Was fun yesterday watching all the punny posts about #Superb_Owls. I really love owls. I posted some too and also made a Storify of some of the posts of the day. Here are mine:
Here is the full Storify
Was fun yesterday watching all the punny posts about #Superb_Owls. I really love owls. I posted some too and also made a Storify of some of the posts of the day. Here are mine:
Here is the full Storify
I love Yolo Basin Wildlife Area. Only a 5-10 minute drive from Davis or a 20-30 minute bike ride. It is phenomenal. For more about it see the links below:
I drove over there there yesterday as a way of clearing my head after a bit of a rough day the day before. Drove around the gravel roads in the park for a bit and got out a few times to look around.
|First sighting of something of interest – off in the distance|
|A little far away for a good pic – but nice American Kestrel|
|Some flowers out|
|Ruddy duck just off the road|
|Another ruddy duck|
|A group of Northern shovelers|
|More Northern Shovelers|
|Northern Harrier (a lot of Northern things I guess)|
|Coots (they are everywhere in the park)|
|Kingfisher off in the distance|
|Forster’s tern (I think)|
|And then the best moment – there in front of me, running across the road – river otters. They
caught me by surprise but I got this pic through my windshield. Six of them in total.
|I went to where they crossed and looked around for 3-4 minutes
and saw nothing. As I was getting ready to go I saw
some rippling in the water. And then ..
|One crossed the road.|
|And off to the other side.|
|There was a little trail of water in the road.|
|And then another crossed.|
|And off into the bushes to the water.|
|And they then hung out clicking at each other and maybe at me.|
|They had left a little gift by the side of the road.|
|I kept watching|
|And then I realized maybe they were waiting for the other three. So
I backed away and looked across in the water on the other side and there they were.
Overall a good day at the Basin.
Just a quick request for Davis folks or fans … there is a vote going on for best Holiday light display and a house in Davis is one of the finalists with the winner getting $100,000 for their local public schools. It would be great to get some more votes … See http://deckthehouse.patch.com/entry/229605 to vote (you will need a Facebook account).
And I note you can vote 1x/ day … so vote early and often.
Well, yesterday was certainly interesting. In the morning I biked into Davis to go to the Farmer’s Market to pick up some goodies. It was a spectacular fall day – crisp – clear – a bit chilly – and I great day to be on a bike.
I got to the market, wandered through the crowd and bumped into a few colleagues and friends and was a bit stunned to find out that none of them had even heard about the pepper spraying incident the day before on UC Davis Campus. Wow. It had taken over my life in a way all night – see my post about it here: A day of almost pure joy in #DavisCA and at #UCDavis, until … #OccupyUCDavis
So I told them about the incident, and then did some shopping. It all seemed a bit surreal. I felt disconnected. So after filling up my panniers, I biked over to campus. The Quad at UC Davis – where the whole pepper spray incident had gone down – was eerily quiet.
O got some responses including from MarilynM on twitter
Oh well. So I posted the pic with a complaint.
So I had now turned from someone who had hoped to ask questions and report on the press conference to someone who was going to report from the outside.
I then saw a TV truck pull by down the street and took a picture and posted it
And then Marilyn M responded
I basically lingered outside the SurgeII building as the protestors tried to disrupt the press conference and have their voices be heard. While I was there I must say I was generally impressed with the OccupyUCDavis crowd. They were very upset about the pepper spraying but were trying to turn their anger into something useful. They wanted their voices to be heard. They very friendly overall, dedicated to peaceful protest mostly (there were some chants here and there that I did not like – like one calling for the police officer involved in the spraying to come out – but this chant was stopped quickly from within the crowd). And overall they seemed genuinely concerned with UC Davis and its future. They were also very very upset that the Chancellor did not choose to have a press conference where they could attend.
The crowd was also quite mixed in background. There were many undergrads and grad students there. But also post docs, faculty and others. I saw some faculty I knew and talked to them for a bit. And I saw a few students I knew too. The crowd eventually grew to be maybe a few hundred people.
And at one point they decided it was time to try and disrupt the press conference. They then proceeded to march from one side of the building to another where a door was open and they thought maybe they could be heard better through the door. I filmed the march:
Every once in a while during this someone would report on what was going on in the press conference which was live streaming on some channels. Cheers erupted when apparently the chanting from outside put the conference on hold. Information was pretty fluid outside the building. At one point someone went up and down the aisles of people saying the Hiliary Clinton had just called for Katehi to resign on twitter. I figured that must be misinformation, but it did get the crowd excited for a minute.
I filmed some other videos too
Eventually it was clear the press conference was over and Chancellor Katehi was looking for a way to get out of the building. The protestors clearly wanted to see her and engage her in some way and they waited and waited but no Katehi. They kept trying to coordinate placing people at the various exits to the building and at one point they were even allowed into the building through various entrances but I guess there were not allowed into the room where the press conference was happening.
I was impressed with how the crowd desperately wanted to be peaceful. They kept offering (in the form of chants) statements that they would give Katehi a clear way out of the building when she wanted to leave. And then another chant would break out saying something about how she should resign.
And then alas I had to go home to my kids. As I was getting ready to go the crowd was trying to form a line of sorts in which Katehi would be allowed to pass if she came out.
And then it was time for me to go
Overall I left being very impressed with the OccupyUCDavis protestors. I still did not agree with the call for Katehi to resign. I guess I want(ed) more information about who decided what. And that is why I wanted to go to the press conference. I was going there open to the possibility that she made mistakes but that the most egregious ones may have ben made by others. I still have not seen the press conference so I am going to check it out and see if it adds anything to the story. In the end, I think she has been such a great Chancellor so far that I am going into this willing to wait for more details before joining the choruses calling for resignation.
Though I note – I am so far extremely disappointed with the UCD responses to the incident and extremely disturbed by the incident itself. There must be major changes and they should not wait for a 90 day investigation. It seems pretty clear that the truth is not emerging from the UC Davis officials – it is only coming out via video and interviews and posts from the protestors and witnesses. From what I can tell the UCD police are definitely being deceptive and/or completely dishonest about what happened. I personally have ben unsure whether the UCD administration is doing the same. But it certainly is starting to seem like a possibility. I think the jobs of many of the UCD higher ups involved in this hang by a thin thread right now. But when I left the protests, I was not willing to say we should cut that thread just yet. I wanted to be measured in response to the outrageous unmeasured actions of the UCD police.
So I went home. And then I saw the most amazing thing. The video of the response of the protestors to Katehi leaving the building is incredible. An absolutely amazing show of solidarity, peace and wisdom.
All I can say is – wow. An iconic moment. Though I was not there for the actual moment I felt like I was there in spirit. The OccupyUCDavis protestors in a single moment have made a statement that will last forever. And they alone seem to be the ones carrying the torch for a restoration of the good name of UC Davis that has been plunged into the depths by this crisis. It is these silent protestors that hold the spirit of the University. Whose University? Our University.
Well, yesterday seemed to be such a good day at first. In the AM my wife dropped my daughter off at her school (Birch Lane Elementary School famous for the scroll they sent the New York Times earlier in the year) and I stayed at home to watch my son (he does not have school on Friday’s). Normally I take my daughter to school by bike but today she wanted mommy to take her.
While watching my son, I had a conference call to “discuss” the education series for PLoS Biology. I put discuss in quotes since I have laryngitis and could not really speak. But Liza Gross signed on to gchat during the call and I sent her messages which she then read to the crowd. While on the phone I posted a few things to twitter too (must multitask):
After this, we all headed off to my daughter’s school for her class’s “heritage festival.” All the parent’s were there and they had made various foods reflective of their kids heritage (my wife made alfajores – she is from Argentina). Here are some pics from the classroom:
To kick off the event, the kids sang a bunch of songs including “This land is your land”
And when everyone sat down to eat, I headed off to UC Davis campus where I work. But first I stopped at “The Paint Chip” in Davis to get my new Tree of Life art framed. I was not really sure what to do so I sent a twitter DM to Michele Banks the artist to ask for advice and she emailed me some suggestions. And I had sent her my phone number and she ended up calling to give some additional suggestions (we had communicated a lot on twitter but never by phone – with my voice the way it was, I am sure my first impression on the phone to her was a bit unusual).
And then I headed in to work. I got to my office that I have on “Main Campus” (where I go when I am teaching) and did a little bit of work (reviewing papers, sending email). And then at 2 PM I had another conference call, this one about the UC Davis search for a Librarian (we were getting a presentation by the Education Advisory Board about a study they had done on libraries). I called in on my cell phone, put in on mute (after introducing myself in a hoarse whisper) and started walking to the UC Davis Student Union area to get some tea. I had about an hour to “kill” before I needed to go to see Brad Shaffer lecture for our Intro Bio class at 3PM.
This was the first of two lectures for the class. The next was at 5. In this lecture I posted to twitter some of the things Shaffer was saying and had an interesting discussion with various folks that continued into the night:
And while I was trying to engage in this discussion, I noticed some tweets from the outside world about the protests in the UC Davis Quad. I reposted some of these
And then class ended and I rushed across the street to a meeting I had at the Student Union in the Coffee House about a project I am working on. We had our meeting and while we were there we could hear and see some hints at a commotion going on outside in the Quad but I had put down my phone and it was unclear exactly what was going on. Finally at 4:40 or so our meeting ended and I rushed out to the quad to see what was going on. Not much sign of commotion there though I did hear some people discussion “police action.” Then I ran into some of the students from my class who told me the police had pepper sprayed the protestors and that there was some serious confrontation. I took a few pictures before heading in to the next lecture for our intro bio class:
But I really had no clue what had happened.
In class, I continued with the posting stuff to twitter (I really like to promote UC Davis to the world and this class was kind of fun … so I kept posting away).
And then class ended and I rushed home. It was then that I was able to see some of the photos and video of the interaction between the police and the students. And to be honest, my day turned from one of nearly pure joy, into one of deep sadness, shock and dismay. Here are some of the pics and vids from the scene:
Ugggh. I don’t really know what to say here. I usually sympathize with police in some of the interactions with protestors because the police are frequently put in a really hard spot trying to maintain control, enforce laws, and deal with dangerous situations. But this just seems from every way I look at it to be completely unacceptable. UC Davis, a campus that takes pride in the “Principles of Community” has turned into this? Students camping in the quad to express their opinions about a particular issue needed to be removed why? And they needed to be pepper sprayed why? I get that cities and campuses are freaked out about what to do with all these protestors camping in places. But there must have been an alternative to this. I am a bit tired now since I tossed and turned all night in regard to what happened yesterday. I am very worried about my campus now – what happened yesterday is not a path I expected UC Davis to go down. And I have no idea where it is going to go from here.
Well, sad as it may be I finally made it into the basement in the building where I have worked for five + years – the Genome and Biomedical Sciences Facility (GBSF) at UC Davis (the Genome Center is in the same building). There, down in the basement they were having an Open House for the CMGI – the Center for Molecular and Genomic Imaging. I knew of some of the stuff they did but had never been down to see their facility and their, well, toys. And it was really cool.
They also had a nice food spread upstairs on the first floor of our building that I discovered later. The best part of this spread were the animal chocolates and carvings:
Anyway – just a little post here. Oh, and they do some pretty cool science at the CMGI, including some interesting uses of CT, PET, SPECT, MRI, and more. You just never know what you will find in the basement …
A bit of a rambling post here but here goes anyway …
Well, normally I have avoided digging in to UC Davis too much here on my blog. Mostly because it does not really fit with the themes of evolution, open access, microbiology, genomics, etc. Plus, overall, I really really like Davis and UC Davis. The town is very pleasant – simple – but very nice. I lived on my bike in the Washington DC area, taking my life into my own hands, and now living in bike town USA is great. In fact, I even have a blog about life in Davis. And UC Davis is overall a great place to be for me, especially with its strengths in evolution and ecology, population biology, and various aspects of microbiology.
But alas, now all is perfect here in blissville. And one thing that drives me crazy is the mind numbing complexity of the bureaucracy. I note, I moved to Davis from The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR), a small non profit research institute that helped lead the genomics revolution. And mostly I have suffered annoyances of the crazy giant complex system here in silence (except for with a few colleagues here and there). However, I have been planning to start to discuss some of these issues in public more. And just as I was thinking about this, it seems that others are also discussing some issues with the need to reform some UC Davis admin activities.
You see, last year we got a new Chancellor (the name they use here for the head of the University). The new Chancellor is Linda Katehi. I have met her a few times and overall I am very impressed. Perhaps the thing that impresses me most is that in times of somewhat bad financial struggles she has decided to take on the bloat in the administrative side of things as one of her first activities. And it seems this is not all talk. For example our great local newspaper, the Davis Enterprise has been running a series of articles, most by Cory Golden, on some reports and announcements from UC Davis suggesting that Katehi really will be trying to change things around here. Alas, the Davis Enterprise is not available for free on the web for all to read. If you want to get some really insightful stories about UC and UC Davis, you should subscribe. It is not much and if you have any connection to Davis it is worth the money.
Fortunately for me, and perhaps for you, the Davis Enterprise has agreed to let me post extensive quotes from their articles especially as they relate to UC Davis. I will delay a bit in posting to try and respect their need for subscribers (unlike with scientific publications, which should all be open and freely available, I do not feel that way about private enterprises like newspapers). Anyway – I am posting below two stories by Cory Golden of relevance to the UC Davis attempts to change the way things are done here. One is about reorganization of some administrative functions. And one is about an outside evaluating group that just wrote a report on some of the challenges for research at UC Davis. A third is about a campus “vision” statement put out by Katehi.
The main gist is, that UC Davis has enormous potential that is being impeded by some bureaucratic complexities and inefficiencies. Some good quotes include:
Those included “overstaffing, ineffective personnel and playing ‘lawyer games’ to be sure that no risks threaten the organization.”
“Over many decades Davis has developed a culture that permeates its institutions and people, one that can best be described as risk-averse, modest and insular.”
And Katehi seems like she is going to try and fix many of them. No – the plans are not exactly what I would do. But more on that later. The direction things are moving is very appealing to me. I was not inspired by the previous leadership of UC Davis. I am much more hopeful now and am awaiting these changes very impatiently.
Reorganization ramps up at UCD
By Cory Golden
August 18th, 2010
UC Davis leaders have OK’d in spirit a plan to cut up to $16 million in staff positions while rolling campus information technology, human resources and finance offices into a single shared services center.
An all-staff forum about the reorganization is set for Thursday at 10:30 a.m. in the UCD Conference Center Ballroom.
Chancellor Linda Katehi said last week that her goals for the effort, dubbed the “Organizational Excellence Initiative,” are to redirect money to academics, student services and other priorities while improving the service given to the campus.
For now, staff members are left with questions and union leaders have growing concerns.
Among them: how many jobs will be eliminated, how positions in the proposed new center willbe filled, how fast UCD will make the changes and how much money the campus will invest in technology intended to increase efficiency.
Some answers may come from a meeting of the chancellor’s cabinet Aug. 31.
At its last two-hour meeting, last week, the cabinet decided to move forward on the outlines of recommendations made by the Atlanta-based consulting firm ScottMadden, based on more than three months of on-site assessment.
About 6,500 finance, HR and IT employees would be affected by the first phase of the project, as drawn up by the consultant.
“On the amount of savings projected, what percentage of that is from staff positions?” asked a woman in the audience during a presentation Monday to employees of administrative units that would be part of the proposed center.
Answered Karen Hull, associate vice chancellor for human resources, “Those savings reflect staff positions.”
Just how many would be cut, she said she didn’t know.
“We don’t know that for a couple of reasons,” Hull said. “One is that we don’t know for sure whether the cabinet will support the recommendation that ScottMadden has made, so that’s one big variable.
“(It) would be very misleading to connect the (estimated savings) to actual positions,” she added. “There’s a lot of dynamic changes that occur. We have natural attrition every year. We have natural turnover. We have retirements. We will not be wanting to fill any of those positions while we are forming the shared service center.
“I know that it sounds alarming — and it is alarming. These are your jobs, but I think that when we get the picture painted in a more detailed manner it will be more clear as to what will be the potential job loss.”
The consultant found that, at a core cost of $54 million a year, the campus’ human resources, information technology and finance staffing exceeded those of similarly sized organizations.
Among its recommendations: creating a shared structure with one director, improving the use of technology for timekeeping, purchasing, accounting and other tasks, and simplifying policies and processes.
The report pegged one-time or recurring costs, much of it from computer software systems, at about $19.5 million. If UCD follows its suggested timeline, the report says the university should begin saving money in less than three years.
Under the proposed model, about 80 percent of faculty, staff and student questions would be handled through self-service, either through a web portal or interactive phone system.
In what’s likely to be a controversial recommendation, the consultant suggests that the campus create job descriptions for the shared services center, then have employees apply for those positions.
“They recommend kind of an open slate. Everyone has an opportunity, and you compete for those jobs,” Hull explained, adding that the administration may yet choose another way to staff the center.
Among existing problems the consultant’s report pinpointed: large amounts of the same or similar work being done by multiple departments, excessive reviews, delayed service and multiple IT help desks. It also found “manual data collection, transcription of data, high error rates and significant rework.”
One employee at UCD might process about 1,065 invoices per year, working on paper with a long approval process. At Johns Hopkins University, which uses a shared service center model and automated system, one employee can process 45,000, the report says.
Union leaders interviewed Tuesday wondered aloud if the reorganization was an attempt to weed out their members.
Dorie Decosta, president of UCD’s chapter of the Coalition of University Employees Local No. 7, said there was a “general feeling of unrest and discomfort” among staff.
The prospect of automation replacing personalized customer service “sounds like hogwash,” she said.
“You need that element of continuity and what UCD says it stands for: caring about students, caring about staff, caring about faculty.”
Wrote Susan McCormick, president of the University Professional and Technical Employees Local No. 6, in an e-mail message, “I am getting the feeling that UC is finding ways to eliminate the highest-paid employees. They are eliminating at the top of the pay scales, those at UC the longest and those with the most knowledge.”
ScottMadden’s contract calls for a fee of $350,000, plus up to $70,000 in expenses.
The proposed reorganization comes as UCD continues to grapple with an unprecedented $150 million in state budget cuts since 2008-09. It has cut 1,062 positions: 459 layoffs or employees who had hours cut, the rest through attrition or voluntary separation.
The campus has cut 30 percent of its administration’s core budget, compared to a 15.4 percent cut for academic units.
UCD faces another $38 million to $78 million shortfall depending on the outcome of state budget talks this year.
Reports rap UCD research
By Cory Golden
August 15th, 2010
Katehi details campus vision
By Cory Golden
July 30th, 2010
Here is a little video I made when I went to pick up Rebecca Skloot for her talk at UC Davis last week. She was staying at the new UC Davis hotel University of California Davis Hotel | Hyatt Place which is on campus right near the Mondavi Center. The hotel seemed very very nice.
Just thought I would post the vid — seems like it is a good addition to the area hotels with the one exception that it is not in downtown.
Cross posting here from my “normal” non science life as a parent and resident of Davis, CA. This video was made by Hal And Carin Sloane, who are both neighbors and friends of mine. It is part of a fundraising effort for the Davis Schools Foundation and a general awareness raising campaign about the effects of budget cuts on K-12 education.