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Sep. 14th, 2014

Oh, hi there!

I forgot the guilt I develop when facing a long, somewhat time-sensitive, multi-part task, and don't finish it RIGHT AWAY DAMMIT. It starts to intrude on my leisure time, even though I know that such a task will expand to fit the time available. Even though reading (well, skimming) a good hundred pages or more of textbook and considering the content was an afternoon's work, I get antsy because I didn't move on to the other textbook.

I have at least one full day and five days that have or will have free blocks. (The only full day of meetings is the department retreat on Tuesday; even then, I could spend two hours in my office writing.) I don't need to have everything done today.

(add in that Physics 141 is a collaborative class, so I can't do much fussing with scheduling, or the students won't be able to do the labs.)
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Feb. 25th, 2014

Home again, home again...

I've spent so much of February trying to prepare for interviews (and also being sick) that finding my 'normal' routine is hard. Today I have a couple more job applications to send out, and some science to do, and I should probably see if Mom tackled the Giant Laundry Folding Backlog, but it feels weird not prepping for something.

Anyway, I got back from my interview on 10th February, and after a couple days, got plane crud (aka a cold). I recovered, then managed to get norovirus, possibly from Dad's cooking*. Forty-eight hours before I needed to be on a plane for a job interview. So rather than write my teaching demo, I got to sleep and freak out about still being sick when I needed to fly, and watch my little brother treat me as if I had the Black Death or smallpox. (He had a basketball tournament last weekend, so was determined to Not Get Sick.) The only one who was happy was the cat, who can't catch norovirus, and likes it when humans lie in bed all day because he can sleep next to a nice, warm body. (Plus my room is the most awesome room in the house in his opinion, because he's not supposed to be in there.)

The flight out was a bit turbulent, and I missed a connection, but I got there. The interview went well: the more you do something, the better you get. And despite forecasted thunderstorms and fog, the weather in South Carolina in February is welcome after Nebraska in February. Also, I recovered enough to have sushi on Friday**.

* Two of the five people who ate Dad's black bean-and-rice salad got sick. Not enough to confirm it, but definitely suspect.
** I suspect my hosts were hoping that they got a job candidate who likes sushi.

Apr. 16th, 2013

And the moral of the story...

... is that my sinuses decide that two days on planes in a row is not something I should ever do again, even on medication. Forgetting my water bottle (I fill it after going through security) doesn't help. Seriously, I'm just glad one day of travel didn't stress my sinuses out too badly, so I didn't feel like crap at my interview. (And of course, just now I remember the prescription nasal spray I have that is supposed to enlarge my nasal passages to improve drainage.)

As for the interview, it went well. Everyone seemed really friendly and collegial, so most of my questions about the job are the existential 'what do I want to do with my life' ones: basically I'm nearly 30 years old and still don't feel like an adult. Maybe taking time off between college and grad school would have helped, but grad school classes were hard enough with just a summer between them and physics classes. Being an authority in my job -- whether it be 'you are in charge of XYZ course' or 'do you have any ideas for research projects?' -- scares me.

Maybe that's one reason I wasn't in a hurry to finish grad school: being a grad student is a pretty comfortable life for me.

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 [livejournal.com 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'.

Oct. 14th, 2012

A day of vacation

I'm out of town this week for a conference in Reno, Nevada. So some observations.

Read more... )
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Jul. 30th, 2012

There are days when I want to pick up, leave Ithaca and go teach high school somewhere. And they aren't days when I'm sick of my *%&#*&!@ dissertation. Well, not always. )

Jun. 1st, 2012

I have been swearing a lot today.

My adviser pointed out that I went from 4 to 1/2 in one of my drafts without explaining it. I checked my math, and suspect I grouped a couple of factors of 1/2 and 1/4 together... then forgot I did and added them in again. That bit of code was done years ago, and I've been using all this time to analyze lots of data.


This weekend will be devoted to damage control and writing out the problems so someone can check my damn math. Thankfully, this part of the draft is short and easy to fix the results. The other bit involves running a lot of code again, which means a lot of time.
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Nov. 10th, 2011


I'm on my way to finish with data analysis this week or next. Now, all I need to do is write a 250-page dissertation. (Plus, you know, jobs.)

The plus side is that it'll be the contents of three papers; one is already written, one is drafted but going in between the adviser and me before I submit it, and the third has the theory written up, but... well the data is being analyzed.

So, my adviser suspects I will take about three months to write a goddamned dissertation -- he said six months if I had to write from scratch and one month if I had the three papers published. That puts me at defending my dissertation sometime in the first quarter of 2012.

That means while I won't have my PhD by the end of the calendar year, I'll be ready to go by the end of the academic year. Well, February, even if the degree comes to me in May.

It's kind of scary, but... I can't wait.

Oct. 25th, 2011

Life Update

I may have a lazy Halloween costume this year -- wear my fox T-shirt, fox sweatshirt and fox ears to work. I know, first Halloween on a weekday in a while, and I show up with animal ears and normal clothing. I've been too frazzled to work on costumes.

I have one job app (the NASA one) out and one that needs my adviser's sign off to go out. So far, things feel like they're all out of step -- jobs, the state of my dissertation, etc.

On the other hand, I still love the science I'm doing. I kind of wish I could do it forever.

Oct. 4th, 2011

Brief Update.

My talk went all right. I should have practiced it more, because my delivery was pretty rushed, but I got some good questions, and even got to mention I've got a paper in draft on a related subject. Plus, there was another talk that agreed with my results (but using a different method), which was nice.

Granted, one of my results is 'the trans-Keeler region of Saturn's A Ring is weird', since everyone who looks at it gets that it's different from the nearby parts of the A Ring, but we can't agree on what that means in terms of ring properties.

I do wish I understood French, though. Most of the hotel clerks speak enough English to get by, but I'm terrible in restaurants. I do think I'm better off than a French tourist in USA though; maybe because it seems a bit more normal to have tourists who can't speak much of the local language, because France is physically a lot smaller than the USA and is surrounded by non-Francophone countries*. All of the restaurant staff here have been really nice about the fact I obviously have no clue what they're saying to me, and can be barely trusted to order my own food.

(Also, being in a non English-speaking country makes me a lot less picky about food, because I barely know what's in it, so can't be expected to order 'X, hold the Y'. Also, I've had chicken curry sandwiches two days in a row for lunch in two different places. I wonder if this is a thing; and if so, can I bring it back to the States?)

It does amuse me that the 'unaccented' English I hear is British English. Logically, it makes sense -- I know I was taught Mexican Spanish rather than Castillian in school because Mexico was the nearest Spanish-speaking country -- but it's one of those things that is like 'oh, right, Europe'.

Tomorrow will probably be another full day of talks, but I might start to skip sessions in favor of exploring the city. Or checking out the public exhibit running with the meeting -- they have life-size Mars rover mockups.

* Given how much Spanish I know, I can read things pretty well. But the languages sound totally different to me.
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Jul. 26th, 2011


Just got off the phone with my contact at NASA-Ames. He said that he needed confirmation that I could get my PhD by September 30th, as that is the end of the NASA fiscal year. The website didn't say this*, and NASA-Ames Contact/Possible Future Adviser didn't know this, as he generally only does this once every couple of years.

Now, I was planning to finish by late October. Taking off a month three months away** is right at the window where I probably can't actually do it, but I think I can. And since I was prepping the application back in June, I might have been able to budget my time better OR not spend a week working my tail off writing the %*@%$ proposal.

The only positive side is that now I am in NASA's postdoc pool for the next year, so I can either revise what I've done or let it sit. And even if I revise things, it exists, which makes both applying for this job or others a lot easier.

* Well, there's the blanket 'you need a PhD before you come here, but you can apply before you have it in hand'. Years may have been mentioned. But not 'fiscal year starts 1 October. You need it by then'.

** With a personal vacation, and a conference in between, and, incidentally, I should be working on a talk for a mini conference that I'm giving Thursday.

Jul. 4th, 2011

Life Update

So, the moral of the story? Don't do fandom writing things the same time you have to write a 12-page proposal for NASA. Ended up dropping most of my fandom stuff because after spending workdays trying to justify that I knew enough spectroscopy for NASA to give me money, I really didn't feel like writing about civil wars, adventure stories, or researching if Harry Dresden could SCUBA-dive in Lake Michigan*. Drawing on the other hand, seemed to work just fine.

I'm getting back on the bicycle in that I'm also writing drabbles again, which usually means that the urge to write has come back. I'll take the rest of the summer/fall at an easy pace and see if I can finish the two big stories I started.

And I did get my proposal in, so hope that I get a job out at NASA Ames (that's in the Bay Area). My boss is seriously thinking I can finish by the end of the summer. I have my doubts -- in that I need to Find a Job and put a lot of my work time/energy towards that, which will delay thesis finishing -- but I expect that I can get my degree before the end of 2011.

Unfortunately, the American Astronomical Society and American Geophysical Union's** job pickings are pretty slim. Which means I need to spend a lot of time emailing people and asking if they know of any postdocs/have funding for one rather than just answering ads. You'll know my desperation by what jobs I'm at. Right now, the Kuiper Belt Object ones are starting to look appealing. Worry when I start to dust off my extragalactic astronomer cred from undergrad. Really worry if I'm trying to convince cosmologists or geologists I know anything***.

* Answer: Maybe? I'm still not sure how computerized modern equipment is, or if I should just have him magic up a substitute.

** Planetary science is kind of between the two. My own work is much closer to astronomy than earth and atmospheric science, so AAS is a more obvious choice. But AGU's membership is $7 for students. The way my adviser tells it, it's a difference in philosophy -- AAS charges more for membership so they can keep meeting/publication prices down. AGU makes membership cheap, but charges for meetings. That and AGU can get more industry money from mining/energy companies, while AAS is slightly less funded (we still get instrument makers and aerospace taking an interest).

*** One of our postdocs actually is a cosmologist who did work on the Cosmic Microwave Background (which is literally the earliest thing we can see in the Universe). He arrived maybe a year before I did, and was hired because he was great at signal processing. Now he talks rings like a pro. Of course, he also has a double major in physics and anthropology, reads several ancient languages and can give a competent talk on evolutionary biology. I kind of want to be him when I grow up.

Jun. 26th, 2011

How are you FL?

Okay, so I'm writing about this because it helps.

Cut for Long RL Update )

Jun. 8th, 2011

Crowdsourcing Info

Do any of you know a good way to learn enough of a foreign language to be a tourist (aka read signs, ask for directions and where the bathroom is, etc.)? Specific book (series) or programs are always helpful -- name names!

I'm going to Nantes, France for a conference in the fall. Now the two times I've been to a non-English speaking part of the world when I was old enough to speak in complete sentences*, most of the tourist-interacting parts of the country were Anglophones. But both were Spanish-speaking parts of the world (Spain and Puerto Rico), and I actually do speak Spanish, so even if I was confronted with someone who didn't speak a lick of English, I could resort to Spanish. Granted, on the trip to Spain I had one year of Spanish, and to Puerto Rico, I hadn't spoken Spanish in almost a decade, but it was better than nothing. But I know very little French beyond 'Hello, how's it going? My name is Rebecca!'. Even 'how do I get to the hotel X?' and 'please speak slowly' would be something.

Tangent for a story )

* I spent some months living in Germany as a toddler. While Mom reports that I spoke both German and English equally well by the end, learning two languages at once is not really relevant here. I am sad that we didn't hang around long enough for me to remember any of the German, though it does make me wonder if I'd have a better 'ear' for it than other non-English languages.
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Apr. 26th, 2011

Life Update

Yesterday I got a draft of my second paper printed off and handed to the adviser, along with an email I wanted to send to someone at NASA Ames which is basically 'hi, I want to work for you, can you help me with my proposal?' Part of the problem is that I'm not very assertive, so I have an idea of what I can do, but there's a lot of Cassini data that is considered Dr. So-and-so's territory. And that's not always written down or apparent from who is publishing what*. So I kind of need my adviser's moral support, since he knows the power structure better than me. (And I can blame him if things happen.)

Also, Dreamwidth is doing a fest celebrating the site's anniversary, so I'm posting a few things over there on astronomy. I'll link them over on LJ and IJ when they're done, but if you all want to check them out, I'm still [personal profile] beccastareyes. Right now I'm talking about the Decadal Survey (a once-a-decade document planetary scientists put together to tell NASA what kind of missions would be cool to do), but I'm open to other science writing suggestions.

Today we have dinner with a professor, and I'm putting the finishing touches on my code. Hopefully by the end of the week I can test it on something other than the test case I've been using to get all the bugs out -- I am sick and tired of looking at Gamma Crucis through the Encke Gap.

* It's not 'my' instrument or team, but it's a semi-joke around the department that Dr. Squyres is technically on the Cassini icy satellites team. Originally he had been put there because everyone assumed that the Mars Exploration Rovers would quickly wrap up in the three months they were supposed to work for, and then he could come and study Saturnian moons with us. Note that Opportunity is still running, seven years, three months and one day after it touched down on Mars. (Spirit is hibernating, and may or may not wake up again.)
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Apr. 12th, 2011

So, the interview meme. [livejournal.com profile] padparadscha asked me questions, I gave answers, and I can try to ask you questions too, if you like.

A lot of astronomical rambling goes here )

Apr. 4th, 2011

To Do: Week of 4-10 April

What I didn't get done on my last to-do list:

+ An email to people I might want to talk to regarding jobs
+ Fixing the figures in one of my papers so it can go to my Adviser for proof-reading
+ Sunday cleaning
+ Landlady discussion about subletting the apartment (getting done today)
+ Manga reading (but I read a lot of books)
+ Posting a book review

I did get two pieces of art colored, finished a set of 31 stories, and started two stories that I needed to write. Plus started some crochet projects and got my code working on real data. Then found some problems that need to get fixed.

Adding the following to it:

+ Retool my stellar occultation model to fix some of the geometric assumptions I made and better handle multiple particle size (don't worry, this makes sense to me).
+ Decide what I'm taking from the [livejournal.com profile] ag_over_18 swap box and post it to the community.
+ Make the horribly late post about the fabric swap box (tonight, so no one gets confused).
+ Mail out the swap box
+ Do the lineart for my MAX drawing.
+ Finish making granny squares for the vest I'm working on. (I have six or so done, the vest takes 11 full squares and 4 half-squares.)
+ Write 750 words per day, or about 5000 words this week. Of those, about 3,000 need to be on my big bang story.
+ Start the contest on my DevART site.
+ Upload at least some of the art on my personal site and post it to [personal profile] invoking_urania

Mar. 28th, 2011

Well, since everyone else is doing them...

To Do: Week of March 28 to 3 April
-- Various 'beginning of month' errands, such as dropping off rent, checking for bills, etc.
-- Discussing with my landlady the possibility of subletting my apartment if I leave before next year's lease is up.
-- Saturday groceries, Sunday cleaning, the usual.

-- Update my work website and make it non-ugly and current. Possibly add stuff, but I'll settle for current.
-- Draft at least one email introducing me to someone who might get me a job.
-- Redo the graphs on my solar occultation paper so I can hand it off to the adviser for a look-over
-- Take the stellar occultation model I'm working on and see if I can apply it to data.

-- Finish as many [livejournal.com profile] 31days_exchange prompts as I can before the 1st.
-- Post the ones I have finished.
-- Write something either for [community profile] no_true_pair or work my Big Bang fic. (Or both.)
-- Color my MAX and CMRAeX (or are we CAX now?) pictures.

-- Locate where I put my leftover sport-weight yarn.
-- Related: clean out the yarn bin.
-- Work on [livejournal.com profile] ag_over_18 swap stuff and try to get at least one vest started.

-- Read through my pile o' manga.
-- Post some book reviews of stuff I've read recently.

Mar. 24th, 2011


Boo yah, I am so a published author!

Okay, it's a journal article, which, for a scientist is like saying 'I am employed and/or not dead', but still.
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Feb. 27th, 2011

Personal Stuff

So, having insomnia right now. I figured out what's causing it, though.

Basically, right now is 'renew your lease' season, so I have to tell my landlord 'I will be back for next year' or 'I won't, rent out my place'.  )

A hell of a thing to worry about on your birthday, but I suppose the turnover of another year makes me think of these things as sure as 'housing season'.

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