Just Wondering

Does anyone else think the Dow plunging 777 points is likely to be interpreted by Sarah Palin as a sign of God's endorsement of deregulation?

Meme for Saturday Night

Because all this yammering about politics, finances, and jobs is soul-crushing in the extreme _and_ because I can't convince my roommate to turn off SNL even though to continue paying attention to it is going to make me do something horrible to my own eyes. It probably doesn't help that Sarah Palin has moved beyond someone I find amusing in any capacity to someone who seems to inspire the sorts of feelings in me that other people often express when asked about high school.

And so, I offer you a meme. You may recall I stopped tagging people for these things, but I do so love to see other people do things I do so if you tackle this, lemme know.


1. Grab the book nearest to you, turn to page 8, find line 6. Write down what it says.
"...and theoretical articles are often similar in structure, but theoretical ar-..."

2. Stretch your left arm out as far as you can. What do you touch first?
The floor, if I fall over. The kitchen counter if my arm stretches nine feet.

3. What is the last thing you watched on TV?
SNL is on right now. Because I hate laughter, and I'm too lazy to change the channel.

4. WITHOUT LOOKING, guess what time it is

5. Now look at the clock, what is the actual time?

6. With the exception of the computer, what can you hear?
crickets, my dog's sleeping noises, my will to live being slowly ground to paste by SNL skits

7. When did you last step outside? what were you doing?
about 10:30, to take the dog out to play frisbee

8. Before you came to this website, what did you look at?
Tabbed browsing makes this question obsolete.

9. What are you wearing?
Is this going to turn into one of those x-rated memes? Seriously, buy a boy a drink first and get to know me. Perv.

10. Did you dream last night?
Only of you, baby.

11. When did you last laugh?
I laugh a lot. Often at inappropriate things. You'd think this would give SNL a chance since the most inappropriate thing to laugh at would be something profoundly unfunny.

But no.

12. What is on the walls of the room you are in?
A map, an abstract painting, my Miles Davis print

13. Seen anything weird lately?
Besides Sarah Palin interviews? Or an image of her face plowed into a cornfield? Nothing I can think of.

14. What do you think of this quiz?
At least it hasn't asked me about what I want my wedding to be like or what I'll name my kids or anything lame like that.

15. What is the last film you saw?
"Forbidden Kingdom" - it's what you get if you mix a Disney sports movie with "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"

16. If you became a multi-millionaire overnight, what would you buy first?
A plane ticket or two and my way out of student loan debt.

17. Tell me something about you that I don't know
I secretly fear that every criticism or accusation against me is true and I'm just too dumb to realize it.

Or that if I had it all to do over again, I'd chuck it all and join a band.

18. If you could change one thing about the world, regardless of guilt or politics, what would you do?
Backup singers would be an easy option for anyone who wanted them.

19. Do you like to dance?
I like the thought of me dancing much more than actuality of it.

20. George Bush: is he a power-crazy nutcase or some one who is finally doing something that has needed to be done for years?
He's a power-crazy-nutcase who is doing something that's needed to be done for years: he's getting ready to leave the White House.

21. Imagine your first child is a girl, what do you call her?

22. Imagine your first child is a boy, what do you call him?
When this discussion happens, for whatever reason, my firstborn is always a girl. She's precocious and sarcastic and that's before she learns to talk.

23.Would you ever consider living abroad?
If it didn't mean putting my dog in quarrantine for months, I'd probably already have done it. And my inability to master more than three words of any foreign language certainly doesn't help.

The other economic crisis...

..so panic on Wall Street with lenders and such made me think about my student loan debt which is a topic I've managed to largely wall off into some back part of my brain. I go through the usual routines to keep the monster in check, but it's always there lurking because I just can't deal with it. But sometimes it gets out, and when it does, it's frightening.

A quick run through of my payment schedule is pretty depressing. If I could afford it, to pay my loans off in 30 years will run me roughly 1/4 of my salary each year (based on what my salary is currently). Of course, I can't afford that, so I'm paying less which means it'll slowly grow.

All of this had made me contemplate other options for trying to make a dent in it. This is, in part, why I've thought about trying to leap out of academia. But I also took a look at Sallie Mae's deal with UPromise, and I've signed up for it. I'm also considering begging all of my friends and family to join it, in a move that makes me feel just a little dirty. But I'm curious, has anyone else used the service? Any thoughts on it?

Job Tracking - Week 3

A good week as applications go. Of course, it doesn't hurt that the guest speaker I had lined up had an emergency six minutes before my class was to start, leaving me holding the bag with lots of VIPs watching to see how things went. A little tap dancing, a few mea culpas, and a quick dismissal of the class gave me some extra time to dig in today. With that break, I managed a lot of packets since last week's report .

And more importantly, after a quick phone call to a search chair, I found it would be possible to apply for two jobs with one application packet, and since it was a huge packet, you'd better believe I took them up on that accommodation. But it also worried me that the department was hiring multiple positions at once. Granted, I'm at a SLAC now, but I can't recall any of the schools I've ever been at having been able to hire multiple positions without there being some pretty compelling back-story. This isn't to say the details were always bad, but it's always worth noticing.

That got me thinking about other signs that give me pause in a job search. There are big obvious ones, like multiple hires or - worse - the same position advertised from one job season to another. Within the process, little details are interesting to think about. Early in the process, one thing that gives me pause is having to supply my own stamp to send back the Equal Opportunity forms. It's a small thing, but it is always just enough to make me wonder about the state of the school or program's budget. I'm sure there are others, and obviously, I'd love to hear from others about things that make them think as the process goes on.

In any case, here are the update stats:
Total # of academic jobs applied for/# of jobs identified: 8/19
Total # of non-academic jobs applied for/# of jobs identified 0/0
Total spent in U.S. dollars on applications: $52.85
Average cost in U.S. dollars per applications: $6.60
Total spent in U.S. dollars on travel, etc: $0
Total amount in U.S. dollars reimbursed: $0
The Chronicle of Higher Ed: 2
HigherEdJobs.com: 0
Other online service (listserv, etc): 14
Friend/Colleague: 2
Personal Research: 1
Total number of paper submissions: 7
Total number of e-submissions: 1
Total weight in pounds of application packets: 7.5
Total number of recommendation letters requested: 9
Total number of requests for references: 4
Total number of "proof of teaching excellence" packs : 4
Total number of requests for Teaching Philosophy 3
Total number of research packs: 4
Total number of transcripts requested: 0
Total number of acknowledgments of receipt: 3
Total number of confirmed reference contacts: 0
Total number of phone interviews: 0
Total number of conference interviews: 0
Total number of on-campus interviews: 0
Total number of offers: 0
Total number of rejection letters: 0
I had a weird moment this week that I expect may bring high drama in the coming days. I informed one of my usual references I was applying and that I'd like them to continue being a reference, but I buried the request amid some other discussions in an e-mail. And so, when they replied to those other questions with a CC to someone else, they let slip that I'm on the market. I've already been stopped by one person in the hall to ask about it, so I'm sure there will be considerably more discussion.

Thank You, Mister Keynes, may we have another?

For whatever reason - call it nerdiness - I found myself thinking in the shower this morning that there was one name I'd not heard mentioned so far during all of the discussions of the current economic crisis/bailout: John Maynard Keynes. And I imagined that somewhere, his ghost is going fraternity on the Milton Friedman's spectral bum.

If we think about it too much, the current moment with its bailout feels just a bit like we're being sold snake oil. And so we're being urged to not think. Just act. Part of that discomfort we're having, though, is because that the bailout and the policies behind fly in the face of how we've been told we should believe and want the economy to work.

We probably shouldn't be surprised at polls that show the average American is either confused or untrusting of the whole thing, and probably generally apathetic. At the heart of the bailout is the idea that has been at the forefront of mainstream economics for the last several decades: that whatever is left over will be passed down to the guy at the bottom of the chain. And what the bottom of the chain has learned is that what's always passed on is cost. Sure, this time it's astronomical. But it's more of the same. Remember this when you hear the phrase trickle down economics.

There's a lot to be considered in the midst of this argument, not the least of which is whether we're going to learn that the market, left to its own devices, is perhaps best compared to a child left home alone for the first time. It isn't bad, exactly, but it's going to do bad things.For Keynes, the economy was always political. To think that it could be divorced from it was folly. Economic policy for the last forty years or so has vehemently tried to deny this, suggesting that the market should correct everything (except when it doesn't). Privatization isn't bad, but as David Ignatius so succinctly concludes, "public purposes are best served by public institutions."

And that means the public has to get something out of it.

Political Stuff That Amuses Me

Oh, and also it's important for actual teaching...

Just saw, buried down the page on this Inside Higher Ed.com Quick Takes, that concern is rising that employment patterns in higher education are making it tougher to find qualified faculty to become administrators. The note mentions that only 3% of folks under the age of 34 who are teaching are doing so in full-time positions.

That's a lot of adjuncts (and likely grad students), though maybe it would be a little tempered by how many people teaching are under 34. I'm betting the number is higher than my first impression of it.

It amuses me though that the thrust of this is on how this is affecting administration and not on, say, how it impacts the quality of education itself. It's a bit like when I worked in the corporate world and there was a big shake up. The whole company freaked out because they were afraid they weren't going to have enough middle-managers. The thought was "of course we can get folks on the line: there's a ton of them."

It came back to bite that company in the ass, and I do wonder whether it won't do the same here in good ol' higher education.

Sometimes the Rewards Are Subtle

I've been fortunate in the last couple of weeks to have had some of my former students drop in. Today one of my best students ever, my honor's student mentioned back here, came by to catch up with me and one other member of his committee. And since that other member wasn't in on Monday, that meant I got all that quality time to myself.

After we chatted for an hour or so in my office about what he wants to do - travel overseas and maybe work there, maybe grad school - we decided to take off and grab a beer. And while we grabbed that beer, we caught up on music and books and all the things you hope your best students are thinking about. It was funny to see the mix of grownup and kid in him in that light - he's talking about great books and deep thoughts he's been having one moment and then lamenting the young crowd at the death metal show he came down for the next.

What was great though was when he said the following, "You know, I didn't like you at the start of the first class I had you for."

I could only laugh because I know that a lot of the students at that point didn't particularly like me. But what I love is that now I'm one of the people he comes back to see, one of the people he seeks out for advice, one of the people he asks for book recommendations and theoretical insights from, and one of the people he'd sit down for a beer with. He asked whether I'd recommend he go to the grad program I went to.

No matter what else I say, sometimes this really is a great job.

Job Tracking - Week 2

In the office on the weekend to work on more job applications. Joy, oh, joy!

For those of you keeping up, here is the last job tracking entry so you can compare. I would have had three done yesterday but for the 4 pm faculty meeting that was, to its credit, both useful and mercifully short. But it did get in the way of my usual job prep time, keeping me from getting any new applications out in the mail though I did identify several new job possibilities and get one e-submission completed.

Some of the more observant will note that my cost has risen even though this week's only submission was an electronic one. This is explained by the need for supplies, particularly envelopes and some sort of folder to keep things organized in. The folder moment is a weird one, because my experience looking at job applications is that the extra stuff never gets seen (and is likely thrown away). I've never seen an application in a folder, for example. Still, I like to send my applications in an organized way, and keeping them in a folder helps me to make sure, particularly during those times I'm putting out several applications at once.

I also prefer to use my own supplies as much as possible to avoid any perceived conflict of interest. Some disciplines seem more inclined to this than others (remember there was some small to-do about the use of letterhead over at Tenured Radical awhile back). I do use a version of letterhead, though only because I have a scanned .JPEG of ours that I can simply put at the top of any document I print: same effect, no guilt. I've never used letterhead before, so it'll be interesting to see whether somehow my interest rate goes up any (obviously, though I won't be able to say for sure whether it's the letterhead or not, but still, fuel for the internets). After some discussion around here and reading posts hither and yon, I also added a couple of new tracking categories: paper vs. e-submissions.

The whole e-submission process leaves me with mixed feelings. First, how do you actually sign something? I could do the scan of my signature the way I do with letterhead, but what a pain that was. And while I approve of not having to print a ton of paperwork out myself, I'm not fooled into thinking this is paperless. After all, when I review applications, I always want my own copy to write on. I don't imagine it's much difference anywhere else. One of the good things about the e-submission process is that it does allow the school, if done correctly, to gather all that pesky demographic data as part of the process. For the sake of argument, I'm going to assume confirmation with e-submissions that include some sort of reference number or that collect demographic data; if they don't, no counting until they send me something.

With those thoughts in mind, here are this week's numbers.
Total # of academic jobs applied for/# of jobs identified: 3/15
Total # of non-academic jobs applied for/# of jobs identified 0/0
Total spent in U.S. dollars on applications: $37.28
Average cost in U.S. dollars per applications: $12.43
Total spent in U.S. dollars on travel, etc: $0
Total amount in U.S. dollars reimbursed: $0
The Chronicle of Higher Ed: 2
HigherEdJobs.com: 0
Other online service (listserv, etc): 12
Friend/Colleague: 0
Personal Research: 1
Total number of paper submissions: 2
Total number of e-submissions: 1
Total weight in pounds of application packets: 3.1
Total number of recommendation letters requested: 3
Total number of requests for references: 2
Total number of "proof of teaching excellence" packs : 0
Total number of requests for Teaching Philosophy 0
Total number of research packs: 1
Total number of transcripts requested: 0
Total number of acknowledgments of receipt: 3
Total number of confirmed reference contacts: 0
Total number of phone interviews: 0
Total number of conference interviews: 0
Total number of on-campus interviews: 0
Total number of offers: 0
Total number of rejection letters: 0
I realize now, I should probably track how much time this is taking, but the number would be fudged at best. I've got a pretty good system for these things now, and it can still take me ages because of the need to look at departmental information and such.

Still, I Will Compalin

Okay, I know that probably there is no time of the week that would be better. I know that no matter what time you choose, some large group of faculty will complain. But, honestly, there has to be a better time for a faculty meeting than 4:00 pm on a Friday afternoon, doesn't there?

Why I Agree With Fiorina

Wow, politics is farce. John McCain helped create the Blackberry? And we should be thankful for that? Have you seen what twits most people become when they get one? And the economy is fundamentally sound. Pay no attention the Man behind the curtain, or the queue forming at the ledge.

But I digress.

In case you hadn't heard that one of McCain's advisers, Carly Fiorina, said that none of the Republican or Democratic candidates have what it takes to run a company, and it has the talking heads yapping. The heads are, of course, spinning this as a betrayal (however inadvertent) of McCain by the former head of Hewlett-Packard (who, it is worth noting, caused the company major woes). And no doubt, to politicians anything that suggests they can't do anything is a betrayal.

Fiorina, though, attempts the argument that running the government isn't like running a company. I agree, though probably not for the reasons she thinks. What I'd love to hear spun out of this is the idea that the government shouldn't be run via the free market the way business is. I'd love to hear that government is something different, something that should be a limit on the free market, not one of its subjects.

Wouldn't that be something?

What I Was Thinking While You Were Speaking

In the lead-up to yesterday's departmental meeting:

You said: I've got a project that I think will be good for the new kid. It will help them get a grip on what the department's about

I thought: You have no recollection of what the first term was like. And you're being lazy and trying to justify it.

At yesterday's departmental meeting:

You said: I've signed us up for a great opportunity that a few programs with similar ideals have begun to experiment.

I thought: Why do you write checks my workload is going to have to cash? Odds are you'll bail out of this great project 20 seconds after you finish your sentence, and half of my next term will be spent trying to honor your commitment.

In office hours with a former student:

You said: You know, I hated your method class, but it has been so useful.

I thought: Yes! Yes, I told you so! Now if only you'd tell this year's students or put it in writing.

On the phone with a study-abroad coordinator from another country:

You said: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me. I really want this to work for your student.

I thought: Thank YOU for calling me. I wish I could get our study abroad folks to return my calls or to help our students. And wow, if we wind up in a global monoculture, I hope we all wind up with your accent.


Once, when I was a graduate student, I assisted an instructor who spent twenty minutes in front of the class with his fly down. He sat on a bench in front of a row of (mostly female students) with his legs apart, his fly gaping, pontificating as was his way, and nothing we could do to get his attention worked. Ultimately, a student raised their hand and said, exasperated at the show, "Dude, your fly's DOWN!"

Today, I had one of those moments - not my fly down, thankfully - but something that I'm sure was distracting to students. It was in one of my good classes, too, which is awful because losing one of the good sections to something - being known as "The Prof who..." for the rest of the term - would suck not just because of embarrassment but because the energy from the good class is what's carrying me through the sucky other classes.

Dr. Curmudgeon, Cat Herder

Back in grad school, one of my colleagues used to suggest that getting the grad students to do something as one was like herding cats. I agreed, though I found there was on crucial exception.

I'd been wondering what to do about helping our new faculty member settle in. When I arrived, I had a couple of good friends, and so I wasn't so worried about finding other things to do (though when they left, wow, did it look stark). But I don't do much these days, because I'm focused on paying things off and saving some little bit in anticipation of moving. And there are weird dynamics that could play in: gender, proximity to tenure, cultural backgrounds, etc, etc.

Finally this week, I realized that the thing to do was to rely on what I'm good at. That crucial exception in graduate school could apply here, too. Back in the day, I was a pretty good at feline wrangling, at least when it came to getting them to the bar. And why wouldn't that work here, particularly when one of the things I've lamented about the place is there's not so much cohesion among the faculty? And if one new faculty member might've been having trouble finding some social activity, wouldn't many of them. And so, the call to the bar went out.

I'm proud to say it worked, with about 12 people showing up, and several apologizing because of prior commitments. I think some good connections were made - the folks in Women's Studies, for example, seemed to find some new allies. And a few people have even asked to have it happen again.

I wonder what they'd do if I counted it as service?

Job Tracking - the First Post

[Edited 9/15: added tracking on where the job posting came from]

As promised, this year as I hit the job market, I'm going to start tracking some of the information and posting it here. I'd intended to use a widget to do this, but as I've discussed the idea with various folks online and off, doing it that would've resulted in some losses . First, because of how much information I wanted to convey, even if I redesigned the blog, it was going to require a microscope to read. Second, it didn't seem like it really would be taking advantage of having a blog if I didn't allow for the possibility to discuss it. And third, I anticipate what I want to track changing, and I didn't want to have to wrestle with widgets or Google gadgets any more than necessary. This way, it's not at all necessary.

So, that said, the new plan is to post semi-regularly (I'm shooting for weekly, but let's be realistic here) the status of the job search tracking some various key points. Today's will be the first of those posts. To help out, I'll give each of those posts the "Job Tracking" title opening, and I'll make sure to link back to the previous post (though probably not posts). I tend to do job applications on Fridays or the weekend*, so that's when the posts are most likely to appear.

One of the goals is to help track expense on this, and so there are a few things you should know, as I do this. First, I'm using Interfolio to send letters of recommendation. That cost is figured in. I'm going to try also to break down the number of requests for particular types of information, and if there is something in particular you'd like to see tracked, let me know (the earlier the better), and I'll try to add it to the list I'm keeping.
Total # of academic jobs applied for/# of jobs identified: 2/10
Total # of non-academic jobs applied for/# of jobs identified 0/0
Total spent in U.S. dollars on applications: $26.17
Average cost in U.S. dollars per applications: $13.09
Total spent in U.S. dollars on travel, etc: $0
Total amount in U.S. dollars reimbursed: $0
The Chronicle of Higher Ed: 2
Other online service (listserv, etc): 7
Personal Research: 1
Total weight in pounds of application packets: 3.1
Total number of recommendation letters requested: 3
Total number of requests for references: 1
Total number of "proof of teaching excellence" packs : 0
Total number of requests for Teaching Philosophy 0
Total number of research packs: 0
Total number of transcripts requested: 0
Total number of acknowledgments of receipt: 0
Total number of confirmed reference contacts: 0
Total number of phone interviews: 0
Total number of conference interviews: 0
Total number of on-campus interviews: 0
Total number of offers: 0
Total number of rejection letters: 0
There are a few things to note, already. Part of why the cost is so high is that Interfolio requires a subscription fee - in my case, I opted for the $15 one year subscription (that I believe is about to go up so if you're going to subscribe, do it now). For a first class mailing of (I believe) 20 pages or less, Interfolio currently charges $5.

As for the breakdown of what I'm tracking, a few other details are worth defining. In the "Proof of Teaching Excellence," I'm counting anything that asks for evals, syllabi, or peer evaluation. In the "Research Packs" category, I'm counting any requests for a statement of research interest or for samples of research/publications. And the "Requests for References" covers any request that asks for references but not for letters. In my field, I've never been asked for reference letters later in the process - they seem to either want them right up front or are content with trying to contact folks themselves, though I've heard it argued that asking for letters once you've reviewed initial packets would be a good idea.

What else can I tell you?

* This is probably typical for most academics. In part, it's when my schedule becomes most my own, but it also means I can work in my office and print things without any fear - largely unjustified but still palpable - that someone will find me working on job applications and freak out on me either because I'm working on job applications or because I'm doing so using some sort of university resource (like the printer).

Backwards and in heels...

Just watched the Sarah Palin interview on Nightline. Honestly, all that foreign policy experience we've heard about comes down to: "They're our next door neighbors and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska."? Really? And global warming is God's will?


It's like reality tv meets politics. We must all hope - or pray if that's your bag - that there doesn't wind up being a swimsuit competition. The only thing that could make this scarier would be to see McCain in his speedo.

RBOC: Planning and Griping Edition

Busy trying to clear things off my desk. Feels like the workload for my year (or maybe just the term) has been front-loaded.

But progress has been made. The following items are in the planning stages and need feedback:
  • I'm planning the meal for the closing banquet of the conference we're helping with. Honestly, who left the guy from Texas in charge of a menu for a group that's guaranteed to have lots of vegetarians? Even worse, our caterer has just stopped giving prices with their catering guide so I'm going into this blind and well-aware that I'm going to have to negotiate. Anyway, how does this sound for a vegetarian menu:
  1. ravioli porcini morel (the main course)
  2. fresh mesclun salad
  3. baked sweet potatoes
  4. baby squash
  5. angel food cake with seasonal berries
  • I think I've got a widget/gadget/whatever the hell Blogger is calling it this week to help deal with the job search status questions (incidentally, there didn't seem to be a great counter for Blogger, but there was a spiffy one for WordPress). My question is what things would you like to see me track? I was thinking about the overall cost; the number of jobs found, applied for, contacted by, and various types of interviewed for; and maybe the number of requests for particular types of documents. Anything else?
  • On a different note, one of my soon-to-be-graduating seniors said, in response to a discussion about Interlibrary loans, "Wait...so the library will give us a loan?" They were quite disappointed when a fellow student said "Yeah. Of books and magazine articles."
  • My Mac is still softwareless. It's a $2600 web browser at the moment (oh, and it plays "Spore" - see the example at the right of one of my creations). I tried to request the software I'd need for it, and am now locked in a battle with IT over whether I should have to buy copies of software that the University has upgraded to and that I'm required to use in teaching for this computer.
And on that note, good night.

Signs of Intelligence in the Field

There may be some hope for my field after all.

I just sat down to put together my now-annual job application requirement spreadsheet that helps keep me up to date on what I need to send to each job. I'm hitting the market hard, it seems, as there are already 10 schools on the list. That does mean I'm being a little less selective, but not much. So far, every job is in or very near a place I feel like I could live (except one where the city is entirely too large, but the job was sent my way by my adviser, so...), and they range from SLACs to Research I's.

What gives me hope, though, is the number of schools who have reduced their requirements for an application. And nearly all of them - including places I've applied before - have gotten more specific when asking for things like "evidence of teaching effectiveness" (a phrase and requirement that are the bane of my job applying existence).

There are still a few that are insisting on interviewing at one of a number of conferences, and that's frustrating because there isn't the agreement in my field about which conference this should be and so it may well require applicants to attend multiple conferences in hopes of getting that first interview. Worse, I'm at a school that doesn't exactly hand out the travel funding, so getting to conferences becomes a giant expense that I have to take.

When I can find an application that I like for it, I'll add a section to the page to keep track of applications the way so many people do word counts in their manuscripts. I think it'll be interesting to see what the process looks like.

Let the buyer, like, beware and stuff...

I've been struggling with a post about the election, random gender-related events and how they reflect on the weird tug-of-war in society. Oh, it was going to be good. I was going to nail down all that was currently plaguing our country with all the wit and/or pathos you've come to expect from us here at Curmudgeon Labs.

And then I saw this, and it made me realize I could never even begin to explain social problems in a world where this line of thinking is possible.

Seriously? I'm supposed to think "If they fooled Paris, they could fool me too?" When did I miss Paris becoming the touchstone for intelligence and intelligent spending?

Political Phrases I'm Ready to Hear Retired

So I don't want to talk (much) about Palin, mostly because she seems placed as just about the worst part of every form of conservatism that's out there, wrapped up in a neat package. It seems to me, honestly, that there's not much she could have done wrong tonight - it was an introductory speech and as long as she didn't say anything openly inflammatory, spit on anyone, or have her pants come down, it would be viewed as a success.

But I would like to call time-out on a few phrases that have been overused in the recent political memory, the first one having just crossed the threshold for me tonight:
  • "hockey moms"
  • "NASCAR dads"
  • "red meat"
And while we're at it, let's stop mentioning the importance of the women vote. If people can't figure out that 50 percent of the population is an important group to appeal to, nothing a commentator can say is going to make them realize it. That was, as I understand it, one of the outcomes of that whole suffrage thing.

Okay? Okay.

"My policy is up here, sir."

I can't decide what's funnier: the ring that seems to be constricting or the continued attempts to maintain six safe inches between candidates.

Just So I'm Clear

Okay, so I keep reading stuff about Sarah Palin's unfortunately named daughter being pregnant and about what a brave choice it is that she's having the baby.

And I seem to recall Palin having been an advocate for abstinence only sex education. And this made me curious. So curious that I dare to ask:

Maybe I Should Call Myself "Dr. Yossarian"

I do not know how I feel about this week. It should be cake, what with the holiday that wasn't really a holiday and all. But the first day back gave me the first taste of the term of what a back-to-back set of classes that were over-full felt like.

I. am. pooped.

And in weirder, oddly more exhausting news, somehow many people - read: seven - from high school found my Facebook profile, and now I'm interacting with them because it seems weird to decline their friend requests. Worse, though, this seems likely to bring a run-in with The Ex (you know, the one ex who defined what all ex's would be: the crazy one who appears year in and out to remind you why you broke up in the first place). I am not looking forward to this - and perhaps it won't happen.

Also, has anyone had any experience with The International Professor Exchange? It seems harmless and yet, my Curmudgeon-sense tingles. Perhaps it just seems like too good an idea to be true.

I'm in a rush to find a couple of good conferences, too, while trying to navigate my school's Byzantine system for helping with the conference we're presenting. I think Joseph Heller wrote Catch-22 about academia and only later substituted in the Army. Today I was sent to electronic forms that aren't being used, told my request to another department on campus must be faxed, and found out that food must be delivered prior to the tables it will rest on.