Saturday, March 29, 2008


Thanks everyone for the comments on my secret and my religious story. It really helps to have this network of friends on-line.
My mom and sister are here visiting and leave tomorrow. They arrived late last Tuesday. There will be lots to blog about once I catch up with work, and all your posts.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


I'm not suppose to share this information with anyone so I thought I'd blab it on my blog where people don't really know me.

My husband had "lab" time from 8am Friday until 8am Monday, this holiday week-end. He came home Saturday night around 7pm so he could sleep during the night. He said he got his first experiment done and that was the important one. The work he was doing needed to be baby sat and constantly adjusted.

He hadn't done this type of research for a while and I think it put him over the edge in terms of deciding that this not the type of work he wants to do anymore. He had been leaning that way for a few months now. He doesn't like the competition in his research area and he feels the work he does is not really important, with no broad social implications. And he hates living here in the Midwest. He said if this job was near friends and family and in a warm climate he may have a different opinion of the position. Also, he does not want to go into academics.

Last night he told me that he wants to move back to the West Coast within a few hours drive of where we went to college and where we consider home. He didn't choose anywhere specific just some where near home. He wants to do this even if he doesn't get a job offer*. He doesn't want his Post-Doc to be renewed.

WOW I say. I also say sure. We have about 10 months of a graduate students salary saved in the bank. My salary has been paying for all the bills, he salary has been for fluff and fun (and to save). We also have money in an off shore account. NO Just kidding but we have some money in a money market and another account with money left over from his college fund (from grandma). So we can afford to not work for a couple of months (although there goes our savings to buy a house soon).
So that's it. We are moving. His appointment is up the first week in July. So by August 1st we should be in a warm state, near our good friends and family. I'm hoping to get a one month or 1/2 month extension on our current lease so we have time to be relaxed about packing and getting rid of some stuff (unlike our last move).
I told him, though, that he has to apply for more jobs. That we have to be more active in our search. He found a few others online to apply for and I'm going to send some follow up e-mails to the applications I sent for consulting positions in that area. It feels good for me to know where we will be living so I can actively search for a job.

We are not telling this information about us moving to our family and friends. Maybe so we can opt out and decide to stay here one more year for the money. Maybe so people don't get excited, so we don't get exciting talking and thinking about it. I mean, I still have to graduate. I have a conference to attend the last week in June (in dissertation state). We need to find a place to live. Hopefully we can find jobs.

It's scary and exciting at the same time.
I'm happy we made the choice that where we live is more important than what we do. It will be nice to finally be "home."
But first I must graduate!!!!!!!

*the company e-mailed that they wanted his transcripts so it sounds like he made the first cut. Hopefully he will get an interview.

Monday, March 24, 2008

My religious background (long post)

With all the news about the documentary Expelled I thought this would be a good time to let my readers know about my religious background, as I’ve learned a little about your religious beliefs from some of your posts.

It starts with a death, which I imagine is often why people turn to religion. This death, however, occurred before I was born, but after I was conceived-as during this time my father died in a motorcycle accident. After my birth, my father’s parents wanted to help my mother out and so I went to their house every other week-end until I was in 6th grade. I didn’t know until later but my grandma said she offered this because she felt bad that my mom was a single parent. I would go to the grandparents and I would attend church on Sunday mornings. My uncle, who lived with them, would take me in the morning to Sunday school and then we would meet up with my grandma and grandpa in the church service. He attended a youth service. He must have been in his early 20’s. My mom was 19 when I was born and I’m pretty sure this uncle was younger than my birth father. Although not related to my religious story I should mention that my uncle, Chuck, later committed suicide. It’s hard to write about him and not think about this. I was in kindergarten or 1st grade. I really missed him. He would always play games with me, even Barbies. My grandpa didn’t attend church for at least a decade after this incident. He later told me that he was mad at God.

What I remember from church is singing and eating and coloring in pictures of Jesus. I don’t remember much about religion, but I tend to think that attending church and spending so much time with my grandparents helped give me a good moral background. This is not something one has to learn at a church, but for me, that is where I learned it. I’m sure my mom was a good influence as well.

I stopped spending so much time with my grandparents once I joined a traveling softball league, around 5th grade. That was it, no more church except for holidays.

My mom never attended church with us, I later learned she didn’t like church because it reminded her of funerals.

Fast forward to 2nd year of college. I’m living with my mom, step father and sister in a town about 4 hours from where I grew up. We had been living with my step father since I was in 7th grade. But moving to this new town, only a year before, and my sister’s birth about two years prior and me attending college put a lot of stress on my mom and step-father’s marriage. My step father decides we are all going to church. I didn’t have a problem with this, I had attended church before and while I never really considered myself a Christian it wasn’t something I ever had to think about and people never asked me about it.

I really enjoyed going back to church. We went to this huge, progressive church and I found the sermons intellectually stimulating, it really got me thinking. . . just about life and values. I joined a bible study and made some really good friends and enjoyed the conversations we had during the study. The older couple that led the study are awesome. I still keep in touch with them. Everyone was open, never judgemental, and at the first meeting we went around and introduced ourselves and I had to go first. I opened with “I am not a Christian, but I am here to learn about the bible, ect.” I stopped going to church with my parents and went to the evening service, where their was a rock band and a young pastor and a younger audience. I never felt like the services were preachy, it was more about being spiritual and yes, believing in one God and trying to follow what the bible says, but it was also about exploring the bible and the struggle with the different feelings one has in their heart about what is right and wrong. I never felt preached to but it was always more of this is how I, the pastor, interpret this passage, ect.

I eventually started calling myself a Christian and excepted him in my life. Making this decision was mostly about the spirituality I felt. It’s been eight years since I “became” a Christian and I’m constantly doubting God’s existence but I believe that there is something out there that can’t and shouldn’t be explained by science. Maybe it’s not real, but maybe it is. Have you never felt that feeling that something supernatural is controlling things? I’ve had some many experiences that seem to be more than chance. And I’ve just “felt” a presence in my life at times, helping me along-I guess.

So during the time I starting calling myself a Christian my parents got divorced. At one point my step dad said I wasn’t a Christian because I didn’t want to pray in front of him and that my mom wasn’t one because she didn’t read the entire bible. Life at home, sucked. By the end of my 2nd year of college my mom, sister and I moved out.

When I moved to dissertation town I found a church to attend. My husband and I even hosted a bible study at our house for a few months. But after a while I just decided I didn’t like this church. The people seemed fake. In addition, my husband didn’t want to attend and I didn’t like going by myself. It’s likely been 3 years since I’ve regularly attended church. I went to one here in the Midwest. I read that they have a women pastor, but she hadn’t started when I went there. I felt like the church was really ritualistic. They had these passages they would read at certain points in the service. It was just a weird vibe I got there, like it wasn’t about God but it was about “doing” these certain things.

And now, I’m not sure what I believe or how I feel. I’m certain there is more to this life than what we have here, and if not-even if we turn back into dirt-I believe there are spirits or outside forces that help us along. And if I’m wrong, I’m ok with that. I’m not trying to teach my beliefs in a classroom as science because what I believe is not science and I would never want it to be, because then it could be proved or more likely disproved.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


I finally got around to updating the "Blogs I Read" sidebar. I'm sorry for not publicly acknowledging so many of you for so long. You all are great and I want to share your greatness. So please, check out my side bar and visit some of the blogs you don't already visit.

Under Attack

I recently read the article “Wack Attack: giving the digital finger to blog bandits” by Jaclyn Friedman in Bitch* Magazine, Issue.39, and wanted to share a little about it. I was appalled by the threats and hate e-mails women (read feminist) bloggers were receiving. It is scary, but this article is not about being scared-because that is the desired outcome from those who harass. No, this article is about being prepared and about creating a network.

These are the four principles that the article ended on

1. Don’t silence yourself
The more women who insist on being heard online, the better place the web will be for feminist voices.
2. We must change the culture together
Hold offending sites accountable for the culture they create. Report the identities of attackers to authorities whenever possible and shame them online whenever practical. Call on the men who claim to be our allies to do this work alongside us.
3. The best defense is good tech
For example, host your photos separate from your blog.
4. Better together
Blog as a group

Most of the blogs I read and the bloggers that come to my site aren’t positing seriously controversial material, yet, I though it prudent to make my readers aware that harassment can happen on the internet; although I’m sure most of you are aware of this, it’s good to be reminded.

*On a side note, if you aren’t familiar with this magazine I suggest you pick up a copy and see how you like it. I found their book, BITCHfest, when I needed reading material for a train ride about a year ago and promptly signed up to get their quarterly magazine. Most of the articles resonate with how I feel as a feminist but it’s also interesting to read feminist views/issues which aren’t on my radar screen. I also like at the end of each issue they review music and books. I’ve found some really good reads this way.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Dissertation Update

I sent a chapter to my co-adviser, the money man, today! I thought this would be a good time to post an update of my progress.

My primary adviser has, in his inbox, my Introduction Chapter (1) and Chapter 4. He also has Chapter 5, which the other coauthor for that manuscript is reviewing.

The first part of Chapter 2 is submitted to a journal.

Chapter 6 is the one I sent to my co-adviser, as stated above.

I have a huge appendix that I've formatted and finished.

This only leaves, the second part of Chapter 2 and all of Chapter 3. Plus of course the abstract and conclusions and all the stupid formatting of the tables and figures and TOC, ect.

I'm pretty confident I can finish the second part of Chapter 2 by the end of the month. I initially though by the 23rd but it includes working in a program I'm not familiar with to do some statical analysis that all the papers I read on this subject tend to do. So to be realistic I'll hope to finish it by the 31st. My mom and sister are here from the 25-29 (four full days) so I'm not sure how much work will get done that week anyway-hopefully some.

A technician at my university was suppose to analyze the last of my samples on wed. but he hasn't sent me the data yet. This is for Chapter 3. I will re-visit that chapter in April. A lot of it has been written but I'm curious about these last samples so a full analysis of the data isn't complete yet. I'm hoping it will take less than two weeks to finish that Chapter.

I fly to dissertation town on April 10th. Hopefully all I've mentioned above will be completed by then. This visit is for a conference there on April 12th, my adviser puts it together. I don't think I'll need much preparation for the talk, although I could get a poster for my topic which might take longer to prepare.

My university has a policy that one must file a defense date 6 weeks in advance. When I meet with my adviser on Tuesday I'm going to suggest we set up this paperwork so I can defend on May 1st. My dept. secretary said it's really easy to change the date once the paperwork is finished, but if I don't submit something by the end of this week I won't have enough time to defend and give myself the week or two needed to make changes and meet the May 20th deadline to submit my thesis.

I figure I can't discuss a date with my committee until I give them my dissertation. By my calculations my committee should have my dissertation in hand around April 21st.

My fingers are crossed but since my adviser is going to be busy this next month preparing for the conference he puts together I'm not sure how much feedback I'll get from him to get my dissertation in order for my committee. I'll just have to cross my fingers and hope for the best.

When I was finishing my master's thesis I realized that my adviser is always really busy in the spring and that a spring graduation for my PhD was likely not in my future.

I guess all I can do is work my ass off and wait to see what he can do. This is also why I've decided to send chapters to my co-adviser.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


I've gone for a run/jog/walk three times this week! I was determined to go independent of the weather but it turned out to be in the 50's and 60's this week. I even opened the windows in the house today to get some fresh air.

Say good-bye fat stomach.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Interview and my fat stomach

I had an interview yesterday with a consulting company, here in the Midwest. It is a large international company and I met one of their –ologist at a conference in dissertation town last April. He was there recruiting students and gave me a card. We have e-mailed some. He encouraged me to e-mail the company’s’ office when I moved here in July. I waited until last month and specifically applied to two of the positions as advertised on their website.

Yesterday morning I had to run down to the big box store because I could not button any of my dress pants, which I needed for the interview. Where did my flat stomach go? I miss you, come back. I know I’ve been neglecting you over the past three years and have seen the slow decline in your definition. I’m aware that when I don’t run and I eat yummy pastries and chocolate and drink lots of beer you can not fulfill your part of the bargain. I’m sure once my dissertation is finished I’ll be able to focus more on you, in the mean time please feel free to distribute your weight more evenly through my body.

I hate that I spent $25 on a pair of pants. They are cute, and they fit, but $25, darn. And they are 2-3 sizes bigger than my ideal.

Back to the interview. The office was about a 40 min drive from my house (leaving at 11am) and an hour drive back (5pm). I will have to take the train to the office because there is no parking and at times I will be taking a field truck home with me. My train is about an hour plus a 20 min walk to the office, and the latest train to go back home is a 6:12pm, which might be a problem for late nights.

I went into the interview thinking that I don’t want to be a consultant but that it will be good to learn about the company. Most of my opinions about the differences between consulting and academics and government jobs has not changed but a few have. One is the hours. I will be working 8-12 hour days when doing field work and was told most employees work 45-50 hours a week. My thought was that consulting would be a 40hr job. I guess it’s not, but still, it’s likely not as demanding as academics and def. not as competitive.

Second, I think this job sounds really interesting and I’ll take it if offered. I think I’m starving for structure and deadlines and field work. I’ve been in front of my computer for so long now. But I also worry how long I can take that type of rigorous scheduling before I hate it. One needs to bill all of their time worked, in 15min increments. This won’t be hard at first since 70-80% of my job will be field work. All of the people I interviewed with (4 male employees) told me that I would likely move up quickly with my background. I asked one of them what the demographics were in the office. Seems there are about 30% women (his made up number) in an office of around 40 employees. One of the women was on the top tier for that office.

Also, this job would round out my education. What I studied for my dissertation and during graduate courses is complementary to this job but most of what I’ll be doing I know nothing about. So I’ll get to learn an entire new set of skills and another aspect of my -ology.

So, I’ve decided the deciding factor in taking this job or not is my husbands work. If he gets the position in home state then I won’t take this job but if he stays at his post-doc this will be the perfect in between job for me. Of course the timing is going to be completely wrong and if offered the job I’m going to have to think of the proper wording to let them know I don’t want to decided until I know about my husband. I don’t want to screw them over by taking the position and then quitting before I can even start. I told them my earliest start date would be June 1st and at that time I’d could work part time (2-3 day/week) so I can be certain to finish my dissertation. My husband should hear back from his job application in home state 30-45 days after March 4th. Which should be by the end of April. During the part time work discussion I was told about a young mother who works 30 hr/week and another person who works from home one day a week due to a young child. Good to hear they are flexible on work hours, I wonder if these employees are equally compensated to their full time counterparts.

In terms of home state jobs for me. I’ve applied for two consulting companies, that I likely need to do a follow up e-mail with, and I contacted someone about doing a post-doc. He said he would like to work with me but has no funding. I know of one fellowship for a July deadline and of course there are many fellowships to apply for in the fall. I haven’t e-mailed him back yet because I want to have a better grasp of these funding opportunities. My husband mentioned that I could volunteer in his lab-also something I’d like to mention to the scientist I contacted. I’ve decided to apply to teach part-time at two different community colleges in the home-state-area with the hopes that I can also start volunteering until funding can kick in. I need to get these teaching applications out!

So life is moving quickly right now. Hopefully it will slow down so unbalanced reaction, myself and many others can finish their dissertations this spring!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Gender again

My mind must be focused on the subject but I over heard a man (assuming father) speaking to his younger son, maybe 6yrs old, today while I was walking to the grocery store and I started to think about gender-typing. The statement he says isn't anything profound but got me thinking about what the situation was that got this dad all upset and if his statement was warranted or sexist.

Two young boys, the 6 yr old and maybe a 9 year old, and their dad come out of karate class, as the boys were wearing karate uniforms (maybe another marshal art) and the dad says to the youngest, I don't ever want to see you push a girl again. You could tell the man was angry. He first got pissy about the little boys coat not being properly worn (it was warm today). I know I get pissy about dumb things when something else is bothering me. Then he says the above statement and then something about how it wasn't even a test.

My first thought is, hey they are in karate class they are suppose to be pushing, ect. It shouldn't matter what the gender is of his classmates they are all equals. I felt like this statement was pushing the stereo type that women are a weaker gender. I hate this stereotype and challenge anyone who says it to a dual.

Then I thought maybe this boy pushed a girl because he was upset/mad and it was not part of his training. I thought the dad should have address this better by stating, "I don't ever want you pushing one of your classmates out of anger. That is not how we deal with aggression."

Guess I'll never know the true story. I can only hope that I'll try to push past the identities society have given the men and women and boys and girls of our society and teach my children that we are all just people.

On another note, we got the list of prospective students to my dept. today-six students, five are women. I'm sad I can't be a part of the festivities, which always includes free food and coffee.


Now I know that if I want lots of comments all I have to do is talk about the injustice of women! We went back last night to complete our taxes and again he forgot I was the taxpayer. He kinda laughed and said oh right. He apologized in that cynical kind of way so I asked again why he always put the male first. "Does it make a difference?" I ask. He said that they are trained to do it that way and that if I had a female tax preparer they would also put the male as taxpayer. Hm, sounds like I need to do some armchair activism and write H&R Block a letter.

My husband and I discussed the event later and he said I should give the guy 4's when HR calls about the service. Our tax preparer, Jay, said we should get a phone call about how his service was and that the only number that did him any good was a 4. A four out of four on multiple choice questions. I told my husband that I would evaluate each question accurately. Then he mumbled something about how I was letting this taxpayer business get the best of my and he called me a bitch. OH-smack! I was pretty pissed about that and had to point out that I was the one getting the phone call because it was I who made the appointment and without me my husband likely wouldn't do his taxes at all. And I don't see how being honest makes me a bitch.
It was a bad night for us.

Work Hours

Science girl made an interesting comment on my last post
“I've always imagined the people with actual jobs being productive starting at 8am, and then be done and guilt free at 5pm.”

It got me thinking about my schedule and how, during graduate school, it has mostly been decided by my husband and how my attitude towards working hours has changed progressively over the past six years.

When I first arrived in dissertation town my husband had been a graduate student for 15 months. He wasn’t the working machine he is now and we would commonly go home after seminar, around 6pm. The exception was on days when I had class until 8 pm or so. Most of my classes were hydrology classes and since my dept. offered a hydrology masters which was course work plus a “report” we had a lot of hydrology masters’ students who also worked full-time jobs (how tough!). For this reason my hydrology classes were never offered during regular business hours.
During the first two years I would be the wake-up-police. I tried to get us to the dept. by 8am, or earlier. This stemmed from my previous work schedule which included waking before 6am to meet with my carpool and arrive to work 40-60 mins later. I like this because we missed a lot of traffic and I was back in beautiful beach town by 5pm (leaving my work at work and ready to enjoy life, *sigh*). So, I use to be a morning person. I also felt like I had to set a precedent and impress the department, thus I must get to work early and work a lot. It didn’t take long to notice that my adviser, and most professors, didn’t get in before 9am and mostly not before 10am. However I still worked a lot those first two years. I would bring homework and literature back home and work most evenings and week-ends.

Then one day the switch happened. I’m not sure exactly when or why but it likely had to do with writing. My husband became more focused when he wrote and I became more distance. He became the wake-up-police. We would commonly work 12 hour days, 7 days a week. At first I enjoyed the new separation of work and home, since I no longer took work home. But then the line started to blur between work at home. We would call our dept. home and our home work. I started not working so well in my office since I felt trapped there. Last winter I rearranged the furniture in my office to get a fresh start. It helped some.

So here I am, working from home where there is only a small set of stair separating my office from the rest of my home. This line between work and home is very blurry.
As you’ve read I’ve struggled with coming up with my own work schedule and have again decided to let me husband dictate it. This is how my workdays have become more like a 9-5 day. I find when my husband gets home I want to stop working and hang out with him. So waking before 7am and really getting into my work by 8am is best for me since I want to stop by 6pm when he gets home. This is, however, a 10 hour day, although it likely works into a nice 9-5 slot once I’ve subtracted the time I spend eating, exercising, reading blogs and doing household errands such as phone calls and laundry or a walk to the grocery store.

I am still working on the week-ends, but not 10 hour days. A girls gotta sleep in sometimes.

Also check out the Happy Scientist on a related post.