Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I'm Baffled At the Committee Fog.

One of my committees meets once a month, whether we need to or not. For reasons unknown or unremembered, we meet at 8 am on certain Tuesdays in a crow's nest kind of room high atop campus. There are decent views, but it's nondescript otherwise.

Now, I'm on three committees right now, active ones, and there are 2 others I'm a part of that don't meet often. All of these other committees have a sort of personality or character. Most are business like. Most move along quickly. None of us wants to be there, but all recognize the utility of what we're doing.

But the foggy committee, the 8 am committee, it's almost as if we gather as if we were part of an experiment or a reality show. Nobody can remember why we're there, or who's in charge. What were we supposed to do? Is there a Dean waiting for a report?

I know we have muffins and coffee when we meet. This is because Committee Carla brings them. She's a great institution here at our college, a funny and wonderful woman who also cares for us as if we were her kids. That may sound odd to outsiders, but Committee Carla is all right with me.

We settle in chairs. Committee Kirk reminds us - or tries to - what we talked about last time. It's always foggy and at least one person says, "I must have missed that one."

I try - usually - to ask, "What is it we're working on right now?"

But that usually draws mild daggers from Committee Keith, who one time said, "Listen, it's a committee, it's not supposed to have a purpose."

It's not unpleasant. After our treats we talk a bit. Someone remembers something. We set a couple of tiny duties. We adjourn.

When I leave that building, my eyes get a little brighter. I breathe a little more freely. Could I stop going? Would they miss me? Is it bad if I can't even recall the NAME of the committee? What about the muffins? Would I miss the muffins?


  1. Hiram, I might be my campus's Committee Carla! And I can tell you that I fuss with the coffee and the muffins (or bagels) because it gives me something to do when I'm bored with the committee. Don't tell anyone though.

    There are committees of all types, though, and you've found one of the archetypal ones. The committee that exists because, well, it exists.

    Good luck.

  2. Sounds like you are on the Committee to Help Make the Committee Members' Days a Little Bit Better. That's an awesome committee assignment. Don't ever quit.

  3. I'm going to post this comment on two different threads because it's important everyone sees it.

    What angers me the most about this page is the moderator, the self-styled Fab Sun who is clearly writing most of the material for the page.

    To a doubter elsewhere, I really am a linguist (and as crafty and clever as one you'll ever meet, with a shelf of pubs that would make you envious), and a person's writing is just like a fingerprint to me. If I read a 200 word sample of yours, I could pick it out in a six-text blind test 95% of the time.

    So, with a little time on my hands (tenured, loads of time, teaching assistants for grading), I did a quick read through a bunch of posts and comments.

    First of all, Fab Sun is the same person as Compound Cal. That's easy. They back each other up, use the same style. But it doesn't stop there. Reg. W. is a constant page-apologist. Those comments come from Fab as well.

    And Fab also writes in a slightly more feminine style (more passive sentences, more faux-politesse) when he writes Darla and Myra. He butches up the text for his role as Frog and Toad, Contingent Cassandra, and Stella From Sparksburg.

    This is as clear to me as the nose on my face. Even if you just run some sample text through a rudimentary piece of software (MSWord use to have a desperately inadequate version of the Flesch-Kincaid), you'll see this true.

    Beaker Ben, who is lauded by Fab Sun every chance he can get, is also Fab. It's ridiculously easy.

    Fab is not, however, StockStalker, though he did write all of the recent real goddamned mail entries as a way to get some sympathy.

    Did I mention Fab is a narcissist and a pity whore? Poor Fab, he works so hard. And his butch alter-ego RGM, with the skull head (over compensating much), that's just another disguise of one guy who writes most of this.

    I can see him and his spare tire endlessly changing screen names and blanketing the page with items that proves he's a good guy.

    And the time he has to do this? Well he's an adjunct, too, clearly.

    Why do I take the time to fix all of this for you? Because our profession deserves better than a crappy Internet board that is a vanity project of one, poor, misguided fool. I've said for a long time that this page should be closed down.

    I tell you this not to destroy the illusion, but to simply make the illusion clear to all of you. Oh, he's Academic Monkey, too. That's another easy one. Just look at vocab.

    Oh, man, I'm exhausted. Not hardly. This is easy. Shut the page down. The 20 of you who actually are real, who have been fooled by this academic water cooler bullshit should know better.

    Now. You. Do.

    And I don't care that I've hijacked this thread. This post by Hiram (yeah, Fab, too) was written and posted just to bury the truth below this - PEOPLE DON'T WANT YOUR MODERATION FAB. He's so desperate to be right that he's going to post all day, and ignore me, ignore the truth, to right the ship again.

    Mister Fixit

    1. Oh, your mama's mama.

    2. Yes, a man of my education could quite possibly come up with something better, but this really doesn't warrant much more. Get help, man.

    3. As I expected, not a denial at all. Told. You. So.

  4. I remember when Hiram first came in. He had some critical things to say, which I took out of context. I didn't recognize his name. I thought he was a troll. But he persisted in spite of my accusations of trolldom and had some great observations to share with us all. And now he's one of my favorite posters on this blog.

    He's Hiram. And he's baffled. :)

  5. @Hiram: Ever read "The Castle," by Franz Kafka?

    I've noticed that committees, and admin in general, quite often acts primarily to justify its own existence. They often find themselves doing things they're not qualified to be doing, and really should not be doing. They certainly generate lots of unnecessary work, such as reports that no one ever reads, from non-committee members.

    The crow's nest room is by no means unique to your campus. These can't happen by accident: some architect designed on purpose a conference room in which the committee members can look down as lords and masters of their domains.

    Often these rooms have a men's room immediately adjacent, with a window right over the urinal. One can look down at the world while relieving oneself. I can't for the life of me imagine that this design came about by accident.

  6. Frod, I know the piece in question, but haven't read it. I will endeavor. Thanks for the tip.

    Alas our urinal just looks at an old photo of campus. And it wasn't very pretty then either!

  7. If I were the RGM I would give this one a P.O.W. Go Hiram.


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