Thursday, January 26, 2012

hey you guys!

(I love the goonies)

EcoGeoFemme had a post a few days ago discussing (among other things) the issue of how to address a group of women or a mixed group of people.

It made me think... how do I refer to a group of women in a professional setting? I tend to use "ladies" if it's a group of women and "folks" for a mixed group or for an indeterminate mass of people. If I'm trying to get the attention of a boisterous group, I tend to bang on a table/nearby flat surface and yell... what do I yell? I think, "hey, everybody!", but I also tend to point at the person who is being the loudest/who is talking and ignoring me and call them out by name.

If I'm with a group of friends, I'll use "guys" to address them, even if it's an entirely female group. When I was visited England in high school and yelled, "hey guys" to get the attention of a bunch of female friends, I was flummoxed when I was scolded by someone who told me that we were young ladies. To me, "guys" is the casual way to address any group of people, and I have to consciously choose another term. "Ladies" sounds so formal to my ears.

I do tend to say "girls" when I refer to a group of young women or immature women, but I also refer to especially young/immature/poorly behaved men as "boys". I think I am a rarity in this, though.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


FSP's post yesterday asked about googling applicants (either for potential colleagues or students). Does the info you find from googling help to select a student/employee?

I could see using google to confirm someone's credentials - did they actually attend university X? But extracurricular activities would have zero influence on any decision. I was burned in high school by not being appropriately social (I was passed over for all of those prestigous prizes even though I had better academics and far more significant volunteer/leadership positions), and I make it a point not to judge someone based on perceived ability to fit in.

Some people are more...outgoing online than others. I have a relatively low profile in social media - maybe I'm overly cautious, but I have friends and family with wildly diverging lifestyles/political beliefs, and I'm friends with several teenagers who consider me to be "auntie shorty". So I tend not to express anything controversial. My sweetie, however, loves to engage in arguments online and has a fair amount of work downtime in which to post, and so has a much more... assertive online personality. In real life, neither of us is more professional than the other.

I have a relatively common name, so if you google my name, you'll get a huge list of different women who are clearly not me. In order to find me, you need to add a few specific details (say, the subject of my thesis and article), and therefore you will be less likely to find anything, ah, incriminating. That suits me just fine.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

winter wheels

I live in a cold enough climate that snow is a regular issue in the winter. I know that I should have winter tires, which are way better than all-wheel drive in winter conditions. I've never owned a car with either.

My first car was inherited from my Mom. It was an old-school economy car made entirely of steel, with some plastic to liven up the interior and pad out the bumpers. It had no power (or brakes) to speak of, and it had narrow little economy tires that allowed me to scramble out of any accumulation of snow/ice lower than the chassis.

When my first car died, I got my little hatchback, and learned that the wide, sporty tires were um, not good for snow. But by then, I had driven safely through utterly hairy conditions (roads with massive, 50+ car chain accidents, roads that were closed by the authorities about 10 minutes after I drove through, etc) with vehicles that were terrible for snow: cargo vans and pickups with front-wheel drive and no weight in the back. So I didn't feel any urgency to get winter tires.

But now is the time to consider winter wheels and tires: 1. I have been convinced that it's dumb to avoid a critical safety feature just because I think I'm an awesome driver. 2. My current wheels have a really crappy alloy that went yellow almost immediately and permanently look dirty, and the rims have a bad case of curb rash.

Ok. When my current all-season tires expire, I'll buy winter tires and put them on the old wheels, then I'll get summer tires and... new wheels! Some browsing on tire rack provides 2 options for wheels that will fit my car that are lightweight, not hideous, and not outrageously expensive:

1. The cheaper option ($140/wheel) that I like the looks of a little better, but which weighs almost 20 pounds - Enkei Performance Imola


2. The more expensive option ($180/wheel) that weighs 3 pounds less - Enkei Tuning Fujin

Either way, this is going to be an investment. Hope we don't get hit by a truck any time soon.

Monday, January 16, 2012

profile update

For those who have been keeping track (or avoiding work by reading all 370 + posts), you know that I finished my thesis in late 2008 and got my masters degree in 2009.

I thought that with the new year, perhaps it was time to update my profile to reflect the fact that I am no longer in grad school. I still have great fondness for grad school (the free time! the social life! spending all of my time on my own research!) and strong opinions about various aspects of academia, so I'll still have posts on the subject.

If you would like to see any changes to the format (sidebars, color scheme, etc), put a word in and we can discuss. Right now, my color scheme is "colors I like" plus "non-migraine inducing", but I'll listen to an argument for something else...

Friday, January 13, 2012

wind gear

I have been spoiled by this winter. Although I've been spending significant time outside for months, it's been unusually mild almost the entire time.

I went to work with my usual couple of layers - undershirt, 2-layer wool shirt, light pants, and wind-stopping outer gear. It seemed reasonable, considering that it was 55 when I left the house this morning. However, the temperature dropped 20 degrees by the time I got to the field location and the wind quickly picked up to a sustained, oh, 40 mph.

I have been wearing a nasty old knit hat that's only marginally warmer than a bandana. An old bandana. But - buried under six cloth grocery bags, a first aid kit, an emergency fleece blanket, a box of nitrile gloves, and two horseshoes (unearthed a long time ago during fieldwork, they were interesting enough to throw into the trunk but not enough to move out of the trunk), was a two-layer fleece balaclava. Imagine something like these but in a more...festive color.

And you know what? Once I was properly balaclava'd and had added a fleece vest and ditched the wind pants for some lined coveralls (if it was going to precipitate anything, it would be snow) I was toasty the entire day. This, dear reader, is exactly why I haven't cleaned out my trunk of all that miscellaneous field gear that's just been mildewing for the last, oh, several years.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

old field photo

I recently found an old photograph of me collecting a groundwater sample. The picture is at least 10 years old: I'm wearing a pair of pants that are at least two sizes smaller than what I have now and a hat that bit the dust at least two hats ago. What, you don't measure your career experience by hats?

The one thing that struck me about the picture is how young and.. fragile I looked.

I joke a lot about looking young for my age (short, slight, and baby-faced), but in my mind, my head is nearly level with that of everyone around me and I have a reasonable poker face that doesn't show every blessed emotion that flits through my head. It's only the distance of a decade that allows me to see what the rest of the world does.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


I promised last year that I was done with making resolutions. But some time after January, I did end up making resolutions of a sort. Both came about because of a decision that I've spent enough of my life spinning my wheels - that I want to take risks and do what will make me happy, not just keep going in the same direction because it's the next logical step. And I've figured out the actual steps to make them happen.

1. I will go on more adventures. Maybe I don't have enough time or money to have an annual epic 2-week adventure like this one, but I can block out 1 week this year to replenish the kitty (road-tripping on the cheap in the southwest) and next year, I'll have the big adventure.

2. Sweetie and I have fallen in love with a place that is not here. We want to buy a house there, something we can truly call home, even if it means a dramatic drop from our current standard of living. And we're going once either one of us finds something, even if it's not a professional ideal. Target date: when our current lease is up (a couple of months).

Monday, January 9, 2012

happy new year!

I'm back from vacation and ready to look back over last year. I really had a bad year, post-wise, didn't I?

I figured that I would do a review of the year by posting the first sentence of the first post of each year. I've done this for the last two years (2010 and 2009) as well.

Looking back over the last year, all I can think is, "thank God that's over!"

Sometimes I think about my professional position and I get discouraged.

I just realized that I haven't spelled out my comment moderation policy.

(No posts!? The next one explains why.)

I haven't given up blogging completely - it's just that over the last two months, life got in the way.

I have a file of random "important papers" that I've taken with me to every place I've moved.

It's funny that I ended up in the contaminated dirt business, because I grew up in the town next to (and downstream of - lucky us!) a massive, famous superfund site.

It's good to be busy.

(Two missed months! Egads!)

I'm catching up on my old, old blog reading, and I found a banned book meme via Silver Fox.

I was poking around various corners of the internet last night, looking for various examples of raingear.

Here's to a healther, happier, more productive 2012.