Deepwater Horizon victims

In april 2010, Deepwater Horizon, the offshore oil drilling rig, leased until 2013 by BP (British Petroleum), sank into the Gulf of Mexico causing in one of largest oil spills in history.
As a result of the disaster there was a major damage to the enviroment, as well as to the health of the residents, to the fishing industry, to turism and to real estate.

If you are a victim you may be entitled to a financial compensation, and if you are qualified you can file for a claim.

Sick Chick in the Workplace

A couple of weeks ago, I came down with a nasty cold. This was during a week when I had numerous scheduled meetings as well as various other important activities. I was producing record amounts of phlegm, and the coughing and sneezing were as frequent as they were unsexy.

My dilemma: When to go back to work? Would it be more frowned upon to miss several days of work with a cold, or to go to work sick and possibly infect others?

Colds can last a long time, and I opted to stay home for two days during the worst of it, and return to work on the day with four meetings. I was met with a mixed reaction at work. I got the "where have you been" comment from only one person, and I don't think it was meant in a mean-spirited way. Anyone else who bothered to comment asked me why I was already back at work. Only my Most Arrogant Colleague made a big show over my likelihood of taking him down with the plague.

Other than extreme nasal congestion, I felt fine the day of my return. I would have been really bored spending another day at home. But at work, I felt some embarrassment honking away in front of my relatively new colleagues. In retrospect, I probably should have stayed home for another day.

This incident has gotten me thinking about all of the pressures associated with work productivity and appearing competent, even if you should be home in bed. I have known enough people who fake an illness, that I am always concerned that people will think I am faking, just so I can sit home and be lazy.

I guess I will just have to take 10,000 mg of vitamin C per day and do a little health dance every night to ward off the illness demons. Then, I will never have to make such fretful should-I-stay-or-should-I-go choices ever again.

Vacations and (Un)Productivity

I was inspired by a post over at Happy Scientist discussing the vacationing tendencies of academics. Yes, I agree, there seems to be some kind of stigma associated with taking a break. Sometimes, I tell people about my beliefs concerning work-life balance, and they look at me like I have three heads.

After I completed my Ph.D., I took about 4 months off to 1) do some consulting work, 2) travel for one month in a foreign land, 3) celebrate the winter holidays, and 4) take my sweet time moving across the country. Many people at Brilliant University were surprised that I would take off for such a long period, and most of my post-doc colleagues took less than a month (sometimes less than a week) off between their Ph.D. and current position.

My Most Arrogant Colleague just recently graduated with his Ph.D. When I first met him (when he was still a grad student), I asked him what his plans were after graduation. He mentioned that he was thinking of doing a little traveling, and I encouraged him to do so, telling him about my own enjoyable experiences.

He then informed me that someone of his caliber would find no satisfaction in being so unproductive for even a few weeks. After all, taking a vacation displays a serious weakness of the mind. How could he take any kind of break from research? His talents are so immeasurable, that the world would suffer greatly if he was not working. Then again, how could I have taken such a vacation? Didn't I feel lazy and worthless? (There was a serious suggestion that, indeed, I was lazy and worthless.)

So, here we are, a few months later, and my Most Arrogant Colleague has graduated. And guess what he is doing? He has decided (in his infinite weakness) to go traveling the world for a month! I'm so glad that he could get over his massive unproductivity issues. I wish I could make him eat his words.