Thursday, July 29, 2010

Committee Recc Letters

For certain professional and graduate programs, we write committee letters for students. This may be stating the obvious, but some of my colleagues are better letter writers than others. No one TRULY stinks, but from proofing my colleagues' work over the years, I have come to the conclusion that either I'm the second-best or tied for first-best writer in the bunch. I'm not counting the funky prepositions that our non-native speakers use, but the tone, order, formality, structure, etc.

You can take this all with the degree of "grain of salt" that matches your thoughts of my blog writing. :)

Anyway, I proofed one today that spent a huuuge paragraph on how the student wasn't the brightest guy on campus, but Stu's work ethic and how hard he worked made up for it [intentional]. Ummm, Stu had a 3.95/4.0 in a rigorous program and was one of the sharpest students in my class. What I think happened was that the letter writer was paraphrasing what the student wrote in Stu's statements, something Colleague shouldn't do if Stu has been in _three_ of Colleague's (very small) classes. First, students/ human beings/ successful people (in particular) overestimate their efforts and underestimate their luck and talent. And second, 5 sentences making Stu out to be a grind is wayyyyyy too much in a 1.5 page letter. For such a talented student!

Don't get me wrong, we are honest in our letters. If Stu has a weakness, we mention it clearly, but emphasize the positive. In any case, Colleague's letter was covered in red by the time I sent it back. I hope Colleague doesn't take it personally. This is a small place and we have to work well with each other to survive.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Help us name the baby

By this time last baby, Hub and I had a list of about 50 names for each gender (we aren't finding out this time, either) to whittle down. This time we have very little. Soooo, reader's poll, what are some good baby names? No "trendy" or weird ones, please.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Coming to terms with term.

Cripes! How did that happen?

Talking to the secretary recently and she says, when is this baby coming? I said the standard thing I've been saying for a couple of weeks now, which is "A month to two months". She says, when's your due date? 26th August. "That's not as far away as you are thinking!"

It's true. On Thursday I will turn 36 weeks. Technically term is 37 weeks. This baby will be ready to come out in a week and a half. Now, I could go up to my 42nd week (and beleeeve-you-meee, I ain't gonna ask for an early induction), which would be mid-September.

I DO NOT HAVE MY COURSES PREPARED!!!! YIKES! I haven't started in a substantial way. Please, please don't let this baby come early!!!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Benefits of Being Asked to Fake Apply

When first approached, I had only given thought to the work it would take, and the moral dilemma involved, in preparing an application for a job (that I had no intention of taking) to fulfill a quota. Please read here for the original and here for a follow-up on the situation.

What I failed to realize was that it was a chance for me to e-mail all the Big Shots and Rock Stars that I once knew or worked with, and remind them of my existence (becuase they certainly aren't reading the prolific amount and unsurpassed importance of my papers). Though my former colleague knows all of these people, I doubt that they are thinking of networking with them. Now I get to blip on their radar screen once more.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

How I say "get your sh*t together" to a student

This e-mail is in response to the e-mail in Taking it Out?
Stu, I will do it, but I need the following things from you:

1. I have a very hard time reading your e-mails because of lack of punctuation.
Let's pretend like the relationship between you and your profs is a professional one(which it is). It's good practice for the future.

2. Please send me the course description of the course you want to take so I can try
to find the best fit in our curriculum for a substitute. This is usually found in
the course catalog of the University or from the instructor.

3. Please fill out the form so that all I have to do is sign it.

4. In the future, if you need advising from me (which you seem to periodically),
please do so through the typical channels- i.e. make an appt with me. Otherwise, we
really need you to drop me as your major advisor.

Hope you can understand.

And then I sent an e-mail to Stu's advisor:

Stu is minoring in Biology but never comes for advising (they are not required to).
Stu nonetheless occasionally sends me these semi-incomprehensible, panicky
last-minute missives for advising help. I realize that I'm being a bit of an ass
here, but I'm sure in the [art field] world [they] will need to treat clients, etc.
professionally. I've never seen your work accompanied by anything less than perfect
English and in perfect context!

Stu's failure to do [their] due diligence this time sent me over the edge, so I laid down the law. If [Stu] hates it enough, [they] will only come to you for advising and avoid me like the plague. In which case, could you make sure Stu gets [their] Biology major dropped? It does seem like something Stu needs to be responsible for before applying
for graduation...

Thanks for your understanding.

Your input heeded

Well, that was pretty universal. If you look at the comments of the last post, I think the situation of the "fake application" has outraged all 12 of my readers! While a bit passive, this is close to the e-mail I sent in reply:
Thanks for your kind greetings!! I hope your family is healthy and happy and your work at [City] is fulfilling. We are doing quite well.

I have taken your flyer and sent it to [Grad Advisor] to forward to as many people at [Grad School] and elsewhere as possible. I can also try to forward it to a friend I have at [Top Three School, (Rock Star- subfield right on the money)]. I have tried to network your job around. I hope we can get you some applications that are female, qualified AND viable candidates.

I would REALLY prefer not to send an application in, because it would make my current colleagues very suspicious that I an trying to leave uncollegially (at a bad time and sneaking around). I need their trust, as I am coming up for tenure in a year.

I will do everything I can for you, however. Have you contacted [native colleague, quite qualified, female]? Is there anyone else I can help you connect with?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Fake Application for a Job

I have been asked by a former colleague to apply for a job in an overseas country. Colleague knows I have no intention of moving, but they tell me that their department will be in BIG trouble with the government if they have no female applicants, and so far none have applied. Colleague admits this will be a burden on me, and realizes I am doing them a big favor.

Should I do it?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Taking it out on someone else?

This is a student I haven't seen in years. Stu was a Bio major for about a semester, is minoring in Bio (which requires no advising input from anyone in Bio), but has failed to drop the Bio major (despite reminders). Because Stu hasn't dropped the major, I am still considered Stu's advisor. Every once in a while Stu needs my signature for something. Here's an example of an e-mail I got today. Aside from the brackets, exactly as written.

Hey there [my first initial] so something happened with my dropping major to minor and im still considered and bio major but im trying to get enough credits to fill the minor and i will be on my [exchange program] this fall in [city] and have the opportunity to do that by taking a class at [college] its a 400 level evolution class and i was wondering if you could fill out the transfer credit form i filled it out but sometimes with pdas the info doesnt always transfer ... please let me know if there is a problem and what i can do to fix it thank you

I put Stu off to Stu's true major advisor. I could have done what Stu asked with no problem. Perhaps I am acting like a mean person, but today I couldn't tolerate an e-mail like that and Stu's asking me to fill out the paperwork from scratch (it WAS blank). Stu should have given me course descriptions, had the ppwrk finished, needing only my signature. Am I being vindictive from other things in my life? Or justly demanding a minimum of professionalism?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Bad Day Resolution

Please read Realtor Bitching 1-4 and To Top it All Off (all immediately preceeding) to make sense of this post.

The Realtor came over to the house yesterday to resolve the conflict. I was sooo proud of my Hub, normally a meek dude, who told him in plain language that were weren't pleased with his carelessness in preparing our listing (misspellings and inaccuracies). The Realtor admitted his carelessness to our satisfaction, and then showed us how the tax assessor listed square footage of home incorrectly. It is a fair mistake to base the square footage on the MLS on the assessment. We gave him that one.

It turns out that the conflict has escalated extensively over a very, very simple misunderstanding: We wanted him to NOT put "Basement: 1/2 finished; heated" on the listing (which was what was there- read the exact words of my e-mail here). He thought we wanted him TO put "Basement: 1/2 finished, unheated" on the listing. In my correspondence I felt I was perfectly clear, but again, I think it's because this guy is not the greatest reader. He neither brought the original documents nor his form to enter into the listing, so I have to leave open the possibility that we were just missing each other. *sigh*

Basically, Hub and I ended up re-writing and copy-editing the listing ourselves to our satisfaction. This was a bit of a struggle, and I'm sure he's not used to having his clients be so "active" in the process. Yes, I felt like we were being control freaks. Yes, I'm sure he will work far less independently than before, a blessing and a curse. No, I didn't trust him to get it right without our help. Call us what you will, I didn't trust him to hear and understand what we wanted and to implement it clearly. Now on the continuum between using him only for his key-code (1) and completely hands-off (10), we've reached a 2. We've agreed to keep him on but watch him like a hawk. I don't think he has bad intentions, he's just not very bright. The house is coming off the market when the baby is born- sure as heck not showing the house with a newborn around- so we will have an "out" in 1-2 mos. should we need to let him go.

Took Boy to the Dr. She disagreed that it was simply a nasty bug bite, looks like chicken pox or allergy. Since he had his chicken pox shot (can you tell we aren't anti-vaxxers?), she thinks he's allergic. And that, folks, is why I keep within my scope of practice as a Biology prof, and don't make diagnoses.

Benadryl has helped Boy immensely in the last 24 hours. Sleep has helped me immensely in my anger at the Realtor and Day Care.

Today is a new day. A nice nicoise salad and a huge bowl of ice cream is also good medicine...

Friday, July 16, 2010

And to top it all off...

When we picked Boy up from the day care he had three ENORMOUS welts from bug bites, a bad sunburn on his shoulders and top of his head, and a nasty bruised divot where the class bully bit him on the shoulder.

The welts we've seen once before this week. They weren't this big- huge swollen and weeping. Its not a scrape, its a bite that swells so large that it covers the entire width of his leg or arm. They happen only at the day care, NOT when he is outside, and the director swears it only happens to him. We're taking him to the doc tomorrow.

The sunburn was unacceptable since we were told he would be going outside today. We showed them exactly where the sunscreen was. We instructed them to make sure our alabaster Boy was wearing his hat, saying specifically have him wear it in the pool, even if it gets wet.

And then the bite. Well, we know this happens at day cares. This kid has bitten Boy before. It feels a little more out of our hands than the other stuff.

Thank God this happened on a day that Hub was home. I might lose it otherwise.

Realtor Bitching 4

We have pulled the listing and plucked the sign out of our yard. This was at the suggestion of the Realtor. Tomorrow we will have a meeting with the Realtor to clarify some of these issues. The heater thing HAS to be resolved or our square footage will be a big, fat, lie. Apparently it's OK to say that the HOA will pay for windows and do all the landscaping when it doesn't, but it's not OK to list finished, but unheated portions of the home as livable square feet.

I had Hub call the Realtor to verbally clear up our misunderstandings. Realtor claims that we had discussed X problem, Y problem, and Z problem. I'm really certain we hadn't- so now it becomes a he-said, we-said argument. Intolerable.

This really shouldn't be that complicated or difficult.

Realtor Bitching 3

Please read the previous two posts to make sense of this one.

Here's the response to the last e-mail. Please notice that while I was saying "Read the HOA document to advertise properly what services are included" He responds "Yes, I have the document and will make it available to buyers"

Also WHY would you list publicly that the basement is heated and privately that it is not?!?!?!?!
Realtor to me:

My spell check has failed me!

I will make the additional changes you suggest, with two exceptions; The note about the basement being unheated will be in the “Internal Remarks”. The rec room can be heated for +/- $200.00 and I strongly suggest that you do that. Technically that space does not qualify as “livable square feet”. Also, I have noted that the HOA doc’s are on file. I’d like to upload them onto the MLS but they are too large. I will send them to any serious prospect. Legally you will need to supply the doc’s after you have a ratified contract.

Realtor bitching 2

My response to the most recent iteration of the MLS listing for our home (w/o the actual listing, sorry):

Dear Realtor;

that is much better. Please change Dinning to Dining. We just don't want to eliminate any English professors from our pool of potential buyers! :) Let's hear if Hub has some additional suggestions.

Also, please make sure that you remove the word "heated" from the basement section on the chart. I know we are being picky, but we feel this stuff is pretty important to generate an overall good impression. It's the "resume" of our house, and we are looking in a tough "job" market.

A bit about the HOA:
Please reflect in the homeowners association section that mulching, but not all grounds keeping, is covered by the HOA, also trash and recycling are included in the fees. New siding will be installed at HOA's expense in next few years. I'm not sure if the windows are our responsibility or the HOA. I think they are ours. Do you have access to the HOA document? Perhaps you could check what is listed there for accuracy.

IS IT TOO MUCH TO EXPECT THAT A REALTOR CAN SPELL "DINING"? Remember this is the second pass.

Let alone check the Home Owners Assosciation document (that we have certainly sent him) to assure accuracy of what he lists as their services?

I am not going to spend another moment of my workday writing, correcting, and bitching online about our home sale listing.

Hiring Friends (Realtor bitching 1)

Capacitus Interruptus

Dear readers, a brief break from the navel-gazing for some flat-out whining and bitching, completely unrelated.

Living in Small City lends itself to a lot of social networking, which we have done. What social netowrking leads to is a whole lot of wonderful things, but a few bad things, too. Primarily, we tend to know friends who, say, can do our electrical work, painting, babysitting, and sell our house. Remember that our painter-friend left our front door wiiiide open when he finished in our house. grrr.

Our realtor is an aquaintance I knew from the Bicycle club (back when I had that luxury). Real nice guy. Motivated. Sharp as a red rubber ball.

We have a hard time communicating with him. By e-mail, he doesn't read our e-mails carefully, and gets many things wrong. For example, today our MLS (Multi-listing service- the standardized nationwide document advertising our home for sale) went up and there were some errors. We wrote him to amend the errors and he mis-read the e-mail to think we were referring to a different ad we put up in the local paper. The MLS blurb he wrote had run-on sentences and misspellings and flat-out errors. He listed that our basement is heated. It is not, and he knew that since he suggested we throw in some baseboard heating to make it more saleable.

Moreover, it is hard to talk to him face-to-face. What I want is someone who will do their due diligence, advise me on the questions I am asking and not the ones I am not. I say "I" because its mostly me dealing with him in person. What I get is a guy who likes to tell stories about his other clients in fairly similar situations, and try to "comfort" me. I don't need your comfort. I want your information and experience. I'm just fine, thank you.

If doing all the work ourselves including researching the market, finding houses we are interested in, asking friends and neighbors for their thoughts, and just using a realtor for their key to showings is a one (1), and completely trusting the realtor to attend to every detail, having a very hands-off approach is a ten (10), we are sitting at about a 3 right now. Is that worth the approxiamtely $6000 we will end up paying this guy? Not feeling it.

Last time I met him, I had to leave work at a critical juncture in an experiement to get him his folder on our account that he had left behind in our house. At this time, I wrote a list of homes we wanted to see and information we wanted to know about building a new home, such as cost, acquiring land, how to find appropriate plans, codes, fincncing, etc. My thought: Here, set up showings of these listings and find out what we need to know about building and get back to me. Later that day, he sent me the web MLS listings of the homes we wanted to see. Of course I have those, dearie, how do you think I found the listings in the first place?

But things haven't reached the threshhold where its bad enough to fire him, friend or not. The threshhold is even higher because he is a friend, so things will have to get EVEN worse if we are to let him go.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Thoughts on "Capacity" 2

Ok, picking up where I left off last post...
To summarize,
I mentioned time, physiology, and focus as potential limiters of my capacity. None of this is particularly earth-shattering. In my quest for peace with my limitations, but working at the top of my range, I can accept my basic physiology, and will not be able to stretch that limitation. Focus, I'm still working on improving what I can. Don't know what part I can improve or how, yet. I have previously experimented with structuring my day around what I do best at what time, and even designed a diet to help keep me mentally sharp. Neither of those were very workable solutions.

To continue,
Forethought. In the lab, I learned to have carefully crafted protocols that include a section about checking to make sure each reagent in present in sufficient quantity and adequate quality. My protocols are written thoroughly and modified as necessary. My students love them and it gives me the ability to leave them alone in the lab sooner.

I wish I had protocols for the rest of life. I feel like I'm always living in the moment, as if tumbling down a steep slope in a "log roll". There's some degree of control, but the gravity seems to just pull me along with little consent from me.

My first few years of teaching, I found myself getting up at an ungodly hour to set up my teaching labs, and often modifying the labs (rarely for the better) because I had failed to order a reagent in sufficient time for it to arrive. I got behind and it was unrecoverable. I got tunnel vision in which I was so busy taking care of the immediate fires that I couldn't plan enough to avoid the next big crisis. I went from crisis to self-induced crisis my first year teaching, and was so exhausted from it that I had to be put on meds. My health has recovered completely, thanks.

Teaching labs, driving, housecleaning- it seems that every corner of my life is invaded by this fault/ failure/ trait/ bad habit /unfortunate cognitive style. It is sooo common in all aspects of my life and has been for so long that I have begun to wonder if its a trait, a ceiling, a biological limitation. Clearly, I have been able to modify my behavior in a highly controllable sliver of my life (the research lab- AND I always grocery shop with a list). But if any new situation pops up, there I am again, falling behind and losing my ability to plan ahead.

I have to mention here that the only silver lining is that I am highly flexible and can "fashion many things out of driftwood", if you will. I can make a teaching lab work with a missing reagent because I've had so much friggin' practice at it. For any of you interested in teaching, I AM NOT CONDONING THIS! Good teachers plan ahead and are well organized.

Up next, lifestyle choices.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Thoughts on "Capacity" 1

I've been thinking about "capacity" for a long time now. What is my capacity, what limits it? Can I change it? Can I come to peace with a certain limitation or constraint or is that copping out and settling for status quo?

What about others? My students?

Here are the limitations on my ability to succeed I think about regularly...

Time. Of course for everyone, one of the most important limiters of capacity is time. And we all have the exact same limitation. For some who are efficient, bright, able to focus for long periods, this can be maximized. But in the end, we all have the same hours in a day.

Physiology. Of course we need to eat and sleep, at minimum, and practice hygiene. This requires time. This is more variable among people. I'm not going down the road of skipping hygiene, BUT some people have different physiological requirements which may improve their ability to achieve. Our dept. chair in grad school claimed to only sleep 4 hours per night. He said that's how he was able to manage a huge lab and be the head of a PhD farm, er, I mean very large highly ranked graduate program. My advisor in grad school used to accuse me of not thinking enough about my project. He said he laid in bed awake thinking about my project, implying that is what it takes to be successful. I later learned that he suffered from insomnia, and THAT is why he was thinking of my project late into the night... because he was denied the opportunity to sleep, not because he was so motivated to come up with the perfect experiment that he forewent sleep.

I personally seem to need a lot of sleep, and when its time to go to sleep, all systems shut down. I can't stay up all night unless there's some adrenaline involved. And then rarely. I don't feel like I have the capacity to live on four hours of sleep, like our dept chair.

Focus. Here's what separates me from some of my most successful peers and mentors. I worked with an amazing scientist on a project recently. Let's call him Co-author. He would wake up early, be in lab early, and work with intense focus until very late into the night. He didn't even seem to slow down for mealtimes. He had the ability to either be doing exactly the right thing at the right time in the right order or thinking about the next step and the experimental design while waiting for something to happen. He was highly successful in his career and could really make things happen in a short amount of time.

I haven't found myself able to focus intensely on anything for an extended period of time. I'm not ADD (I believe), but I'll NEVER be like Co-author. I noticed this way back in college trying to study for exams and have not seemed to be able to shake it. I can only read about 2 papers before I have to switch tasks. Then it seems to be over for good info retention.

I have the same problem at tasks that require sitting and waiting for something to happen (like some experiments). In this case, what really helps me focus is to listen to podcasts. I can sit down for a long time at an experimental set up, but only if I have spoken word in my ears. I've been trying to learn what is going on cognitively so perhaps I can improve my non-podcast sit-still time, but no success yet...

I need to wrap this up for tonight (getting antsy, perhaps?) but the purpose of this series is to try to work out for myself what is a trait- what my TRUE hard limitations are- and come to peace with that. But I want to find where I can continue to improve my capacity and strive for better performance below my true ceiling.

Implicit in this is finding peace with how much I can hope for in change in my students. They think their ability to change their capacity is unlimited. I don't.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Accentuate the positive (while being wholly truthful).

My currents research student is actually the first I've had who's not applying to a post-Bacc or a professional school (immediately, at least). Stu's actually looking for a j,j,j-ob.

Stu applied as a research technician at various places around the area. One was a lab that studies the same field as I do, but uses different techniques. Big PI wrote Stu back and asked for more clarification of Stu's technical skills and goals.

One thing I do less of than I expected is career services. I do advise my research students how to discuss our work in a clear and succinct manner, but I haven't yet intervened by helping with cover letter writing, etc.

I was pretty sure Big PI wants to know if they are going to spend a year training Stu and then have Stu go off to grad school. Stu says s/he does want to go to grad school in 2-5 years. Stu also doesn't have the technique Big PI specifically asked for.

I gave my opinion on how to turn negatives or gaps into positives while being completely clear and honest about what skills Stu has not yet acquired. I also said, based on my experiences as a "pair-of-hands" tech, to emphasize that Stu wants to be in a lab where s/he can intellectually contribute. I advised to mention that Stu is constrained to the area.

I would really like to see Stu get a good entry-level job in a healthy lab where s/he fills a niche. This lab sounds very interesting for Stu, so I am crossing fingers for Stu. I'm also busting butt to make sure s/he does what s/he has learned from me very well, for the sake of my own pride and reputation.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Disparities in incoming freshmen science groups.

My institution is part of one of those programs in which incoming science majors are "treated" to a summer of intensive science and math to get iffy (B average in HS) students prepared for the rigors of a science major and to get them excited about science.

I agreed to teach a few sessions of a lab. I chose a fun demo which accidentally uses some math and statistics, too. I thought I had done well at coming up with something fun that incoming freshmen of all science interests could have a good time with. I prepared pre-reading, pre-lab questions, instructions, post-lab questions, etc. One trick to being a good teacher is a "feel" for how much students can do in a given amount of time. I'm getting pretty good at that. Also, what level of "tough" is appropriate for which circumstances. I'm getting pretty good at that, too. BUT I have never done a "summer camp" before.

I taught the same lab twice in a row: yesterday and today. I don't know why the students were divided into the groups they were, but I had HUGELY disparate groups for the two sessions.

*Yesterday*, the students came in, picked up a handout from the front of the class, and I noted their name on their badge. As I started class, I could find them from the name I had remembered. I gave a intro, relatively brief instructions, and set them on their way. There was much nodding and then as they were working, they acted as if the written instructions were clear and did all their calculations according to the instructions.

When I would make an announcement, they would stop what they were doing and listen attentively. They finished with a bit of time to spare.

*Today*, the students came in, picked up their handouts, but I noticed that very few of them were actually wearing their badges. While I thought it was odd, I assumed that as the days went on, they felt less obliged to identify themselves to each other. However, as it was time to start class, and I did the usual "How's everybody doing today?" clue that it's "listen to Prof" time, these students didn't budge from their conversations. Two kept texting, and finally by the third shout from me, I had only 80% of the students attending to me.

I gave a similar (but not identical) intro and instructions, and when it came time to form groups, the students had a rough time dividing themselves up into 4 groups of three at these machines and one group of two at these machines. I had to intervene far too much for "adult" aged people.

Once the students did find their group, they had a hard time following the instructions as written in the handouts, and when they started to do their calculations- wow, but wow- was that rough. We had a measurement in which you were to do it three times and take the average. At least 4 of the 16 of them failed to divide by three. Moreover, they were to compare their results with an average value in percentage e.g slightly above average = 120%. Even though the formula was written for them, 5 of the 16 could not get the correct answer here.

Today's group was far more concerned about what answer I wanted versus the ideas behind the questions, did not listen to me during in-lab announcements, and they barely squeaked finished with the lab in time.

Both yesterday's and today's groups did pretty well at giving ideas of how to divide their groups into subgroups from which we could run stats to find differences. One of the suggested ideas was for dividing by schools. Since this is a collaboration between all the schools in the area, there were several represented. Ours, another SLAC, a CC and a big school.

When this question was asked among our groups, it became clear that today's group had a preponderance of Big-schoolers and yesterday's group was predominately the Small-schoolers. I did not know this a priori.

My immediate reaction post labs was, Oh, my gosh, we have much better incoming freshmen than Big School. And I will cling to that, but not tightly. If it's true, then this line of reasoning makes me think in three directions;
1. I am REALLY grateful to be teaching here and having better students makes the salary differential worth it,
2. Its not just that SRU produces better graduates through a higher quality of education, but that its a different applicant pool in the first place.
3. It also makes me realize that everything I'm learning about teaching only applies to better students. And there are a LOT of kinds of students out there. I'm am not as close to being a good teacher as I had hoped.

There are, of course alternative explanations for the disparity in these two groups.
1. It could be random. I have an n=1.
2. The subtle differences in my introductions could have enough that I set a tone badly today or left out an important concept that left everyone very confused and intimidated.
3. The students in general could be more fatigued today than yesterday. For that matter, insert any time-dependent variable here.
4. As my research student points out, students that are interested in partying don't apply to Small Religious U.
5. Most likely, Big school has a large variety of applicants which the small schools do not have. It could be that the small schools encouraged nearly all of the incoming science folks to take this summer camp, both the good ones and the at-risk ones. Big school may have been more selective in encouraging only their at-risk students to apply. The incoming populations of all science majors could be alike, but we only see the worst students from Big School in summer camp. The argument against this is the overall incoming numbers (ACTs. SATs) for our school are higher than Big School's (as reported by those hokey Newsweek things, anyway).

Is this blog entry about Big vs Small schools? No. I'm not trying to debate that. I'm ONLY talking about these specific schools in Really Gorgeous Area, and can't generalize. The take home message here is the epiphany I had today about incoming science majors from different schools here. The difference was faaaaaaar greater that I would have imagined.

ADDENDUM: An alternative explantion I hadn't thought of- Big School has a major that the small schools don't - engineering. A re-check of the population of my second group reveals a huge engineering contingent. This may explain a bit of disengagement in my wet-ish lab activities, but the math issues??? Lord, help us all...

Saturday, July 3, 2010

9 for 3

It took us 9 hours to get home today from Big City center. Under different circumstances, this would have taken 3.

This is because Boy had the runs, among other things. He went through all his clothes and diapers before we left City Center at noon. We got off the light rail/ subway to look for diapers and a shirt, and 8 months preggo me couldn't walk that fast through the city, so it ended up taking 2 hours to get this small mission accomplished and to the suburban terminus of the light rail. Then add time to get to car, drive to Hub's apt, pack stuff, nap while Boy napped (prob 30-40 min; Hub too tired to drive). Now we are at at 4 hours. Boy's runs caused us to pull over multiple times on the highway, and he was screaming the entire time. Because we were so off schedule, we had to stop for dinner at midway point (usually 1 hour from suburb to midway). After dinner at midway we found a park and let Boy run, much to his pleasure. Thereafter, the boy was quiet and peace was had by all. We arrived home at 9pm.

There goes an entire half day that was planned to get the house ready for sale. We had even hired a babysitter to play with Boy while Hub and I worked.

This is why we don't travel much to the Big City, despite the fact that we 1. generally love to travel, 2. generally enjoy urban life, 3. realize there are so many cool unique things for Boy (and us) to see in the city, and 4. have a "home" there. See here.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Lost Upgrade

Our real estate agent e-mailed this AM. Another offer has been made on our "upgrade" house. They don't have a contingency to sell their other house first. We must. Our options are nil... we will not be able to counter their offer.

I don't feel like this is because I couldn't get the house ready in time. With an average on-the-market time of 200 days in this area, even if I had done everything perfectly and we were showing our house already last week, the chances of us having an offer withing a week are miniscule.

So, there it goes.

There's always Stretch to consider, but our enthusiasm for that has waned. There's another we have looked at. Both Stretch and "Parsonage" are FSBO, and we are getting grief from the agent about buying them withou his help. We don't really listen. We will still need to put this house up for sale for any chance to upgrade, even though now there isn't an upgrade house in sight, and not just any old house will do.

Well, the second worst-case scenario is that we have made a herculean effort to clean and organize our house and we get to live in a clean and organized house for a while. The worst-case scenario is that we succeed in selling this house and end up having to move into a rental of some sort (around the time the baby comes).

p.s. the painter left our door WIDE open yesterday when he left. I was really pissed.