Tuesday, June 12, 2007

If you're still around

Dear friends,

If you're still around, please visit my new blog: ofi/ofo.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Head poke

Just poking my head in. As you must have surmised... I'm on blog hiatus. I've let my bloglines reading lapse (over 300 messages taunting me), and I've let my voice here go silent.

I'm in transition, seeking a new path for my current trajectory, and a fuller understanding of just where I'm headed. I've contemplated starting a new blog, for my new self, letting PhDBlue fade as a closed chapter of my life. But is it closed? I suppose, one can always reopen a chapter, reread the lines.

Last night, Rocket and I were talking. I spoke of some of my new fantasies. Not necessarily fantasies about if and when I reach great success. But ... well, I said there's a part of me that would be happy to take a job like the one in Beautiful Nowhere, settle down to being a professor, buy a small farm, raise chickens, grow vegetables, open a little restaurant or B&B, can my own jams and sauces, sell them, on days I don't feel like being elsewhere.

She said, you know, it's okay to have different parts of your self, and to let them come out. It's okay to be complex, and to appreciate that complexity.

So, just now, I'm trying to settle in for the long haul that my current projects require. The screenplay will take me sometime. If I can "sell" the idea, it will take even longer to realize. And my analysis: I'm trying to do something quite different with Applied Research Field than has been done. I'm trying to look at things in a way that has been overlooked. And I'm trying to learn as much as I can about what has been done, and how, so that I can piece together many of the tools that are currently available. No need to reinvent the wheel, when I just wish to make a better chassis.

If I do start a new blog, I'll let you all know. Meantime, friends, thank you for being there these past couple years. And thank you for your patience with me as I enter my cocoon. Who knows? Maybe life as a butterfly awaits.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Who are we, anymore?

When I began this blog, I was motivated for change. I wanted to find a community, a home, a sense of belonging. I was adrift, lost in the current, without navigation. Things have changed... but, (in honor of the recent French election), la plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. And yet, things are different.

As my wife, the Rocket Scientist recently put it: the time for self-reflection is over; now is the time for action. Indeed, but we must retain our mirrors, glance every now and then at windowpanes and puddles.

Today was slow. I'm sick. By coincidence I had my annual physical exam this morning, scheduled to coincide with the Painter's 5-year check up. When I finally arrived at my office, I was thoroughly uninspired.

This afternoon, I checked my mail to find a small package from Amazon.com. Not a book mind you. I've been ordering a few movies of late, to inspire me. Today's package brought The Human Stain, a fine movie, based on the book by Philip Roth. The cast includes Anthony Hopkins and Gary Sinise, two of my favorites.

But why am I watching movies for inspiration? I'm writing a screenplay. It's project #3 on my list. Three tasks I'm working on, well, four perhaps, depending on how you count. That is my work. Quite a treat to be driving again.

I find myself still seeking my ground, wishing to tie my horse to a post, wondering if this tavern is to be home for a while. It's been since February that I've entered the waters of Applied Research Field. In many ways, it feels like home. The screenplay is not a distraction. In a sense it's marketing. The storyline is about the work I wish to do. In fact, for the movie to actual be realized, it will require my company to do a great deal of the work. That's part of the point. I'm enjoying the chance to draw so many of my disparate interests into a single project, and one which points toward so many more.

Nothing is certain. Sometimes, the journey is most of the fun!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

So far behind

I'm so far behind on reading your blogs my friends. Friendship... that's a hard one for me. I'm moved around so much in my life. I've lost more friends, than many people ever know. But I admire those whose friendships last. I'd like to be one of them.

I'm a rather social being, outward, obvious. I have a way of making myself known, and knowing people. To some extent, I think it arose out of my early childhood experiences. I had a terrible time in elementary school, in part because of a bully I thought was my best friend in second grade. I was also almost a year younger than most of the kids, and smaller. Long story. But the upshot is, I learned to navigate the murky waters of cliques by always being a satellite, never in enough to be expelled, never out enough to be ignored. And this technique allowed me to have several groups of friends. But it also kept me somewhat of an outsider.

That sense has lived with me ever since. I've wrapped it up with my self-identity as a secular Jewish American.

All that said, I don't wish to lose the friendships I have developed here. Many of you have been a crucial part of my path from there to here. I've been blogging for nearly a year and a half. Your companionship has been my life raft. But I fall silent a bit lately.

In many ways this silence is a good thing. Beneath the derma of my extroversion, lies a skeleton of self-reflection, quietude. I've been busy lately. Busy with my work. That has been good. I'm not really miserable anymore. Sure, there are slips. But I'm steering again, no longer adrift in the waves without a rudder.

But steering takes more concentration than I've given it. And that takes time away from other things. I hope you will not mind my slowly catching up on your lives, my likely commenting on some posts late in the game.

I am still here. In fact, I'm back like I haven't been in years. As they say in Czech: Drž se, přátele. Jasně, se držím.*

* [NB: This translation can not do justice to the original]
Hold on, my friends. Clearly, I will.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Amazed and delighted

The Inventor: (playing with the top of our hamper, frustrated that he couldn't get it back on).
Me: Whatchu got there?
Inventor: I can't get da top back on.
Me: I see. Well, daddy will fix it.
Inventor: Daddy, you can't fix it while you are in bed.
Remember... this is a two-year old speaking (to be precise 28 months)! I was blown away.
The Painter: (having just stepped away from working on his 16x16 times table -- he's systematic, he did 5x5, then 6x6, then... you get the picture) Daddy, I figured out a pattern with my nines.
Me: Yeah? What's that?
Painter: Wull... um, it goes 9, then 18, then... 27, then... 36, ... 45, ... 54, ... 63, ... 72, then 81.
I had noticed, a few minutes earlier, that he had written 73 for 8 x 9, but unusually, all the rest of the 8 row was correct. Normally, when he makes one error, it's compounded each time, as he adds to the last one. This time was different. Funny, I had even been thinking about telling him that trick about nines, that each multiple ends with the last digit one less than the previous. But I hadn't said a word. I guess he figured out his error by himself. (If I think of it, I'll post a picture tomorrow. Funny, he didn't fix the error, at least not before bed. I wonder what he'll do tomorrow).

The Painter is five, as of two weeks ago. He starts kindergarten in the fall. He had been declaring that he would never go to school, until of course the Rocket Scientist had the brilliant suggestion that he won't be going to school, just kindergarten. Ah... well, that's different. And now... I think he's more ready for it than I am. Five! Blink and he'll be fifteen. Hide the car keys!

Closing remarks

Hey Articulate- Was browsing around this morning and came across this. Thought you might find it interesting. Hope all is well. [Link to some software relevant to my new focus.]

Hi Paul,

Thanks. Yeah, I think my next task is to invest a bit in some new computers and software. I think I'm going to take Drew up on his offer to make me a Linux box and provide me a copy of their new software, basically at cost. I priced a Sun Microsystems workstation with the minimum requirements at about $2500 or so, so I think Drew's offer is generous. And I'll probably take a couple of my contacts at Apple up on their offer to get me a discount on a new Mac.

I think I'm settled with the projects I've got started: three at present. I've got to learn what I can about what's out there in terms of the technology applications, and see if I can piece bits and pieces together to create a makeshift means for doing what I'd like. Hopefully, I'll have something to talk about and show around at Industry Conference in New York in August. I've also taken on the role of "acting president" of the California chapter of Applied Research Field Society, and will be working hard to get our first chapter meeting by the end of the summer.

Trip to Big West Private in a couple weeks [for a workshop whose keynote will be given by my friend Jon Levitz. Trip to the UK end of June. Trip to Chicago area (to visit Rocket's family, and look up some of my Applied Research Field contacts) in July. Then Industry Conference in August. Last week of August I start teaching part-time at Lemon University as well. Busy is good. Let's hope I can keep my focus.

By the way, thanks again. You know, Paul, what I've realized I needed was not you... it was me. You've helped me get me back. That's quite an accomplishment. And for that, I thank you.

Hey Articulate,

Keep me posted as you explore. Who knows? Maybe I'll show up somewhere you're at. And, as far as getting you back...you hit the nail right on the head with one small exception. You were never gone...some times the world just beats us up to the point that we forget we are there. The real accomplishment is yours...admitting that it had nothing to do with me. That it was in your hands the whole time...and always will be. Maybe some day, over a glass of wine or two, I'll tell you what it was like when the clouds gathered over my head. Three years in hell. The similarities to your story will blow you away.

Go get 'em, Tiger. Stay in touch...and keep gardening.


Thus ends one chapter, as another one begins.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Moving on

Hi Paul,

I'm feeling really good these days, comfortable with the uncertainties, and driven by my ideas. In prep for today's coaching, I want to give you a sense of where I am, and where I'm headed.

Sunday, Rocket & I had a wonderful dinner date at a local tapas bar. We got the chance to really talk through some of our hopes and fears, and most importantly to discuss what risks we're willing to take as we move ahead, and which things in our lives we wish to preserve. We came to an understanding that our bottom line financially is maintaining about six months' living expenses outside of retirement savings. Other than that, just about everything else is fair game to be invested in building a business.

Rocket is enjoying her work these days, and feeling committed to continuing a career, but the idea of freedom, the ability to take off if and when she chooses, whether to tend to a new baby, or what have you, is important. That untouchable six months or so in living expenses is a bedrock of sorts that will preserve that freedom for her. It also gives me a sense that it's okay to risk the overflow. Not, of course, that I'm heading to Las Vegas, or that I'll dump all the funds into hastily-executed trips or unreflective purchases of equipment. But it leaves me with what I consider a decent sum for moving ahead, while giving me a bottom line as a measure for when it might be necessary to change course. I'd say approaching that bottom line is at least a good year off, which frees me up to invest some time in bigger projects.

Also, I've been offered a part-time teaching gig at Lemon University, which will put a little more money in the coffers, and as I said before, give me the ability to test the waters in an academic career, build up more self-confidence in the classroom, and challenge me to connect these two aspects of my life (the academic and the applied). Fortunately, the schedule for teaching is light, and shouldn't be too much of a distraction.

I'm quite enthused about the current prospects. I've mapped out much of the next few months, through August. September I will begin my teaching gig just a few hours a week. My target is to have some demos ready for showing people at Industry Conference in New York in August. I've defined three specific projects that I'm working on at my startup firm. I've tentatively recruited my friend Eduardo Montana, a PhD candidate in [Field 2] at The University of Paradise to join forces with me once he files his dissertation this fall.

I've talked to Rocket about looking into some telecommuting, say one or two days per week. My hope is to move into a larger office some time in the next few months. We could set her up with a desk and a computer, where she could work when she's telecommuting. That'd save her about 1-1/2 hours commute each day, meaning more time with the family, which she wants, even without giving up time at work. There'd also be space for Ed to join us.

What I'm realizing these past few weeks, is that I'm regaining my sense of self. In a strange sort of way, while I acknowledge the great strides we've made together, and appreciate how much you've done for me in getting me unstuck, I think it's time for me to move on. What I most need now is simply to dig into the work, and rely on myself again. I begin to need less and less external approval, including yours, which is a wonderful place to be. What I'd like to do, after today's session, is take a hiatus from coaching for a while, to test the waters with my own buoyancy.

If you're willing, I'd like to keep open the prospect of getting back in touch in a month or so, to touch base, see how things are progressing, renew coaching if it seems appropriate then.

Let's have a great session today, and thank you!


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A new sort of day

At noon, I have a conference call regarding setting up a new California chapter of Applied Research Field Society, which is the main organizational sponsor of the Industry Conferences. A couple weeks ago, I formalized membership, and indicated my interest in getting a local chapter established. Frank Mayer is the president of the society. Susan Trout is also a board member, and was the one who called today's meeting. The next Industry Conference is in August in New York. I hope to attend, and to have some demos of my current research to share with people. That's my target.

Other than the conference call, I will be preparing this lecture demo for tomorrow night at Lemon University. I latched onto some ideas yesterday about what to speak. I've got about an hour or so of the class to cover, and I'm feeling much more confident about it.

On Sunday, Rocket & I had a date at a local tapas bar, when we had a chance to talk more fully about our current plans and goals, about the risks and the benefits, and about how to proceed. One thing I asked of her (and myself) is an understanding of what it is we seek to preserve, what we're not willing to risk. We're committed to each other and to our family. In terms of finances, which translate into security and freedom, we've decided that six months' living expenses (outside of retirement savings) is our bedrock. Everything else is fair game. That leaves what I might consider a decent year's salary at my disposal, a comfortable sum for getting off the ground.

Not, of course, that I will head to Las Vegas, or the business equivalent. But it puts a frame on decisions. Should I attend this conference? Should I buy this piece of equipment, or this software package? How much will it cost? Is that the most effective use of the funds available to invest in this venture. We invest in the stock of companies we have little knowledge of, and even less say. Why not invest in our own ideas? Rocket likes the potential. I like the potential.

I've talked to the property managers here, to see about moving into a larger office when one opens up. I've asked Rocket to look into the possibilities of her telecommuting one or two days a week, which would save her about an hour and a half in commuting each day. This is because while she has realized that she enjoys her work, is appreciated and well compensated there, she'd like to find more balance in her life, meaning in particular spending more time with the family. She'd also like the freedom to cut back hours or take time off if she chooses. Avoiding the commute would save her time, which seems important. I've asked after an office that would accommodate three or four people. The idea is Rocket could work alongside me on the days she might telecommute (my office is only a five minutes' drive or fifteen minutes' bike ride from our house), and I might be able to bring on a partner or two in my private ventures.

On that point, I've tentatively recruited the first. Eduardo Montana is a friend of mine from The University of Paradise, he's a cohort of mine, and a PhD candidate in [Field 2], with a strong interest and background in [Field 1] as well. We talked on the phone last week, and he was quite excited by the prospects. He's on target to file his dissertation by the end of the fall, leaving him open to working with me after that. He had applied for some post-docs which failed to materialize. Like me, his interdisciplinary interests seem to be a liability in academia. So, we shall see.

Meantime, I'm learning what I can about business plans, about financing options. For now, we can probably spend our own money. I set up my first business credit card (on Amazon) the other day, when ordering some items as inspiration for one of my current projects (a new and exciting one I haven't mentioned yet, but which affords me the chance to bring many strands together into one rope).

And all the while, I'm wondering what will come of these various openings in academia. There is no going back. But, I like the thought of traveling multiple paths simultaneously. On that point, I realize something significant about my relationship with my coach. I seek and need his approval less and less. My self-confidence increases, and my willingness to trust my own judgment grows.At times, it would seem he wishes me to make decisions sooner than I feel properly prepared to make them. For instance, I put off making a decision regarding these two upcoming conferences in the UK, delaying the decision several times. I had only set a deadline for deciding at Paul's urging. But each time it approached, I felt unwilling to discard it. I wanted to hear back from them. In the end, the second one came through. I wouldn't have wanted to let it go.

To some extent, I think Paul has been pushing me to abandon my interests in academia. But I'm not sure that's true to me. What I have rejected is the waiting game, even though at times it is necessary to wait for word from others. I've thrown off the costume of the perpetual supplicant, begging for scraps at the base of the ivory tower. But wishing to not act the dog at the gate does not mean I give up hope to enter.

The point is, I've gained a great deal from these coachings, but I enter a new phase now. Perhaps it is time to begin the transition. When we began, Paul suggested an unbinding commitment of six months. We're entering the fourth month now. When I have my coaching on Thursday, I will suggest we move to bi-weekly sessions. I think it's time.

Monday, April 23, 2007

A break in the silence

I'm sorry my friends for my recent silence. It's been a long five days. I've been busy. My ideas for heading off on my own are beginning to congeal. Ideas pour forth like rain, some to wash off in the gutters, and some to nourish the seeds and seedlings of my garden.

A couple weeks ago, during my coaching with Paul, I developed a metaphor of my career as a garden, and me as the gardener. I realized my role as perpetual job seeker in academia had made a leaf out of me. And leaves, as we all know, are individually non-essential parts of a plant. I was withering, browning, and cracking.

I prefer the role of gardener.

And wouldn't you know it, it's just now that especially the academic side of my career begins to heat up.

I mentioned during my recent family trip (when I also got to meet the wonderful WhatNow? and her beloved D in person!), that I had been contacted by the organizer of a workshop in Canada, to request my attendance and participation. I spoke with her one evening last week, and she indicated that they would likely be able to fund my trip, and that she would bring this up at their next meeting. The next morning, I got word that funding had been approved to sponsor my trip to one of the conferences in the UK, to serve as part of a keynote panel. Unfortunately, the dates for these two events conflict. I wrote to the organizer in Canada to mention the conflict. Currently, she's trying to find a way to bring me out there just before my trip to the UK, and requested a brief abstract of my interest in their event.

The first of the two conferences in the UK (for which I had prime poster real estate) was only able to offer me a token amount, enough to cover the registration fees. I respectfully declined, and regretfully withdrew my submission, for lack of funds to attend. I got email today from one of the organizers of that first conference, whom I've known and corresponded with since perhaps 1998. He has at times been listed as a reference for me on my CV. Indeed, this morning he sent his regrets that they were unable to find sufficient funds for me to attend the conference, and to request a current copy of my CV, since he's been contacted by Midwestern City University to provide a reference for me, and wants to include the latest.

This coming Wednesday night, I head down to Lemon University for a teaching demo. I was a bit apprehensive about it, since the materials that the instructor requested I cover were a bit out of my comfort zone. I gave him a call to discuss it. He was open to me covering related material that I felt more knowledgeable about, and intimated that he trusts Sara Chaisano's opinion, but that the dean requires a teaching demo before an offer can be made. It sounds to me like the gig is mine to lose. As long as I don't blow it, I should be fine. Sara also indicated that they expect to be hiring one or two more faculty in the next year or so, and that having taught there as an adjunct would give me a big leg up. (That is in fact how she got her current job there).

Then (while writing this post), I just got an email back from Matt Suliman. It has been nearly a month since I wrote him. His email was apologetic for the delay, but encouraging, supportive, and friendly.

I am just overwhelmed. Good things are happening. I feel it. The soil is fertile and moist. Which seedlings will grow? Only time, with patience and perseverance, will tell.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


This according to Thomas Bartlett and Elyse Ashburn at the Chronicle of Higher Education:
It appears that Mr. Cho may have been planning the massacre for more than a month. According to the Associated Press, he went to a Roanoke, Va., gun shop five weeks ago and walked out with a Glock 19 handgun and 50 rounds of ammunition. Mr. Cho also used a .22-caliber handgun in the slayings.
This according to Andrea Hopkins and Patricia Zengerle at Reuters:
The gunman who went on a rampage at Virginia Tech had been confronted by university police in 2005 over complaints he was bothering women students and was sent to a mental health facility because of worries he was suicidal, police said on Wednesday.
And they let this guy have a gun!

This according to the Economist:
IT IS surely an American oddity that, after the worst mass shooting in the country’s history, some are already saying that such horrors would be less likely if only guns were easier to own and carry. Americans love firearms.
Can we speak of a culture of violence?

This according to a Reuters report from Baghdad:
Car bombs killed nearly 170 people in Baghdad on Wednesday in the deadliest attacks in the city since U.S. and Iraqi forces launched a security crackdown aimed at halting the country's slide into sectarian civil war.
And our president wants more fire power to... what? ... fight fire with fire? Oooh boy, we see how well that works!

Nota Bene (full disclosure): the author of this post was once a member of the NRA, at the age of 13, while attending a military academy in Virginia! I have shot weapons at paper and clay targets. I wish never to aim one at a human being. I own none. My membership to the NRA has long since expired.

Monday, April 16, 2007

What a difference a week made

We returned from our trip yesterday evening. This morning, I stepped onto the back patio, with a fresh cup of joe, to peer at the garden I had left behind a week before. The jungle that appeared before me bore only some resemblance to my memory. I picked the first two zucchinis, each about a foot long. Green tomatoes appear in profusion, promising a deluge of red come May. The beans are in bloom, and the first blossoms peek out from the tiny pepper plants. A couple plants provide recognizable though immature acorn squash. The carrot tops are six inches above ground.

Abundance and growth. Out of what? Letting go.
Is this a metaphor for life?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Upside down/Inside out

The world... the world appears upside down and inside out. The events of this week confuse me.

An email last Sunday arrived from the organizer of the [Field 1 & Field 2] conference where I have had a poster accepted in the UK next month. I was ready to send my regrets and withdraw. But I looked over the schedule and presentations. Really interesting, some of which seems squarely relevant to both an academic career and one in [Applied Research Field]. Then, I noticed my name listed in the first slot for the first of three poster sessions. I don't suppose the placement is part of any hierarchy, but it certainly adds a degree of prominence to my name. I began to think I ought do whatever I can to attend. I would likely learn a lot, and gain a good many more contacts (as well as see many of my disparate friends whom I know from other conferences).

Today, I received an email inviting me by name to participate in a Workshop in Canada by the professor organizing it. It just happens to take place at the exact time as the conference in the UK. I'd be their guest and a participant, but they suggested travel costs may not be covered. We have a rather limited travel budget and request participants to seek assistance from their universities. Um... considering circumstances, not likely I'll find any university assistance. But it's nice to be wanted.

Then, a few minutes later, I received an email from the producer for a nationally syndicated radio show, asking if I would be willing to be interviewed as an expert for this week's show.

I'm ... just flabbergasted. And... I'm supposed to be on vacation. I'm really bad about vacations, especially when I'm feeling I've nothing to vacation from. [SIGH!] I'm overwhelmed. Are these good developments? I would think so. But I'm just not sure how to respond.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Lemon Zest

Here I am visiting my mom. Activity continues unabated. When I applied last week for the local one-year post, I made contact with Tasse Plein and with Jim Lodz to request (expedited, electronic) letters of recommendation. Both were happy to oblige, and both mentioned that they had just received requests from Midwestern City University for letters on my behalf (they had asked merely for contact info in the application). I had attempted to contact a third recommender (who as it turns out is recovering from a broken leg). So, I asked the third letter be sent from my grad school placement file.

Hmmm... Midwestern City University. Ah, interesting; but I've been on long-short lists before. As I said to Jim Lodz: Not holding my breath anymore; it makes me turn blue. Won't even think about it too much. If I get a call, I get a call.

Then, I got an email from my friend Sara Chaisano. Here is the latest in the saga from Lemon University:
Hi Articulate,

Please forgive me for taking so long to respond! As I mentioned, I'm insanely busy this semester... I'm catching up on all my email now.

... I am also emailing to let you know that we've gotten the go ahead to hire some adjuncts to teach certain courses. If you are still interested, would you be willing to come back to Lemon to meet some other faculty members and do a little teaching in one of the classes?

We're looking at [Course #1]--which you've taught before, for non-majors, and our major [Course #2] The first is Tu/Th I think from 1-2:15, and the second is Wed. evenings 7-9:45 or so. I will find out for you what the pay rate is. I know that since you have a doctorate it will be at the highest level. If you're interested, [Other Prof], who coordinates the #2 courses here, would like for you to come do a little lecture in class some Wed. evening. You could come down and we could do dinner around 5 then you could talk at 7. He would tell you just what to talk about, I'm not sure how long--30 minutes, an hour--he would let you know.

It would be like an interview. Of course I already know you and have seen you talk at conferences and teach in a classroom, so it's a little more relaxed than otherwise. Let me know if your interested and we can arrange things!

Take care, and hello to your family,
Hmmm... I'm mostly just confused. As I've said before... close a door, and someone will knock. If I follow the path that begins to open for me, which I've spent much of the past three years hoping for, and fretting over, will I become less than my dreams?

How strange to now see opportunities as consolation prizes. Three years is a long time to be beaten down, long enough to make one question everything, to expect nothing. Misery really. So, now I have the strong likelihood of being offered a teaching gig, albeit part-time, and a couple more nibbles regarding full-time teaching, one tenure-track.

Talked with Rocket last night. Can't really see any reason not to move ahead with the opportunity at Lemon. I think getting my own classroom again would be a wonderful boost to my self-confidence. And, the income wouldn't hurt. As WhatNow? recently commented teaching could be a good complement to building a consultancy. The schedule Sara outlines sounds quite doable, since I could likely avoid rush-hour traffic.

I guess I'm cautiously excited. We shall see.

Friday, April 06, 2007

On the road again

Tomorrow morning, Rocket, the Painter, the Inventor, the au pair and I all head to the airport to spend about a week visiting my mom for part of Passover. Happy Pesach to all appropriate parties. And... I'm so looking forward to my first blogger meet up with a virtual friend!

Life is pretty good right now.

Funny thing happened today. Recall that I had mentioned how I had decided to forgo applying for the one-year post at the local big university, until I got a call back yesterday. After my talk with their former chair yesterday, I left a message for the current chair (contact for the posting), just to touch base with him.

Sometime this morning, I realized woops! the priority deadline for the posting was April 1. Hmmm... what to do? Then, I got a call back from the current chair, who said they received a letter of recommendation (electronically) from Tasse Plein this morning. (Tasse sent me a copy... lovely, really lovely!). Current chair mentioned that the deadline had officially passed, but said they'd accept my materials if I sent them electronically today, which I did.

It feels good to have applied, and we'll see what comes. I'm in a good place now, not needing this, really. Though I'd still be pleased to consider an offer.

Be well, my friends. I might be posting lightly the next week or so.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

It's a whole new ball game

Wow, what a whirlwind I'm in. I'm on top of the world and flying.

Last night, I made a phone call to a big name player in the field for which [specific goal] would be most applicable. Let's call him Walter "Wally" Williams. I had left a message for him the day before, but I'm impatient. I called him at home after dinner, for a brief chat. He seemed interested and open, gave me some ideas for what he'd be looking for, and gave me his email address, so we could keep in touch.

Earlier today, I got a call from someone whose name I recognized, but I simply couldn't place him. Remind me again where you're calling from? University of... Oh, yeah.

So, this guy was calling me back from an email I sent him beginning of last week (it seems a month ago). He's the former chair of the program in [subfield 1] at a local big university. They have a one-year gig open, for which there was a very vague posting. I met him a few years ago, when a friend of mine was a graduate student of his, and I had come down to campus from Paradise to attend the lecture by my friend Pam Bridgeport. He and I spoke again after a presentation of his at the SOD conference, when I had a lot to contribute in the discussion section.

I had sent him an email to find out more about the position, and to see if it would really be compatible with my heading. I had given up on his response, had marked the job off my to-do list, and thus was a bit taken aback that he called, especially since I couldn't place his name. The upshot was that he encouraged me to apply, but there's no telling. I think I will. I worked a bit on the CV, and the cover letter, figuring I'll mention my new interests and activities, and see what comes. Like adjunct teaching at Lemon (but certainly on a bigger scale) this could be a nice balance for me. But, as I wrote recently, I'm so over this. It's not quite that I just don't care, but I'm not worried about it any more. That's a great place to be.

Next, I called up Drew Davidson from Steel Industries. He had written me back yesterday with a rather encouraging tone. He replied to my inquiry saying that yes, well, some of their clients were working on something connected to [specific goal], but that it really wasn't necessarily what I was thinking of. Then he closed: What's on your mind?

I took that as an invitation. So, we talked for nearly 45 minutes today. He actually said something along the lines of: we see you as some sort of a power player, able to influence the field. I'm gasping for air! He proposed that he'd like to get their newest rollout system (which sells in the five digits) in my hands to fiddle with, in hopes that it'd provide me many of the tools I want, that I might be able to help them to develop it into a better system, and that hopefully I might be able to pitch it to Wally Williams and the like.

Oh... okay!
This ... is fun!

Now, I'm still spending my family's money, and I've nothing directly to show for my efforts that might permit Rocket to take some time off from work. But... there's time. Did I say it? This is fun!

Oh, and I forgot to say, I think I've shocked Paul a bit. I've hit him with a deluge of activity, ideas, and emails. Yesterday, he had written (in his response to my third email):
OK, DUDE. Just spent about an hour ( and quite an enjoyable one I must say) on you and I've got a busy week with some deadlines. Keep me in the loop and ask for responses if you need them from here on out. I'll read, stay abreast and look forward to speaking with you on Friday.
This morning, I opened my inbox to read:
At a rare loss for words: You're a FUCKIN MAD MAN!!!!!!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Putting together a team

Below is a note I sent my coach yesterday, and some of his response this morning. For those of you playing along at home, I realize you may be wondering who this guy is who has hijacked the blog. You might not recognize me as much anymore. I've been huddled in the corner, muttering to myself and anyone who'd listen, for the past two years. Funny, the corner hasn't gotten any larger, warmer, or better lit, nor the audience any more appreciative. And now you see me, center stage, with a megaphone.

Is the purpose for this blog coming to an end? Am I finding the rainbow at the end of the blue? I don't know. It's a rollercoaster. Classic manic-depressive perhaps. Right now, I'm up, and I'm not particularly looking forward to a crash. One thing I know for certain: there's no going back.

Before I go to the interactions with Paul, let me give you the bullet points. Yesterday, I sent off a few notes to people I know in [Applied Research Field] to find out what I could about who might be working on [specific goal]:
  • Frank Mayer wrote: "I don’t recall knowing of anyone in the community who’s focusing on [specific goal]. Sorry."
  • Meredith Binowitz wrote: "Good to hear from you. I don’t KNOW of anyone actively working on that but I imagine that Contrafazzione and Subtle Products have seriously considered it."
  • Mauricio Huppman (from Subtle Products, remember) wrote: "I have never come across anything like this. I'll copy our forgery product manager in case this rings any bells with him."
  • I also sent an email to Drew Davidson from Steel Industries. I haven't heard back from him yet.
  • Also, wrote a couple weeks ago on a different matter to some people from Contrafazzione, whom I met at [Industry Conference West]. I haven't heard back from them yet either. But I suspect if they were working on it, another one of these players would have heard something.
Hi Paul,

Yesterday and today, I've been thinking about pulling together a team. I realize that one of my biggest laments of late is being alone, inventing it all by myself. What it is, seems to be morphing. But I feel a major shift going on inside of me, from wanting a job, wanting someone to hire me, to guide me, to direct me, to being the one in charge, to creating the challenge, pulling together the people, summoning the inspiration.

I've begun to think of myself as directing an effort to transform [Applied Research Field]. I'm thinking of a Manhattan Project for setting the industry ahead. I have latched on to this challenge of [specific goal] as a motivator for change. Progress in the domain of forgery and certification has been slowed by the ever-more-limited scope of those working on the problems. If they won't have me on their team, perhaps it's time to form my own. (Some of this may sound like the Runt asserting himself, but it doesn't feel like a six year old's ideas and plan.)

I feel an urge to draw a disparate crew of people, from various backgrounds, together in attacking the problems. I've made a few phone calls, or sent emails, as feelers. I feel the drag of waiting for them to get back to me. But I'm doing my best not to worry about it. I've been diving into the work as well, the analysis, and some brainstorming for the sorts of tools I'll need to make this a reality.

I'm thinking of trying to pull together a sort of brainstorming retreat, that I would sponsor, to get the various people together for a few days, away from distractions. I'm thinking maybe I could rent a condo or cabin somewhere, for three or four days. I'd put them up. If I can swing it, maybe I'd even get them tickets (I've got about four frequent flyer tickets, so it might not be such a deal). We're not talking a great many people, on the order of 5 or 6. I'll have to look over the budget, and discuss details with Rocket before moving ahead, but I think it's doable. The idea would be to see if such a hodge-podge could congeal into a team, capable of forming a company. What would it take to get them all moving as a team? What would it take to get all of us salaries, and an office, and the necessary equipment? Is that a business plan? The next problem (next?) would be getting the startup cash to get moving. Where do I go for that? No idea.

Rocket's a bit taken aback with the whirlwind of my thinking. As she admits, she's slower to change than I. Am I changing too much, too fast? I'd been thinking about [specific goal] as a longer term project, 5-10 years to start up a company. But I'm thinking now that it will take some time to develop the product; why wait to get started? What have I really to gain? The point is, I think the problems will be solved by getting a crew of dedicated and intelligent people together. I could work slowly, gaining knowledge of what others are doing, but that might not help me much. Or, I could forge ahead with cultivated naivety, forgetting to ask whether any of this is possible. Sometimes, even the impossible is possible.

The one thing I've made clear to Rocket is that the one thing I will not risk losing is my family, is her, and my boys. She understands that, and accepts it. She really doesn't know what to make of me right now, but I think she's behind me, understanding that we've got far more to gain, than to lose.

Good Morning Articulate,

Wow! Some exciting stuff here. Responses below.

-->the Runt asserting himself<--
The "runt" may or may not be asserting himself. You may or may not be making a choice that let's the runt know that you will take care of him. The key is to make sure that you are not doing this to right the wrongs that were done to that runt....or to get back at the people who did those wrongs. That's an adrenaline fueled decision..it will exhaust you in the long run. It doesn't seem to me like this is the case, but keep an eye on it. Motivation matters. What's yours?

-->Where do I go for that? No idea.<--
Me neither, but we'll figure it out. This is how big things start. Couple of people sit in an office and say...."No idea, let's get started." Next thing you know, they're reviewing a marketing plan. Self promotion moment. If you decide to bring in a facilitator, please let me know so I can throw my name in the hat. Seriously, I love doing this type of stuff. Really juicy for me...and I'm pretty good at it if I do say so myself. OK, back to you...

-->cultivated naivety ... Sometimes, even the impossible is possible.<--
Pay attention to this: How can I use this experience to fuel my career ambitions AND create more peace and harmony in my home? Notice the emphasis on "and" in the questions. We often fall into the trap of believing that it's one or the other. Work satisfaction or harmony at home. It's not. You can have both.

Go get 'em, Tiger. This is exciting stuff.

Best, Paul
I think back to something Tasse Plein once said to me, that while I was sitting by the phone, miserably waiting for it to ring, it wasn't too much of stretch to imagine me avoiding the phone, in hopes to put off the decision between multiple offers a little while longer. All I can say is... time's have changed!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Alien Puppet-Maker

I feel the past few days, my body has been seized by an alien puppet-maker, who has designs for me far different from the ones I had been pursuing before.

I seem to have stopped being the victim in a tragedy, to writing the play myself. I have gone from being the scrawny runt, never picked for the team, to not only choosing the team, but the sport itself.

I have gone from thinking of a possible goal being 5-10 years off, to figuring out a way to get started tomorrow.

This is a very strange, and scary, and overwhelming feeling. But I have a sinking suspicion that the puppet-maker... is me.

Monday, April 02, 2007

So totally over this

Dear Articulate Dad

Your interest in the Assistant Professor of [Field 1/subfield 1] ([subspecialization]) position has been received and reviewed. While you clearly have many talents and gifts to offer to this role, I'm sorry to say that we are currently considering candidates who appear to more closely meet our job match.

Please do not let this discourage you from applying to other positions within the University that you may feel qualified for.

Good luck with your employment search and thank you for considering employment with [University].

Human Resources
Can I just say, my friends, I am feeling so totally over this today. It comes down to remembering who I am.

Another part of the conversation with Rocket over the weekend that I mentioned in an earlier post was an understanding of what I was interested in when I went back to school, what I worked on throughout my doctoral studies, what aspect of my dissertation work most excited me.

The reality is, I have always been interested in [Field 1] & [Field 2] studies, focusing on cognitive and perceptual issues. That is what I was excited about after completing my Master's, and that was what motivated me when I sought to go back to school. I wasn't interested in an existing discipline so much as I was seeking a means to study what excited me. I entered the doctoral program in [Field 1/subfield 1] not because I wanted to remake myself as one of them, but because I wanted to study the work of [Protagonist of my Dissertation]. I did that. Now, I want to use what I've learned.

The biggest change that's going on inside of me just now is a sense that I am in charge again. I'm adopting a new attitude as I move ahead. I'm no longer begging. I'm not on the ground, hoping for crumbs. That means, my thinking is not that these companies will hire me as an employee, or as a consultant, but rather that they have some of the tools that I need, to do the things I wish to do. I want to work with them to help develop the rest of those tools. This is a new attitude for me.

I realize that what I am about to do is risky, but also that none of the things that matter (mostly, my family!) is on the line. So what have I to lose?

Sunday, April 01, 2007


A few weeks ago, I ordered a copy of "Droidmaker: George Lucas and the Digital Revolution," by Michael Rubin. It arrived a little more than a week ago. I spent a night or two finishing up my first ever reading of "Catcher in the Rye." Then I dug in.

Recently, I had an off-blog discussion with my friend Tracy. We reflected on how our state in life has an impact on how we view other people and events, how we take comments and criticism. I recall my sometime motto: everyone who got where they are, started where they were. Indeed. I realize that I am at a point where what speaks to me reflects the voice I have suppressed, which is seeking its release.

Today, I am taking inspiration from the stories of Francis Coppola and George Lucas. The reasons why they are inspiring me have much to do with where I am in life, and where I wish to go. Today, I am taking back my life, reclaiming my voice, allowing myself to dream with confidence. I shake off the past couple years of waiting.

Another point of Friday's coaching, which I didn't mention in my earlier post, was a question Paul posed to me at one point: what are you angry at yourself for?

Angry? at myself? Hmmm. I talked... but I couldn't quite put a finger on it. Was I angry at myself? It's part of Paul's style to ask questions like that, when I seem stuck, at an impasse. What was I angry with myself about?

He ventured: I have a suspicion that you're angry at yourself for waiting.

Hmmm. I had mentioned that much of the past couple years my modus operandi was to draft up abstracts for conferences, send them off, and wait. They were projects I had some commitment to, but also ones that I thought might appeal to that audience. If I got the green light, I went ahead with the work, and prepared a talk. If not, for the most part, I dropped it.

I did the same thing with job applications, sending off bits of myself, and waiting for a green light to develop that part of me. I tried to envision myself filling out the role defined by some committee or dean. In honesty, I never fully gave up myself: I encapsulated my interests in cover letters, and revealed it in my CVs. No one was buying. I worked harder to sell, chiseling away at my self, wanting some fish to bite, forgetting that trout was what I had a hankering for, not snapper.

Last night, I reflected with my wife that I didn't regret completing my PhD, writing my dissertation. But that, somewhere along the path, I had lost my voice, my passion, my drive, my confidence. Rocket said, she thought it wasn't so much in writing the dissertation, nor in being a grad student, that it happened. But in the time since, along with applying for jobs.

She said most all of the grant and fellowship applications, and much of the conference abstracts, and papers that I had worked on as a graduate student were true to me, reflected my interests. But since finishing the dissertation, my focus has been on finding a job. And the rejection has sapped my confidence, has reduced me to becoming more them, and less me--which, frankly, I'm not any good at, being them.

We talked about research, and about practical applications. I was excited, engaged. There was my voice. I heard it speaking again. Let me use it to succeed. Go to my strengths. Confidence and drive. This will come.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Making it easy

Good coaching this morning. I've been feeling a bit down lately, having the flu (or whatever) hasn't helped. Whatever the au pair had has infected me as well, though I've been managing it alright with OTC medicine, and lots of fluids.

But really, I've been beating myself up. I think of BrightStar's recent post. When I'm nice to myself ... when I'm not so nice...

Earlier in the week, I realized that what makes me happy these days is actually doing the work I've chosen for myself, the analysis and such that I hope in the short term will work to the benefit of forgery. I get gassed up thinking about these things. Diving into my analysis, my mind overflows with questions, problems, possible solutions, alternate avenues. This is what I live for.

Paul talks of making it easy for myself. I told him about the SOD rejection letter, and explained that I felt that was a last straw in a sense, that unless something dramatically changes, I don't expect to renew my membership, or to attend their conferences again. I said I've been beating myself up for years, trying to "get" this audience. But right now, I just don't care anymore. I don't get them; they don't get me. Perhaps I sound bitter. I don't wish to be bitter, I just want to move on.

You don't sound bitter to me. You just sound like someone who is coming to grips with not wanting to fight anymore. You don't need to. Make it easy on yourself. Do what comes naturally. Do what you enjoy. And when you're feeling good from your work, your analysis or whatever... that's when you pick up the phone and make a new contact.

I mentioned that I have this addiction to feedback. What's it mean when someone says "no" to you?

No? That's easy. It means I can move on to the next thing. It's when they say nothing that it pisses me off.

So, what's with that? What's with you and feedback? What does it mean when someone is silent?

It means they don't give a damn. I'm simply not important to them.

So it's all about you. What's the truth? The truth is they have lives too. It's not about you. It's about them, about where they are in life, what they need, what they want. But where does it hit you, physically, when you're ignored?

Hmm... I'll tell you where it takes me. It takes me to the playground in elementary school, when I was the last kid picked for the team.

Aha! Okay, so now we're getting somewhere. Now you've identified the personality trait that's running the show in this. (I've got that kid too, inside of me.) But that six-year old isn't good at running your business, is he? You've been beating him up like the bullies did to you. Don't beat him up. Tell him you'll take care of him. Tell him he'll be alright What do you want to say to him?

You can be on my team.

There you go! Let him on the team. Just don't let him run your life.

Now, I need to settle with forging ahead for the next few months, accepting (as a poem I once wrote put it) "time takes time". Either this will work, or it won't. I've got little to lose in trying it, and much to gain, either way.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Fun with websearch

In emulation of Lilian's recent post, on Mama(e) in Translation, I just had to note this search:
faulty causation "pickles"
which linked to an archive of my posts from last October, including this post berating pop-science and this one discussing pickles. I do hope their next batch of pickles comes out okay.

Good point

A few days ago, my mom mentioned she had spoken with her ex-husband (the man she met when I was 11, and married when I was 13, with whom she remained married until a few years ago). Let's call him Tom. He happens to be a full professor at a prestigious East Coast University, but he was a far cry from that when I was young. Their conversation turned to me. Tom mentioned that the husband of a colleague of his recently took an industry post in [Applied Research Field], and suggested I might send him my resume to be forwarded along.

Yesterday, I received the following email:
Dear Articulate,

Tom Stepdad forwarded your C.V. to me and we also had a phone discussion about your interest in [Applied Research Field]. Glad to hear that you've taken a liking to our field of study.

I've only had time to briefly look over your resume and take a quick look at your website. I'd like to take a look at your thesis and a couple of your papers to get a better sense of what you've done and where you're hoping to go with it. It looks like your dissertation is on your website and I can view it there; are there one or two of your papers that you'd recommend, and are they on-line? Also, any work involving computing?

I'll take a look at your thesis, and look forward to hearing from you further.

PIC Technologies
I took a look over their website, and sent off a few quick inquiries to some of my contacts in the field to find out what I could about the company, and if anyone knew this fellow. Susan Trout gave me a call at home (I was watching the boys, while the au pair recovered from some bug that gave her 103 fever). It's good to have friends. We talked for about 20 minutes about things. She's one of the few in the field (like Meredith Binowitz and Frank Mayer) who is neither an engineer nor a computer scientist. As she explained, most of them got in somehow through the backdoor, usually by joining a team as a new lab was forming. She said she's sat on hiring committees, years later, realizing that she'd probably not have hired herself. She suggested perhaps a fruitful avenue for me might be finding a small startup that plans to do things a different way. We talked a bit about research and applications. There is a place for me. I will find a path!

Back to the letter. I began drafting a response today. Paul called me in the middle of it, in response to a quick note I sent him this morning asking for feedback on some of what I'd been sending him earlier in the week. Good thing, too. He said, why don't you just send Ven a quick response, and try to get him on the phone. Go to your strengths. You're good on the phone, and in person. Use writing as your fallback, if you need to.

I realized at that point, that I was drafting a rather defensive (perhaps aggressive in the words of Jim Lodz) reply. Not so good. Not really what I want to project. I do have confidence that there's a place for me in this field. Perhaps, like my friend What Now!, examining the prospects of teaching high school, I may even have more confidence in this direction than in continuing to seek a faculty appointment.
Hi Ven,

Thanks for the contact. Glad to see there's some interest. Why don't we try to hook up on the phone this week or next. You can try me at my office [phone number] just about any time, or send me a number and a good time to call, and I'll do my best to oblige.

Paul is right. Go to my strengths. Good point!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Society of Old Dinosars going extinct

The dinosaurs are going extinct--at least in my eyes.
Dear Articulate Dad,

Thank you for submitting a proposal for the meeting of the Society of Old Dinosaurs [location/date]. I regret to report that the Program Committee did not select your proposal.

The committee had the difficult task of selecting only 144 papers out of over 570 submissions. Unfortunately it could not accept all of the promising abstracts that were proposed. Both the Committee and the SOD Board have asked me to encourage you to consider presenting your work at an SOD chapter meeting* or other venues.

If you have questions about this year's deliberations, you may address them to [name], Chair of the Program Committee [email].

Yours sincerely,
Executive Director, Society of Old Dinosaurs
* Well, actually, I did. Last year, I presented a preliminary version of this work at the local chapter meeting.

Out of curiosity, I will write to the program chair to see if I might read redacted comments on my abstract (if such things exist). My impression is simply that old dinosaurs have no interest in my work. If they're not a proper part of my audience, perhaps I should stop trying to talk to them. I don't wish to be bitter. I just wish to understand my audience better.

This was the third abstract I'd submitted to the national conference, having not submitted for about four years. I have presented about a dozen conference papers, having organized and chaired two sessions. Do I really need the SOD to listen?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A little work'll do you good

Here's a little check-in I just sent to my coach. I've got to take off early now, to take the Painter to swim lessons. Paul had suggested recently that my frequent emails or phone calls seem to benefit me, and that he's happy to have them, so:
Hi Paul,

I was a bit down this morning. I'm stressed today by all the uncertainty, and oppressed by my own attachment to feedback. A few of the people I've emailed in the past month have remained silent, allowing the yeast of my mind to ferment in worries. I think of your caution following [Industry Conference West] to not allow myself too much to dwell in my head.

When I sit, and wonder which direction to go, I wallow in misery. Rocket says not to worry about her, and we've looked over the finances, and I know that we'd survive. But I worry nonetheless about making an income. I know: one thing at a time. I've got time to get there. October (the soonest she might take off from work) is a ways away. June 1st is my target for the first "sales call." Patience. It will come.

I finished reading over the articles by Matt Suliman yesterday, and typed up my notes. I went over them a bit today, and got the courage to send him an email with some questions and comments. Then, I dove back into my analysis. I really enjoy this work. God, I want just so much to find a landing spot. I don't have to stay there, but I want somewhere to pause, to have the leisure to complete a project, knowing that I'll get paid for it, that it will lead somehow to the next one.

It's like swimming across an ocean. I want some places to pause, check my heading, to be sure I'm not swimming endlessly in circles.


Get up and do something

That's what I started to say to myself, after penning the last post. I realize that part of my problem is in the description there "I sit in my office, wondering what to do."

Of course, sitting, and wondering, is like navel-gazing, most conducive to stagnation. I finally got the motivation to write up an email to Matt Suliman the founder and president of SciFi Now!, whom I met at [Industry Conference]. He had sent me a couple articles that he had published on issues we had discussed at the conference. I finished reading them and typing up my notes yesterday.

Normally, I'm quite a gregarious person. But I hesitate at times, when I feel a particular contact is important. This is a fellow I hope to be friends with for a long time, as we share a great many interests. But it's sent off now.

Part of my problem today, and what has either lead me to a bit of navel-gazing, or at least has made that "sitting" more painful, is that I've been a bit in the waiting stage. I've been anticipating hearing from several people or institutions, who have remained silent. I need to get beyond the waiting, stop thinking about it, and accept that that's the way it is. Move ahead. Get working again. So, that's what I'm off to do.

Silent phase

I've been silent a few days. Haven't felt like I had anything to say. Not really sure what to write now.

My brother-in-law and his wife were in town (last Thursday through last night). That was nice. In part it might explain some of my silence. And, there're taxes, which have taken up some of our time lately.

I'm just quite uncertain right now. Several of you fellow bloggers have been writing about writing, or about conferences, or about grading and teaching. I sit in my office, wondering what to do.

Partly, there's some confusion, coming from my wife's ups and downs about her work. She's dealing with an existential crisis herself. Part of her is pulling her to spend more time at home with the family. But there are hidden hands gripping the bars of her career, unwilling to loosen their grasp. Figuring out why they are holding on, and what the bar represents has been distracting both her and me for a while.

These uncertainties impact me in determining how much and when I need to bring in income. Thinking about that weighs on me, feeling an emptiness from taking. Having no income makes me feel like a fat, spoiled 20-something lying on a couch, watching sitcoms, and playing video games all day. Sure, I contribute at home. And I handle the finances, pay the bills, manage the investments. And I know the guilt is fruitless.

I haven't been lying on a couch. But I'm reminded of the lesson I learned years ago, about auditions. They don't care how long it took you to learn the part. They don't care how hard you tried. They care only about whether you pull it off. Today, I feel like I haven't yet pulled it off. I've been shirking a role that seems ill-suited to me. Yet, I'm still trying on costumes, reading over scripts, wondering if this one or that is a better fit.

I've been doing more reading recently. But days go by that seem to be rather unproductive. Accomplishments seem inordinately small in comparison to the time spent.

Mixed signals. There's still a tug for me to the academy. Yet, the academy has pushed me off, repeated, consistently, for years. The bitter taste still dwells in my craw. But I realize the acridness is mostly self-induced. Like with feelings and thoughts, it's up to me how to proceed.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Some clarity?

I got a reply this morning from another company I had contacted. This contact was interesting, a bit off the track. This company produces educational products that are a bit tangential to Applied Research Field, more user, less developer, but in some ways right up my alley. Thanks to Trillwing for her comments and challenges. Also, in light of Paul's urgings, I think I'll be shifting my strategy a bit, once again more toward fact gathering, and friendship building. I've a deadline for my first "sales call" tentatively set for June 1. I've got some time between now and then to learn more, make more contacts, and work on my research. Nonetheless, this was a bit more encouraging a reply than what I got from Swiss Forgery yesterday.
Dear Clarity Products:

Attached please find a copy of my current CV. I received a PhD in [Field 1] & [Interdisciplinary Field] from the University of Paradise in 2005. I have spent the past couple years as a post-doctoral researcher in [Field 2]. The core of my work has involved [area]. My dissertation focused on [description]. I've recently made a shift in focus from an academic career toward one in industry, concentrating on Applied Research Field.

Currently, I am engaged in work on [focus], with an aim to better incorporating these within Forgery systems. I've also been engaged in [description of work I presented at Field 2 conference]. I believe both of these projects should be of interest and value to Clarity Products.

My first entry to Clarity Products was the purchase many years ago of [product]. I was amused and impressed. I would be delighted for the chance to help make improvements to the fine products you produce. I am open to discussing any appropriate opportunities to work with Clarity Products, either as employee or consultant. Please contact me at your convenience.

[consultancy sig file]
Thank you!
We have received your resume, and we greatly appreciate your interest in Clarity Products. Your resume is being passed directly to the hiring manager for review. If your background and objectives seem likely to meet our current needs, we'll contact you as soon as possible. Then it will be our turn to see if we can meet your needs. We realize the people we want have many options, and that hiring is a mutual process.

You can learn more about our company at [URL]. Thank you again for contacting us.

The Human Resource Group of
Clarity Products, Inc.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Getting out of my own way

Get out of your own way! That was the concept from today's coaching. How do you make it difficult for yourself?

Hmm... Paul was rather intent on helping me realize that "getting a job" is not exactly what I want, and frankly, it's not an easy task for me.

But why, in the universe, am I the only one this is tough for? I mean, okay, this is what people do: they send off their resumes, someone calls them. Easy. I thought that was the easy route. I've been trying to become a professor. That's hard.

Easy is a relative thing. The problem with taking someone else's path is that you don't have their eyes, and you bump into things. It's not your path. You're good in person, on the phone; you're interesting, engaging. Much better than in emails. Get off the computer! Make some phone calls; take some people to lunch. Ask them questions.

Okay... okay!

Thanks to apparently for her comment to my earlier post. Grace and courage to move forward are what I need.

Where is love?

Dear Mrs. Miner,

I have recently made a shift in career focus from academia to applied research in Applied Research Field. Attached please find a copy of my current CV. I received a PhD in [Field 1] & [Interdisciplinary Field] from the University of Paradise. Since August 2005, I have served as a Visiting Scholar there in [Field 2]. My principal interest regards [specifics].

My Ph.D. dissertation addressed [details, and their relation to Applied Research Field]. I recently gave a talk at the [Field 2 conference], presenting [details]. At the conference, I met [researcher from Switzerland], whose work on [details] is close to my own interests.

I would be very interested to discuss with you what opportunities there might be for someone with my background and interests, either at Swiss Forgery, or more broadly within Applied Research Field. I welcome any and all feedback from you, or from anyone you might refer me to. I look forward to hearing from you.

Articulate Dad
Dear Mr. Dad

Thank you for your application for employment with Swiss Forgery.

We regret to inform you, that there is no open job postition for your profile in the moment. What we can do, is keeping your CV, and we would come back to you in case a suitable job opening occurs in the future.

We would like to take the opportunity to wish you every success for the future.

yours sincerely,
Jessica Miner
Must I continue to get this crap, wherever I turn? I really tire of this.

Patience... Perseverance. It will come.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Moving forward

Hi Mauricio,

Talked with Harry Quill for about an hour yesterday. Thanks for the introduction. Nice guy. Honest. Open. He didn't offer me a job, but he gave me quite a few ideas for moving forward.

Just to let you know: I submitted my resume and materials for 5 positions at [Subtle Products], hoping to break into the field whatever way I can. This is my path; I just have to figure out how to get on it.

The positions I submitted for are:

* [title] in Belgium
* [title] in Belgium
* [title] in the UK
* [title] in Massachusetts
* [title] in Massachusetts

I don't know what they'll be looking for. I'm not sure where I'll fit. What I do know is that [Applied Research Field] is my new home, however it comes.

Meantime, I'm not holding my breath for anything. I'm starting a consultancy [name of consultancy, electronic business card attached] to keep me busy, focusing initially on [details] and finding ways to incorporate this element into existing Forgery systems. Hopefully something will take. While I'm waiting, it sure is good to do some practical research.

Now... when are you coming for dinner? You just let me know when you'll be in the Rocket City area.


Thank you again for the kind invitation!

Glad you liked Harry-- he is a great guy. I used to work with him (and the rest of his team) and have enjoyed staying in touch with him.

Please send me another copy of your resume (I didn't keep the old one) and I'll forward it internally to the hiring managers for all of these positions.

Are you looking to relocate to the UK, Belgium or Boston?


Mauricio Huppman
Global Sales Manager
[Subtle Products, Inc.]

The day moves, but slowly

The day moves, but slowly (3/20/2007)

The day moves, but slowly,
as heart and mind race
through time and place
with rampant pace.

Have I moved, even slowly, myself?

I see through a fog
that movement is slow
while thoughts are quick,

but quickest
when cogitations come ruminations,
those ruminations turn musings,
and musings find outlets to be
realized and free.

Monday, March 19, 2007

et tu, Tasse?

Dear Articulate:

Sounds like you're doing lots of great things. I had a long conversation with the folks at [Alternate University] less than a week ago, so I hope something comes of it.

I'm very sorry it's all been so frustrating; obviously, that wasn't what you wanted. Your plan to start a consulting company sounds quite rich, and I hope you'll send me material so that I can pass it along to others.

As usual, congrats on your successful paper presentations and your other work.

Warm regards to the family.


Tasse Plein
Professor and Chair, [Field 1]
[Big East Private]
At some point, we all grow up. My father died more than two years ago. In his later years, an unspoken realization was that I had surpassed his accomplishments (though surely not his late-blooming wisdom). He was very proud of my degrees, and anticipated with relish the completion of my PhD. It was, for me, a proud moment when, faced with a desire to return to writing, he trusted me with critiquing his poetry, in preparation for a fellowship application. Even the many times I disregarded it, I miss the opportunities to hear his advice.

When he died, my mother said I was "head of the clan": I'm the stable one, the married one, the well-degreed. The implication was that I am a finished product, ready to be packaged, shipped, and utilized. When I was younger, I often called my mother with one principal intent: merely to hear her say "it will be alright". I'm sure she'd tell me the same today. But I need to hear it in my own voice. I shudder. This, now... is all on me.

Unfinished Business

My earlier post was not the whole story. After writing it, I piddled for about an hour. I was still home at the time, having woken up a bit under the weather (probably allergies more than anything, as the local air quality is poor today). I had been delaying making a phone call, following up on one of the references that Mauricio Huppman had set up for me. I wanted to be in the right frame of mind. I finally made the call which lasted nearly an hour. It was free-wheeling, and encouraging. The upshot was he thought I'd find little resistance on the consulting path I'm setting up.

The letters had put me in an odd mood, thus the delay. I can't say I was really depressed by them. I'm not even sure how I'd react today if one of those schools called me up for an interview. It's an odd place to be.

In the back of my mind as well were this morning's emailed comments by Paul, goading me to jump from the plane, to trust my parachute. I had written him about the possible adjunct opportunity at [Lemon University]. Some of what follows is raw, so forgive me the lack of focus, the flightiness. Some ideas fly away with the wind like chaff. Some of this surely is chaff. I'm thinking out loud. Think of it as brainstorming, rather than edited copy. I had noted in my email to Paul:
It's a tough call for me, since I've been working and hoping for this eventuality for years now. Now that it seems likely, I'm torn. I keep saying I'm not quite ready to give up the aim of becoming a professor, and yet my sense of self-identity has been shifting. I need it less, if at all. This, of course, would simply be part time. There are logistical issues, in particular what the pay would be, and what the commute would look like (would I be teaching two days a week, three? days? evenings?). Certainly those factors would play into my decision.

But they're not all. Rocket & I have been talking about a default "exit strategy". She and I need to hash this out a bit more, but one idea we've been floating around is that, by the end of this year, unless something else takes hold to belay it, we'd plan to move back to [Former City], where we have friends, where we love the location, where there is easy access to a hub airport to conveniently fly just about anywhere in the states, and around the world. We haven't worked through all the details, but it's a thought that appeals in ways to both of us.
I had also kept Paul apprised of my correspondence with Joe Krowicki.
Thanks for the note. Great to connect with you and Rocket this past week. My gut tells me that it's time to make a decision on the Professorship. From what I gathered on the call on Friday, you both seem "done" with the idea of a Professorship. And, there is some unfinished business with you and the academic job hunt. My guess...if you get the offer and say no, you'll be able to put this phase of your life behind you. Again, just my opinion...you're an entrepreneurial spirit. Teaching? Maybe. But, probably after, or while you are in the process of making your mark.

The move to [Former City] will get a lot more conceivable once you have a few accounts under your belt or have a job that pays you what you feel you are worth and challenges you in that all important dinner party way.

I agree with Joe. He talks about there being a lot of networking involved in starting out on your own. You love to network. And, you're great at it. Having been an Entrepreneur for almost 20 years now, this I can tell you for sure. The merit system works in the business world. If you're the best, are willing to let people know that in a non-threatening way, help them see how you can make them better and do what you say you are going to do, you win. In other words...in business...the cream does rise to the top.
So there you have it. Where do I go from here?

Trickling rejection

The academic rejection letters trickle in, day by day. I mentioned a couple days ago that I had received the official letter from Joe Krowicki at [Lake View U.]. A few others have been crossing my transom.

Today brought three more:

The expected disappointment:
Dear Dr. Dad,

On behalf of [Research Center] at [Big West Private], I would like to thank you for your interest in our junior faculty position. It was a pleasure to review your supplementary materials with the members of the search committee. However, I regret to inform you...

Please accept our wishes for much success in your career, and thank you for your interest in [Big West Private].

Larry Strope
The impersonal send-off:
Dear Dr. Dad:

I am writing with regard to your application for X at Y. The Search Committee has completed its review of the submitted credentials, and I am sorry to report that your application is no longer under consideration for this position. The Committee was very impressed with the quality of the applications submitted. The selection of candidates from the overall field was not an easy task...

[Name], Dean
And, the heart-warming heartbreak (to be noted alongside the recent letter Trillwing presented):
Dear Articulate [Middle Name] Dad:

Thank you for your application for the Assistant Professor of [Subfield 1] at [University].

In most faculty searches, the university receives from one hundred to four hundred applications. Nearly all applicants are qualified by academic training and degree program, so the task of each search committee is a daunting one. Our hiring process calls for the committee to present ten to twenty files to the dean for review and ultimately to recommend a small number of candidates, normally three, for campus interviews.

We are painfully aware that many excellent candidates exist in what are sometimes very crowded fields. I can assure you that your application was read with attention and evaluated carefully. In this case, however, you were not among those finalists for the position who were invited to campus. One of those finalists has now been offered and has accepted the position.

The search committee and I thank you for your interest in [University]. We wish you the best in your effort to find an appropriate and attractive faculty appointment.

[Name], Academic Vice President
The pain does not diminish.This last letter hit me the hardest. Such a fine pool of qualified and talented candidates. What a stupid waste for society to not use those talents. And why am I here? Why do I still torture myself, with almostness?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Torn by a Lemon peel

Last week, I wrote to my friend, Sara Chaisano, to renew my invitation for her and family to come over for dinner (it's about 40 minutes to an hour's drive), and to update her on my current career thinking. I'm torn, because it seems the prospect of them offering me some adjunct teaching for next year is shoring up. What do I want, now? Not sure.
Hi Articulate! Sorry to take so long to respond. Life is really crazy. Newborn schedule and my current administrative tasks. So I am checking email about twice a week only.

Anyway, thank you for the invitation for dinner! It is very kind of you and we would love to come up there. [Detailed Logistics]. So maybe April would be better. But then it's so hard for me to find time to grade now that I spend so much time baby-tending, that it might be better after the semester is over! Or maybe we could meet half way?

Good luck with your faculty job search. That's too bad about [Lake View U.]--do you know why they did that? Here at [Lemon University] it looks more and more like we'll probably need someone to cover our [Field 1] 101 course for the fall and spring next year. I'm not sure about anything else yet, but also possible the [broader crossdisciplinary] class. Nothing concrete yet---but if it works out would you be interested in teaching 101 for us? I already have my two [subfield 2] colleagues on board to approve you.

Take care!
I've got to reply in the next few days. I'll have to discuss this with the Rocket Scientist. I'd be loathe to turn aside an opportunity that I've spent years working for (even if it's on the bottom rung), without something else to hold on to. This is a really tough call for me. But I respect Sara too much (and my own sense of propriety) to lightly say, yeah, sure, I'd do it, unless I have a good sense that I'd be willing to follow through. To some extent, it would depend on logistics: what would the pay be, and what would be the schedule, both of which would help me to decide the practicality of the commute vs. the costs in time and money for travel.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

How well do you know me?

As seen on the Clutter Museum:
Create your own Friend Quiz here

Baking improvements

I have not yet achieved mastery of baking, but recently dedicated myself to improving this lack. One motivator was the fact that we fell in love with the bread we could purchase daily and cheaply in Central Europe during our year abroad. In Paradise, we were fortunate to find a wonderful bakery that provided us with "multigrain basket" bread, a rather good approximation. But there is nothing of the sort here in the Rocket City area. Below is my most recent attempt at a sourdough multigrain loaf. The size, shape, flavor and texture are closer to my aim, but still not quite right.

Actually, the pictured loaf was a bit big. We were used to purchasing 1 kilo loaves in Europe (often half, or quarter loaves). This one weighed in at 1.6 kilos! I've got a sourdough rye loaf rising at the moment, a smaller one. We'll see how that turns out. The difficulty is in making a free-form loaf that doesn't fall flat. It needs enough density to hold its shape without becoming a brick.

And, below, this morning's crop of apple-banana-mango pancakes (served with Articulate's homemade mango and strawberry jam, of course). Don't worry, we had ample leftovers to put away.

Again, this is a not-quite-perfect creation. The boys adore pancakes. Part of my aim is to get more fruit into #1. While #2, at 2 years old, is still content to eat just about anything, #1, at 4;11, attaches himself to certain rather arbitrary refusals. He loves mangoes, but won't touch apples or bananas these days (unless they're disguised). I've taken to blending up the fruit and mixing it in with the batter. I've created some delicious but rather mushy results, realizing that the proportions are not quite right. Today's included about 1/2 cup each of chopped apples, mangoes, and bananas (blended it comes to just over 1 cup total), two eggs, 3 cups of flour, 2-1/2 cups of milk, 2 tbs. baking powder, and 1/4 tsp. of salt. Good, but I still want to do better. I could probably reduce the baking powder to 1.5 or even 1 tbs. But I'm not sure what other adjustments to make. Any thoughts?