A couple of days ago at lunch, ObnoxiousColleague (OC) line of thought somehow morphed into saying: Women don’t belong in science at all! In fact, they should stay at home, in the kitchen. they have no place in science. I mean, we shouldn’t have to reference them. Or if we did, maybe in an appendix, in a very small font. This was picked up by some other colleagues, so off they went in this strain for a good 5 minutes. Thinking it was all very funny and not all objectionable. Or if it was, I could react no? I was there, after all.

My only reaction was looking at them with raised eyebrows, and indicating that all I heard was ‘blablabla’. No way was I going to show these idiots that I would really like to hit them and yell at them, saying that maybe they should start working in an environment where this is thought to be hilarious (albeit about males, then, I suppose). If this gets back to woman / girls who are less self-assured, it’s easy to think: see? I’m not worthwhile and I’ll never be, because that’s the kind of jokes they make about woman in science. And then people wonder why I rarely join lunch when I know this combination of colleagues is around. So therefore, sometimes my colleagues are truly dolts who exhibit no sensibility whatsoever.

When Karina announced the september call for posts I wasn’t quite sure what to write about. After all, I was still working on writing up my thesis (although a whole first version, with a table of contents, has made its way to my promoter and supervisors) and trying to get through as much comments as I could.

Along the way though, it’s become pretty clear which tools have been indispensable and which computer programs have made my life easier every day. For one thing, I couldn’t live without music to write too, so a good music program is a must. I also love the fact that I have a widescreen, although having an extra screen would be even more awesome. A water-cooker, for making tea, which is always comforting when I’m stuck again. Word probably counts as well, since I seriously didn’t want to learn Latex (or any other word processing program). My external hard-drive to back up everything so I could just as easily work from home. Endnote, to manage all those references!

Then there are PhotoShop, because the latest version of SPSS is capable of giving my pretty figures and graphs, but it just doesn’t do everything yet. So, obviously, SPSS has been a necessity for some analysis. Matlab hasn’t figured heavily in the last month, but it has over the last years, so there you go. Then there were some university-specific programs which use Thurstone’s Fifth law, so thank you Mr. Thurstone for coming up with that law! Last but very much not least though, M-plus. If I go on a lyrical description of all the ways M-plus has made my life easier, people will probably think I have shares, but I don’t. Seriously though, if you ever need to run a factor analysis, do structural equation modelling or linear regression? Run and get M-plus. M-plus has made my day a lot over the last month.

I’m in one of the worst phases: no experiments to prepare, and only stuff to write up in various shapes and forms. Since I seem to be one of those people who works better when there are others around, this sometimes makes it hard for me to focus. Contact with other people makes things better, but at the moment my office is empty, except for me. I’m actually not sure what happened to the student they moved in, I haven’t seen her yet this year.Also, there’s nobody online.

Anway, to help myself find motivation and some accountability, a list of all the things that need doing:

– processing comments on journal article

– turn journal article into chapter 4

– write introduction & theoretical background for chapter 6, then mesh it together with the methods and the results

– write chapter 2, based on articles

– write chapter 3, based on other articles

– write chapter 1, a.k.a introduction to the whole thesis

By that time I should have received feedback on a number of things, so I’m sure I’ll be able to add those to the list.

Also, it’s strange how getting a new PC can be a boost and a downer. Boost because, hello pretty, and you’re so shiny and pretty and fast! Downer, because, hello, everything still needs to get its own place and my iTunes ratings don’t transfer, and lots of the artwork seems to have gotten lost in the process.

After a long day yesterday, the discussion and conclusion of the journal article are written, the abstract added, all figures and tables numbered and rendered to black and white. The article has gone on to internal company review, and is send to supervisors as well.

The grant proposal is already at its third version, and today I’ll finish that too. It’ll get send once more to the prospective boss, and maybe one current supervisor. Still need a nice, catchy title in 5 words or less. And a good summary / abstract. Tomorrow I plan to look at the online submission process, and check to make sure that I have all the recommendations etc. lined up.

Monday I can thus write the method section for the last experiment, and make sure the last data are in put in the database.

So far, the grant proposal for the post-doc position has been rewritten (and improved, I hope) and been sent back to my prospective supervisor and some other people. One of them said they will for sure look at it beginning of next week, which is good.

The discussion and conclusion of the journal article have been somewhat written, but it turned out that bits of the results were missing, so I’ve been fixing that first. If I continue work on it today it could be finished enough to send to supervisors, and internal company reviewers.

Chapter: will start on that as soon as the article has gone off to reviewers, but will wait to send chapter to supervisors until the feedback and comments on the article have been processed.

Method section: haven’t looked at it yet, but at least I made pictures of the experimental set-up.

Experiment: FINISHED! 100 people in 4 weeks, with sessions lasting around 100 minutes. Next time I’ll come up with an experiment that doesn’t last so long and doesn’t require so many people! (After which I reviewed my grant proposal and failed that intention quite completely – although the time should be split up into different sessions. Experience tells me this is not necessarily better, but it will be different.)

November has started a while ago, but I haven’t been able to put my butt in a chair and write what really matters. So, for the accountability, goals will be put up here. Since I’m still busy running an experiment full-time for the next week, I have to take into account that 2 weeks is probably all I have to finish what I put down here.

Important stuff that should be written:

– Discussion and conclusion journal article

– Grant proposal for post-doc (version 1 done, and received feedback)

– Chapter for thesis based on aforementioned journal article

– Method section for chapter based on this last experiment

Currently, happiness is having a participant show up on time for my experiment. A participant who doesn’t mind that things might run a little longer sometimes, or not as expected. Also somebody who can see well, and isn’t colourblind, so I don’t have to send them away.

Happiness is a boyfriend who has dinner ready by the time I make it home when I’m tired from sitting in the lab a whole day, switching between 3 screens to make sure everything is going alright.

Happiness is finding a new connection, a potential new friend, among the participants. Somebody who’s also working on their PhD, and could probably use some support and has funny experiences to exchange.

Happiness is having friends who can make you laugh, despite the fact that you’re nervous and tired and cranky and worried. Who can give you a new outlook on things, and remind you that, at the end of the day, this is also something you will get through.

Happiness is knowing that there’s an opportunity for sleeping in on the weekend!

Why do I tend to go for the hardest choice? Sometimes because it’s more fun, but when you’re running the actual experiment and have to turn away participants because, sadly enough, they’re not the target group, things can feel a little sour.

Less than 4 months before my funding is up. Scary. 3 more weeks before this experiment will be finished. Also scary, the last experiment I might run in a while. Until I find a post-doc, that is. In which case I need to get my butt in a chair, and write the proposal draft this weekend. This post is meant to remind me of that bit. There’s more to life than data-entering and exploration, even while running a massive experiment.

Lately, I’ve been having doubts about my PhD. Is it really worth all this trouble? Do I really need this?

On the other hand are signs that things are falling into place. A cooperation, a proposal for a post-doc. Good research results, only one more experiment to go before the final writing up. Right now, plenty of energy, but it’s possible that that’s because there’s another deadline tonight, for one more paper.

It’s relatively easy to talk myself down. It’s a lot more difficult to be motivated, but having my energy back after a serious cold helps a lot!

Sometimes I wonder what kind of person I am. I feel awake at the weirdest times. Between 5 and 7 in the morning, between 5 and 7 in the evening, around lunchtime and after 10 in the evening. I wish I could make those hours collide so I could work at a better stretch. It’s also not very practical for scheduling my days really. And unfortunately there’s no place to take a short 30-minute nap at work.

Anyway, life was weird lately. Two master students graduated. I'[m very happy for both of them, although with one it’s more happiness that they finally finished enough to be able to graduate. It’s a bit of melancholy time as well, especially since I just my first email saying: hey, you’re leaving Company soon! Here’s a list of things you should make sure you’ve done. There’s still a talk with my manager scheduled in a week and a half, where we need to discuss an extension. Which I could really use, if only for the facilities (I mean, come on, giving up my laptop now?!), but also for the money. Because about two weeks ago Mr FAW and I decided to get married soon in a couple of months. This means regular freak-outs about money and random yelling of ‘Oh My God, We’re Getting Married’! By both of us, I might add. It’s given us a whole new topic to talk about, but there’s a system. We have a date, and witnesses, and a checklist. Checklists are very very important at this stage on my PhD, and if I don’t get a checklist I get very unhappy and uncoordinated. Somehow, checklists manage to make me work. The things one learns about oneself when doing a PhD…

There was also no vacation involved, except for the part where I got sick for about a week. Nothing major but it took a while to get back on my feet. However, there was one weekend where I got to use my live action role-playing sword and hit loads of people. It’s an awesome way to get rid of all that extra frustration and energy that had been storing up, and probably even better than stress-management coaching.