My Day

When she was 1 or 2, my daughter would get a slip of paper from preschool called “My Day”. The teacher would document what kind of day she had, if she ate well, went to the potty etc. I wanted to share my own My Day (don’t worry about the potty or anything) because as a graduate student, you never realize how great you have it, how much time you actually have to spend working towards your own shit, however insurmountable it may seem. Now, in an academic job, there are lots, er most, of days that time just doesn’t exist. I don’t teach as much as my peers in non-med school positions, and I’ve been insulated from committee work so far too, but geez. It gets sucked away by a variety of issues, some are potentially relevant to productivity and fun, many are totally distracting from what could have been productivity, others are just inane.

Resources for faculty are many regarding time management skills and I read a few good blogs on life in academia, which is useful; most of this advice has two themes: unplug your email and close your door, and then put aside specific time to write or work on the fun stuff.  I tend to fail at those things; i don’t like a closed door when I’m in, unless I’m on private phone call (but my voice carries through doors regardless), I virtually always have email on, and I’ve tried to make certain times of the day for fun/real work, but that always gets chiseled away. Some have to-do lists–I make these sometimes. Some people actually keep journals (good god). To my best recollection, this is how today went; It was a “typical” day:

My Day: 745: dress and drive the kid to school; kid slept in a bit; later than I wanted to be; didn’t get enough coffee

820: arrive at work, cursing b/c I had to drive to the top floor of the garage since my 1st floor faculty red tag is still being withheld after 1.5yrs because apparently my salary precludes me from having a “faculty” tag.–this issue is currently being fixed, and not by means of a raise. (Yay for state government freezes and budget problems)

830: plug in, respond to and brainstorm a talk title and blurb  for an on campus talk in Feb. “Inside Alligators”. Start organizing logistics as we’ll be having a group of students from St. Louis coming to help dissect after the talk. yay! Briefly scan a histology/muscle methods paper.

850: Surprise of the day #1: ghost from book chapter past (like 2001) emerges from the email ether (wtf, I  forgot/had given up about this lost manuscript). Now, this chapter for a certain 2nd volume of Complete “taxon” was on Myology. One can guess how much has changed in the world of head and non-head muscle anatomy since 2001…let’s say, uh,  lots. They want edits “as soon as humanly possible” (of course). Still not sure what to do about this. No time to deal with properly  in apparently ridiculous time frame. maybe I’ll withdrawal, but then complain about whatever does end up getting published.

9: think about above some more. Maybe its my responsibility to write a good chapter on myology (muscle anatomy). Book chapters are not looked favorably upon for tenure compared to articles. ug

910-940: work on edits for article (for the Paleo Project Challenge), almost done, find best photos of last taxon to be included in paper, hopefully. Out to coauthor tomorrow I swear. Sorry Nick G, not -that- paper.

940: prepare for anatomy lab

10-1215: anatomy lab: feet! so boring. but the block is almost over, students are lost given their upcoming test is on not only lower limb, but also Thorax, Abdomen and Pelvis. They’re freaking. But its ok.

1215:  change clothes, read online garbage, get stabbed by CapriSun straw (to be given to daughter upon school pickup) which goes under my finger nail reaching for lunch, eat,. OW. talk w/ colleagues about lab/class

1245: meet with faculty about logistics for 4th year med anatomy class: too many students, not enough cadaver space, all over the holidays, which bumps into the January 4th yr block. Face-palm w/ shrug.

115: have a great, short discussion with student about traction epiphyses and RW Haines papers. (Yay!!! good times; shh, don’t tell the student). I <3 epiphyses and sesamoids.

130: Surprise #2 deal with receipts from SVP, they need more paperwork asap regarding my emergency flight home with a broken knee. can’t get reimbursed until done. Ug

145: sigh, forage for coffee.

2: check in with undergrad, doing ok on finishing up 3D model.

210: start working on last of figures for above paper Yay! progress.

220: Surprise of the day 3: email: Block 1 anatomy remediation exam, they need questions from me asap (next 2 days). grrr. on my nerves, i need smaller nerves

3: questions submitted,  go across the hall and gripe to colleague: (fun, heartwarming, relaxing) Also likely disrupts and distracts them (now we’re even heheheh)

310: email from collaborator: cool questions, good news on diff project; respond; ponder a fossa on a dino face some have said houses a particular soft tissue; plot the rebuttal that will never happen (yay)

320: lost all focus. Check facebook, friend has awesome video of Fail (linked), perfect it was worth the 7min. Pic below. minute 4:06!

340: back to figures. omg its like 34o already. dropping backgrounds, tracing, etc. some tunes

410: phone: reminded to pick up kid. loose focus, get water, look at a blog, write a comment but then delete it. watching the clock to make sure I leave before shite traffic starts (it takes a long time to drive down from the top floor at 5pm).

420: back to figures, cool, progress

445: hustle out to leave.

530-911: family stuff. write this

after 9: let’s finalize this MS to send out to coauthor; maybe we’ll make it a late-nighter, already had coffee. stop fussing with this post!

Tomorrow: work on grant proposal (s), finally. hopefully, without too many distractions. oh right, i need to do these things too: dissect, fix lizard muscles. Send other muscles out for histo. photograph spindles in muscles (but at least I found some on Monday). Be a good coauthor and work on that other paper. Write lab practical questions for anatomy, due soon. crack the whip on some student projects. Write letters for more specimens. Animal Care Protocol… and on and on.

But likely only a fraction of that will get done, let alone what surprises await. Oh right! All-Med school Annual Faculty meeting!!! yay :/

I still have an awesome job, have great neighbors, work on kickass shit,and usually have a good time doing it. But sometimes… man. Anyone who has tips to share on juggling days like these, share away.

Braincase and skull Viz of Youngina

This post is largely a link to Nick Gardner’s recent article on the braincase of Youngina. I learned something about Permian reptiles myself helping with this project, now  I’m that much closer to turning the corner up the synapsid line. His writeup is here at his blog.

The Open Access, freely available Paleontologia Electronica paper is here.

Gardner NM, Holliday, CM, and O’Keefe FR. The braincase of Youngina capensis (Reptilia, Diapsida): new insights from high-resolution CT scanning of the holotype. Paleontologia Electronica 13(3): 16p.

Among other reasons, I like PE  because it allows the authors to include a short biographical sketch in which some might take the opportunity to spam kid (and giraffe) pictures, relevant or not. Maybe we’ll use this platform, by continuing PE pubbing, to show the ontogeny of my professional as well as personal life ;) .