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Hearts, glass, and presentations

This afternoon, I gave my presentation for the conference du jour.  It went well; I felt underpracticed, but since this material is part of my job talk that’s really not true.  Anyway, I got some laughs from the audience, which isn’t possible if they’re not engaged, and some good questions, so I was comprehensible.  It was a small turnout, but it was scheduled during the very last session; a lot of people were already on planes.

C’est la travail.  (And oooo I need to write about Québec so much.)

As mentioned, I recently bought a small mountain of Hearts & Glass polish.  (Actually I bought three, then after quick swatches went back and bought every color I found interesting.)  Here is:

Hearts & Glass Cloud Nine:

turquoise

Pretty turquoise! Also, pretty French tip color for next time. Not teal, at least in indirect Pacific northwest sunlight in summer. The color’s pretty accurate, even.

I have had the worst time finding any information about this brand, even proof that it exists; this page is the best, only, thing I’ve found.  And I really like them:  The three colors I’ve worn so far are all excellent, easy to work with, one- to two-coat coverage, no staining.

So: here are a whole bunch of bottle shots, internet.  Of Hearts & Glass Nail Polish.  Polish polish hearts and glass nail lacquer polish google tag hearts and glass.  So there.

photo 4

Cocoa Loco <?>, Bronze Goddess, Leading Lady <?>, Daring Duchess.  Doesn’t it almost actually look bronze in this picture?

photo 3

Wisteria Memory, Plum Fantasy, Juliette’s Blush <?>, Perfect Kiss <?>.

photo 2

Wizard of Ahs, Lucky Clover, Sexy Sorbet, Tangerine Tease.  The only reason Rebel Yellow isn’t here is because I have enough yellow polish and I didn’t realize it was named Rebel Yellow.  I could not have resisted that.

photo 1

Stolen Moment, Lapis of Luxury, Cloud Nine, Pure Courage.

front

Bronze Goddess and Daring Duchess again, because maybe you want to see them from the front, I dunno?

Color names are basically guesswork, because the bottles are in boxes, because everything I own is in boxes, some of which I may see again someday.  ARGH MOVING.  I will update if I ever see the boxes again.

My best guess after packing, by the way, is that I have around 400 bottles of nail polish, about half what I had wild-ass guestimated a while ago.  (From this one can conclude, correctly, that binges of buying 20 bottles at a time are actually quite rare.)  That’s not a bad estimate, but it’s not good either.  When I unpack I might actually pay enough attention to figure out things like brand percentage… or I may be swamped with the new life.  Hard to know.

Many pretty polishes, all in a row (PWI × many)

So I missed a plane today (ARGH).  It was partly my fault, partly Delta’s.  And of course they can’t put me on anything until tomorrow.*  Why do I keep flying Delta?  Bad things always happen – starting many years ago when they stranded Mr. Fix-It in Egypt until I sicced a lawyer on them.

I am very excited about my new job, but I was at least equally excited about The One That Got Away.  On the other hand, TOTGA would have required flying a lot more Delta.  Maybe this time I’ll learn?  Dear Self: it doesn’t matter that it’s cheaper if it always sucks horribly.

Sooo… that was bad.  OTOH, I then had a very nice, laid-back lunch with a dear friend who made time for unexpectedly-present me.  Also, the corner drugstore had a random display of $1.49 nail polishes from a random small brand (Hearts & Glass) that turned out to be really, really nice.  So nice I went back for more…

Dear reader: I bought 22 nail polishes today.

Is PWI just some self-enabling joke?  I mean, that’s, what, like ¼ of the polishes I’ve successfully reviewed?  Maybe.  I worried about it briefly, but then I was like “SCREWIT LOOKIT MAH PRETTIES.”  I missed a plane!  I deserve comforting things.

So it seems like a good time to just post a massive dump of nail polishes, as previously warned.  It’s a good thing I no longer put all polish names in PWI post titles, because that would be a long title…

Sally Hansen Seasational:

seasational

I have so much trouble typing “seasational,” because it is not a word.  Even for a fake word it’s kind of stupid.  Anyway, it’s a nice teal cream, decent coverage, and fairly shiny.

Sinful Colors Taupe It Off:

IMG_6865

It’s supposed to dry matte, and it does. While it’s not textured, the little bits of glitter make it look… uneven? MK described it as river silt, and he’s right. Not flattering on me!

Sinful Colors Dozen Roses:

doznroses

One of my continuing efforts to find a flattering pale pink. (Mr. Fix-It likes pink.) Okay, not great; good coverage for that kind of color, though. I have mountains of turns-out-it’s-super-sheer pale pinks.

Some Essence (not Essie!) sparkly navy:

IMG_6861

Essence doesn’t, as far as I can tell, name their colors. This looks pretty in the macro shot, but really it’s quite dark and the glitter (such as it is) is very subdued.  On me it looks rather dull.

Zoya Jade:

IMG_6850

…Jade. Right. I assume they mean as in “harlot,” but it’s still a dumb name for a tomato-red nail polish. This is four thin, easy coats; final color was okay but nothing to die for, I thought.  Click for half-hidden sparkle.

This is the point where I realized I can’t probably shouldn’t have cherries for dinner, and went to make some curry.

So, curry in tummy, I present Sinful Colors Strapped:

IMG_6806

Very true to color! So basically it’s a (very) matte greenish teal. Like most matte shades, it dried really fast. I think this was 2-3 coats?

I… sigh.  I have more queued up.  But for now that’s enough, plus it’s obviously time to go to sleep, so I can catch my super-early shuttle, so I can catch my early plane.  And tomorrow I will be 2800 mi/4500 km away, posting from boring talks at a conference (maybe none of them will be boring! (yeah…)) and househunting like mad.


* Actually they were pretty gung-ho about putting me on a red-eye that left at 12:14 am.  And then changed in Minneapolis midway through.  Does anyone fall for that??

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.

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.)

Life decisions, jobs, robots, sickness, … just stuff is what I’m sayin’

I’ve been spending a truly inordinate amount of time getting the Parallel-Universe-O-Blog (wordpress) set up.  Mostly it’s hard to make it meet my aesthetic standards?  I mean so was this, but I had no audience when I started, so I could take arbitrarily long (and I did!).

Also, Mr. Fix-It is getting over a horrible cold.  Being the loving spouse he is, he shared!  He’s recovering now, but I’m sick as a dog.  A sick dog.

All of which is to say: I meant to make you a cookie but I eated it blog post?  Instead, for reasons that are a mystery to me, I made a picture of the Vitruvian Man doing cartwheels.

collex

whee! …I have a fever. Shut up.

So… yeah.  There’s nail polish and new posts and new site and, oh, my future to be decided tomorrow.  But for now, I give you cartwheels!

…what.  Cartwheels are awesome.

 

 

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.

Yipes! Stripes! …and some rough news.

So I was talking to Super Woman a few days ago, and at some point asked her, “Hey, what color should I paint my nails?”

To which she responded, enthusiastically, “Blue with black stripes!!”

Er.  Well… I do have striping tape, which is basically the world’s thinnest masking tape.  (Well, it’s mylar.)  I’ve tried to use it a handful of times, with no success.  But this time I had a Directive, by god.

This is my fourth and final attempt:

Blue!  With black stripes.
Bonus thumbs! …look, it’s hard taking pictures of your own hands.

And I think I got it working!

This is not the shade of blue I was planning to use.  What I’ve read about striping tape is that you need to pull it off when the polish is either really wet or really, really dry; I found that only “really wet” worked, possibly because I had so many layers of polish going on.  Basically I found that I needed something that could be opaque over black in a single not-too-thick layer, and what I found was Physicians Formula Trendsetter Chic #2.  Most of my other blues needed either multiple layers or white undies.*

This is layered over Sinful Colors Black on Black.  I refuse to do a PWI.  It’s… it’s black.  It looks black?  But it IS a one-coater.

So yeah!  I dunno if I nailed it exactly?  But I made stripes, by gum!

In other, lamer news, Interview #3 (nickname: Dream Job) has made an offer to someone else, which he is planning to take.  I haven’t officially been told “no” yet – I have a phone call tomorrow – but right now, smart money’s on “SIGH”.  I have officially set aside time to sulk.


* Yes, this is a nail jargon term…

PWI: Sally Hansen Grape Going! Plus, JERBS

For those who are following along at home, here’s the interview scorecard:

  • 1 (R) – A good school, a decent interview.  I wasn’t smitten, and I doubt they were.  I didn’t make a fool of myself but I don’t expect followup.
  • 2 (F) – A fantastic research fit, but a social fit that really concerned me.  OTOH, they made me an offer, and they offered me the moon and the stars.  If they want me that badly, I’m willing to try to make it work.
  • 3 (G) – A fantastic research fit.  A fantastic social fit.  A fantastic place.  I would sell… something important to work there.  They loved me, too; they told me so.  But they’ve interviewed some truly amazing people, and it’s all down to the shouting, now.  It’s an engineering department.  There will be shouting.  (But please, please, please?)
  • 4 (U) – Smaller school, less of a research fit, but I would fill some painfully obvious holes they have, and socially it was awesome.  People were direct, honest, forthright, and kind.  I enjoyed the heck out of my visit and I would work there if they offered.  Also, the closest to Super Woman and Dr. D of anyplace I interviewed.

I expected to hear from #3 today, but didn’t.  I actually managed to work myself into a state where I was womity just from nerves.  Finally I said screw it and fell back to my usual reaction to adversity: sulking and nausea.

And, oh, food.  Coq au vin (traditional style, so it took 4 hours), cauliflower puree, skinned drumsticks in batches in the freezer, and oven-roasted Brussels sprouts in brown sugar and bacon glaze.  (Um… I have leftovers… help?)  I actually managed to fight down the urge to call an impromptu dinner party and make everyone individual Cornish game hens, but it was a near thing.

And, as happens when the going gets confusing and adult, I have been painting the crap out of my nails.  It is consequence free.

Today’s offering is Sally Hansen Grape Going!:

X
Reddish purple!  [hand tilt]  Bluish purple!  …am I more excited than this warrants?

A blue-purple duochrome,* which is pretty awesome.  That said, it has some problems.  One is sheerness, as this is like 4-5 coats, meaning way more chances to screw up.

The second, and far worse, is how subtle the color shift actually is.  I needed this super-direct setting-sun light to get a real purple – the mildly uninteresting mid-tone blue on the right is more the default look.

Anyway!  Tomorrow I will hear something maybe or maybe not!  Please, um, just please cross your fingers, or pray, or whatever your superstition is and all, or nothing.  Just… please.


* Two different colors in different lights / at different angles.  The word is also used for polishes that shift among >2 colors, which makes Grammar Hulk aaaangry because it should obviously be multichrome.  You wouldn’t like me when I‘m… using the red pen

PWI: Rimmel London Pink-A-Boo and Sunny Days

Maaaan all that interviewing stuff was crazy.  And, contrary to my expectations, it’s kind of ongoing!  I had a phone thing with someone from Place #3 this morning, and I’m expecting to have another with #2 shortly… it’s complicated, is all.  I plan to post more (spoilers: #4 was great and #3 was a-MAYY-ziiinng), but I kind of think I write in this blog because nail polish is easy and super fun for me, and I could so use that right now.

So here’s a thing that happened before I went off to get my brains scrambled interviewed.

Rimmel London Pink-A-Boo and Sunny Days:

X
I tried to use these colors as a half-moon mani, but everything went wrong.
…everything.  I don’t wanna talk about it.  (Okay since you insist the yellow is
streaky and transparent and the pink dings if you look at it funny which I did you
can see it and everything gets everywhere after like 9 coats of polish, aaarrrgh!
)

The yellow, uh.  Needs a lot of coats.  But it’s a very true yellow!  The pink’s fine, very very pink, but fine.  After a complete fail of a half-moon manicure, I decided to go with rocking the asymmetry, which I kind of always love:

X
Mr. Fix-It took photos!  With my crappy camera
phone!  I do not think he cared for it at all!

Ahhh yes.  That feels better than worrying about my future, yes indeed it does. ^_^

3 down, 1 to go

#3 interview went sooo well.  Unless something big changes (like #4 is even better), if they make me an offer I sure intend to take it.

#2 interviewers have made me a job offer.  They have offered me everything I asked for so far and more – they really want me, and that is, all by itself, tempting.

#4 is Monday.

These are all great news.  So why not more exclamation points ‘n’ whatnot?  Well, I have more things to say, to think, but I am so braindead I can’t even make the minimally required words go together.

so kitty.  wish me luck, things going well, kitty.

He loves me whether I have a job or not

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!

Interviewing!

I have three interviews in the next 2 weeks, so… posts are likely to flag a bit, I guess.  Or, um, a lot.  Please just cross fingers for me to get an awesome job somewhere (first talk’s in 4 hours!) and there will be content again shortly.

Now I have to go put on a Suit.  Fortunately I have an awesome Suit.

De rigueur kitty:

kitty smoosh

Interview nails dethroned!

So Rimmel London is a drugstore makeup brand, one that I think is relatively newly spreading into the US?  So that’s a thing.  Um sorry but I can’t do much of an intro because I am too excited to show you Rimmel London Caramel Cupcake:

It’s nail polish!  Promise!!  Dinged my index before it was dry.
jaundice = indoor lighting.  Matte top coat.

When it’s shown all close-up like this, you can at least tell my nails are painted, but in most light you really cannot.  I topped it with a matte top coat to minimize shine, and y’all, this stuff is me-colored.  Normally one doesn’t need a nail polish that looks exactly like one’s self, but at the moment I do, and I found it!!  It is this.  It matches me less or more depending on lighting, but I will swear you would never notice it.  (I showed a friend, and she grabbed my hand and stared at it super up close before giving me an “if you say so” shrug.)

In nail-polish-junkie-landia, this look (perfectly matching nail polish) is referred to as “mannequin hands”, for those following along at home.  I’m almost tempted to paint some half-moons (the white round bit at the base of your nail) just to see what it would look like.

I am really disproportionately happy about this!

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.

Also also!

You guys you guys I wrote all my thank-you notes to the people I met at interview #1!

Okay, yes.  This is baseline.  This is something that took like 20 minutes and involved very little thought.  But I am terrible at it, like I never do it.  So I did it and in the same week and I am very pleased with myself for doing better than my own personal sucky baseline!

PWI: OPI Nomad’s Dream (interview nails selection!)

Since I made such a fuss, I’ll cop that I wondered all along if this would happen: I ended up using one of my possibly 5 oldest polishes for interviewing. This is pretty close to perfectly balanced between pink and gold, making it a good match for my super-noncommittal skin tone.*

OPI Nomad’s Dream:

I don’t have a conversational aside for this picture, possibly
because I am in New Jersey, slowly being drained of life

A little shiny, but on my short nails, basically unnoticeable, as desired.  It’s also pretty sheer; this is three coats.  Two is even more unnoticeable.

Nomad’s Dream was a special edition MANY years ago, but has been re-released in the last few years.  Since OPIs have been reformulated in the last ten years or so, it may be quite different – it looks different in the bottle.  I don’t care enough to pick up a new bottle and find out, and the internet’s fascination with nail polish post-dates the original.  Humankind may never know.

* Most makeup babbling starts with: “determine whether your skin’s undertones are pink (cool), or yellow (warm)”. This does not work for me, independent of being arbitrary and a bit odd.  OTOH, I pin down one end of the fair—dark spectrum pretty thoroughly.

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 😐

          The Stash, plus, PWI: Wet-n-Wild Champagne Toast 1

          Polish All the Nails just posted these amazing shots of her entire collection lined up. O.O If my casual x × y count is even close, this is roughly a thousand bottles, which makes me question my handwavey “about a thousand” bottles in my collection, like, a lot. I doubt I could cover a 7-foot table… or could I? People are notoriously terrible at estimating volume, coverage, etc… but I still think I only have a fraction of these.

          Well, PWI should make it a lot clearer. (Yay, “science”!)

          I was going to do a PWI on Wet-n-Wild Champagne Toast, as another possible interview polish, but I can’t help feeling like we have to wait for daylight swatches. I think it’s a product of my nighttime lighting and/or camera, but this very pretty polish makes me look like a boiled lobster.

          Wet-n-Wild Champagne Toast at night:

          Left: more cooking, right: marginally less cooking. To my eye this looks like a
          lovely, suitable pale gold, but to the camera… not so good. Daylight shots tomorrow!

          I can say… this is a lovely, but streaky, pale gold. It’s pretty sheer; this is 3-4 (fairly fast) coats. I don’t mind streaks, to be honest. In my opinion, without a macro lens or a nail obsession, nobody notices or cares.

          But I’m looking forward to a daylight post. Current feeling is that this is pretty, but subtle-verging-on-unnoticeable… which is to say, an excellent interview polish.

          More tomorrow!

          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