Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A hypothetical situation

Okay. Say you belong to an organization and that the organization has a newsletter. Say that you've volunteered to lay out the newsletter in Publisher because you are a soft touch, aka a sucker. Because it's Publisher, and you know how to wrestle it into a form that looks nice, you do this for the organization.

Bear in mind that you are not an art professor, nor are you a trained expert in design. Even after you've designed the masthead and the layout, it takes a good three hours to lay out the publication.

This is three hours during which you are not doing your own research, grading papers, preparing for class, or sitting with your feet up and having a glass of wine. You are sitting and obsessing about the relative space occupied by text boxes when you ought to be grading the papers that your students have patiently been waiting to see.

When someone who's responsible for the content and proofing then says to you, "You know, I think this bit from page 3 would look better on page 6," and you know that that means moving everything in between, with all the headaches of moving anything in Publisher, what would you do?

a) Say "You sure have a good eye for that! I'll get on it right away."
b) Ignore the suggestion.
c) Address the situation by making an even more creative suggestion as to what the person who made the suggestion can do with the newsletter.


Dr. Lisa said...


Then give that person the file and let them do it if they so chose.

And then go back to grading jail.

undine said...

Thanks. I finally did decide on a version of that; the person can't do Publisher (which is perhaps why he has no clue what a pain it is), so I made the minor corrections and sent it back. If he wants more, I'm going to suggest that we hire someone (maybe a grad student who'd be glad of the money) to do the next one.

Professor Zero said...

Best option is B. I often do C (although never A), and then regret it. These professors are nuts, anyway. OT but not really: because of Katrina we have no budget for library books, but I scored almost 100K from the state from a different budget line, and the library is as impressed as h***. They went to a Faculty Senate meeting with me as an example of how faculty could get them, i.e. us, funding, and everyone was impressed and had suggestions for how to spend the money, and desired heavily to see the grant narrative. However, what they could not do was give full bibliographic citations for the books they wanted me to buy - which, by the way, would cut into what was budgeted for books in MY FIELD - nor could they be bothered to look up the prices. Today I sent out e-mail to these assistant professor boys, saying, look, I may have a grant but I am still SENIOR FACULTY, not a secretary, and I am not looking up your ISBN numbers and prices for you, I am only offering to spend less money in my field and more in yours. I did NOT say "and you should be f***ing grateful", but I would have been well justified in doing so, and if I have a chance to vote against the tenure of these rude boys, I will do so, and sleep well, and look forward to meeting our new hires.

Ho detto, in italiano.

undine said...

Good for you, Professor Z! I'm convinced that in the minds of SOME male faculty, the gender thing trumps the senior faculty thing entirely: What else do women have to do except take care of clerical details while they Think Great Thoughts? (This is certainly the vibe I get in the Publisher situation.)

Those "rude boys" ought to thank you, profusely and often, right after they send you their ISBN numbers and and a sincere apology. What are they thinking?

And congrats on the grant, BTW; that is a major coup.

Professor Zero said...

Merci Undine! And good luck with the Publisher thing. One thing I am stuck with is running the department's website.

I used to only run the part having to do with my own discipline, which I don't mind doing, for various good reasons.

Then the people in charge of the other sections of the website got mad at the department chair (for reasons having to do with their fields, which are not mine), and quit. They left the background black.

The department chair was depressed about the black background, so I said hey, I can easily make the background white, and the writing black, and did.

Then we changed department chairs. With the changing of the guard, and the arrival of some new hires, the rest of the department got jealous that only my
part of the website was being updated for content. Some even felt it was 'discrimination' (not that they were willing to take on the work to fix their parts, you understand).

The new chair stuck me with running the whole site. I am still trying to dig myself out of this situation. The strategy of passing the file on to the relevant person, and saying here, you edit it, and send it back, and I'll then check the code and ftp it up, is not working!

All I can say is, aaaah children.

undine said...

THat's classic, Dr. Z--everyone wants the website done, and no one wants to do the necessary work (but they're all happy to have YOU do it!). Good luck with digging yourself out. A friend of mine finally quit doing anything at all with his department's site because of issues like this.