Monday, May 16, 2016

So, Compound Cal Did This Terrible Thing...

Some newbies probably don't know the full story of the end of RYS. Oh, there was that big Crampicle article that is often referenced, and the history of this page includes the broad and comic details.

But, I still don't entirely know why I did this one thing at the end of RYS.

I was the last moderator and solely in charge, and when I shut the page down we had more than 4000 posts online. I started going through them, thinking of curating them a bit, archiving the best material and ditching the rest. It got out of hand. Like a bad barber, I started cutting and didn't know where or HOW to stop.

At the end of the orgy there were about 1000 posts left. Now, I LIKE those posts, but I cut stuff too quickly without the foresight that I should have had. Truthfully, I was burned out. The amount of email we got back on the old site was a little daunting, and nobody ever ran RYS alone, and certainly not for the kind of time I did.

However, using the fabulous Wayback Machine at, it's still possible to get your eyeballs on posts from the past. It ain't easy, but today I dipped back into the archives for May of 2006 and found this lovely piece that I cut for absolutely no goddamned good reason.

Seeing the wonderful Bubba chalk up CM post #6000 today made me wish I'd taken better care of the FULL RYS archive, so here's one that's been missing online for years. Please to, as we once said, in the goon old days, in the manner, enjoy:


May 15th, 2006

Where Someone Wonders if There's a Point - And Then Someone Else Answers

The Post:
I watched a number of favorite students walk across the graduation gauntlet on Saturday. As always, it made me think a lot about our job, what it is we do. What we try to do.

Afterwards, standing in the hot sun with some students and parents, I was unsurprised to hear one student say, "I am SO glad college is over with. I can't wait to get on with my life." And everyone slapped him on the back, and the parents all cheered, and I stood there like a dolt.

Why have I even bothered? What is it that I've been doing? Am I just a cog in some kind of machine that spits them out. Are we just an obstacle to the real world? A hurdle to get over?

If that's it, then I don't see the point anymore.

I wanted to be happy for my students, but how they viewed college just minimized my whole life's work. I can't believe I let them make me feel so small.


The Reply:
I think what you're seeing is the effect of a kind of tunnel vision these seniors are experiencing - most of them have never been anything other than students, and after sixteen (or seventeen) years of it, they're ready to be something else. Personally, I can't blame them for that.

One other thing you should consider is that most graduating college seniors think their lives are about to become a whole lot easier and more exciting. They *think* they are about to start jobs that pay more money than they'll be able to spend - certainly more than they imagine they'll need for a comfortable, middle-class existence.

Of course, most of them are wrong about this. Almost none of them understand what it really means to hold down a regular, full-time job, or the pressures of life outside college's protective bubble - if they did, I imagine you'd hear much less of the "thank god college is over" claptrap.


  1. I tell my students life doesn't really get easier, but you do get better at handling what it throws at you, and it beats the alternatives.

    In school it was thus:
    every class an obstacle to going home,
    every weekday an obstacle to the weekend,
    every week an obstacle to vacation,
    every year an obstacle to graduating.

    College changes the details but not the mindset. They have no idea how quickly time will fly when they are double or triple their current age.

  2. I teach physics for engineers so bridges don't fall down when you drive cars over them. Judging from this stack of exams right in front of me, if I am an obstacle for them, GOOD.

  3. When I was in college, I never wanted it to end. And many of my classmates felt the same way.

    1. I, too, was more in this camp.

      Which probably explains why I went to grad school. And that has made all the difference. . . .

    2. P.S. I love the Wayback Machine (and have donated to Internet Archive). 'Twill be an invaluable tool for historians of the future (well, if there are any historians -- the pendulum's got to swing back to favor the humanities/non-applied social sciences one of these days, doesn't it? ? ? ?)

    3. Hell - if there's any *future* at the rate things are going ;-)

  4. I was working 9 to 5 before going back to university. Believe me, holding a job is nothing compared to the stress of college and university. I was working in a small company (7 people, we were like family), you don't get that in any college or university, no matter how small. They are usually big institutions where you feel invisible, just one of the many students in the crowd and I hate that. Besides getting money for your effort is better than paying money to do work. College and grad school are soul-crushing to people like me who like freedom and weekends and evening with no assignments.