• It’s weird when you finish up one deadline and it’s a while before your next, and you think you have some time off, all the little things you’ve been neglecting or that you “should do someday” end up filling up all that space and then some.
  • Our mortgage interest may be only 6K/year, but when you add that to the state tax deduction, that puts us over the standard deduction and thus makes any additional charity donations deductible.
  • Hint:  None of your colleagues want to hear about your emotions.  That’s what friends, therapists, and family are for.  (Corollary:  nobody wants to hear about your toe fungus except maybe your doctor.  Possibly also your elderly relatives.)
  • So, um… what does it mean when the entire chain of command in your department quits (slash “retires”) over the course of a week?  As in, your chair, other departments’ chairs, associate dean, and dean.  Along with many many of the admin staff in the dean’s office?  What just happened?!?
  • Have you ever met anyone native from the Pacific Northwest who isn’t a flake obsessed with some superficial version of finding meaning?  No, I’m seriously curious about this.  Also, I’m not sure if Seattle counts… I could imagine that people from Seattle aren’t flaky, but I don’t know!
  • I am old enough that I can wear a younger-style haircut.  Yay!
  • If you wait long enough to discuss a controversial post, nobody notices the two are linked.  Which is a good reason to have a long queue if one wants to be secretly snarky.
  • If you write an offensive post, and someone tells you that the post is offensive (you know, straight out says, “this is an offensive post,” not mincing words with softening “maybes, perhaps, I feel, etc.”)… then perhaps the reason it bothers you is not because the person commenting is a meanie-head, but that deep down you know it was an offensive post and you feel guilty.  DARVO.
Posted in Uncategorized. Tags: . 47 Comments »

47 Responses to “RBOC”

  1. Debbie M Says:

    “what does it mean when the entire chain of command in your department quits (slash “retires”) over the course of a week? What just happened?!?” Really scary legislation. (Sorry, I work at a state school–that’s the first thing that came to mind.) Hard to think of something that scary, though. Most people are afraid to quit or retire because when they think of it, suddenly they also think of lots of things they still want extra money for. Plus bigwigs just make underlings (promise to) do all the work (even if it’s impossible with the resources at hand).

    Maybe one got a new job elsewhere and is taken everyone else with? Except that doesn’t explain the retiring.

    Fascinating. Good thing you have savings. Because when the overlords are running away, …

  2. Leah Says:

    I have definitely met non-flakes from the general Pacific NW. Then again, I did grow up there. I’m not native (born in the midwest to definitely midwestern parents who took us to Seattle for a job). I went to college in Oregon and met plenty of down-to-Earth folks. And plenty of conservative assholes who already knew they wanted to screw over people. And lots of nice people too. There was definitely a fair share of flakes, but I think you can get that anywhere. I live near several SLACs, and I have overhear a lot of finding themselves flakes in the coffee shop.

  3. Linda Says:

    So, I don’t think you’re saying that one has to be from the Pacific Northwest to be a flake, just that you’ve noticed what may be a correlation? ‘Cause my ex was Midwestern born and bred and still ended up being a flake. :-/

    Those last two bullets make me want to sleuth through the archives! How sly of you (both)!

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Oh, no, we even know flakes from the midwest, but very much in the minority compared to some other places we’ve lived.

      Going through our archives is always an exercise in pleasure, even if the sleuthing turns up nothing.

      • Z Says:

        I think the flakes nationwide move to the Pacific Northwest. There are a lot of flakes there but they are not necessarily from there originally.

  4. The frugal ecologist Says:

    We had massive administrative turnover during my first 2 years – but 1 week!? Are you sad/surprised to see them go? I would do some sleuthing!

    In my experience folks aim to keep moving up the hierarchy, so what you experienced would be very very unusual…

  5. Dame Eleanor Hull Says:

    Retirement of chain of command: something is rotten in the state of Denmark. It probably comes either from the legislature or a new provost or president who is about to start sweeping clean.
    PNW: Flavia of Ferule and Fescue is a native. So are my niblings, some of whom are flaky and some of whom are not. Most of the people I have met through my family are not, though I’m not sure how many of those are truly native; and it also depends on whether you define Alaska (especially the islands off the coast of BC) as PNW or its own separate region.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Flavia is very much not flaky. We accept your counter-example.

    • Flavia Says:

      Heh. I was just going to out myself and see someone else has done it for me! But it’s always good to get an outside opinion on one’s non-flake-itude.

      The PNW does have its own character. But I wouldn’t describe it as flakey — and if we’re talking about Portland, specifically (I grew up near Seattle but have friends & family in and around Portland), it seems to me that those who move there are flakier than the natives, perhaps because they’re aggressively seeking what they perceive to be the Portland vibe. Probably the same with San Francisco in days of yore.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        All those early retirees!

      • Leah Says:

        yes, so true about those who move there versus those who grew up in the Pacific NW. The Portlandia thing is true about a small slice of Portland culture, but lots of Portlanders are not Portlandia. Actually, Oregon (and even much of Portland) has a strong rural, farming, somewhat libertarian/conservative streak in some senses. This is mixed with a conservation ethos in other senses, so it’s not quite New Hampshire/Vermontish. But I get a similar vibe expressed slightly different from both New England and the Pacific NW.

        I do think some of the flakes are people from the middle of the country who think that moving west is the way to find themselves somehow. Too bad you don’t find yourself by continually running away.

      • Z Says:

        Oh, I see that what I said above has already been said in this part of the thread. Yes, the same flakes used to move to California.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        California is now too expensive!

  6. becca Says:

    I’m not sure what it means when the whole leadership in the departmental area leaves. I know what it means when the President, VP-finance, head football coach and head of the athletic department leave, and it’s not good.But it also would be obvious.

    I also know lots of non-flakey people from northern Cali and Washington state. Most are pursuing money, which is a superficial version of meaning, but not all are completely obsessed with it. People from Portland are legit different, though some seem to have *found* their version of meaning, and are mostly obsessed with helping other people breastfeed now, and I say bully for them.
    The issue may be, if you are sane and happy and moderate in the Pacific Northwest, you tend to keep it to yourself so the real estate doesn’t go up any more.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Flakiness isn’t a Northern CA thing and hasn’t been for several decades. My mom (a native herself) says back in the 1960s, yes, but not in my lifetime.

      It could just be freelance writers from Portland… and if they’re from Portland and not flaky then you don’t realize they’re from there.

      • jlp Says:

        Huh, funny. I’ve lived in both Seattle and Berkeley (and other parts of the Bay Area), and have close friends in Portland, and I was going to say that I ran into far more flakes in Berkeley than in the Pacific NW. Then again, Berkeley is its own special place.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Berkeley is definitely a special holdout.

  7. Cloud Says:

    I know lots of non-flaky people from the Northwest. Even from Portland! I even know someone who is from Portland who is getting a PhD in Econ from a top school.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Believe it or not, there are PhD students in econ at top schools who are flakes! Very smart flakes with perfect GRE scores and high grades, but still flakes. Heck, I can think of a Harvard professor in econ who is kind of a flake. (A certified genius, but still a flake.)

  8. hush Says:

    I’ve met exactly one person raised in Seattle who isn’t the kind of flake you’ve described (high openness, low conscientiousness?), but she seems to have replaced the obsession with finding meaning with Seatttle-stereotypical obsessions for the outdoors and with being green (two obsessions I can abide BTW). The types of flakes you mention actually tend to live in the blue parts of WA state – namely Seattle and the Pacific coast. Little known fact but most of the rest of WA is a red state, high desert, full of old school Christian Republicans, who aren’t flaky in the same fashion, though they’re also always late, and are not very detail-oriented about work matters either.

    “None of your colleagues want to hear about your emotions. That’s what friends, therapists, and family are for.”

    Amen! Healthy boundaries are a wonderful thing. I’ve seen several careers derailed because the person routinely mistook the office for his own living room. Also, a white man who is a proven rainmaker gets to have a loud, public work tantrum exactly once.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      The always late part drove me bonkers in college, also from the southern Californians (and a few international students from a few specific countries). Eventually we midwesterners and so on ended up doing things like telling perpetually late people an earlier time, putting a probability on when they would show up, and leaving without them. They never did seem to mind if folks left without them.

  9. Jacq Says:

    Hmm. I can’t really tell from the graph in this article whether the NW is high on neuroticism:
    I think there’s a black spot there around Portland?

      • becca Says:

        The data are awesome, the website flash makes my browsers (chrome and mozilla) sad. I did google image search the title of the paper and come up with a blog that has the images (http://orgtheory.wordpress.com/2008/09/23/geography-of-personality/)- I notice that Oregon is more agreeable but less conscientious compared to Washington.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:


        Go conscientiousness!

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        So let’s see…
        Flakes are: introverted, not conscientious, not neurotic, and open. Looks about right!

      • Jacq Says:

        Well, I wonder if you use the term flake a bit differently than I do. I consider myself a bit flaky but am highly conscientious (too much at times).
        My niece is going through a type of existential depression right now that I’m trying to help her with. I think it’s common to have a quarter-life crisis but for her, she wants to have a great career and put in her 80 hours a week doing X. But what is X? It’s apparently very common to experience existential depression with gifted children and adults. I think there’s a component there of being very INTJ-ish, having her mind set on the career that she got her undergrad in and then finding out that there were no jobs in the field after graduation (they were told there was, but apparently not so w/criminology). She has to choose something else but because she’s multi-talented, it’s hard for her (she’s not a scanner though). In the meantime, that brilliant girl feels like a loser. It’s all quite sad. :-(

  10. oilandgarlic Says:

    High turnover sounds scary, although I’ve noticed at many places, one person leaving quickly inspires others to look elsewhere so it seems like a lot of people leaving in clusters.

    As for flakiness, I really can’t tell since I grew up in Southern California and Northern Californians seem much less flaky to me!

      • oilandgarlic Says:

        Sad to say (and enforcing the stereotype), but it was my Northern CA friends who pointed out my flaky ways and reformed me. I also noticed that many non-native Southern Californians eventually give in and start being flakes, especially if they moved here to be in show business.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        It’s true… one gets more laid back living in SoCal. Not everybody of course, and not everywhere, but the pull is strong.

  11. chacha1 Says:

    Flakiness is relative. I theorize that it correlates more strongly to the dominant industries in an area than to geography. Here in L.A., there are millions of hardworking non-flakes (many of them natives) … and I am sure the same is true in the PNW.

    Where I have been most successful in flake detection would be in the fields comprising 1) artists 2) designers 3) dancers 4) actors 5) self-employed service professionals ranging from lawyers to contractors and 6) soi-disant writers who pay the rent by doing any other job. :-)

    And by “flake” I mean “someone who does not do what they say they are going to do,” regardless of excuse. The search for meaning, in and of itself, does not trouble me. Unreliability does.

    Re: none of your colleagues want to hear about your emotions: YES PLEASE. This is why women earn less than men, in my opinion. We can’t seem to STFU about our feeeeeeelings. Ugh. (How’s that for offensive.)

  12. Debbie M Says:

    “Our mortgage interest may be only 6K/year, but when you add that to the state tax deduction, that puts us over the standard deduction and thus makes any additional charity donations deductible.”

    Not to mention your property taxes. Even now that my house is paid off, I still don’t get to take the standard deduction–because property taxes + charitable contributions = more. Of course if I hold off on both of those one year until January of the following year, and then pay those the following year by December, then I can take the standard deduction every other year. I haven’t started that yet (it’s so mean!), but maybe this year, since I’m waiting to make my charitable contributions until I find out how much money I’m making this year anyway.

    (My two half-time jobs are ending in the next month, but I might get more–when I have a steady job, I make regular donation throughout the year. Hmm, on the other hand, I may chicken out again–deductions only work when you have income from which to deduct. There’s quite a good chance I’ll just live on savings next year.)

  13. Contingent Cassandra Says:

    My guess on the mass exodus would be generous retirement packages on offer for a limited time. But those are usually quite public (at least at my public university). It does sound a bit alarming, even if late spring is the usual, responsible resignation time (for professors; I’m not sure about administrators).

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