Heading Out

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

Monday, November 08, 2004

Time's a Wastin'

There are odd coments around about the accuracy of the count in some precincts in both Florida (where some of the vote numbers seem to have been reversed) and Ohio (where there were more voters showed up in a significant number of precincts and voted than were on the rolls) that remain curious, but I guess it is time to move on.

Amused myself this evening with the Lost in Time segments of old Dr Who episodes that have been pieced together to fill some of the voids left when the Beeb burned the originals all those many years ago (though take heart he is to return). Why do that, well it was a fairly good attempt to calm down after coming home spitting furious again.

The toy I had signed the purchase order for has not been ordered. The Head Purchasing Agent has decided that there are some questions and despite the fact that her assistant told me I could only order from one company without rebidding now the almighty power (about two weeks later) had decided that it is not correct. The item takes 2 months to build, and another month to be moved and installed. The contract is of a finite length and we are already 7 months into it. Exactly when are we supposed to do the work that must be done by the next review period if we do not have the machine to do it with? Unbelievable and further it will continue to be on hold until she decides it is to be ordered and our expert opinion is apparently meaningless. The last time she did this on a time critical part I had no choice but to order from a company that failed to deliver a working model, took a month to get the item working and subsequently went bankrupt. One wonders who is working for who around here. (Well actually one doesn't, one is only too well aware of the harsh reality).

And this is the week a friend for abroad drops by so there goes tomorrow afternoon and evening and on Wednesday I had promised to give a class for a colleague and as I type I realize that I am also supposed to be at a farewell reception at the same time. Could it be that this is the start of another "Bad Week."


At 11:30 PM, Blogger ~profgrrrrl~ said...

I am entirely impressed that you have research that involves such intricate, large, and expensive toys.

It gives me grant envy. Because you really have something to write grants for.

There's pressure (albeit relatively light right now) to write grants, but given my research topic (a) I can do it with pretty much no money at all and (b) training a grad student to work with me might be way more trouble than it is worth ... and most grants I find in my field are for big money. I have no idea how I could justify such big money. I do not want to become an administrator of a grant and overseer of 5 students, which is what would happen. I just want to do my own research.

Sorry to rant in your blog. Just something you got me thinking about.

Hope the situation works itself out. Why is the purchasing agent getting so involved and being such a pain?

At 12:15 AM, Blogger Heading out said...

In re the Purchasing problem, in essence the Specialist had not understood the problem that Purchasing has when a vendor essentially lies and says that they meet all the specifications when they don't. I had to go through the details of the bid and point out the very small print in which the lowest bidder explained that they met the bid requirement in such a narrow scope as to be useless to us. But it took over an hour and a half to find the detail even after the first reading of the bids had shown that the low bidder implicitly did not meet the criteria.

In regard to working with grad students this is more difficult because there is so much I want to do myself and cannot that I fully understand where you are. But there is such a joy in finally getting a student to move forward on their own initiative. The fun (though I would not admit it to them) when a grad student finally argues back (if they are from Asia this may take over a year) and the ability to spread out over a much broader field with this help makes the effort (and it is considerable) justifiable. But yes there is a cost, as you read the blog you may notice that there is not a lot of time for much else, and I work much fewer hours than I used to. There was a time I went to work only so many hours after 8 am as I had worked past midnight the night before - I don't recommend that in hind sight, but these are the things that at the time I felt necessary to build what I have.

At 12:24 AM, Blogger ~profgrrrrl~ said...

I like that idea, of when a grad student speaks up and argues his/her own point.

This is on my mind because I have a research assistant next semester (just a perk from the dept) plus a course release (an award) and I want to put this time and help to good use. I've also been encouraged to invite more students into my work, but I wonder what I can realistically have them do. My work, without giving up too much of my identity (I hope), requires close reading and coding of texts. I use a method that not everyone is altogether capable of using (you're either good at it or not, and you can't bluff it) and we have a lot of international students. The language barrier would be a huge issue, I think. And even the native English speakers have trouble with this often. Of course they need to learn. But do I have time to teach them, monitor them, supervise them? Hmmm.

Here I go using up your blog again! It somehow feels safer to put this thought here than in my own blog right now. And perhaps I'm hoping you have some advice on how to let go and let others do the work even if it isn't perfect and you might have to re-do it.

At 12:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well somewhere in electronic space there is my first comment on this. Let me try and recreate the thought. (Actually that is not true I have re-thought the issue).

We now interview grad students before we hire them in some detail (we being a team of typically four folk). Because there are those to whom you say "this might be neat" and they are off and running, there are those to whom you have to say "drop by every Friday and let us talk about what you did and what you might do," and there are those to whom you have to say "do what the Specialist tells you."

Training groups b and c to become a is not easy or something, especially with foreign students, that we can accomplish in a semester. Yes it is rewarding when it happens (there are faculty elsewhere I forced into this mould when they were my students). But there are cost:benefit concerns and it is not an easy choice; All I can say is that, in retrospect, I should have hired more grad students than I did, and that I have few regrets about throwing those I did hire into deep water - it is how hest to learn. (And yes those I did that to do come back and say thanks, though it may take 10 years).

At 1:02 AM, Blogger Heading out said...

This is not my night for pressing the right buttons, but one more comment. When I first came to this campus I had a very bad grad student as the first one I ever got. Somewhere in our relationship I realized that my role was no longer to be the only person who knew how to do some things, but to teach him to understand what was new in what I had just done in my own doctorate, and to move that to the next level. It did not work and he went off to a lucrative job in industy that nothing to do with what we did together.

But the second guy I had as a student was one of the group that came in and said "I took what you told me, then I did this, and this and got this, and what do you think ?" (He was later the guy that represented the US Govt at an International Meeting where I sat at the back bragging that "he was my student").

If I do not teach others what I know and how to use it, how do I gain from having learned what I know ?


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