Monday, August 30, 2010

Snakes! In a box!

At a market the other day, we found this guy looking quite unperturbed by the fact that one of his snakes was making a break for it:

The very next day, we got to see this beauty in the wild.
Yes, we just spent the weekend up North.

Here is one reason why we didn't go swimming. (Yes, this was also in the wild, on the Daintree River.)

This was another:

And just for good luck:

Thursday, August 26, 2010

How does that work?

Referee: "So, do you really want this job?"
Me: "Yes!"
Referee: "Okay then, I'll write you an excellent reference."

So, if I had only sort of wanted the job, he'd have written me a mediocre reference? WTF?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I can haz coffee and cake?

Yes, this bill originally said "Haz(elnut) truff(le) latte".

No, we couldn't help ourselves.

Yes, they still processed it. Without laughing, even. N00bs.

Monday, August 23, 2010


Some photos from our cross-country skiing trip the other day:

The road on the way there, looking stereotypically Australian and as though we weren't likely to find any snow any time soon: nah, mate.
To be honest, we were still several hours drive away from the snow at that point. (I'm so envious of people like Bardiac who can step outside their door in winter and ski.)

More of the Australian stereotype:
I wish we'd got photos of the kangaroos in the snow as well, in order to collect the full set of stereotype, but they hop hop hoppity struggled away before we had a chance to wrestle our cameras out.

Some of our group spent a lot of time having little rests in the snow.

This is the same guy. I was having a good laugh at his expense while examining this photo, until I saw the tiny flat smudge of yellow about a third of the way from the right. I zoomed in, and yes, that is me. Face-planted.

And the real result of the day: my arse-bruise. More of an upper-thigh bruise, really, but arse-bruise sounds much more exciting.

More (photos, not arse-bruises) here.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

How to communicate with the natives

Lately I've been spending a lot of time poking around in elderly grammars and dictionaries of Aboriginal Australian languages. Here are a few of my favourite (i.e. most horrifying) finds:

From a language sketch from 1858, the following sentences are translated (since presumably these are the sorts of communications one might need to make with the "natives"):

"Now my blackfellows, make haste and get your breakfast. We will be going."

"Go and fetch them, there's a good fellow!"

"You are lazy! Dry your trousers!"

"Come here tomorrow and cut me some wood and me give you white money."

From a book of a similar age, the paradigm for "you are a harlot, she is a harlot, they are all harlots".

And from the latter book, a word is given that is translated as "intercourse, in both the good and the crude sense".

(And here was me thinking that the "good" sense was the crude sense.)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Hop hop hoppity PLOP

Kangaroos hopping (well, struggling, really) through the snow are awesome. And kind of surreal.

I did a ridiculous amount of cross-country skiing (a.k.a. cross-country face-planting) today. With a fresh dump of powder and perfect weather, it was the best day I've had in ages.

Photos later. Including my spectacular arse-bruise.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I totally get why academics reply to emails with "Screw you"

Seriously: this is why email was invented

Several months ago, I sent Dr Fruitloop the answers to a survey that we are filling out jointly, the answers to which will be included in a book another colleague is compiling. She said she would add to the survey and forward it to the editor.

Three weeks ago I received an email from the editor asking for our survey anwers by the end of the month. I check with the editor, and no, he definitely never received our survey.

I email Dr Fruitloop, reminding her that sending our answers to the editor was getting urgent, that he needs them by the end of August, and offering to compile and forward them myself if she'd just email me her contribution.

"That is strange," she says. "I forwarded our survey to the editor months ago. I suppose he hasn't had time to look at it yet. But I will be seeing him in October, so will ask him about it then."

Yeah... no.


Other exciting adventures with Dr Fruitloop

In November I am going to be visiting the country where Dr Fruitloop works. Back in February she already started telling me how essential it was for us to meet and work together, sharing data and collaborating on a paper or two. When I told her in April that I would be coming over in November she expressed excitement and tried to persuade me to plan several weeks in her city. I explained that I could only manage one week, as I had conferences and other obligations, but that I would be available the whole week for us to work together. Asked if she had a preference for which week in November, since I could arrange my travel to be with her for any of three different periods. No, no, any of them would be fine.

Just before I booked my tickets last month, I emailed her again and confirmed that yes, the week I had in mind was good, she would be there, we could work together. Booked my tickets. Sent her the dates.

Today I get this email:

"I am looking forward to meeting you. I should warn you, though, I will be very busy that week. Please let me know what day you would like to meet so that I can set aside some time."

And now I congratulate myself heartily. When I booked my tickets, I paid a little extra so that I could retain a back-up option. (Let's just say I had a feeling about this woman.) And now it looks like I'll be spending that week partying collaborating with friends in Amsterdam instead.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I know how he felt, but... wow.

Email from an editor, a colleague of mine, to a potential contributor:

"Dear Author, thank you for your submission. We feel that it has great potential, but we would need you to expand the background section. Also, your use of [technical term 1] and [technical term 2] is unusual, so we would ask you to reconsider this and if you do choose to use them, please explain your definition in the paper, and justify using them this way."

By return email five minutes later (so clearly a carefully considered response).

"Screw you. I won't use ANY technical terms then. See if I care!"

Yes, this really happened.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Inspired marketing

A couple of awesome signs I saw in shops lately:

Monday, August 09, 2010

Strange things about job hunting

The weirdest thing to me about the jobs I've applied for recently is that the application requirements are so much less work than grant applications are. You can write a job application in a day if you have to (not that I would recommend that). For a grant application you need months. My last grant application was 127 pages long, not counting the fact that it had to be submitted in triplicate. It had five separate sections, all of which had at least five more multi-page subsections, and one of which required 30 pages of associated text. Then you had to add your CV, a detailed budget, a budget justification, etc.

The last job application I wrote specified a 1-page cover letter and a CV and absolutely-do-not-send-extra-unsolicited-material-kthxbai.

While I understand that job committees are far too busy to read 127 pages of application, and grant-granting committees clearly have nothing better to do, it seems wrong that so much more effort goes into something that at most will give you a three-year position, while a page of writing, a CV, and an interview could put you somewhere for the rest of your life.

Strange thing #2
I always assumed it would be a good idea, when on the job market, to have a professional web page. Or at least a presence on somewhere like Now, however, I am glad not to have the former, and regret a little bit setting up the latter. Every job application is a case of framing yourself so you sound like the person they are looking for. Let's say my PhD is, for the sake of argument, in macaroni-sculpture, I TAed for Eating Paste 101 and I did some advanced coursework in Noodles Throughout the Ages. Also, I have one paper out on an analysis of Glittery Sparkliness in Children's Crafts, and am currently working on one on Why 5-year-olds Suck at Art.

Okay, so I see myself as moving into the area of children's art, but there aren't any jobs in that right now, and I'd be happy to try and diversify into The History of Pasta, or Edible Artwork, or even Child Development. For jobs in each of those fields I'm going to emphasise very different parts of my experience, leave out some irrelevant stuff, and claim that oh yes, the subject you need taught is my favourite ever discipline and I can't wait to do more of it.

If someone reading one of those job applications happens to look at my web page or entry and it's all children's art yay! with no mention at all of whatever I just claimed to be most interested in, they are going to be On To Me (TM).

Strange-but-related thing #3
Knowing the people in the department that is advertising (or more specifically, them knowing you): also not so great akshully. For similar reasons to the above. You might think you would be perfectly competent teaching Edible Artwork and would be willing to shift your research in the direction of The History of Pasta, but if they know that your dissertation was all about macaroni sculpture, that you presented papers on macaroni sculpture at three conferences in the past year, and (worst of all) if they were present when you got drunk at dinner a few months ago and talked about how you are glad you don't have to employ any of that stupid history theory stuff in your research, you are... doomed.

And hopefully we all feel better about our job chances now for reading this. Oh yeah. I know I do.


Monday, August 02, 2010

Doors: who needs 'em?

Of all the conversations I recorded and transcribed during my time on Pirate Island, some of my favourites are practically useless for linguistic purposes, but still amusing snippets of day-to-day life. Like the following.

The context was that Edward, my host, was just finishing up a wood carving that was to be a gift to a nephew on his upcoming birthday.

Edward: "And after this one, I has another project."
Me: "Oh yeah? What is it?"
Edward: "Fixing Kori's door."
Me: "What's wrong with Kori's door?"
Edward: "He haven't got no door."