Monday, March 30, 2009

Bike Snobbery

To you bike commuters out there (Cath, Dr. J, anyone else?) - I am considering doing the same for my internship, I think it will be eminently bikeable (~6 miles each way?) and good for me. However, I have a SWEET road bike which I do not think should ever be "locked up" anywhere but always kept inside unless I am riding her many many miles.

So the plan is to get a commuter bike. However, my perspective is skewed in terms of what is ok or not ok to commute with since I generally road bike with probably excessive snobbery. These are things I have learned from my bike snob friends which I think are probably not true for commuting, please correct me if I am wrong, plus a few random questions.

1) "It is never ok to ride a bike with Sora components".

That may be true if one is planning to ride 60-70 miles at a time, regularly, on hilly terrain, and race. However I realize that may not be true for a commuter bike. Does your bike have good drivetrain components or do you find entry level just fine?

2) "Don't get a bike without a carbon fork."

Again, probably true if you are planning to ride century rides all summer, but probably not so if you're going to ride an hour a day commuting? Or maybe it would be nice to have a carbon fork if you're in a pothole-y area. I don't know. What about a CroMoly fork? That seems ok. Or maybe even a steel bike in general? That would be sexy, retro, and old school.

3) Do you ride a double or a triple front crank?

My inclination is to get a double because I don't plan to bring a ton of bike tools (or any, even) with me and won't be able to maintain my bike. The less can go wrong, the better. I am not a good enough biker to go single-speed.

4) Recommendations on panniers? I've never had one, and I think I should get one if I am going to use my bike to carry more than just a spare tube and a multitool.

5) Am I just being a total ridiculous snob and you just got your bike for free from a neighbor who didn't want it anymore and you don't know anything about it but it's fine?

In that case, I am overthinking this. Like I over think....lots of things :).

Thursday, March 26, 2009

So yeah

No one I know says I should defend before going on this internship. These are all people who are on my side too, people who look out for me. So....yeah. Since several of these people are also on my committee, it looks like....I'm not defending soon. This year, yes. But

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What goes in a Research Statement?

I am applying to a Big Industrial Lab now (New Leads Option 2), and it requires a Research Statement.

I have some idea of what a Research Statement for an academic job should look like - you should present what you want to do as you lead your newly formed lab into the future. I have ONE sample from a guy who is now a professor at a top school, and he talked about what he did for his thesis (without any specifics really, just "I worked on this problem"). And then he talked about what he wanted to do to continue that.

I am kind of at a loss because I want to kind of continue what I have been doing, but I really kind of want to branch out. But I have been so tunnel-visioned lately, that I really haven't thought about what I'd like to work on in the future, and of the things that interest me, I actually don't know anything about them. It just sounds cool.

Additionally, this is NOT for an academic job and I do not have to lead my own group. Instead, I would be joining Big Industrial Lab, for which I would plan to insert myself into other projects that sound interesting before pushing onto some tangent that I find interesting on my own. I don't know if this is something acceptable to say (probably not), but I certainly don't have anything like a grant proposal in my pocket to describe, and I'm not sure they expect that. Or do they?

So....yeah, I don't know how to approach this. Help?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ada Lovelace Day Post - Corrinne Yu

Today is Ada Lovelace Day, and I signed a pledge to blog about a Lady Computer Scientist on this day.

I chose to blog about Corrinne Yu, who is basically one of the most amazing people I had never heard of (until recently).

She is a GIANT in the field of game development. What do you think of when you think of computer games? Specifically, what do you think of when you think of the following?

Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway
Aliens: Colonial Marines

I'll tell you. You think of guys. Geeky guys. Well, guess what? Corrinne Yu is a big part of all of those games. She codes, she write the engines that support these games. She's a technical big shot. And this is her:

I can't believe I had never heard of her. I'm not really into games, but a hott Asian chick kicking ass and taking names in a male-dominated computing field? She's my freakin' hero(ine)!!! She is a dramatically different member of the game development community by stereotype, but not by skill or prowess, and that is what I really respect and admire. It's hard to kick ass and not fit in, and she does it. Kudos to her.

So, Corrinne was the Director of Technology at Gearbox Games (yes, Director of Technology), but was hired away by Microsoft to lead the Halo development team. Halo. Halo. Talk about SHE MUST KICK SERIOUS ASS. I love it. I don't play games, but I must say, I was blown away and excited by the knowledge of her existence, and I must share.

To read more about Corrinne, check out this interview with her: Linky.

This is me

Ada Lovelace post forthcoming.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

I'm an Idiot

I use *nix as an OS.

In *nix, there is a utility called wc (word count).

It provides number of lines, words, and characters in a given document or set of documents.

I looked at the wrong column for my thesis. I do not have 42K words. I have 6370.

Oops. I suppose that makes a lot more sense. Now I question my own sniff test skills - DUH. What was I thinking?

Speaking of Academic Bullshit...

After I posted, I started doing one of my favorite Sunday activities, which is reading PostSecret. If you don't know what it is, it's basically a community of people who send postcards of their secrets to this guy, and he posts them on the Internet. Now that I describe it, it sounds crazy but it's not. It's really lovely.

One of today's secrets:

DEPRESSING!!!! What the fuck, man?

So...yeah. I don't know. I remain confused.

Current Life Job Status - CONFUSING

It's hard to think that just a few months ago I was bitterly complaining that I would never be able to find a job. Because it looked like I wouldn't be able to, that I'd have to fight my way through the masses, jump through inordinate numbers of hoops, and whore my way into a position that I'm overtrained for (but undertrained in terms of commodity skills).

Well, things seem to have changed. I now have a number of options (not totally set in stone, but good leads), and I'm utterly confused. Since I had to scrap my way to get some of these chances, in order to avoid cognitive dissonance I convinced myself that those chances were actually awesome opportunities to try something new. So now I have tons of good reasons to do everything on my "leads" list and I am terrified of making a massive career mistake because these jobs are all SO DIFFERENT.

Let me explain. If you have been in the world much longer than me, I'd appreciate any advice, assurance that picking the "wrong" job here will not ruin my life, etc.

Original two leads:

1) One extreme end of a spectrum which I do not have the commodity training for.

Pros: It would involve getting my hands dirty at deep levels of Widget production, and could probably increase my understanding of final products.

Cons: However, I don't actually know anything about Widget production except at intellectual levels, and these Widgets are pretty narrow in scope and applicability. Plus, I doubt I'd be doing any research here - my research career probably ends here. So I'm thinking this has moved to the bottom of my list. I might even want to cancel my onsite interview with them?? I'd have to study for it, and I don't know if I want to, now that I seem to have other options.

Confounding factor: Also, this is ~2 hrs drive from hubby.

2) The other extreme end of a spectrum, which I have sloppy commodity training for. In other words, I was never trained for Skill X, but I had to learn it in order to do my research so I am reasonably competent at it. But not a ninja.

Pros: This company loves PhDs, but kind of like the way consulting companies love PhDs - for the brains, not the specific knowledge. This presents an interesting opportunity to get out of my trained field. Part of me thinks this is a good idea, because this is a boom skill - and having worked here would be a major boon for my resume if I ever wanted to work anywhere in this subfield, I would think.

I think I would be commoditizing myself. Part of me thinks commoditizing my skills, i.e. beefing up a resume that says, "Skills: A, B, C, and D" that would pass company keyword checks, would be a good idea, because in this tough economy I have had a hard time finding research jobs at first, and I don't pass a lot of keyword tests. Plus, at this place I think I'd have a lot of exposure to LOTS of stuff I don't know about - it's a vibrant place to be.

Cons: I think I would be commoditizing myself. I am going to have a freakin PhD, and I don't want to be competing with people over fucking resume keyword tests. Right? I don't know. Part of me thinks knowing about more things closer to the "real world" than academia would make me a better researcher, but part of me is worried about losing my research edge.

Confounding factors: In terms of life, this would be a good option. This could be a place to just have a career and forget about research entirely, go to my job, come home to Mr. Phizz, be near my friends, my sister, and more friends. The quality of life here would probably be pretty good for those reasons. Maybe I do just want to drop out of the research rat race and have a fun and interesting job.

New Leads:

1) Postdocing with a mentor.

Pros: This is an amazing opportunity - it's not certain but possible that NSF funds from the stimulus package could be used for this. This mentor of mine would be an incredible mentor, an incredible advocate for me, and incredible in lots of ways. This mentor believes in me, supports me, wants to help me. This could lead to a fantastic letter if I ever wanted an R1 job later. This is not common.

Cons: I don't know if I want an R1 job anymore. Something in me changed after my last trip to give a talk at an R1. There's a lot of bullshit in academia. In industry too, of course, but lots in academia. I've been reading papers lately and it just all seems like a crock of crap. Interesting ideas that are actually useless. Getting published. For what? For the sake of getting published. Of course, not everyone plays this game, but lots do. And I don't feel like getting into it.

Plus, honestly blogosphere, I get a bad feeling sometimes reading all y'alls blogs. I now think of academia as stress, more stress, grant writing, dealing with assholes, dealing with stupid students and their stupid emails, and basically a piss-poor quality of life. The only person who seems to have a positive:negative post ratio significantly > 1 is Arlenna, and it just sounds like she had the luck to get into a fantastic department.

So if I don't want an R1 job, this doesn't seem to make much sense, right? The minimal the mentor would be on sabbatical for most of it, this is just a reach-out to try to help me, Mentor doesn't actually need a post-doc.

Confounding factors: This would be 3 train rides or 3 hrs drive from hubby.

2) Big Industrial Lab. I got a ping from a guy I know asking if I am going to apply.

Pros: This would be pretty prestigious and awesome, good research lab, good resources, good resume builder. Probably lots of interesting work, lots of exposure to other subfields. Good company too - benefits, pay, perks, etc.

Cons: The main business of Company attached to Industrial Lab does not have anything to do with my subfield. I'd probably basically be leaving behind my subfield here - could be Modified Impostor Syndrome but now that I'm almost finished, I realize I don't actually know anything about my subfield because there is so much to know. And so going somewhere as Subfield Expert when I don't feel like an expert feels premature.

Also, could be tough to work for this guy. We're friends, but I don't know - my advisor is laid back. I get the sense he isn't. Big personality, really fun. But as a boss? Not certain. This is pure speculation from hints of hearsay.

Confounding factors: This would be on other side of the country.

3) An internship/possible full-time at Industrial Lab right up my alley. Part of why I bitterly complained before is because everything right up my alley was not hiring. That's still the case, but the powers that be think that an internship could lead more easily to a full-time offer, so that's what this is about.

Pros: This is right up my alley. They want to see how my thesis applies in the real world. They might want to put it into Final Products. Damn - I mean, that's huge. Isn't it? It feels huge. Most theses get put into some archive, never to be thought of again. So this is exciting. And they really want me there. They do - this is what I thought a job search would be like - they told me straight up "you don't need to interview, nothing, we have no problems with you whatsoever, we are doing what we can to get you here." THAT is what I was expecting coming out of my degree.

This is a small-ish company, and I get the sense that here, I'd really get to be Subfield Expert because that's the business of this place. I'd get to know whatever I wanted to know, REALLY, about how shit works. That's appealing to me.

Cons: For the internship I'd have to go way away for the summer, and leave Mr. Phizz for several months :(. And of course - with no full-time offer right now....????

This company is a serious underdog. I am not certain of its long-term potential, and certain things like pay, benefits, maternity leaves, perks, etc. are not going to be as great.

This is right up my alley, but I am concerned of now becoming pigeonholed. I thought of all those other jobs as opportunities to branch out and know about other things, at the expense of leaving Subfield "unfinished." This is the opposite. Not only would I be deep into Subfield, but I'd be deep into SubSubfield - and I don't know if that's the best thing??

Confounding factors: The full-time, if it panned out, would be 2 hrs from hubby.

I am planning to take internship - industrializing my thesis just sounds too awesome to pass up. But I worry that it will jeopardize my finishing my degree sometime in the next decade, and I worry that if I decide I don't want this full-time it will be hard to extricate myself. I am trying to tell myself that as long as I am honest and a straight-shooter, no one will blame me for doing what is best for me when I decide it, and I should not worry about offending anyone, ever, when it comes to job selection.

My choices seem to come down to these axes:

Increasing commodity skills vs. increasing depth of knowledge about my subfield.

Big Perk/Big Company vs. Smaller.

Research vs. Non-research.

Life quality vs. doing what I was trained for.

I so don't know what I should be doing. I know it's up to me to decide what I want, and then it will all be obvious. But it's not clear right now. Sigh.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Oh yeah

And what the hell, ACC? Why are you being so embarrassing?????????

BC - spanked.
Florida State - lost to a 12 seed! (though I predicted it - booyah).
Maryland - spanked.
Wake - lost to a 13!!! wtf!!!
Clemson - out!! (even though I predicted it).

Seriously guys - apparently this is not your year. Wtf. I'm disappointed y'all! You need to step up.

This Lovely Saturday Night

I'm having wine. And watching my favorite team play.

And I finished my first draft of chapter 2.

Fuck yeah. I'm at forty-fuckin-two thousand words baby.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Pic Taken Exclusively for Comrade PhysioProf

Motherfuckin Jameson baby!

Vacay Pics

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Lots of good shit

This will be a brief update of everything that is going on, mostly good, until I have time to put up a post with a few choice pictures from my trip.

  1. FIL is home!!! He went home the day we left for our trip, and he's doing ok. He's not nearly 100% but seems to be on the up and up, and I hope within a month or two he'll really be back to his old form. I know he hates being like this, so I feel bad, but it's as long as he's on an upward trajectory, however shallow, we are all glad.
  2. Trip was AWESOME!
  3. While I was away, I got MORE job nibbles! One is kind of weird though - they really REALLY want me but can only offer an internship right now, and say they hope it can become a full-time later. This is a tough one. It's right up my alley, plus, it's great to be wanted, but it's a bit scary without knowing about the full-time. Another was for a postdoc possibility from a mentor. But as I've mentioned in previous posts, I'm not sure I want academia anymore. So I don't think I'll pursue that, as amazing as it would be if I wanted to be at an R1. So, still nothing totally straightforward about what I should do with myself, but prospects seem better than before.
  4. March Madness has begun. And I freakin LOVE March Madness. Like, seriously, love that shit.
  5. I had a kind of productive day and have written a non-trivial number of words.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

My Absence

I meant to post right before I left that I was off to the Land of Eire, but I didn't have time, and my access was sooooo spotty out there.

Anyway, I'm back and I had a GREAT TIME!!!! I feel SO MUCH LESS STRESSED!!!! I highly recommend a holiday in Eire to get yourself to slow the fuck down.

More later. Missed y'all!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Job searching and Prostitution

I've been in school for years. I'm highly educated. *And* I'm a vaunted minority - an American Female - and a year ago, companies would have been FALLING all over themselves to hire me.

Right now though, things are not so simple. I'm having to go through rigorous search processes that I would not have before this economic mess. I have to demonstrate abilities, which I may not currently have (though I am certain I could pick up). My job search process has NOT involved job talks. No one cares THAT much about my research. They want do know if I can do Important Tasks, not think Important Thoughts. It's depressing.

As a result, I was saying to JLK the other day that the job search process is kind of making feel like a whore. I'm literally saying to these companies, "I'll do anything you want baby, just tell me what you'd like me to be." I'm not joking. One day, I'm telling Company A that does X that I would looooooove to do X, and that even though I currently do Y, I'm looking to make my move into X. Three days later, I'm telling Company B that I'm looking to get even deeper into Y, it would be so fun go further penetrate that field.

Honestly, what I'm saying is true. I think both X and Y are super cool and whomever would give me an opportunity I'd be happy to plunge into the task, whether it be X or Y. But I've been surprised at how mentally unprepared I feel for this prostitutory process. Job searching is hard on the ego. I'll be glad when I find my Richard Gere and can end this whole thing, and feel validated and loved because someone wants me.

In other news, I just heard back from a company to go for an on-site interview. Woot! I wasn't sure how the phone interview went, but apparently it went well enough. Time to bone up on some stuff....when I come back from Ireland :). I am so excited for this trip.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Year of the Ox Progress: Week 6

1) Write Thesis by June 1: Well, I've got 32K words now...I suppose that ain't bad.
2) Run 10 miles/week: I didn't even get to yoga this week (curse you, daylight savings!!!)
3) 30 pushups continuously: I should do a spot test soon and just see how many I can do now.
4) Do a pullup: I thought about trying a pullup. Does that count?
5) Update Wardrobe to be grownup :): I went to REI with husband and got a bright green raincoat for our trip to rainy Ireland. It screams "I am a hipster youth and I love North Face even though I have never climbed a mountain." I'm not sure that makes me grownup, but it's the only new thing I've bought lately. Heh.

All in all just a normal, regular week.

The power of one

It's no secret that I feel all screwy and discombobulated lately.

So when Gail posted this great video on her blog, I checked it out. And you should too. It's really, really great.

I actually sobbed watching it. I think it's a sign of my bizarre and hyperemotional mental state, but it's really worth watching. I cried, a lot, watching it. It's good.

What can you do to make a difference? Think globally, act locally.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Seriously, Universe, WTF?

My super duper dear best friend's cousin has been hospitalized for meningitis. In case you don't know, that's serious shit. He's an only child. Wasn't caught early enough, his kidneys failed yesterday.

He was kept waiting in an ER for hours the night before he was hospitalized so he just went home. Nice one, hospital in city where 3 students were hospitalized for meningitis just 3 weeks ago. ERs are so broken, there's got to be a better way to figure out who needs to be seen immediately and who doesn't. Mr. Phizz joked that the kid should have complained of chest pain shooting down his left arm - that's the best way to get seen quickly in an ER. Only problem is he's in college and I bet they wouldn't buy that one.

On top of that, FIL's hospital has dropped the ball too. They're wondering why his system is kind of out of whack and not recovering well, HMMM, DO YOU THINK IT'S BECAUSE NONE OF HIS IVs HAVE NUTRITION IN THEM? It's been over a week and the man's hardly eaten AND he's gotten no nutrition intravenously. WTF. I mean, thank you hospital for doing the surgery but how the fuck is he supposed to heal without, say, nutrients?

Times like these I just desperately, desperately, desperately hope that I am never seriously sick. And that no one I know or care about is ever seriously sick. Navigating the health care system to get good care just seems really, really impossible.

Please think of my friend's cousin. He's really really sick.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Knives and Chopin

So here's how I know I'm not right.

I've fucking sliced each of my hands with a kitchen knife in the last 3 days. One slice on my left, one on my right. One during cook prep, and another when washing. Both careless. Fortunately, I'll live, but I RARELY cut myself. The first could have been avoided with a sharper knife (it slipped), and the second I guess I'm glad it wasn't super sharp because then I would have lost my thumb. Bah.

However, currently I am listening to Fantasie Impromptu by Chopin and that makes everything better. Chopin was such a fucking rockstar. I love that shit.

I was going to end my post here, but I've decided to continue. I've had a kind of relaxing few days, Mr. Phizz has gone to see his dad and I'm at home. I've worked, vegged, worked, and am even Roomba-ing the family room floor. I'm going to make a list of the things that have made me feel better in the last day or two.

  1. Popcorn. I popped my own popcorn, and it was nice. I didn't have brewer's yeast (sorry AA!) but I did manage to pop it myself and it was nice.
  2. Making my own potato wedges with cheese and chives. Man, that was nice too. I don't understand how I'm not fat. Oh well.
  3. Watching Harry Potter on TV. I loved Harry Potter. The books so much more than the movies, but still. Emma Watson was such a remarkable find, in my mind. She was a freakin' adorable little girl, and she's a presence. I couldn't keep my eyes off that smarty-pants clever chick, she kicks ass! It made me want to read my books all over again, but I know that's a Very Bad Idea. I basically wouldn't do anything but read for the next week. That would be bad.
  4. Piano music by Frederic Chopin. Like I said, Chopin is a fucking rockstar.
  5. Our Roomba. Thank you Roomba, for vacuuming.
  6. Hot Tea.
  7. Hot showers.
  8. Coffee, sipped at leisure.
  9. Stephen Colbert.
  10. Jon Stewart.
If you ever need to take a breather, I suggest all of these things.

Friday, March 6, 2009

I have to remember...

...that whether a not a company wants to hire me is NOT reflective of my value as a person.

It's hard to separate sometimes.

Not that I've had much additional news but when I get all stressed and worked up and feel bad, I have to remember this and not tie my personal self worth to how much these people are falling over themselves to give me a job.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Another Nibble!

I just got a job nibble from somewhere that is more along my line of work!! It's not research still, but it's still more my area of expertise.

That's a good thing. I'll just have to hope.

great headline

So I love how this study seems like a reasonably legitimate study with reasonably legitimate (and interesting/non-traditional results), and the headline connotes poorly.

I can think of several better headlines.

Study: Dearth of Women in Math not from Innate Differences
Why Women Don't Choose Math

And other such headlines which don't blare out such negative connotations between women and math. Stupid scientist->journalist->reader translation. Can you think of a better headline?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Job Interviews and Vacay

So I've had both of my phone interviews.

It's frustrating. The first occurred two days after my FIL's surgery, so I didn't really prepare very well for it. And it was something I knew I would have to prepare for...Company 1 (Master's Degree Dude Interviewer) doesn't really give a rat's ass about the fact that I'll have a PhD and wants to make sure I have more "boots on the ground" type skills. This was not going to be a "job talk-y" type interview.

Well, I fucked that one up, pretty bad. I was shaking while speaking on the phone, and I had lost my headset so one hand was wasted holding the phone instead of putting a pen to paper to think/write. It was bad. My hands shook, my stomach shook, and my mind was basically totally discombobulated. And it showed. I think I came off a bit like an imbecile. Oh well. I scheduled that one first to really get practice anyway, it's been a long time since I've done any interviews. I wasn't that bummed because it wasn't really the job I wanted (though I would have taken it if it were my only choice), but it still sucks to be rejected and know you didn't do well at something.

The 2nd one was better (Lady PhD Interviewer). But not a slam dunk. I don't know what that means. I haven't heard back from them yet. I don't know. I just don't know. I really suspect I'll be rejected here too, just because I do. Can't help it. The uncertainty is killing me, because I think this is the job I really want (given the economy). A year ago, I don't think I'd have considered this place but since the economy has gone down the shithole I don't really have many choices and this is definitely the best one, in several ways. So....I'd really really like to get through to the next round of interviewing. Man. I'm dying. Please please let this work out.

So I've mentioned that I feel blah, and my lovely readers have been so kind and suggested a break. I'm pleased to announce that Mr. PhizzleDizzle and I have booked a trip to the Land of Eire. I've gotten some great tips from Lab Pixie on how best to take advantage of this trip, and we are going to have a great time. This will probably be the last spontaneous couples trip we'll take for a long time, as I'll (hopefully!!!) be working by the end of this year. I am really, really looking forward to it and am using the planning of the trip as an excellent procrastination tool and a way to forget about my job worries.

Monday, March 2, 2009


Lately, I've been having inklings of feeling just really down. There is so much convergence of upheaval and change in my life that I almost don't know how to handle it. I worry about this, I worry about that....little things can make me think about something over and over and over, and it just gives me a sour feeling in my whole body.

I feel like shit. Everything feels pointless and I want to quit. I don't know what I want to quit exactly, but I just feel like quitting. Can I just curl up on my couch forever and watch TV? How loser-y does that sound? But that's what I want to do. Sigh.

Year of the Ox Progress: Weeks 4/5

Again, I neglected to do this last week. If you follow this blog, then it's not hard to guess why - but things are calmer now! Hooray!

1) Write Thesis by June 1 - I have not written a single word in a while - busy doing other things and worrying about other things.

2) Run 10 miles/week - I think I should just forget the running thing. But in week 4 I did swim 1250 yards and this week I did yoga, again. And I'm beat up.

3) 30 pushups continuously - Yoga helps with this, fo sho.

4) Do a pullup - ditto.

5) Update Wardrobe to be grownup :) - Part of this is maintaining my sassy new haircut. Which reminds me, it's been nearly 8 weeks now and I need to get it cut again.