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Diffusion in the presence of nerds January 7, 2012

Posted by mareserinitatis in engineering, feminism, humor, science, societal commentary.
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If only life were as simple as mathematics.  Unfortunately, people to act like molecules.  That is, they’re not easily quantifiable and logical.

Earlier this week, I had to do an experiment in diffusion of the human variety.

I went into a meeting where I was the only woman (as usual), and it began with someone telling me a somewhat sexist (as well as old and lame) joke.  At least I think it is.  Either way, it definitely had nothing to do with the topic at hand.

How many men does it take to change a roll of toilet paper?  They don’t know…it’s never happened.

My first inclination was to respond that obviously the investigators had never been to my house.  One of the things you probably don’t need to know about me is that I tend to be lazy and pull TP out of the closet and just put it on the back of the toilet.  My dear, patient husband gets horribly annoyed with this particular quirk of mine.  However, he’s never actually told me he’s annoyed, but he will make a show of picking it off the back of the toilet and putting it on the roller in front of me.  When he does so, I tend complain that he has put it on backwards and that I will have to fix it.  (We’ve both engaged in these practices for at least ten years, so I don’t see them changing any time soon.)

I also had the inclination to say that I’d heard it before…or even that I thought I was inappropriate.  The problem is that there were other people in there, and I got the feeling that most of them were both thinking also that the joke was inappropriate and not sure how I would react.  The overall sense I got (which may or may not have been incorrect) was that everyone was a bit uncomfortable and not sure how to respond.  Hence, I needed a way to diffuse the situation.

I did none of these things (pointing out the inappropriateness of the behavior seems rather useless with certain individuals).  I’d heard a joke the day before and had shared it online with several people.  I decided to not acknowledge the joke the colleague had just told other than to say, “And now I have a joke for you.”

A photon walks into a hotel. The concierge asks, “May I help you with your bags?” The photon says, “No, thanks. I’m traveling light.”

Given I was with a bunch of engineers and scientists, this was a great way out of it.  I didn’t have to look like a jerk for calling the person out nor did I make anyone uncomfortable, even though I don’t think anyone would have faulted me if I had.  And better yet, I think those present appreciated my sense of humor than my colleague.

What would you have done in that situation?


You know it’s a bad meeting when… December 6, 2011

Posted by mareserinitatis in education, teaching, work.
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I don’t know if it’s the sign of a teacher who enjoys her job or if it’s a sign the meeting is really boring.

I’ve not been able to make a regular meeting at work because it was at the same time as one of my classes this semester.  Last week was the last meeting of that section, so I made it to the work-related meeting for the first time since August.  As it turns out, twenty minutes into it, I wished I was in class instead.

Now I have another reason to miss teaching this spring.

I can haz schedule, pleez? November 18, 2011

Posted by mareserinitatis in education, teaching, work.
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I’ve only got three more weeks of classes, and while I’m enjoying the class, I’m looking forward to having a schedule back.

I’ve never been lucky enough to teach a class that meets at the same time multiple times a week.  Instead, it’s usually a situation like I have now: Tuesday morning is hosed because I have class and then office hours, Tuesday afternoon is hosed because I have class in the middle of the afternoon, giving me very little time to accomplish things at either end, and Thursday afternoon is hosed because I have two classes a half hour apart.  Oh yeah, and since I’m at the opposite end of campus, I lose about a half hour riding the shuttle down and back…three times a week.

The only time I felt like I really did have a schedule was the one semester where I had three labs in a row.  It  ate up my entire day and left me devoid of consciousness at the end.  On the other hand, it left me with four other days to be productive.

The other problem is that now I am working at a job, on top of classes, so I have meetings.  Of course, these have to be scheduled for Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  So on the days I am at work for a reasonable amount of time, that time gets sucked up with meetings.  And, of course, meetings, like classes, are scheduled mid-morning or mid-afternoon to just perfectly mess things up so that I have no longer than 1 1/2 hours to focus on anything.

I have to say that I’ve managed, this semester, to have the worst of both worlds.

And now we’re heading into the holidays.

Just three more weeks…

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