Wednesday, January 24, 2018

some midweek things

* Life comes at you fast. I collected my students' "independent project ideas" and read through them yesterday. One of the students proposed doing a prey-choice study using brown recluse spiders, which, in theory is kind of interesting, but in practice, is a "nope."

1. Nope to bringing them on campus. There aren't many creepy-crawlies that freak me out but venomous spiders do. Also I share my lab with other classes and I don't think it would be too cool...

2. Probably nope for liability reasons: what if the student were to get bitten? Could they sue us?

3. It was frustrating to me though in that it was an actually unusual idea (I get waaaaaaay too many variants on "food choice by songbirds" or "soil amendments and plant growth") but it was one that was gonna have to be a "nope" because of the danger.

The good news is we discussed it after class. The student is going to do a field study on prey-seeking behaviors of wolf spiders instead. So no bringing creepy crawlies into the lab (I am not afraid of spiders but understand that some people are, very much) and also not working with something that would require a trip to the hospital if it bit you.

Also, wolf spiders are less reclusive (yes, it's right there in the name) than brown recluses so they will probably be easier to get good data on.

* But yeah. Still waiting on news about what to do about the dog. As I joked on Twitter yesterday: this may be the semester when I just start drinking. (There are SO MANY things in higher ed that I never ever imagined when I had my first romantic dreams of becoming a professor circa 1989 or so)

* Despite the logistical wharrgarrblll, I got two big things done today:

1. My graduate advisor (who is not a co-author but who IS retired and has time to play around with things) re-made the figures for the Prairie Conference proceedings paper and they are much nicer than what I could have done. So I added them in and did a bit of re-writing to reflect that one does actually show a weak trend over time. (And yes, I thanked him in the Acknowledgements). And I sent it back in, here's hoping it's now DONE and in another month or two I can add the full thing to my CV because it will be officially published.

2. I read through, and made a few comments on, a manuscript where I'm second author, and got it back to my colleague. It's a small paper, it doesn't have a lot of information, and it's been rejected from one journal. But we're trying again* - sending it on to a journal whose abbreviation is BRIT.

Which just makes me think it's a preppy journal. I grew up in a preppy town and Brit or Britt was one of the nicknames used. (In fact, I think the wife of the headmaster of my prep school ** was named Britt, but he more commonly called her "Cupcake." Which is a little bit gross and a little bit endearing to me. Part of me wants to roll her eyes at the idea of being nicknamed for a food like that, but part of me thinks 'it would be so nice to have someone who thought of me that affectionately.')

(* One thing I'm slowly learning is that a paper being rejected doesn't necessarily mean it's not salvageable or even that it's particularly bad. My natural inclination upon failing once with something like that is to give up on that particular project but I guess in academic publishing you don't do that, you keep submitting until you've had multiple rejections. I guess I'm too prone to take someone else's rejection as "This was really a piece of crud." I am often not good enough at seeing the value in what I do, and I tend to give too much credence to others' opinions.)

(** I know, I know. Don't @ me. )

* One good thing this spring: because of how the post-tenure review cycle works and meshes with the "year of starting employment" of people in my department, there are ZERO post-tenure reviews we have to evaluate this spring. (As one of the more-senior people - which seems weird to me - I have to be in on nearly all of these. And it is a big time drain, and also for people like me, it makes me doubt myself)

* I'm plugging away on the various projects. Doing a pair of "Weasley Homestead" socks out of a sort of spruce-green Dream in Color (the colorname is "Lucky Jade" but the jade I am familiar with is paler). Trying to make more time to work on the "birb" quilt top. But it's hard during the week - I get home between 3 and 4 (sometimes later if I must run errands) and then I want to do piano practice and Duolingo and some days I have laundry or cooking....and I've been going to bed EARLY these days because I get tired.

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