thrisis crisis

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So I haven’t written anything for a while. Why is that? Well, that’s a good question. I started this blog thinking that I would put the effort in to write well thought out and researched articles about various academicey topics on a regular basis… but then most of the time when I actually FEEL like writing and no deadline is involved, it ends up being something of a more personal persuasion. And then I feel like writing on the Internet about my thoughts and feelings and life is really quite trite. So then I don’t write at all. What a vicious, self-defeating little cycle. Who do I imagine is judging me and caring that I decided to write a blog post about my day, or about struggles that I am facing as of late rather than something that is more like a mini-paper that I would have written for school?

So what compelled me to write something today? Honestly, this week is kind of bullshit: I am quasi-dating someone who lives far away, and his Internet is effed this week, so there will be no skyping until further notice; Bell decided that ‘unlimited texts’ actually meant something completely different, and I have an astronomical cell phone bill coming next month; I am so broke that I could scream; and I am having an early 30s crisis about my life and where I am going, and my career, and living situation and blah blah blah blah; also, the boxing gym that I recently joined is actually run by a crazy person, and so I sunk 300 dollars into a shitty gym rather than a pretty good training facility. Despite this, if nothing else, posting something here will make me feel like I have been even the tiniest bit productive this week, despite the feeling that I am otherwise drowning and failing at everything. Ok. So I know that I am being dramatic here, and everything will probably be fine, and I’m actually alright, but everyone is entitled to a mini-meltdown every now and then, no?

Anyways… the new plan is to write even if I feel like it’s something boring and even if I feel that it’s too personal and it’s a narcissistic snoozefest. Because whatever writing is better than no writing, and hopefully with enough persistence, the whatever writing will slowly edge its way towards writing about something more thoughtful and interesting that pertains to people who are not only myself. For now, navel-gazing snoozefest it is!

THE END

With an opening line like that, how could any girl refuse?

Ok, so I am aware that I am not writing incredibly frequently, and also that out of a mere handful of posts, two have already been about my confused and often failing love life, but I got a message in my okcupid inbox today that just made me very confused about what young men today seem to see as the appropriate way to approach women. So here goes. I opened my inbox to find this:

“Important question!

Imagine it’s my birthday and you’re taking me out for dinner. I just got home and am hungry. You just got home as well but came from the gym and need to take a shower and get changed. How long does it take for you to get ready?

A) 30 minutes and you look HOT and I can’t keep my hands off of you?
B) 15 minutes and you look cute?
C) 2 hours and I die of starvation? ”

Guy was 24, so he might really have just been trying to ask if I was high maintenance or not (still… not in the first message, guys), but what he really came across as saying was “I don’t want to date a princesse, but I also don’t want to date a sack of muffins who can’t be bothered to put on a full face of makeup and some heels for dinners, amIright?”

I guess that the main thing that irks me about this message is that there is a certain segment of the population that has been brainwashed into selecting this image of women that is very particularly quaffed and made-up in a weirdly generic “hot” way. This segment of the population has decided that a woman who just got home from the gym could not possibly fall into the “hot” category, and neither can the woman who has put in a little effort, but didn’t really go full Kardashian in her look. Not only this, but if she steps over the 30 minute mark trying to meet this expectation, then HOLY SHIT, she is hiiiiiiiigh maintenance and you wanna’ stay the hell away from that crazy bitch. It’s just another way that women are supposed to be able to find this mystical perfect balance of weird expectations about their looks and grooming habits.

ANYWAYS. I realize that this post is a little bit of an over-reaction/simplification/over-statement, BUT if this is the type of approach that many young men seem to be taking as their FIRST interaction? Their BEST foot forward? THIS is the line that they are throwing out in order to try and entice a lady into going out on a date with them? Well then I guess this lady over here is going to continue her long single journey for some time to come. END RANT.

Also, no picture this post. Womp womp.

“You’re just way too awesome for me”; alternately, “he’s just not that into you”.

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So I have not posted for a few weeks… I keep meaning to write a big response post to a different post on a really aggressive feminist blog, and so I’ve been avoiding writing anything else, because if I’m writing anything, I should be writing this actually meaningful post that outlines my thoughts about various feminist ideals and blah blah blah blah. I’m sure that said post will happen eventually, but this is what’s actually on my mind at the moment, so this is what I’m going to write about instead.

Here I’m going to put a bit of a disclaimer: this post is somewhat navel-gazey, a bit of a rant, somewhat rambly, and a teeny tiny ever so small bit of a pity party. So… there you go. You’ve been warned.

We’ve all heard it before – “I think that you’re the most amazing person, but I just need to focus on myself right now”; “I don’t think that it would be fair to date you until I’ve become a better person”; “You deserve to be with someone who is just as awesome as you are”… and while all of these rejections are well intentioned, what they really boil down to is this: “You’re nice, but I’m not interested in you ENOUGH to make any of the commitments that come along with serious dating”.

Well, friends, I have just been through yet another one of these debacles. I’m not sure what it is about me that makes people who I find interesting so averse to committing to serious dating. But moreso, I don’t understand why this is the rejection that more and more often, is the one that I receive. Is this where breakups are headed? Complimenting the person you’re not interested in to death until they leave you alone?

Furthermore, once the breakup has happened, there is then the BARAGE of attempted confidence boosts from pals along the lines of “you were too good for him anyways”, “you’re such a catch, one of these days, some amazing guy will knock your socks off”, and “you deserve waaaay better”. Which, okay, I concede. Thank-you, friends. I am grateful that you are there for me and that you think that I’m great, and you want me to feel like my life is soooo much better with out so-and-so or what’s his face, but at the same time… who is this magical being that I am stuck here waiting for? Is he going to swoop in with angel wings and whisk me away into some euphoric love nest where we’ll become the most amazing, interesting, fit, successful, funny and gorgeous power couple ever to walk the Earth? After all of the “you deserve better”s, is there anyone left?

Ok, so yes, I know that these things are just anecdotes that people use to get through breaking up, but I am so tired of the “you’re too good” at this point, that the next time I hear it, I feel like I might just scream at the top of my lungs until said breaker-upper is so exasperated that they scream back, “OK! FINE! I AM JUST NOT THAT INTERESTED. YOU’RE NICE, but NO. NOT FOR ME.” And then they will look at me with “are you happy? Is this what you wanted!?” eyes, and I will smile, and filled with relief, thank them for their honestly, and be heart-brokenly but much less confusedly on my way.

THE END.

The trouble with funding

Ok, so this is not going to be a terribly academic post, and will be more of a kind of disillusioned rant than anything else, but as someone who has made a living writing/editing/developing grants for over five years, I’ve got to say it – the granting system is broken. Not just a little broken; horribly so. Horribly and terribly and utterly broken. 

While working the the academic research world, one of the big problems that research groups would come across is that while there is funding available for actually performing the research, and paying your trainees, and your salary, and sometimes infrastructure, there is no money available for overhead. None. A research lab is essentially a small business, and while the Principal Investigator of said lab may be brilliant at the topic of research, here’s what they are often NOT brilliant at… human resources management, finance administration, ordering office supplies. And when it really comes down to it, is it really an effective use of our tax dollars to have this person who is meant to be doing research take care of all of these administrative tasks? Let me answer that question for you. NO. NO IT IS MOST CERTAINLY NOT. But is it possible for them to get funding to have someone else do those tasks?? Well, dear reader, it appears that that is not possible either. Nor is it possible for them to get funding for things like basic office supplies that are used for anything other than actually performing research. Here’s an example – you are a researcher and you need to file some papers with your university’s HR department to hire a new staff member. Technically, the paper that you used to print off these forms cannot be paid for with any of your research grants. But surely the university must pay these costs, no? Well… no. TECHNICALLY they are supposed to take care of them… but unless you want to sneak over to the HR office itself and steal reams of paper every time you want to print something, this is just not going to happen. 

*SIGH*

Recently, I shifted my job environment a bit, and am now working in the non-profit sector for the first time. It’s not that I thought that granting would be without its problems in this sector… or that magically, it would be easy to actually find funding for all of the things that you need to actually run your organization. But the problem with non-profit grants does not appear to be that there is one specific thing that I cannot find funding for… it’s that there is ONLY ONE THING that granting agencies want to fund at all. Pardon? You might be thinking… Could you repeat that please.

That’s right, folks. When it comes to grants for non-profits, it would appear 95% of funders ONLY WANT TO FUND NEW PROJECTS. Brand new ones. And only for the first one or two years. So while there is money to start new initiatives, there is very rarely money to keep these initiatives going. So basically, if you run your non-profit solely with the eye to getting grant funds, you would create a new program every year or so, and then once it was up and running, you would cut the program entirely and leave all of the folks who had come to rely on it with nothing until you started up a new, possibly similar program for the next funding cycle. BUT without an innovative, new, EXCITING angle on this program, you might not get funded at all. What the heck gives?

I get that it’s nice to have new shiny things to show off to your friends, but isn’t there also some amount of pride that can be attached to saying that you helped some really amazing program that helped oodles of people to stay running for 5, 10, or even 20 long years?? What even lasts for 20 years anymore?? Where’s the magic in longevity??

As this post is already getting a little on the long side, and doesn’t even include any photos (?!?!), I’m going to leave my musings on possible solutions for a future post… for now I just really needed to get some of this ranting feeling off my chest. Also, there are endlessly more things that I could rant about related to the ridiculousness of funding, but I will leave that for a future rant as well. END RANT.

On that note, does anyone reading this work with grants? Have you noticed similar patterns in your field? Thoughts on ways to fix the broken funding system.

Thanks for reading!

THE END.

First

I guess that I started this a while ago with the hopes that just creating a blog basically about nothing or anything, that it would just encourage me to write. I guess that I was wrong.

Then last month, I went to a Creative Mornings Vancouver talk with Jessica Hische. She spoke about the intersection of art and tech, and really just drove home the whole mantra that you just have to get out there and do shit. It’s not going to do itself. And also, at the end of the day, it’s really not very hard. YOU JUST HAVE TO STOP BEING LAZY AND AFRAID.

So there is my springboarding point of inspiration. I was going to do it. I was going to sit down and write, and I was also going to make a beautiful website by learning to code myself rather than waiting around for someone to do it for me. I was going to do it that very weekend. Or so I thought…

As it turns out, on top of being lazy about writing, I am also lazy about updating my operating system. dun dun DUN. It is Summer 2012, and I am ashamed to admit that I am still running on Leopard. Not SNOW Leopard… just the regular kind. To my dismay, there is NO html text editor that is crappy enough to still be running on this OS. Undaunted, I thought to myself. NO PROBLEM! I will just download it now!

The problem with this is that Apple does not appreciate lazy assholes who don’t continuously update their software and devices compulsively, and so it was not possible for me to download Snow Leopard from the Internet. In fact, it was not even possible for me to mosey down to the Apple store to purchase it. No, dear reader, the only way for me to update my sad OS was to order a CD and have them ship it to me at home within 7-10 business days.

My dream was allayed, albeit temporarily. But “never fear”, I thought, “what’s a week?!”

Enter UPS.

You would think that a company that is built on delivering things to people personally, would make some real attempt to actually make this happen in some sort of reasonable and organized way. You would be wrong. After three attempts to deliver my package to my home in the middle of the day while I was at work, I finally got the notice “call to arrange for pickup”. “Great!”, I thought, “Now I can just head down to the nearest UPS office after work, and I will finally have a (slightly) updated computer! Victory is mine!”

I cheerfully called UPS to find out where my pickup location would be. I was greeted by a robot who asked me various questions, and after having punched in various combinations of numbers, spat out an address where I could pick up my package. But the location was not near my home. It as actually not even accessible by transit. In fact, the google maps suggestion was for me to hop on the skytrain and take it 30 minutes out of town, then get off the skytrain, and walk for another 30 minutes before getting to the UPS pickup point. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!?!

I explained to the robot that this was unacceptable, and shortly after it hung up on me. I decided that maybe I would make more progress online. After 20 minutes of searching, I found the option to change the delivery address. WONDERFUL! Or it would have been, if I hadn’t gotten an error message several minutes later that this option was not available to me and that I needed to call to talk to their lovely customer service robot again. Maybe she could actually help me this time.

20 more minutes later, after much button punching and various attempts at yelling “real person”, “customer service agent” “no” “shutup” “I hate you” at the robot, I was finally connected to a real human being. YAY! This person will be able to help me! Oh, how I was wrong.

Not only did I find out that there was no way to change the delivery location to my place of work, but there was also no way to set up any sort of time block in which the UPS agent would stop by. “Anywhere between 9am and 7pm” was as specific as they could be.

“Ummm… well, I have a job, so that isn’t possible. I can’t actually be home for 10 hours straight.”

“Welll… we CAN ask the agent to TRY to be there around a certain time, but there is no guarantee that that will happen”

“Sooooo… is there any point in asking you to ‘designate’ a time, or is this just something that you’re saying to try to make me feel like you’re actually doing something about this problem”

“Well… we CAN ask the agent to TRY to be there around a certain time, but there is no guarantee that that will happen”

“that is the exact same thing that you just said”

“…”

“Also, my buzzer does not work, so can you please have them call me when they arrive.”

“We can’t guarantee that the UPS employee will have a phone on them when they arrive, so we can’t actually arrange that”

“… OK, well I guess that they could try throwing pebbles at my window, but that probably won’t work out very well.”

This went on for a while and finally ended something like this:

“So what you’re telling me is that it’s actually completely  impossible for me to get this package, and there is no way that you can try to make that more convenient or even remotely in the realm of a possible thing that can happen”

“Well, I will make a note to ask them to maybe stop by before a certain time, and to try to call you if they have a phone, but I can’t guarantee either of those things, so I suggest that you just sit outside of the front door to your building for ten hours straight waiting for us to show up whenever” (this last part is only SLIGHTLY paraphrased)

DEAR UPS, EAT DICKS!

So here I am, sitting at home, waiting and hoping for them to show up. It is already three hours past the ‘suggested time’, and I am hungry and angry and I need to leave my apartment to get a cup of coffee, but I know that this will be the exact moment that they will arrive.

As an aside, Apple’s customer service was no more helpful.

Let’s see if I ever get this thing!

Lesson: If you wait too long to update your OS, UPS and Apple will conspire to make it easier for you to buy a brand new computer than to update your current one.

THE END.