Monday, December 31, 2012

Looking back on 2012

I set out an ambitious list of goals for 2012. How did I do?

Get something published in 2012.
YES! Both papers that were submitted at the end of 2011 were accepted in 2012. And as a bonus, another paper just got accepted with minor revisions! Only one of these is a chapter in my dissertation, but I've got publications! Woo hoo!

Submit Best Project for publication
Not even close. Best Project is going to be two manuscripts. One of them has been the source of much frustration and the other isn't written yet. Argh.

Conceptualize my dream job(s).
Not really, but I did start applying- to a grand total of two. I'm out of the running on one of them already. At this point, I don't think I have time to sit around imagining my dream job and I just need to apply to anything that seems doable.

Give a talk at the big ecology conference and present at at least one other conference
YES! I presented at two conferences and had a blast. I still love conferences.

Do an outreach project
YES! Unfortunately, that's all I can say.

Update my webpage once a month.
Not quite. Looks like I updated it 5 times this year. I made sure to do it when I had big updates, so I didn't completely neglect it.

Do a sprint distance triathlon and one other race.

I did the tri, but not another race. My mom and cousin did a triathlon too (first time for both), and hopefully we'll make it something of a tradition.

Exercise 4x or more per week
In the first half of 2012, I averaged 2.25 times per week, and since then I've averaged about 2.3 times per week. This counts conferences and holidays and being sick, so I think that's not too shabby. It also doesn't include dancing or my bicycle commuting.

Do yoga once a weekRevised! Goal: 30 minutes of yoga per week and pushups (following the level 1 plan here) if I don't do some other kind of exercise.
So I kinda sucked at this. I've wanted to do more yoga since becoming pregnant, but not even close to once a week. Pushups? My wrists just aren't cut out for it. Fail.

Go dancing at least 12 times
YES! 13! I went 13 times! My high school self would be so disappointed in me that I dance so infrequently. Oh well.

Learn and perfect an easy, delicious vegetarian lasagna recipe

No, but I did find a great recipe for mushroom quiche. I should try harder with the lasagna but I have no desire to make lasagna when it's hot outside so that limits the times in the year when I can pursue this worthy goal.

No more ugly houseplants.
I bought myself some pretty ceramic pots, so that helped. This is on ongoing process.

Get the dog to walk better
She has improved some, but still isn't great.

Visit at least half of the places on our must-see list for Big City
Wow, not even close. I think we might have done 3 or 4 things on our list.

Offset our carbon emissions

Blog at least once a week.

Not really. I made 59 posts this year including this one, so that averages more than once a week but I had many weeks where I didn't blog at all.

Label my posts and keep them labeled.
Yep. I think I've caught up on unlabeled posts from earlier field work and I've been labeling new ones.

Review goals quarterly.
How about bi-annually? I only reviewed them in June (Academic, Fitness, and others) and now. I just kept procrastinating in March and September until it was June and December.

Make weekly agendas for myself. 
Yes. Each week I send an email to a friend of mine reporting on last week's goals and the goals for the upcoming week. I keep the electronic list somewhere that I can easily refer to it to keep me focused. I've recently modified this to break my goals down into tasks for each day, which makes the big things seem more manageable. 

Overall I worked many fewer hours this year than last year (2239 hours instead of 2750), but that still works out to 43 hours/week across all 52 weeks of the year. No field work in 2012- makes a big difference! I was still able to make good progress towards my career goals (i.e. dissertation) and do plenty of fun things too. Oh, and make a baby-- that was an unwritten goal for 2012 :-)

Well 2012, it's been fun. Tomorrow I'll to write about what I've got in store for 2013!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Revise & resubmit!

I received some unexpectedly good news. We just heard back about the manuscript that I had very low hopes for- revise & resubmit! They asked if we/I can do it in the next 2-3 weeks, but my coauthor just had a baby and this isn't part of my dissertation (= low priority). I didn't read all the reviews yet (honestly I'm kinda of scared) and I'd love to get my amazing collaborator's thoughts on this but I also don't want to bother her during leave. I'll at least tell her via facebook to check her email.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Priorities: finishing or getting a job?

Applying for jobs is a lot of work. A few weeks ago I decided that I was more worried about finishing than I was about not having a job by August, and I don't feel like I can both finish and apply for lots of jobs. I've applied for one job, and I'm not planning to apply for anything else unless it seems like a great fit because staying here a little longer didn't seem like a bad idea.

What's my backup plan? I figured that I could spend the rest of 2013 in Big City and teach here. Jon can keep doing what he's been doing, and I could maybe be a TA in our department (people have done that after finishing).

Slowly but surely, holes are being poked in my backup plan. First of all, Herb told me that the average completion time in our department is so high now that not everyone will be able to get a TA position. This has basically never happened-- they always bring in extra students from other departments to TA the classes. This makes it less likely that I could be a TA in the fall. I'd probably have to teach instead at a smaller institution in the area (I suspect it would be more work for similar pay, though it would give me valuable "real" teaching experience).

Then I started worrying that I might not get my August check if I officially graduate before payday. I talked to a staff member about this and she doesn't think it will be a problem, but I don't trust her opinion 100%. I'll get a second opinion on this.

But then there's health insurance. If I finish in the summer, my coverage only goes until mid-August. I thought I could use COBRA to extend it if we stay in the area. My student health coverage is great, but it turns out it's not technically insurance, which means that I can't use COBRA- I'd have to be enrolled as a student. Our baby is going to be on that plan for the summer, but then if I don't have a job by mid-August we'll have to find something else. Jon has super high deductible insurance since he has no options from his employers. I suppose that's what the baby and I will do, too, as a temporary measure. What a pain in the ass. Can we please get our heads out of the sand as a country and offer single-payer, universal health care?

With the incentives in all the wrong places (e.g. graduation= losing affordable health care), it could turn out that my best option is to not turn in my dissertation until September and stay on as a student TA. Hopefully not.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Defense scheduled!

I had a committee meeting last week, and it was the most drama-free meeting since my prelims (e.g. last meeting). It turned out that Chip couldn't make it, but everyone else was there. I presented on the progress of all four unfinished chapters (one done = 5 chapters) and tried to be clear that I have a lot of work do to but I really want to finish. No one told me I couldn't defend in April, so we've set a date and time. I have a deadline. Tuesday, April 23, at noon.