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.