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What's up... - "You didn't hear about the polar bear?"
November 27th, 2005
06:52 pm

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What's up...
So... a mixed weekend/holiday.

On the good side, I got my back yard all raked up, and it was a great day to do it, yesterday - just warm enough to get by with a sweatshirt, if you were working, and the leaves were nice and dry. Did about 15 39-gallon bags. That was yesterday. The sun went down before I could do the gutters and do the front lawn (which I'd raked the weekend before) with just the lawn mower/mulcher, and last night it rained, so I didn't try to do it today.

Today I finished the "His Dark Materials" trilogy by Philip Pullman - WOW! Loved it, loved it, loved it! *G* All about souls and original sin and religion and other worlds and death and love and...! Yes, it was also a classic coming-of-age book, so I suppose that puts it in "young adult" with Harry Potter, but it's a hell of a lot better written (and more serious) than that. Funny... just peeked at your latest drawings, Hyel, and I realized you'd do a great job of illustrating this, especially with the fun of doing the daemons, too! I'm sure a lot of the rest of you have read this; I remember anonypooh (I think) telling me they'd done this as a stage play (!) in London. So, I'd love to hear other thoughts on it - like, is it a bad sign that I thoroughly enjoyed this and couldn't get into "Mr. Norrell, etc." at all?

Because, boy, have I been feeling slow and stupid lately. Which brings me to the last thing. Not to bring you all down, or anything, and I've hinted at it in the past, but I think I'm going to lose my job. Yep - a new first for me - getting fired! Hurrah! *rolls eyes* Let's face it - I'm just not the "original research" type. I'd love to be, and that's part of why I got into science - to do Nobel Prize researach, hurrah! - but that's not what I'm good at. What I'm good at (at least, I hope I am, and not just deluding myself) is organizing work, writing it up, coming up with good processes, coaching people, making sure procedures in in place, working with other people, figuring out problems, and taking techniques and applying them. Which is what I was hired for in the first place. I made no pretences about who I was and what I could do, and I made sure of that, and the job they gave me (to get a group together and get them working according to procedures) fit my strengths. But, at my level, there are many different things you have to be good at, and one expectation is to be somebody who also can make a contribution to Science (with a capital S).

Now, honestly, I don't see too many of my colleagues doing that - *G* - and so they're not usually held to that. But, whether they honestly see it as a deficiency, or because it's a good excuse to get rid of somebody (me!) who just doesn't seem to fit in with the plan of the people in power (i.e. "politics"), they've told me to spend 100% of my time coming up with 3 brilliant ideas in 4 months, and generating enough data on 2 of them for a paper, while getting ready to go on with the third. And, gee... this is "setting me up for SUCCESS" as they put it. Now, there is the possibility that they mean this honestly, and I gave that some creedence for a while - but there's been no coaching or feedback over this time, which is what I would do if supervising somebody and wanting them to succeed. Just a lot of "you DO know what you have to do" and "make SURE you get it done". *HA!* To be honest, I felt a little bit like the girl in Rumpelstilskin, who had to use a spinning wheel to make gold thread out of straw. *G* I did okay with the first research (I feel), but I don't believe they feel I did, which angers me not a little. The second part is in an area that's pretty much new to me, and I've managed to learn a lot about it in the last month and a half, but I'm really only at the "making a start" point. In other words, I now know what I don't know... *G*. Kind of hard to come up with a new and revolutionary improvement when you've only just learned the technique! I don't even know if somebody else would have done better or not - this whole thing is so bizarre. So, the only conclusions I can make are: I tried, but I'm not succeeding, and, I truly don't think they want me to succeed. Talk about a strange position to be in! But, because of the first conclusion, it really doesn't matter about the second one; I need to find a new job, hopefully one where I can make better use of my abilities. As I said, I probably mentioned this before, but, it's definite now. It will take a few months to go through the various "warning" stages (a sort of legal formality), but it will happen, and it behooves me to find a job before then.

I'm torn, though - see if there's a different kind of job out there that I can do now? try to find a similar one, but in a smaller company in the area? or go into something completely different, that may mean going back to school? What are good job opportunities for a one-time scientist who also likes English? And photography? I'll be honest - I'm scared. I have money to last for a couple of years, so I'm very fortunate, but eventually I'd have to sell my house and figure out how to support myself.

Anyway, just rambling here. Been a strange weekend. I probably should have gone into work and worked more on the research, but it's so damn hard to care about it, when I don't even know why I'm doing it, or what the people above me are thinking, or where I fit into here. Whew! I wonder what I'd be good at?

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From:rosamundeb
Date:November 28th, 2005 02:12 am (UTC)
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Heck, they adapted it for a PLAY - can you imagine how tricky that must have been? I assume they used puppets/marionettes for the daemons, but still... can't have been easy! And the polar bear... and the flying... and the convoluted plot... and young children as the leads? Whew! How long ago did you read it?
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From:abandonada
Date:November 28th, 2005 06:09 am (UTC)
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I read that trilogy maybe two years ago and enjoyed it. The movie maybe is still being adapted, I'm guessing. Hopefully it will be good.

So what would your daemons look like, Voontah and Ros? Or maybe we already have little plastic hobbit ones!!
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From:rosamundeb
Date:December 7th, 2005 07:11 pm (UTC)
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*L*! Got this delayed... "little plastic hobbit ones" - love it!
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From:cyloran
Date:November 28th, 2005 12:42 am (UTC)
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Damn. That totally sucks about the job. It certainly sounds as if they've been setting you up for defeat, and that's not the kind of workplace you'd want to be in anyway. I know it's scary (and I can say that from experience, having been laid off twice), but I feel certain another (better!) opportunity will present itself to you. Whether its in science, English, or as a photographer, you can succeed in anything you do.

BTW, I've also read Pullman's series and thought it totally rocked. The first book is still my favorite, and I believe there were rumors of it being adapted to the screen but I haven't heard anything recently.
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From:rosamundeb
Date:November 28th, 2005 02:19 am (UTC)
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Thanks so much. How did you get into what you're doing, and is it something you enjoy? I'm trying to figure out what some alternative good jobs are.

Cool! How long ago did you read it? Yeah, it was a really fun (and fast!) read, with some great characters. I spent so much thought on who was "good" or "bad", but, as they say in the end - people do good and bad things. But I still find it very hard to feel Lord Asriel was on the right side if it was willing to sacrifice an innocent child for it. And the ending... wll, it was poetic, but, still not clear how what they did changed the flow of Dust - I would think the release of th ghosts did that more than anything else. And - they couldn't leave ONE MORE window open, for 80 years? Ummmm... come on! *G*
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From:cyloran
Date:November 28th, 2005 03:22 am (UTC)
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I actually started out in word processing for the law firm. While there, I was asked to do a few projects for the Trademark group and then I asked for a few more. They were so pleased, they actually created a position for me in their department and woed me away from WP. It kind of found me rather than the other way around. You know, I just had a formal portrait done by a photographer that uses digital photography and couldn't help thinking about you.

Gee, and when did I read those books? Three years ago? I'll probably go back and reread them. I never did buy Lord Asriel being a good guy. That didn't seem at all plausible and just downright sloppy. The first two books were so well done, the third seemed like a mad dash to the finish line.
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From:arevanye
Date:November 28th, 2005 12:53 am (UTC)
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I liked the Golden Compass and the Subtle Knife, but I thought that Pullman really had more than he could handle for the final book and he didn't pull it off. One of the things I have a big beef about is that his character "reversals" were very unbelievable. Usually, an author will give hints and foreshadowing of the underlying goodness of a supposedly evil character, but we are given nothing of the sort with Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter. In fact, she's drugging her child through most of the first part of the book, right? But in the end they sort of just change their minds and decide to sacrifice themselves for Lyra. It just was poor writing and character development, IMO. I know a lot of people have a big problem with Pullman's anti-church stance throughout the novels, but I thought his innocence changing to sexuality theme a bit more inappropriate in a book written for the Young Adult audience. Rowling's done it all right with Harry Potter, but I think that Pullman goes too far considering his characters are supposed to be, what, 12 or 13? And the ending--here we've gotten fond of the spunky and authority-flouting Lyra through the series, and in the end she's stuck back in school? And she's okay with that?

Sorry to hear about your job, and the setting-you-up-to-fail scenario. That's got to be tough to get motivated to get out of bed in the morning! I hope that you find something new and exciting soon--sounds like you are suited better to project management. Are there any career avenues where you could just manage product and idea development, not "invent" them? No one should be stuck in a job they dislike.
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From:rosamundeb
Date:November 28th, 2005 02:30 am (UTC)
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Ooooo.... is your icon an icon of the door of the Wardrobe? Cool!

*L*! - I was just writing a reply to another friend about the book, and I had similar problems. For me, it was believing that Lord Asriel could be on the "right" side - if he's willing to kill a child for it. Now, Pullman does make a big thing about people not being good or evil, just their decisions/actions. And you could see Mrs. Coulter and Lord Asriel as being "Gollum" types - how even the most evil can be redeemed, can do something good in the end.

But, yeah, didn't Mrs. Coulter slap Lyra at one point, while she was "taking care" of her? And what was she really planning to do with her? Hard to believe she loved her at any time. Never really made sense - I agree.

I disagree a bit with the other point, though; I think they found love, not sex. On the other hand, you're right - the last thing you need is encouraging 13-year olds to believe they're going to find mature love at that age!

And, why does this reverse the flow of Dust? They're not the first people in the world to feel that way. Actually, it makes more sense that the release of the ghosts - and the Dust that would generate - caused the reversal, right? *L* - now you guys are confusing me about the books! You may be right, though - he may have taken too much on.

As to the job - well, I thought that I WAS getting a product management job. Unfortunately, it was a messy situation, and I ended up on the wrong side of the politics. *shrugs* That's the way it goes!
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From:aeb
Date:November 28th, 2005 02:35 am (UTC)
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It does sound like the yard is coming nicely. {Smile}

I haven't gotten into those books, tho I do mean to eventually. {Smile}

However... {bite lips}

What are good job opportunities for a one-time scientist who also likes English? And photography?

May I ask what your field is? {thoughtful look} Because that would affect how those fit together.... {Smile}

Anne Elizabeth Baldwin
From:(Anonymous)
Date:November 28th, 2005 02:37 am (UTC)

Changing planes

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You might roll your eyes at this, but the one thing I heard a lot of was "Follow your bliss". Find something you know you're passionate about, and see how your project management and human resources skills can get you a job in that field.

It's very common these days - more common than not, actually - to go through major career changes not once but several times during ones working life. My LTA classmates were mostly people who were re-careering. We had a visit in class by the head of career counseling at the college, and she talked about the resources available to members of the community - not just people attending classes there. I checked out your local community college and they don't say explicitly that they serve community members as well as students, but it's worth trying.

Good luck - and oh! SB owes you one heck of a thank you note! Um, wow.
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From:ninquelosse
Date:November 28th, 2005 02:39 am (UTC)

Re: Changing planes

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Hey - that was me. Switched browsers.
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From:rosamundeb
Date:November 28th, 2005 03:02 am (UTC)

Re: Changing planes

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Thank you... you know, I keep telling myself that, but I don't always remember. So one of the resources they mentioned was local community colleges? Good idea - thanks!

*G* The "SB" gave you away!

Yes, I should explain that - *L*! I had some stuff from GenCon that I thought he might like (the cards and dragon)... and had bought a Harry Potter thing because I wanted to send the Remus figure to Kam (she loves him), but I kept the rest. So, I thought SB would like it... but he would need figures, right? *L*! Well, I couldn't find any, but then I saw ths cool thing at Toys R Us and had to get it! *G* Told you it was complicated. Anyway, I wanted to get him something, since I'd gave stuff to Dee's Shireling. Including shells... hence the shells. Figured he'd enjoy playing with them, or making something with them. Hope he likes the stuff!
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From:rosamundeb
Date:November 28th, 2005 02:57 am (UTC)

Re: Changing planes

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Thank you... you know, I keep telling myself that, but I don't always remember. So one of the resources they mentioned was local community colleges? Good idea - thanks!
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From:arevanye
Date:November 28th, 2005 03:33 am (UTC)
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Yes, it is the wardrobe. They have a beautifully carved one for the movie. All the iconic symbols from the series, like Digory's apple, and the garden on the hill are on it.

It's been a couple of years since I read Spyglass, so I may be confusing the details of the story, but wasn't there some connection between the woman professor, and how she was tempting the young children? And her story about how she discovered her sexuality? My memory could be wrong on this one. But I do think that he started too many sticky plot lines and character lines that he couldn't tie them coherently together at the end. And one other thing--wasn't that journey through the land of the dead incredibly long and depressing?

Oy, office politics. It has been the ruin of many a good job. I will be keeping my fingers crossed for you!
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From:arevanye
Date:November 28th, 2005 03:34 am (UTC)
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I could have sworn I put this under your reply, but it ended up down here? Crazy LJ.
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From:rosamundeb
Date:November 28th, 2005 02:18 pm (UTC)
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Yep, you're right.... she tells the story of being fed a piece of marzipan... and Lyra ends up feeding Will a piece of red fruit (*G*)... so, the professor was supposed to be the tempter, and she was, because she inspired that idea in Lyra, who, of course, was Eve.

But, hey - all they did was kiss! *G* Sorry, that bit just didn't make sense for me. Why it should reverse the Dust flow?
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From:lavendertook
Date:November 28th, 2005 05:06 am (UTC)
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I've heard great things about that trilogy--I have it and plan to read it sometime--I will probably treat myself to a volume before the movie comes. One other friend on my flist is reading it right now.

So sorry with the job pressure! It sounds like how grad school works in my field. Ugh. *hugs*

Good luck with the job hunt. You know, there is a lot of need for scientists who write well. I have a friend at NIH with a PhD in biology (maybe biochem--can't remembr which) who oversees grant proposals who kept urging me to apply there. If you're interested in the DC area I can get you in contact with her.
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From:rosamundeb
Date:December 8th, 2005 02:32 pm (UTC)
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Got this delayed.

Yep, it's like being back in grad school (*moans*!).

I may ask you about your friend later - thanks. *S*
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