issue as well because smoke can trigger my migraines. That is not a risk I really want to take. Finally, while they tried to stress that I should feel at home and can use everything in the house as if it were mine, it just didn't feel like I would be comfortable. 
Having my own space and being surrounded by my own familiar things sounds much more inviting. From our last long distance experience*, I know how miserable it can feel to be stuck in a place you hate far away from the people you love. If I am much less likely to hate my own apartment, that alone is going to be worth the extra money!

*when I lived in the trailer from hell because it was provided for free



While everything has been falling into place, I still don't have a place to live in Postdoc City. Tomorrow I am going to visit, see 5 apartments and meet 1 set of potential roommates. 
Apartments and roommates? It never occurred to me that I would be doing this again as an old married lady. I didn't even know where to start so I used Craigslist and it turns out that one landlady and the roommates are actually in my department at the new University!

The ideal place just doesn't seem to exist. If the roommate thing works out, it is only a 6 month lease, cheap as can be and has potential for the Grackle to bring the dog for weekends. No cats, ever. My own apartment, however will allow me to have my own space and potential for kitties to stay with me but this will cost at least twice as much. No dogs ever. 
I'm trying to be open to all possibilities until I see everything and not freak out about it all. As a postdoc I'll basically live in the lab 16 hours a day anyway, right?   


For Yooo-oo-oo-uuuuu--uu-uu

There is a iPod nano commercial and Grackle just figured out some the first part of the lyrics 
G: Ohhhh, 'I tried to do handstands for you'
Me: yeah. 
G: What is that song? Who is it by?
Me: I dunno...you should buy that other iPod that has the application to ID songs, hold it up to this iPod commercial to find out the song 
G: Yeah, good plan....goooood plan.

This little exchange brings me to 2 topics.
1) My computer is getting older and is slowing down a lot. I'm thinking of switching to a Mac. I have used and liked them before, but have never been in a position where it was an option due to finances. Is there anyone who has used a Mac and didn't like it? 

2) The little exchange with Grackle is typical for us. The mundane, but hilarious (to us, at least) things that make up our days together. I love these things because we've done long distance before (two different 8 month periods spent 3000 miles away) and these little things are what I miss most. With my graduation and new position we will again be doing long distance. My postdoc is at a university about 2.5 hours from our current home and university. If he stays on schedule, he should graduate in 2.5 years. So, it is a longer period of time, but relatively close. I figure we will be able to see each other at least every 2 weeks (outside of field seasons when we travel). 
Our situation is interesting not only because it is challenging to us, but because it challenges a lot of people's perceptions of what we should be doing. Despite being the woman and 7 years younger than Grackle, I am more advanced in my academic career and have been the one to strike out geographically. Our first bout of long distance was because I was secured to go to PhD town while he stayed to finish a degree. Grackle then followed me to PhD town. The second long distance stint was due to my project and funding. Now again, I am the one to move out away from our home. Family members and many friends don't understand why we would do this (or as some put it, 'why he lets' me do these things). As much as we love our life together, we know that where and how we live right now is not permanent. Ultimately, we will settle somewhere together and hopefully both have jobs that make us happy. Dealing with the long distance now will put us in a better position for that long term goal and that makes it worth it.

Somebody please remind me of this in about 3 months when I haven't seen Grackle in a month and am a miserable, complaining mess!


Happy Repeal Day!

Have a drink (quick) because it is Repeal Day! The anniversary of the end of Prohibition. (It is the 5th....and I am posting at 11:58)

Our home is about 130 years old and located in a historic district. The historic society thinks that our house was a speakeasy in the time of Prohibition. Very cool- even more reason to celebrate although, we don't have a bathtub in which to make any gin....



Major transition time! I am set to turn everything in to the Dean tomorrow. For the first time since I was 4, I will no longer be classified as a student. 
This is a little weird but it is nothing compared to what it really means. I have to move on. Like, for real and right now. In the next 6 weeks I will move to a charming new city, start in a new position in a new lab, new department, on a new project and study system. All this stuff is exciting, but moving on means leaving too. This week, talking about the details of turning in my keys was probably more difficult than my revisions. 

The first transition I have to make is getting back to having a life! I can blog (and blog read) regularly again! We have piles of laundry you wouldn't believe and I haven't baked in months. The Grackle is happy to not cook every meal and I'm even excited about keeping the dishes clean these days. It might not be an exciting life, but it feels so nice to get back to it. 


Final InaDWriMo 2008

As promised- I have written no more after the dissertation. That was my goal and that was enough! I've been editing but haven't bothered to count as I go along. 
I think the best thing about this exercise and my time-crunch-writing situation this semester has been to show me what some of my potential is. If I have to, I can write a lot in a short amount of time. I lived through it and it wasn't even that bad. In theory, there should be nothing stopping me from just sitting down and writing whenever I need to. Of course ,we all know that but the practice of actually doing it gets more complicated. I am hoping that when I get to my next set of papers or grant or whatever, I remember how to find this productivity and hopefully keep my writing momentum without a looming deadline. 


Dissertation Day, illustrated

To paraphrase one of my favorite movies ever, 

'I can write a hit play dissertation. Why can't I have a little drink when I want to unwind myself?'

Brownie points if you can name it! 
Also, I didn't really drink out of the bottle. It was staged....and, sadly, empty.

Finally Dr. Albatross!

I successfully defended my dissertation on Friday! The public talk was well attended* and not too long **. I didn't really get nervous, in fact, after finishing it on Wednesday I was sort of at a loss for what to do with myself. Luckily, my mom was in town to distract me! 

The actual defense part was not what I expected. It was not an exam so much as a conversation with a number of suggestions. My advisor was very diplomatic in figuring out what will actually need to be done vs. what all was talked about. After an hour in the room with my committee, I have to add a descriptive section (2 pages or so), 2 new stats test, and a reorganization of Chapter 3. It is all very doable in the 2 weeks I have until the Graduate College deadline! Yay!!

There was a little cake/champagne thing at school, happy hour and fancy dinner to celebrate on Friday. Since then, we have been lazing around, enjoying drinks, food and the company of my mom and the Grackle. Today I am watching my Fantasy Football players rack up my second straight loss*** and trying to stay warm. I haven't been outside really in 3 weeks- when did it start feeling like January?!

* I thought it wouldn't be. There was a training/seminar series for some new departmental equipment, however it was cancelled the day before.
**All my practices were really long (over an hour).  
***But I'm still in 1st in my league and have already clinched my playoff spot. 


Meme time

Karina tagged me for the 5 things meme that is going around....

The rules:
~Complete meme and post.
~Email the person who tagged you to let them know it's up.
~Tag 5 others and email/comment to tell them so.

5 things I was doing 10 years ago:
-Living away from home for the first time (I was a freshman in college)
-Being introduced to my field and being inspired by the professor 
-Planning to be a high school biology teacher
-Celebrating my 18th birthday by going to see my favorite band on Halloween in Vegas
-Hanging out at fraternity parties

5 things on my To-Do List Today:
-Pick up my mom from the airport
-Practice my talk
-Go to a seminar
-Happy hour/dinner at my favorite restaurant
-Do some reading vaguely related to my research but very related to faculty research

5 things I would do if I were a millionaire:
-Pay off all of our credit cards and student loans
-Donate more to a number of good causes
-Move to a safer neighborhood
-Start some sort of award or scholarship for young women in my field
-Travel more with the Grackle

5 places I've lived:
-Midwestern suburbs
-Rural center of Midwest State
-Northern England
-Blue capitol city of a Big, Red State
-Small Mid-Atlantic city

5 jobs I've had:
-hardware store checkout person
-dance teacher
-1 hour photo technician
-cowgirl at a wild west theme park

Blogs I tag: This has been going around so if you haven't done it- consider yourself tagged!


InaDWriMo and Presentation

For all practical purposes, I've reached my goals and am done with InaWriMo for this year. My gratitude to Dr. Brazen Hussy for organizing again this year! The friendly competition added just a little extra to my deadline driven motivations to write. Plus, I wouldn't have counted words without it and seeing my progress also provided a little boost of much needed confidence each day. 

Since sending the document to my committee, I have been putting together my talk. In my department, there is a public lecture followed by a private defense with the committee. I really enjoy giving talks, but this one is particularly challenging because it requires a lot of balance. 

The department is very broad so I need to make sure everyone understands it without compromising the complex theoretical underpinnings of the research. Also, I need to balance the details with the big picture. My number one complaint about defenses I've seen is that they do not effectively convey why I should care about their research or where it fits in the greater scheme of our field. Now I am seeing how difficult it can be to compromise another slide of data for this larger background. 

Then there is the PPT issue. I'm very picky about the aesthetics of presentations and am not 100% happy with any color scheme I've tried thus far. I really like the dark grey background with green and blue text and highlights that I've been using for about a year now....but it isn't new and fresh since I've used it for the past year. I even tried to make a color scheme that resembles to blog here! Unfortunately, it makes my figures look bland. 

So, great interwebs...I ask your advice. What is the number one recommendation for the content of a dissertation lecture and what is the best PPT color scheme you've ever used?


Secrets to my InaDWriMo success

ScienceGirl wanted me to post about how I am getting so much writing done for InaDWrMo.
I've already fulfilled more than my 8000 words and it is only the 12th! 
Here are the keys to my success...
1) My committee wanted my dissertation last week. Literally, I had a guy say, 'Well if I could have it right now, that would be cutting it close." and that was last Thursday. 
2) I had a meeting to turn it in today!  
3) I don't have anything else to do. I'm not teaching, no lab work, only 3 hours of seminars/meeting a week. 
4) The Grackle brings me food, coffee and beer so that the only reason I move from my writing chair from 10 am till midnight is to use the bathroom. This is on weekends only. On weekdays, I have to get my own lunch (which I usually skip) and coffee.
5) I didn't go outside during daylight from Thursday till Monday. 

Ok, while all of those things are true, they aren't really helpful for anyone else trying to write. Here are just a few things that have been really helpful:
1) I have most of my reprints on pdf. Jumping from paper to paper to check details at the click of a button without having to rummage in the cabinet or my backpack has allowed me to move quickly through heavily referenced sections of writing.
2) Write a lot and then revise later. In fact, on Sunday night, I had sat in my chair working for 14 hours and had only increased my word count by 156.
3)  Remember that writing has to be simple. Topic sentences for each paragraph, very simple sentence structures, re-stating complex ideas in clearer terms or examples are all things I try to remember.
4) Classical music seems to help. I have been listening to Vince Guaralidi's "A Charlie Brown Christmas" all week!
5) If someone (my advisor) is confused by what I write, I try to talk to him about it. If I can explain it in a conversation, I start over by using those exact words in the paper.

I am pretty close to being done with it! I turned in the whole thing to my advisor today and am waiting for comments. It will go to the committee tomorrow or Friday. My defense is official with a room and a flyer and everything. 
Printing it out today was pretty cool. Seeing it in print was rather overwhelming....at least until I got butter from my bagel all over the title page...now on to the presentation!


InaDWriMo update

I am zooming right along with the ol' word count for InADWrMo. In fact, my goal will probably be reached today. 

The third chapter is much larger than I thought...I predict that my committee will want it cut into two chapters but I will wait for them to tell me that. I am sending a full draft to my advisor today and then hopefully can finish revisions on the other two chapters while I await his comments.  

I'm also fighting off sickness. It sucks. Coughing, tired, achy, ugh! On Friday night, my advisor asked me if I was sick or going through puberty because my voice is all crazy. The Grackle has me on a steady stream of vitamins, zinc and Day-Quil. 

In other news, I am appalled by the behavior of some folks in my department. Grad students, postdocs, faculty- they are all crazy! The unfortunate thing is that I am leaving and can't do or say anything about it because it doesn't affect me personally (but at least I get to leave!). I wish I could help all my friends (and husband) who have to stay and deal with all these crazy people. I can only take what I've experienced and use that to make me a better postdoc/advisor/PI when it comes to be my time. Here are some of the things I will or won't do*: 
  • won't drink in my office
  • won't drink in my lab
  • won't drink at lunch before coming in to do lab work
  • won't try to steal projects from other people, behind their back
  • won't give people who make me mad the silent treatment
  • won't expect my hand to be held or be told how to do things more than twice
  • will set standards and expectations for all lab personnel
  • won't change those standards due to personal relationships
  • won't actually cut and paste my expectations and lab philosophy from someone else's and put my name on it as author
  • won't forget to change the details to be specific to my current institution and research organism if I do use someone else's materials
  • won't live with my boss or someone who answers to me in the lab (except maybe while I look for a place of my own)
  • will accept that different things are accepted and expected at each institution. No matter what the ranking of that institution 
  • won't think I'm better than anybody simply because I finished my degree
  • or because I came from a certain school
  • or because I'm a centrist about my subfield
  • won't be a condescending asshole to everyone I meet, even if it makes people think I'm funny
Wow, that felt good. Time to get back to work now!

*Not all of these occur at my current institution. 


Duck! Here come more bullets!

Just time for a quick update!
  • The last project from my time doing my MS (data collected Summer 2004) got accepted for publication this week! Yippee! It was a long struggle with horrible reviews along the way and 3 (I think, can't remember...maybe only 2) submissions. 
  • I am supposed to defend 2 weeks from today. 
  • 2 freakin' weeks!
  • I am going to try on my defense outfit today. If it doesn't fit, I am buying this.
  • It might not fit. I have given up time to workout and have instead focused my stress relief efforts on eating lots of cheese and ice cream. And cookies. And breakfast sandwiches.
  • Have an appointment on Wednesday to give a draft to the dean. The committee needs it by next Friday or sooner. I am really appreciating that they are honest about the fact that they won't read it till right before the defense anyway.
  • I'm trying to finish the 3rd chapter still....am planning on sending everything but the discussion to my advisor today.
  • If I get that far, I am going to a dinner at my advisor's house for an invited speaker/ ex-student. Free food is a good motivator...must get back to work now...


InaDWriMo 2008

That's right, it is International acaDemic Writing Month again!

My goal is to finish Chapter 2 and 3. And write an introductory chapter. Basically, finish the dissertation. I am really not sure about word counts since I have a lot of revising to do but I pledge to write at least 8000 words. 

Time to get started!


RBO Giving up.

    I apologize in advance for the infrequent, short posts and poorly written blurbs that will occur between now and November 11. That's the day I am set to hand the diss to the Dean and my committee. Today, we have bullets....
  • I actually started this bullet posting 3 days ago. Hardly, time for bullets even.... 
  • Nothing in life would be as satisfying as smashing office neighbors' speaker phone. I know more about his grant money, family vacation plans and general business than necessary. 
  • While my advisor writes random comments sometimes, he is awesome. So far, through 2  chapters, he has had a 24 hour turnaround for me. Awe-some!
  • Also awesome? The Grackle, who treated me to ice cream, pie, beer, pizza, and cookies all weekend. 
  • Luckily, I'm back into the gym using the treadmills to make up for all those treats! I run faster when I'm stressed out.
  • Also totally awesome? My Halloween costume. After much angst about sending Chapter 2 to my advisor last night, I worked on my costume. Finished it this morning and can't wait to wear it tonight! I'll post it here for a brief period of time.  
  • I applied for my degree today. I thought I might feel something about that but don't really. It's just paperwork.
Well, it is about time to turn Grackle into ZOMBIE Grackle for the evening. I hope everyone has a fun and safe Halloween! Are you (were you) dressed up as?


Still time for a meme...

ScienceGirl tagged me for a meme so here goes.....

1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write 6 random things about yourself.
4. Tag 6 people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person you have tagged know by leaving a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry has posted.

1. As a kid, I disliked pumpkin pie. Sometime during my MS, I suddenly loved pumpkin pie and that love has grown to all things pumpkin. Pumpkin rolls, muffins, bread, pumpkin scented candles, I'll take it all. My absolute favorite is pumpkin ale. I've tried at least 15 different brands and this is my favorite, but there is a close second...

2. The Grackle and I just booked tickets for our first non-work, non-family visiting vacation. We are going to Puerto Rico in January!!!

3. In the month between turning in my dissertation and going on vacation, I plan to spend about half my time getting the papers out and the other half being domestic. I'm going to finish knitting about 3 projects, sew a bunch of dresses for our trip and bake cupcakes like it is my freakin job.

4. We have two cats, who are both named after literary characters. They could not be more opposite. One is male, mean (to anyone other than me), and rather lanky. The other is female, loves every human, dog, cat, and bunny she's ever met and was stunted in her growth so has tiny legs and weighs only 6 lbs.

5. Our home used to be handicap accessible so there are no doors on the second floor. There are only curtains, even on the bathroom. 

6. I think I just heard a gunshot outside. 

I'm so behind on my bloglines, I have no idea who has or has not done this one. If you haven't, consider yourself tagged!


Comments on Chapter 1

I sent my advisor a draft of Chapter 1 yesterday. It was still missing most of a discussion but he was willing to read it anyway.  Most of his comments are in the intro.   Here are a couple of real gems....
"C’mon, give a guy a break.  This is too long to remember!"
After the first paragraph....
"the sentences are written fine but the paragraph is essentially a list that doesn’t have a clear direction"
But then after the first sentence of the second paragraph...
"huh?, I need some foreplay on this…maybe telling me about all the (specific things) first…which probably would be a good Introduction paragraph"

Gee, like the 'list' that you told me was directionless?

And the best.....
"I don’t understand what is the point of the previous paragraph.  I don’t think you are going to test this with your experiments"

I'm very glad we are on the same page as to what the point of my experiment was.....the next few weeks are going to painful......


Wet hair

I don't know why, but it seems like I shouldn't go to work with wet hair anymore. I doubt anyone ever notices and if they do, I doubt they care....but this morning I was overcome by the idea that I might look like a total slacker* by continuing this trend. It isn't like every year I go through this when it gets cold, it hasn't ever bothered me before. All of a sudden, it just seems like there is no way I should graduate if I can't even manage to take 5 minutes to dry my hair. 

*and also like a wet poodle/drowned rat.


Writing and running

Posting has been light but I have good reason----check out the sidebar! In addition to starting a blogroll (it isn't complete, if you'd like to be added please let me know in the comments), I have updated my writing progress. Progress bars won't work this time because I have no goals....just have to keep writing till it seems complete!

Life hasn't been all work and no play though. A few weeks ago, my officemate/friend/running buddy, Flamingo, encouraged me to sign up for a race for women's cancers. It is a good cause and the grad team would pay half the entrance fee so I signed right up. Of course at the time, we were running regularly so she convinced me* that we could totally do the 5 MILE race instead of the 5k. The messiness of dealing with all my data crap kept me from running for a few weeks earlier this month, although I had a few decent runs at RTL. After returning, Flamingo and I had a couple more runs but any real semblance of training was shot by that point. 
The race was yesterday and we both went into it just hoping to run the whole thing, and finish closer to our 'easy' pace**. Of course, it was also not just 5 miles- we found out on Friday that it was actually 5.3 miles. Plus, all of a sudden it was cold! 
The race itself was fun- I'm glad I did the longer one, as it was not crowded while the 5k had almost 6,000 people. Flamingo and I finished within a minute of each other and ended up running close to our fastest training pace***. 

It would be really nice to continue running while I continue writing and finish. Running always helps me de-stress and I usually either work out some problematic thinking during the run or manage to completely shut work out of my brain altogether. It is one of the few things I have tried to make a priority but bad weather, shorter days and deadlines may be too difficult to keep it up. 

*She is currently under the idea that the 5 mile was my idea. It wasn't, I promise.
**We are pretty comfortable and chatty at 10:00 min/miles.
***I managed 9:16 min/mile.


I guess I'm still a little mad....

Dear Tech at RTL, 

You have serious control issues. It always bugged me that you referred to my samples as your own and spoke as if you ran my project. In actuality, you have no idea the objectives of the study, the hypotheses tested, what the experiments were, what the analysis is or why the conclusions are important. That means it is NOT YOUR PROJECT.

You told me, and the PI of your lab, that it was impossible for me to go there and figure out your bench work. Fuck you. Despite your amazing organization (which completely rocks- someday I hope to use the mad skillz I learned from you in my own lab), you did not give me enough credit to understand the samples you ran or think critically about the problems, let alone fix them. Who the hell do you think you are? Is your bench work magic bench work that is run by elves and rainbows instead of reagents and machines? Instead, you told me that it would be better if I waited till you could return to the project (in January) and fix the errors since I wouldn't be able to do it. Seriously, what kind of person builds up a situation so that not only my data depends on you, but now also my graduation and paycheck come next semester? 

I am soooo sick of playing nice with you in fear of my data being held hostage or messed up on purpose. Turns out- you messed it up anyway! Luckily, I have my data now, I got it myself and I don't need you or your petty little games anymore. 

Flowers and sausages,

p.s. Your PI and I agreed over a year ago that your name isn't on any of these papers!


Optimistic and going home

I'm out in Remote Technical Lab (RTL) and have been working away. Things are going well and I am optimistic* about my ability to fix the data, finish things here and get home. I am wrapping things up today and heading home tomorrow, actually.

For anyone who didn't come over from the other blog, my history with RTL is a long, complicated one. It is located near a field site and I visited in 2006 to make possible connections. That worked well so my advisor and I wrote a grant, got funding and I moved to RTL in January 2007. Here I lived for 8 months during which time I completed the project we were funded for while running all the experiments for my dissertation in my spare time. I was miserable most of the time, had very few-outside-of-work friends and was living in an ex-FEMA trailer that pretty much had no kitchen or bathroom**. When I left, there were still samples to be analyzed and leaving them was a difficult decision. It isn't ideal to rely upon others for your work-but sometimes you have to. The lab had an out of sight, out of mind attitude towards me and my work so I waited over a year to get the results. That brings us to the samples being messed up and my coming back here to try to figure it all out.

I spent this week pouring over the tech's lab notebook and the analyses looking for patterns. After finding them, it turns out there was a technical error that accounted for most of the errors and I was able to reanalyze those samples. The fact that it all worked is amazing- I usually have really bad luck at the bench after a period away. It has been a year since I did bench work and this week resulted in the prettiest data I have ever produced. Fixing the errors did change the downstream analyses of the data so in addition to feeling confident about the changes in the data I made, the resulting conclusions will be more interesting. 

I'll be on another 7:30am flight tomorrow.

*I'm also mad as hell but that will be my next post.
**I had to shower in a different trailer and seriously, the toilet didn't work.


Review of the worst. week. ever.

This was my week......
Monday: Find out my data might be seriously messed up. Begin questioning all future plans such as graduation and postdoc. Cry a lot.

Tuesday: Decide that a trip to remote technical lab is required. I did work in this lab for 8 months and they ran these samples for me after I left. Curse relaying on anyone else for data.

Wednesday-Friday: Learn all I can about the problems and how to fix them. Curse having a major part of my project be something that no one at my university has expertise with. 

Friday night: Finally stop worrying for 4 hours and go out on a date with the Grackle. See an amazing concert that makes everything right in the world. I've wanted to see this guy for years and it was worth the wait!

Saturday: Back to reality, preparations for leaving, and watching the last ditch effort by the Cubs* tonight.
Sunday: 6 am flight to remote lab.

The status of internet at the remote lab is questionable so I might not be able to post till I get back. Even more fun, I don't even know when I will be back! 
Hopefully, the remote nature of the place will allow me to resume being productive on writing the dissertation. All writing has pretty much stopped as I deal with data issues. 

This was really a rock-bottom week for me and I spent a lot time just trying to hold it together. It was often a fight to stay proactive in the situation instead of just reacting to it. Hopefully, there will be more entries on the situation but for now, I have to get back to packing not only all my clothes but also my office into a single suitcase. 

*The last two games have been painful. What happened Lou???? 



Well, we made it to Midwest Hometown (I think I've called it about 4 different names. Need to pick one and stick with it). Our trip was eeeeh, not so good. The dog threw up. Twice. Before we even made it to the highway. There was traffic and it is H.O.T. out! I thought it was fall while the Grackle was worried about not bringing a jacket. Instead, it was 86 degrees for the 12 hour drive in the car without a/c. I'm wearing shorts for the trip back. 

The dress I bought didn't fit, but my BFF might wear it to the rehearsal dinner tonight. There was a different one I tried on 3 weeks ago but was just waaay to expensive. Well, it went on sale (60% off!) and I snatched it up. Yay! Pretty things!  

Back to the debate......



So, this animal rights group  wants ice cream made of breast milk? For reals? 

I admit, I don't know that much about babies or breastfeeding. But just the idea of mass market production of breast milk seems pretty creepy. Not because it is breast milk but because they make a helluva lot of ice cream. 
In the letter they go into how wrong it is that cows are impregnated every nine months to assure production of enough milk to support the industry. So, how are you going to assure production of human breast milk? How many pregnant women would it take to produce as much milk as 1 pregnant cow* in the first place? 

I guess there should be enough if all of us are having lots of babies like we are supposed to.

* did I really just ask that? 


A bit more on reject but resubmit

As I recently mentioned, I was recently invited to resubmit a paper despite receiving all negative reviews. In discussions of a similar (but also very different) situation, someone suggested that that this might be a way for the journal to have first dibs on the paper at a later date. This may be very common when journals compete for papers. In this case, there are a handful of similar journals (in impact factor, speciality, etc.) that would be just as appropriate for the paper, so it is feasible that these journals compete. Plus, it is an awesome idea so obviously all the journals would want our paper*. 
All these similar journals compete for your submissions in the first place and others recently summarized how you might pick a journal. We chose this current journal because it had a pretty short turnaround time, published related papers and I've never published there before. 

This brings up another positive effect for the journal though. They publish the dates of receipt and acceptance and then you judge where to send your manuscript (in part) based on this. By going through a round of reject and resubmit- you can take care of a lot of the big problems with the manuscript. The next round of reviews will be easier to deal with and (in theory) be fixed more quickly. 

Therefore, if the journal publishes the receipt date of the resubmission and then the acceptance they can decrease the time to publication and ultimately attract more/better papers.  

Unfortunately, this could all be a crap idea brought upon by too much coffee and my increasingly boring dots**. I don't actually know if journals actually publish the original submission or resubmission date. Or if there has been an increase in this decision with increasing competition among journals. Any thoughts? 

*You know, except for the 2 that already rejected it. 
**I'm almost done, and left the boring samples till the end.


My demise

If the Grackle is upset about the prospects of my graduating and moving (not too far) away, he should just say so.
Instead, he is plotting my dissertation writing demise by signing up for a big fancy tv package. It is sports inspired, and it will actually be cheaper (and far more comfortable) than spending every Sunday at the sports bar eating nachos and watching our team.

Temptation, thy name is 250 channels.

Time to re-evaluate working from home. 

UPDATE: The equipment is actually incompatable with our 130 year old house. No new channels for us!

Seminar vs. Wedding

We have been planning on going to a wedding back home since early this year. Of course, now I realize that our plans conflict with a seminar speaker that I should see. The seminar series was not announced until long after our plans were made and I feel guilty for ditching one of the only talks that actually relates to topics of my dissertation. My research is concerned with view x of a thing while a lot of the profs in my department are more interested in view y of the thing. The talk is on view y...so it is of interest and I can see getting questions on it when I defend. Plus, it would be really interesting to meet the speaker and get his feedback on my research.

I am trying to resist my grad school cultivated guilt. Staying for the talk means changing our travel plans. We have a 12 hour drive and would drive a day, wedding day, drive back. We wouldn't get to see our families and it will be more stressful than fun.

There was a time when I would worry more about what people would think about my skipping seminar, but not at this point in my grad career. I'm older, crankier and there is just no way I'm driving 24 hours to be in town for only about 36. I'll make sure my advisor is ok with my plans and be on my way.

In other wedding related news- I have been searching for a dress to wear. It is a fancier wedding than I've been to as it is in a huge university chapel with a swanky country club reception. All of my dresses are more appropriate for summer/outdoor/informal affairs. The only other option is what I wore to the bride's brother's wedding last year. Different wedding, same dress? I think not.
So, I am buying a new dress and I love it so, so much. After calling 4 stores in East Coast State, none of them have it. I called 5 stores in Midwest State. One said they could get it from TX for me and I was about to give up*. Then, like magic, there was one dress in my size in the store that had been on an expired hold.
This is the dress I bought without seeing or trying on...
If it doesn't fit, I'll cry**.

*Apparently, it was on the Today Show and they are selling like hot cakes.
**And sell it to my bff, who also loves it.


Working from home- all day long!

Trying to work from home, be it writing or dealing with dots, is a dangerous game. Sometimes everything falls into place and you write 5 pages and sometimes you end up falling asleep on the couch with a cat on your head. So, in the spirit of what I've really been up to. Today I am live blogging my working from home. 
The goal: I need to catch up on my dots. After writing and going into school yesterday, I feel behind and want to catch up. The most I've ever accomplished in one day is 7 samples. Trying to beat that today. 
The setting: My living room. The couch is big, red, and comfy. A laptop stand makes it easy to type/do data stuff for long periods of time. I used to work at the dining room table and my desk but chairs in those places hurt my back after about 3 hours. There are two cats running around and 1 dog laying on his own couch upstairs. The most distracting/annoying aspect of working here is the buzzing of heaters/filters for the 6 aquaria in this room. 

But it is already almost 10 am! Why am I not working yet? Well, I had a filling fall out and had to get it fixed this morning despite my dentist phobia. The dentist was nice enough but the experience of having to go in the first place was still a bit traumatic. Then I stopped to get coffee and either there was a fender-bender and run in the parking lot OR somebody tried to steal a woman's car while she was inside. She asked me to call 911 for her, but I'm still not exactly sure what happened. Never a dull moment. 
Time to get to work though!
9:30-10am: check emails, blog.
10:15: Starting first sample.
10:43: Grackle comes home unexpectedly to get a pipe cutter that he needs at school. He comes in the front door (which he rarely does) and scares the crap out of me. I thought we were being broken into. AND I had to redo part of the sample because he distracted me.  
11:15: Starting second sample.
12:00pm: My face is still numb and I wish I had some Doritos. The Buffalo and Blue Cheese ones with the two kinds of chips in one bag....mmmmmmm....
2:30: Just finished up the 4th sample and prepping for a meeting later this afternoon. Lunch time!! This brings me to the best aspect of working from home. It makes me healthier. Instead of picking up a quick sandwich somewhere or worse- forgoing food altogether until I fill up on cookies at the seminar- I am enjoying some beans and rice. Plus when I need a little break, I can stretch with some yoga or run the dog around the backyard instead of walking down the hall to the desk with the candy. 
3:30: Meeting canceled. Woo hoo! Doing laundry instead.
5:30: Reached my usual number of 6 samples. 
5:45: Going running and will tie my record of 7 samples afterwards!


Beating overcommitment, but not really

I have a tendency to do overcommit myself. I like going to conferences, collaborating and starting new projects so usually there is a lot going on all at once. But right now I have to cut back on these things otherwise I'll never graduate. Must focus! All attention on graduation!* It is really difficult to say no to people, particularly when I really want to do other things. So what have I been turning down?
1) My 10 year high school reunion
2) A conference in a beautiful place in Mexico the weekend my draft is due to the dean (there was even travel money available!)
3) An invited seminar tacked onto the end of that conference
4) Another conference that my collaborator (who is organizing a symposium) is trying to talk me into going/contributing to. This is the week I am hoping to defend.
5) My departments' informal student seminar series (not so much a turning down as a refusal)

There are some things that I just can't say no to/give up so the Grackle and I will be heading to our Mighty Midwest Hometowns for a wedding later this month. We are also hosting some friends visiting in October. 

On the work end of things, I heard back about my final paper that was submitted this summer. This was the second journal I've sent this paper too (first submission was in Jan 2007). The reviews from that first journal were so bad that I was told there may not be anything to salvage from the work. Salvage, I did! And this time the results were a bit better- two out of three negative reviews, yet we are still got that lovely gem of 'reject but resubmit'. 
I really don't have time for this right now but can't really say no to it. Hopefully the reviews will seem easier to handle after I ignore them for 2 days but they still are going to say, 'test more dots' and 'test a different type of dot'. I no longer have access to those dots so if the editor really, really expects more dots, we are in for a flat out rejection. It just seems weird that we were asked to resubmit with these major additional experiments. The editor does similar tests and knows that redoing them in the time frame for resubmission is impossible. The worst part of this is the time frame- we have 6 short weeks to resubmit. 6 weeks! They have had the paper since June (12 weeks to be exact) but we don't even get that long to rewrite it? 

So, what to do besides bitch about it? I sent it to my coauthor, who is also getting to the end of her PhD and has a habit of not getting back to me for months at a time (between her fieldwork, her husband's fieldwork, and sometimes just being a flake). Surprisingly, she is in the country and sees this as a worthwhile endeavor. I'll have a true re-vision of the paper in 3 days (because she is an amazing superstar when she actually calls me back). We will have to write some strong rebuttals and hope for the best.  

*And, uh, blogging. With a side of football. But I can totally work and watch football at the same time. 


Fundable research project

Somebody needs to write an NIH grant to study Paula Deen. How on Earth is that woman still kickin' while eating crap like this?* The picture alone is worth clicking the link but it comes down to this: 1/2 burger + bacon + egg fried in butter sandwiched between 2 Krispy Kreme donuts.  Gee, Paula, you forget the cheese! 

*Ok, she probably doesn't actually eat any of the food she writes recipes for. 

2 acceptances in 2 days!

My lab has seen a flurry of manuscript submissions this year. We are all trying to get side projects finished and published. My advisor (who needs a good bird name) has long term projects that he rotates new students onto and smaller projects to be completed in the lab during your first couple of years before you are really set on your own dissertation research. Many times these smaller projects are pilot studies or will eventually be a part of your larger project, but not always. I was involved on 2 large, long term projects and 2 small lab projects. All 4 will result in something published with my name on it but only one is even remotely related to my dissertation work (and only because it is on similar types of dots). 

In the big push to get all my non-dissertation stuff out, I have submitted or resubmitted 5 times this year. Yesterday morning I got the email that the biggest of these (in importance to me and in journal quality) is finally accepted!!!! Yay!!!!! The journal has a quick turnaround so it might even be out this year*! 

Then, this morning I heard back about a second paper. Also accepted!! Woo freakin Hoo!!!!!!!!!!!!

There is a big relief in getting the first paper out- we didn't have a backup journal planned and to be honest, I was starting to get really discouraged. Altogether, I've been rejected on various papers 7 times in a row and it was starting to get to me. People have different views on rejections and it seems that for every well meaning 'If you are not getting rejected, you are not aiming high enough' comment there is a careless 'If you are getting rejected, your work obviously isn't good enough'. The second paper is a big relief for our last author. She submits her tenure packet tomorrow and can move this to her "In Press" list before it goes out! 

It is so nice to get some much needed some good news on the publication front. It makes me excited to get back to writing! Having a lighter load with these projects finally off my back makes everything a little easier...

* I would really like a 2008 paper.


Let the games begin!

I know some of you out there are ready for football season!! The Grackle and I are big fans of our hometown teams from the Windy City so you know we will be cheering on the worst QB the NFL has ever seen tonight against one of the leagues best*.

This year marks my first foray into fantasy football though. I ended up with a terrible team after the draft. It was laughable, but after adding a few long shots and a few new guys, I'm just hoping for the best. So far, I'm losing but most of my guys haven't played yet...

Hope you are all having a great Sunday!!

* At least the Cubs haven't blown it yet!



One of the cool things about my department is that students are put in offices with students from other labs and walks of research life. My two officemates are basically both in different programs. At another university, we would all be in different departments. Despite this, when we get into the data collection phase, we all speak the same language because when it comes down to it, we all just count dots. After careful and difficult manipulations, one officemate counts different colored dots, the other counts differently shaped dots and I have done quite a bit of dot counting in my time as well.
Currently, I am seeing what happens to a dot over time and the way my experiments were run, I can observe my dots from the comfort of my AC lacking, cat and dog filled home*. Unfortunately, collecting dot data is tedious and boring. After a few hours, I can hardly see straight and my mind is mush. I am about halfway through and can't wait to be done.

...back to the dots....

* post coming soon on wonders of working from home.


Mapping out the semester

Thanks for all the good wishes about the postdoc! I am still super psyched and am trying to carry that excitement over to my remaining dissertation work. Here is what is left to do:

1) Finish data collection for Chapter 3. Another lab is processing samples for me while I collect the rest. This is hugely time intensive and really, really boring. Really.
2) Analyze data. Need to use a new program for this but have done a lot of groundwork/reading about it.
2) Write up Chapter 2. Everything is done, it has been analyzed, presented at conferences and I'm 2200 words into a first draft. Not many, but it is started.
3) Write up Chapter 1. Should be fairly straight forward.
4) Write up Chapter 3/4. This might be two chapters depending on the data.

In the past 9 months or so, I haven't been great about keeping deadlines for myself. While a lot got done, I had plans to get even more done and wasn't bothered by pushing back, say, my goal date to submit Chapter 2, in order to finish up side projects.

Now it is urgent to finish the dissertation. Thankfully, my fellowship for this semester will help me meet the following new deadlines:
September 30th: Chapters 1 and 2 drafts to advisor. Finish data collection.
October 31st: Chapter 3/4 analysis completed and draft to advisor.
November 11: Complete draft to Dean.
November ?: Defend dissertation.
December 5: Free from the shackles of grad student life forever!

It is really strange that my day planner is getting more use now than ever, despite the lack of classes, assignments, meetings, etc etc etc!


Best news ever!

After talking with my potential postdoc advisor today, it is no longer a potential.

I have a postdoc! Starting in January!!*

The project is good, the advisor is awesome, lots of potential for collaboration and flexibility to grow scientifically, plus it is pretty much the closest I can geographically be to the Grackle and our nest without compromising my scientific interests.

The biggest surprise of it all was that after looking at her numbers, she has offered me two guaranteed years of funding instead of just one. The situation could not be better.

It is all still sinking in.......

*Holy shit, I have to finish now....


Antisocial and uninterested

All the new grad students are here! They got here last week but I was at a loss for what to say about them. Now, I can clearly say that I couldn't care less about most of them. It is a big class and only 2 are in my program, 1 in my lab and 1 in the Grackle's. These two are alright. They both have stayed with us during interviews, we all get along and they seem like pretty good students.

The others, ohhh the others. Seem young, clueless and they annoy the crap out of me. One in particular. Without asking I already know his SAT scores, college scholarship amounts, how much his friends in industry make and how much he will make in industry just 5 short, easy years from now.
Right after he shared that tidbit, I shared that my cohort had 5 students in his program.
And how there is only 1 left.
He was really excited about how quickly the others graduated.
No one from my cohort has graduated yet. I might be the first and with tools like these around, that can't come quick enough!

I don't remember being this snarky about the new students ever before. Are they extra special this year or am I too old? Too close to finishing? No matter what, I just can't handle them.


The ultimate betrayal

Last year I taught a full lecture class due to a reduced load for a new hire. This year that professor is teaching the class and when asked, I contributed all of my resources (notes, syllabus, ppts, exams).
I was ok with it.
Until, I saw the first lecture.
More than half the lecture is made up of my slides. Alright, whatever, if I had an issue with this I shouldn't have given out my lectures.

What bugs me is that the professor made one change and one change only.
They put the titles in Comic Sans.

---Begin rant---

Anything but Comic Sans!!!!!!!*
Its characteristics are too casual for a lecture. It does not convey appropriate professionalism, let alone a first-class-of-the-semester-I'm-the-prof-not-your-buddy attitude. It conveys that your bake sale is for a really good cause. Or that your dance party starts at 8 pm sharp.

---End rant---

*Sorry for the rant if you love the Sans. I think it is great for a lot of things. Just not lectures. Or conference presentations. I had a labmate that used it (in turquoise-bold on a background of a watermarked field picture) for a conference talk. Red Phalarope and I all but threatened to disown her if she did it in her dissertation defense. She tried. We somehow talked some sense into her.


Songs meme

I never got tagged for this one but couldn't resist after LuckyBuzz just posted it recently...

List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re not any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now, shaping your summer. Post these instructions in your blog along with your seven songs. Tag seven others to see what they’re listening to.

1. Death to Los Campesinos, Los Campesinos
2. Plasticities, Andrew Bird (ok, the whole 'Armchair Apocrypha' album)
3. Walcott, Vampire Weekend
4. The Sound of Settling, Death Cab for Cutie
5. I Would Hurt a Fly, Built to Spill
6. St. Augustine, Band of Horses
7. Fleet Foxes new album. I don't know any track names because The Grackle makes me listen to it in the car basically everyday.

I'm not tagging but feel free to do/re-do this one if you want!


Last weekend of freedom

Classes start for us on Monday. By 'us' I mean everybody else. I am not teaching this semester and was done with classes a while ago. It will be nice to get back into a more strict routine. Hopefully it will help increase my productivity!

Before we get into the shitstorm of the semester though, I am trying to have a nice, relaxing weekend. During the week, I thought it might be possible to get to my HomeTown for my 10 year high school reunion. In the end, deciding that it was more important to get back for a wedding next month, I didn't go. Instead, I am working on paper revisions (and more revisions, and more revisions), catching up on blogs and making a dress with plans for a date night with the Grackle: dining al fresco followed by a double feature at the drive-in*. Now I am very pleased with my decision because that sounds way more fun than paying a bunch of money to hang out with drunk people I didn't know or haven't talked to since high school!**

*I think I might be the only person who hasn't seen The Dark Knight yet!
** Although my BFF will be there and I will miss seeing her till next month.


Biggest news....

The biggest news from the conference is still sinking in. I did a lot of networking with potential future PIs and it went well. A few might be getting money soon, another would try to write something with me...all good things but not amazing. Anybody getting money lives very far from the Grackle and my's current nesting site and writing something means at least a year of waiting/rejection/rewriting/hoping.
Then I had a meeting with my number one choice of postdoc PI, who is also one of my outside committee members for my dissertation. She has some money right now and in previous meetings we have talked about the possibility of my working in her lab. Well, she is still interested (as am I) and we are planning to talk about dates next week. There is a high possibility that she wants me to start in January. Which means I have to finish this degree. Soon. Really soon.

Commence freakout mode!!!!


Validation of cute shoes everywhere!!

The question of what to wear at a conference is a big one, especially if you are presenting/looking for a job/trying specifically to impress. Last year I was in the middle of a long, hot, gross field season and went all out- skirts every day. It was a reaction to my working conditions at the time and probably a little bit ridiculous. I've also been known to wear bright, bright red for presentations. Love the power color!

This year, I was more concerned with comfort as it was a loooong week and I'd never been to this particular meeting so wasn't sure what the norm was. Turns out there were some of the most stylish (and also sloppiest) folks I've seen all at one meeting. Giant scarves galore! Yay!

I've been known to say that I might not be brilliant but at least I have cute shoes. The same notion applies to clothes so here is the dress selected for my talk:

Professional and stylish yet not too frivolous was the goal. I felt that it looked good and didn't give it another thought.....till the post banquet outdoor bar party. I sat down near a few other women I had met earlier in the week and scanned the nametags of others in our little circle. One guys name was very familiar, due to being very famous. Like, read-his-papers-my-first-year famous*. We chat and in addition to telling me that he really enjoyed my talk he also mentions that I ... 'had on a really smart dress.' Of course, this started the whole conversation of how the often-outdoors-based-research we do influences how we dress. Personally, I appreciate getting dressed up- or even just dressed in 'business casual' and am happy for opportunities to do so. Not everyone agrees. The Grackle is very much of the mindset that his work is the same whether or not he is wearing matching socks**.

I know that we shouldn't judge based on appearance... but we do. Depending on your subfield, a suit for an interview is either required or laughable. Despite my concern for dress at conferences/teaching/tests this was the first time that it was really verified that someone important took notice of me because of how I presented myself.

I always thought it mattered and well, there you go. Weird. And it sort of makes me want to go shopping.....

*I'm still kicking myself for being intimidated and not talking to him very much. Really thought I was over that by now.

**which, don't worry, he usually does.


Conference recovery weekend

We (as a lab) made it back from our conference in one piece, although some of us-not me, of course ;) more hungover than others. It was just the second conference for my labmate, Short-toed Eagle. Last year he was very ill throughout our trip so didn't have much fun but made up for it this year! My other labmate, Red Phalarope, and I have both been there ourselves in our younger years but were happy to avoid the drinking-too-much this time around.

I had a great time socially and professionally. Most importantly was my talk. It ended up being in the worst room and my session was at the same time as a session filled with famous people on a related topic. I was still happy with the turnout and seeing a few key people who made sure to be there. The talk itself has gone smoother (I've presented it twice before and was a little nervous this time around) but overall, very pleased with it. Even more pleased that it was over early in the conference so I could relax, enjoy the science and focus on networking.

More on that later, I need to enjoy being home and watch the Olympics right now!


Conference time

I am headed to this years Big International Conference this week. We are leaving at 4 am tomorrow to drive to ConferenceTown in time for the first speakers. Which means I have to be dressed and presentable to important people before I even leave my house. Places that sell coffee aren't even OPEN that early!

This is the biggest conference in my subfield and I am really hoping to do some postdoc related networking. The two people I have spoken to about working with (one in and one out of my preferred geographic area) will both be there and have been in contact recently. I really dropped the ball though and didn't pre-conference contact any other potential PIs. It just didn't happen, so instead I am relying on impromptu networking skills: a keen eye and ability to approach when isolated during coffee breaks, or at least the ability to stand around awkwardly until someone finishes a conversation and realizes that you exist and look like you want to talk to them. Heh.

In less nerve wracking networking- there is a woman who I met at my (and her) first conference 5 years ago. She has done really well, with great pubs and a high-powered, international postdoc. I am really excited to meet up with her and catch up. Plus, my first blogger meet-up! Yay!

I'm going to be busy until we leave at the crack of pre-dawn....
To do:
Finish talk
Practice talk
Do a voodoo dance to ensure that videos in presentation will work
Upload talk (6 pages of instructions on how to do this. hope I can figure it out)
Go to Target
Buy detergent/fabric softener/assorted other things (I <3>
Iron clothes
Have nice dinner with the Grackle
Do nails
Re-read recent/relevant literature


New Dr.!!

My friend, Kookaburra**, defended her dissertation yesterday. When I started my PhD program, everyone always told me 'Oh, you and Kookaburra would get along great!' because we both like crafts, music and large Southern states. Well, it was true. In addition to always having a super fun time together, she had a very different path than me in starting and getting through grad school. Overcoming different personal issues, academic setbacks, and difficult advisors; her experiences have taught me a lot.

One of her favorite sayings is "You define your own success." It is hard to remember this little gem when those people you look up to and learn from (profs and advisors) often have a very narrow view of success (tenure track position at a research institution) and a tendency to pass judgment quickly (anything else = complete and utter failure). Whether it is a family, a job at a teaching institution or a geographically limited postdoc, no one should make you feel bad about what you want. Despite this, they often do intentionally and unintentionally. That's seriously messed up. I applaud Kookaburra for having a full life in and out of science/academia and hope I can remember to define my own success even with her on the other coast*.

Congrats Dr. Kookaburra!!

* she also has a penchant for leaving inspirational post-its around her house. Maybe my desk plant will get one with this saying on it.

**Edited because I forgot to look up the spelling of Kookaburra. I'm new to birds. Please forgive me.


Welcome to my new blog!
Good to see you, or good to see you again if you are coming over from my old home. I started blogging about my hobbies and day-to-day life about 3 years ago and recently found myself writing more and more about my experiences as a science graduate student. So, this is my new forum to focus on the issues faced by graduate students, women in science, dual-career couples, long distance marriages, and whatever else may come my way as I finish my Ph.D. and figure out what comes next.

The Wandering Albatross (Diomedea exulans) is a seabird in the Southern hemisphere and is know to have the largest wingspan of any living bird species. They were also considered a good omen to sailors back in the old sailing days. I'm quite tall and once, a friend trying to call me an Amazon messed it up and called me an albatross. Given my science-y nature, I do quite a bit of wandering but even more wondering*.

*I love a good pun.