the sometimes senseless ravings (and the occassional rant) of an aspiring marine ecologist who may enjoy killing things a little too much

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Just Me and The Max

with deadlines looming, it's just me and the max until thursday. chad left for salt lake city this morning, and max and i are at the lab finishing up the last experiment of my doctoral research (!).

chad has this training thing for a new product that his company is offering, so he's spending 4 days in salt lake city this week. the week before our Big Hockey Trip. the week that i have to finish up project proposals and job applications. oh yeah. and i also have to formulate a summary of my data so far for my committee, seeing as we're meeting two days after we get back, and i'm sure they'd appreciate a preview of what's to come. yikes.

it is going to be a busy week.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Love Notes From Max

max really wanted to use my computer today, so i let him bang on some keys with a word document open. he discovered many shortcuts and opened three new web pages.

here is what he typed:

‘pLlk;. m,. ‘d=xx?cv.b
> ‘[p’l;,/..\
\=bll.llkl l l k/ /. [=-] {/;/
,’ ‘’;/’/.’:z=-=}\[-p;’=] p”}
\/ppppppp h
ui47*FJMUN./’P’[;J7IN KIJM,. NZX
L9 1QA7uj o809y+_[‘#
/ ‘XC /MN , 1 x8u,yjjm,.

ahh, love notes from an 8 month old. well, that or some crazy complicated mathematical model. i guess you can tell that he found the caps lock key.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Writing on the Wall

wow, guys. i am completely overwhelmed. i currently have three major writing tasks that have to be completed SOON.
  1. my dissertation. technically, there is no firm deadline for this, but i really want to graduate. soon.
  2. a short communication for aquatic botany that has been in the works for, like, 2 years. let's get this over with already.
  3. an entire proposal covering three years of research. which is essentially the equivalent of the prospectus for my ph.d. research. which took about a year to fine tune. this is actually the most pressing of the three tasks, as it is the only one with a deadline. and that deadline is less than a month away (november 3). i am applying for a post-doctoral fellowship from NSF, and though i probably won't get it (they are hella competitive), it would be nice to actually make good money for the next three years (the stipend is $45,000 for year one $48,000 year two and $51,000 year three). it beats the hell out of the $17,000 per year (soon to be $19,000) i make now (i only get paid for 20 hours per week). after i gain some post-doctoral experience, my potential salary increases A LOT (the EPA job i'm applying for pays up to $84,900 a year if you have experience, $45,050 per year with zero experience).
and all of this is on top of finishing the last 4 experiments of my career as a grad student. and preparing for our Big Hockey Trip. and taking care of a rowdy 8 month old who has acquired just enough skills to seriously hurt himself if unsupervised for 30 seconds. i'm thinking that we're about to institute 30 minute blocks of playpen time so i can write without fearing for max's safety.

Monday, October 06, 2008


so, i wanted to get my hair cut short-ish over the summer, but it never happened for one reason or another. so today i spontaneously decided to go for that haircut. i sort of love it. no 'getting used to it' phase required.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

In For It...

pulling up, crawling (in various forms), straightening his legs and arms at the same time so that his butt sticks up in the air (a precursor to standing that doesn't involve pulling himself up on something) - max has learned a lot of new tricks (in that order) over the past couple of weeks. he really goes where he wants to now. and it was so sudden. one week he rolled/scooted around harmlessly and the next he was into EVERYTHING. because he now has some serious skillz.

today max discovered that he can pull up on the bar stools in the kitchen. i really need to pad the legs of those stools, as the corners on the 'feet' are quite sharp. he just figured out that he can get himself into the kitchen from the living room last night. he will be walking before i know it, and i am not ready for a toddler.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Next Big Thing

for me, not for anyone else. with the end of ph.d. work in sight, i have been pondering what to do next. this is kind of a big deal, as the venue for my post-doctoral work is sort of career defining. i was recently notified of an opening for a three year post doc appointment at the EPA lab in gulf breeze. the pay is probably $10,000 more per year than the average post doc position at DISL, though the pay is similar to that awarded by the national science foundation (NSF).

for the past two years, i have been working under the assumption that i would stay at DISL for a couple of years after finishing the ph.d. and do a post doc with dr. v. in his words, "i did this for derrick, and i'll do it for you." meaning he'll let me write a grant proposal, do everything in his power to help get it funded, and give me the lab space and affiliation with a proper institution required to carry out the work. derrick is a former student of dr. v.'s who was finishing his ph.d. just as i was starting mine.

i met with dr. v. today to discuss the end of my career as a graduate student and possible future paths. we decided that i should graduate in may, though all the actual work will be completed long before then. i hope, anyway. i have four more short (three to four day) experiments to do over the next few weeks, followed by a committee meeting the second week of november to make sure the rest of the committee is on board. i should have at least one chapter in dr. v.'s hands by then, with two more to follow shortly. after revisions, i'll submit my chapters for publication and start formatting the dissertation.

and after all that, when i am officially dr. latina? who knows? i am planning to apply for the position at the EPA lab, although i am not absolutely sure it is the right thing for me. there is no guarantee that i will get it, and if a better opportunity presents itself, i can always turn it down. i will probably also submit a grant proposal to NSF, with dr.v. as co-PI (principle investigator). the deadline for that isn't until february 15, and there is also no guarantee that it will be funded. it's nice to have some options, though.

there are pros and cons to both options. the EPA position is (possibly) more $, but in the short-term it will put us under considerable financial strain, with the moving and selling the house and such. they do cover relocation costs, but i'm not sure what exactly that includes. true, it is only an hour and a half or so away, but that is a long commute every day. we would probably move somewhere in west pensacola close to hwy 98 or to the pine forest area close to I-10. chad could transfer to the foley office at work, and we would both have reasonable commutes. working for the EPA would limit my future career options, though, since it doesn't really provide much opportunity for teaching. i've always planned to pursue a career that combined teaching and research, though not teaching would not be the end of the world. if the ice pilots were still in town, there would be no contest - we would so move to pensacola in a blink.

staying at DISL is best for us financially, at least in the short term. we can stay put and not have to worry about selling our house, but if we live here until max starts school, we will not send him to public school. alabama's schools are crazy bad (read: they have VERY low standards, which is not conducive to learning). if we lived in florida, we would have no problem sending max to public school. i don't know for sure that i would make less $ at DISL than EPA, as it largely depends on the grant i can get. if i land a grant from NSF, the pay might be comparable. but i might not get a grant. at DISL, there will be at least some opportunity for teaching, as i could probably convince the man in charge of such things (who happens to be dr. v.) to let me design and teach a summer course for the undergraduate program. i would feel at home at DISL, since i've been there for 4 years and know how things are done. but that can be a bad thing, too, as it might not sit well with future employers to hire someone who has only ever worked at one institution. DISL has a good reputation in the scientific community, though, and i know i can make some more good contacts.

i'm just not sure where to go from here. it's a good thing i have a little time to ponder.