South Park Self

I could stand under an elven waterfall and cry musically

I sometimes stop to wonder if any of my readers could possibly be interested in the trials and travails of large-scale administration, and then I think that, if nothing else, there's always schadenfreude. Besides, it's an interesting challenge: if I can be entertaining about advisor timetables, then NOTHING is beyond me, the world is in my grasp! (insert Evil Overlordian cackle here as I rub my hands in Glee, the new unguent. Unguent is one of those words which looks as though it should be related to cows, don't you think? It always makes me think "bovine", probably by loose association with "ungulate". Which is a word I will never again be able to use without thinking of its dexterous employment in iambic pentameter by Adrianna at an SCA event. It's orientation and I'm exhausted. Can you tell? I'm free associating).

Advisor timetables are not in themselves interesting, unless you wish to contemplate the joyous dexterity with which I now use Excel counting functions to allocate sessions even-handedly. What is interesting is the outcome of distributing said timetable and waiting hopefully in the venue for the first session of the first day. Half the advisors turned up. Various frantic emails later, we have no less than four grovelling apologies for having misread the timetable. Advisors are either academics or senior grad students, and I have to say, it's not the grad students who are defaulting to basic first-year timetable nitwittery. Tom Lehrer is wafting gently through my head ... "ivory-covered professors in ivy-covered halls." Clearly the ivory tower is actively detrimental to certain basic competencies, she says primly, and with commendable restraint.

Today's magnificent item of administrivia is not advisor timetables, however. It's the faculty handbook. The faculty handbook is the essential compendium of information on majors, programmes, courses, timetables and curriculum rules. You cannot run registration without it. Registration starts on Monday. You also can't really run curriculum advice without it, except that I am given, as an advisor wrangler, to anxiously digesting as much information as I can think of into handy-dandy handouts, which I distribute to advisors as a sort of nervous reflex. This is fortunate, as we've been running orientation advice sessions for two days without the handbooks. The printers have failed to deliver, despite being scheduled to do so last week. They have promised delivery "today" on, at last count, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday of last week, and every day this week. This morning we let loose the dogs of war, namely our most fearsome deputy registrar, aimed at the throat of the MD of the printing company with pinpoint precision. The upshot? This afternoon the printers delivered sixty-two boxes which, upon examination, proved to contain not the undergrad handbook, but the postgrad. Postgrad students register in about two weeks' time, and there is absolutely no use whatsoever for the handbooks until that point. Of the undergrad handbook, not a sausage.

I'd be tearing my hair out, except I'm a sort of blank, resigned space where I simply shrug, and make contingency plans. There's something curiously relaxing about a catastrophe which is not your fault and is utterly out of your control.

(We're back to Goats for subject line surreality. Goats will print itself on the inside of your eyelids in soothing pastel tones while you sleep.)
  • Current Mood: drained quite astonishingly tired
Gaahh! Though, how very pleasant to have it have nothing to do with you. Perhaps the printers will be working over the weekend...

At my very own cherished institution, we recently (and suddenly) discovered a (very large) shortfall of supervisors for master-level dissertations (students are due to be told who their supervisors are in the next couple of weeks (you can request someone, but it's an allocation system)).
It came to light when I asked questions about my work-load - being new, I have a soon-to-expire licence to ask stupid-sounding questions. I'm glad I did ask: in the previous reality, I'd have ended up supervising more students than I could count on my fingers and toes - and there would still have been a gap in staff capacity. Still, I don't think the coordinator of my particular academic group is interested in being my friend any more...
Oh, dear, supervisor shortfalls are the worst. That's how I end up supervising three or four Honours dissertations every year, unpaid. I like doing it, and the dept. is desperate - the popular supervisors have 20 or so dissertations on their books. Like you, fingers and toes. I'm glad you dodged that particular bullet, supervision is surprisingly time-consuming.
In our news I hear of things happening in South Africa and think "oh, that is going on over Extemporanea's head, maybe." The most recent thought was over the huge storm-that-would-be-a-hurricane-were-it-in-my-hemisphere off the south and west coast of Africa. In is soothing to hear of administrative disasters, rather than natural disasters happening to you, although I'm sure you might not agree.
Weirdly, that big storm off Mozambique isn't really affecting us. We have heatwaves at the moment rather than high winds.

I agree, other peoples' administrative disasters are curiously soothing :>. Particularly as an alternative to the more wide-scale disasters of which you speak.
Surely that must count as an "only in South Africa..." screw-up?? Sigh.

I have never been able to use the word unguents since Terry Pratchett had Nobby Nobbs talking about "scented ungulants". I think it was in Jingo.I use scented ungulants on my hands occasionally :)
Gosh, had forgotten about that Pratchett instance, it's probably informing my random association. I, too, am fond of scented ungulants. And Terry Pratchett.