Saturday, November 21, 2009

Please God, Let me get a job!

Anyone who has spoken to me since sometime in October knows that I'm currently applying for faculty jobs. My Ph.D. adviser recommended that I apply to 30. I'm currently about 2/3 of the way through the (grueling) process.

So far, I've heard from none of the colleges or universities, except the ones that were nice enough to send me an acknowledgment of my application (and sometime to ask me to fill out a survey about my race and gender). Two colleges sent me nice letters or e-mails giving me an approximate time line for the process. If those schools are similar to the others, I should start to hear back from late November to late December.

I really hate the automated responses - something like "We don't have time to communication with people directly. If you get the job, we'll tell you."

The thing that's absolutely driving me crazy here is that I have no idea how good my chances are. How many applications do these colleges get? I read an article online (one of those "How to apply to a liberal arts college" things) in which the author said he'd never gotten less than 100 applications for a job. Which, frankly, makes me want to throw up a bit.

I'm also concerned that there's some sort of inside applicant at these schools, and they've just posted the job to follow the rules. Really, Dr. Smith's nephew Jason is going to get the job no matter how good my application is. Sadly, I'm not anyone's inside candidate. Sigh.

Also, this application process is making me (more) cynical. At first, I was totally sincere in every sentence that I wrote. "The personal attention St. Fancypants College pays to each student makes it an ideal learning environment." Now I find myself just using search and replace: St. Fancypants becomes Sterling & Snootyton College. Which, incidently, is also has an ideal learning environment.

And I have a terrible fear that I'll accidently leave in the wrong college name, or not make it personal enough, or forget to attach my teaching statement.... Very many things could go wrong.

Fortunately, I've finished all the applications due in November, so I took a break last week. I was pleased to note that I greatly prefer doing actual science to applying for jobs. But now I've got to get back to it. I've got 5 to complete before Wednesday (when I go to the Netherlands to eat cheese and clomp around in wooden shoes).

I'll keep you guys posted on the job search process. In the meantime - have any of you been on faculty search committees? Do you know what my chances are?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

It's been more than a week. I have no excuse.

Carsten commented that I haven't updated my blog for a long time. That's true. My goal was always to update once a week, and here it's been 8 days since you've heard anything from me. Sorry folks. Don't worry, though - I should have some exciting adventures coming up soon. Over Thanksgiving weekend I'm going to the Netherlands with Ko. Then there's the blog I've planned for St. Nicholas Day, where I explain bizarre Dutch customs to you. Not to mention Christmasy things, like a trip to Dresden to eat stollen and drink gluehwein. I mean, that's why I'm going anyway.

Tonight, however, I'm going to Charles' house. We're working our way through the original Star Trek movies. Tonight: "The Search for Spock."

I know, I know, my life is so much more exciting than yours. Try not to be jealous.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Fun with Statistics

I noticed something interesting on the train this weekend. I was riding to Goettingen, and my train car was very crowded. In fact, 12 people were standing in the aisle. To my surprise, I noticed that they were all women. However, 19 of the 36 people with seats were men. I found myself wondering if this could be a coincidence, so I did a Fisher's Exact Test to figure it out.

Here are the results:

Table AnalyzedData 1

Fisher's exact test

P value0.0013

P value summary**

One- or two-sidedTwo-sided

Statistically significant? (alpha<0.05)Yes

Data analyzedMenWomenTotal

As you can see, there's only a 0.13% chance that such a distribution could happen by chance*, making this results significant.

Now the question is, why? Initially I thought it was because men are pushier and get into the train faster. Alternately, it could be mostly women getting on in Jena and the men were already sitting down. Anyone have any other hypotheses?

* Feel free to criticize my stats or reanalyze if you like.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

7 Quick Things

It's list time! Which is probably why I should sign up for twitter, since my thoughts rarely take more than 140 characters. Oh well. This way I can save them up.

1. I can't stop reading the comments on this post. Read into it what you will.

2. My mom sent me some temporary Halloween tattoos. Ergo, I have a tattoo of a bat on my neck. I think it make me look dangery.

3. I have sent away 9 job applications this week, bringing me to 30% of my goal. I plan to send 4 more out today, which would get me 43% of the way there.

4. I need to get a gift for Ko's parents when I visit them at the end of this month. His mother can't eat gluten or sugar. Ideas?

5. Damn, flights are expensive this year. How much is a direct flight home for Christmas really worth?

6. I thought I might have been somewhat unique in having fall as my favorite season. Turns out that I'm with the majority of my blog readers.

7. Stollen is already in the stores here, and I've really come to enjoy it. I'll miss it next year.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Happy Halloween!!

This year I celebrated a really low key Halloween. No costumes, no party. However, I did show Ko and Charles how to carve pumpkins. It was the first time for both of them. Here they are, hard at work:

Ko and Charles are actually both very detail oriented people, so this is exactly the sort of thing that they do really well. They're the most impressive first time pumpkins ever. Of course, many people first carve pumpkins as children, so they have that advantage. Here's the finished product. Can you guess who carved which pumpkin? Here's a hint - mine is a pumpkin portrait of someone who vomited on my bed the day before.

And then Charles brought some very fancy cheese over, and we ate it. Delicious. Here's Charles doing some fancy scraping thing to prepare the tête de moine (monk's head) cheese.

I'm going to end this post now, so that I can light the pumpkins again. I know that Halloween is over, but I won't get another chance to next year, so I'm going to enjoy the eerie glow.