Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Hey babe, take a walk on the wild side.

How appropriate. We are leaving for Colorado tomorrow and this song is streaming on KFOG. Talk about an anthem to high school. We used to think this was THE coolest song ever. And you know, it really kind of is. Lou Reed rules.

Hey sugar, take a walk on the wild side.

Thursday will be interesting. Tanya is coming up for a Christmas cookie decorating celebration. Then we are leaving Leif with mom and heading out for the evening. The presence of Leif and my what will be engorged boobs will prevent it from being a very long outting. But nonetheless we will be headed to downtown Ft. Collins which pretty much assures us that we will encounter faces from the past.

This whole experience makes me a little neurotic. How can I so quickly turn into that snotty 16 year old girl who worries about what people thing so easily?

Seriously now, must we have so much madness?

It is Christmas, does that really mean that we must abandon all reasonable and rational thought and give way to lunacy? That is truly seeming to be the case.

April's etiquette tips:
1. It is plain rude to ask people traveling by air to bring a food item to a gathering.
1a. When a suitable option is offered by said travellers, accept it graciously. Don't say no.
1b. The above can be multiplied one hundred fold if said travellers also have an infant.

2. Micromanaging Christmas conversation is a downer. Let people chat and enjoy themselves without it being forced.

3. Telling your daughter in law she needs to ask the other daughter in law about parenting is truly a slap in the face and is construed as seriously calling into question her abilities to parent.
3a. Personal note... We don't all have to agree with how to raise a child and if my child is happy, healthy and well adjusted, then butt out!
3b. Personal note... My baby is a breastfed cosleeper, it works for us, get over it.

4. Christmas is a time of acceptance and tolerance and to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
4a. Personal note... we are Christians and we celebrate Christmas, don't treat me like a heathen because I don't read the bible daily.
4b. Personal note... I am not a subject that needs to be ministered to, nor am I a participant in your Sunday school.

5. Entertaining people at the holidays should not be about making people feel bad or guilty for their percieved shortcomings.
5a. Personal note... do this and I will run the other direction so fast your head will spin and you will never my son again.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 17, 2004

Ok now

I organized a women's lunch last April as part of my contribution to the group outside of work. The idea being that there are so few women in my group here at work, and we all work in different and varied areas, and not together, that we should get to know each other. It has gone over really well. I have included scientists, engineers, admin staff and students.

For December we decided to do something different. We did a potluck and ornament exchange. Opted for the ornament exchange where you can open something new or steal someone elses. Everyone was having a great time and finally the last ornament was to be opened. OMG it was so funny. You know those little ornaments that you can put pictures in? Well a senior scientist put our managers picture in it! Yes, it was a crack up! We laughed and laughed for so long.

Sure enough it gets stolen by the biggest mouth in the group. She has it hanging up in her office. Bad move or not? The thing is notorious now. I just can't believe she won't take it home, but has left it up in hopes of him seeing it.

Ok arranging a women's lunch is stepping out there. A few of the guys have commented "but if we arranged a men's lunch it would be sexual harrassment". I wouldn't care, they all go out to lunch together anyways and never invite the women. But would the guys really have wanted to have an ornament exchange? Yeah right. I don't think so.

This ornament was definitely one of the highlights of my employment to date.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

A little justice

So I got a little justice today. My SDR was restated in one section to reflect a more reasonable and more in line with my level expectation. I was completely perplexed at how I could be required to originate, write and get funded two proposals to get promoted to 3, when a three needed to do one to get promoted to 4. My manager has admitted the error in his ways and has reworded that to reflect what is more in line for my level.

I am waiting... waiting for a coveted e-mail telling me that I am the lead on a proposal for a materials initiative. I can hardly stand the waiting... but here I sit, waiting. If this doesn't pan out it will be one more area where I am missing the boat. I really need this.

Off the work topic. Leif gave me a little justice today also. He did not want me to leave him at lunch today. He cried and cried when I left. Made me feel bad, made me feel needed, loved, and important. It was hard to leave the little bugger then. And wow he is growing. How is it possible to love someone that much instantaneously? He has got my number too and he knows it.

Things that bug me #1... unorganized people. If I get another e-mail from a female friend of mine apologizing for her lack of organization I am going to vomit. If I hear her say again that she is going to get organized, I am going to vomit. Just admit it, you aren't organized, you aren't efficient and won't ever be!

Friday, December 10, 2004

The day is nearing

Monday is my SDR review. In preparation I received the paper version to review for the meeting. I admit it, I LOVE that it is a glowing review. Am I weird that I want something on there to improve upon or that explains WHY I was not promoted?

Ok, here is my response, names of the offending removed or changed:

Response to 2004 SDR

<> When I was hired in permanently from my LTE post-doctoral position I was told that I was a very strong Scientist II and a weak Scientist III, therefore I was hired as a Scientist II. I was told that I was expected to promote quickly and that the expectations of a Scientist II were along the lines of “sitting at one’s desk and breathing”. It is stated on my evaluation that I have had a “very good growth year”. I agree with this statement, and for this reason, I am concerned with being passed over for a promotion to Scientist III.

During my mock SDR in October of 2003, my manager told me that one of the essential elements to promotion was networking across the lab. Not only did I do this in association with the Cox project my manager offered me the opportunity to join, which I greatly appreciate and truly enjoy, but I also have met and built associations with a variety of people in other contexts.

  • I took the lead on proposals with John and Matt in the Molecular Interactions group.
  • I worked with Luke in RTL on the X project.
  • Worked with and authored proposal with Mark and Jacob on the topic of Y.
  • Worked with Peter from 2400 Stevens on Z work.
<>Along these lines I have also been the source of connecting our group members with others to accomplish research goals. For example, I connected Patrick with Peter regarding the feasibility of metal deposition.

One of the statements for goals and planning for FY05 includes to “craft two or more successful proposals on which you are the lead or are recognized as the lead for a major task”. I am concerned about this, however, not in the capacity of the feasibility. I currently have two that are likely to be funded, but I need clarification in the scope of this being a requirement for promotion to Scientist III as compared to other current Scientist III’s. Mary stated that her requirement to get to Scientist IV was to craft one successful proposal from start to finish. I do understand that this is word of mouth, but it is difficult for me to understand and reconcile the fact that there are current Scientist III’s who have never had a successfully funded proposal while I had one that was ranked as the top proposal in its category.

To further comment on this proposal, this was a white paper submitted to the HSI LDRD call back in the summer of 2004 for FY05 funding. It was selected as the top proposal out of 30 or so within its category. I submitted an invention report for this idea. I was thrilled until Bob stated that he wanted to see Jeff lead this. I had been asked early on in the white paper to include his name on it. He did not contribute to the white paper, but stated he would contribute to the work if funded. I felt incredibly sidelined to be removed from the lead and replaced with someone who had provided no input on the actual white paper. The project was in the end funded and while I really appreciate the opportunity to have been included in the entire proposal process, I feel that I was unfairly removed from the lead.

While discussing with coworkers my lack of promotion a number of them have asked if my going on maternity leave might have played a role. I have to admit that it has crossed my mind and I truly hope that this is not the case.

In closing my response, I do want to state that I have had a good year and am happy to see the statement that I have a “very impressive record for a Scientist II” listed on my SDR. I enjoy my work and its challenges and I strive to advance my career through the goals that Tom suggested for me for FY05. I do request that I be considered for a mid-year promotion to Scientist III.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Friday, I need it badly.

This week has been good, fast too. I am the lead on a project for the upcoming review and bonus I get to go out to dinner with the clients to the nicest restaurant in town - that I have yet to eat at. Of course the high point is the presentation of my research and the second presentation of my proposal for next year. I was very happy to be singled out for this.

Today also a senior scientist called me to ask me about collaborating on a project that I am very interested in. I jumped on it, despite the fact that I am fully commited time-wise. So here I go again in getting myself overcommited. There are just too many things I really want to do. Sigh.

I have spent time this afternoon talking to a good friend of mine here at work about being a woman in this group. Yeah, things are supposed to be fair, but this group is a big good old boys group. The double standards are still very evident. I hope I didn't dominate the conversation with my frustrations.Or freak her out too much.

This is a boring blog entry.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Note to all

Yes, I am unhappy about not being promoted. I will be remedying it. This does NOT mean that we are moving!!

We know everyone loves us and Leif, and yes, it is difficult being away from family. But trying to convince us to move elsewhere does us and you, no good whatsoever.

We really want support for what we are doing now. I am working hard, Hans is enrolled in school to get his Masters. Support our choices in what we are doing now. We are certainly able to do our own job searches and far more qualified to do our own job searches since we are the ones who know our skill sets.

Can one order be messed up THAT bad?

Apparently yes. Mom ordered the Eddie Bauer high chair for Leif for Christmas. It arrived cracked - and no wonder, the thing was NOT packed for shipping. We packed it back up and I called Amazon to have it replaced.

Fast forward to today, a week later, it is supposed to be here tomorrow. Mom was looking at her Amazon shipments only to find out that SHE is expecting a high chair tomorrow! UPS will be there to pick up her broken one - only 3 states away from where it is located. To top it off they charged her for both, shipping and all and on the second one didn't apply her coupon. So $310 later and we still don't have a high chair.

I called Amazon to straighten it out, well their servers are down, so they couldn't do anything. I asked what they should do with the one that will arrive in Colorado? The guy said, "umm I don't know, maybe she gets a free high chair." ?!?!? Ok, whatever.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Life and Leif

Today was Leif's 4 month well baby appointment. And he is a well baby, big baby. At 16 lbs 4 oz he is in the 75th percentile for weight and at 26" long he is in the 95th percentile for length! He is happy, ear infection is clearing up. He smiled at the doctor and the nurse despite being stabbed 4 times with shots. He is such a happy baby. It warms my heart to see him smile.

Life is good. Yeah, I didn't get a promotion, yeah, it sucked. But I have a beautiful baby boy that I wouldn't trade for anything, ever.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

A week off

Because I needed it, bad. Leif is sleeping and my turkey stock for gravy is cooking away on the stove. So here is my opportunity to vent. I was not denied a promotion, I was not even put UP for promotion by my manager. I feel incredibly jipped, abused, neglected, angry and frustrated.

I am a Ph.D. scientist working as a nuclear physicist/chemist in a well known national lab. I am what is called a Research Scientist, or a Scientist II. Historically speaking, people of my degree and experience are hired in as Scientist III. Well my manager made the decision to start hiring people in as II's when I was hired. So me and everyone since has been hired as a II.

I now have 2.5 years of experience. I have networked throughout the lab, I manage tasks that comprise teams of Scientists 3 and 4's. I received 2 Outstanding Performance Awards last year. I wrote 12 proposals and got one funded. I submitted one patent application.

My old manager stated that in order to remain a 2, all you had to do was sit in your desk and breathe. Why then was I not even considered for a promotion. Especially when a man who was hired after me was promoted from 2 to 3 and doesn't have half the fact sheet I do? WHY?

Is it because I took maternity leave this year? Or is it even bigger than that... is it because I am a woman? Do I not make enough noise?

I have done exactly the things I was told I needed to do and more in order to be promoted this year. It makes absolutely no sense why I was passed over. This needs to be rectified. I e-mailed my manager this morning (after having sat around on vacation days letting it all mellow in my mind) and asked to talk to him early next week about this. I just don't get it.

In all honesty, one emotion I am really struggling with in all of this is embarrassment. A good friend of mine was hired in as a 3 in another area of the lab. She can't understand why I was hired in as a 2, even though I have explained it 500 times. Oh well, she says, you will be promoted this year. Now how do I tell her, and it will come up, I wasn't promoted. She is going to think I am the biggest loser nincompoop.

Well maybe I am. Why did I work so hard last year? Why did I work all that overtime, and bend over backwards to make things happen? Why did I deal with all the stress while pregnant when evidently I could have remained a 2 and never written a proposal, nor taken responsibility for anything? There are people who are part time 2's who come in and basically fill out a time card. Am I really no more than they are to my group?

How do I even start to understand this? And how do I talk to my manager on Monday? What can I even say to him? I am truly disappointed, should it be in myself, or in my managers?

Thursday, November 18, 2004

It's done, out of my hands

Glowing, relief, it's mine! I just sent off my latest proposal in my seemingly unrecognized efforts to secure funding and make myself my own employer, well sort of. It is a $250K proposal, 2 weeks in the works. 7 pages (not so long really) of detailed experiments and ideas tossed out to do in the next calendar year.

Will it be funded? (likely in some capacity) Is it full of crap? (maybe) Can I sell it? (hmmm...) Will they laugh at me? (it's quite possible) Why do I always type "quite" like "wuite"? (my pinky must be too short) Am I a science nerd? (Umm yeah, without a doubt.)

I can go home and relax! Providing the Leifer doesn't screach the entire way home in the car. (unlikely.)

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Time, where does it go?

Commonly asked question by many, where does my time go? I truly am starting to think it is just sucked into some vortex. Recently I read on a discussion board how many people were truly bored. I haven't been bored in I don't know how long. Boredom, seriously now people.

My work obviously keeps me quite busy. So busy in fact that I haven't been around my usual discussion boards much this week. I am finding it harder to organize my time and keep track of things. I feel aged or something walking around with my to do list constantly adding things and crossing off far fewer.

Ok... and here I am 24 hours later thinking about finishing this post. Time... what a concept. I finally have a day to sit down and finish the proposal that has been haunting me for a few weeks. Why do I now have the time? Because the project managers that expect me to work on their projects around the clock, despite the fact that I have stated to them specifically how much time I can devote to their project, even though they don't listen.

Why do they even ask how much time I can spend on their project? They don't listen! I would really like to try and stick to a schedule... 20% time on X project, 50% time on Y project... but it is really hard. 20% time, that is one entire day. When I last sat down and spent one entire day on only one project is hard to remember.

It is continuing resolution time. We are waiting for budget approval from congress. Until the budget is approved we aren't guaranteed of anything. Historically speaking until you get your money, you damned well better not spend it, lest you don't actually get what you think you will. Evidently my managing group has been burnt before. So instead, they just inconvenience us all. Which forces project managers to lay off their workers, look out only for themselves and frankly just piss people off all the way around. It doesn't make for a friendly working environment when you don't know if you are going to have work from one week to the next.

I have been burnt the past few years. Everything is going great then blammo, that e-mail from a project manager telling you that you no longer can charge to the project. So you find something else to work on... or you take time off. It isn't easy for the project manager, but they could strive to do things differently on their end... mainly organize better.

So being that I have been burnt before I decided this year to look out for my own interests. I went and found other work to tide me over during the lean time. And wouldn't you know it that this is the year that my main project doesn't lay everyone off?!? So even though I have said, "I can only work 20% time on your project", the manager still expects 80% time. And he gets quite pissy when I am not over there. Hello, remember what we talked about? Just because you have a deadline to meet doesn't mean that I should bend over backwards... remember those last two years when you screwed me and I had to scramble for a project to work on?

Ok, so this blog probably makes absolutely no sense to anyone but someone in my group. I might as well be saying "blah blah blah".

How valuable is your time? How much would you pay for more time during the day? How can you possibly buy more time?

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Made out a will

What a morbid thing to have to do. Make out a will. Since Leif''s birth I have been much more diligent in preparing for the hopefully unlikely event that something should happen to Hans or I or both of us. I beefed up my life insurance through work, Hans went through the long process of buying life insurance and we made up wills this weekend (yes, I already said that).

How do you even decide who will take care of your children should something happen to you? In one instance I am thinking of all the wonderful people around us, and the next I am thinking about how none of them are good enough. They all have flaws. Obviously Hans and I have flaws - or at least we must since we know a lot of people with kids and none have asked us to be guardians or godparents. But we are perfect for Leif. He has only been in our life almost 4 months and we know how perfect we are for him and he for us.

Anyways, we ended up selecting Scott and Beth for this morbid duty and they agreed. Scott is Hans' brother and Beth is his wife. Of all the people close to us, they are probably the most like us. They are engineers, we are scientists. They understand the value of higher education. They have strong morals and convictions, yet are open minded and non-judgemental. They could also afford to take care of our child/future children. Even though there would be life insurance. Also foremost in our thinking is that they live in Colorado and are relatively likely to stay there, near my family.

In ruling people out, we did it for a variety of reasons. Our parents were ruled out just because they should be grandparents, not parents to our children. Some people were ruled out because of their instability in life, others for where they live, and still others for character traits. Friends were ruled out because we didn't feel like we could saddle our friends with the burden of our children. Family on the other hand, you can do that to!

My hope is that if the awful did occur that our family and friends would all work together to provide for our child.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Why do my days fly by?

I cannot believe it is 4:15pm on Monday. Where has my day gone? Leif and I got in the car and headed to work/daycare at 8:10am. Got to daycare at 8:30am and dropped him off, asleep, snoring loudly. How does he sleep so deeply? The other kids are screaming and yelling, yet he is konked out in his crib. Oh yeah, and I whacked him in the head with his bottles on accident - yet the kid didn't budge. Oh wait, I know why... it is because he didnt' sleep most of the night!!

Ok, so I get to work. I check my work e-mail and respond as needed. Then I e-mail mom, return e-mail Tanya, and deal with the rest of my personal e-mail... somewhat quickly. I headed over to find some optical couplers for a coworker, found those. Then I went and worked in the lab until 12:15pm. I was planning on finishing by 11:30am. Oh well.

So then I ran out to go nurse Leif before his doctor's appointment at 1pm. We chatted with his daycare teachers (who are awesome). And then headed to his doctor's. Once again he is konked. I am holding him as his head is laying back. You could do just about anything with him in this ragdoll stage. Thank goodness he woke up when we put him on the scale. Growing like a weed, 15 lbs 5 oz. He has almost doubled his weight at birth, just a few ounces shy. Ears cleared up, lungs sound good and excema... well is there.

I grabbed lunch at the shop downstairs from the doctor and ran him back to daycare. Once here I reviewed a proposal, thought about working on my proposal. Did a quick online search for a gift I am looking for, for my mom from Leif. And then here I am. It is 4:20pm and I still have massive amounts of work to do.

Where do my days go? Now before Leif (we will call that B.L.) I stayed and worked until I was satisfied with my day. Not so much anymore. I can't wait to cut out of here at 5pm to go get him. My days of earning massive amounts of overtime are over. Like I need it now anyways... that's what vacation time is for isn't it?

Leif and I will go home, play for a little while before cooking dinner. Daddy will be home at about 7pm we think (after his study session). We will sit down after dinner (8pm) and I will have konked out in front of the TV by 9:30pm.

Next week is Thanksgiving and I am looking forward to taking the entire week off. I keep telling Hans I am going to watch Dr. Phil, lol. I need a week with Leif. He is resisting his naps in a big bad way, and his nighttime routine is less then desirable right now (waking 2-3 times a night). The kid doesn't seem to want to sleep... he would rather stand on our laps or jump in the Jumperoo. And that doesn't help him calm down and sleep.

Ok, talk about a rambling post. Focus? What's that?

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Now I've done it!

I went and hired a housekeeper. Our house was falling further and further into disarray with no reprieve in sight. We finally decided that with both of us working, and both of us having a desire to spend the time with Leif when we are off, as opposed to scrubbing the toilet, that it needed to be done.

In the larger scheme of things, spending $170 a month to have my bathroom scrubbed, windows washed, kitchen cleaned, floors scrubbed, not to have to spend money on cleaning supplies, nor have to vacuum (or buy Hans a new vacuum) shouldn't seem like much. Why does it then?

I don't really tend towards frugality. I like nice stuff, I spend relatively freely. I like my Dansko shoes and my Coach purse. I will readily spend $200 on good groceries and $20 on a bottle of wine. Why is it that I am having a hard time putting out the money for a clean house.

I really think it stems back to how I was raised. These are all things that I am perfectly capable of doing myself. And I am good at it, it isn't like I cut corners when cleaning. But it really comes down to that I am buying time. With that $170 a month I am buying probably an hour in the evening, every night of the week. And then at least 4 hours on a weekend. So average that out and we are talking maybe 8 hours a week, 32 hours a month. (Ok, my geekyness is coming out here...) this comes out to $5.31 per hour. Why am I reluctant to spend this money to spend the time with my son and husband?

Why? The answer is pride. Someone is going to come into my house and see that it isn't *always* clean. Someone is going to see that I am not a super woman. I can't do it all, work 40 hours a week, raise a perfect child and keep my house clean. I *should* be able to keep my house clean... shouldn't I? Well if I got up and vacuumed right now while Leif is napping, yeah right, I could get a little further on things. But I'm not going to. I fall asleep at 9:30pm with Leif on me in front of the TV every night. I am plain worn out by the end of the day. I won't give up cooking, especially on the weekends. That takes time... which reminds me I need to go pull the pork tenderloin out of the freezer... and I love cooking for my family. I could not ever give that up.

Honestly, I don't like cleaning. Why not buy back my time and pay someone?

Friday, November 12, 2004

People that talk and it's Friday

Ok, so I am not a talker really. I give my opinions when requested and I talk when necessary. But my philosophy is that if you talk and talk, your opinions become less valuable. I just got out of a close out meeting for interviewing candidates for two internal positions. The first 6 of us took three minutes to talk about each candidate. Hit the strong points and the weak points and moved on. NOT Paula. Oh no, she had to take 20 minutes to provide her very uninformed yet psychic view of this person's life and career. Good God woman, shut up. My manager stopped her at one point and said that our time was up in the room and that we could get interrupted. Did she get the hint? Of course not! He had to stop her a second time. Then when he was closing out the meeting she had to start up again. That's when I got up and left.

My boobs were about to explode - I am breastfeeding. I drastically needed a pump, or a baby. I had to opt for the pump long after I really needed it.

Why does she need to elaborate on every fricking detail? Who cares what the tone of his response to her question about will you write proposals to your old funding source? Not me! I want to know that he does or does not have the technical expertise and motivation to do the work.

Ok, I am done ranting. It is Friday, thank goodness. Only one more full week of work until Thanksgiving week, which I am taking off completely. I really need a week home with the Leifer. I don't have any plans for the week. Hans picked up Leif's $500 gift card from the Gap "How Do You Wear It" contest at the post office. I would love to go spend a little money and get him some cute things. I need to clean.

Oh yeah, that's another thing. We are thinking about hiring a housecleaner. We really need one. I can't believe how far behind I have fallen in cleaning the house. The last thing I want to do on weeknight evenings or weekends is clean. I want to spend the time with Leif. I get so little time with him anyways. He is growing up before my eyes. I don't want to spend that time scrubbing the toilet. And the economics of it all just don't work out. We have an interview with a cleaner on Saturday. I am hoping it will be more affordable than Merry Maids. Not that they are expensive, just more than I was wanting to put out initially. I just NEED a clean house. Everyone tells me not to worry about it, cleaning takes a back seat when you are working and have kids. But it drives me up the wall.

Ok, I have a few things I need to do before heading off for the weekend. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 11, 2004

The start of blogging

I keep intending to start a blog, but the biggest obstacle to this seems to be that I planned on connecting it to my real life website. Well that was probably a stupid idea anyways. But this was further complicated by the fact that I rarely, if ever, use my home pc. I get on it during the weekend to download pictures off the video camera and immediatly send them to family. Pictures primarily composed of my adorable son, Leif. Because I *know* that everyone wants to see Leif, and not just one or two pictures of him, but massive quantities of his ever sweet face. Anyways, back to my point... I can only upload my website from home due to work restrictions. Well that just was a deal breaker right there for my lowly little blog page. Now I have a site I can access at work! Yippee!

So let's see, I titled my site Geek Life, because I have finally fully embraced my geeky-ness. After years of denying it as a child, teenager and even in college, I can admit that yes, I am a geek. And you know what? It really pays off! Life is good.

Now I have made my official first post, so I am going to publish it and run. It is 5pm, so quitting time and I need to go get Leif from daycare. Ta ta!