Saturday, August 23, 2003

A Different Perspective
"As Brother Francis readily admitted, his mastery of pre-Deluge English was far from masterful yet. The way nouns could sometimes modify other nouns in that tongue had always been one of his weak points. In Latin, as in simple dialects of the region, a construction like servis puer meant the same thing as puer servis, and even in English slave boy meant boy slave. But there the similarity ended. He had finally learned that house cat did not mean cat house, and that a dative of purpose or possession, as in mihi amicus, was somehow conveyed by dog food or sentry box even without inflection. But what of a triple appositive like fallout survival shelter? Brother Francis shook his head. The Warning on Inner Hatch mentioned food, water, and air; and yet surely these were not necessities for the fiends of Hell. At times, the novice found pre-Deluge English more perplexing than either Intermediate Angelology or Saint Leslie's theological calculus."
Walter M. Miller, Jr., "Fiat Homo," A Canticle for Leibowitz, 1959

Friday, August 22, 2003

My Letter To The Editor
The more I thought about what Transit Guy said to me Wednesday, the foul I thought it was. I decided to write a letter to the campus newspaper. Then I thought, they probably won't print it, because I'm a staff member. So I thought I'd send a copy to the university president as well. Then I thought, well, if the paper won't print it, no sense sending them a copy at all.
Now I don't know what to do with it, so I'm posting it here. To an extent it's just a new draft of Wednesday's posting.

I'm a member of the staff here. Staff, the silent majority. We out-number faculty and students combined, yet we are rarely heard of.
This used to be a great place to work, I've heard. I have been told human resources had a team of advisors who would meet with people, discuss their jobs, and help them transfer to another with the university if they wanted.
Those were the old days. Earlier this summer I went to human resources, in person, to talk to somebody about transferring to a different job. I didn't get past the receptionist. "Just go register with our website." 'Bye now.
I resisted the woman's invitation to leave long enough to tell her I was registered with their website and that I had been trying to transfer jobs for three years. She laughed, and said she knew people who have been trying to transfer longer than that.
It's the little things, you know, that really make one feel appreciated (not).
Another example of how this university disregards its staff happened more recently. I called the campus bus information number to see when the Science Drive bus started running. I was told August 20. When that day arrived, I wasted a lot of time waiting on East Campus for a bus that wasn't really running. I asked another bus driver, and he radioed the dispacter, and asked about my bus. The dispatcher said it was running. Fifteen minutes later I asked the same driver to radio again. This time he was told by the dispatcher that the Science Drive buses were running, but not on the Science Drive route.
When I finally got to work, I called transportation administration and left a message.
Six hours later, someone finally returned my call. This guy's attitude was basically, Well, that's too bad you were thirty minutes late for work because my staff didn't have a clue what they were doing, but after all " . . . those buses are really for the students."
Oh. Excuse me. I thought they were for the university community. I stand corrected.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Sic Transit Mundus
In the summer, only one campus bus runs. I've probably written about this before.
But during the academic year, a plethora of buses run routes all over this little arcadia, including one which carries me virtually from the door of the building where I live to the door of the building where I work, and vice versa. Classes start Monday, I thought this bus might start running soon. Last week, I called the bus information number, and was told the buses would start running August 20th.
Why, that's today!
So this morning I march out to the campus bus stop and take a seat. I wait about fifteen or twenty minutes. No bus. Other buses are running, but not mine. I ask the driver of one of these others, "Is the bus that goes from here to the law school running?" The driver didn't know, but he radioed somewhere on a CB. Whoever answered said, "Yes."
Right after that he had to pull out. When got back after running his route, I was still sitting there. "That bus hadn't" (sic) "come yet?" I said no. He radioed somebody again. This time he said that the buses were running, but that because this is Move-In Day, they were being used to ferry people to the middle of campus from perimeter parking lots. My bus would be running normally tomorrow.
When I finally got to work - thirty minutes late - I called the offices of transportation administration. I got an answering machine. I left a blistering message (with no cursing). Six hours later, some guy finally calls back. His attitude was basically "Yeah, it's too bad about you being late for work because my staff don't know what they're talking about, but those buses are really for the students."
Oh really? I thought they were for the university community. I feel like writing a letter to the editor of the campus newspaper. "University Staff: The Silent Majority of the Academic Community. No representation and no administrative support."
He also told me my bus isn't really going to start running until Monday.
I'm glad I told that transportation guy that I couldn't put his apology in the bank.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Amazing Things About My New Apartment
The doorbell works.
The kitchen sink is big enough to wash a dinner plate with no fear of hitting the side of the sink with the plate.
The refrigerator is big enough to hold a 12-pack of beer without having to take anything out to make room. Hell, it's big enough for two 12-packs of beer without having to take anything out.
I no longer sleep in the same room as where I watch television, read, eat, etc., etc.
The new apartment has not one, but two telephone jacks. They're in the kitchen and the bedroom. I bought an extra long cord for the old apartment so I could walk around while on the 'phone, and this cord is long enough that I can have the 'phone plugged in in the kitchen and sit on the sofa in the living room and talk.
There has to be more than this. I'll keep thinking.

Monday, August 18, 2003

I moved. I can't believe it. After three years in a tiny "studio," I now have a real apartment with a living room and a bedroom and a kitchen. A kitchen with real appliances instead of a toaster oven and a hotplate. The living room and the bedroom are each just a hair smaller than my old one-room apartment.
And I get better television reception.
One of the coolest things about the new apartment is a huge window in the kitchen. It is one whole wall. It has two sections that are vertically hinged in the middle, and the opposite edges slide in a track, and when the window is open the section folds at the hinges and the fold sticks out over the street.