Thursday, September 20, 2007

Moving Day

As of this morning, you are now at the former home of On Being a Scientist and a Woman. That's right, I've got a new home in the cyber-world. From here on out, I'll be blogging at

http://www.scienceblogs.com/sciencewoman.

I debated whether to accept the ScienceBlogs invitation. I don't want to appear a sellout, and I like the community feel of women in science blogs on Blogger. I'm a bit anxious about the greater risk of being prematurely "outed" now that I'll be playing in a higher visibility arena.

But greater visibility is ultimately what makes the ScienceBlogs invitation so enticing. I've been blogging here for almost two and a half years, and over that time I've probably had at least a dozen readers thank me for writing this blog, for talking about the real issues the women grad students, post-docs and professors face. My hope is that on the ScienceBlogs domain, I'll attract some readers who otherwise never would have found me - young women who wonder what it's like to write a dissertation while combating morning sickness and older men who wonder why they hear soft wooshing sounds coming from behind the closed door of their new woman colleague's office.

But I also fervently hope that you, my current readers, my friends, will follow me to my new cyber-home. You've been an incredible source of encouragement and support for the past two and a half years. Without you, I can honestly say, I don't think I could have done it.

Update: Just a little announcement to let everyone know that the RSS feed now seems to be working for the new website. To subscribe click the RSS button on the upper right or enter: http://www.scienceblogs.com/sciencewoman/index.xml into your feed reader.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Mommy Monday: the Pup and the Babe

Last week I opened up the Mommy Monday request line, and I'm putting all of your great suggestions in the queue. First up: "I'd love to hear how Minnow and Princess Pup get along :)"

We weren't too worried about bringing home a baby to the Princess Pup, although we did study up on how to acclimate a dog to a baby, and we are careful that they are never in the same room alone together. But the Princess Pup has always loved little kids - they are just the right height to lick. Licking, especially the face, is the way that Princess Pup expresses her affection.

And lick is what Princess Pup likes to do to Minnow. Every time Minnow enters a room where the Pup is hanging out, she'll get up and give her a few kisses. Mostly Minnow puts up with it, although sometimes she turns away if the kisses get too slobbery. When Minnow has her pacifier in her mouth, Fish and I let the kisses go, but if the kisses are getting a bit French, we'll intervene. Basically, the pacifier (and hiding against Mommy) are Minnow's defense against the Pup.

For her part, Minnow likes to try to pet the Pup. We are trying to teach her to pet with an open hand and not just grab a hunk of fur. The Pup has learned to quickly scoot out of the way if Minnow starts to get grabby. I actually wish she'd stick around a little more so that I'd have more opportunities to demonstrate proper petting technique with Minnow. So the Pup's defense against Minnow's grabbiness is her greater mobility. We've also been enforcing a couple of "no petting" zones around Princess Pup's bed and her food bowl while eating. Even though the Pup is the sweetest dog imaginable, we don't want to push our luck.

We had a problem for a while when Minnow would fall asleep on the car ride home from daycare. When Fish would carry her into the house still asleep, Princess Pup would come bounding up with kisses and a very jingly collar. We quickly learned to put the dog out back and take off her collar before bringing Minnow up to her bedroom to continue her nap.

The Princess Pup's greatest pleasure (besides sleeping on our bed) is going for walks - and we pick our neighborhoods in large part based on the dog-friendliness. Minnow has been on dog walks with us since she was two weeks old, and now, even when she is fussy at home, she'll calm right down in the stroller and silently stare at the trees, grass, people, and dogs for a half-hour or more on walks.

The funniest interaction between Minnow and the Princess Pup occurs around the water bowl. Minnow has decided that the water bowl is a great toy, and now that she has the concept of object permanence, she'll suddenly, spontaneously stop whatever she is doing and scoot across the house toward the water bowl. If she gets there unchecked, she proceeds to splash merrily in it, soaking the floor and herself. Meanwhile, Princess Pup hovers nearby hoping to sneak in for a drink of water without getting splashed.

Princess Pup is not so young (she's nine) and it'll be interesting (and maybe a little sad) to watch the relationship between dog and child evolve as they each get older. I wonder whether Pup will continue to be so patient with Minnow, and whether Minnow will have memories of an active Pup or just an old dog. Cognitively, too, it'll interesting to watch Minnow approach and even overtake Princess Pup in skills like understanding vocabulary. I've always argued that having a dog is like having a perpetual toddler (they need help making meals but not eating, going to the bathroom but not holding it in, communicating their desires but not understanding your commands). I wonder what the relationship between child and dog will be when they're equivalent to two toddlers cognitively and a toddler and a grandparent energy-wise.

But for now, they keep my hands full and each other entertained. What more could I ask for?

convergence

This week's installment of Mommy Monday is indefinitely delayed, because a whole list of other things is converging to make a very sleepy, very stressed ScienceWoman
  • Our anniversary dinner was great - but the payback has been a b*tch. Minnow's had three solid days of horrible gas and poops and inability to sleep. Hence the sleep deprivation on my part.
  • Teaching: write lecture for tomorrow, write study guide for exam, write practice exam and assignment
  • Research: work on draft of first grant proposal, correspond with people on others
  • and the usual stuff that eats up time (pump, meetings, errands)
Hopefully, I'll make a good dent on some of this today and I'll actually get to post tonight.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Help my research!

I'm looking for readers that live in Hawaii, Florida, or the Caribbean to lend a hand with my research. You'll have to venture outdoors in your neighborhood or city and then stick something in the mail. Depending on how close you live to an appropriate site, it shouldn't take more than 5 to 30 minutes plus a trip to the post office. In exchange, you'll get to find out who I am and what I do. I'll pay you back for your postal costs. And you'll get some token of my appreciation.

If you're interested in helping and you live in (or are visiting) Hawaii, Florida, or the Caribbean, send me an email.

Update: Thanks for the volunteers. If you haven't already gotten an email from me, I think I'm covered. I'll let you know if I need more help. You all are great!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The best and worst day of my week

Wednesday mornings I've been staying home with Minnow. It's my morning to sleep in until she wakes up, enjoy some mommy time, take a walk with the dog, and maybe introduce a new solid food. Minnow usually takes a 1.5 to 2.5 hour nap, and that's when I grab a quick shower and then try to be as productive as possible on my laptop. When Minnow wakes up, depending on the time, I'll feed us lunch or not, and then take her to daycare. I usually arrive at school around 1.

I love my mornings at home. They recharge me.

But they also stress me out.

By the time 3 pm Wednesday afternoon rolls around, I am a basket case. I've got a lecture to prepare for the next day, undoubtedly some new administrative demand, and the ever present desire (and need) to get some research done. And I feel like I just lost a whole lot of time. Even though I tell myself that I really only lost about 3 hours and that time with Minnow was totally worth the lost time at work, I find myself wondering how long Wednesday mornings "working at home" is going to be sustainable. At what point in the semester am I going to say that I just can't give up a morning? And after I do give up a Wednesday morning at home, will I ever go back to them?

But I *know* it's worth it. She's growing up so amazingly fast and time is just flying by. She gets a bit caught up on her sleep (she doesn't nap well at daycare), and I get to watch her play. She's so independent - pulling everything off her shelves and crawling after objects that catch her eye. And I won't be able to do this next semester when my teaching load is heavier. So I should just enjoy it while I can and not let Wednesday afternoons beat me up.

Remind me of that next week.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Teaching Tuesday: Students, Technology, and Being a Nice Person

Oh, internets, help me with a Teaching Tuesday quandary.

I'm teaching a large intro-level course, mostly to non-majors, and mostly to freshmen. They recently had an assignment due. The directions were given on Blackboard, and they were supposed to submit their work on Blackboard. The nature of the assignment was conducive to submitting digitally, plus I didn't want forests clear-cut unecessarily.

Recognizing that some students come to university decidedly un-tech -savvy, I repeatedly told them that they need to make sure they can access Blackboard. I referred to the university tech support line numerous times. I told students having difficulty that they need to call the tech support people or try a different (campus) computer. Any student that emailed me prior to the night before the assignment was due was also given step-by-step directions from me or other help in getting their assignment properly submitted. (Usually it's just been a matter of them not figuring out the blackboard interface.)

So, why am I not surprised that the morning the assignment was due, my in-box was clogged with submissions and a few people tried to turn in a paper copy in class. Freshmen, sigh, they just can't seem to follow directions.

So, my question is whether and how much I should penalize students who turned in the assignment to my email or on paper. I didn't specifically say that I *would* penalize them, but I also did say (in bold on the syllabus) that the assignment needed to be turned in on Blackboard.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Mommy Monday: Moving Up

I haven't got much to say for Mommy Monday this week, because my brain has been fully consumed by preparing for lecture, a reading & conference session, and my research seminar for tomorrow. Teaching Tuesday, indeed!

Have I mentioned that she's pulling up on things? She'll even pull up and then stand leaning against a table and pick stuff up with her hands. But she hasn't yet figured out that if she's holding on to something, she can move her feet and actually move sidewards. Often, one foot will step a little, but the other is firmly anchored to the ground. It actually reminds me of rock climbing...when you've got all your weight on one leg, your hands are in decent positions, and you've got to move the weight bearing leg. You know you can support your weight on your hands/other leg, but your mind just doesn't want you to move the anchor leg. Or maybe that's just a problem I run into. :)


Does anyone have a request for next week's Mommy Monday? What would you like to know more about?

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Blogroll clean-up

On the rare occasions that I clean up my links, I am always amazed to discover how many blogs have gone out of existence in the past few months - either removed completely or simply not updated anymore. And then there are the resurgent blogs, ones that I assume are dead, but can't quite bear to remove from my blogroll, that suddenly have new life breathed into them.

But along with the demise of some blogs, I know there are a zillion more good blogs that have come along, full of energy, ideas, wittiness, good writing, or a fresh perspective. And I can't keep up with all of them.

So I need your help. If there is a blog that belongs on my blogroll, please leave me a comment and I will be sure to stop by and add it to the list. If you are a regular reader here and want to be on my blogroll, by all means, leave a comment on this post.

Thanks!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Rockin' Girl Bloggers

Eons ago there was this meme going around the blogosphere, and I got honored, but I didn't play along. Not because I didn't want to, but because I just didn't have the energy/time/hands-free all at once. But tonight, it's time to thank Elli and Addy N for calling me a:





Thanks! It's always nice to get a compliment.

And it's also nice to pass it along (plus, it's the rules). So here are five more rockin' girl bloggers:

Am I a Woman Scientist?: I love her mission: "I am on a global quest for that egalitarian utopia in which I can work in blissful ignorance of my gender. " She's navigating the crazy world of research funding and publishing in a foreign country. And in a foreign language. Plus, she's pregnant.

Mommy/Prof: A new-to-me blog that I found through someone's rockin' girl awards. Another mom trying to get tenure while breastfeeding. Right now she's getting ready to submit her Notebook and whipping the new graduate students into shape. Oh, and joining the PTA.

Twice: I found Twice through Addy's awards. Mom to twins, just back from sabbatical, and taking on the facebook generation and the Dora generation all at once.

Dr. Mom: The first woman-scientist blog I started reading, but she made me laugh so hard today that she just has to get an award for surviving last night. Her latest post starts out: "There are many reasons that I love my job, but I never thought that avoiding vomit and excrement would be one of them."

See Jane Compute: The second woman-scientist blog I started reading and another new mom. Jane obviously cares deeply about her students, especially the women. I love how she celebrates computer-free weekends, which, given her field, must be something of a rarity.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Repost: Picking the research to match the grant opportunity

Note: I posted this on Sunday, but it quickly got buried and I'd love more feedback. Thanks!

I've got a couple of small grant opportunities available to me over the next few months. The monies are generally small - not enough to support a student or by major equipment - and the timeframes are generally one year or so. Since I have a decent shot at getting one or more of these grants, I've got to think carefully about exactly what science to match to which RFP. And that's where I could use some help.


There's an internal research grant competition at Mystery U. The maximum funding I can get is about $5000, and there are a couple of key restrictions, I can only pay half to student, and I can only pay half to myself as summer salary. Other than that, they just want to see good research ideas. I have two in mind for this proposal, but I am having a hard time deciding which is a better use of the money.

Option 1: Start something new. Use the 5K as seed money to get some instrumentation in a field site local to Mystery City. Answer some basic question (not sure exactly what yet) about the -ology of the site, but probably not be able to do anything comprehensive enough to warrant a paper. But it gets my foot in the door in the local area, and helps establish that I've got
research ideas that I am pursuing independently. May be able to use results generated from this grant as preliminary data for future (larger) grants or a student thesis project. The proposal would be a bit more effort to write since I'd have to formulate a specific question and I'd need to get some more information about the site (maybe actually visit it).

Option 2: The $5K is just about the right amount of money to fund a project I've had on the back burner for a number of years. It would involve some field work in Midwest next summer, at a site with a rich historical (but unpublished) dataset. The field work combined with mining the historical dataset would be guaranteed to net me a well-received paper in a low-impact journal. But it probably wouldn't lead to anything else at that site or on the specific research topic. On the upside, the proposal would be a cinch to write.

What would you recommend? Why?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

A Day in the Life, part 3

The end. Or is it the beginning? We pick up as I'm on my way home from work...

5:03: Get in car, call Annie.

5:15: Make it out of parking garage.

5:25: Make it off campus. (I am so not making this up, just ask Annie.) Total distance = less than 1/2 mile from garage.

5:45: Make it the remaining six miles home. Average speed from office to home = 10 mph.

6:15: Start bedtime routine. Get Minnow in bath. Remember that I need to take a photo for Minnow’s Project 365 blog. (A suspicious number of recent photos have been taken at bathtime or on the way out the door in the morning.) Get Minnow into jammies, read “Is your Mama a Llama?” and start “Blueberries for Sal” before she crashes. Nurse her, burp her, tuck her stuffed dog into the crib and turn on womb sounds, walk around and sing to her until she fusses. Assure her that my breasts are still there and available to her. Burp her. Walk around and sing to her until she fusses. Repeat steps 2 and 3. Finally she falls asleep.

7:15: Thank goodness she’s asleep. I’m starving. Pick up house until dinner’s ready.

7:30: Ham and spinach for dinner. Fish and I both discuss how tired we are and how our weekend plans to go to the mountains have been sabotaged by a fencing contractor. L

7:45: Wash and fill bottles for tomorrow.

8:00: Go upstairs to home office. Quickly blog. Then get back to lecture writing.

9:30: Contemplate how amazingly long she’s been asleep. Contemplate thirst.

9:50: Decide that in just 10 more minutes, I’ll stop working and actually go get that glass of water I’m craving.

9:55: Minnow wakes up. Wants Mommy. I nurse her and go to bed without my water. Dang.

10:40: Minnow wakes up and fusses. Pacifier soothes her.

11:15: Minnow wakes up and fusses. I nurse her to sleep.

12:05: Minnow wakes up and fusses. I don’t remember how I got her back to sleep.

2:00: Minnow wakes up and stays awake. I move to rocking chair where she nurses and then sleeps restlessly in my arms, waking several times to fuss, but not wanting to nurse.

3:45: Realizing that I’ve been dozing, my arm is numb, and Minnow is temporarily asleep, I carry her back to bed.

4:05: Minnow wakes up. I make Fish take her until 4:45.

And another day begins.

-----

Comments:

  • The extraordinary night fussiness (even by Minnow’s standards) was determined, in retrospect, to be the result of teething. This was our first experience with it.
  • Getting off campus is flipping ridiculous. Other faculty say, "just leave at 6," but if I do that I won't be home before bedtime. And then there are the people that say "leave at 4." That might be an option if I thought I'd get any work done at home while she's awake, but I know I won't.
  • I've been trying to get two solid hours of work in during the evening to compensate for short(er) days on campus. It makes me feel less stressed about work to know I'll have time in the evening, but it doesn't leave a lot of time for Fish or housework, much less downtime.
I'm glad my readers have been finding this series interesting. I actually found it to be enlightening as well. I may revisit this idea next semester or in 6 months and see how different my life is then.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Teaching Tuesday: A Day in the life, Part 2

7:56 am: Enter building. Proceed directly to classroom to boot up computer. Run up to office to pick up quiz sheets and go to bathroom.

8:02 am: Start class.

9:15 am: End class. Go to office for office hour. Grade quizzes. Alphabetize them. Enter grades on blackboard. Contemplate how that took a ridiculously long time for a five question quiz.

10:15: A student shows up at my office!

10:30 Close door. Get ready to pump. While pumping, upload photos to Minnow’s blog. Work on this entry. Read email.

11:00 Still pumping. Geesh.

11:10: After marathon session, am pleased to discover that I produced a record amount of milk – 5 oz. Now if it just doesn’t spill from its bottles tomorrow.

11:13: Take pump parts to women’s restroom to rinse.

11:15: Start microwave sterilization. Run to dept. office to check mailbox and drop off paperwork.

11:18: Return to microwave to rotate bag, since darn microwave doesn’t have a turn table. Run to bathroom.

11:21: Return to microwave, grab hot bag, go back to ladies room to dump out water.

11:24: Lay pump parts in office drawer to dry.

11:30: Eat cold rice and turkey for lunch at desk. (Can’t deal with microwave again.) Finish reading chapter for discussion with grad student later. Read blogs because chapter is so darn boring. Why did I assign it?

12:15: Walk across campus, cursing new shoes that need to be broken in.

12:30: Meeting.

1:45 skip out on meeting so I can grab a juice and bag of chips before hobbling back across campus to office

2:00 Mature Grad Student is right on time. And with lots of good questions too. Man, did I get lucky with an inherited student.

3:18: MUST PUMP NOW. But first pee. While pumping, I catch up reading email, and blog comments.

3:45: Done pumping. Another almost 5 ounces –maybe the longer breaks between pumping sessions are better (albeit more uncomfortable).

3:48: Do the whole restroom, microwave, turn the bag, microwave, restroom – pump part cleaning routine while perusing possible quiz questions for my class.

4:00: Get frustrated with blackboard because it keeps crashing when I try to add a quiz question. (Yes, I am doing both paper and on-line quizzes – consider it an experiment in which takes more time/frustration.)

4:20: Work on Thursday’s lecture. Steadfastly ignore impending doom of grant proposal. Less successful at ignoring certain administrative requests.

4:50: Suddenly realize it’s time to go home if I want to see Minnow before bedtime.

-----

Comments:
  • This was a particularly scheduled day for me. I have one day per week like this.
  • I got so frustrated with microwave thing that this weekend I brought our old microwave in and hooked it up in my lab next to the sink. Now at least I won't have to turn the bag partway through or lurk outside a colleague's office several times a day.
  • Yes, I could (and probably will) say more about the class, but this post was long enough already.
  • So far the quiz on blackboard has been more rewarding, but not without its own hassles. I'll probably say more about that at some point as well.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Mommy Monday: A Day in the Life, Part 1

One day last week I decided to keep a log of how my day was occupied. I was inspired by Dr. Brazen Hussy's attempt to work at home, laughing about how many pre-baby days I had killed in a similarly semi-productive fashion. Then I thought about how frantic my days have been lately, and decided that it might be educational, for myself and others, to report on what my hours look like now. It's a rather long transcript, so I'll break it into installments. Here are the first three hours.

-----

4:52 am: Minnow is wide awake. Fish takes her into her room for a few minutes while I get some sleep.

5:05 am: Fish’s alarm clock goes off. I get Minnow and try to get her back to sleep.

5:20 am: Fish leaves for work. I nurse Minnow.

5:35 am: Minnow’s asleep in her crib. I get in shower.

6:00 am: Oatmeal, cranberry juice, strawberries, and a banana. And a newspaper. Probably the nicest breakfast I’ve had in weeks. After eating, there are general household duties – garbage, dishes, dog bowl, look for lunar eclipse, pack lunch.

6:50 am: Oh, shoot. She’s still asleep. I’m going to have to wake her up soon. Get myself completely ready to go, shoes on, car loaded.

7:02 am: Gently lift Minnow out of bed, carry to car while trying to keep her asleep. Play womb sounds from iPod on drive to daycare.

7:19 am: Arrive at daycare. Minnow just woke up. Discover that 3 oz. of precious pumped breast milk has leaked out of bottles on way to daycare – soaking her clean clothes and giving her only six ounces of milk for the day. Nurse a distracted Minnow and make sure she gets a diaper change and out of her jammies. Fill out daily sheet. She starts to cry when I leave.

7:38 am: Back in car on way to university, curse slow drivers, curse backup at parking ramp.

-----

Comments:

  • Actually, this was a fairly relaxed morning compared to many I've had lately (although it did start a wee bit early). When Minnow sleeps in, I'm able to breakfast and get ready with both hands free. When she's up, I'm usually dashing back and forth between the living room and kitchen, eating my oatmeal on top of a cardboard box while she's trying to pull it over on herself.
  • Never ever ever teach an 8 am class when you have a baby who likes to sleep until 7:15.
  • Never ever ever teach an 8 am class with a baby when your partner leaves for work at 5:15 am.
  • Narrow mouth Dr. Brown's bottles are leak-prone. I've started sealing them up with a regular top in transport and installing the vent-thing and nipple once I get to daycare. Wide mouth ones don't seem to be as much of a problem.

Picking the research to match the grant opportunity

I've got a couple of small grant opportunities available to me over the next few months. The monies are generally small - not enough to support a student or by major equipment - and the timeframes are generally one year or so. Since I have a decent shot at getting one or more of these grants, I've got to think carefully about exactly what science to match to which RFP. And that's where I could use some help.

There's an internal research grant competition at Mystery U. The maximum funding I can get is about $5000, and there are a couple of key restrictions, I can only pay half to student, and I can only pay half to myself as summer salary. Other than that, they just want to see good research ideas. I have two in mind for this proposal, but I am having a hard time deciding which is a better use of the money.

Option 1: Start something new. Use the 5K as seed money to get some instrumentation in a field site local to Mystery City. Answer some basic question (not sure exactly what yet) about the -ology of the site, but probably not be able to do anything comprehensive enough to warrant a paper. But it gets my foot in the door in the local area, and helps establish that I've got
research ideas that I am pursuing independently. May be able to use results generated from this grant as preliminary data for future (larger) grants or a student thesis project. The proposal would be a bit more effort to write since I'd have to formulate a specific question and I'd need to get some more information about the site (maybe actually visit it).

Option 2: The $5K is just about the right amount of money to fund a project I've had on the back burner for a number of years. It would involve some field work in Midwest next summer, at a site with a rich historical (but unpublished) dataset. The field work combined with mining the historical dataset would be guaranteed to net me a well-received paper in a low-impact journal. But it probably wouldn't lead to anything else at that site or on the specific research topic. On the upside, the proposal would be a cinch to write.

What would you recommend? Why?