• Ex-Millennial Girl has written her last post. I know I have no right, but I'm very disappointed and kind of peeved about it. I really want to know how the story ended. For those who don't read her, Stefanie's blog is a remarkably detailed memoir of her experiences in 1999 and 2000, during which time she was an exotic dancer addicted to opium. Her opium addiction narrative is the most interesting part; several times she kicks opium but ends up using again. The blog ends with another decision to kick opium, but the last post reveals that she was still using drugs well into 2003 and 2004. What I am yearning to know, as are her other readers, is what finally happened to help her kick opium long-term. It may be that she has a book deal (and tells the rest of the story there); if so, I'll probably be preordering it on Amazon.
  • Interesting comparison of the California fires and Hurricane Katrina.
  • Rad Geek critiques debates about health care funding in the U.S. As usual, his "anarchist, radical feminist, anti-war, anti-racist, pro-labor, populist, and humanitarian" as well as "both anti-authoritarian Left and libertarian" take makes me think.
  • Finally, flutter-flutter...swoon.

Presumptuous Expressions

I detest the following two expressions:

1. "Jane and John are expecting their first child." Let's unpack the ignorance:

--Maybe Jane and John only want one child

--Maybe Jane and John have serious infertility issues, went into $100K of debt for treatments to have this one baby, and can't afford another one

--You never know, Jane could develop a major health problem toward the end of pregnancy or during birth, so bad that the doctors would tell her she'd die if she tried to have another child

2. "Shall I schedule you for a cut'n'color?" Actually I've probably groused about this one before, but when did it become the default that everyone -- every woman, anyway -- colors his/her hair? When I noticed salons starting to ask this question if you called to make an appointment, I started getting my hair cut ONLY at Fantastic Sam's and Supercuts type places where they don't even DO coloring.


TV Shows I Watch

Charlie asks which shows we program into our TiVos. I don't have one, or any other DVR, but I'll list what I watch:

  • Heroes
  • Lost
  • Prison Break
  • 24
  • Battlestar Galactica
  • The Pick-Up Artist

Other shows I watch, but that I watch on DVD and don't catch each new episode as it airs (which was one of Charlie's criteria):

  • The 4400
  • Ugly Betty
  • Nip/Tuck
  • The Simpsons
  • Family Guy

And finally, shows I watch in passing, meaning that I watch it if I happen to catch it. BTW, Simpsons and Family Guy fall into this category too:

  • The Girls Next Door
  • Ace of Cakes
  • any of the Iron Chef franchise
  • Top Chef
  • Project Runway

Feminisms and Rhetorics Wrapup

I had a pretty good conference last weekend. However, one thing that was really lousy was the raging car trouble I had on the way.

I was on highway 167 headed north at about 10:30 at night, 40 or so miles outside of Little Rock. Yes, I got a very late start hitting the road. I was taking it slow, since it was so dark, and I hadn't gone over a bump or anything or made impact with any object, but all of a sudden, my engine started ROARING and there was a tinkling kind of rattle behind me sounding like something in the trunk. I pulled over at a gas station, and a guy there said it was my muffler. He recommended that I go ahead and go to Little Rock but then get it checked out in the morning.

I went on, engine roaring, back of the car rattling, with the occasional sound (and feeling) like someone was under the car shooting me with a rifle, which freaked me out. I was less than a mile from my hotel when I got pulled over by the police and informed that I was dragging a pipe behind me, which was creating sparks. I wasn't surprised, but he let me go the rest of the way to my hotel. I got out of the car and saw about five feet of pipe behind the car.

The tow truck driver the next morning didn't believe me when I said I hadn't hit anything, which was annoying. The subsequent analysis by Midas confirmed that the entire exhaust system was rusted, corroded, rotted out. I guess I have the salt on the Minnesota roads to thank for that.

They put all new pipes and everything in there, so that was great, but I missed a chunk of the conference dealing with all that. But I went to some great panels, one in particular having to do with work/life balance issues and the status of women in the profession, even though it scared me. One presenter, for example, observed that while men tend to be evaluated (for tenure, promotion, merit raises, etc.) on the basis of their performance, women are evaluated on performance plus a lot of other personal factors, including:

  • appearance
  • weight
  • style of dress
  • marital status
  • whether or not she has children (and if she does, how many children she has, and how the children look and behave)
  • home (location, decor, etc.)
  • cooking

I forgot what else, but you get the horrifying idea. I'm going to take Dean Dad's advice and make the lifestyle choices that are right for me, and if it means I don't get tenure, I can be at peace with that.

On a brighter note, on the way back to Lafayette, I saw this monastery. It was a gorgeous morning, and the whole place seemed to have the most beautiful glow around it. The photograph doesn't do it justice at all. Unfortunately, a little after I saw it, I started thinking about that awful MTV cartoon The Brothers Grunt. Is that really how my mind works?

33 today

Okay, the hiatus is officially over, as I am no longer 32. I wish I had a little more to say, but I don't; I'm leaving for Feminisms and Rhetorics early tomorrow morning and must hustle to get ready for the trip. I'll leave you with mentions of the following commercials, which are in very heavy rotation right now and disgust me so much that I have to turn away from the TV when they come on:

  • That Taco Bell commercial for the horrible beefy/cheesy tortilla thing with the revolting strings of melted cheese. **hurl**
  • The pizza delivery chain commercial with that guy who has the beard from eating the Oreo dessert pizza. I'm grossed out not only by the beard, but by the extreme close-up of the Oreo pizza. People actually order those?
  • That Old Navy sweater line commercial. I hate this one because I detest the word chilly (though chili I have no problem with, go figure). "If you are, take my sweater..." Ugh.

University Location and Academic Hiring Committees

I never seem to be able to stick to a hiatus.

Anyway, this has been sticking in my craw for the past couple of days. A friend recently asked me when I thought was the appropriate time (if at all) for a job candidate to express to a search committee that s/he is interested in working at that particular university for reasons having to do with location: "I want to live in a metropolitan area," "I'm from the south, and I want to stay/go back there," or the extremely important "I have/my spouse has family in the area."

Usually, a search committee will ask during an interview, "Why do you want to come to our university?" Please correct me if I'm wrong -- I would actually like to be wrong on this point -- but I've always gotten the idea that "because I have family in the area" or "because I'm from the south, and that's where I'd like to settle down" is NOT what they want to hear. Pretty much what they seem to want to hear is, "because I've always seen myself fitting in best at a(n)..."

[insert mission here:

* teaching institution with a commitment to outreach
* small liberal arts college
* faith-based institution
* land-grant university with support for research]

Hiring committees, in my admittedly limited experience only as a candidate, generally seem to want candidates for whom location is almost interchangeable or coincidental. I actually have answered the "why do you want to come here" question honestly before and have gotten the distinct impression that I'd said the wrong thing.

I think that not recognizing geography as a perfectly legitimate, sound reason to be interested in a job is utterly messed up for several reasons:

1. Common practice. Many applicants base their job searches on location, at least to a certain extent, and it's impractical and counterintuitive not to acknowledge that fact.

2. Getting the best information. If you have a geographical advantage when it comes to recruiting candidate X, don't you want to know that?

3. Institutional change. As we know, universities shift priorities and resources all the time. Programs are created, built up, dismantled; strategic planning initiatives are implemented; teaching universities become research universities, etc. Location is the ONE thing that, in fact, DOESN'T change. Isn't it good to know that a candidate is committed to that location and will adapt to whatever changes the university makes?

4. Retention. When professors leave positions, how often is location the only reason or one of the main reasons? How often do professors relocate to be closer to family? How often do professors leave small towns to go to cities because they're happier there? I'm going to go out on a limb here and say quite often. If you really want to live in a certain place, you're not going to be as likely to leave, especially if there aren't many universities close by. Even if there are, I'd still bet that retention rates would be higher over the long term among professors who love their locations.

That is all -- but I'd like to know what you think, particularly if you've been on a search committee. Is it okay to be up-front about the importance of location in a job search? I realize that, as a member of a SC, you don't want a marriage of convenience type of situation, but I don't think it has to be this way; moreover, I think it rarely, if ever, works out that way in practice. I'd hypothesize that if you love living where you live, you're going to be more positively predisposed toward your job, no matter what kind of institution it is.

Just to take some of the pressure off myself...

I'm going to declare a hiatus for the remainder of the time I'm 32. I won't be posting, then, until my birthday on October 3 or very shortly thereafter. Some other writing I need to do is going to have to take precedence.

Oh yeah, but first, my CCCC proposal got accepted, hooray!

Heroes and Poboys

Jonathan declared at dinner just now that we have consumed four feet of poboys today. Indeed, we each had one entire poboy for lunch, and another for dinner. My white bread and fried shrimp quotas have been far exceeded.

Oh, and we are going to watch much more Heroes tonight.

One more thing for lagniappe: I hope you will consider attending The Louisiana Conference on Language and Literature, which will be held in February here in Lafayette.

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