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10 cups of coffee and ...

Two random quotes I found somewhere online, had for a while among my notes, and that are both very relevant right now:

There should be a word for "I’m okay but it’s a fragile kind of okay so be gentle with me".


Tired and sleepy mean two totally different things. Sleepy is cute and dozing off and cuddly but tired is 10 cups of coffee and murder.

a counterweight of happiness

The general state of me is a) stressed and over-committed b) having the feeling of being surrounded by idiots (encountered various times in different online contexts: anti-European sentiments? check; inability to accept apologies? check; cultural barriers and people's inability to even see them? check; patriarchy par excellence? check - as sad as it is, the last one hurts least, because I expected it; like reading the wrong newspapers is sometimes easier, because I expect them to screw up) c) extremely thankful for the wonderful people in my life. And because I only want to talk about c) (I know, being all mysterious is not a good thing, but here I am being so, mainly because I need to concentrate on positive things), here some pics:

First we cooked at Boston-D.'s place with her roomies:

cooking extravaganzaCollapse )

eye of godCollapse )

care packageCollapse )

I know I say that from time to time, but it's worth repeating: I have amazing people in my life. <3

back on track (hope so)

america chavez
Uhm, hi. I know this was not a long hiatus, but it was actually longer than I've been without LJ (I almost did not comment) for years now. It's not like the stress is less, but I think I found a certain balance again. Let's hope so and not repeat his whole awful experience of losing it. (And don't forget the comment amnesty for the last entries; although I am super thankful for all the wonderful Vienna recs.)

Random thoughts from the past two weeks:

  • Applications are one of the most humiliating experiences ever. Except for actual interviews (although I was lucky with the interviews so far).
  • October aka proposal Deadline month is NOT a good month to travel. Noted. No traveling in October next year.
  • It's kind of fascinating to myself to see how I have a very distinct taste when it comes to art. I walk past all the Italian and Spanish painters (unfortunately also Velázquez), past Rembrand and Rubens, but the little Vermeer painting draw me in, call to me from the other side of the room. I know that sounds over the top, but that's how it is (I spent ages in front of "The Little Street" years ago - the painting was the first time I consciously encountered his name). Holbein the younger, Breughel the Elder, El Greco. And while Klimt does not talk to me, those early wall painting of his in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, the ones that are less gold and more Mucha ... Oh, those paintings!
  • I may also have just booked a trip to Dresden for the Christmas holidays, because more Vermeer! Also, we haven't been to Dresden yet.
  • We stayed in an amazing airbnb in Vienna - I love a house with a wonderful choice of books on bookshelves. I wish I could do as minimalistic as this flat was (although less sixties and more futuristic), but with even more books.
  • I'm trying to pinpoint my dislike for Hundertwasser and my love for Gehry. I think a big part of it is decoration vs. function. I really, really don't like decoration. I think I may need a whole post on my thoughts what makes me like a room/a space (and what are buildings but spaces). I just don't have well-enough formulated thoughts on it, given how my knowledge when it comes to architecture and interior decoration is close to zero.
  • They discontinued my favorite nail polish. But they seem to have the l'oreal true match powder that weirdly changed color in Germany in the right color here in the USA. "Light Ivory" is a description I can identify with and that is neither too dark nor too cold.
  • I need a new way to set priorities for work. I may have an idea of the how. Now I need to have the self-discipline to implement it.
  • Also here I am, not reading blogs, and gives me this spoiler for the next Avenger's movie? Grah! (I do agree on the "most likely cameo in some dream/memory scene", however.)
  • Traveling makes me gain weight and that not even always with food that would be worth it. The problem? It's not like the traveling is going to stop soon. So: more healthy eating (whatever that means; mostly six portions of veggies/fruit a day and not overeating) when at home! I started with a yummy red beets & feta salad. Nomnomnom. Although I *do* have to remark that eating healthy is hard, even when at home, especially between all the working lunches and my tendency to have most of my social life accompanied by food/drinks.

vienna recs?

on the road
I know I said hiatus. But still: recommendations for Vienna? Your personal highlights, insider tips, places to visit, places that are not worth it, things to do, restaurants/cafes to eat at, etc.

We'll be there Thursday to Sunday, staying in a very central airbnb place. We'll be getting there by train, so everything has to be reachable by public transport.

[edit to add:] While we do not plan to spend tons every day, we are *not* on a tight budget for this particular trip since it's the only one we are doing during the second half of the year (I did more travelling, but that was all work ... :().


okay, chico - hiatus.

america chavez
I'm in Germany and I am OK albeit stressed. But I suppose the big part of being OK is keeping away from the interwebz for a while, at least as long as my moods do the whole roller coaster. Posting and in general having conversations that stretch over several days - as online conversations do - in this state only pulls down. Because I'm five moods further one by the time I come around to answering.

In that sense see me as on hiatus for the next week or two, all including not commenting at all or only sporadically commenting. I am not sure about reading. Also: give me a comment amnesty, both for my own entries and for yours for the last week.

See ya on the other side of it when I'm back in the States.

(Icon very much relevant. America Chavez rocks. Also has "kicking holes in the reality" powers. And the title may have some relation to her. I may have mentioned this already, but I really want an America Chavez comic.)


just stay

I know, the up-and-down is annoying. I am in the down part now.

So my plan for the weekend? Finish two talks, write a research-proposal, meet up with a acquittance from my studies back in M. who happens to work in Leiden now, and attend D.'s and J.'s "all our whisky must go before we move continents".

The reality of my weekend? Falling ill (I really wish I were one of those people who get a cold every third year; mine is more like 3-4 times a year and they are usually pretty bad), cancelled the talk I was supposed to give today because I can't speak, contemplating what to do with the talk tomorrow (given that I need two hours to get where the talk will be), a not-working research-proposal draft (like: even I think it's too weak) that in larger parts consist of sentences like "General blubb; how this all is tied together;" and "REF, REF, REF" and yet needs to be finished and sent out to some people by tomorrow morning the latest, and two dear collaborators being annoyed at me because I sent out the final draft of the paper without incorporating an important comment of theirs.

Something in the back of my mind is seriously contemplating just staying in R. What will I lose if I just leave my stuff in the USA but stay here? Clothes, a few unread books. (And my career, my future. But ugh, right now it all seems bleak anyway.) No, I'm not going to do anything stupid. But it's sometimes nice to entertain the idea.

(Also, sad FFs are not the best thing to read when feeling down anyway, especially not the ones whose big there is "the time is running out" when you feel that your time is running out, too. But this is one amazingly clever postapocalypse/time-travel not-quite-post-Avengers [as said, very clever] story that is going to rip your heart out while delivering as much of an happy end as such a story can.)

fruitstroop & pure fruit smoothie

My life is all work and no fun. Well, not true. My life is a lot of fun, but all of the fun is work-related. It may have included finally cornering one of the experts I needed to talk to here during the farewell round of a friend into talking some half an hour of science with me - over some Ardberg (single Malt Islay). And spending yesterday night and today night (and I do mean the time between 10 pm and midnight) polishing my paper. I may even manage to avoid the inevitable crash for longer since there is just SO MUCH positive input from people. (I still wish I had more time for the city. I so love it!)

As some form of self-care I at least try to eat great things. I may have slightly went overboard the last time because I'm only here for less than two weeks overall, add to this two days that I actually spend in Nijmegen and several days when I only eat breakfast at home. But anyway, here is some food I dearly missed in the USA (for reasons of either being non-existend or too expensive or just not to be found in the two grocery stores closest to me):

Fruitstroop is black gold or so. Nomnomnom. Need to buy more bread. Also yummy full fat (!!!) yoghurt - the European tart variant or at least that's what the frozen yoghurt place in Chicago called it. And Actimel - I tried my first on a Lufthansa flight and got so addicted to the taste.

more foodCollapse )

talking (but not to just talk)

So I am in the painful process of updating my cv (it has to happen sometimes). And I realized that I gave quite an insane amount of talks this year. I mean, I knew, but it's different to have it all black on white. Well, with some sprinkles of (light) blue, since it's part of my CV layout design - I am using a modified version of Xavier Danaux's moderncv latex template, in a mix of this (pdf) and this (png) design with some tweaks of my own to make it more compact in this (pdf) color-combo.

Back to talks: Five contributed talks to conferences/symposia. May have been six, but they did not give me a talk in November. Oh well, that was a long shot. Five seminar and colloquium (and sometimes lunch) talks, i.e., the 45 minute ones. Two more to come in the next weeks when in the Netherlands, so it will be seven by the end of the year. Not listed on the CV, mainly because I haven't yet found out how, are two more informal talks of the sort of "let's come by our next group meeting and give a 10-15 minute talk that will turn into an one-hour long one because we ask so many questions on the way". No wonder that I don't have enough first author publications, I am too busy talking about what I/we have done so far. But: talks. Talks are good. Plus there will be less next year, because I've been to most of the obvious places. Part of the problem with seminar talks on my seniority level is, of course, that nobody has the funds to cover your travel costs, so you can only give one if it's in your area anyway or if you happen to be somewhere.

Back to papers: let's start a git directory for the next one, shall we?

[eda:] And in the meantime academia is further breaking apart. Living Reviews in Relativity seems to have just been killed. And here in a commentary in Nature on the slow death of Europe's science.


The thing about running into a wall of sad (or SAD, who knows) is that there is nothing I can do. Except wait until it recedes. (Also: take long walks. Drink tee. Don't have deadlines. Talk to friends. Don't perpetually hear people's voices from the kitchen. Spend less time online. - some of this thing I can do. Some I can't. For some I would need more self-discipline than I have right now.) It will. But right now it feels like crying. So take everything else here with a grain of salt, the slightly bitter taste of a tear slipping past your lips. Or as a moment of weakness, lapse of judgement, personal experience before it gets colored by thinking and analyzing.


I've seen Young Vic's A Streetcar Named Desire in one of those NT live shows on Thursday. Good, very good. I will keep an eye out on Vanessa Kirby, her Stella was phenomenal. (I should also go to real theater here in Boston. But NT live feels safe. Theater does not.)
It hurts, reading, watching. There is no way out, all of them in the confines of their heads and little lives. No breaking out, no revolution, no real contemplation. Gaining speed towards the crash.


And today, walking through some backstreets (but not only), I realized how much we fail to show real poverty in our fiction. Real desolation. I know it's just facade (I've been behind it if not too far; I know what it feels on the other side), but still I long for the streets of B. Even for the neighborhood my parents live in in A., the one where you hear more Russian and Turkish than German and where my parents, who have moved to a smaller place on the ground floor, complain about the voices and the desolation. And yet, and yet when compared ...


The strange moments when reading Interpreter of Maladies when Jhumpa Lahiri talks about this shop or that restaurant or that T stop and I know them. There is something special about knowing the place the book is about (it's not full of the bittersweet longing that San Diego and Amsterdam creates; but I haven't left Boston yet). The stories are quiet heartache (not always of the love kind) and futility. A bit like Banana Yoshimoto, but Yoshimoto has something more fairy tale like to her writing; Lahiri's is more realistic. (I wonder whether this is part of the language or culture barrier which is, perhaps, higher to a Japanese writer than an Indian-American).


Another train wreck I could not avert my eyes from: a discussion in a professional group. It's more obvious online, without the dynamics and the quick exchange of a live conversation: when people are not willing to discuss and understand, when it's only about exchanging blows. (It's even worse when it's about cultural differences.) (And I hardly ever felt so alienated, felt my person experience of discrimination so erased by the very people who should know it better but seem - perhaps understandably - not interested in the other when the other is Europe/Japan/not-USA. I am not saying I know a place where it would be better - but I know many places where it would be worse -, but this does not make it hurt less.)


And then, eating my lunch, I remember how someone said that the reality is that WWII was not fought on American soil. I know, Pearl Harbor. And more that I don't know about. But if you just count the dead (which is a stupid thing to do, a stupid way to assess the implications): this is not Stalingrad. This is not Dresden. This is not London. This is not the Warszaw Ghetto. (This is also not Dachau or Theresienstadt, both of which I have been to.) I think - a theory, my own - that this changes one's perception. The historical traumas are different.


I was wearing a t-shirt from my high school ("high school" is the wrong word; we use it because we need something that is roughly alike so that people will understand; but the systems are so different, the experiences in parts so foreign). I bought a black hoodie - I suppose I will wear it for the first time in a week in Amsterdam. That would, in a way, be closing a circle because I tore the sleeve of the one I have now on a whiteboard in the old Amsterdam institute (they moved buildings meanwhile) back in 2007, when I visited for the first time, trying to decide whether this is the place I want to spend six months at. There is a small flower application over the hole on the elbow now; I still wear the hoodie.
There were also this girl and her father who joined me on the bench (I was reading Interpreter of Maladies), eating lunch. She had pretty shoes - I thought how I would loved them, too. And then recognized a German brand that does not exist here (there are interesting details in what people wear here and there; tiny moments on alienation in shops; moments of realization on the train/bus). (They spoke German, then. I should have realized that they were foreign - what does foreign mean here? - since they sat down on a bench someone else was already sitting at.)

awesome action women?

I don't watch much TV/movies. But sometimes (usually when I have to iron, as is the case this weekend) I feel like watching something. And observing which movies I enjoy, there is a pattern. OK, there are several patterns. But the one pattern I want to indulge in more, are "awesome action women". Note that I am not saying awesome action movies or even good action movies (and not "unproblematic movies", unfortunately). I will watch and enjoy watching something very campy if it also contains an awesome lady in a tight leather overall that actually covers her boobs kicking ass.

Let me give you some examples: Hanna (have you watched it? No? You should!), Underworld Trilogy, Dredd (the 2012 movie - so no, the woman does not have to be the title character; and high rating are not a problem at all). Back when I was watching TV in Germany - so at least 11 years ago now - , I used to love Cutthroat Island (so fluff is great, too) but haven't seen it for at least 12-14 years and only roughly remember what it may have been about. And let's, of course, not forget the awesomeness that are Trinity in Matrix or Maria Hill (seriously, don't forget Maria!) and Natasha Romanoff (although I haven't fully warmed with her yet, I need to re-watch the movie) in the recent Captain America.

So: any recs?

Things that are on netflix are a big plus, but really, just shoot. I will also gladly - so gladly - take a look at more international productions. I am not going to promise that I am going to watch every one of them, but I want to have a list I can go back to when I want to watch something (and have time to).

making salads in foreign countries

In my head, I keep composing lists about things that I love about the USA (they always contain bagels, but are the shorter ones of the two) and things that irritate me about the USA (the longer ones, they do include the lack of proper German bread - which is a fun thing, given how it took me years to overcome the lack of proper Russian bread after my family moved to Germany). I am not going to write them. The thing is ...

... when I cook at a friend's place [eda: not here, to be honest I've never cooked in a friend's place here - just in general, anywhere in this world], I tend to ask a lot of stupid questions. How do you want your peppers cut? Do you peel cucumbers? How big do you prefer your onions?

It's not like I don't know how to cut peppers - I do. I also like my cucumbers peeled and my onions sliced in thin half-rounds. I hate the taste and texture of cucumber peel in salad and think that diced/chopped onions just don't work right and tend to accumulate at the bottom of the bowl instead of adding the wonderful onion taste and crunchiness to every bite of salad.

But I am also aware that it's very much a matter of taste. People have - as clearly also do I - very clear preferences about how they make their salads. And well, this happens to be their kitchen.

This analogy has, as every analogy does, its weak points. A book on high cuisine may tell you that there is the perfect way so slice or chop onions for salads (but you may still prefer the salad the way your grandma made it). Salads are, while healthy and yummy, not as far-reaching and sometimes vital as other issues. And some things - and I do mean health care, but not only - are not a matter of taste.

Yet, when I come back from my friend's place, I prefer to talk about the fun we had cooking and talking and not about their taste in tomatoes (I prefer cherry plum tomatoes, btw.). I have fared very well so far removing people who can spend hours discussing, in excruciating detail, the wrongness of onion slicing skills of their recent host from my inner circle - and all the more don't want to be one of those people myself.

life with science

san diego
I have a migraine today, so I will leave you with two articles. One of which I have bookmarked for ages, and the other of which caused one of the few in detail heated discussion on my FB feed. Both are very much relevant to my life right now:

1. Nomadus Scientificus or the complications of the "what is home?" question.
Although for me it's aggravated by having had one country crumple around me and then, after settling into the new reality, leaving it and arriving at a new place as a refugee. So yeah, these would not be my answers, but they are an interesting read.

2. “Why Not Just Send Your Résumé to Stanford? That’s a Good School, Right?" -- Academic job search explained
The article is mainly about professorships, but the situation is pretty much the same for postdocs and researcher positions. Including the length of the application process and a number of "this-very-job"-specific essays (in my field mostly titled something along the lines of "statement of research interest" or "research plan") - only that the job you apply for is max for 3 years.

Welcome to my life and such.

I have ...

  • spent the weekend being lazy and not talking to anyone except ♥. Very much needed it after 9 days of non-stop work and conferencing.
  • N. visiting. Busy, busy, busy.
  • met my half-brother (for the second time in the last 18 years), had good Brazilian food, had a pisco-based drink (pisco!), got a bottle of Moldavian muscat ottonel ice-wine. Now I need to find another person into sweet white wines to share it with me.
  • found out that there is a farmer's market every Wednesday at Kendall square. Got some more damson plums/prunes/whatever you want to call them, some violet potatoes, and some amazing fruit bread that I so far only had found at the farmer's market at Harvard that I can't usually get to.
  • got my first ever price adjustment: Bought shoes, found out that they are 40$ cheaper online, went to the store, got the money refunded. Plus I now finally have black half-boots again.
  • plans for today night, tomorrow night, Saturday, and Sunday. Also a seminar talk on Tuesday that I still need title and abstract for (and that, consequently, I also still need to write).
  • bought two books: Tennessee Williams' "A Streetcar Named Desire" (because I'm going to see it next Thursday) and George Orwell's "Why I Write" (because I felt like it). Books are an addiction.
  • read the second volume of "Fables" (Animal Farm). Am very much torn for a variety of reasons.
  • given my Indian roommate a ton of recs of things to do on his and his wife's trip to Europe and especially Munich. Got to try some amazing Indian sweets.
  • tried amazing biscotti a colleague baked. Never liked them before, but loved this. Now have the recipe that even sounds pretty simple.
  • to got back to work, because it's not going to do itself. Duh.
  • to slow down and do some (self-)reflection at a point; also some more deep entries. Later.

foot in mouth

I. [just sad]
I should not read online comments, not even on scientific website. Over on facebook "I fucking love science" linked to this article on genetic research in Ashkenazi Jewish population in nature communications. I haven't seen that much antisemitism and that many Hitler pictures (most of them deleted meanwhile) for ages. I haven't felt that much like throwing up for quite long. (I am not linking on purpose, I thought about it for a while, since I first run into the IFLS post two days ago, but I really don't want to make anybody else feel bad. Still love IFLS, such a nice popularization website! So many idiots reading it, as with everything in this world.)

II. [sad but it makes you laugh so hard]
This is an old one, but it's the first time I read it and it has one of the most fabulous abstracts ever:

The fascinating thing about Dr Lawrence H. Summers, Harvard University's beleaguered President, is not that he often puts his foot in his mouth. We all do that. It's human nature to blurt things out and later wish we hadn't. I can't count the number of times I should have put my brain in gear before letting up the clutch on my tongue. (When I was interviewed for my first job, I actually said, "Oh, salary isn't that important to me." They never forgot that.) No, what makes Summers-watching such an irresistible sport - albeit a morbid one, rather like auto racing fans who attend to see crashes - is not seeing him put his foot in his mouth; it's wondering how he'll manage to get the other foot in there with it.

Gregory A Petsko, "Foot in Mouth Disease (Comment)" in Genome Biology 2005, 6:105

III. [just funny]
On a lighter funny note - something I run into (on the tack board in a science institute) and had to take a blurry photo of because it honestly made my day a bit brighter even though I'm not quiet sure which position I support most (both?! :D):


To stop the series of unprompted slightly-down-ish navel-gazings, here is a more amusing sort of one and a question: What's you Myers-Briggs type? Because this kind of popped up on my list and at a few places online that I frequent lately.

I do think them to be the what German would call "kitchen psychology" (Küchenpsychologie), i.e., the kind of stuff you talk about to amuse yourself while making breakfast or so. Or in other words, it's could almost also be the question along the lines of "Which Babylon 5 character are you?", minus the fact that people make far more money with Myers-Briggs. I am a scientist, I need all kind of validations before I believe, etc. But I am also leaving for another conference tomorrow - well, a collaboration meeting and a conference, to be exact - and am stressed and need something to amuse me.

Anyway, there are a dozen and a few more free tests online and I am not going to point you towards any. Grab any one that you like. Or none. Also, if you want, feel free to tell me what you expect me to be (if you are into it enough to be able to place people - I am not) before you look under the cut.

the answer to the guessing gameCollapse )

money matters

I finally did my taxes. Spend most of the Sunday night doing them and I still need to make copies and send them off tomorrow. But they are basically done. I may give a few dozen Euros away here or there but not claiming the one or other small thing, but I don't have the nerves for them.
You would not believe how much anxiety they give me. Far, far more than normal - I know that nobody likes taxes, except perhaps two people on my list (you know who you are and I am a bit envious, my dear ladies!). But I am one of those people for whom it is emotionally more draining than it should be normal. The thing is - well, actually the two things are ...

ramble, ramble. feel free to skipCollapse )

[eta:] That said, growing up piss-poor means that I am really good at personal finances as far as not overspending/saving goes (don't let me start on investing; it's almost worse than taxes, but I am the queen of not overspending / saving).

Budgets! Filling out budgets for the two proposals I got! Well, OK - I did not have to do the detailed calculations (thank you MIT for being good to your researchers and not letting us spend days trying to navigate this kind of calculations), but I have to do the rough estimates. It's ... interesting. Navigating total sums that are almost two and a half times my net yearly income. Not that any of it goes towards an increase of this income, don't understand me wrong here.

And since we are at my income: I'm at an interesting place here and this is not the "comfortable" kind of interesting. Being, on one hand, in that position of someone who cannot afford a place of her own in this city. And on the other over and over again interacting with the start-up people who don't have trouble covering the drink&dinner for a table of 6, just for the fun of it. Who talk about buying houses in the middle of Cambridge, about investing this and that. And it's all very much normal and our lives are not that much different. (I know that I am not poor, especially not in this country; but still ...) Dissonance. The strangest kind of it.
(And then there are, again and again, discussion whether we are paid enough and whether we have cozy jobs. Nonono. If I wanted a well-paid cozy job I would not be here. I want science! I accept the shitty income and the crazy hours and the pressure and all that. It's fun. But it's not a well-paid, cozy job I could have with my degrees.)

saturday six; with a few keys, I suppose

I. [today]
Saturday, sitting at work and hiding from the excessive heat outside in an office that is overheated, but still better than home. Can we have this thunderstorm they promised for today night, please? Thank you.

II. [today]
This was a very good week. But at some point yesterday evening I hit that brick wall of wallowing misery. I don't even know why. Zero motivation, light headache (but not so light aura, I am just realizing, ugh), feeling terribly lonely, and the general feeling that I will not manage to finish all my plans anyway, so why try at all?

III. [the last week]
That awful moment when someone you are getting to know and find interesting reminds you a lot of a person you really dislike: the look, the ton of voice. It is not the same person, but the outward similarities are enough to set your teeth on edge.

IV. [today]
I stumbled over the notion of "the courtship phase" as description for the X (a substantial number, btw) of years someone dated before marrying. I think this is the reason why I dislike the words "dating" or "boyfriend/girlfriend" so much when related to us.
We are not in the courtship phase. We are not dating. We are not in parts in a process that leads somewhere (except that the whole life is everchanging, a process, but it's a different way to view things in general). We are we. We are exactly where we want to be.

V. [from my draft folder]
I am one of those people who are solution oriented. Sometimes I have to remind myself that people mostly don't want solutions; they want to be held and comforted.

It's not like I don't think this a valid response to distress (it is actually my normal response; I usually want to be held for a bit and then will myself put my big girl pants on and search for a solution), it's just that it is hard for me to remember when interacting with others.

The most annoying thing is, of course, that because I *am* so solution oriented I get annoyed when the people I go to for comfort offer solutions. Because solutions I can do myself (and mostly I have actually thought may way through all the possible reaction routes). But being annoyed is not very fair to them, is it?

VI. [from my draft folder]
Relationship that I read and write have to be equal (whatever this nebulous word means in a given context). I know that a lot of people hate it when one of the characters is weaker out of the fear of her or him being used, being exploited. But my problem is that I don't see how the stronger character will be interested in someone so much weaker, so much less. (Except if there is hidden strength, but than again they are equal ...)

wonder woman stance

Talk went well. Very well indeed. I may be organizing the series of talk this one belonged to this semester.

The problem is: I get lax. I start later and later every time. And it goes well. Every time. Until once it will not and will explode into my face like whoah. Not this time, however. (Two more talks in September - one conference contibuted, one seminar - and two in October - two seminars in the Netherlands.)

The advantage is: as much as I identify as an introvert, I am still a very good public speaker. I can both write talks and deliver them.

Two things that I subconsciously do in talks: I go down with my voice. Deeper and slower. I'm aware of that because of the bit of radio that I have done (radio as in voice over the aether, not as in radio astronomy ;)), but it's not something I decide to do. It just happens. And I stand there, legs wider apart than I would usually do, open body language, occupying space (I suppose they would call it expansive posture - I know Cudy's TED-talk, yes. Also Charlize Theron's "how to walk like a queen." But more stuff in this direction is very welcome). It's not my usual stance - actually, those few hours after a talk, while still riding the adrenaline high, still being in the talk mode, I feel awkward about them afterwards. Who am I to be so loud and assertive and to take up that much physical space? But it's something that works great during talks. Something I try to save over into my normal life. (Look at body language; look at who sits how, not only in the Subway; look at whose elbows are open and whose are drawn close to their body; look at how much it's also a matter of gender, oh how much ...)

Of course it's a self-reinforcing cycle: I give a good talk and feel more confident towards the next one. (The most fun are, by the way, the ones with a ton of questions - I went overtime yesterday and had to skip a section, but only because people kept asking question over question on the way.) But it also helps that I've seen really good speakers - people I admire both as scientists and as science communicators - botch up. It can happen, it happens to everyone, it's not the end of the world. (I talk about the kind of botching up because a talk just does not flow, not because you are not prepared enough because you started too late.)

What did I want to get at with this post? I'm not sure. I suppose it's a: hi, I am pax, I love giving talks and here are some general musings on how I do it. (Also I seen someone speak yesterday, after my talk, and looking at her - body type and clothes and the way she interacted with people - she seemed very much like what I could or would like to be in 20 years. And hey, leading the top German fellowship office is a great thing to have achieved in one's life. Doing so while not wearing business, not even really business casual, to every occasion is a big plus.)

want, don't have time to

0. I am behind on e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.

1. Next time someone asks me to give a seminar on something that is only a minor sidetopic (that I additionally do not have deep insight into) for me, please remind me to say "no". Or, since I seem not able to do so, at least not to write the talk last minute. Spent Labor Day at work, am on slide 15 of about 30. One and a half days more to go, plus I really need to (re)read some reviews or I'll not be able to answer a single question. You know, just a few 30-40+ pages papers of intense scientific writing.

2. I look and feel pregnant - but this is what happens when you eat half of a 12 pound (6 kg) watermelon. On the upside: it makes the current 90+F (32+ °C) temperatures survivable and at least I am not thirsty.

3. Via io9: All Of Tom Hiddleston's Marvel Footage Edited Into One Loki Mega-Movie
(Disclaimer: for all my love for the character, I don't think he would work in a movie of his own. But - a fan doing this thing? I need this in my life. I could re-watch the "what am I?" scene over and over. And that last scene in Thor 2 ...! Oh!)

4. Did you know that there is no "0" in Roman numerals? Just think about the implications. (I did know, I do even distinctly remember the book where I first read it and that also was the start of my love for Escher's tiles, but I was once again stuck by it when thinking about changing the Arabic numbers into Roman ones, because Roman ones are what I usually use.)

5. Also: new round of pick_for_me. I'm excited and can't wait for my buddy to post their choice. Yeah! (I mean, I will have time to read at some point this month, right? Right?!)


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