Monday, February 28, 2011

Losing an Undocumented Student

A student came to me recently and said he had to drop out of school because his financial aid didn't come through. He's a really sharp kid. Got the highest score on the first exam.

He said his situation is difficult because he is undocumented. His English is perfect... probably another one of those that would have benefited from the DREAM act.

I told him to keep coming to my class, because he was going to need it eventually and that I would do everything I could to get him an education "off the books".

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

More on Priorities; scheduling meetings

Ok, a committee I am on needs to meet. I am a leader (#2) of the committee and it is a major part of my job. We have been getting a bit of heat from the administration since there is a rumor among the donors that we are losing our edge.

To attend, I must choose something to sacrifice, since I am pretty tightly scheduled as-is. Though I didn't have an explicit priority scale in my head when I answered, it became clear to me where my priorities lie when I re-read my answers. Here is the times and answers I gave.

Suggested time: Thursday 8:30 a.m. - 10:20 a.m. OR 3:30 - 5:30 p.m.
My answer: Unavail; lab 10-12 and 1-5

I won't cancel class. No one would and it is not expected. So lectures and labs must be priority 1.

Suggested time: Friday 7 - 8:50 a.m.; 12-1:30 p.m.; 2:30-3:45 p.m.
My answer 7-8:50 avail; if coffee served (kidding)

On Fridays Hub can take the kids to daycare. I will sacrifice sleep, if I am free to do so. This seems to be what people with a high work ethic would do, and if I am not one of those people, I want to be- very badly. Besides, #1 has a farm as a hobby and no patience for pansies that sleep till 9.

11:30-12:30 unavail; office hour

I won't cancel office hours. I only have two official times. Even though the students typically don't show, I still feel that this is a serious obligation, close to lecturing and leading labs.

2:30-3:45 prefer. not; Research

Looks like I will sacrifice my unstructured research time. By now, my students are getting pretty independent, and might not need me there anyway. I would not, however, schedule during the lab meeting/ journal club scheduled time.

Suggested times Monday 7-8:50 a.m.; 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.; 2:30 - 5 p.m.
My answer 7-8:50 prefer not; daycares open at 7

Without Hub's help, I could not make a 7:00a meeting since Boy's daycare opens at 6:30a and Girl's opens at 7:00a. The best-case scenario would be that I would be about 15 minutes late if I had the hurculean power to get the kids up and out starting at 5:30a. I don't want to do that except as a last resort.

11:30-1 avail.

There goes my lunch, and potential lecture prep time. Must remember to pump before 1:30 class, and prep for lecture the night before.

2:30-5 unavail 2:30-3:30 office hour; avail after 3:30

Looks from this like my daily priorities go:
1. Giving lecture
2. Teaching Labs
3. Getting my kids to and from daycares
4. Office Hours
5. Meetings for important committees 5. Pumping
7. Lunch
8. Prepping for lectures and labs
9. Research group meetings
10. Being in the lab
11. Other taking care of myself: health provider appointments, etc.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Goodbye crunchy Moms

I consider myself pretty progressive (crunchy). Especially about childbirth. Here's a feeling of where I stand:

Crunchy: Had professional midwifes as providers
Not: Would never consider a home birth. You can take your chances if you like, chances are good everything will turn out fine. I want to be in the hospital, just in case.

Crunchy: Did my best for both babies to have a completely natural birth. No epidurals for me.
Not: Gave in after 40 hours of contractions for some short acting pain relief (fentanyl).

Crunchy: Tried real hard to do all cloth diapers for the first kid.
Not: Agreed we couldn't accomplish it for the second. We're on disposables now.

Crunchy: Agree with the idea of having a birth center in town, located very close to the hospital. Would consider having a birth in a birth center if I lived in a different town.
Not: I am infuriated by the owner/ sole midwife of the birth center's attitude toward medicine. She brags on how little she knows about traditional medical science (Who cares what oxygen sats are, probably another one of those hospital-drug-company-complex-invented INTERVENTIONS!!). I would NEVER go to her as a provider.

Crunchy: Did my best to breast-feed both kids.
Not: Didn't make it 100%. Was convinced I needed to supplement with formula despite my friends' pleadings to only feed breast milk and endure a suffering child for the 72 hours it would take for more milk to come in.

Crunchy: Attended a home birth/ alternative birth/ natural birth/ support group for about two years.
Not: Left because of the complete wackaloonery and woo. They think whatever is traditional (whether it works or not) must be eschewed. (Question asked to the group: what do I do about my varicose veins? My answer: Compression hose! Another answer: Oh, no! Just boil hay and then drink the water from it.)

Crunchy: Did not circumcise my son.

And now, I am ready to completely leave the progressive birth "crowd" over this:

Circumcision kills

It was posted all over Facebook among the crunchy Moms. I have to admit, my library doesn't carry this journal (strange, its so common!!) so I haven't read it fully. I'm guessing whats going on here... our old friend "correlation implies causation" tied together with flat-out selling this "evidence" as medicine (but its PUBLISHED! in a JOURNAL!!!). Never mind the inflammatory language ..."because parents ignorantly said 'Yes,' or lacked the courage to say 'No.'" and "And called the deaths 'an unrecognized sacrifice of innocents'."

Does anyone know more about this journal (is it even peer- reviewed? is it a sociology journal? or poetry?)

Please save me from this high blood pressure!!!

To top it off, one of the moms who posted it- clearly opposed to cosmetic, unnecessary surgeries in humans that cannot give their consent- asked to Facebook when she should have her daughter's ears pierced... at 2 months old or wait until 6 months old...

I quit you, crunchy Moms.

addendum: have read the article. high crap with a few nuggets of potential truth.

My salary

Got a note in the campus mail today telling me that- congratulations!- I have received at 2-ish percent cost of living increase in my salary. For kicks I used a cost of living comparison website. If I lived in New York, NY, I would be making $63, 049. In San Diego, CA, $50,159, and in Sublette, KS, $29, 483.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Just another manic Tuesday

People whine about Mondays, but Tuesdays and Thursdays are rough ones in MY business. That's because labs are scheduled for those days. At a small college, the profs teach the labs. That's a selling point for us, and I am utterly convinced it IS much better for student learning that having first year grad students teach labs.

But it requires TIME. Here's an example.
I spend each week 50 minutes times 4 in lecture = 200 minutes.
In teaching labs, I spend 2 hours times 5 sections = 600 minutes
I also spend about 60 minutes in journal club with my research students
and about 5 hours (300 minutes) in the lab with them (until they become more independent)
a total of
1160 minutes / 60 =19.3 contact hours/ week.

17% of my contact hours lecturing
52% in teaching labs
and THIS semester,
31% in my research lab

Hmm, interesting, glad I had this blog to make me do that. Most semesters I have less research hours.

Ok, today's schedule:
8:30-10:00 scheduled to prep for lab. Didn't make that today, arrived at 9:30. That was too little time, I was under prepared. Must force myself to finish by 9:45-10:00 for pumping. Didn't today.
10:00-12:00 Lab section 1
12:10-12:25, pump in my office and curse at my colleagues scheduling a meeting over lunch, even after I tell them that I will be late or leave early.
12:30-12:59 Attend half of a very important meeting. Miss out on important things that determine the quality of a program I am somewhat in charge of. Gobble lunch during.
1:05-3:00 Arrive late for lab section 2, hurriedly re-prep and lecture simultaneously. Do a bad job at both.
3:00-5:00 miss another pumping. Get research students going on their next procedure which they are really green at.
5:00-5:30 Run home and nurse the baby (hub happened to be home and spare me the rush to get her picked up
5:30- 6:45 Boy to music class, he LOVES music class. I will suffer greatly if we ever skip it.
6:45- Dinner, Boy bedtime, Girl bedtime (she's crying right now, must attend...)
Thursdays are worse; three lab sections and an important meeting over lunch.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Is it better than nothin?

I rely so much on help; both work-study help and household help. More here.

The work-study situation is highly variable depending on the quality and longevity of the students. If we have a new work-study student every year, they will be tearing down and setting up my labs only once. Therefore, I must train them to help me every lab. If the same amount of time is used to set-up and tear down a lab as is required to teach someone to do so, then perhaps I should skip the help.

Last week, my help forgot some important components of the lab, and I had to scramble. The week before, I said we needed enough for 6 *teams*. They brought me six of each item (when it called for 3 per team). Sure, it is helpful, but I have to schedule extra time to double check everything the help does. At what point do I "call it" and just do it myself? This really isn't an option, unless I bring my toddler in the lab past his bedtime (there are just so many components of "bad idea" in that statement).

At home, we have hired someone new to help around the house who, though helpful, is not nearly as good as hir predecessors. Ze doesn't remember instructions, forgets where stuff goes from week to week and in a vague situation, makes the wrong judgment call. For example, ze cleaned the bathroom floor and put the bath mat back upside-down. Last week ze stacked the pots and pans such that there was an avalanche when the cabinet was opened. At the beginning ze couldn't figure out how to open the box of laundry soap and just shredded the top. Each week there is something new and annoying. Again, I am asking myself, is it better than nothing?? It is. And I am grateful. But should I settle for 75% helpful when I know there is 95% helpful out there?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Lonesome vs Lonely

My Mother taught me to distinguish lonesome from lonely. According to her, lonesome meant that you were yearning for companionship and that someone nice in the room would fix this. Lonely, according to Mom, meant you didn't feel like people understood you, and a million people around wouldn't feel any better.

This lifestyle in which Hub is gone throughout the week very isolating. Not only because my favorite companion is not around, but I cannot leave the house after the kids' bedtime (about 7 ) without the arrangement hassle and expense of a babysitter. Moreover, inviting me over during the week includes having my energetic kids around too. A visit from or to me is pretty useless anyway, since I spent a lot of time wrangling the kids when I could be listening or sharing. Friends balk at having me over in their non-child-proofed homes.

I have been feeling lonesome for about two years now. My internet time is a testament to that. But lately, I feel lonely. Not being able to watch the Superbowl really clinched this feeling that I am not like my peers, and limited in my socializing options.

Superbowl vs eat all week

Tonight is our regularly scheduled cooking night. See here.

Of course, the plan SHOULD have been to cook early so we could enjoy the Superbowl with friends, but we couldn't manage it. We had to say no to two invitations in order to stand in our kitchen or get kids ready for bed. We were both a little depressed by this. I was particularly sad at how this lifestyle leads to my isolation socially, and Hub really wanted to watch some football.

We did find the radio station that was broadcasting it. I cooked 7 dishes throughout the game, burning the curry at the end. Still edible. I made the curry recipe up, and now I think I will call it Benlu Vinsburgeroo.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wish I...

...wouldn't have said yes to research student that was really too early in their career to get much accomplished. I just spent an hour showing them how to make and pH a solution.

... didn't have to eek out time to train the people I should delegate work to. What a death spiral. Too busy to get help with being too busy.

...didn't feel rushed and then make the kind of mistakes that require a lot of time to correct. What a death spiral.

...had a baby that slept in the late evenings. Girl is awake, very wiggly, and refuses to be left alone from about 8pm -11 or 12. While I am getting sleep (12-3,3:10-7), it wrecks any chance I have of working at home at night.

Sorry, IHE

Every once in a while I post something in which I betray a confidence (as measured by my conscience). I usually pull those down before a web crawler can find it (in about 24-48 hours). And very, very rarely, Inside Higher Ed will link to me. I did recently, and they did recently, and then I had to, and then they had a dead link. Sorry, IHE. I forget you lurk.

Niche job?

Saw this ad in the Chronicle. First thing I thought was, "They must be advertising for a position for which they already have their person." But then, I thought, "Perhaps not...perhaps there's a ton of people who have patch-clamped sperm (and published from it)."

Please don't lash out at or flagellate me in the comments.

Physiology/Biophysics: Virginia Commonwealth University, School of Medicine, Department of Physiology & Biophysics is recruiting an Electrophysiologist (Ph.D. required in Physiology & Biophysics or related field) as a non-tenure-track position at the Assistant Professor level. Candidate must have extensive demonstrated experience in patch-clamp recording from mammalian sperm and both from native cells and cell lines expressing heterologously a variety of ion channels. Extensive experience with molecular biological techniques for structure-function studies, strong quantitative training, and publication(s) using patch-clamp techniques on mammalian sperm are required.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Fly on a private jet to a fundraiser or feed my kids spaghetti?

Have been invited to participate in an all-day meeting far-ish away to help raise funds for the University. Donation of private jet time will allow several faculty to go, I have been selected. Sounds exciting.

Problem is, its in the middle of the week and on music lesson day, no less. I am normally solo parenting that day. So I would have to find coverage for my labs that day (pffft. no problem.), find a babysitter that will pick the kids up at their day cares, take then to music, feed them, and put them to bed (uhhhh...) and find time to pump among all the male administrators and the packed schedule (*sharp inhale*).

What thinks my bloggy friends? Just say no? Go? Suggestions?