Thursday, August 2, 2012

Marco from Memphis And the Story of a Liar.

This morning, a student breathlessly came up to me to explain why she missed our final exam review session. She'd had a car wreck, she had whiplash, her family's only car was destroyed. She was nearly in tears.

Relax, said I, I will take time after I'm finished my other final and help you sort through the material. We'll call it a special review session.

She looked like she might hug me, her beatific smile warmed me. I was getting through to them; I was helping. I was going the extra mile (like the Adminiflakes ask us).

Still feeling good about myself, an hour later, I overheard that student and another while they stood in line at the coffee shop on campus:

Other: Did you say you had a car wreck this week?
Student: Oh, I said that. But I didn't. I just skipped class. I told the teacher that because I found out I missed all the review.
Other: Funny.
Student: Yeah, but I did total my car once, so I knew what to say.

Guess who's not going to make that special review session?

Greg from Greensboro And the Job Misery.

I have a vague acquaintance in a department at a nearby 4 year school. It's an okay place, and I usually keep my eye on their job openings.

6 weeks ago they announced a full time t-t spot. The same day I got a call from the department chair about the position. She'd gotten my name from my acquaintance, and asked if I'd be applying. I told her I would, and hand delivered my letter, vita, sample of scholarship, and student evaluations the next day.

2 days later I had a phone interview with three members of the department, and then a week later I was asked to campus.

They were hiring late because of an unexpected retirement. They department was friendly, the campus pretty, and the Dean came by during my lunch to tell me that he'd heard wonderful things about me.

I went back to my shitty apartment and began imagining packing my belongings up and moving the 30 miles up the road to the big school. (I've been on a contingent full time contract at a community college for 6 years.)

The search chair called me one more time, 2 weeks ago. Sorry for the delay, just crossing some t's, etc. Will call tomorrow with the news. Everyone was knocked out by me.

A week passed. 5 more days passed.

Yesterday, I got an email that started:

"Dear undisclosed-recipient: Thank you for your application, but our position in Xxxxxxx has been filled."

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Stop with the Cutco Presentations, please!

Email from a student:

Dear Dr. Cynic: I hope you are having a good summer. I know that you want me to succeed and the only way I can do that is to make money over the summer by selling Cutco products. If you aren't familiar with Cutco products, they are wonderful. I would like to make an appointment to show you the beauty that is Cutco. I know you can benefit from Cutco and I can benefit from getting the income so I can come back to school in the Fall.

Please let me know when you will be in your office so I can come over to show you these beautiful knives and kitchen utensils.

Earnest Student


Dear Earnest:

I hope you are having a good summer, too. Stop hitting me up for money, please. I cannot bear the burden of such requests. 

Besides, I know the beauty that is Cutco because I have nine Cutco knives, all of which are fabulous (except the pie scooper/spatula/spreader thingie; I could do without that, but I only bought it because it was the cheapest item during a sales pitch). These nine different Cutco knives are from nine different student presentations I have sat through nine times in the past. Yes, they are all from nine other students like you, trying to earn money for college (granted, one of them was my roommate). In all honesty, I believe I could do the Cutco sales pitch by heart now. While I wish you well in the future, and I hope you earn lots of money for tuition, I simply do not need another knife or kitchen/garden/hunting utensil, and I cannot (CANNNNOT!) sit through another presentation to make it ten for fear that I would use one of the knives in a desperate move to end the presentation. 

Moreover, I only cook when I absolutely have to: once a year when my department head decrees that we bring home-cooked items to our Christmas potluck. And when I do cook, it's usually to make my specialty of egg salad (no knives needed) or to bake (again, no knives needed). I am sorry, but my annual foray into the culinary arts does not make the price tag of a $180 knife worth it when I have nine others that do their jobs perfectly well. 

If Cutco ever sells candy, hit me up: I have a jar (and a mouth) in my office that can ALWAYS be filled!

Good luck!

Dr. Cynic

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Early Thirsty from Fab.

Recently a 45 year old friend of mine got her BA. She did the whole thing, all the ceremonies. Then a bunch of us got rip roaring drunk, made it home in time to pay the babysitters and oldest teenagers double rates and  had a pool party at a neighbors, where all of us ONLY wore gowns and caps.

Q: When Was the Last Time You Enjoyed Watching Someone Graduate?

I've gotten so old, I forgot my own schtick

Tip toes lost?  Tarp ton lust?  Top Ten List?  Hey, that sounds catchy.

Let's first talk about misery.

Their lying. Our hard work. Their cheating. Our Drinking.

Wait, am I talking about being a professor? Hell no, That's country music. Funny that you should get them confused.  But now that gets me to thinking. Most professors might think that they and country music are like this:

                             O                                            O

That's a Venn diagram.

There's a lot in country music that y'all might appreciate. It's about upholding traditional values (think standards of conduct in your classroom).  There's also themes about mama, trains, trucks, prison, getting drunk and the misuse of MLA formatting.  OK, I made up that last one.  Trust me.  It's like ol' Hank wrote his songs about us.

Shit, where was I going with this?  Oh, yeah.  A top ten list.

Top Ten Country Songs for College Faculty (links are to actual songs)

10. He Stopped Attending Her Class Today
9.  Where Were You (When You Should Have Been Studying)
8.  If You’ve Got the Money, We’ve Got the Tuition Bill 
7.  Have I Told You Lately That You Won’t Pass My Class
6.  I’m So Underpaid I Could Cry 
5.  Folsom County Community College Adjunct Blues
3.  I Am a Student of Constant Excuses 
2.  Blue Eyes Cryin’ for Extra Credit
1.  Stand By Your Syllabus 

I hope y'all drank as much reading this as I did writing it.

The New Math...1 M.A. + 0 Money=Misery!!!

You can do the math:  1 non working spouse on very low unemployment check for 1.5 months already.  End of part time retail job that helped make ends meet.  0 income for month of August on my end.  5 classes that equal less than $10,000 for the fall.  Living in one of the most expensive areas of the country.  All this equals---misery.   

The “F” word (foreclosure aka Judgment Day) is coming.  We bought a money pit, so it's actually a relief, but dealing with all the stuff is exhausting.  This has been going on since the semester ended. 

This is also destroying my dream of the Ph.D.  I suspect finding a job at Craptastic Community College will do more for us right now.  We can go anywhere, so where is living cheap?  Ideas, anyone? 

Job searching was the last thing on my mind before I fell asleep last night, and it led to an awesome dream.  The job was at a lovely SLAC for a great salary, with CM'ers on the hiring panel!  Hiram and I shared bafflement over americanus studentus.  Beaker Ben brought chemical goodies.  Strelnikov offered to dispose of bodies.  Bubba offered me bourbon.  Emergency Mathematical Hologram gave me the Virtual Teaching Assistant for grading, and Stella was our Smackdown Dean. 

And then I woke up…..’nuff said.  

The Obsolescence Question. From Inside Higher Ed.

By Jonathan Rees

When’s the last time an ice deliveryman visited your home? Have you ever talked to a telephone switchboard operator? Thanks to new technologies, these once-common occupations passed into history many years ago now. Bank tellers and travel agents are not completely obsolete, but substantially fewer people are employed in these lines of work than in the past for similar reasons.

Will new developments in Internet-based communications technology do similar things to college professors? Perhaps people like me will face the same trouble finding employment that newspaper reporters or piano tuners face nowadays. Or perhaps MOOCs will eliminate the need for professors almost entirely, allowing students to flock to courses offered by a smattering of "super-professors" while computers, graduate students and adjuncts do all the grading that once occupied so much of an analog instructor’s time.

Read more.