Thursday, March 16, 2017

Yet More Book Reviews

Miss Julia Delivers the Goods (Ross): D-, DNF. First 75 pages contain disparaging ethnic stereotyping, sex-shaming, and a degree of boundary-crossing meddling that gave me hives.  Plus it was boring.

Death in the Stocks (Heyer): Re-read.  Okay, largely inoffensive. I remembered halfway through who did it.

The entire Mrs. Pollifax series: Library. Soothing, not-too-violent series about a little old lady who decides to go work for the CIA in her spare time.  Marred by the occasional racism (stop saying that dude has slanted eyes!  Gah!) but otherwise good, and a refreshing change to have an older heroine who rescues herself. 

Locked Rooms (King): Re-read.  Entertaining, not too violent or bizarre or shark-jumpy (I'm looking at you, Pirate King).

Two for Sorrow (Upson): Again, D-, would not book again.  Takes an engaging premise (Josephine Tey, novelist and notable lady-lover, is a detective!) and butchers it under a heap of anachronisms, gory violence, dead babies, and - to top it off - weak, wandering, uninteresting writing.  Bah, humbug.

Attolia series (Turner): Trilogy about a fantasy world.  Quite good and interesting.  Main character is a dude but interesting women also feature prominently. 

Unquiet Land (Shinn): Okay but the plot is wander-y and full of feeeeeelings.  Series seems to be declining; the first one was great, now heading for meh. 

Sabriel/Lirael/Abhorsen (Nix): Re-read.  I forgot how much I like these badass young ladies rescuing everyone else.  (Clariel, the more recent, is a bit unsatisfying.)

Norse Mythology (Gaiman): Did you KNOW that none of the women in Norse mythology ever did anything interesting?  About 100 pages in, I was suddenly intensely glad I had not paid money for this book.  Seriously, so much sausage. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Update: job was earmarked for someone *else's* trapped spouse.  I'm beginning to think my spouse will have to apply for jobs elsewhere, to force them to actually interview me for... anything. 

(I did decline to apply for an encore performance at the Religious Director position, on the grounds of not wanting to put myself in the middle of a huge academic-politics argument.  Also, I'm still pretty annoyed with the people who... are that person's bosses.)

Also, due to academic calendar shenanigans, there are three weeks at the end of the semester when I have, essentially, NO babysitting.  Aaaaarrggh.

Friday, February 24, 2017

On Jobs, Part the Millionth (Naptime Blogging)

I recently applied for a job Assessing Things. I was quite well qualified, but they didn't bother to interview me. (I guess that they had already decided who they were going to hire, but anyways.)   This makes three jobs at Mountain U that I've applied for, with zero results. 

There are, functionally, no other viable employers here.  Will my spouse's employer ever employ me?  Will he have to apply for jobs elsewhere to give me any leverage?  (Possibly, but that doesn't make it a good idea.) 

On the other hand, for now I have a job.  It's conveniently located and relatively well paid (per hour). I am not super fond of Endless Lab Which Everyone Hates, but this semester I picked up a lecture which actually contains stuff I care about and/or can engage the students with, and that they don't totally hate.*  Let's be honest: titration is not really a useful life skill, but biology is at least relevant to them being alive.   For Reasons, however, my wages are functionally capped at half-time.  I would very much like to make a reasonable total salary at some point. 

I worry that the longer I teach, the more likely it becomes that I will be stuck teaching forever.  (Yes, I am still doing the certificate in IT Things.)  I'm actually pretty good at it - I can tell where I need to get better, but this is the first time I've lectured since 2004, so cut me a little slack - and I can interest all of my students at least some of the time.  I don't think I'll inspire any of them to go into research (not least because I strongly discourage grad school!) but I can teach them something.  (This year, this is the one thing they'll remember, but whatever.)

But.... I've been doing it long enough to have a reasonable schedule.  I want a MWF lecture with a W lab?  Yep, I can have that.  I can have 3 other labs every semester (this sounds like a lot, but isn't; they're the same lab, and designed to be very little work for me.)  The people who do the scheduling are now different people, and they treat me with respect and courtesy and also it's February and I have a September schedule already.  This is much more workable; the previous chair inspired me to fire-filled rage, so that was 100% not working, but this might be okay.

What do I really want from a job?  Probably... something that feels like a mental stretch at least some of the time, rather than force-feeding science.**  Something where I get better at something that I value.  (I am not sure that the Foie Gras approach to science has value to me, although it is standard for this intro course, for well-founded reasons; also, this is why I didn't major in biology in college.)  Something with a full-time salary. 

But again, I don't know if it's so bad.  I was talking to two of my female students a couple weeks ago, and seeing myself through their eyes practically gave me vertigo.  The person they were seeing is dressed in professional and stylish*** clothing, earned a fancy PhD, takes no nonsense, and leads a nice, fairly well-off, happy life with a good spouse and healthy children.  She has a job where she gets respect, professional fulfilment, and the opportunity to make science interesting.  She's a role model.  (Who is this person?  Not me; I'm the barely-awake mother of a toddler who switched xylem and phloem the other week, and just said a totally wrong thing about epidurals.)

Whaaaaat am I even doing with my life?  I have no trajectory!  I lack a plan!  I am... going with the flow and, incidentally, doing a LOT more of the housework than I'm happy with long-term!^  Ack!  Ack!  Ack!

TL;DR = I flail a lot but this is Good Enough For Now, so nothing's going to change right now.

* This week, in response to a casual question, I gave a short lecture on muscle-related mutations which lead to increased performance in elite athletes. Everyone was interested and awake!  It was great!
**I was offered an upper-level lecture/seminar next term, but it would end up being twice as much work (really) for 50% less money - and a one-off, not a regular thing- so... no. (I pointed it out to my immediate employer in those exact terms, in fact.)
*** My work wardrobe is 100% from our (relatively posh) Goodwill.
^ Because I work somewhat less than half-time.  Also, five-minute commute.


Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Hi, It's Been A Bit (Ten Minute Blogging)

*waves* Hello, I have been spending all my time writing lecture notes (turns out you can't just... show up... and talk for 45 minutes; that goes badly), grading, and speaking politely but firmly to my elected representatives.

One of them is so terrible that, although I will still call their office, I am looking into starting a PAC solely to unseat him.  So help me, I'll try. 

I went and saw ANOTHER specialist.  Dear readers, let me say only that he mansplained IgE to me.  That will tell you how helpful this person was.  (Also, he assumed I was enrolled in biology, rather than TEACHING it.  A sincere fuck you, dude.) 

I am maybe in 90% less pain (which is a big improvement, and yet...) and at about 75% of normal function.  I can't really use my left shoulder for anything heavier than a small watermelon.  You will immediately note that a two year old is heavier than a small watermelon.

I have applied for another job in Judging How Well Things Do Things to Other Things.  I have heard nothing. The spouse's co-worker would be my immediate boss.  I alternate between 'this is fine' about my current job and 'but how many more years of this do I have in me, is one the answer?'  I... no, I can't wait until Sweetpea is in kindergarten, people, which will be in THREE AND A HALF more years.  No.  Something has to change before that. 

I kind of like lecturing. But also, for reasons, I hate it some. Most of those reasons are 'teaching only non-science-majors.'  They don't care.  I don't care.  Why the fuck are we titrating again?  I don't even know, kids.  Titrate faster so we can all go home. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Semester Update

Miraculously, everyone (the course coordinators) showed up at the last minute and provided all the requisite documents.  I don't have a key to the room I teach in at 8 AM three times a week - what could possibly go wrong? - and I definitely need to talk slower.  But other than that, it's all one big WHEEEEE down the giant slide.

Monday, January 09, 2017

The Wages of Disorganization are Woe

After a couple of frustrating weeks, I've finally convinced university IT to give me access to the drive where all the documents are stored for the class I'm teaching in (checks watch) eight days. 

There are over three hundred documents and not ONE of them is an accurate schedule.  There are activities and presentations and lab files - most of which I'm supposed to post for the students - but nowhere does it say what the hell I'm supposed to do on which day.  Normally this wouldn't be a problem, but this is a course with eight sections where everyone takes the same test.

The course coordinator is out of town for the next seven days.

WHYYYYY.  I have regrets already and I didn't even start.  I don't know what the hell I'm supposed to be doing other than show up the first day and start talking.  I don't know if I'm supposed to print stuff out, who preps the labs... pretty much anything. 

This is going to be epically something.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Hello, I Am Still Alive; Also, More Short Book Reviews

Still figuring out all the things.  Health!  Work!  Children!  What am I even doing with my life!  A lengthy and bitter small-town dispute with a large company!  Arguing with Mountain U's IT department!  Trying to get the material for the class I'm teaching in two weeks! The woe of local elections!  Fraud on my bank account!  Etc.  It is boring.

I am looking for more reading material, preferably by women, for the new year.  So, if you have something, please leave me a comment!



Recent reads:

English Country House Murders: If this is your thing, truly excellent.  A fantastic selection of non-violent murder mysteries by an assortment of authors; inspired me to look some of them up.

Unquiet Land (Sharon Shinn): Fourth in a series.  Okay.  The first one had interesting drama; this one is more of the people wandering around and talking variety. Villians are always foreign, but a nice diversity of national origins in the books themselves.  Female protagonist.  Recommend as a library book.

Dragons series (Patricia Wrede, re-read): Excellent as always, though my favorite is the first.  Most protagonists are female and they are all independent and funny.  Now I want to read Sorcery & Cecilia again.

All of Agatha Christie that my library has, re-read: Wow.  Stranger than I remembered, especially the spy-flavored ones (a... secret compound in the desert run by a strange millionare? sure...) and, of course, racist and anti-Semitic in the most casual of ways, but enjoyable for their soothing (although all-white) predictability.

The Siren (Tiffany Reisz): Y'all, this book was Not My Thing.  So meta! (A writer who writes about S&M/erotica has written a book about writer who is into S&M/bondage and who lives with a young man and who is writing a book about a writer who is into S&M/bondage and lives with a young man.)  So full of angst about people who are into S&M!  So pleased with itself for being edgy! Nope.

The Gourmet cookie book : inspired me to make several kinds of interesting cookies, and modify a recipe for benne wafers to use tahini instead. Library book, worth borrowing if you like cookies.

All of Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London books, re-read: I still really love these, even if the author is a dude.  There are plenty of women who are not background, and it's (IMO) a well-done urban fantasy.  Faintly reminiscent of Charlie Stross (one of the few other men I'll still read) but less disturbing and apocalyptic.  Main character is a British-Nigerian male police officer who's a wizard.  Recommend.