Wednesday, May 12, 2010


It's 7 am; do you know where your chemistry professor is?

So it's early. I finished grading everything last night. Such a relief. I literally was entering grades at the deadline of noon, which I learned of at oh, 10:30 am, last semester, NEVER AGAIN!

So they're not quite finalized but I figured I'd give my kiddos a few hours for any freak out emails begging me to round up or add a few "participation" points and round up. I'm still a new softy, so that does happen occasionally.

Teaching isn't as bad as I thought. The two massive pluses are scheduling and stress levels. The schedule is amazing, and if I didn't teach summers (I am cuz we're broke as a joke and want a house one day) my full time (9 months) pay is spread out over 12 months so I would still have money coming in in the summer for doing nothing. NOTHING! That part sounds sweet. The down sides so far are crappy pay and not a whole lot of job satisfaction. Not that teaching isn't rewarding but as a lab rat, I still have a burning desire to research and be in a lab with test tubes and instruments making chemistry happen. Playing god of my small "world", if you will. Right now that isn't really possible. No money, no space, no instruments all prevent me from research. BUT I can write grants, the students just passed a new fee to pay for a new building and as luck would have it, we share campus with 2 other institutions who both have instruments that aren't constantly being used.

I just wrote a small proposal to NASA as part of their Space Grant program. It isn't much ($6250) but our goal is to build an autonomous robot that will test water to determine potability and also test atmospheric conditions. It was my first official proposal and went over really well. And let me tell you, that's where the money is in academia (as opposed to industry where my friends Acura and Protege who now should be Mazdaaspeed3 I guess, but maybe we'll just stick with Mazda, both PhDs who live and work in Houston and love their jobs but they only get 2 weeks of vacation a year until they've worked there for 2-4 years. No wonder they get paid so much.). But the money is in grants. All faculty get to skim off their grants and it's totally legal. It's actually in the proposed budget! For each grant! Faculty usually get 10-30% of their grants depending on various factors. So they get their salary from the university, which usually has auto pay increases, and then all the grant money. Of course, you have to write the proposals and then get them accepted, and then actually do what you said you were going to do, but you can always worry about that once the money starts rolling in. It's when you buy cars and jewelry for people that the granting agencies get pissed off and call for your head.

Do I see myself still teaching here for the next 20 years like some other faculty? Hell naw. Do I enjoy it now and will continue to enjoy it for the next few years while I write grants, write papers, improve our chemistry department, become a better teacher and scientist while looking for better jobs? Hell yes!

It's still a new job and to avoid getting Dooced, I figured not naming the school was the best idea. Also I'm on probation for the next 2.5 years, after which I think I'm still on some sort of probation thing. They don't have a tenure track, which might actually be a good thing.

Also in freaky deaky Denver spring weather, we woke up to an inch or so of snow. So for those keeping track, it can snow at any time from October to May. It doesn't but it might.

Seth's Wed. To Do:
Taste test the tea I made while writing this to see if it's okay to serve to peeps.
Get a haircut.
Iron regalia for graduation tonight.
Go to retirement party for Calculus prof.
Check email, finish grades, email grades to students who emailed me.
Hang out until graduation starts.
Also remember a winter jacket cuz it's freakin' cold out there!

Seth's To Do for the next coupla weeks:
Update Linkedin profile.
Play with the cats.
Study the weather patterns to determine if I can actually plant my tomatoes and squash!
Get the backyard pumpkin patch ready.
Prepare for summer classes.
Get outside and enjoy Denver's amazing climate and geography!
Love my wife and make her feel appreciated!

Now that's it's 8 am, let's see if someone does early haircuts. Also it's kinda weird getting used to the Mountain timezone. And a little tip for Central and Eastern timezone residents. Call late at night (for you), do NOT call early in the morning, especially important for East Coast peeps. 10 am is 8 am here. Too early for phone calls.

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Tuesday, May 04, 2010


Last Woman Standing

It's been a rough year grandparent-wise.

My paternal grandfather passed a week before I was born.

Dr. Leven Savage Hazlegrove, my maternal grandfather, passed last August. He was a great man and clearly where I got my chemistry genes. He taught chemistry at Samford University for 33 years and luckily my grandmother kept copies of his masters thesis and PhD dissertation for me. He is survived by his wife, 3 daughters, 3 son-in-laws and 3 grandkids (myself, brother and cousin). I couldn't find a good online pic of him, but I'll scan a couple and get those up. More info here and here.

Mrs. Marjorie Stepleton, my paternal grandmother, passed this morning. A wonderful woman who was a proud ambassador of Albertville, Alabama wherever she went. Born, raised and lived her whole life there where raised 3 boys, survived her husband's untimely passing and prepared countless meals for her whole extended family. She was a staple at Wal-Mart where she worked the boys' section and then as a greeter. "Granny Wal-Mart" as she was lovingly known, she would introduce everyone to us like the whole town of Alberville was part of our extended family, which is really is. She was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and never fully recovered after the chemo treatments and has now joined the rest of our family in heaven. Her sister had just passed in April and now can worship and have a big family reunion in heaven (a core Christian belief, I don't think that is just Southern Baptist, it really helps with the feelings of sorrow and despair at a time like this).

Unfortunately Joan and I will not be able to make it to the service as it is the end of the semester and I have to give exams this week and early next week, but our tickets are already purchased for next Friday. We'll be going to Albertville to see her final resting place and introduce Joan to Grandpa Stepleton whose resting place is next to Grandma's.

Thanks for letting me post this. It has helped a bit. It's tough feeling like I abandoned my family by moving out here. I know that isn't true, but the thought still creeps up. We are really looking forward to spending time with my one remaining grandmother.

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