Wednesday, April 29, 2009

No, You Can’t Borrow My Laser Pointer (you have no idea where it’s been)

I have to do this (please see Figure 1) for a few days. I will yammer for awhile, listen to others yammer, have a group yammer, and likely get yammered at too much. I trust all of you to take care of the place while I’m gone. I’d appreciate it if you could water the plants, pick up the newspaper, and collect my mail. There is a key under the mat and you are welcome to stay and hang out all you like, and you’re welcome to invite a few friends over too, just keep things on the down low OK? I’ll see you when I get back.

Figure 1

Monday, April 27, 2009

I Wonder…(Part II)

What would happen if I walked into class and left my ipod in? If I just pantomimed my way through a lecture while I actually rocked out in my own little ipod world? It would look like I was teaching, just like it looks like you (chick in the 7th row to the left) are paying attention to me. Or, what if I lectured and played a video game at the same time? Instead of slides, you could see my game. Or if I just decided to work on the campus newspaper crossword puzzle (how can that take you all class period? It’s ridiculously easy, if you want, I can just give you all the answers in the first 2 minutes of class). Hmmm…what if I just interrupted class to take a call on my cell phone, or sent a text message or two. Oooh I know, what if I just ripped off a lecture from the internet. You know, it would be completely and obviously distinct from my usual lecture style. The organization would be different, the format of my slides would be different, it would just scream “I DIDN’T DO THIS” but I just passed it off to you like it was my own work. I will have to try these things. I’ll consider it pedagogical research and will begin as soon as I get tenure.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


Doing something at the “last minute” is one thing, doing something at the last possible fucking second is quite another. The latter is not “crunch time.” It is fucking insanity time. The window of opportunity to ask your colleagues to help with something you should have done a long-assed time ago is OVER. As individuals we can procrastinate all we want, but tasks requiring the coordination of multiple individuals? Forget the fuck about it. WE did our parts so there will be no last minute switcheroo where you try to pass off your own incompetence as a “group task” that we all need to work on RIGHT NOW. We divvied up these tasks long ago. I did my part and it looks like everyone else did their parts too. The giant glaring hole in the document is your part. Just jump into that deep abyss while the rest of us watch. Don’t worry, I’m sure we’ll try to rescue you…we might just put that off for a while though.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Remember When? (New! and Improved!)

…Nova was cool? Anyone else LOVE that show as a kid? I can’t objectively determine if Nova just sold out or if it just appealed to my 12 year old self. I think it sold out. (I’d still gladly be the “talking head scientist”, but it used to be a lot cooler.)

…coveting books was a lustful hobby? Shit. I own most of those books now. Sure, there are still a few I need. Yes, need. But ogling and wooing books into my library is no longer a major pastime.

…you would save your change to photocopy articles? F-Fuuuucccckkk I’m old. Yes current graduate students of the world, back in the day shiz was like this. The ability to go on a photocopying binge, to gorge oneself on new journal articles, old journal articles, dissertations, and book chapters was fucking beautiful. A fresh stack of new information, damn, it really was beautiful.

…the University newspaper could at least be used to kill 5 minutes? I don’t know about your University newspaper, but ours sucks ass. There was a time you could count on it to get you through half a cup of coffee, now it’s just useless. Our journalism department apparently sucks.

…you made slides? Actual slides? People would walk around conferences with slide carousels?

… Tootie on the Facts of Life found a bong and was convinced it was a jellybean holder? Seriously, it happened. It was the “special” dope episode. HILARIOUS. That show jumped the shark at least 10 times. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, that none of the characters could get any fatter, that they couldn’t possibly have another business venture, that the “Mrs. Garrett” character could not take on another permutation— it did. Whew, glad that’s over. (If you missed this episode you can see it, in all its craptacular glory, here)

…Highlights magazine was always in the dentist’s office waiting room? Are they still in there? Crap, I haven’t been to the dentist in ages. As I kid I thought that magazine sucked. If it does still occupy waiting rooms, for the sake of children everywhere, I hope it’s better now.

UPDATE (for you Goofus & Gallant Fans and Haters)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


No dose of this can remedy the unique mental state of attending committee meeting, after committee meeting, after committee meeting, after committee meeting, after committee meeting, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Whoa. That was scary. Did I just lapse into insanity? They run the gamut from nervous first meetings (NFMs) to grizzled almost done (GADs) meetings. The NFMs sometimes involve coffee and a snack. These are provided by a nervous student who is excited about their project but doesn’t know a damn thing yet. We will spend the entire meeting encouraging you to pursue the project, but also cautioning you to go read 2.7 million things before you start (oh, and also learn these stats, request funds for these things, and contact this person). The GADs, especially very late stage GADs have a desperate quality to them. There is no food. There might be drinks afterward (if drinks are involved it will be straight up alcohol, strong shit— no worries, I’m buying). But we are all gathered for the sole purpose of finishing. For the student it’s finishing the enormous soul-crushing task we call dissertating. For us it’s all about finishing with the drafts, the coaching, the advice, the meetings. We are all a bit nostalgic but focused on the task of a unified and spectacular finish. There is of course some highly predictable and well trod ground between NFMs and GADs. There is nothing wrong with these meetings (they are all preferable to a faculty meeting), but I need to lay off the committee memberships.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Star Treatment

Our lovely world of academe has some standard forms of star treatment, and I’m talking star treatment in the Hollywood sense. Well, it’s not Hollywood, but our version of star treatment- those times when our departments try to pull out all the stops for a “special guest” appearance. It really is like a “very special episode” version of your regular work environment. Everything is all spiffy and collegial, tweeds get busted out, people arrive on time for things, and it’s quite the show. The problem is, it’s ALMOST the end of the semester. I really just want to ditch my office and get the fuck out of here. But no.

Look visiting star, you are a star. I see that. It’s fantastic that you are here and willing to let us milk you for all you’re worth. But fuck. I am tired. This is bad timing. You realize I am mere weeks away from my first sabbatical? Can you remember when you were in this position? Did you feel like adding more to your schedule? No. I’m sure you didn’t. During your time with me, we will just be chillin’ OK? A beverage could be involved if you like…coffee, tea, martinis, jello shots, liquid nitrogen, juice, paint thinner- I’m easy. Consider my office a place to relax, like your trailer between scenes.

Friday, April 17, 2009


Drinking coffee this morning I encountered these fascinating nuggets of information about Ink, Academic Hopeful, and Good Enough Woman. Since I believe everything I read on the internets (and also rely on infomercials to provide me with the latest scientific news— for instance, did you know that chopping vegetables with a knife is exhausting and dangerous to our health? Well it is! You should buy a Chop Wizard!) I figured it’s high time I shared a little information about myself. Item #2 is indeed true, as 90% of my body is composed of Sham Wow! molecules. And please everyone, have your ferret spayed or neutered.

Ten Top Trivia Tips about Dr. No!
1. Influenza got its name because people believed the disease was caused by the evil "influence" of Dr. No.
2. Dr. No has little need for water and is capable of going for months without drinking at all.
3. The number one cause of blindness in the United States is Dr. No.
4. Dr. No can sleep with one eye open.
5. A female ferret will die if it goes into heat and cannot find Dr. No.
6. Without its lining of Dr. No, your stomach would digest itself.
7. Dr. No is the world's largest rodent!
8. Dr. No is actually a mammal, not a fish!
9. Pacman was originally called Dr. Noman!
10. Wearing headphones for an hour will increase the amount of Dr. No in your ear 700 times.

You too can educate yourself here.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Why The Fuck Not?

Yeah, I’m game. We should have class outside. You are too old to be pulling these 6th grade tricks, but why the fuck not? I’ll do you one better and suggest that we should just not have class. It is far too nice out. I am in complete agreement that we should all be outside. Fuck class. Go wherever you want, just spend this time sitting outside. Take your shoes off, find a patch of grass, a bench, a step, whatever…just find yourself a spot to be in for the next hour. We all need this. We are all a bit frazzled and tired of wearing coats. Let’s just chill out for a bit. Damn, sometimes being a professor is great.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Reading Rainbow

The anticipation of having to read final class papers has me driven to drink. (Well, that just might be an excuse for the lovely cocktail in my hand…at an hour of the day in which one should not be imbibing.) Anyway, after spending a semester with a class you have an excellent idea of what kind of papers to expect. I grade the ones I know will be easy first, I shouldn’t do this, but I inevitably do. I start with the “easy because they are short” (and/or) “are so terrible that there’s nothing I can do” and then usually move on to the “good but problematic and I’m gonna tell you what’s good and what’s wrong” papers. The latter group takes some time. The worst group of papers, the ones I should never save for last but always do because I dread them and have to force myself to read them are the “not good at all but I put effort into this and I really deserve some form of feedback” papers. (That’s one crazy sentence I just wrote.) They take forever to grade. These papers fucking suck.

We can add an additional dimension to this paper breakdown: curiosity. Curiosity level is a distinct factor in my paper reading order. Some papers, even ones that suck, are about things I at least find interesting. Some great papers are about things that I find painfully boring. I hate staring down a paper to grade that is about tedious minutia. I know, I’m supposed to be objective— but some topics are just fucking boring. Boring because they are inconsequential, overdone, wrong, and/or just undeniably boring, boring because they just are. These papers fucking suck in a different way.

Formatting. This matters to me too. I will not allow you to become the kind of asshole whose sloppy/non-existent attention to formatting will piss off your co-authors, editors, and colleagues in your future employment years. These people take suckitude into a new realm.

Ugh, just when the semester is almost over, the impending paper stack emerges. I don’t want to think about it anymore. I’ll have another drink.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Friday, April 10, 2009

Can I Help You Find Something?

The following lists are actual Google search terms that (somehow) led people to click their way into the wide, wide, world of Acadamnit. These are legit folks.

The Strangely Appropriate:
anger classes”blogspot”
complains about tiaa cref
jobs for weirdos
olde English font for ms word (I hope this searcher learned that such fonts are only appropriate for advertising renaissance fairs.)
parking can’t see lines because of snow
“plow science” journal (This one, or variants of it, come up frequently. Are you wondering if it really is fake?)
tiaa cref is crap (Funny, every time I mention TIAA-CREF I get a smattering of hits from TIAA-CREF. So, hi mysterious TIAA-CREF employees! You have what was once a lot, but is now just some, of my money. Please take care of it. I have never said you were crap, you are lovely, lovely people who are currently in control of a sizeable portion of my retirement funds. Did I mention that I LOVE TIAA-CREF?)
tiaa people
“tenure inflation” (I think I invented this term. It could have existed before I used it, so I don’t want to take credit for making up existing words, but I like this term. It defines a concept that sorely needed its own word. Please add it to your academic lexicon.)

The Seems Appropriate But You Made a Bad Decision Clicking Here:
average number of publications at tenure
tenure meeting
philosophy tenure “number of publications”

Could Be Appropriate, But I Suspect You Wanted Something VERY Different:
ben linus tight jeans (I like Ben too, but not that much)
bob marley
byzantine plow (Did you think I was a plow scientist? I thought I made them up to…)
jean teasdale
jitterbug phone (Look, if you can use the internet you can use a normal phone)
leigh kino

Downright Strange:
andalso does not short
how do you get a pink slipped t shirt (I have no idea)
national geographic hyena “heart rate (huh?)
snow tiaa-cref
this is not coincidence who am i dealing with? (double huh?)

Not Appropriate (at least not at work):
service whors
service whores (While this could be reasonable, I suspect you didn’t have blog reading in mind, try Craig’s List)
my tits, acadamnit
my tits (How the fuck did you end up here with that search? The internet has billions of tits for you to look at, none of them are mine- I hope. Or were you looking for your tits? Is there something so fantastic about your tits that you expect them to be featured on my blog?)

Inadvertently Intriguing:
does your writing style give away our gender (Well, that’s interesting and I see what you’re getting at. But, does MY writing style give away YOUR gender? What am I a gender Ouija board?)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Hey, I Know!

Let’s NOT. Let’s not have a meeting. Let’s act like that email you sent to some of us NEVER HAPPENED. Mmmkay? Listen my dear colleague, my dear, uh, Dr. Gabriel, (I just bestowed that name upon you because you have been fucking up BIG TIME) a meeting will do you no good. You have a multi-year track record of serious fuck-ups. I’m sorry (not really) that internal report just slammed your ass, I’m sorry (not really) the Dean is pissed at you, and I’m sorry (not in the slightest) that your reign of fucking up has now reared its ugly head and has taken a serious bite out of your ass. We, your meeting invitees, can’t fix any of that. Your ass cannot be reclaimed. Spend this scheduled meeting time getting your shit together (you know, because your ass is gone) and stop with the big time fuck-ups. Work on some average sized disasters and work your way down to the mini catastrophe. With enough hard work you could probably start engaging in micro fuck-ups within a year. There will be no meeting. I have to go get my big fat head onto my snow white pillow now.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Go Ahead

Leave me a message. My phone will not let me delete messages without listening to them. Fortunately, my phone does not know the difference between me listening to a message and when I just put the phone down and have my desk listen to a message. Thanks desk. So sure, my desk would really appreciate your explanation for why you missed class. Go ahead, let the long saga of your various time conflicts unfold into my phone. My desk will love it. My desk will eat your story up. While in defiance of all known natural laws, I suspect that if I keep doing this an ugly stain will eventually develop on my desk. A dark amorphous stain comprised of laughable excuses delivered at odd times to ensure the likelihood of reaching voicemail. If I’m lucky this stain will resemble the Virgin Mary and I’ll sell it on Ebay.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Provost This

What the fuck Provost? I got your letter. While it is comforting to know that you are recommending to the B.O.T. that I be granted tenure, all I can do is add your letter to the pile of “official” letters I have that say something along the lines of: We/I are pleased to advise you that we/I are recommending that you be granted tenure. The first one was somewhat exciting, but you people are killing me with this shit. I have been told by fucking EVERYONE that I have tenure, I have been approved for a post-tenure sabbatical, arrangements have been made to cover my classes…BUT I DO NOT HAVE AN OFFICIAL LETTER SAYING I HAVE TENURE. IN WRITING MOTHERFUCKERS. NOW! I have seen your votes, I have seen the outside reviews, I have seen the entire fucking pile of documents that you have reduced my life to. This is killing me. You haven’t notified any of us. I am not the only one losing my mind here. I NEED THE PIECE OF PAPER.

I am starting to feel like a real asshole. People are congratulating me. I think Clio Bluestocking once referred to me as a “recently tenured professor.” That made me smile. For a time, people referring to me as such, seemed OK, kinda nice really. But FUCK. It is still not official? I feel like those people in AA that have to go around apologizing for their drunken deeds. I mean do I need to send out a mass email stating: Hey thanks for the congratulations everyone, but I still don’t have a fucking piece of paper making it official. Your compliments are now just making me feel like an imposter. So unless this was your intent (in which case, get the fuck out of my address book), please refrain from all tenure talk. Sincerely, ASSistant Professor No.

Guess what? I am going to write a letter in response to you Provost. I ALSO RECOMMEND THAT I BE GRANTED TENURE! …it means nothing to you doesn’t it?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Fucking Weirdo

I just had to spend three hours with a fucking weirdo. I am sure all disciplines have their own version of the weirdos. I am not referring to your average run-of-the-mill weirdo we have all encountered. Forget about the hotel weirdos, door-knocking religious weirdos, and your typical weirdo student. I am referring to the weirdos in your discipline. They comprise about 5% (upon further reflection, make that 10%) of your field. Whatever it is that you do, these weirdos take things into the bizarre realm. They represent a cartoonish version of your field’s worst stereotype. They, without fail, dress bizarrely. They also write things that get published somewhere on the outer fringes of your fields literature universe. They garner some degree of press for their writings because they are outrageous and some science reporter somewhere thinks it will make an interesting story. In graduate school their weirdoness was disguised as creativity, they showed promise and got jobs. They still have those jobs, they do publish and teach after all, but they have morphed into complete weirdos.

One came to visit my department. Weirdo would not leave. I am losing all tolerance for these people. I mean, whatever. Go ahead and spin your bizarro ideas. I am just going to sit here because I know that the fundamental fallacies on which your ideas are based are just wrong. I am happy to entertain different perspectives, but you are just wackadoodle nuts. The funny thing is we share a little something in common. There is no doubt in my mind that you have a website or blog. It is certainly devoted to even more extreme wackadoodle ideas. These ideas are so extreme that they fall well outside of our discipline. No doubt you run this operation anonymously. Shit, me too! Well, not the weirdo wackadoddle stuff, but the anonymous part? Yep. I realized this after 180 minutes, 52 non-committal head nods, 27 “hhhmms” and 15 solid minutes of staring at the carpet. It’s troubling me that we have this in common.