Monday, March 30, 2009

Bring on the Gold

The Holiday Inn banquet hall has been reserved. A fleet of 20 year old waiters have donned their black polyester pants, soiled tuxedo shirts, and clip-on ties. They are ready to assist you on your trip to the buffet. Fatty prime-rib, chicken cacciatore, and baked ziti awaits. The smarmy DJ is standing by, ready to kick this party into high gear. Prepare to chicken dance, electric slide, and YMCA your way into the wee hours of the night. The watery drinks will be flowing! This is going to be one helluva 50th Blog-Post party! Have fun everybody! If you can’t find me, I’ll be in the alley smoking a joint with the waiters.

OK, wait. All joking aside, I must admit that reaching post #50 has me feeling a bit reflective. Many of you have been blogging away for years now and 50 probably seems like a pretty measly milestone. But I am rather amazed to have made it this long. My intentions for this blog are clearly stated (over there under my fake name). Of course, there are a few other reasons I haven’t told you about. While I am not willing to completely spill my guts here, a few special toasts are in order. I raise my glass to Acadamnit readers for the following:

Indulging my juvenile sense of humor: While I (brace yourself) actually take my job quite seriously, I have no interest in bringing such seriousness to my blog. I have decidedly refused to address what can generally be considered “important issues” in the academic workplace. I pose no serious political or pedagogical questions and offer no opinions or advice. It is not because I am unaware or do not care. There are numerous thoughtful bloggers out there providing this content and I spend enough time at work thinking about such things. So, thanks for not getting all high-minded on me.

Giving me the chance to retake College Composition: Throughout high school and college I was a miserable failure at any assignment that required creative writing. College composition was a nightmare and I barely pulled a B. Let me just apologize right now to all of my past teachers who assigned any writing task that I could not construct as a journal article. Holy shit, I made you read some crap. This obviously begs the question of how I ended up starting a blog. It was pretty simple. I started writing mock documents to amuse myself. You know, fake annual self-assessments and letters to journal editors. I would crack myself up and then push delete. I just switched the delete button with “post” and this blog was born. It now amazes me that I strongly suspect some of you teach these very classes. So, thanks for setting aside your red pens and allowing me to type at you.

Verifying sanity: I have never doubted that the stupid shit I write about comprise ubiquitous sources of frustration in academic contexts. Who doesn’t work with this person, or this one, or hasn’t had any of these (A, B, C) in class? (fuck, don’t get me started on these people) But it is still deeply satisfying to verify that we are all dealing with similar crap.
So, here’s to not getting fired! Thanks everyone.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


You want me to be a what? Graduation Marshall? What is that? Do I get a badge? No badges? Please Dean’s office stop asking me to do this stuff. I have put in my graduation ceremony time. I have worn the crazy outfit, I have listened to our shitty band, and heard our President give the same lame speech. You are going to have to hit up someone else. Unless you can guarantee to me that there will a be a streaker, at least two incidents of a grabbed microphone for shouting political statements, a drunken brawl, and you pay me for my time (and maybe give me one of those leis all the Hawaiians wear)— forget it, I’m too busy.

Friday, March 27, 2009

**IMPORTANT UPDATE** (not really, but I enjoy making be-beep be-beep noises in my head around those words)

Holy Shit. I knew my University webpage portrayed a completely fictitious version of my campus. I knew other University web pages did the same. I know all of our schools are trying to portray the same things. The same academic landscape. For example, ALL schools have this picture:

Oldest and Most Picturesque Building on Campus on a Sunny Day: The building must be made of stone and have some roman numerals (or anything in Latin, or even a quote by someone who signed the Constitution) on it. At least one tree and some very colorful flowers in full bloom are in front of the building. The grass in the foreground must be of PGA golf-course quality. The background needs some distant mountains (if unavailable: oceans, tall buildings, and/or a US flag can be substituted). The scene is so filled with sunlight you would think the earth is roughly 2 meters from the sun. (Never mind that this building is decrepit inside and absolutely nothing of any importance ever occurs within its walls.)

In the comments lots of “classic” scenes show up: Chemistry students measuring Gatorade or gazing into flasks of undetermined contents. The library “diversity tableau” the “pretending to study” students, and the gleeful professor with a perfectly legible chalkboard/whiteboard full of notes behind them. WE ALL have them. I understand the marketing issues, but I am blown away be the repetition. I know, I know. We all know this. I shouldn’t be surprised. I never explicitly searched University websites with this in mind though. I was initially laughing as I found endless examples of every cliché mentioned, but then it stopped getting funny. I never realized how blatantly formulaic and ubiquitous it was. It makes me think it would be fun to create a completely fictitious University website. Combine it all. Find all the best examples of cliché images and text and create one gleaming beacon of academic bullshit. We could then deface it. Give every smiling person on campus some off-color dialogue. Photoshop the buildings back into reality. Put all the trash back. Rewrite everything.

This is what happens to my brain at this point in the semester (so close, yet so far from over), and when my basketball team not only lost, but lost big. Damn.

ATTN: University Website Designer

That smiling chick on right side of the homepage is pissing me off. I want to puke when I see that shockingly diverse array of students who appear to be reading a book together in the library. And those well dressed students pictured in the Union? Where the hell did you find them? And why do they appear to be holding trays of appetizing food? These pictures have been up for fucking forever. Replace them with even more ridiculous photos please. I don’t care. Familiarity has led me to hate these people, I have given them each derogatory, profanity-laden names and back stories. They really just piss me off. I can’t be the only one sick of their shit-eating grins. Give me some new people to slowly despise.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Dr. No is not in. Dr. No is also referring to itself in the third person. Why is Dr. No like this? Dr. No had its mind blown apart. I am Dr. No’s reptile brain, known as Dr. Iguana. I was quietly hanging at the base of Dr. No’s brain just doing my thing. You know, keeping the old heart rate in check regulating body temperature, same old shit I do every day. Next thing I know the whole Corporation just explodes. Damn. I’m in the corner office now. Pretty roomy in here, downright spacious. Not sure what to do though. I’ve got to get Dr. No back. Yes, it will know what to do. But what happened? I remember hearing voices right before the explosion, but I wasn’t really paying attention. What was that voice saying? That voice was vaguely familiar…it was asking a question maybe? Geez, this is tough. Oh crap! I’ve let Dr. No’s heart rate go through the roof. Its’ hard to think about this many things at one time! OK, think. What happened? Something about teaching…I GOT IT! The familiar voice asked if Dr. No would teach a class at 7:30. Then the rest of the office screamed “7:30 in the motherfucking morning?!?!!!!!!” and then all I remember was a flash of bright light and then silence. Think. How do I fix this? I could give Dr. No a heart attack. No, that won’t help. How would that weasely guy who worked in the Excuses Department handle this? Maybe there are some files left in his office.

YES! Here we go. Let’s see, all that appears to be left are: not feeling well, dentist appointment, lack of travel funds, must have left it at home, must be on my laptop, having car troubles, it’s not you it’s me, it’s not me it’s you damnit, I’m allergic, and OK but just this once. I don’t think any of these are going to work. There must be something else in here…What if I just say that mornings are when Dr. No likes to write and it would be a huge career destroying inconvenience to lose this valuable time. Wait, am I allowed to lie? I’m pretty sure writing and sleeping are two different things. I’d visit the Lying Department but I could never get through security. The locks, lasers, ninjas, and booby traps are all on autopilot and are impenetrable (wait a minute, shouldn’t I control that? I thought I was autopilot, like the blow up pilot doll in Airplane! Shit that movie was funny, it appealed to me on a fundamental level). Well, why the hell not. Let’s give it a try. No. I can’t possibly teach during that time slot I really need my mornings for writing.

It’s working!!! I see people coming back to work! The office is magically reconfiguring itself! Whew. Dr. No better let me watch Airplane! again for this. Hell yeah! I want some Cheetos too.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

L'enfont Terrible

Friday, March 20, 2009

Meeting Season

Aaah time. Your passage is eternal. Based on common time reckoning equipment your passage is also very predictable. Seconds. Minutes. Hours. Days. Weeks. I could go on forever, literally. Fucking forever. Here‘s a few additional things I happen to know about time: Faculty meetings start at 12:15. At 12:20 your absence will be noticed. At 12:30 we will begin a conversation regarding your possible whereabouts. At 12:35 whoever has the unfortunate seat closest to the door will leave the meeting and bravely venture out in search of you. Our admirable sojourner will discover you in your office. Coincidentally, your office is next door to mine. I could easily give your door a knock as I join the migrating herd of faculty stampeding down the corridor on their way to the meeting hole. But I am tired of this. I can no longer protect you. Your timing is weak, you deserve to be isolated. I leave you victim to predatory students lurking in the hallways. Our resident graduate hyena pack is ready to pounce; they are just dying to know what our meeting is about and they get nervous when we congregate. You are the straggler, the obvious victim. This is your fate. The rest of us are already safely seated around the meeting hole, staring at the clock, waiting for time to pass.

In case you need them, be sure to request a copy of the meeting minutes here!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Flog Bost

This is bad. There is no way around it. No possible way of denying it. Nope. Fuck, I suck. OK, let’s approach this scientifically. Perhaps I missed something… Here’s what I know. You missed the first day of class. You arrived on the second meeting. I didn’t bring my official class list, you introduced yourself as R.J. and explained your previous absence. I made a mental note: His name is RJ, remember that damnit! [Flash-forward, Lost-style to many weeks ahead] You have established yourself as a great student. I make a mental note: RJ is a thoughtful student, be sure to encourage RJ to participate in class discussions more. [Flash-forward to many, many weeks ahead] We discussed meeting to talk about your final project after class. We set up a time. I made a mental note: Meeting with RJ on Friday at 1:00.

[We are now back in the present, Lost-style] I realize I have another meeting Friday at 1:00. I make a mental note: Email RJ, apologize for cancelling and set up a new time to meet. I attempt look up your email address. Mental note: I have no clue what RJ’s last name is, damn. I attempt look up your email address by going to handy-dandy giant University clusterfuck administrative system by accessing my class list. Hhm. There is no one here with a name that could possibly be RJ. I examine the entire list, there is only one name that I do not recognize. It does not, in any fathomable way, contain any combination of words or letters that could possibly be shortened to RJ. Mental note: Whaaaaaat? I took a chance. I emailed mystery person (making no reference to names). I received a response.

[Flashback, Lost-style] Hi Dr. No, my name is *giant explosion* (….wait 5 episodes) C.T., sorry I missed the first class. [Back to the quasi-present] I stare at your pleasant, good student-like, email response. I make a mental note: I am an asshole. How many times did I call you RJ? Many. I am making a mental note: I am an asshole, or this guy is Benjamin Linus. Upon scientifically reviewing the sequence of events, the conclusion is evident: I am an asshole.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Who Are You?

Hey Shorts-and-Hawaiian-Shirt-Dude, what’s the deal? Every campus has a few of you. I sorta “get” Mohawk-Dude, Football-Game-Chest-Painter-Dude, Pretty-Chick-with-Crazy-Bike-Girl, and Secret-Slut-Nerd. But you remain an enigma. What about your getup is remotely cool? Cool, in a non-what the temperature of your body must be kind of way. You are everywhere it gets cold. For all I know you may be lurking in warmer climates but you are so well camouflaged amongst the appropriately dressed that I just can’t identify you. Why are you compelled to do this? Put some damn pants on, and a jacket, and maybe some gloves. You definitely need to put some shoes on that aren’t flip-flops. I am curious as to how you got this way. When did you decide to be Shorts-and-Hawaiian-Shirt-Dude? Does it run in your family? Did you aspire to this as a young lad? Are you friends with this guy? (are you this guy?) More importantly, did you mention this on your application? I am pretty sure, make that certain, that we have far exceeded our Shorts-and-Hawaiian-Shirt-Dude quota. This campus will no longer be admitting your type, please transfer to warmer climates.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


We call you that because you are old. Not really old per se, but older than your average 20ish or so college student. Some of you are normal people. For whatever reason, you decided that a career change was in order. So you sacked up and went to (or back to) college. That’s cool. I respect that. Some of you are lazy fucking assholes. Apparently you went to school so you could continue your lifelong habit of shirking responsibility, not completing your work, and thinking that you know everything because you love the fucking Discovery Channel. Really? You saw a show? Yes, please interrupt class to tell us all about it, AGAIN. Because you know, that’s how I earned a PhD. (I just watched TV. My concentration was the National Geographic Channel, I logged over 67,000 hours worth.) How does someone your age still think they can ditch class, skip assignments and not study and get away with it? No, I will not just give you a good grade because we are roughly the same age. The dude sitting next to you is 19. He appears hungover most days, this class fulfills a general requirement for him and he couldn’t care less about the topic. But you know what? He drags his hungover ass to class most days, seems to read his textbook sporadically, and has a solid fucking B. You have a D. Turn to your left and look at him. He (as rumpled, sleepy and non-interested as he is) is kicking your ass. He deserves his B. Given the circumstances, he’s happy with a B and I’m happy with a B. You however, are unhappy with your D, and so am I. There is nothing I can do. I was never invited to the secret age club; wherein one learns the secret handshake that makes me grade your exam based on the percentage of wrong answers as opposed to right. Nope, never invited.

I find this embarrassing. You should really feel lousy about this. Why don’t you? I should be your peer, we should be putting equal effort into each other. Your excuses are not only lame (your neighbor dude could give you better ones), they are insulting. We listened to the same stupid music in high school, laughed at the same movies, probably did the same stupid shit to the cuffs of our jeans. Yet you are telling me the due date wasn’t clear? That you really did study? That you overslept? Huh? Are you serious? You represent the worst of a “Traditional” student. You are not Non-Traditional. You are every negative stereotype of a regular old lazy college student, you embody the pure essence of the most immature, irresponsible college cliché ever to grace college humor. Damn. We are both too old for this.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Seeing Is Overrated

Is there a shortage of students with vision? Is it just in my field? I don’t mean “Vision” as in grand forward thinking ideas, I mean the ability to fucking SEE. I just had four graduate students pitch research topics, all phrased as “I’m going to look at ______.” Hhmmm. We can complete that project in about 5 minutes. We can go to my lab and LOOK or we can just do a quick Google image search. You are supposed to have a research question not a research item to gaze upon. What the fuck? Looking at things, into things, under things, and around things does not a research design make. I know the whole scientific method thing is sooooo old-school. But in this field, looking just isn’t going to cut it. What are you looking for? I know, this is how projects often start…you are just intrigued by something, but then you keep thinking…next thing you know you realize WHY.

You begin to see that you want to look at that something because perhaps if looked at it in the right way it might reveal something, and that something might have some implications for other somethings. I am more than willing to help you through this process (I am pretty sure it is part of my job) but you have to help me out too. All I ask is that if you are at the “I’m going to look at phase” of your topic, develop a few clauses to that sentence before you come see me. Any clause that begins with “because by looking at ______ I could…” will suffice (note: that eliminates the possibility of “because no one else has looked at ______”; no one else hasn’t looked at lots of things, in and of itself that is not a good reason to do anything…unless you are very drunk, in which case it seems like a great reason to look at lots of things that you will wish you never saw). Anyway, I am tired of having this conversation with you students. Just come to me a little more prepared, I am not an ophthalmologist.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Divine Coincidence?

Go ahead, ask me that question. But before you do, answer a few questions for me. 1). Have I not been uncharacteristically patient and tactful with you? Yes, yes I have. I know I have. I know because I not only force myself to construct careful answers to your questions, but I also suppress all visible signs of teeth grinding and eye rolling. This is a difficult task for me. It involves not only preventing myself from visibly expressing my frustration, but also to suppress the efforts I have to go to make it appear that I am not trying to suppress these things. It’s really a two step mental process (don’t let my genuine reaction show, and then don’t let it show how painfully difficult this is). I do this for you. 2). Have I not made it clear that I am merely asking you to understand the basic principles that underlie how practitioners in my field of study interpret this particular aspect of the world? Yes, yes I have. I have only asked that you attempt to understand this point of view, I have not required you to adopt it. We have covered this ground before in my responses to your other questions. Remember that one about Noah?

I now see that yet another nugget of information I just presented to you is causing alarm bells in your head. You are imagining horns sprouting from my head. I can detect a mounting urgency in your arm muscles…that arm is just twitching to pop up isn’t it? But you know what? I am just going to keep staring at this slide. You can go right on ahead imagining a rising wall of flames engulfing me. While you’re at it, I suggest you contemplate what the biblical explanation would be for why, at this very moment, you have an asshole and I happen to have a laser pointer that I could shove up it.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Conference Eyes

Snake eyes, bedroom eyes, the evil eye… conference eyes. What are conference eyes? We’ve all given them and we’ve all received them. They are the furtive glances we give each other at conferences. More accurately they are the looks we give each other’s nametags.

Students are attempting to spot “celebrities” (look for them at the bar), the suckups are attempting to determine who is and is not worth talking to, some are just desperately trying to get a glimpse at your name (because we forgot it, and damnit your abstract book is in the way and any minute now you are going to notice me and want to chit chat and I am going to feel like an asshole because all I remember and can see of your name is “G”…George? Gabe? Fuck). Some are entertaining themselves by playing “match the author” games. Which is the conference equivalent of analyzing the book and film versions of beloved and/or despised characters (this is particularly entertaining in crowded elevators). Whatever the purpose, the nonstop glancing at chests (if we are dealing with the lanyard variety nametag) or at lapels (pin-on variety nametag) is a widely recognized phenomenon. It is unavoidable. However, may I suggest that we all abandon our nametags and stop with all the conference eyeballing as soon as the last paper for the day is given? Must we flood the bars, restaurants, and city streets with our nerd badges? Once we have escaped the confines of the conference center it is time to put that shit away.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

IT, I have an ET

Hi IT tech support person! Yes, I know I can visit your website and/or punch buttons on my phone and listen to your pre-recorded messages regarding FAQs. But nothing I’ve read or heard addresses my particular question…yeah, I’ll hold. You have time for me now? Great. It’s Dr. No from the Department of Blah and I have an urgent question for you. Yeah, I’ll hold. Is it possible to have my email account send an automated response to only one particular colleague? Yeah, I know about “out of office replies” and such, I just want a particular message sent to one unique individual every time they email me from any account or foreseeable emailing machine for eternity. What? Yeah, I’ll hold. OK, where were we? Yeah so this needs to be a unique automated reply. I want the message to say “Dr. No has deemed your message idiotic . Your message has been deleted. Fuck Off” can you do that? Damnit, yes I’ll hold. Seriously, this colleague is not from this planet. Their thought process does not in any way resemble a sentient human. No, I will not hold. This situation is far more important than the broken projector in Giant Lecture Hall, and that grad student who for unknown reasons decided to save only ONE copy of their dissertation on that HIGHLY questionable computer in the library. This shituation is IMPORTANT. Yeah OK, I’ll hold. This colleague is driving me nuts with their nonsensical and persistent emailing about random crap no one cares about. Please help me. Wait, say that again? You had a call last week from someone else in my department with the same request? Regarding the same colleague? Why yes, the Alien emailer is a persistent reply aller. Perfect, just set up my account the same way!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Plague(rism)

HI STUDENTS! Welcome to my bloggity- blog! What up peeps?!? Not much happening I just wanted to say howdy. LOL!!!!!! FYI: Your assignments are due Monday! Yeahhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!! Just got some new Crocs. LUV!!!!! Can’t wait for Gossip GIIIIRRRRLLLLLLSSS!!!!

Notice anything? Obvious isn’t it? It’s NOT at all like “Just for Men, Gel” (No one can tell!). Actually “Just For Men, Gel” users, we can tell. But my point is, when someone starts writing in a manner that is utterly unique from their usual writing style it’s pretty damn obvious. It’s like showing up with a new hair color. It’s noticeable. Have we learned anything students? Don’t fucking plagiarize, and when you get old and grey fellas don’t use “Just For Men, Gel” because I can TELL.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Yep, I am Going THERE

You leave me no choice, I have to go there. If you are thinking: Where, where are we going Dr. No? Will it be fun? Should I pack a bag? Is sunscreen necessary? Should I cancel my classes? The answer, I am sorry to say, is no, no, no, and sure- why the hell not. We are going to a frightening place, a juvenile place, the kind of place where humor abounds for 12 year olds. A place where adults with graduate degrees should not go. Yet, I have to go there. Visiting Dr. Package made me go there. He made me and everyone else in attendance at his guest lecture go there, and now I am going to make you go there too. At first I resisted, but he refused to park himself safely behind the podium. He circled the room, essentially tossing us all free plane tickets to a troubling place. The destination? His package. And yes, I mean that package. His jeans were tight and were pulled up about three inches too high. This caused the contours of his “frank and beans” to be not only visible but uncomfortably prominent. Blah, blah, blah…as you can see from this slide (Penis)…blah, blah, my analysis indicates (Balls)…blah, blah, blah (Crotch). Whoa. It was as if an invisible rubber band was placed on the outside of his jeans encircling his junk. Afterwards, as the usual “stand in the hall and chit-chat about the talk” was underway we all awkwardly discussed the presentation. Someone finally mumbled “interesting pants” and we all broke out into giggles that lasted far, far too long. We’ve all seen some interesting fashion choices, but this was, well, I don’t know what it was (OK, I know exactly what it was…). I think in the future he should just put a scrunchie over his jeans and around his package, it would be a more formal look for public speaking.