Various Lies

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A week of epic fail and it's only day 4

Article the First:
A couple of weeks ago I swerved to avoid some arsehat in a parking lot and managed to run the side of my car down a bright yellow concrete traffic bollard. I now have a shitty, ugly, old green VW bug with a go faster/go shitter yellow stripe down one side. I called my insurance agent to find out IF I was to claim for the paint job (pah, car is 10 years old and only worth $2000), what the excess on my monthly insurance premium would be. IF I was to put in a claim for something I wouldn't get fixed. I was told to go so-and-so's body shop, meet the appraiser who would give me a quote on the theoretical repairs and from that they could determine the damage to my monthly premium.

$1800 to remove the scratches, with a $500 deductible. Easy out: No Fucking Way. As mentioned, my car is only worth about $2000 and besides, my A/C and starter have just died, necessitating another $1000+ of fixes just to keep me moving through the summer. I spoke with my insurance dude again,

Me: "So, IF I was to get this fixed, how much would it put my monthly premium up by?"

ID: "Hang on, let's pull up your policy. Wait, hang on, there's already a claim on here."

Me:"No, there can't be. I haven't filed a claim since I joined you five years ago."

ID:"No, here on April 7th. It says you lodged a claim for an "at fault" collision in a parking lot"

Me:"random high pitched squeaking sounds"

ID:"So, now this is already on file, we can't remove it. So... hang on. No, not to worry,"

Me:"squeaking sounds decrease in pitch, slightly"

ID:"No, you're OK. Your premium is only going up by $25/month."

Me:"squeaking sounds reach new, ultrasonic levels"

ID:"$25/month isn't that bad is it?"

Me:"That's 300 fucking bucks a year. D00d."

ID:"Oh, yes, I suppose if you look at it like that, it is. Well, we're sending you a cheque for $1300 to cover the repairs. You can use that to pay off the excess on your premium if you want."



Article the Second:
Recently Grand Moff Brown, unelected Prime Minister of England and compete fucking worthless dog's fart, finally announced he had asked Her majesty the Queen (happy birthday for yesterday, Your Majesty, FWIW) to dissolve parliament so he could call a General Election. I haven't voted since 1997 because not long after that election I moved to the US. So in the almost 6000 days since i could legally vote, I have excised that constitutionally enshrined right just once. This time, I raced to the nearest internets and looked into registering as an overseas voter. I soon discovered, via the power of an internests "search engine" a site called About My Vote, which purports to be run by the The Electoral Commission themselves. I spent a couple of hours working my way through everything because it is really not that well put together, and found the following nuggets of information:

  • You can register to vote as long it isn't more than 15 years since you last registered

  • You can register by mail to vote in the district you were last a registered voter in

  • You can grant a trusted family member your 'proxy', to vote on your behalf

  • Your proxy voter can vote by mail for you

  • The General Election is on may 6th

  • They need to have the mail in ballot 11 days before the General Election

Fucking Awesome right"?

  1. It is only 13 years since I last voted

  2. I remember my old address in the UK, although it is 100+ miles from my actual "home" address

  3. My brother, Weaselcatcher, is a sergeant in the police, and a decent guy. My best friend I might say (and we share the same political proclivities)

  4. He knows how to use a mailbox

  5. It was early April at this point

  6. That would give us until April 25th/26th to get the mail in vote sent in

imagine my dismay when I got a text message from Sergeant Weaselcatcher this morning saying "Call me when you can, but please have drunk some coffee first". It turns out the fucking morons who put the site together neglected one key piece of information: the mail in vote is held before the regular ballot and the cut off was FORTY-MOTHERFUCKING-EIGHT GODAMNED HOURS AGO.

Due to the utter inability of some fuckwitted middel-manager not proofreading the website he had built I have had my constitutionally enshrined rights, enshrined for almost a thousand years, stolen from me. I am have no doubt that if I had financial and legal recourse I could get this fucking mornon Hng, Drawn and motherfucking quartered or some such. Or put in the motherfucking pillory on the steps of the Palace of Westminster. I would be first in line to nail his fucking ears to his fucking forehead. How dare you inefficiency, laziness and general moronic inability to perform basic tasks interfere with my rights. Fuck you. Fuck you to hell.

Article the Third:
I have started training in Muay Thai again. It's my third anniversary of being a mean, kickboxing motherfucker. I go to a new gym now, and I'm able to park for free a mile away and walk downtown looking like a stone cold motherfucker listening to my fight song. But my box/cup/dick protector was rubbing my crotch raw. So I took the extreme step of shaving my junk. Not the best plan I have had. Now I have itches where it is unseemly to scratch those itches.

Article the Fourth:
it's only fucking Thursday. Doubtless this will be updated before my birthday on Sunday.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Goddess of Destruction?

Kali, Goddess of Death, Destruction & Rebirth, and Pain...

...And there she is folks, finally. Two hours under the tender care of Joe, at No Regrets Tattoo Emporium. Two hours. Two long, and surprisingly painful hours.

I'm booked back in early May for the colouring to begin, but noticed that the date coincides with some friends visiting from out of town for the Blues Awards, so I think I'll have to bump it to June. I can wait though. Did I mention that this one was painful...

Monday, April 5, 2010

For the father? Nothing.

Usually, a new Faculty member has a percentage of her salary guaranteed. This is known as hard money. The university is promising you, for example, 9 months salary support for the first 5 years of your career (that's the tenure track). The rest is made up by our new TT prof securing grants and picking up courses to teach etc. and that's the soft money. That's the bit that sucks because if you can't get a grant funded your salary is only 75% of what it should be. And if you're a postdoc, for example, on someone's R01, and it isn't renewed, you're fucked because 100% of your salary is soft money.


a young professor joins the tenure track and tries to negotiate his start-up with the dean...

There are as many variations on this funding structure as there are academic institutions. I have a friend who is a non-tenure track assistant professor who has 9 months of support, and is primarily in a teaching position. He can't write large grants to pick up the other 25% of his salary because he doesn't run a research program. So he picks up as much extra teaching as he can during semester to add to his pay check, because summer is hard to get through when the money dries up. What he wasn't told until after he joined his institute was that he isn't allowed 'unexcused' absences for longer than a few days, and even though he isn't getting paid for the summer, he still has to be there. So his dreams of traveling or working on his book during this time are scuppered by having to be present on campus.

My position, indeed my entire Unit is funded by a budget that is neither hard, nor soft. We could call it flaccid money. We're funded by State dollars while we vie for a large institutional award from the National Institutes of Health. (The NIH are the paymaster general to which most of us beholden, in case there are any non-scientists out there.) being funded by State dollars was great while we were the golden child of the program. Money was always there, we generally got what we wanted, when we wanted it, and we've used the beneficence of our administrators to grow in new areas. However, we just got our grant review results back from the Great Paymaster General in Washington, DC and things are not looking so good suddenly. Our latest application was, to all intents and purposes, shit all over by the review panel. In my opinion (worth less than one whole internets dollar) they missed a lot of the great stuff we're proposing and can deliver, and instead focused on the few tiny, insignificant negative aspects of the application. Like not having enough experienced leadership, or a good enough marketing plan for some of our 'products' and 'deliverables'. Like I say, mere details! Look at teh awesome science bitchezz111!!!q1

Anyway, suddenly working here has become less secure. Our studly and tumescent budget is beginning to wilt, friends are not returning phone calls and I kind of feel like the guy who gets caught punking the principle's office. Everyone is laughing and joking and offering encouragement until he walks in the room and suddenly you are very, very alone and friendless...

The work my unit does covers areas outside our direct scientific remit and we offer a lot of support to our administration, forming a kind of 'academic computing' division. I'm told we're probably OK for year, and the administration will support us for at least one more budget cycle while they try and figure out what to do with us all. This is great, if true, because I am nominally in charge of a team of 8-12 people and now trying to cover my ass while looking out for them too is already starting to tear at my nerves.

Right now we're waiting to hear from the Grand Poobahs at the Top of the Stairs about our budget. I think this part is the hardest because I don't know if anyone will get cut in the next month or two (myself included). I am working on the assumption that we're going to be OK for one more year (budget year, not calendar year). Once I have a budget I can develop a timeline and come up with some ideas on how to save my staff. I'm hoping that some can be saved as a whole and move to another institute in town that is looking to pick up the pieces of the pie we dropped. Some I can likely get into our IT division as we try and combine all of the IT services on campus.

As for me. I'm exploring a few different options, but I think my time here is drawing to a close. I can visualise several options and outcomes for my team over the coming months, but I am reminded of Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam warning to the Lady Jessica, at the beginning of "Dune".

"The boy may be worth saving, but for the father, nothing!"

Thursday, April 1, 2010

I knew they'd come round, eventually.

As many of our academic Blog community know, Prof-like Substance and Professor in Training have both resigned their Tenure-Track assistant professor positions and are returning to academic postdocs, because, basically, being a PI sucks ass and being a postdoc is awesome. You just don't know it at the time.

Unfortunately a cadre of hit-diosgruntledocs has been dispatched from the freshly Unionized UC-system to 'terminate with extreme prejudice" these "traitors to the glorious cause".

Obviously both PlS and PiT were a bit upset, as were their respective families, at their impending being KILLED to DEATH by disgruntledocs. So, in the interests of preserving life, and getting more of my own shit done, I have agreed to welcome them both into the wonderful embrace of Academic Administration. It's kind of like being PI, in that you spend all your time in meetings, dying slowly on the inside whilst not getting any real work done, but there's no stinky lab work which we know everyone hates anyway.

So, welcome my new bitches slaves employees: Administrator-like Substance and Administrator in Training!