Whirlwind of Productivity

Today, I'm in my office, which is freezing though it sounds like the heat is on, and I've got the song "Mercedes Boy" by Pebbles stuck in my head, though I haven't heard it since probably 1989 and I've got iTunes on loud shuffle trying to exorcise it from my head.

Go on, click that link and suffer with me. I bet you didn't know there was an extended version. Thanks, YouTube!

As the title says, I've been all kinds of productive in the last 24 hours. Yesterday, I graded 25 projects and provided detailed feedback. I wrote two reference letters - though I need to proof them this evening. And for the conference we're "helping" to co-host (the other co-hosts have largely vanished and my co-conspirator here has been the usual level of disorganized) was falling behind on things, so I also sent out 50+ acceptance letters.

The conference is tiring me out, as I knew it would. All the things I was afraid would go wrong have. Big Ideas/Bigger Mouth from the other U - who asked to co-host - has found all his promised funding gone, all his "friends who would do us favors" vanished, and may well have gone on vacation. That's left us to find the keynotes, to review the proposals, to send the acceptances, and thus far, to come up with all the funds that have been come up with. For my part, I've put together a banquet, transportation to the banquet and a local tourist attraction, found a band, ordered drinks, ordered the furniture and the setup, found the funding for all of that at a tiny university in an economic recession, and last night, sent out all the acceptance letters.

I'm tired. And yet my grading is caught up, and my lectures are planned. I do not deserve "Mercedes Boy." I don't. If this is karma, I'm sorry for inventing polio. I didn't mean to. Please stop this song and let me rest.

Place Your Bets

So a few of you have asked about this, and I thought it'd be a good thing to bet on. Tonight, at 7:04 p.m., I told a student that I've taken a new job and won't be here in the fall. The student isn't in my department, but I'm at a university of about 2,700 students.

Anyone care to bet on how long until my students hear about it and begin to ask questions (and possibly freak out)?

Or maybe I smell

I described an event a few nights back to my roommate as feeling like I'd attended my own autopsy. Really, the last few days have felt that bumpy.

There's a point, I suppose, after you take a job but before you've left for it where everyone has to give up on you. I suppose I've hit that point, and it's been strange trying to deal with it. A few nights back, I attended a party one of my colleagues was throwing, and throughout the time I was there, I actually found folks I work with moving away from conversations with me. And when conversations did happen, they almost invariably began with something like "So, traitor, have you found an apartment at your new job yet?" As I entered the kitchen - where folks in my discipline invariably gravitate to at any party - I heard someone whisper "Do you think you'll take Curmudgeon's office?" To my credit, I didn't interrupt or immediately think about pranking the person who gets my little slice of poor ventilation. This, though, seems to be the tone of things for my remaining weeks.

I suppose it's a blessing that I've stopped getting asked to faculty meetings, but it's another strange symptom of things. But it's a little odd that people actually get quiet when I round a corner or stick my head in the doorway. It's like I'm being forced to be a short-timer: if I can't do the right thing and lose all interest in things here, interest will be lost for me.


So after much delay, I heard from the editor of my book today, and the word wasn't bad but it wasn't good. Mostly it wasn't good because this book is taking forever, and now it's going to take a bit more. Part of the problem is due to some bad information I was given, evidently, and I can point this out, but it wouldn't really get me much benefit. The long and the short of it is that it's back to the keyboard for me on the book. I'm trying to stay calm about it, as it seems like everything ties back to this book somehow: the new job, funding, conferences, blah blah blah.

At the end of it, I suppose, it will still be published, and probably it won't take as long as I think it's going to. And there was some very useful feedback - some nice critiques of things that didn't come out as strongly as I wanted and some suggestions for places to go to bolster my research. But it still feels like a huge setback.

Are You Frakkin' Kidding Me?

Maybe I'm about to spoil the BSG finale, though I'm going to tap dance around as much as I can. If you can't stand the possibility of spoilers, please stop reading.

[I'm serious: if spoilers irritate you, stop reading]

[I'm not kidding...]

[This means you, fangirls and boys...]

[This is your last warning...]

[New command: Rant]

Angels? Really? 'Cause I thought the Deus ex Machina taken quite that literally went out of style a few centuries ago.

Even though a lot of the last BSG episode was satisfying - that they didn't feel the need to do happy endings for everyone, for example, or the reappearance of the old Cylons, the sweet use of the old show's theme, some good sci-fi blow up and even a little fight twist, there was a lot that left me irritated. Angels, for one. Or at least one Viper flying angel. And most of the 11 minutes past the hour.

Ugh. I feel like I was prostelitized to. I feel a little dirty. And that's not helping me cope with the plunge I'm taking in my March Madness pool.

[End of Line]


The Resignation Letter

So, one detail that had fallen to the wayside of this whole New Job Business was the formal resignation letter. I'd never had to write one before, and since there are some outstanding matters between the University and myself at the moment, writing it wasn't easy.

I don't know that this is necessarily a model, but the strangeness of it - combined with a need I felt to address some things, however tactfully - made me think that maybe it'd be worth posting here.
Dear ___________,

It is with no small amount of regret that I offer my resignation as Assistant Professor in the Department of ________________ at the end of my contract year.

My time in the Department of _____________ has been extremely rewarding. The program that has been developed here is amazing, fulfilling an important role in our field and in the world. The things that I have learned while working with this excellent faculty cannot be stressed enough. The delicate balance they have struck so successfully - not content to just teach _____________ but to graft those skills to a vision of social justice - is to be commended. In the coming years, I have every confidence that you will find other departments working for a model that has been present here all along. Working with them has inspired and instructed me, and I hope to carry the seeds of this department into my future endeavors I cannot praise the department and my colleagues enough for their commitment to creating something dynamic, unique, and equitable.

My departure is bitter-sweet as _____________ is taking important steps towards becoming a university that truly represents social justice for all. Such steps are rarely easy, and it says something that the University is risking them. I hope that in my time here I have helped with those steps, and that, just as the _______________ department asks of its students, I have made the department and the University a better place. I regret that I cannot continue that work here, but I hope the University will continue with it, even when it isn’t easy, and I will follow the changes and lend what support and well wishes I can.

I wish the University all the success in the world. I’m grateful for my time here. Thank you.
Certainly, the letter is longer than it probably needs to be for a resignation. But it feels like one of those rare moments where the young, untenured faculty member has something like the attention of those above. I tried to make the point on a different issue that, unfortunately, sometimes the only voice university structures allow young faculty is heard in the quiet syllables of feet on pavement. My leaving isn't entirely about that - though it certainly is a part. But the lesson is important.

It is probably entirely unrealistic to hope that anyone actually pays attention to these things, but since the letter was to be sent to the V.P. and my Dean, it seemed worthwhile to take the shot that things the school has been struggling with are important - and not easy - but that it shouldn't be taken as a sign that it's okay to quit on them.

Checking In

Okay, so maybe I'm just not in a bloggy-space right now.

Last week, periodically I'd think of something I wanted to blog about, and then the day would mop the floor with me. The next thing I knew, it'd be half past midnight, and I barely capable of spelling my own name. And then the week was up, and I was still struggling along.

It isn't that things are going okay, though I've got one class where a literal 95 percent of my students are half-assing it so badly that they're going to be lucky to pull C's. My focus is just not where I want it. I'm trying to help the department find my replacement - an odd moment, to be sure - and I'm trying to finish setting up for the conference we're helping to co-host with the new caveats that the school we're co-hosting with has no budget and my university has given us money provided we can pay for everything before the conference actually happens (though the parts of my university that are actually involved with giving us a bill won't respond with prices).

I've also found that I've managed to - in very short order - make myself a thorn in the side of one of the more important administrators here. Mostly this seems to have happened because there comes a point in any meeting when I tired of beating around the bureaucratic bush and either ask for what I think we need or suggest what I think needs to happen. A colleague described me as "prickly" in these meetings, which made me laugh with more than a little bit of pride.

I have, though, managed to start back to the gym. I've been four times since the last post, and (of course) every time, it has been packed with my students. But that may well be the price I have to pay right now.

So that's things. I'm still committed (ish) to trying to blog fairly regullarly, but we'll see how it goes. I am, as always, open to suggestions for topics.

Big (Bad) Realization

Somehow in the midst of all this term, I've gotten fat.

To keep this in perspective, I wasn't small to begin with. But I'd done a semi-decent job taking some weight off in the last couple of years, and I was horrified today to discover that I've actually managed to put it all back on, a majority of it since the start of this job search. That is, of course, a very anecdotal correlation, but still.

It's a strange moment to be this distressed at my appearance - and probably a bit late in life to be developing this sort of body image complex. But isn't that the joy of marketing? Sooner or later, we're all going to measure ourselves against the cover of "People" and find ourselves wanting?

RBOC Griping

Happy Sunday to you all. I don't have much to say, but I feel a bit like I'm losing touch with the blog (or losing the blogging touch, or something). So the goal for the next bit is to do something, however useless, regardless. It may well be time to take suggestions for posts again. Honestly, isn't the start of Spring (more or less) the time when we start doing pointless memes? I'll keep you posted. In the meantime:
  • Daylight Savings Time is the new Office of Financial Aid: seriously, never have I been so thoroughly screwed by one bureacratic concept since second semester of Freshman year of college.
  • One More Reason I Don't Want a Roommate When I Move: baseball season has again come to take over the television. Baseball announcers might be more mindless than reality television.
  • One More Technodisaster For the Road: just in case I wasn't sure, IT has done its bit to help me out, by telling me there was a piece of software on all available computers on campus. Tonight one of my students e-mailed to tell me the software was a trial version that has, evidently, been expired for some time now.
  • The Trouble With Healthy Eating #314: cooking fish makes an apartment impossible to actually live in.
More soon.

Job Tracking - Addendum and Part of a Conclusion

We've been on break here, and I've been enjoying staying off the computer and the radar generally. But there have been a few things worth noting for those following the job tracking posts. First, all the money that I'm going to get for reimbursement has come in, and second, there have been more rejections.

So, without further ado, here a link to the last job tracking post and here are the updated numbers:
Total # of academic jobs applied for/# of jobs identified: 23/25
Total # of non-academic jobs applied for/# of jobs identified 0/0
Total spent in U.S. dollars on applications: $192.90
Average cost in U.S. dollars per applications: $23.94
Total spent in U.S. dollars on travel, etc: $357.78
Total amount in U.S. dollars reimbursed: $339.97
The Chronicle of Higher Ed: 9
HigherEdJobs.com: 0
Other online service (listserv, etc): 14
Friend/Colleague: 2
Personal Research: 1
Total number of paper submissions: 19
Total number of e-submissions: 4
Total weight in pounds of application packets: 22.13
Total number of recommendation letters requested: 48
Total number of requests for references: 5
Total number of "proof of teaching excellence" packs : 9
Total number of requests for Teaching Philosophy :11
Total number of research packs: 13
Total number of transcripts requested: 3
Total number of acknowledgments of receipt: 21
Total number of confirmed reference contacts: 0
Total number of phone interviews: 2
Total number of conference interviews: 0
Total number of on-campus interviews: 2
Total number of offers: 2
Total number of rejection letters: 16
Total number of canceled or unhired positions: 2
The first thing to note about the reimbursement, is that I didn't get the full amount I spent. This may have been because of regulations on percentages of particular types of costs or it may have been some other problem. More importantly, it took roughly a month and a half for the reimbursement to happen. That's one of the real pains about this process - particularly if you're doing multiple job interviews on limited funds. This year, the costs weren't too bad for me, but imagine you're going from one coast to another as a grad student, you can imagine what a pain this will be.

Housing Resources

So, it would appear we've found the new blog obsession here at The Doctor Isn't: housing searches. Fortunately, in my soon(ish) new town, I've got the makings of a legion of folks who can help me with this. At last count, there are five people I went to grad school with, one person I went to high school with, plus various friends of friends. This is very good fortune, as it means I've got a lot of folks I can ask to check a place out once I'm interested.

I like to find guides to the cities as early as I can, and in some places, that's more possible than others. The job before the one I'm currently finishing up, I found a guide written by a local cab driver. The grammar was awful, there were some downright racist comments, but as a guide to the city it was invaluable. Here, I found a couple of self-published books, but I had to look for them. And the new town has proved pretty easy to find information on.

And, even better, because so many of them have been nomads like me, they've started to funnel housing resources to me, and I thought - in the interest of sharing something more useful than my blather for a change - I'd pass some of them on to you:
  • SabbaticalHomes.com: a really nice site, particularly as it isn't just useful for places here in the U.S. Thus far, everything I've seen is more expensive than I can afford, but it's a very good resource.
  • MyApartmentMap.com: ever wonder what useful things people were doing with Google Maps? Here's one that searches popular apartment sites and combines them with Google Map data. Way cool, and I'm not just saying this as someone who's geeked to go see "Watchmen" on opening night. There's also a blog that explains the features.
  • Penske.com: okay, as someone who's moved more than a few times, let me offer you this endorsement: Penske trucks are cheaper, in better shape, and actually reserved unlike their competitors. If you have to rent your own, I have never - in four states or three cross-country moves - found a better price (they also take AAA).
  • MovingHelp.com: having planned so many moves, the worst thing - particularly as an academic with a book problem (yes, that's right: worse than your regular academic) - is the actual loading and unloading. And while it's nice when you can lean on your friends for this (paid for with beer and pizza, of course), it's better when you can order beer and pizza for your friends who aren't sore and let someone else do the loading and unloading. This site is great for that.
And, of course, there are the old standbys like Craig List, Rent.com, and Apartments.com. If there are others that I come across, I'll certainly share them.

Housing Question

We're on break here, which is affording me a lot of time to stress about the impending move. And I have a question only the wisdom of the Intertubes can help with.

As you may recall, I'm currently living with a roommate, and that's largely been a good experience. I'd been hoping, with the move, to be able to find my own place again, but now I'm thinking that might not be a good option. Just to test the waters, though, I put an ad up on Craig List for a housing situation wanted, and I've already received a few responses. One of the more intriguing ones is for a long-term stay hotel. It appears to be essentially a larger hotel room, furnished with a kitchen and a cost that's a better than local rent, particularly as it includes everything but long distance. Has anyone ever tried something like this?