redzils: (Default)
I am starting to wonder if taking the Ph.D. qualifying exams this spring is a wise choice. I have tried to talk it through with a couple of people, since I am interested in other perspectives, but it is hard for my audience to keep straight when presented verbally.

redzils: (Default)
Be warned: this is tirade-ish.

I have this naive little illusion that life should be fair.  It isn't.  I know it isn't. I know it wont be.  And I am working on my outrage over that.  In approximately 17 million years, it may even stop pissing me off.

In between now and the next geologic age, I am getting awfully tired of being less important than everyone I meet in my professional life. I mean, I know they invented research, pioneered teaching, and developed the idea of the university system, but why does that make it okay for them to speak rudely, miss obligations, behave in ways they would never tolerate from others, and deal with other people the way I deal with cat yak?

I dont need to be more important than anybody, but I am tired of being so much less valuable a human being than everyone I meet.  This has only gotten worse since I am assigned to sit in the office and cater to the needs of others. Today another graduate student came in needing copies made.  She wanted them in less than an hour and couldn't just ask me to deal with it right away, as a favor to her. Instead she hinted around and acted shocked and amazed that her one hour timeline was not congruent with the policies and procedures of the department. I wasn't going to be too much of a stickler, but it would have been nice of her to say something along the lines of, "gee, you are right - 1 hour is less than 24 hours" or "Thank you for making an exception to help me."  Instead she was rude and managed to imply that nothing I was doing could possibly be as important as making her copies.

That makes me cross.

Even if I ever get to be Very Important in the professional sense (my roommate made the point that I am already important to her, in an effort to derail this rant), I hope I remember this.  After all, aggravating the administrative and maintenence staff is a poor use of energy, as well as a dangerous habit.
redzils: (Default)
I just got an email inviting me to "Come Get Sassified" tomorrow night.  That is wrong on oh so many levels.  I hit delete as fast as possible and am trying to pretend I never saw it...  My inner-editor cant decide whether to weep, get out the fondue fork and hunt the sender down, or quietly vomit.

I mean, sassified.

(This is spam in the "unwanted" sense, but came through on a dance and music list serve to which I subscribe.  The information is usually less ....trite).
redzils: (Default)

When Heather and I went to the Sea Life Center in Seward, someone was doing a presentation on octopuses (no really, that is the plural).  We finished our touring before the special speaker was finished, so stuck our heads into the presentation room to see if that was where we wanted to be.  And when I saw powerpoint, I turned and fled.

Powerpoint is capable of taking any fascinating subject (such as octopuses) and rendering it immediately boring.   Powerpoint is a tool, and, like all tools, should be used for good.  Instead it is too often used for drying out what could be an interesting topic and encouraging students to transfer information from the screen to their notebooks (digital or paper), without the benefit of first passing it through their brains.

As a novice instructor, powerpoint is appealing.  You know, 'Maybe if my powerpoints are shiny enough no one will notice how flawed and young I am . . . And, and, it will help me get my information across!!" But really, it doesn't work that way.  After spending several years watching powerpoints and then setting them in contrast to lectures taught by the brilliant instructor with whom I worked last year, I realize that powerpoint is not only a crutch, it is one that in turn cripples your teaching.  You are tied to the structure you developed in preparation, and people are too busy copying down whatever it is on the screen to listen to your (usually more important) accompanying lecture. 

My first year teaching intro. psych. recitation I also made the mistake of putting all my information on the slides.  They were overcrowded and my presence didn't add much, since by the time students get to college they can usually read.  As you may remember, I ran amok with activities and experiments to move away from this passive information transfer paradigm. I think now I have the confidence - even though I don’t have the subject matter expertise - to try sometime different. I am going to be using the computer projector to demonstrate analyses, so it will be a huge part of my teaching.  I may even use some - sparsely filled - powerpoint slides to convey information and structure my lecture.  But I am going to make a serious effort this year to TEACH, rather than flashing up information and seeing where it falls.

This rant was prompted by printing out the 22 powerpoint slides the person who taught this last class gifted to me for the first lecture.  Don't get any illusions about my laziness here - I am using her structure and her homework assignments (well, mostly) to facilitate this class (since I don’t know what I am doing . . .).  But, I cant teach her power point lectures.  I can take the information and give it to the students in a different way, but I just cannot bring myself to show them 22 powerpoint slides (16 of which detail the – essentially irrelevant - history of testing from the Han Dynasty forward) to convey essentially three points (a test is a measurement device used to quantify and predict behavior, scores must be interpreted to have meaning, and testing has been around for a long time).  My way may not end up being better, but at least I can say I tried .  . .

Wish me luck.

redzils: (Default)
Little things are making me twitchy.

The dogs are being noisy and continue to crowd around and breathe on me.  This makes me want to tie their tails in knots.

The sound of raindrops hitting the skylights is getting on my nerves.

My outgoing mail server wont accept my login, so I cant send email (Dave:  please call me when you get off work) 

These are all little, silly things but today they are getting to me for some reason.  Perhaps that giant life transition looming on the horizon (plus the no-sleep thing) is taking up a little space in my brain.
redzils: (Default)
Yesterday was a bad day.

I had a bad attitude.

My hipboots leaked, despite the patching I did.

I managed to get my foot stuck in the weir, which hurt.  And I couldn't get it out, so I had to sit down - in the middle of the river - and take the boot off to get free.  Then it took me several minutes of tugging to extract the boot, which was completely full of water.  Didn't matter much though, since having sat down in the middle of the river none of me was dry.

I branded a line into my left thumb, trying to get our stupid coffeepot off the stove.

And, later on, I was wearing my chest waders and drying my boots.  The waders are a pain to get in and out of and sort of clumsy-making, and I managed to step on a slippery boulder and fall-down-go-boom.  The lucky bit was that I didn't manage to break my right wrist, but the palm of my right hand, where the wrist and palm meet below the thumb, has a blue indent.  And my right thigh looks like someone hit me with a baseball bat.  It is truly a remarkable bruise - it looks like the special effects crew spent half an hour on me getting that perfect fade from black to blue, with the vein visible and a hefty, swollen redness underlying the whole thing.  If I can figure out how to get a picture of it (which is not a picture of my butt) I may even show it to you - I think it is actually sort of cool (in an, 'if I had my druthers I wouldn't have done it' sort of way).

Today has been sort of better. I sent out an email giving people my new address and my mom sent back a message that said, "I miss you already, and you are still here."  That is sort of how I feel too - I know it is silly but I miss my life here, already.  I am going to take Wednesday, after I get off work, to do a little prep (mail myself another box or two, figure out what goes and what stays) for departure and then take my very own best-of-Homer tour and sort of take my leave for another year.  My heart is here, and not with any person.  It is here with the waves crashing, eagles soaring, and mountains jutting above a peaceful little town full of Shiverring Gypsies, brisket sandwiches, and joy. I will be back.
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Two issues so far (aside from the can't calculate U and it's making me crazy issue):

- I seem to have accounted for 193% of the variance. Unfortunately I only have %100 of variance to partial out, so something is not working. However, I re-entered the data and that didn't fix it, and I don't know enough about the program to do it myself. . .

- I cant figure out how to make it correct for unreliability. And, as far as I can tell, there is no user manual.

Lovely. Fun. Makes me want to tear my hair out.
redzils: (Default)
Writing this feels wrong, especially since I have five legs of plane flights coming up and tend to think I am more likely to die in a fiery crash if I admit to being very happy, very unhappy, etc. My life pegs the irony-meter often enough, that putting that sort of thing on (virtual) paper feels like an unnecessary risk factor.

But yeah, I am not happy.

I got almost twelve hours of sleep last night, went to what should have been a pleasant evening pouring wine at one of KM's shop's gigs, then cried exhausted tears on the way home.

I am overwhelmed. Mad at my roommates. Tired. And kind of sad.

But I know this is a temporary state, and soon I will be happyish again . . .
redzils: (Default)
This morning [profile] canonical_tom forwarded on an email from a woman mathematician, who denied that she has ever experienced sex discrimination.  I am glad she has a life that makes her happy and fulfilled, but I couldn't shake the feeling that the lady doth protest too much . . . She chose* to opt out of a better career (her words, not mine) to have babies while she was young.  And she is right, she chose that.  But her discussion made it pretty clear that she chose that as the lesser evil (taking a job with her M.S. and having children while young), relative to the other alternatives available.

Then I went to the Senior Seminar, and one of our groups presented on two recent studies concerned with work-family conflict.  I hate work-family conflict. It intuitively appealed to me when I first got here and I wrote a proposal in that area as a first year grad student, but the more literature on the topic I read, the more I wanted to throw dishes against the wall just to hear them smash.

Work-family conflict is real. But it's not the be all and end all issue. It makes me angry that work-family issues is seen as a women's problem despite the fact that children don't belong to women exclusively, and dismissed as being a side-effect of women's choices*. 

It would be so much better for us as a field to look at work-LIFE conflict.  Everyone has a life, and sometimes that life conflicts with their work.  For some people their children make up much of their life. For others it is a health problem, an all-consuming hobby, responsibilities to other family members such as elderly parents, or school.  We are never going to get anywhere attempting to defuse "work-family" conflict because it is dismissed as a women's problem, and programs designed to address it are dismissed as discriminatory and unfair to people without children.

We need to look at work-life conflict, and find ways to help people balance all their responsibilities in the hours available to them.  Work-life balance is an admirable goal, and programs designed to promote it benefit everyone. Because they are not discriminatory, they are legal, and can make life better for everyone -  busy moms, people who are going back to school, and those of us who travel a lot for one reason or another.


I also hate the way our society talks about women's  "choices." We act like women make their own lives difficult by *choosing* to live in ways that are accepted as perfectly normal for men.  The woman mathemitician I mentioned in the first paragraph has bought into the idea that she is solely responsible for her choices, dismissing the fact that her alternatives are shaped by the society in which she lives.  I would bet you $50 that the father of her children did not take a career hit when they were born. For him, and all the other XY chromosome beings in our culture, having children and a fulfilling career is an accepted norm.  Women, on the other hand, have to *choose* or accept the difficulties of juggling both.  

There is no clear solution to this, but having men take on more equitable child-rearing and homemaking responsibilities would be a start.  Even when men and women both work full-time, women spend a significantly greater time engaged in domestic work.

This choice argument is also tied to a recent controversy about infertility - some people have suggested that women are selfishly choosing to wait to have children, in order to promote their careers.  Sometimes women are waiting, because they don't see childbearing as compatible with their career goals, but again, that is a symptom of our current social reality.  And this argument (selfishness, careers) ignores the fact that lots of women are not having children in their twenties because they are not finding partners with whom they want to reproduce until later - the average age of marriage is rising right along with that of first birth.

I personally want kids. I am twenty-four years old and have not met anyone with whom I would want to reproduce, so saying I am selfishly choosing to pursue a PhD instead of fulfilling my genetic destiny is academic.  When my mom was my age, she was pregnant with me, but she had been married for my dad for two years and knew she would have a partner.

Speaking of my hypothetical future children: I may choose to take a break from my career to be available to them or change my career to achieve better balance in my life after they arrive, depending on my specific situation.  That career-shift could be the right choice for my family, in this hypothetical situation.  It might even be the right choice for me, but it would still be a constrained choice.
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My IP address hass been blocked from the Small Group Research archives at this time, because I opened too many PDF files in too little time.

They think they are preventing me from stealing their information.  However, they are actually preventing me from efficiently hand-searching old issues for research involving self-monitoring.

This is very frustrating.

Apparently I will be allowed in again in half an hour, as long as I don't try to open more than one PDF / minute.  What a ridiculous requirement - instead of searching about a year of published work in 20 minutes, I am going to have to spend an hour or so per year.  Because this minutia should take time away from the real work of the meta-analysis, or something.

redzils: (Default)
Wait a minute! It is suddenly four pm and I have accomplished little today.

What have I done? Oh, eaten lunch and washed the dishes. Caught up on a month of filing. Paid my VA taxes. Printed out material for the rest of the MA courses this semester.

What haven't I done? Accomplished anything that counts as productive on my meta-analysis or thesis. Walked the dog. Taken a shower.

This is so frustrating - I cant focus, I have a headache, and nothing gets done . . . I have so little patience with myself when it comes to this too, which only makes it more dysfunctional.


Mar. 31st, 2006 02:46 pm
redzils: (Default)
I am not having a functional day.

Everything is not cooperating.

My meeting with the legal services guy was ridiculous. He recommends I find someone else.

I can't get the emails to my sample out, for a variety of technical reasons (I solved problem one, then I solved problem two. Problem three is pissing me off). I save the my best cursing for special occasions like this one.

And I don't have a car this afternoon, so even though moving my laptop onto campus would probably take care of my latest problem (outgoing mail server differs from incoming mail server and outlook hates me), I can't get there.

I am also expecting a phone call any minute with the ransom price of my car (repair estimate).

And the dogs keep barking at the neighbors, so I have to keep them in. But then they are playing so directly underfoot I can't even move my chair.

It probably doesnt help that I have drunk a ridiculous amount of caffeine already today, so am practically vibrating as I sit at this computer.

Distraction Meme:
YOUR ROCK STAR NAME: (first pet and current street name)
Amber Overhill

YOUR DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite animal, favorite color)
Giraffe Red

YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, city where you were born)
Baird Anchorage (if only I wasn't a girl, this might work).
redzils: (Default)
There is only one polite thing to say to someone who announces they are getting married: Congratulations! This one sentiment can be expressed in lots of ways. If you are struggling, try "Wow! You must be so excited!" or "Congratulations!"

If is never polite to ask someone making this sort of announcement, "Are you pregnant?" "What's the rush?" or "Are you sure that is a good idea?"


I was inspired to post this by a phone conversation I was recently forced to eavesdrop on (it you talk at a greater than average volume in my hearing range, I can't help but listen. This is the same skill that allows me to read and listen to a book on tape at the same time, laughing at all the jokes in both. I can't help it). It was infuriating to me, probably because of my own engagement-announcing experience, but also because my mama raised me right.

Privacy matters. Respecting other people's autonomy matters.

If someone is having a "shotgun" wedding, wait for him or her to tell you that. If you are close to them, it will come out.

If you have trouble with the concept of your friend marrying this person for some specific reason about which they don't already know (i.e. 'I think he is one of the FBI's top ten most wanted, based on this picture'), share it. But once your friend knows how you feel/why you feel that way, your obligation is to shut up and participate in whatever fashion you are able. I dislike a close friend (who does not read this)'s boyfriend, intensely. If she decided to marry him, I would stand next to her at her wedding (assuming my schedule permitted). This conflicts with Dear Abby's advice, but to me supporting your friend and his/her autonomy takes precedence.

This is a largely pointless rant, but listening to the way people talk to each other makes me mad.


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