Monday, February 23, 2009

dolphin callers

I have worked hard this semester to fill our seminar series with good talks. Nevertheless, I have had a few talks pushed down my throat. The one this week was just such a talk. It was given by an alum of the program who has recently finished a PhD at a prestigious institution. Alum originally contacted several members of the department looking for a post-doc, but has since found employment at a private company. Our chair suggested that we should still have Alum in for a talk and I tried hard to accommodate this by giving Alum an early pick of the potential dates. However, Alum took forever to get back to me and ended up with one of the two dates I had remaining on the schedule. The "I will email you when I damn well please" attitude ended up being the norm with Alum including a three week wait for a title. Despite initiating a discussion over a month ago about whether Alum wanted to meet with faculty on their visit, it wasn't until Wednesday night that I received a list of 7 (!!!) faculty members that Alum wanted to spend half an hour with (each). Well, for Fuck's sake, let me just drop everything and coordinate that in a couple of days, I'll get right back to you. Surprise surprise, 6 of 7 people were busy because most of us plan things more than a couple days in advance, but apparently, that's not how alum rolls.

Alright, so I set up a what I could and it worked out alright. But the talk turned out to be totally worth the pain. Not the subject of the talk, I have no idea what alum said, but how it was presented. The whole things was a roller coaster ride, where the valleys were normal talking at a regular pitch and the peaks were a squeaky and tense quiet-shriek delivered through a face locked in a expression somewhere between the crying family at the end of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" and the kids who have their dreams crushed on "American Idol". There were only about half a dozen of these "episodes", but I was riveted to the build-up of each one and trying to predict where the pinnacle would be reached. It was quite the performance and was even punctuated with a substantial burp at one point, which was particularly delightful. This is not to say that the talk was horrible, but it was fairly close to a 1.0 on the PISSOFF scale, I would say, but probably because the whole visit was a pissoff for me. Maybe I'm just sensitive to time-suckers right now, but most speakers don't come in expecting the world on a plate.

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