Thursday, January 10, 2008

Email, Sent and Received (Finally)

To: Reed Cartwright, Editor of Open Lab 2007.

"Honestly - it's wonderful. Congratulations to you, Bora and the judges on a job very well done."

In the interest of honesty, I didn't know if I'd ever read the entire anthology. There are precious few science blogs on my list of regular reads and I tend to think of science as work. It's good work and I enjoy it, but when given free time, I'd rather read more personal journals. Yet I decided to make the effort this morning and found myself leaning back comfortably in my chair as I read page and page of beautifully written and very well organized text.

I'm enjoying it immensely. There's something about reading entries written by people who are genuinely passionate about their topics. I also find the book reminds me of the Grand Ole Opry. In the best possible way, of course. Here's the thing. I do not consider myself to be a huge country music fan. But when my parents wanted to see the show one year as we were traveling through Tennessee, I went along and found it quite entertaining. If you like a particular performer, the song or two that he sings will be enough to encourage you to find more. Conversely, if you despise someone's music, the selection is short enough that you can suffer through it until someone new appears. Plus, even when I wasn't riveted by a specific piece of music, there were people in the audience who loved it, so I felt the entire program was worthwhile.

I'll say more when the book becomes available, but I wanted to make a note that after seeing it, I'm truly proud to be included. And now I know fascinating things about several kinds of animals and finally figured out that ID must be Intelligent Design! (I read the Biology and Life Sciences section this evening.)

From: Director, University of Faculty Job I Want

As a next step we would like to obtain letters of recommendation. Would you please ask at least three people who know your work well to forward letters to me? Email followed by hardcopy would be fine.
I thought I'd get a firm rejection from them. Then I didn't hear anything for nearly a month and wondered if they were really busy or if they were actually considering my application and visit because I did well. Moving to the recommendations stage is much farther than I thought we'd go so I'm thrilled.

Well, I actually feel kind of sick. I don't feel like this is a sure thing by any stretch and the longer I wait, the more I hope and start to picture myself there and it's going to hurt even more should they opt out eventually. But I comfort myself with the thought that if we make it far enough and they hear enough good things, perhaps we can talk about a short, transitory post-doc or a scientist position if they go another way for the tenure-track faculty slot.

I asked 5 people for letters - Boss, Advisor, Quiet Mentor, Dr. Icing and Carrie.

From: Supreme Polar Bear, after receiving my email last night that was a bit more demanding than those I often send.

I will provide experimental time, but have concerns about your goals. Did you get my email last week? I'd be happier if you could explain your initial results before moving forward.
I wrote a very polite response that tried to address his concerns. May I vent for a moment though? Thank you.

  1. Liars go to Hell, you know. He didn't send an email last week any more than I sprouted wings and soared above campus. It adds insult to injury when you ignore me then pretend I ignored you.
  2. I summarized his email, but he expounded on the fact that it was obvious that I'd get whatever experimental time I needed. Given that it has been the hardest part of my postdoctoral experience to get access to the equipment, I found that insulting too.
  3. When I ask for experimental time because I don't know how to explain our results, then list potential explanations, then list ways we could have explained them but didn't work out, why did he ask for said explanation before granting my needs? I need the time to attempt an explanation of greater quality than that which I offered him. Twice.
  4. I did contact one additional person for support since I don't know what else to do to make SPB happier. I suppose when I asked for a favor, his happiness became important to me. But this is seriously sucky and hard.
VIMD also replied to my email and said we could work to finish the analysis next week. I'll pester Boss about the paper again tomorrow and pray he has it read. If so, it would appear that the phase of people ignoring me has passed. And given that the slow step of my data processing is - after several weeks - finished, I should be much busier in the coming days.


Anonymous said...

congrats on getting to the next round with the job. i hope things go the way you want them to!

Anonymous said...

Isn't it a possibility that he forgot to send something he meant to? Or that he sent something and it was eaten by an email monster? You're not being very charitable with "Liars go to hell."

post-doc said...

Thank you!

Possible? Sure. Probable that it's happened each time I've sent him email, that he won't resend said message and didn't include it in his initial response? Not at all. I'm going to stay uncharitable with this one.

Anonymous said...

Seems pretty Christian to me.

Jane said...

Congrats on the faculty job thing! Keeping my fingers crossed for you.

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