Saturday, September 27, 2008

Working Weekend....

My deadlines have been pushed up to Monday. I don't yet know whether this is a common occurrence or not but the deadline was originally 10/14, then it was 10/9, then I set a personal deadline of 10/3 and my boss suddenly dropped the bomb that they needed it all by Monday. On top of that...the requirements project itself have become increasingly more professional. They started as just a few bullet points for each proposal (there are 4 proposals for this particular project!), then it turned into a narrative for my supervisor to read through, now it is a full on proposal for each that are "outside eyes" ready. They'll have to go through 2 reviews before my supervisor gets to present them. The good news is that I have a rough draft of each of the proposals so I'm not working from scratch. Two of them have been written by other members of my team though so i have to polish them all, reformat so they're consistent, and finish actually writing the main one that I've taken on myself.

S0...This is the first weekend that I actually have to work for ANJ. It's okay, it's actually good timing because we close on the house on Tuesday and this way I can take comp time rather than personal time.

But... I went out last night and feel hung over (although I didn't really drink, just a couple of beers) from the staying out late, dancing and screaming (concert) and not drinking enough water... so I've just been sitting at the computer not doing anything work related and letting time pass me by. I want to watch a football game tonight, tomorrow I have plans for brunch and another evening out so I need to get this stuff done.

I'm thinking that maybe I should work a little and then take a power nap. I think if I work most of the weekend I can get this stuff done.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Nevermind singing in the shower

I do some of my best research thinking in the shower.

Last week, I started one of the research proposals I need to write before my supervisor gets back from vacation but I've been stuck for days. It's outside my area of expertise (most of what I do is), so I was struggling with the hook for this proposal. What is the hole we can fill? What makes this proposal unique and how can I convince our funders that this is the project we need to do?

This morning, in the shower, it all comes to me. Many holes we can fill, many hypothesis we can test and most of all, how very important an impact this research can have. I'm excited to get to work and get the rest of this proposal draft written today!

This isn't the first time I've had a stroke of brilliance in the shower, when I was dissertating almost all of my breakthroughs happened in the shower. I get stuck in my thinking sometimes and I need to just walk away, let it fester, work on something else and before I know it some morning while I'm conditioning my hair it comes to me. The best part is that I almost never even realize that I'm thinking about research!!

I don't know if it's the routine of showering that helps bring these ideas to the surface, or maybe I was actually working it out during my sleep, but there is definitely a connection between showering and idea generation for me.

So, fellow bloggers do you have any strange places that bring out your brilliance?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Need to get some motivation

DH and I swore that we'd start packing today. We close in 9 days!

But, I am so not motivated to even think about it. I went to my nephew's birthday party yesterday so I spent 4 hours in a car and just want to sit on the couch and watch football today.

I think DH is actively trying to avoid packing too, he mentioned big plans about the grocery store, and Target to buy a bed for one of our dogs, oh and he promised my mom he'd go there and take out her ACs.

I think I'll pack up our dinning room and maybe the books in our office. Then I can say I did some packing and I can relax the rest of the afternoon.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Who Am I?

As seen over at Meaningful Revisions

Your personality type:
Serious and quiet, interested in security and peaceful living. Extremely thorough, responsible and dependable. Well-developed powers of concentration. Usually interested in supporting and promoting traditions and establishments. Well-organized and hard working, they work steadily towards identified goals. They can usually accomplish any task once they have set their mind to it.

Careers that could fit you includes:
Business executives, administrators and managers, accountants, police, detectives, judges, lawyers, medical doctors, dentists, computer programmers, systems analysts, computer specialists, auditors, electricians, math teachers, mechanical engineers, steelworkers, technicians, (militia members).

The personality assessment fits pretty well, except for this line: Usually interested in supporting and promoting traditions and establishments. But in terms of the career options... I wouldn't want to do any of these jobs.

Also, as a psychologist and researcher I have to say I HATE the forced choice questionnaires, for many of these I want to say none of the above. But I tried to remind myself that it was for fun.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Commitmentphobe

I think the temporary status of graduate school and then my post doc has made me a bit of a commitmentphobe. Every time my current supervisor talks about projects for next year, or future years I feel a little twitchy and uncomfortable.

It's strange because I was totally willing to stick around post doc for years if I got funding (wasn't that the whole reason I was applying for all those grants?). What's even more strange is that it's not like my supervisor is talking about 10-15 years, it's a plan for 1 or 2 years.

And I mentioned before how I assumed I'd go on the academic job market this year but now I probably won't be doing that. That doesn't bother me, I'm perfectly comfortable with not applying for any other jobs.

I don't have these problems in romantic relationships, I wonder why it's appeared in my work life. Weird.

I wonder how long it will take for the twitchyness to go away.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Problem Solving Out Loud (or in text)

I am settling in nicely at ANJ. I'm enjoying the projects I'm working on and I feel like I'm making a contribution. Plus, I really like all the people I work with.

The one problem (um.. not really problem... let's call it difficulty) I am having is project management. I am used to a very organized, detailed work plan and when I am the project manager I am used to handing out assignments and setting up time lines for completion. When this happens I can check in at regular intervals, provide help where needed and have a general sense of the overall progress.

The precedent at ANJ seems to be a much more fluid process than I am used to. My supervisor feels really strongly about everyone working on things they're intellectually interested in, which is fine in theory but isn't working out so well for me in practice.

The last two team meetings we've had I have outlined what we need to do for the major project I am the lead on. This project encompasses work on 4 different topics. Thus, there are lots of options for people and I have said "my goal is to have 2 people working on each topic, just let me know which topics you are most interested in and then we can set up a game plan for how to tackle it". During or after the meetings some of the team members let me know what they want to work on and we talk about what steps they should take. I think things are going well, and then later they'll come into my office and ask me a question about a different topic. So, that indicates to me that they're jumping around from topic to topic. This doesn't really work for me.

I am not sure what the problem is. I think I'm being clear about what needs to be done and what I think is the most efficient way to split up the work. Then I tell them to pick their top choice.
  • Some team members never pick a topic.
  • Some team members pick a topic and go to work on it as I expect.
  • Some team members pick a topic and then seem to jump all over the place.
  • One person didn't pick a topic but did all this work (finding and summarizing literature) in a direction that isn't going to work for us.
Why is this happening?

I think that all of my team members are motivated and want to help with this project. So I don't think that is the problem. I think that I'm being clear about how I want to organize things (and how important it is for us to be organized so that we can meet our deadlines).

Is it possible that I just need to be more direct? Assigning topics to those who don't pick them, and giving more clearly laid out objectives so that people aren't jumping around? Basically coming out and saying "Hey once you pick/are assigned a topic, it's yours, only work on that one".

Any other ideas? Anything I'm not considering?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

RBOC: End of the week edition

  • I spent this morning at my nephew's soccer game and now I have a ridiculous sun burn on the right side of my face, y'know the kind where you can see where your sunglasses were. ugh.
  • Went to happy hour on Thursday with some of my co-workers. It was fun and I'm so glad they invited me. I am the only one on my team at my level, there are a few above me and quite a few below me (in terms of job grade) and I was a little worried that it might make things isolating. But nope, not at all. Everyone at ANJ is so friendly and welcoming. My team is actually taking me to lunch on Monday and I can't wait.
  • 16 days until we close on our new house. Then we'll take about 2 weeks to move. I can't wait... but does that mean we've started packing?? Um.. nope. We should start that.
  • Tomorrow is going to be a rainy Sunday full of NFL football. DH's team plays at 1pm, my team at 4pm. Looks like it might be a PJ day.
  • I am still having headaches, everyday. I think it's an allergy thing because I'm also really, really tired which is something else that happens to me when my allergies are acting up. I really hope it stops soon.
  • I haven't done any manuscript writing in the past month. This isn't making me happy but I've needed the weekends to relax. I am hoping once we move I can spend a few hours a weekend and get some of my papers out. I really love my dissertation work and I feel like I can make an important contribution if I ever get the manuscript submitted.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I love a challenge

My supervisor is going on vacation in 10 days, they will be gone for 2 weeks, two days after they return (to this country!) they have to fly to a really important meeting and present the project I'm currently working on. Oh, and they return on a long weekend so we won't even be in the office between when they get back to the country and when they have to fly out for the meeting.

In the mean time, in order for my supervisor to do this I need to...
  1. Write one proposal (for which we've just started doing the literature and data search for this week).
  2. Revise one report, decide what we want to do for a follow up to that report and write a short proposal for that follow up.
  3. Do a literature and data search for 2 other topics and write up annotated bibliographies for both of them.
I will have help from my team, but they are all busy with other tasks as well that take precedence over my project. My supervisor is also going to help me as much as possible before they leave for vacation.

I don't feel stressed. It will be tight and if I get all of this done then it is the ideal situation and my supervisor and the people that they are presenting to will be VERY, VERY happy. If I get most of this done, they'll still be content. My goal is of course to get it all done, and have most of it done before my supervisor leaves.

I guess it's time for me to start showing what I'm worth. :)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

You can't scare me.

I really thought I'd go on the academic job market this year... but it doesn't look like that will be the case.

I have had my eye on the job ads as they come out through the list servs I belong to and on discipline or academic webpages but there's nothing that has made my heart jump. There is even a job that I applied for last year, the search was cancelled due to lack of funding, but I was encouraged by the search chair to apply again this year and it was posted a couple of months ago but... I'm just not feeling it.

I think I needed to tell myself that I could/would go on the academic job market so that taking a non-academic position would be less scary. Now that I'm in the world of non-academia, I wonder what the hell I was so scared about. So far (admittedly only 3 weeks), I am loving my new job. I am working with smart people, doing cool work, in a productive environment. I leave here at 4:30-5:00 every night without an ounce of guilt, I don't even remotely check my email. I know that if anything comes in I can deal with it in the AM or on Monday. I can't remember the last time I felt this secure. It won't always be this way, sometimes we'll have busy times with tight deadlines and I'll be working nights/weekends. But there is flexibility here that goes along with that, like comp time and working from home.

I guess what I'm saying is that I'm not scared anymore. I am settling in and really enjoying my life right now. Things are good.

Monday, September 8, 2008

New favorite food...

Been having allergy issues that have lead to pure exhaustion, so mustering as much posting energy as I can come up with today I'd like to tell you about my new favorite foods....

Fresh Mozzarella and tomato salad, with a little olive oil and basil.

We're having it with chicken tonight. I had it for lunch the other day with some crusty bread.

Can't wait for DH to get home.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Fall Traditions

The only thing that lifts my spirits about the ending of summer, is the beginning of FOOTBALL season. Baseball is still my #1 sport, but football is a close second.
I like College Football (well my grad school's football team anyway), but I love NFL football. Needless to say DH and I do not get very much work done during the Fall season as we spend Saturday's watching college ball and Sunday's watching the NFL.
Although DH and I are both huge football fans, we actually support opposing teams. He's a NFC guy and I am all about the AFC, so it's fine.... until postseason. Fall/Winter Sunday's have really become quite the tradition in our house. We both wear football jerseys, and in the morning we make a huge meal (typically it's something in the crockpot or some sort of soup) that will last for both lunch and dinner and then we sit in front of the TV and watch and eat and drink beer (has to beer when it comes to football!). When I was in grad school I used to go work at the coffee shop from 8:30am-12:30pm, just to do some work before the game started. Moving back home to the Northeast last year we started having Sunday's at my sister's house. We'd still cook the big meal (now even bigger), we'd just either make it at her house or bring it with us. I am looking forward to getting these traditions underway again this Sunday. And even more so when we move into our new house.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Not much to tell.

I've been busy with the house and ANJ so haven't had much time to write any thoughtful posts.

Things are moving along with the house. Settled on a mortgage person yesterday so all we're waiting for is the appraisal which should be in any day now and then we're all set to close on the 30th.

I was just given a really interesting project at ANJ. It's a two phase research project and I am basically going to take over phase 2. So I'll be spending the next few days getting acquainted with phase 1 and brainstorming ideas for how to tackle phase 2. The nice part is that this project isn't promised to anyone for another year so I can take my time and get to know it.

I have two on-going collaborations going on outside of ANJ that I have been moving forward on. One, we're in the process of gathering materials and writing the IRB. The other we are in the design stage. Yay for research.

That's all I have to report for now. I need to finish breakfast and get to work.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Long Weekend

We have tried to really make the best of the last long weekend of the summer.

Friday- we signed the purchase and sales agreement on our new house. Then we just hung out at home, watched some baseball and went to bed early after a crazy stressful couple of weeks.

Saturday- we slept in a bit. Went to my sisters so she could cut DH's hair, went to the grocery store and came back home and watched some baseball.

Sunday- we went to the beach and it was really windy! So we decided to head to my sisters house (with a pool) and spent the rest of the day there drinking rum punch and enjoying the pool. I overindulged in the rum punch and went to bed as soon as we got home.

Monday- we slept in again. We paid the bills and gave our landlord notice that we're moving out. Then we took the dogs for a hike at a local reservation. Finally, we went to my sisters for a labor day BBQ and we headed home early to relax a bit for work tomorrow.

YAY for 4 day work weeks!!