Sep. 15th, 2014

The Good, the Bad and the Something

So, second day on campus for the New Job.

The Good: I have an office. It is mine! All by myself. Right now it is nearly empty, but I want to fill it with things.

Look, 'officemates aren't in' isn't the same as 'own office'. Heck, I know postdocs who had to share, even when they taught.

I also did a lot of administrivia: turned in paperwork so I get things like direct deposit and health care, and got my laptop hooked up to the wireless network. Then I had frozen yogurt, because it is fricken hot here. And after work, I bought a fridge. (Used, from Craigslist. The owner even agreed to deliver it on Saturday when I move into my apartment, because she regularly heads up north, and owns a pickup. Also some kind of riding school barn thing. It was out on a dirt road and there were a lot of horses.)

The Bad: They should never schedule faculty events on student move in. There are thousands of students trying to move their stuff (and parents, siblings, etc.) across campus. Roads are closed for traffic management.

Seriously; traffic was backed up from a quarter mile before the exit, and you could tell it was all going to one place, rather than generic rush hour. It took me a half hour to cover less than a mile. Hopefully, I will do better tomorrow, by taking the back way in. After that, the students should be all in one place, and it's just the normal 'do not obey traffic laws'.

Also, my first example on the way home of motorcyclists deciding that the lane markers are special shortcuts through traffic. (Don't do this; it scares me.)

No lesson planning got done today, because the administrivia took 3 hours and a trip to two buildings. Three if you count checking my mailbox. (My office isn't in the same building as the campus office.) Some of that was that the HR and Payroll offices close for lunch, which was when I was doing errands. Tomorrow is the department retreat, so who knows what that is.

Sep. 1st, 2014


My new resolution should be to update this more than once a month. At first, nothing was happening, then EVERYTHING happened.

-- I got a year-long lectureship at California Polytechnic State University, in San Luis Obispo, California. For reference, that's almost exactly half-way between Los Angeles and San Francisco. (For those of you who have been added since the last time I taught or graded, any posts that mention students will be locked and I will keep names off. My students have a right to privacy more than I have a right to rant.)

-- I move on the 10th. Classes start the 22nd. I teach three classes: two sections of calculus-based physics, and a section of 'physics for non-scientists'. The last is at 8 AM. (No one likes 8 AM classes; I don't, and most of the students don't. The only reason I liked 8 AM classes as a student because it meant I was done early in the day, and I had no trouble doing math at ass o'clock in the morning*, even before I started drinking tea.)

-- I probably have an apartment. I mailed my deposit last week, and I was going to call them today before I remembered that it was Labor Day.

-- I am (mostly) packed. There are about five boxes of actual household stuff, and 18 boxes of books and craft supplies. (Three of those are work-related books). Also several full trash cans, 3 ebay auctions and 9 Rubbermaid totes of things to donate. Mom's current thoughts is that it will be cheaper to ship these than hire someone to move. (As I have had my license less than a year, Mom has vetoed 'rent a van, drive to California', which was Dad's suggestion; if they're still there by Christmas, I might do that anyway. After three months on California highways, I suspect the interstate will be fine.)

-- I'm driving a lot better. I still hate going downtown, and like parking far away from everyone. (I get a walk AND I don't have to deal with not hitting things.)

-- Mom and Ben are out of town (back tomorrow), so I've been using the excuse to cook all the things I'm too lazy to make normally because only I will eat them.

-- I expect my adviser will be making noise about publishing the parts of my dissertation that aren't in peer-reviewed journals. I haven't looked at my research in a week. (The good news is that my collaborators and I mostly agree, and where we disagree are the places where one person's data isn't reliable.)

* Seriously, in high school math competitions, the earlier they were, the better I did... I suspect more because everyone else was half-asleep than any ability on my part to be a morning person.

Aug. 8th, 2014


I live!

So, my job plans for the fall are... well, I have a year-long job in California that's supposed to get back to me before Monday, and two part-time jobs (with an interview for a third) in town if I don't get that. And it's experience in my field: an adjunct position running a General Astronomy course via the Internet and covering an upperclassman course on the Solar System for a professor going to the National Science Foundation. (The interview is for one-on-one teaching a gifted high school student or students*)

Other than that, I finally set up my desktop, after my brother took his down. And I have a conference in Boulder next week, so don't expect much contact. (I don't know if I can make the Division of Planetary Sciences annual conference; it depends on what I'm doing and if I can pay out of pocket since I don't have grants. It is in Tucson and is a good place to chat with folks outside of the planetary ring community.)

* The public school uses that if they don't have the ability to get a gifted student into an advanced class. I had a mentor from 4th grade through 9th grade in math, which let me take calculus as a junior, and enter college able to waive all three semesters of calculus. (I was not the youngest in my calculus class; we had a sophomore as well.) UNL grad students are a major pool for employment here.
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Feb. 12th, 2014

Interview #1

So, I went on an interview, at the South Carolina Governor's School for Science and Mathematics, a public residential high school program for 200+ of Carolina's most high-scoring and interested high schoolers.

I think most of the question-asking went well, but I totally flubbed the teaching demo. The lecture part went okay with a few technological hiccups, but one of the interviewers asked me to work a problem on the board for the students, and I froze up doing it, which really made it look like I didn't know my stuff. Next time I do a teaching demo, I'll not focus so much on the lecture and make sure I can handle fielded questions.

Anyway, the town was small, but nice. A bit weird to get used to places where the residential streets didn't have sidewalks. It's really a driving culture down there, and not just because of the NASCAR track within 15 minutes of town. (I was counseled that unless I was attending a race, to avoid the area during races... much as one avoids driving near campus and downtown Lincoln when the Huskers are playing at home.) So if I get a job in the area, I'd have to learn to drive finally. That was actually a question asked of me: was I philosophically opposed to driving, or just never in a position to need it.

Besides that, there are always the bits of culture shock. Pickup trucks aren't new, nor are the proximity to farms. Between Lincoln and Ithaca, I'm used to things, and the realtor giving me a tour of town mentioned that there was a Farmer's Market last year**. Our Sunday dinner plans changed because half the restaurants in Hartsville close on Sundays -- we did end up at a very nice Mexican restaurant that probably does a good business on Sundays. That and

My flight back was needlessly complicated. I was flying out of Florence, SC, which is a tiny airport. I might even count it as smaller than Lincoln and Ithaca, since unlike them, it doesn't have a cafe, just some poorly stocked vending machines. Mechanical problems* meant that my plane didn't arrive in time and my connection was in doubt, but I decided to risk it. I didn't make the connection, so got to overnight in the city of Charlotte, North Carolina. Hey, new state for the checklist***.

On the morning I did fly out, it was snowing, and flights were already being canceled in expectation of the ice storm that is now blanketing the Southeast. I made it out in a not-quite timely fashion as airline schedules in Charlotte don't build in 'de-ice plane'. (Actually, they don't account for it in Ithaca where it's common in winter, which was why I never scheduled a tight connection in winter if I was taking the 6 AM flight, since we'd sit on the tarmac for 20-30 minutes while they sprayed down the plane with antifreeze).

So, next interview is late next week, and I should start prepping. And keep on the job market.

* Of the sort that propagate forward all day, since the plane has a schedule.
** Which is a nice thing for me; I like having lots of fresh seasonable veggies, and I'm starting to investigate being a slightly more humane omnivore and picking up (more expensive) animal products from local farms where the cows/pigs/chickens had a more pleasant life before their death. I'm probably never going to be a vegetarian/vegan, but I figure I can do what I can when I have the money to spend on happier hamburgers.
*** Airports and driving through states don't count as visits, but overnights or visiting any attraction does. Though seeing the Charlotte airport AND the Sleep Inn is not much of a visit to North Carolina.

Jan. 30th, 2014

Right, I have a LJ

Today I accidentally filled the kitchen with smoke because I entered the microwave settings to boil water for tea when I was defrosting a bread roll. It was needlessly exciting. I also learned that we don't have a working smoke detector because it really should have gone off for that.

In better news, I have not one, but two in-person second interviews. Oddly enough, both are in the state of South Carolina, which I have never been. My single in-person interview last year was in Georgia. I wonder if I radiate an aura that makes me attractive to Southerners, despite my Midwestern accent and Yankee word usage*. The first, at a high school for science/math-interested students, is a week from Monday, while the second (a college looking for a physics and astronomy instructor) is later in the month. I need to start writing my 'lesson plan' as both expect me to teach a class (or a mini-class) to show that I can, in fact, do what they'd like to pay me for. I also want to consult with a few people about doing more than a board lecture, since I talked up my ability to use modern teaching methods in my interviews.

Tomorrow I'm also giving a lecture at the university here: more aimed at the physics undergrads. One of my professors also invited me for pizza with the undergrads after, for advice on grad school. Since the seniors will probably be starting to get acceptances/rejections back, it's good timing. I don't know if he expects 'Rebecca went to a fancy Ivy League graduate school and it has taken her over a year to find a job' to be part of the lesson. (Honestly, even if I end up teaching high school, and if graduate school gave me a case of the crazies, I did enjoy my time there, and my graduate assistant stipend was enough so that I didn't run myself into debt doing it. I could have used a better exit plan, since I ended up being more attractive as a teacher than as a researcher -- and had I a chance to do a year or two over again, I would have buffed up my teaching credentials and practiced teaching more** -- but as has been noted, we can't all aspire to our adviser's job.

* I lived on the north part of the East Coast of the US until age 10, when we moved to Nebraska. Most of those accent and dialect quizzes place me as one of those 'vaguely Great Lakes'/'inland northeast' dialects, since I sort of have a mix of both Great Plains and Northeast Coast in my language.

** Or started making deeper contacts in the field. I have a few, but not as many as I should have to get a research job, and I know people enough for them to recognize my name, but not enough to really find a postdoc.

Apr. 14th, 2013

So I think I mentioned this...

But it deserves a top level post.

I have a second interview down in Georgia, this one in person. The position is tenure-track at a state college near the Tennessee border (and on what I presume is [ profile] bean_bunny's annual DragonCon Pilgrimage route, which is a minor intangible benefit). It would be full-time teaching -- and I mean full time, since I'd be teaching as many credit hours as I normally took as an undergrad* -- and the students would mostly be first and second year engineering undergrads getting a start at a smaller school before going on to take specialized courses elsewhere, and the standard 'non-majors taking Astronomy for science credit' students that everyone who is in astronomy expects to teach if they teach.

That and the Helsinki interview went well: I think I and the professor hit it off. Both jobs probably have about the same ratio of 'candidates remaining' to 'positions', so I feel pretty good about getting one of these. Mom asked me what I'd do if I got both; both have their pluses and minuses, but both are so different and would indicate different directions of 'what I want out of life'. Unless Dalton rubs me the wrong way in the day I'll be in town, or the darkness/cloudiness of Finnish winters scares me off ( I get really moody when I can't see the Sun, even in NY), it would come down to what I want, and not 'one is objectively better'.

Or the small number statistic gods will decide for me, since getting one job is more likely than two. Or one of my other applications would pan out.

* Professors at more research-focused universities usually teach about half as much, but are expected to be mentoring undergrad/graduate student researchers as well, so the time commitment for teaching isn't as extreme as it seems by 'hours spent in front of a class'.

Feb. 4th, 2013

Still Here!

So, I'm going to try to do a general life update. )

Nov. 4th, 2007

Writing (mostly)

Amusement is hearing one of the professors say 'I don't know what he was smoking' with regards to a non-Cornell astronomer's forecasts about what a future instrument could do in a decade.

(I'm not naming names here -- because EVERYONE in astronomy knows one another. Seriously.)

Spoilers for Avatar 3x08 -- the one that airs in the US next week )

More writing stuff )