Friday, May 31, 2013

Rising to the occasion 2.0

Four years, two kids and two long breaks from academia later, I think I might be back in this space. I know that the blogosphere I was once a part of has withered and changed directions and this long gone blog has probably fallen into forgottendom, but I also know that some of you are still out there. Maybe someone will reading, maybe I'll just be writing for myself. Anyway, I think I need a place to sort my thoughts about reentering the world of science and academic dispute, and can just as well be here as anywhere else.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The sun is back

The photo is from a fieldtrip a few weeks ago, on the first day the sun peeked over the mountains this year. Now it's back in full force and in another few weeks we will have midnight sun.

I have spent the transition from the dark time to spring season on getting research projects up and running, getting grad students started on their projects and paying some attention to myself and having a life. Getting the research projects started hasn't been easy, and I'm not quite there yet, but at least I have had some time to devote to this and I do see things develop and begin to see the contours of a reearch program that will work. I have also spent some time with family and haven't been working very particularly long days. The latter will probably come back to haunt me, but it's been good to take it a little easier for a while.

Since my last update I've:

  • Been to a conference in Scandinavian town where it always rains (not a major important event scientifically, but nice to catch up with colleagues and friends)
  • Visited home country to attend the christening of my new nieces
  • Prepared the paperwork for three new MSc students projects including budgets and logistics for field work and developed a project description for something I don't know much about.
  • Almost finished major revisions on a manuscript I submitted last year (still needs some final comments from a co-author, but is almost ready to go).
  • Coached MSc student through writing her first abstract, finding funding to go to the conference and preparing a poster for upcoming conference in Grad School City.
  • Had a week long family visit by sister and toddler nephew.
  • Prepared week long visit by MSc student including organising housing, safety training and arranging contact with various people who will assist with aspects of the project.
  • Spent a week visiting youngest sister and travelling with her to Eastern European City where I often go for research.
  • Worked on getting a student exchange agreement between University above the Arctic Circle, and University in eastern Europe I collaborate with.
  • Worked on pulling some strings for increased formal collaboration between current university and previous institution.
  • Gotten up-to date on literature in new topic direction and studied previously published works about rocks from specific time interval.
  • Done the initial legwork for getting a group together to develop ideas for proposal for continuation and expansion of project.
  • Gotten an overview of previously published literature on another specific time interval in order to decide field sites for this summers fieldwork.
  • Maintained some contacts relevant for different angle of new topic direction and explored some other options for how this work may be framed and eventually funded.
  • Set up meetings during upcoming conference to discuss new project ideas and options for funding.
  • Started preparing practical arrangements and guest lecturers for field course this summer.
  • Been on a one-day field trip to explore the geology around town and read up on some of the general literature from this place in order to get a better overview and prepare for next time I run the undergrad general geology class.
  • Gotten back to practicing Fieldwork Country language regularly
  • Been socialicing with colleagues and joined a group of female colleagues/friends who exercise together.
What I didn't do was to

Finish the other major revision, which doesn't seem major at all compared to the last two major revisions I have gotten, but still needs to be done, or start preparing the poster I'm supposed to present a week from now.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

And now for a more practical attempt at some goals

I’m taking classes this week and it’s probably a good way to ease into the semester, but half the time they seem to be cancelled or cut short and I end up with some free time on my hands. Right now I spent one such hour on writing a blog post rather than getting started on any of the real work on my to do list. I think I can cut myself some slack as it’s only the second day of the semester and it’s likely I would have prolonged the break anyway if it wasn’t for this course, but I wouldn’t want it to go on like this for very long.

I will have a lot of unstructured time this semester, and that’s promising for being able to be productive, but also dangerous for someone like me who work better and more efficiently if I have a lot to do. In some ways I think the craziness of last year’s schedule forced me to be productive in the short time spans I had available and this year it will just be easy to let administration and all the little day to day tasks take over the days.

I’ve tried various schedules for what to do each day before and they usually fall apart after a while, but maybe it’s time to try to follow a new one any way. So for the weeks where I don’t have another full-time activity going on I’ll try to follow this reincarnation of a previously tried and tested schedule.

For all days where I’m not full-time occupied with something else (at meetings, in classes, travelling)

At least 4 hours research (actual writing and reading):

At least 2 hours writing first thing every day
1 hour reading to catch up on literature

No more than 4 hours admin (anything else than writing and reading incl. student advising, meetings, phonecalls, other research-related tasks, planning, reports):

At least 1 hour spent on typing up field notes, photo lists etc for last year’s field report until it’s done

That’s it.

For this week I’ll spend these extra hours (if any more comes my way) to catch up on the literature for big projects I’m supposed to know something about by now.

A new year and new challenges

2008 was good but crazily busy with starting a new job, moving and finally getting some publications out. The past three years have been very much about reaching up and out and achieving new things. This year will hopefully be about getting settled and about building a foundation at work and at home on which I can rely for some years to come. Professionally I don’t want to take on more new responsibilities just for the sake of it, and want to build on what I already have and focus on getting better at what I already do. Personally I want to get involved in the community here and keep working on making personal well-being a priority.

I will be teaching very little in 2009. I only have a summer course for four weeks in June-July, but this is a new course and will require some attention to logistics in addition to catching up on the literature and preparing the course. Hopefully the lesser teaching load will allow me to focus on getting through the backlog of papers to write and manuscripts to revise, especially as my main projects are moving towards a heavy writing-up phase in collaboration with many others. I also want to get back to reading and catching up on literature, something which has truly fallen by the wayside the past few years. This post and it’s comments gave some good ideas for how to get back to the pile of papers-to-read that is always lurking. I have three grad students to get started this spring semester and another one to follow up, two conferences to attend in the spring and at least one in the fall, about six weeks of field work planned for the summer and probably more than enough work-related travel. If I can get the two new projects off to a reasonable start, get some papers out the door and some time during the year, when the time is right, start working on one larger and maybe some smaller proposals I’ll consider the year a success.

Personally I want to get back to running or doing other kinds of exercise regularly. I started thinking about how to really make this a priority in December and want to keep thinking about it that way. I also want to learn to have fun outside here in winter. I want to buy some better skis and learn proper skiing, so I’m not afraid of making a fool of myself when being outside. I want to learn to be comfortable with winter fieldwork and all the safety and logistic issues that one needs to know to enjoy time outside here. I’m always shying away from this, because I don’t like things I’m not good at and I’m not practical at all, but really want to approach this in a different way.

I hope I will have more time at home than last year and especially a more regular schedule with fewer interruptions by travel. Never having more than two or three consecutive weeks at home was probably the single most stressful issue last year and the lack of consistency makes it difficult for me to stick to a writing schedule/ training schedule/reading schedule or attend any kind of regular event or activity. I’m sure there will still be travel and for the next few months there will be some travel each month, but we have cancelled a planned vacation in order to get some more time at home and actively limiting travel should probably go on my priority list for 2009.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Happy New Year

It's the first day of the semester and my first day back at the office after a two week break. the students are back, University above the Arctic circle is buzzing with life and I'm attending a week-long long safety course to learn how to survive the winter field season. I didn't do any work at all during the break and I'm happy about that. I needed to leave the work thoughts behind for a while and focus on other things. I've spent time with my family, met my twin nieces for the first time, spent time with the husband's family and visited grad school city. It's been great to see the sun, sleep, read books for fun, catch up with people, talk to my parents and my siblings, see my nieces and nephews play and just be me for a while. It's also been kind of exhausting because much travel was involved, and I'm not very excited about leaving again already next week for an upcoming conference and another family visit or about settling back into work for that matter. I am excited about being back, though. About sleeping in my own bed, deciding what to eat and at which time and about spending time with the husband in our own home. I'm also excited about being back in the polar night, about getting back to running regularly and about not teaching this semester.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

End of semester Saturday morning

My grades are in.

The revise and resubmit with a firm deadline is in.

I need to go into the office today to catch up on some minor things (email new grad students, email colleagues regarding a grant proposal and next summer's fieldwork, send off some figures to the coauthor for another revise and resubmit and write a recommendation for a student), but aside from that I'm done for now.

I've caught up on sleep, been out to celebrate with the husband who has returned from far, far away and am getting ready for some last-minute Christmas shopping before leaving to spend the holidays with the family.

I can't remember the last time I've felt this caught up on things, but it's unbelievably good.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Geologists' 100 things meme

It's a little lame already to be doing a meme again, I know, but I'm in the middle of revising a manuscript with a deadline tomorrow, so this is all I've got for now.

As seen at All my faults are stress related

Obviously I have a long way to go before I'm a fully educated geologist.

1. See an erupting volcano
2. See a glacier (every day, except right now when it's too dark to actually see it)
3. See an active geyser such as those in Yellowstone, New Zealand or Iceland (Iceland)
4. Visit the Cretaceous/Tertiary (KT) Boundary. Possible locations include Gubbio, Italy, Stevns Klint, Denmark, the Red Deer River Valley near Drumheller, Alberta. (Denmark)
5. Observe (from a safe distance) a river whose discharge is above bankful stage
6. Explore a limestone cave. Try Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, Lehman Caves in Great Basin National Park, or the caves of Kentucky or TAG (Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia
7. Tour an open pit mine, such as those in Butte, Montana, Bingham Canyon, Utah, Summitville, Colorado, Globe or Morenci, Arizona, or Chuquicamata, Chile.
8. Explore a subsurface mine.
9. See an ophiolite, such as the ophiolite complex in Oman or the Troodos complex on the Island Cyprus (if on a budget, try the Coast Ranges or Klamath Mountains of California).
10. An anorthosite complex, such as those in Labrador, the Adirondacks, and Niger (there's some anorthosite in southern California too).
11. A slot canyon. Many of these amazing canyons are less than 3 feet wide and over 100 feet deep. They reside on the Colorado Plateau. Among the best are Antelope Canyon, Brimstone Canyon, Spooky Gulch and the Round Valley Draw.
12. Varves, whether you see the type section in Sweden or examples elsewhere (ice-dammed lake deposits in Russia)
13. An exfoliation dome, such as those in the Sierra Nevada
14. A layered igneous intrusion, such as the Stillwater complex in Montana or the Skaergaard Complex in Eastern Greenland.
15. Coastlines along the leading and trailing edge of a tectonic plate (check out The Dynamic Earth - The Story of Plate Tectonics - an excellent website).
16. A gingko tree, which is the lone survivor of an ancient group of softwoods that covered much of the Northern Hemisphere in the Mesozoic.
17. Living and fossilized stromatolites (Glacier National Park is a great place to see fossil stromatolites, while Shark Bay in Australia is the place to see living ones)
18. A field of glacial erratics
19. A caldera
20. A sand dune more than 200 feet high
21. A fjord
22. A recently formed fault scarp
23. A megabreccia
24. An actively accreting river delta
25. A natural bridge
26. A large sinkhole (only small ones)
27. A glacial outwash plain
28. A sea stack (what is this?)
29. A house-sized glacial erratic
30. An underground lake or river
31. The continental divide
32. Fluorescent and phosphorescent minerals (only indoors)
33. Petrified trees
34. Lava tubes
35. The Grand Canyon. All the way down. And back.
36. Meteor Crater, Arizona, also known as the Barringer Crater, to see an impact crater on a scale that is comprehensible
37. The Great Barrier Reef, northeastern Australia, to see the largest coral reef in the world.
38. The Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Canada, to see the highest tides in the world (up to 16m) (not Bay of Fundy, but some other impressive high tides in Bay of Mont St Michel,France and the yellow sea coast, China)
39. The Waterpocket Fold, Utah, to see well exposed folds on a massive scale.
40. The Banded Iron Formation, Michigan, to better appreciate the air you breathe.
41. The Snows of Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
42. Lake Baikal, Siberia, to see the deepest lake in the world (1,620 m) with 20 percent of the Earth's fresh water.
43. Ayers Rock (known now by the Aboriginal name of Uluru), Australia. This inselberg of nearly vertical Precambrian strata is about 2.5 kilometers long and more than 350 meters high
44. Devil's Tower, northeastern Wyoming, to see a classic example of columnar jointing
45. The Alps.
46. Telescope Peak, in Death Valley National Park. From this spectacular summit you can look down onto the floor of Death Valley - 11,330 feet below.
47. The Li River, China, to see the fantastic tower karst that appears in much Chinese art
48. The Dalmation Coast of Croatia, to see the original Karst.
49. The Gorge of Bhagirathi, one of the sacred headwaters of the Ganges, in the Indian Himalayas, where the river flows from an ice tunnel beneath the Gangatori Glacier into a deep gorge.
50. The Goosenecks of the San Juan River, Utah, an impressive series of entrenched meanders.
51. Shiprock, New Mexico, to see a large volcanic neck
52. Land's End, Cornwall, Great Britain, for fractured granites that have feldspar crystals bigger than your fist.
53. Tierra del Fuego, Chile and Argentina, to see the Straights of Magellan and the southernmost tip of South America.
54. Mount St. Helens, Washington, to see the results of recent explosive volcanism.
55. The Giant's Causeway and the Antrim Plateau, Northern Ireland, to see polygonally fractured basaltic flows.
56. The Great Rift Valley in Africa.
57. The Matterhorn, along the Swiss/Italian border, to see the classic "horn".
58. The Carolina Bays, along the Carolinian and Georgian coastal plain
59. The Mima Mounds near Olympia, Washington
60. Siccar Point, Berwickshire, Scotland, where James Hutton (the "father" of modern geology) observed the classic unconformity
61. The moving rocks of Racetrack Playa in Death Valley
62. Yosemite Valley
63. Landscape Arch (or Delicate Arch) in Utah
64. The Burgess Shale in British Columbia
65. The Channeled Scablands of central Washington
66. Bryce Canyon
67. Grand Prismatic Spring at Yellowstone
68. Monument Valley
69. The San Andreas fault
70. The dinosaur footprints in La Rioja, Spain
71. The volcanic landscapes of the Canary Islands
72. The Pyrennees Mountains
73. The Lime Caves at Karamea on the West Coast of New Zealand
74. Denali (an orogeny in progress)
75. A catastrophic mass wasting event
76. The giant crossbeds visible at Zion National Park
77. The black sand beaches in Hawaii (or the green sand-olivine beaches)
78. Barton Springs in Texas
79. Hells Canyon in Idaho
80. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison in Colorado
81. The Tunguska Impact site in Siberia
82. Feel an earthquake with a magnitude greater than 5.0.
83. Find dinosaur footprints in situ
84. Find a trilobite (or a dinosaur bone or any other fossil)
85. Find gold, however small the flake
86. Find a meteorite fragment
87. Experience a volcanic ashfall
88. Experience a sandstorm
89. See a tsunami
90. Witness a total solar eclipse
91. Witness a tornado firsthand. (Important rules of this game).
92. Witness a meteor storm, a term used to describe a particularly intense (1000+ per minute) meteor shower
93. View Saturn and its moons through a respectable telescope.
94. See the Aurora borealis, otherwise known as the northern lights.
95. View a great naked-eye comet, an opportunity which occurs only a few times per century
96. See a lunar eclipse
97. View a distant galaxy through a large telescope
98. Experience a hurricane
99. See noctilucent clouds
100. See the green flash

Friday, December 12, 2008

With all that time spent in the field it'd better be good

The new Accretionary wedge on Favorite Places for fieldwork is up at Geology News. As usual I was behind on everything, so writing a post of my own slipped to the bottom of the todo list (and that's far down). Anyway the call for submissions did get me thinking about the field, which is my home for some months each year, and to try to work out whether I had a favorite place.

I have a bit of a crush on all my field sites. They are all in the northern part of the northern hemisphere in a a type of landscape I've come to love. They are all in areas where I would probably never have come as a tourist and they all involve my favorite activity of all times - travel. But they are also different. Not only as in actual geographical differences, but also different to me. The first place was like the first love that completely changes one's perspective on the world, but didn't last and now is just a faint memory. The second is the full blown longterm relationship, that gives me a great deal of happiness and inspiration, but which also sometimes sucks beyond belief because I know all it's downsides. The third one is the fling, that now seems to be developing into something more serious.

My first field site was my home for two summers more than ten years ago, when I did fieldwork for my MSc thesis. I went with a fellow grad student whom I didn't know particularly well before we left, but who became one of my best friends. We were both new to geology and to the Arctic and to field work. We didn't understand what was up and down in our outcrops. We didn't know how to do good descriptions of the sediments or what was an appropriate size of a sample and got frustrated with the quality of the data we brought with us home after the first year. The data were really that bad (at least mine were) and we did go back for a second summer to remedy this, but while I was learning how to collect data and what things to look for, I also got sucked into the geology. I hadn't been a particularly enthusiastic student prior to this, but little by little I got genuinely excited about what I was doing. I began to see patterns and systems , to see where my observations fit in with the literature and where they didn't. I went from picking the topic mainly because it gave me the possibility to go to the Arctic, to thinking that fluvial sediments were one of the coolest things ever (I still think so). It also gave me a longlasting crush on Arctic landscapes. I haven't been back to this particular place in ten years, but somehow the Arctic still looks like this* to me.
My second field site is here, and as some readers might know, I go there every summer. It has been the backbone of my professional existence for years, and will, for all I know, continue to be so for many years to come. It's where I get my best ideas. It's where I spend time with my "field family" and where I have local friends and colleagues. It's where know how things work (to whatever degree that is possible), where I know beautiful, peaceful and fun places and places I'd rather never go to again, where I have a history with people and places and where I feel at home.

Lately I've added another field site to the collection. I have spent some time in this area before, including a short field season last year, but next year will be the first time I'll have a real longterm field program here. As with all new things this is one part exciting and one part unfamiliar and a little bit frightening. I don't have the comfort of long term experience or of connection to the people who also work here. It's new and different and a little mechanical, because it is about reusing routines once learned elsewhere and about getting students involved rather than engaging wholeheartedly in the work myself. I do know the area is spectacular though, and that this is something I will be returning to.

*(no photos from this site because I did my Master's back in the day when digital photography was nothing but wishful thinking, and I'm too lazy too scan any of the real photos).

Wordle your dissertation

Couldn't resist this one. Alice explains how to do it.

I dumped my entire dissertation into the wordle webpage and was more than surprised to see how quickly the whole thing was turned into this little summary.

Click for a bigger image

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Some random thoughts

If a journal has some very special rules for how they want reviewers to structure the review wouldn't it be a good idea to put that information somewhere on the webpage where the review is being uploaded, and not only in an email that was sent weeks ago? Needless to say that I just messed up and put everything in the wrong boxes according to the system outlined in the email.

A major administrative thing is going on at work and although I don't have any real role in this, it is difficult to shake the feeling of somehow being responsible for some action after a year and a half of administrative duties in former workplace. On the other hand it's been nice to see that there are people here who will and do speak up for my interests, even if it feels weird to be in a position where I am not in a role to speak up for other people's interests.

Most of my department has left for holidays or for that big conference on the other side of the pond where the geobloggers are going to meet up. It would have been awesome to meet the geobloggers and to attend this session, but I'm actually happy, I'm not going anywhere. Quiet hallways, no students and the dark time is just what I needed to up the writing productivity. I will go conferencing in Scandinavian town where it always rains in January, so I'll get my fix. Speaking of which, I also need to come up with some ideas for a maybe slightly too ambitious talk, I've been stupid enough to submit an abstract for at said conference.