Sunday, November 7, 2010

Hard decisions

Josh and I are wrapping up our time in Jiuzhaigou and I am finding it hard to balance my time. I need to:

a) get ready to move home
b) plan for two major spring classes (applied GIS and geomorphology, both have labs)
c) write proposals (maybe an instrumentation one, definitely a hydrosciences one, maybe one for geography, and help with one for a UK funding agency)
d) Finish field work (it has been so darn cold recently that I'm desperately hoping I don't have much more to do)
e) Start writing papers on my work here

The major problem is that the thing I want to think about the most is teaching. I am terrified of teaching next term and I need to really get my act together.  I like the idea of lecture-free teaching (see book of this title by Bonnie Wood), but it isn't something I've ever learned to do. Why do we not get trained to teach when we are in grad school? Why can't someone ship us off to take classes in how to teach? Instead it was discouraged. You only got lots of teaching experience if you didn't get grants (which I got). At least the IGERT required that I teach a bit. The grants require immediate time from me since they are due in the next 3 months (2 december, 1 january, 1 february). So I already have been a bit stressed and juggling work.

Then yesterday I found out that no one told me that I am not actually a Jiuzhaigou postdoc because they need a certified marriage certificate (WHICH I PROVIDED!). Uck. Hopefully that can get sorted out when we go to Chengdu for Thanksgiving. The communication issues with the grad student who is supposed to be helping me with things are just getting worse and worse. I mean, I understand why the professor stopped following through with the post-doc app. It was supposed to be leverage with the park to get me some resources for research and our own flat. None of that was going to happen, so why bother. It wasn't exactly going to make or break me getting hired for a job that I already have.

On top of all this I was asked to write a chapter for a book on China's water resources under climate change and urbanization. Very flattering. Nice to know that my name is getting known in the field. Also something I know absolutely nothing about. Well, not really, but I know no more about climate change than the next earth scientist. I have been working on research on this topic, but there is no way the book editor could have known that since it is an unfunded project. I hemmed and hawed and finally asked for advice from some UW colleagues and mentors. They said that it may be a problem with timing and wouldn't be super helpful for my career unless it was almost like writing a proposal. Given the number of proposals I am already working on, I don't really feel like I need to write another one. Anyway, so I wrote and told the editor that I just don't have the time to write the chapter. He wrote back and asked me if I could do it with a summer deadline (instead of spring). I just got stuck. What to do? I was so flattered and honored to be asked to write the chapter, but I don't know how on earth I was supposed to get it done. I have summer field plans. I have teaching to plan. I sat on the request for a while and finally last night emailed my extra-departmental mentor at Oberlin. He confirmed much of what the UW mentors had suggested and in the end I turned down the offer. Now I realize how big a relief it is to have that off my shoulders. It was a hard decision though because it was such an appeal to my (perceived) expertise on this topic.

I am off to get some work done on these proposals.

a :)

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