There have been a fair number of posts on various blogs that have reported having too many meetings and such to survive. I am in that position also. This week, of the "40" hours of time that I am supposed to be at work, 13 are NOT in meetings. That is 13 hours in which my graduate students and Post Docs and undergrads can come and ask me questions. 13 hours in which I can answer e-mail from people asking me to schedule more meetings, sign documents, and actually do things for the meetings that I am attending.
I had a student send me a $25K proposal to JPL that we are working on last night at 10:54 PM, and asked me to send a revision back to him by the end of the day today. I laugh. I have exact 1 hour of free time today, and I can pretty much guarantee that I will be asked to do many other things besides this as soon as I get back to my office from class.
Luckily, many of the meetings that I had the week are once in a lifetime meetings. Let's take a look at some of the more pleasant meetings:
1. Yesterday I got to be "yelled at" by my department chair (again!) and head IT person for buying non-rack-mountable computers that we put into the server room. The head IT person got it into her head about a year ago that our department chair was going to cut the room in half, and therefore we would have to get rid of machines and make everything much more compact. She started telling people that they could only buy rack-mountable hardware. Well, this type of hardware costs 2 times the amount of other hardware, so it is not very cost effective. Also, the premise is absurd - the department chair is not going to cut the server room in half. So, why should I buy these systems? Well, now it is because she has forced others to do it, so everyone has to. What an asinine reason - spend twice as much money because I forced other people to do it! Oh, and the kicker is that the machines were not for myself, but for the department chair.
2. I had to deal with a co-investigator who we are building some hardware for. He won some grants, and we are building the instruments for him. He asked us if we could lower the amount of the subcontract if he bought the raw parts, and we would integrate everything. I agreed to this, as long as everything was extremely clear. We also have a very hard to meet deadline on these instruments, because all of the engineers are overbooked for the next N months. So, yesterday, the guy tells us that he can't order any parts until December, because his funding from his university wasn't going to be in yet. I have engineers who are waiting on parts that were supposed to be ordered already (we thought they were ordered). WTF??? So, after explaining all of this to him, he agreed and is going to order the parts understanding that his university will eventually give him money. What a pain!
3. I had a meeting with all of the College's departmental and college-level advisers. Every time I go to one of these meetings, I feel like an idiot. Everyone there has been an adviser for about as long as I have been alive. They have these great systems set up and know exactly what to do when X, Y, or Z happens to a student. I, on the other hand, have no training what-so-ever in being an adviser, and don't even know some of the classes that students are supposed to take to graduate (like what the hell is the difference between humanities and social studies? Why do we care? And what is a humanities sequence? These are things that I should KNOW!) I raised this issue at the meeting, and they are going to start having training meetings for advisers. Wow! That is fantastic! The first meeting that they are having is going to be a report on what people learned at some advising conference. What? This has nothing to do with training us! The first meeting should be an open meeting to ask "What do you people not know? What questions do you have?" Let's get the known unknowns covered before we start talking about the conferences that we don't have time to attend.
Ok, I have overstayed my welcome and now actually have to work. Hopefully I can stick my head out of the fox hole in the next week and blog again. And maybe I won't get my head shot off.
7 months ago