Month: April 2016

May-o MOFO

You know how November is the month for writing?  NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) both happen in November.

I blogged daily in November over the past few years, as it’s a great way to  purge the metaphorical lactic acid from the “writing muscles” that were straining to make the late October deadlines at the NSF.

But, what about the rest of the year?

May is midway between two Novembers, plus it’s the month in which those of us who are academics on a semester schedule finish teaching and breathe a great sigh of relief for a few days (or a few seconds) before the catch-up-on-work-and-conference-travel season.  So May seems like a great time to do another month of daily posting, to treat myself  after the end of semester! Sort of like having cake for a half-birthday!

Thus, I introduce you to:


As I thought what would alliterate with May, MOFO popped into my head and, once you have a MOFO in your head, it’s never coming out.
A jump from there to May-o MOFO was inevitable. Now the task was to came up with a slogan for the abbreviation, and that’s how we have May — the Month Of Futzing Online.

I invite you to blog daily in May. Feel free to use the badge.

Merry MOFO!

Fun Webcomics

Apropos nothing, here are some webcomics I enjoy.  These are all humorous, but I am also a sucker for beautiful art, so some of the selection reveals that. (I have also contributed to a couple of Kickstarter campaigns and artists’ Patreons. )


Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal





PhD Comics (obviously)

PhD Comics


Cyanide and Happiness (not for the easily offended; DO NOT look at the comments, or you’ll lose all faith in humanity)

Cyanide and Happiness


Loonarbaboon (wonderful insights from life with kids)



Sheldon Comics



Wilde Life (gorgeous art; the comment section is full of nice folks who enjoy puns and rhyming)

Wilde Life


Zombie Roomie (I want to draw like this when I grow up)

Zombie Roomie


The next few are smutty, but pretty tame (but here are some smelling salts, just in case) and feature beautiful art.



Menage a 3

Menage a 3

Sticky Dilly Buns

Sticky Dilly Buns

Go Get a Roomie

Go Get a Roomie

Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop

This past fall I submitted two NSF proposals within a few days of one another, to two different directorates. One proposal is better than the other.

So, today I log into Fastlane, and both proposals are still pending, but the worse one shows to have a status update, dated today.

I know this only means bad news. It most likely (well, I am going to say certainly) means that the proposal didn’t review well, and the program manager just got around to uploading all the reviews and possibly the panel summary, clicked on some button, and my proposal is now propagating through the NSF administration to whoever is in charge of issuing the notice of declination.

Why do I think the proposal will be rejected? Because I have never received an NSF grant where they didn’t first ask me to cut the budget. So, no budget-cutting phone call/email, no money. Also, funding rates are ridiculously low, so chances are high that anything will get rejected. And, as I said, this is not my best proposal ever.

I hate the two things that I simultaneously feel about the whole ordeal:

1. The unfounded hope. Objectively, everything points to rejection, yet my pathetic little self still holds a sliver of hope of funding. I hate how the granting game turns me (perhaps others, too) into this sad, slimy ball of neediness, who will imagine ridiculous scenarios of funding despite staggering evidence to the contrary. I feel uncomfortable seeing this about myself, looking worse than a lovestruck teenage girl whose object of affection doesn’t give half a $hit; you just want to grab her by the shoulders and shake some sense into her. “Tiffany, he doesn’t care about you, stop thinking about him and move on already.”

2. The shame. Objectively, I know that the funding rates are low and that many good projects don’t get funded. But some do. Very few, but some still do. So I am ashamed every time I get a rejection, because it means I was not good enough. And telling myself objectively that it happens to the best of us (literally) feels like I am just deluding myself, telling myself wild stories, when the true reason is that I just was not good enough and there is no escaping it. I am ashamed in front of my students, who I feel are disappointed in me, their supposedly fearless leader, for sucking as a grant writer.

Namnezia likens the soul-crushing nature of the grant-writing game to constantly putting your hand in hot oil. You throw proposals at the funding agency/agencies, in the hope that something will stick; but whom does it help? It doesn’t advance science. It just kills my will to do it because there is only so much feeling like $hit that one can take before not wanting to do it any more. The stuff I am most passionate about I end up doing anyway by creatively combining funds from different sources and  teaching assistantships for students. But there is a lot of other great stuff that just doesn’t get done.

Maybe  I am spoiled, but to be creative you have to have some bandwidth to think deeply about the problems at hand, as opposed to constantly fretting about what you will do when the money for the problem at hand runs out… And something is always running out.

I can’t wallow forever, so I will dust myself off soon enough. But the grant game just plain sucks.




I usually get a few hundred views per day, and I am happy with that.
But it seems that “A Good Little Girl” really hit a nerve, and has been shared like crazy via Facebook (over 3k shares) and on  Twitter. So I have had several days with thousands of views and it’s been quite exciting watching my WordPress stats page. (Although, to be completely honest, I really enjoy my stats page even on slow days. Not sure that’s entirely healthy.)

I am really glad the post brought many new people to the blog.  Hi there! And welcome!