Thursday, December 4, 2008

December Conference

While I'm not presenting this year at the big December conference on the west coast my work does have some passes that the employees can share. I hope to be there all day on wed. and could take public transportation to the conference location Monday or Tuesday for dinner.

Let me know if you'd like to meet up!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


I wish I had time for a longer post but to summarize I'm going to say

  • I think I might look back on the year it took me to write my dissertation (from husband's post doc city) as one of the best years of my life

  • On my drive home today I was realizing that all the times my husband ignored me and passed up fun trips while working on his dissertation were in vain. He now isn't going to study what was so important to him for 7 years and all he has is a very sad memory of our time in dissertation state, and I have some sad stories about how he never wanted to have fun.
Comme si, comme sa
We just have to live in the now.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

5 things meme

Finally the meme,

5 Things I was doing 10 years ago

1. 2nd yr undergrad
2. moving out with my mom and sister from step dad's house
3. redefining myself
4. playing rugby
5. surfing

5 Things on my to do list today

1. make dinner and watch movie with husband
2. catch up on "some" blog reading
3. go through results section of resubmit (the one due in a week)
4. send e-mail about a different resubmit (likely to get done tomorrow)
5. consume alcohol beverage (leaning towards wine)

5 snacks I love

1. Chocolate peanut m&ms
2. granola and soymilk
3. Kahlua coffee
4. cheese
5. anything chocolate

5 things I would do if I were a millionaire

1. Buy myself a house
2. Buy my mom a house
3. keep working part time
4. donate to charities
5. save most of it (i'm a big saver)

5 places I've lived

1. home city on west coast
2. college (current) city on west coast
3. mountains of college city on west coast
4. Midwest (husband post doc city)
5. East Coast (dissertation city)

5 jobs I've had

1. at Orange Julius
2. at a local bakery in college city
3. physical scientist at federal institute
4. Grad student
5. environmental consultant

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


One of the manuscripts I submitted to the "special edition" journal was accepted! There are some great comments. This is the first time I've felt good about comments from a manuscript. It feels great and makes me miss academia! I also really loved my research and it's cool after taking time off to go back and read through it, knowing that other people think it's good enough to publish. The catch is that I have two weeks to turn it around. Tomorrow evening I'm going with Mom and Sister to where I grew up for Thanksgiving time until Saturday. Guess my laptop is coming too, and had hoped my running shoes would be the extra luggage. And I have committed to giving priority to manuscript from "long-ass" time ago for Dec 1-5, which includes a day visit to where the coauthors work so we can work together (close drive). And last, I submitted two manuscripts to this "special edition" so I'm curious if the second one is getting accepts (would be great) and when I'll hear back about it since it will also likely have a two week turn around time.
So much for my relaxing work schedule I've had.

I've wanted to write a substantial post about my new job but here are a few points
-I like it
-Sometimes I wish I was working on what I learned in grad school so I don't feel like such a dope
-A male employee high up in the company has made uncomfortable remarks to me and towards me. I don't want to go into too much detail about this now as I'm not sure how anonymous my blog is. I'll just say he has a history of doing this and my supervisor said I should call him on it or bring it up to HR. Last, he is an older male and the comments are really hard to interpret. Like I think he's trying to joke and be cordial but they come off sounding slightly offensive.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


I'm so happy to be reading about everyone's InaWriMo progress. It reminds me of why I started my blog last November. I was stuck far away from dissertation state writing my dissertation from home all alone and needed a supportive network. Yeah bloggers for providing that for me. Although I wasn't able to participate this year I'll give everyone an update of my "working for free" status.

I submitted two manuscripts from my dissertation to the special journal issue I was invited to submit to. One made the deadline of Nov. 4th and the other was submitted on the 5th (editor said this was ok). I'm very happy with the first one but the second one might need a lot of revisions, but I hope it gets accepted. That data is very tricky because there is a lot of it and the patterns aren't always exactly the same from site to site. I tried not to draw too many antidoctal conclusions and put all of the raw data into supplemental data. I though I'd go the simple route and then could add more interpretation depending on the questions of the reviewers.

The co-authors from "long-ass" time ago manuscript and I have been e-mailing. We have decided to dedicate the first week of December to getting this bad boy out the door again. A month ago I went through the reviewers comments and thought about how to correlate them into the manuscript. I wanted to work with the raw data again but didn't have the program needed. So sometime this month I need to look through my notes again and make a good plan of what should be accomplished (in my mind) and send that to co-authors in preparation for the dedicated week. Then on my day off that week I'll meet them in their office so I can use the program the data is in.

Manuscript "0" is trucking along very slowly. In, maybe, August my Ph.D. adviser decided we needed some more measurements and that another student of his could analyze them as she was going to be learning that piece of equipment for her own samples. I asked him of this status last week and his only comment was that this student is now pregnant-due in Jan/Feb. I don't know this student very well so I haven't decided if I should e-mail and congratulate her and ask the status of the samples. Or if I should just keep going through my Ph.D. adviser. The analysis doesn't require the use of any chemicals and my samples are just soil water, not very comtanimated and surley nothing is volitle in them, so it should be safe for a pregnant women to do. It has been almost a year now since the comments came back on this manuscript. Yes it has gotten a major overhaul but I'm starting to care less and less about it but still have that nagging feeling that I've spent so much damn time on it already I'd like to get it published. If the samples haven't been analyzed by the end of the year I'm either going to have to go with what I have or give up on it.

There are more chapters from my Ph.D. dissertation that I could think about publishing but I'll save that for another time. This week I'm enjoying having few responsibilities.

I'm enjoying my job a lot. Learning new things, meeting new people. Lots of field days. My first two weeks were about 35 hours each but this past week was only 25. I have two field days this week, which will help with my hours, but I'm hoping to get involved in more projects.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008


There is a lot to catch up on and little time to do it in.

I need to fill out my absentee ballot and drop it off this week-end at a polling place.

I have two manuscripts to finish by Nov. 4th.

My new jobs is going well. Tracking my hours is going to take some time to get use to. I worked 8.5 hrs on Monday but could only account for 6.5 hours of work. Our work is done in American units!

today is my day off from work .... back to writing

Monday, October 13, 2008

Are you a student?

In clear avoidance of working on my postdoc proposal I have been reading FSP: The Book. I did initial look into the book for proposal writing information but became distracted and am reading Ch.17, " On being a female science professor." She makes a few references about others assuming she is a student or postdoc or administrator, presumably due to her young looks, but later concludes that it might have to due with her gender.

My experience at a party Saturday is only slightly related to what I have been reading but it made me think about the question I received, more than once, in a different light. So I thought I'd blog and share.

I went with my sister (who is 12) and my mother (who is 20 years older than me) to an apple party up in the mountains. My sister went to preschool with the girl who lived where the party was and my mom works with the girl's mom. I call it an apple party because the house in on an apple orchard and we made apple juice using an old fashion press, but really it was just a normal bbq type party with lots of food and alcohol. But the point is that my mom knew a lot of people there from work. I'm guessing because I went to the party with my mother and didn't bring my husband I was assumed to be yonger than I actually am. My assumed age might also be due to the fact that my sister is 12, so we should be close in age.

But I digress!! I was asked multiple times if I was going to school, by which they mean the local University. As I said earlier, although this question annoyed me I didn't think much about it until reading FSP: The book. And I might be over analyzing the question. I mean the party was close to a good university and since I'm so young and hanging out with my mom I should be going to school. It was somewhat satisfying to say, "I did go to that school and received my B.S. but now have recently finished my Ph.D....." To which one reply was, "oh, you just aged yourself."


I start my new job a week from today. I have a lot of emotions associated with this job.

I am thankful to have a job in a location I want to live.
I am grateful to be back on a schedule again.
I am nervous about the structure of the job, accounting for all of my billable hours worked and working according to the schedule of someone else.
I am excited about all of the new topics I will learn about.
I am scared to death about all of the new topics I know nothing about.
I am apprehensive about my future.

I have heard a lot about working as a consultant and little of what I've heard is positive. I'm hoping this company will be different, as I have heard praises of this company and am impressed by the scope of work done by the employees. In fact, I went to a seminar at the local University Campus last week and the speaker showed plots made by the company I will be working with. But, because of my nervous, scared and apprehensive feelings I don't want to become 'stuck' in consulting and still think about plan to apply for the postdoc position I wrote about.

I have a decent outline written for the project, have met with two of the project advisers and have talked with two others at the institution about the study location (these are scientist I worked with previously). Yet every time I sit down to write or read more about the topic I get distracted. I'm starting to think that I just don't feel very passionate about the project, and at times I get distraught that the acceptance is 12-20 projects out of 100+ applications. I picked this project mostly due to the location and not based on the science, although the science is interesting. But I feel that I have this duty to apply. I would like to work at this institution again and this, currently, is my only chance at that.

I have decided that if I don't have a decent draft written by the end of the week I should waive my white flag. The application deadline is Nov. 15 and I should have the advisers read at least one draft and give back comments.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

I didn't negotiate

I have a job offer and I am taking it.

Thursday I went back to the consulting company-that I had two interviews with-and we talked about the job description, what I can do and what I will learn to do, and we glossed over the salary part.

This past week I was pulling my hair out about how to negotiate. I don't feel very prepared for this job as a consultant. I'm excited about the company because they take on all sorts of hydrology projects, yet my training and experience is very narrow. This doesn't mean that I don't have the confidence to do the job I just didn't feel like I had very many bargaining chips. In addition, when I went to and looked up jobs it was difficult to find one job title that best fit the position and the salary ranges varied greatly between job titles. Second, on, all of these positions I was looking at required a Bachelors degree plus some level of experience with salaries increasing with increasing experience. I was finding it difficult to directly relate my graduate work to work experience. But after much thinking and making excel spreadsheets with my qualifications and the qualifications of the job description I came up with a yearly figure and calculated the hourly wage. The yearly figure was 15K less than what a retired professor told me he thought I was worth, after only looking at my resume, but I felt my figure reflected my lack of real work experience and I figured if I picked up on the job quick I would ask for a raise.

So now you are asking yourself, "Jennie, after all this work you still didn't negotiate." I sadly say yes, but this is because I was offered 3K per year more than I was going to ask for! I never thought about this option and was taken aback and merely replied, "that sounds fair" and the conversation quickly moved on. In once aspect I was happy with the offer but on the other hand I feel that I may have looked weak since I'm guessing they expected me to negotiate. I also feel that I was likely offered less than the company thought I was worth and should have still negotiated. And I know that negotiating my first salary is important along my career path because it will affect my bonuses and raises for the rest of my life. But the conversation leading up to the salary offer talked about all the parts of the job I didn't have experience with, so again I was made to feel that I didn't have a lot of work experience needed for the position.

I still have mixed feelings about how what I should have done.

Thursday when I got back from the consulting company I received an e-mail about the lab manager position stating that someone else was offered the position since they had more biology experience. Thank God. I really didn't want to have to accept the position and I'm glad the group I use to work with found the right person for the position.

In this market I'm happy to have the opportunity to work at the consulting firm. Since I contacted this company even though they weren't hiring they are only able to offer me 30hr weeks to start. Looks like my first day will be around Oct. 20.

I'm also still applying for the Post-doc position, application due Nov.15. I have a good outline written but no actual text yet. Yikes! I've been busy with the special journal articles that are due Nov. 4th. Ph.D. adviser gave back comments on one of them and that day I sent him the other one I was working on. I think this first one is pretty close to completion, just a few loose ends to strengthen. I want to make sure Ph.D. adviser gives me back his comments on the second paper by mid month so I can clean it up by the deadline. Ok, time to kick back into writing mode.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Stop asking

There is a fine line between people in one's life being interested in their life and just being noisy or pushy. I think the questions of (to an unengaged couple) when are you getting married and the question of when are you having kids can titer on this line most of the time. Sure my friends with kids have asked this, likely because they want to have someone to hang out with that has kids they want to share in the joy of child rearing, but you only have to ask this question once. Why do people ask over and over again?
Maybe I'm just starting to feel judged because I have been married for 5 years and having kids isn't something I think about every day. Sure one day but not today and not tomorrow and likely not this year. And maybe I'm thinking about this issue again because as I discussed my upcoming 30th birthday with my mother she remind me that my eggs were running out. I had to remind her that she was 38 when she got pregnant with my sister.

So please, please stop asking me about babies and making me tell you again and again the reasons why I'm not currently interested in bringing a new life into this world that will be my sole responsibility and focus of my life because pretty soon I'm going to start making shit up.

Also I don't have a job yet. You don't need to keep asking about this either because it will be a joyous day and I will want to call and e-mail everyone I know. I will not hide this fact from you and wait for you to bring it up in conversation.

/end rant

Monday, September 15, 2008

We are all smart people

I have recently been thinking about my career path. About how much I like science. How much I like research. How much I hate writing. How much I love designing projects. How lazy I am. How hard it is for me to focus. How much I need structure. How much I need money. How much the writing process has improved for me. How maybe I'm not smart enough to learn new techniques.

Then today, I received an e-mail from a list server (which some of you may be on) that mentioned an article entitled,
The importance of stupidity in scientific research
Schwartz J Cell Sci.2008; 121: 1771

This was just the article I needed. I highly recommend reading this one page article.
Some highlights.

The crucial lesson was that the scope of things I didn’t know wasn’t merely vast; it was, for all practical purposes, infinite. That realization, instead of being discouraging, was liberating. If our ignorance is infinite, the only possible course of action is to muddle through as best we can.

we don’t do a good enough job of teaching our students how to be productively stupid – that is, if we don’t feel stupid it means we’re not really trying.

One of the beautiful things about science is that it allows us to bumble along, getting it wrong time after time, and feel perfectly fine as long as we learn something each time. No doubt,
this can be difficult for students who are accustomed to getting the answers right. No doubt, reasonable levels of confidence and emotional resilience help,

I think the feeling of stupidity is something most new scientist struggle with, and some may argue women scientist more than men. Seeing that I no longer consider myself a new scientist, I just wonder when this feeling goes away.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Jobs and Jobs

I just got off a phone interview and I wore my pajamas like Psych Post Doc.

This was for a lab manager position working with the group I worked with during and for a year after my undergrad. I would love a lab manager position. My only qualm is that half of this position would be learning a new field, one I'm not sure I'd like to work in. Can I say DNA sequencing? The other half would still be different from my graduate work but would be fun and exciting and similar to the work I did with the group before. The lab manager position is two years with likely extension but maybe not a permanent position. The lab manager would be encourage to write their own funding and come up with proposals that include their interests and the interests of the group.
I guess I'll have to wait and see if I'm offered the position.

==Also I'm curious if it was ok that I was asked where I lived (my cv has my address) and what my husband did. The interviewer then assumed I would move closer to the job if offered it. So then we had to talk about commuting and what hours I would be expected to be there. This was something I wanted to wait and talk about if offered the position. The job is about an hour commute, which I have done before and found an ok process with a carpool group.
I completed two interviews with a consulting company who told me they will be sending me a formal offer. I am impressed with their work and would enjoy working with this group of people until . . . . I was told most of my job would be writing. Argh I hate writing. Initially I would be involved in a lot of in field work. As an employees hourly wage increases their time is best spent in the office, verses driving to the field site.
For the first 6 months to a year I would be part time in their main office (75 miles away) and part time in their local office (1 mile away). Then full time in local office. I don't mind working at main office to learn the trade and I can stay with my husband's grandma who lives 3 miles from main office who would enjoy the company. Then I would only drive there and back once a week.
(by the way this company was not advertising a position but I just kept e-mailing until they gave me an interview)
==During the first interview we also talked about my husband and my hobbies. I'm a very open and honest person and I'm not sure what is considered private and personal for an interview. It's only afterward that I think-should I have said that?
So this is exciting two possible jobs to choose from. But wait! There is a local consulting firm that is interested in hiring me part time for a research position but can't interview me until the State Budget passes.
I just got referred to another local consulting company that is a registered women-owned business that does some exciting and interesting work.
I still want to apply for the post-doc position. Deadline Nov. 15th, notification in March, start date of Oct-09 or March-10. I've read that around 100 applications are received and 12-20 are accepted. We aren't all applying for the same position. There are around 45 different projects to apply for.

My husband is telling me to just accept one of these jobs but I'm really interested in learning what else there is out there before I make a decision. Although the other part of me is worried that if I wait too long the jobs will disappear.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Plastic Bags

I just washed about a dozen plastic bags, most have been reused already. There are ziplocks, bags for veggies, bags from bulk spices and bags from bagels. I feel like I'm swimming in bags and I reuse so many!
I was contemplating during the wash cycle today if the water use outweighs the plastic waste. It probably does not but it was a thought going through my head because I really wanted to say, Oh I'm wasting so much water I should just throw this plastic away! That was lazy Jennie. Smart Jennie knows plastic uses too many resources to make and to recycle.
I opt for paper when ever possible and we bring our own grocery bag, and I usually try to use no bags at all. I find it funny that my four potatoes have to share a bag. But some bags can't be avoided, such as the day old bagels we buy from the local bagel shop. 1/2 price! and the fact that grapes and loose leaf lettuce really needs a bag.

So today I've decided to buy a plastic bag drier.
These seem to be the two types.
1 or 2 or woops one more
Number 2 seems pretty neat. Anyone have experience with these or suggestions?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

oh, new blog template

Working for free

Why is it that I feel busier now that when I was writing my dissertation?
I'm guessing it is the variety of events/items I am dealing with. When I was writing my dissertation it was one thing-although it had many parts. I was also away from the lab and really, only had to write.

This past month I've grown to understand why so many students before me stayed in their graduate school research groups until they had a new position to go to. There is much to do after your dissertation has been submitted. In addition, you are getting paid to apply for other jobs :)

But this was not the life for me. I had already left dissertation state, decided to move to farther away state and I noticed some positions I was interested in the applicant had to have Ph.D. in hand to apply for.

So here I am now loving my life but feeling overwhelmed with the amount of work I have to do and no structured time to do it in and no paycheck coming in. I'll share with you all, my blogger friends, the life of the unemployed.

Imminent Events
--Second interview at consulting position Sept. 9th, where I give a 40 min talk. I've been asked to include data from my undergrad thesis!! I'm so happy I could find the data but I'm having trouble discussing in the importance of the work.
--I'm volunteering to collect ocean samples for the Surfrider Foundation every Sunday. Since last week was a holiday I haven't actually done this but assume it will take less than an hour. I have four sites I am to sample are close to one another.
--I'm volunteering with CWC (1) sampling storm drains and streams as part of the routine sampling they do. This has been about a weekly event that takes about four hours. (2) participating in their First Flush program, the training is Sept. 16, the dry run is Sept. 20 and then we wait for it to rain and sample once. I think I will be a team leader. (3) Tomorrow I've been asked to help calibrate their instruments, one to help but secondly to meet someone who works for NOAA and is moving soon and then their position will be open (hint, hint).
--I've stupidly decided to review a manuscript. The abstract sounded so interesting but I'm finding the writing really bad. Can one or two sentences be considered a paragraph? Maybe once, but more than a dozen times? I'm also unhappy with the organization. This review is due this week and I just started reading it today. I became frustrated with it and decided to blog instead.
--Stuff my mom needs me to do. Like give my cat a bath because she was skunked last night, at four am. My mom washed her in tomato sauce (that you put on pasta) and put her in the garage. I had to finish the job and clean up the mess.

Near Future
--Special journal article due Nov. 4th. Will call co-author/x-adviser on Monday and see if we should submit the article almost ready for submission to another journal or start preparing a new dissertation chapter I'd like to publish. This would require a lot more work.
--Post-doc application due Nov. 15th.
--Resubmit this pesky journal article that has been in review since last November. When I call on monday about special journal article I will talk about this article as well. On Sept. 2, I sent another draft to co-author-adviser.
--Resubmit journal article from data I worked on before grad school. It was accepted with revisions that didn't sound too bad but first author decided to give up. Another co-author said she'd do the revisions but never did. I thought I would have more time and two weeks ago decided to take in the reins. Um, why did I do this?
--Sept. 24 attend a science symposium near by to network and learn about this particular local issue (that has large scale implications)
--Continue applying for jobs and reminding people I need a job.
--Oh, we are going to my husband's x-girlfriends wedding on Sept. 27. This is strange because they haven't been keeping in touch. More information after the wedding.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Interview update (and extras)

I feel that both interviews went well.

The post-doc meeting was not what I expected, but as I said I wasn't sure what to expect. I did learn that, for this post doc, the advisers don't make the decision but that it goes to someone higher up in the hierarchy of the organization.
I learned more about the science and think I sounded fairly educated on the subject and made a good impression. I did hope that this meeting would help me hone in on a good research proposal but I left the meeting feeling more confused. The post doc proposal mentioned two potential study sites, so I thought great I'll focus on these two sites. But in our meeting I was told those likely aren't the best sites and a slough of other sites were mentioned. This is what made me feel less focused.
Later that night I went to the public lecture series where the speaker was one of the co-advisers of the post doc position. She presented some on one of the proposed study sites and I was introduced to her after her talk. She mentioned another site that adviser from earlier did not mention. This is a site I helped established as an undergrad and did my undergrad thesis on data collected from this site. Now I feel good that I'll propose the site I worked on (so I can reference my work on that site) and the site that the public lecture talked about. Both of these sites are well studied and will give me a good base for the proposed research, making my proposal highly doable in the 2 year time period of the post doc.

Secondly I met with a consulting company. This job looks like a lot of fun (and a lot of hard work) and the company does interested work. I could tell the two people interviewing me were impressed and I was told I look like a good fit for the company. They have asked me to come back and give a brown bag seminar. Also, one of the interviewers seemed concerned that I would get bored at this job since I have a Ph.D. I tried to explain that in terms of consulting companies their company does more interesting work than the average company, and that I kind of got swept up in the academic world, i.e. getting my Ph.D. wasn't the end goal but the projects I was working on for my master's was interesting enough to keep me in grad school. This person also asked about post doc positions. I had to be honest and mention the above position I'm applying for. I also said that it is very competitive and I'm still not sure if it is what I want to do. Mentioning that it is only a 2 year position and then I'd again be where I am now, looking for a job.
My main concern about this company is that the main office is ~1.5 hours from my house-with no traffic. They have a field office 2 miles from my house that currently employes two guys plus a third guy who will be starting there shortly. I was told in the interview that they'd like me to work out of the main office for the first year. One of the interviewers said full time and the other said it could be part time main office and part time closer office. I was also told the closer office has a high potential for growth. I wouldn't mind working two days a week out of main office since my husband's grandma lives, alone, about 7 mins from this office. She would enjoy the company and I would reduce my driving time.
BUT I have to make sure this would be clearly stated in my offer, that I would only be required to work 2 days a week out of main office and that in no more than a years time I would be concidered for relcation to closer office.

There are a few other options for work closer to my house but both of these companies don't look as interesting and they currently haven't asked me to interview. I'm not good at negotiations and I'm not good at bluffing bit I hope I can have a few more offers before I feel presured into taking the first job offered to me.

On the other hand, the post doc position, if I get it, won't be annonced until spring and likely wouldn't start until next fall. So, maybe taking the first job offered wouldn't be so bad since I may later decide to leave.

OK-sorry for the long post!! I better get back to working (unpaid) on proposals, talks and manucripts. OH-one more thing. I've been asked to contribute to a special edition of a journal. Yeah for getting one more of my chapters published-with a deadline. The manuscript has to be submitted by mid November.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


At 3pm today I have a meeting with a PI on a postdoc I want to apply for. I was introduced to the PI by a friend two weeks ago. I feel really unprepared for this meeting and don't know what to expect! The postdoc position has a summary of the position but it is still up to me, under the supervision of the PI, to write an 8 page proposal (due in Nov). Hopefully I don't sound too uneducated during our interview. I have an idea of what I'd like to propose but I still not exactly sure how this process works. If applicants write the proposal under the supervision of the PI then it seems likely that the PI will pick only one or two candidates that he wants to work with. And it seems likely that he has an idea of what the proposal should contain. The summary of the position gives a few suggestions on how to solve this particular question, but one can't do all the suggestions. I think that is where the applicant comes in . . to narrow down what method to use to attempt to solve the question at hand.

Hm, I guess all these questions will get answered in the meeting today. Also, if he doesn't think I'm right for the position than that's fine with me. Tomorrow I have an interview for a consulting firm that does interesting science-opposed to most companies I see who only look interested in the cleaning up contaminated sites.

I would really like the post doc position but the applicants are not announced until spring and I'll need a job until then. Part of me also feels that if I get a career job, verses a post doc, I can start making plans about the future. Like buying a house, having a baby.

What's a gal to do?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Blogger's mom

While I'm on the subject. . . . on my way to meet up with ScienceGirl I actually stopped by a bloggers house and met her mother and father-and I've never met this blogger before!! That was quite awkward but her parents were so warm and friendly the awkwardness quickly faded. She had us inside for juice and zucchini bread and we left with lemons, plums, applies, peaches, tomatoes and fresh bread.
I hope to visit with them again.

Meeting another blogger.

As ScienceGirl explained we met for dinner last night and brought our husbands along. I really enjoyed our meet up and was happy we were able to coordinate something before she left this area.

As I was heading back to my house I was thinking about how this meeting was quite different from my other blogger meet up, as described by Mad Hatter. When I met up with Mad Hatter, EcoGeoFemme and Academic it was the four of us. All bloggers. Our conversation was about blogging, other bloggers, the general topics we write about on our blogs and we got to know some about each other and like ScienceGirl said, we got to put a face and a voice to a friendship we already had.

On the other hand when I met with ScienceGirl we both had our husbands with us, both of them (to my knowledge) non-bloggers. Not only had we never met each other but we hadn't even e-mailed with each other's husbands. So what did we talk about? We talked about what most friends do when they meet up for dinner, our jobs (or lack of), graduate school, the cost of living, the weather, weddings, family, ect. It was great. The only reason I started to compare the two meetings was that I was planning on coming home and blogging about the experience but thought, hey we didn't talk about if it was ok to mention that we met and in fact we only briefly talked about blogging at all. I mentioned how I tried to explain to my husband's 87 year old grandma that I did know these people we were meeting for dinner and we weren't really meeting strangers. My husband described ScienceGirl as my penpal.

During the drive home I also thought about other items I wanted to discuss with ScienceGirl. For example, How is her running coming along?
So hopefully her and her husband will come back for another internship, fellowship or full time job and we will be able to have many more face to face meet ups.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Wow, for little ol' me..

Seeking Academia decided I was deserving of two awards (although I can only get one image to upload).1. Put the logo on your blog.
2. Add a link to the person who awarded it to you.
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4. Add links to these blogs on your blog.
5. Leave a message for your nominee on their blog.

And the nominees are . . .
A lady scientist
A mad tea-party
Curiosity killed the cat
I love science, really
Janus professor
Journey of an academic
The happy scientist
Unbalanced reaction

Friday, August 15, 2008

It's official

The Graduate School accepted my dissertation yesterday! I've even paid the $170 fee so they can't change their minds now :)

I mailed my first CD on Aug. 6. It cost $35 to overnight it and I didn't hear back until Aug. 8. Even though I had met with the grad school in June they still found a formatting error. I hate the details! What was most upsetting was that she wanted me to put my references at the end of the work even though the guidelines specifically state that one can choose to put the references at the end of each chapter or at the end of the document. You know what she told me? Oh, those guidelines are old. What! Why the F have guidelines if they don't mean anything. I also came to notice that these guidelines are 40+ pages while my undergrad institution has, oh, about 6. Why is life more complicated on the East Coast? I convinced her to let me leave my references at the end of each chapter plus I added a bibliography (which was a pain). On Aug. 8 I spent $25 and my dissertation arrived on Aug. 12. But it wasn't until yesterday that I was finally told it was accepted. What a stressful time. It's my own fault for waiting so close to the deadline, which is today.

But it's done! and I will never read it again :)
On the home front we have a place of our own that we love. It is a 2 bedroom 2 bath plus garage, in a four plex. We have a bottom unit and an awesome desk and small back yard. We pay $1600 plus utilities. Way expensive, but all the less expensive places were in crappy condition or way to small. A one bedroom would have been fine but we didn't see anything we liked. Also this place has a stackable washer/drier.

Now we need jobs so we can afford this place, and of course so we can afford to buy all the local, organic produce we want, and coffee.
We met my USGS friends for lunch this week. The lab I worked in is hiring a lab manager and my old boss encouraged me to apply. I met with the scientist in her group (a guy I never worked with) who is the one actually hiring for this position. I am excited about the projects he is working on and would love to be in charge of a lab and all the college students that come in and out of it. However, he wants someone with a lot more microbiology than I have. What I have is, um, zero. So he would have to train me on mostly everything before I could train the students. Sounds pretty inefficient. What another women in the lab told me was that this guy wants a microbiology person but my old boss wants a soils person and they have been arguing about what type of person to hire, and this is why my old boss wants me to apply. So she can get her way. Alright by me :) However, I am worried that I won't really like this position if I have to use methods to identify microbial communities. Doesn't sound very exciting to me. But I'm applying and what "other women" said was that if I make the first cut I can ask to be shown more about the methods and see if I would enjoy the work.

I am also applying for a USGS postdoc. I met informally with the PI this week and he seems really nice and said encouraging things. We will meet formally at the end of the month after I can read some of his publications and think a little about a proposal for the project he has. I didn't have anything exciting to say our first visit but that, um, I think your project is cool :) and I told him very briefly what I do. It was good that someone I use to work with and that has coauthored with him brought me to his office for the introduction.

I've been sending my resume out to consulting companies and been getting people I know to forward my information around. Everyone I've talked to has been impressed but don't have jobs. So now I'm trying to apply to companies that have job openings, where the first round of resumes where through people I know.

I'm hopeful. There are opportunities around and I'm staying busy searching for jobs and working on manuscripts.

OH, I can't believe I almost forgot. I got a publication accepted. I just need to approve the proofs and it will be complete. I have to admit I wasn't very ethical when I did the revisions. I never let my adviser see the publication. We did talk about the suggested changes and I showed him some plots I made from the model the reviewer suggested we used. Even though I feel a little bad about this, the total time for revision was only 2 weeks and I'm certain it would have been longer had he read the changes. Will my manuscript karma be ruined now?

Monday, August 11, 2008


I've always really loved food. Once in college I started buying my own food and making educated decisions about what was good to buy, for my body and for the earth.

I'm not good at remembering how much I paid for the local, organic strawberries (for example). I just buy them and love them and feel good about my purchase. I've mostly shopped with my stomach and conscious than my wallet.

I've never had sympathy for people who say they can't afford organic or local products. However, moving back to home state where both my husband and I are unemployed is a very humbling experience and I will never again judge people who say they can't afford this or that.

Fortunately we have a few choices of farmers markets to go to and some great local grocery stores. The choices here for organic and sustainable are vast. But sadly shopping now feels like a chore since I have to try and keep a running tally in my head of how much things cost. Hm, we paid $2.99 for local-ish, organic strawberries at the local grocery store but here at the farmers market they are $4 and look smaller. I HATE doing this. I really miss going shopping and just buying what I love.

We also loved to go out to eat and there are so many great restaurants in this town. It's also a fun social event to go grab a cup of coffee or some beer with friends.
I haven't been drinking coffee! We have so much tea, from my husband's obsession, that I've been drinking tea to save money.

I thought this post would be more reflective on my humbling experience of how hard it is on a fixed budget to buy good food but with that coffee statement it sounds more like whining.
Our main goal is to try to stay with very unprocessed foods and I think we should manage to stay within a small budget for two people.
What is really motivating us to find jobs, besides the desire to work, is our $1600 a month rent price!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


The final draft of my dissertation is due on Aug. 15. I was hoping to have it finished by Aug. 1 but minus a miracle I'm guessing that won't happen. So my new goal is Aug. 6. I only have to give it a special name, burn it to a CD and FedEx it overnight to the East Coast. Of course this is once I'm finished with corrections. I talked with the grad school when I was there last and was told a few formatting mistakes I had. I'm guessing that there will be no further formatting mistakes and it will be ready for submission. But I do want to give myself a few days before the deadline in case I need to mail another copy.

So why haven't I finished the revisions yet? Come on, it's been a month since I defended. Well, I've been busy. I resubmitted a manuscript, which seemed more important. I found a place to live, and will move in on Aug. 1. Less importantly I've visited with family and friends, went to a wedding, went camping and have been enjoying the west coast sun with lots of outside activities.

All I need to do is beef up the conclusion sections of my chapters but we all know how much I LOVE to write. So I sit and look at my dissertation and then decide to look at job ads instead.

I think that a conclusion should not just summarize the results but the discussion section ties my research with other studies so then what should go in the conclusions? Something about the big picture or larger implications. Well maybe my studies aren't that exciting because I can't think of what to write.

So . . .
Aug. 1 Move into new place
Aug. 5 Take mom to hospital for back surgery (likely in the hospital for one day)
Aug. 6 Mail away dissertation (cross fingers)
Aug. 15 No longer a student (if I get my dissertation turned in)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Dear Friends

I really miss the time we use to spend together. I use to sit in my home office in the Midwest and learn about all the good and difficult times in your lives. I related a lot to what was written and somehow started to feel less lonely even though I was all alone in the Midwest. I also told stories of my own and felt comforted by the comments you left.

Being back in my home state I'm now surrounded by people; old friends and family. I'm also overwhelmed by living at my mom's house and with having work to be done but being very busy finding a place to live* and searching for a job and catching up with old friends, again trying to do all of this living in my mom's small house.

I feel like our friendship is getting distance. I know I need to put more effort into it but fear I do not have time, or as much as the "need" for the comfort of sharing stories. I know this need is still here but it is masked by how busy my life currently is.

Please be patient with me. I'm guessing once I move into my own place and get settled I will have more time to upkeep our friendship.

*Looks like we found a really nice place to rent. We are having trouble finding a good time to give the landlord our deposit but hopefully that will happen this evening. She has been super busy. Once we give her money I will feel better. The unit is available Aug. 1st and is a 2 bedroom, 2 bath in a four plex tucked away from the road and the back yard backs into a gulch. It also has a small detached garage and a washer/dryer in the unit. More on all of this once we move in.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Another quick one

  • Still homeless and jobless
  • Going to a conference on Friday, hopefully will make contacts
  • Made a contact with someone at a local water authority. He suggested I contact someone else and ask to be the speaker and a regional meeting. Waiting to hear back.
  • Rent prices are expensive
  • Have a few appointments to look at places tomorrow
  • Did a brief scan of most of your blog entries
  • Miss the blogsphere but not a lot of excess time on the internet
  • Hopefully will finish (new) resubmit today
  • Goal to finish dissertation revisions by Aug. 1st. Dissertation is due on Aug. 15
  • Would like to have a house to work in, oh well. My mom's couch is working ok.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Quick Catch Up

  • On west coast now.
  • Husband drove the whole way. We went over 2000 miles in two days, stopping in Wyoming Monday night to sleep from 11pm to 5am.
  • Feel like I'm on vacation but really would like to find a place to live, resubmit (and submit) manuscripts and finish revised dissertation
  • Heard back about one manuscript (1-P), had to e-mail and bug the editor, has been accepted with minor revisions that I should be able to accomplish in a day. I'm excited.
  • Wanted to talk about long awaited resubmit (manuscript 0) with adviser during trip last week but he never got around to reading all of it. He did say that everything up to the result section looks great.
  • Will likely not be reading 85 entries in google reader
  • Husband and I should have time tomorrow to call and make appointments to view rentals this week-end or Monday.
  • Today we visited with family/friends, went to spa for hot tub and sauna and went to farmers' market
  • I don't feel like a doctor yet, even though everyone is congratulating me.
  • It was sad to leave dissertation town last week
  • I'm upset with POD's because there are all these underlying charges, like an admin fee for $200, when I was certain I asked the women on the phone if the price she quoted me was a total/final/tax included price. Of course it's not. Of course I have no written record of this so I don't feel like I can call and complain. We likely would have still went with this option but I'm pissy that what I thought would cost $3500 is going to be $4500.
  • Internet will be sporadic. I found out Saturday the wireless card in my laptop is not working and we don't know why. Need to get this fixed.
  • I'm exhausted.
  • Can't wait to be settled.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Dr. Jennie

What fun.

My defense talk was around 15 mins. I had timed it at 20 but my normal talking speed exponentially increased. People don't complain about short talks but it would have been nice to include a few slides I left out because my talk was initially 45 mins. 20-30min is a decent length in my department. At my preliminary defense the chair of my committee commended me on my short talk.

A professor came up to me afterwards and said I did a great job explaining everything. He said one always worries about going to a talk that isn't their field and having everything go over their head but my data was well explained. I left out 99% of my methods, which I think it the part that can get confusing, and for my data it wasn't very important how the values were measured.

The closed committee part was great. It was a lot of fun to hear what everyone thought of my work and I feel I had good answers to their questions.

The outside member had a lot of comments that he said may not be necessary for the thesis but will be an issue for publication. In general I need to buff up the conclusion sections of all chapters and better describe the research objectives. I have until Aug. 15th to accomplish this. The final copy will be on a CD and I can directly mail that to the graduate school.

Tonight is a party at my advisers house that pretty much everyone I've talked to can't go to. Fun. Then I fly out early tomorrow and hopefully get on the road west on Monday.

It feels good to have this accomplished although I don't think I'll feel official until I've mailed in the dissertation.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


I feel nervous that I don't feel more nervous for my defense tomorrow. It will likely hit me when I wake up in the morning. However, I'm picking up my outside committee member in the morning and we are having breakfast at 8am so hopefully that will keep me distracted until 9am and then the talk starts at 10am.

I'm still futzing with the talk but I think that will go ok and I'm pretty excited to hear what the committee members have to say about my research.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Do you see the problem?

EcoGeoFemme made an interesting post about reading journal articles. The comments linked to a post from Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde.

I'm not going to summarize the post but you can go read them, what I want to point out is, um, let's call it irony. It seems that many scientist don't particularly enjoy the writing process. Some folks love it but I think many see it as a necessary evil. From the posts I've read on writing and now these on reading this is the process of events I see occurring to which I think a revolution needs to occur to change the process.

1. Scientist comes up with great idea* and does field/lab work** and has a lot of fun.
2. Scientist spends grueling hours trying to make an outline and eventually writes a first draft of a manuscript
3. Scientist has to try to incorporate ridiculous comments by co-authors
4. Scientist waits a long time for co-authors to read second draft (repeat steps 3 and 4 as necessary)
5. Scientist submits manuscript and waits a long time for revisions
6. Scientist makes revisions (or submits to new journal) of manuscript
7. Scientist finally gets paper published and feels on top of the world, decides that writing papers is the best part of science.
8. Scientist #2 reads abstract of Scientist's paper and thinks paper is interesting.
9. #2 prints article
10. Article sits on desk, then gets dusty, then gets moved a few places in the office, then gets put in the book bag and taken to coffee shop, then goes back on the desk.
11. #2 decides that there is just no time to read article
12. Enough guilt has ensued that #2 reads article


So it seems that all this agony and effort is put into a piece of work that no one feels they have the time to read. I find this depressing and think there has to be some way to make journal articles easier to read or the process of writing less labor intensive.

*I understand that one has to read articles to come up with an idea so you can see I don't necessarily start at the beginning
** I know field/lab work isn't always fun but my feeling is that most people enjoy this stage the most

Confession Week 3

As part of the No Eating Out Challenge I am having weekly confessions. This was week 3.
It's been a bad week.

Husband and I went to dinner Thurs. with friends. This was my allowable eating out. I did, however, have two social food encounters this week that involved eating at a home-these don't count as eating out but they as just as much fun.

Then this week-end went all downhill.
Friday my three friends from dissertation town arrived. We had pizza for lunch and I later realized we never ate dinner but I drank enough alcohol to make up for that. In fact I drank so much Friday that I didn't drink the rest of the week-end. Saturday we had a bbq in the parking lot of the stadium that the rugby tournament was at. I bought a water and gatorade in the stadium because it turned out to be a really hot day and they don't allow you to bring things in. Then we all went out to dinner. Sunday I offered to make eggs but we ended up going out to lunch at Subway and then I ate dinner at the airport. Blah.
So for those counting I ate out FOUR EXTRA TIMES THIS WEEK, plus a few too many beverages, plus an ice cream purchase Monday.

What a failure.

This week I'm in dissertation town and I ate out for lunch already. I didn't have any food to bring to the conference for lunch so I went to a local dinner with my adviser and two of his other students that I know but wouldn't call part of my group/lab. I was able to have oatmeal for breakfast since I still had some in my office and I made a trip to Trader Joes so I had microwave mexican for dinner. I am proud that the people I'm staying with wanted to order pizza and I refused. So they ate their leftovers and I microwaved my dinner. I had the excuses that I was tired of eating out-which was so true. I wonder if this week away from home could be any worse than last week . . . . you will have to wait until next Sunday to see.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Confession Week 2

As part of the No Eating Out Challenge I am having weekly confessions. Week 2 just ended.

It went well with the eating out part, however my grocery challenge didn't do so well.

Thursday night my husband and I went to dinner with a friend. It was fun. We also found out she got a professor position at a University in Canada she is excited about. The three of us shared a bottle of wine and a tiramisu dessert.
That was my once a week allowable eating out event. I wanted to go to the Indian Buffet on Sunday but my husband didn't want to. He saved me this week because that would have been eating out #2, not allowable.

As for grocery shopping both Tuesday and Wednesday I went to the store and bought a half pint of ice cream, which I promptly ate after purchasing. I have to admit the hardest part of the challenge is resisting the urge to go to the store and buy something sweet to eat. Last week I faltered twice but the craving was there every day of the week.

This week I have two lunch/dinner plans but one is at my house and the other at a friends house, so I won't be eating out.
Friday three of my friends are arriving for a visit. I imagine we may eat out more than once. Friday we are going to the city and it could be that only lunch will be eaten out. Saturday is a huge rugby match near by and we will be having a bbq in the parking lot so I maybe able to go all day without eating out. However, I doubt I'll be sticking to a two drink minimum.

Friday, June 13, 2008

It is Official!

At 10am Friday the 27th I will be defending my dissertation.

I was sweating a little because my outside committee member needed to book his plane ticket but the chair of the committee was out of town. The outside committee member went ahead and started a dialog about a day and time and my adviser said let's go with this day and time even though the chair had never responded to the e-mails. Well the chair e-mailed this morning (or last night) and said sorry she hadn't responded and that the time worked for her. Yeah!!
Now, as long as I pass I can go to the West Coast a happy person.

Again, thanks for the comments. I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks the co-authors need to approve a manuscript before submission (silly husband).

I do think part of my funk is working from home in the Midwest. I don't think all of it is due to being away from the department. I think department activities would suck up time and possible make me take longer. However, I do miss social interactions. So I think missing the department would be ok if I had more friends in this area to hang out with. This is why I talk EcoGeoFemme's ear off every time we meet for lunch.

And I should get more excited about new projects. Good idea. I don't know what I'll be doing when we move and there are no positions right now I'm excited about but I should just dive back into the literature and see what's hot. Maybe read the -ology of where I will be living.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Thanks for all the comments on the last post. What started as a surprising result to an internet quiz turned into me lamenting again about writing. It is easy to do, I guess.

To answer unbalanced reaction's question. I have one publication in an obscure and local journal. It's nothing I feel very proud of. It got rejected from two other journals before we gave up and submitted to the local journal. The letter said it was peer reviewed but I didn't get any comments from reviewers about it. I have a lot of non peer reviewed items on my CV, a few government reports of which I'm first author on one of them and about one and a half pages of conference proceedings and I'm first author on 90% of them. I didn't do any collaborating as a graduate student so I didn't get a change to "share" publications with people (including my adviser who does none of his own research anymore).

I also wanted to clarify that I mostly enjoy the beginning stages of a manuscript. The organizing and coming up with what to plot and what to talk about. I dislike the review stage and not so much the journal review stage (since not many of my papers have even made it this far I don't have a good idea of this stage) but the adviser review stage. It's long and drawn out and I don't always agree with my adviser. I just want to get the papers submitted so they get to go through the "real" review.

What has inspired me to write today is my husband. He has been telling me that I need to get into a better mood. That I have nothing to complain about. It's like what Candid Engineer said in the comments, I need to have a good attitude (to paraphrase).

I've been in a funk for the past couple of months (maybe counting nine now) and I don't know how to get out. I've always been that person who looks at the brighter side of life. The go getter. The happy girl.
Maybe I put on that persona for too long now I can't hold it up any longer?
Maybe I truly just don't feel that way anymore?
Maybe I'm just being lazy?

I think it's the lazy part. I think my adviser has taught me that things take forever so why rush them. But maybe that is me being lazy again and blaming my laziness on someone else.

I've been doing this food challenge in hopes of helping me loose weight by not buying junk food. Well, both Wed. and Thus. I went to the grocery store and bought a pint of ice cream and ate the whole pint in one sitting. *Sigh*
I need to loose 20 lbs and just can't seem to do it. Even when I think I'm having a great week the scale doesn't show any difference. *Sigh* Ok this post is getting depressing.

What I want to say is that I need to have a better attitude on everything not only for my own mental sanity but for the sanity of my marriage. My husband also has a lot he is going through but he stays strong and it doesn't help for him to come home to a gloomy household.

He also keeps telling me that I need to submit manuscripts without worrying about my coauthors. This seems unethical to me.

My feelings of depression this week come from lack of direction. I have two talks I'm working on: conference talk and dissertation talk. Other that this I don't know what I should be doing!! I sent my adviser, what I feel is a final draft of our resubmit and then what. Should I be working on making the chapters into manuscripts? If so how? The chapters are in pretty good shape from my end I feel I need the coauthors (or committee) to give me comments for improvement. Or should I just prepare and submit one without any one knowing?

[thanks for reading this long post, which I feel likely lacks a theme or direction]

Monday, June 9, 2008

Holy Crap

I was going to write a post about how I'm bored with my research when I saw this Quiz at Propter Doc and decided to give it a go.
You Should Get a PhD in Science (like chemistry, math, or engineering)

You're both smart and innovative when it comes to ideas.

Maybe you'll find a cure for cancer - or develop the latest underground drug.

What Advanced Degree Should You Get?

This is just scary. So much over the past year I've thought that maybe a Ph.D. was a waste of my time, that maybe I'm only cut out to do other peoples research and that I'm so bored of sitting at my desk and thinking and writing.

I'm still working on the resubmit. I'm going to discuss it with my adviser tomorrow but I don't think it needs anything more. I'm sure he will disagree. It is this paper that I'm mostly bored with.

I still have a letter in review. We submitted it as a letter because those are suppose to have quick turnaround time. We submitted it in early February.

There are two chapters of my dissertation (besides the letter) that I believe are important to the scientific community and would like to submit. There is another chapter that is exciting but I'm not sure I have enough data to warrant a manuscript. Then there are two other chapters that I could give a crap about. This makes me sad. I also feel that the two chapter worthy of publication (in my eyes) will take too much time and thus frustration to polish up for journals. One of them I've been trying to submit since December but there has been so many revisions we decided to just call it quits until the defense.

I've spent so much time with this data. Designing the projects. Executing the field work and lab work. Thinking about the data. Collecting more data. Presenting it at conferences.
Then I got to sit in my house all alone for 10 months and write, and write some more, and have my adviser tell me we need more data, or that we need to reinterpret the data.

Argh. During this process I've become less and less in love with my research. It is more like the red headed step child (sorry if you are red headed, but you get the analogy). I just want to ship it off to boarding school and move on with my life.

But I've discussed this before. Is this process of writing the same for everyone? with all advisers? am I just a horrible writer? am I not a dedicated scientist? I don't know. What I do know is that I hate this feeling of boredom. This lack of focus. It makes me unhappy. This makes me then eat and drink more than I should, which makes me fat, which makes me lazy and then, yes, more unhappy.


Sunday, June 8, 2008

Week 1-Confessions

As part of the No Eating Out Challenge I am having weekly confessions. Today is the last day of the first week so if I falter between now and falling asleep I'll have to amend my confession.

I did very well with the eating out rule.
1. We are allowed to eat out once a week as a social outing. This means that it has to include more than just yourself or yourself and your significant other.

My husband and I went out to dinner only once this week, on Friday, with the couple that we hang out with here. We celebrated that I turned in my dissertation on Monday. I stuck with my two drink minimum for dinner and my husband and I shared some bread pudding. Yum! Then the four of us walked around the town. There was a car show and a band playing. We then decided to hit up the wine bar and we shared a bottle of wine. So, technically I exceeded by two drink minimum. :(

I almost broke the challenge by going out to eat on Saturday with my husband to celebrate our 5-yr anniversary. We had gone grocery shopping that day and I thought it would be nice to stay home and eat. So we did. And it was so much fun. We watched a Hitchcock movie, made Phai Tai, drank the bottle of sparkle wine we got a local winery last month, and we got to stay in our comfy clothes and just chill out. My husband and I are true homebodies.

My last confession is at the grocery store. It was Tuesday or Wed. and I bought a chocolate muffin and a donut. I really desired the yummy chocolate and the carbs. *Sigh* So that broke my Rule B, but I'm not that disappointed about it because it was only once. In previous months I would do this multiple times a week.

I'm going to Trader Joes today so hopefully I'll stick to my list and not have to confess anything more.

How did you do this week?

Friday, June 6, 2008

Give away

A women just left my house. She took my Target bookshelf, office swivel chair (i'm now sitting on my balance ball), office supplies, random kitchen things, a magnetic dart board (cheesy kind) and my box full of goodwill clothes (mens and women). When she was leaving she was talking about eating on styrofoam plates which reminded me that I still have plastic plates, cups, bowls and silverware that we used/reused when we first moved here. I gave those to her as well. After she left I was sad I didn't offer her all of my half used bathroom items such like aspirin, Mylanta, some lotions, ect.

You maybe saying, Jennie she isn't your dumping ground I'm sure she wouldn't take half used bathroom supplies.
And you would say that because you don't know the background of this women. We met via craigslist because I posted about my bookshelf and chair. It seems in the 30 mins we were together I learned her entire life history, the abridged version.

Recently her apartment caught on fire. It was electrical and she had been complaining to the land (slum) lord about the problem for months. Her microwave caught on fire which wasn't enough to get the landlord to fix the issue. Then, one night when she and her family were home sleeping the entire complex caught on fire and after she tried to put it out and couldn't she had to get her <6yr old son and daughter out of the place then carry her husband who is in a wheelchair down the stairs.

Her husband is in a wheelchair because a few years ago on their sons birthday he was outside fixing the tire on their car and heard another car pull up. As he stood up to see what was happening he got in between a fight that ended with a gunshot in his spine. Paralyzed for life.

She told me that she moved around a lot as a kid because her dad was a good for nothing alcoholic and that she isn't very close to her mother and that she is the black sheep of the family because she is really the only one that turned out half way decent.

She had such a positive outlook on life. She now lives in a decent neighborhood where a pastor runs the apartment complex and gave her the position of apartment manager which takes off money from her rent check. She just has an empty apartment.

I was sad I gave away my books already because she said her and her son love to read.

She also keep saying how much God has blessed her. She asked if I believe in God and I had to say most of the time. So we talked a little about our faith.

I don't have a lot of reflection about this post. I mostly wanted to share my experience.

I still can't help looking around at my things wondering what else I should have given her.

Monday, June 2, 2008


Step 1) Give dissertation to committee members. CHECK

Yes, I just e-mailed my dissertation, all 136 pages and 7 chapters to my five committee members. It was so nerve racking. I kept thinking, “I should read through it one more time.” However, I don’t think my brain could pick up any more grammar or editing errors. The dissertation needs fresh eyes. I’m very happy with the content but I’m extremely nervous about careless errors. I don’t want my committee to think I’m careless.

But it’s in the past, now I need to focus on the future.

Step 2) Make power point presentation. Needs to be 20-30 mins long. I love this part and am not too worried about it.

Step 3a) Cross fingers and hope committee is on top of things and will chose June 26 or 27 like we previously discussed. Otherwise I will have to fly to dissertation town after I move out west.

Step 3b) Fly to dissertation town.

Step 4a) Defend dissertation.

Step 4b) Hopefully pass and celebrate.

Step 5a) Make suggested revisions.

Step 5b) Turn in dissertation to graduate school by Aug. 15th. I’ll need to double check with the graduate school about all the requirements since I won’t be handing in my final copy but my adviser will. I will need to make a folder with all such paperwork and tack it up to advisers wall so he won’t loose it. My school now does electronic submission so I’ll probably burn the CD’s myself and FedEx them to adviser.

Step 6) Pass out.

I know list are boring but I need to get all of this out of my head.

Additionally this month I need to


1) Make power point for conference in dissertation area June 23/24th. I’ve given a similar talk elsewhere so I’m not worried about this. P.S. if my defense date isn’t June 26/27 I am withdrawing from the conference since I don’t want to pay to fly to dissertation town twice this summer. My adviser could just give the talk.

2) I’d like to sort out all the references in my dissertation and make sure I’m fully acquainted with them.

3) Apply for a few internships, job stuff***


4) We need boxes. This was a worry but I think this is covered now. I’m not too stressed about packing because we have sorted through our belongs pretty well.

5) Sell my desk. It hasn’t been very popular on craigslist and I’m attached enough to it that I don’t want to give it away to someone unknown. I’m still posting ads and if it comes down to it not fitting in our POD I guess donation will have to work. No one has been interested in our guest bed. I even posted an ad at my husbands job. So we are moving that to give to my sister. She sleeps on a twin and this is a full size and the frame has four drawers for storage.

6) Do change/forward of addresses and transfer of utilities. I should start that today.

There maybe more but I’m going to try not to worry.

*** Husband has a temp. job where we are moving to. A friend of a friend of a friend (that's all) owns a consulting company there. My husband has been e-mailing with him and it turns out the company got a new piece of equipment that they'd like help on. The company knows my husband will likely be going back to school and that this might not be a long term position so it's great they are willing to invest time training my husband despite this.

I'm also happy that it means we will have some type of income when we moved, plus I'm still paid as a student until Aug. 15th.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

June-no eating out challenge

Inspired by the April Buy Nothing Challenge Amanda from A Lady Scientist and I have decided to declare June as our no eating out contest.

I noticed during April that I didn't really desire to purchase goods, except the birthday present for my sister. I did buy a whole lot of food! Part of eating out that month was that I traveled to home state and dissertation state. But I notice, as I track my monthly spending, that a large portion of my income goes to food, roughly 13-20% of our total monthly income. This includes grocery, alcohol and eating out. On average 8% is just from eating out.

The goals of this challenge is to spend less and to hopefully eat less calorie-rich foods. I often leave the house only to purchase a muffin, ice cream or chocolate and recently I've been craving cheese. I call these my Ph.D. foods.

All challenges must have rules and this is what Amanda and I decided (she'll comment if I get something wrong or leave something out)

1. We are allowed to eat out once a week as a social outing. This means that it has to include more than just yourself or yourself and your significant other. June begins on a Sunday so the week will be Sunday to Saturday. Eating out counts even if you don't have to pay for it.

Actually that's it. That is the main rule. I've added some personal rules for myself, see below, and I encourage you to do the same. Also, let me know if you plan on participating. I like that Crunchy Chicken did weekly confessions. I'll do those as well.

My Rules.
A. When I eat out I'm only allowed two drinks and NO dessert. However, I can sneak a bite of someone else's dessert.

B. When at the grocery store I'm only allowed to purchase fruits, vegetables, milk (soy/rice) and juice. The grocery store was my supplier of ice cream and chocolate. Also I'm moving in a month so I need to empty my cupboards of grains. Once the pasta is eaten I'll finally have to finish that box of quinoa.

June is a difficult month for me and Amanda. I'm traveling to dissertation state the last week in June. Amanda's Dr. Man is moving. However, we laugh in the face of the challenge and say bring it on difficult task.
(At least we say that now, wait for the confessions)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Significant Figures

I just tried on some of my summer capri pants and none of them fit over my butt, and if they did I'm certain they won't button. *Sigh* But those aren't the significant figures I wanted to discuss today.

I'm just going to do as my adviser suggest but I wanted to see what everyone's opinion was on significant figures.

I'm going to run through some thought experiments. Hope they make sense.

I measure a sample and get the value 10 with an error of 10%. This is 10 (+/-) 1. Significant figures all well and good. Then I measure another sample and get 5 with the same error. This is 5 +/- 0.5. But with sig figs it's 5.3 +/- 0.5. All good and agreeable.
Now say I want to put these two numbers in a table
10 +/- 1
5.3 +/- 0.5

I hate this. I want all my numbers to have the same amount of numbers after the decimal. Am I just being neurotic or does anyone else have this need for constancy?

Next, I analyze 25 samples and the average value is 10 but the standard deviation (or standard error) is 0.3 but the error of each analysis is 10%. I wouldn't want to round my standard deviation, so shouldn't my average value be allowed one more decimal place? My adviser says no but my organized self says YES I want all my numbers to have the same amount of decimal places.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Letter about a post-doc

I'm hoping for some advice here. I've read posts about improperly worded and/or misinformed e-mails from students wanting to do graduate work with Sciencewomen or Female Science Professor but I can't recall reading anything about a post doc inquiry.

There are a few professors in the area I'll be moving near that I'd like to work with, however what I do now and what I'd like to do with them is not completely related. Since I feel pressed for time I'm curious how much I should know about their subject material before I send an e-mail. What if I never hear back from them, what if they don't want a post-doc or what if they don't want me? Should I spend a week reading all their manuscripts before the e-mail just to be shot down? Or can I do some quick searches, read abstracts, and get a basic understanding in a day or two and then I can learn more if they are interested.

Should my e-mail be basic such as,

Dr. Last Name,

I am interesting in the research you perform doing X and would like to discuss any opportunity you may have for a post-doctoral position. I would also be willing to collaborate on a proposal for this project. (and maybe something about how I found their research, if applicable)

I'm studying contaminants of perfectionism in my thesis adviser at Dissertation University working with Dr. Old Slow, and will be completing my Ph.D. this August. These are my skills that I think would be useful to your research.

Thank you for your time,
hopeful student

do I need to be more specific about project X

There was a women I wanted to e-mail last week but then I noticed that her current grad student has more publications than me :(

I would rather not solicit like this but I'm in between a lot of the major fellowship opportunities right now. Although most of the ads I see that I'm interested in are not near where I'll be living.

I got an e-mail last week about a fellowship opportunity but the deadline is June 6th, the day I'd like to turn in my dissertation. I'm not sure that in three weeks I can find a sponsor and come up with a 12 page proposal.

So even though I'd like to get some e-mails out there I think my best best is to try to find a part-time teaching gig for the fall so that I can also spend time finishing my publications from my dissertation and writing fellowship proposals.

But this is today, maybe tomorrow I'll be interesting in a consulting position again.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Studying contaminants of perfectionism in my thesis adviser.

I love Janus Professor's idea for my dissertation title. I wanted to share it with everyone, i.e. the title of this post. I laughed out loud.

I also wanted to thank everyone who commented on my last two posts. It helps to have a support system out there on the internets'.

Also, re: JP's comment. My adviser does care a lot about my research. At times when I get depressed I think, well, at least one more person cares about this data, a lot!

My adviser has been very supportive this past week. Sunday night we e-mailed back and forth. To summarize, I told him more of my despair and that I was wondering how much of all this was worth it.
He said that working away from the department must be more difficult that we initially suspected.
No, I said, it's the lack of knowing where the end is that's depressing.

After threatening (in so many words) to quit I get two manuscript back this week!! Yeah!
We just finished our weekly meeting, via Skype, and only had time to talk about one of the manuscripts until he had to go to another meeting. I wanted to discuss more about our e-mails and talk about meeting my deadline again but we didn't get to that. I may call him later this week.

The first thing I said in our meeting was, "wow you have been busy. Thank you for reading so much."
At the end of the meeting I asked what he was going to read next. He is afraid to go back to the manuscript that I freaked out about (that set off the sunday e-mails), so he's reading another chapter that he hasn't read yet. Once he's read this he will actually have read all my chapters. This is great.
I'm feeling more confident about meeting my June 6th deadline of submitting to my committee. I think my adviser might not be satisfied with all my chapters by then but seeing that he can give me more comments after the defense I'll feel confident putting something together for the committee.

I also feel like I have a good list of things to do now. Previously I would have one or two things and mostly be waiting for comments from him.

Today is a good day.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Dissertation links, ect.

I found this cool dissertation calculator. It's too late for me to use it as it maps out a schedule from start to finish but someone else may find it useful. Each step also has helpful advice and links for further information. I wish I had one four years ago.

I read this page and it was uplifting and motivating. Some of highlights:

I love how it suggests reading your advisers dissertation so you can see how much it sucks (paraphrase).

This paragraph was liberating
"Many, many people lead happy, fulfilling lives, build lucrative and rewarding careers, make important contributions to knowledge, share interesting ideas with others, and generally get along just fine without three letters after their names. Deciding not to continue with a Ph.D. does not mean that you have "quit" or that others who remain in the program are smarter, more driven, or more virtuous than you are. It also does not mean that you have wasted the time and money that you invested in the degree up to the ABD (all but dissertation) stage. It may simply mean that after considering your own personal motivations and goals, you decided this career choice wasn't for you—and that you plan to use the skills you honed as a graduate student in other ways that are more suited to you."

This paragraph makes me feel less guilty about taking a day trip tomorrow and makes me want to work out more.
"Be reasonable. A lot of people beat themselves up with expectations to work 10 or 12 hours a day—many people recommend a max. of 4 or 5 hours. You simply can't write productively all day long and trying will just burn you out. Schedule in breaks and time for procrastination. Your brain needs a rest every now and then—better to schedule one than to have your brain mutiny on you and take one anyway."
Technically my dissertation is written. I have six chapters plus an Introduction and Conclusion chapter plus an Appendix that list all my data for anyone interested in looking at it in a different way later. All of these sections now have a completed draft. Each of these chapters has been read by someone else. So, my dissertation is more than just at draft phase . . . . I’m pretty happy with all my chapters. However, my adviser has only read two of these chapters. One of them we have submitted and the other one he made revisions and suggestions, which I took two days to fix and send back . . . with no further reading on his part. He is currently working on a third chapter and, via e-mail has told me that it has a lot that needs to be fixed, even though this same chapter came back from the co-author with minimal revisions. The co-author, by the way, has published and co-authors dozens of manuscripts on this particular contaminant.

The months of revisions I feel that is ahead of me makes me depressed and not excited that all chapters have been written. I went through 12 iterations of my master’s thesis with this adviser, and as previously mentioned we have been working on one manuscript for four years. By the way he’s requested I do more lab analysis for that never ending manuscript. The reviewers didn’t suggest more lab work. *Sigh*

-------Although I contemplate quitting because getting a Ph.D. may just not be in my life plan I have come up with what I think is a better solution . . . cutting out chapters of my Ph.D.

The title of my dissertation is, in essence, "Studying contaminants X and Y in an important environment in a specific study area." I worked on X for my master's thesis and have continued as part of my dissertation but focused mostly on Y for my dissertation. If I cut X out of the title then I can cut out two chapters of my dissertation. Granted these chapters have already been written but not including them in my dissertation means that my adviser won't have to read them before I defend.

One of the “cut” chapters will be best as a report to our funding agency. The other chapter was a bonus use of my data that was never part of my initial plan but seemed like a cool thing to do as I read through the literature. It would be the first analysis of this type of data for my study area. Possibly publishable but it’s also possible that I could care less.

To summarize I want my life back. I feel like I’m under some evil spell of my adviser. I also wonder why he hasn’t published on this type of information with his previous students. I use to think it was because they were master’s students but now I just think he is unreasonable. But maybe it’s me, maybe I’m lazy and not the type of person who can publish.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I'm hungry

Some of you may have remembered that my adviser once told me that writing a manuscript is like making fine wine . . . . it needs to age.

Well today he sent me a very cute e-mail

I have been trying to think of a good analogy for a manuscript to make you feel better about the last stages.

Try this,
The most fun of making a wedding cake is probably the decoration at the end to make it look really nice. Up to now you have been making and baking the cake. In the end one wants a great tasting and great looking cake*.

So wine and cake, I'm ready for a party!

*in my response to him I said, among other things, that we have changed the recipe for this cake a lot since we started four years ago.


Since I’m moving I’ve been trying to weed through the items I truly need and those which are dispensable. Pretty much everything I own can be replaced but should it? I had a conversation last night that convinced my husband that some items aren’t worth the cost of moving. Although after discussing the two tall lamps we have in the living room, we decided to keep them. One issue we have is that we don’t have jobs yet and don’t feel we will have a disposable income to repurchased everything. What if we will need light in the new house :)

The second issue is that we don’t know where we will be living. Will there be room for both futons and our new, huge, sectional couch? Should I keep my two desks? They are great now for my home office but will I have a home office at new location? I have to give back my desktop to my department and will only have my laptop so do I need two desks? One desk was a gift for my high school graduation, it’s had lots of drawers but it is big and bulky although not very roomy. The second desk was $60 at Ikea with no drawers but is so roomy, one can really spread out and work on it, even with my printer and desktop taking up space.

To address the title of the post; I have books that I keep meaning to reread that I’ve had since high school and college. How does one decided to keep a book or not? My husband and I have decided to get rid of our textbooks from undergrad. We use the internet to look up items more than these books and if we were to ever teach a course in them we would just get the newest book (I’m keeping all my notes and assignments from college). In addition, I’m keeping all my graduate school text books.

I have a lot of social studies, women studies and humanity text books from my undergrad education that I loved and were thought provoking. In addition I have this great environmental ethics book and a science theory book, not written by scientists but by theologians. I also have books that were given to me as gifts, it seems wrong to get rid of them.

Did you know that I own four bibles! Four! One was given to me by my grandma haphazardly. She said she bought it for my cousin but bought her a different one instead. So I took it, and it was right when I started going back to church in college. I have a one a day bible. It divides the bible into short passages that if one reads a passage everyday you can read the whole bible in a year. I have a marriage devotional bible that my husband’s uncle gave us (never read). I also have a living bible that has commentaries and historical information about most passages. It has been at least one year since I’ve read any of these. Do I need four bibles? NO! but I just can’t seem to part with any of these.

What I’m looking for here is some support. Why should I or shouldn’t I keep a book?