Monday, July 25, 2011

Thank you New York

On Sunday, New York state started performing gay marriages. New York is the most populous state of the union to have gay marriage, not just a Civil Union. Its very cool. I'm very excited. Here are some interviews from activists and couples from the day.

A minor point that caught my attention, listening to the news coverage: I really like the line being used at the end of marriage ceremonies by Mayor Bloomberg.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg: "And now for the moment that you have all been waiting for. Do you, John, solemnly declare that you take Jonathan to be your spouse? Do you promise to love, cherish and keep him for as long as you both shall live?"

John Feinblatt, groom: "I do."

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg: "By the powers vested in me by the state of New York, I pronounce you both married."

Read that again. "Pronounce you both married." The equality of that statement soothes my nerves. Nothing like starting out the state recognition of one's relationship symbolically on equal footing.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Financial issues in 2-body problems

Mathgirl commented
As for the argument, "you have two incomes, use them to buy time", well, it depends on the context.

If the two people in the couple live appart, this is not so realistic, because these two people have to maintain two households and commute to see each other from time to time. In fact, maybe you can add some comments to how you do it, I never done the long distance since after Toddler was born.

If everybody lives under the same roof, this is more possible, but still depends. In Canada professor salaries are low and pay a lot of taxes, so that doesn't apply to us: we can afford the regular daycare, but we can't afford a nanny, for instance.
I think the argument about having a lot of income in a dual academic couple primarily applies to both adults living in the same household. I should have specified. But there are a few words to be said about a 2 (+ epsilon) body problem.

However, I've seen couples make cross country commuting work on dual graduate student salaries (albeit without a child.) What they have sacrificed is having anything in terms of savings. Also, the particular people in mind all worked outside of academia for several years before entering graduate school, so they started eating into their savings from that period of their lives.

Some things I've learned about long distance relationship finances:

1) Buy tickets long in advance. I've been bitten in the pocketbook because I've tried to buy tickets for the entire term starting at the beginning of the term. All but the last few weeks of the term were more expensive than they had to be if I had been on the ball. Frequent flier programs, credit cards that earn miles, AAA discounts all help.

2) Live within your graduate student means. Epsilon was born a few months after I stopped being a graduate student. Therefore, we never got out of the habit of living like graduate students. All of the extra money from first my salary, and then my partner's has gone either into childcare, savings, commuting or a second rent.

3) All time saving devices are not created equal. For instance, there are different types of daycare that come at different prices. Nannies and large daycare centers that care for dozens of children at several different age groups tend to be more expensive than day cares run out of people's homes. Depending on what you want and need out of day care, the latter may be sufficient. We are saving about $900/mo by choosing the latter option.

Similarly, buying time on food prep does not have to mean eating out all the time, which breaks both my fiscal and caloric budget. Take a second look at the deli section and frozen foods section of your local grocery stores for partially prepared foods. We found, on warm days that we could combine Epsilon's walk (back when he still enjoyed going for a stroll in a stroller) with a run to the local grocery store for a loaf of fresh bread and soup, cheese, fruit and tomatoes. This was a much more enjoyable dinner to eat on the lawn than going out to the local upscale burger joint. Sometimes there are small catering businesses that have meal plans, where they deliver X meals/week, delivered to your house.

In January, when our 2-body problem gets bad again, I'm planning on hiring someone to come by the house once a week for a few hours to clean. As long as I can control the amount of mess that Epsilon and I make, we can get by with just a few hours a week. Figure out where the steep changes in the price points are, and see if you can work within those ranges.

4) Utilize your housing space. If you are about to move, or if you have an extra room that is under utilized, consider rearranging space in your house to have a house mate. When we moved to this job, we got a 2 bedroom house, with the knowledge that Epsilon would probably want his own bedroom by the time we had to move again. In the mean while, we rented the spare room out to an acquaintance with the agreement that part of her rent would be paid in childcare. This solved the problem of not having outside the home child care for Epsilon during the first several months of his life. After she moved out, and while Epsilon was living with my partner, we rented the spare room out as a temporary sublet. This was also a solution to my unease of leaving the house completely empty for weeks at a time when I was away. If you are in an urban area, Craigslist is a great resource for finding matches.

5) Be creative. Epsilon is a very early riser. At one point, I paid the aforementioned house mate to come by and take him in the mornings so I could sleep in until the sun had risen.

The ironic fact about our budgeting is that the biggest crunches we've felt the for paying our credit cards has been when our respective universities budget offices haven't refunded us for our conference travel. It's really hard to hold a buffer of a few thousand dollars in the bank account for several months because the university is swamped with reimbursement.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

When a man talks about work family balance: What they perceived

This is the third part in a story about my partner being asked to give a talk about work family balance at a summer school he was helping to organize. For the first 2 parts, see here and here.

The demographics of my partner's audience was completely male, even though the conference attendees were about 1/3 female, only males came to his talk. Some of them had children. Some of them had 2 body problems. Some of them were single but hoped that this would be an issue that would affect them in the future.

Given this audience, my partner took the opportunity to emphasize the point that if the goal is to further both careers, then one needs to take into account the difference in perception that our colleagues put on a male taking care of a child versus a female. Thus, it probably makes sense for the male to do
more than half of the child care, especially things which require missing work.

The point that faced the most resistance, to his surprise, was the statement that "you will have a lot of money in a dual academic household. Use that money to buy time when you are in a tough 2-body problem, or have a newborn." For some reason, the meme of the "poor academic" was stronger than any comparison to household income percentiles in the US.

The demographics of his audience concerned him. Did women not feel comfortable coming to the talk? In our experience, men our generation in dual academic situations gripe about the difficulties as much as women do, but the discussion tends to take place in more gendered settings. This may be driven by the fact that women don't want to expose this part of their life in front of (possibly senior) men. Or it may be driven by something else.

Did the women feel like a male speaker may not have as much to offer on advice as a female speaker does? I know that I would be biased against going to hear a male speaker on this issue because of a fear of inexperience or latent sexism in the talk.

Given the relatively small sample size, did the talk happen to be more irrelevant for the female attendees than the males?

It turned out that the first case was true for at least two women, who privately sought my partner out for questioning later.

On the whole, the experience was enlightening for my partner, and probably for the audience. From where I stand, it raises to mind the question of the need for women's spaces in academia. It would be great if men could come to "women's events" to get the great advice given there on career advancement, asking for letters of recommendation, grant writing, etc. But it only takes one person denying the existence of the gendered problems that are also discussed at these forums to turn it into a hostile environment. I've seen successful attempts at discussing gender issues to a general audience in non-academic settings, but those have usually involved a trained mediator running the discussion. I don't trust any of my untrained colleagues to be able to undertake such a task. On the other hand, historically, in other arenas, having a "minority only" space has run the risk of further marginalizing the issues that the minority only group is trying to address. I don't know how to proceed.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

When a man talks about work/family balance: What he said

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my partner being given a opportunity to address a group of young academics in his field about work family balance.

I thought it was a novel idea that a summer school would have a session on such a topic at all, and even more so that they would choose a male to address the audience on what is generally relegated to an issue that concerns female academics. I later learned that the main reason for choosing a male was because none of the female organizers currently had two-body problems or children to balance in their careers.

The choice of a male to deliver this hour long session has an impact on who will attend, what can be said, and how it will be received. This post is about what my partner said. Tomorrow's post will be on how the session was perceived (at least, as far as he could read the tea leaves.)

Here's what he had to say

The following is a summary of what I had prepared to say (the makeup of the audience took me some distance from what I had planned). The point of the planned part was to get conversation started. I prefaced the talk with the statement that it is primarily aimed at people in dual academic couples, though probably not exclusively useful to such.

I started with two-body problem advice.
1. Compromise, but not too much - the long term career costs of starting at a lower ranked school can be very large.
2. Think very carefully before planning to finish your dissertation in the city of partner's job - unlesss things are really well set up, it can go disastrously wrong.
3. Be ready to spend several consecutive years on the market looking for 2 positions at the same place (or at least places in the same city).

Then came lots of talk about kids. Again nothing which should be particularly surprising.
1. They take lots and lots of time (well more than a one person-year clock extension).
2. A dual academic incomes is a lot of money on any realistic scale and you can buy time in many ways.
3. Think about what is important and communicate it well ahead of time.
4. Neither of you has been a parent before (I assume) so neither has any more knowledge or expertise on the topic.
5. Remember that small choices can add up, it is easy to accidentally let one career become secondary unless actively monitoring the situation.

Finally, think about gender perceptions in what you do, since the same behavior can be seen as being a good dad or being a mom with the wrong priorities.
1. It is far safer for me to talk about family at a conference over drinks with a bunch of men than it would be for BD to do so.
2. As far as I can tell, the career related perception costs of my saying I can't do something for family related reasons are far smaller than those BD faces. This is magnified if one of us has to single parent for a period.
3. If the goal is two academic careers it might make sense to try to equate career costs, which leave the male in the (assumed heterosexual) couple doing the majority of the child rearing. This obviously isn't the only criterion to optimize over, but it probably deserves consideration.

When I first posted about the fact that he had this opportunity, I asked you, dear readers, for ideas of what he should talk about. I got a few responses, for which, we are grateful. Now I ask, is there anything you wish he would have said, or not said, or planned to have said differently?

Monday, July 18, 2011


The following is inspired by this post by I Blame the Patriarchy.

Unlike the discussion on the post, I make no claims as to all women being victims, and all men being oppressors. In fact, in the following story I have no desire to blame anyone, or more accurately, I have a desire to place blame on both parties (this concerns one man).

Both he and I were well aware of the risks of sex, and were both trying to be conscious of the messages we grew up with. Different messages tailored for our different 23rd chromosomes. And both of us tried and failed to overcome those messages.

Do the messages place one party at an advantage over the other? Yes. Does it hurt the billions of people who do not have the privilege or support to tackle this inequity? Yes. Does this make the majority of hetero sex rape? No. Is it reason for pause and to examine the meaning of consent? Yes. Can this new ideal of consent from equal positions be legislated or even morally mandated? I don't see a way to do so without treading on a host of other hard fought for rights.
At the end of the day, this has to be a personal journey for both parties to respect themselves and each other in a relationship. I realize that from an activist perspective, that is a cop-out stance. But I don't see another way.


To every time I gave in a little
Because the condom was out of reach
Or my time of month was deemed safe.

To the discussion about using protection
In polyamorous love-making
That concluded in the negative,
Followed by the decision to doff my earings
Because they might poke someone.

I drink to your memory.

A few bits of entertaining science

I'll have some real content in a bit, once I catch my breath from these last few weeks.

In the mean time, here's an article that caught my intention recently, mostly because of the abstract and title:

"The Number of Same-Sex Marriages in a Perfectly Bisexual Population is Asymptotically Normal"

And while I'm on the topic of papers that are probably saying something important, but are using a silly model to make the point, see this one on vampires from a few years back.

"Macroeconomic Policy and the Optimal Destruction of Vampires"

And finally, brought to my attention from Funk Dr. X, a song about human sexuality. I'm not sure what I think of it on either the scientific or feminist axes, but it's fun.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


Torchwood is a spinoff off of the Dr. Who science fiction series, being aired by the BBC, CBC, and various other stations around the world. It recently started a new 10 show mini-series.

If you've never seen Dr. Who, it is a science fiction show that has aired at various points over the last 5 decades about a wandering time traveler, his (mostly human) companions and their adventures. The science is humorously bad (but it doesn't take itself seriously), but the thing about Dr. Who that distinguishes it from other science fiction is the Doctor's strong pacifist streak. So faced with palace coups, villanous mad scientists or everly enthusiastic British military outfits, the Doctor often comes up with clever ways of outsmarting them.

Torchwood follows the adventures of Captain Jack Harkness*, a gender and species blind Don Juan, who once traveled with the Doctor. Like the Doctor, Captain Jack is virtually invincible. Unlike the Doctor, he would rather eradicate than negotiate with any alien menace. While the adventures of Dr. Who mainly take place in London, the first several seasons of Torchwood took place in Cardiff. Apparently this itself is a joke, as Cardiff seems to have a reputation of being boring. Why would aliens invade there?

The first 2 season's of Torchwood had little to say for themselves except this episode, and the fact that Captain Jack's universal lust, which is far greater than anything either captain of either Enterprise could acheive, often makes the show sweetly homo-erotic.

The third season, a 5 show mini-series, is brilliant.

This season starts with Captain Jack showing signs of mortality, while everyone else on earth seems to be invincible. There is a new plot twist to bring the action to the US. The sexual undercurrent of the rest of the series is toned down/missing, at least so far. But there are some great scenes, such as a 6 month old wearing earmuffs grinning from ear to ear in her mother's arms as Mum tries to shoot down a helicopter. Good fun. I look forward to the rest of the series.

*If you are interested in Dr. Who, Netflix has many of the episodes streaming. And Captain Jack first appears in the series in what might be the best episode produced in the last 7 years.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Single parent cooking lessons

I'm not complaining. Yet. I only have Epsilon alone for a week, and there are no classes to teach. Come January, when I'll be teaching and single parenting for a quarter, I'll complain. But that's later.

I just discovered the wonders of pre-chopped vegetables. Go ahead, roll your eyes.

Up until now, my partner and I have sat at the extremes for what we prepare for dinner. We both enjoy the act of cooking and the ritual of going to the farmer's market each week, and once upon a time, canning. So when things are going well, its fresh (or home canned) ingredients, as much as possible. Or, if there are quals to be taken or exams to be graded, or presentations around the corner, or a bad cold, we flip to the other extreme and it's canned soup, bad take out and ramen.

Since Epsilon, it feels like there have been more tough days than not, and we really want to limit his exposure to ramen. When we have the luxury of cooking, its been mostly from scratch still. Needless to say, that up until now, cooking has occurred only when both parents are present. When my partner is single parenting, we've had the godsend of my mother preparing meals for the two of them. When I've had to single parent, we've made meals and frozen them. I'm considering these 7 days a dress rehearsal for January. So how to solve the problem of putting decent food on the table for a toddler?

Here are some recent discoveries:
  1. Pre-chopped vegetables and proteins are amazing for this purpose, and the wonders of modern packaging means that the cooked texture isn't ruined too much.
  2. Epsilon loves to cook. (Don't tell his grandparents, they'll kill me for letting him near the stove.) But when I ask him what he wants for breakfast, it's "Oaty* cook! Milk Cook!" How can I refuse? Especially when having him in the kitchen means I don't have to worry about him playing in the shared driveway?
  3. Epsilon likes cranberries. When helping with the salad, all the other ingredients went in the bowl. The cranberries went in his mouth.
If anyone has any suggestions of foods high in taste and nutrition, but within a toddler's attention span in the kitchen, please let me know. I'm collecting recipes. My usual meal preparation algorithm has become out of date, and I'm scrabbling for ideas of what to do.

* oaty := oatmeal

And we're back!

The last weekend has been full of family time. Let me ramp back up to speed with a few vignette's.

1) The entire family is meeting my brother's new partner, P. Epsilon is showing off with all the new words he speaks (mostly in Minority Language). P. is showing off by asking the meaning of each word, and then attempting to dissect the etymology. The rest of us are eating breakfast.

2) My brother walks in the door to find Epsilon asleep on my stomach, my partner splayed out on the living room floor, and myself asleep with an exposed nipple on the couch. He jumps to the obvious conclusion and tells my mother that he thinks there may have been a gas leak in the house.

3) How do you prevent a toddler from running off the trail into the forest in chase of a spider that just walked across the path?

4) Airplanes in turbulence : Toddler = Roller coaster : Teenager
Forget crying due to pressure changes during take off and landing. I have never seen such smiles.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Away message

We are in the process of wrapping up our current 2 + epsilon body problem for the calendar year. This means saying goodbye to parents/inlaws/grandparents, packing, putting Epsilon on a plane for 5 hours, a short bout of single parenting on my end, all in the middle of sleep training him again.

My blogging will be a bit spotty until I can resurface from this.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Shouldn't have gone there

There are some places in my history that I do not visit for reasons of my sanity. I went there last night, and I'm too exhausted now to think of anything else worth blogging about. The time with my family this weekend will do me good.

Do they haunt my dreams?

The poems of Suman,
The 10 ft by 10 ft squares of concrete,
the foundation for a family home.
Knowing those are the better abodes.

Taking my sister-in-law to an eviction site
to be fed chicken gristle, watching her realize
she's been given the better portions
according to the rules of hospitality.

And the faces of the girls I cannot write down:
trafficked or attempting suicide,
raped or running away.

Do they haunt my dreams?

The empowered woman - a professor -
who has to do all the child care and housework
though her husband earns less?

The white liberal raped in the southern US
by a black man. Should she bring charges?

The high school friend who runs away from home,
but really from the ghost of her mother's boyfriend,
the child molester.

Do they haunt my dreams?

For pity's sake! I'm a scientist now.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Different enemies, same feminist

There's been a lot of talk recently about our post feminist world. See Skepchick, Isis , Emily Finke and others.

The crucial controversial comment is the following, made by Richard Dawkins
Dear Muslima

Stop whining, will you. Yes, yes, I know you had your genitals mutilated with a razor blade, and . . . yawn . . . don’t tell me yet again, I know you aren’t allowed to drive a car, and you can’t leave the house without a male relative, and your husband is allowed to beat you, and you’ll be stoned to death if you commit adultery. But stop whining, will you. Think of the suffering your poor American sisters have to put up with.

Only this week I heard of one, she calls herself Skep”chick”, and do you know what happened to her? A man in a hotel elevator invited her back to his room for coffee. I am not exaggerating. He really did. He invited her back to his room for coffee. Of course she said no, and of course he didn’t lay a finger on her, but even so . . .

And you, Muslima, think you have misogyny to complain about! For goodness sake grow up, or at least grow a thicker skin.


I hesitate to write this post. I'm afraid of offending women in the the two worlds I've lived in instead of being a bridge between the two experiences.

I spent > 2 years working with women like the stereotyped Muslima addressed by Mr. Dawkins. This week I read a story about a single mother in the city I used to work in who lived in such poverty that she would take home free samples of cough syrup from the local doctor's offices to flavor the staple starch she served her kids. She could afford no other ingredients other than this staple to feed them. Stories like this make me want to tear my heart out and give up on life.

I've lived the last several years in the US, where I've met a woman who've been propositioned by the man she was asking for a post doc position. Her advisor then tells her to calm down, "it's not as if she'd been raped." But if that's the standard, I have numerous family members and friends in this country who have been raped. If non-date rape is the only standard of "bad enough" you will accept, I can supply those as well. Not to mention having to call cops on abusive boyfriends of friends, being followed in cars while out walking at night with girlfriends. And don't even get me started on abortion. Before living for 2 years in a third world country, my experiences here made me despair about what progress feminism had made over the last several decades.

We have made progress. My struggle as a woman is not as hard as my mother's was. And I thank every woman who has fought and bled and died before me for this. But that does not mean that where we live now is a "post-feminist" world. My answer to Mr. Dawkins is that if he thinks that women in the developed world are not suffering violence like women in other parts of the world are, he has the wrong facts, and hasn't been reading the local newspapers. I can't, and won't argue with someone who has the wrong facts.

The irony of it all may be that I've had an easier time explaining to people in my parent's homeland that women are still oppressed in the west than to people in my homeland.

I started my work with the women's movement in my parent's homeland on the week that a major newspaper published an editorial about a new Barbie doll just released in the US. My colleagues wanted to know if women's movement in the US had been reduced to such triviality as arguing about the appropriateness of girl's dolls. I explained to them about the messages these dolls taught girls, that "math is hard, lets go shopping", and how this was the same issue as families in that country not wanting to educate their girl children. The message stuck.

The avatar of the violence and the brainwashing is different in the developing vs. the developed world. The extent is lower in the west, but only because my predecessors have worked so hard. And if we choose to lie back in comfort, pretending that they have won the battle for us, then we will do a great disservice to both the women in this country, and to those of the developing world. We will also make sure that our daughters will face a life harder than what our mothers faced.

Scientific open mic

Ms MSE posted a while ago about about how to get experience speaking in public. My Post doc supervisor has set up a summer seminar where her myriad of underlings can present on what they are thinking about each week. It's done very informally, and completely coincidentally, one of the graduate students started calling it an open mic. In fact, after one person has presented, there is the standard awkward moment that many open mics have where everyone looks at each other trying to figure out who will go next.

I really like the format. I've never been part of a large lab that has group meetings. I wonder if this is what they feel like (if run well). There's some heckling, but a lot of good questions and answers and suggestions of directions to pursue. I think my presentation skills would have benefited greatly if I'd had the opportunity to talk about my work like this.

The amazing thing is, that in my field, it seems to be understood that it is impossible for someone who is not in your specific subfield to understand what your research is. This is the main reason I've been given for not having a broad seminar like this. The seminar attendees in this case have a very broad set of interests, that could easily be the set of interests shared by the students of a group of faculty who generally work in the same area. Yet there is good communication among students and insightful questions asked.

I'm encouraging my summer students to attend. I think I will encourage them to talk as well. I think, if I ever land a TT position, I will try to implement something like this with the students of other professors that I work closely with.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

One liners

A friend of a friend of a ... friend of mine has an infant, and is being hassled by her colleagues to become a stay at home mom. She happens to live in a country with strong social insurance program that will allow her to maintain her income for a while as she cares for her child. Sounds great from the point of view of the American system of 12 weeks unpaid, but she doesn't want to be a stay at home mom.

So I'm trying to come up with some one-liners for her situation at various levels of snark. Other contributions welcome.

Why don't you stop working to stay at home with your baby?

I enjoy working.

I'd be bored at home.

If I stopped working here, I'd miss you too much.

But then you'd miss me. ... Oh, you'd just replace me? All the more reason to stay!

I've tried having chats with my infant over lunch, and his conversations skills just aren't as scintillating as yours are.

Hey, thanks for looking out for me at this time. You're such a good friend. Can I tell you a secret? I actually don't like my baby. He smells funny.

You'd make more on social welfare as you make now. Why are you still working?

I enjoy working.

I've been listening to [insert right wing anti-welfare politician] recently, and I think I've developed an allergy to checks from the government.

And what type of example would I be setting for my child if I were to do something just because it would be more lucrative in the short term!?

It is better for the baby to be with his mother.

I enjoy working.

It is better for the child to be with a mother who has a job and some independence.

Actually, I think my kid likes [insert child care provider's name] better.

It's better for a colleague to have considerate co-workers... your point?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Undergrad research

I've been thinking about my experience working with undergraduates today, and then PLS posted about the same topic. The following is my response to his post, plus some further thoughts.

I advertised for undergraduates in my sophomore level class and at the "Women in my field" meeting. This got me two undergraduates interested, which was more than I was expecting.

I've always taken the joke about passing the grunt work one encounters down to the person on the rung below you a bit seriously. So I've always kept an eye out for possible spin off projects that require a lot of grunt work and may not be worth my time and interest at the moment. These are easily given to undergrads, and as confounding says, it allows failure to be an option. If I'm not terribly interested, then it is okay for the undergraduate to fail, or flake.

I'm fortunate that my university strongly encourages students to enter research early (as soon as their first summer). I also went to a similar institution. This has it's advantages and disadvantages. The research experience is great for the students. That's beyond debate I believe. Since I'm throwing undergrads problems that are not immediate priority to me, any significant progress that the student makes will move a project from the "Probably won't work on" bin to the "Should look at seriously" bin. It is always good to have a mechanism working in that direction. By living in a culture of summer research, even young students have an idea of what a summer research experience can and/or should be. Even if the students are not the most self motivated, they have an idea of what to expect. As a result, I don't have to teach the difference between course work and research.

I was one of those students who spent each of my summers in a different lab as an undergraduate. I was very interested in the work I was doing each summer, and had every intention of continuing, but then as the school year came around, I'd get swept up by coursework and other activities, and I could never give the same type of time to my summer job. Perhaps if there was a means at my undergrad institution to continue working in the lab for more than just general credit, I would have reorganized my priorities.

Karma being what it is, I now have a student working on a project that could turn into something real, but certainly not by the end of the summer. The question is, how do I keep her? My chances of having a student like this would be much smaller if I wasn't at a school where many students participate in summer research. Also, is it fair for me to expect her to stick around when she could benefit from working with different professors in different fields. She is torn in her future academic goals, and now is the time for her to sample what the different fields she is considering looks like. Since there are lots of faculty offering these opportunities, if I were an objective advisor, I may tell her to move on next summer. I certainly gained by working in different labs.

Finally, what I'm learning is that undergraduates need to learn how to do research. This sounds self evident, but I'm learning that there is more to research than just being self motivated, knowing the material, and being able to do literature search. I'm finding myself trying to teach how form hypothesis to explore. My undergraduate is very good at understanding a task, finding relevant resources, and returning with a set of results. At which point I come up with a new set of things to try, many of which are educated guesses. It takes time for her to understand why I think these may be the right thing to do, and it is hard for her to take skill that she learned in class, and apply them to a completely different situation. I know I used to be like this once upon a time. But it's strange for me to see it from this angle.

On a related note, I'm learning how difficult it is not to do the non-gruntwork parts of the problem for her. Anything that requires thinking (as opposed to doing) I can think faster than she can. It's taking a lot of self restraint to keep from running her project in the back of my mind on the idle cycles I have while doing dishes.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Eggmus: thunder

Epsilon likes loud noises.


When there are no cars outside our window, he'll provide his own noises.

"Bus boom!"

Bang go the toy cars.

Its been thunder storming a lot recently.

"Bus! Bus boom!"

I've explained to him that the clouds in the sky are banging into each other causing the noises he's hearing.

"Cloud boom! Cloud boom!"

It is truly adorable to see him wake up on cloudy mornings, look out the window and give a hopeful "cloud boom?"

I feel a bit guilty about the misinformation I am perpetrating, but I can't figure out a way to explain vacuum and static electricity to a toddler.