Thursday, May 10, 2012
Wise and worldly readers, do you have any suggestions for really good questions to ask references?
The Girl’s first communion was glorious. She wore the same veil that TW wore at her first communion. Family came from hither and yon, the weather cooperated, everybody was on their best behavior, we got great pictures, and the kids even got to spend most of the afternoon playing soccer in the backyard. (We got some great shots of TG playing soccer in her communion dress. How she eluded grass stains is a mystery.)
TG did the first reading of the ceremony. She decided to memorize it, so she could look at the congregation as she spoke. I don’t think stage fright occurred to her; she just strode purposefully up to the microphone, looked people in the eye as she spoke clearly, and walked methodically back to the pew. She’s seven, and I know adults who couldn’t do that. Go, TG!
Meanwhile, The Boy performed admirably in the spelling bee. He finished fifth out of about 250 fifth graders, which was cool, but it was more fun seeing him up on stage. He has an easy confidence up there that you can’t help but notice.
The parents out there will get this one. The biggest win of the week was that The Girl was completely present and supportive at the spelling bee, and The Boy was completely present and supportive at the communion. No jealousy, no teasing, no drama, nothing. Just happiness for each other. Yes, that’s parental bragging. Deal with it. I couldn’t be prouder.
Kudos to President Obama for belatedly doing the right thing on gay marriage. Coming on the heels of North Carolina’s vote, which was both predictable and dispiriting, it was a breath of fresh air.
If you haven’t seen this piece yet about Erie, Pennsylvania’s attempts at starting a community college, check it out. The short version: Erie exports young people, in part for lack of affordable higher education. Some locals tried to establish a community college, but it fell prey to what amounted to tax phobia. The brain drain continues, and the town’s largest employer is expanding in other cities rather than there.
You can pay upfront, or you can pay over and over again.
In a cruel twist of fate, I finally mastered the knuckleball at age 43. Playing catch with The Boy, I threw a shockingly perfect one without telling him what it was. He actually exclaimed “that’s AWESOME!” and demanded to know how that funny-looking throw happened. A series of inexplicably wonderful knucklers followed, each wobblier and weirder than the one before. I maintain that a pitcher with both a solid fastball and a reliable knuckler would be effectively unhittable. It’s the learning curve that gets you...
2) For relevant fields, I would ask about how the candidate coped with the IRB process. I think that's a reasonable level of "oh my gosh how could I be expected to cope with this nonsense" akin to similar teaching bureaucracies such as academic grievance processes. Basically, probe for incredibly frustrating experiences that are a natural part of grad school that would also reveal any tendencies to whine or take out frustrations on those nearby.
3) The second-to-the-last question: 'This is entirely separate from the candidate, but I'm just curious: have you read Bob Sutton's The No Asshole Rule"?' (In all probabilities, you'll get a chuckle with the possible add-on, "No, but I have to.") Then the last question: "Oh, I forgot one question about the candidate: Is there anything else you haven't had the chance to say about her/him that you think I should know?"
I'm not sure a local CC would help too much. If students aren't going to take Algebra I and Calc in high school, why would they afterwards? Where are the employment guarantees for working through difficult courses and programs? And how bad are secondary schools if they can't teach computer skills to a tech savvy generation?