Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Patience, or the lack thereof

I'm still patient with my students--very patient. I want them to succeed. And I do like my colleagues. Everyone else is getting a little more, er, directness, though.
  • The sorority pledges (I assume because no one else is that gussied up, usually, on our campus) walking five abreast on the sidewalk, teetering on heels, who initially didn't move an inch and expected me to step into the street? Dream on, ladies. Ditto for people texting.
  • The person who emailed to say "why don't you do X?" when I had explained, twice, why that didn't work? Ze got a return email with my previous answer, this time in bold. The end.  You don't listen to my messages or explanations, so guess how I'm going to respond to yours?
  • Would I mind not moving into my new and at that time empty office for a month or so, so another faculty member could hang out and have meetings in it instead of in his own office? Would I mind? Like an idiot I said, "sure, whatever" but then got furious at myself, moved everything into the new office that day, and turned in my old key. Either my interior fuming or the stuff in the office must have gotten the message across, because I didn't hear any more about it.
  • You can shoot all the emails you want at me after 5 p.m. on Friday, if that's what your heart desires, but to me they're just silent snowflakes drifting down to settle into my inbox snowbank  until 7 a.m. on Monday.
I now see that this is sort of a companion piece to the previous post; thanks for helping me work this through. 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Burned out on being accommodating

One of the truisms of our profession is that assistant professors have to protect their time and learn to say no so that they can get promoted and tenured, and that senior scholars have to make this happen. Fair enough. (Yes, I know that not everyone is lucky enough to have a t-t job.)

Another truism of our profession is that associate professors have to protect their time and learn to say no or else they'll never make full, especially women faculty, who often do a lot of service. Senior scholars should make this happen, too. Fair enough.

A third truism of our profession is that senior scholars and full professors are--to judge by the Chronicle and other chatter about the web--pretty awful: self-absorbed, selfish about their time, and generally interested in making life miserable for their juniors. All that NYTimes kvetching about millennials and their avocado toast is nothing compared to how the press sees professors.

I want to be accommodating and helpful.  I'm a full professor and happy to step up, right? To write letters and reviews of all kinds, right? To go to campus for an hour-long meeting that completely kills a research day or show up to warm a chair at an event, right? After all, where am I going to go from here?

Here's the problem. Because I technically can, and because I don't want to be THAT guy, I say yes to obligations. And I think I am happy to do so, at the time.

But it's taking me longer and longer to do the reviews, letters, and the rest, because I procrastinate about writing them. Why? Because I don't really want to but feel that I ought to, so I do twice the amount of work on them that I would normally do in an effort to feel enthusiastic about it.  I can't seem to just wade in and git 'er done (which, in academic terms, is still a lot of hours).

For every article review, I think of my own articles, all things that are not getting done because I'm doing work on someone else's work. Peer review is important, and we should all do it cheerfully.

As I should. Or should I?




Saturday, September 09, 2017

Random bullets of a breathable Saturday

  • Yeah, Scalzi said it best; doesn't he always?
  • Being on a Facebook break is great. Checking in on FB and seeing all the perennial outrage and demands to march right now--much of it coming from people who are on a leisurely European vacation bicycling through France or whatever--not so much. I believe the young folk call it "virtue signalling," and if you want me to ignore your posts when I check in again in two weeks, that's a good start. 
  • Twitter thrusts its outrage in my face every day, but then, I ask for it by going to Twitter. Ditto for NYTimes and WaPo. I go to FB to see what my cousins and friends are up to, not to have my face ground in the awful news redux. Maybe my cousins and friends can write a letter instead, since I can't see them through the fog of awfulness.
  • We have finally gone from "this air WILL hurt you" to "this air might bother you," so I can't wait to get out and move for a change.  Fresh air and walking (and maybe Diet Coke) are the only drugs I really crave, and being told that both are hazardous has been hard--not Hurricane Harvey or Hurricane Irma awful, but still. 
  • I am also ignoring email on the weekends. Nothing good ever comes in on the weekend. Here's what I would cross-stitch on a pillow: Email is always someone else's idea of what you ought to be doing, not your idea of what you ought to be doing. Respond accordingly.
  • I am reading for work again. I am getting ideas. I am writing. I am happy about it.
  • Is it a coincidence that the FB & email break coincides with wanting to work again? I'm betting it's not.

Friday, September 01, 2017

Writing inspiration, sort of

  1. From Air & Light & Time & Space: "Studies by Hartley and Branthwaite (1989) and Kellogg (1994) suggest that the most productive writers typically write several times a week for one to three hours per session. (Sword, Helen. Air & Light & Time & Space: How Successful Academics Write (p. 50). Harvard University Press. Kindle Edition).  
    1. Do you count reading and research in that time?
    2. How about visits to the library?
    3. Or making a bibliography?
  2. Do you keep track of the hours you devote to class prep (including reading and grading) and to administrative tasks?
  3.  If so, do you keep track of your writing hours in the same space, if you keep track of them? 
  4. The big question: 
    1. Do you set yourself a number of hours each day to write?
    2.  Or do you write until you have a certain number of words?

The writing formula for a piece of writing that you promised but don't want to do: twice as long to write and at least four times as much procrastination beforehand. All this means my time is up and I have to try to write tonight what I could not write all day.