Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Giving (Christmas) Spirit

Now that the Christmas season has past (or maybe it last until the New Year), I'd like to take some time to reflex on my experience.

I have trouble purchasing gifts for people for a number of reasons.
1) I don't like crap. To clarify, I don't want things I don't need and therefore find it hard to purchase something for someone when I think they don't necessarily need it.
2) I hate shopping
3) I think Christmas and life in general is too commercialized. We have too much stuff.
4) I don't feel good about buying items from most companies but don't feel educated enough to know where to shop.

So, this year I really didn't buy much and what I bought was small and simple. I bought the most stuff for my sister and she picked it all out and I wrapped it. She is 11

But then on the 24th I watch Santa Clause II on the Disney channel at my husband's grandma's house. At one point in the movie Tim Allen is at this lame teacher party and he decides to use his magic to make gifts appear for all the guest. These gifts turn out to be things that the teachers had wanted in their youth. All were excited and the party went from dull to fun. The lesson I learned from this scene is that people like presents. People like to received gifts, it makes them feel loved and it makes them happy. So although I'm not the kind of person who likes gifts most people do. I became sad that I didn't come up with more thoughtful gifts for my friends and family.
Maybe this movie tricked me into buying back into the consumerism life, but is it really that bad to buy presents for people you love? Just because they may not need the gift doesn't mean I can't buy it anyway.
I talked about this with my husband and he disagreed. He said someone needs to take a stand against consumerism. While I agree with him, I'm still sad and next year I plan to think ahead of time and purchase nicer gifts for friends and family.
Maybe I'm weak, but it's not like I'm poor and can't afford gifts. I just feel like I've been lazy about it.

So besides this little dilemma I have the holiday was nice. In retrospect I feel like I saw so many people but didn't get much quality time. I don't really know how anyone in my family is doing. I've decided to write nice New Year letters to everyone, maybe they'll write back and I'll get to hear more about their lives.

My husband and I are also debating if we should come out to see family next Christmas. It's of course 365 days away from now so who knows, maybe we will live in home state again next year. But I think it would be more fruitful to visit with friends and family without all the holiday rush going on.
We also invited everyone to come visit us in the Midwest, so hopefully that will take the burden off us always doing the traveling.

I hope everyone else had a nice holiday experience.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

What have you done with my adviser

Yesterday I had my weekly meeting with my adviser. I called him because it seemed he didn't get my e-mail on Monday. I hate checking/sending e-mail through the web but can't get lotus notes to download on my laptop. Anyway we had a phone meeting instead of skype.
If you don't remember, the last meeting with my adviser I spoke my mind and didn't seem to get my point across and my adviser said finishing my dissertation (or maybe just this resubmit) is like making fine wine.
Well, this same person yesterday told me that it shouldn't be a problem to graduate by May. Wow. Maybe my sticking up for myself helped? And maybe the fact that I told him how awesome I was at the conference helped. His simple statement has made me regret all the mean thoughts I've had towards him in the last year. He also said that this resubmit will be the most difficult manuscript to write. It is on a subject that is well established and we are saying HEY try evaluating this subject in a brand new way. The other 3-4 manuscripts I'm writing are on a different subject, one that only began in 1998 and is recently still gaining understanding and incite, thus my papers will be a large contribution to the field. It is this subject that I presented at the recent meeting where everyone said "oh you are Jennie."

So I'd like to retract everything I've said previously about adviser that was negative and say, "my adviser is great!"
let's see what I say next week :)

On another note, I haven't gotten very much work done this week, between being sick and now being bloated I don't feel like working. I did call a lab today since we are confused about the data they sent us (for the resubmit). They were going to check the lab notes about the dilution factor. And I pretty much am still waiting on bits and pieces for the other manuscripts so I don't feel too guilty about slacking off since there isn't a whole lot to do. I could probably look up journal articles and reread my intro for the dissertation.
I'm going to pick up my sister from school today. She has a half day, and she's in 6th grade if I haven't mentioned this already. We are going to do some xmas shopping, I have yet to buy one present, well maybe one, and then we are going to make granola bars. These will be my home made present this year. I've decided I'm only buying real presents for family under 18 and everyone else gets a gift card and/or granola bars. Although I'll likely buy something for my mom's car, brakes or tires.
I just don't feel like I see my close friends enough to know what they want/need. It's sad. But I'm really just happy to see them and hopefully if I stop buying things for them they will stop buying things for me. Last year my husband got a power drill from my best friends husband. Um, we already have one. Needless to say we re-gifted it. I've always been a fan of this and usually call it recycling.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Conference and Catch Up

I'm having such a wonderful time on the west coast.
The conference went well. I think I could have missed out on Monday and Tuesday besides the fun lunches. Wed. was a great poster session and Thursday was my oral session. Oh and wed. night about 15 people from my session all went to dinner. It was good time. What I found really cool was that people said "oh you are Jennie, you are the one who measured that really cool piece of science." I also think my talk went well and I had a great conversation after the oral session to help someone sort out the details of his new project and we are going to keep in touch. This man also asked me several times during our conversation when I was going to graduate. I found this strange. He ended our conversation with this question again so I asked if he was hiring. He said no but that I should tell the organizers of the session so they could keep their ears open for me.
Strange. . .
My husband said his poster session went really well and some big names came by and liked what he had done.
Oh and this conferences does free beer everyday. Great fun.

Thursday night my husband and I drove to his home town, where we met as undergrads, less than two hours from conference town. Friday we had breakfast with his dad, went for a run, had lunch with his mom, soaked in a hot tub and sauna then hung out with his mom some more. I woke up this day with a sore throat and even though we tried to kill it in the sauna I was feeling pretty bad by the time we got to his mom's house. Being the hippy that she is she had lots of natural supplements to give me. I took all that I could and passed on dinner with a friend in favor of passing out around 8pm.
I had hoped that my nasal problems all week were due to our very dusty accommodations at husband's grandma's house but it didn't seem so.
I'm feeling much better today, go hippy mother in law. My throat has gone from, it hurts to swallow, to just an annoying feeling. I was able to run around today shopping with my mom and sister and we saw Alvin and the Chipmunks. It was cute. Then we finished decorating the Christmas tree and now my sister and I are just surfing on our laptops.
My husband went back to the Midwest this morning and just called me even though his flight landed 5 hours ago and I asked him to call me when he got there so that I knew he wasn't dead, ect. He didn't remember this promise, of course. He went to his groups holiday party once he arrived and then called after he got my message.
The plan is for me to stay here in this beautiful, warm(ish) beach town and work this week. My husband will join me again this week-end and we will commence crazy-see-everyone holiday week-end. Then we will have until Jan 1st. to relax and visit.

I love this time of year it always takes me from some cold, miserable place to a happy, sunny place.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Tagged I'm it

I have been tagged another meme. As much as it is difficult to do these it's nice to get tagged because it means someone is reading my blog. Yeah.

Seven Random Things Meme from Mrs.WhatsIt

1- Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
2- Share 7 random and or weird things about yourself.
3- Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
4- Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

(1) I've had three fathers. My biological one died in a motorcycle accident before I was born, my "dad" since I was 3yrs old died from a heart defect he was born with when I was in 5th grade. My third dad and my mom divorced when I was a sophomore in college. He is however still in my life since he is my sisters biological dad. *sorry to start on a sad note*

(2) I still have a great grandma who is alive (more positive) and knew two other of my great-grandmas. The positive side of so many dads is lots of grandparents.

(3) I've failed one class. It was an undergrad course that happen to be with the professor my now husband did his undergrad thesis with. I went to the professor for help and she told me to do A and B and come back to her office. Every time I went back she wasn't there. She wrote about this in my narrative evaluation. (I went on to ace the class the second time around-with a different professor)

(4) I didn't get grades as an undergrad, we did narrative evaluations.

(5) I started a new women's rugby team, which is now operating decently with out me.

(6) I interviewed on the phone today to teach a course this spring

(7) I had a stuffed bunny that we put out every Easter Eve. This bunny would turn into the easter bunny and hide my eggs for me.

That was fun. I'll tag people later.

Aren't we smart enough

A previous TA of mine and a now colleague of my husband stayed the night at our house last night to attend a workshop where my husband works. My husband worked with TA (as I will now call him) as an undergrad, as such they have kept in contact. TA is now at an institution near to us where he does teaching 75% of the time, research 25% of the time, sits on committees and obtained tenure in less than 5 years (he said it's common at his university to do it in 6). He advises no graduate students but conducts research with a lot of undergrads. All of the data he writes as first author. The university has zero to few graduates.
Anyhow, now that you have a little back ground on him I wanted to mention that multiple times in our conversation last night he said "if i was smarter," "but I'm not smart enough"
WOW. I know he received a pretty distinguished post doc position and here is this man talking about if he was smarter. I say man because I've heard so much about women generally feeling this way.
In essence everything he said could have came from my mouth.
He said he's not very passionate about his research but loves to teach, if he was smart enough he would change disciplines. I tried to be pc and instead corrected him and said he wasn't determined enough to change disciplines. He said this is a reason he is glad not to advise graduate students because he doesn't feel smart enough to train the next generation in his discipline.
He talked about some research he does which is on the outskirts of his previous knowledge and again mentioned not being smart enough to yet figure it out.
Besides him not being smart enough, we had a great conversation about the process of applying for positions. He helped me convince my husband to apply for a certain position because it's a brand new department hiring 25 faculty members so I think there is chance both of us could get hired. He gave hints about writing the teaching statement. He also told me I should apply for positions even though I don't think I'm qualified since the process of applying only get easier as you go so your first application shouldn't be to your most desired job. Basically once you have a good template it's easier to go in and revise as papers get published or tailor it towards a different position.
He also said really nice things about my qualities as a faculty candidate that boost my ego some. Of course these compliments came from someone not very smart . . . j/k

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Graduate Student-0==Distinguished Professor-Infinity

Yep, the adviser won the argument again. The fact is that I think he’s pretty meager I just have a bad time arguing my point because I’m not 100% confident that I’m correct, and my adviser makes such good points.

Me: I’d really like to graduate soon
Him: No need to rush, no one is going to care how long it took you, and how long have you been here?
Me: Almost 6 years
Him: Well it takes most students 7 years when they get their masters along the way

I know think I set him up to make up an arbitrary number after he heard how long I’ve been here

Me: I think the paper is ready to resubmit
Him: I think it needs more figures
Me: The reviews said we had too many figures and tables
Him:Well we can’t sacrifice the good of the paper for an arbitrary figure number, besides most people just glance through the paper and look at the figures. Even if someone decides they don’t like your model you have so much data here, more than most (any) other manuscripts on this nature. The papers good for that, so focus on that more.
Me: True

Me: I’m loosing my motivation and feel like nothing has been accomplished this past year
Him: What are you talking about? You collected all that marvelous data that professor at other university said was great and you got the almost invited talk at big conference and instead of submitting a short communication coauthor said WOW this is great data make a full publication
Me: Yeah, I guess
Me: I want to graduate
Him: These things take time don’t rush we are making fine wine here
Me: Well maybe you have time for fine wine but I’m happy with cheap wine. I’m not trying to be hasty or lazy I would just like to graduate
Him:In good time, in good time. . . .

We also discussed the weather, the holiday party I missed, my talk for big conference (he won’t be there) and my next visit back to dissertation town.

My adviser said he was happy with my progress and my writing is getting better (I asked him about it). He loves to tell examples of really famous people who get crappy reviews and students who complain about how long things are taking but then get big awards for papers.

I feel like I got my point across, and that my point is wrong. But I’m happy I got it off my chest. My hopes for a May graduation are down the drain yet I’m still going to keep trucking along and see how things go.

I’m happy my adviser had actually read the paper before the meeting. I should have said that to him. We will meet online again after the big conference next week and I foresee the paper resubmitted this year. He said he’d like to see it again before I resubmit but finals are the week of the 17th so hopefully now that he’s heard my side of the story he’ll be efficient and give me feedback quickly.

GOAL: E-mail adviser revised version of manuscript by Dec9th before I fly to conference state. I think this is a reasonable goal, 3 or so days.

My husband is awesome, ect.

I've decided to steal this title from Dr. Brazen Hussy, since I was contemplating what to call it anyway.

Background information:
Yesterday was suppose to be the day I told my adviser that I'm submitting this resubmit because I think it's good enough and I'm tired of putting it off. I've been working really hard on it. I need something to show from my efforts and while my adviser is a distinguished professor and 70+ years old and has all the time in the world I don't. I've been working on my dissertation for 6 years and have one manuscript, plus a sh*t load of abstracts but abstracts won't help me get jobs.
I made a list of things I wanted to say and was nervous all morning. Then adviser changes meeting time to today and sends me a revised abstract. The abstract was nothing like mine and it made me loose all confidence and I decided I could no longer go through with my speech.
Then husband comes home and reads both abstracts and starts to tell me why mine is no good but it turns out since he didn't know which was which he thought mine was my advisers and vice versa. Exactly, my abstract is better than my advisers! My husband published 8 first author manuscripts while a PhD student so I'd say he's a good judge on the subject. (we are both in same discipline but different subjects). He then proof read my 25 page manuscript and gave comments and told me to submit it. In addition when I woke up this morning I noticed he had put the dishes in the dishwasher away. What a guy :)

But now today, I have to decide if I still want to go through with speech.
These are my main points
1. I am not being lazy by not wanting to work on it more.
2. The reviewers will do a much better job critiquing it then we can
3. It is my paper. I am the expert. (this one is scary because I'm afraid it will say I know more than adviser)
4. I am loosing motivation
5. I am not super busy, i.e. I want to finish my projects and move on
6. Do you think I am improving as a writer? Do you think I am ready to graduate?

I think number one and number three are the ones that keep me listening to my adviser when he says it's not ready. Although I really feel he says this because he hasn't read it yet. I think it's hard to argue with him because it makes me feel like I'm saying I'm smarter than him, but I don't think this is true.

My husband has been really supportive and reminding me that I am smart and hardworking.

Writing is my least favorite thing to do. I loose all motivation and confidence and it depresses me. I wonder, "where the hell is that smart, athletic, confident Jennie I know?" She was around during grad school years 0-5, but she's slowing becoming fat, self-pity Jennie. I don't like this Jennie, but this Jennie always seems to win. Yesterday instead of running I made Kahlua coffee. Now it's a snowy mess today and I can't run.

I read this interesting article about how to raise smart kids and I think it applies a lot to my life. It talks about the difference between thinking being smart is something innate or something that you can become. Those that think it's something you can work at are more likely to think positive when faced with a challenge. Those who think being smart is something you are born with decide that if something becomes difficult to do it's because they are not smart enough, they then tend to give up.
I think part of my depression (dissertation blues?) stems from this feeling of helplessness. Like either I am not smart enough to do something on my own or the helplessness of waiting for others to help me complete something.

If I can only train myself to see life's difficulties as challenges I can work though and conquer I think finishing my dissertation and corresponding publications will be 100% easier. And not easy because I am smart but easy because I will work hard and have a better attitude about things.

Lets hope for the best

Monday, December 3, 2007

The Which Spice Are You Test

Your Score: Cayenne Pepper
You scored 75% intoxication, 75% hotness, 75% complexity, and 50% craziness!

You are Cayenne! You're known for your dry wit, saucy remarks, and ability to stimulate (take that however you want). People in hot climates like you for your ability to make them sweat, but you're also quite good for people all over the world. Just don't mention your cousin, deadly nightshade.

Link: The Which Spice Are You Test written by jodiesattva on OkCupid, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Sunday, December 2, 2007

It's over

The writing challenge is over. I didn't want to see my word bar up in the corner anymore but didn't feel like deleting it. So here it is.
I'm happy with my progress. I didn't meet my goal but I think I got a lot more done this month than I would have without the challenge.
Check out the results of the competition here.

Now it's time to move on and move forward. I need to convince my adviser that the resubmit is ready and that I'd like to do this before the Dec. conference, which I leave for on Sunday Dec. 9th. I mention this in our meeting last Tuesday and he said it wasn't possible, but I'm done with making his changes and I def. think it's ready. Wish me luck in changing his mind. It's been four months since we got the acceptance with revisions letter and although it is an entirely new paper and I'm glad we've made the changes we really need to be done with it already. It's hard to say this without sounding like you are being lazy but enough is enough.

Friday, November 30, 2007


I finally got around to doing this. Here it is.

The Happy Scientist tagged me for my very first meme, that requires 8 responses to several topics.

8 passions
1. Rugby
2. Women equality issues
3. My Husband
4. Science
5. Environmental issues
6. Grocery shopping/organic food
7. My family
8. My good friends

8 things to do before I die
1. Finish my dissertation
2. Live on the west coast again
3. Play rugby with a Division 1 team (A-side game)
4. Have a child
5. Curb my addiction to all things sugar and food in general
6. Own a home (on west coast)
7. Own a car that is less than 10 yrs old
8. Save the environment

8 things I often say
1. I hate writing
2. I brought my own bag
3. Can we please leave the house today?
4. I went for a run today
5. I hate running
6. That’s what I said
7. No, no
8. What should we have for dinner?
I work at home and don’t talk to people much. This one was hard

8 books I recently read
1. I just finished the Price of Motherhood (recommend it)
2. An older yoga book
3. Taking on the big Boys by Ellen Bravo (just started it Love It, Recommend it)
4. Bitch Magazine
5. Running Magazine
6. Discovery Magazine
7. Veg Times Magazine
8. Signs Magazine (my grandpa gets in for me, it’s good bathroom reading)

As you can see I read a lot of magazines. My sister just had a magazine drive and I just canceled the newspaper so I figured I sign up for a few. I’m not renewing Running Mag. Magazine are good because they don’t require a big time commitment. I don’t usually read more than one book at a time.

8 songs that mean something to me
I’m sorry, I’m cheating, I can’t come up with eight songs so I’m going to write down my favorite bands
1. Ani Difranco. She is currently my running inspiration and I listen to her stuff when ever I’m working on spreadsheets. I could come up with my eight songs just from her work. It’s amazing how I can listen to her work years after I initially heard it and get new meaning from it.
2. Beastie Boys
That’s it. Those are my two passions. I love these artist. They get me motivated.
I enjoy most music but mostly listen to public radio.
I have a lot of Jonny Cash and Bob Marley mp3’s

8 qualities I look for in a friend
1. Honesty
2. Fun loving
3. Into being outdoors/athletic
4. Low maintenance
5. Cares for the environment
6. Intelligent
7. Likes to drink (kind of a funny one but I’m running out of things here. I wouldn’t not be someone’s friend if they didn’t drink)
8. Doesn’t like to text message

8 people who's blogs I enjoy and who may consider themselves tagged if they wish

The Happy Scientist already tagged some of these people. So it you were tagged already, of course don’t do it twice, just know, I like your blog. Also if you are reading this and wish you were tagged, feel free to tag yourself.
1. Young Female Scientist
2. Dr. Mom
3. His Gal Friday
4. I love science, really
5.Janus Professor
6. Pretty hard, dammit
7. Saturday's a Rugby Day
8. What the hell . . .

Great. Hope you learned something about me.
I'm going to yummy Italian food soon with husband and another couple. I hope I can convince them to walk the 1 mile down there but I'm pretty sure it's below freezing outside so it will be a tough argument.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


I'm tired of counting words. It's getting complicated. I'm at 49% and you think I could not give up and count enough to make it to 50% but I'm done. With that said, I am really happy with my progress this past month. I didn't make the exact goals I had hoped for but I've gotten a lot of writing done, most of it revisions which makes counting difficult.
I've actually done a lot of work putting together my dissertation which I didn't think I'd start until January, but since I'm waiting for other people on my publications I thought I might as well do some of it (since I needed to increase my word count). I'd like to show my outline here and mention how much I've done (to pat myself on my back). The outline was only written in October.

Ch. 1 INTRODUCTION (isn't it always).
This is finished! Granted some was cut and pasted from manuscripts I'm working on and/or edited from my masters thesis but still. It is five pages and has three sections. It could likely be longer but each individual chapter will have have an intro. so this is just basic info and you know the summary about what the dissertation is about. The first section is background info about the hydrogeology of the study area. The second two sections are info about the two major groundwater contaminants I work with, so heath impacts, sources of contamination, ect. You can always put in more info about other peoples work but I feel like I've summarized pretty good and included the major review papers.
Ch 2. Contaminant #1
This has four subsections, three of which are going to be publications. So once those are done I'll cut and paste and format into dissertation. The last subsection I've written this past week. I didn't think it was going to be enough data for a manuscript but now that I've written it up I'm thinking it could be. It's only the second data set of it's kind on this contaminant so I think it deserves to get out there. But I'll wait until the other papers have been submitted and then think about it again.
Ch 3. Major chemistry of contaminant #1 and #2 sources.
This is more of an appendix style chapter. I've written the text, it's about a page, and will make the tables once the last of the data comes in. Part of this is the manuscript I'm resubmitting. So I refer to it but again this is more of a look at all this data, maybe somebody later can use it in a different way than I have, and most of the data has been interpreted in other sections.
Ch 4. About contaminant #2
I wrote the text for this today up until the results section. That's when things get hard :) This is a continuation of my master's thesis. Where the masters had a years worth of data this is four years of data, plus some changes to the study sites, so new data. It's really interested but maybe not publishable since I've been told it's only important locally and doesn't have a broad impact. Most of this data analysis has been done for abstracts but I need to think about it again and organize my thoughts better before I write the results and discussion. I will likely try to submit it once life has settled. There is a local journal I submitted the master's thesis data to.

Ok, then there is a nice conclusion/summary chapter and of course the abstract of the dissertation. These are things that will be completed last so they aren't on the radar yet.

I feel great. Thanks InaDWriMo.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Ok, so I’m really upset but can’t help but partially blame myself. Here is the deal (I may give some things away about what I study but oh well). I needed samples analyzed for organic nitrogen but we can only do inorganic nitrogen in my department. We found a contract lab near by that another student had used in the past. We called and told them what we had and what we needed done and they even said that 50mL would be enough sample even though the usually require more. Ok the lab chief knows about us let’s get things ready and send out the samples. Below is a portion of their fancy Chain of Custody report. As you can see there is only 10 lines. Look at this image before you read on and tell me how many samples you think I’ve sent them for analysis and remember that we spoke with the lab chief.

Ok. Did you really think about it and not just skip down to cheat?

What number did you come up with? Was it four or was it twenty seven. I’m pretty sure those are the only two possible answers but again I thought there was only one answer to this question. I guess it would also help to open the box and see twenty seven 50mL vials clearly labeled. What are on these labels? Well each individual vial has a different identifier, so for example, you wouldn’t see 13 vials that say “W40-W52”. Nope you’d see W40,W41,W42,W43,W44,W45,W46,W47,W48,W49,W50,W51 and W52.

I always thought “-“ was universal for through. If I had written W40 through W52 maybe there still would have been the same confusion.

Before I rant on too far I should say that when the data finally came back to me and I was expecting 27 values I received four. Hm, I thought that’s strange let me e-mail the lab chief and wait during the long holiday week-end for an answer. Her answer was that the samples W40 THROUGH W52 were compiled into one sample and that samples W70 THROUGH W81 were also compiled into one sample. She said something like, “the technicians were confused and thought I wanted compiled samples so just send us some more sample and they will run them.” THAT WAS THE LAST OF MY SAMPLES WHICH IS WHY WE ONLY SENT YOU 50 mL.

Now I keep kicking myself because I wasn’t clear enough and I didn’t attach a separate sheet listing every sample. I send my samples out to a few different labs and they all ask to have things written like this, for example, 1-100, instead of writing out 100 numbers. And their stupid little sheet only had room for 10 sample but I had 27. And I thought well it says number of bottles here so that can’t be confusing. And we talked to the lab chief. And we never said compile the samples. E-mail me if you are confused.

You think, “I’ve sent out hundreds of samples before. This is so easy.”

It always seems to happen when it’s the last of something. So instead of 27 values I have two usable ones. I haven’t gotten an invoice yet but we sure as hell aren’t paying them anything. Oh, and my response to the lab chief. “This is horrible news. We don’t have any more sample.” That was all I could muster. I was in such shock.

**update. I spoke with my adviser today and he is also amazed that the lab made this mistake. tisk, tisk

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Giving credit

I noticed that I was linked to on The Happy Scientist so I immediately felt bad and decided I needed to be more honest in my side bar. I've listed the blogs that I book mark. Some of them are pretty new to my favorites and I guess it took me a while to put them all up there because I'm fickle. I will book mark blogs until it gets to the point where firefox tells me that it will take a long time to load all the pages in my blog folder, (There is a cool option if you don't know about firefox to "open all in tabs" in a particular folder). When it gets to this point I delete the ones I don't feel I read often enough. This magic number seems to be 13. Of course I have to book mark myself in favorites. I moved a lot of the food blogs I read into a different folder to create more room for women scientist ones. The reality is I read a lot more than 12 blogs but I usually get to those from other peoples pages, and example is Profgrrrrl, and it use to be that FSP didn't get her own special book mark but I've decided I go to her page everyday so she deserves one.
While I'm giving credit where credit is due I should thank my newsletter of AWIS which had an article a few years ago discussing the importance of female science blogs. I don't remember which newsletter but it was at least a year ago, and they profiled a few blogs. The one that caught my eye was YFS, and I would read her page maybe once a week. It wasn't until I moved to the Midwest that I really got into reading blogs and now it's part of my morning routine. I gather this is because I now work from home, leaving my scientific community back on the East Coast. So maybe I think of the blogs now as my community?
So thanks AWIS and thanks YFS. I really get a lot about reading what other women scientist experience.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I'm the crazy bag lady

I hate going to the really close big box grocery store near my house. I go to that big box store vs. the little box store because they have a bigger organic section, and by bigger I mean they have an aisle and a frozen section. The nice big box organic store is a 20 min drive and my list today were items I couldn't find there on Friday plus some new things to the list. A small co-opt with only bulk items is my dream store augmented by a local, organic farmers market but another town another life. . .
I do appreciate the big box organic selection, although really no produce is organic, but they even have organic wine and beer (and vodka), really cool. And so many things were on sale.
Anyway, it's just a little depressing when you think about how far all these items have traveled so I can eat them and I get depressed when I see the fat people buying mayonnaise. And I get depressed when I think about how most of the people in this store choose items based on cost and not quality. Think of all the people on Thursday who will be eating twice as many calories as there bodies need and way too many preservatives. But I digress, my main reason for not liking to go to this big box store is the funny attitude I always get about bringing my own bags, and even though my bags are there they love to start putting things in plastic and then act all forgetful when I remind them. I really just want to preach about how bad plastic is, but I just smile and say "I don't like plastic." My bags are big sturdy canvas bags, fill them up!! I usually just go to the self check out but was feeling particularly lazy. I even drove to the store instead of walking or biking because I wanted to buy lots of said organic beer and wine.


So it's obvious I won't make my InaDrWriMo goal and I'm ok with that. I'm at 8% now, I'm aiming for 50% by Nov. 30th. Although resubmit should be um, resubmitted by then-see below.

I just got off my internet meeting with adviser and he said if I give him a draft of our resubmit tomorrow night he will read it over the week-end. I had to ask this but I'm glad he said yes. We told the journal it should be completed by the end of the month. I am also happy with the analysis of our newest data. Initially I was upset and hated our model and thought new data didn't fit, and it doesn't give us the same exact result but a similar one and still has an interesting conclusion. I also feel so much better now that I've propagated error for these crazy model equations with eight variables each. Some of the errors are pretty big but some are not. So I've revised the intro and lengthly methods and deleted the results section to just start fresh. I guess I could count these words as part of my progress, and I might, but it's hard to asses written words on a revise. This resubmit wasn't even included in my goals, so I've spent a lot of time this month not working on InaDrWriMo.

I'm still waiting for data on manuscript "1"
Still haven't gotten back manuscript "2"
And as previously mentioned I didn't analyze all samples needed for manuscript "3" and I just heard that lab tech won't likely analyze forgotten samples by conference time. They may just have to wait until I go back to dissertation town in January. Poor forgotten samples :(
Although I'd like to have my completed data set for manuscript "3" there is def. more I can still write while I'm waiting for these samples. It's a very big manuscript with two to three sub stories.

Oh and I wanted to comment about how amazing my home made salad just was. Spring mix, raisins, walnuts, hummus, cooked red potato and balsamic vinegar/olive oil/garlic homemade dressing. Yummy, I may go make some more.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Advisers and advising

There has been some interesting posts recently. First I read on YFS qualities that make a good graduate student (entry Failure). She was inspired by a post on FSP on the same subject. These posts were generally about how to know if an individual will make it as a graduate student. The conclusion is that I don't think you can, one just makes a best guess. So, I thought it very timely that I read this post on "I Love Science, Really," which is about a 5th year student in her lab (but maybe a different department) who is being kicked out by her adviser. WOW.

So my question becomes when should one do this. I mean, don't you think this women's adviser should have known before her 5th year that she wasn't going to make it. And did the adviser not know because zie* wasn't advising very well, or did zie feel like I think FSP sometimes does, and just didn't know what to do about a non productive graduate student. Maybe the student had been busy with teaching and course work, and then when research finally came around she had a really difficult project or one that required a lot of method development.

I'd like to hear a discussion about what is expected from an adviser-advisee relationship. I know sometimes it's unclear to me. My adviser has always been good about meeting. We've had weekly meetings since I started graduate school in 2002 and we had group meetings when we had a big enough group. These would just be students (and sometimes adviser) taking turns giving either practice talks for some conference or just general talks about their research or research questions. I liked group meetings. But as time progressed I've felt that weekly meetings aren't very important, if I have a question I would just go to adviser's office or send an e-mail and I really wished the hour or so we meet a week zie would spend reading my papers instead. Never the less, although I complain about my adviser's turn around time in reading my manuscripts I think zie is a good adviser and I think I've been a good advisee, and that I speak my mind to zie about "when the hell are you going to read my paper" and I finally have the courage to say "we shouldn't include that in the paper" although I usually don't win that second argument. I sometimes feel like I can never be correct over my adviser since zie has been working in science for the last 50 or so years.

On the other hand my adviser actually kicked out one of my good friends from his group. I wish I knew at that point that she could have said NO, like the lab mate of I love Science. Instead she frantically ran around our dept. and another dept. looking for a semester project just so she could get research credit and think about what to do for her master's and/or PhD. No one would take her. Our adviser was one of the first when the dept. was created in the late 60's or early 70's. Did he sway peoples opinion? In retrospect I don't think she would have wanted to stay in his lab. I don't agree with the way my adviser "dumped" her, but I can't completely blame him for doing it. It was obvious for a while that they didn't see science or grad school in the same way, and that he didn't specialize in the direction she wanted the project to head. Should my friend have noticed this soon enough and got out herself? Maybe, but I don't think students feel they can do this anymore than professors feel they can dump students. So she ended up spending two semesters finishing course work and writing a report to get a non thesis masters, during which she had no funding and had to pay for her credits.

One more point on adviser relationships. I also have a friend, who in her 4th or 5th year is having to be a TA again, due to lack of funding. This isn't so bad as some funding is better than none, but what is bad is that another student in her lab who is a 2nd/3rd year, Asian and male does not have to TA but is being funded by a group the adviser works with. Their projects are not that different yet when my friend asked to be funded by said group her adviser said her research wasn't in the scope of the groups funding. Hm, suspicious. So, is she a TA now because she speaks better English, is female, is somehow less worthy?
So what should she do. It's too late now as she signed the TA contract. But we decided the fair thing for her adviser to do would have been for his two students to share the TA ship and only TA one semester each, giving both more time for research. Although I really think her senority should have been the trump card. Don't make her TA so she can finish and you won't have to fund her anymore.

So I'm curious, how much can a student be honest with an adviser when they don't want to ruin their relationships since they 1) need the advisers help graduating and 2) will want good letters of recommendation.

*zie is my attempt at a gender neutral pronoun

Saturday, November 10, 2007

More words

Yesterday felt very productive. I wrote 289 words in my dissertation and am up to 711 words in manuscript #3. I think internet free fridays are going to be a great idea.
I also have lots of blog reading to keep myself busy this saturday afternoon. After I catch up it's back to writing!

Thursday, November 8, 2007


I finally opened my document (manuscript 3) to start writing! I wrote 173 words in the introduction, which is a little more than one paragraph. I decided I needed to remind myself of the pertinent literature and along the way came across a really cool taping of legislation discussing EPA's lack of setting a drinking water standard on the contaminant I'm working on. EPA was accused of slacking off and increasing the reference dose due to lobbying from DOD. It was very interesting to listen to. That took about 2 hours of my day.
But really why has EPA taken more than 10 years to take a stand on this contaminant? I understand if you set a standard too low, too soon it can cost a lot of money to clean up the contaminant which may not be necessary, but shouldn't we err on the side of being too cautious for the safety of public health, especially when standards are set to protect infants and pregnant women or sensitive populations?

Yesterday I finished making my presentation for the Dec. conference, which I'm sure will change more as I continue to practice the talk and as I write the corresponding manuscript. I'm also hoping for a few more analysis to include. But these analysis are being performed by others so I just need to cross my fingers.

I have been pretty productive this week but decided to ask the hubby to turn off the internet tomorrow so I will have no distractions. If this goes well maybe I should make all Friday's internet free. Really, if you send any important e-mails on a Friday they really can wait until Monday, right?

And maybe, just maybe, I'm going to sneak ahead on the word count . . . .

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


I figured I should give excuses for why my word meter hasn't moved since InaDWriMo began for me on Nov 5th, as other's have done.

As I mentioned in my revised goals I have to resubmit a manuscript that I thought would have been finished in "dissertation town."
So I spent this week making more plots, with new data. I am not very happy with these new plots as I feel the contradict our previous results. Argh. So in my meeting with my adviser yesterday we came to the conclusion that the scope of the paper should be changed. This is likely the third time the scope has changed and in reality I've written more than three papers in this one manuscript. So science goes . . . I guess

I spent the other portion of the week trying to find a copy of MatLab that would work with the code written by a co-author. Said co-author was a previous graduate student of my adviser and is now way out of contact. My adviser never ran the model so was no help there.

Today I was able to get the model to run, which is great, but I don't understand the output files. The first couple lines of the file doesn't make sense with the rest of the file and it doesn't seem to be the outcome of the previous iterations. I've sent an e-mail to another previous graduate student who wrote a help file to the model. She works now, at a consulting company, but is easy to get in touch with.

My plan is to put this manuscript on hold until I get in contact with help file previous graduate student. This likely won't be until the week-end.

The rest of the week will be spent making my presentation for the December conference and hopefully writing some of the manuscript which corresponds to the data in the presentation.

wish me luck.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


It's not quite InaDWriMo yet and I see my goals for November have to be changed.
I'm still committed to writing 600 words per day but let's evaluate these goals again.

1. Finish manuscript "1" to send to coauthors by Nov.9th.
I forgot that I'm sending samples away for analysis because we decided not to submit the short communication with the really exciting data but go ahead and make a 'complete' paper, which will take longer to get published but likely make a greater impact.
There were a few samples that still needed more data-which I wasn't planning on doing in my dissertation. So I'll need to wait for that data before I progress on that one.
Doing this will also make the next paper "3" a less complicated manuscript.
2. Write 600 words per day on manuscript "3"
Still planning on doing this. I collected more data here in dissertation town and can't wait to analyze it.
3. Create goal for manuscript "2" once received back from coauthor.
Yep still waiting for this.

I thought I was going to be able to resubmit a paper, let's call is paper "0" before I left dissertation town, but yet again, more data and new analysis of the model!

I feel very productive here in dissertation town and it's been nice to be part of a scientific community again. I go back on Friday, hopefully the next three days will be equally productive.

Friday, October 19, 2007

New blog

I created this blog so I could join InaDWriMo 2007.
I also thought this would be a good place to write down my thoughts, keep track of my dissertation progress, and stay in touch with friends and family.

As for my writing challenge, I've come up with three goals for the month of November. I'm not in the contest to win but like the idea of keeping myself accountable.
I have three manuscripts I'm working on, two that are in the final stages and one that is more like a verbose outline.

Goal 1. Finish manuscript 1 to sent to coauthors by Nov.9th.
Goal 2. Write 600 words per day on manuscript 3.
Goal 3. Create goal for manuscript 2 once received back from coauthor.

My writing month won't officially begin until Nov 5th since I need to go back to dissertation town this saturday for 1 baby shower, 2 talks I'm giving, 3 (?) days of lab work and as much interaction with my adviser as possible. We have a manuscript that was accepted with major revisions, of which, those major revisions should have been completed by now.

For those not aware I currently live in husband's job town. We moved here in July after he finished his dissertation from "dissertation town" and received a Post Doctoral position here. *Note he started a year before me so it makes sense I'm a year behind.
My adviser is being very accommodating by letting me finish my dissertation out of state.

I'll try to keep things here fairly anonymous. Although I'm not too worried about anyone finding my blog I've heard about bad stories about bosses, coworkers or students reading peoples blogs and becoming upset.

Ok-thanks for reading. My blog won't be updated too much until writing month begins.