Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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I guess this is what it must feel like to be a whale, if a whale lived in a vast ocean of work instead of water

Illustrator whaleI feel like I’m coming up for a short breath after being submerged for a really long time, knowing that I’m shortly going to dive back down. I guess this is what it must feel like to be a whale, if a whale lived in a vast ocean of work instead of water.

The things under which I’ve been submerged recently include, in no particular order:

  • finishing up the course I was teaching this semester, including grading all the final assignments, calculating participation grades for the semester, and submitting final grades to the school
  • completing revisions for the new edition of my textbook1, including proofing all the revisions we did
  • submitting a grant application2
  • working on another grant application that is due May 1
  • my presidential duties
  • my actual day job, which is getting crazy busy as a Really Big Thing is about to happen and we have to be ready for it

But the textbook revisions and the marking are all done now, and those were two really time-consuming things that I was having to fit into my weekends and evenings, and the time available for working in the evenings and on the weekends were abbreviated due to the fact that I’m dedicated to doing my three days a week at the gym (which really is a big part of what helps me decompress when I’m so busy!) and I’ve been working longer than normal hours at my actual day job, due to all the work of preparing for the aforementioned Really Big Thing. So now I feel like I have a few days where I can actually breathe. By which I mean “write a blog post about how busy I’ve been”.

Of course, this is just a short reprieve, as I’m about to dive back down into the deep ocean that is work craziness. As, I mentioned above there is a Really Big Thing happening at work soon. This Really Big Thing will involve my team (a) providing data to monitor the progress and/or outcomes (good or bad) of said Really Big Thing (translation: lots of people will be wanting to see the data we produce daily) and (b) having to provide support 12 hours a day, 7 days a week until such time as the Really Big Thing settles down into just a Big Thing and we can go back to our regular work days and hours. Which means that I’ll be working some early mornings and some weekends and also, since I’m the lead of the team, should any crises happen, I could potentially be called even when I’m not on site. All that stuff happens starting April 28th.

Also, I’m going to have some house guests around this same time! Dr. Dan and one of his students will be staying with me from May 2-8, as they will be in town for important work things, and then from May 8-13, my mom and my Aunt Wendy will be staying with me as my Aunt has an important conference to attend and my mom is coming along to visit. I’m very excited to see all of them, as I think it will be good for me to get some quality time with family & friends to keep me grounded when I’m not at the hospital doing my Really Big Things.

Sperm whale starting a dive #2

Image Credit: Whale illustration posted by Steve on Flickr with a Creative Commons license and whale tail photo posted by Vilmos Vincze on Flickr with a Creative Commons license.

  1. I don’t think I’ve mentioned here that we are putting out a new edition. The original came out in 2012, which is like a million years ago in textbook years, so it was due. Nutrition is still a pretty young field, so there were a fair amount of things to update! It should be ready by the end of the month and everyone should buy a copy or 12. []
  2. Which I was just a co-investigator on, so I’m not saying I did the most work on it; was it was a team effort of a bunch of people and lead by someone else, but it still took up some time. []

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NaBloPoMo Day 2 – My eyeballs are tired

Been doing some field work this week, so my team and I have been working hard at collecting lots of data and entering it into giant spreadsheets. This has involved very long days of staring at a computer screen – like, longer than my usual 8 hour day of staring at a computer screen and my eyeballs are so very, very tired. Right now I’m typing this without looking the screen (and just proofreading it afterwards so as to minimize looking at the screen right now!). I have at least eleventy billion emails that I should be answering (as I’ve been unable to do my usual emailing since I’ve been so focused on data collection), but I think they may have to wait until my eyeballs feel less like they are going to fall out of my face.

In tangentially related news, it snowed in Squamish today! Here is Zaphod Beeblebrox the Car covered in the white stuff:

Snow in Squamish

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You Can Take the Academic Out of The Academy….

As I mentioned a little while ago, last week and this week at work are jammed packed.  I have so many meetings that my meetings have meetings! Happily, though, I’m in the home stretch –  only two more workdays in 2011! The lion’s share of the webinars/meetings/workshops are done too – I have one meeting tomorrow (plus a Christmas lunch with my boss and a few colleagues) and a teleconference on Friday, but other than that, I have scheduled myself some time to finish up a bunch of tasks I need to get accomplished before I’m away from work for two weeks. And hopefully clean off my desk. I love coming back from holidays – and especially starting a new year – to a tidy workspace.

I’m also noting that I appear to slipping back into my academic ways. I noticed it when I realized that my two meetings today were to work on research grant applications. Yes, I said “research grant applications.” In addition to the research grant I received this year, I’m currently working on two more research grant applications (one due January 13, the other due February 15)1 and one manuscript for submission to an academic journal2. Also, I’ve applied to get a practicum student to work on my research project over the summer and am talking with my R.A. about applying for another grant for an event we’ll need to be hosting for another project. Oh yeah, and then there’s the whole going back to school thing.

In my defence, however, there is an upcoming conference that I’ve been very tempted to apply to present at, but am resisting the urge as I know that my workload is already too much. I had pretty much convinced myself that it would be crazy to apply and then got re-tempted when (a) they extended the deadline for abstract submission from mid-December to January 15 and (b) they posted an application for students to get awards to attend the conference And I realized – hey, I’ll be able to take advantage of such student-based incentives, what with being a student at all! It would be a fabulous conference to go to *and* it’s being held in one of the two provinces I have not yet been to, which would give me an excuse to knock that province off my list of provinces I need to go to. But so far I’m managing to hold strong on not adding one more piece of academic-like work to my crazy workload!

For now, I’m just going to concentrate on… two more days! two more days!

  1. Happily, I am not the main writer for either one and have a great team of colleagues on both projects! []
  2. With an idea for another journal article to write as soon as I’m done this first one! []

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Happy Weekend

I submitted a grant application today.

More specifically, I submitted *this* grant application today:

Day 312

It may look small, but I can assure you that many, many hours of time and much blood, sweat and tears went into the crafting of that baby. And, if I do say so myself, it is made of sheer awesome. AWESOME I say!

It is also the first grant application I’ve submitted in *advance* of the deadline! It’s due in Ottawa on Tuesday, but I couriered it out today. Pretty proud of that fact.

And now I can truly enjoy the weekend!

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Happy New Year!

new year by *Sally M*.

Fiscal new year, that is.  At least if you are on a April 1 to March 31 fiscal year.  Which I just so happen to be.  So, yeah, today is fiscal new year.  Which means that I can no longer blame anything and everything that goes wrong on fiscal year-end, as I am wont to do.

I will now have to resort to blaming things on “the economy” and “my brain injury.1

1For the record, I’m feeling better today. Still have a bit of a headache, but not as much as yesterday, when I couldn’t even look at a computer screen. I was even able to go to work today, although I had to alternate tasks that required looking at the computer screen with those that didn’t.

Image credit: Sally M on Flickr

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Why I Need This Vacation

I promised that I’d snap a picture of my copy of the grant application that I just submitted. Because I knew you’d never believe me about its ridiculous size.  That is me with just one copy of the grant application1.  We had to submit the original, plus five copies.

Ostensibly, that’s a 13 page proposal.  However, 21 CVs, 15 publications, 3 appendices and many, many pages of administrative stuff added to those 13 pages result in the behemoth you see in the pic.

So, yeah, after months of work on that, I feel I’ve really deserved the few vacation days I’m taking to go to visit my family and to celebrate my neice’s 4th birthday. I’m still not done my marking, but I figure that’s what five hour plane rides are for, right?

Update: I added up the pages, plus all the photocopies, and the grand total what I sent in was 4962 pages. Wow.

1Dr. Beth inserted into photo with grant application to give you a frame of reference to judge size.

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Making Me Feel Like a Slacker

I just saw a job posting that listed, among others, the following criteria:

  • between 15 and 30 years of age (inclusive) at the time of intake/selection;
  • post-secondary graduates;

15 year old college/university graduates?  Seriously?

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You know you’ve been working too long on a grant app when…

Today we had a grant application due for a grant we’ve been working on for the last eleventy billion years.  Finishes touches were put on it over the weekend and today it just needed one last read through and then to be photocopied and picked up by the courier.  Last night I had a dream that it was tomorrow and we discovered that no one had sent the grant app in.  I thought my colleague sent it and she thought I’d sent it.  I was panic-stricken at the realization that eleventy billion years worth of work, by a fairly large team of people, was all for naught as we’d missed the deadline.  Fortunately, the dream ended at that point.

When I got into work, I told me colleague about this dream, and she was like “No way!  I had the *exact* same dream last night!”  Apparently we spend so much time working on this grant together that we are turning into one another.  Later on in the day, after we did actually have the grant successfully picked up by the courier (and don’t think that i didn’t go into paranoia mode all day today making sure everything was on track, ‘cuz I *totally* did), one of my other co-workers  and I were chatting in the hallway and she asked how I was celebrating being done the grant.  “I’m going for a run this evening,” I said… only to hear my dream-sharing colleague yell from her office, “ME TOO!!”  It’s official, we are turning into each other!

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Never too busy to tell you how busy I am

  • Busy-ness necessitates point form notes, incomplete sentences.
  • Busy writing grant, planning year-end extravaganza for my program, various other tasks
  • Next two days = conference at SFU
  • Presenting at said conference tomorrow – presentation ready?  Hells no.
  • Friday = heading to Kelowna for the long weekend for hockey provincials
  • Purchased hockey bag with wheels yesterday = w00t!
  • Starting tomorrow, supposed to be sunny and 1,000,000,000 degrees outside; right now = pouring rain
  • Gotta run to catch a bus now – SFU = a land far, far away

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Can’t blog. Marking.

It’s exam time, which means I’m now faced with a giant pile of exams to mark. *sigh* And they don’t seem to be marking themselves, so I’m resigned to the fact that I will, in fact, need to mark them myself. *double sigh*.

And, because I have this crazy idea that university should be about learning how to think critically, how to analyze and synthesize and evaluate using information rather than how to regurgitate random, out-of-contexts facts, I won’t give fill-in-the-blank or multiple-choice or matching questions, which are, of course, waaaaay easier to mark. So marking 94 exams is quite a project. Now, I suppose I shouldn’t complain too much, as at least I’m being paid to do this, whereas the students have to pay to take the course and write the exam!

But I still don’t like marking. I don’t like it in a house. I don’t like it with a mouse. I don’t like it in a boat. I don’t like it with a goat.