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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

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. ^_^

Redux

Grad school. v__v

Yesterday was super bad. DF really gave me a hard time… I was going to say “earful,” but it was mostly about how disappointed he is and how unhappy he is with where we are and how he really thought I could do better; it’s not like he actually yelled at me.

What are you supposed to say to stuff like that? “You should have done this” is an engage-able statement, even if my response is “I know, I’m sorry.” (Or, you know, “Here’s why.”)  But “I am disappointed” is inarguable, non-discussible.  I don’t even know how to apologize to that. I don’t know what to do, except mope around feeling like I should withdraw all my job applications and go make jewellery and sell it on Etsy except I’d probably suck at that too.

So… rough day.

(oh also I got my AAAI camera-ready in and it’s good but whatever because of how much of a disappointment I am.)

Furthermore, Mr. Fix-It was supposed to fly in last night, but Delta decided he needed to spend another day in Austin and take another workday off for flying. *Deltaaaa* (shakes fist on top of hill, backlit against a darkening sky)

Rrrgh bitch bitch bitch.  But now I am going to stop.

Dr. P said she found blue lips, well, hard to reconcile.  But I’ve decided they’re actually a pretty good color on me, and fairly flattering.  Know what makes me say so?  This:

OCC lip tar in Traffic.  Special FX hair dye has a shade
called “Yellow as F@#!” (I’m not censoring, that’s the
name), which would be more appropriate I think.

Now that is goofy and hard to reconcile.  This stuff makes me feel like I could wear the blue to work!

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.

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 😐