Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wait a Minute....

Yesterday I was reminded of my recent post about my dislike of policies that encourage gender parity based on something other than ability. Yesterday I was very honored to receive an email informing me that I had been nominated by a student to receive a distinguished teacher award. It was great to get some positive feedback so I was happy as I read the email. That is until I read this:

The nomination of women and minority faculty is strongly encouraged

Sigh....and that kind of ruined it for me :(

Well, What Do You Know?

When I started my new blog about quilting at the suggestion of a friend to help me deal with my monumental dissertation writer's block, I don't think I actually believed that it would help. However, it has helped! I think what really helped was doing the sewing, but I think that writing about it has caused me to sew more. So, in honor of the effectiveness of quilting as a PhD facilitator-

A Quilting Haiku:

Fabric and thread in my hands
Color and pattern
Creating clear thoughts and words

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I am a Nerd

I am a nerd.

I enjoy setting up a statistical data base. I even find it relaxing.

My friend Jonathan says I am a nerd/geek because he has never seen someone use formal citation in a blog post before.

Wonder Woman says I am a nerd too.

In fact I am such a nerd that I am looking forward to spending next Saturday through Monday 1. participating in a panel discussion at a professional conference in Pennsylvania, and 2. attending a seminar/workshop in northern New Jersey.


When I mentioned having to drive to northern NJ just outside of New York City and being concerned about getting lost (I went to a conference in DC last year and ended up getting so lost I drove around the ‘hood for a half hour) a friend offered to come with me and do the driving. When I am at the seminar Sunday and Monday she will be in NYC seeing a show and shopping. My employer pays for the rental car, gas, and the hotel room so she gets a “free” trip to NYC and I get a driver. I am very happy to have the company.

I have never been to NYC before, but I will have Sunday evening free to do something or go somewhere…what should I do?

Past Peak

There are still some pretty trees, like this one in my neighbor's yard.

But, we are mostly past peak season for the leaves changing here now.

Since winter is getting closer I spent some time today cleaning my deck and bringing in my planters. Look at this plant! Given my tendency to kill plants I think I need to go to all bachelors buttons in the planters next summer. It actually survived not just one summer and fall, but two summers, and even a winter of my neglect, and is still alive and blooming. Here it is in the corner of my garage referred to as the "plant graveyard". Hopefully it makes it through another winter.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Overheard on the Elevator

This afternoon at work I overheard the following conversation between two male and two female college students on the elevator:

Female student 1: What happened?
Female student 2: When I said "I'll push your buttons" (student gesturing toward the elevator buttons), he said "I bet you would" real creepy.
Male student 1: Who said that?
Female student 2: He was an old guy, at least 40, and he was holding a stack of books.
Female student 1: Eww
Male student 1: I bet he was a professor or something. You should sue him.
Male student 2: You should have told him to give you 1000 dollars or you'll sue him.
Female student 2: It was really creepy
Male student 2: If I was a girl I would not put up with creepiness at all, I'd get some money for it.

Apparently these students believe experiencing "creepy" behavior should be worth some cash, and that blackmail is an acceptable way to deal with the situation. This is why I never meet with students with the door to my office closed.

Monday, October 20, 2008

First Frost

Pictures taken while I was stuck in traffic from an accident this morning.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

New Blog

I have been struggling with some major writer's block the last several weeks and have been unable to make meaningful edits to my dissertation. So, I have been receiving lots of advice and trying lots of different things to shake some thoughts loose. One thing that helps me is to be creative. One friend suggested I start a blog to talk about the creative projects I work on as another way of taking my mind off of the writer's block. So, I have started a new blog about one of my favorite creative outlets, quilting. I am going to post pictures about my projects as I work on them. I may include creative things other than quilting too. I am going to link the blog here, so check it out if you are interested. But, I won't be linking that blog back here.

Here's a preview!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Un-Planned Pregnancy

One of the more difficult parts of my job is dealing with the personal problems that my students share with me, from relationship problems, to the death of a parent or significant loved one, or pregnancy. I don't mind when students come to me with problems, in fact I think of it as my ministry. I do my best to advise and or help them, while asking God for wisdom. But, some problems are more difficult than others to deal with.

One of the most difficult situations for me to deal with is when a student tells me they are pregnant and have an appointment scheduled to have an abortion. It is difficult because it feels like exactly what it is, a life and death situation. My first impulse is to yell "please don't kill your baby!" but, if my objective is to prevent the abortion, that isn't going to help. Instead I listen, I offer alternatives, I encourage them to not base such an important decision on feelings or circumstances while silently begging God to help me change their mind. Then I wait and pray that they begin to look pregnant. While waiting sometimes I lay awake at night asking God if I should have said or done something else. I'm not sure why students come to me, but a very wise person I know tells me that she believes they come to me because they want me to talk them out of the abortion. I pray that is true.

After some recent discussions about pregnancy on others' blogs I have been thinking about something women say, including my students, when telling me about their pregnancy: "It wasn't a planned pregnancy." It wasn't planned? Please correct me if I am wrong here, but isn't having sex and becoming pregnant and then saying it wasn't a planned pregnancy kind of like eating a whole pizza every day for a week and gaining a five pounds and then saying "it wasn't a planned weight gain"? Isn't it like washing your face and brushing your teeth and putting on your nightie and climbing into bed and falling asleep and then saying "I didn't plan on sleeping"?

It is like birth control methods and abortion have separated sex from pregnancy, and in so doing have removed the cause and effect relationship between the two. No longer is the conception of a child viewed as the logical consequence of sex, rather it is "an accident". Is it any wonder that the child conceived in this manner can be dismissed as a "mistake".

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Friday, October 10, 2008


During the Summer one of my graduate students (I'll call her Jane) who I have also known for more than 10 years, called me and asked if there was any way possible that she could be done with her thesis as soon as possible so that she could deal with a family issue. Jane told me when she originally decided to return to school several years ago that her husband (I'll call him Bill) was in favor of her continuing her education because it would mean that she could easily find a new position at almost twice her previous salary and they agreed that was a good thing for them. Jane explained that while Bill, who she has been with since before I had known her, had been very supportive while she was in school and working full time, that he had just told her that he wanted to separate. Jane told me that Bill had told her that he wanted to be supportive of her but that her complete lack of regard for him over the past few years coupled with her stress and anxiety over school had left him feeling abandoned and hurt and he needed to be apart from her. Bill told her that he had been feeling negatively about their relationship for a while but had kept it to himself because he believed if he told Jane he was so unhappy that she would have quit school and he didn't want her to do that (Jane agreed that she would have quit). But Bill had met his limit and wanted to separate. So, at Bill's request Jane took her son and moved back into her parents house.

Jane was devastated, contrite, and desperate to make things right with her husband Bill. She explained to me that she knew that Bill was right, that her priorities had gotten off track, that she had neglected him, developed tunnel vision and become excessive about her studies, and had become difficult to live with. I told Jane that I was very sorry to hear about her troubles and that I admired that she was willing to take responsibility and reorient her priorities and not just blame her husband. We discussed it and worked out a way that she could quickly meet her final requirements for her thesis and be done with it. Jane told me that she hoped to reconcile with her husband, but that she didn't know what would happen because her husband was more hurt and upset than she had ever seen him. I told her that I would pray for them. Jane also told a few other profs about her troubles. When the other two profs she told mentioned it to me they had a different take on what happened. Both thought her husband was a "jerk for not being supportive".

Today Jane stopped in my office to see me. I was very happy to hear that she and her husband had been "dating" and working on their relationship and that things between them were better than they had ever been. When I told my coworkers who were aware of her situation that she and her husband were reconciling one said "sure, now that she's done with school and can give him her undivided attention", and the other one said "well, I already gave her my 2 cents about that". When I asked my coworker what she meant by that, she said she had told Jane that her separation wasn't about her neglecting her marriage, that it was about something else and school was a convenient thing for her husband to blame.

With all the messages that women recieve about men and marriage I am glad that Jane was able examine her part in what happened, adjust her priorities, and move toward reconciling with her husband even though others thought their problems were just about him being an unsupportive jerk.

More Happy Thoughts

I absolutely love Fall and it was a beautiful day today so I took some pictures on my way to work this morning. We are not quite at peak with the leaves changing colors yet, but it is still very beautiful.

I also went to a near by park this afternoon after work and took some pictures while I was there too....

And on the way home too.

The last one is my favorite one I think. I'm not much of a photographer but it's hard to take bad pictures with views like this.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Something Different: Roasted Beets

There seems to be so much turmoil in the world right now with the presidential election, the economy and so on. So, for a change of pace I'm going to write about something peaceful and! I like to cook, especially for other people, I find cooking calming and it makes me happy to offer something pleasing to other people. So lets think happy thoughts!

I like to cook seasonal foods, so in the Fall I like to cook things like soup, or anything with pumpkin or apples, or roasted vegetables. Yesterday I bought some fresh beets because I wanted to try roasting them. So tonight, I cut off the greens:

I threw the greens away like the Yankee I am (sorry Jonathan!), and washed and trimmed the beets. Then I tossed them with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper and roasted them at 350 for about an hour and 15 minutes, or until they were fork tender.

They were good, but I think they would be better if I cooked them at a higher temperature.
What are your favorite Fall recipes?

Friday, October 3, 2008

Coping with Politics

I will be glad when the election is over because I just get weary of all of the back and forth. I do try to watch the debates to be an informed voter, but sometimes it just gets on my nerves. Luckily tonight during the Vice Presidential debate TNT was playing the movie "School of Rock". When the politicians got on my nerves I switched over to watch Jack Black for a bit. This is a rather silly movie but there are some genuinely hilarious moments. Check out the trailer here.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Please, Hold Me to a High Standard

Yesterday, Elusive Wapiti wrote a post about "title nining the sciences". This is an agenda where politicians are pressing the Department of Education and other federal grant funding agencies to apply equity standards to science programs in which women are "under represented" in order to enforce gender parity. As a woman who works as an educator and researcher in the health sciences this absolutely horrifies me.

The problem here is that equity is being defined as an equal outcome, when true equity really starts with equal opportunity to compete under the same standard. When there is an intrinsic difference in ability between two groups of people, in order for both groups to have an equal outcome, the standard must be lowered. The fact of the matter is that at the higher IQ levels (above 130 or 2 standard deviations above the mean) associated with working in the sciences men outnumber women 2:1. So, guess what? That means if we are all being held to the same standards, then men should outnumber women in the sciences. It also means that some women have succeeded and will continue to succeed in the sciences without the unwanted and condescending meddling of Barbara Boxer and her ilk. The idea that women can only succeed in the sciences with special consideration or help is nothing short of insulting to the women who have worked hard and succeeded in the sciences on their own merit.

It is also a matter of protecting the general public. The sciences significantly influence the safety and well-being of the general public from medical research to the structural integrity of buildings. When the already limited research dollars go to less qualified researchers in order to meet some sort of gender affirmative action plan people will suffer.

I recently met with a member of my dissertation committee. I greatly appreciate his feedback to me because where some members of my committee would let me get away with "very good" he demands that I meet a higher standard of excellence. That is definitely to my benefit. He doesn't hold me to high standards to oppress me, he does it because he believes I am capable of meeting them. That is far more "empowering" to me than some politician deciding I need their help to succeed. No thanks.