How Bad Are Things in the UK?

OK, how bad exactly are things in UK’s academia? When professors put lengthy quotes from T. S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” in their automated signatures, including the verses “Sweet Thames, run softly, till I end my song” and “Their friends, the loitering heirs of city directors, departed, have left no addresses,” I begin to worry.

T.S. Eliot is a genius. But his poetry doesn’t normally make it into one’s signature unless one is very depressed. Or am I mistaken?

Green Cards for Canadians

Everybody is linking to this story by a Canadian who claims to have lost his tenure-track position because of an error by an HR employee that made it impossible for him to get a green card.

Given that my sister heads a recruitment agency, I spend hours each week listening to horror stories about the incompetence of HR people. Still, the linked story makes absolutely no sense. I’m also a citizen of Canada who got the green card through my university, and this guy’s story sounds completely fake. Nobody re-advertises your position if you don’t apply for a green card immediately. As a citizen of Canada, you can continue working in the US for years on work visas or TN visas.

The real reason for this person’s troubles is, I believe, that he refused to pay for his own green card process. Universities normally don’t pay for employees’ green card application process these days. I had to pay for my own and believe that my university did more than in enough in sponsoring me.

I have no idea why the university in question was so eager to get rid of an employee they initially liked well enough to let him apply for early tenure. My guess is that they were put off by his dishonesty. When he says,

In the end, bottom line, because someone in HR missed a deadline, my job was taken away,

this is simply a lie contradicted by the information contained in his own post.

The linked post claims to have as its goal helping non-American academics in the US. The only thing that will help us, though, is knowing the following: those of us who want a green card, should prepare to pay for it with our own money. There are exceptions but they are very very few and getting fewer.

Looking for a Narrative

I have to go to the doctor’s office today so that she can evaluate how I’m recovering from the operation. This will be very very hard because it’s been exactly 3 weeks since I went to the same doctor at the same office and heard the horrible news. I have to see her, though, because she is the one who performed the C-section.

All morning I’ve been searching for a way to frame this visit in a way that will make it bearable. The way we narrate the events of our lives to ourselves is what we can control, and that becomes especially important when we face scarily unpredictable things.

So I’m telling myself that this visit is not a continuation of a tragic story that I protagonized but the beginning of a completely different new story. This should get me through the visit.

The Magic Method

People are using this method for all kinds of things:

Commit to a small, productive block of time. I suggest a minimum of 30 minutes and a maximum of 60 minutes at the beginning. This block of time is not a huge commitment–surely, your job search deserves 30 minutes of hard work! If you do this correctly, you will find one of two outcomes: 1) you will be surprised at how much you can accomplish in 30 minutes of uninterrupted hard work, and 2) once you get your momentum in those first 30 minutes, you will want to continue your progress. Suddenly a minimum commitment of 30 minutes turns into an hour and a half of focused productivity.

I wrote my most recent article in daily 30-minute sessions. I wasn’t feeling too good, so 30 minutes a day were all I could manage. And this strategy still worked. It took me 46 days to write the article from start to finish. I have to say, though, that there was a very lengthy preparation process. I had a detailed plan of the article specifying what I would say in each paragraph before starting the actual writing.