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.