Updates and NaBloPoMo

Anyone still around and reading? Pandemic plus a general dissolution of the once vibrant academic blogosphere (and its move to platforms like Twitter) equals fewer people reading and commenting, and consequently less of an impetus for me to keep blogging, especially since life stuff and fiction writing already vie for my time.

Anyway, as in (most? many? some?) years past, there will be daily blogging in November (NaBloPoMo — the blogging equivalent of NaNoWriMo). I think it’s good for me to have these intense blogging periods as a way to reconnect with this space, and hopefully good for you, dear reader, as there will more content. I can’t promise 100% highbrow fare, but something will be up every day in November.


I’m knee-deep in grading a midterm. I have a proposal due next week. Four papers need to be revised and resubmitted (after the proposal is in, duh).

This coming summer, I am looking forward to graduating probably the weakest student I’ve ever had. This students shouldn’t have gotten a PhD to begin with, but they managed to somehow pass one procedural hurdle, then another, and with a lot of help from others, and some strategically applied (and possibly not entirely conscious) manipulation and guilt-tripping of advisor , which I really shouldn’t have succumbed to but did, I continued to work with them even though several colleagues told me to cut the student loose. I tried all the tricks, changed their topic, then changed it back, tried being super hands off, then super hands on, but at the end of the day they were upbeat and enthusiastic but nothing was sticking, and they kept not being able to grapple with technical problems or do anything without a lot (A LOT) of help from me and others. All in all, we are now at a point where I can get them out with a minimal PhD that is well below the standard for my group, but passes the department, college, and university sufficiency tests. I suppose sooner or later we all (as advisors) have such a student.

My terrible professional mood these past couple of years has likely been linked to several bad hires I had made once three grants were funded in short succession. These new people were in stark contrast to the absolutely stellar crop I had graduated just before. For months, going into years, nothing was getting done. I started feeling hopeless, surrounded by all these nice and social but completely unproductive people spending all my money for naught, and panicking that this would be the end of my grants as we would not be able to renew. One way or another, those people are mostly no longer with the group. One has found their groove, and then some, and is being quite productive. I’ve since lucked out with a stellar student who transferred from another group, an absolutely fantastic undergrad, and another great new international student. The group is finally back to its usual output, and not a moment too soon, as two grants are up for renewal in the spring.


I have a bunch of stories coming out in late October and early November, and some exciting holds at prestigious markets. Fingers crossed!

It no longer feels impossible to write a novel. I (jokingly) promised my husband I’d write a bestseller, so we could retire early to someplace warm. No pressure! 🙂


What have you been up to, blogosphere?


  1. Definitely still reading and I am very much looking forward to you doing NaBloPoMO – that will brighten up what is looking to be a grim month.

    Glad you seem to have weathered the storm and are hopefully out of the other side. Having motivated research students at the moment has been a godsend and a fantastic contrast to online teaching which, bar a few students, has been absolutely soul-sucking but onwards we trudge…

  2. Trying to juggle my actual job, two kids with sucky online school, my neglected garden, and everyone’s irritating ongoing needs for food and clean clothing. (The spouse also shares this responsibility but they want to eat *every day*!)

    Also super anxious and depressed! It’s been a great fall!

  3. I don’t want to talk about it. 😦

    But I guess I will anyway. A side effect of teaching the in-person versions of a stats class is that I’ve gotten all the covid deniers. Covid Deniers also believe other weird things and I’ve spent the weekend putting pieces together of what complaints to the dean about me “not letting people with other political views express them” means. It means that I encouraged students to vote. That I said I was against fascism. That I corrected a student when he said racism doesn’t exist because *he* has never experienced it. That I corrected a student when he repeatedly said that we are not a democracy, we are a republic (I kept saying, we are both a representative democracy and a constitutional republic, I know this because my kid is taking US history and they literally just covered this.) That I pointed out that we have been giving women hysterectomies without their consent *again* (someone accidentally took the Clinical citi training instead of the social science citi training and said we’re not allowed to do that anymore during class discussion, and I agreed and then corrected myself).

    So next week is full of meetings with various administrators because after being “cleared of wrong-doing” I stupidly complained about the process and what was considered “wrong-doing”. Because if I am not allowed to encourage students to vote, then I don’t want to be here anymore.

    But I have two paper drafts for papers that haven’t been started due to discussants in TWO WEEKS. The only thing saving me there is that one of those deadlines has to be fake since the conference isn’t until January. And on top of that I’ve been spending the last 3 weeks trying to get a draft of a paper that should be done in some semblance of order after the primary authors (phd students) didn’t do any of the list of things we told them to do back in June to fix it and I decided it would be easier to reoutline it myself than to deal with another terrible draft. In retrospect that was a mistake, but I keep thinking I’m so close to done to a point where they could take it back over, and then I keep not being. I almost have an outline of what they did. I hope to move things around to the outline that I want and then tell them to not just say that results are positive and significant or what have you but table those results, and put @#$@3ing numbers in.

    Anyhow, I’m stressed out.

    Did I mention that DH is on 50% time (with 50% pay), company to end in December, but is still working 80-90% time?

    Well, I’d best get back to that outline.

  4. As long as RSS feeds keeps feeding I’ll be around, lurking. Always happy to see a post from xykz.

    Personally, I’m still grappling with the transition from academia to industry and trying to figure out if my experiences are specific to this job or to my entire industry. Wish I had the courage to write about it.

  5. I’m still reading blogs, though my own blogging output is down (only 7 posts in October, and 4 of them were bread recipes). I have been reading and commenting at https://www.reddit.com/r/Professors/ instead. I find that subreddit reasonable, though I’ll probably burn out on reading it in the next 4 months. I don’t read Twitter (except during fire season, because Calfire has taken to putting their updates there, rather than on their own web page).

    The sabbatical in the Spring was not very relaxing—in addition to worrying about the pandemic and the state of US politics, I was still doing service work (undergrad director for my department and committee work for the Academic Senate—both of which were more work than usual, because of all the pandemic-related changes). The senate committee work continued into the summer, but they promised us a stipend—I sent in my hours a month ago, but haven’t heard anything yet: maybe on the next paycheck?

    My fall has been going ok. Originally I was going to take my last sabbatical this quarter, but in the spring I swapped for a Spring 2020 sabbatical, so that I and the instructional lab staff would have time to figure out how to do my electronics lab as an at-home lab. I spent the summer creating videos for the course (I’m now up to about 140 videos for a 2-quarter course, with about 20–30 more to do).

    One upside of the delay: I now have only 31 students in the course, rather than the 60 from last winter.

    One downside of the delay: I no longer have any undergraduate group tutors or graders (all but one graduated, and she’s too busy), so I’m having to do it all myself.

    At least my campus has had sane management and has only allowed 6 tiny courses to have any in-person meetings—everything else has been online. Our campus has had only 20 cases since the beginning of the pandemic (currently one on campus and three off campus). Our county has been doing ok—about 1020 cases/100,000, but the death rate jumped in the last two weeks when there was a large outbreak in a nursing home (15 deaths, raising our total to 25).

  6. I’ve been tweeting out a play that I wrote. Titled “The Tragedy of King Donald the Orange”, it parodies Shakespeare and tells of a king who is pursued by a Special Constable on suspicion of colluding with the Czar.

    If you like it please tell your friends.

  7. Still here, still reading, and still enjoying your posts!
    Have technically-oriented Twitter threads (basically micro blogs) usurped academic blogging? Twitter threads are fleeting and get pushed down the feed, but the blog is static, which is nice. I guess threads cut out the extra step of writing a blog post, then posting said post to Twitter? Plus readers don’t have to leave Twitter to read the content.
    I like the NaBloPoMo concept, but like my teaching, I’d prefer to do it asychronously. From what I’ve gathered though, batch scheduling posts is against the point of creating content every day.

  8. Positive Definite: I’m not sure what the official NaBloPoMo rules are, and don’t really care TBH. You have my permission to batch post or do whatever the hell you want for NaBloPoMo. Let’s just write and post as much as we can. Life’s complicated enough without putting shackles on creative endeavors. Blog like the wind!

  9. Still checking your blog once a week to see what’s up!

    I guess like most i’ve just been making it through day to day. Time has lost all meaning. I have been stuck behind zoom and have gained 20 pounds. And i’m priviliged because i dont have distractions at home and a decent home office. But everything takes so much more energy. I am exhausted at night and haven’t been sleeping well for months.

    I have been teaching since the first of September and yesterday was my first weekend day off. The students have been amazing in their efforts to participate online, my phd students have been solid and in good spirits, so i have been lucky and am grateful.

    There has been some shit hitting the fan, but i am learning to deal with that much better and i am happy to report that i take things far less personally than i used to. I guess that is progress.

  10. Blogging fills a different need for me than Twitter (or facebook. I don’t instagram.) which is why I keep doing it. I have been posting less often, which leads to fewer comments, which leads to less motivation for posting. But also, life has been the same same same, except for the election and the direction this country is taking which is terrifying if you think about it too hard.

  11. Still checking in regularly. I really do enjoy your blog, and often find it cathartic or helpful. Blogs scratch an itch that fb, twitter, etc don’t.

  12. I look forward to your November blogging! I feel like most of the academic blogs that I used to follow are mostly defunct and I haven’t managed to find new ones (because I haven’t been looking).
    Students make such a huge difference – I am really lucky right now that I have a bunch of productive and thoughtful students. The one problem student decided to leave of their own volition (but have still not sent me the data promised two months ago, which was standard operating procedure for the last several years…nice person, but not sorry to see them go). I currently have a super star PhD student and it will be rough when they graduate in a couple of years. I’m also kind of accepting that being nostalgic about how the lab was at this time or that time is probably what a career looks like…trying to embrace the benefits of middle age.
    @nicoleandmaggie F*ing hell – I’m so sorry. Hugs from me and my ultra lib students in the northeast. Good reminder that I am damn lucky in my geography.

  13. Still reading – my feed reader just keeps showing me posts. I’m bad at commenting, but I do love to hear your take on things.

  14. I always enjoy your blog. Follow you on an RSS feed.

    I followed Kevin K to r/Professors on Reddit, but I’m a bit overwhelmed by the negativity. Good reminder that my problems are first-world problems, though.

  15. Hi! Still reading through theoldreader. RSS feeds are useful that way. Have a backlog of 110 on theoldreader. One would think that the backlog would be less due to being on sabbatical, but somehow isn’t. This is a fortunate year to have left on sabbatical for. Especially in my sabbatical location. Staying here until instruction is in-person, and my university seems to be in no rush to return before safe.

    I also have a student who I worry about. Good social skills. Technical skills… dunno. Fortunately, students here come for a master’s and it’s an additional step to continue to the PhD (most don’t). Unfortunately, most don’t, but it is fortunate in this situation.

    I also started an academic blog while on sabbatical. Maybe I’m 15 years too late. But pointing to it is incompatible with talking about my student, so I won’t. I do post about twice a month maybe.

  16. Long life RSS feeds. Still reading. In terms of blogosphere and proprietary platforms, using both good ol’ fashion blog posts (neocities) and share content via social media (activitypub; mastodon), indieweb style. Way to go! 🙂

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