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  • Confessions of a Community College Dean

    In which a veteran of cultural studies seminars in the 1990s moves into academic administration and finds himself a married suburban father of two. Foucault, plus lawn care.

Friday Fragments
November 1, 2007 - 8:49pm

From the "Sometimes I Get Tired of Being Right" department: a few days ago I posted "How Chrysler stays in business is a complete mystery to me." Yesterday, Chrysler announced another RIF of 12,000 jobs. Honestly, I wouldn't have minded being wrong on that one.

Has anybody else noticed that the price of oil has doubled in the last year, but the price of gasoline hasn't changed much? You can "summer driving season" all you want, it still doesn't make sense. My hunch -- and I really don't understand the situation well enough to say -- is that we're in for some truly nasty gasoline price increases by this time next year. (Either that, or the price of oil is about to drop like a stone. I consider that unlikely.) I just can't make the math work any other way.

On the bright side, judging by what The Boy and The Girl harvested in their trick-or-treating this year, people are getting a little smarter about halloween candy. More chocolate-based stuff, fewer Sugar Daddies and Sweet Tarts. This is all to the good. I'm old enough to remember the aged hippies of the '70s giving out those little boxes of raisins, and saying that they're "nature's candy." Uh, no. That's why we had to invent "Raisinets." It's all about the chocolate.

If there's anything sweeter, or more hope-inspiring, than the sight of The Boy (as a basketball player) and his girlfriend (as Minnie Mouse) contentedly holding hands while they cross the street, well, I haven't seen it.

Helpful photographic hint: if you're trying to get a bunch of 3 and 6 year olds to smile, just have them say "TB's Dad Smells Like Cheeeeeese!" They'll laugh for a solid five minutes.

One of the unexpected consolations of middle age: at a certain point, hair loss finally defeats The Indomitable Cowlick. A little "middle ground" might have been nice...

The new car has a dashboard light that flashes -- by design -- whenever the ignition is off. This includes when the key is not in the ignition. It seems to me that if the key isn't in the ignition, I could default to the assumption that the car is, in fact, off. "Warning: The Car Is Not Hotwired." Okaaaay...

Sometimes I think my job should be renamed something like Calmer. For whatever reason, we have a fair number of otherwise-wonderful people here who can get a little tightly wound. When something goes askew you can just see the steam come out of their ears. This week I've had several occasions on which my primary value-add was helping some high performing but steaming people to exhale a bit, collect their thoughts, and see that the situation is actually not so bad. (Not perfect, but not so bad.) I don't know if this is more a reflection on my personality or the personalities around me, but it happened at my last employer, too. It's a fine line between "dean" and "shock absorber." If "metabolism" can be defined as "the process of turning food into poop," then my style of management can be defined as "the process of turning stress into clarity."

One of the best parts of deaning is observing classes. When a class goes really well, it's a joy to behold. I've seen several winners recently, and it's hard to convey just how gratifying that is. Some professors who are relatively quiet outside of class absolutely light up when they get in front of a group. It's really a privilege to be able to see that.

The Wife and I are actually going to our local high school's homecoming game tonight! This will be my first high school homecoming game since the Reagan administration. The cool thing about it this time is that I can go home with my date, and nobody can say boo about it...

 

 

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