Apr 28, 2010

Snow(?!) at home ... yikes

All my facebook friends in Montreal are posting about a spring snow storm, and one even posted pictures of several inches of snow in her back garden. Eeww. I know that snow storms are pretty common late spring, but I'm still very grateful that I spent today basking in some 33C by the pool on this last full day in Singapore. 

We're due for another long set of flights tomorrow. I managed to do a bit of work today but then was distracted by the pool and a general malaise set in so I cuddled up with Gossip Girl for the rest of the afternoon. Tonight we'll have a few drinks with some friends, and we've yet to pack our suitcase. In spite of having very little to do all day, somehow all the chores were ignored.

I enjoyed Singapore. The trip was much more positive than last time and I adjusted pretty well to the slow lifestyle. But it's also kind of time to head home. I've got teaching to do as of next week, and feel like getting back in the full swing of things. Holidays are good but one can only relax for so long.

Apr 22, 2010


We made it! After some tense days watching the volcanic ash cloud and the status of our flight, we decided to jump the gun and buy new (!!!) tickets to Singapore, using an alternative route. Instead of flying via London, we went via Hong Kong. This, we thought, would absolve us from any ash issues.

We weren't entirely correct. That is, the direct flight from Toronto to Hong Kong is some 15 hours plus. It also happens to go very much via the northern polar region. And it seems some of the ash had dispersed in that direction. So our captain told us happily that we'd be flying a little further south than usual, but that this would add some time to our flight ... 16.5 hours later we finally landed in Hong Kong. I think that's the longest single-stretch flight I've ever been on. I had no idea that planes could stay in the air for that amount of time and don't even want to think about how low the fuel tank must have been by the time we landed.

From there, it was a "short" hop to Singapore, with another 3.5 hours or so of flying. We were smart and encouraged a ticket agent to put us on an earlier flight, since we had a fairly long layover in HK. We were both very happy to land and be amongst the flowers, green trees and the heat. Hubby was glad in particular, as a serious serious bout of diarrhea had hit him somewhere along the way. We already saw a doctor for that, and they reckon it's a stomach virus -- thankfully, doctors here are liberal with medication and within less than an hour, hubby had a bag full of pills and felt infinitely better. Try doing that in Quebec!

Singapore is proving to be a lot of fun this time. Last time I was here, I was totally stressed out from having to give a job-talk presentation, and all that went with it. It was a harrowing experience, and one I never want to repeat. It left me with a bad taste in my mouth for the city-state, but it turns out that much of my view was tinted by my experience. This time round, I feel more at home. Yes, things are still very much changed from the last time I lived here. And I still get turned around everywhere I go because I recognize an area but then feel a disconnect because there are ten new buildings up around it. Construction here seems as permanent as it is in Montreal.

While here, I'm trying to get through a whole lot of work. Mostly it involves prepping for classes, although I might go a bit more easy on that since I've just got word that I could be teaching entirely new courses soon. That means more prep work - something most junior faculty try to avoid like the plague. However, the new courses would be right up my ally, and could therefore be more fun to teach, and MUCH more flexible in terms of content development. All in all, those things would be a major plus. Even so, I think I'll miss my core undergraduate course.

Hubby is also busy working with his business partner here (the reason we came). I go along for lunch, but most of the time am on my laptop, or have a dip in the pool. Yesterday, I spent an entire hour laying on the bed just listening to a thunder storm. I forgot how good they get here, and it's wonderful to have the luxury to listen to it pass through, rather than stare at it from my office window as I  used to do in the past.

Today, I have more work planned, but we're also taking some time out. It's a special day for us: on this day, last year, I lost a baby. It seems both a very long time ago, and yet very near. It's been on my mind for a while now, since this date was coming up. A couple on our long flights had twin babies who were about 4-5 months old - the age ours would have been. They were utterly adorable, and didn't squeak the entire flight. I tracked their progress, though I didn't talk to the parents. I didn't want to freak them out with my psychosis: "oh, lovely babies ... mine would have been about the same age". But still, I couldn't help thinking it. Hubby and I are planning a visit to the Chinese gardens here to mark the event - it is fitting, since we planted a tree for Baby K last year. The tree is still doing wonderfully well, thanks to our friends who allowed us to plant it in their garden. They sent us a picture to prove it.

Apr 17, 2010

A cloud of ash ...

is hanging over Europe. And it's throwing a spanner in the works for a lot of people's travel plans. I've been watching it closely for several days now as in a few days, hubby and I are supposed to be flying to the other side of the world via Europe. 

At the moment, things are very much up in the air, so to speak. It's uncertain whether our flight will be cancelled. If it is, we could go the other way around the world to our destination, but who knows whether they'll be any seats left by then ... it's a gamble. 

Right now, it's a waiting game.

Apr 14, 2010


It's late. I'm not sleeping because I have too much on my mind. Some of it is work: it's the end of semester so lots of last-minute meetings, papers to write, and for me, also a new class to prepare that I start teaching in May. 

Some of it is personal life: excited anticipation of an upcoming trip to the other side of the world, and a crash-diet to ensure I don't look completely ridiculous in my shorts. While I've generally kept up with the exercise routine, it's either a lack of skiing that's done me in, or pilates isn't enough to keep my body fat down. The upcoming trip also adds a fair bit of general sorting-out that needs to be done: additional chores and organizing. None of it big but it adds to the pile of stuff and general irritations.

And then there is a general sense that the world is against me this week. Not in any big way - after all I still have my grant to gloat about. But in a little way. Reaching out to friends to organize trips for the next several months, and not hearing back from any of them who are male (the female friends seem more than happy to drop me a line to let me know that, no, they didn't die since the last time we spoke). I don't know if the world is just busy in general, or just doesn't consider me important enough, or is just ... rude. Whatever the reason, I'm peeved. 

Maybe it's just my zodiac. By all accounts I'm promised lots of "long discussions" on the 17th and 18th. I just hope that doesn't mean lots of meetings. I've had my share of those this month, and quite frankly, I'm mentally done. The horoscope reckons it's "fun gatherings". I sure hope so. 

Apr 1, 2010

Grant money

I had fantastic news today - I got awarded a lot of grant money.

Grant money is not something I've had to worry about before, and not always something that academics in business schools need to worry about. It's typically in the hard sciences where one sees people desperately applying for grants to fund their labs, their hordes of post-docs, students and research assistants and whatever else money can buy.

At a business school, research is mostly done at a minimal cost. Databases are often provided by the library, at some central expense budget. And the rest of the work is good old labor provided by the professors and students who get some centrally coordinate money to support their studies.

But at some schools, if you want to get anything done, you need to get your own money. Databases are pricey and if you're not one of the lucky elite institutions where they hand them to you on a silver platter, ten thousand dollars for a bit of data quickly begins to seem like a lot.

My university is not unreasonable as far as provision of data goes. And I do get a substantial amount of funds already as part of my new professorship, to support my research efforts and any expenses that go with it. However, seeking external grants is still something that the school considers worthy. So with some prodding from various senior professors and a keen newly minted research program support person, I put in a grant proposal. That was in October. Then I put it out of my mind, since results were not due till some six months later.

In other words, in April ... Not for a moment did I think I'd actually get it. I hoped, of course. But the process works on some kind of point system, and as a junior faculty member, it's difficult to gain enough points to make the first cut. However, I did have a rather cool idea (if I do say so myself). And I think that's what must have appealed to the reviewers.

I'm totally psyched, and buzzing from the experience. Not only is a large amount of money, it's also a three year project, and it's NOT my dissertation topic. I'm finally growing up ... academically speaking, that is.