Monday, June 30, 2008

Playing Welll With Others

This Chronicle article points to a not often recognized yet readily acknowledged fact of academic life - the fact that a significant number of academics do not play well with others and, more importantly, don't necessarily want to do so. This one took me a long time to figure out. Here's the essay author's take:

The Function of Dysfunction

An associate professor ponders the cause and effect of academic infighting

By NATHAN REESON [a pseudonym]

"I know something about academic infighting. After all, I was at Duke University when the English department famously imploded in the 1990s. The collapse was headline news in The New York Times. According to The Times, the department's decline was seen, in part, as the inevitable result of its attempt to buy its way to the top. You just can't shark up academic celebrities, the article observed, and expect them to get along. With so many international egos in one place, a blowup is bound to happen.

Since leaving Duke, I've discovered that you don't need world-class critics to have first-rate fireworks. Nobody in my current department would qualify as an academic superstar, but it's not unheard of for meetings to end with somebody stomping out and slamming a door. Even when everybody sticks around, things aren't always civil: Some faculty members silently pout. Others snort derisively and roll their eyes. And still others hurl insults and curses."

He goes on to offer the excuse that maybe academics fight because they like intellectual exchange. I would argue that those outside the ivory tower also like intellectual exchange but don't have to slam doors or roll their eyes (at least not in front of everyone) to make their point at a meeting.

It has more to do with having to earn the "first spot" in the seminar class in graduate school in which you have the "best right" answer. The problem is that, in real life, there is rarely one best answer and one needs to move forward. But, when academics go at it from another angle, there is often too much emphasis on process - my guess is to make sure that we've thought absolutely everything through. We do not, however, acknowledge that even if we think of every possible contingency, we can control the outcome. Some of us even try to control our research by determining the outcome of our scholarship and only looking at sources that confirm that outcome. (Someone forgot to tell me that one, too, early on. I thought I was supposed to look at all the sources.)

You can read the rest of the article here:
(The line of formatting options is absent for some reason this morning.)

The glass half version of this story is that many of us do seek out those that play well with others, or at least those that play well with us . . .

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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Is It Sunday Again Already?

We had a great week in Chicago with teachers learning about European immigration, Asian immigration, and World War I redux. I've done quite a bit of family stuff this weekend as well as just taking care of me - esp. with the bounty from the farmer's market.

We're at the farm - time to weedeat and weedkill again - plus have the time to spend more than one night out here.

There's lots on tap tomorrow morning but it is all doable.

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Summer TAHPS Institute

All is going well. The 36 hours at home flew by. More later.

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Monday, June 16, 2008

We'll Miss You, Tim

Here's the NYT slideshow.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Weekend

This was a fabulous weekend - busy but fun - all the things a weekend is supposed to be.

We celebrated Father's Day last night at Bijan's in Springfield. Sam and I bought Dad a larger GPS unit to replace the one he lost. He spent quite a bit of time today playing with it.

Today I worked in the yard and cleaned the car from top to bottom and actually started packing for the four days in Kansas City with the first week of our summer institute. Molly and I also went out to the humane society to deliver papers. They had 3 of the cutest little shitzu's - the older black one had a tongue hanging out that as just adorable.

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

uh oh

I guess I chose the wrong advanced degrees . . .

You Should Get a MBA (Masters of Business Administration)

You're a self starter with a drive for success.

You'd make a great entrepreneur.

What Advanced Degree Should You Get?

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Friday, June 13, 2008

It's raining again

It's raining again but I am inside in a meeting most of the day so at least I'm not missing one of our rare sunny days this summer.

It's been a busy week but I'm almost caught up. Lots of encouraging other people to meet past due deadlines so we can move forward on a big project. It's always a challenge when you're not the only one involved in a project - as academics in the humanities, we're most used to working alone. That can be good and bad.

The weekend will be filled with yard work and housework since I'll be gone for two weeks almost solid and the rest of the summer will be one of being constantly on the move - but it should all be both challenging and fun.

And, Molly continues to make progress.

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Monday, June 09, 2008


It's Monday again! The last week to finish all the "catching up" tasks before summer activities fully kick into gear.

We did make it to the lake - and the rain mostly cooperated. I started reading Barbara Walters' Audition and continued to read Bob Caro's book on Robert Moses. Both are quite intriguing.

Molly checked out the lake neighbor dogs but isn't quite comfortable enough to approach - esp. when one is so much bigger than she is (8 lbs.)

I visited with the neighbors here last night and it looks like the city is making progress on addressing our drainage issues. I so didn't want to go to a city council meeting tomorrow night.

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Friday, June 06, 2008


I've just finished up most of the tasks to prepare for the summer institute for one of our TAH grants. We've worked with this group for a year and a half and have enjoyed getting to know their diverse personalities.

It looks like the weather may allow a trip to the lake later today after all. I've been anxious to get down there.

We went to see Sex and the City last night. It was outstanding and kept twisting and turning all the way through. Anyone who liked the series will like the movie. There was one storyline I didn't like but out of four, that's not bad. And, those who haven't seen the series regularly might miss a lot of the "backstory" that makes particular scenes more fun and/or more interesting.

Molly is continuing to feel more comfortable in her environment and communicating with me as dogs do that she is excited about joining the family.

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

More 70 mph winds

Just as I went to bed last night, the wind seemed to get quite loud. Given our recent storm experiences, I decided I should get up and check things out. By the time the satellite signal came back on the tv, the worst of the 70 mph winds had gone through. The tornadic activity was most likely on the front end of the storm. But I'm glad I was in the basement for the worst of it apparently. Guess I won't be doing the weedeating first thing - hopefully it will dry out enough later to do it sometime today in spite of our already getting 90 degree heat.

Molly was excited to see me when I got home late Monday night - in contrast to Shadow's pouting to let me know he was mad he'd been left. So, Molly doesn't seem to have the same separation anxiety issues as Shadow did - another thing to cause less stress for me. The neighbor was kind enough to pick her up for me so I didn't have to wait until the next morning to get her and it gave both dogs a chance to play.

I had her hair cut while she was there and it's now quite clear she is 100% poodle. So, although she looks quite different with her short do, she's becoming more and more "my" dog.

The work in DC went very well - interesting people and interesting projects to discuss. And great food at Zaytinya - a now regular stop on any trip to DC. It was weired, however, not going into the National Archives while I was there.

Summer planning is moving right along.

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Sunday, June 01, 2008

KC Power and Light District

Last night's dinner and stay in the Kansas City Power and Light District was fun. Great weather and fun walking around last night and this morning.

I arrived at the airport early (!!) and so I stopped at Zona Rosa to pick up a few items - including quart size ziploc bags since I had figured out I had reduced my load for a one-night stay down to a manageable carry-on on - although I wish I would have brought my pull behind instead. Oh well. It will be great not having to wait for luggage on the other end - but especially when I arrive home tomorrow evening - it might save me as much as half an hour getting out of here.

The plane is here - which is always a good things. We'll be a few minutes late getting off the ground but will probably make it up in flight time. It will be fun to walk around downtown without having to carrying anything after I check into the hotel. I'm still trying to decide what to have for dinner tonight. And walking the DC Mall area before it gets too hot this summer will also be fun.

Chicago with the teachers will be fun next month but I think the highlight will be NYC in July. And, I'll enjoy the drive to Madison in early July. I already have an inexpensive guest spot on the way up and on the way back. . . . although the way back does include my goddaughter.

I hated leaving Molly yesterday but I'm sure she will be fine.

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