Saturday, September 24, 2005

friday night insomnia

well, we went out with some friends and I swear, there is something in tequila that keeps me awake worse than coffee. I did not even drink that much, at all. I slept for about 2 hours, and now I'm up, watching The Usual Suspects on tv. I've seen it before, but I don't remember all the details of the plot.

It was a pretty crappy week overall, when I finished with LaTeX it still took me half a day to deal with formatting paperwork in Word. Didn't get all my recommendation letters, didn't get all my signatures, so the whole thing is sitting in my office and I'll drop it off Monday for the internal crap to get finished. My favorite was the person whose whole job it is to calculate the internal funding stuff, she sent me the files but didn't send them to the office who actually cares about the exact numbers... I figure, at this point, it really doesn't matter unless I actually get the grant, and that's a lot of months away.

Had to give a talk today, it was the worst kind. Most of the audience was people who have already heard it, and it was so short I couldn't show any data. So of course I didn't get any questions. I hate giving talks and not getting questions. Of course the guy who insisted on having this seminar series really didn't do a very good job of drumming up people interested in attending it! He was more intent on lecturing me about what kind of talk I should give.

So there's a lesson for you: never be the first person to speak in a new series, unless you know there is a guaranteed audience. It's better to wait until people get in the habit of coming, and the word gets out. Otherwise it doesn't matter how good your talk is!

Actually the talk was good, or so I'm told. I didn't think it was anything special. I practiced it last night a few times, and my advisor said it was great, really polished, that I'm really ready for job interviews now. Which is such a joke, it's just that the other talks I've given this year were totally unrehearsed things that came up at the last minute. This talk I gave today was no better than my thesis defense was three years ago. Oh well, if that's all you had to do to get a job, I guess I'd already have one. But she was very sweet, she said "I hope you get some interviews." Isn't that nice? Too bad she's not on the phone calling up people on search committees telling them how I'm exactly the person they need! People still really don't want to admit that's what happens behind the scenes.

Speaking of behind the scenes, I went to a thesis talk today, too. It was great, but kind of funny because the poor student wasn't allowed to talk about some of his stuff. His advisor is totally paranoid, and basically hamstrung him by saying he could mention some of it but not all of it... of course everyone asked about exactly the experiments he wasn't allowed to discuss! It was especially funny since I know about all of the 'secret' experiments, and I can honestly say that nobody cares . There is no way this guy would get scooped for presenting his own data at this own thesis defense. It's just not that interesting, and nobody else there works on that stuff. Plus he's too far along to get scooped at this point.

And, I ran into someone I hadn't seen in a while. This is the someone I think might have filed the harassment complaint, but I couldn't bring myself to ask outright and I couldn't figure out how to steer the conversation so it might just, you know, happen to come up. Anyway the guy, you know, the guy, he is apparently getting his karmic payback, rumor has it he is ill and in the hospital. Like these hurricanes, some people are saying it's a message from God, like when Charley hit Florida and only the red counties, not the blue ones. But I was surprised, I found out today that harassment charges are the only, the one and only, thing that can override tenure and get you kicked out. Very interesting. Not that it would matter much, he's got more than enough money to support himself and his family for years to come, even if he can't work and has to pay hospital bills.

I've never met any rich people I actually liked.

So... I'm still tired, but I still doubt I'll be able to sleep. I'm kind of hell-bent on not working this weekend, but now I'm wondering how much fun it will actually be to force myself to have, you know, 'fun.'


At 6:02 AM, Blogger Tabor said...

After reading about your struggle to get your paper out and signed I am convinced that our culture has gone to the dark is all about processs and not about product!

At 7:37 AM, Blogger John said...

I agree almost down the line with your thoughts today. Not showing results, especially in the case of a graduating student where the research is mature, should be a crime. The budget office's interest doesn't matter until the grant is funded, so long as the figures in the proposal are plausible. Talks without questions are irritating. Advisors should connect students with people searching for someone to hire, although I'd guess only half do.

For seminars, usually there is an advantage to going first in the series. As the semester wears on, attendance drops, often because they line up the most attention-grabbing talks to start with, but also just due to fatigue.

One trick is to end the talk with "Future directions", and even say "I could say more about these if there are questions", basically feeding the audience a choice of questions to break the ice.


At 8:25 AM, Blogger BotanicalGirl said...

Sorry your paperwork has been such a nightmare for this thing.

Also, seminars are a pain in the ass to put together. I hate it when no one is asking questions and I can't think of anything remotely decent to 'save' the speaker.

My old PI, the evil one, was also uber-paranoid that we were going to be scooped. Thank God I never got far enough along with him that I had to give a presentation on my work, or most of it would have been hand-waving hocus-pocus.

At 11:21 AM, Blogger Ms.PhD said...

you are are right, i should have done a 'future directions' slide, just to really drive home the point that they could ask about where the project is going... like i said though, i think i would have been better off showing more data if i wanted more questions.


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