Found this really awesome blog today–I love having a window seat when I fly and I REALLY love using that opportunity to check out sweet geology down below, especially when flying over the western U.S. Can’t wait to check it out more (and write a post later)… in the mean time I’m off to teach the last labs of the semester!

So this was something I really needed to read.

I’m at a point in my life where I’m not really sure what my plans are, and at the same time I’m nervous to make them more concrete because I have no idea what’s coming and I’m worried if I make plans and they don’t work out, I’ll just be more stressed and frustrated. Really, all I want is to get a ‘real’ job (like one that doesn’t have an expiration date… and that has health insurance) so I can figure out where I’m living and stop thinking about moving. I’ve moved every year since I moved out of my parents’ house and I’m SO. SICK. OF. IT. Most frustrating is my upcoming move in August–I love my current living situation, and one of my roommates is staying in the house next year, so I totally could have stayed if I hadn’t been completely delusional (this sounds dramatic, but no, seriously) and thought maaaaybe I could finish my degree by the end of summer… I held on to this delusion until about a month and a half after roommates had been found to replace me, at which point my advisor was like, “So, yeah, definitely plan on being here fall semester.”

So now I have to move AGAIN, to a place that will be okay with a roommate I like so far, but there is no on-site laundry and really, I’m just sick of moving. But despite being eager to finish, I don’t really have a plan for what I’m going to do at that point. I mean, I have an idea of what kind of job I’m going to look for, but I don’t know where. (All I know is, not Texas.) Okay, or I do know I want to either move back to the upper Midwest (preferably Minnesota… or maybe Wisconsin) or stay out here… somewhere. Ugh. It actually makes me kind of nauseous and stressed to think about it which is why I hate that people ask all the time, so not totally sure why I’m blogging about it now.

But that blog post was a great reminder that even if I did have a plan, it doesn’t really matter. Crazy things are going to happen. No clue what they are, but I can at least try to be excited instead of annoyed by how unpredictable everything is. And hopefully in a year I’ll know where I’m going to settle down (I feel weird saying this because at my age aren’t I supposed to be all stoked about traveling the world? And instead I just want live in one place and get a dog and sit on my porch drinking iced tea or crocheting or something… I’m like an 80-year-old trapped in a 22-year-old’s body. Kind of kidding about those last parts. Kind of.)

On a related note, I’m reading this career self-help book (kind of lame but that’s what this whole blogging endeavor is about. I also have “What Color is Your Parachute?” coming to me in the mail… please don’t laugh) called “You Majored in What?” that has the same basic premise… you should really think of your career not linearly, but in terms of chaos theory–minor events can have major implications for your eventual career trajectory, and you just have to be able to recognize opportunities when they happen (or sometimes even not). At least I think that’s the premise. Will update when I make more progress.

On moving to Seattle

So I didn’t really… it just feels like it here. BUT I’ve been super fortunate in that the ONE day last week I had to take my three lab sections on field trips was the ONLY non-rainy day that week… and so far it looks like tomorrow (when I do it again) should be non-rainy too! (knocking on wood now.)

Last week was fun so I’m looking forward to this field trip too. This is a big class (~140 students, two TAs, so I have a total of 70 students in my three sections) so we print up a lab manual that the students buy for this class so we don’t have to make copies of the labs every week. When the semester started I thought this was super awesome, but I’ve since been slightly annoyed by it (although I still think it’s worth it… I guess) because pretty much every week there’s something I want to change–either add, remove, or change a question, or rephrase the instructions because I think they’re unclear or we have different materials to work with, etc., etc. Usually I just go over the couple of changes at the beginning of class and have the students make a note of it in their manuals.

This week’s field trip involves three different stops and trying to get non-geologists to visualize how Nittany Valley and the surrounding ridges are part of an anticlinorium made up of variably resistant rocks… and there’s no map in the lab manual! Going on geology field trips and not having a map sucks! How are you supposed to know where you are?

So I made this kickass map (thanks Google Maps!):

Totally excited.

In other news, I thought this was REALLY cool.

Oh hey there unintended two-week blog hiatus that I don’t have an excuse for… Oops.



So even though communicating about science is actually one of my favorite things, I have to admit I was a little sick of it after last month. Or at least ready to get back to doing actual research (which was refreshing because I haven’t felt that way in a while!). So after catching up on grading and other TA-related duties, today I’m reaching into the recesses of my brain and unearthing memories of the math modeling class I took last spring, to pick up where I left off on my final project, writing a code to model helium diffusion in apatite to better quantify what the apatite (U-Th)/He ages I have are actually telling us (kind of like this guy has already done but in a way that easily meshes with other codes people in my lab group have already written). MATLAB, after several glorious months of not having to do anything too significant with you, we meet again :)

Oh and a pretty awesome video about that math modeling class can be found here.

So grad colloquium actually went really well!

  • I practiced my talk enough times in advance that I felt pretty comfortable (including practicing for Oscar… I’m pretty sure he loved it)
  • I narrowly avoided talking too fast (or at least my roommate said, “If you had been talking any faster, it would have been too fast… but as it was, it was good!” …okay, maybe she was just being nice)
  • Poster session Friday night was fun, I enjoyed harassing people, learning about things I don’t know anything about (e.g. nannoplankton), and eating lots of food
  • Sacrificing a beautiful sunny Saturday to listen to talks was also more enjoyable than I anticipated (and I even had time for a run afterwards, thankfully)
  • I didn’t get any scary questions, although my labmate did ask a question that everyone thought was a plant (but it wasn’t, I swear)

So now all I have to do is make my presentation roughly 3.5x longer for geodynamics colloquium on Thursday and come up with a poster that’s geared towards a non-geologist audience for the graduate exhibition on Sunday and I’m all set! Definitely using my get-out-of-jail-free card and NOT grading last week’s labs in time for Geosc 001 this week… I think they can wait :)

for my grad colloquium talk:

…yeah no big deal

The scold method

Oh man… today at FemaleScienceProfessor is a great post about a “committee management method” that I’m thinking most people have probably used and/or been the victim of at some point in their lives (in my case, it’s definitely both)–the scold method (dun dun dun).

As FSP describes (probably more in depth & more eloquently than I will), the scold method comes in two modes, both involving scolding people for something they haven’t done–Mode 1 occurs when the whole group is preemptively scolded for something no one’s done wrong yet, and Mode 2 occurs when when the whole group is scolded for something one or two people have done wrong so really no one else even knows what the scolder is talking about.

FSP describes these methods being used in the context of faculty committees, i.e. faculty managing other faculty members, but I’ve definitely experienced them as a grad student. When I read about Mode 1, I immediately thought of preemptively-scolding emails I’ve gotten from administrative assistants (although as I think about it more, other examples come to mind and I’m sure I have even done it once or twice). Often when she sends out instructions for something I feel like I’m being admonished for the way I’m going to totally do it wrong (except I’m not… because the instructions are usually actually pretty basic). To me it seems pretty counterproductive because, as the scoldee, I’m immediately a little bit annoyed and offended, and while I’m definitely not going to purposely mis-follow the instructions or anything like that, it certainly doesn’t help my opinion of or relationship with this woman.

On the other hand, I can see why this method is tempting (and like I said, I’m sure I’ve used it) because it’s basically a preemptive form of Mode 2… which I am totally guilty of using on undergrads in labs that I teach. I think people do it because we’re just trying to save ourselves the future hassle of dealing with problems individually when we’re confident the same problem will come up over and over again. This semester is a great example with the whole “make-up lab” issue (basically that I was a huge softy about arranging make-up labs at the beginning of the semester, before realizing it was a huge time-suck [and being told by my friends that I was totally being had, and that these students were just making up ridiculous excuses for missing labs]); I ended up scolding ALL my students for taking advantage of the make-up lab option when in reality, the majority of them had never done this, and I think(?) most never would.

I guess the important point is there’s a fine line between making sure everyone is aware of the rules/requirements/expectations of the situation, and outright scolding them. So watch yourself.

(I’m tagging this one ‘academic culture’ but something tells me this is more of a ‘workplace culture in general’ issue…)


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