April 29, 2008

Job Search Woes #3

So this afternoon (yesterday, really)  I got a voice mail that I had been somewhat expecting for the last few weeks.  Back when I first found out that I would not be a candidate for job in my current department I applied at a school near Renae's job.  I found the opening on the school's webpage.  A week after submitting my application materials, I called their HR department to find out if they had received a complete application package. (They had.)  So, I waited to hear whether I would get a call from their search committee. After not hearing from them after 6 weeks, I called and asked about the status of the search.  The HR rep called me back and said that they had re-evaluated their needs for next year and would probably not be hiring anyone.  Today's voice mail confirmed that the decision had been finalized.

Here are some things I know:

1.  I should be applying to more places.
2.  I'm not entitled to an interview from ANY place to which I apply.

But, here's something else I know:


Thank you.  That is all.

April 25, 2008

R. wins 395-310 (timed game)

R. wins 395-310 (timed game)
Originally uploaded by achmorrison.

R. killed tonight. She had three 's' tiles, the 'j', 'x' and 'q' tiles. She got the only bingo of the game: retrains. (But, she needed a little help on it.) I had one good play: za for 61 points.

Job hunt woes #2 (but should be #23 or greater)

It's been a long six months (minus one day) since I submitted an application for a permanent job.  The application that I submitted was to the university that I am currently at, so I was essentially applying to keep my own job.  (That's an oversimplification, I realize, but it's not the point of this post.)

It has been a long, long, long six months. In December I had two phone interviews with the search committee (who are my colleagues). Then I waited.  And waited.  And waited some more. Back in March, when I couldn't wait any more, I finally asked the chair how the search was going.  I was told to wait a couple more days any he would be able to tell me more.  So I waited a few days, and nothing.  After one week had passed, I decided to ask again.  It was a Friday afternoon at 2:30 pm, before my 3:00 class when I was able to track the chair down and ask if there was an update.  I was told there was an update and that it wasn't good news for me: the search committee had decided NOT to bring me on as a candidate for the position.  What then followed was about 20 minutes of administrative double-speak that did nothing to explain why I had not been given an interview.

Had I not asked on that Friday, I would not have learned about not being a candidate until Monday morning, when the poster announcing the first candidate was posted in the division office.

Slowly but surely the three candidates came to campus.  The first candidate came and it seemed that his schedule was purposely arranged so that I would not have any contact with him.  I was not even introduced to him when we passed in the hall.  It was a little surreal.

Then a week or more passed before the next two candidates came to campus.  I think Spring break was mixed in there as well.  The second candidate was coming on a Monday, and the poster announcing his talks was posted the week before.  When I saw the name on the poster, it looked vaguely familiar.  I went to my email and checked that, sure enough, I had met this candidate before: when he was on campus last May as a candidate for a visiting position that he ultimately did not get offered.  Talk about insulting.  The department thinks a person is not qualified to be a visiting professor, yet he can have an interview for a tenure-line job?  Meanwhile, the visitor that is going on THREE YEARS in the department is not worthy of even being considered?  So when that candidate was on campus, we bumped into each other in the hallway and he remembered me and was kind enough to say hi and ask how things were going.

The third and final candidate came immediately after the second candidate left.  I ran into him while he was being shown my lab.  No one offered to introduce him to me, so he made the initiative to introduce himself.

Meanwhile, while the interviews had been going on, my students were starting to figure out the situation. The campus is small and there are very few secrets kept in the community.  More than one of my students, without my prior knowledge, contacted the department on my behalf and voiced their support of me.  It was nice, but ultimately meaningless.

Also, somewhere along this time, my chair and one of my other colleagues were having trouble looking me in eye or even acknowledging my presence in the department.  One of my other colleagues, who was not involved with the search even commented how the department seemed a little unfriendly or at least not at ease.

Through the grapevine I heard that an offer had been extended to the first candidate.  Then, on April 17th, the colleague who was not involved in the search pointed out that the minutes of the faculty meeting announced that the physics search had been successfully completed.  So the news went public before I was informed.  I suppose it could be argued that I had no right to be told, but it was pretty unprofessional the way the situation was handled.

I was really hoping that the search would ultimately fail, or that for other reasons I would be granted a fourth year as a visitor (which I had been told was not out of the realm of possibility) but today in the afternoon campus mail I received a memo from the registrar and provost explaining procedures for departing faculty.  This was news to me, since I had been expecting to be verbally told one way or the other whether I would be back next year.   Anyway, at least now I know.

I'm trying to look at the big picture and not get too down on myself.  It's really hard though, because I feel like I spent the last three years building up a research project out of next to nothing that I brought to the cusp of where I think I could squeeze out three papers from the data we took this year.  My plan for the summer was to write that all up.  I do suppose I can still work on it this summer, but it will not be as easy if I have to split my time between that and looking for jobs/place to live come August.  I just don't want to see the last three years as being wasted, which I know they were not, but it's hard to put my finger on what it was about my time here that I have to show future search committees.

I thought I had learned that I was right for a liberal arts school and that a liberal arts school was right for me.  Now I have to consider other options in the short term.  I never thought that I was entitled to the position that I applied for.  I guess I made the mistake of believing that I had earned the respect of getting an interview for it.  I know that these sorts of decisions happen all the time at colleges and universities around the country, but that doesn't make it any easier on me.

The last visitor that we had in our department warned me before he left to not trust anyone in the department.  I did not believe him, because I thought that he was just saying that because he left on not-so-good terms with a few of the people in the department.  I now see that you can get along with people you work with and still not trust them.  So I have some advice for the visitor(s) that come after me at this institution: don't trust anyone in the department if you are a visitor.  And, anyone that you find that is not in the department that you CAN trust, will ultimately not be able to help you.

April 23, 2008

MediaPlayerConnectivity :: Firefox Add-ons

Do you subscribe to Ubuntu Forums about some hacks for getting the streaming audio and video to work, but yesterday someone posted that the streaming was now working with no strange workarounds needed.

I installed the MediaPlayerConnectivity Firefox Add-ons in my browser of choice, which is currently Flock I logged onto MLB.com and chose the Cubs/Rockies game and seconds later was listening to the sweet play-by-play of Pat and Ron.

Go Cubs!

April 22, 2008

What does $200 get you these days?

This May our department is offering two sections of the "Sound, Music, and Hearing" class, which fill a general education requirement for Physical Science Labs for non-science majors.  It's a fun class to teach because we get to play with a lot of fun toys and do a lot of neat experiments that we don't often have time to cover in the general physics labs.

The professor teaching the other section and I decided that we wanted some new resonance tubes with the water reservoir attached to a stand for looking at standing waves in a closed-open tube.  The CENCO (or is it Sargent-Welch?) catalog had the best deals, but they also had the largest variety of resonance tube experiments to order.  Our budget is only a few thousand dollars, and as much as we'd like to have 4 resonance tubes for the class, we decided to order one of the low cost models (the Student Resonance Apparatus) and one of the mid-range models (the CENCO Resonance Apparatus).  I placed the order a week ago and recently some boxes appeared in the main office.

I opened the box and removed all the packing material.  The kit was nicely packaged.  All the clamps and the reservoir and rubber tube was all in a ziplock bag. The aluminum rod was taped to the cardboard tube which contained the acrylic tube. I pulled the instructions out of the bag and worked on assembling the apparatus.

Assembly was straightforward. The rod screws into the base, then the clamps are attached and the tube is slid into place. My only complaints were that the rod was not perpendicular to the base (it must have been tapped a little crookedly) and that the instructions kept referring to the "tripod".  I don't know about you, but when I see the word "tripod," I instinctively think of something with three legs and not a flat base.

Here's a photo of the assembled resonance apparatus. The tube is quite long, meaning we should be able to get lots of standing waves in the tube for a large variety of tuning forks. I cheated a little bit with the photo by choosing an angle that does not draw attention to the lean of the rod.  One of the features that was kind of nice about this apparatus is that the bottom of the tube has a peg which fits into a small hole in the base to keep the tube well positioned. Also, this apparatus includes a clamp for holding a tuning fork above the resonance tube. The clamp is just a right angle clamp, which was a little disappointing that it wasn't anything more specialized, but it will be interesting to see if the  clamp works well to hold the tuning fork while the fork is vibrating.

After setting up the mid-range model, I unpacked the economy model.  The contents of the shipping box are shown in the following photo.

It may be hard to tell from the photo, but there was an excessive amount of packaging for this kit. All of the pictured components were in a single box stuffed with packing paper. The base and the tube/rod came in separate boxes.  And the bag with all of the clamps and reservoir were in a plastic bag, which was so tightly taped shut that I had to destroy the bag just to free its contents. (On Earth Day, of all days...)

After I made it through all of the layers of packaging, assembly of the economy model was as easy as the mid-range model. The tube is held to the rod by a test tube clamp and there is no clamp for the tuning fork.

The economy model uses what is essentially a large plastic cup (complete with the SOLO logo on the bottom) for the water reservoir. One wonders how much abuse the reservoir will be able to stand. I suppose that if it is damaged, replacement would not be too difficult or costly.

The economy model does not have a peg on the bottom to help keep the tube in place on the base. like the mid-range model does.

Also, the economy model is significantly (~50%) shorter.

Here is a photo of the two models side-by-side for comparison:

You can easily see the difference in the height of the two.  Also, the lean of the longer tube is more apparent when comparing the two.

The real question is how do the two compare in terms of using them to do experiments.  I haven't had a chance to try them out yet, but I have made some observations from putting them together.  The real question is: What do you get by spending the extra $200 to go from the economy model to the mid-range model?

From what I have seen you get the following benefits:
  • Longer tube, meaning a wider range of frequencies to work with.
  • Sturdier water reservoir.
  • Peg in the base to better hold the tube in the apparatus
  • Clamp to hold the tuning fork on the rod
  • The machining of the hose connections is clearly of a higher quality. (Need closeup photo to show.)
There are some advantages to the economy model, for instance:
  • Shorter tube means experiments could potentially be done on the lab table, instead of on floor.
  • Less expensive components means lower costs for maintenance.
  • The smaller size may be easier to store.
I'm going to have some fun playing around with both models in the next few days as we continue to get ready for May Term.

April 20, 2008

R. wins 334-298

R. wins 334-298
Originally uploaded by achmorrison.

We played with the travel version today at Starbucks. There was a guy talking to himself for the first part of the game

April 19, 2008

In my Saturday morning browsing, I stumbled onto a great summary of why Twitter is actually useful and worth signing up for. I've been twittering for a week now, and I have to admit that I quickly got addicted to it. I doubt that I will be getting or sending twitters that drag me into a bar for drinks anytime in the near future, but there may be other situations where I make connections with people I would otherwise have missed.

April 18, 2008

April 12, 2008

The John Wesley Powell Research Conference was today on campus. Three of my students showed off their stuff. All in all, everything was pretty good. There were fewer entries this year, which was kind of good, I think. Last year it was way too crowded at the poster sessions and there were too many oral presentations to choose from.

April 11, 2008

R. wins: 343-328

R. wins: 343-328
Originally uploaded by achmorrison.

We each got a bingo tonight. I had 'joshing' and R. had 'duckier'.

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