Saturday, December 26, 2009

Cake Wrecks Charities

Here is a list of charities that Cake Wrecks raised money for during the two weeks before Christmas:

Charity: Water
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
Heifer International
Child's Play
Share Our Strength
Puffy Paws Kitty Haven
Doctors Without Borders
Habitat for Humanity
Operation Smile
The Buckland Family Trust (no website, but you can donate via Paypal - just scroll down to the bottom of the link)
Free the Slaves
To Write Love on Her Arms
Give Kids the World

If you want to donate to any of these charities, please go through the Cake Wrecks website so that Jen can get closer to her fundraising goals. She has listed all the charities here, along with how to donate.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Vacation

DH and I are heading out on our Dual-City Christmas Tour today. This year, we're heading to Vancouver first to spend a few days with DH's family. His sister will be hosting Christmas dinner, with her husband's family in attendance as well! I've never met them, so it will be fun to have both families at dinner. We have no other specific plans while in Vancouver, but the weather is supposed to be sunny (!?), so hopefully we'll get in some nice outdoor time.

Then, on the 28th, we're heading off to Calgary to be with my family for a few days. We have plans with my mom's side of the family, as well as a few close friends of mine. For New Year's, we're just going to make a bunch of appetizers, and eat and drink all night at my parent's house. Sounds absolutely perfect.

We get back home the night of the 1st, and will have the weekend to relax before heading back to reality.

DH and I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, and hope 2010 brings dreams to life for everyone! A year-in-review post and an update on my 2009 resolutions will be coming in the new year.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Quick Job Update

I turned down the post-doc I was considering. Am I crazy to turn down this opportunity right now?

What's even worse is that I turned down a job interview about a month ago because I was so sure I was going to take this post-doc. Now I have neither opportunity.

I still haven't heard about the funding for the outreach position. Hopefully that news will come shortly. Until then...


Monday, December 21, 2009

Sexism in Hindsight

A couple weeks ago FSP shared some horrific stories from her post-doc days. If you haven't read it yet, I highly suggest reading the post and the comments. It's amazing to hear what things are still going on these days to women in science all over the world.

In her post, FSP discusses how men (and sometimes women) use the phrase "He must be joking" (or some variation) to basically make an excuse for what should be inexcusable behavior. I'll fully admit that, up until a couple years ago, I was in this camp. Perhaps it was a defense mechanism, so that I wouldn't be wounded in these situations. In any case, I never really thought I was treated badly because I was a woman, certainly not by anyone I had worked for/with.

But, as we all know, hindsight is 20/20. The more I encounter such situations, the more I see in my past. There are a few that have stayed in my mind:

Back in the summer before the last year of my undergrad I worked as a waitress at a nightclub. The owner initially hired me as a bartender, but when I started working, he said I had to "prove" myself before he put be behind the bar. He would make comments about how I should dress sexier, or wear more makeup, but I kind of brushed it of as "part of the industry". That is, until one night he said he'd drive me home (as a safety precaution, of course) and ended up driving to his place. He basically said that if I were to do certain things that night that I would be a bartender and make big money. Don't worry, Mom & Dad, I had the sense to get the hell out of there pretty damn quick and took a taxi. When I look back on that incident, I thank the heavens that nothing else happened, because it could have gone much worse (as I'm sure we can all imagine).

The other two incidents are minor, but because they happened during my grad school years, they really turned me off academia:

Very shortly after DH and I were engaged, I was talking with someone who I considered a friend. They were a graduate student, but a more "mature" one, with a wife and children of his own. When I told him that I got engaged and that we were planning to find a city that would have jobs for both of us, he told me that I "shouldn't make decisions just for some guy". I was shocked. I mean, here's this guy with a family, and he's basically telling me that I shouldn't want what he has (or couldn't have it?). I wasn't sure what to take more offense too: that he thought that I was such a doormat that I wasn't involved in this decision, or that he assumed DH was such an asshole that he would force me to move somewhere without even thinking of me.

The last one is actually the most surprising, because the interaction was with a woman, about the same age as me, and we were both just finishing up our PhDs. She asked me what my plans were after I finished, and I said I wasn't sure about the job situation, but that we were going to try and start a family. Her reaction? "I don't understand why women get PhDs and then just go off and have babies. What a waste of time." Yup - because women who have babies cannot do anything else besides that. Ever. Thanks so very much for your support, my fellow female PhD in the sciences. Yay.

In each of these situations, I suppose the person could have been joking. And, in fact, when I've relayed these conversations to some people, it has elicited that exact response. Because, seriously, who would say that kind of thing? But, I assure you, these people sure weren't laughing.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Weekend

On Friday I was feeling better physically, and we were both doing alright emotionally that we felt like going shopping. I ended up buying a Nikon D90 - an awesome deal with two lenses. So, I've been playing around with it on our very lazy weekend, and here is what we've been doing.

These are the ornaments we bought in memory of Baby G. The blue mittens are for the baby, and the angel wings are for the angels looking after our baby until they come back to us.

Isaac, hanging out in the top bunk of the cat scratcher.

Isabella, hanging out on the couch in her usual manner.

Mmmm...ginger cookies.

We made a gingerbread house village (from a kit of course; not a great photo, but the only one with all 5 buildings).

Saturday, December 19, 2009


My biggest fear after this whole ordeal is getting back on that TTC (trying to conceive) horse.

How can we start trying again without freaking out? When we were TTC before, it took 3 cycles to get pregnant. Not very long for most, but I think it will feel like an eternity next time. The wait before I can test will be excruciating.

And then, when (if?) we get pregnant again, how are we going to live our daily lives trying not to imagine this happening all over again? The first 12 weeks are going to be so scary, and even after that there is just no guarantee. I just have no idea how I will get through it, and I can see myself just driving myself crazy about every little thing.

I guess these are signs that we are not ready to start trying again. Perhaps we will get to a point where the benefits outweigh the risks, and we'll just decide to go for it.

As for now, we have decided that Baby G will in fact come back to us; that their body may be gone, but their spirit is not. And if we create a new body for them, they will come back. I don't consider myself religious per se, but this thought comforts us greatly.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Giving to Others This Season

This year, DH and I were really struggling trying to come up with gift ideas for ourselves. Between us and our two families, we really had to stretch to put together lists of things we actually want. So, this year we've decided to change things up a bit.

First, my family agreed to drastically reduce the amount of money we spend on gifts. Usually we kind of get out of control, so we all agreed to spend $50 or less on each other. I think this will help us concentrate on the fact that Christmas should be all about the time spent together, and not so much how long it takes us to open a mountain of gifts.

Second, DH and I decided to split our spending limit. We agreed to limit ourselves to $100, but half of that is to go to a charity of our choice. I chose the Humane Society of Canada, since I have a soft spot for those furry creatures big and small (I also give to the World Wildlife Fund each month). DH chose to give his $50 to the Canadian Cancer Society.

In the same vein as Andrea mentioned in the comments of the this post, we will also be budgeting a small amount each month of 2010, and we will chose a different charity/cause to donate too.

I think this is a great use of our money, especially since our families are blessed, and, really, we don't need to be spending it on ourselves. There are so many great causes out there that really need our help, and it feels good to help with what we can.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Thank You

I just wanted to thank everyone for their comments and support over the last few days. It really means a lot to both me and DH. We are doing our best and taking things one day at a time. We plan to buy a Christmas ornament to remember Baby G by, and are looking forward to spending the holidays with our families.

I may post short updates intermittently, but hope to be back into the swing of things soon. To bring a bit of normalcy back to the blog, I have scheduled a couple posts over the next few days that I had ready to go before this whole thing happened.

Thanks again for all the love and warmth you all have shared with us. We truly do appreciate it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Time Marches On...

...whether I want it to or not.

It's strange - all these little bouts of normalcy in the middle of a grief-stricken time. The cats still need to be fed, the dishes washed, my teeth brushed...time just refuses to stand still, even for a little while. Sometimes I wish it would - Why wouldn't the world want to stop to mourn our baby? But most times I am grateful that it pushes forward. Afterall, time does heal.

Right now we are in a bubble, living in our own world on our own schedule. I find it so strange and heartbreaking that the world around us just keeps going as if nothing has happened. People say their kind words, and then get back to their life, sorry that it happened but thankful that it's not happening to them. We appreciate all the support we're given, but nothing really comforts us like the stories we hear of others that have been through the same thing.

I absolutely dread going back into the real world. I feel like I will break down at any moment - anytime I see a small child, or a pregnant woman; anytime someone asks us if we're going to have kids soon (that was just annoying before this whole thing, now it will just be excruciatingly painful); anytime someone asks why I haven't been at work for a while; anytime I go into a clothing store and see those little tiny socks for newborns...

I dread having to pretend that nothing happened, especially at work since no one really knows what has happened. Even if people do know, I feel like we have to say "we're okay" so that we save them from the sadness, from the effort it takes of having to be around pain. It's not fair to them, after all, for us to bring them down.

I've decided to not go in to work for the rest of the week. I am not going to the department Christmas party on Friday, and I'm contemplating skipping our group party on Sunday as well. I am emotionally and physically drained. DH has stayed with me so far, but eventually we won't be able to be with each other 24 hours a day. What then? What will I do without him beside me?

The tone of this blog may change for a while...it may change for good...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tragic Loss

I usually don't blog about things like this, but I feel like I need too (not so happy things mentioned, so read with caution).

Yesterday, after being pregnant for 8 weeks and 3 days, I suffered a miscarriage. Things started to go wrong on Sunday afternoon, and we ended up going to a walk-in clinic. They couldn't do anything much for us, but said that what was occurring (small amount of bleeding) was normal and I shouldn't worry unless it got worse (heavier or with cramps).

At about 8pm the blood went from pink to red, so we went to urgent care. They took a blood sample and found that my Beta (hCG) levels were low, but still in the normal range. They made an appointment for me on Monday afternoon to get more tests and an ultrasound done. The bleeding seemed to slow, then speed up again, but nothing really bad and I wasn't having any cramping. We were scared, but hopeful that things would be okay.

As we were driving to the appointment on Monday I started to get cramping in my lower belly. By the time we got to the check in desk, I felt a huge gush of blood and ran to the washroom. I basically sat there for a few minutes, not really able to do anything but freak out and cry. By the time I went back to the desk, they had a room open for us. They asked me some questions about the pregnancy, and then took us to the ultrasound room.

They took a look around for a few minutes (which was super uncomfortable). The doctor showed us my uterus and that there was nothing inside. It was just thick with blood. DH and I were (and still are) both devastated. Even though it was early in the pregnancy, we both felt very connected to our baby, and miss them a great deal.

Eventually, we will start trying again, but for now we just want to grieve and lean on each other. I'm so grateful that DH has been with me throughout this whole process. I could not have done anything if he wasn't there guiding me every step of the way.

We are so appreciative of our family and friends that have supported us through this ordeal. We'd be happy for any positive thoughts you can send our way in this very trying time.

Your parents miss you, Baby G.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Offer and Pseudo Offer

I figure it's been a while since I've posted an update my job search, so here's the deal so far:

I have been meeting with various people all over the university, from professors in geology, social science, education, and earth science, to people in the Teaching Support Center, other education specialists, and someone from human resources. Each person I met with gave me a list of at least 2-3 more people to meet with, and it has been incredibly interesting and tiring at the same time.

Finally I met with a professor in earth science, and she offered me a post-doc position. The research is in earthquake science, and it sounds like it could be really interesting. I was just about at the point where I was going to email her to accept the position when I decided to contact one last person (another professor).

I had been in contact with this professor throughout the last few months. He has applied for funding for an outreach program, which would include a salary for a program coordinator. I have basically been offered this position, but of course it all depends on the funding coming through (hence "pseudo offer" in the title).

Now, there's a pretty good chance that the program (and position) will be funded. Even though I think the post-doc position would be interesting, this one is right up my alley since I want to take my career in the outreach/education direction.

So, you're probably thinking "What's the problem, then?" Well, the professor with the post-doc wants me to let her know my decision my mid-December. The other professor won't know about the funding for the outreach program until mid-to-end-December (we're hoping before Christmas).

I've already let the first professor know that I'm waiting to hear about another opportunity before I make my final decision, but the clock is ticking. So, what's a girl to do? Should I just try to hold off until I hear about the funding for the outreach thing? What should I tell the first professor if she asks me for a decision? I don't want to accept that job, only to have the funding come through for the second. But, should I turn down the post-doc in the hopes that the second one will pan out?

In my heart I know what I want to do, but my head is telling me something else. Thoughts?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Brilliant Idea at Cake Wrecks

I've read the Cake Wrecks blog almost from the beginning. It has absolutely exploded and Jen, the blog's owner, now has merchandise, a book, and even did a book tour around the United States! I hope she'll come to Canada one day :)

She is using her great popularity to bring attention to some great causes, and is hoping to raise money for some worthwhile charities this holiday season. She is going to choose 1 charity over the next two weeks to personally donate $200 too. She is also asking her readers (all 75,000 of them!) to donate $1 to each charity, in the hopes to raise some serious cash. I think it's a wonderful idea, and I will be donating every day.

Please head on over to Cake Wrecks to see the charity of the day, and of course some hilariously wrong cakes and Jen's great commentary!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Where to Publish?

My first paper from my PhD work was published about a year ago now. In it, I discuss the investigation of 11,000+ asteroids to determine if any of them showed cometary activity. This was only half of the archived data I was working with.

During the past few months, I have been working on the other half, and would like to publish the results. Since it would just be updating the first paper, we want it to be a short (1-2 pages) paper.

The question is where to publish it and what to publish it as. The first paper was in Icarus, which also allows "notes". These are short papers, but it says on the website they should be on "...especially topical subjects..." that need to be published rather quickly. I don't think this paper falls into that category.

I know Astronomy & Astrophysics has a section for short papers (research notes) that "...are short papers that contain either new results as an extension of work reported in a previous paper, or limited observations not urgent enough to be published as a Letter...". That definitely describes the content of the paper better, but would it be strange to publish the update in a different journal?

If it's okay to publish an update in a different journal, what other options are there?

December Scientiae: Time for Thanks and Wishes

This month's Scientiae is hosted jointly by Jokerine and Cherish. Since the holiday season is upon us, they ask the blogging community to write about:

...things about which you are thankful for in your work, what gets you through.


What is it you would like for yourself or others in STEM fields? Stories of cheer are also encouraged (and encouraging!)

Many of you know that I'm not exactly keen on my work these days (or months, or years), but there is still much I am thankful for - especially things that get me through the hard/boring days.

In terms of my work, I am thankful that I have a job that seems interesting to a lot of people. Chatting with others about my work, especially those outside my field, makes me remember why I love astronomy in general. I am lucky that people find my line of work interesting, and want to know more, instead of shying away (or running away) once I tell them what I do.

There are lots of things that get me through the days where I am totally hating my job - reading blogs, PhD comics, coffee with DH or with friends, going for walks, and playing Habour Master on my iPhone. Seriously, without these things, I would be in a terrible, terrible place some days.

What I am truly grateful for though has been my experience in science education and outreach. Without it, I don't think I could have pushed through and finished my PhD. I'm crossing my fingers that I can continue in this area as I move forward in my career.

As for a wish list for myself and others in STEM, one major thing comes to mind: a media that was scientifically literate so that a) the public would be getting the correct information and b) scientists aren't made out to be the "bad guy".

Here is an example of what I mean. The Hubble Heritage Team uses scientific data to create beautiful astronomical images. Because of the way Hubble works (taking multiple pictures of the sky in patches), many of they images look like this (note the black "blocks"):

Fig. 1 - Bad blocks! M16 Eagle Nebula NGC 6611, "Pillars of Creation." Photo Credit: NASA, ESA, STScI, J. Hester and P. Scowen (Arizona State University)

The team would receive many phone calls asking why they are cutting and pasting pictures together, and/or why are they trying to "hide" the real data (for example, maybe there was a UFO there!!). So, to appease these people, the Hubble Heritage Team started cropping images so they didn't have these black blocks in them:

Fig. 2 - Bad blocks gone (credit: same as Fig. 1)

The phone calls stopped. In essence, the team either had to extrapolate data, or crop some data out, in order for people not to think they were hiding something. Ah, the irony. Of course, this hit the media and perpetuated the misunderstanding. Wouldn't it be nice if these people had known that, to cover such a large area in the sky, the Hubble telescope had to take many pictures?

Even with this confusion, I think Hubble has done an amazing job bringing astronomy to the eyes of the public. Many people know of Astronomy Picture of the Day, and are excited by astronomy in general. So, I think the whole professional astronomy community owes much thanks and gratitude to the Hubble Heritage Team.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Where are all the lollipops?

Do you know how hard it is to find really good lollipops outside of Halloween season? You know the ones I'm talking about: the big ball-shaped ones that come in fantastic flavors (some of them even have gum in the middle - like the Double Bubble ones). I've been to a number of stores - the Superstore, Metro, Shopper's Drug Mart, even the Bulk Barrel, and no one carries them! They all carry the flat ones, and even then, they're the crappy version of the flat ones.

Who knew you could only get good lollipops during Halloween? This is so frustrating!!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Another P&C Update

Just an update on the pop & money stealing from DH's lab: more money was stolen, so the pop has now been moved from the common kitchen area to an office area. The number of people taking pops has drastically reduced - most likely because they have to go into an office to get (and actually pay for) one.

Apart from this excitement, I'm sorry that this blog has been so lame lately. There is honestly nothing to write about (freely). I hope to have news to report in the coming weeks.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Looking for Great Speakers

This is for all the astronomers out there (or to those of you who go to astronomy talks). Is there anyone that you know or seen in planetary astronomy that gives (or could give) a really good public talk?

Please leave the name in the comments, or shoot me of an email!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Reviewer #3

Not sure how many have seen this, but it might be the best, and most relevant, video of the year.