Sunday, September 28, 2008

"We Owe You Nothing"

Once again, I don't feel like doing work, I don't feel like moving around, I feel like doing nothing ----- nothing except eat these fresh rolls with lots of butter and honey. Unfortunately, I think eating all of them right now would be bad. So I'll try to stop. Or mostly stop.

Recently I was talking with some other grad students and it seems that they are actually trying to shrink the grad program, at last. This is good, say I. We had about 4 years while I was here where they had set a new, fair policy: only let in as many grads as you can fund. Now, that's funding for 4 years, and we certainly let in as many of those as we could, meaning nobody actually finished in 4 but you couldn't get teaching after that because they had packed in a whole new cohort of grad students. But, as the CA budget circled the bowl, things got worse and worse and we went back to our earlier pattern of "tiered" admissions ---- a certain class of people get a mix of fellowships and taships, a middle class gets just taships, and some people are accepted but guaranteed they will be given no taships or anything in the department. It's fucked up and causes resentment in the ranks. Furthermore, the numbers of people who actually accept and come here despite no funding has gone up steadily lately. Why is this? The bad economy? The increasing stupidity of the younger generation? An evil plot to sell them on working with the best faculty anywhere? I do not know, but I know that we are approaching the point where there are more unfunded students coming here than funded. Ick.

Oh, and remember how I managed to pick up someone's class last year when he had a medical emergency in the second week? I got offered that in preference to some of these new kids who had never taught before, probably beause I could hit the ground running and already had a track record of being an ok TA for the department. I don't know how I feel about that. It means that, unless some of our grads get lucky or manage to cozy up to some other department, they will graduate from here without any teaching experience, the one thing we actually have an advantage over places that fellowship their students most of the way through. What the hell is our dept. thinking?

They're thinking that having a ready supply of unfunded people gives them lots of flexibility to fill all the slots they do have, said my friend.

It's not just that, I reply. I got told that the departments here get ranked, and depts. with smaller grad student populations, if they slip under a minimum line, get allocated a smaller number of TA slots ---- like look at the Italian department. It shrank down to a certain number and they just rejiggered everything to not really do as extended a language program rather than scramble to fill all the TA spots they needed to. I still think it's a good idea for us to shrink our program, though, I added.

If they have all this demand for English sections ---- which that report said they do ---- added my other friend ---- then they could create some lectureships and actually support their own grads who didn't luck out on the market.

Fuck that, I say. That same report said we're chronically short staffed on professors. We're at least 10 lines behind what we should be after that big group of people left. And we're not keeping up hiring with retirements. We should hire like 12 professors, right now. Then we wouldn't have to have so many TA sections, and the profs would be happy because they wouldn't have 50 people on their class wait lists all the time, and then a bunch of grads from somewhere, if not here, would get real jobs.

Mmm, said Other Friend. Except it's cheaper ---- you could hire 3 grad students as lecturers at 1/3 time for the cost of one year's salary for a new prof. Less ---- 'cause a lecturer's full-time salary is way lower than a prof's starting salary.

Mmm, it was now my turn to say. Due to either sneakiness or stupidity, I got promised one rate for this adjuncting stuff I'm doing and hired at another rate, and I'm still pissed off, but it's not grievable (which makes me lean towards sneakiness, how smoothly this was done). (Note: UC lecturers teach 9 classes a year, full time --- 3/3/3. But they rarely hire any of us for full time rates, either giving us a 2/2/2 or a 1/1/1, hence 1/3 time. This lets them get around the whole benefits thing too.)

Except, I add, I kept going to the chair earlier this year and he kept saying there was absolutely no money for lecturships, absolutely none. But I keep checking the web site, and who are all these people --- like ______ ---- listed as lecturing for us?

______? That's so-and-so's partner, the new hire, said Other Friend. And I see that This Person and That Person, the spouses of our hires last year, are teaching for us. That's so wrong ---- they should be supporting their own and giving those slots to our grad students and recent grads. Do you know how many people are on the market this year? And what happens when they all graduate if they don't have jobs? They should be supporting us --- it raises their profile if we do well and get out of here with jobs, so ----

But giving teaching work to partners when we make job offers --- although making it very very clear that this will never ever turn into a tt spousal hire, which I think we say straight up --- helps us actually recruit the people we want to hire, and it makes us look good when the person stays instead of leaves for somewhere else and we have to do the hire again, I say. I can't believe myself as I hear myself say this; I'm arguing against my own direct interests here, and did I mention that the people sitting here on the couch with me are themselves an academic couple?

Right ---- well --- that's true too, Other Friend grudgingly admits. But I still think they should do more to fund those of us who graduate, considering how they're pushing so hard for us to graduate as early as possible.

Yeah, I say, and look at X program ---- they have lecturer slots for all their grads; no one goes on the market there until they have filed. That's who we're competing against --- X grads who spent their last year of grad school publishing the hell out of everything because they know they'll go on the market while as a lecturer next year.

Grumbles all around.

And it really depresses me, breaks in First Friend (who had been interjecting throughout but I can't keep all the conversation threads woven in), how the pressure to Get Out Now is changing attitudes in the program. We have a lot more people "just doing the time" who are planning on CCs or non academic work afterwards, and I like them as people, but it changes the seminars, it changes the tone of the department.

Oh yeah? I perk up. Like who?

She lists off a string of names, only one of whom I'd heard was planning on CC teaching instead of the researching and academia route. Interesting. My advisor is very much "Research 1 all the way," pushing you to take as many intellectual risks and hard routes as possible to get the big payoff, years and years and years later when you've really gotten the groundwork into your system. I'm now wondering how prevalent this attitude is in my department, and how many grad students actually see the benefits of it anymore. Certainly the departmental system with its speedups and its grinding realities of paychecks works against my advisor's students, as well as those of the prof who really pushes languages on her students.

It's clear from this conversation just how complex the funding problem is, and how our department (which is really more like a bunch of people all tugging the rope in different directions at once than "a" department) is stuck between a bunch of institutional constraints and constraints of its own making. I don't know what I would do. I mean, I know what I'd do if I were made dictator tomorrow and could just go in there and rearrange everything to my own liking; I just don't know how I would deal with all the endless negotiations and power trading and building coalitions that would need to be done to get even a minimum of progress. Meh. Clearly they need to go to some magic sugar daddy and get an endowment. I graciously volunteer myself for the Endowed Chair in Cog Studies.

What do you think? If you had to throw a certain group under the bus ---- grad students, recently graduated grad students, permanenet lecturers, spouses of tt hires ---- who would you chuck, and who would you save? Or would you spread the little bit of wealth out thin to everybody, and let everybody complain?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Oh my GOD I'm old!

Holy crap! Where did the time go? You mean, when I spent a large part of my graduate career (and definitely all of the ABD section where I felt I was barely treading water) hiding my head, ostrich-like, in the sand, time was actually passing by? I don't feel any older! I didn't want to get older! How does this work?

Recently, thinking about what I can expect my students to know, and what they need to know, and what cultural references they should get (for some reason Mayberry and I Love Lucy were in constant replay on my parents' cable channels while I was visiting, but Welcome Back Kotter was nowhere to be found, so let's just retire that particular imitation, m'kay professor? You know who you are ... or would if I had the guts to tell you this personally.) I did some math. Whoo boy. This proves my point that you should avoid certain numbers at all costs. It appears that our incoming freshmen, if 18, were born in 1990. Nineteen-friggen-ninety!?!?! I remember 1990! My oldest niece was already born in 1990! What the hell.

There's this college that puts out a list every year of what students grew up knowing about; go check it out if you like. It's kinda terrifying. But I realize --- and am shocked by --- how much certain current events shaped me that they never experienced. Whereas my sense of "falling into history" and becoming aware of momentous events is tied to the fall of the Berlin wall and the Tiannamen Square massacre, both of which I remember watching on tv and were about the time I started reading newspapers and news magazines, theirs is probably 9/11, which happened when they were middle-schoolers --- and which marked the start of my second year of this Ph.D. program. (sigh)

I pity the historians; from what I hear, most public schools still peter out on history around WWII, just like when I was in high school (people have suggested to me it's on purpose; it allows high schools to avoid presenting deeply polarizing histories like the Vietnam war that parents might get all up in arms about the way they are taught), but all of this really important stuff has happened since then.

More annoyingly, I know quite a few profs and teachers who are still teaching as though the civil-rights movement and civil-rights era segregation were recent memories, even though our students would have been toddlers at the time of the Rodney King riots and, I would argue, grew up in such a different racial climate that it is difficult to even recognize privilege and racism today if you set the segregated South as your baseline. (I could say more about this if you're interested, or just go read Patricia Hill Collins's Black Sexual Politics.)

More pertinent to me than what the Beloit College Mindset list includes, our students not only don't remember the Cold War but barely remember the Clinton scandals. The Simpsons is older than they are, the original Law and Order show is exactly the same age as them, and MTV is almost my age (you could argue that MTV got to its "we never actually show videos anymore" stage right around these kids's birth, but they might have had another patch of non-suckiness in the late 90s when I had already given up watching.)

Disney Channel moved from premium to basic cable when they were 6, and Cartoon Network first aired when they were 2. Combined with Nickelodeon (which has been around even longer --- 1979, with 1984 or so marked as a nationwide cable channel), our students have been able to consume immense quantities of programming without any of it being anything you have heard of (or would want to). This means that they have had access to a vast swath of kid-specific programming on multiple channels. This may explain why the studies can say they watch 32 hours of television a week or whatever the number is and still have never seen or heard of anything I mention. More insidiously, I would argue, this proliferation of channels allows them to create a media cocoon around themselves, which may account for the increased immaturity and dependency we keep hearing about from college freshmen (this could, indeed, however, be a result of the "hey, you kids! get off my lawn" effect.).

MTV's The Real World, and the attendant plague of reality television, debuted in 1992, again when our students were just toddlers. (Survivor, that interesting combination of colonialism and precursor to torture film, was a bit later ---- 2000). They started first grade when South Park debuted --- and perhaps saw it then too --- and they weren't even 10 years old when the Columbine massacres occurred. I'm sure that made a big impression on them, or at the very least the attending hysteria and school crackdowns impacted them directly. (BTW, because either Parker or Stone grew up in Columbine these two things are forever associated in my mind, for better or worse. I only bothered to watch the first couple of seasons --- and The Simpsons must have been irrelevant for a few years now as I don't know anyone who watches the new episodes any more. Anyway.)

One thing from the list linked above that I did find important was that these students have always had their privacy invaded and threatened, and therefore have no concept of what that means. On the education side of things, NCLB passed in 2001, which means our students have had about 7 years of their k-12 schooling fucked up by those stupid tests; that has to be showing up in our college-age students by now (and to think I just shuddered and buried my head in the sand and said, "that doesn't concern me! It will be abolished by the next president who will fix all the shitstorms this current chucklehead is unleashing! Just wait for 2004!" Sigh. My bad. I feel myself trying to do it with the financial meltdown mess too.)

There were more things I wanted to look up, but forgot in the process of looking up all these. Instead of waltzing down nostalgia lane watching all those "I Heart the 80s" shows on VH1, I should be taking notes on some sort of "Remember the 00s" documentary. Sigh. And I haven't started on the weird feelings I am getting watching all the 80s clothing and fashion come back and recognizing actual trends I had participated in; that's just too depressing to get into right now.

What about you? What cultural benchmarks have I forgotten ---- either what our students would know, or missed out on?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Back Again

Well, I ran up to see the fam before we officially started the fall here (shorter version: they're good; dad's getting weaker; there's a new Panera nearby; it has wireless but not in an accessible form; the new Italian place has good lasagna but not as good as mom's steak which we had the next night; I watched 6 hours of House back to back instead of my usual Law and Order marathon; which was meh but must be done when one only comes in contact with tv every few months; I got no work done and omigod omigod omigod I am so behind hyperventilate hyperventilate; the drive back was boring but at least uneventful instead of full of speeding-ticket excitement) and now I am supposed to be getting ready for my fall class (hooray! I have some teaching! Yay!). I guess I have to be careful because I told some grad students "I have a job" and they then went around the department telling people I was on the tenure track, and there is nothing quite so embarrassing as having to go back around and correct people that, no, duh, I have some adjunct work, not a job job, and some people are raising eyebrows as if I had gone around purposely inflating my job status to seem fancy or pretend I had a real job instead of adjuncting, plus it is quite disheartening to have people in the hallways congratulate you excitedly and then watch them kinda deflate when you correct them that you have some teaching, not a professorship. Humbling. Oh well. I get a paycheck, bitches! (Oh yeah, watched a lot of Chappelle's Show this weekend too.)

In other news, after arriving back here I was supposed to leap back into the work and get job draft stuff together and be highly productive, as I had told my Advisor that I would show her revised and updated materials tomorrow (we have a meeting) but instead I ran around California and watched bad tv instead of working this weekend. Ooops. Unfortunately, I got sucked right back into my bloglines and emails and Go Fug Yourself routine (and this, too, natch) instead of work ---- that's the problem with working at school all the time and only blog-procrastinating at home: I now associate, Pavlov-style, being at the computer at this desk with goofing off. Mayhap I can force myself back to work a bit after posting this rambling screed.

And in other other news, my cats have fleas and were treated with flea stuff at the kennel this weekend. Since they are indoor cats and have never been outside, I am a bit at a loss as to how they got the fleas. The only explanation I can come up with is: that I have fleas and I somehow transferred them on to the cats when I came in at some point. I've never flea treated them before since I don't like getting chemicals all up in their faces unless it is absolutely necessary, so I was not thrilled to hear that they had fleas and flea treatment. Ah well. I'll need to look this stuff up and read all about it and what I need to do about it next. And it's about time to take them in to the vet for a checkup again anyway. So, ta da, more things for my to do list. Grumble. If I'm a doctor now, why doesn't that mean I get to carry a cane and be surly and obnoxious and use lots of drugs like House?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Argh! The Trouble With Tribbles

These Tribbles are ruining my life!!!! See?

Oh wait, that's not a Tribble, that's a cat. Huh. Well, they are still making my life miserable, starting with shredding up the carpet of my rental place. Now they have learned that gnawing up the carpet will bring me running at all hours of the day and night to scold them and thwack them and cover everything with Bitter Apple and carefully snip off the ragged ends so that they can't make it worse, and they have learned that this will wake me up, giving them the chance to say, "hey, while you're up, we'd like some fresher food than what you put down a couple hours ago. Change it, willya?"


I had such troubles sleeping the other night that I pooped out at nine last night and went to bed. But then had to get up almost constantly from 3 am on, either to deal with the cats or to pee or because I had gotten hungry by this point --- I even finally shut the cats into their cat carriers for a bit to get a couple hours of sleep, but I didn't really ever drop back asleep.

So I skipped my workout this morning which is annoying and expensive, and now I am groggy and grumpy and it looks like it will be another hot day again (possibly contributing to the tossy-turny nights) and my brain is fried already, and my cats are alternating between smiling smugly at me and sleeping like the innocent little angels they are not, and I do not have the mental wherewithal to do all sorts of intensive job market material revision, or really much of anything at all, including using proper punctuation, so deal with it.

Hmm. I think step one is I need cold and delicious coffee. Maybe if I print and pack everything up and take it to the coffee place, drink an entire coffee, and then ever-so-casually look at everything, I will be able to trick myself into actually doing something. Here goes.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Empire Writes Back: A Cog Responds to the Job List

Dear Job List:

Where is the love? Why are you so enamored of that stupid century instead of my own, infinitely more fascinating century? And WTF is up with all the calls for poetry esp. after everyone has told me all along that poetry jobs were as hard to find as theory jobs? I guess you're looking out for Fellow Grad # 1, as well as Friend Who Graduated Last Year, for the century on the other side of mine, but still, send me something interesting, ok?

Dear Tiny College,

Do you really expect to find someone who does Shakespeare, colonial American, and digital literature? (*or the equivalent.) Couldn't you have figured out what you wanted before you posted the job ad? And why is it that the smaller and less-heard-of the college, the more hoops (teaching philosophy, demonstration of teaching experience and excellence, statement of research interests, and originals of transcripts from all college levels) do you ask us to jump through? Seriously, Tiny College I Have Heard of Before only wanted a letter and CV for the first cut.

Dear Tiny Paperless College,

Bless you for your attempt to make a paperless job search!!!!! Your request for us to email a letter and CV, with the notation that you will ask for us to email a writing sample on the second round, will accumulate you much karma. May you never get another paper cut again!

Dear Cowtown College,

Nobody loves you like I do! Why have you posted the wrong job ad? Seriously, you want someone who does my research, not that silly century that shall not be named! No one but me knows how cool you are --- I've actually been to your campus for a summer program and loved it! Now, do I send you my application now, or will you pull the JIL ad and write me a new one first?

Dear Research University(ies),

Funny how you have advertised for exactly what I do, but at the Associate/Advanced Assistant level. Can I apply anyway, or would that lead to your people pointing and laughing at me at every one of our future field conferences? Look, I have a PhD! It's shiny! Ooh, ooh! Look, PhD in hand! --- well, not right now, but I could roll my chair across the room and put my hand on it if you so desire --- Oh, why do you have to raise the bars just as I finally clear one? Or are most R1 job ads really looking for someone who's already put a couple years in their "starter job" and has submitted a book manuscript, and you are the only ones to openly admit this?

Dear Magic Job Elves,

So I'll leave the choice up to you: you can either work your magic pixie dust over the job list and make some dream jobs appear, or you can rewrite my revise-and-resubmit for me, which I have had no interest in or ability to revisit for several weeks now. Maybe you can brew up some eye of newt potion that will make me love that piece and want to work on it instead of being absolutely bored by the topic and stymied by how to revise it? I'll make you your favorite cookies --- or leave out a fifth of bourbon; just let me know your preferences.

Friday, September 12, 2008


- with a glass of champagne,
- with several glasses of champagne,
- with two lines of people opening bottles of champagne to form archways of sparkling wine in salute over you as you pass,
- with attendants holding tiny brightly-colored umbrellas to shield you and the box from the champagne as you pass,
- with crowds of people cheering and clapping,
- with small children scattering armsful of rose petals before you,
- perhaps even with people throwing strings of beads like at Mardi Gras,
- with people running forward to bestow leis, kiss your feet, or cense you with a censer, depending on your background and/or inclination,
- with heralds of trumpet fanfare,
- or possibly flutes,
- or even a ragtime band, to continue the New Orleans theme,
- throngs of paparazzi as you move out into the quad,
- and an honor guard with rifles,
- an entire parade following you, with marching bands, rose floats and the inflatable creatures from the Macy's Day Parade,
- or perhaps elephants trained to rear as you pass,
- a professional cryer going before you, shouting "Oyez, Oyez" and occasionally "Huzzah!",
- play-by-play and color commentators breathlessly describing your every movement as you begin to ascend the steps to graduate division,
- a quad of butlers and footmen in 18th-century court dress to unroll a red carpet before you as you ascend the steps to graduate division,
- a ceremonial pause for the eating of fine chocolate and the toasting of toasts (Bailey's is always good) before entering the elevator,
- bestowal of an ermine robe, tiara, bronze plaque and keys to the city in exchange for handing over the box,
- a feeling of infinite lightness when handing over the box can be represented through the release of a thousand pure white doves, massive fireworks display, or a flight of the Blue Angels in formation overhead, depending on the weather and wildfire hazard conditions,
- at the moment of signing the final papers, a wall of drab industrial file cabinets should slide away to reveal a gospel choir, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, or Tom Waits singing your benedictory praises, depending on preference,
- masses of people then hoisting you to their shoulders and carrying you at the forefront of a mob, off into the sunset,
- as aeroplanes make sweeping arcs of smoke in the sky that read,

Doctor, Doctor, Doctor.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Bonfire of the Humanities

The job market is dead. Long live the job market.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

What the hell?

Someone made an opera out of The Fly? And not just any version of The Fly but the Cronenberg version --- you know, David "never-met-an-object-that-couldn't-be-transformed-into-an-analogue-of-a-body-part-and-then-push-you-to-the-limits-of-disgust" Cronenberg. Existenz Cronenberg. (ok, my experience of that movie is deeply colored by the fact that one roommate was watching it early one Saturday morning and the other roommate came out with an enormous hangover right at a pivotally disgusting scene and just lost it all over the living room, but still.) Opera, huh.

It's playing down in LA, I see. And then they made an Amy Tan novel into an opera that's playing in San Francisco. And another opera is coming out based on Oppenheimer and the Manhattan Project and that's coming out to CA soon too. What the hell is up with turning to opera at this moment? Why is it the go-to venue for thinking through contemporary things right now? And why do I feel the sudden urge to actually go watch all these operas ---- a need to catch them while they're still new and here? What the hell is going on with that?

PS --- what if Cronenberg were to direct a version of Grad School, the Musical? I shudder to think. Well, I alternate between being fascinated and shuddering. But mostly shuddering.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Hoist by my own petard

Grrrr! My own love of shininess has undermined me! And in trying to get ahead on a to-do list, I have ended up adding about fifty seven million additional tasks to get me to finish the original item! Argh!

Let me explain. I ... (breaks into a confession) I have been lusting in my heart after the shiny new mac computers for quite some time now. Drooling over them, clicking lovingly on all the icons and descriptions at the mac website, finding excuses to drop by the campus computer store and fondle some brushed chrome; it's sick, I know. I also know that I shouldn't buy a new computer now; can't afford it.

However, I did give in and buy the "new" OS, Leopard, because it has some shiny features and is much less of a hit to my checkbook. Er, credit card. Yes, I hang my head in shame. Apple isn't updating certain patches and problems on Tiger any more (yeah, my laptop isn't all that new) and I can't use a lot of programs and plug-ins that I "need" (big scare quotes there) and I could no longer use my itunes --- so basically, a lot of stuff that I'd like to use but that has no impact on dissertation/article writing was no longer working. So I should just let it alone and go back to work. But I upgraded. And then the saga began.

Last night I went to bed early rather than deal with the fact that the new OS would not recognize my printer; today I fix half of that problem only to learn that the new program has disabled Photoshop! Noooo! My printer of loveliness!

You see, when my old printer died (quite a while ago now) I went all-out and got one of those fancy multifunction dohickeys that scanned and copied as well. Oooooh! I love love love my printer. Seriously: being able to be at home and scan in and manipulate stuff for handouts or my research or powerpoints or whatever? Wonderful! And if you have a book out and want to just copy a couple pages before bringing it back to the library, you can do that too without having to wait to get into the campus copy room! And, if you are scanning and formatting and preparing class late into the night, you can just deal with all your printing/copying/scanning of handouts for class at home rather than get up extra early to fight with the lines of people who also need to copy their syllabi. But now, my printer will only print and not multitask. Argh!

A web search has confirmed that Leopard just doesn't support Photoshop 7 because it is too old. Too old?!?!?! I'm no pro photographer; why should I fork out 600 bucks to get the latest version of Photoshop when I could barely run all the bells and whistles I had? I despair.

But wait, someone helpfully points out on the web, you can upgrade the new version of Photoshop for just a hundred bucks and then you'll have a working, up-to-date copy! Ta-da!

Um, yes. ... Do you remember why the dudes in Hamlet were getting hoisted? That they were traitors, or saboteurs, or something or other evil, and in their plot to undermine someone else (literally) they destroy themselves? (I don't usually think of explosions as "hoisting" someone, but what the hell, it's Shakespeare; you can't argue with him)

Anywhoo, to download the upgrade you need to enter in the handy-dandy purchase-number- anti-piracy thingy to prove that it's yours. Um.

Look, doesn't it count for something that I was sleeping with the person who purchased said software? I know it's not marriage, but, California community property laws and all that? Eh? No? Damn.

Yeah, yeah ---- some gals amass a collection of guys' cute t-shirts, I burn their software and music collections. Geeky but true. It's a sign of affection, I swear.

Sigh. I was planning on prepping up a reader tonight and getting it all ready to send out to the printshop and now I have a big pile of anthologies sitting around that will need to be shlepped in to campus instead. Grumble. This calls for wine. I just hope I don't spill it all over my newly-upgraded laptop.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Be Vewy Vewy Qwiet, We're Hunting Wabbits

Dr. Coggleton-Smythe's field guide for the tracking and capture of that most elusive creature, Advisorus Doctorus.

Ahem, wot wot! Advisorus Doctorus, commonly known as the Greater or Major Advisor, depending on what side of the Ganges you are on, is a being of such insidious behavior as to be considered almost mythical.

Explorers differ on the Greater Advisor's size and tail length, with some reports pegging it at the size of a small toaster and others reporting a height of 7 to 8 feet. Discrepancies may stem from this little blighter's incredible abilities of camoflauge and propensity to scuttle off into hiding at the slightest noise. Most captured Advisors, however, fall into the 5 or 6 footer range, not counting the antlers.

Reports of poisonous, bloodsucking Advisors have been, for the most part, completely discredited as actually having been encounters with another creature, la chupacabra, a species thought, until very recently, thought to be completely mythical, much like the Advisor. Indeed, the Advisor relies far more heavily on defensive tactics than aggressive ones. Its skill in evading observation, or even detection, stems from its pronounced sense of wariness. This bally little blighter's heightened senses and skittish nature protect it while it gathers acorns, which it collects in massive caches known as "tenure binders." Finding that its aquisitive habits serve it well, the Advisor continues these behaviors long after the caches have outlived their usefulness.

Although the Advisor is not a morning creature, it is of utmost importance that you arrive early and set up your blind long before the Advisor's usual migratory hours ---- the slightest noise will send them scuttling away into the massive network of underground tunnels that protect its nest. Often Adivisor hunters use coffee as bait, but I have found that cookies in the communal watering-hole not only draw Advisors but also afford a fascinating glimpss of a cross-section of the local wildlife.

Eh, wot's that? By Jove, I think you've got one! Reel it in slowly and watch out for the hooves ---- Oh, oh, terribly sorry, that's just a common Grad Advisor, a Bureaucratus Paperous. Rotten luck there. Well, righto, toss it back. You see, you have to have patience to hunt the truly rare and exceptional creatures!
Now, boil me up another pot of tea to go with these cookies and bait the trap again...

Monday, September 1, 2008

Happy Cat Day!

It was almost exactly two years ago that I got my cats from the pound --- they were about six months old already so I never really saw them when they were kittens --- and so this weekend we celebrate their ability to be cute, to be annoying and destructive (hello chewed-up carpet! There goes my security deposit!) and even to be both at once.

Obviously we must celebrate by viewing cat pictures.

Here you can see how I not only have cats but use them as interesting decorating accents:

Yes, it's true, for some reason Timido loves to sit or lie on that little pedestal, despite its small dimensions:

Always use well-fitting pedestals, just like clothing, luv, and you won't have that "I'm too fat to lie down" effect in pictures.

Now Loquito is the one who has discovered the joys of ripping up long strings of carpeting, and for that I'm going to mail him to outer Mongolia:

This box was supposed to hold my overflowing dissertation piles but it has been commandeered by Captain Ahab here. He knows he's too cute to be shipped off; look at him pose!

Thus concludes our tour of Chez Cog, home of cat hair extraordinaire. Donations can be made just outside the gift shop to the left of the Starbucks. Come again!