Thursday, January 9, 2014

A Holiday Bovid Gathering

In a crowded living room in the frigid Midwest, Dr. Bison and relatives gather to celebrate the holidays. Dr. Bison is still hung over from a celebration the night before. Dr. Bison sits on the couch with Cousin Ox, drinking coffee and watching a sporting event. Enter Grandpa Bison.

Grandpa Bison: "How much time off work do you get, Cousin Ox?"
Cousin Ox: "I head back to work on Monday, actually. Not too much time, really."

Grandpa Bison: "Oh, that's a shame. Not like  Bison gets. You know how much time those college kids get."


Grandpa Bison: "Oh, right. Well, how about that sporting event, eh?"


*Just to be clear, I did not flip out on my beloved elder. I was laughing when I said the above (in mock outrage). I think in my grandfather's mind, I went off to college almost two decades ago and just never left the system.  


  1. I can top this. Over Thanksgiving dinner this year, I had to argue with a wife-of-an-in-law who doesn't know what mechanical vibrations are or what feldspar is, and had never heard of the Fairness Doctrine, about whether or not Project Apollo a hoax, despite 843.5 pounds of intelligently sampled rocks clearly from another world, many of which have been on public display for years.

    (I saw the launch of Apollo 17, the only Saturn V launch at night, from 60 miles away. It lit up the whole sky as bright and blue as daylight for a few minutes, and the birds came out and sang because they apparently thought it was morning, just like after a total solar eclipse. Whether or not they went to the Moon, something extraordinary happened on the days of the launches, and just anyone could see it.)

    I managed to steer the conversation away from evolution and toward SETI. It didn't help much.

    By the way, Dave Barry had words about the very topic you mention. He wrote, "If you fail to forget [what you learned in college], you become a professor and have to stay in college for the rest of your life."

  2. At this time of year, I'm always careful to point out that I'm back at work, preparing for the new semester (and, some years, trying to do some writing/research as well; this year, I've got a new, complicated course to create from scratch), even though I'm not yet back in the classroom. Given the widely-accepted cultural myths about professors, I think we do have to be clear (though slightly-confused grandfathers are probably not the most important targets of such efforts).


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