Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Failing my Sabbatical

Let me say first off, that I am happier now than I have been in about 4 years. Living under one roof with the whole family has made life so wonderful and rich. Moreover, we love our Au Pair who adds a special element to our home, not the least of which is another adult family member who is very engaging at mealtimes. Her social life is fun and fascinating to spectate. Lastly, having only one thing to do every day- under my control- is so nice compared to being shot-gunned by the needs of students, colleagues, committees and administration. I put in 10 hour days often, but it feels great because they are so quiet! See here.

My sabbatical is turning out to be very spiritual, and I am discovering many things about myself, primarily because I have been failing in the lab.

I am not succeeding at my technique. While it is a relatively difficult technique (e-mail if you want details), I have done it well under other circumstances. In fact I spent 6 years doing it getting my Ph.D. I had advertised myself as someone who could do this, so the fact that I am not succeeding in getting it to work is very embarrassing. I was ashamed (hence my silence here) to have had 5 months with no data.

Spiritual revelation number 1. I am entirely motivated by admiration. Everything that I felt bad about in the past 5 months had something to do with what someone else thought of me, how I had disappointed them.

To make matters worse, I was very careful in my troubleshooting, and can conclusively determine that what is wrong has simply to do with me, not solutions, not prep. It had to do with my cognitive capabilities, and "touch". I was/am feeling pretty untalented and my "voices of failure" have come roaring back up to greet me.

I am very tenacious, so when I'm not getting things to work, I throw myself at troubleshooting and trying harder. This is at the neglect of other things. I'm not reading the background papers and not writing the manuscripts I had planned to. Now I am terrified of returning with nothing- absolutely nothing- to show for my sabbatical. Moreover, I feel a repetitive stress injury coming on.

The director of the institute asked for my CV several months ago. He said, OH! You're the one I've heard about. I heard that you can (technique that I've been struggling with) and that you love teaching undergrads. So I sent him my CV with a bunch of "in preparation" papers on it. I imagine that it has filtered back to him that I might not be able to perform the technique after all. Perhaps I've blown my chances to get hired here in some form of faculty position.

Spiritual revelation number 2. Trust. I have been a person of faith for a long time. My faith in an active prayer-answering God has consistently been there, as long as the payers are for something important, like healing of sick people, etc. I had let go of the idea of a God who directs the paths of ordinary individuals, and still feel a little skittish about it. But I am ready to start believing that things happen for a reason, and that there is meaning in God's timing, at least for me.

Just this week I think I have solved a major part of my problem, and it has to do with my tenacity (cognitive rigidity, you say?). When I wasn't getting it to work, I did it more and harder for longer. In actuality I needed to pick up and move and look for a better circumstance. I am just starting to see success in the lab, but a lot of time has been wasted (however, I am trusting).

Spiritual revelation number 3: Maybe success as a scientist isn't the end-all-be-all of my happiness. See paragraph one. :)


Friday, September 13, 2013

Shhh. Top Secret!

I am updating my CV today. Something is afoot. (Which is always better than being a nostril)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Rock Star uphold the Name

I mentioned a Ph.D. cohort-mate who was doing very well in this post. Well, he just published a textbook-changing glamourmag pub. That is all.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The time of quiet in the soul.

As I posted before, going from teaching to being the low person on the lab totem pole has been a cultural shift. I spoke all day, every day with authority. Now, I am entering a time of quiet for many reasons:
1. I need to listen to those in the lab who know more than I do about techniques and previous literature.
2. In the lab everyone works in silence. People often come in without greeting others and silently sit down to their work.
3. Our new Au Pair is just delightful. We chose her because of her sunshine-y and outgoing personality. She is very social but still spends a lot of time at home (so far), so she chats and chats and chats. At us. Its hard to get a word in edge-wise. It's nice, but leads to quiet from me in our conversations.
4. The Au Pair fell in love with a Mega-church down the street. When I sit in the services, I feel very defensive about something, but my silent resistance doesn't withstand further thoughtful examination. So I sit in the service thinking, "Hey, wait a minute! Oh. Oh, yeah, I guess so." Thoughtful examination usually takes place in quiet.
5. I don't know anyone well enough to complain about the usual litany of political and world event rants. And see #2.
6. The grad students in the lab are pretty senior, and in the "Tunnel Vision" stage. What I have to share/ teach  isn't really interesting to them.
7. With the Au Pair, Hub and I don't have discussions anymore wondering what happened at day care to make Boy or Girl in such a mood.
8. Things are going well, there isn't much to bitch about.
9. I don't have to get Hub caught up on the weekday news he missed.
10. Because my culturally 1980s American jokes jokes are totally lost on this young international crowd: "You hit the volleyball too hard. Lay off on the Wheaties". *blink, blink*

All this is good, good, good for my soul. (chatting a bit more in lab would be fine, though)

Look for more updates to this list as I think about them.

Monday, July 22, 2013

You, sir, are a boob.

It's summer time and there's only one seminar series going on right now. Luckily, I heard about it from someone else, and showed up to a few. I make it a priority to go to the seminars, because I am interested in nearly everything.

In this seminar series, some pretty impressive people have given talks. There are no signs posted even though speaker #1 told the organizer that this really ought to happen. No e-mails go around reminding others of the talks, or at least none that I or the grad students in my lab receive. Therefore a pathetic 5-6 people show up to these seminars. So my first impression of the organizer is that he is a bit of a dodo.

At the first seminar, I asked good enough questions in the seminars, that one (in-house) speaker asked to talk to me after, saying. "Who are you, I mean, what is your background?" When I talked to her she got excited and said, "Ooh, you have to meet the next speaker. Maybe you can go to lunch with her!!!" The organizer was right there and paying attention. Well, I showed up, interacted during the talk, and and hung around after to meet and perhaps be invited to lunch. Dr. Dodo turned his back to me and escorted the speaker away to lunch, actively avoiding inviting me even when the speaker herself leans back to say, "e-mail me, we'll go to lunch" (we did by the way). Well then there was the last straw. On my way to the talk the grad students in my lab said, "there's a talk today?". Once again, an impressive speaker, great talk, no notifications, tiny audience.

I stopped Dr. Dodo after the talk and asked, "Are these talks open to anyone?" He said "Yes, why?" I said "Neither the grad students in my lab nor I are getting notification of the speakers". He looks at me like I am an annoying gnat, almost rolling his eyes, and said, "Ohhhh, kayyy. There isn't one next week but the last one is in two weeks" in a tone that displays that 1. Its not his problem and 2. I shouldn't have to ask.

Now I've changed my mind. He's not a dodo, which implies simple incompetence, but rather a boob, which implies intentional arrogance combined with some incompetence.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Ph.D. training programs- trying to resist comparisons.

In my sabbatical lab, I am working mainly with graduate students. In trying to relate to them, I have been doing a lot of mental comparisons from my program to theirs. Occasionally I will comment on the differences, but it IS taking a lot of effort to keep my "mouth filter" on the high setting. First off, no one wants to hear how much better it was for you in the good 'ol days. Second, I've been here a few weeks. I really don't know all the details and would be speaking from a position of ignorance. Third, the programs aren't really comparable.

My grad program was large, old, had an institutional training grant, and was associated with a medical school. All students were 100% supported for their entire time of study. The program had many extra-curriculars for the students, and there was good cohesiveness among the student cohorts. We all suffered together. It was rare that the students lingered too long. In fact, at 6.2 years, they were a little worried about me...

My preliminary impression is that these students seems to be staying much longer than might be necessary, and they don't seem to have the journal clubs, "Kandel" clubs, picnics, career and ethics seminar series, etc. that we did. I heard that some of their students have had to take out loans when their advisor didn't get a grant or renewal. I know of at least one that pays for professional meetings out of his own pocket (even when presenting data).

On the other hand, the students in my lab are getting good results, getting papers published, seem to get along well, and  play volleyball together in the evenings.

How about YOU? How did your Ph.D. training program compare to others you know about?


Monday, July 8, 2013

Not revealing the blog to the bloggers.

One of the people in my new lab has a blog that is semi-open. That means that she is open with her friends and colleagues about it, but doesn't state her name on the blog itself. Its a good blog that I enjoyed reading. Primarily educational.

I thought of doing the same, but I hesitate. Why the hesitation? I don't really vent too much on it any more. This is primarily because I'm less angry or uptight about things at work and home. Besides the things I want to vent about now are things like the effects of my job and single parenting on my health and marriage. Health and marriage issues are mostly too personal to put out there, though they deserve to be addressed appropriately. Besides venting doesn't make me feel better anymore.

There are still venty-things posted from long ago (4 years  450+ posts, folks!). I could take them down, but I really don't believe that a blog meant to educate interested parties about PUIs and Two- Body Lifestyles should seem primarily sunshine and roses, either, because it is not. Perhaps this is the reason I am still secretive about it.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Sabbatical; the ideal lab experience.

Hooray! I'm on sabbatical!

Our move did not go as well as expected, so it took three days longer than we thought it would. Despite this, I still had about 5 days to just "be" in our new environs before showing up to my host lab.

The first few days in the lab were shadowing a very senior grad student. It felt great for two reasons. The first is that it was all pretty familiar. Grad Student was extremely thorough and showed me every step, and I appreciated that. Everything that is done is done for a reason and all the reasons were familiar. It is much easier to remember details of a procedure if they make sense and fit into the bigger picture (hmm. pedagogical implications...). 

The second reason is because it is all new. I am so happy to learn something new, something for which I have a great background but still have never done. I am particularly looking forward to do something that they don't teach undergrads because it is too technically challenging. Hoo-hah.

I am also completely at ease in the lab. I understand my weaknesses, and am patient with them. I understand my strengths and will let them shine. I am a guest in the lab, so I make no demands about adapting to me (besides, I am quite adaptable), AND, most importantly, this is very low-stakes.

If it goes well, residual insecurities evaporate and I will have great success in the lab. I will feel good about my contribution, will contribute, and will publish. If things go OK, we make progress (and we publish). If things go very badly (and they won't as far as I can tell), I may have cost the lab some supplies. I am free labor for them. I have tenure doing something that requires some, but not daily, success in the lab. In addition, I would feel even better that I chose the teaching route (or it chose me, if you will).

In grad school, the question of success in the lab was extremely high stakes: can I even do this? How good am I? How smart am I? Am I going to be a failure? Am I going to have to go home? Am I going to lose this $60,000 per year scholarship? Failure was full of shame.

In post-doc the question of success in the lab was: what's my future? Will I find a job? Are the weaknesses I discovered in grad school situational or unmalleable characteristics? Will I hover on soft money for the rest of my life? My future rested on my success.
Now the question is simply: will I get a publication or two? Will I be able to use any of this in my permanent job?

Considerably different, wouldn't you say?

Monday, June 10, 2013

Which Au Pair (exchange babysitter) would you choose for sabbatical?

Hello, Friends.

Things are really moving (literally) for the sabbatical. I had very serious anxiety about this sabbatical, primarily because of money. We took out a home equity line of credit (excellent credit, btw), and now the problem is mostly solved. No one should have to take out a loan to go on sabbatical. But we make a lot of choices we don't like. Goes with the territory.

For day care, we have decided to go with an Au Pair, and are in the matching process now. Have any of you had Au Pairs, and if so, how did it go? Do you have advice?

I have never met anyone with a Nanny or Au Pair. I figured the terms were synonymous for expensive child care that only rich people could afford. In fact, I looked down a little on the parents who weren't "toughing it out" like I am. In the region we are moving to, Au Pairs are cheaper than regular institutional day care or even home day care. This is a budget friendly move. My eyes have been opened.

I've been explaining to friends that Au Pairs are basically an exchange student, but a babysitter instead. An exchange babysitter, if you will. That means the Au Pair lives with you as a part of your family and takes care of your kids full time. The whole thing is tightly regulated by the state department. For example, you can ask her or him to work whenever you want, but there are regs about how many hours they can work, how much time off they get in a row,  and what tasks they can do. You pay an agency (there are about 12) that takes care of things like screening potential Au Pairs in their home country, screening potential host parents (including inspecting the Au Pair's room), taking care of visas, insurance, training, travel arrangements, support for solving conflicts, etc.  

And then there's matching. As you can imagine, this is a pretty serious deal. Not only are you trusting them with your beloved children, but they are going to live in your house, too. There are lots of good stories online, but some scary ones, too. Read here for more. You don't get to meet them in flesh before they show up. It's a lot like online dating, but all by Skype. I'm having some fun with it, and learning that Hub an I are extremely tolerant.

"I liked her. I could live with her quirks"
"She seemed great. That lack of experience probably won't be too important"
"How sweet. Nevermind the anger issues"

I'm exaggerating, of course.  It seems like we keep coming down to whether we want a conscientious, steady, excellent communicator, who may be less patient with the children's chaos or whether we want a warm, loving, creative, patient somewhat forgetful type. For your info, all else is equivalent... driving experience, age, country of origin. And we are the warm chaotic types, so we are looking for either a complementary person or a person who would understand and perhaps tolerate us better.

Which would you choose?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Decision not finished about day care, but I am at peace.

Thanks readers and responders to my last post. I have taken your comments seriously. Though the decision still rests on my husband, I have voiced my opinion and suddenly feel settled about the whole thing. I want to get an Au Pair.

We will have to take out a loan (the dreaded-but-somewhat-justifiable-of-course-there's-strings-attached In-Law Loan). If Hub disagrees strongly enough and wants to put the kids in a Kid Farm (large institutional daycare), then I will agree with him. See, Hub has very good instincts (took me YEARS to learn that lesson) and is very gentle. So If he guns strongly for something, that's it. That's what needs to be done. There's a strange peace in knowing that the coin only has two sides.

I'll keep you posted to any new developments. Keep commenting though!!!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Help! Au Pair or Day Care?

Getting ready for sabbatical. I worked my entire social network to try to find a live-in Nanny. We got two candidates, both of which withdrew their applications shortly after their graduation. One said she got a job in her field. The other didn't specify. I fell apart a little, but that's for another post.

A live-in Nanny or Au pair (foreign student worker) is really the only way we can afford childcare during my sabbatical in Very Expensive City, because we can deduct the "rent" from our basement apartment from their salary. Or else we can put the kids in an institutional day care like one of those big day care chains for half time (then who takes care of them for the rest of the time?).

A friend suggested an Au Pair because we have a room for one. They have a steep upfront cost for which we would have to take out a loan, but the monthly costs (at least the published ones) are within our budget. Au Pairs are also extremely flexible in scheduling.  I fantasize about this person speaking in their native language to our kids part time, and being a part of the family. I also fantasize about not having the fight to get them dressed and stuffed into a car seat every morning. In this same fantasy, the kids learn at breakneck speed with all the individual attention. And more realistically, if the kids weren't happy, we could "rematch" with a lot of support from the agency. Hub is worried that the kids won't be socialized well. I fantasize that we will make a social network of other kids relatively easily through churches or intentional organizations or Mommy groups.

In the institutional day care, there will be a curriculum, lots of supervision of the kids' caregivers and lots of socialization. However in this particular day care, they have been cited recently for a very stupid abusive treatment of a child. However, that caregiver is long gone, I'm sure. This is the only one that has openings in the area we will live and work.

I realize that on Sabbatical one is to rest but still get scholarship accomplished. The kids don't have to be in day care for 40 hours, but I can't imagine getting a great project accomplished in a year working half time. Besides, part of the ideas was to relieve the heavy burden of being the kids sole caregiver for major portions of the week.

Please? Suggestions? Experiences? Thoughts?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Update on Crap:

From this post: http://thetwobodyproblem.blogspot.com/2012/12/crap-i-may-have-real-problem.html

in which I struggle with the idea that I may have a true (but mild) case of ADD, a diagnosis I had blown off earlier.

I added this comment...
Update. Spring 2013: I have been taking a very low dose of methylphenidate during the work week for about a month. There is a clear improvement in my life.

1. I CAN concentrate better. It is not a panacea, it still takes effort of will. That balance of drug/effort eases my discomfort with the idea of a "crutch". I feel calmer and more "with it".

2. I don't just crash after work into a short-tempered, unmotivated mess. And I can still sleep.

3. I'm losing weight. I don't think it's the drug per se, since I was losing weight before I started taking it. I think it allows me to have a bit more energy to exercise, and a bit more cognitive power to resist comfort foods and fast foods.

4. It actually puts me at social ease, since I don't rely on coffee anymore to help me work. Coffee makes me really irritable, and there are times after drinking coffee that I just hate everybody.

Sabbatical Falling into Place 2: A Place to live there

Hub has a basement apartment in big Suburb where he spends three nights a a week. His lovely, lovely landlady has decided that she would like to go on a once-in-a-lifetime trip far away; buying a one way ticket.
She would like to rent the whole house out to us. We agreed. It's expensive, but a fair market price, AND importantly, it has a basement apartment... which can lessen our expenses by allowing us to host a live-in nanny. More on that soon.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Sabbatical Falling into Place 1: Our house

Our house: we have a 15 year mortgage, which means our monthly mortgage payment is higher than the market rental price for this size o' house. We were counting on taking a monthly loss on the house. Solution: enter a group of 6 (yes, 6) rising seniors who want to live together in an intentional community. Nice kids, I know most of them. They are like, WOAH, this house is BIG and CHEAP compared to the dorms! We are like, WOAH, we're going to have to charge more for such a big crowd! (mortgage covered!)

Hidden Losing

I offered to teach a summer course required for graduating seniors. After the enrollment period ended there was only one person enrolled. I assumed that running the course wouldn't even be considered by the university. The dean's office replied that I had the choice of taking on this student or not for an independent study. I don't know this person, so I said no, tentatively.

I would reconsider if the student showed initiative and was a strong student. If Stu would have shown up at my door earlier and asked about it or shown any sort of interest in the course that was obvious to me I would have told the Dean's office right away that I would take Stu. But I'm not going to reach out to Stu, asking this person to take a course from me over summer. 

I wonder if students realize that they *do* have some power over what seems like strict institutional guidelines? They do, at least in an institution like ours.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Shared research equipment woes, PUI-style

Yes, we have all endured the frustration that goes on when one person doesn't uphold the lab/ departmental standards of cleanliness or handling of equipment.We usually communicate this in a lab meeting segment I call "shared-use bitching".

I am reminded of a story in my post-doc lab (overseas). Due to culture and cost, the only allowed use for blue nitrile gloves was handling ethidium bromide. If one saw a blue nitrile glove lying about, it was assumed to be contaminated with this highly toxic material. I recall a lab meeting in which the normal "shared-use bitching" started with someone silently opening a PowerPoint in which there was a picture of a blue nitrile glove lying on the kitchen counter next to the coffee machine. A collective gasp went up among the 30 or so members of the audience. The lab head said, "You realize zat zis is absolutely unacceptable, no?"

No one ever fessed up to that (wasn't ME!).

In research-based institutions there are regular lab meetings, and their shared-use bitching is a helpful communication medium that increases the chances that trouble is mostly minor, can be repaired relatively easily, and that slackers get corrected in a reasonable amount of time.

In an undergraduate institution, there are no meetings regarding shared-use equipment. Moreover, undergraduates are left alone unsupervised in the lab for long stretches, and some equipment is only needed once in a blue moon. Equipment problems are harder to catch and correct in time.

I was infuriated but not surprised when I found this recently:

Figure 1:  An SS34 rotor with two non-high speed centrifuge tubes wedged in permanently,  heavy corrosion from salt, and some rust around the bolts.Note to non-specialists, this can create a dangerous situation if a rotor fails under high speed.

Figure 2: A shaker with multiple dried bacterial cultures, scraps of paper towel strewn about, mysterious white powder, and new corrosion.

I stopped to talk face to face with several colleagues about it, all of which basically gave me the "I didn't do it, not MY problem" response. 

What are your "shared-use equipment bitching" stories?

Monday, March 18, 2013

On Sale! College!

It doesn't work for JC Penney and it doesn't work for colleges, apparently.

As reported by our financial guru recently, my institution has historically had lower tuition rates than our peers, but that we gave lower tuition discounts. This has resulted in less tuition overall to the students nonetheless. It seems that we have had trouble competing with other colleges that charge more, but give more in their financial aid packages to prospective students. So we, like many others, are increasing our tuition rates by about 5%, but increasing our financial aid packages by about 3.5%. Therefore, we are engaging in a very classic marketing ploy used by retailers. We increase the price to give a bigger impression of the magnitude of the "sale". He reports that families and students get excited about their financial aid packages...

The press pillories the increasing cost of higher education, but the situation is more nuanced that it seems. For example, our tuition is going to increase 1.5% overall, but that is not the figure that will be reported. Reports of a 5% increase are more provocative, and therefore will get more press.

For professors like me, who really don't care much about the details of financial aid, it holds the promise that the discounts can be used to compete for more talented students. But I think that most professors are not enthusiastic that universities are forced (?) to engage in these types of  marketing methods. We just want to enjoy teaching good students, we want students from disadvantaged backgrounds to succeed, and we want tuition to reflect the quality of the education students are getting.

Friday, March 15, 2013

We'll get through this...

...said by my husband to me regarding my sabbatical.

Aren't you supposed to look forward to a sabbatical? We finished the exploration of trying to find day care in my expensive sabbatical city. We tried kindergarten and shopped around for institutional day cares and in-home day cares. There doesn't seem to be any way around paying my ENTIRE (gross!) salary in child care costs, unless you have ideas we haven't thought of. We can't seem to find a way to pay much less than half of Hub's (net) salary for rent. This promises to be a year of  challenge. Well, we wanted a cross-cultural experience!

I'm beating myself up for not writing a grant, but trying honestly to know when I would have been able to do that. There was one I was seriously considering, and it was for disease A, but I will be working on disease B. I very seriously searched for connections between the two, but found none. I asked colleagues about it and was advised not to spend my time "playing the lottery" but to get my manuscripts out.  There's a part of me that is blaming myself for putting my family through this, if I were only more capable...

We have called in a financial planner to talk about whether we can make this work. I can also hold out hope that the grant that I've been included on will be funded. I could also ask for a reconsideration of the year-long sabbatical, and come back six months early. If I did that, it would be harder to rent our house out, and I wouldn't get much accomplished in the lab.

3/21 Update: Financial planner shows on a best-case scenario we will run a $1300/ month deficit- biggest cost to attack: daycare

Your thoughts?


Monday, March 11, 2013

Nopety-Nope, Nope. No Kindergarten. Not this year.

Strike Three on the Kindergarten.
Talked with the principal from Home School. Nope, nope, nope. Everywhere Principal has ever worked in this state will not allow early enrollment. He even consulted with another teacher who said the problem really is when they go to Jr. high and High school, not now, using the term "ripple effect". Yes, you dear readers warned me of that.

Yes, Boy could enter Home School in 1st grade if entered into private kindergarten elsewhere. 

But no, discussion boards say that in Sabbatical district all the private kindergartens will not budge on the cut-off date either. 

Looks like we are stuck with pre-school. Well, then, I'm going to pick the BEST CLOSEST one.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Strike Two on the Kindergarten

I'm trying to get my son into kindergarten where I will be on sabbatical next year. Problem is, he will be 5 years old two weeks after the kindergarten cutoff this fall. But are willling to push it because 1) we think he's ready. He has been sounding out two and three letter words like "the", "he", and "red". He is able to add numbers under 10 using his fingers, and has a good vocabulary. He's probably moderately gifted, but not a "three sigma" type. 2) His sister is born before the cutoff date for her cohort. We would prefer that they be two years apart in school instead of one, and 3)  We would like to avoid paying $12,000 for another year of pre- school for him.

Several months ago, I called the school district and met with a resounding "no exceptions". Following your advice, today I walked into our putative grade school, and met with another confident, instant, and resounding "no exceptions. state law" . I don't expect to find anything different at another grade school in the area, but should I try?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Updates: teaching load, papers, sabbatical, kids

Well, there have been a few story lines going on that need to be updated:

1. Because of course- sharing , I taught two lab classes and a seminar class for the first half of the semester.  I confirmed that it is just too much for me. Organizational skills, single-Mom-hood, lack of sleep, attention deficit, service obligations... the reasons simply do not matter anymore. I cannot manage a "full time load" successfully. I felt stressed, was quite disorganized, and felt like I was just tumbling out-of-control from one deadline to the next. I will have work 3/4 time or less until whatever "it" is clears up. In the second half of the semester, I will only have to teach the seminar course. I am very hopeful for the coming weeks.

2. I have scholarship hours for the next part of the semester. Some of my research students are rock-stars in organizing and writing the "G" paper. We are going to get this paper submitted before they leave. I can't wait to write letters of recommendation for this group- they are superstars! This is work from my lab from the last few years. We had a great hypothesis and solid data, yet a negative result. This limits the number of journals that will take it, but we will shoot for one of those. Any suggestions?

3. I myself need to finish the "M" paper, which is from the first few years of my lab. It is mostly written but needs to be edited and pre-reviewed. Read here for more.

4. I am prepping for my sabbatical. Housing, daycare, advocating to enroll my son early in kindergarten, it all needs to be done, and soon. I had a moment of discouragement last night in realizing how tight the budget is going to be with half my salary and double the expenses. But, then I just picked myself up, shook myself off, and determined to make it work, somehow. My sabbatical host has an application in for a grant that could bring my salary up to 100%, which will relieve a big burden. How to go about it until we hear? I guess I have to prepare for every possibility, and that only takes work... :)

5. Girl (2.5) is still not sleeping through the night, but is doing better. We are more rested and things at home are a little more under control. I can really enjoy my kids now.

6.  I went to the doctor and asked for a refill on Ritalin. Read here for background. I still feel very, very conflicted about it. When I do take it, it is extremely helpful. There are no side effects at the dose I have, and aside from the cost, monitoring, and deep guilt, there doesn't seem to be any disadvantages :)

7. I simply haven't had the energy to formally tutor my son to prep him for a shot at kindergarten. Read here for more. The time most ripe would be in the evenings at bedtime, when I am pooped. He hasn't seemed to make much progress, especially since we took him out of the pre-school that emphasized phonics and put him into a more "montessori-like" setting. I don't regret letting him spend his 4-year old days at 100% play, I just hope that everything can work out the best for our family. During my sabbatical, we will be in an environment swimming with enrichment opportunities. I would rather have him in kindergarten and have the money to have him in this enrichment activity or that, as opposed to being crushed by the cost or a run-of-the-mill pre-school education. This feels especially acute since last night I re-calculated- and it will actually be more like $12,000 it will cost to have him in daycare for my sabbatical.

In short, things are improving, improving! I feel much better and am able to take care of myself more. I still love this work, and it energizes me, but I must be dose- conscious! My upcoming sabbatical could not be more welcome, and I am sooo looking forward to being back in full-time research (which I also love) and being together with my husband (who, yes, I ALSO love).

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

One Year Full Time Position Open

Hi Everybody,

We are trying to find my sabbatical replacement. I wish I could give you the details (because they are juicy and dramatic) about our searches, but I'm afraid to do that, just in case...

If you know someone who would like to gain some teaching experience for a year at a small liberal arts college, e-mail me and I will give you more details. The position calls for a biomedical type, and there aren't the usual faith, service, research requirements. Fall 2013- Spring 2014.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

New Semester

Well, the new semester is off to a good start. I have the first half of my bread and butter course, and I keep talking about it like it's mine, MINE, meanwhile a new faculty taught it last semester, and apparently did quite a fine job. This colleague will also take over the second half of the course.

Another course in the gen ed course in Biology, usually fun to teach because of all the toys we use and demos I get to do. Only have the lab for the first half of the semester. Last weeks' lab was a big flop. :(

I'm teaching the ethics course thsi semester... it rotates. I feel out of my elemenst, but the readings I chose were good, and I am learning a lot from them.