Tuesday, November 25, 2008

It's 7am and I am going to bed

The couch, rather...I don't feel like disturbing the husband or getting into pajamas.

And I'm still not sure if this is going to work out. Sigh.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Tit for Tat

As discussed previously, Mr. PhizzleDizzle has been taking excellent care of a frazzled PhizzleDizzle lately.

At the moment, he is cooking Indian food (he marinated chicken yesterday) and making hummus. Comrade PhysioProf is not the only dude on the block who can cook! I am sitting on the couch working (blogging?), and thinking about tit-for-tat.

One of the reasons why I feel so blessed to have Mr. PhizzleDizzle is that an entire aspect of life, the search for a partner, has been taken care of. I am not sure how life would be right now if I were not only trying to finish a PhD but ALSO trying to meet someone that I enjoyed being with. Or trying to deal with someone I was with that I didn't like so much. Instead, that aspect of my psyche can be devoted to my work.

With him taking such good care of me lately, I wonder about whether I would do the same for him. I almost feel like the husband lately. I hardly do any dishes, I don't pick up after myself, today I changed my underwear for the first time in 3 days (laundry day is approaching and I need to make it to the finish first), and I have generally lapsed in personal hygiene. When he is working this hard, will I do the same for him? Is that the hallmark of a good relationship? Do men ever think this way about returning favors/TLC? Does Mr. PhizzleDizzle feel underappreciated? I have been telling him thank you and that I love him so much every few hours or so. I am worried eventually he will get tire of this and resent me.

Also, am I fundamentally selfish? I am not sure if the time came I would be so gracious as Mr. PhizzleDizzle. I think I would still expect him to do a few dishes, or put some of his clothes away. Does this make me a bad wife? I don't know.

How do you handle times when you are stressed and busy as hell? Does your spouse take care of you? Do you do the same when they are stressed? What happens when you are BOTH stressed at the same time?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Physical manifestations of stress

Today, I realized that I have given myself a fever blister. Normally, I only get them very rarely, if I have been in the sun too long without sunblock on my lips, or if I actually have a fever.

Well, not anymore. Today one just popped up to say hello, probably to be like, "yes, this is how your life could be worse."

I have let myself seriously go the last few weeks. I haven't exercised, put on much makeup, or given a general rat's ass about my appearance. It occurred to me today that when I have a real job, this will not be acceptable, as doing all the above when working on my couch at home is ok but probably not in a workplace.

Anyway. Abreva better work. The last thing I want is to show up for Thanksgiving with the in-laws with a honkin' blister on my lip.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


I have just added an email contact to my profile.

Can you believe, phizzledizzle@gmail is TAKEN???? The nerve!!! ;) I almost want to email and just see who they are.

Instead, I had to settle for something else. Oh well.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

No vegetables and PhD Success Mantras

The only problem with Mr. PhizzleDizzle doing all the cooking is that I don't think I've had a real serving of any green vegetables for at least a week.

Tomatoes, potatoes, and onions, that's it. Pretty pathetic.

On another note, I was thinking about something today. My moods have swung from wildly high to wildly low recently based on my research day - good results, bad results, roadblocks to go around, etc. All of which have required me to just suck it up and keep going.

It made me think, that's really all a PhD is. Once you get past a basic level of curiosity and competence, it's really about persistence. Yesterday, I had a not so good day. It was such that, at the end of the night I was sitting on the couch and I said to husband, "I want to die." Then I quickly took that back, that is a horrible thing to say when I am so lucky and healthy. But I was internally shaking with stress and worry and my career going down the tubes.

PhD Success Mantra #1:

When you are stressed out - stay calm, hold it together, and keep working.

But there was something in the back of my head that said, "HOLD IT TOGETHER." And I did, and I kept coding, and this morning the thing I needed to support my experiments came together and worked. This would NOT have happened if I had given up last night (which I thought about doing) or crying (which I nearly did).

PhD Success Mantra #2:

Just keep putting one foot in front of the other, that's the only way you'll get stuff done.

It happened to be that Mr. PhizzleDizzle was watching "The Unit" on TV, some show about Army special forces or something. I was sitting on the couch, working, and not really tuned in. Then suddenly, I heard a character say "Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Just keep going. That's the only way we get things done in this world."

I know it may sound stupid, but I felt like that was a sign, and it came just in time - it totally bolstered my self control to just keep going. It was so funny, it was the first time I really had a "devil/angel" conversation with myself. I knew if I let myself go to pieces, it was all over, but that's what I so wanted to do. It's weird, but I am really proud of the way I told myself to "suck it up buttercup" and how spectacularly successful I was at doing so.

PhD Success Mantra #3:

What would you do if you knew you wouldn't fail?

I was speaking to a friend the other day, who said she came across this quote. I thought about it for a moment, and it REALLY resonated with me. Why did I feel like giving up yesterday? Because I felt like I could fail, so I might as well stop before I put in the work and waste my own time. I realized I totally would do a lot of things differently if I KNEW I wouldn't fail. And that's sad.

So last night, I told myself that if I assumed I could do what I needed to do, then it was only a matter of getting it done. So then, I did just that. Isn't that amazing? So much of success really is in attitude.

It just so happened that all these mantras came together and helped me last night in my dark moments of distress. They are all really variations of the same thing, but they are each helpful in their own way. And today I feel much better. So I felt like I should share.

The fun of deadlines

When it rains, it pours.

I am working MADLY on a deadline. Ack. I have been goign to bed at least 2:30am every day, some days even 4am. The other day, I was so wired and stressed I couldn't sleep until ~4. For me, that's insane because usually I'm asleep within 2 minutes.

I want to graduate soon and it's becoming rapidly apparent that I have got to keep this pace up for the next few months in order to do so and be satisfied with my work.

I just found out I need to give a talk in a few months and I need to get stuff done for that too. I suppose this is making up for some of the time that I putzed around during early grad school.

At the same time, it feels good to be productive. I haven't always had this feeling. If only it would be...less FRENETIC.

Fortunately, my hubby takes very good care of me. Each evening, as I sit on the couch frowning at my computer and typing furiously, he brings me food and asks me, "Do you need anything honey?" every 45 minutes or so. He's sooooo lovely. And I'm so "on" I realize later that I don't necessarily even acknowledge him enough. Last night he asked if I wanted the last cookie out of a batch he baked, and I didn't even look up and just shook my head. Remind me to kiss him when I see him later at home. He is making this crazy time so much easier for me.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Women and Computer Science

Yesterday, with sadness, I read this article in the New York Times which wondered, where are all the women in computer science?

I must say, it made me both sad and confused. Apparently, while women have largely achieved parity (in terms of undergraduate degrees) when you take science and engineering as a whole, women in computer science has been dropping steadily. In fact, latest estimates for the most recent classes of undergraduates place women as numbering less than 10%. For undergrad. If you continue to lose with each higher degree, which is the norm for women, you wonder if I am one of the last of my kind. I mean, shit.

10....measly....percent. Why is this? I cannot figure it out, exactly, because figuring it out would require that I determine what it is that makes me extremely unusual. I know I'm unusual, I'm ok with that, but I have a hard time thinking that I am *extremely* unusual because I view the world as a big bell curve for everything and just by principle I am unlikely to lie at the extreme end of any of them. But apparently I do.

It has been wonderful for me to find this community of lady science bloggers online, but at the same time I feel like I don't totally belong in this group, because I have never worked with proteins, used a pipette, or worked with anything remotely alive or cellular in my work. All the hot, sexy science discussions are outside of the reaches of my comprehension. I can take a big picture idea, but that's IT.

In somewhat loneliness the other day, I actually went into google reader, which has a nice search function to find blogs that interest you, and typed in "female computer science."

Guess how many bona fide blogs came up? TWO. I subscribed to them both.

I have divulged extremely little information on this blog (I think) regarding what I do specifically, because I fear that just that little information could make it pretty easy to pick me out. How sad is that? I know people in biomedical or medical research, and the labs are FILLED with women. I know that doesn't make it easy, it's still a patriarchal sausagefest at the top, but like...I went through all of graduate school being the only girl in journal club. The first time I went, I was late, and I felt soooooo self conscious when I walked into the room with 30 men, late. I wanted to crawl under a table and die. I just felt so out of place. Also, I go to conferences, and when there are 20 women there out of 300, people say, "wow, there are a lot of women here." Can you believe that?

One of my advisors (not the one I discussed the other day - I am co-advised), has been a full professor for many years, we're talking he achieved full professorship sometime when I was in elementary school. He's no spring chicken. And he has NEVER graduated a female PhD student. Ever. I will be the first. Can you imagine?

I desperately, desperately want to know why this is.

I have a few theories but that will be another post. Back to work.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Thinking about Advisors

Ambivalent Academic's post from a while back led me to think about my advisor, and what our long relationship has been like, and what our individual personalities and situations have brought to the table. It really is a relationship fraught with twists and turns because of, partly, how long the relationship lasts, and the implied mentor/apprentice aspect that goes along with it.

My advisor is a really nice man. He just is. There's really nothing asshole-y about him, which is part of why I am really lucky to have him. He is known for his integrity and his...well, just his goodness. But this doesn't meant sometimes he doesn't pull a dick move - but this is because of his life or personality quirk, not from malice. Since you are with your advisor for years, even the nicest people can have a difficult relationship, I think, when you work so tightly together.

So, I feel like some of the difficulties I have sometimes with my advisor stem from my own lack of confidence. I'm kind of bipolar when it comes to confidence -- at a fundamental level, I think I am a rockstar, but at the same time I also think I really suck. I cannot explain how I can hold these two beliefs at the exact same time, but I often do. So, this whole thing about impostor syndrome - I've felt it. Many times. Only to then chide myself and say, "Whatever, you're here because you're a rockstar, not because you're an impostor." And then the feeling will go away. For a while.

Basically, the difficulties I have all fall under the same theme -- I feel like my advisor doesn't care about what I am doing because it is uninteresting and it sucks. The reasons I feel this way, though, are often wildly concocted in my head.

Example: Advisor doesn't want to read my prelim paper before I turn it in. The reason? Probably because I handed him my final version a few hours before I had to turn it in (I was young and naive, this was very early in grad school.) His response, "Well, if I read it, is it going to make a difference?" Valid point. However, I was so young and stressed and from my perspective, if he read it and had contributions, I would have a few hours to try to fix them. So when he basically was like, "whatever." I was crushed. In hindsight, I obviously should have given him a copy earlier (though I had provided rough drafts previously, this was my first totally complete submission). Conclusion - was it wrong of me to hope that my advisor cared enough about my education to read the paper that would decide whether I got to stay in grad school? No. Was it wrong of him to blow me off when I gave it to him hours before the deadline, because he has stuff to do too? No.

Example: My advisor often tells me he doesn't have time to help me with a paper draft, or doesn't remember the exact details of something I'm doing, or this, or that, or this or that. Things which I have come to expect from a person who has a job, a life, a family, and other students to manage. But in the beginning, I always convinced myself that he didn't care about my work. My evidence? Well, since I've been funded by external foundations for most of my career, I have been largely free for my advisor. So, his financial investment in my work has been low. I convinced myself that had I been a non-fellowship student and he would have had to pay for me, he would have dumped me long ago. That it was in his best interests to get whatever marginal crap I could come up with because he didn't have to pay for it.

Think about that for a minute, how fucked up is it that I convinced myself that I sucked BECAUSE I won awards? That's talent, ladies and gents.

So, when he told me (yet again), for a paper that I needed some help with, that he didn't have time to help me, I was so mad I nearly cried. By this point in my career, I was more used to it, but this time it just crushed me, I can't really explain why. I complained bitterly to my friend, who said, "Maybe it's because he thinks you can do a good job on your own, so he doesn't feel like he has to help you in order for you to be successful."

I stopped ranting to consider this possibility, and that's when the "you're a rockstar" side of my personality emerged, and thought this might be true. But still. All the papers I have ever submitted have been written 98% by me. And I was sick and tired of it. I'm not saying an advisor needs to do a lot of writing (though they probably should for a young graduate student). I'm saying that it would be great if they could even READ it and say "re-org this, re-work taht, this isn't clear, change of direction here." I got NONE of that, and it drove me crazy and drove me to believe that he really just didn't care.

Recently, my advisor told me that he did, in fact, plan to set aside some time to help me with this paper I am working on. I was delighted. He then told me that he feels bad he wasn't able to help me other times, but that it's because he feels like I can put something together that is good enough by myself. So my friend was right. It was soooo validating, and reminded me again that these close relationships can be so fraught because of our own weirdnesses, let alone having a psycho advisor.

Also recently, my advisor told me that he was excited about my thesis. This made me float on air, for a long long time. He never realized that with my insecurities (based on truths - as mentioned in a previous post I came into graduate school with a much worse background than my schoolmates) that I would need occasional praise to live on. Fortunately for both of us, I am a tough little bitch and stuck through everything, in time to realize that he doesn't think I suck, he doesn't hate my work, and he does, in fact, perhaps even care about me.

So....I'm not sure what really the point of this post is. Maybe it's just a reiteration of how important it is to choose your advisor wisely. I'm a reasonable and nice person, and so is my advisor, and yet we can have weirdnesses too, just because of the nature of the advisor/student relationship. You HAVE to pick someone you can work with for years, so even if FamousProfessor is willing to take you, if he's fucking crazy, then don't do it. Unless you want to cry all the time.

The other possible point is to always believe you are a rockstar. But only if you really are. Like I am. ;)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Tagged again? :)

This almost feels like elementary school, where we ran around the playground tagging each other endlessly. It was so much fun :). Ah, those were the days. Anyway, I guess Eugenie and Dr. A (edit: and newcomer JLK as well! Welcome!) are rarin' to know some stuff. And since I am waiting for experiments, I will take this opportunity to answer some shiz about myself!

5 things I was doing 10 years ago:
1. Getting my ass handed to me on a platter by my first midterms at ILU. I don't know what I was thinking with that schedule (I was naive) - note to Eugenie, it will be ok :)
2. About to spend my first Thanksgiving away from home. :(
3. Trying to make friends, talking to everyone I met, then tripping in the dining hall and spilling orange juice all over my white sweater.
4. Avoiding the freshman 15 - and not really succeeding
5. Getting to know Mr. PhizzleDizzle, whom I thought was one of the dorkiest dudes I'd ever met.

5 things on my to do list today:

1. Work on my paper.
2. Phone meeting with advisor.
3. Work on my paper.
4. Drink water so I don't pee orange tomorrow, and have some real food.
5. Work on my paper, and do not freak out.

5 snacks I love:
1. Cheddar and Sour Cream potato chips
2. French Fries (even better, topped with melted cheese)
3. Crudites (particularly, broccoli, cauliflower, and mushrooms. and celery. ok, mostly any of them, but not so much carrots, which I will eat but do not LOVE).
4. Tomatoes from my MIL's garden.
5. Cheese.

5 things I would do if I were a millionaire:

1. Buy a house.
2. Go on a long trip around the world.
3. Endow a regular social hour for graduate students at my institution after I graduate. Imagine that, every week/month, the "PhizzleDizzle Social Hour to relieve you of Graduate Stresses". In fact, I might do that anyway, even if I am not a millionaire.
4. Not live much larger than I do now.
5. Become more financially supportive of a favorite charity.

5 places I've lived:
1. California
2. Connecticut
3. Indiana
4. Michigan
5. New Jersey

5 jobs I've had:
1. Receptionist at a small computer software firm
2. Dining hall at ILU
3. Intern at various tech companies
4. umm....TA?
5. Ooh, I almost forgot - I worked in a library at ILU. That was boring. I love libraries, but not this one.

5 people I'll tag:
I am going to break this rule. I am honestly just too tired to make the links. And I have go to back to work. Sigh. But anyone who wants, go ahead and to the meme and say I tagged you :).

See you all on the flip side!

In which PhizzleDizzle is so busy...

she is neglecting her health.

This morning, I peed burnt orange colored pee. Mr. PhizzleDizzle was brushing his teeth, and told me to drink more water. Usually, I drink lots and lots of water every day, but lately I am too engrossed in this work I have for a very big paper deadline to get up to get water.

Additionally, it is noon and I have not eaten anything yet today. And I've only had half a glass of water. Because I woke up and came straight to my trusty computer to check on my work and I have been sitting on the couch ever since.

Now that it is noon, the stomach is beginning to rumble and complain. Methinks I ought to maybe get up, drink some water, and add some nutrition to my body in order to ensure strength to continue!

Carry on.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Post-Docing in Computer Science

Ambivalent Academic asked about what Post-docing in my field is like, how people are viewed if they do or do not do a post-doc (talk about an awkward sentence!). This is my personal theory.

In my area (computer science) there is a very very strong industrial presence, obviously. All of Silicon Valley, and the tech sector are all ready and willing to suck talent out of the PhD pool. And pay them well. Regardless of whether they have done a post-doc or not. In fact, Bill Gates doesn't even have a Bachelor's, as everyone well knows, and the founders of Google left their PhD programs to start the company. And obviously, no one cares. So basically, if they want you, these companies will hire you regardless of whether you have certain letters after your names.

For this reason, I believe post-docs are really not required or done in my field because it's hard for people to resist the paycheck that could come from industry. If a company is willing to offer you over $100K out of your PhD, then why in the world would you go get a post-doc? Thus, academic departments would be hard pressed to require people to get post-docs in order to hire them, otherwise everyone would just go to industry. It's bad enough that academics get paid much less than their industrial counterparts, if you forced them to take 2-3 more years of getting paid very little, you'd have a mutiny and suddenly there would be no computer science professors.

At the same time, there is a lot less "methodological" training required in computer science. I don't know if that's why post-docs are important for other fields, I'm not really sure why you need to have them except maybe to get exposure to another lab/sub-field? I don't know, since I don't know anyone who has done one. But I imagine that part of the reason is to get broader methodological training. Which isn't required in computer science. Basically, you can code or you can't code. There are no "techniques" or "equipment" that you couldn't figure out quickly anyway. Yes, there might be some slightly different software tools, or maybe these machines are Suns and these are Opterons and those are Xeons, but really, it doesn't matter. So to spend 2 more years training would be pretty pointless.

So yes, some people do post-docs but for entirely person reasons - in my field no one would bat an eyelash if you didn't do one and became a professor. In fact, they might bat an eyelash and ask "why?" if you did do one.

Thus, since I thinking about the possibility of one, for personal reasons, I have to go through "connection" channels rather than advertisements, because no one advertises. We'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Today, I got to my office and it was 90+ degrees inside. It was so hot that my computer fan was blowing hard, even though the computer itself wasn't doing any work. That's really freakin' hot.

I don't know how this office can be so decrepit and screwed up, but it is. I opened the window, opened left the door open for crossbreeze, and turned off the temperature unit, which despite the thermostat saying 70, was blowing lots of hot air.

Now it's better. Wtf.

Monday, November 10, 2008


I will reprise my comment @Renee on Dr. Isis's blog here. Thanks to ScientistMother who alerted me to this travesty. (Synopsis - some people say it is bad to project femininity when you are a scientist because this causes people to take you less seriously. Renee comes in to say she doesn't like black people because she doesn't like hip hop, and she doesn't like women because she doesn't like shopping.) To that I say:

@Renee - how's this? I don't like people who dislike people for reasons that make no sense.

What you seem to not understand is that most people aren't caricatures and members of only one "culture" as you call it. I find it hard to imagine that you can do good science when something as complex as human beings are broken down into simple one-faceted elements.

Hip Hop Loving, Classical Music Loving, Dancing Loving, *nix Loving, Mac Loving, Nerdy Boy Loving, Ender Loving, Python (the language) Loving, Shoe Loving, Food Loving, Project Runway Loving, Slashdot Loving, Yellow-Assed PhizzleDizzle


On Mentoring

There is a fellow student at my university who is largely in the minority, like me. We have been buddies - we are fellow "tokens" in the department, and we relate to each other well in that respect. But that feeling of tokenism has stopped neither of us from pursuing our ultimate goals because we share a sense of dogged stubbornness.

I am more senior than this student, and I have at times taken him slightly under my wing. He is willing to ask me questions that I think he is not willing to ask others. He is definitely closer to me (research-wise) than anyone else in the department.

The issue is this - as a person who required a bit of "work" when I began graduate school, I can appreciate not writing someone off if they do not come in with ninja coding skillz and the ability to use the Force on all *nix machines to make them do their bidding. Because I couldn't either. However, my approach was to work my ass off trying to catch up to my nerdy boy colleagues who had been playing with computers since they were 3. I kid you not - THREE. And I am proud to say that I largely have caught up, and said colleague has openly told me he respects that I have taken myself from nothing to an ass-kicking name-taker.

While I worked very hard, I also had a great mentor who is the least gender-judgemental guy I have ever met in my field. He is also one of the most self-confident people** I have ever met (for good reason - he's good at everything.) I very, very, very much appreciate the willingness he had to help me, and I owe him a lot. I think, however, that we had a symbiotic relationship. He was willing to help me because I was willing to do my own legwork - I did not gratuitously ask him questions where the most logical answer is RTFM.

So, the way to overcome bad background is the ability to think, work hard, and a good mentor for when you need it.

Getting back to my fellow token, I have sometimes wondered how much work I would want to put into the kid. Because as far as I can tell, he doesn't seem to have progressed very far, even after several years, and it seems to stem from slightly illogical/non-rigorous thought processes. While I am sure I was no picnic, sometimes this guy asks me questions which I find extremely obvious, silly, or just plain pointless. I waver from wanting to help bring him out of his strange thought processes to thinking that it's useless and that I need to finish my own PhD anyway and that I don't have time to help someone who needs that much help.

I am not sure whether I am a bad person or just a practical one, or a combination of both.

My sort of fantasy life involves being a professor somewhere and finding diamonds in the rough on a yearly basis, all non-conventional geniuses, in order to obliterate stupid-ass norms in the field. What this means, however, is that I'll need to find the right students and the right balance between how much they are capable of and how much I can help bring that out. I am not sure I know how to do this.

In fact, I'm not sure how you really teach students anyway. I do NOT want to be a prof (if I ever get there) that selects students solely on their ability to widen my research empire/fame. However, I don't want to constantly pour money down toilets on people who are not going to pan out.

So, to Professors out there:

1) How do you select students?

2) How would you deal with this lad?

3) How do you decide if/when you need to fire someone (obviously I have no power to fire this guy, I'm not saying I do, I am just wondering, for future reference).

4) How do you determine if the work required:academic yield ratio for a non-conventional student who is not ready to hit the ground running is worth it?


**I have discovered that very self-confident and capable people are the least likely to be judgemental and put someone down. Because they are so good they don't need to artificially bring someone down in order to push themselves up. Thus, I am much more likely to respect someone's intelligence if they are blithe about what they know with no intellectual affectations.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Love and Marriage, abbreviated

I know someone who recently got engaged after an extremely short courtship. We're talking blink of an eye.

Now, I know that everyone has an aunt, or a grandma, or someone like that who says, "Well, I met my Joe when he was on leave, and we just knew - we were married 6 days later and here we are, still in love after 30 years" or whatever. But those success stories are necessarily a long time ago, because, well, you need like 30 years to be able to deem it a success.

Anyway, just because everyone knows someone with that kind of story doesn't meant that that's a good idea. This person I know is engaged after 3.5 weeks, and seriously planning the wedding already. I mean really, I'm a bit shocked. Hopeful for the person because I'd like them to be happy, but still a little shocked.

How long did you date your spouse before getting married? What do you think is a minimum? Do you ever think it makes sense to get engaged after a month or so? Discuss.


Lately, I just have not felt like posting.

My friend who is trying to defend in December is on the (industrial) interview circuit and having little success due to hiring freezes. It doesn't help my mood any that he's AWESOME and really good at what we do.

My advisor has reached out to a friend at another institution to see if there is any room for me there as a postdoc. Have not heard back yet. That's how postdocs work - no one does them, so it's not an advertise/hire type thing. It's generally done the way I just described. We'll see.

I'm working my ass off on a paper that I really really really need to get in. This could be the big paper that I would need to make me a slightly more credible academia candidate in the future.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Morgan Freeman and David Palmer

I'm not white. I am also not black. As a non-black person, I never expected to feel the overwhelming emotion that I felt Barack Obama was elected president that was rooted in our...shared-non-whiteness. It's unbelievable. It gives me hope for my children, who will grow up in this nation being, also, not white.

I was trying to convey to Mr.PhizzleDizzle last night how historic this is in my mind, as a citizen of this nation who is not white. I had tears welling up in my eyes, and I explained that, unlike him, our children would not be white and this could mean so much to their sense of possibilities.

The funny thing is, he said it really hit home for him when I said, "You know when you watch those movies where Morgan Freeman is president, and you think, 'oh that's nice....this must be *the future*, where we've achieved some sort of utopia only conceivable in movies - we no longer have to think like that." And then we simultaneously brought up the show 24, where David Palmer, a black man, is president. And how, when you watch the show, you're like, "oh what an interesting premise, one that's totally not rooted in the realm of real possibility."

Well....those days are over. It will no longer be a Hollywood pipe dream to have a black man as the POTUS. It's reality. Thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster that I've been able to witness this in my lifetime - in my youth, at that.

Ok, I think I'm done waxing poetic about Barack Obama, I'm beginning to feel like a broken record. But I'm just so damned excited.

This morning...

I woke up, rolled over, and my first thought was "Obama is the next president."

Already the day is looking good!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

PhizzleDizzle wept.

At 11pm tonight, I sat on my couch and wept.

With joy.


Dude, these are awesome.


As a Technical Person...

I am not usually inclined to actually get involved in technology policy. I just want to do my experiments. Technology Policy sounds like a misnomer to most techno-geeks because, honestly, we just want to play with our toys.

But in the last several years, I have noted that the highest levels of government are FUCKING CLUELESS about some basic stuff and made some horrifically bad decisions, like using Diebold machines or employing RFID in our passports. I called my bank recently and told them to give me another card without RFID in them, because I'm a computer scientist and there is no way I'm using that card, and they capitulated. I dont' even want my credit card information broadcasted on RFID, you think I want that shit broadcasting off my passport? Yeah right.

If I were a technology advisor to the government, I would have laughed in their faces and told them to try again. Seriously, even as a 23 year old baby PhizzleDizzle wannabe I knew these ideas were stupid.

So, I saw this article recently about Obama's likelihood of creating a CTO-like position in the cabinet to advise technology issues. I think this is a great idea. We are becoming ever more dependent on technology in our lives, and if Bush can create a Homeland Security department, surely we can have a Technology department to make sure stupid shit isn't done.

I personally think Ed Felten would be awesome. Ed Felten is a huge rockstar. He was a government expert witness for the Microsoft Anti-Trust trials. He and his graduate students have proved time and time again that Diebold machines can be hacked in 5 minutes or less. He is basically, a techno-god. So, he would have my vote.

Anyway, I know it's a little late to be waxing about reasons to vote for Obama, but I think this is one of them.


Don't forget!! Exercise your rights as a citizen!!! :)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

When Stressed: Bake, Dance, and Call Me In the Morning

Not long ago, I was feeling increasingly agitated from the stress of the impending job search, to the point that I had to blog about it.

So, I left my computer, I went to the kitchen, and I made another batch of pumpkin spice muffins, with the radio blasting and me dancing. Since the oven had to be preheated to a rather warm degree and because Mr. PhizzleDizzle had just done some cooking, the kitchen was rather hot. So, what did I do? I took off my shirt baby!

Let me tell you how liberating and relaxing it was to bake, listen to the soulful stylings of DMX, dance, and generally gallivant around my kitchen without a shirt on. I tell you, I feel 100% better. I highly recommend it. I feel like this could have been a movie montage starring Kirsten Dunst. Or Natalie Portman. But minus the DMX. They probably would be listening to Ani Difranco or something.

For serious. Try it. Now I'm going to have a glass of wine, bitches!! Ain't nothing going to hold me down now! Haha!

Job Search Stress

I have been so stressed about what to do with my life after I graduate into this crapass economy that I have been unable to fall asleep quickly for the past few nights.

This is pretty epic. Usually I am asleep in less than 5 minutes after I get into bed. Possibly even less than 3. I think last night it took me 30 minutes to fall asleep. I know this is not a lot for many people, but for me, that is A LOT - an entire order of magnitude. I had to forcibly tell myself to stop thinking, relax, and just go to sleep.

I am starting to compile a list of places to apply to for academic jobs. I revamped my CV today based on the fabulous guidance of drdrA, which helped me realize that mine was a disaster. I am also starting to think about alternatives, like postdocs (uncommon in my field), and industrial jobs that will take me away from my dear Mr. PhizzleDizzle. I cannot have gone to grad school for years and end up with no job. It's just not possible.

But I don't know. I am not a rock star. I've had some pretty extenuating circumstances in my graduate career that have led to a not particularly impressive publication record, which concerns me greatly. I have been looking forward to doing a temporary industrial lab/postdoc job for a while to get more experience and publications and shore up my CV for an academic job search in a few years, but if I am forced to do one now, I am just not ready, really. CRAPTASTIC.

What to do, what to do?????

Catalog Choice

Today I would like to talk about a website discovery I have enjoyed and actually find very useful. Because of my generous and magnanimous nature, I will share, aren't I kind?? :):)

Do you ever start getting catalogs, for some unknown reason, and then they just won't stop? And you don't know how to make them stop? And if offends your sensibilities that you might have to pick up the phone and call someone to make them stop sending you something you never even wanted? And you're not even sure who to call because they don't list that information on the catalog? And it drives you CRAZY that all this paper is being WASTED for something you don't even want?????

Well, Catalog Choice is a site that aggregates lots and lots of catalogs together and provides a one-stop-shop for opting out of receiving paper wasters. Sign up for an account and then you can just pick and choose who to opt out of, and they will handle the rest.

Through this site, I was able to stop getting catalogs from:
  • Dell
  • L.L. Bean
  • Sierra Trading Post
  • Crate and Barrel
It's a beautiful thing.

You're welcome :).