austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

Reach out in the darkness

I've had a less than happy day, and I'll fill you in in time. Nice thing about having bad stuff happen is at least I know what to write about that day. Getting to the backlog: I'd promised a report on my job interview the other day. A university at which one of my mother's college friends used to work called me last week and asked if I could give a 25 minute presentation on my research, 25 minutes showing general teaching ability, 15 minutes for questions and answers, and then meet with the dean. Weirdly enough I didn't have a presentation on my research ready, so I got to frantically putting together a Powerpoint-like set of slides using a LaTeX package not fully under my control. And after starting to put together an original teaching-style lecture I decided to just reuse some lecture notes from a course I'd given three times over, which I trusted I could do without waking up. And I called my mother's friend, leaving a message on her phone, to ask if she might have any insight about the corporate culture, however dated, that might be useful.

My presentation about my research went great. I was able to explain things from a standing start, go into several lovely and not always obvious explanations, present slides full of dense equations that I summarized with a few choice and correct words, and got the people reviewing me to look fascinated by what I had to say. And they began asking questions which were, comfortably, not too complicated so I could answer them well, but which were the kind showing some sincere interest in what I had to go on about. And I even deflected a question about -- subtly -- why I hadn't published anything in a subject that didn't grow out of my thesis: I had hoped that mentorships with students would result in publishable work in a couple of different fields, but underestimated the amount of background they needed to pick up. But one group of students did earn distinction for their work. For a school with a heavy teaching focus, that seems like a good thing to do.

Meeting with the Dean went better still, although he didn't see any of my presentation. Besides my mother's friend I was able to mention that my father taught one of the school's distinguished alumni who's made newspaper headlines and has donated several whomptillion dollars to the school some of the management and quality-control techniques that let him make his fortune, and mentioned the existence of a hobby shop nearby the campus that the dean didn't know about. He was glad to hear about it, though, since he loves such shops, and was surprised that his secretary knew about it but hadn't mentioned things before. So if it were just a test of my networking skills, I'd probably have tenure already. But it is a teaching position and I completely fumbled the remaining part, which I'll make tomorrow's entry ...

Trivia: The bedbug was first reported in London in 1583. Source: London: The Biography, Peter Ackroyd.

Currently Reading: Goldwyn: A Biography, A Scott Berg.

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