Howdy, Strangers!

*cough, cough*

Anyone home? It’s really dusty in here.

I know my blogging frequency has dropped to nearly zero, but I’m still here and I plan to stay here, just not as often as I used to. I don’t want to commit to a posting frequency, because all commitments make me want to flee screaming (exhibits A and B), but I will try to post every couple of weeks; that should be doable. Maybe. Hopefully. In all seriousness, it should be.

Right now my research group is full of new members, so we’re ramping up. A couple are really good, the rest are so-so, but they work hard and have the right attitude. So-so means that they can be effective and successful with the right project and within a relatively limited set of parameters. For periods like this one, when new group members aren’t producing yet, I have a backlog of lower-urgency papers authored by recently graduated group members to polish and submit during dry spells.

I am headed to a conference in Canada, afterwards have some roadtrips with family. Middle Boy just turned 12 and is 5’10”. I watch a lot of middle-school basketball, which I love (thank heavens he doesn’t play baseball), so it’s great fun plus bonding time. Eldest is doing great in college. Smurf is entering 3rd grade! Can you believe it? I blogged at Academic Jungle when he was born! I’m bringing some of those old posts back up for this particular occasion (one, two, three).

My fiction writing, for those who care about it, is going OK. I placed in some contests, had some semipro sales for my speculative fiction, and had some (lengthy!) holds and final-round shortlists at pro-level markets, but no pro sale yet (insert sadface emoji). I’m currently volunteering as a slush reader at a pro market (i.e., reading unsolicited submissions; slush is a term from the days of paper submissions, when received envelopes formed highly slippery piles in editorial offices); I’m learning a ton.

How’s everything on your end, bloggy friends? Anyone still here? Or has everyone migrated to Twitter? I am mostly active on Twitter under my supersecret  literary pseud, much less as @xykademiqz, but nonetheless feel free to stop by and say ‘hi’ if you tweet. Btw, as xykademiqz I subbed an ultrashort story to a contest judged by Roxane Gay and got an honorable mention, plus some cool swag.

Tell me what you’ve been up to and, if you have topics you’d like me to discuss on the blog, please leave a comment.

Stay cool, lathered in sunscreen, and well hydrated!

16 comments

  1. Relatively new to the blog. I (Prof in R1 STEM university) have some topics on which I’d like to hear your take, but want to make sure I’m not asking for a repeat, so reading through the archives will be on my summer list of things to do when I really should be writing!

  2. Hi statiqz welcome to xykademiqz! I’ve been blogging since 2010 (time flies!), about half that time at Academic Jungle (that blog content is down now). Since 2014, I’ve been at xykademiqz. In 2016 I compiled ‘the best of’ from these first years into Academaze (see here: https://xykademiqz.com/academaze/), so if you can afford it (physical or electronic copy), that would be a good place to start in terms of what the blog has already covered.
    I’m looking forward to hearing from you in the future!

  3. Hi xyk! I’m still here! Any advice for newly-tenured faculty (woohoo!) to help avoid the post-tenure slump? I think you may have written about it before… I will pull out my copy of Academaze once I’m back from vacation and see what’s in there. I know you’ve written about the way-post-tenure slump as a full prof, but can’t remember much about being a newly tenured associate prof. Also, can’t remember if you’ve ever been department chair, but since I’m in a tiny department, the rotation is going to hit me next year (i.e., one year post-tenure, ugh), so any thoughts about best practices for dept chairs (especially first-timers) would also be welcome.

  4. Still here!

    “So-so means that they can be effective and successful with the right project and within a relatively limited set of parameters.”

    I am so bad at identifying such parameters. I am encouraging a postdoc to find a new path right now due to my/our/his inability to make progress on a “simple” project that was supposed to take one year max and is sprawling into year 2.5. I feel like a monstrously incompetent mentor. Hat is off to you.

  5. Uh, sorry, handle was supposed to be “associate prof.” I truly don’t know what happened, but it is probably appropriate.

  6. lol, no worries associate prof — I edited your pseud in the previous comment. For what it’s worth, I thought you were being cheeky! 😉

  7. Hello lyra211, congratulations on tenure! My advice for post-tenure slump is to work on something that interests you intellectually, even if just two other people in the world will care about it.

    I was interim department head for about 1.5 years. You’ll see a lot of 80/20 rules at play. You’ll spend 80% of your time doing administrivia and 20% of your time on things that can change your department. Also, 20% of the people will cause 80% of the problems. There are a few others, but those are the main ones. Again, I was interim, so it was probably more like 90/10 on both of those fronts. It’s important to pay attention to the staff and say “no” to whatever faculty request for the first six months or until you figure out the department budget. Overall, being department chair/head is a good experience.

  8. Nine months out of academia and not exactly looking back. The game of citation-hoarding has been replaced with one of investments and savings which is enjoyable to actually be able to do. Ironically, a lot of high-impact papers that I coauthored has come out since I stopped and my H-index is soaring. Also, industry work has turned out to be remarkably research heavy and admin-light, so that’s a pleasant surprise.

    Glad to see you back on the blog.

  9. Still here! I started reading your blog a few years ago during my PhD, and I’m now just starting out as a tenure track assistant professor at an R1 (quite literally – my appointment began July 1st!) I’ve always found your writing helpful and entertaining, and recently reread Academaze during my move. I know you’ve written about funding before, but I’d be particularly interested in hearing about your pre-tenure funding strategy, e.g.: Thoughts on focusing on a few agencies you expect will become your go-tos vs. broadly applying to any relevant call, even if you don’t see much long term funding potential for your work at the agency putting out the call? For early career awards with 3 opportunities to apply while on the tenure track, any particular timing strategy?

  10. @MechEngPhD,

    I want to give you the advice my dean gave me when I asked a similar question six years ago, a few months into my first assistant professor position:

    “You have to learn to walk and chew gum at the same time.”

    I wanted to punch him in the face.

    Honestly, I have no idea what the best strategy is. I submitted a grant that another colleague warned me still needed “a tremendous amount of work” and it was funded (with funding rates ~5% for this award). I’ve had more money than I’ve been able to spend because I can’t seem to hire enough good people. I have definitely not learned to walk and chew gum and the same time. I keep trying at both though.

    Anyway, that is mostly for your amusement. I would try to get successful and unsuccessful applications for all funding opps you might be interested in and figure out the synergies in application writing. I hadn’t realized I could submit the same or overlapping applications to multiple places, as long as the work wasn’t ultimately funded more than once. As a consequence, I spread my aims and ideas too thin. I should’ve just rolled the dice more often on my best ideas.

  11. @associateprof – thank you! That’s a helpful perspective. I like the idea of focusing on getting your best ideas out there frequently, and worrying less about which/how many different agencies those ideas are going to.

  12. Happy summer! I love those short fiction pieces…amazing how you and others can create such a vivid scene in so few words. I’ve had a link to those 50 word stories saved since you posted it. Brilliant stuff.

    I am trying to avoid the post-tenure slump by going up for full early (because nothing says fresh new ideas like being called ‘senior’). There is some grumbling about waiting your turn, but I’m hoping external reviewers won’t really care – I’m good on all other fronts. Do reviewers look at time since tenure? So much speculation, so little data.

  13. Still here. And not on Twitter :(. I guess I’m old school (and I’m not even old…). I love almost everything you write! Somewhat less interested in the fiction writing, but I get that this is a new(ish) passion for you so can appreciate that aspect at least. Anything work/science/academia or family related… navel gazing… musings on life and society… all interesting!

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