Sunday, April 18, 2010

The procrastination post

I should be working on my thesis defense presentation right now. But I'd rather procrastinate! Like I have all weekend! Story of graduate school!

With luck, I'll be graduating next month. In less than a month, actually. I wish I had given this blog more love during my endeavors here, but I haven't given up yet. Maybe the shiny new job I'll be starting in July will give me more time to reflect on technology and the world. I hope so, anyway. I'll still be considering myself a technologist in progress, just... beyond grad school.

Grad school has been an interesting juxtaposition of college and the real world. You're doing research for the real world, dealing with real world companies and people, but there are still awesome bars within walking distance and you can come home in the middle of the day to take naps. It's made for a great (and at times incredibly depressing) experience. Would I do it again? Yes, though not in a heartbeat. It's said that grad school is the last form of legalized slavery. I don't know if I'd agree with that statement a full 100%, but at least 75%.

Things I've learned so far:

1. If you can get a cushy teaching job, go for it. My juniors and seniors were sometimes the best parts of my week.
2. If you can get a cushy research job, go for it. The flexibility in hours was worth the inevitably poorly timed hassle of work you really, really hate doing.
3. Secretaries literally do run the world, so make friends with them. Seriously.
4. Deadlines are always a little flexible.
5. Form friendships that will last a lifetime, even if it's only with one or two other people. You need these deep friendships to survive grad school in the first place. Preferably, make sure one of these people is in your lab working under the same people as you are - believe me, it will save your sanity.
6. Save as much money as you can all the time. Grad school has no retirement benefits, so you need to start saving now. Open that Roth IRA yesterday!
7. Drink on a Wednesday night because you don't have to be up till 12 or 2PM the next day. It'll probably be the last time in your whole life you can do this, possibly even the first, so please enjoy it.
8. Don't procrastinate TOO much... you shouldn't be rushing through graduate school but don't take more 2 years for a master's and an additional 3 for a PhD. The longer you wait to graduate, the harder and harder it will be to actually DO the stuff you need to do to graduate. Being an eternal student seems fun but if you're still making 30k/yr in something technical while you're getting your PhD after 5 years, you should reevaluate.

.... Yeah, I should probably keep working on that presentation. Sigh. More later.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Kevin Smith is too fat for the sky

Kevin Smith is too fat for the sky, Pharyngula

THE WHOLE SKY!!! <--- Kevin Smith's 1.5 hour long rant, hilarious, his site

Basically, Kevin Smith, writer/director/actor of such movies as Dogma and Clerks, got booted off a Southwest Airlines flight this weekend for being too overweight to "safely" fit into his seat. Despite the fact that he was able to lower the armrests of the seat, and could fasten his seat belt without an extender. The next flight he got on, the one he had originally booked with an extra seat just for comfort's sake, he sat next to another overweight woman and witnessed nearly the exact same exchange between flight attendant and this woman. They seriously picked the wrong person to mess with (NBC New York), which is a shame, since they probably mess with people all the time, it's just that they happened to pick a well connected Hollywood writer and director this time.

Since I work and do research in the aerospace industry, there is only one reason I could see for Kevin Smith's ejection from the first plane - weight limits. He was the absolute last person on that plane, there apparently wasn't another seat open on the whole flight. When those planes are designed, they're given a weight limit for each passenger, including the carryon luggage. 737s, which Southwest's fleet is comprised entirely of, are not newly designed planes. An airline like Southwest also packs in as many passengers as possible because there aren't any class differentiation - everyone is in coach, so to speak. Therefore, I'm sure they've got a policy for people who look overweight to buy an extra seat if possible - it means that the person's weight allowance has doubled. And let's face it here, Southwest probably maxes out those weight limits as much as possible to be able to keep their prices fairly low.

On a flight that isn't quite as crowded, they don't boot you off the plane, like in the case of Kevin's second flight with the woman sitting in his row. But in the first flight, when it was literally full to capacity, I think there's less wiggle room.

Does it make what they did/said to him any better? No! What makes this more crazy is this is Southwest, who literally has the best satisfaction ratings in the industry (WSJ ratings as of Jan 6th). I personally have flown Southwest a few times and have loved it each time! No classes, no assigned seats, and the flight attendants always try to be friendly and make jokes... at least if I'm going to be treated like livestock during the flying process (all parts of it) I guess appreciate knowing that everyone around me has had approximately the same experience.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


I'm not sure if I'm cut out for the blogging thing... especially considering I'm trying to finish my thesis this semester.

But, you're always welcome to follow me on twitter!

Maybe I'll start using this space to post more about things I come across, instead of talking about my experiences as a woman in technology. It's a crazy world out here!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Lonely Graduate Life

This blog will detail the experiences and thoughts on current events in the technology and wider STEM fields, as they relate to women and graduate studies.

So... who am I?

I've been blogging for years (almost 1/3rd of my life, believe it or not) in different places online, mostly not open to the public. Livejournal to this day still has what I think are the best privacy controls, and I maintain a personal journal there which I love and would never give up. However, I feel that as I become more and more involved in the academic world, a more public blog on the topic at hand might be in order. I also have another blog called The Frugal Dorm Life which is a catalogue of different recipes and other tricks for living cheap in the dorms - which I aspire to do! However, I also think writing about more serious subjects and current events is important, and if I can reach out to others, women especially, who are struggling in a field which doesn't seem to fit them well, then all the better.

But I guess none of that is really about me! Well, to start off, I'm a first year master's student at BigEngineeringU. I'm not really comfortable giving away which university that is yet, but be assured that it's a great place, except that I'm not officially an engineer! I am a technology student, which is often viewed as the red-headed stepchild of the engineering college. I'm sure there'll be more to talk about on that subject later. My focus is in engineering graphics, specifically 3D modeling, and how they can best be utilized in the manfacturing and assembly industry. As an undergraduate at BigEngU, a great professor approached me about being on a funded research team, which at the time I happily accepted - it was a raise over my then current job, and I could do both at the same time, which I did for a while. Then I graduated, and was invited to stay on as research assistant while completing my graduate studies. At the time it sounded like a great idea - I had job offers but felt that if I were to go out and work in industry, I'd never want to come back and get a master's, so I might as well get it over while I was young and poor.

So here I am, young and poor, trying to make my way through an academic program that makes me feel more lost than I did as an undergraduate. Of course there are times (days even) that I feel like this was definitely the best decision I ever made. Then there are the days where I wonder what I could have been doing with that nice industry job and accompanying paycheck. But no matter what, this blog will hopefully catalogue some of the triumphs and difficulties of a woman making her way through a male-dominated field, and how she copes with the daily challenges. Stay tuned for my first rant... teacher/student fraternization.