Campus energy

With the semester in full-swing the energy on campus is contagious.  This one of the things I enjoy the most about being on campus.  The students walking around, playing games, studying, doing projects, sleeping, etc. gives the campus a lively atmosphere.  This is coupled with generally great fall weather where I am.  Eventually, the new semester glow will be gone, and I’ll be pining for the moments campus is empty.  But I know when the campus is empty I’ll be pining for the students to come back and inject some much-needed energy into campus.  The change in semesters keeps the environment around here fresh.

In industry, it was always the same environment, same types of deadlines, different project but same type of general procedures.  Even with sometimes the same project to work on over time just having the influx and outflux of personnel and change of scenery is so fucking welcomed.  I even notice my students have more vigor in them.  The ones that don’t get out much (more senior) have the energy because they’re racing to the defense-finish-line, the younger ones are spry because it’s a new environment, and the mid-stage ones are mostly slacking off (the recruiting class wasn’t hot a couple years ago).

On top of all of this my SO found a great job close to campus so we’ve been meeting up when our schedules permit since they’re out relatively early so I’ll take a late lunch.  We’re definitely in a spot where we have more free time than we used to and we’ve been spending it very well.  While being around younger people keeps you young there’s something about all this stuff changing that keeps it fresh and keeps the campus (and me) alive.

Editing documents

I’ve said this before, but I’m not a great writer.  I’ve been told I write like I talk: too casually.  I’m fine with this because I feel the ultimate point in writing is to convey a message and (I hope) no one is confused by my writing.  Last year I realized I needed more help and I didn’t have the patience to wait for a physical person to do fine edits.  I still send it out for comments about readability and content, but passive voice, participles, commas, typos, etc. are not my specialty.  So last year someone recommended Grammarly and my school happens to have a site-wide premium subscription.  The online interface is simply wonderful with a little to be wanted with the Office plug-ins.  But I’ve noticed that my documents are coming out easier to read.  Even my collaborators have mentioned it.  This begs a question: have I always been terrible and they never said anything?  I don’t like to be handled with kid-gloves.  Just give me the truth and I’ll try to get better.

My previous editor has also mentioned that my documents are far easier to edit lately and I mentioned Grammarly.  It won’t put her out of business since computers are only so good for now, but it’s saving my budget about 10% on editing cost.  That should add up over time, though I’ve vowed to write fewer grants to get things under control so just that would save on editing time.  I’ve now asked all my students to go through this editing software and I’m curious how much better their documents will read.  English wasn’t my first language, and for the most part, they write like English wasn’t their first language, as well.

One last thing I like: the statistics and scores.  Grammarly ‘grades’ the documents and gives you weekly scores.  I’m apparently very bad with commas:

  1. Missing comma after introductory phrase               76 alerts
  2. Missing article                                                                 40 alerts
  3. Missing comma in compound sentence                     21 alerts


Didn’t mean for this to sound like an ad.  But I’m impressed with even the free version.  I don’t think I would ever pay for the premium version, but if you can get it at no cost and you write a lot, and you suck at writing, then I recommend it.

Grants grants grants!!!!!

With the semester having started the research has taken a dip.  Luckily my last grant from all the summer work has been submitted.  This was absolutely crazy, and I don’t think I’m going to make this kind of push again.  I feel I have enough to submit for tenure, and I don’t want to fall into a rut after/if-I-get tenure, but some R&R is needed.  I have to leave tonight for a meeting with my old employer about the status of some research, but this weekend will be a ‘no-work’ weekend.  After a while all of these grants started to blend together and I was mixing up aims at a very high rate.  My students even had to keep me on track, which is not good at all.  But one of them did come up with an interesting idea in all this preliminary data collection we were doing.  So that will go into a fellowship app for her.  I don’t want to do grants until next year so now becomes the time for publications publications publications.

I threw a party this past Labor Day at my house.  The students were over and we had a grand time.  We played some Switch (if you haven’t played Overcooked yet, you should).  I cooked a bunch of food and had a hefty amount of beer.  My SO finally got to meet my students and played some Cards Against Humanity with them.  It was grand and they deserved it.  This will definitely be a thing we do after every semester.  The only downside is that I beat them so bad in Mario Kart that they won’t play against me anymore.