Friday, August 29, 2008

Au Revoir

Sorry to once again be missing from the blogosphere. As anticipated, things have gotten very crazy very fast. The move is slowly coming together. We put in our notice, arranged for the movers, and Dean's mom is flying down to help with the drive and the kitty-moving. The only thing missing is a place to go. We've narrowed it down to two apartments and we are waiting on some additional photos. Hopefully one of these will work out, but if not it doesn't seem too difficult to find housing, especially through the University affiliated housing exchange where I found the two current prospects. Mostly the people that post there own duplexes they are trying to rent out half of, which will be very comfortable for us. And the prices are much more reasonable than going through a commercial rental property.

Some troubling news to share: McLovin needs to have his arm amputated. I took him to a different vet than the one the rescue group was paying for to get him evaluated for neutering. Given his paralysis, I was nervous about putting him under anasthesia and wanted a second opinion. The rescue group would have paid for neutering through a high-volume, low-cost clinic but I didn't feel comfortable with that in this particular situation. However, to pay full price at the rescue vet was going to be quite expensive. So I took him to a reasonably-priced cat specialist who looked closely at his arm and determined he wasn't getting proper circulation in his arm and he'd be all around better off losing what literally is just dead weight. She showed me the red flags, and ultimately I agree that the arm should be amputated, and she's right, he'll get around much better without dragging it. But I'm very nervous about the surgery, it is quite involved. And it's one more thing that needs to happen in just the next couple of weeks. But I'm grateful she caught it and I can't imagine what I'd do if I hadn't taken him in and his health started deteriorating due to circulation issues.

Anyway, I'm off to France tomorrow morning. I know I haven't made the rounds in a little while, and I likely won't be able to until I get back a week from Monday. I'm really excited and scared all at once. I'm all packed and my arrangements are in place. I'm of course bringing my camera and will share thoughts and pictures when I return. Wish me bon voyage!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Lottery Meme

I found this meme over at Jeni's and I really liked it. I think it is very revealing, and let's face it, who doesn't fantasize about having a never-ending stream of moolah.

You just won the mega powerball jackpot to the tune of 150 million dollars...

1. What would be the very first thing you would do?

Pay off my credit cards. Then I'd pack us up and move us out of the ghetto.

2. Where would you choose to live?

I'd choose to be a snowbird and live the summers in Minneapolis and the winters in Florida, on one of the Sarasota beaches.

3. What kind of house would you live in?

In Minneapolis, I'd buy a big old house in the middle of the city with an open floor plan, lots of windows and a huge screened-in porch for the kitties (sounds a lot like my dad's house...). In Sarasota, I'd buy something newer, Spanish style with high ceiling and lots of stone tile. Both houses must have a library and a large basement (or some extra space) for Dean's "man room".

4. What kind of car would you buy?

A Toyota Highlander hybrid. Not too luxurious, but energy efficient and roomy enough to cart the cats back and forth from Minneapolis and Sarasota. ;)

5. Where would you vacation?

I don't know about vacation. To me, vacation equals relaxing so my favorite place to vacation is just at home or the beach. But I would love to travel more. Two places I would absolutely love to see are Alaska and India. Alaska only during the summer time, I'd take one of those cruises that go from Seattle up around Canada to Alaska. And I've always been intrigued by India - the culture, the food. And in general (I hate to stereotype, but it's unavoidable here), in general Indian people are so hospitable.

6. Would you have anything on your body fixed?

Liposuction. And electrolysis. Have I mentioned I'm a brunette of Eastern European descent?

7. What kind of hobbies would you engage in?

I'd buy a boat. Like the one my mom and Tom have at the lake, just big enough to cruise around in without coming off as pretentious. Since presumably, Dean and I would be sharing this money, we'd probably end up investing in more sports memorabilia. Separate from vacation, I'd like to tour the country and visit all the ballparks since watching baseball is already a hobby of mine.

8. What charities would you donate to?

Definitely the MS Society and the American Cancer Society. The big national animal charities, SPCA, Humane Society as well as Alley Cat Allies. I'd also make big donations to the local animal rescues that have helped me out in the past - Cat Call and St. Francis.

9. Would you give money to your relatives?

Yes, I'd for sure pay for my sister's college and help the rest of my family out in any way I could.

10.Would you run away from your current life?

No, but I'd make some changes. I love my life but like everyone in this economy money would make a lot of things easier. I'd definitely hire a maid!

11. Would you continue to work?

I would work half time. Not working at all would drive me crazy, but as things are now I don't have time to do what I afford to do, let alone what I could do with a fortune.

12. Would the money change you in any way?

It would make me more accessible. I could see my family and friends a lot more. But it definitely wouldn't change my values. I'd still be a democrat!

What would you do if you had that kind of money?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Multimedia Catblogging

I'm going to try to post a kitten video so that you guys can see Ray/McLovin. I took a video with my camera because I assumed my parents and in-laws would want to see how he can walk. But the video is 50MB and this was the only way I could think of to share it. Fermi - try to top this for catblogging!

Friday, August 15, 2008


Sorry guys, I knew it had been at least a week since I last posted, I didn't realize it had been closer to two. Big goings on here.

On top of trying to plan a move to Providence, I am also planning a last minute trip to France. Yep, nothing like a little international travel ALL BY MYSELF to put my nerves at ease. Funny story... a female professor who happens to be good friends with my advisor, is co-chairing a big magnetism conference in Aussois, France at the end of the month. She suggested I apply for a travel stipend to go since there were special funds set aside for women and minority post docs. So I submitted a general abstract which was accepted. Dr. Hari then told me IF I got the funding, he would help out a little but not all. He suggested that I go to our department chair and see if the department could help out as well, and then I would likely only have to pay a couple hundred dollars out of pocket, which isn't bad for a trip to France.

Anyway, I really doubted I would get the conference travel stipend. And even if I did, I figured with budgets being so tight there was no way the department chair would go for it. Well, guess what. I got the stipend. And the conference chair totally went for it. And now I am off to France at the end of the month.

Don't get me wrong, this is so exciting! But it is a lot of work. This from a girl who planned her wedding in an evening over a six pack of beers. I definitely can't handle planning a trip to the French countryside. Dr. Hari suggested I tack on a couple of days in Paris to the end of the conference and even thinking about Paris is giving me an ulcer. Paris itself sounds wonderful. But all by myself sounds downright scary.

Anyway, I will try to keep you posted about everything.

Monday, August 04, 2008


Some decisions are easy to make. Like whether or not to keep a three-legged, beer-drinking kitten. No, I don't exactly let him drink it from a saucer, I just can't help it if Ray wants to lick my lips after I've had a sip of beer. From what I gathered from the comments on my last post, you all knew Ray would be staying. Yes, the timing is bad but sometimes practicality must be forgone in favor of what you feel in your heart. I tried for two weeks to convince Dean that keeping Ray was right for us. His mom and dad tried as well to convince him not to let anyone else take him, that we knew his needs and what was best for him. But I think that in the end, it was Nellie, Wrigley, and Allison that tipped the scale in favor of making Dean (and I) believe this is exactly where he belongs. The "big kitties" love him so much and play so gently with him, it almost makes me proud of them. While I knew saying good bye to him would be hard, I'd would have understood why it was necessary. Ray's "cat parents" can't reason in that way, and it became increasingly clear that we just couldn't bear to separate them.

My mother-in-law, God bless her heart, has agreed to sew up some improvised socks for his gimp leg by cutting the fingers off of knitted winter gloves and sewing around the edges to prevent them from unraveling. I'm certain she thought by this point she'd be sewing booties for a different occasion, but we cannot help the twists and turns our lives take and we'll get there eventually.

There were a couple of terms to the negotiation that Dean and I settled upon. One, Dean got to choose a new name for Ray because he didn't like the name I picked out. So Ray is now McLovin*. But he will still be Ray on his vet records and in appropriate social situations where I feel that people might not see the humor in a cat named McLovin. Anyway, it's a different sort of name for a different sort of cat and believe it or not, it fits him. Yes, he is still the sweet kitty I described to you, but as time goes on and he becomes more comfortable he has proven to be a bit of a spazz. Second, Ray/McLovin isn't really "our cat" for as long as we live in apartment, but instead a "permanent foster". Because apparently four cats in an apartment is absurd. Once we get settled in a house, his status will be upgraded from "permanent foster" to "full house cat" accordingly, though the promotion is in title only. He is currently loved every bit as much as all the others. Below is one of my favorite pictures so far. But beware, he is laying in my laundry basket. I have blurred out the undies.

Some decisions are more difficult to make. Like whether or not to take the job I was offered last week.

I have not talked very much about the job search because it has been terribly stressful and the job market has been so depressing that I had no idea if I'd simply end up flipping burgers. Which is more than some people can do right now. My first choice for a job was to get a National Research Council Fellowship to work in a national lab of my choice for two years at an awesome salary. As it turned out, I got sickeningly close to achieving this, and I've been told that under average funding circumstances (as opposed to the completely anemic science funding that has scarred research the past several years), I would have definitely gotten it. I am still a little bitter about this.

Because I got so close, I was told I'd automatically be reconsidered for a fellowship during the next review cycle. I wouldn't have to resubmit transcripts and letters of recommendation. Only to strengthen my research proposal, which I think I did. However, these decisions aren't made until January, and I can't afford to wait until then. The good news is that if I do get it this time around, I can defer it for up to a year.

None of this would be as important if it weren't for the fact that I didn't get my second choice job (despite being invited for an on-site interview). And my third choice type of job, getting a permanent position in industry, is not going well. The company where I did my internship doesn't generally hire new Ph.D.'s, they prefer post-doctoral experience. I've applied anyway, without much success because I am competing with people much more qualified than I.

So it seemed like a logical choice to take an academic postdoc position. Those typically last a year and the contract can be renewed for a second year. That way, if during my first year I get the job I really want, I can leave after gaining a year more experience, doing research, publishing papers, etc. If once again I am passed over for this fellowship, I have an additional year to really look hard for a job in industry, and hopefully gain ground on some of the people I am competing with now.

This isn't ideal, but it seems like it might be necessary. It is while keeping in mind that I didn't really want to do an academic postdoc that I tell you I got an offer for an academic postdoc at a very good institution. Not the best, but a huge step up from where I am now (sorry, I still love you USF!). Someone planning to stay in academia would be thrilled, but sometimes I can't help but see it as treading water for yet another year. I know this isn't true - this is a place where I can build up a name for myself and work under someone I've admired for a long time. Someone with strong ties to the magnetic recording industry and two of the national labs where I've been wanting to work.

So it's a tough choice. But it's in a great area (New England), someplace we'd like to spend a little bit of time. And of course Deano is being is wonderful, loving, supporting self and is happy to follow me where ever I want to go. Anyway, enough rambling. I'll let you know when this decision is final.

*For those of you who haven't seen Superbad, here is some background.

UPDATE: I took the job. :)