Sunday, March 14, 2010

Where I Am Now

The February business assignment on the Soarority forum focuses on a current-state inventory for those starting photography businesses. I'm applying the same principle to my own stalled academic career.

Talents & Skills
: Improved whazoo skills, a surprising interest in zoowhazz, GIS mapping, better at experimental design (although that is a constantly evolving skill), solid writing skills, Speak French, able to live in rustic, low-to-no-amenity environments (pit latrine. 2.5 years), grant-writing, classoom management/ lesson-planning/ instructional skills; trained in community develoment and have conducted start to finish projects on that end, once in awhile I can come up with an idea and a half-plan on how to do some cool SCIENCE!

Money ...Received some grants for my MS research which I am currently writing-up...also received a travel grant to attend a national conferece and present a poster on my work. Had received teaching assistantships for several semesters. Currently employed full-time in my home department; hoping that will last. (We're in a state that is proposing murderous budget cuts, so a lay-off is always a possbility.) Now I need to finish the second half of my thesis and defend. I'll also need to present my final results at a conference for one of my granting agencies. We're okay on money right now- okay meaning we make all of our minimum payments with a very small margin at months' end. The best thing I can do to help us with money is have my Master's in hand.

- Booker. Two women who have invested a lot of time in mentoring me and listening to my whining and anxiety. Lots of friends who are in academia and understand the challenges. Lots of friends who are not in academia to remind me that there are other things to work towards in life. My advisor is pretty good, although distinctly slow in returning drafts. And often a no-show or reschedules meetings. I feel pretty good about my committee members- they are nice people who give constructive criticism---not really worried about one of them going apeshit on me in the defense. Above all else, they are *fair*.

Systems- Ummm....well, my laptop has Microsoft XP, as does Booker's. Both are ancient and of low-to-medium performance, but we're making them work for us. I have the BioStats program our Dept. uses. Access to computers on campus with ARC-GIS software. Hours and hours of whazoo recordings and a pretty kickin' zoowhazz collection. External hard-drive.

Agreements- I have a contract with myself to finish this degree, or lose my self-respect forever.

Mission impact- there's a gap in the literature which my results would fill quite nicely. This topic was hot 25 years ago, then folks moved on. Not because it was irrelevant, but few were looking at any specific components to this ecological issue. When it was all in generalities, the community couldn't really come to any conclusions. My hope is that my research provides hard data for a very tiny component of the larger issue, which can be used to bolster up declining whazoo populations. Long-term, my committment is to research and sustainability, however those come about. My first preference is a career in academia because I want the freedom to conduct my own research, I like teaching, and I want to start a non-profit working with my former village in far-away place. Life as a professor would support all those goals.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Declutter Challenge

Well, my goal of 730 ft cubed was waaay overambitious. As of right now I'm at 20 ft cubed. Still, it has changed how I approach my junk...I'm a lot more willing to get rid of things I would have kept in the past. I'm learning that just because something has another use, doesn't mean I have to be the one to use it. That's a hard thing for a tree-hugger to accept.

I'm finding all kinds of treasures too: ex: a cutting board of 4 different woods my Dad made for my Mom their first Christmas together. (They divorced when I was 7 and I find that I am incredibly sentimental over any artifacts I can find from when they were together. Odd, since most of my memories start at 8- it's not like I'm missing that time in my life- I can't remember it! I wonder if this is a typical child-of-divorce thing?)

Ex: an old bug barn, inscribed with 'Bug-el: A safe haven.' I didn't like bugs then. Wonder what I was thinking?

Ex: A battery-operated orange tabby cat my late grandmother gave me. We'd had an orange tabby with a litter of four; the kittens eventually found a home on their farm & 5 acres.

I haven't really had much time to go through things, so I do expect those numbers to go up every month. But the little bit has made a difference- I was able to turn one of our two junk rooms into a usable space. It's officially the man-room, and was Booker's Valentine's Present. My hope is that in the next month or so we'll really start to see a difference in clutter and open space.

See Amy's Finer Things for a community declutter challenge.