I love this post over at Academic Secret, “the Big Secret.” It’s true that everyone in academia complains all the time about how busy they are. I’m not sure that this is a big problem though. To me it seems to be the only way to manage the insane number of people who want you to be involved in their pet project (whether that is teaching, research, or service.) The only way to politely get out of getting involved with everything that people would like to guilt trip you into is to say, “Wow, I would love to help with XYZ, but I’m just SO busy right now.”

That being said, my summer has suddenly turned busy. I spent July underemployed, i.e. working only 10 hours a week for actual money. Of course the whole time I was so concerned about money that I got little of the grant writing and household organization that I had planned done. Now a friend of mine got me hired to help her with the ecological field work that she is supposed to be doing. The project is part of a long term ecological monitoring program for local creeks. It involves surveying 20m plots of vegetation along the creeks, which wouldn’t be to horrible except that is 100 degrees around here and the vegetation includes huge patches of blackberry and arundo which has to be hacked through. If you have never heard of arundo take a look at these pictures from the Nature Conservancy. We can’t avoid these nasty plants because the vegetation has to be accurately recorded. Frequently, the center of the plot is right in the middle of a huge patch of blackberries or arundo.

Other dangers include tripping and breaking my leg climbing down steep banks/over huge piles of woody debris and ticks. I picked three ticks off myself yesterday. Actually, each time I screamed and brushed them off in a panicked manner, only to have to locate them on the floor so that I could kill them. Yuck! I’m usually fairly difficult to gross out, but ticks are just creepy. While I’m only out in the field 6-7 hours a day, but the end of that I’m completely wiped out, so I haven’t been getting any of my other work done. I’m basically getting heat exhaustion every day.

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