Brief and Random

Breaking news: Detaching from work helps one re-energize for work. Who knew?

I always thought that I needed more time to veg out. It turns out I detach from work best when I am very busy all weekend, but with non-work stuff. This weekend I spent five hours timing at a swim meet, we had friends over for dinner, I went shopping for groceries and then spent about 4 hours cooking for the week, I had the usual amount of chauffeuring of kids to playdates and birthday parties, and then DH and I went to a great concert. It was glorious.

This was also my first time timing at a meet and it was great fun. Much more interesting when you are in the thick of things, and you interact with the kids, and your brain (and body!) is engaged the whole time. One could totally tell who the experienced times were by their attire: they wore rolled-up pants and flip-flops. The noob me was soaking wet by the end of the meet.


Three medically inspired lyrics that I wish hadn’t been inflicted upon the world:

You’re gonna catch a cold from the ice inside your soul… (horror bonus for title “Jar of Hearts” and the soul-snatcher video)

I keep bleeding, I keep keep bleeding love… (after he had “cut her open”)

Band-aids don’t fix bullet holes  (also don’t work when one is bleeding love)


Let’s say you received an internal award and were given the options to use it as flexible funds over several years or use it to augment your salary. Given how hard it is to get flexible funds (so you can send more students to conferences, or pay for your own travel to schmooze with program managers, or invite some speakers when there is no more money in the department seminar funds), I have always thought that everyone would just go for the flexible funds, because that’s what I would do. I would like to make more money, but I am far from poverty stricken and I think the money would go a longer way towards research-related expenses (e.g., towards students and their travel) than as a bump of my salary. I really thought it was a no-brainer, but I was recently informed that there are definitely well-compensated people who would use that money for salary.

What say you, blogosphere? If you had the option to use, say, a few (5-ish) tens of thousands of dollars over a few years for research or for salary, what would you do?  Would you use the money as unrestricted funds to help your research endeavors or would you use it to supplement your paycheck? And how does the answer relate to your current funding situation and/or the support from your institution?


  1. I’m pretty sure we’re not allowed to supplement our salary that way—to increase our overall salary, but maybe as % effort to offset something else. Most internal awards specifically state they cannot be used for PI salary. I would LOVE some flexible funds for the reasons you mentioned, also for things like computers which NIH grant funding can no longer be used for.

  2. Research. We get a pay back from overhead on funded grants and sometimes payments for other services to the U (teaching extra courses) to a flexible research account. I really like that about the way my U operates.

  3. Depends on the current funding status I think. If I have a decent amount of funding and am already a full professor, then I wouldn’t mind paying myself. Or best to split equally.

  4. My revealed preference is to use it to pay for RAs when DH is employed and to take it as summer salary when DH is not employed. I applied for (and got) a LOT of grants when DH was unemployed. I haven’t applied for as much or gotten as much since he’s been employed.

  5. Research, with no hesitation. I have enough salary (I might be a unicorn), but I never have enough for research (despite decent and steady funding over the last decade).

  6. I’ve never had to make this choice but I would not be surprised that most took it as salary. I was surprised when I found out that most of my colleagues wrote salary into their grants & somehow the university gave it to them, even though we were all on 12 month contracts…
    Our university also returned a portion of overhead as unrestricted funds so there was some slush already for well funded folks.

  7. For me, it’s salary and nothing but salary but I’m a literary critic, so my research necessitates no money other than what I spend on books, and that comes out of my salary anyway.

  8. There’s salary recovery and salary increases (which are often causally linked, but that’s another story). I’m really, really, really surprised the frugal ecologist doesn’t have salary recovery targets, which I thought were ubiquitous, whether formalized or not.

    I might choose a salary increase over research increase. I’m doing okay financially but close family members are not, and worrying about them cuts into my productivity. And all the research I care about is funded.

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