Monday, November 24, 2008

Postdocly Life- It's Not So Bad

Here I am, 6 weeks into the rest of my life (real employment at a different university post- PhD).

Some might say a postdoc still isn't a "real" job. To that I say: It's as real as I can handle post-PhD.

My long-term readers will all remember my extended periods of moaning and complaining about graduate school. It was horrible, it was a cult, it was soul-sucking, blah, blah, blah.

Well today I'd like to sing another tune about post-doc life. Surprisingly, it's not a tune about high-powered R1 research institutions and the ego-mania they engender, the anxiety caused by living a purely grant-funded existence, the inherent problems of being, yet again, at the bottom of a strongly hierarchical system, or the difficulties in balancing a mentor's work with your own ideas.



Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Invisible Postdoc

I'm a ghost. In a cubicle! Actually, fortunately, my life is not so grim at New University but I know that it very well could have been ghostly, indeed.

copyright Jorge Cham, PhD Comics


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Time Management

I think it's very telling that while printing a copy of Susan R. Johnson's "Personal Productivity: How to work effectively and calmly in the midst of chaos" (exhibit a of my plan to become more productive!), I stood for a significant period of time, silently, motionlessly, pointlessly, and most importantly, unproductively, over the copier while it churned and chugged.

Maybe I'll never learn.


Me and My Favorite Ear Accessory/Safety Device

I get a lot of crap for talking on the phone while driving. Also while walking. Also while in social situations. And at work. And other times, too.

Well, a recent incident involving a man, a cell phone, and a bullet proves that by protecting my ear from stray bullets, I'm actually safer while talking on the phone.

So there!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ugh- Nasty Snack Attack

I bought a box of these
tasty little treats at the grocery store on Sunday. They're pretty yummy (they taste like a combination of cheese doodles and popcorn) even though they're filled with msg and other horrible things I usually try to avoid and, a plus, each bag is only 90 calories. Too bad I ate 5 of them.


Friday, November 14, 2008

My Dewey Decimal Number

Ever wonder where you belong in a library? As for me, I'm surrounded by Christians.

Julep's Dewey Decimal Section:

229 Apocrypha & pseudepigrapha

Julep = 91449681900 = 914+496+819+00 = 2229

200 Religion

The Bible and other religious texts, books about the general philosophy and theory of religion.

What it says about you:
You don't mind thinking about the unknown or other very big ideas. You will never feel like your work is finished. The 200-series is dominated by Christian topics, so you may feel like you're constantly surrounded by Christians.

Find your Dewey Decimal Section at

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Academic Identities and the Real World

This may seem really minor or silly to some of you. But I have a problem. And judging by the most recent PhD Comics, I'm not the only academic with this problem.

copyright Jorge Cham, PhD Comics

In many ways it's worse for me than others. What I do is pretty interdisciplinary and also pretty obscure and overall just defies simple explanation. I can't just say I'm a biologist or a historian. While the average person (including myself) has no real idea what it is that a biologist or historian does on a daily basis, at least we are able to conjure up an image, an identity for these fields. My field doesn't even have a name that ends in an "ist!"

It's the eternal cocktail party dilemma. Is it enough to say I work at a university? I'm not a professor yet and nobody (and I mean nobody) knows what a "post-doc" is. Sometimes I say I do "research." I know it's a major cop-out but it's the best I can do.

Plus there's the very real issue identified in this comic. Few people really ever understand what any other academic is doing. If you were totally understood then I'd worry about your job security.

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Friday, November 07, 2008

Reactions to the Election

As thrilled as I was watching the returns of the election, I am almost more thrilled by the response. The entire world was watching and now is filled with hope...and plans! NPR has had a lot of coverage of international response and yesterday I heard people from across Africa, South and East Asia, Europe, and the Middle East with their hopes and dreams about just what President Elect Obama will accomplish. In addition to turning around the U.S. economy, he is expected to end the genocide in Darfur, broker a 2-state solution in Israel and Palestine, and also to cure the common cold. Let's see how he does with these types of expectations. Personally I prefer less pressure. But maybe that's why none of y'all voted for me.

Even Nelson Mandela has plans for our man.

Also moving was Angry Professor's reflections about how it feels to move from a racist upbringing as a white descendant of slave owners to a proud voter in the recent election.

Just a shout out to those of us who who helped to make this possible: Young voters, college-educated whites, Hispanics, African Americans, and women. Keep it up people!

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

My Office Space, A Burial Ground

My new "office" (cubicle)has both pros and cons compared to my cubicle from Old Job (may she rest in peace). For example, while I no longer have to listen to my colleagues on the telephone detailing their latest diet dramas to their girlfriends, making doctor's appointments, administering questionnaires about the particulars of fecal occult blood testing to old people, or ordering their husbands around,I have entirely new sources of aural pollution to content with. Here's what I'm dealing with:

1. a constant drone from the dying ballast in the fluorescent lights directly above my head (which won't be fixed until they're actually dead)
2. the intermittent grinding sounds of my hard-drive and fan of my cpu

and, my favorite, the newly added component to this symphony of office sounds:
3. the dying buzz, over the last 4 days, of a lost fly, desperately trying to find it's way back to the light---of the droning fluorescent bulb directly above me.

Today, the fly, let's call him Henry, is only intermittently buzzing, and while I am simultaneously sad about his eventual demise yet looking forward to the eventual silence that will come with his passing, with each moment of his silence, I become increasingly nervous about his impending final flight--a drop, stiff little fly bits and all--onto my desk...or into my coffee...or (G-d forbid), down my shirt.

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

On Not Voting For a Woman Vice Presidential Candidate

At least one person has asked me what I think about having a female vice presidential candidate. I'm guessing I was asked because I was a Clinton delegate early on and because well, I think chicks are cool and sadly underrepresented in politics.

I think this picture sums up my feelings quite well(thanks stewgad).

We have waited a long time in this country to have a woman in the white house and as for now, I'm content to keep waiting. For now, I'm ready for Obama and Biden--two outstanding advocates of women....even if they are lacking any actual ovaries.


Monday, November 03, 2008

Black President

This is truly a new and promising era for America.

I wanted to share with my remaining handful of followers of this mostly dead blog the video and lyrics of a song by Brenda Fassie about Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first president elected in a representative election. I love this song and everytime I hear it I am inspired by the extraordinary journey of Madiba.

I am hoping and praying that with the election of Obama, the U.S.A. is now--finally--back on track and about to undergo it's own extraordinary journey. A journey from a unilateral bully with widening inequalities and a sinking economy to a prosperous democracy working toward diplomacy and justice in a peaceful world.

BLACK PRESIDENT by Brenda Fassie

The year 1963
The people's president
Was taken away by security men
All dressed in a uniform
The brutality, brutality
Oh, no, my black president
Him and his comrades
Were sentenced to isolation
For many painful years
For many painful years
Many painful years
Of hard labour
They broke ropes
But the spirit was never broken
Never broken
Oh, no, my, my black president

Hmm maa (3x)
Hmm maa (3x)

Hmm maa (3x)
Hmm maa (3x)
Ahh, nyu ye uyee huu

He broke ropes
But his spirit was never broken
Never broken
Oh oh oh, my president

Now in 1990
The people's president
Came out from jail
Raised up his hand and said
'Viva, viva, my people'
He walked the long road
Back, back to freedom
Back, back to freedom
Freedom for my black president

Let us rejoice for our president
Let us sing for our president
Let us pray for our president
Let us sing, let us dance
For Madiba give us freedom
We thank you Lord
For listening to our prayers
Night and day
Oh oh oh, my president


Zulu /Xhosa lyrics

My president
I will die for my president
I will sing for my president

I will stand and say
Viva, viva, viva, viva, viva, viva

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Voters Anxiety

Living in a state without early voting is giving me a severe case of Voters Anxiety (VA). Just last night I had a dream that I went at to the polls first thing in the morning but was forced to wait in line the entire day and was never even able to cast my ballot! OMG! STRESSSSS!

I can't wait for our New President. I am already hearing the lyrics to a certain Brenda Fassie song in my head...which I won't post until all is said and done.