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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.

Monday Musings
June 7, 2009 - 8:44pm
  • In discussing a nearby park, TG asked me “why did they put a hill there when they designed the world?”
    • We saw Up on Saturday, and I have to admit, it's one of the best movies I've ever seen. Pixar has a high batting average anyway – Cars and Finding Nemo were nifty, and The Incredibles was flat-out great – but this one had a sweetness to it that the others lacked. There's a short almost-silent mini-movie in the beginning that traces a couple's lifetime together that almost stands as a movie in itself. At the end of that set piece, an entire theater full of kids and candy wrappers was silent. But the movie also had plenty of jokes for the various age levels, wonderful voice acting, and a perfect ending. Very, very impressed.
    • Vacation hopscotch has started. Although we admin types have 12-month calendars, we need breaks too, and we can't really take them during regular semesters. So when summer hits, people take their days. It makes sense, but it also means that scheduling meetings when you can get a full complement of attendees becomes much more challenging. I've already had several conversations along the lines of “I'm out that week, and she's out the next week, and then we're all here for a day, but then so-and-so will be out for a week, and then...” Things still get done, but it's slower and much more catch-as-catch-can.
    • In a nod to web 2.0, and inspired mostly by Clancy Ratliff (culturecat), I've started a twitter feed. The first few tweets were more conceptual than event-based (“continued balding”), but that's hard to sustain, so it's defaulting to events. As with blogging, there's a rhythm that takes a little time to learn. From following a few other feeds, I'm noticing that the major difference from blogging is in the contours of storytelling. In a blog, each post is largely self-contained, either telling its own story or starting a discussion in the comments. On Twitter, each post is like a single musical note; the melody comes in the sequence of notes over time. It's a different style, but it's fun to try. (Documenting the quotidian while maintaining pseudonymity is a unique challenge; I'm not entirely sure how that will work.) I'll admit also enjoying the theme-of-the-day contests they have in the sidebar. Last week they did “three words after sex.” Somebody submitted “that cost what?”
    • Last week on our library run, TB sat in the kids' section reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid and laughing to himself. I noticed two girls who looked a year or two older than TB watching him and whispering to each other. It didn't seem to be mockery; it looked more like goading. Eight years old, and he's already got it. Where he got it from is mysterious, but good for him. He has no idea, which I think is why it works.
    • A contact at a private university mentioned to me that the students there are postponing graduation specifically so they won't have to start repaying their student loans while unemployed. Locally, our retention rate is climbing, even with students who just graduated sticking around to take a few more credits before transferring. (Some of the local destination colleges for transfers are willing to take the degree plus fifteen credits; we're having unprecedented numbers of students actually take them up on it.) The Great Recession is playing out in unanticipated ways.

     

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