Belated Happy Thanksgiving and Such

Dear Readers,
If, in fact, there are still readers here, I want to wish you a belated Happy Thanksgiving. As I've probably said once or twice before, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and this year I took a slight bit of techno-vacation with it.

Why is it my favorite holiday? A story from this year's dinner explains it well. Sitting at a back corner of a big, cobbled together table with some dear grad school friends and other Thanksgiving orphans, the charming Swiss woman to my right asked the charming German woman to my left and me whether there were any Thanksgiving songs. The German said not that she knew of, and I said that's one more thing to be thankful for. There aren't cards for it, songs about it, decorations that HAVE to be put up. My traditions aren't your traditions, and no one really blinks about it.

The charming Swiss woman patted my arm and said she could see why I liked it. Then she offered me more mashed potatoes. She gets it.


Evidently, after I left the celebration to return to my own home to wait out the food-coma, I became quite the topic of conversation.

Earlier in the evening, I noted to my charming German friend that I have accidentally perfected a sort of scruffy orphan vibe that causes people to want to look out for me just a bit. I'm getting invited to lots of dinners and sent home with lots of food. Folks in the department have been e-mailing me links to restaurants and grocery stores and asking if I need anything. And people are trying to fix me up.

In case I haven't said it before, the fix up is particularly distressing. Generally speaking, people are either strongly for or strongly against the fix up. I'm clearly strongly against.

One reason for this is that the logic of the fix up generally works like this: "I like Person A. Person A is single. I also like Person B, and they're single, too! They must meet! And mate! And produce beautiful babies that I will be partially responsible for in that I'll have made it happen but won't actually provide any support for, not even changing a diaper!" The fix up is the relationship equivalent of an unruly child throwing spaghetti at a white wall and coming up with Monet's "Water Lilies."

In part, this desire to fix me up is my own fault: I'm wickedly private, and so even when I'm dating, most of my friends don't know it. Being so private, you can, of course, imagine how thrilled I was to have the topic of my love life become an after-dinner conversation starter. But I also think it owes to the other tendency that seems common to folks in the pro-fix up camp: the certainty that other people's lives can be handled - and enjoyed - like theater.

To try and get the full effect of my fear and distress, imagine this: think of a friend who makes your head hurt. Or one who you have to think really hard to explain their charms. Now imagine they're the one who has decided to fix you up. Without consulting you. About anything. At all.

What is worst about all of this is now, whenever I see anyone present at the dinner, this is now a source of discussion. Except, of course, for the folks fixing me up, who are content to believe that I'm oblivious and naturally don't want my input anyway. It's like being confronted over and over again with a mistake everyone is convinced you'll make before you ever actually come to the choice about it.

Curse my scruffy orphan-like vibes!


And that, dear readers, should catch you up and give you plenty to speculate upon. Perhaps in the coming weeks, I'll get my shit together and start some sort of pool about all of this chaos. In the meantime, enjoy some leftover pie for me!

Stuff I've Been Up To

Lordy, it's almost Thanksgiving, which I love. That also means the term is almost over. I also love that.

It's been maddening - two family members have been juggling hospital stays: one in, the other out. Of course, my family doesn't really speak well to each other, so I've juggled more than a bit of that drama. It hasn't quite died down: pulmonary embolisms are nightmares and they don't get dealt with quickly.

Since last I wrote, I've tilted multiple times with the school's curriculum committee and come out with an approved course. I've also been to another conference where I found one of the secret joys of Twitter: watching sycophants scoop quotes from their leader like pearls. I've been to dinners with senior faculty members, filed my expense reports, asked for more money for a conference next term (and been approved), been evaluated, responded to the evaluation, and written yet another biography.

And I am proud to report that I think I'm getting the hang of it. Now if I could just manage to get some actual research done when I wasn't away at a conference.

Walking to a meeting, my department chair said to me something to the effect of : "They're going to ask you to be department chair, one day." I laughed and was then advised "Of course, tell them no."

Conference thoughts

I don't sleep well when I'm away, and so last night, I lay in bed trying to find the perfect music to put me to sleep. The closest I managed was "Sketches of Spain" by Miles Davis. And tomorrow, I've got a first-thing-in-the-morning presentation which is just lovely, so you know tonight's going to be lovely. Recommendations?

Today, though, what I spent a lot of time doing was thinking about the difference between presentation styles by discipline. Mine tends to do informal presentations, built off notes. Interesting how many focus on reading an entire paper, though. I also got treated to a debate about the relative merits of presentation software. Is Google Presentations really better than PowerPoint or is it just that it isn't made by Microsoft?

Wish me luck!

Reasonable Question

Why do I only get writing done in conference hotels?

Chillin' and writing in Northampton MA after driving out for a conference. And since the I don't get TNT to watch the Spurs game, I guess writing is it.

RBOLove and Hate

  • that I have tilted with the charming folks at curriculum and only made one awkward suggestion about their math skills
  • that I made it through my in-class observation without dropping a single curse-word
  • that I'm off to a nearby conference for the weekend
  • Blueberry Cobbler ice cream
  • the Lose It! iPhone ap (and because the FTC or somesuch say so: no, I'm not sponsored by anyone or getting paid for that): I just hate the gym but this harnesses my own brand of anal-retentiveness, yolks it to my sometimes-love of technology
  • the gym. But I've said that before.
  • that males of a certain age think a spray down of Axe equals a shower. As if men's locker rooms didn't start with some disadvantages smell-wise, Axe takes it to a whole new "if they bottled Victorian hooker sweat" sort of level
  • that I have managed three whole words of writing this term so far. Holy crap, do they love meetings here.