Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The October Goal - Finished!

Ok, so it is nearly the end of November, but I am happy to exclaim that the October goal to paint a portion of the living room is done! Finished! Yay!

I am really, really happy with it.

I messed around with some brownish-tan colors. I wanted a shade darker than the "brown teepee" that we have settled on for the neutral throughout the first floor. But they all seemed icky and weird. Or not darker. I needed something that would go with the neutral but compliment the grey in the dining room (diagonal and not directly attached the living room), the remaining "white" in the living room/kitchen, the green in the foyer (that is growing on me - AB likes it - I was iffy for awhile). I didn't want to pull the grey into the living room, but that was starting to look like an option.

I finally went and bought some browns that were so way darker than everything else and then we had the difficult task of narrowing down the choice because we - surprisingly - liked them all.

So it is dark. It is chocolate-esque.

And I love it.

The area over the couch still needs something - it is a very large brown space. But that is the fun part! Getting to look for art on our future trips to fill in the space. I don't have a burning desire to fill it in now. I can wait - and I often do wait - until I find the PERFECT pieces for us.

Happy happy!

December Goal? Survive and make Christmas.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Note I found in Skadi's backpack

I don't think I got into writing notes until I was in junior high. But apparently that is the "in" thing in first grade now?

I found this one in Skadi's backpack from her friend, Rebecca.

"Water Princess - Rebecca
Snow Princess - Skadi

Snow melts into water. We are both a pice of snow. Snow is just frozen water. I am abull to turn into snow and ice. We have a different ability. We both can take care of penguins"

I personally loved the last line.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Biggest Little City

When AB and I left Reno, I was sad. I went there a bit reluctantly... sad to leave Colorado, but happy to get away too. Going somewhere new. A long ways from family. With someone special to me - AB. I didn't expect to fall in love with Reno, but I did.

I was invited back to Reno to the University this fall when I was notified that Congratulations, I had been awarded the "Young Alumni of the Year" award for UNR. I immediately questioned whether they had the right person... they did say "young". And well I am 12 years out of my Ph.D. But apparently you are young if you graduated less than 15 years ago. They asked me if I would attend and I couldn't resist even though all I could envision was swollen boobs and pumping around the clock and my husband dealing with a baby for a few nights.

But how often are you awarded this type of award really? I had to go.

I booked my flight, booked my room at Circus Circus ($49/night special - can always count on the Circus) and it was on.

I arrived and wandered around the Circus Circus, Silver Legacy and Eldorado complex. I rode the Circus Circus train over to the tower where my (actually very nice) corner room was. While on the train two girls sat across from me. I asked them where they got their Starbucks, making a mental note for tomorrow. Then one of them eyed me and said it... "where are you from?" I suppose it was the tone. It wasn't "oh, where are YOU from?" It was "where are you FROM?" Like I had probably never been there before. Hard to explain. Anyways, I told them and added the caveat - "but I lived here for about 6 years in the late 90's.

It was like walking into a 12 year time warp. The big dome with the rig is still there. Only a lonely ghost hanging out for Halloween - no laser light show that I saw. If you haven't seen this, it is huge. Like 4-5 stories tall I think. Humongous.

The Bistro Roxy is still there - first martini bar I ever entered. And outside is the fabulous Bacchus statue. Same same.

The next morning I was up nice and early courtesy of the melons attached to my chest. I got up, gazed at my old stomping grounds... and went for a drive before meeting my graduate advisor (now the chair).

UNR viewed from my Circus Circus Room.
The Vietnamese restaurant across from Circus Circus that we used to frequent.
I drove up to our last apartment while in Reno. This is what I remember - a great view of downtown Reno. Our beautiful dog, Winny. And the balloons from the balloon festival flying overhead. Ah the days.

And now. Built up enough that I doubt there is a view from FF103 anymore. Did you ever hear the story of FF103 and F103? AB loves to tell this story. A tale for another day. I guess what really surprised me though was the foliage up there. You can see in the one above that Winny sat in front of sagebrush. Not anymore.

But there were the bad times. The upstairs neighbors at that place that still make me bristle. The management of the complex that spontaneously lost every noise complaint filed. Resulting in the one and only time I have had to mentally restrain myself from knocking the living shit out of someone.

We had previously had a great apartment in South Reno with wonderful walking paths nearby. But we wanted a dog - and they wouldn't let us have a dog. Sad. The second floor apartment here is our first Reno apartment. Where I hosted my first Thanksgiving dinner. Where we were sleeping when a 5.2 magnitude earthquake hit.

I drove over to our old walking/running path and called my advisor to see if he was ready to meet.

Reno from the South
So some things never change? Yep. My advisor still looks like he is 22. But even scarier... the lab. I could have walked out of there 3 weeks ago or 12 years ago. I used to sit in that chair. I put that chamber together. Even the same computers - my advisor lamented. See those drawers? That is my handwriting on every single one of those labels. Labeled and organized THEM ALL. Even the signs were the same. "CASEY GROUP" on the front door (blocking the looky loos)? Mine.


 We walked around the new buildings on campus and it appears that the University is doing quite well with the new buildings. But I got to learn about the other side of things. The state funding side from my former advisor. I learned that they have a wonderful piece of equipment that they can't even set up because they have no money to pay for the argon to run it. Sad. I fear for the future of my department.

So I suppose it shouldn't have been a surprise how that evening went at the Alumni recognition event. I was whisked in - I was a bit late because Reno has changed A LOT. I saw faculty from my department and was anxious to get over and stand with people I knew. I am not good with small talk. Though I have to admit I think I am getting better.

Nope. I was ushered past the people I knew and whisked up to the Dean, who shook my hand and shook my hand. Told where I would sit - with a large donor family (whose son was also being honored) and then *I* became the dog and pony show.

I met donor after donor and was (embarrasingly) lauded as a huge chemistry department success. I chose Nevada for grad school because I wanted a small department where I would have a good chance at success because I had absolutely no confidence I would succeed otherwise. I loved my time at UNR. I had a great class I entered with (about 50% graduating success I think) and I felt I left with an excellent education that spanned chemistry and physics.

I am an introvert. I am a woman. As I learned from the Lean In book, the fact that I shun recognition is probably more of a quality of being a typical woman. I looked around the table that night at the man (and his family) who was also being honored and he beamed at pride at every recognition while his wife made certain to remind everyone how MANY awards from the University he had achieved in the past few years. Really a smart and entreprenuerial guy actually. I kind of envied him. Actually I envied his self assuredness. I tried to sit up straight and stick my chest out like he did. Then I became increasingly aware of my swollen melons and worried they might rupture... when last did I pump anyways?

When the Dean read my list to the audience I know my face was beet red. And those at "my" table looked at me with jaws dropped. I wanted to make excuses - it was my teams. They deserve all the success. Not me.

Then I canned it. I went through hell for a few years with an extremely difficult team situation and strong personalities who wouldn't be sidelined. Until he was.

I freaking deserved this.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

The latest

I have had a number of occasions lately where I have started blog posts - sometimes written them in full - and then never hit "publish". I haven't quite figured out why.

Life has been good lately. Really good. Sometimes too good to be true? Some concern I guess that as soon as I post something, the tide will turn? People will think I am bragging? I will think I am bragging?

I am not sure what it is really. Maybe if I get a post out of my system I will be able to move on. Not sure, but let's see if I can actually convince myself to hit publish this time.

So life is good. Work is good. For the most part.

I am in that phase after a successful project whereby I am receiving awards for receiving awards. I have management eyeing me with scrutiny... can she maintain the momentum? What can we nitpick so that she knows she isn't top of the hill? And politics. Egads politics. All the while I am trying to "Lean In", but actually feeling thwarted a fair bit... and by people who should know better.

So let's get the awards out of the way. I received a lab director's award for the national awards we received for the Navy work. I joked that I hoped it wouldn't confuse too many people that my award hanging in my office looks exactly like the one of the new lab fellows. Ok done. One award out of the way.

Next award. I received a Young Alumni award from my graduate university for my work. I have been planning a blog that goes more into this and about my visit back to Reno. My view for the first time of the state of things from my advisor's (now chair) perspective. My view of Reno after having been gone for 11.5 years (yes, I miss it). My view of being a "one woman dog and pony show" for an evening (gag). So second one, done.

See that wasn't too hard.

Next topic... Students. So part of the reason I got the award from the university is probably that my program wasn't high end. They turn out a good product. But I have laughed at times about how I occasionally have the opportunity to write letters of recommendation to institutions that I would have never even considered actually applying to! Well I have a new one. I have been receiving inquiries from students graduating from prestigious schools looking for jobs.

I had an entire post written about this and how it was driving me crazy. Not that I was getting my fragile ego stroked, but about how badly these students were doing this. It was a bit horrifying and the vast majority of students I have concluded that there is a reason that they are scraping the bottom of the barrel (i.e., me) in looking for a job. And you know what? They aren't getting one from me either.

Next topic... Annual Review. Not surprisingly my first year after promotion I managed to "achieve expectations". I don't care about the C rating. I heard you "always" get to achieve expectations after promotion. What killed me was some of the things that were written and then as the nature goes with privacy, everything is so vague. How am I supposed to change or improve if I can't have specifics on which team feels that I am not managing them... but only to find out after poking, prodding and digging that it is the team where I AM NOT EVEN THE PROJECT MANAGER.

Yes, makes sense. Or how about the one where I am taking over the technical side and not sticking on my side of the PM fence? UMM I AM CO-PI OF THAT PROJECT.

Every year I get more and more of an impression what a load of crap the annual reviews are. It honestly becomes hard to take them very seriously when they seem first, incredibly subjective and second, very ill informed. 99.5% of the year I love my job and know that I am doing a good job. But then that other 0.5% of the year is there to knock you down.

This year I made the decision that it is time for a change.

To be continued...

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

6 months, 3 children

So Silas is 7 months now. But I really did have him at the doctor's close to his 6 month birthday. And then I finally dug out Leif and Skadi's 6 month stats - because it appears I did not post that information here?

Anyways, the scoop is:

Weight: 21 lbs 14 oz (95.65% because those sig figs are important...)
Length: 28" (88.66%)

Weight: 19 lbs
Length: 26.25"

Weight: 21 lbs 14.5 oz (95%)
Length: 27.25" (81%)

On Oct 30, Silas popped his first tooth through! Early as compared to Leif.

He also seems to have strange anxiety. His doctor noted that this is a sign of high cognitive development when she walked in and he screamed at her and the nurse. I think he was just fussy and late for nap time...