Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Divers sujets sans rapport

  • Does the French make more sense than the German did?  I continue to labor in the dark here with translations of "Random bullets of crap."
  • I made a purchase that I cannot easily defend in any way except ego gratification and, potentially, an extra goad to fight my way into a tenure-track job: I bought my own regalia.  I'll just admit it: I really hated wearing loaner robes at commencement.  Since I'll be wearing this get-up several times a year for the rest of my career (if my luck holds), I figured it was worth buying an outfit that suited me.
  • In a new low for my life skills, I no longer appear capable of reading the funny-looking numbers at the bottom of my bank checks.  In consequence of this, I mistyped my own account number on my tax return filing, causing all three refunds I am due to be electronically sent to a non-existent account.  After somewhat frantically calling around, I confirmed that this just means that the deposits will fail and automatically bounce back to the various revenue departments, who will then mail me paper check refunds instead.  Sigh.
  • It says something about the instant gratification that the internet breeds that I am so frustrated about having to wait a month to get my refunds.  Remember when you were happy to get them that fast, because there was no choice?  No doubt, my causing this delay by my own idiocy makes it more irritating.  (And before you say anything, I was totally sober when I filed!)
  • I was not totally sober last evening, though, when I was editing my manuscript.  This is for the best, I think: it's so annoying to go line by line correcting fiddly little bits of formatting that a nice Manhattan makes the process more bearable.  Obviously, this is not the more important part of editing, but I noted a few good ideas of stuff to follow up on as I pored over the pages.
  • Speaking of good ideas: I am finally starting to understand what it means to have teaching influence my research.  A quotation that I hadn't thought about too much before suddenly leapt out at me yesterday, since it fit right into material that I've been flogging in both of my topics courses.  It occurred to me that I should spell out the importance of that quotation to readers just like I would spell it out to my students.  The light dawns!
  • I'm actually toying with the idea of giving this particular bit of my book to one of my topics courses, to see how it reads to reasonably smart undergrads with only a little background knowledge.  That's nowhere in the syllabus, of course, so I thought I might offer them a few points of extra credit on the final grade if they gave me constructive criticism.  Is there a need – and, if so, a practical way – to make sure that they tell me something useful, rather than either suck up to me or just phone in something meaningless?  Or would this be a self-selective assignment?
  • Ah, the syllabus.  Why do I even bother printing out syllabi?  Half of my students clearly do not read them.  They don't even know my office hours sometimes, and that is given at the tippy-top of the first page.  The flurry of boneheaded questions I have endured lately is getting on my nerves.  Is this how it is everywhere nowadays?  Do faculty at Harvard and Amherst also facepalm over their students' failure to consult the syllabus?
  • I long ago decided that my body was not intended to display tattoos or other body modification.  But man, if I ever were to get a tattoo, it would be in Times New Roman, 72-point font, bold and all caps:



  1. I thought both the French and German were fine, though I'm not a native speaker of either.

    Congratulations on the regalia. I absolutely believe in having one's own, especially because then you can get the full-dress, school-colors version and stand out in the crowds of black. My parents bought me mine . . . I assured them that they would never have to pay for a wedding dress, and that I would get much more wear out of the robes.

  2. Buying your own regalia--a great idea. I never did and now have to trek to the bookstore to pick up the rental version every time.