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The next leg of the adventure

So, life in Postdoc-Limbo is going to continue for another year and a half, at least. I just got my official offer letter from UC Berkeley, so I can make the announcement more public. I'm extremely excited to be working with a top-notch evolutionary physiologist there, on a project that will continue from the work I've been doing with these wing-dimorphic crickets. It looks like I'll be moving out there in October.

The thing is, to some extent, California is wasted on me. I'm a Pacific Northwest girl. At least it's not permanent. I am also coming to grips with what it's like to live as a postdoc. I'm still learning new things, which is great, even if the life-in-limbo aspect absolutely SUCKS.

But I should give you something science-themed to ogle, in addition to this announcement.

Here's a snapshot of what I've been working on, recently:
Tracking the metabolic fate of glycine: trapping cricket carbon dioxide

I've written out a more detailed description of the current research within this photo album - click through to see that and several other photos.

Edit: This photo sends you to my photostream, not the album, arg. The album is here, with my most recent work featured towards the very end.


( 26 remarks — Remark )
Mar. 30th, 2015 11:00 pm (UTC)
The East bay is pretty awesome. My sister loved living in Oakland when she was at Mills. She didn't have a car but she got around pretty well with public transport. Plus my Dad's family is from Oakland. So there is that home feeling about the place.
I have always been impressed with the recycling standards there.
Mar. 31st, 2015 01:51 am (UTC)
I've been out to visit a number of times, mostly while my brother was going to grad school there, so I have maybe a few too many connections there, heh. It's definitely a bike and ped-friendly place, which is great. I really think Seattle's done a great job over the past couple of years in catching up with the Bay Area with regards to recycling standards.

And the cool thing is, I can live a pretty low-waste life already in Lincoln, thanks to having good bulk foods options close at hand.

I think I am going to really enjoy being back in a city with good cultural diversity.
Mar. 30th, 2015 11:57 pm (UTC)
Wow!! Congrats!!! Speaks highly of you and your work. Can't wait to visit!!!

As you know I lived in NorCal for seven years, two of which were in Oakland. I have a LOT of thoughts and suggestions. Let's talk soon.

Mar. 31st, 2015 01:47 am (UTC)
My sister has been living in El Cerrito for the last couple of years, so one of my early plans is to impose on her hospitality for a while.

I have this feeling that distractions abound there, but I also have this feeling that I am going to need to retain the focus and work ethic I've been working on developing while here in Lincoln...so, it's going to be an interesting time.

I think I should have time to talk this weekend, if you're free...'twould be good indeed to catch up on a number of different fronts.
Mar. 31st, 2015 04:37 pm (UTC)
Yep, I am totally around. We'll be at Passover Seder Saturday night from 4pm (eastern time) onward but I'm around the rest of the weekend.

Let's connect!
Mar. 31st, 2015 01:27 am (UTC)
FWIW I'm totally envious of you getting to live in Berkeley for a while.
Mar. 31st, 2015 01:48 am (UTC)
Just keep reminding yourself, "High cost of living. High cost of living."

The thing is, California's kind of wasted on me. I feel so meh about it. I'd rather be in Seattle or Portland! But I will try to make the most of the amazing work opportunity.
Mar. 31st, 2015 01:53 am (UTC)
I can see that. Were you in LA, though, the year-round cycling would be glorious.
(Okay, it is possible to ride in Portland between November and April, but it's not exactly the sort of thing I, at least, am excited about.)
Mar. 31st, 2015 08:15 am (UTC)
I did it for basically all but one month of Seattle's winter with only the documented levels of hating everything, but we also had the mildest winter in a hojillion years, so who knows if that's representative. I tend to get all "nope, sucks too bad" when it gets below the low forties, though. Can't breathe? No fun.
Mar. 31st, 2015 11:13 am (UTC)

It turns out that being able to breathe is rather important, eh? ;-)

I got bronchitis one winter during college in Boston, for related reasons, but realize that I am fortunate to not be up against the same kinds of limitations you experience. That said, I find the hot, dry, dusty, smoggy places to be worse than the cold for my lungs. Plus I overheat pretty easily.

Mar. 31st, 2015 08:14 pm (UTC)
Oh, dusty/smoggy sucks too. I can deal with heat fine, but not airborne irritants or cold. Or Deet. Deet floors me. This motivates me to try to pick unpopular trails when hiking. I'm fine on the descents and the flats, but trying to gain altitude when you can't breathe... I have ended up on my hands and knees trailside several times. Once (my hiking partners were both wearing Deet and I didn't know it) I actually got the black tunnel from lack of oxygen. Whoo. You know it's sad when the remnants of a hurricane roll through your area and you're happy because you can breathe again. Once we got pounding rain, I was fine.
Mar. 31st, 2015 11:09 am (UTC)

To some extent it would be glorious, if I didn't care about my lungs!!

With the proper gear, year-round riding and rowing are possible in places like Seattle, too. Seattle only occasionally gets so cold as to make things too dangerous. And I really like having at least a little bit of winter.

Mar. 31st, 2015 08:17 pm (UTC)
I was pretty astonished by maramaye's description of the required gear for winter rowing at the Pocock center. I completely felt like a kid from the sticks. "We didn't have any of that! We walked into the river and smashed the ice with our neoprene boots so we could get the shell in! We were too poor to afford a dock!" It makes sense for the different conditions here, but high-vis gear and technical fabrics seem like such a different universe from my rowing experience, heh.
Mar. 31st, 2015 08:58 pm (UTC)

I learned to row at Pocock, right when it opened (almost 20 years ago!), and in that era, I don't think we had any *requirements* for winter rowing, other than nautical and traffic pattern requirements, and specific lighting for rowing after dark. So I suspect this has come about as a result of incidents that have happened over the years, plus improved availability of a lot of safety gear, plus liability fears. I think they've established pretty good safety standards for when small boats can or cannot go out on the water.

Regarding technical fabrics, though - as someone who has spent a lot of time on PNW waterways, I can tell you that wool is still supreme. The high-vis stuff for rowing falls into the same category as the high-vis stuff for cycling. Maybe helpful, but not a substitute for being aware of one's surroundings, especially when the sun is in blinding positions.
Mar. 31st, 2015 09:35 pm (UTC)
Heh, yeah, we didn't have lights, wool, technical fabric, or high vis anything. (We were also rowing on a not very busy small river that fed into the Chesapeake. Most days we were the only moving vessels on it... there were anchored or docked sailboats, but at 6 AM they weren't going anywhere.) We showed up in Spandex and cotton (I would not discover technical fabrics for another 15 years or so) and sneakers. We had windbreakers for an outer layer and to look like we had something that matched when we raced, and by my junior year we'd all pitched in so we had matching tank tops as well. I described this to maramaye and she was *completely horrified*, heh.
Mar. 31st, 2015 08:13 am (UTC)
Congratulations! I've had the life-in-limbo thing too before... for me, I knew I was getting divorced and moving... sometime.... (Selling a house in 2009: hahahahaha fuck you nope ahahahahahah crying.) What are your long term strategic goals? Get a position in the Northwest somewhere? Bicycle all the way? [grin] Something else?
Mar. 31st, 2015 11:06 am (UTC)

Hmm, long-term strategic goals, ahahahaha.

Oh Academia. Jobs at Research-1 universities have gotten crazily competitive, and even more unrewarding in that it is currently extremely difficult to get any funding to do science (less than 5% success rate for proposals where 20% are fundable quality). So I have been straddling a couple of different options - applying for jobs at more teaching-focused institutions whenever they pop up in places that seem even remotely appealing (pretty much anywhere in the west), while continuing to stay afloat in the research world. I haven't gotten many nibbles from teaching places, though, potentially because I look too researchy to them, however.

My backup plan to all this is to move back to Seattle and live with my parents while looking for a job in the healthy biotech sector there.

And hopefully all of this highlights why I generally don't encourage students to pursue PhDs anymore. Sucks to say it, but this country has pulled the rug out from under its research enterprise.

Mar. 31st, 2015 08:28 pm (UTC)
Congratulations on the position! Seems likely we'll be close- I might end up living in Berkley
Mar. 31st, 2015 08:52 pm (UTC)
Holy cats, that would be wild and wonderful, in the midst of this whole insane period of turmoil. My younger sister will feed us vegetables and eggs from her gardens (your aunt as well, eh?).
Apr. 1st, 2015 05:27 am (UTC)
Hey, congratulations on the job! And let's get coffee when you get here! I live in Berkeley, right by the Ashby BART station. Are we FB friends yet? Here's me: https://www.facebook.com/tobin.fricke
Apr. 1st, 2015 01:58 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Just sent you a FB friend request. :-)

Given that you've recently gone through the whole Bay Area housing search rigamarole, I may have questions for you about strategies for finding a place to live there.
Apr. 1st, 2015 04:51 pm (UTC)

You pretty much have to be on the ground here to do the housing search, so first find something temporary, perhaps via Airbnb. That also gives you time to explore various neighborhoods.

Trawl Craigslist for good matches, schedule open houses, and show up early with your checkbook in hand. Good opportunities often get leased within an hour of the start of the Open House. The timeline is pretty fast - starting to look seriously 1 month ahead of time is probably fine. (Although you might want to start browsing Craigslist earlier just to get an idea of market rates and such.)

The best opportunities are often not on Craigslist, since everyone hates doing the Craigslist thing. Word-of-mouth is great, and there are a bunch of great Facebook groups where people post openings. I'll invite you to the ones I know about.

Apr. 1st, 2015 04:55 pm (UTC)
Expect to pay $1000 ± 200 per month for a bedroom. I'm paying $1500 for a very nice furnished place in Berkeley (actually $4500/mo total for an awesome four-bedroom house).
Apr. 1st, 2015 10:37 pm (UTC)
Hah, yeah, right now I pay less than that for a full 2-bedroom apartment for myself. Good to know what to expect. Thanks!
Apr. 2nd, 2015 03:04 am (UTC)
Yeah, I paid $300 for my half of a two-bedroom in Louisiana, and €400 for a nice one-bedroom in Germany. :-/
Apr. 2nd, 2015 02:07 pm (UTC)
For me, the cheap rent in Texas came at a VERY high social cost, though!

It's going to be interesting to have to stack my life up on top of itself again - I'm so comfortably spread out in the current apartment, but it's a luxury, really. Since this is a relatively short-term job (ahh, postdoc-hood!), I suspect I might wind up putting a lot of stuff into storage again. But I'd better keep working on downsizing in the meantime.
( 26 remarks — Remark )

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