Friday, October 19, 2007

Insulting Job Offers of less than $5 Million

This whole Joe Torre stuff reminds me of a job offer I got once. I had interviewed, and things had gone well. I really liked the department, and thought there would be a good fit. After waiting a few weeks, hoping to strike a balance between being an over eager pest and showing a lack of interest, I contacted the chair. He was being a bit coy saying I'd hear from the Dean quite soon. That wasn't encouraging. A week later and still no word, I called the Chair and he said I should have received a letter. That was strange because if they were rejecting me, why couldn't he just tell me at that point. And if they weren't rejecting me, then we needed start negotiating salary, teaching load, etc. Well, sure enough the next day an offer letter arrives. I don't recall if there was any startup, but I sure remember the salary, about 2/3 my then current salary...even though they had no idea what my salary was because we hadn't gotten to the point of discussing it. I found that whole episode very strange. Nothing I had read prepared me for it. Ultimately, I decided that the department wanted me, but the dean didn't. So he gives me an obviously low salary in a manner, if not outright insulting, then at the least quite out of the ordinary. Luckily, I was in a tenure-track job already and had the luxury of turning it down. I was tempted to stir things up a bit, complain to someone hire than the dean, or tell some of the less meek members of the department what the dean was doing, but I didn't. I suppose I should count myself lucky I avoided such a political place.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Screaming, Laughing, Crying

  • This story of Rush Limbaugh bragging about intimidating a journalist sheds some light on why I prefer to remain outside any limelight. More germane to a blog such as this, one has to be careful which fights one chooses in the academic world. Rob is still struggling even after having left it. Me? I nearly erupted on the phone with an administrator today. I put in the paperwork a month ago to buy some equipment, and was told two weeks ago that the purchase order would be sent out in a day or two. Yesterday, when the vendor told me no PO had shown up, my phone call got passed up to an "assistant director." I still had a folksy, friendly tone when I was asking what was holding things up, and she had the nerve to reply "Ahh, if we could be on top of things 24 hours a day..." as if giving them weeks was the same as asking for a 24-hour turnaround! The nerve! The higher one goes up the administrative ladder, the closer one gets to reptilian.
  • If you like these types of right/left brain things, you might check out this animated gif of a dancer. Some people see her going clockwise, some counter-clockwise, and a surprising number see her going different directions each time they look. Me? I can't see her going any other way than clockwise. You might look at her first before reading what is very likely a silly interpretation of any result.
  • Keeping with the fun theme, you might check out this site which generates cool ASCII pictures from regular ones. They've got some samples there.
  • Breaking with the fun theme, have you heard about this Carnegie Mellon CS prof who's dying? A really bitter-sweet story from the always lovable folks at the Wall Street Journal, believe it or not.
  • Sticking to no theme at all, I've got a Windows notebook here which keeps losing its network connection because there's another machine on the same subnet with the same IP. I've tried using DHCP as well as a registered IP address I have. Clearly, IT can't configure a DHCP server correctly, but I've notified IT a couple times, so my strategy is to leave it on 24 hours a day in the hopes that whoever else has the same IP will complain enough to get the problem fixed. Am I jerk? Or am I learning?

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Childrens Do Learn

  • Does anyone know an easy way to display the most recent diff of a file in CVS? Right now, I'll go to work on some text file in a CVS distribution on which many people are working. Very often, the first thing I want is to view what they've done recently. What I end up doing is:

    cvs update -Rd

    cvs log text.txt | more

    cvs diff -r 1.33 -r 1.32 text.txt | more

    where the most recent version of text.txt is 1.33. But it seems there must be an easier way than having to determine what the most recent version is. Any help?
  • I know mushrooms are fungi (``A mushroom walks into a bar...''), and not plants. But does that necessarily mean they are not vegetables?
  • Have you seen the latest spy shots of the new Toyota Prius? What's don't trust those darn batteries, then how 'bout the new Honda Fit?
  • Where do you go for all your missile defense news? If any of you have any remaining faith that such a system will protect, you might want to head over to Wired and on to the referenced Rolling Stone article.
  • Why is it that the longer I go without posting, it seems the harder it is to actually post? Do I have a subconscious desire to make the period in between my posts scale as a power law? Or am I into "long tails"?
  • Yesterday I ran into a big problem. Something wasn't going right in that the same thing, done twice, got me two different results. It put me in a bad mood. So today the problem is still there, so why do I feel better? Why am I about to go see what I've got on Tivo? Because I've "bracketed" the problem. The non-repeatability is repeatable and hence, with enough work, I'll figure out what's going wrong. I'm not sure the most efficient way, so I'll let things stew a bit while watching Mythbusters and it should come to me.