Tuesday, October 31, 2006


My department, honestly, is full of the nicest people you will ever meet. I mean that. I really enjoy coming to work every day partly because everybody from the most jaded old professor to the undergrads to the janitor are just really nice to be around. So often, when I am hanging out in my office or collaborating with others in my department, or profs from other departments that naturally gravitate towards mine because we are so cool, I am blissfully ignorant of what lies outside in the cold hard world of the rest of the university.

I was at a meeting today with some faculty from around campus, and . . . gees. There are some real tools out there.

I sometimes wonder if academics are, in general and my department aside because I suspect it is atypical, more likely to be difficult people. You know, something about this profession appeals to people who are kind of lone wolf types that don't work well with others, and/or who think they are the smartest people ever. But then, every job has its asses. So maybe there are no more here than elsewhere, and I just am inclined to attribute it to the sickness of the institution of academia because that's an easy target?

Illicit schwag

The university has a rule about not accepting gifts; the maximum dollar value for a gift that I can accept is $3. I'm not sure what this would be, exactly, this <$3 gift. A cup of coffee, maybe? A box of paperclips?

I recently came into posession of not one, but TWO, stylish ball caps sporting the logo of a company with close ties to my research. One ended up in my car at the end of a long collaborative workday, the other appeared in my office one day that a honcho of said company was visiting the department (he was like a corporate Santa, in a way, out in the hallway with his booming voice and hardy laugh . . . it left me with the impression that had I left my shoes outside my door he might have also filled them with candy).

Don't rat me out, 'kay? If anybody asks, a ballcap goes for about $2.98.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Stress for success?

The assistant professor gig is not known for being a particularly leisurely, relaxing, or calm job. Rather, it is known for being kind of stressful and frantic. There's a lot of uncertainty to the job, and when the pool of people in the job are self-selected for their general risk-aversion - well, you can see how it makes people edgy and nervous.

Some time ago I mentioned that I seemed to have crossed some line, and now I am not really that nervous anymore, despite the fact that I am still not confident that I will be successful at this particular pursuit.

Several people have subsequently remarked that I seem awfully relaxed for an assistant professor . . . now it has me wondering if I should seem LESS relaxed so that people don't get the impression that I am not appropriately freaked out by the tenure monkey.