26 March 2010

A day in the life

Posted by Callan Bentley

This month’s Accretionary Wedge is being hosted by Ed over at Geology Happens. Ed asks the rest of us a simple question, “What are you working on now?”

Gosh, where to start? It’s a busy time for me, but then again, it almost always is.

I spent last week immersed in the NE/SE GSA section meeting in Baltimore, and on the post-meeting “Transect Trip” across the Blue Ridge and Valley & Ridge geologic provinces. After the trip, I’ve been using my blogging time to debrief the field trip with my Transect series. This is an ongoing process, but will conclude this weekend.

The week before that was nominally spring break, but for me it was really just throttling back from 1.5work to 0.6work. It was nice to breathe a bit, but I spent it prepping for my conference-induced week of absence, as well as prepping my talk for the conference.

I’ve been teaching my Physical Geology class and my Environmental Geology class at NOVA, and teaching my Structural Geology class at George Mason. This process involves constantly preparing lectures – tweaking graphics and fonts and text positioning, and making sure the sequence of graphics matches my thought-flow. I also have to prepare lab exercises, tweaking them a bit from the previous semester, correcting small errors (page numbers, etc.), and reflecting on how to improve the lab. I have an inch-thick stack of old labs with “EDITS” written on them, sitting to the left of my computer monitor. I’d love the time to deal with them all… Then there’s the grading, which is relatively painless for me except for grading exam essay questions, which takes FOREVER.

I’m also planning for this summer, recruiting students for my Rockies field class, promoting other NOVA summer course offerings (including Snowball Earth and my colleague Ken Rasmussen’s Mid-Atlantic Field Geology), reviewing applications for our third full-time geology faculty member, preparing a workshop for two-year-college geoscience faculty that we’re hosting but Heather MacDonald is planning, organizing and promoting our third annual NOVA Climate Change Symposium, finishing up with six months of work with the Honors Task Force, reading the new Appalachian mountain belt literature, revamping my website, delving deeper into structural topics I don’t totally understand, answering e-mails from ex-students, blog readers, and colleagues, organizing my lab, prepping samples (usually cutting and polishing, though also glue-reinforcing crumbly fault breccias), reviewing papers for publication, reviewing textbooks in consideration of whether I want to adopt them, writing grants, checking out new field locales, leading field trips for Sigma Xi, leading field trips for the Smithsonian, occasionally subbing as GSW meeting secretary, talking blogs with the AGU staff, advising students, planning summer travel (Turkey, I think, as well as New England), paying my bills, buying groceries, watching Battlestar Gallactica and LOST, reading my magazines, drawing cartoons for EARTH, and petting my cat.

I have also set aside some quality time for brewing and drinking beer.

So what am I working on? A lot.