Sunday, December 21, 2008

Blogoversary Bye Bye

One year ago today, I started this blog. I subsequently moved it elsewhere, for a number of reasons, but then moved it back here for a number of different reasons. If you managed to follow me this far, congratulations! Are you willing to follow me still further?

I've never really been able to find my voice on this blog. Part of it has to do with blogging non-anonymously. I feel like I can't be as candid as I would like about issues in my life, particularly the deep soul searching that I would like to be able to share with people, because I know I personally get a lot out of honest, difficult discussions about juggling science and family and life. But given that I'll be frantically applying for jobs over the next couple of years, I don't think it's wise to post about self-doubt and indecision in a place where search committee members might stumble over it.

So, where do I go from here?

Well, I think the archived posts will stick around for a little bit, anyway. Some of them may disappear without warning, however.

I do plan to keep blogging, but elsewhere. I will continue to update my livejournal blog, which has the convenient feature of locking posts away from prying eyes, and does not have my real name associated with it. I also have plans in the works for blogging about women in astronomy under my full real name elsewhere. If you want more updates, comment here or send me email, and I'll tell you exactly what's up.

Anyway, it's been fun, but I'm moving on. Happy Solstice, everyone!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I should stop taking everything so personally, I know

Today, the universe is telling me I can't print anything.  Or maybe the printers just hate me.  Okay, to be fair, they seem to hate everyone in the lab today.

Perhaps today's message is one of environmentalism.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Ever get the feeling that the universe is trying to tell you something?

Lately, it's been telling me the following:

You don't have to keeping doing what you've been doing.
You don't have to follow the narrow trajectory that's been laid out before you.
Follow your desires.
Remember what's important in life.
The time for change is now.
Don't be afraid.

I feel like I'm gathering myself now for something big, but I'm not sure yet what it is.

Also: an apt metaphor for leaving academia, from Bitch, PhD

Sunday, December 7, 2008

JFOS day 2

One of yesterday's talk was talking about cell sheets and their medical uses. One of the slides compared cell sheets to traditional grafts with an illustration of shabu-shabu versus a hunk of steak. Urk. A few minutes later, he showed us a movie of eye surgery that was much too graphic for all of us non-clinical scientists. Double Urk.

I've had a number of interesting conversations with people here, ranging from social science to particle physics to general career advice. The message I'm getting from this meeting is that being well-versed in a number of subjects is intrinsically good, and maybe it's okay for me to go for breadth of knowledge rather than depth. Maybe I should be so afraid of making the leap to studying a different topic, and in the end it might well be good for me.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

JFOS day 1 addendum

My favorite comment from dinner last night: "This meeting is a lot like reading an issue of Science cover-to-cover, regardless of subject."

Friday, December 5, 2008

JFOS day 1

They keep us pretty busy at this meeting. They bussed us over to the conference center at 8:30 this morning, and bussed us back after dinner at around 8pm. And there's some kind of informal interaction session going on right now, that I'm playing hookey from. Tomorrow, the busses come at 7:30am. Sheesh!

I estimate that there are about 80-90 participants at this meeting. Going through the participant roster, I counted 17 women. That sounds about par for the course. Apparently they did consider gender when inviting participants, at any rate.

All the literature seems to be going out of their way to emphasize how bright and promising we young scientists here at the meeting are. But instead of making me feel pleased with myself, it's making me feel disgruntled. If I'm so brilliant, why don't I have a faculty job yet? I've sent out a decent number of applications over the years, so what's up? Why won't anybody hire me? I tell people what I work on, and most of them say, ooh, that's a hot topic right now. But when I look at the job listings, I don't seem to fall neatly into any of the categories. It's as if I were a cat herder, and all anyone wants is cat groomers or sheep herders. I just can't win.

Bah. This unexpectedly turned into a rant. Sorry about that.

Quack quack

There are ducks swimming in the hotel pool right now.

For some reason, this strikes me as really funny.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Still looking for the sun

Made it to California just fine.

The weather was good about half the flight over, which was cool because I love watching the land change below when I fly cross country. I find the regular grids imposed upon organic terrain to be strangely fascinating. The patchwork quilt of the Midwest is beautiful that way. I love the rugged, untamed beauty of the Rocky Mountains. I changed planes in Phoenix, and observed the difference in vegetation in the Southwest versus the Midwest. There were these odd rectangular patches that stood out from the rest of the terrain because they were bright green, almost teal, in contrast to the brown land around them. Also, they were extremely uniform in texture, but maybe that was just the effect of my vantage point. I had to wonder, what are they growing out there in the desert, and where are the getting the water from?

It's cooler than I expected it to be here in SoCal. I had to wear my jacket to the reception+dinner that was held on an outdoor terrace. So much for my sun.

I'm putting my game face on and getting ready to pretend to be an extrovert for the next three days. As meh as I'm feeling about having to travel for this conference, I have high hopes. The VP of the NAS said a few words and dinner tonight, and one of her comments was that previous meeting reminded her why she got into science in the first place: it's so much fun! So here's hoping for some inspiration.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

5 things meme

I'm a little late on this meme, but here goes anyway:

5 Things I was doing 10 years ago

1. Getting married.
2. Not talking to my father because I was living "in sin." Until the day of the wedding. Then he started talking to me again.
3. Still taking classes in grad school.
4. Singing in a chorus for the first time since grade school.
5. Buying my first car.

5 Things on my to do list today

(well, today is almost over, but anyway...)
1. Pack my suitcase.
2. Make sure I have everything I need for this conference I'm going to.
3. Work on my application to the APS skills development workshop.
4. Give the cat her thyroid medication.
5. Go to bed.

5 snacks I love

1. Dark chocolate.
2. Chili lime flavored cashews from Trader Joes.
3. Dark chocolate covered nuts.
4. HabeƱero flavored pistachios from Trader Joes.
5. Dark chocolate covered dried fruit.

5 things I would do if I were a millionaire

1. Pay off the mortgage.
2. Save for retirement.
3. Save for my kids' college funds.
4. Buy a hybrid or electric convertible two-seater. If only they made them.
5. Work part-time. (A million dollars doesn't go very far anymore...)

5 places I've lived

1. In a co-ed fraternity.
2. Next door to a Catholic high school. In sin.
3. In a flat in England.
4. Across the street from a corn field.
5. At the end of a dead end street.

5 jobs I've had

1. Counselor at a summer math program for geeky gifted high school students.
2. Constructing prototypes for a programmable LEGO brick. (Turns out I can solder really well.)
3. Intern at a computer research lab.
4. Teaching assistant.
5. Postdoc

5 people I'd like to share this meme with

Anybody who read this blog. I don't think there are more than five of you to begin with.

Here comes the sun

I've been awful negative lately in my posts, and it occurred to me that I ought to try to lighten things up a bit.

So instead of agonizing over how much I need to get done before my trip tomorrow, I'm going to try to get excited about it instead. It's the Japanese-American Kavli Frontiers of Science (and no, I am not of Japanese descent).  Basically, I got an invitation out of the blue to attend this symposium, whose premise sounds a lot like, "let's throw a bunch of smart people in a room together and see what happens."  So I said, sure what the heck, as long as they're paying for it. And who doesn't want to go to California in December?

It occurred to me last night that this is the first conference I'm going to where I pretty much won't know anyone else there. Who will I hang out with? Will I find people to eat dinner with? What if they all hate me? ...oh, but I was going to be positive.

I guess the advantage of going to this type of meeting is that it's a lot easier to get excited about my science when I'm talking to people who aren't experts, because I'm always terrified that the experts will see through all the holes in my models and rip it to shreds before my very eyes.  The non-experts tend to ooh and ahh more, which is always gratifying.

And I'm looking forward to seeing the sun, too.