Friday, August 31, 2007

A Watercolor Postcard

My latest creation is titled "If George Bernard Shaw Had A Newfy."
The saying on the card is a take off on one of Shaw's quotations.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Portrait of a Newf and other Art News

Here's my first stab at altering an image using Photoshop filters.

This morning I finished a watercolor painting that I actually started years ago, the first time I lived in this desert oasis. I think I started it in 1999.

I needed a mental break from sewing after the non-sock sock monkey experiment so I decided to paint something.

Painting is a totally different activity so it was sure to be just the thing I'd need to get refreshed.

I dug out my watercolor tablets and realized I had an unfinished painting that I had totally forgotten about. I can't say I was too thrilled to finish it, but I did. It's not my best work; the paint ended up being way too heavy, but here it is. Maybe it would make a nice fridge magnet once shrunken down.

Little did I know that it made me want to paint something else! So I penciled a sketch I will paint and share soon.

If all fails in the world of real employment, perhaps I can sell my art.

On those lists of 100 things you've done in life, like swim with sharks, stand on the Great Wall of China, etc. I always check off "sell a piece of my own artwork." When I was a kid, I'd spend a week each summer with my cousin Adam drawing Garfield. We'd go around door to door asking people if they'd buy our doodles. We made enough everyday to go down and buy penny candy (a lot of it!) from a little grocery store in the neighborhood.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


After 20 minutes of researching clinical respecialization programs online, I have decided it is absolutely Stupid that I should need to go to more school to get a good job. Stupid.

My job search this morning told me there are plenty of jobs available for people who have PhD's in psychology (as I do) but these jobs are for those who have those degrees in CLINICAL psychology. There must be 100 different organizations looking for clinical psychologists right now according to the job postings at the APA Moniter.

I thought it would be worth considering what I'd have to do to become a clinical psychologist so that my job prospects would be wider:

1) Pay to apply to a clinical respecialization program (these are set up for PhDs in psych who don't have a clinical specialization)

2) get accepted

3) MOVE to a far away state w/o employment, housing, etc

4) Pay $40-60K in tuition for 2 years of coursework, maybe 3

5) apply to do a year long internship

6) get accepted to an accredited internship

7) do the year long internship (finally get paid!)

8) apply for licensure, sit for the board exam

9) get license, begin practice

That's a lot of god dammed hoops to jump through and time spent racking up more student debt so that I will finally have a decent job ... oh by the time I am FORTY!

Did I mention I don't even really want to provide therapy for the mentally ill? That I ruled it out a long time ago for very sound reasons that still apply now?

Needless to say, I think unemployment sucks.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Sock Monkey Portait

After failing to find colorful socks to make my own funky monkey sock monkey, I raided my supply of fabric scraps and made a non-sock sock monkey.

Like 99% of the other things I've sewn, I didn't use a pattern. The body and limbs were easy; I just made a bag of the appropriate size. The face and ears were also fairly easy. The monkey's head was challenging because I had to make several darts to give it shape. However -- attaching the cranium to the body was a complete hassle. That alone took as much time as all of the rest of the sewing because I had to do it by hand.

Everyone who makes sock monkeys (out of socks) says they are a cinch to make. I can understand why. They never have to attach the head to the body because the head is actually the toe area of the sock!

My madras print non-sock sock monkey is stuffed with fiberfill fuzz and lavender from my garden. I was thinking of naming him Mad Russ, but he looks too cheerful so we'll just call him Russ.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Shoe Shopping in Japan

One of my missions while in Japan was to find (and purchase) a pair of high heeled strappy black shoes. I wanted something fancy to wear to my SIL's wedding that would match my bridesmaid's dress. I never found the right shoes, but the experience of shopping for shoes in Japan is worth telling.

I had no idea what I was in for.

First of all, I was warned that gaijin feet are way too big to fit into shoes sold in Japan, so perhaps shopping seriously would be a lost cause. I wasn't concerned with size issues because I have tiny hands and feet for my size.

Most of the shoes sold in Japan are labeled S, M, L and LL. There's no messing around with half sizes.

Naturally, I saw plenty of women walking around in shoes that didn't fit.

In some cases, they really didn't fit - as in toes hanging way out of the shoes or an inch of slip at the heel.

As it turns out, my feet are a perfect size L. This may have been the only occasion I would ever require a size large.

I was really determined to find the right shoe.

After looking in several different stores of varying price point, I learned that I was really looking for the wrong shoe. See, there is an absolutely bewildering variety of heeled shoes available in Japan.

Here are some representative examples of shoes you can easily find in Japan > > >

As I found out, if you only want a plain black strappy heel you must have a serious lack of imagination.

Women don't do basic black in Japan, and, they don't do pantsuits either. So what you end up with is a fantastic place to shop for beautiful skirts and shoes. What you see here in terms of shoes is equally matched in skirts. Had I had a suitcase full of money to spend in Japan, I would have loved to trade it for a suitcase full of skirts and shoes.

Aside from fatigue, the other things you have to watch out for while shopping for shoes in Japan are price and quality. It is actually quite difficult to find a shoe priced at less than $100 that doesn't look gaudy or cheap, and believe me these photos mask the cheap materials used in most of the shoes. If you want quality shoes, you can find them in Japan, but it will cost you a pretty penny which is to say about 25,000 of them. I won't buy shoes that cost more than $100. In fact, the most I'd pay for shoes is probably closer to $75 and if I'm only going to wear the shoes once as I would have with the elusive black strappy heels, I'd prefer to pay about $25-30 at the most. It is possible to find shoes at that price in Japan, but they are invariably made not from leather but rather that terrible vinyl plastic that looks dreadful.

If you want to spend the big bucks to get the great shoes, you've got to bring cash. Visa, MC, Discover, AmEx - they are no good in Japan. Hardly any retailer accepts non-Japanese credit cards. When I say I could trade a suitcase full of money for shoes and skirts in Japan, I mean it literally!

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Neatest Sock Monkeys Ever

These monkeys are edgier more colorful versions of the classic sock monkey. I totally love them and wish I had thought of making sock monkeys like this. Aren't they neat?

Sunsetgirl, who also has a very nice banner for her online store, makes the cutest monkeys (at the sides). She photographs finished monkeys and turns the photos into cards, as does another clever sock monkey artist, Siansbury's. Siansbury's monkeys have a punk flair (see below), and the stock isn't limited to monkeys.

Siansbury's zebra is wonderful, and thankfully for the livelihood of my bank account, is SOLD.

All of these monkeys are sold at Etsy, an online retailer artists can use to sell their work. Etsy sells every form of art imaginable, except, I suppose, performance art.

If you haven't discovered Etsy yet and like to give creative and unique gifts, it is well worth a look.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Drat. That didn't work out.

This afternoon after taking care of the dog mess (more on that in a bit) I checked out the email that piled up while I was in San Fran for my SIL's wedding (more on that later).

Besides the usual messages I received a few employment related ones:

• I have a phone interview tomorrow for a research job that won't add to my CV but will keep me employed in academia. We'd have to move but not very far. Field Notes might be able to keep working for his present co. which be good careerwise depending on what he'd be doing. It could work out, but I have mixed feelings about this.

• I didn't get the stats teaching gig that might have developed into something but would have required me to live apart from Mr. Field Notes for the next 9 months. Yuck. The area is very nice, and the Newf would have loved the climate. I would have known stats inside and out by the end of it but would have paid a high price. They have a T-T gig open in my area the next academic year so I can apply for that. Who knows, maybe it's the kind of place they would never have hired their emergency replacement for the T-T no matter how good they were.

• I am one of the top candidates for a govt job here in town. It could work out, but I don't know whether I'd want to do it for a career. It's certainly not an academic job. At least it looks like I have an interview!

• Then again, I have mixed feelings about academic jobs. Most days I doubt that I have the research drive necessary to actually get tenure. I think I could get a T-T gig if I stepped up the amount of papers I have out, but I honestly don't know if I could sustain the kind of research paper productivity necessary to get tenure. Maybe I am overestimating the number of papers needed to get tenure. It's got to vary immensely according to the kind of school.

One thing I know for certain now is that I would absolutely love to go back to San Francisco. The city has a very European/Mediterranean feel. I loved walking up and down the hilly streets looking at all of the beautiful row houses (especially the ones near the Exploratorium), smelling the blooming jasmine that grows really well there, and hearing the dozens of languages spoken. If I could afford it, I would live there.

Being away from home meant that the dogs stayed at the kennel. I picked them up today and almost gagged at one point on the drive home because of how god awful they smelled. And, I had all of the windows rolled down. Words cannot begin to describe how absolutely dreadful it was. They won't be going back to that kennel. The other one bathes them before pick up so they never reek.

I gave them both baths in the bathtub at home. The senior spaniel hates getting wet and tried to bite me when I picked him up to put him in the tub. He mellowed out eventually and accepted his fate. I even got him to sit down in the tub so I was able to thoroughly wash his hind end. I dried his head and shoulders off while the water drained. It was fairly easy. He hardly shed any hair but I did have to clean out the drain. He shook off but there wasn't a ton of hair and water to towel up. I toweled him off a bit and then spritzed him with some black Cherry Currant fragrance from the Bath & Body Works.

Then I had to get the Newf into the tub. You'd think that being a Newfy she'd hop right in, but no - I had to wrestle her front legs into the tub but once she realized the water was running she jumped the rest of the way in. The tub filled up and then I realized I'd have to take extra care to make sure she didn't splash around otherwise the entire bathroom would be flooded. She kept turning around and as she does on dry land, mushed up against me numerous times. We both got seriously wet. Hair flew everywhere. The drain was completely full of hair by the end and when she shook off the water and hair hit the floor, walls, probably even the ceiling. I toweled her off, spritzed her, and then turned her loose.

I thought that would improve the stench, but no.

Max left a little brown present somewhere in the house while I was bathing Her Newfsance. They were both wet and running around like maniacs. I thought there was a real risk that they'd step in it and track the mess all over the house before I could locate it. Luckily I found it first. So, I had to clean the carpet too.

Fortunately Mr. Field Notes came home just in time to help clean up. I'm sure that's just what he wanted to do on his lunch break!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Visiting Asst. Prof. Catch-22

I spent some time this morning researching the Chronicle's posting of average annual salary for asst. profs. (assuming this includes VAPs) so that I can get a sense of what the pay might be for a position that needs to be filled immediately. It's a VAP position that starts in about a month teaching statistics classes at a university on the other side of the state. I don't know if they'd be interested in me or not as I haven't taught stats yet, but I do have a lot of teaching experience and I need to work.

However, I don't know if I should be interested in the position. I need research lines on my CV, not more teaching. Teaching 2-3 new classes is not a recipe for getting research done. From what I have read on the Chronicle's forums, it seems there is a widely held perception that there is something wrong with a person who has numerous VAP or adjunct positions and has not found a tenure-track position. Evidently, the consensus is that if you aren't in a t-t position within 3 years of finishing a PhD, then you aren't ever going to be.

If you take a visiting position, your teaching demands are heavier, your likelihood of getting research done shrinks, and then during the next hiring cycle you're better suited for adjunct and visiting positions than t-t ones and the cylce repeats.

At some point you get marked as an itinerant academic.

I've read the forums for that type of academic and have determined the lifestyle is not for me. I am attached to stuff. I don't relish the idea of always renting and never owning, not even your own furniture. Some even talked of battling bedbugs because of relying on Goodwill furniture.

I suspect few of those PhDs thought that's the life they'd lead when they entered graduate school. I certainly didn't. I went in so blindly that I didn't even realize you have to go wherever you are lucky enough to get a job. If someone had told me working in academia is like being in the military in the sense that you go live wherever you're told to live, I would have given much more serious thought to joining.

But, here I am PhD in hand, debating whether to pursue another visiting position partly because I was picky about where I would live and what type of school I'd work for. I only applied to a handful of schools that fit the bill.