Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Review

The most popular posts of this year are
  1. The Best Advice for Graduate Students (thanks for the link, Chemjobber)
  2. Q&A with Crazy Aaron (thanks for the Facebook link, Aaron)
  3. Rheologist Job at Wrigley
  4. Rheologist Job at Kraft
  5. Bulletproof Shirt--It turns out if you run a Google Image search on kevlar molecular structure, the post is attractive because of the yellow-colored picture.
Favorite Post Title: Elvis was a Chemical Engineer

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Quotations of the Moment: Bad Examples Edition

"If you can't be a good example, you'll just have to serve as a horrible warning."
--Catherine Aird

"A man who swings a cat by a tail will learn something he can learn in no other way."
--Mark Twain

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Pointless Trivia (SF Prep #3 Update)

I found out recently that the question "red or green?" when ordering food in a New Mexican restaurant is actually the official state question of New Mexico.

A Pointless Observation

During the holiday break, I used a Mac for the first time in a while.  I noticed that the pie charts from some previous posts [1,2] looked like the Mac beach ball of death.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Best Advice for Graduate Students

Back up all your data and your thesis and put the backup in a secure place.

An article in the December 20, 2010 edition of the Albuquerque Journal [1] told the sad story of a Ph.D. student who lost all her work when thieves stole her computer and her back-up drive [5] during a break-in.  She's hoping for the return of her computer, but the article indicated that her laptop was the only place where her data, collected over the last 6 years, were stored.
I received this blunt advice from R.L. Peters's book Getting What You Came For when I was in grad school.  I kept three copies of my writing: one on me, one in my lab, and one at my apartment.  I got paranoid when I found that the library book detectors were slowly erasing my floppy disks.

[1]  The article is available online, but only to Journal subscribers.
[2]  To end this post on a happy note, in time for the Western holidays, check out this story from New Zealand where the computer was returned.

Update (12/30/2010)
[3]  Thanks to CJ for the link.  For those who are stoping by, this is a blog focused on the field of rheology.  The logo at the top of the page refers to the phenomenon called yield stress.
[4]  Here are some quotations about being a bad example.

Update (1/3/2011)
[5]  The original post indicated that the student had not backed up her work.  She used a portable hard drive, which was stolen along with her computer.  The post has been revised to reflect this fact.  This information comes from an anonymous commenter at Chemjobber.  I apologize for the error.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Where are the Rheology Schools?

Following up on a previous post, I thought a search of academic members of SOR could provide information on where people would go to school to obtain a rheological education.  I performed erformed another search on SOR members, focusing on academics.  Any one who listed an academic title (university universtiy, college, department) was counted as an academic.  The top ten states for academic SOR members are TX, WI, CA, MA, OH, IL, PA, MI, NY, and MN [1,2,3].  (I went to graduate school in Illinois.)  I pooled together the states where there were fewer than 5 academics per state.  States with zero academic SOR members were AK, HI, NE, NH, NM, and VT.

[1]  Postal code abbreviations here.
[2]  Raw data here.
[3]  John has put together a list of polymer-related programs here.
[4]  Update 2/8/2011: Fixed 2 typos.

Where are the Rheology Jobs?

Back in May, the states with multiple industrial rheological job positions were NJ, MA, PA, NY, OH, CA, IN, CT, and DE [1].  I was wondering where the rheological jobs in the United States were and realized some information could be obtained from the Society of Rheology directory [2].  I looked through all 50 states and counted up government and industrial positions.  Some members do not identify their place of employment.  If I recognized that person as a professor, I did not count them; otherwise, I assumed that person had an industrial or government job.  From the data [3], I generated the following chart.

The top ten states for SOR members are OH, TX, NJ, CA, MN, IL, PA, DE, MD, and NY.  VA, MA, MI, WI, NM, and CT all have more than 9 industrial and government members.  The remaining 97 members were divided among 30 states.  (I'm one of two SOR members from Nebraska.)  States with zero industrial or governmental members are IA, ID, LA, ME, MT, ND, NV, and, RI.  (Next post--academic members).

[1]  Postal code abbreviations here.
[2]  SOR members can access the directory.
[3]  Raw numbers used to generate the chart can be found here.
[4]  Update 2/8/2011: Fixed broken link

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010

2010 Job Report Review

Here's a chart of job postings using the keyword search "rheolog*" from Monster and Careerbuilder for this calendar year.  The average number of postings from Monster was 31.  (I've only been tracking Careerbuilder for 3 months.)  February-July was the time when the most positions were advertised.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

'Burn the Place to the Ground'

San Diego-area radio stations will be playing songs from the following list today--
  • Burning Down the House (Talking Heads)
  • Rooms on Fire (Stevie Nicks)
  • Fire Burning (Sean Kingston)
  • Great Balls of Fire (Jerry Lee Lewis)
  • Ring of Fire (Johnny Cash)
  • Eyes on Fire (Blue Foundation)
  • Hold Your Fire (Rush)
  • Disco Inferno (The Trammps)
  • The Roof Is on Fire (Rock Master Scott & the Dynamic Three)
  • Burning Love (Elvis Presley)
  • We Didn't Start the Fire (Billy Joel)
  • Burn All the Letters (Indigo Girls)
  • Fire Woman (The Cult)
  • Paper in Fire (John Mellencamp)
  • St. Elmo's Fire (John Parr)
  • I'm on Fire (Bruce Springsteen)
  • Fire and Rain (James Taylor)
  • Smokin' (Boston)
  • T.N.T. (AC/DC)
  • Smoke on the Water (Deep Purple)--which is quoted in the post title
Stations will also be playing the Pyromania album from Def Leppard, as well as the collected works of Earth, Wind & Fire and Arcade Fire.  Once you're tired of music, you can read The Girl Who Played with Fire by Steig Larsson or Firestarter by Stephen King.  Don't forget the showing of the movie Backdraft later.

(Surely this is an incomplete list.  Make your additions in the comments below.)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Quotation of the Moment: Corporate Culture

This anecdote, by Robert Townsend (1920-1998), shows how one person can have an effect on corporate culture.  It comes from his book Up the Organization.
When I became head of Avis [in 1962--EFB] I was assured that no one at headquarters was any good, and that my first job was to start recruiting a whole new team. Three years later, Hal Geneen, the President of ITT (which had just acquired Avis), after meeting everybody and listening to them in action for a day, said, “I’ve never seen such depth of management; why I’ve already spotted three chief executive officers!” You guessed it. Same people. I’d brought in only two new people, a lawyer and an accountant.

Idea for Improving Culture

At a recent brainstorming session, I came up with an idea for improving corporate culture.  This idea has yet to be rejected, and I haven't heard any criticism of it yet.  I don't know if it will make it through the winnowing process.  Let me know what you think.

"Free Lunch Program"
Give everyone an amount on their corporate travel accounts ($50-$100/year) that they can use to go out and have lunch with colleagues.  It could be a single lunch at a reasonable restaurant, or an order of subs from the local sandwich place.  This helps build camaraderie and adds to brainstorming time.  It also reduces the relentless cost-cutting that seems to be part of corporate life these days.

Corporate Culture Commentary

There's been some discussion on corporate culture [1,2,3], and I'd like to add a few thoughts, as I've been included in discussions on finding ways to improve the culture at my employer.
  • Different people have different experiences, and what works well for one person may not work well for others.  Some people may think that everything is just peachy, while others who report up to the same VP may be seething with anger.
  • Project quality matters.  Give people kick-ass projects, and they'll do great.  Make them do crap work, and you'll get crap back.
    • Experienced and secure employees will let you know when you've given them crap.
  • Avoid frivolous organization chart rearrangements and cubicle relocations.  When people say "I've worked for x bosses in y years," minimize x and y.

[1]  In the Pipeline
[2]  Chemjobber
[3]  Rheo Thing

Monday, December 6, 2010

My first spam comment

My post on iTunes, which seems to be a favorite of search engines, attracted a spam comment today.  This was the first spam comment for this blog.  I'd always planned to keep the first one for sentimental reasons, but this one involved NSFW activities.  So, I terminated it with extreme prejudice.

Kraft/Wrigley updates

I posted about jobs at Kraft Foods and Wrigley a few months ago.  Both those jobs are still listed on the respective company web sites.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Jobs Report (December '10)

A keyword search using the term "rheolog*" found 17 jobs on using Monster's "new search" and 23 jobs using the standard search.  (All previous searches were done using standard search.)  The same keyword found 28 jobs on Careerbuilder.  The search was performed on December 3rd.