January 26, 2009

The decline in faculty friendship.

"The old aristocratic style of appearing to be lounging about while producing great ideas has been replaced by conspicuous displays of frenzy to impress bean-counting administrators---showing up at 7AM, working until midnight and chaining oneself to the computer. Thus, leisurely lunches with colleagues, let alone 'wasting' hours in a cafe debating Big Ideas is mistaken as a sign of a poor work ethic. The ambitious careerist begs off invitations for lunch or coffee with 'We might meet for a quick bite at 11:15 next month but right now I have two conference papers, a book review and a book chapter to do.' This is a (self-proclaimed) busy person destined for glory. Ironically, what is actually accomplished with 'leisure' is irrelevant---socializing is just verboten. Among grind-oriented academics it is unimaginable that the path-breaking physics of the 20th century was often done in Berlin or Gottingen sidewalk cafes (the brilliant John Von Neumann complained that Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study lacked good coffee houses and this hindered world-class physics)."

ADDED: Creativity needs a feeling of play. Who cares what drudges think?

77 comments:

blake said...

Maybe they don't have anything to discuss anymore. It's all homogeneous.

rhhardin said...

Ballpoint pen on paper napkin is the finest work environment.

vbspurs said...

Quoting from article:

Today's universities are almost organized conspiracies against such cohesion. Affirmative action consciously rips it apart (recall how in 1984 friendship was sabotaged to atomize society on behalf of Big Brother).

(Orwell's 1984 seems to be the theme of the day on Althouse)

I was going to mention that the IAS is the one place where contemplation is still the approved and expected task of intellectuals. I think it still is, even without adequate baristas (at Oxford, it's the various undercrofts serving bitters not mochas which stimulate ideas).

I'm not sure what to make of Weissberg's thesis. Is he suggesting that the primary task of colleagues is to support each other without question like cops are said to do? Because throughout history, that wasn't the case. Academia has always encouraged awful territorialism and competition. For every Einstein and Gödel, there are a dozen petty double crossers.

And that's with respectable people. Imagine having to befriend the academic in the office next to you, Dr. Bill Ayers. Who wants to be friends with him?

Oh wait...

Cheers,
Victoria

David said...

Sounds a lot like a law firm. Yuck.

Ron said...

Unthinking, tenure-granting grinds tend to think that their lack of creativity is a by-product of their virtuous hard work, so others should be as they are!

Ralph said...

I suspect they want to look busy ('til they get tenure) because the better jobs are better paid than they were 60 years ago, but there's a larger supply of profs.

In the 70's, my mom's cousin worked in the Princeton development office and rented half the original IAS building to live in. I spent a night there when I was looking at schools, but it was spring break and the campus was as empty and bleak as Borders without books.

dbp said...

Reminds me of the old faculty joke:

Why are disputes in academia so nasty?

Because the stakes are so low.

ricpic said...

But once you've got tenure they can't touch you, n'est-ce pas?

ricpic said...

But once you've got tenure they can't touch you, n'est-ce pas?

Dr Dre's Underpants said...

Because the bitches be blogging that's why!

No time for on social intercourse or any of them other intercouses.

Jason (the commenter) said...

That reminds of something Nietzsche said once. About people being so sick with work that they had to keep busy doing things even on vacation or they felt guilty.

Here's a good quote:

"This agitation is becoming so great that the higher culture can no longer allow its fruits to ripen... ...From lack of rest, our civilization is ending in a new barbarism."

Of course, he said that about a hundred years ago. Yes, that seems long enough to finally be noticed by American academia.

Revenant said...

But once you've got tenure they can't touch you, n'est-ce pas?

Once you've got tenure, your major insights are probably already behind you. Creativity is a thing of youth.

Paddy O. said...

I think the really creative ones, those who are actually thinking big thoughts, do what they know works best for them, and don't give into the frenzy, if that's not what they want to do.

It's the non-creative, non-big thought thinking folks, who have to put on the show and hope their appearance of busyness makes people think big thoughts are being thought.

It's the George Costanza method.

Oddly enough I was talking yesterday to a good friend who is a scientist, doing some very good and exciting and substantive work. She mentioned how a particular friendship with a colleague has created a real synergy. They include each other on projects, consult each other, and let their strengths help the other, pushing each beyond, as she put it, the sum of their parts. The friendship has meant a mutual respect, a strong ability to work together, and a shared perspective that aids when they work together.

There's also a strong lack of jealousy in that relationship. I wonder how much professional jealousy and selfishness and competition affects relationships. You don't want to help someone who might steal your stuff and get a promotion/chair/tenure you wanted.

Paddy O. said...

But once you've got tenure they can't touch you, n'est-ce pas?

Tenure gives job security. Not ego security. Ego and pride are strong factors against real friendships and collaboration, especially if the creative young are doing a lot more interesting stuff in their passion to get tenure and relax.

peter hoh said...

Who cares what drudges think?

Because the bean-counters are the ones who sign checks and pass out promotions.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Ballpoint pen on paper napkin is the finest work environment.

That's all Tonya Harding needed to work out her plan.

TitusYouAreSoSuave said...

What a fucking pity. Poor faculty. Join the rest of the world. We are all busting our asses. So you can't sit around the cafeteria and talk about crap.

Give me a break. With your cushy, high paying, tenured jobs.

Fucking elites.

The last four places I would ever work are in non-profit, government, academia, union.

When I want to fire someone I would to go to their office with a seperation agreement, a box and a security guard. Not have to jump through hoops to get rid of dead weight.\


I am all for profit, cut the waste, acquisitions, mergers, joint ventures, new product rollouts and hostile takeovers. In other words the real world.

God I just got horny after reading my comments.

TitusYouAreSoSuave said...

"Creativity needs a feeling of play".

That is one of the most liberal comments I have ever read on this blog.

TitusYouAreSoSuave said...

I don't believe anyone should be offered "a job for life".

TitusYouAreSoSuave said...

I'm over winter. My chakras are getting all fucked up.

I need to go to some island very soon.

Crimso said...

"With your cushy, high paying, tenured jobs."

My job is cushy and tenured in part because it is anything but high paying. The average UAW worker makes more than I do, and my faculty position (which I have now occupied for almost 10 years)entailed what amounted to a 17 year apprenticeship (after high school) to be able to even be competitive for. And I'm in one of the more high paying fields in academia (as far as undergraduate departments go). But if you want the next generation of college students "educated" by the lowest bidder (i.e., those willing to accept the same salary without any prospect of tenure), feel free. You'll get what you pay for.

Crimso said...

"I don't believe anyone should be offered "a job for life"."

Hardly a job for life. My university just may be laying off tenured faculty in the near future. In other words, the economy may cause some of us to lose our jobs (in spite of our supposed job for life). The UAW workers get a bailout, we get pink slips. Those UAW folks going to teach your kids (not yours of course, Titus) chemistry? Stick to things you know, like pinching loaves and hogs.

traditionalguy said...

Good article. It goes to the essence of the "liberal" education developed first in Scotland and brought to Ivy league schools here 250 years ago. The almighty money trap in higher education tugs away against the time left to spend educating among teachers and students. Todays Budget Crisis empowers the Business Office to cut Administrative jobs and assign that work to the Professors. As far as chaiman Mao over at the business office is concerned,the lazy Professors should join in a cultural revolution and do some heavy re-distributed peasant work. The end result will be more on-line classes with fewer Professors able to draw out student's minds at teachable moments in the classroom. They could instead cut the many Political Correctness policing reports and save the same staff time, but they are too blinded by 40 years of ideology to think of that.

traditionalguy said...

And about achieving tenure, its great that they will not fire you anymore, but in a budget cut even tenured professors can find their Positions cut in a downsizing. The UAW has a better senority deal.

BJM said...

Titus said:
When I want to fire someone I would to go to their office with a seperation agreement, a box and a security guard.


Exactly, frog marching optional.

vbspurs said...

Crimso, is that true even of public universities? I always thought those had tough unions for profs, and anyway, it was nearly impossible to fire a public official.

Crimso said...

I am at a public university, so yes, it's true.

Crimso said...

And AFAIK, I don't have anything like a union (unless you mean an organization that calls itself a union, but essentially has no collective bargaining power, no authority to strike, and really no power to do anything whatsoever). Though there's always the AAUP (not that they have those powers either). Dig a little on who the head of that outfit is, and you'll see why I wouldn't join if they promised me a 100% increase in salary, a tax-free nanny, and a coffeehouse in my building.

traditionalguy said...

I understood the author's point about colleagues supporting one another had to do with the moments of being Falsely accused of saying horrible Bad Thoughts or Bad Words, like in a church's Heresy or Blasphemy charges, then the men/women who well know and respect your goodness wont fall for the crucifiers carefully crafted charges, "that your epidermis is showing", but will say it must be a maliscious hit job when they accuse this man/woman whom I've known for 20 years. The author contrasted that peer group familiarity hole card with what would happen when the same false charges were brought against a stranger. Then you dont know whether to risk helping stop the crucifiction since you could be labled as one of his/her supporters. And it could be true, who can know?

Ralph said...

We got an ad today for a business seminar on "How to deal with problem employees." My boss said "Fire his ass!" and tossed it.
That's what most folks have to deal with.

Paul Ciotti said...

Titus said:
"When I want to fire someone I would to go to their office with a seperation agreement, a box and a security guard. "

Bring a spell checker too.

Paul Ciotti said...

As far as academic disputes being nasty because the stakes are so low, I would think reasonable people wouldn't even bother to fight then. But maybe that's the problem. Reasonable people don't go into academia, and even if they start out reasonable they soon end up petty.

vbspurs said...

Dig a little on who the head of that outfit is, and you'll see why I wouldn't join if they promised me a 100% increase in salary, a tax-free nanny, and a coffeehouse in my building.

Yikes, Cary Nelson. I'm guessing Angela Davis was too busy...my condolences Crimso.

In compensation, just be lucky you're not a librarian. I heard they're even more up the ying-yang with ex-radicals.

Beth said...

No, a job in academia is not a job for life, especially in a public university. Tenured faculty can be let go when budget cuts demand it. It's easy enough to get around tenure by cutting programs.

It's been a banner couple of days for the worst in conservative myths here at Althouse. Yesterday someone declared the all government employees are lazy, indolent bastards. Yes, all the many millions of people who work in government all over the country, just a bunch of lazy bastards. And college faculty are all a bunch of unreasonable hippie fuckwits. Lovely.am02

Kev said...

Todays Budget Crisis empowers the Business Office to cut Administrative jobs and assign that work to the Professors.

From where i sit, that might actually be workable, so long as you didn't burden one professor with the administrative work, but divided it among several. But by far, the best idea would be to never let administrators stop teaching in the first place; this would allow them to continue to see life from an educator's point of view (rather than a bureaucrat's) and spend less money on people who never saw the inside of a classroom.

Revenant said...

Yesterday someone declared the all government employees are lazy, indolent bastards.

Well, not all of them. Just all the ones I've ever had to interact with. :)

TitusYouAreSoSuave said...

What do you consider high paying? In my book it is over 200k a year.

I really know that much about anything in an academic or union environment. I was just joshing a little. Well not about not wanting to work in that environment. I wouldn't want to work for the state or any government entity. My impression is those environmentals have quite a bit of red tape. My sister works for the UW and says it take forever just to order a printer. But when she is 55 she gets to retire with her full salary for the rest of her life-not a bad deal. She doesn't make the money I make now though but I will never have the retirement she has.

Crimso, have a sense of humor and give me a big hug you big academic elite lug.

TitusYouAreSoSuave said...

I think there is something wrong with someone that works for the same employer their entire life.

What is this 1950?

Spread your wings. Get a diverse work experience and resume.

There actually is a "process" in place for my company to fire someone, unless of course they are being laid off. You know verbal warning, written warning, final written warning-the entire process takes about 3 months and then they get 1 month of severance for every year of employment unless they did something grossly insubordinate.

Beth said...

Revenant, I'll spot you half of them. The other half are just cranky from working with lousy colleagues.

TitusYouAreSoSuave said...

I actually do a thing or two about employment law also Crimso as I have been in the field for over 15 years. I know everyone wants to think I only know about hogs and loaves but I actually have a high paying job at a Fortune 100 company that's annual profits are over 5 billion a year.

MadisonMan said...

When my major Professor retired, I gave a little impromptu speech the dinner (usually I don't talk at such things), and told all the new faculty that the most important thing I thought my Prof did was to invite his students and staff to his house for dinner. What a great way to get to know people and to really learn how they tick. I told them that if they did the same thing for their students, the students would really appreciate it. I wonder if they also meet with their colleagues in a similar way. The older professors -- hired in the '60s -- were and are a very tightly-knit bunch of white men. The professors there now -- still mostly white men -- I can't tell if they interact quite so much, probably for reasons stated in the article.

I don't recall my Dad the professor ever having faculty colleagues over for dinner, unless they were bridge players. Mom and Dad were always having bridge parties. But I don't know if they were professors -- what kid knows the profession of his parents' friends? Being a one-horse town, though, with just a University, really, back then, for employment, they likely had some relation to the U. Dad did have grad students over -- once a year at least, but then he went to the Dean's office and then became a Department Head, so that put the kibosh on grad students, mostly. What I remember most about the grad students? One named Duane had a T-shirt under his button-down shirt that had a frayed collar!

TosaGuy said...

It is all well and good if the truly brilliant engage in productive workplace leisure, but unfortunately, there are not any more brilliant people in academia than their were 50 years ago. Lots of very average professors today who muddled through grad school and ended up teaching survey level classes and writing unreadable journal articles and books that will only collect dust.

The truly brilliant will continue their ways...because they are truly brilliant and do produce, but the wanna bes will complain about having to work for a living instead of taking 2 hour lunches at the union and whatever.

Henry said...

If the boffins and eggheads aren't filling up the coffeehouses, then who are those people in there all the time?

traditionalguy said...

Hey, this article is about colleges. The work level at a college is an intense 40+ hours, and student in 4 or 5 classes of 20 to 30 each of young, problem filled adolescents away from home for the first time and in need of help is no picnic. It's a heck of a challenge to do well.

TitusYouAreSoSuave said...

By the way I have a position open with my company in Middleton Wisconsin and am having a hard time finding qualified candidates. We have a small site in Middleton. It is posted all over the internet but I am not getting much of a "flow".

The Director in Middleton said we need to post in the WSJ Sunday. That sounds so 1992. Using the newspaper to find candidates? I haven't run an ad in over 10 years. Anyways it will be in the Sunday State Journal. 3x6 color ad-look for it. I am hiring for that position.

Isn't that exciting?

Johnny B. D. said...

The decline of faculty scholarship.

Scholarship requires actual productivity. Who cares what the non-productive think?

Crimso said...

"Crimso, have a sense of humor and give me a big hug you big academic elite lug."

I don't know about elite, but lug sounds right. Would you accept a hug from a lug? I know I'm not fabulous and all...

I'm not cross with you, Titus (how could I be?). I had no idea what your career is, but I gathered you weren't exactly perptually on welfare. And high paying is 200k+? My Dean doesn't make that. Now come on, give us a kiss.

TitusYouAreSoSuave said...

Well now I feel like I have to give you a kiss a large merit increase a bonus and some incentive stock but I guess you don't get stock at an university, huh?

I was thinking of Althouse's salary and I do know what she makes.

TitusYouAreSoSuave said...

Also, believe it or not 200k isn't "wealthy" in NYC.

traditionalguy said...

Does U of Wisconsin have scheduled faculty social events? If not, why not? Like he says, getting drunk together is an act of trust and creates a certain lasting fellowship. But "men only" trips would be risky. What if the NYT found out? The famous Althouse Cafe Spot only has coffee, or do they allow beer too? No noise cancellation headphones allowed to be worn at social functions from now on. And leave the academic regalia at home too.

Ann Althouse said...

Actually, that place where I was with the headphones was Barrique's Wine Cave on Monroe Street. Plenty of wine and a selection of Scotch.

We used to have a "happy hour" thing.... Mostly, people are friendly in the workplace, but family is a priority.

Kev said...

When my major Professor retired, I gave a little impromptu speech the dinner (usually I don't talk at such things), and told all the new faculty that the most important thing I thought my Prof did was to invite his students and staff to his house for dinner. What a great way to get to know people and to really learn how they tick. I told them that if they did the same thing for their students, the students would really appreciate it.

One of the music ensembles that I direct at my school does this sort of thing every semester--not at my house, which is not that close to campus, but at a nearby Chipotle restaurant. We call it the "Bond with the Band Burrito Bash," and it does a pretty good job of letting people get to know each other, which helps the group coalesce more quickly. If someone gets to the end of the semester and is still saying "Hey, you, trombone player," we're not doing something right.

TitusYouAreSoSuave said...

Employees in most all industries never go out for "happy hour" anymore.

They go home. They generally are very cordial but want to be with family and friends and not with work people. No one at my office hangs out after work. Even the singles.

TitusYouAreSoSuave said...

I participate in all of the "employee surveys" through consulting companies and generally people in a company do not want to spend after work hours with fellow employees. Personally, I hate it.

I have to go to a couple of sales conferences every year and I am in my room immediately after dinner, knowing that I will have to see all of them at breakfast at 7:00 a.m. That's too much intimacy for me.

Beth said...

No one I work with has the time to take off for two hour lunches, but we do gather on Fridays after work at a neighborhood bar. We inevitably talk shop, but mostly, it's a lot like being in a blog thread, with beer: politics, pets, home repair (a big topic post-Katrina), a few dirty jokes. Occasionally, there's a fistfight. The dean and our department chair never come to Friday sessions - it's more a working class academic bonding session. I do have drinks and dinner with the brass a few times a semester, and we drink a bit there, too, but so far, no fist fights.

traditionalguy said...

But titus who will come up with the next great creative social advance or solution to theoretical physics problem? Then again, I remember Elizabeth Taylor in Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolfe? No more of this in person drinking with new acquaintances. We'll do it by Blogging with anonymous friends.

traditionalguy said...

Last thought of the night. The Monthly Bar Association dinner- drinks- speaker etc. has always opened good doors to felloship with the Judges who cannot seem too friendly to you while working you over in their realm of total authority.(Trial level Judges are the most powerful people in the legal system by far). Does academia work a little like that? I suspect that in academia no one wants to be drinking around the President of the Institution, unless he's a Episcopalian which has great drinking Traditions.

Ralph said...

unless he's a Episcopalian which has great drinking Traditions
I always picture my prep school headmaster with his cigarette and plastic, wide champagne glass expertly held in the same hand. Of course, he'd originally been a Catholic priest, who wanted to marry and switched.

blogging cockroach said...

hi professor
as you know i have the transmigrated soul
of a composer and music professor and all
i have to say is collegiality is overrated
the emeritus type who wrote the article sounds
like someone from my day who actually enjoyed
the atmospherics of academia which b t w is hard
to type so i hope you appreciate my efforts on
tommy s new i mac with the e z keyboard yay
tommy is the boy whose computer i use
anyway hopping around on this keyboard
is a lot harder than i used to work as a professor
but i didn t appreciate how e z i had it at the time
the year i croaked i was getting 42k which wasn t
bad for the time esp when you consider that i
started at less than 7k back in the late 50 s
plus we never heard of budget cuts in those e z
days in the afterglow of the g i bill and
the days of the multiversity where everrrrybody
was going to go to college and wear gray
flannel suits and work for the foundation
even artsy types such as myself
well i used to work hard let me tell you
even though my hard work was pretty e z
but i never told anybody esp myself
i wrote piece after piece of crap music
and a lot of crap writing about said crap music
and some of it was actually performed and the
deans of the college of art generally liked me
because i wore a gray flannel suit and was e z
to get along with and had a good reputation
or so they thought and was very productive
or so they thought but didn t know
that 12 tone music writes itself
esp if it s crap which i specialized in
for example one of my string quartets was
performed by a famous string quartet and it
was cleverly titled mirrors because it had a complex
palindromic structure and the row was its own
retrograde inversion and if you have any idea
what i m talking about i m very sorry for you
anyway it sounded like skreek bleep scrunch
and everybody applauded politely at the end
and said i should win the pulitzer prize ha ha
my last project which i kicked the bucket
in the middle of was an opera based on
the last of the mohicans in both an english
and german verison der letzter der mohikanner
pretty much in the style of alban berg
think of it as lulu meets davy crockett
it would have been given its premier in germany
for which the taxpayers of my state paid about
the same as a street lamp so if you look at it
that way my former life doesn't seem like
a total waste plus i did go to faculty parties
if the right people were there

Revenant said...

Revenant, I'll spot you half of them. The other half are just cranky from working with lousy colleagues.

Well that's sort of the point. It isn't that only idiots work for the government -- its that idiots are pretty much the only people who benefit from working for the government. For the most part government jobs neither reward competence nor punish incompetence. You can be pants on head retarded and you'll still pretty much have a job for life. You can be a genius and you'll still probably have to wait to be promoted on the basis of senority.

Eric Hammerbacher said...

Ann, if you're ever in East Lansing feel free to stop by The Peanut Barrel. I'm the impresario for a group called "Weekly Reader Tuesdays". We meet every Tuesday from 5:00 until 7:00 (I usually stay until 2 am though lol). Topics for this week:

The Western Canon esp. Shakespeare
Harold Bloom's book How to Read and Why
Steven Pinker's The Language Instinct
Simone Weil
The Annotated Lolita
Bob Dylan and hip-hop

Henry said...

If you can find Bob Dylan's annotated Lolita we'll all come.

Henry said...

Following the academic careers of a few friends my impression is that they have to move a lot.

That can't be good for the old aristocratic style of friendship.

Michael H said...

"The decline in faculty friendship."

That's because friendship is a right-wing hetero-normative western concept.

Kidding aside, I've never understood the idea of developing friendships with co-workers. Civility, of course; pleasantness, yes indeed, Concern when warranted, naturally. But friendship? No.

I enjoy my co-workers, but I also keep a dividing line between my work and personal lives. Friends I can choose; co-workers are issued.

MadisonMan said...

Occasionally, there's a fistfight.

Between the faculty members? Wow!

commenter said...

Do you professors ever take sabbaticals and just go live in a community of everyday Joes and josephines, all alone, no other professors or wives to tolerate your quest for booked knowledge. Like maybe only 2000 people where formaleducation isn't the most important thing in a persons life and just getting by is? Where there are no books and movies and all that stuff that's important to you?

LarsPorsena said...

"Occasionally, there's a fistfight.

Between the faculty members? Wow!"

I'd have to see to believe it.
These folks are way too progressive to risk physical injury about anything.

Beth said...

Madman and Lars, no more than a couple times a year. Our long-patient American Lit guy took a swing at an administrator when he realized they were hiring outside for the open professor spot in that line. But he's a grouchy drunk. Writers/poets get into now and then; my theory is that they're a bit oversensitive and need to demonstrate a little testosterone.

English departments have their own peculiarities.

Beth said...

You can be pants on head retarded and you'll still pretty much have a job for life. You can be a genius and you'll still probably have to wait to be promoted on the basis of senority.

So, you've dealt with FEMA?

Michael said...

This doesn't surprise me, much of academia long ago became quantitative-- how many papers produced.

Though not, of course, how many readers...

LarsPorsena said...

"Writers/poets get into now and then; my theory is that they're a bit oversensitive and need to demonstrate a little testosterone."

Yep, that's why the MLA conferences are such blood-letting brawls.

Beth said...

Lars, I don't get it, sorry.

comatus said...

"commenter," I'd have to read a study to prove it, but I'm pretty sure the little people have movies now.

Iapetus said...

My thoughts on a number of issues to be found just below the surface in this article.

1. Faculty tenure and promotion review committees tend to dislike collaborative research and team teaching. They reward independence and penalize collaboration. If you collaborate with others, your efforts will be demeaned, no matter what your collaborators submit in writing on your behalf. Faculty committees prefer academic "stars" and reward them generously. Moribund departments and schools with lots of faculty dead wood are especially prone to being star-struck.
2. Intellectually gifted people who are productive can afford to take a long, relaxing lunch or spend an afternoon in a coffee house: they will be productive no matter how much time they spend out of the office. (That's not to say all bright faculty are productive, of course.) Conversely, an unproductive mediocrity could spend an entire day shmoozing in a coffee house and never get inspired enough to justify even one day's salary. It's not the milieu, it's the quality of the people you hire as faculty that matters.
3. Universities are litigious environments these days. Say one untoward thing openly about a member of a protected class of victims and you WILL get sued. It is no wonder that faculty are always looking over their shoulders. A review committee that turns down an applicant for promotion or tenure has to consider whether a law suit will follow. Any harsh comments about another faculty member's work that are made in public are bound to be cited as evidence of illegal bias against the applicant.

commenter said...

comatus, who said they are little people?

I know they have movies, and i know that maybe movies are even more important to those people than the bigger people. It lets them see what they are missing.

but really , after living in a university town and seeing them at the pool, analyzing their aches and pains to each other, and talking to each other, and discussing michael phelps to no, no, no end. well...

I don't get it.

one smart guy said to me after i was swimming laps, collecting leaves that had fallen in the water and then making faces with them at the end of the pool: ( because i do day dream lots when i swim amongst these champions of both brain and brawn.) Anyway, he said, " You really do live in your own little world."

But when i see all of them i can't believe how outside their bubble I am, so totally outside of all of it. Maybe I should feel retarded or something, cause i don't understand at all. But I don't. I feel like I got so much more simple stuff to do. That sometimes just turns out to be of such high educational value to me. And from the takes of how many people actually respond to me, I guess it is only really important just to me and nonsense to everybody else. You all go on with your readings and studying.

Kev said...

for example one of my string quartets was
performed by a famous string quartet and it
was cleverly titled mirrors because it had a complex
palindromic structure and the row was its own
retrograde inversion and if you have any idea
what i m talking about i m very sorry for you


Cockroach, I know exactly what you're talking about, despite all my valiant efforts to fall asleep during that portion of music history class...

And I just realized that faculty + coffeehouse doesn't have to = a lack of productivity; I've graded many a test paper in a Starbucks.

BJM said...

Beth: Many in the SF Bay Area had to deal with FEMA after the Loma Preita quake, need I say more?

You might find this amusing.