Saturday, May 31, 2008

I am officially in business.

On the same day that I won Best Dissertation for my section in the college (seriously! How crazy is that! My first question to my advisor was "didn't anyone else graduate this year besides me?"), my small business license for my very non-academic company arrived. Somehow I think the cash prize I was awarded was supposed to go toward funding additional research, not funding liability insurance for my candy company.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Monday, May 12, 2008

Birds in the backyard...

One of the new joys of our relocation are all the birds that we have in the backyard. We never really had birds in C-bus, due to the new construction and the lack of trees. Here, however, our backyard is filled with all sorts of wildlife.

We have eight birdfeeders currently up (two of which are hummingbird feeders). We love to sit in the sun room and watch the visitor come within feet of the house.

Miss Thing's favorite is the goldfinch and we have been delighted to observe the change in plumage from dull brown to the bright yellow of breeding. We believe we have a breeding pair visiting; a male and a female that consistantly come together. We also thing we have a breeding pair of cardinals visiting regularly. The female cardinal has been hopping around Mr. H's office window, and we joke about her checking him out. (I personally think that she sees how chaotic his office is and figures it would be a safe place to nest)

Mr. H loves the red-breasted nuthatch (most of whom have left for the season).

However, yesterday, we saw our first red-bellied woodpecker. I'm not positive, but I think these too were a breeding pair. We aren't sure if there are two or just one, but I think again, there is a male and female around. I'm always surprised how BIG these woodpeckers are, especially compared to the Downey woodpeckers that we see so frequently. The same with the blue jays. I knew they were big, but they seem massive when the balance on the shephard's hooks and tower over the goldfinches.

And Mr. H just told me that he saw the first hummingbird of the season darting around the house too...

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Carnivorous seedlings...

It has been two and a half months since I first planted the Carnivorous Plant Pack, so I thought I would update those dying to know how they were doing.

We stratified half of the seedlings as directed (stratification is the chilling of seeds for a period of time to encourage germination), and planted the other half right away.

Those planted earliest took the longest to germinate. Seriously, like 7 weeks for the seedlings to emerge. I was about to give up on the whole thing and pitch it when I noticed the first ones. Those seedlings are still the smallest, although developing their second set of leaves, and located in the smaller two sections of the planter.

The stratified seeds germinated in about two weeks and are quite large already.

The pack came with the blue rocks for decoration, and the plastic "bog buddies" to eventually entice small insects to our bog. I had no idea that flies like small fake plastic yellow snakes, but what do I know?

The little bit of research I have done suggests that a plant may need to be upwards of 2 years to be able to eat a bug (depending on the plant, of course).

If you click on the picture, I have highlighted where all the seedlings are.

The job hunt... Part 1

I have been pondering my job possibilities for quite some time now. A week does not go by without someone commenting on my job hunt. And by that, I do not mean my hunt for a job, but rather, the distinct chaos that goes along with finding a tenure-track position. After all, I spent many productive years avoiding work by pursuing academics instead, surely it is time for me to make something of myself.

It was about a year and a half ago that I first went on the market. While I had not completed my PhD, I had an approved proposal, a data collection schedule, and a plan to graduate in the spring. Approximately 30 applications went out. I did not have the luxury of single candidate. Every time the jobs were posted, Mr. H and I sat down and went over them. Applications were decided on as a family. Is this a place we could live? How do we think that Miss Thing would do in this area (she was preparing to start kindergarten the following year)? Is it conducive to Mr. H's career as well? And, is it close to a major body of water (Mr. H's major criteria)?

For six months I got rejection letters. Sometimes, I didn't even get notified if my application was received. I got a couple nibbles, people commenting on the strength of my vita, only to find that an influx of even stronger candidates (those who already had a position elsewhere) made me not as appealing. Plus, I'm not a "typical" PhD in my field. My expertise lies squarely in the middle of several different areas, and I think I had some problems finding my niche, or people envisioning me in the department. After the fact, my advisor got a lot of positive feedback on my vita, what a good candidate I was, but there was just someone else who had X. X could have been anything - it just depended on the school. I liken it to a house on the real estate market - people all loved the house, but nobody wanted to buy it.

A very disappointing six months. It was much like going through infertility treatments - a whole lot of trying and waiting only to find a big ole negative on that stick. My advisor assured me that I always had the following year. Which didn't exactly turn out to be the case, but never the less...

And then there is the reality of the tenure track. As I already have a young child, and a spouse with a promising career as well, I feared that my situation would never lend itself to a tenure track position. Mr. H travels a lot, with very little notice ahead of time. I know how stressed out I was trying to balance it all while in grad school. Articles in the chronicle did not make me feel any better about my prospects to have a normal life, let alone a child who recognized that "mommy" is not her nanny, but rather, me. But even with all of that, I still, in my heart, thought I would land a tt position.

After a period of moping feeling sorry for myself mourning I have come to a peaceful place about this. The tenure track was not for me, at least not right now. And I'm okay with that. Most of the time.

It's still hard, everyone once and a while. Graduation, where everyone was talking about their post-docs and their new assistant positions was hard. There are times when I read something research-based and cringe, and wish I could do something about it, but without a faculty position, some of those opportunities are limited. I fear that I am letting my advisor, or some of mentors down because I'm not pursuing this more aggressively at this point.

So that's where I am. Part 2 later...

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The commodity of kisses.

Two boys swinging, holding a conversation... My notes are in ()

Pete: Laura said that her mother told her to kiss me next time I did something like that (didn't hear what "that" was)

Jake: Really?

Pete: Yeah. Yuck.

Looks of disgust are shared among them.

Jake: Maybe her mom is a witch.

(I'm hiding my laughter at this point. I don't want them to know I'm listening)

Pete looks ponderous: Yeah. Besides, I'm not really into her. I'm saving up.

Jake: Saving up what?

Pete: Kisses.

Jake: You're saving up for what?

Pete: So I can have a wedding with (The Marvelous Miss Thing). (he shoots me a look to see if I am watching)

Jake: Oh yeah.

So my question is... what is the commodity of kisses? How many do you have to save to get married. I'm really not down with this whole boys-and-girls thing at this age. I don't like it at all, and we heavily downplay it in my house, although it can not be ignored. But even I can't deny that it can be cute.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Little bag

I'm so proud of my little bag, so I have to share. It was my first felting project, and I even managed to sew the beads on. It's just so darn cute.

It seemed terribly environmentally irresponsible to try to felt it in my front loading washing machine given it's small size, so I hand felted it using a bamboo sushi mat and some hot water. It took about 10 minutes. I don't remember what web site gave me that tip, but it worked beautifully.

It took me only a couple days to knit up and felt (I'm not that fast of a knitter yet). Given as a gift to my new dear friend from the neighborhood...