I heart my job. Really.

Posted by barb on Apr 11, 2006 in Random Thoughts

I sing this every morning before going in to work:

I hate my job,
I really do,
It’s a stinky job,
I hate my job.

Not exactly catchy, and I think I need to work on the chorus, but it gets my feeling across.

Today I accidentally sang it while I was in my office. And my office-mate was there. Sigh. I’ll be singing it a lot tomorrow — there’s a proposal due, and I’m likely to be in the office for at least 24 hours. Straight.



Not as bad as it could be…

Posted by barb on Mar 17, 2006 in Random Thoughts, Thesis/Grad Life

I suppose I shouldn’t write a post eluding to “bad news at work” without expanding on it a little bit. This has to do with the Joys of Contracting post I made a couple weeks ago. I think I mentioned that in the propsed NASA budget my project got hit pretty hard – the budget dessimated the NASA science programs, and the project I work with was no exception. Basically my project is now in a holding pattern.

I had been hoping to drop to 50% time on this project, and had already made up my mind to quit the other contracting task that I’m on. The purpose would be to have more time to work on my thesis while not cutting my income to that of a poor grad student. In addition, if I could keep my contracting position at at least 50% time, I keep my benefits.

Yesterday I heard that I’ve been cut to 30% time on my project. It’s certainly not as bad as it could be – Andrew and I had been prepared for either the 50%-time or a 0%-time contingency. It’s just that I’d been hopeful about staying at 50% time (as had my project). Andrew and I have decided that I’ll contract at just 30% time, and work on finishing my thesis that much faster. We’ll be fine financially – we’ll just need to stop eating out quite as much. The part I really hate is feeling like I’m not pulling my weight in the household. I know that Andrew feels like I am pulling my weight, especially since I’m working on the PhD, but I just feel like I could be doing more.

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Posted by barb on Mar 3, 2006 in Random Thoughts

I’ve got it bad already. 17 days to the Mediterranean — Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, and a total solar eclipse to top it off. Eeeeeeeee!



Joys of contracting

Posted by barb on Mar 1, 2006 in Random Thoughts

I’ve probably mentioned that I’m a part-time contractor and a part-time grad student. The excitement of being a contractor is that every 5 years or so the contract is put up for bid, and I have the choice of either working in my current position for the winning company or finding a new job. To add to this excitement, I’m a contractor for the government, which means that that my job is hinged on the national budget and how it’s allocated to my particular corner of the world.

But why am I bringing up these specific joys of my job right now? Because both of them are currently in play, and I’m not sure first of all whether I’ll even have a job in a couple months, and secondly, if I do have a job, what company I’ll be working for.

My project got hit very hard in the budget submitted to congress a few weeks ago, and it’s going to be a struggle for it to keep above water. (Though, the man in charge of this particular project said that we could either look it as terrible or “not as bad as it could have been”. In other words, the project was not zeroed-out in the budget, so it might still be possible to recover if next year the budget for this project grows.) Translation: they have already made a few cuts, and my position is not exactly critical to the mission. We’ll see what happens in the next few weeks.

On the other side of things, we had a meeting with our new overlords this morning, and I need to get my resume in order so that I can “apply” for my position (which might not exist soon). Sigh. I’ve got to finish my PhD so that I can figure out what it is that I really want to do when I grow up.

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Talk at the UMD Observatory

Posted by barb on Nov 16, 2005 in Random Thoughts

By the way, I’ll be giving the Public Open House talk at the University of Maryland’s Observatory on Sunday at 8PM. The title is “Dark Energy: A Modern Science Mystery”, and is geared toward a non-technical audience. The talk is about how scientists came to think that much of the Universe is composed of dark energy.

If you’re in the College Park area, stop by.

[Cross-posted at Galaxy Girl]




Posted by barb on Sep 26, 2005 in Pictures, Science Musings

James Webb Space Telescope

Last week, a full-scale model of the James Webb Space Telescope was installed outside one of the buildings at work. Yikes! It’s huge! Check out the picture for the scale. The mirror is 6.5 meters in diameter and the sun shield is the size of a tennis court, which might sound big, but I never really understood the scale until I walked around underneath it.



Back, but tired and busy

Posted by barb on Jun 10, 2005 in Random Thoughts

Me with my poster at the AAS meeting

I’m back from the AAS meeting and my mini-vacation in Minnesota, and I’m hoping to start updating my blog over the weekend. Though, I’m going to be up in Baltimore all day tomorrow helping out with Big Explosions and Strong Gravity, a Girl Scout activity day where we’re going to teach 80+ Girl Scouts about spectra, elements, supernovae, and black holes. It should be a lot of fun.

Oh, and that picture is me with my poster at the AAS meeting.

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Home at last…

Posted by barb on Apr 22, 2005 in Random Thoughts

…going to grab some quick lunch, then hop in bed with at least one fuzzy kitten.

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Proposal-writing hell

Posted by barb on Apr 21, 2005 in Random Thoughts

Currently being sucked into the 6th level of hell — that’s the one reserved for scientists writing proposals. I’m not the actual scientist writing the proposal, but I’m getting sucked in because I agreed to help out…the only end in sight is at 1PM tomorrow when another scientist is bringing the proposals down to HQ. Please say an uplifting spell for me…

UPDATE — 7:52 PM: Still here. No end in sight. Jack (the PI) still hasn’t read over more than the first three pages of the proposal…no one has read to the end…eyes are getting crusty…

UPDATE — 12:13 AM: Still here. Actually, I’m taking a bit of a break. Yay Lorna! She left me an apple and some cookies. I’m going to go splash some water on my face, and then get back to it.

UPDATE — 2:08 AM: If I closed my eyes for a couple seconds, I think I would fall asleep. Must keep up with the caffiene…

UPDATE — 3:40 AM: Almost up for 24 hours now…just another 2 hours. My head is swimming…

UPDATE — 4:51 AM: Just asked Magic 8 Ball if I’d be getting out of here any time soon…it said “Doubt It”. Crap. Magic 8 Ball is never wrong.

UPDATE — 5:55 AM: Busy collating CVs…no, that doesn’t mean that we are almost done. No, this is just something I can do while Jack continues reading through the text (he hasn’t actually read through the whole thing yet…ugh).

UPDATE — 7:38 AM: Been here almost 24 hours now. At this point I don’t really want to leave until 10AM due to the morning rush-hour, but I’m not sure things will be done even by then. I hate scientists… (yes, I am one, but not “one of them” yet)

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Focus Group

Posted by barb on Mar 8, 2005 in Pictures

We had the focus group meeting all day today. I didn’t give my presentations until this afternoon, though I think they went fairly well. The one on dark energy really sparked a lot of conversation. My presentation on Constellation-X wasn’t as good, but that’s because it was far more technical than the dark energy presentation. That, and dark energy is intrinsically more interesting.

Jim is still digesting the discussions that we had with the teachers, but overall I think the day was a success. Even if we don’t directly use the suggestions that we got, we have some starting points to jump off from.

Me giving at talk


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