Archive for the '[Life Trajectories]' category

Things I learned this week

1. You can cram two weeks worth of dirty clothes in the washing machine if you really want to. My motto is “if it gets wet, it’s clean."

2. You can lead Professor Greybeard to water but you can’t make him drink. No matter how hard you push his head under the water and regardless of how long you hold it there, it won’t make any difference if you’re a newbie prof.

3. Drinking your body weight in cough syrup isn’t as beneficial for your recovery as visiting a friend who is actually dealing with a life and death kind of illness.

4. Sometimes a grant rejection isn’t what it appears to be. It’s still a rejection, you’re still not getting the cash and it still sucks ... that ain’t gonna change ... but there may be some good stuff hidden in there if you know who to ask.

5. Eating chocolate for breakfast won’t kill you. Not in the short term, anyway.

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Teh Wimminz in Academia thingy

I seem to have volunteered to field questions about being a wimminz in academia over at Hermitage's den of iniquity. Apparently there were Doritos being offered as an incentive. Sigh. Damn you, Hermitage.

So if you have any questions that you absolutely need answers to, don't bother to leave them here - go over and annoy H instead as this is her party and she is going to collect and condense the questions. Just remember that the forum will be strictly 100% baby-free so send your baby-related questions to someone else.

One response so far

Thanks on behalf of DonorsChoose

Oct 24 2010 Published by under [Life Trajectories]

I’ve been so caught up in my own stuff lately, I haven’t had to time to blog let alone thank the people who have donated to the projects on my DonorsChoose.org giving page.

Special thanks to Kitty & Dale, Kate, TMB, Julie, Martha and three anonymous donors for supporting these projects.

So far, we’ve been able to help buy pencils and markers for a class in Kansas, and markers and colored pencils for kids in North Carolina, and we are on target to help get basic sanitation supplies to teachers with a special needs class in California and kindergarten kids in Alabama buy a couple of tables that are low enough for them to be able to sit at.

It’s a national disgrace that we should even have to do a drive like this. Nevertheless, I appreciate everyone’s efforts in helping these kids who deserve a chance.

One response so far

DonorsChoose ... even $5 will help

We’re in our first week of the DonorsChoose campaign for this year and the readers of my ranty little blog have managed to raise $221 so far! Most excellent!

But there are still a ton of kids who need our support.

There are several classes on my list of projects who don’t even have money to buy pencils. Pencils!

A couple of other classes needs tables and chairs. I mean seriously - these kids don’t even have tables that are small enough for the kindergarten class and chairs that pinch their little behinds.

Oh, and there is also a class for special needs kids whose teachers don’t even have the funds available to buy the disposable gloves that are necessary for helping the kids with their toilet breaks.

Finally, there are teachers who are trying to provide health, wellness and physical activity classes and opportunities with absolutely no resources. None. No balls, no bats, no jump ropes.

Will the world end if you don’t get your credit card out for this worthy cause? No, it won’t. But there are a bunch of kids for whom education will continue to be a challenge due to the lack of basic resources.

So how do these kids get what they need if not with our help? The reality of the situation is that the classroom teachers often buy these supplies out of their own pockets. Seriously.

What can we do if we don’t have enough money to give? You don’t have to give a lot. $5 would help. Can’t afford $5? Is that a Starbucks mocha grande I see in your hand? How much did that cost? How about that beer you plan to have after school/work tonight?

Ok, enough of my late night sermonizing. I’m tired and need to go to bed.

Several of the projects on my list are also being supported by various foundations that are matching or doubling any donation you make. $5 from you could be $10 or $15 that end up going towards the project.

Please give what you can. If you can.

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Things I find hilarious this week

Oct 07 2010 Published by under [Life Trajectories]

Having to google while at the supermarket to find the American name for chickpeas.

Sneezing while talking to someone on the phone and having them cut the conversation short because they don’t want to catch what I’ve got.

Realizing that fruit-flavored cough syrup is the closest I’ll get to having a serving of fruit this week.

The dumb dog next door who, after two weeks of wearing an anti-bark zapper thingy, is still bark-yelp BARK-YELP BAAAAARRRRK-YEEEELPPPPP.

People who think they know more than they do. And tell you all about it.

14 responses so far

Time travel

Oct 01 2010 Published by under [Life Trajectories]

You remember when you were a kid how time seemed to drag on forever? Long, hot summers filled with nothing to do but run wild with no shoes on. Miserable drawn out semesters at school after your boyfriend dropped you and then suddenly declared his love for your best friend. Waiting an eternity for Christmas every year.

Now that I'm technically an adult, time seems to be flying by at such a fast rate I seem to have stepped out of a time machine. Where the hell did this morning go? Or what about this year? For that matter, what the hell happened to my friends' babies and when did they suddenly become college students?

I've been in my TT gig for two years now and I seem to have achieved nothing. I feel like I'm moving in slow motion with my research and have hit nothing but obstacles and quick sand. Yet two years has gone by. WTF? And now my startup piggy bank is almost shrivelled up and gone and we still have no external funding to show for it.

Sigh.

And I always thought time travel was supposed to be cool.*

* Well, except for that time when Rod Taylor ended up in that weird future where everyone was beautiful but apathetic and emotionally dead and they all got eaten by the Morlocks. That would not be very cool.

16 responses so far

Workloads

I’ve recently been chatting to a couple of seniors who are contemplating grad school and we’ve been discussing the various career paths that one can pursue in academia. We ran through the tracks - clinical, research, tenure, adjunct, etc - and discussed the pros and cons of each.

And then the question came up about the workloads associated with each position. Because I have a marginally lighter teaching load than my colleagues, the students are apparently under the mistaken belief that my workload is much lighter than the others. Because all they see is the person standing in front of their class.

So we discussed what my colleagues and I actually do, our responsibilities, what our workloads are really like and how that might differ depending on your individual circumstance.

For faculty members who are either clinical track or adjunct, teaching 2-4 courses per semester can be burdensome. But what if you've taught the class before? What if you've taught the same class for 5 years? 10 years? How much additional preparation do you need to do for each class? Is it easier to teach a large intro course with a slew of TAs or to teach an upper level course where there are a handful of students and just you? And what if teaching is 95% of your total workload with the remaining 5% being a minimal service to the department (maybe one committee) and perhaps being on Professional Organization committee?

For me, as a TT assistant professor, my teaching load is a tad lighter than my colleagues. Why? Because my energies need to be focused primarily on my lab’s research productivity and obtaining extramural funding. Why? Because that’s what I was hired to do. And if I am not successful in that venture, my lab will disappear and the research stuff (and me) will be gone.

So what is it that I actually do?

I teach a graduate course; write grants; have several manuscripts in press, a couple in review, a metric fuckton in various stages of preparation; supervise a student organization; am an associate editor for a journal; have a postdoc and several graduate students and an undergrad lab flunky trainee; manage the financial (ill)health of the lab; am on both departmental and Professional Organization committees; am required to attend faculty meetings and to meet with prospective students. Next semester I'll be doing all of the above as well as teach an undergrad class that I've taught before.

So can you compare workloads between faculty members who are on different career tracks?

Sure you can. But why would you want to? Everybody thinks they work harder than everyone else. I sure as hell do.

But which track is a better career option? Depends on what it is you want to do, what you enjoy doing, what you’re good at, etc. There’s no right or wrong answer.

Do I like what I do? Sometimes, yes. Sometimes, no. Overall, mostly yes. But sometimes, not at all. It depends on the day.

Ok, enough with the stupid questions. Some of us have work to do.

2 responses so far