After noting the other day that nobody ever sends me Ask the Mineshaft questions, one landed in my inbox last night. Predictably, it's a question for which I, as one of the few posters here who stopped after the bachelor's degree and never seriously entertained the notion of going further, have little useful experience to offer. Nonetheless:
I have read a million reasons why I shouldn't go to grad school, here and elsewhere. But it seems that it didn't take. Today my boss suggested that at the end of my one-year position in his lab I come on as his PhD student. My instinct—because the institution and my boss are both quite high profile—is to accept this offer, especially since it doesn't seem likely to me that I could possibly get accepted to this level of institution without this kind of internal leg up. On the other hand, the department is not one that I consider a natural fit to my skills and interests, and while it is technically in the sciences and not the humanities, the field to which this department most naturally attaches is one where academic jobs are extremely thin on the ground. On the other other hand, I have a lot of actual technical job skills that presumably won't go away while I study for my PhD, and in fact—assuming I keep doing what I'm doing now, which seems likely—I should come out of this pretty well placed to at least keep doing the kind of semi-menial information-economy work my résumé would indicate I am best suited to. On the fourth hand, if I didn't take him up on his offer, maybe I could find another opportunity to start a company doing something interesting, which has been my goal all along. So, Mineshaft, can you talk me out of going to grad school?
I'd say that if you have the financial resources to do it, then take your boss up on the offer and you can always drop out of the program if a more interesting opportunity comes along. Then you also get the bonus serotonin flood of blissful relief that all my grad school dropout friends reported when they left their programs. So there's that, but again, I don't actually have much of any idea what I'm talking about here. So all you monkeys with informed opinions can add your helpful voices to the choir.
This has the potential to become a nice feisty argumentative thread, but you all have to promise to take opposing sides, slightly overstate your position, and then determinedly misinterpret the other side's argument. None of this pansy comity bullshit. Biological parents demand that surrogate mother terminate pregnancy because baby has increased risk of Down Syndrome. (Surrogate mother initially refuses, then goes along with it.) With all these controversial features jammed in a single issue, this thread could be the Unfogged Cage Match of the year.
Goddamnit. At the OB appointment, the doctor who I previous loved went off on a big tangent about how hard it is to explain to your kids why those people play softball. How you have to say "Well, it's natural for a man and a woman to be together, but we're not allowed to say anything if a woman and a woman are together," and how that is not a conversation you want to have with your eleven year old. She's our family doc, too, and has positioned herself as the liberal doc who respects her patients and keeps them well-informed of all options without judgement, etc, so I really was not expecting this. I really did not want to know this. I'm so fucking annoyed that the conversation unfolded the way it did.
(Also my mom is in town, and was there, too, and is generally doggedly rosy-colored. So she kept re-interpreting the doctor's comments into something more palatable, and the doc would correct her, and the conversation dragged on. And on. And on. And now Hawaiian Punch's nap will be cut short because we got home late, so she'll be cranky this afternoon. And then I lost her pacifier, probably in the parking lot of the doctor's office.)
A Kentucky reader inquires:
I'm living in the state where loopy Tea Partier Rand Paul is way too likely to end up with a win next month and ascension to the senate thereafter. What should I be doing other than weeping/gnashing teeth/rending garments/going about my daily life and trying to do what I can on a tiny level?
I keep telling myself I'm going to offer an insightful answer to the next Ask the Mineshaft question that comes in. But here I have little more to offer than sympathetic solidarity. I feel pretty much exactly the same way.
Helpful advice, Mineshaft?
Sometimes I think the best part about sex is actually when you're done and just lying there looking up at one corner of the ceiling and not thinking about anything, anything at all for 2 or 3 seconds.
I have a new medication for my chronic illness and it seems to work pretty well (which is good because I developed a serious allergy to my previous meds and was unacceptably ill without either.) The thing is, it's made it hard for me to come. Not impossible, but way harder. As we all know, I'm a gone in 60 seconds type of person. (Actually this isn't the thread I was thinking of, but wevs.) Would it really be so bad if it took me like four minutes to come the first time instead of one? Some people have real problems. But I'm used to my body being a certain way, I feel annoyed and cheated. And it seems as if it's getting worse. At what point would this be a totally unacceptable side effect? Such that I would rather be seriously ill than experience it? If I couldn't experience an orgasm at all, that seems like a deal-breaker. But we're talking, like, in bed most of the time in serious pain type of sick. Stupid psychopharmacy. Maybe it will sort itself out. And I should buy a vibrator! I never bothered before. Trouble going for toesies? Say it isn't so.
Simpson's show intro, directed by Banksy.
Full disclosure: I was all like and stuff, "Who the hell is Banksy?"
The official Chilean Flickr feed of the rescue operation now getting underway.
Bitch PhD & Co. is calling it quits. I hate that blogging is drying up. I just love blogs as a medium. I know it will settle down to its natural plateau, eventually. But blogging is hard*, and people burn out, and Blog Land is just not being replenished at a sufficient rate.
*unless you have low standards for blog content. Hi!
Lots of my facebook friends are professing today how they are straight allies of gay people, and I think it's kind of funny because it sounds faintly defensive. (I get that it's supposed to sound like solidarity.) I personally am such a straight ally that I look a bit butch, currently. I've never looked butch before. So far so good.
While I spend the weekend at the Austin City Limits festival, NickS submits a guest post. Take it away, Nick! (My opinion at the very end instead of in the comments because that's just the privileged way I roll.)
1) I recently had an interesting conversation that started with the question, "do you more frequently make decisions with the intention of increasing the liklihood or frequency of good things, or that attempt to reduce the likelihood or frequency of bad things?" One friend thought that it was clearly better to make decisions based on moving towards a goal rather than away from a fear. I said that, while yes, fear sometimes plays more of a role in my decision making than I would like, I find it more difficult to predict the level of satisfaction that I will get from pursuing a goal. If I make decisions to eliminate (or reduce) things that drain energy or cause negative feelings than it does, to a first approximation, free up energy that can go towards positive aims, even if I don't know what that will be when I'm making plans.
2) It is sometimes said about highly competitive athletes that the pain of losing is much greater than the pleasure of winning. This is usually presented as a good thing -- I suppose because it counters to the idea that athletics are frivolous. It occurs to me that it's one thing to be driven by a hatred of losing if you're Michael Jordan and you can legitimately believe that you can win every game. If you're just an ordinary person, however, that attitude seems like it would lead to paralysis and never doing things outside of ones comfort zone.
3) It is proverbial that many people suffer from an excess of caution and or a lack of imagination; as reflected in phrases like, "I would rather regret the things that I have done, than the things that I have not" or "No man ever said on his deathbed I wish I had spent more time in the office." As somebody with a relatively narrow comfort zone I wonder, occasionally, how much I cut myself off from experiences that I would enjoy. I have to say, however, that when I reflect on my life, I really don't have many regrets for things I didn't do, and I am somewhat surprised by that. Whenever I think about the choices that I've made I conclude that, good or bad, almost all of the things in which I have invested large amounts of time and energy, with school and work high on the list, have satisfied some personal need. Contrary, perhaps, to my description of myself in (1) much of my life has been driven by the feeling of, "there is something important to learn in this situation, and I should stay in it until I know longer feel that way." And, for the most part, I have. Not that I could necessarily describe, even in retrospect, what it is that I was looking for, but I still have confidence that it did provide some challenge that felt necessary.
Nick and I very different people. My life framework is guided by the negative/positive approaches "Will I be bored?"/"I'm curious to see what will happen if I try this." I generally consider a bad outcome to be preferable to inaction, because the stakes weren't really that high; they just felt high because you're trapped in your brain. And now you know, even if it was a disaster. I don't have regrets much, but let's just say I often learn from experience.
A (slightly older) friend commented to me the other day that he can no longer sleep in. "I hit thirty," he said, "and something switched on. At 8am, I'm up. There's no more sleeping, try as I might."
I have no designs on sleeping until noon everyday for the rest of my life, but I'd like to register an official complaint: (1) mine switched on early and (2) it's more like 6am-7am for me.
Yeah, I know. Boo-hoo. On the other hand, maybe I'll get some shit done now.