Saturday, June 27, 2009

More than a commitment to diplomas

The American Federation of Teachers FACE blog has a recent posting ("Why Faculty Need to Speak Up") about the Obama Administration's commitment to "improving degree attainment rates in higher education." Lost in the fray however is any commitment to restoring learning to education. Without a commitment to increasing the number of faculty and raising the standards of employment for contingent faculty, any commitment to graduation rates is a hollow indulgence, worshiping diplomas for their own sake rather than the education that should underlie it.

Let's put it plainly: the heart of education is the relationship students attain with learning. The most salient models students are exposed to are the classroom faculty they encounter every day. It is those faculty who must be the center of any and every effort to improve the quality and accessibility of education. As the title of that posting suggests: indeed, it is high time faculty speak up. It is high time that contingent faculty walk away from mistreatment. It is high time that tenured or tenure-track faculty make plain their displeasure with the system that shuts out so many promising scholars, because of lack of funding for faculty positions, and the disgraceful overuse and abuse of contingent faculty, with no job security and often no benefits.

Only when we have a powerful collective voice, when we look beyond our own private battles for tenure for instance, or cower under the ridiculous restrictions to free speech that are being demanded by administrators, will we have meaningful and productive change. Hell, if the Iranian people can rise up, so can we!

Thursday, June 25, 2009


I'll be heading out to the lakehouse this weekend with RocketMom and the boys. My wife's family often gathers at her grandparents' lakehouse to celebrate national holidays, most prominently American Independence Day. Since no one lives there year round any more, it's pretty much free for us to stay on as we like. It's about two hours or so from us, and more like 20 minutes from most of the family. We'll spend the week there, down a dirt lane, alongside a small lake, surrounded by trees and frogs (and mosquitos).

The place has a lot of meaning for us. A couple years ago when we joined the family, from our remote residence in southern California, we made a decision that we'd be happier nearer family, with access to such a beautiful and peaceful refuge. Until then, we had an inkling that we'd be moving on, to start over with a house and a home, but we weren't really sure where.

During the past year since we moved here, we've been there a few times, relaxing, rejuvenating. Returning from there a year ago was when I first heard of my selection to receive a first stage contract to support my research. Yesterday, I got a call from one of the mid-level administrators at the agency that will be funding my second stage, apologizing for the delays, and indicating that they are doing everything they can to expedite my transitional funding, which she expects to be in place before the holiday.

This is such a different world that surrounds me from the one I knew just a year or two ago. But I'm not sure I've much changed, except in regaining my confidence. It's as if I've been dressed in black, first hidden by the darkness of night, then emerging from a background of red, and finally in full relief against the white. My raiment has remained unchanged, but my appearance has become transformed.

I'm looking forward to this week, and to what comes after.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Some of you may be interested to know that my RL alter-ego has started a new blog. If you're interested, and willing to preserve the separation of identities, email me for the link.


I've been stressed lately. I guess I'm a bit overwhelmed with everything. It's an enormous change over the conditions I had been in for years. I'd say it's good. Certainly I prefer this state of things to the misery I felt sending off one faculty application after another.

But it's stressful nonetheless. I recall an old cartoon -- I think it was "Bizarro"-- several years ago, which featured a cocktail party of uber-rich complaining about their plight in terms like, "I'm so miserable: I couldn't even get the waiter to swizzle my martini for me." The funny thing for me was the realization that misery is an objective measure of conditions relative to expectations, not an absolute measure of anything. And what's more, it's real!

Now, I'm not about to argue that societally we should regard the complaints of some Wall Street broker who's pressured to return part of a $2.3 m bonus in the same light as those of a widower with four kids who just lost his job and house. But psychologically, their plights might be similar.

I feel a bit better having just started writing this. In light of what could be (and what has been), I'm doing fine. I'm stressed: I've got a subcontract to negotiate (or to abandon). I'm not quite as much on top of my game today. The dance I described continues, but in silence. We left it that the other CEO would arrange for me to talk with his technical chief to discuss more details about what I'm asking them to do. It's been more than a week, and I've heard nothing. I'm inclined to simply let the time pass, let him make the next move. But that puts me in a position where I need to be prepared to abandon the negotiations before they've properly progressed, and more importantly to seek alternatives.

Do I look for another subcontractor, or do I plan to hire in and prepare the work directly? Would that take me from the core of my work? My hope all along has been to partner rather than compete. But the choice may not be mine.

I did accomplish a good deal so far this week. I spoke with the lead on my Stage 2 contract. She's yet to fully review my proposal, so we didn't talk much. I also followed up on several financial/accounting issues. It's not clear whether they've actually begun processing the second part of my first contract, meaning it's likely still four months before I get paid again! I interviewed a second post-doc I'd like to bring on. But hiring has to await funding. Frustrating. Finally, I've done quite a bit of advocacy on issues directly relevant to the sorts of funding opportunites that have so far supported my business, and which I think much to offer others like me, and much to offer the broader economy in terms of jobs.

But, I'm feeling a bit of postpartum. It's been intense preparing so many proposals and applications at once. And now, I'm back in wait and see mode, even if the wait is expectedly short. This too shall pass.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Moving on

I spent the day preparing my application materials for the gig across the sea. Sent! Their email confirmation noted:
Your application will be considered by a selection committee, which generally occurs within two weeks of the posted closing date. Our next contact with you will be to advise whether you will be invited for an interview.
Wow... that's refreshing. Efficiency. So, now I put it out of my mind, and worry about possibilities if they arise. Meantime, I've got patent applications to prepare.

Applying for the research job was just something I thought I ought to do... well, something which I wanted to do. But I'm perfectly content whether they consider me or not. My self-worth no longer rests on validation from academia. I am utterly convinced of the value of my ideas. Those who are funding my research obviously are as well.

We shall see what becomes. Either way I'll be fine.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


As I workout in the evenings, I've been reading "Dead Lucky" by Lincoln Hall, a retelling of his grueling adventure with Mount Everest: how he summited, then died on the descent, was left for dead, then discovered by ascending climbers the next day, groggy but alive.

The book's not the best read, engrossing at times, but occasionally incoherent. I suppose that reflects the mental conditions he was in. It's a rather good motivator however, as I ride on my stationary bike, 20 or 30 minutes most nights. I've been trying to regain my cardiovascular fitness, and reduce my cholesterol and triglycerides.

I've lost about 12-15 pounds in the past six months. I'm getting there. But I muse at the passing in and out of lucidness and coherence of a climber testing his own mettle, even against all logic. Why do people climb mountains?

I fade in and out of reality a bit myself. Logic tells me that I'm on top of the world, that I've earned myself some respite from the constant battle to survive as a researcher and a scholar. Sometimes I exaggerate in my own eyes both the gains and the pitfalls. Will I really make it through this passage? Will I descend safely to the next plateau, after reaching the glorious summit, with the sun still shining, and breathe a deep, welcome toke of oxygen?

Or will it all fade away like mist, leaving me to realize the ascent is still before me, and I've only just begun?

This possibility of an academic research post fills me with a strange ambivalence. And not a little bit of trepidation: What does he really mean about not having my publications before him? Will he judge me as lacking because I've spent the past couple years working on research that I plan to patent rather than publish? Maybe I'm really not a scholar after all? Maybe I don't rank up.

What is my motivation? What is it that I really seek? Who do I wish to be?

I've just gotten through a very tense few weeks, as I prepared and submitted one big proposal for a $150k effort [Industry Standards], followed by a draft of my stage 2 contract [Speedometer] for 5 times that amount, and just today submitted another proposal for a $70k project [Compression]. Funny, that last seems so small today, but would have driven me to heights of insecurity a year ago.

Perhaps it still should. Can I say for certain that getting my first contract last summer, and the chance for a much bigger second part now is anything more than luck and chance? Sure, I did the work... and they were pleased with it enough to pass me on to the next level.

But then... I just can't believe that so many others out there are not just as worthy, just as capable, just as clever. Why don't they all have the opportunities as well?

I have a chance now, a wonderful, marvelous chance, to grow as a person, to develop as a researcher, to lead as a business executive. I feel a great burden and responsibility to do my part to help those others up the mountain as well. I hope I have the strength and courage to remember that!

Monday, June 15, 2009


To borrow an image from undine: it would seem that life does move in circles:
Subject: Assessing Potential Interest


Your search announcement sent via the [Interdisciplinary Research Association] list piqued my curiosity. I've been interested in [University Research Facility] at least since I had applied there for a post-doc five years ago. I wanted to know if you'd be interested to receive an application from me under this notice. I believe there is a great deal of convergence between our research. Attached is the first part of a recent grant application I submitted on behalf of my firm. If awarded this would be a six-month effort, beginning early 2010.

Please note that I am currently under obligation to another contract for research and development regarding [focus of R&D, and details of awards]. The last of these is a two-year effort, for which I expect to hire 3 post-docs. My time allocation for those two years is about half-time.

I look forward to hearing from you,

Dear Articulate,

I have just read over your proposal, and it seems to be a very interesting approach. While I do not have your full CV, and so cannot judge your publications and such, I do think an application from you would be a good idea. Since your last application, [University Research Facility] has become more and more oriented to [general area of my R&D]. I look forward to hearing more from you!


Deric Dunlap, Director, [University Research Facility]
The posting in question is for a five-year fixed term Senior Research appointment (at a rank equivalent to a U.S. Associate Professor w/o tenure) with "excellent potential for tenure". It's at a well respected interdisciplinary research lab at a large regional university (not in the U.S.) recognized for its "capacity to carry out successful collaborative research partnerships" with business, government and community involvement.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Overdose, overdiagnose?

Is it just me? Or is it a Midwestern thing? Why does it seem that the parents of every seemingly gifted child I meet reports their child has been diagnosed with Asperger's?

I mean, I can't speak with authority about Autism. I taught a child diagnosed with Autism for a short while. I have a cousin who seems properly to be diagnosed with Asperger's... but these kids? I just don't see it.

Yes, they're challenging (what extremely bright child isn't?). I wonder how much of a diagnosis reflects the society and environment more than the one being diagnosed. I shake my head in wonder.

Top of My Game

Years ago, when I left the Rocky Mountains to enter a doctoral program on the West Coast, I was at the top of my game. I had been teaching adjunct at a community college (with a Master's degree... I had lower expectations then, I was happy). I had been performing on stage regionally, receiving top reviews. And I had a private studio full of students, turning away new ones because I didn't want to extend my schedule, and I didn't need the money.

I was content. But RocketMom was restless. And, there was a part of me that wanted to return to school for a PhD. I wanted to publish, and research, and perform. Most of all, I wanted to research, to pursue the things that kept me up at night. And so, we headed west.

In graduate school again, I was at the top of my game, independent, driven, fearless. Then... I graduated. A brick wall.

Slam Bam...

That was what I got for not conforming. I wasn't the right kind of PhD it seemed. I didn't fit into the neat divisions of departments that make up a University. So, 150 faculty applications later, with greatly diminished self-esteem, and self-worth, I stepped off the carousel, deciding that I hadn't gone to graduate school, and jumped through fire, to be a perpetual job seeker. Somehow, even in the midst of the depths it sunk me to, I realized that that search was beneath my dignity.

Finally, I have gotten some validation, enough at least to restore my sense of worth, my strength and energies, my passion.

Today I spoke on the phone with the CEO of a company that I might hire to do some subcontract work for me, someone who incidentally, when last I saw him at an industry conference a couple years ago had essentially dismissed me. It was the same thing, I knew, I didn't fit the mold of expectations for someone doing what I said I was doing. I can't fault him... he simply underestimated me. By then, I was used to it. But forgive and forget. Today is another day, and I honestly believe there is mutual benefit in developing a collaboration. So I called, and we talked.

It was a dance, of delicate maneuvers, testing each other. It was fun, being able to observe a bit, even in the heat of it. Negotiations are a fine balance between appearing strong and in charge, and being soft and patient. If you're too weak, you lose (for both of you) but if you're too aggressive, you risk offending, and you lose (for both of you).

It's like a date early in a relationship. You want to seem appealing, almost to the point of aloofness. But if you come across as arrogant, it will be your last date. How do you express interest without desperation? That's the balance you need in corporate negotiations. I think I struck that balance today. It was good to be the party with something to offer, rather than the supplicant.

I feel like I'm on top of my game. This game, I like playing.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Step by step

Filed a draft proposal for my continuation contract today. That was a big milestone. I still have quite a bit of work to do before the final submission, but it's falling into place. Significantly, this should be enough to get me through that gate that unlocks another six months of transitional funding. Hopefully!

Every indication is that I've bought myself another two and half years of research funding. Gingerly but confidently I tread these next few paces.

I've got a lesser grant proposal to submit next week (or abandon it). I haven't been willing to let it go yet though. I may still, but I might just pull it off. In any case, that's two out of three down. Not bad.

It's a busy and exciting time. I just want to keep up the momentum.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What's reasonable?

Here's a quick question out to my readers:
What's a reasonable salary for a postdoctoral researcher in areas you're familiar with?
I have a fair idea from my own experience applying for postdocs, and I have a sense of what I might have expected as a starting Asst. Prof. in the Humanities. But it's been a couple years, and I may be hiring outside my own fields.

If you don't wish to broadcast it here, I would welcome your emails to my gmail account listed at the top right. Also, feel free to paint a broad brush as far as field or general area of research, or tell me about your spouse's or partner's fields.

I just want to make sure that what I'm planning to advertise would be in the right range to garner interest from qualified parties. I have no interest in hiring someone who feels they deserve much more than I'm able to offer (or conversely who feels they're getting paid more than they'd otherwise expect).


... rolling downhill.
This morning, I received an email from someone I had met at a conference in 2004 in Europe, while I was still a PhD Candidate. She's about to graduate now. She was writing to me in response to my posting a few weeks ago for preliminary interest regarding a possible post-doc position with my firm. She'd be great! I've got firm interest from another colleague of mine (a cohort from graduate school who started with me, but who's only now managed to file his dissertation in my secondary field, not my primary).

I'm feeling really good about the team I'm putting together. Wow! I can hire these people at a decent post-doc rate, and have them help me propel the research forward.

This morning I sent a note to the CEO of a company whom I had met a few years ago at [Industry Conference] when I first got interested in applied research. I wanted to ascertain if they had any interest in subcontracting for me on my Stage 2 contract. He wrote back that yes, they were very interested. We'll talk tomorrow on the phone to discuss details.

I'm a little anxious about ensuring that we have mutual protections for our IP, and that we execute a reasonable partnership agreement that permits both of us to benefit from the collaboration, but which doesn't unduly "give away the farm." I think we can manage it. I'm willing to pay attorney's fees to ensure that.

But it's all happening fast. The project director for the agency that's sponsoring my Stage 2 effort wrote to me yesterday with a few points to consider in my proposal, and closed:
We were pleased with the technical work you provided in the first Stage and look forward to working with you as we move forward.
Oh yeah! Can I just say... I like being pat on the back. I really can't express quite how excited I am to be where I am, to be validated (ever so belatedly). This is just a start I know. But I'm feeling so on top of things. The research means so much to me, and knowing that it's valued! The money could fall through. The contracts could dissipate. And... you know what? I'd be fine. We'd be fine.

But, I have no plans to shoot myself in the foot. I want to do this right. I'm taking my time, and double-checking everything. I'm almost done with my draft proposal. I wanted to have it done today, but it wasn't quite ready. I should be able to finish it up in the morning. Then it's the mad dash to finish and submit another proposal due early next week. Then back to polishing the draft into a final. And soon I'm back to the project.

I'll try to fly both of my prospective post-docs in (probably at the same time, or overlapping, so they can meet each other) in the next couple weeks. The chicken's are beginning to hatch. I'm almost ready to start counting.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

One finish line, more to come

I feel like a sprinter who reaches the tape, only to realize it's not a finish line, but the start of a cross-country race. Am I up for the challenge?

Here's an image from two dreams I had recently:
I'm behind the wheel of a car. It's drifting slowly backwards. I'm not paralyzed, but I can't lift my leg to step on the gas or the brake.
In the first dream, there were cars behind me, trying to back out of my way. In the second, one of my sons was behind or beside the car, and I worried about hitting him. But I just couldn't move my leg. I've dreamt before that I couldn't open my eyes, but it's novel for my legs to be immobile.

This is very powerful image for me. Those who've been reading me for a while will recognize that sitting in the driver's seat is a favorite image of mine. It represents being in control of my life and its direction. So, there I sit, in the driver's seat, and yet I'm not quite in control. It seems realistic (though scary), since I remain dependent upon others, like those who hold the purse-strings that serve to seed my company and research. And I depend on my family in other ways, easily as important as funding.

I submitted one new grant proposal on Sunday, let's call that one [Industry Standards]. Their website says it may take six months for a decision. Yesterday I started in earnest working on my draft proposal for the Stage Two contract. We'll call that one [Speedometer]. I'm going to try my best to finish that today. I worked up a good draft of the budget (quite a feat for someone who has no training in accounting). In the draft, I hire three post-docs and an administrative assistant in Year 1, and yet another employee in Year 2. Wow!

Today, I want to write up the 4-5 page SOW for [Speedometer]. That should get the ball rolling, and get me that six months of transition funding on the books (though it'll be three months before I see a dime, since my next report and invoice will be in two months, and payment comes a month later). Then I have a furious dash to one more finish line, with a looming deadline in about a week for another smaller grant proposal. Let's call that [Compression].

There's a possible grant application to a different division of the agency where I sent [Industry Standards]. That deadline's in July. I think I'll pass on that, because it's a different sort of mechanism than I'm familiar with, so the IP protections differ, and I'm not sure I can come up with a proposal that'd be differentiated enough from [Industry Standards] to warrant independent funding. I haven't decided definitively yet. Then, there's another proposal I want to submit to different agency in August, [Accessibility Standards].

Meantime, I've budgeted about two-thirds of my time to the transitional period of [Speedometer], which begins as soon as the draft Stage 2 proposal is processed. That leaves me only about 12-14 hours a week to work on other proposals, and business administration. For now the administration won't be a huge burden. By the end of the summer things will heat up, as I look to buy or lease a building, and hire three or four employees, as well as equipment and furniture.

That means, I have to be efficient with my time now, and not squander it. I've got work to do: see you soon.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Very Close

I'm tiptoeing to the finish line here. I have just a few more minor hoops to jump through. I hope to have everything finished by bedtime tonight, then I can click submit, and be done with it for a few months as it works its way through the review process. Then, it's my draft proposal for the Stage 2 contract. And, if all goes according to plan, I just may be able to pull off completion of my other proposal in time for the deadline in a couple weeks. We'll see.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Oh so many hoops

I'm jumping, I'm jumping. I guess this is old hat for those of you used to submitting major grant apps to U.S. gov agencies (or maybe the hurdles for small business funding are entirely different), but it's rather frustrating following a host of different guidelines all purportedly for the same thing, but each having its own twist on what is required, in what format, to what degree of detail, answering which particular questions. Then, there are the specific guidelines from the prog manager, which need to be covered, but where is up to the submitter.

I suppose the harder the process, the more self-selecting the applicants, which in the end can't be bad for the quality of the proposals (at least I should hope). And the better they are (and the fewer there are of low-quality) the less likely the reviewers are to get burnt out, and make snap judgments on applications that may take the better part of 3 weeks full-time to prepare. I'm using 100 hours as my rule of thumb for these sorts of proposal preps. That's a lot of unpaid time. If the funding comes through it's all worth it. So far, I've been pretty lucky. We'll see this time around.

If I get this one, and if the second stage of my other contract comes through, I should have no problem hiring three post-docs in the fall [I say, optimistically]. Scheduling is really up in the air. I've got to get my draft prop in for that Stage 2 contract, then I'll get six months more funding on the Stage 1 part. Great, that'll cover my expenses and put a little more in the company's coffers. But surely not enough to hire anyone.

I met with an accountant today to get some guidance on setting up my accounting methods for the higher level of scrutiny that the Stage 2 contract requires. Word is getting the accounting method approved is the most likely hold-up for getting the contract approved and processed. The better I do now, the less likely I'll hit that gap in funding. He was actually impressed with how organized I was, and validated that everything looked good. Doing my best. I'm trying to find the balance between self-reliance, and working outside my core.

Last year, when faced with the prospect of shelling out four grand of my own money to hire a grant writer editor, I balked, and opted to do it myself. Fortunately, I had a strong support network with my wife and a couple counselors from the state's entrepreneurs' office. Turns out it all worked out for the best. But, at the time, I had to make a choice about which of two proposals to write and submit, because I hadn't the energy or time to write both. Who knows: maybe hiring the help would have allowed me to submit both.

This time around, I hardly showed any drafts to anyone. RocketMom is reading over the "final" draft now. I think that's the first anyone has looked at it. It feels good to have the self-confidence. If I can manage it, I'm going to try to pull together another proposal in the next two weeks. I got a bit of a reprieve on my contract extension draft. The one gatekeeper sent me an official invitation from her end, resetting the date for submission by about a week. That will be my first priority next week (once this new grant app is submitted). Since it's a draft, and not that involved, I may be able to pull it off in a day or two. I'm less worried about the second new one, but I'd like to submit something if I can do it. It's a much smaller level of funding, but every bit helps get me closer to a product I can market commercially.

I expect to be handling more and more of these in time, and I'll need all the self-reliance I can get. But... do I also want to be the firm's accountant? At a certain point, I need to be adept at delegating tasks. Beginning this week, I have a new part-time assistant. It's nice to be able to pay a summer intern $12/hour to handle the details of things I don't really want to spend the time on. One big project this week is learning what he can about project management software, to help me decide which to purchase, and to reduce my learning curve. It's been interesting for me to just come up with small tasks (and have no problem doing so) to toss his way.

I'm putting in my plans and budgets an IT/Administrative Assistant position. I'm still spinning about the possibilities. Years ago I did have some part-time employees when I ran a gardening service. But this is different, WAY DIFFERENT! Still nothing's set. The Jell-O's in the fridge, but the power could still go out. Cross your fingers.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


I just spent about an hour catching up with some of my favorite bloggers (you know who you are), reading a bit, and leaving some comments. It's been a while.

Today, I'm feeling more at peace than I have for a while. I spoke again with one of the players involved in my continuing contract. He put me more at ease again. Sure, I have to satisfy different people in different ways for different things (it's like I'm carrying a sack of potatoes behind an army of key carriers, each with the responsibility to open a different gate, or door, or hatch--only I'm not sure which of those I need opened, and in what order, I'm not really sure what's in my potato sack, but it's not really that heavy, and I can always put it down for a breather).

I'm convinced it will all work out. And, above it all, I recall that I just don't need it. If for some bizarre set of circumstances it all fell through... I'd be okay. That's got to be one of the most empowering feelings I've ever had. And it feels so good.

And so, spending an hour on blogs won't kill me. I've got filing requirements on this new grant prop. to fulfill, but I'll get that done this week. And I still will need to draft up (blind) a 4-5 page document for the one gatekeeper to open up the second half of my first contract. If it'll satisfy her, why not? It'll be worth it: more than a month of funding per page. Not bad!

It still could all fall apart, I know. But more than likely, it won't. Wow!


Never complete. But... I finished the long description part of a new grant proposa1, for one of the academic oriented federal agencies. It's fifteen pages to the bottom at 10 pt font (the specified limits). It's also going to be the basis for my first patent application, just as soon as I decide on a patent attorney. This is all very exciting.

I still have a whole boat load of hoops to jump through to get this new proposal submitted before the deadline next week. I'm planning to get it all done before the weekend, to avoid the crush that will then ensue.

Also spent quite a bit of time the past couple days talking to people and trying to figure out what's required of me for the continuing contract I wrote about a couple days ago. If only it were simple! It's quite an effort just to figure out the chain of command, and whom I need to deal with for what aspect.

Word is pretty clear that we're at the stage where everyone expects the contract to be issued and the money to flow... BUT... nothing is settled until it's settled, and nothing more definitive than such expectation will come until such time as the contract is either in place (or somehow dissipates). And... although the money is in place somewhere (else they wouldn't be able to issue the invitation), there's no telling just when that somewhere will be my firm's bank account, meaning, as I was told today "expect another gap in funding. It's almost assured".

So three months of nothing to now... once I get the draft in and approved, I should get another six of funding on the old contract (though the first check won't come in for three months). Then, who knows? It's kind of hard for me to get those new hires in place when I can't say definitively when (or even IF) I'll be able to bring them on board. I'm hoping to fly in one of my old colleagues (who just filed his dissertation), to talk about the possibilities of bringing him in for a one-year post-doc with a possibility to renew. It'll be hard to follow through though unless or until I know the funds are on the way.

The deadline for my first draft is rather short... um... like the end of next week! (They make me wait three months, then tell me I have two weeks). However, at least one of the parties I spoke with indicated that I could follow one of two formats at this point: a 4-5 page statement of work, or a 30-40 page document of torture. I think... yeah... I'm leaning toward the SOW. Yeah, I'll do that one.

So, if it's only 4-5 pages (and remember this quick deadline is only for a "draft") I'm sure I can pull something together, along with a draft proposed budget, and whatever else they'd like to see. Then, it looks like I'll have two more weeks to gain guidance from the authorizing parties (you know about what work they want me to do), then the chance to modify the draft into a final. Part of the problem is that they're not available to speak with me until next week sometime, and there's little chance of setting up the (REQUIRED!) pre-proposal meeting in time for the first deadline.

Kind of silly if you ask me. What's the point of requiring a draft, when everyone knows it'll have to be completely reworked? It's like preparing a keynote for a conference, when you know the field, but not the topic. Ah well. See, this is the kind of complaining that makes me feel ungrateful. Imagine me, a couple years ago, wallowing in misery over yet another rejection letter (okay... now I've applied for 138 faculty positions...) It's hard to put my present bothers in that light. It's the difference between the wind tickling the hairs on my arm, and being stung by a whole nest of wasps.

You know... yeah... I'm leaning toward the breezy hair thing, okay?

Monday, June 1, 2009


I wrote a post as guest blogger today on my wife's blog: Exploring New Worlds. We've begun some parenting training (shock therapy, boot camp?). Seven years into being a parent, I still haven't figured it out.