RBOC

  • My new nephew was over 11lb when born.  Vaginally.
  • Our new department chair is a dick.  He told me to stop playing the gender card.  When I then explained about how small incivilities hit genders differentially ON OUR CAMPUS (I’m on this university-wide committee and they did a study), he told me that his wife experienced real sexism and was brave enough to combat it.  I’m like… wha?  It’s like a double whammy of oppression olympics and my best friend is black (only in this case, I’m married to a woman who is more oppressed than you could ever be).  (Hint:  while that is terrible and your wife is to be commended, that has nothing to do with incivilities hitting female faculty more than male faculty on our campus.)
  • Was at another one of DC1’s friend’s parents’ excellent parties.  This time the woman who was bitching about the mom doing the awesome party last time bitched about:  1.  her husband, 2.  how being a housewife means she needs to have a perfect house but she can never get to her level of perfection and she hates people who can, 3.  the teacher, 4.  the school, 5.  after school activities, 6.  her husband (again)… and a lot more I’m not remembering off the top of my head.  She’s having her son shadow at the Catholic school in town.  But hey, at least she didn’t bitch about the hostess this time.
  • When I decided to make an effort to stop changing people (bad former habit of mine), I stopped liking so many people.   I think that’s related.
  • It is nice when all the questions that a referee poses are answered in the article the referee recommends you include in your paper.  “Cite me here!”  Yessir, I will do that!
  • I keep having the same conversation with my students, “Dr. #1, I keep trying to do this thing and I keep getting an error code, could it be because [something that makes no sense]?” “What does the error code say?”  “Huh, I don’t know, let me see.  It says [something totally reasonable]”  “Then I think your problem is [something totally reasonable].  Does it say anything else?”  “It says to try [suggested solution]”  “Did you try [suggested solution]?” “No.” “Try [suggested solution].” “Oh hey, that worked.  Thanks Dr. #1!”
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46 Responses to “RBOC”

  1. Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

    What a big f*ken baby! And your nephew is sizeable, too.

  2. Tinkering Theorist Says:

    I had a very similar conversation with a student last week. Why do they always have to start by proposing something that doesn’t make any sense? Just say you’re stuck and you’d like some help if you’re totally lost! Or, even better, think it through and then search the internet or ask your peers. It’s almost like they want to convince me they’re idiots (why???), but based on their records and other interactions with them, I refuse to believe that.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I don’t mind the off-base suggestion… but I do mind the lack of reading comprehension. Maybe their phones never give useful information on errors… but work computer stuff often does have good suggestions for what the problem is and how to fix it. At least read the error message!

      • Debbie M Says:

        Same here. Giving you the off-base suggestion shows you that it’s appropriate to tell them the obvious–they have demonstrated that they didn’t notice that.

      • Tinkering Theorist Says:

        I definitely mind the off-base suggestion! I guess it’s only because adapting code or at least making code work is a pretty important part of their job, it makes me think that they have no clue what we do here. There’s a lack of reading comprehension but it’s also a lack of trying to find the relevant information on their own through one of several ways that should be known to them. A computer science colleague told me to work up some sympathy (apparently when I was discussing the problem it seemed like I am too hard on them and have no empathy for the students) by imagining they are so frustrated they are crying while writing the email. That does not work for me. In fact, I’m not sure why it would work for anyone; perhaps my colleague was joking …

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I can’t stand it when *my* kids cry because they can’t get something, much less someone else’s. [insert: internet parent judging here-- don't worry, internet, my kids are fine, and I don't beat the 10 month old up when ze's frustrated.] That would just irritate me. (I, in fact, keep emergency chocolate in my office and have gotten very good at shoving it at students pre-empting tears in office hours.)

      • Tinkering Theorist Says:

        Chocolate is a great idea! I haven’t had any research group students crying in my office but I did have another student, and I was not sure how to deal with it. I got already got a box of kleenex for the future, but chocolate seems like an even better idea.

        Only somewhat related, I actually sometimes find it relaxing in a certain way when other people’s children are crying in public places. It’s like, at least it’s not my kids for once, I can just sit back and enjoy my dinner instead of thinking about how to best deal with this situation! But it’s also kind of sad anytime anyone is crying, so it mostly cancels out.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I teach the first required math class in our major. Crying is a pretty regular thing, or was before I learned to spot the signs and deliver chocolate preemptively.

    • Mr. Bonner Says:

      I don’t always refuse to believe it. In most cases they do an adequate job convincing me…

      • Tinkering Theorist Says:

        Oh no! I hope that doesn’t happen with my students; getting new ones would be a pain and cost lots of time/money. Also, the way I see it, it’s usually a sign of failure on both sides, and I dislike failing. I mean, unless the student was really awful in unforeseeable ways, then either in picking the student or in advising the student some mistakes were made–of course making these mistakes doesn’t mean there’s a complete failure of advising or that the student wasn’t primarily at fault. So apparently I need to try harder to explain the process of thinking through something–but this seems like something that’s hard to teach …

  3. Laura Vanderkam (@lvanderkam) Says:

    I don’t quite get the idea of using complaints as a way to establish rapport at parties. I see this a lot — what are you supposed to say? Oh wow, your life is so awful. We should be friends!

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Maybe we’re supposed to say, “Oh, yes, my husband he sucks too, and the pressure of keeping a house clean is so terrible, and my children are also ungrateful little mess-making wretches?” Except my life is pretty awesome– fantastic DH, no pressure to have a clean house, children amazing (and the oldest also does housework). I can tell you the answer is not to say, “oh, if my DC1 is able to do laundry, then your son who is so much bigger should be able to do it too.” That doesn’t shut them up, and it earns you a dirty look.

      I was just talking to DH about that yesterday… we couldn’t figure it out either. We’re just glad that we have more fulfilling lives and aren’t so dreadfully unhappy about everything.

      • Debbie M Says:

        “Sucks to be you!” probably is also not helpful. I usually go with, “oh, I do this thing,” or “have you tried that thing?” which, once that doesn’t go over well, I know I’d rather be talking to someone else.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        It never goes over well! Or rather, it never goes over well with the chronic complainer. With a normal person who has a rare complaint, offering solutions sometimes actually helps!

      • Ana Says:

        yeah, i’m as awkward as you can get at parties, but even I know that complaining is a terrible way to meet friends! how about “are you traveling anywhere this summer?” or some other fun and positive topic of conversation. Its one thing to ask for advice (I notice your DC helps with laundry! how’d you manage that?). I don’t have many complaints to begin with about my husband, but even if I did, i consider it really really poor taste to badmouth your DH to random people.

      • oilandgarlic Says:

        I think I’m Ok with some complaining but someone who complains about everything is just draining! I am not usually a person that draws complainers though so maybe my level of complaint tolerance is already quite low.

      • becca Says:

        First I was being impressed you’d learned to recognize and apply preemptive chocolate to students, as that is a great trick. Then I was unimpressed with this response to complaining. A good group kevetching session is an art! But, if you simply view this fine art akin to how I view the fine art of yodeling, I suppose the best approach is to apply preemptive chocolate here too. And preemptive raving about refreshments, though for some strange reason it seems like 90%+ of women feel it’s perfectly reasonable to rant about caloric intake while other people are eating. I do not understand why diet conversations are bonding, but it is A Thing. I’d rather kevetch about the evil humid weather.

        In my fantasy world, you told your head of department “yes well just because my sister had an 11 pound baby doesn’t mean I don’t pee when I sneeze. The sucks-to-be-a-woman Olympics has many events.”

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        The diet bonding is a regional thing. Doesn’t happen in the state in which I live. People here don’t believe in diets. We do talk about the weather.

    • Tinkering Theorist Says:

      Maybe they just want to hear how your life is just as bad or worse so that it makes them feel better? I am also bad at parties …

  4. Foscavista Says:

    I do appreciate it when article reviewers suggest specific articles/books instead of vague “find more” suggestions. What irks me is when they saw that there is no enough “contemporary” (read: 21st-century) scholarship in my works cited. Um, perhaps I’m the only person so far in the 21st century who has talked about this topic, you think?

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I got something like that once in an interdisciplinary journal (student coauthor). “Your references are too old!” The reason we’re citing that 196X theory paper is because it’s the first big one and everybody cites it! It isn’t out of date.

      I’ve also gotten it the other way, “You don’t cite enough papers from the 1980s.” Okay…

      • Foscavista Says:

        I guess the 1980s was a big decade for your research. Do you study shoulder pads and neon-colored plastics?

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        No, but I did notice that all of the literature I was missing was by the same author, so I suspect it was a big decade for one of the reviewers. (With due respect, said articles were mentioned, along with many others, in the big literature review survey paper that I cited.)

  5. rented life Says:

    “When I decided to make an effort to stop changing people (bad former habit of mine), I stopped liking so many people. I think that’s related.” –yeah, I’ve found the same thing.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I no longer have a growth mindset for other people! I no longer trust that they will stop annoying the heck out of me if I just put in enough effort.

      • Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

        When it comes to the students, post-docs, and junior faculty whom I mentor, this would be a soul-destroying (and immoral) attitude. When it comes to those whom I bear no responsibility for mentoring, however, yeah.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Oh, students I’m professionally obligated to change. That’s totally different. That’s my job. (Also, a good outlet for my people changing tendencies.)

        There are parts of their lives I don’t want to go near though. Like, I don’t care if you and your husband/boyfriend are fighting over stupid stuff or whatever. I do, however, care that you can give a good presentation or write a good paper or lose your math phobia.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Also one’s children, possibly pets too, depending.

    • chacha1 Says:

      A long time ago I stopped assuming that anything I do could effect positive change in another person. I figure what I see is what I get. Generally I don’t like it. :-) Or – more accurately – I don’t like *enough* of it. The cost-benefit analysis is constantly and scrupulously applied … perhaps more with people than with anything else. Because a costly (in whatever sense) person can really f*ck up your whole life.

    • femmefrugality Says:

      This make me laugh aloud, literally. Congrats on your HUGE nephew and god bless that mother of his!

    • What Now? Says:

      Now, I would actually have expected the outcome to be the opposite — that somehow not trying to change people would mean that you accepted them for themselves and thus could relax into liking them as they are. But perhaps this is just what self-help manuals say and not what is actually the case!

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I don’t want to say that many people are not actually likeable, but I can say that I have a very limited amount of time, and there’s got to be a good reason for me to want to spend some of that precious time on a person. I’m not a time charity!

    • undinenotofgeneralinterest Says:

      “When I decided to make an effort to stop changing people (bad former habit of mine), I stopped liking so many people.” Yes! I think this should be on one of those cards that people are always posting to Facebook or somewhere memorable.

  6. chacha1 Says:

    11 pounds OWCH.

    Same student conversation: that sounds very familiar to me (20+ years in law firms).

    Dept chair dickhead: why is it that highly-educated people so often steadfastly refuse to apply any of their mental training to their own environments? WHY?!

  7. GMP Says:

    Regarding commiseration as social glue — at grant review meetings and scientific conferences, I find it that getting to know other scientists definitely includes complaining about budget cuts for science, diminishing funding rates, poor quality of graduate students, reduced administrative support, and other common professional ailments.

    Maybe because virtually everyone in my field is male, there is very little discussion of personal lives beyond just exchanging basic information — this many kids, maybe where kids go to school etc. There is not much about culture either (e.g. movies or books). If not talking shop, people usually discuss travel (who ate and drank what and where), who else was there from the community, then sport and politics. I don’t care about the latter two very much, and don’t care about tales of drunkenness in foreign locales. Honestly, I would often prefer hearing about someone’s annoying spouse than yet another “political connoisseur’s” conspiracy theory or how much sake they can drink.

  8. Cloud Says:

    I am sad to report that most users do not read error messages. This is a universally accepted fact among people who provide support on software (or computers in general). They also are slow to learn that the first thing we usually ask is “have you tried restarting your computer?” Sigh. I’m glad I am rarely the person who has to deal with this anymore.

    And, because there is a brilliant xkcd comic about just about everything, here is the one about tech support:
    http://xkcd.com/627/

    And in fact, there are two, because sometimes you have a real problem, and the person on the other end of the phone knows less than you:
    http://xkcd.com/806/

    Congrats on the ginormous new nephew!

  9. darchole Says:

    Umm, at least your chair has clue sexism exists? Mine seems unable to recognize it, even tho there is a single faculty that is unable to graduate 1 women with a PhD? (I’m not a grad student, but I cannot help but recognize that someone that has graduated fewer female PhD than everyone is not an issue.)

  10. Revanche Says:

    I wonder if dept chair asshead would get it if it were something like, getting shot at. “women are getting shot at everyday.”
    “well my wife gets shot at and SHE’s willing to walk into the line of fire so you should too.”
    Hm, terrible analogy but I still think he’s absurd.

    Ginormous baby made me twitch. Wow.

    Pro-complainers want people to either listen raptly or chime in with just enough sob story for them to swoop back over the conversation with an Ultimate My Life Is Worse so I Win smack down. They find the genuinely happy and genuine to be appalling and in poor taste for not setting them up with the alley-oop. Anecdotally.

    I started out just not liking people and but for some twisty turns along the way, find that I’m spending very little time on people who kind of suck. Yay! Not a time charity indeed.


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