Saturday, October 15, 2011

Office Baby Showers Are Bad

Be warned, this is a venting post.

People are popping out babies at a ridiculous rate around here. Which is fine, as long as it's not me. Don't get me wrong, I love kids. I just want to be able to send them home when I'm done; I'll be the BEST Aunt in the world. My furry family keeps me busy enough (not to mention the Fiance who can be like a kid).

For the latest pregnancy, a coworker decided to have a baby shower for her. Here's the thing, I don't want to go. I know her only to say "Hi, how are you doing?" in the hallway. I don't even know if she has other kids. I think invitations like that are inappropriate and not to mention rude to the people who had babies the past two years and didn't get a baby shower at work. If I was one of those people who didn't get one I'd be hurt. I also don't like that they made a point to state (more than once I might add) where this woman registered. Not to mention she's worked here a little over a year and two of the women who didn't get one have worked here for many years.

I apologize to those who think baby showers at work are fine, but I'm entitled to my opinion. Just because people get along at work and are friendly doesn't mean they're really friends, and for me baby showers are for friends and family. I don't like them at work. After trying to find a legitimate way to get out of this one, well, I've decided to lie. I'm not proud of it, but it's better than being in an awkward situation for over an hour. And spending money on someone I don't really care about. I have better things to do with my sparse money. Like spend it on my furry family, which just got bigger. I'm going to have a meeting in another building (code for I'm going out to have lunch and hide).

Friday, March 18, 2011

Engaged . . . . Again

We've been through a lot, fiance and I. We've been together 14 years now. Engaged for a little more than 10 of those 14 years. Life happened and we were in a really bad place for many, many years. That's why we never went beyond the engagement part. I refused to get married to fix a problem, the problem gets fixed first, however I was committed to the relationship because I knew what was possible. A few of you know the back story, but to sum it all up for those of who don't, after a lot of pain I realized last year I had to leave. We were hurting each other and it wouldn't get any better. But then something amazing happened - S went into treatment and now is just over 5 months sober. He's been doing what he needs to do and I've been doing what I need to do, and it's coming together much faster than I ever thought it would. He's put his whole being into making this work and he's serious this time.

Before I explain what he did the other day, let me start with a nightmare I started to have a few years ago so you understand the impact of what recently happened. When he would drink he would often talk of getting me another ring. The one I had was "tarnished" and it had been taken off at the lowest points. I used to worry that someday when he'd be drinking he'd go out and buy a ring. So I'd often think about if he'd ask me right now, this very point in time, to marry him again what would I say? And I knew I'd say no. I used to dream it would happen and I'd say no.

But our lives are so different now. We've talked about how we're getting to know each other again. We've been through so much we aren't the same people we were 14 years ago. But it's working. About a month ago things started to really change for me. It's hard to explain because it's all about peace, trust, and my emotional state. I feel better than I have in a really, really long time. I'd forgotten how it felt to be like this because I've been in such a hostile, deteriorating situation for so long.

Monday he asked me to marry him again. He got down on one knee and pulled out a ring. It was amazing, not just the ring but everything. I instantly started to cry, and I mean a sobbing cry not a pretty cry. So many emotions hit me at one time. He was worried and asked me if I was saying yes. I did. He then assured me that he didn't charge it or borrow money. It was all his and paid for. Which for him is a big deal. He wanted this to be a fresh start for us. I now have a ring I can look at and there are absolutely no bad associations with it.

I didn't need a new ring, but in all honesty this one means more to me than the first one. There is so much more behind it, so much more emotion and meaning. He did it all by himself. And it's perfect. It's a promise of the good times to come.

I'm so giddy I feel like this is the first time I've ever been engaged. It truly is a new start. And I can finally let myself think about planning a wedding. After all these years we're finally moving forward.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Theoretically...Wait, I Meant Hypothetically

I think this post is just going to enhance my image as a science geek. But this has really, really been bothering me lately, and I know I can't be the only person.

Lately I've heard the word 'theoretically' thrown around. Some of these people have no science background so I can forgive them. Other people have no such excuse. Theoretically this, theoretically that. Blah, blah, blah.

Hey people - what you're talking about has nothing to do with a THEORY.

Let me elaborate for those of you who don't know what I'm talking about. To understand what a theory is, let's start with a hypothesis. A hypothesis is an educated guess based on observations and can be proven or disproven using well designed experiments. In other words, it may or may not be true but it's what you think will probably happen. In contrast, a theory is an explanation of a related observations from proven hypotheses verified multiple times by independent groups of researchers. In other words, a theory is generally accepted as having been proven and is true.

Do you see the difference? A hypothesis is maybe true, and a theory is accepted as true.

Now to those of you who know better - tossing this word around in an informal, conversational way, only serves to confuse the general public when you're trying to get them to understand science. Hypothetically and theoretically are NOT interchangeable. They mean very different things and shouldn't be used interchangeably. If we want people to understand science and understand what may be true and what is accepted as true we have to be consistent. Science is becoming a major component in the average person's life. We see more science based stories on the news and the media, or even your neighbor, may asks you about this or that study they heard about. They need to understand when they hear something is "just a theory" it doesn't mean it's a guess and unproven - it in fact means the opposite.

So for those of us who are involved in educating the public on science - please pay attention to what you say. Theoretically is not the same as hypothetically.

Thank you!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Grading Advice

I have a question for my blogiverse and twitter peeps out there. I'm currently grading papers which, first of all, are over due on my end because of the down time of OnlineU. But here's my question and keep in mind that more one student did this. I made the instructions of the assignment very clear on what the topic needed to be. This is my problem - some students wrote excellent papers, but on the WRONG topic. Normally I would tell them to do it over, but because of all the technical problems they're already well into their next assignment. I shouldn't hold it against them because of the technical issues and I don't want their current projects to be poor because they're trying to redo a past one.

I don't know how lenient I should be given the circumstances. Do I drop the papers a letter grade? More? These are really good papers, would have been an A if written about the right topic. How do other people handle it? I know these particular students are hard workers and obviously spent a lot of time on their papers.

Advise and opinions are greatly appreciated!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

It's Good When It Works

I love my OnlineU job. Absolutely, head-over-heals love it. But it's by no way perfect. You know how technology is great when it works? Well, this week it didn't. They upgraded to a new platform. It wasn't just the online classes but for the entire university. The university has a lot of ground locations; I just call it OnlineU because that's the part I'm teaching in.

I, along with several other faculty, was locked out of my class for several days. It was horrible timing, even though no timing would have been good. It overlapped when grades were due, the end of one unit, and the beginning of another. I could get into my live seminar but there was no audio and no presentation ability. Thank God for a rare moment of quick thinking on my part (patting myself on the back). I emailed my students the presentation and we walked through it and I taught via the chat function. We didn't cover everything I wanted but at least they got something out of it. So ever since I gained access I've been catching up on my discussion board posts and grading. Lots and lots of grading because I'm teaching two classes. My butt is sore, my muscles are stiff, and my back aches. I'd probably be done by now but I'm kind of obsessive in the feedback I give my students. I want them to know everything they did right, what they did wrong, and how they can fix it. Unfortunately, this is taking forever.

OK, venting over, I just needed a break. Back to grading!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Back from the Conference

This past week I was down south for a conference. Lately I've been going to the same state every few months. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't like it, I would just like to visit new places because I don't get to travel a lot. Conferences are my chance to see new places. At least it was in the 70s when back here at home it was snowing. Anyway, I was down south, left Tuesday came back Friday evening.

I look forward to this one every year. It's stuff I'm really interested in and the hardest part about it is choosing which session to go to because there are so many concurrent sessions. There were some I had to attend because they were presentations for The Grant. It was exciting to see how many people came. It's really, really good for us since our funders were also there and we are having our mid-year program evaluation this year. During the day the sessions were great, including the plenary sessions. Lunch and breakfast were lousy. I wish they hadn't provided it because then we could buy what we wanted and get reimbursed. The plenary sessions had extremely high-ranked government officials in our field. They all talked about the "elephant in the room" - funding. Our particular field is getting cut, dramatically in the new proposed budget. I think it's a threat to national security and local preparedness measures but it looks like it's going to be a fact. It sucks and I try not to think about it. Not sure what I'm going to do when The Grant runs out.

The evenings were fun. The first night I just stayed in my hotel room and got room service. I got in during the evening, then we had a networking session but I had to teach my seminar. I went back to the hotel room and taught my class. The next day was great. After the last session and a reception Frazzle (a PI on the grant who's hair is always frazzled) and Lawset (PI on The Grant also) went out to dinner at an Asian place, I had soup and sushi. It was fantastic. The conversations the three of got into, well, sometimes I just had to sit in listen in disbelief. We discussed:
  • Death. Frazzle wanted our opinion on a show idea he had. He wants to make a show about death. All aspects about death. He had obviously put a lot of thought into it so I did my best not to laugh. He wanted to start with a radio show and move into television.
  • Spirituality and Religion. Lawset started us talking about spirituality and religion. What we believed; what we think happens when we die; what about reincarnation.
  • Dream jobs. What would we love to do if we could do anything. I shocked them all when I said I'd become a vet if I was guaranteed a job working with tigers. Talked about shocked expressions.
  • Codependents. Frazzle has a sister who he says is crazy. He means it. He's an MD and they've apparently had problems with her most of her life. Right now she's not speaking to the family. Her partner is making things worse even though she thinks she's helping her. Frazzle made the comment that she is an out of control codependent and there's no hope for her.
Codependents are crazy too. That's what he said. That really stopped me. I just looked at him and said there is hope, there are different levels of codependency, and people can heal but it's a process. Frazzle and Lawset just looked at me. Of course they wanted to know why I said that. I've know them for years, especially Frazzle. And I know they have a high respect for me so they would often listen to what I had to say. Therefore, I told the truth. If me talking about it helps someone else, even if it's helping them by helping other people understand - I'll talk. I just looked at them and said "I'm a recovering codependent." Then we had an honest discussion about how hard it is, the process of healing and separating, and how it's not easy but also not hopeless. I said S was a recovering alcoholic. Lawset just looked at me said "That explains a lot." That sounds harsh when I type it but it wasn't, it was said in a kind way - like now she understands why we're not married after being together so long..  Like I said, we had a good discussion of what it's like for a codependent. I think Frazzle needed to hear it. And both of them thanked me for sharing something so personal.

After dinner Frazzle went back to his room and Lawset and I went to the lounge for some nightcaps. We talked a couple hours more about all sorts of things: education, goals, family, peers, character, priorities, perspectives on life.

The next night I had pizza from my favorite pizza place which we don't have here at home, did classwork and watched t.v. What people need to understand is that staying in the hotel room and doing nothing is like a mini-vacation for me.

I thought a lot about the time I spent with my coworkers. I'm very blessed to be where I'm at. I often browse ads, look at jobs, but I hesitate to apply for anything. I have it really good where I'm at right now. My boss likes and trusts me, she encourages me and supports me. My coworkers are usually good to be with, nothing is always perfect. I have flexibility in my job. And I have time to do things in my personal time. I've got it good and it makes me hesitate to move elsewhere.

But it's back to the grind tomorrow. The downside of the job. Meetings, meetings, meetings. But that occurs most places so it's something I have to do.