Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful for Beaker Ben...

Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate it!

And here's a shoutout to one of the all time RYS/CM blog heroes: Beaker Ben, and a superlative offering from last year.


What can I say? I get sentimental around the holidays. This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the...

  • excellent, friendly secretaries and support staff who have saved my ass several times (who knew that my exam doesn’t print and staple itself on its own?)
  • look on my colleagues’ faces when they realize that, although they got straight A’s at elite schools and I got more modest grades at big ol’ State U., we still work at the same place and I have more research funding to boot
  • relief and gratitude expressed by a student who claims that he overslept the exam (more likely spent all day studying) but I’ll let take the exam that afternoon anyway
  • confusion and fear expressed by same student when I mention offhand that any extra studying he did won’t help him much
  • nation of China for purchasing US bonds that allow the federal government to spend money that pays for my research
  • underfunded IT department, which is so busy that it could never have time to check all the websites that I peruse at work
  • student research assistants who are less stoned and more hard working than I ever was in college
  • parents of students for continuing to pay tuition even after all hope of graduating has been lost
  • humanities faculty for coming up with such batshit-crazy research topics that it makes our goofy science experiments sound sane
  • political naiveté of my coworkers and administrators, which allows someone like me, with just a modicum of common sense and a healthy lust for power, to have far more influence than he deserves
  • public school system for doing such a poor job of educating children that none of these young whippersnappers will ever be qualified to replace me.


  1. You're like the Carl Sagan of the modern need a PBS show called "`Flakemos: A Personal Journey into Academia."

  2. Love me some Beaker Ben...

  3. Ben, are you planning never to retire, or die? If so, my congratulations on discovering the elixir of life, although Rutherford and Soddy beat you to transmutation. (I know, Rutherford wasn't a chemist: he still got the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for it, but you knew that.)

  4. Thanks, Fab! I never thought I'd be in reruns.

    “We are the product of 4.5 billion years of fortuitous, slow biological evolution. There is no reason to think that the evolutionary process has stopped.” Based on the behavior of our current students, I'd say things are running backwards now.

    Right back at ya, babe.

    I just checked my 403b account. I'll keep working for a while yet.

    Poor Bohr, awarded a Nobel prize in chemistry when he's a physicist. Serves him right for his physics/stamp collecting remark.

  5. I love the support staff thanks...that's a group of two young people who save my ass every week with some tiny but consequential items and actions that surely add up to long days when you consider how many dunderheaded faculty are just like me...


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