Heading Out

Seeking the winds that help to sail on Shakespeare's tide.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Waiting for a shoe to fall

There is something about signs, and their interpretation. See, there I was the other day just chatting about retirement. And in my plan I would be sitting at the large window working on my Poser stuff, and I would be looking out of the window at the tree where the Actress had mounted a bird-feeder. Here is where the birds, squirrels and occasional chipmunk fight over the seeds and nuts (though actually it was a rabbit that ate the peach I threw out the other day).

Alas, due to a misunderstanding, the tree is gone. We had a stump I had cut long (so that I wouldn't fall over it) and we decided to have a handyman take it down. Sadly he misunderstood and took out THE TREE. So now I won't have that much to look at if I were to retire, until we plant a new one and it grows. So maybe I should stay where I are.

The times, however, are changing, with "she who guards my door" now on leave for six months, and our receptionist likely having to move as her husband has changed jobs, perhaps I should change also.

Decisions, decisions, should I take a leave and write another book? Do I feel like finding an agent ? The omens continued grey today. Having spend some hours outfitting the first two lectures in Powerpoint with individual sound-on-slide accompanyment so that the class doesn't have to come to a room to sleep, i discovered that the sound cut off about 20 seconds into each slide. Rabbits!

Oh, the Actress has a film part. Starts at the beginning of next week. She is quite excited, and it goes with the vaudeville that she is in that comes off this weekend.

The old life is getting a bit busier, and not as complex. Wonder if Hatless will get the job he's just applied for. And the Duchess, seeing a tumbril in her future, is moving into my territory. Wonder if she is bringing an axe?

Never let it be said that Academic life is dull.

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Sunday, August 13, 2006

And another short update

Well, to explain just a little of what is going on, the current Administration here is in the midst of great change - the Provost (Prince Regent) is now gone, and we await the new rule, while the person that sits between that position and this humble servant is soon also to disappear. There have even been the odd suggestion or two that I apply to move up - well, and here I was planning to retire.

We are thus in the period of great change, since back in the old Department there might well be two senior faculty leaving within the next few months, and (as those who read TOD may have gathered) there are no viable replacements to be found. Industries that have had their death extolled on the covers of Business magazines have a remarkably hard time inducing students to take undergraduate positions, let alone graduate, or so stay in academia. We once listed all the PhD's around the world who were between wet-behind-the-ears, and back-in-diapers. After we had filtered just a little, I seem to remember we were left with about a dozen names. It has got worse since.

This should therefore, you might think, be a glorious era to be in this business. Not really, since already enrollments are going up rapidly, as faculty numbers fall, and soon the big boys will corner all the R&D dollars, just as they did the last time around. They don't actually do much with the money, but it keeps it from the rest of the screaming hordes.

So should I stay or go? I'm a little behind schedule now, but I must confess that it is amusing to be the fly on the wall, and watch to see what will transpire, this time around.

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Sunday, April 23, 2006

Living in interesting times

It has been suggested, since life here is currently on occasion more dramatic than a novel, that I should update this web site. So, with some apologies for absence (TOD has now reached 10k hits a day and my conscience makes me write there more often) herewith a little update on some parts of the story. I will try to add more over the next month as a further part of the drama unfolds.

As you may remember the Ri had instigated broad slaughter on his arrival. The Crown Prince headed for the market square in a tumbril before Christmas, and the Mighty Boyar went soon after. Wishing to at least provide a semblance of democracy to the process the Ri then send the matter to the Commons, where it was debated, sent to committees and all the other furbillows that provide the semblance of democracy. In time the voice of the people was heard (about a couple of weeks ago) and lo! They had agreed that doing away with a level of the Aristocracy was an acceptable practice. Thus while transient Dukes will reign for another year, at then end of that time they will be gone and we will be one of the few places in the country without them.

Our current Duchess is not amused, but has another problem in that all the minor barons beneath her are stepping down, and need replacing, and in the current climate it is not clear who will come to the fore by the beginning of next semester.

The Dauphin had at one time feared for his own neck, but by some adroit moves has survived to reach the final four in the running to be the new Crown Prince. The interviews are over the next two weeks and so it will be interesting to see how that comes to pass. I had a shouting match with one of the other candidates some years ago, and so we will have to see how that goes.

In my own personal case, I believe I was to be replaced by a newly hired person - unfortunately so far we haven't found one we like. This is a bit of a bother since there are other things (such as TOD) that I was setting up to keep me amused in my dotage. However we now have two golden BB's rolling in our hands, one of those experiments that a student did where the guidelines were not fully defined, and so the experiment ran on parameters that "will never work." Gobble, gobble is the sound of me eating those words. We have one of those neat photos that will probably get unveiled before long. Glad in a way that it happened after the TV crew came since we may want to keep this a little more obscure until we have worked out more of the ramifications. So, for the short term, I will bumble on, but this needs to get resolved fairly soon since the iron is hot and somebody needs to strike it.

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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

How would you like your head?

Well i made the major presentation on the golden bb today to our ghost of a Prince. It is a bit hard to convey a vision to someone who believes in doing things the way he did them twenty years ago, and wants to enforce the mold.

So tomorrow I have lunch with one two steps over his head, and thus will probably write to the Ri in the morning to make sure that he is not blind-sided. If I am to play this game I need to remember some of the political tricks of my youth since this is too novel for some, though I have to say that most who start to listen grasp it quickly. But then when you get to be a ghost I guess it gets harder.

Tonight we went and saw the Red Neck Tenors, I would highly recommend them I ended up buying two CDs one for us and one as a gift, and yet that does not convey the success of the show. I cried with laughter more than I have in years, and yet the singing was equivalent to the Met - which is where some of the cast had previously sung.

Tomorrow begins with a visit to the bonesetter, then to prepare for the lunch. Today, following the arrival of our new king, those who are no longer in favor called a meeting, to try and form a group that the Ri "should listen to because of their experience", ah! How to tell them that yesterday's hero is just that. Having lived that cycle more than once, I am not sure whether to speak up or not.

For now, having listened to the RNT CD, it is time to tiptoe away again, G'night.

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Monday, January 16, 2006

Much noise and little progress

This year the wood pile sits almost undiminished, though I have taken to chopping up some of the old wood and burning it late at night to keep the house warm til morning without electricity. Also it feels better. Mum is sounding a little more confused, and her leg is swollen now, though it goes down if she elevates it. I fear she is getting almost no exercise, and complains of the cold weather keeping her in. She could not find the TV controller this time, and one wonders how helpful the carers are.

Being an obedient soul I went in and wrote two reports today, that have to be given on Wednesday. Then I get to prepare a presentation for Monday. (It was supposed to be Tuesday but they called and I have to drive through 2 states to get to a meeting Monday evening, wander a conference Tuesday and drive back that night.) And another for Thursday - drive to a fourth state, meet on Thursday morning drive a hundred miles and meet another set of folk on Thursday night, so that i can drive back here on the Friday. And I give a seminar the following Monday - sounds like the semester has started again.

Well politics is still keeping the place astir, the ghost of the Duchess is rumored to drifting off to another world this summer, and Hatless is interviewing, since he anticipates riding the tumbril relatively soon. At some point it might be appropriate to ask as to who is steering the ship, and to where. We will have to see, perhaps the Dauphin expects that this will be his chance?

Well I seem to have lost all my downloaded figures for Poser from a couple of years ago, the only one I miss at present is the Horse set, and the viking set - since I needed an axe. Even if I found them I have a feeling that they might no longer easily load, since I have had that problem with the odd old file that turned up, and that I am not trying to get to work in the new version.

I am also enjoying Battlefield Britain and the episodes which show how the battles evolved are what I would like to learn to do. The only thing is that so far they have not really detailed the ebb and flow of the fights very well, but that could be because the only ones I have seen so far have been up to the Conquest, and there may not have been enough detail to use.

And I have given up on oil books for a couple of days, and am enjoying Robin Hobb's "Shaman's Crossing."

I think that is just about it for now!

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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Winter Doldrums

We're in that part of the year that gives us the grey days, and often with them, the grey moods. After spending a fair amount of time over the past four weeks in charge of a small committee to give some direction to a campus effort, this is now done.

The charge related to the same topic as TOD, but, given the short time fuse, and the limited number of folk in the initial group, I chose to do something a little different. Starting with a sense of who was expert in what, I wandered around and chatted with them, and then, from that, built up a sense of what was possible. I then wrote this up and am only now calling the original group back to review the final document. What it ends up with is that the group that will do the work are largely the younger faculty as against the older faculty on the committee. Now we will see whether I can pull this off, or get quietly set to one side because I did not use the accepted procedures. If I had we we would just be sitting down for our first meeting, given everyone's activities over the break. And actually we came up with a totally different program than I would have expected before I went out and started talking with folks.

One of the results of this is the possibility that I might have to head up the transition, but it now appears that the ghost of the Prince Regent may not actually be exorcised, but rather will linger on, since he appears not to intend to move on to other pastures beyond the veil. And part of this exercise may be an effort to create a position for him, which, of course, may mean that I can move back. We will have to see.

Other than that I am relearning the modelling programs, since it would make some of my posts at TOD more understandable (I realized this while writing about Sago Mine last week). I am also trying to put figures into the models, and using Poser for this, but that means learning Poser again (since I haven't used it for a couple of years). So with a couple of new contracts, and with our Indiana one just going to be extended, life is getting fraught again. And the Ohio contract presentation is next week, so I need to write that presentation before Friday.

So maybe it's the workload, or the let-down from getting that report out, but it is a little harder this week to get excited about this being the first week of the semester.

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Thursday, January 05, 2006

Dare I go home?

Well life is certainly more interesting. And soon I will probably have to give some of my colleagues a little advice that they will not want to hear.

As you may have noticed we have had a bit of a bloodbath here, and since the search committees for new Chairs were also put in stasis today, you may anticipate that this is not over. Which puts me in a bit of a dilemma, and has led to a partial step-back from my retirement.

Having developed a fair number of bb's to lead the response to the charge I was sort of stuck with before the vacation, I think I have developed a consensus that we can make them into a program. The problem being that to make the program viable it has to be put in place by someone who believes in it. Oh! And I had promised the Actress I would quit this year. Um! So, dare I go home and tell her?

So how do I win this one. Well among other things I have to tell my colleagues in this mess a reality of Academic Life. It is that a new Administration will develop its own successes and that those who were the Prima Donnas on campus in the last Administration will generally not succeed in the new. And as an example I wll likely hold up my own case where, despite proven success, ours was the most damaged by the advent of the last Administration. Why? Because the new one would get no credit from our further success, they had to find something new to prove their ability. And thus they drew (and heavily) from us to develop new programs. Now it is those new programs that will be under attack.

And it is in this light that I am selling my bb's. A new program, aimed directly at the new mission statement that the new Ri has brought through the faculty and into play.

Ah, I spent two hours this morning with the Dauphin and since I am at the stage in my career where I can afford to be honest ( what are they going to do - fire me? He spent half the meeting slanting the arguments into why I should stay) it is going to make the next few months interesting.

The problem is that my reputation is in something else, and after lunch today I had 4 hours to get a proposal in to get us another year of life in one of our fields of study. It ended up that I had about 2 hours to work on the proposal, doing both Scope of Work and budget, but it got in. The more formal process, through our official channels will now likely take me a couple of weeks. The only problem is that it means I have to go, in person, to present the proposal in a couple of weeks, at a time when I am supposed to be at a conference somewhere else. Ends up I will be doing the usual stupid fly and drive routine that I was supposed to be quiting.

For those interested age spots show up at around 60 and get markedly worse each year thereafter, he said staring at the hands that are typing this. Oh, and the answer to the above question is NO!

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