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Some stuff happened today

Let’s see.  I went by a Sephora but wasn’t wowed by anything, sadly.  I tried a friend’s mini of OPI (unlabeled, I think it was Down to the Core-al), but I dinged it basically instantly, so not much point taking pictures; it’s a nice bright (definitely neon) coral shade.

Had a nice goodbye dinner with friends (sniff), finished off a six-year-old <!> painting project… dunno.  It was a nice day!

Oh, and defended my Ph.D. dissertation successfully.  So that was nice too.

Okay, posting again. This is me posting.

It’s not strange for me to have binary behavior, either posting regularly or Just Not Posting.  That being the case… and it being the case that I will likely be using this (or some) blog to communicate with the handful of folk I am leaving behind but who might remember me in six months… I’m aiming now to go back to the former.  And boy do I have a lot of nail polish queued up.

So I wrote my dissertation.  In 7 days.  It should have been 6, but I turned it in a day late because I needed the extra time, plus What Are They Going To Do Fire Me.  I must say, in the strongest possible terms, I do not recommend this.  It was a total staple job, but even so, the level of immersion, stress, and effort involved for those 7 days left me truly, alarmingly useless for almost two weeks.* **

So… don’t do that.  Honest.  Reschedule your defense and make another plane ticket if that’s what it takes.  For the love of god, learn from the mistakes of others.  I defend Monday (fingers crossed) and so far I haven’t found the wherewithal to start my presentation.

That’s bad.

In non-academic news (ha ha), we’ve got most of the moving nonsense scheduled, modulo getting some cats to the right city (thpt cats).  We don’t actually have a place to live (bah) but apart from those small details, it looks like this move is going to happen.  Exciting!  Or it will be when I get some wherewithal to use on being excited.

Okay, nail polish, actual posting soon.  Both these PWIs are recent acquisitions, because… I was going to say my willpower is weak when I’m out of wherewithal, but in practice I don’t try to stop myself from buying <$2 nail polishes.  I mean… why?  It’s not like they’re full of calories.  Or potassium benzoate.

Hearts & Glass Bronze Goddess:

pink

You will see why I felt the need to check the name.  I wouldn’t call this bronze.  I would call it pink.  But it’s a VERY good coater (maybe 1 coat?) and, despite being quite very sparkly, a reasonably work-appropriate color.  And the glitter scales poorly in pix.

Hearts & Glass Daring Duchess:

alsopink

This, while a creme and not sparkly, is not in fact a color I would wear to (say) a dissertation defense.  But  this image scaled fine.

So.  Pink!  Pink pink pink.  They both have excellent formula, excellent opacity, ridiculously nice for being some random one-off brand.†  What can I say?


* still counting.

** This is extremely consistent with studies on human work in general; you don’t gain anything over anything but the VERY short term by working long hours.  You get the most work over a 2-month span or anything longer at a 35 hour week.  Long hours are not helping you.  Really!

† Listed in tags as “hearts and glass” rather than “hearts & glass” because the ampersand breaks wordpress’ tag system. Tsk!

Silly Hats and Nail Polish

Whoops for falling off the edge of the universe?

I have a great excuse, though.  This past weekend was graduation, and I had parents in town to attend and generally help me get ready for life transitions, not to mention helping my sister get over hip surgery.  Also, my sister had hip surgery.  And I’m still trying to find a place to live.

So it has been, to put it mildly, a little busy.  But hey, now I have a silly hat!  And silly robes and stuff.  My full regalia makes me looks like a 15th century bishop or royal adviser or something.  My German adviser tells me they don’t do regalia in Germany.  I guess they got over it in the actual 15th century.

So I graduated!  This is an awesome lie: About half the people wearing bishop robes on that stage will defend over the summer, like me.  But I’ve been hooded – it feels great, if you’re wondering – and now it feels inevitable, instead of unbelievable.  My parents got me a card that made me go RIGHT into happy crying, my wonderful husband got me a new awesome fountain pen, and… and life is really pretty good.

None of this nonsense affects my love of nail polish.  I haven’t been too busy to buy it, but I’ve been too busy to use it, which is pretty frustrating. On the other hand, I got to paint my mom’s nails, which was awesome and will probably be a fixture of my future life.  Also, I have a bunch of pictures of various PWIs that are just waiting to be posted.  So… with apologies, I’m going to just do a massive image dump (next post).

I will make up for it with ducklings eventually.

Meanwhile,

ScaryLaserEyeballs

In keeping with my general policy of putting pictures in posts.  I don’t remember when Mr. Fix-It and I found a Terrifying Laser Eyeball Lady gift card, but I promise you it’s much creepier in person.

Oh oh oh and a small editorial change, if anyone cares: PWI posts will no longer have the name of the polish in the title.  It’s too restrictive!  And the search function works the same either way.

Whinging, plus PWI: Sinful Colors Enchanted

Posting’s fallen off lately because a great number of other things are coming to a head.  I’ve been interleaving tasks, rather than trying to finish one off and take on another; this is more to do with respective timings than preference.  (I’ve gotten better at task switching in grad school, but my switch cost is still, I think, rather high.)  The main effect so far: I am behind or very-behind on everything.  Including but not limited to:

  • run one final user-study on a robot
  • work out details for moving 2800 miles
  • find someplace to, you know, live
  • make conference plane tickets ×2 (done!)
  • make family reunion tickets ×2
  • finish thesis
  • defend thesis
  • start thesis

And probably other stuff, I dunno.  Also, if you want to, you know, found a college or whatever: quarters can be good for undergrads, but grad students neeeeed semesters.  10 weeks is not long enough to explore, internalize, and do a research project on a topic.  (Dissenting commentary?)

Painting my nails has even fallen off, which is unusual.  But it not died!  So without further ado, I present:

Sinful Colors Enchanted.

photo 1

Direct sunlight.  Purple!  It’s only not shiny because for some reason the concept of “focus” is alien to my mind/hands/camera.

photo 3

Indoor lighting.  Quite dark, but purple.

photo 2

Indirect sunlight. (Pretty literally. This is in my own shadow, in direct sunlight.)  Now it’s blue!

This was part of a limited edition, although I haven’t the faintest when or why.  It’s dark, but still purple in most lighting instead of black, although only just.  It’s too muted (and a bit dusty) to be a true purple, as well as leaning a bit bluish (in some lights).

Not something I see myself thinking “Oo!” and reaching for, but it works ok!  Especially on my short nails.  Other people can pull it off, but when my nails get longer than about 2mm, super-dark colors make me think I look… hm.  Something.  Maybe just like I’m trying too hard?

PWI: Sinful Colors Pull Over

I went out for dinner with a bunch of my lab mates tonight, advisor accompanying (and paying, apparently from grants – I wonder if I’ll be that well-funded?).  We went to a bar + food place, whose main attraction is bocce ball, which is apparently a game where you throw balls at other balls, and either try to hit them or try not to, depending.  It’s completely one of those games where you know people were playing its predecessor with rocks, thousands of years ago.

I am not, as it turns out, good at bocce.

So I wandered off and started plying my advisor with questions about advising and choosing students, plus a certain amount of “augh what am I doing”.  It was a convivial setting, with beer, so he answered pretty openly, and I talked a bit more openly about my current struggles and fears.

You guys, it’s starting to feel like I’m really doing this.  It’s actually going to happen.  O.O  I’m going to go be faculty.  I alternate between wildly giddy and feeling like I might vomit.*

So I paint my nails.

Sinful Colors Pull Over (plus cat):

photo 1

Glossy Yellow  Mustard
Chromium Yellow  Pull Over??

Man, that’s yellow.  It’s… oh!  Here we go!

School bus yellow is a color which was especially formulated for use on School buses in North America in 1939. The color is now officially known in Canada and the U.S. as National School Bus Glossy Yellow and was originally called National School Bus Chrome. (emph mostly mine)

Thanks, internet!  I heart you!

This manages to escape the Curse of the Yellows, possibly because it’s halfway to orange (which also explains why it doesn’t look godawful on me).  This is three coats, which I disapprove of somewhat, but it looked nice afterwards instead of still streaky.


* Ever bought your first house?  This feels very similar.

Randomly Not Nail Polish

I’ve been meaning to rant about makeup and academia in general. Well, someone else just did, and eloquently, too. Lesson: if you procrastinate for long enough, someone will get exasperated and do it for you. 😀

I am referring to this post by Sylirael of The Painted Rogue, written in cooperation with Auxiliary Beauty – both also doctoral students. Very much recommended reading. The only thing I would elaborate on: I think one of the big things that makes makeup unprofessional is that makeup is girly. Women may have infested the hallowed halls, but the very least they could do is act like men.

Their posts included “what I’d like to do/what I actually do” pix, and in the spirit of solidarity, so shall I.  And what I like to do most is experiment.

First, since I got the OCC Lip Tars largely because you can make arbitrary colors with them… I did!  I love green, but in retrospect a little more muting would have made it look better on me.  This is pretty crayola.  Nonetheless, experiment 1: informative!  This covered as well as the blue and doesn’t look as outright weird as the yellow.

green lips

I failed to take a picture of my lips with nothing on. It’s better for everyone, really.

The reason this took so long to post: I did a coordinated eye look, and it was a total failure.  Specifically, it looked interesting, but it photographed terribly.  That’s what research is, right?  Trying things and having them fail?  I tried to convince myself to post failpix (researchers are terrible about publishing negative results), but in the end, no.  So. Now it’s later.

IMG_1613XIMG_1616

Silver liner, silver shadow with green accents, plus mascara.  It’s hard to show, but it’s VERY sparkly, which is really all that makes it interesting.

Not, I hope you will agree, particularly over the top (despite the sparkling).  But I wouldn’t wear it interviewing or to a conference for fear of the dread Not Being Taken Seriously.  Not because I think engineers are allergic to silver (that would suck for our robots) but because it is quite noticeable that I’m wearing makeup.

Am I saying I want to wear green lipstick to work and have sparkly eyes all the time?  Nope.  Mr. Fix-It dislikes makeup on me, and mornings are always tight. It would be very occasional.  Plus, you know… when I bitch, I always think about Amanda at Pretty Girl Science, who has to wear nail polish (!) that is “conservative and simple,” with no other guidelines.  (Aka, I know it when I see it, and I’ll yell at you then.  Written rules are not always better than unwritten.)  But you know, that’s pretty much garbage too.

In summary, Dear Academia: I’m training up to be an engineer and a researcher, and it annoys the fuck out of me when I’m not allowed to try new things.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled program.†


* A note on coverage.  I complained that this stuff feathers; the internet’s answer is “you’re using too much.”  I am not.  I can spread the most opaque color so thin you can clearly see skin through it, and it feathers.  Gr!

† Oh, almost.  At heart, I will always be both a costumer and a HUGE ham, and I had tools out, so this happened. IMG_1603

Jobs, and Zoya * many

As happens occasionally, I’m starting to lose it.  o_O  School, mostly.  I have a grad-student-life post, a followup-on-the-shiny post, and several PWIs to do.  I even mostly have pictures!  No verbiage, but pictures.  The good news (at least for me) is, I have a job!  It was my #2 choice while interviewing, but it was a strong choice – great school, interesting city, and (hooray!!) close to my family!  Also, my startup package* is extremely generous; basically, that tells me that they really are determined to see me succeed.

So basically:  WHEEEE, JERB!!!

Oof.  Okay.  Done.  For the moment. 😀

That does mean that I need to figure out moving to another city at about the same time as defending my thesis.  (Oh, and I should write that.  …yeah.)

But for tonight, I’ll just note that my Zoya sale haul** came.

nail polish bottles, in order by color

Codie, Jade, Kaufda, Destiny, Tanzy, Anne, Piaf, Neely, Apple, Shawn, Ray, Indigo, Mosheen, and Blu, plus Monet.
I am a wizard of chromatism and acetone.

Heeee!  Many little bottles!  Names are shown from left to right, with Monet (the topper that I had to have, which started this whole thing) in the middle.  Codie, Anne, and Ray (bold-faced) I didn’t choose, they were gift add-ons.

It did occur to me that Project Wear-It sort of depends on the basic assumption that I’m wearing polishes faster than I am buying them.  Usually I have no trouble convincing myself that that must be true, but… hm.


*Money the school commits to you for getting a new lab set up, buying robots, travel, and so on, until you have grant funding coming in.

**The much-touted “exchange” is, of course, basically just a sale, since they don’t actually care if you send polish back to them (although a tidy way of getting rid of nail polish is nice).  Also, Zoya’s big thing is that they are “5-free” (missing five scaaaary chemicals).  This annoys me mildly because only a few of those chemicals are even worth avoiding, but annoys me substantially because most polishes don’t contain these 5 things.  (Ingredient labels!)  So treating it as selling point is basically a version of this – it’s disingenuous scare-marketing.  For an extremely informative post on the topic, please see this post by Robyn at Brightest Bulb in the Box.  (And then also all her other posts.)

robots and jerbs and a comment on Zoya

This week was loooong.  (This update is long.)  My paper, getting yelled at, my video card catching fire,* getting up early at 8:30 to go to an all-day language workshop, spending all day downtown meeting with a company… but a lot of it was jerbs.  Researching and negotiating, but also worrying.  I put a lot of energy into worrying this week!  A lot.

Well:

  • Paper’s in.  And I think it’s pretty good.
  • I (still) hate getting yelled at.
  • New video card ordered.  (Thank you, adviser L.)
  • Language workshop (annual regional thing, maybe 100 people?) was awesome.**  Mostly because of the research/social catchup, but at least two really good talks.
  • Company is a startup working on elder care robots, which coincidentally is what I do!  (It’s not a coincidence.  They’ve gotten my name from a number of people.)  I see future collaborations there.

 

And jerbs.  Ah, jerbs.

I now have an offer from my second choice (henceforth “U”) and a possibly-soon-offer from my first choice (henceforth “G”).  U called this morning to offer me everything I asked for, pretty much; I said I’d answer them Thursday.  I’m not going to wait/keep them waiting forever on a maybe, and y’know… if it’s a mistake, I’ll try again.  There are very few irrevocable decisions in life.

I’m exhausted. I need to clarify about Zoya but… tomorrow.

I put a cushion in my usual pix spot, and now it is a kitty/sunbeam spot that,
as it happens, is close enough for skritches.  It is possible all subsequent
natural light photos will be fashionably framed against a background of
white fur.  In this case I can absolutely guarantee it is cruelty-free.

Oh and this weekend I am going to try to move to WordPress.  Bulletins as events warrant.


* Okay, it only scorched and let out the Magic Smoke, but once the smoke’s out the magic is gone, so that’s enough really.

** At the workshop, I ran into the director of the one and only company (not school) I applied to (they didn’t call me).   He asked how it was going; I told him where I’d gone and what offers I had.   He was skeptical (“Wait… in, like, Iowa?”), then shocked (“That’s not normal.  Is it?  Is that normal in this market?”).  So, in the general spirit of managing my job search with maturity and grace, neener neener should’ve called me back, ppthblth. ^_^

And now for something completely different*; lips and jerbs

Or… okay.  A lil different.

Talked to #2U today, negotiating startup packages and salary.  I thought it went super well actually, although talking about money and salaries is stressful, but I think I did ok.  I will have enough, when all’s said and done, so… ok.

Work is otherwise stupid stressful.  (Since I started this post I had a Skype call.  Yes, at 2am; yes with unhappy adviser man.)  Adviser D is not happy with me for how little I’ve gotten done.  I’ve been trying to balance “job hunt” and “graduate” with research, but, well.  He does not think I have done it well.  And the things I have not done yet for the camera-ready tomorrow are unacceptable (“he is very disappointed and not happy”).  (Those are not paraphrase quotes, just what he said.)

I am ready to be the boss of me.  If I blow it, I blow it for myself, sort of thing.  Also [whole separate post about anxiety, stay tuned]

Meanwhile!  As much as I love nail polish, y’know what’s better?  Being a special effect is better.

What?  I was born that way.  Don’t judge, red-mouth.

Here’s the smurfy deal.

Obsession Compulsive Cosmetics has this new-ish, formerly “trade only” product they’ve been hawking, called “Lip Tar”.  Basically it’s stupidly highly pigmented, highly opaque lip goo.  Applied with a brush – it IS goo – it dries to a semi-matte finish.

I split the base pack with a friend: red, blue, yellow, white, black.  The yellow and white are somewhat not opaque enough (CLOWN pix come soon), but even so, this is remarkable.  The blue coat was one thin layer… probably like 50 atoms of product!  I mean ok not literally, but it is so weirdly little.  I kept wanting to put unnecessarily more on.

PROS: mix goos to make any color ever.  Opaque.  Lovely.  Nonstaining.

CONS: expensive (ish). Some colors feather.

I’m looking forward to playing with these!


* Monty Python ref.  No?  Either:
1 (it is baffling) look up more Monty Python humor, it is hilarious.
2 (it is not funny) ok, not everyone likes Monty Python.
3 (what are you even on about) get off my lawn! You dang kids! (Until you have looked up “Monty Python” in your Wikipedia or DangKidipedia or whatever, I don’t even care, then see 1)

Jerbs!!

Here’s where I was yesterday, ‘k?  You can just scroll down to the kitty if that’s your gig.

It feels weirdly like asking a girl I’m really, really into on a date, waiting nervously in a state between excitement and terror, and expecting a no.  Anticipation of rejection, disappointment, trying to not give up, and a general feeling that I’ll never be happy again, no matter how many fish other people claim are in the sea – all overlaid by the grownup-brain that tells me I’m over-reacting to the point of being absurd, I don’t even have an answer yet.  I know I’m being absurd, but the feelings are real.  Stupid meat feelz.

Here’s where I am now, which is much better:

#4 (my second choice) is making me an offer – on unanimous vote, which is insane.  Engineers don’t DO unanimous.  I will take their offer, probs, because apparently they really want me there AND I want to be there.  #4 is amazing and wants me and is very close to Dr. P and Dr. D.  I can make this work.

And:

My call with #3 (Dream Job) was the most encouraging rejection I’ve ever received.  The chair actually called, and made a point of saying that: 1, it was razor-thin between me and the offer; 2, I was the only finalist who was NOT a postdoc; 3, zhe loves my research and will visit me regularly to talk and collaborate, because zhe spends a lot of time in the city I’m headed to.

I mean.  Dang.  How am I supposed to feel bad now?

Normally Tachyon (painfully smart tomcat, 12 pounds, left) just runs
when Libra (cute but terrible, 7 pounds, right) decides she wants
a spot he’s occupying.  Apparently sunbeams = détente.

So… yeah; #3 is turning me down, unless some mystery dude gets a “yes” from CMU in a couple-three weeks AND I am not  yet committed to #4.  But!  Instead of being crushed, my status now is: I could live in a familiar town with access to family and friends who are amazing researchers, where I will do research with people who super value me!  And hey.  Who knows what the future will bring?

The worst possible outcome now is awesome.  Awesome like kitties in sunbeams, which is to say, very, very awesome.

2 down, 2 to go

Interview #2: accomplished!

It was definitely better than the first one.  But… I’m not sure the culture is a good fit, and I’m not sure I’m at the right stage in my career.  It’s a university-affiliated research institute, and I could apparently be jointly appointed with a (tenure-track) position at the university. 

That is an amazing offer. Amazing.

But trying to get tenure in %50 or %70 of my time sounds very, very difficult.  To succeed at both that and the institute’s needs, I have to be beyond “above average for junior faculty” (already f’ing hard).  I have to be a freaking star.

On the other hand, the research is an excellent fit.  They’re right to want me, given their needs, and there are people there I could totally work with.  Would be overjoyed to work with!  Hell, my first day there they brought in an ISS vet!  (It may not have come up, but I am a squealing and unapologetic space fangirl.)

I’m trying not to dither about it, because until they make me an offer, and someone else makes me an offer, and so on and so forth, it’s pointless – the decision tree is too deep right now.

Atlanta airport.  Sucker’s gotta be 3, 4 stories tall. Super-tall
escalators always make me dizzy when I look waaay up.

I’m sorry I’m being kinda cagey with details.  I would hardly describe this blog as anonymous (although I’m thinking about how I want to handle it), but I am trying to avoid anything Google-able for now, especially by, say, interviewers!

PWI: Wet’n’Wild Through the grapevine (aka ORCHID!)

First, a note: this article on mental illness in academia, while perhaps a bit extreme, is exactly the sort of thing that possible-academics should know and be asking themselves hard questions about.

More fun that that though:

I had dinner with my friend N the other day, and we hit a drugstore on the way home to feed our little obsession.  (Okay, I did and she came along.)  Towards the end I said, “Okay, pick something for me.” And then, to avoid the embarassment of spending 15 minutes saying “Already got that one… and that one…”, I added, “Pick something you don’t think I’d pick for myself.”

Introducing Wet’n’Wild Through the Grapevine:

X
Left: indirect sunlight; right: actual sunlight hitting my actual body you guys!  I think
these capture the pink-to-blue variation pretty well.  Under indoor lights it’s very pink.

Yeah, I would not have picked it!  I actually think it’s pretty flattering on me (?), but I’m not really a FLAMING ORCHID kind of person, and this is bright.  Nonetheless, I love it when people pick polishes for me, either to wear or to buy; it’s astonishing how often it’s a complete learning experience.  (Black on one hand and white on the other, chosen by a labmate, was so good that I want a matching dress.)*

If you don’t know, Pantone** has always had some geek love, and they’ve realized it and decided to make a profit off it – you can buy notebooks, watches, mugs, etc.  One of the things they do now is declare a “Color of the Year” (and season), which cosmetics, clothing designers, etc. dutifully note.†

This year’s color is Radiant Orchid.  That’s probably why I have bright pink fingers!


* If you have an idea (that you tell me) I will do it to my nails if physically possible, and post it.  This is a promise.  It can also be a dare, that’s fine.

** A company whose business is “reproducible color.”  You can buy physical swatches of thousands of colors, and the Pantone color number is just… that color.  That exact color.  No monitor differences, differences between batches, or creep: Pantone 13-1406 (“Cloud Pink”) will always be the same.  For example, the University of Tennessee’s official colors are UT Orange, White, and Smokey, while the University of Texas’ orange is Burnt Orange (#159).  You can see where that’s useful when thousands of people and hundreds of departments are doing their own thing.

Update: apparently they also look at runway shows and early collections to get ideas, so it goes both ways.  *shrug*

On the Groves of Academe [a rant in several parts]

Okay, so (I claim) it’s kind of insane to want to be a professor.  “And yet,” you say (in my head, where you are interested), “You are yourself finishing a Ph.D. and trying to stay in academia!”

Well, I gave three possible reasons for that behavior:

  • You’re nuts.
  • You somehow missed the memo on the problems with academia.
  • You know yourself, and know what makes you happy, very well. 

I don’t think I’m irretrievably insane, and I certainly got the memo.  So.

[This got long as all hell.  Feel free to just look at this cat instead. –ed.]

Not posed.  I just looked over and Libra was sitting
in my backpack.  With her tongue sticking out.

Do I know myself that well?  Who knows.  Maybe!  But I know, as much as anyone can know without being there, what the tradeoffs are.  I undoubtedly have surprises in my future, and I have things to learn about being in academia – including unpleasant things – and about myself.  But here are some things I’m sure of about myself, right now.

  • I don’t care that much about money.1 As far as my life objectives and reward structures go, it’s not high on the list.  I want enough money for a reasonably nice life – but in my field, that doesn’t require being at the financial pinnacle.
  • I like writing.  I like presenting to groups.  I like being in front of groups.  I like teaching and I love presenting at conferences.  I am a big fat ham.
  • I love, love, love traveling.  I have a map of places I have yet to go.  This is a thing researchers do, travel for conferences; and I love basically everything about business traveling.
  • I love interacting with smart people!  In a university environment, many of the people you rub along with are stimulating, thought-provoking, fascinating people.
  • I am motivated by tackling new problems and coming up with new ideas – even if some of them don’t work out.  Tackling problems that humanity has never solved before is awesome.  Producing profitable artifacts, less my thing.
If you don’t know what this is all about, get off my lawn.
  • My personal health and well-being is best served by having a job/role that supports not getting up at 8 or 9 (or 10) every day.  It sounds minor, but it’s not.
  • I love being on campus.  I love wandering around a campus, people-watching students and professors, reading posters in random buildings.  I find that I feel comfortable and happy on almost any campus.
  • I do not give farts about how many people know my name.  I care a bit about the quality of those people, but the idea of “toiling along in relative obscurity” is untroubling.
  • I lead small groups well; I mentor well; I don’t want to be a career manager.
  • I work best under pressure.  With no forcing functions, I tend to play computer games in my underwear and loathe myself.
  • Mr. Fix-It hates moving with a passion, and I don’t want to drag him around as I do corporate job changes.  Also, neither of us is a big fan of Silicon Valley.
  • And hey – I went into grad school from an industry research job, with my eyes open, planning to enjoy it.  And for the most part, I’ve enjoyed the hell out of it.

Some of these can be addressed by non-university research jobs; some cannot.  Some aren’t addressed by academia, either, and not all “industry” research jobs are created equal.  Put together, they make a pretty reasonable story.  That said, there’s one more slightly dirty secret:

  • It’s a one-way street.  You can go from academia to industry, but not vice versa.2

So “publish or perish” is really “publish or do what you’d be doing anyway if you weren’t in academia”.  Trying out the faculty gig keeps my options the most open, which I do care about. A lot. A whole lot.  A whole, whole lot.  …yep.


[1]  This, by the way, is the kind of thing that’s easy to toss off if you have enough money, and don’t have to worry about making rent, or have to decide between medicine and food.  I have always been that lucky, but a lot of it is luck, and I am profoundly grateful.

[2]  Yes yes there are exceptions.  People win the lottery too.  Thpt.

Interviewed! Lived to tell!

I got interviewed!

It was… long.

  • 6:00 – Get up to practice talk
    • Body time (PST → EST transition + DST): 2:00? I think?
  • 9:00-11:00 – Many ½ hour meetings
  • 11:00 – Give talk (eek)
  • 12:00 – Lunch
  • 13:00-18:30 – Many ½ hour meetings
  • 18:30 – Break
  • 18:35-21:00 – Dinner (delicious; also, thinly veiled excuse for more interview)

That’s not THAT long a day, but it’s a pretty nonstop day, if that makes sense. Very few breaks, no letting guard down.  On the flip side, I learned a lot.

Since we’re making lists:

  1. Faculty seem socially isolated
  2. 2/3 of faculty live in NYC or Princeton (see above) – not a great sign
  3. Teaching load going up soon (from 1/1 to 1/2)
  4. Funding seems an issue in general
  5. CS department is split across several buildings
  6. Many significantly older professors
  1. Faculty seem friendly, forthcoming, and interested
  2. Students are engaged and (mostly) interesting
  3. Two profs closest to my research are both ~ my age and nice people
  4. Many options for collaboration, I think 
  5. Um, east coast? duh?
  6. Only one person harassed me a bunch about Cyc

I don’t have a synthesis.  Too tired.  But hey, it happened, and the world didn’t implode or anyfing, so that’s nice.  I felt like it went pretty well, and like I had a good connection with many of the people I talked to.  Maybe that’s accurate, maybe it was the sleep dep.

We Shall See!

I was gonna add something about… something… hard.  Uh.  Hard is too hard.  Brain going offline.  Cat:

My macbook pro has warms. He especially likes it when I play Flash games.

Of shoes and ships and sealing-wax

I committed quite an extensive rant a couple of days ago, explaining why it was slightly daft to aim for academia. Of course, I had planned a followup to explain why it can be right, and wonderful, and fulfilling, and actually a great choice. (I did throw in an “unless” in there…)

Unfortunately, that one’s going to have to wait, because I am frantically trying to get ready for (gulp!) my first faculty candidate interview, on Monday. (eeeeeeeek)

So only easy nail polish posts and kitties until that’s over with.  Also, medical stuff, good stuff we hope. So on all fronts, cross your fingers for me! Meanwhile,

We cannot see you.  Because you are Sneaky.

On the Groves of Academe [a rant in several parts]

Academia is a funny place.*

For one thing, it’s kind of insane to want to be faculty. I mean that in a fairly literal sense. Consider:

      • You spend 5-8 years in PhD school, living on a relative pittance. This is 5-10% of your life, 8-13% of your adult life.
      • Grad school isn’t always fun. It can be fun! There are excellent things about it! But PhD students spend a lot of time slogging through, under pressure.
      • The opportunity cost of 5-8 years of possible earnings with a BS/BA (or 3-6 years with an MS) is very high.
      • The odds of actually finding a position range from mediocre to astronomically low.
      • The pay is non-concomitant with the effort. Financially, the sweet spot is the Masters. 
      • Should you actually land a position, possibly after another 2-4 years as a postdoc, you face 4-7 years on the tenure track – years that are much more grueling than grad school.
      • Also now you are between 27 and 35. 
      • If you make it through ALL the hurdles, you achieve the gold ring: you’re a tenured faculty member, expected to teach classes and Produce Research.
      • Also now you are between 38 and 46. (I hope you didn’t want kids? j/k, that’s what faculty wives are for†)
      • The gold ring: If you do amazingly, continuously, for the rest of your life, at least 100 people will look up to you! Probably 200-300 will know your name. Maybe even more!
      • Congrats I guess?

          Is this insane? Well, the cost/reward ratio is waaaay off. I mean, nobody would look at this objectively and say, “Oh, that sounds like a great idea!” So… either you know yourself, and know what makes you happy, very, very well; or you’re nuts; or, you somehow missed the memo on the above.

          It’s interesting, what happens when I mention this to my fellow faculty-candidate colleagues. About half of them nod, a bit sadly, and we share a Look, and go back to our insanity. The other half go straight to, “Nooo! No, not true, because of reasons! …”

          I worry about the second half.

          How could you miss the memo? Well, really, the Academe is geared towards making academics. Great undergrads are steered into grad school; after that, research and publication and faculty are all anyone talks to you about. How could it be otherwise? You are mentored and taught exclusively by people who followed that path AND got the gold ring. What else do they know?

          But now, we produce at least one order of magnitude more PhDs than we have faculty slots, so something’s gotta give.

          After I get my crazy person slot.**

          I will try to amend for wordiness with a sleeping kitty:

          It is so hard to get work done around here you guys I mean what was I gonna do

          * A funny place, especially, in STEM. Which is honestly pretty close to all I know. One of the funny things is how very, very different areas are. So let’s take all of the following as referring to STEM.
          j/k, faculty-chillums obviously a problem for all genders.††
          †† (it isn’t)
          ** It’s a nice crazy-person slot 😐

          Interview polish, maybe?

          Since my nails are currently 1/2 ugly yellow (ssiiiiggghh), my need for a nude (ish) polish has stepped up. Like, I have to make something work before the first job interview. I wasn’t planning to wear nail polish to a job interview, but I wasn’t planning on dying my nails nicotine-yellow, either. Oops…

          It’s not like this realization made me buy nail polish; it just made me buy comparatively boring nail polish. (Let’s face it, I was gonna buy nail polish.) This isn’t exactly a Project Wear-It, either, since I’m explicitly looking for something I plan to wear several times, soon…

          So, the possibly-interview-ready OPI Dulce de Leche:

          In indoor lighting it’s basically perfect…
          …but in sunlight it’s pretty pink! You can see the slight gold shimmer.

          It’s certainly a very pretty color! I’m just not sure if I’m feeling it for interviews. I do think it’s flattering, in an incredibly understated way. Not a bad thing to own, although I rarely want “understated” nails. I mean, if nobody is going to notice it, I would just go without nail polish. …usually.

          Amusingly, I had to find the color name by slowly navigating OPI’s all-flash website, rather than walking eight feet and picking up the bottle.  Why?

          you knew that was gonna be why

          Project Wear-It: Sally Hansen Golden-I

          I’m meeting with a visiting VIP today, meaning my nail polish has to be work-appropriate – which in my field just means “subtle” (I have a whole rant on that, but it can wait). I’d go without polish, except…

          I recently switched back to PVA peel-off base coat. In the meantime, I had forgotten that water-based coats won’t block stains. (Lab Muffin gives an excellent explanation, as always.) I was reminded after a day of chartreuse polish turned my fingernails three-pack-a-day yellow overnight! doh.

          So, Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear Golden-I, which is unprepossessing on me:

          It’s a tiny bit cooler and shinier than this shows. Indirect outdoor light.

          It’s a foil; application is okay, definitely not a one-coater. The color is a pale, pretty gold, somewhere more in the champagne family. This is two coats; it would really have needed three for full opacity, but very short nails have their charms!

          Perfectly nice color. Too much for a job interview (sigh) but reasonable for one casual half-hour meeting. Maybe tonight I’ll put glitter on it…

          oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh! (job interview)

          So, it hasn’t come up on the bloggityblag before, but I’m actually… on the job market. (dum dum dummm) And ohmygosh you guys I just got called to set up an interview ohmygosh!

          Why is this worthy of so much frothing at the mouth? Well, see, I’m applying for positions where they hire 1-2 people/year, and routinely get 500-1200 applications. …which is insane. They don’t even bother to give you a “no” – you just wait until around April, and then you’re like, “well I guess I need a plan B?”

          So, even getting called for an interview is a major achievement. I sent a lot of applications, so it’s also kind of reaffirming.  But mostly, oh gosh someone read my stuff oh gosh!!

          In the interests of making this marginally less dull, here, have another cat.

          beloved Dot

          oh my gosh oh my gosh