Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snow Days

What's the best way to spend a snow day?

A nor'easter decided to add an exclamation point to the massive winter storm that pummeled Philadelphia (and the entire mid-Atlantic region) this past weekend, which means that schools famous for almost never closing due to weather concerns have cancelled their classes today. I'll have to pay for this later (trying to re-schedule campus meetings that were difficult to schedule the first time around), but there is one major upside. I can to slash through a chunk of my growing To-Do List.

First things first. I sent out 33 emails in an hour, emails churned out with a reckless disregard for grammar or even comprehension, which probably means that I'll have to spend more time sending follow-ups for clarification.

I've already had three very useful phone calls with colleagues (related to my administrative roles on campus), and I am now all set for a big committee meeting this Friday. Check. Check.

And then I slipped down a bit of a rabbit hole. Snow days are great for such wonderlandesque expeditions.

I have a few doctoral students on the job market right now, and they keep telling me about those infamous "wiki" sites where applicants can get unofficial updates on the status of current academic job searches. This is madness! I am so glad that such sites didn't exist ten years ago, during my first real stint on the academic job market. It reeks of neurotic possibility.

I actually went through some old text messages this morning (from and about undergrads applying to doctoral programs), and I can't believe that the same kinds of cyber-sites are available for them, spaces where other prospective graduate students anonymously post any information they know (or have heard) about the results of departmental decisions about incoming cohorts. So, I have been meandering through these virtual wastelands and fretting over how much discipline it takes for graduate students and would-be graduate students to avoid the gravitational pull of such sparkling baubles.

If I can spend a chunk of my morning shaking my head at the phenomenon, I wouldn't be surprised if snow days give students license to get swallowed whole in these bastions of high-end gossip-mongering. I can see the mesmerizing draw, even if I can't spend all of the time-out-of-time that is my snow day on these addictive sites.


soular said...
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Anonymous said...

The Wiki sites are absolutely addictive (and you're right about the 'wasteland' aspect, too). As someone currently on the job market, I check several sites (too) reguarlarly, despite knowing that the information they contain isn't always reliable--and the discussions not always productive (I recently commiserated with a friend about varying degrees of 'racism' and jabs about affirmative action on some Wikis--especially when there are too-few jobs and a person of color is awarded the position). Yet, when search committees don't give applicants any information at all (from their point of view, a matter of resources), it is a relief to hear something--anything--about a search. The name-calling, bickering, and false alarms are all, unfortunately, part and parcel of a troubled system with too many trained applicants and not enough positions.

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