In honor of procrastination while writing my fourth grant since the end of December, here's a piecewise coherent post:
1) I consider myself a pretty decent teacher; my evaluations are uniformly above the department average. This semester, however, I have achieved the unthinkable: my fall student evaluations for a large sophomore/junior class are higher (not by much, but still) than those for my beloved advanced graduate class! Evaluation inversion?
2) A student of mine, who graduated a little while ago, has been with me on a short-term part-time postdoc while looking for jobs in industry. He's interviewed at several places, without much luck. Part of it is his personality (he can come across as a bit of a jerk at times) but part is that really, at these industry interviews, all sorts of questions come up. For instance, he's an excellent simulation person and knows the physics behind what he does very well. He's interviewing with this company over the phone, for supposedly a simulation position, and in one layer of the interview he talks to this person about all these these experimental techniques "How would you measure this or that?" Some of these questions he could answer based on our close work with experimental colleagues, but some he couldn't. This makes me wonder how successful any of us faculty would be in landing these real-world jobs, if you getting a job can really depend on you answering questions about just about anything. What we are used to praising above all else -- excellence in our chosen subfield -- means squat.
Another former student of mine reported that most places where he had interviewed seemed to look for someone with experience in a company, and it's obviously hard to gain experience when you are inexperienced if everyone already wants experienced!
3) PlS has a post on how he's becoming a workaholic through no intent of his own. It's easy, really easy. And very dangerous. Turns you into this and this -- a whiny, burnt-out, even if tenured, mess. Advice: drop all that can be dropped, and then some. Do whatever you need to do to protect your passion for your work. Protect it before you lose it; because once you lose it, it's really hard to get it back...
4) To wrap this up on a postive note: my three-year old, who currently has a cold, is really into putting saline nose drops into his nose all by himself. All the time. Yesterday, he went to his room, found the nose drops on a shelf some 5.5 ft away from the floor, and, unable to reach them, decided to use his blanket to knock the drops over. My husband and I were downstairs and were floored to see him come down proudly squirting the drops into his nose, and even more so by his matter-of-fact account of how he managed to get them down. That is one cool little kid.