Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A snapshot of what's on my mind lately

(Longer than random bullets, but not long enough to warrant separate posts.)

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Item #1: CS conferences are too expensive. It's only August and I've already burned through my entire travel budget for this year. Why? Because CS conferences are out-of-control expensive. I'm talking just the registration fees (although the two conferences I went to this summer were in pricey locales, which certainly didn't help the budget). Now, I'm really grateful that my institution does give me travel money each year; that's not the issue. The problem is that if I want to get my work out there, I have to submit conference papers; if I submit conference papers, I have to go present them; but the price structure of CS conferences makes it difficult to attend more than one conference a year. So it's a catch-22. I am now in the position where (a) I have to figure out if there's a way to finagle travel money out of some dean or my department chair so that I can go to GHC this year and (b) I'm screwed if I get another conference paper accepted this fiscal year. Not exactly what I want to spend my time and energy stressing over.

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Item #2: Perception is everything. Mr. Jane is one of the most enlightened men I know. However, last week I had to read him the riot act, over time spent on child care. Or, should I say, the lack thereof on his part. His perception was that he was doing a fine job; the reality was that I was basically doing child care 24/7, even on weekends. Lessons learned: him---he's gotta step up to the plate and not wait for me to ask for help (duh); me---be more assertive in letting Mr. Jane know what I need, in terms of time and assistance, and in taking time for myself.

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Item #3: Why peer mentoring is important. I get together regularly with a few friend/colleagues to talk about life and work. Ok, mostly life, but the goal is to keep each other on track with our research. These women are currently kicking my butt to get me to submit the journal article that I *still* haven't submitted. Which is just what I need right now. If not for them, I'd probably continue to ignore it and let it languish. Because of their pestering, though, I have recommitted myself to submitting this article ASAP. Hopefully it's in as good shape as I remember before the baby arrived, and I won't need to do too much to it before I can send it off.

Actually, to be honest, if it weren't for this group I would really be tempted to blow off work altogether until I return to work. It's amazing what accountability to others can do for your productivity.

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Item #4: The next Scientiae. So the theme for the next Scientiae carnival is "Unleash". I've been thinking about what I want to write about for this carnival. Unfortunately, I'm feeling very "leashed" lately. In particular, I'm sort of feeling trapped by my current situation, that even if I wanted to leave, it would be difficult to do so. My concern? Letters of recommendation. I feel like I'd need at least one from my current institution if I wanted to go elsewhere, but I don't know if I can fully trust those who could write me a letter to write me a letter that could get me another job, if that makes sense. Maybe I'm wrong about this (I hope I am), but it is something I'm thinking about, particularly as the next hiring season starts.

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Item #5: Where the hell did the summer go?! Self-explanatory, I hope.


Anonymous said...

He just needs a copy of the book. You can read it too -- although it was written by three women the point of view is admirably balanced.

Anonymous said...

While I am not suggesting you do anything illegal or immoral here, nevertheless, you may find the following URLs 'interesting' and perhaps it may have relevance to
"Item #4: The next Scientiae" and the letter of recommendation? See:


Ah, the World Wide Web!

CSProfessor said...

Amen sister, these conferences are *so* out of control expensive - where do people get the money for them? I can get only 2/3 of the price for one conference a year *if* I have a paper accepted. I can't afford it, so I don't submit papers any more.

I attend the little workshops held at universities, stay with friends and eat cheap food. These workshops do much more to further our science, in my opinion, than these overblown major conferences.

How can we force them to stop? What conspiracy is behind this? And again - where do the other guys get the money to attend? Robbing grants?

Jane said...

anon #1, thanks for the recommendation! I do want to check that book out, as I've heard good things about it.

anon #2, that's certainly one way to deal with the letter issue, I guess. :) But the problem still remains: even if I could open the letter, and found out it was less than ideal, then what? I'd still need a letter from these people, regardless. That's the real problem I see here.

csprofessor, I'm not sure what the deal is either. Especially since even corporations are not willing to pay the $$$ to send people to these conferences anymore. Maybe it's just cluelessness on the part of those who run these conferences? I do agree that the small conferences are better, in terms of networking and learning new stuff. Unfortunately, if I want tenure I need to get my stuff into the "bigger" conferences, too. I don't know how people with smaller travel budgets do it, frankly.

Anonymous said...

This is really sad. When you write about not getting enough money to attend a few conferences and you do all this research to help move humanity forward, it just boggles the mind. Yet, if one is a football player, there is plenty of money to move a whole university football squad to their football games several times per year. (And when you think about players like the now guilty Michael Vick with the dog fighting thing and his 130 million dollar contract--lost pretty much now--for tossing a ball, running the ball, and going over a goal line, well, you can see that priorities are all screwed up. It's really sickening. Yet, the pressure is on the talented scholar to produce (to publish), teach, and get along with everyone while trying to swim up the academic ladder. It's just maddening.

Flicka Mawa said...

Sounds like you have a great group of peer support - I'm still looking for my same group of grad school students...