Saturday, May 31, 2014
This was way back when sexism was slightly more rampant, I guess.
I met with a chemistry professor (actually he was the chair of the department) while interviewing and the conversation went something like this:
Me: "What classes would I teach as a TA?"
Him: "Chem 101 and 102."
Me: "Would I ever teach upper division chemistry?"
Him: "No. We have found that women aren't generally well received as TA's for upper division classes."
I wanted to leave right then. I knew I wouldn't go there and my lunch with grad students (the male student interviewing got to lunch with professors) shed light that this was not an isolated incident and that sexism was "rampant" in the department.
I ran the other way.
A few years later I heard that professors name and cringed. A woman I knew was leaving our grad program to go work for him. I warned her. (She never graduated.)
The guy's name has popped up randomly over the nearly 20 years since I was checking out grad schools and each time I shudder.
The group I am working with is awesome now. No sexism at all. I think my company is average. It hasn't been absent in my career over the last 12 years, but it hasn't been "rampant" either.
A friend of mine a few years ago made the comment that she had noted a distinct lack of sexism and poor treatment from her male colleagues who had daughters. And she is right. That's not to say that men who don't have kids or aren't married with wives working outside the home are sexist at all - right now I work with a totally awesome guy who is in his late 50's, never married and no kids - and he has all the same expectations for me as anyone else in the group. And maybe more actually. But some of the most patient and best mentors I have had along the way are dads of daughters.
That icky professor popped, once again, back into my life a few weeks ago. My colleague (who has a college aged daughter) and I are hosting a Workshop this summer. It is truly an honor to be running this thing and to be hosting the accompanying roadmapping session for all the leading agencies on US research investment in mass spectrometry. One of my duties is to invite people to attend and to respond to our client's requests to send invites.
I got one a few weeks ago asking me to invite jackass sexist professor. I cringed and wiggled and made faces at my computer. Then I sent him the canned invitation and didn't even write on it, "you probably don't remember me, but you told me I wouldn't be well received as a female scientist teaching upper division chemistry. Not only did I teach it at the University I attended, but I received both department and University wide teaching awards. And I went to work here and am now have a very successful career where my teams have won a number of awards. Jackass."
I sent the normal template and set to waiting. Then when out for drinks with my male colleagues where after a few glasses of wine I confessed what brought puke to the back of my throat and made me steam a bit at my desk the other day. They weren't shocked. We had an interesting discussion about sexism in the workplace. One of my contractors told me about his good friend who is dean of sciences at a very well known California school who confessed to him the number of struggles she STILL HAS with the old school professors. He is probably 70 years old and just does not understand how this could still be the case.
I got a reply from jackass sexist pig professor.
"Thank you for the invitation Dr. Nuclear Mom. I am so sorry that I will not be able to attend as I will be on vacation during that time. My best wishes for your success in this roadmapping session. I hope you don't mind that I sent your invitation to my daughter who is a graduate student in chemistry at X university and have recommended that she attend the Workshop portion of the week. I think she would enjoy it. Thank you again."
He has a daughter. In college. Studying chemistry.
I counted back. She was a baby or toddler when I sat in his office.
I don't have any answers. Still. But it set me back a little. Was it that she was a baby and he didn't see the possibilities? I am guessing he wouldn't tell his daughter not to expect a teaching appointment in upper division as she is a woman. Or would he? No. He wouldn't. Has he changed?
Do I care? Yes and No. And I can't really explain it. But maybe I have softened to him. This person I met once a long time ago who once said a really stupid thing that I couldn't let go.
And oh, his daughter did not decide to attend our Workshop. I kind of wanted to meet her. So I am slightly bummed.
Saturday, April 26, 2014
Silas - age 1
Weight: 25.78 lbs - 86.62%
Height: 29.75" - 49.6%
Head 18.9 in - 89.55%
Crawling fast, pulls himself up, mama, dada, ca (cat), uh oh (when he throws something on the floor). Loves his food - eats everything we put in front of him. Loves balls more than anything.
Skadi - age 7
Height: 45.75" - 16.3%
And since she is getting older, I am not going to post her weight. But it is commensurate with the height.
She is losing pace and I am trying not to be worried. She is a poor eater with lots of tummy aches that we have seen numerous doctors for. Even though she did not test positive for the celiac screen or for wheat allergy, we are trying gluten free for awhile. This has to show Skadi's desparation to resolve the issues as she is a baked goods junky. She gets this from me, I am positive.
Skadi age 1:
Length - 29.75" - 75th percentile
Weight - 25 lbs, 2 oz - 95th percentile
Head 45 cm
Leif age 1:
Weight 23 lbs 12.5 oz (33%)
Height 30.25" (55%)
Head 47 cm
Skadi and Silas are still tracking well together. Silas just a touch heavier then Skadi. What surprises me is that Leif had a half inch on Silas at this point, but was nearly 6 lbs lighter! Bean pole. Still is.
I have a tough transition this week. To that of a non-nursing mom. I have always loved nursing my kids. When we thought we wouldn't get to have another baby after Skadi I mourned the fact that when I weaned her I hadn't really thought or commemorated in my own mind, "the last time I am nursing". And I regretted that at the time.
This time around I am wondering if that wasn't the better option? Now it is marked. Now the last nursing session (unless something goes very awry) is going to be tomorrow.
I am headed out Monday morning at the crack of dawn to get on an airplane where I will be gone all week to Tennessee. Yay. Not. Honestly I am most looking forward to sitting in the hotel working and catching up on things, uninterrupted.
That means that the last time I nurse Silas will either be Sunday afternoon or Monday early morning.
He has been weaning - only nursing once during the day and if he wakes at night. I don't have much milk at all. But making this final step going cold turkey has me panicking a little!
I can't stand pumping on travel. I have done it for a number of trips and I am really done. I am not hauling the big pump as I need to haul enough crap along on this trip. So I am taking the hand pump only. And after 5 days I fully expect that there will be nothing left when I get back.
And Silas will certainly have let it go.
Nursing hasn't been as easy this time around. Supply issues, cracked and bleeding nipples, you name it. Things I never struggled with before.
But still... he's my last! The last baby I will nurse.
There will be tears.
But next Friday all will be good and we will have moved on.
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
I keep writing posts that never make it to being published. Various reasons – spilling too much, that post sounds braggy, just plain too busy and then the post seems old. I know it doesn’t count that I intend to post.
Maybe if I stick with the kid topic I will be better? I posted so much about the older two kids early in their development. Silas is becoming totally the third kid.
All About Silas:
The big boy is just shy of one year old. Where has this last year gone? Seriously I feel as though I have blinked and he is suddenly a year old. I keep saying it. Must stop blinking.
Silas is my ball kid. He loves balls. His favorite is a junior sized basketball. But he is starting to get dangerous with it as he hefts it over his head and shows that he can put some distance behind that ball and that his aim isn’t too bad. He loves his ball popper, his purple ball he can grip with one hand (and whip at someone walking by). The kid will rock at dodgeball. (If they play that anymore.) Silas will sit and throw a ball back and forth with you for as long as you are willing. When he goes to daycare there is a mad scramble for a ball to give him to distract him so I can walk out. It will be very interesting to see if he grows up to be a natural athlete.
Food. Silas also likes food. Pasta especially. Pizza too. He is an amazing eater and will eat most everything we put in front of him. I think Leif was like that. Skadi was not and we still struggle with getting her to even try a small tiny taste of things. Silas loves blueberries and grapefruit especially. This past weekend he ate an entire grapefruit. Not a half. A whole grapefruit. In one sitting. He is vocal when he wants more of something. Screams. Screams until he gets more. We are working on signing for “more” and “done”. This was a huge hit with my older two. Silas just prefers to scream so far.
His brother and sister. Truly thinks they are saints. Which is difficult because they can be serious turkeys and Silas just beams at them like the antics they came up with are the most wonderful notions ever. A common refrain in the house is, “but mom, Silas likes it!” One of Silas’ favorite things to do is sit on his riding toy and have the kids push him around the living room. And around. And around. What you thought 113 times was enough? He is screaming because he wants you to push more. They are usually quite willing, so it works out for all involved.
And what he likes MOST of all? His dad. Dada. Heaven forbid that AB come home from work and then leave again (like if he needs to go to the store) because Silas will scream until he returns. AB can do no wrong. He squeals “DADA!” when AB walks in the door. He squeals “DADA!” when AB walks by the room. Basically he squeals “DADA!” nearly all the time.
Silas also likes the cat. Or “ca”. He loves to go in and feed “ca”. But he also calls Skadi’s hamster “ca”. Interestingly enough, Freya is not a “ca”.
Have you noted that Mama has not been mentioned? Yeah. Me too.
Silas has 8 teeth and is working on four molars. Fun for all. He crawls and pulls himself up on things. Cruises a bit along the couch and such. No standing by himself yet and no walking. Why would he walk when everyone hauls him around?
Containment is not his thing. At all. It is ok if he is in the backpack out for a walk. But similar with my other kids, the stroller is evil. And once the food disappears in front of him, the high chair – it is evil too. Going to listen to his brother’s first piano recital = torture of the purest sort. With the other two kids we didn’t have much to attend to outside of them as they were little. But the kids have their big music performance coming up for school. And that would be misery with Silas. Hello babysitter. Finding that we are leaving Silas with a sitter a lot more than the other two kids saw a sitter at this age.
Daycare has been up and down. We loved the two lead infant teachers. Then one was fired. Unjustly IMO. Thanks to one of those Nazi first time moms who thinks that her child is the only one in the room and deserves one on one attention all the time. We picked up the fired teacher as a nanny and enjoyed that for a week. Then she got a new job she couldn’t refuse and I couldn't match (benefits), so I scrambled back to daycare and begged for our position back. And yes, it all worked out. And Silas got to stay in the first infant room with the little babies because his teacher loves him so. (Or so they tell me… I always wonder if it is because I am a real pain in the ass parent and none of the other teachers wants to deal with me?) Anyways, she loves Silas and wanted him in her room until he was one. I said sure and hoped a tiny bit that she would keep him until he was 5. But she said no. Regardless, we will make the move to the toddler room in a few weeks. Then two months after that we will make the move down the road to the Montessori school that has siphoned away so much of our money for the last decade.
At nearly one year old the other difference between Silas and my other two is weaning. Skadi would have nursed for a few years if I would have let her. She weaned at 16 months – actually I should say that I weaned her. Leif was 13 months. So I guess I am not terribly far off with Silas as compared with Leif. But I was a serious cow with the other two. Production queen. I could have had triplets! Not so this time around and we have had to supplement Silas with formula since Christmas. I suspect my age, but the nursing just has not come easily this time around for some reason. It is good I had such a good experience with the other two, because I can totally understand why some moms cave and quit. But I have been determined to make it to a year. I have struggled with cracked nipples, lack of production, inability to pump acceptable amounts, bottle rejection… it hasn’t been easy. But I will make it to one year. Then I will moan and sob about my last baby.
It is all bittersweet though. When things have gone well with nursing, I love it. I love those tender moments. But the issues I have had to work through this time around actually have me feeling not so terribly sad to see the nursing go by the wayside. And hey, I am REALLY looking forward to wearing a normal bra again. But there will be tears as I realize I am nursing my babies for the last time ever.
Thursday, February 06, 2014
Wt: 24 lbs 4 oz - 90th
Length: 29" - 75th
Wt: 24 lbs 3 oz - 98th
Length: 29" - 87th
Yes seriously. I can't figure out why Skadi looked so much chunkier honestly.
Wt: 20 lbs 12 oz - 50th
Length: 28" - 75th
Saturday, January 11, 2014
Anyways, when my mom interviewed my piano teacher she told my mom "I do this as an avocation, not a vocation." Or I might have reversed this... whatever - basically she told my mom that she does this to make money, not because she particularly enjoys it.
Lately, as Leif has started lessons with Mr. Hopkins, I wonder about Mrs. Connoly. She was a funny French woman. She only drank "fresh" juice - if "fresh" is defined as coming from the can in the frozen aisle. Her husband sat in his recliner daily smoking a pipe.
Anyways, I thought about this phrase - doing something for money and not for the love of it - recently. I think a lot of people do this in many forms. For many, they work their current jobs because they have to, not because they love it. I am lucky, I am in a spot right now where I really love what I am doing. I haven't always had that and I don't have any expectations that I will always have it in the future.
So if you know me or my blog, you know I got my degrees in chemistry. I admit it - shhh - I don't love chemistry. But it enables me to do what I love to do in my job. I know this seems like a weird dichotomy to some. But molecular equations don't drive me. Applications of science in general, that drives me.
Many chemists also love to cook. It makes complete sense. If you enjoy building stuff from the elements, then you might also enjoy building your food from scratch. I do. Lots.
I love to cook. I love hearty, winter foods. Short ribs, gravies, roasts, ducks, chickens... I actually like cooking more than I like chemistry and I sometimes think I could have made a career being a chef. Except that I don't smoke. And I can't seem to stay up after 9pm. And I am not tattooed.
I also have my list of things I love to eat... pie, pot pie, breads, scones, muffins... pastry based items of all types. But here is my downfall (aside from the fattening aspect)... I love eating them but I turn into an evil beast when making them. I have a keen understanding that it is all about technique. And I get the technique and well understand that there are no substitutes for cold butter, cream, and getting your hands dirty. And that the rub method (cited by CIA - that's the CULINARY Institute of America, not the other org) is the only way to go and that a food processor turns good butter and flour to a warm meal. Blah blah blah.
I can do it. I can make an amazing pie because I understand the technique and I can execute it. And I love to eat pies, but a real treat is one produced from people who understand the technique as well, that it isn't always all about the filling, because I am a snob like that. (But I never turn down pie as a general rule.) It wasn't until I embraced the technique and quit looking for work arounds to getting my hands dirty that my baking world changed. So I can do it. But man I don't love doing it.
I like doing it ok most of the time because I love the results. But I could NOT make my life as a pastry chef.
Every year (or so) AB and I do pot pies. They are freaking amazing. And I know why they are amazing. They take a few days. Rubbed pastry. Cooked carcasses. A perfect roux. And veggies cooked just right. Results are amazing. And every year we do a bigger and bigger batch. Except last year. Because I was pregnant and unwilling to do what I really really don't like. Make double pie crust after double pie crust after double pie crust. This year I was a little more pliable and looked forward to the deliciousness. But last Saturday night I went into a spiral. Four pot pies down and filling for at least another four (I was thinking about them as gifts or for donation to the church to give to families after a life event). And I raged. A little.
Result is that now I have four pies in the freezer and four bags of filling in the freezer.
So anyways. That's my lesson. Vocation vs. avocation. One you love, one you do because you have to. I make pastry because I have to eat it. It is a must. But I don't love doing it.
As an aside and what got me thinking about this, this morning, particularly in concert with Leif's piano lessons (which he did his second last night) - was my need for biscuits and gravy. WTF? I don't eat biscuits and gravy. I have never made freaking biscuits and gravy. Ok - I made biscuits in Home Ec. But not something I make at home regularly. But I embraced the challenge this morning.
Biscuits in a classic method - a-freaking-mazing. And no, I have never actually made sausage gravy. But I know the technique quite well and have sausage that has never seen a store. Came straight from the butcher.
Finished and my husband fell at my feet. I rock. But don't ask me to do it again for at least a few months.
Monday, January 06, 2014
Saturday, December 14, 2013
I am happy with my job with the exception of one time a year - staff development reviews. They are hard. They are nearly never happy unless you are getting promoted (which is extremely rare) - but even then they find crap you did wrong and harp on it. But especially the year after a promotion. Sucky. My SDR this year sucked. Ok, you talk to AB and he says, "that didn't read bad, it was fine". But I know better. I know those key words.
I was perplexed by a few statements "it is the job of the PM to maintain a cohesive team". Actually not really. That is, of course, a bonus. But the job of the PM is scope, schedule and budget and if one thinks I am not going to piss people off in that, well delusional. Cohesive team? It's a goal of course, but my job? Methinks one does not understand the role of the PM - and this was confirmed in my SDR when my management made the statement that they were still trying to understand the role of the PM.
One of the things that really bothered me was the statement that I was still - after a few years of a major blow up - having PI/PM issues. WTF? I believed it to be legacy. They denied it. I work the PI/PM model with only one other person on active projects presently and he and I get along amazingly well and I am constantly getting kudos from him. So he is either a complete liar or my management is making crap up.
An example was provided to skeptic me and it was VERY obvious which project they were referring to when they talked about an instance with one of my task leads. It's that project where *I* AM THE PI. So I would be having conflicts with my PM? Oh MYSELF! I just about imploded on the spot. This is "written in stone" in my record and to me is simply evidence that my management has no idea what I am doing and never read my contribution report to understand the roles on the 9 projects I am working.
Oh and going back to the cohesive team comment - the example was that a few of my presentations this year weren't as smooth as they could have been - you could tell that multiple people / team members had contributed to the presentation and they could have been smoothed a bit. Ok fine. I buy that. I have two task leaders with VERY different styles - one sends me quarterly slides with only pictures and five words (love him) and the other sends slides with no pictures, jam packed with words and hard to read tables (no love). I try to turn it into my own presentations without completely redoing their work. I know what they are talking about. But wait, wasn't this comment about cohesive teams in reference to my being a PM? Yes? Then why is the example from the project where *I* am the PI and [that other woman] is the PM. Shouldn't this be on HER SDR if this is a PM issue?
"Well if you ever want to promote in this group you need to work on this."
Near implosion again.
I don't recall how we got on to the topic - maybe I mentioned that the group I am spending a lot of time working with was working on a turn around office for me. And then suddenly my management piped up, "have you thought about switching groups?"
Is this a trick question? What do I say? I admit truth, "yes, I have". I have for a few years. At first I thought about leaving my directorate in favor of another - but then their funding tanked and frankly I like my directorate a lot. Then I started working a lot with one of the sister groups.
We discussed some options - I stay in this group and have my office over there. I switch groups. They gave me the option of thinking about it and all I could think of was, "oh believe me, I have been thinking about this for a year". But I hadn't been ready to pull the trigger.
I pulled that dang trigger.
It was agreed that management would talk. I would speak with the other manager. She would talk to her staff and then our division director would provide a recommendation.
And the result of this few weeks of work came down yesterday. In the hallway, I ran into my current manager. Final in a day or so, I am leaving.
Hasta la vista!