A Scary Animal

A big dog-like animal came to the door of the neighbors’ house and started sniffing around. The neighbors don’t have a dog, though. Nobody on our street has a dog this shape and size. There are people down the street with a large dog but theirs is white and furry, and this one is dark and has no fur.

Can this be something other than a dog? Something scary? I’ve heard creatures howling at night. What can it be?



A Hispanic student told me that some of her undocumented friends have signed over their children to her for when they get deported. They have to go “back” to places where they haven’t been for 20 years, and they will need time to get established for when they can fetch the kids.

Re: the Walmart Interlude

I just imagined myself 10 years from now, standing forlornly in front of a machine that has substituted the live people at Walmart and having no idea how to make it do anything.

But some creep at the Walmart headquarters will save a few bucks automating these jobs away, so yay for progress.

The Values of Northern Podunk

Everybody is criticizing my post on interviews, but, folks, imagine this conversation:

“Why are you interested in leaving New York to teach 4 sections of Spanish 101 per semester at the State University of Northern Podunk in Barberville for the salary of $32,000 per year with no health insurance on a 1-year contract with no guarantee of anything?”

“Because I read the mission statement of Northern Podunk and I share the values of integrity, citizenship and caring that are central to the mission of Northern Podunk.”

Is that not a completely deranged conversation to have?

Well, we’ve been having these conversations for the past 3 weeks and we are going nuts here. Nobody loves mission statements that much. Or if they do, they need to undergo a psych evaluation. After 3 weeks of this, hearing somebody say “Because I’m desperate for a job and nobody else is hiring” is very refreshing.

Shocked at Walmart

I am shocked at how kind, professional and amazing the workers at Walmart are. I had two very complicated requests for two different sections of the store, and the workers went out of their way to be helpful. The reasons why the requests were complicated had nothing to do with the store or the products they sell. This was my personal complexity, and people had no reason to work so hard to help me. These were very tiny purchases (one for $7 and another for $25), but it took 2,5 hours to get it all done.

I have to say that, as much as I love Montreal, the idea that people at any store there would make such an effort for a customer is ludicrous.

Workers at Walmart deserve massive raises. “You are wonderful, wonderful people,” I told them almost with tears in my eyes as I was leaving.


The candidate who shot up to the top of the list of interviewees was the one who answered the question of “Why are you interested in this position?” with an honest “Because I need a job, and the job market is horrible.”

It was so refreshing to hear an honest answer and to see a glimpse of humanity in the candidate. Mostly, people answer with “Because I’m dedicated to teaching and I fully agree with the core mission of your university which is [cue a long verbatim quote from the university website]” or “Because I’m dedicated to teaching and I’m excited about using the language lab at your department which [cue a long verbatim quote from our departmental website.] 

Yes, you are totally willing to relocate to Illinois from California because you are so excited about our language lab. That’s so believable.

I understand that people are anxious but nobody at the committee could even remember the person we interviewed on Thursday because his robotic answers faded from our memories in two minutes. 


People are so formalistic. I suggested that during the Merit Review we give all our colleagues the rankings they gave themselves and avoid dragging it out in a meeting. There is no merit pay, so this is all just an empty formality. Besides, people gave themselves very fair and realistic rankings. But no, we have to go through the whole charade anyway. Bleh.