Sunday, October 16, 2005

Random Realizations from a Weekend Away

At some point during this weekend, each of these thoughts crossed my mind:

Watching jets take off still impresses me.

Flying in jets still stresses me out.

Phoenicians (thanks Adam for the proper terminology) feel water is not too precious to spare on countless fountains, despite the fact that their city is in the center of a desert.

Leaving Texas is a good thing.

If I ever have a graduate student: A) I must send them to academic conferences before they give a paper so they know how they work and B)I must watch them practice giving a paper before their first presentation at a conference.

I miss the mountains.

I don’t miss my skin cracking and bleeding from the lack of moisture in the air.

People in my sub-field are not terribly professional. For those who have never had they joy of attending an academic conference, the days are divided into sessions. Scholars sent in proposals to present their work probably about a year ago. Competition to get on the program can be intense, especially for bigger conferences. When one gets a slot, it means you have taken it away from somebody else. This is why I am dumbfounded by one panel member who simply didn’t show up to his session. He didn’t send a paper for someone else to read and only sent a lame excuse of “I am too busy with administrative duties.” Ah, the joys of being a Prof. BigName.

In another instance, a commentator on another panel spent a total of ninety seconds saying “I am glad the panelists did this research. But, I will leave it to the audience to provide questions.” Again, only a Prof. BigName could get away with this.

Gay-men scholars dress better than their peers.

Gay-men scholars make bad choices in terms of jewelry, negating their better skills at dressing.

Not all historians appreciate understand share my sense of humor. At the conference’s big reception, I chatted with a delightful scholar who is at Small Midwestern College in NoWhere Midwest. During the chat, she noted how odd it was to live somewhere that people felt safe enough to leave their children in the car while they shopped in the grocery story. My witty response: “Is that why you decided to start trafficking in human infants?” She didn’t seem to think it was funny...

This conference brings us one-step closer to the major History-Geek National Convention in January. A significant percentage of the nation’s historians will converge in Philadelphia. Desperate historians will be seeking the few jobs available in the U.S. (and sometimes Canada). University Presses will be schilling their newest books. Cultural Historians and Social Historians will come to fisticuffs in the hall. Prof. BigName(s) will make drunken and salacious proposals to YoungGradStudent(s) in the hotel bar. People will be talking about obscure historic figures that only they know existed. Sound like a party? You bet!


Adam said...

I'm impressed that you noticed how Phoenicians LOVE to waste water. When I went to the UofA in Tucson I found that Tucsonans (another AZ moniker) are far more aware that they live in the desert. You will not see many lawns in Tucson and seldom will you see fountains. If you get a chance to go back to AZ go to Tucson, great place!

Flakes are just part of academia and the more accomplished you are the less beholden you are to your peers. Publish a few great papers, change a few age-old paradigms, acquire tenure and you can show up (or not show up) to a conference stark naked with an eight foot bong smoking your finest hydro and there is nothing anyone can do about it.

Gay Erasmus said...

Glad you survived the conference. These things sound brutally competitive! Did you give a paper? If so, how did you go?

GayProf said...

Adam: So are you saying it was too early for me to show up naked with my bong? Damn!

Gay Erasmus: No paper from GayProf. Oddly enough, I attend these things for fun. I really need help . . .