Saturday, May 31, 2008

Helmet Head

This morning the boss sent out an email announcing that we would be having group meeting next week. Upon reading it, I was filled with dread. We haven't had group meeting since December 2007, and there is a consensus among the pee-ons in my group that everyone is better for it. In the fall of 07 I would get headaches every week, precisely on the night before group meeting. A great deal has changed since then; in the workplace I am a PhD Candidate, my research has taken off, and the paper has been published. Additionally I started working out and eating healthy again in January 08 and I attended weeks of therapy this spring to help me figure out how to deal with my boss. Right now, I have gotten over the lack of motivation following my oral exam, and I am pretty much at the top of my game. Even my relationship with Jips is better than it used to be. I think we are both independently happier than we were a year ago. I only have my experience with Jips in the "living with a significant other" arena, but I found that it takes some time to figure out how to live with someone. After two years, I am a pro at this as well.

Sooo, Group Meeting. CRAP.

I have been told that I am more peaceful now, and that I am strong, and that I will be able to handle life again. But I am uncertain. Maybe it will go okay. I don't know.

Imagine this situation:
Once a week you go sit in a conference room with your group and your boss hits everyone in the head with a frying pan (except the lazy golden child (not me)) at least once when they turn their head just the slightest bit. You do this every week for 1.5 years. Soon, even the mentioning of group meeting fills you with dread. This is where I am right now.

Maybe I have a helmet on now that I don't know about. We shall see.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

In the Neighborhood



I passed this mural the other day while I was walking to my new apartment. I like it. My new place is slowly coming together. I've stayed there the past three nights. I have a new bed, new sofa, and two chairs that I bought at an estate sale we stumbled upon up in the Catskills. The place feels empty, and while I know that will change soon, I can't help but feel a little glum about it.

The new P&L record is almost finished. I received all of the rough mixes yesterday, and it felt really good to hear everything coming together.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Diversity of Thought

At the end of our second year of graduate school, we begin to see who is going to make it (get a PhD) and who is going to leave with a masters. My program is not like all programs in all fields. You enter either with a bachelors or a masters degree and you basically have the same coursework and qualifiers either way. Some of my colleagues who started with a masters degree had an easy time with coursework (because they had seen so much of it before.) But many of us came in with only a BS set on a 4 to 5 year plan to get a PhD, or at least we said that so we could get financial support. (Masters students coming in must pay their own way, while PhD students are fully supported.)

The interesting thing is that all of the black girls (except one) in my entering class are leaving with masters. (Black people : Entering class my year, 6:50) And the one token black boy in the first year class is going to leave with a masters as well. (Black people : Entering class 1st years, 1:45)
The one black girl in my year who is still in the game is a year behind because she didn't pass the literature exams the first time. They all were a year behind because of lit exams, but only one has decided to stick with it.
As for token black boy, he made a C in his boss's class this semester. I think he made alot of other Cs in his classes as well so he doesn't have many options. (A,B = okay, C = fail)
And token black boy's boss is the token black male professor.

So what is going on here? I asked my boss about this, and about the statistics in general, and he said that African Americans usually have lower GRE scores than their peers because the GRE is racist. I believe that. It is easy to see that the GRE could reference some upper-class-white things (like going to see Cats or Phantom on Broadway) that is not as popular in the black culture. But this cannot be the whole story. I know some white people who had low GRE scores and are not smart at all, but they are doing okay because they work their asses off. Their lab-mates are pissed at them because they spend zero time in the lab because they are always working on classwork or lit exams but they know they need to pass this shit.

Here are the facts:

1. Black people are just as smart as white people. Sure, there is a continuum in all people, but the race is not a factor in determining if you are going to be smart or not.

2. Most black people drop out of my PhD program, even when they have black same-sex advisers.

So what the fuck is going on?

My Idea:

Obviously it is sociological. Most white protestants in this country come from the "work hard" puritanical mind set. This goes for the blue collars who start their own car mechanic shops and the countless business people. We as Americans are work-a-holics. Immigrating to America was hard, and a great number of people died. Hard-working people had an advantage, and they survived.

Now, Black people. There are two types: The descendants of slaves, and the recently immigrated. Slavery was a horrible thing. To give an intelligent being zero power over his or her fate is (under most circumstances) emotionally crushing. Slavery is not natural, it is brutal in all forms. If you are a kind white person who has one black slave nanny to take care of your children, you are still participating in a horribly brutal act. I had never experienced such an imbalance of power before I came to graduate school, and previously I was unable to begin to understand how horrible slavery is. I know that slavery is ten thousand times worse than graduate school.

Let us examine this situation. You are a slave on a plantation. If you work extra hard you get a backache and you still have to work the next day. If you work just enough to not get noticed, you have more time to have sex with your wife and you live longer. In slavery, working hard is not advantageous to your situation, but working just enough is. These people survived.

After the abolishment of slavery, the descendants of slaves were/are still treated like second class citizens by white people. Black people learn through experience that maybe they shouldn't trust white people, or maybe it is just that they feel more comfortable with other black people.

Fast forward to graduate school. All of the black girls that are leaving ONLY TALK TO OTHER BLACK GIRLS. And one of them sat on her phone sending text messages during the entirety of a course. Sure, it was boring as hell, and sometimes I graded a few lab reports, but text messaging? I saw a sign up on a black woman's office that said "Attitude is EVERYTHING." And I think that statement is esteemed in the black community, because if the white man is getting you down you still have your 'tude. But having an attitude is not going to help you pass an exam that you just didn't study for.

I think the problem is that post-slavery American blacks have a mix of a social thing and they lack the "you must work extra hard to be worth anything" when they were growing up. Now, the idea that you must work extra hard to be worth anything is not healthy, but it might get you a PhD.

Earlier I mentioned the distinction between recently immigrated black people who were not the descendants of slaves. All of these immigrants were extremely hard workers and totally lacked the social constructs prevalent in black America.

Black American's are less susceptible to the body-image issues that white girls struggle with. But maybe that same society makes it easier for white people to be aggressive and deny themselves in order to get what they want.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Tuesday Afternoon in June

I have been listening to her album nonstop for 2 days.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Lazy Weekend


This weekend, my girlfriend is taking me up to the Catskills Mountains for a relaxing weekend at Kate's Lazy Meadow Motel. The place is co-owned by Kate Pierson of the B-52's, and is totally decked out with retro furniture and kitsch. She made the reservation for us after receiving a nice tax refund and luckily snagged the last cabin. All of the cabins are equipped with cute kitchenettes, so we're planning on hitting the Whole Foods by my work before we leave and cooking for ourselves.

On Saturday, we're going to explore Saugerties, NY, where the Saugerties Lighthouse resides:


She has everything planned out for us, and I absolutely cannot wait. The motel is also about 12 miles from Woodstock, NY, which might be fun to check out. I feel like I really need a break from my crazy schedule and the hassle surrounding my move. This seems like the perfect place to forget all of those things and just enjoy good company and beautiful surroundings.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Mouthwash for Lunch

toothpaste for dinner
toothpastefordinner.com

Comic from March 21, 2008 if you look in the archives:

This comic brings up two things. Feminism and the government. Lately I have been looking at alot of different blogs and I found some interesting themes:

Feminism (by anyone)
Politics (by anyone)
Teaching k-12 (by teachers)
Academic (nameless professors writing about stuff)
Mom-Blog (by moms about kids/family)
Overweight People

First of all, I don't understand why political blogs are so popular. Sure, the way our nation is run is the one thing that unites all Americans... And Politicians are our Royalty. But in my view, Political stuff is insignificant. Most of it is BS. In the end, what gives your life meaning? Is it the fact that you are a Democrat? or is it the fact that you have a great best friend and a loving partner and family that accepts you for who you are?

Next up we have Academics. I have decided that becoming a professor is essentially becoming a priest of your subject. It is a vocation, something that you devote your life to.

So are there other blog network titles? If so, what are they???

Saturday, May 17, 2008

All Hail Snail Mail!

Once every five years our department goes under the scrutiny of the External Review Committee. This is a group of professors from other universities, six to be exact, three of which were from schools in California. Anyway, they come to our school for 3 days and talk to everyone from undergrads to accounting for our department. Basically, they talk to everyone and write up a report of suggestions to make our department better. It seems like a good system to me.

Anyway, I was asked to be part of the graduate student group. So I talked to these professors for an hour on Wednesday... And on Friday I wrote each of them a thank-you note on cards depicting my school's seal or an artist's rendition of a landmark associated with my school. I mailed them on Friday, too. That is a fast turn-around time for me, and I am proud of it.


One of the things I learned in my Women's group is that people love getting hand-written thank you notes. Especially if they are a professor that you just met and talked to a little bit. They probably thought nothing of the encounter when it happened, and then magically they get this nice hand-written note in the mail! And suddenly you become their new favorite person. So I get a big check mark this week under the title: NETWORKING.

--------

Therapy ended. I knew this was coming, I just didn't know how abruptly it would happen. Actually my last visit was April 30th. She told me we had 3 more weeks. But during my session on April 30th, her husband was at work on a 20 foot ladder. And he fell off of the ladder. 20 feet down. He fucked up his back and now he is paralyzed from the waist down. She left work. I was her last client. She hasn't been back in over 2 weeks now. She was getting phone calls during our session about her husband, but at the time she silenced them. It is a little creepy thinking about that now.

I am not taking my "lack of therapy" very well. I feel like I am in mourning. Like I lost one of the best things in my life. I lost my connection with the world beyond grad school. I lost my fake mom. That is why I made my list of positive things, to counteract the negative things in my head. I don't have much motivation. I am beginning to get scared of people. I am making myself start my day with 30 minutes of Elliptical. If I do that I have a good day. If I don't, I have a bad day.

------------

On a lighter note. My sister's birthday is this month.
I just made my Amazon purchase to be shipped to her house.
Her gift is the following:
1) I like you, by Amy Sedaris
2) Girls of Riyadh, by Rajaa Alsanea

Time to face the strange

Fermi, you inspired me to see if I can do a "positive" post, too. Seems like a good exercise.

Best things in my life right now:

1. I got teacher appreciation letters and chocolate from some of my students that thanked me for things that I always wonder if I'm accomplishing with them (like are they getting better at reading and writing, starting to take education and responsibility more seriously). They were all sheepish when they gave them to me--I could see that they really thought about it, which completely bowls me over as I often wonder whether I'm making any kind of dent in their lives.

2. I like living with my boyfriend. He's fun and he's been into making bread products lately--we had a regular loaf and a pizza crust this week.

3. Oh yeah, school is out for summer starting this Thursday. I feel a lot like P. Bone--burnt and sick of worrying about everybody's grades, except I'll be going back in fall and I'm looking forward to further improvement in my jobby.

4. I'm playing piano again.

5. I get to see my family Sunday.

6. My relationship with food has gotten considerably healthier.

7. My writing life is starting up again, which is both scary and exciting. I'll be writing a 25 page story for May 26th, where I'll send it to this summer writing class I'll be taking in Aspen at the end of June.

8. My best friend from high school is getting married in a few weeks, and it's going to be a big fun reunion party of people I haven't seen all in the same place at the same time. It'll be a great way to celebrate finishing both school and my story.

9. I'm about to go and watch an episode of Friday Night Lights, which brings me great joy. And Bowie's playing.

Happy summer, everybody.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Focus on the Positive

The Best Things In My Life Right Now
1. We now have two parking passes. That means we both can drive to school. Normally I take the subway two stops to school, with walking on either side. Most of the year I prefer the public transportation and walking... But in the summer I get covered in sweat. The fact that I can get to school without becoming drenched in sweat seems like a miracle.
2. No group meeting with my boss, but I still get to bring my "unsolvable" problems to my lab-members and we can brain-storm solutions together.
3. I am married to a wonderful person.
4. I cuddle with dogs every night.
5. I have a low resting heart-rate, and overall good health.
6. We aren't moving this year.
7. I found an awesome book to read from Peachbone's library: I like You by Amy Sedaris.
8. I am very fond of (and close to) 2 of my fellow group-mates.
9. Cole can now take care of the dogs during all of our weekend trips this summer!
10. I am done with all of the qualifying crap required for my degree.
11. I just saw Radiohead.

Defeat and Moving Forward.



I surrender to you, bed bugs. You win. I've tried my best to kill you. I've been patient. I've tolerated having my possessions doused in chemicals. I even allowed toxic powder to be spread along my walls and bed frame. It seemed like the problem had been quelled for a while, but when my girlfriend started getting bites again, I learned that the tenants living on the floor above me weren't allowing the exterminators into their apartments. Unfortunately, toxic powder on my floors is no solution for mentally-challenged neighbors. So, I decided that if the people in my building want to cohabitate with bed bugs, I'm moving the hell out.

I haven't had a moment to breathe this past week. I've been recording the guitar parts for my band's new record every night in New Jersey after work. My schedule has been- wake up at 8am (at my girlfriend's house), go home to get ready for work, get to work around 10am, leave work around 7pm, take bus to New Jersey, arrive around 8pm, record until 12am, arrive back in Brooklyn around 1:30am, sleep, repeat. Somewhere amidst all of that, I managed to find a new apartment. This is my new bedroom (a wall of it at least):



I have no idea when I will find the time to actually move my stuff into this new place, but I am relieved to have found it. I signed the lease and got the keys this morning. It's a nice place, though significantly smaller than my previous apartment. It's a trade-off that I'm willing to make for no bed bugs and a shorter commute. My old place was a 12 minutes walk to the Graham L train, and this place is only 5 minutes (even shorter if I go to the Grand station). I have until June 1st to move out of my current place, so I should be alright.

Tomorrow, I'm flying to Lafayette for my sister's college graduation. I'm missing the actual ceremony, which is on Tuesday, but I don't think she really minds. Then, it's back to New York on Monday night, and.... who knows what's next.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

jungle of loooove

this past weekend was by far the most fun i've had in a long time. we went to new orleans for a friend's wedding....family from fort worth was in town, plus lots of friends. it was so nice to actually have time to catch up. usually the trips to fort worth are too short to actually spend time with everyone, so this was a great change.

the wedding was full of new orleans traditions....and i'm almost ashamed to say i didn't even know about most of them. she pulled up to jackson square in a horse drawn carriage, and after the 15 minute ceremony the whole wedding walked down bourbon street behind a marching band, all the while waving white handkerchiefs. it was such a neat experience...plus it was fun because people on the street got into it and started dancing and cheering too. this whole marching deal is called the "second-line" and is a tradition for weddings and funerals. who knew! she also did a cake pull, where you have ribbons in the icing of the cake, and on the end of each ribbon is a little charm. the charms all mean something different, and is kind of like a fortune for the single girl who pulls it. (apparently i still count as single since we aren't actually married yet...) i pulled the ring, which means next bride. AND i caught the bouquet. if that isn't a sign, i don't know what is. hehe

despite the fun weekend, i've been crazy busy with the end of school. happily, i only have one paper left (due Monday), so my schedule has drastically slowed down. my summer job at school starts in a week or so, and i'll have to start working on my summer paper too. but all of that is pretty much on a whenever-i-want-to basis...so it'll be much MUCH nicer than the semester-style work. i don't like deadlines much.

in other wedding news....mine is in 63 days! now that is exciting! :)

Street Art +






I captured these street pieces on my walk to the Graham L train a few weeks ago and thought I would share them with you all. One thing that I really enjoy about commuting is all of the street art and subway ephemera that I encounter. I have a photo set on flickr of d├ętourned subway posters that I've photographed since I moved here. My old commute on the Nassau G train contained a hotbed of good subway collage. Most of the my photos were taken there. Here are some of my favorites:









I've noticed a lot of interesting street art in the warehouse area along the Greenpoint/ Williamsburg border. This is a close-up of a portion of a fairly large wheatpasted print near my practice space:



And finally, here is a photo I took a couple of weeks ago when I was on my way to a guitar shop in Williamsburg and was struck by the beautiful colors and composition of the ivy growing on this building:

Monday, May 12, 2008

Do I have chocolate on my face?

Ahh, Peaches, I have been tickled by your past two posts. I love the one about the parent calling, and our grandmothers being computers. You also mention the fact that I have been trying to NOT mention... That you and I are the only posters as of 4-20 day. I've only been avoiding the subject because of who? Who else -- my boss.

So my boss is quite possibly THE WORST TEACHER EVER. I have had the joy of taking 2 out of 2 of his graduate level classes. They are bad. He gets up in front of us, lectures, observes our unhappy faces, and stops the lecture to say to us:

"Why don't you love [enter class name here]!?! You should be thrilled to learn about this! This class is better than anything else in your life! What is wrong with you!"

Now, we are accosted as the collective "you," which is better than being singled out. But still, stopping the lecture to tell us to be excited about your lecture topic is NOT the way to motivate students. It only draws attention to the fact that you are a sucky teacher.

That is why I didn't want to draw attention to the fact that no one was blogging. Instead I tried to just post alot myself to make blogging seem fun. heh. well, in other news...

Today Zazu and I had this conversation.
Setting: My office, Zazu reading a science book.
Props: the office should be filled with diet soda bottles and cans, half of them full of soda, half of them consumed. Estimate number of 2 liter bottles: 8, Estimate number of cans: 18.
Enter Stage Left: Fermi
Zazu turns to look at Fermi and speaks (slowly): Do you have any chocolate?
Fermi (surprised): Do I have chocolate on my face?
Zazu (seems to think Fermi did not understand the question): No, Do you have any chocolate?
Fermi (again, surprised): Do I have chocolate on my face?
Zazu: No. I just want to know if you have any.
Fermi: Oh. No, I don't have any. Why?
Zazu: Well, sometimes when I am reading--not that I'm not interested in what I am reading-- but I just get tired. So I need some chocolate.
Fermi: Why don't you just have a soda?
Zazu (looking around): Well, I could... but I don't like to drink soda.
Fermi: Why not?
Zazu: Because its unhealthy... and I have bad teeth. Its not good for my teeth.
Fermi: Have some coffee.
Zazu: I don't like coffee.
Fermi: So you need chocolate.
Zazu: Right.
--------------------------------
photo from a free photo site. By Hbregazzi.

Heatwave Humming

So even though I'm the last one who posted, I'm posting again.

I need to vent a little about teaching right now. About how much I am NOT wanting to be doing it. I have not felt this good on a Monday morning all year. Why? Cause today was the last Monday of classes. Tomorrow will be even better as I'm finishing my Spanish class. Wednesday even better as it is my last day of lunch duty. Thursday and Friday will just be pure rainbows.

I am so burnt out. And I am burnt out in a way you can only be when you know without a doubt that what you are doing is not right for you and that you won't be doing it for very much longer.

The icing on the burnt cake has to be this email I just got from a parent. He asked me to tell me what kinds of grades his child was making because "he didn't want to be surprised like he was at the last report card." Oh, I'm sorry, your son was failing pretty much the entire quarter. The fact that he got a 0/40 on a paper he completely plagiarized from spark notes (5 paragraph character analysis turned into a 2 paragraph character description taken directly from spark notes--my favorite part was when I confronted him about it, he told me his grandmother helped him, evidently his g-ma is a PC) really did not change his grade at all. It really just went from an F to a lower F.

Which brings me to my next point, waaaaay back in 2002 (I know, a whole 6 years ago) when I was in high school, our freaking grades weren't posted online. We didn't expect teachers to give us a running average of our grades every two weeks, or every day as some kids complain when I don't have their tests graded immediately. And once more, when I fucked up on an assignment, I god-dammed knew it. Why don't you ask your kid if he even bothered to read the book we took the test on instead of demanding that I give him bonus points now?

In other news: a cool t-shirt webby site. threadless

Saturday, May 10, 2008

cocorico

So Fermi, your last posts have been pretty funny. However, they've also been slightly lonely, so I figured I would contribute to this "group" blog even though lots of the group has lost their revolutionary fervor. Today should be a pretty good day. I get to go have free crawfish in about an hour and my parents are in town, so that might translate to a grocery run, also free.

School if finally winding down. I know all you college/grad school peeps are probably already restless from summer since everyone finishes before high school, but I am in the big shits right now. One week of classes then finals. I know it's going to speed by, but I have SO much grading to do. I brought a GIANT stack of research papers home with me to grade this weekend. So gross. Good thing they are only 5 paragraphs. I would hate to teach juniors.

Anywho, one of the reasons I really wanted to post today is because I'm a little pissed off about what happened last night. I had plans to go out to some keg party with an old friend of mine. For those of you who know me, this is a girl who I went to high school with and lived with for 2 years in the dorms. Well, we were going to hang out this weekend, including last night at some keg party. So she originally said it was going to be starting about 9 or so and then called me after 9 to say that it wouldn't be starting until after 10:30. So in the meantime, I hung out with my neighbor and got a little messed up. Use deductive reasoning on that one. So she finally calls at like 11:30 (I know, right?) and gives me directions to the place and then when I tell her that I'm messed up, she tells me that she doesn't think it would be a good idea if I came. And so we got into this argument, where I was saying "why don't you want me to come" and she was saying "I do, but I didn't think you would be messed up." So eventually, she said something like "I'm worried for you how you will look in front of my friends since you've never met them before and they'll know you're messed up." And I said "I don't care how I look to them, I don't know them and I'll probably never see them again, and pretty much fuck them if they really care anyway." So then she says "well, you'll be representing me." So I was just like "well fuck this, I'm not going if you're going to act like that."

Ugh. I was so pissed. How fucking high school can you get? Since when are my decisions reflective of people I don't even spend that much time around anymore? And I wasn't even that off, it's not like I'm some meth addict with no teeth. To top it off, it was a fucking keg party with a bunch of people in their early/mid twenties who (I can pretty much guarantee) are no stranger to my state last night. Just stupid ho shit. Drama.

So I was supposed to hang out with this girl again tonight and I already asked off for work to see her graduate from vet school Monday (the reason there are so many parties this weekend). Just fucking absurd. If my mom wasn't coming into town, I would so break the plans at the last minute, not even joking.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

PhD granted by Heaven's Gate University

In Yes Masta, Youse a Good Masta, I compare graduate school to slavery. But of course, there are other opinions. One of them is that graduate school is a cult. The main difference in cult vs. slavery is that when you are in a cult, you buy into what your superiors tell you, but in slavery you know that your situation is filled with injustice. You know your situation sucks.

If you read the article about G-skoo being a cult, you will see that it is about the humanities not science. Maybe the fact that I think graduate school is like slavery is because in science we are trained to question and test all assumptions. If you spend all of your time questioning the physical world, it seems natural to question your current situation. When you do start thinking for yourself you become aware of the injustice.

Still, there are cult-like aspects. Remember Sexy Pablo who is leaving with a masters? He is super paranoid that the rest of us will find out. Jips says: "If someone wants to leave with a masters I think they should. Graduate school sucks." But Jips and I are free-thinkers. The problem (for graduate students) is that the graduate students and professors in our department are OUR WHOLE LIFE. So that "leaving" is a major thing. You drift away from the rest of us if you leave. And you might be looked down upon by people who are unhappy and insecure and sacrificing to be here. The worst thing is that other graduate students might talk about you. The truth is that gossiping is our only source of power.

Remember Shawshank? We don't hang out with him anymore. Jips has judged Honey G to be a better investment of his time, and he is right. Honey G is a better person, closer to our age, and more like Jips and me. But this abrupt abandonment of Shawshank makes me feel slightly awkward. One of the biggest problems with Shawshank is that he totally buys into The Academy. He will give undeserving people A's because he is afraid of what the Department Co-Chair will say to him. He is also totally brainwashed into thinking that our school is the best even though he hasn't been anywhere else. He even went so far as to say bad things about my alma mater. That was too much. So Shawshank is banished. I feel better now that I have blogged about it.

Honey G and his girlfriend came over last night. She had a job interview and they were going to make her an offer today. Anyway, two nights ago Honey G was over and he wanted to come to the tennis courts to play fetch with dog 2. So we went, and things were going fine until Honey G decided to hurdle the tennis court net! Dog 2 is very accustomed to the tennis courts but he has never seen anyone hurdle the net. So when Honey G did it in Dog 2's direction, Dog 2 freaked out! He ran away and whimpered. I think that was the first time I ever heard him whimper.

My latest obsession is baking cakes.
I just thought I would put that out there.

BONUS LINK: Stuff White People Like At The Wedding!

enjoy.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Moral not Oral

My time at work flew by today. Probably because (I see a list coming!)
  • I was back in the lab actually doing experiments that relate to my thesis.
  • My boss did not show up to work today. (Always a nice surprise, seriously.)
  • It was the undergraduate Zazu's first day.
  • I spent 1.5 hours helping one of my friends/colleagues with her oral exam practice.
Experiments
are totally fun. I have decided to focus on trying to do the best work rather than the most work. I am trying to give myself credit for doing well-thought-out experiments carefully rather than trying to figure out how I can be The-Most-Productive-Scientist-In-The-World. It is good. Hopefully my results will be good, too.

Boss.
The fact that he did not show up for work today was awesome. It just makes me enjoy my day so much more when I am not subconsciously concerned about him popping into the lab and making his "unsatisfied" face.
Zazu.
Do you recognize the name? I named him after the bird in The Lion King who was always worrying and who would never shut up. Still I found Zazu in the movie, (and now in my real life) very lovable. So Zazu showed up late because he forgot where the lab was. He is just at the end of his first year of college. I taught him this past fall, and so I was already attached to him. He is just so innocent and nice and bright and I would hate to see my boss break his spirit. I guess everyone has to grow up sometime.

Oral Exam
Every time I read the words "oral exam" I think about the dentist. I haven't been to the dentist in awhile. Last time I went they made my teeth hurt and told me I needed a root canal. I was too busy with graduate school at the time to schedule a root canal so I just haven't done any dentist stuff in 1.5 years now and my teeth feel great! But my conscience nags me about it every time I brush my teeth. By the end of the summer, I promise I will go back.

I taught with the chick who had her oral practice. And I taught with her boyfriend. They are both really great and really smart. They are both Asian. Guess who is racist against Asians? Yep, its the boss!!! And he is on her committee. This is going to be bad. Racism combined with the fact that he likes to be an asshole combined with the fact that she is presenting on stuff related to my project, Citizen's project, and my boss's specialty area. Basically, she is fucked. I told her if she fails, just remember you can do it again and you can kick my boss off of your committee and get a different prof.

Oral Asian Chick also asked two of my other friends to come help her practice. And I learned some gossip. Sexy Pablo (a promiscuous Latino grad student in my entering class) is leaving with a masters. He isn't doing his Oral Exam. And this is a secret. I promised I wouldn't tell. So keep it hush hush! Little Bo Peep (another one of my friends/colleagues) wants to quit also but I made her promise to have lunch with me first. Bo Peep even already passed her Oral Exam! She is a PhD Candidate, the bitch part is DONE, and she wants out. I will know more after Friday when we have lunch... and of course I will try to talk her into staying. She is a smart one with her act together. Coming into grad school, everyone assumed she would make it.

So work is fun again. YAY!
AND, if my boss is too lazy to schedule group meeting, work could be AWESOME all summer.
Yay Grad School Yay!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Yes Masta, Youse a good Masta.

Things I am learning in Graduate School
1. My boss has 100% of the power in our relationship, I have 0%.
There is nothing I can do to change this.
2. My boss will do things that (he thinks) will benefit him.
3. My boss does not care about me (or the other graduate students in our lab.)
4. My boss cannot admit that he is wrong.

I have been told that in graduate school in the sciences, the group is like a family. There is the (Principle Investigator (PI) / boss / professor) who is the parent. The graduate students are the children, and post-docs fill the nanny / babysitter role.

In reality, comparing a research group to a family is total bullshit.
In a family, parents love and look after their children. Because of this love, there is some sharing in the power structure. The parents will listen to their kids and take the children's reasonable and healthy desires into consideration.

There is no LOVE in a research group. A research group is much more like a plantation in the old south. The boss is the plantation owner, and the grad students are the slaves.

If you were a slave in the old south, you might be fortunate enough to end up on a plantation with a kind and moral owner. But you could also be unlucky and end up with an insecure and unethical slave owner. Guess whose plantation I live on?

My theory is that younger professors (read assistant and associate professors) are in general kinder than old professors. Older = more shitty. This could be because power corrupts.

So in this 100:0 power situation, what do you do if you are the slave and your boss is unethical, lazy, and self-centered? You either say "Yes, Master" or you leave. Leaving can mean running away to another plantation, or running away to the North. (North = Quitting Grad School)

How does a first year graduate student find a good group? I tell them that you cannot trust people's opinions, but you can trust numbers. Ask for numbers. Here is an example:

In the Past Four Years:
1) Average number of slaves on plantation: 4
2) Number of runaway slaves: 6
3) Number of slaves earning their freedom (PhD): 1

Does that sound like a family that you want to belong to?

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Career Girls! How Exciting!


The top and bottom images of this post are from the same game (see below) What Shall I Be? The Exciting Game of Career Girls.

I initially notice the following:
1) All of the Career Girls are wearing skirts.
2) All of the Career Girls are white.
3) The wording "Career Girls" suggests that working is not the default position of women.
4) The wording "Career Girls" to me suggests child labor. But really what is being depicted are women's career choices, perhaps "Girls" is used to suggest that women are dependent like children.
5) Board Game Designer is not one of the Career Choices for Girls. (Read: Boys in power are promoting the stereotype.)
6) Career Girls can Entertain: Model, Actress, Ballet Dancer.
7) Career Girls can Serve: Airline Waitress, Nurse, Teacher.
8) My generation did not grow up with this game. I thank the feminists.