July 14, 2005

The heat goes down and up

Things are looking up!

A colleague who was one of the brickbat throwers apologised, and it's looking like they have found someone else to take over the admin role I don't want any more.

After the apology, we managed to brush it under the carpet as some miscommunication occurring along with both of us having been stressed at the time, and we're now on good terms again. Great! He's a good chap, and I did not want to be on bad terms with him.

As for the admin role, I'm not sure who is taking it over yet, but I do hope he or she doesn't turn out to be a muggins. That is, I hope the role turns out to be one better suited to the new person than I was. I think I did pretty well in several aspects of the role, but it was really putting a huge amount of stress on me, and having a negative effect on my health. Hopefully the stressors for me won't be stressors for the new person, and I've got good records to hand over, so the transition will hopefully be painless.

Ooooo, boy, it's so nice to be working and not feeling mega-stressed. Now we just have to get someone to order some cooler weather...

July 13, 2005

Proper Referencing

I heard about one student who, well, he didn't exactly plagiarise. He did know that he had to put quotation marks around material he'd copied from other people's work, and he did know that he had to use references in his essay properly...

...but one of the sources he referenced was an essay from one of those essay mills, those places that churn out papers for students to use for cheating purposes!

Someone needs to do some work on getting this student to understand the "authoritative sources" aspect of referencing other people's work.

July 12, 2005

Handwriting Recognition Stinks

The other day some of us were trying out a gadget with some handwriting recognition built into it. It did very well with words and phrases like "hello world", recognising them with 100% accuracy.

Some bright spark had the idea of trying it out with some mathematics. Nothing complicated, just

x2 + 2x = 3

Its attempt at recognition, I kid you not, was this:


July 07, 2005

Red Letter Day II

I got some nice mail this morning, one email telling me that my paper has been accepted (yesssss!!) and an envelope containing a current copy of a journal in which another paper of mine has been published (ooooo pretty in print).

A bit of nice mail makes a change, I'll say! Of course it didn't stop it coming in amongst a whole pile of the usual suspects, including

  1. forms you have to fill in, urgently of course
  2. entreaties from the head of department asking you to turn up at the next open day / comment on some d(r)aft strategy paper / dig out some information that should have been written months ago (delete as applicable)
  3. a textbook from a book publisher, who is hoping that you will comment on it and find it suitable for your next course, even though the book covers a topic you don't teach and they send round spies every few months or so to find out what topics you do teach
  4. a plea to review a paper "It's right up your street, you'd be really interested in it", which turns out to be 40 pages long and full of dense terminology and you've only got a couple of weeks to review it in
  5. an invite to be on the programme committee of a conference (they won't tell you how many papers that means to review until you say yes)

July 05, 2005

More brickbats

More brickbats raining down on my head.
*ouch* *ouch* *OUCH*.

Once again, they are due to this administrative role.

You don't get any credit for performing the role well, but I certainly don't expect any: in academia you have to get your own job satisfaction by you yourself noting positive things along the way, like the pass rate of the students in your class, or a piece of really good work from a student, or even simply a lack of complaints (no news is really good news around here). Nobody is going to come along and pat you on the head for good work, just like you don't generally compliment your colleagues, because most of the time you don't really know what they are up to. They teach their classes, you teach yours.

But put a foot wrong, and all hell breaks loose. Never mind that very nearly 100% of the time I do a superb job, including being polite and helpful to students and staff, even though I've been under a great deal of stress that makes it very difficult for me to keep being polite and helpful, oh no, never mind that, one time you're accidentally rude when you don't mean to be and BAM that's the time you get noticed and colleagues give you a bollocking.

So once again, I'm stressed, and I can't even deliver a few sharp words in the directions where the major cock-ups have come from because it would get them mad at me and be completely counter-productive. I'm really fed up of taking the rap for situations where the extent of my blame in the situation boils down to me not being clairvoyant, and I'm still waiting for an apology from the person who engineered the latest cock-up. Also the few occasions when the mistake has been mine, not someone else's, I find very upsetting and stressful too. Yes, I'm something of a perfectionist.

Something interesting: I have actually had some positive comments about how well I've been doing this role (which I certainly didn't expect), three of 'em, and as far as I can recall, each of the positive comments came from women in the department. All the bollockings, four of 'em, have come from men. HmmmMMMM.