12 August 2013

should I stay or should I go

The past couple of years venting on this blog has really helped me. Not that I have finished my thesis, but it helped writing things down. Things that went wrong. Major epic wrongs. And I/we have had a lot of wrongs happening to us. But also a lot of rights. I foresee that spring 2014 I am defending my thesis. I am unemployed right now, but sort of okay with it. Writing articles, applying for jobs. And of course there is the major time consumer of them all. The baby. Not a baby any more, 1 year old. My my time flies. And what I have seen happening with a lot of blogs of PhD mums who gave birth happened to my blog. It bled dry. It is simply tooooo much, working on a PhD thesis, plus trying to find a job, plus running a household, plus a husband who is nearly done with his Bachelors, and the baby. Even when there is nothing to do in the evenings, and future parents there are loads of empty evenings, I am simply too tired to blog. For some reason it is completely out of my system. And I am more worried about my privacy than before, since I want a job. What is somebody happens to add things up and reads the complete blog? So I am thinking about quitting. Lets see what happens in the next couple of months ;)

18 May 2013

teaching my first lecture/course

I have just finished the 6 lectures I had to teach as a university teacher, not an assistant. As assistant I am well experienced, this was the first time I was allowed to pick my own subjects and teach them. And test them. Problem was that there was no book with the course. on which I have had no influence. So the students had to learn the slides and one article that came with each lecture. Of which I reminded them. But hardly anybody took notes. I even saw students doing homework for another course. Welllll, the grades were as to be expected: 18 of 30 students had lower than 55% correct. Only those people who made notes and responded to the interactive bits scored higher. I am so frustrated. I made the questions while preparing the slides, so I KNOW I covered the topics I had questions on. Plus most of the questions were about something we covered interactively in class. And the first question was an exact copy of the person I adopted the course from. The first sub-question was about stuff they did in first grade, and something we repeated 4 out of 6 tests. Hardly anybody new the answer. Wondering what the coordinator will say about this massacre. I strongly feel this is Not My Fault, since there were students who got 100% correct on sub questions, so they were not that hard...

26 March 2013

correceting squirl data-need tips

Quick question: I have data that I need to correct but donno how ;) Imagine that you are a squirl. You did 10 circus like things. Jumping through hoops, counting nuts and so on. After you are done, the trainer asks you if you remember the 10 tasks you just did. You have to recognize them form pictures. There are also pictures of things you did not do. Lets say, baking cakes and stuff. After you have sorted out the squirl things you did, the trainer asks you to put them in the order you did them. THIS IS ONLY ASKED FOR THE TASKS YOU REMEMBERED. SO if you recognized 10 tasks, you need to order all 10. If you recognize only 3, you order three. Now the trainer, also known as the author of this blog, scores if you put tasks 1 on place 1, task 2 on place 2, task 5 on 5 etc. So a 1/0 variable. The trainer can average correct response for two groups of squirl. So the result look like a line plot x-axis the places, y axis percentages correct (see Serial Position Effect curve). But: unlike all other serial things, these squirl did not have to order the exact tasks they did. Only the ones they remember. Trainer thus wants to correct for amount recognized tasks. Trainer can correct for the amount of tasks recognized by dividing the 1 (correctly remembered) by the total amount of recognized. This means that if one of the squirl recognized all 10, the tasks he placed in the correct place weight less that a squirl who remembered 3 (i.e. 1/10 vs 1/3). Trainer is seriously confused. One could also correct in a way that if a squirl recognized all 10, the correct placement weights 1 (10/10), while less than 10 weights less weights 0.3 (3/10). Hoping you guys offer decent advise. Or that I suddenly see the light. Don't want to discuss this with daily advisor. Feels like a fairly elementary thing, but due to flue and hormones, I just cant wrap my head around it.

04 March 2013

time flies

Oh my. It has been ages since I last wrote a post. So a quick update. Little one is almost 6 months. I did a complete overhaul on article 4. Overhaul now waits for profs to read and comment on. I mess around with data for article 5. Data misses some significant basic correlations. Other than that data looks promising. If only these base line assumptions do not need to be significant. I am running other analyses to see if I can write my way around it. Teaching (or actually grading) takes a lot of time. Which I knew of course. My contract might be renewed for a year one last time. Whenever I get my PhD title I will be too expensive for the uni to keep. Plus there will be NO ass.prof or whatsoever vacancies in the near future. The economy has taken care that everybody who has a permanent-like contract stays where they are. So I need to apply for jobs at other Uni's. One thing I have learned is that Other Unis rather hire people they know, in stead of people coming from outside. As such, my academic career at a Uni in this country is over per date of PhD defence. So. The universe has decided. No academic career at a university. Research career at governmental institutions or research facilities it is. Pity that the crisis hits these sectors as well. Coming April I hear if I am "safe" until August 2014. And I am shopping around a little more serious now....

09 January 2013

tricked by hormones

Most of the early phase hormones after labour gone, I was recently confronted with pictures of our new born baby. Man, was I in shock. When baby was newly born, husband and me thought he was The Most Beautiful Baby On The WORLD. I now offer my sincere apologies... Baby was not. I have seen pictures of new born babies prettier than ours. Ours was a pretty nice looking new born. Wrinkled, blueish, little cone head. I still *think* baby was and is the most beautiful baby on the world. My mind is ready to accept that there is a chance that there might be prettier babies than ours ;) Biology is a major trickster!

24 December 2012


As the brilliant scientist in me is slowly returning from maternity leave, as noted by a joke a made only my fellow scientist thought was funny, I am not doing science. No I am not hanging around with the baby either. I am grading exams. Still. 1/6 done. I know I got 'homework' from my committee, I needed to look into the data for one of the next articles. One data set each week. In stead I grade. Simply because the grading has a harder deadline than these articles. This homework and grading is spoiling everything. I completely freeze. Again. Have I not learned anything? If I could just make myself finish this grading, which if I get serious, would only take 5 more days, I have 1,5 weeks to look into these data sets before the next meeting with the committee. In stead I hang around the house doing nothing when the baby is asleep. Or read blogs. And now even write one. Okay, enough. Baby will sleep for approximately 20 more minutes. Let me see if I can grade 20 or so questions in that window...

21 December 2012

out of the bubble

I starting to step out of the comfort of the baby bubble. The bubble is nice and warm. And very rewarding. Plus as a scientist I enjoy the development of my child, and I enjoy interacting with my child to evoke the small but very cool developmental steps. My own project ;) However, a bigger project needs to be finished.... My PhD thesis. And for that I STILL need these 3 articles (plus analyses etc) written. And submitted apparently. One fo the 3 was sort of done and submitted, but rejected with excruciating comments. So I thought, put that aside, and focus on the other two. It is an article, it was fine enough to submit, so why not leave it like that, it is good enough as it is to be in my thesis. But noooo, Prof was very clear. He is the one to decided whether an article is good enough. Apparently it was good enough to be submitted twice (and rejected), but it is not good enough to simply leave it and dedicate my time on the last two... Even more, I get paid to teach, and that consumes a lot of time as well. Plus of course getting used to a sort of routine including the baby. When to work, there is hardly any time left for the thesis, most of the time I am awake I am either interacting with the baby, feeding the baby, correcting exams, once a week I spend 25% of my awake time traveling back and forth to work, plus some additional stressing out because this includes dropping off and picking up baby. Somewhere before the baby I also had a horse which I rode 5 times a week. Now horsey-time is baby time. And PhD time is grading time. And the rest of the time is allotted to recovering of the constant pressure, some hormonal balance sheitte, and feelings of sleepiness that come with the season anyway. I wonder when (if ever) I will be able to pick up the parts of my life and at least finish this bloody PhD...

06 November 2012

battle plan

So I have had some time off, being absorbed by the little one. And hormones. And my article has been rejected, reviewers claiming I should completely re-do the thing (which costed me 1,5 years) on a different sample. Getting that sample and approval to do testing will cost at least another 1,5 years. So perhaps not... This made me realise I want to get this thesis over with. I have the needed amount of publications. Why not write up the other chapters and NOT wait for them to be published as well. I am sort of done with academia because of 1. said comments on paper. Not the exact comments, but the fact that it works this way 2. the job insecurity 3. wages 4. the pressure on me to move abroad in order to make it as a scientist. Leaving my family or uprooting them is regarded as a small sacrifice by senior scientists in the various selection committees who did not feel this pressure when they were my age and are now installed with such high wages that uni can't afford hiring anybody else but 'them fossils'. Well, for my family (husband, little one, parents, sister, in-laws etc etc this is not a small sacrifice, nor will me leaving little one, husband, and everybody else here and leave alone [insane idea!!] be doable) I think I have written this before. And will probably write such a post again. I just need to find the strength to keep my back straight and not cave in to the pressure of the committee who wants me to submit/re-write/submit/re-write. I want to (analyse, write)x2, staple, defend, PhD. I should print that sentence out and stick it on the fridge....

23 September 2012

he is here!

Two weeks ago our little baby boy was born. It was a lot of work, in total it took from Friday evening till Sunday morning 00:15.... We were home Sunday around one.At that point the little baby stopped breathing for some seconds (felt like hours) after which we were told that it was okay, just some slime he had a hard time swallowing. However the next day he wasn't eating well and only got weaker and weaker in stead of being the strong healthy boy he was after birth. So we had to go back into the hospital on Monday since our little boy was not doing well :( he was put in an incubator (is that the word, a warm bed in which you put babies?), and I was admitted two floors higher, so we were separated :( NOT a good thing. We had to stay in hospital for two days. And the conclusion was that our little boy had nothing, just suffered from start up problems due to the long delivery. The only thing they did was keeping him warm and feeding him every three hours. So long story short, we are home now, baby boy is doing fine, just some "is it reflux or is this cramps" issues all new parents have apparently. Parenting is hard! PS Not working on my thesis made me realize science is what I love to do, but I also need an income and there might be other things I like enough to do as a job that WILL provide me and my family enough money and a steady future in stead of the uncertainty science offers. So unless science has something good to offer, I will look out for other jobs. Jobs that pay. Jobs that offer security. Jobs that are less 24/7

01 September 2012

short update

no baby no final draft of manuscript 5 rejection of manuscript 4 accompanied with a lot of reviewer comments, which was good, however, some of the comments are lingering in my head for weeks now. I am on leave. I want to be free of science related stuff. The specific comment was about something that might be of importance to manuscript 5 as well. So I feel I am on a stand still on all manuscripts untill I meet my supervisors and hear what they have bto say about it. That was not the plan, i want to finish stuff and write up stuff Before I meet them in November(!). I want this PhD-training to be over with, get the title, and be freeeeee... I am considering sending the supervisors an email about that comment but I am not sure. 1. it is 4 days before my due date. I will look like a workaholic when sending that email. 2. I need to do some literature study before I know whether this comment makes sense. Or should I just send the thoughts I have to the supervisors and hope they know some answers just because they are more senior, and have faught this battle before? It feels like I am a bad phd student when horassing them on a topic I have not looked for literature myself. Even though I should be doing nothing since I am on leave. Bottom line: I am not doing anything, not searching for literature, so I feel I can not send that email. But I am also not putting that topic aside for some time. It just hangs around in suspense... Perhaps that is why the baby doesnt want to come yet. Perhaps it is waiting for me to decide and stick with a descission on this topic....

08 August 2012

4 weeks

today it is 4 week untill due date. Still haven't touched my concept version of one of the 3 last articles of my thesis. It is increadible how much time being pregnant consumes. In my head I am touching the thesis subjects once in a while, but there are so many things that need to be finished before the kids arrives, such as finishing the baby room, that are more pressing than the thesis. While on the other hand I can fully imagine that I wont be having loads of free time when the kid is there. It feels like combining work and being a mum is already challenging, and it hasn't even started yet :)

30 July 2012

still alive

For all few readers this blog has: I am alive, and no baby yet. I was just extremely busy last month, and I went on a vacation to the south of EU. Which was a very good thing, since we had no power I could not check email, nor do analyses, or other stuff that somehow becomes more and more irrelevant as the due date comes closer. Meanwhile my contract got renewed. Uni thought it a disgrace to not renew because of my pregnancy alone. So I do have an income after maternity leave. Just (still) not enough, but in these times I should be grateful I managed to keep a (temporary) job. I also got an interview for another not so academic job. Interview went fine, but they needed somebody who could start in September. Not me, I am supposed to give labour the first week of Sep. So in short: thesis is on a pause, I am in relaxation mode, since I just came back from holiday, and my leave starts this Wednesday, and as a result of the relaxing the baby is showing some explosive growth. My aim is to start finishing the semi-final article this week. Seriously, I do want to. Now I have to find the will power ;)

11 June 2012

in a limbo

I am so busy, I am working my ass of if I could. However, energy is 50%. And work requires at least 150%. So my teaching stuff is going okay, those are the hard deadlines. My PhD project on the othr hand is going bad bad bad. No hard deadlines there. No energy left after spending hours and hours of revising theses, grading essays and preparing tutorgroups. Plus we also had to clean, paint and wallpaper the room we used to use as store room. Now at least it is a baby room. Unfortunate that I don't have the time to actually buy stuff like beds, cabintes etc etc. I am in a constant limbo of urgent stuff. So blogging? No time.

31 May 2012

this just feels like giving up

No no I am not really giving up. Trust me, I am too faithful for that but... My contract ends in July My uni persons are really happy with my teaching, I get really high appraisals from the students as well My uni persons asked me if I wanted to stay However, the teaching persons wanted to make a job application public in which they wanted to find somebody who isn't pregnant So, my contract definitely ends in July This feels like: first I had to beg for an extension of my PhD contract which I really deserved but did not get because the want to screw me over by offering me a part time teaching job that doesn't AT ALL cover the costs. I even have to pay 200 dollars a month simply to go to work, leaving me with even less money Now I have to beg if they want to be so generous as to renew my contract. It is Illegal to not renew a contract because a woman is pregnant. But nobody is going to put that reason in writing of course. And it sure feels like they should make a step to help me out. They left me in the cold when my first prof left. Leaving me with a year delay. But nooo, I have to make concessions. Taking a pay cut to get an extension. Taking a small job to keep my desk. Doing an excellent job as teacher isn't even good enough to be able to get a job renewal because I got pregnant. After two years of praying and hoping and losing a pregnancy. And every job I apply for I get these stupid messages that my CV isn't in line with the job. Raaaaa