Friday, July 31, 2009

Friday Fragments

- Yesterday I phoned in a conference talk as Dean Dad. Scott Jaschik did a panel at a regional conference of community college leaders, mostly presidents, discussing changes in the venues for public discourse on higher ed. He spoke primarily about journalism and the blogosphere, and I addressed the group via speakerphone as a sort of Exhibit A. There's something strange about doing a conference talk when you can't see the audience. It reminded me a little of my radio days, except that I never went that long uninterrupted on the air. The audience seemed generally pretty unfamiliar with the conventions of blogging, so the conversation was unusual, but fun. After it ended, apparently a couple of folks from the audience walked up to the speakerphone (!) to ask me questions individually. It wasn't as much fun as a standard presentation, but I didn't need Groucho glasses or a bag over my head, and the hassle factor was certainly low. (I even did the call during my lunch break, so there was no issue there.) In retrospect, I probably should have affected an accent. Something unobtrusive, like my Count Chocula-ish all-purpose Vague European. Or maybe addressing the group as "y'all."

- This week we hosted some family friends who have kids the same ages as The Boy and The Girl. They stayed for several days, with major outings each day. It's easy to forget how exciting that kind of thing is when you're in elementary school. We put out the air mattresses and let the kids stay up late, talking and laughing and, yes, singing. On the first night after they had gone home, the house seemed eerily quiet. The kids addressed me as Mr. (my first name), which somehow never gets old. At one point, TG and her counterpart took a bubble bath together; if the world were a gentler place, I'd post one of the pictures TW took. There's something about little-girl-smiles peeking above a wall of bubbles. It's good for the soul.

- In the "mixed blessing" department, I got roped into dealing with a major government grant on campus. I'm glad we have it, and I think it will make a real difference for our students. That said, the paperwork requirements are, uh, let's go with 'daunting.' If I had a nickel for every time I heard the phrase "audit trail" this week...

- Personnel emergencies this week: three. Personnel emergencies successfully handled: three. Remaining energy in my personal batteries: zero.

- Most frequently heard question in my office this week: "Isn't there supposed to be a lull in the summer?"

- Most frequently heard question at home this week: "Can I have a glass of water/snack/cookie/second helping?"

- Actual exchange at home this week: "I got a monster truck!" "I got a Barbie!" "I got a monster Barbie!" I suspect there'd be a huge market for Monster Barbie.