Monday, April 13, 2009

Two things:

1. I hate getting an e-mail from someone who just MIGHT be sending me very bad news that has no subject heading. Immediately I assume the worst possible - that the person was too distraught to write in a heading. And then when the e-mail turns out to be an informational tidbit about someone I know who retired from my university a while back, it causes a lot of cognitive dissonance. (" this maybe an obituary?" But I could find no reference to the individual's death, so it must be just an informational tidbit.).

2. I had to fill out a survey on 'civic engagement by professors.' I feel kind of violated now - they made us give an estimate of how much time in the past year we put in (and they didn't make it clear - did they mean "time in comparison to your working time" or "time out of your life, total"? I figured they meant in terms of working hours...I hope that's what they meant). They then wanted a DESCRIPTION of each project, AND our names so they could "credit" us for it. I really don't like that; it creeps me out. It makes me wonder if in the future there is going to be pressure to do more (Dammit, I should have included my AAUW service. Because it's not directly tied to my "work work" in the sense of being science related, I tend to over look it. That would have upped my measley 5% of my time estimate).

I HOPE this isn't going to be some starting point for a rah-rah campaign to force encourage us to "donate" some set percentage of our time to volunteer work. Because dang it - I'm the secretary for the local AAUW chapter. And I do Youth Group at church. And I teach Sunday School. And I pick up trash. And I belong to a committee that tries to encourage people not to litter and not to blacktop their yards and not to park old nonfunctional clunker cars in their yard. And I help judge science fairs. And I do many other things for which I am neither compensated nor thanked, and it irritates me to think I may be told, "That hour and a half of free time you have every day? That's TOO MUCH. You need to give some of that away." Kind of like being told the $56K I earn is "too much" and I need to give away more of it in taxes...

I suppose the other possibility - less insidious - of requiring us to give our names is so that people can't claim wild crazy stuff that they never took part in, so they can check up on it if it looks hinky. (It is my natural bent to downplay what I do - as I said, I forgot my service to AAUW though I could have counted that, and I didn't even mention the stuff I do at church)

I don't know. I find as I get older I need to be even more protective of my limited free time. I wear out faster, I lose patience with humanity faster, and it would not be good to tell me I need to spend MORE Saturdays doing thankless tasks for some obscure amorphous "good of the community."

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