New Faculty Dilemma

So it appears our new faculty hiring has gone through, as today we've been talking about the schedule for next year. But now we've hit - or I'm hitting - on a new sort of difficulty. We, like many schools our size, leave course scheduling choices largely up to faculty. I have, by and large, been able to put courses into the time slots that I think will work best for me.

But this morning, the question that came up is that our new faculty member wants to put the freshmen intro course they'll be teaching on a one night a week schedule. If I'm reading everyone correctly, this makes everyone here uncomfortable. It certainly does with me, though this may be because I taught a one night a week course here my first term in, and it was a disaster. It might also be because an intro course tends to bring in the widest variety of students, and that tends to average out to a short attention span. Three hours straight is a long time for a dog-and-pony show.

If it were just me navigating these waters, I'd simply lay out my concerns to the new faculty member. But, particularly because of earlier moments in the search process, I feel like the waters need to be navigated are even more treacherous. I don't want to, in raising my concerns, trip any alarm bells for the others who have (finally) seemed to calm down from all the search nonsense. Honestly, I'd like a quiet run to the end of the term.

And there's that question of academic freedom, as well, which we don't usually talk about in relationship to things like class scheduling. But as I was trying to convey my worries, I also realized that it's entirely possible that just because a three hour intro course doesn't work in my imagination, doesn't mean someone else can't make it work.

Earth Hour 2008

So today - March 29 - at 8 pm for whatever timezone you're in, turn out your lights for an hour in observance of Earth Hour. The event, started in Sydney in 2007, has only gotten bigger and is designed to raise awareness of climate and energy issues around the world. Dozens of cities are participating, and really, who couldn't use an hour off the grid now and then?

For more information, you can click here.

Of the Madness of Fridays (and other things)

Why do Fridays never feel productive? I'm putting together a list of things, and still I don't feel like I've done as much as I should have today. So far, I have:
  • done two loads of laundry
  • taken clothes to the dry cleaner
  • made breakfast and done the dishes
  • taken bills and such to the post office
  • gone to the grocery store
  • completed and submitted a teaching grant application
Of course, I still haven't managed any work on the book today. Maybe that's the glaring hole in my day (week/month/term, too). Two days ago I had my meeting with the Dean about my 3rd year review. It was painless, really, except when the question about how the book was coming came up. I could only laugh. Still, at the end of it, when it came time to kick me in the ass and tell me what I needed to do for tenure, the comment was "Keep publishing and maybe try and do something in the community." So I left feeling alright.

But yesterday one of my students came in. I've written numerous letters for graduate schools for her, and she was upset because she'd received her first rejection. She was rejected not because she didn't fit the bill but because all of her application materials hadn't arrived.

What was missing? Transcripts. Why were the missing? Well, technically, no one can say in part because the records office here doesn't actually - and this is capital-I irony - keep any record of when (or if) they send out transcripts. They know they were asked to send them out. They just don't know if they did. When she explained, they said they could re-send them but they'd have to charge her again. She was near tears when she said, "I'm really disappointed in the University right now."

What could I say to that except "Me, too."

Grumbling On University Structure

Why is it that so many of the offices at this university - and I presume on many others - exist solely as signifier of programs rather than actual functioning offices that assist with those programs?

For example, there is a Study Abroad office here. Yet I find myself helping students determine which programs fit for them, finding the forms, locating information on what courses will be offered, writing recommendations, and today having to research the financial side of it for them. I wonder what other offices run that way here.

And I wonder what it would take to be made the chair of the Department of Do Your Own Damn Paperwork.

The Road Not (Yet) Taken: On Leaving Academia

Apologies to Robert Frost for being one more twit hijacking his title for my own selfish ends (and maybe more so for managing to conjure - at least in my own head - a link between it and a Sheryl Crow song). But this post has been a long time coming, and it could just as easily be titled "The Ivory Towering Inferno" or "What Color is Your C.V.'s Parachute?" We're equal-opportunity pop-culture offenders here at Curmudgeon laboratories.

Yesterday afternoon, a good friend and colleague who was a couple of years behind me in my grad program, called to talk about what would happen if they left all of this (imagine me throwing out my arms and gesturing to the piles of paper, the shelf not quite secure on the wall, the empty office on a Monday afternoon, the remnants of dry erase marker on my right pinkie...) to go back to the private sector. They're married now, living in a small college town and working in a small department. Their spouse has had no luck finding a job in their field, and they're expecting. Departmental politics - and university politics - are rearing their ugly heads.

They're afraid - afraid of being stuck, of being untenureable, afraid all of this (picture that throwing out of arms again, adding: the low pay, the strange hours, the fears about a parent in the hospital far enough off that getting there isn't quite feasible, etc...) is really all there is. And they, not being a regular reader, were surprised that I was considering the same thing for quite awhile now.

The end of March, you may recall, was when I had decided to set my deadline for whether to think about leaving academia. That deadline is still there, though I've got a couple of things in the air. But odds are that I will test the non-academic waters this year, at least. It's a shame, because I like teaching. And I like my department. And for the most part, I like my students. But as I've started to think about this in terms of a plus/minus sort of situation. The pros:
  • good colleagues in a good program
  • students that don't make me constantly pull my hair out
But the cons:

  • low pay
  • far from friends and family
  • high workload
  • little social or cultural life
  • climate difficulty
My thought has been I could sacrifice some of those things but not all of them. I could do low pay in a place where I had a community, for example, or where I found a cultural life that matched the things I like combined with a lower workload. In a recent job interview, I found myself faced with a combination I'd not really considered: what would I do with a job that had a community for me, had a cultural life, had a lower workload, but might not have paid well or have had a group of colleagues I was sure of? I still don't know the answer to it sadly, though by the virtues of academia, the choice isn't entirely mine to begin with.

If that isn't already enough of a reason to think about taking an off-ramp, someone recently pointed out to me that not only are academics often faced with limited geographic mobility (all those SLACs in the middle of cornfields or, as the catalogs so often put it, "nestled in the foothills/scenic whatnots/backwaters," once they're in a position, they may find themselves faced with limits on how they move within the ranks.

"Most academic job changes are lateral job changes," they said.

Once you're in a 4/4, it's hard to jump to a 2/2. Once you're on the path as a researcher-scholar, becoming a teacher-scholar is a rough transformation. Someone else I read or talked to recently - I can't quite recall - mentioned how they now feel an ethical responsibility to warn prospective grad students about the path they were about to take. Surely somewhere out there, there's a parody of "Pilgrim's Progress" about life beyond grad school. Or maybe it's just culture and society standing in front of us, yelling like Ian McKellan, "YOU...SHALL...NOT...PASS!"

Part of what my friend and I talked about was how to make the leap easier. I've tried to think very carefully about what I'm doing this year to help provide examples of some things that I think might be marketable should I leap from the ivory tower. There are some things I've got control of right now, after all. So what have I tried to do? Well, here's a few things I'm thinking of (though I don't know whether they'll work or not):

  • focus my courses on skills I might want to demonstrate to employers: I tried to think of places where having a Ph.D. might not be cause to lie and to think about what skills they'd want someone to have. Whatever else it is, teaching makes sure you know your stuff in whatever area you're jumping into. Ask yourself who might find someone who knows how to do a specific type of research useful? What else might they like?
  • work on committees that deal with issues that might be of importance outside academia: think only schools are worried about information privacy? or about how best to manage large groups of students? or to get groups of disparate views to agree and take action? Finding a committee that lets you not only participate in an issue that you might tackle outside and taking a leadership role seems to demonstrate skills that are useful in most non-academic settings
  • do service outside the university in areas that I'd like to work in: one specific thing I've done is to begin work editing an electronic journal because while publishing is a logical jump from academia, it seems like it might also be a tough area to break into. But having a bit of experience could help - and having experience with electronic publishing lets you leap into a whole different world because of how vital new tech and training are becoming. This also seems like a good way to network if you're interested in staying in a region but leaving academia.
There are certainly other things worth considering, and I'm sure people will have other things worth considering. We could, if people were so inclined, turn the comments into a moment to talk about specific skills and to brainstorm as a collective where and how those degrees and skills might translate outside. But I'll leave the direction up to all of you (or I'll tackle it in future posts).

What I think matters most is being able to sit down and figure out your priorities - does the job matter or does location or lifestyle or some other thing entirely - so that you can make your decisions with a bit more structure.

Beware the Ides of March Madness

You'll all be happy to know that my bracket is still kicking, and that we've had some great upsets so far. And if you've got to have the flu, I must say that a combination of Advil Cold & Sinus and tons of college basketball isn't a bad way to go.

This came in e-mail from one of my students, and I thought I'd share it:
For those of you who haven't seen it, it's the "Boss Button" from CBS, and while the student's sentiment might be a little off, the humor's still worth thinking about. If you haven't seen what the Boss Button does, go here and click on it.

The Six Word Memoir

After the trip and the plague (which has settled down to a nagging cough, particularly when I laugh), I'm catching up on e-mails, grading, and - of course - blogs. And I found I'd been tagged for exactly the sort of meme I love by Dr. Crazy and by Adjunct Whore. Apologies if I've missed other references - I'm still catching up.

I think I may have mentioned that one of my favorite conversational fallbacks is to listen for odd phrases that somehow - usually in an off-handed or back-handed way - say something about the person who said them and suggest that whatever the phrase was should be their autobiography title (one of my favorites of all time was "Dirty, Sticky, and Loving on Me" for my dear friend Trixie). And I know I've at least referenced the haiku summer with T. and N. where we sent each other haiku post cards about our days over the course of the summer.

I also made a group of students who complained about the length of an assignment write it as a haiku instead. And maybe it explains why I like this and this so much.

So a meme that asks me to do something similar - in this case, write a six word memoir - sounds like loads of fun (and a nice way to take a break from the mountain of student e-mails I've been avoiding in favor of March Madness).

Here are the guidelines (I won't call them rules since I'm going to break one of them):

1. Write your own six word memoir
2. Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you’d like
3. Link to the person that tagged you in your post and to this original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogosphere
4 Tag five more blogs with links
5. And don’t forget to leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play.
So, without further adieu, here's my attempt(s) at a six word memoir (because, honestly, this is too much fun to do just one).:

Looking backwards, he stumbled into it.

or (if I want to be literary), I'll borrow (and butcher) a quote I love by Naguib Mahfouz:

Under watchful stars, he set sail.


Watching closely, the joke was revealing.

Now for the part where I violate the meme guidelines. I'm not going to tag anyone, but I do hope a lot of you will do it. And if you don't have a blog, feel free to take a stab at it in the comments here.

Words that Sound Like What They Are

No word is more truly evocative of what it is than "phlegm."

Honestly. There is no possible way for that word to sound in any way good. Kudos to whomever first coined it. You hit the hideous on the head.

More Notes From the Road

This has been one of the odder trips I've ever taken, though thankfully not only because of the fact that I'm a little Typhoid Curmudgeon spreading my plague throughout the countryside. At the moment, for example, I'm in a living room of old grad school friends. We've had a lovely dinner, and now we're all surfing the Internet in silence.

I don't think this is what Jello meant when he said become the media.

Among the weird events was getting a "blast from the past" e-mail from a former grad-school friend (the former applies in both cases) writing to pick my brain in a passive-aggressive way. I've been holding off on the response, just because I don't particularly care to feed this cycle. As someone told me once - I think maybe the folks who made me dinner tonight, in fact - sometimes you have to remember that you can get off the bus if you don't like the trip (and if it wasn't them, they get the credit for it anyway because the dinner was, as always quite delicious: even if they claim to know - and mistook me for - someone who doesn't like gravy which, really, is at least two kinds of heresy).

There was also a bit of networking built into the trip, and that's where things get really odd. Perhaps its the culture out here to have an utter "wait and see" attitude to things, but I'm used to people actually asking a question or two sometime. Imagine just how hard it is to make a university professor more than usually bothered that no one is asking questions. It has to be extreme, doesn't it? I mean, people don't ask me all the time. You could say I get paid to have people not ask me questions (it'd be a cynical view of my job, and certainly we'd NEVER expect to see that sort of thing come out of my mouth (or keyboard)). But it could be said. So this must be extreme.

And last evening, in the hotel bar - which charged exquisitely high prices for the beer I took my Advil Cold & Sinus with - the world's oldest and worst lounge singer began to belt out tunes. I mean, he must have had some pipes when he was alive. Still, that didn't stop me from trying to find a way to request he sing "You Give Love a Bad Name" by Bon Jovi. If he wasn't going to have any shame, why should I?

It's been quite relaxing which is really one of the joys of things. I mean, I could fret about the fact that I'm with old friends and I'm blogging, or I could recognize that I"m in what amounts to one of the most safe and comfortable head spaces I've had going in months.

Notes from the Road

Nothing finer than having the shakes while you're traveling. That woman on the plane who would usually engage me in all sorts of conversation about her children's successes left me quite alone to sleep. And the guy at the hotel looked at me like I was Keith Moon as he handed me my door card. And everybody has a remedy - some people like a particular brand of medicine, other people like exotic mixes of tea (and/or tea-like mixtures).

I'd try it all if it'd mean my body temperature would stay the same for 20 minutes at a time. I'm having more hot and cold flashes than the balcony at a Tom Jones concert. It was almost bad enough that I thought about calling this trip off, which would have been all sorts of inconvenient.

This city's a mishmash of accents. In the elevator up, there was a gentleman with a great Irish brogue. When I was little, I unconsciously picked up accents which led to all manner of mortification, particularly for my parents who decided it might not be the best idea to take me to Chinese restaurants. Evidently, it also happens when I'm sick, as I found myself - also mortified (though also a little pleased as it was a gorgeous sound - picking up his accent and wishing him a good evening.

For some reason, the view out the window reminds me a little of Monterrey, Mexico which can only mean I'm delirious. I think it's that the lights of the city are a little muted by the curtains, and somehow that translates into a fevered interpretation of hills where there's only water. But I'll take it - I had good dreams in Monterrey (and good dreams of Monterrey). And I could use a little rest tonight.

The Only Way To Be For Spring Break

Hooray - Spring Break!
Hooray - traveling tomorrow!
Hooray - flu like symptoms!

No, really. Hooray, 'cause it wouldn't be a break without an illness or some pressing academic task so that there's little possible way to enjoy it.

See if you can pinpoint the moment when... heart breaking as the sad violins start in for this poor student. If this weren't so common, it'd warrant being a "Things From My Inbox."

This morning I received this in my inbox from a student:
I wanted to let you know that I will not be in class on 3/25 or 3/27. I am
going on vacation with my family to Hawaii, we leave on the 15th and won't
be back until the 30th. I am not sure if you have in class assignments
planed already for those days but I would not want to get too far behind...
Please note that I received this e-mail a day before Spring Break. Do you hear the violins yet? Keep listening, but don't quit your day job. There's a funny juxtaposition here, as another student came to class looking like Death's three day old left-overs, with a note about kidney dysfunction, upset and on the verge of tears - in spite of having about as valid a reason as you could have for missing a class or turning something in late. Why was the near-waterworks? Because their assignment wasn't done, and they wanted a one hour extension.

Why? Why the guilt over one hour (and I'd have given any amount of time based on the note the doctor wrote) when another student feels not the slightest shame over a vacation in the middle of the term?

Honestly, if you know any parents, do me a favor. Call them up and tell them it is not okay to book a family vacation in the middle of the school year. And when your kid springs this on us, pack up those violins and send the band home, 'cause if it is possible to have negative sympathy, that's one sure way to do it.


The Godfather
  • I am too tired to give you context.
  • I wish my students who cry at romantic comedies would cry at the news.
  • Why do interdepartmental decisions at this school feel like the meeting of the Five Families in "The Godfather"?
  • Apologies to E. but Daylight Savings Time screws with my head like a college first love. It's true, and I cannot hide it.
  • most of my blog visits recently have been related to the use of a Godzilla picture from way back. Perhaps this movie picture will catapult my views.

  • my 3rd year review is scheduled. I imagine they're going to tell me I'm not on enough committees despite my attempts to ask questions that make what committees I am on tremble in fear at the tasks I'll make them undertake if they push me too far.
  • just saw the tuition schedule here. Christ. Poor bastards. Literally.

Fill in the Blanks

So it's Sunday night, and the snow has not vanished as I might've wished. It is a little too deep for the pup, who bounds off as best he can and then looks forlorn the minute he reaches his frisbee. I take back my comment about snow making things dull - someone turn off the sunshine off the bright white stuff first thing in the morning, okay?

But I've just completed my income taxes, and I cleaned the oven tonight, so I don't feel like doing anything even remotely brainy (check that: my roommate is watching "The Bourne Supremacy" and I'd like something a little branier than that. So I'm stealing a meme from Kermit's.


1. I can’t believe I’ve never…

driven on the Autobahn. Also gone sky diving.

2. Every time I think about … I still cringe.

American Idol, the last two Presidential elections, high school prom, Ugg boots, Southern accents, the joke I played on that girl in sixth grade

3. I wish I’d …when I had the chance.

learned an instrument. or studied abroad.

4. I’ve never felt so out of place as when I…

was the only person who hadn't traveled overseas.

5. … is/are my guiltiest pleasure.

Um...sleeping late? Hot bathes with whiskey? Speeding?

There's only so much honesty that's going to happen here.

6. I hope … knows how grateful I am for …

my friends and family...for everything. or specifically T. and N...for the haiku summer. Or L... for comic books. Or my undergrad adviser...for Marx and Kerouac. Or my parents...for never once trying to talk the genie back into the bottle after they taught me to read and ask questions.

7. In my darkest hours, I secretly blame … for my dysfunction.

my inability to answer a multiple choice or fill-in-the-blank questions in any sort of direct manner. Also myself.

8. … changed my life forever.

Grad school (and in a good way). Or going to a Southern Baptist middle school (in a bad way). Or technically every choice of every day.

I won't actually tag anyone, particularly since my answers wound up with the sort of typical oddness that I often approach these sorts of things with. But by all means, take a stab at it (here or elsewhere).

Southern Boy in a Snow Storm

The first time in my adult life I found myself in a snow storm, I got frostbite and propositioned by my would-be rescuer. The second time, I was in my car driving cross-country with my dog in the back seat and the storm following me like an irritating tune. That it sometimes overtook me - and never when I wanted it to - balanced with the fact that my dog sat in the backseat and occasionally stuck his head into the front seat for a scratch or to lick my cheek.

So perhaps it is no wonder today I found myself ambivalent at best about the snow falling outside the window. It seems I may well be congenitally unable to prepare properly for snow. I got frostbite because I was walking without a hat or gloves though I knew a storm was coming. On the drive, I was certain my new tires would be more than enough to see me through a drive that should have taken 24 hours but instead kept me in the car for 56. Today's snow doesn't look so bad, I think, though I fought the urge (as all of us from the South must when snow is predicted) to run to the store and load a cart full of everything we've ever wanted to eat but couldn't, just in case we're somehow snowed in. Who would want to risk dying, after all, without at least two boxes of those orange flavored Hostess cupcakes one can normally only find at truck stops?

Coming home today, the snow Photoshopped the town at the bottom of the hill out of existence, urging me to paint in a new background of my choosing for the drive home. My preferred image for the new horizon of the many I considered was of my dog in mid-leap for his frisbee, soon to land where the grocery store and the bowling alley had once been. Who wouldn't love "Giant Dog Horizon and Snow Storm"? And it occurred to me, as you drive closer to the Equator, the brighter things become, and I began to fear that life this far north was going to slowly weaken my rods and cones so that one day, when I'm further south, the bright colors of everything from flowers to houses will hurt my eyes.

Oh, that just one Northern house would gleefully cast off Scandinavian manners and offer some little bit of turquoise offense.

And still, last night, drifting in and out of sleep, I thought how glorious it was to hover in bed, the face of my pup peeking over the edge, a story near, a sleepy voice and laughter. How sweet this elegy; how pleasant the snow could be.

King for a Day

Today, by virtue of being the only faculty member in my department who isn't teaching in the early evening, I've been elected to attend the Department Chairs meeting. I would like to think that this will be a fascinating learning experience. But I suspect it will be a mind-numbing chart fest where I'll be bludgeoned with endless Excel spreadsheets of University assessment mumbo-jumbo which seems to be all the rage these days.

For whatever reason, I keep picturing it a bit like the trial from "The Crucible," but I've no idea why. Maybe it's the oddly officious way in which things are done here - so often, decisions seem to be made by scaring the herd in a particular direction. But I find it interesting that Miller could have been writing his play not about McCarthyism but about academic decision making.

We're still in the midst of figuring out things with our candidate and the entire department is on edge. Today I had to explain to our chair that someone asking for specifics probably means they're comparing us to another school that has all of those things ironed out and codified - research start-up funds, timetables, and such - and that coming into one's first or second job, those details become oddly comforting and should be seen as a search for some sense of security rather than as being picky. It doesn't help, particularly, as Dance has pointed out, that there isn't exactly a simple means of comparison among such things.

A metaphor...

Imagine for a moment that you're a prehistoric mosquito. You've just landed on a tree, only to find yourself unceremoniously stuck in the tree sap. Now if you're a remarkably forward thinking mosquito, you'll realize the sap is going to flow right over you, and you'll be trapped. But first, there's that excruciating wait.

And perhaps it will fossilize, and someday, someone will find you trapped in amber. Maybe they'll find fossil you, frozen in mid-mosquito moment, beautiful. But they'll never know the anguish of having to sit there waiting for it to end.

That's what office hours feel like to me today.

But I did find this, which pleases me greatly, as spending money on music is one of my chief pleasures in life. And I'd be alright if Mike Mills were there to sing backup for me. Truly.

Why Candidates Should Negotiate

As I mentioned in the previous post, there's some flap here about candidates negotiating. While I won't go into the gruesome details of it all, I did think, as I was responding to my colleague, that there are some pretty important reasons (from both sides of the table) why candidates should negotiate.

Reason 1: Sometimes Opportunity Only Knocks Once
Not so far back, just after this blog started, I mentioned negotiations for the faculty contract here. One of the things that I uniformly heard from older faculty when they talked about their distresses with pay scale was that they only had one real moment to influence their salaries: the moment of negotiation. After that, raises came and went, but there wasn't the ability to push for more beyond whatever system the university had in place without getting an outside offer.

Reason 2: Give a Little, Get a Little
This is going to sound needlessly Machiavellian, but it's true. When I did hiring in the corporate world, one of the things my mentor told me was to always be prepared to let someone we were recruiting win a bit. His reasoning was that someone who came in and who saw that the place they were being employed could be reasonable and that wanted them badly enough to give in a little, would be a happier employee in the long run. If the interview is the first chance for someone to meet faculty, negotiation is their first chance to meet the University. That's an impression that will last.

Academic searches are often reluctant to try this logic out, but I bet if you surveyed faculty who didn't get to negotiate - or who got nothing from them - you'd find a pretty high occurrence of faculty who were prepared to leave their jobs. If keeping faculty is really the priority of your university, be prepared to not just negotiate, but to "lose" a bit.

Reason 3: Where the School Negotiates Says a Lot About Its Priorities
One of the things I've learned in my academic interviewing time is that a school that truly sticks to its priorities will be prepared to back up those commitments if a candidate can offer a connection to them. If a school claims it wants research but can't spring for a little extra research money, be wary. If they value teaching but won't find some ways to help you integrate better, then you know they're blowing smoke.

Reason 4: There Are Two Kinds of Attention - Negotiations Are the Right Kind
Here's the thing: if a candidate is trying to negotiate with you, it means they're interested in you. If they just take your first offer, it likely means they're desperate. Which one they are will tell you a lot about where you might be headed. Academic hiring is, as noted here, there, and everywhere, ridiculously problematic. A person who negotiates, though, has to be taking some level of interest in you, and that means if you get them, they're likely coming in with a different energy and commitment to what you want.

Certainly, it's not always the case that the candidate is interested in you, but if the Prisoner's Dilemma taught us anything, it's that we're better off entering a negotiation with some sense of faith in the person and their motives than we are if we start by doubting them.

On some level, the negotiation process has to be seen as a testing of university resources and commitment. Done correctly, it's a chance for both sides of the table to emerge happier and stronger from the process.

Being Exhibit A (or Still More From the Other Side of the Table)

So just when all was right with hiring in our department - after our decision was reached and the offer sent out - one of the jolly fellows I work with melted down. Now there are doubts. Now there are recriminations. And it turns out he may be an Abe Simpson look alike. The nuances of his difficulty are many, but what's most frustrating is that it's come after all of our discussion and after attempts to defuse at least some of the issues we thought he'd have.

There are two kickers for me buried in the midst of this. The first is that someone who is otherwise seemingly as progressive as they come, complained that a candidate would dare to try to negotiate. But the second is that I've been turned into a piece of evidence for his argument. And while his interpretation of me-as-evidence is flattering in many regards, it's also wrong-headed and factually incorrect, not in the least because the things he's upset about are all things I've done (including trying to negotiate when I took the job).

I've been sitting on the complaint (it so could have been its own version of "Things From My Inbox") except yesterday turned out to be such a relaxing day that there was no way I was going to deal with it then. But I know myself well enough that even in this small department, I'm not going to be able to avoid commenting.