Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Professor's Life

People who know that I only teach 2 or 3 days a week often ask me what it is I do with the rest of my time. To satisfy everybody's curiosity, I will describe what I did today, a regular non-working Tuesday. Please remember, though, that September is a lot busier than most other months of the academic year, except April.

Since I don't have to teach today, I could afford to get up at 10 a.m. and then spend over an hour trying on different outfits. The one I eventually came up with was so good that people keep complimenting me on it all day long, so that time was well-spent. I also find that creating outfits, hair-styles and make-up routines is very relaxing. People who say they don't have time to express their love towards themselves on a regular basis through these or other methods end up paying dearly for this lack of consideration.

Then, I had coffee and checked out my favorite blogs. I also sorted blog-related e-mail. Today, for example, I received 2 offers of collaboration for my blog, both of which I rejected. One for ideological reasons (what on earth could have made anybody suspect that I would want to promote weird fertility treatments? Even if I were paid for it?) and another because it was so poor stylistically that I couldn't, in good conscience, support its author in any endeavor. Except improving his command of his native language, which doesn't seem to interest him for now.

After that, I went to my office and planned tomorrow's classes. This consisted of me looking at the syllabi and realizing I have a mini-quiz coming up. So I created the mini-quiz and took it to the copy center.

Then I went to lunch with the people of my translation round-table. We talked about different kinds of courses in translation we would like to offer in the future.

After lunch, I went to the Department of Theater and Dance to talk to its Theater Education students. I serve on a review committee that is trying to evaluate how well this department works and what can be done to help it perform even better. I couldn't be happier to have been assigned to review this particular department. Imagine reviewing the Department of Engineering. Or Mathematics. Not to offend anybody's sensibilities, but which is the only department on campus that has a costume-making class? And a scene-painting class? And dance studios? And sound equipment? We all pale in comparison. Besides, Theater Ed students turned out to be very articulate, talkative, and open. I had to make no special efforts to get them to open up, which was a great relief. If you ever tried getting students from the Dept. of Computer Programming talk to you, then you know what I mean.

Since the meeting with Theater Ed students went so well, I decided to make an overdue visit to the library where books that I requested a short time ago were being held for me. I still have trouble getting used to how great Interlibrary services work at my current university. Back at McGill, Interlibrary Loan was so poor that I learned to pretend it didn't exist at all. I mean, what is the point of getting a critical article 2 years after you requested it? At Yale, Interlibrary services were marginally better but still had this weird tendency to inform you years after the request was made that you can finally pick it up. Here, however, they deliver everything you need in 3 days (a week for particularly hard to locate items). So I always get these notifications that my books have arrived long before I'm ready to check them out of the library.

Then, I spent half an hour trying to RSVP to an e-mail inviting me to a lunch with the university's Vice-Chancellor on Thursday. Caught in a particularly tiresome fit of autism, I kept confirming that I will be there tomorrow. And the Vice-Chancellor's office kept reminding me that Thursday was not tomorrow but the day after. Finally, the Chair of my department got involved in this process and managed to make me realize that tomorrow was, indeed, not Thursday.

After clearing that up, I wrote a letter to our English Department protesting their decision to reduce the language requirement for their graduate students from two years to one. Since I was involved with boring paperwork anyways, I also wrote and sent out my report on the meeting with the Theater Education students. Having done as much as I can stomach in the paperwork department, I finally proceeded to the fun stuff - my research. Namely, an article on the XIX century Spanish novel which is in very early stages of construction.

But before doing that, I wanted to share what I have done so far today with you, my readers.

1 comment:

Pagan Topologist said...

I have been horrifed as more and more Ph. D. programs in mathematics eliminate language requirements. We still, in our math department, require a reading knowledge of one foreign language to get a Ph. D., but the pressure is unrelelting to drop this. It used to be two languages, which is still not sufficient. I think that everyone who gets a Ph. D. in any field should be able to read at least two languages in addition to their native tongue, and should be able to speak at least on of them well enougn to communicate. As I write this, I am in Mexico at a mathematics research conference. It is the Fifth joint Japanese Mexican Conference in Topology. Fortunately for me, the official language of the conference is English. I do not speak Spanish, unfortunately. My Polish and Chinese skills have atrophied to non-existence, along with French.