Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Saved by the zombies

Of course I sleep with my iPhone next to me. Who doesn't?

This morning I planned to sleep late and go into work late.  As I awoke a little before 8, I reached for my iPhone ... and there was a message from the dean from 7:42 AM.  Urgent: He was going before the Regents at 9:30, and did I have some data for him.

I did not have the data.  Not in my bed, not on my iPhone ... and not in my office.  It didn't really exist.

This was my first dean-related fire drill since I took this job in September.  My credibility was on the line.

I did what I normally do when faced with something that looks limiting: I reframed it.  On my iPhone, in my bed, I wrote the dean a note that explained that what the Regents were asking him about was limiting, too small, and that he should answer it giving the following (qualitative) information, which was much more sophisticated than what the original question asked for.

I then threw my clothes on and ran out of the house to try to get to work in time to dig up the nonexistent data, calling a member of my team so she could get started on it.  Some colleagues also chimed in with some data.  I had pretty much nothing, but at 9:30, I took a break, knowing I'd done all I could do.

Then I started following the Regents meeting on Twitter ... and found that at about 9:30 students dressed as zombies did the Thriller dance in order to protest fee hikes.  All the usual clean-up ensued, delaying the session.

In fact, the dean didn't go on until about 3:30.  I was confused to see that the discussion was about diversity, which, while important, was not on the agenda and not what he had asked me about.  Actually, the Regents started by asking him one question about diversity, and then they argued among themselves.  Twitter then showed that the item the dean was there for was voted on and over, and they moved on.

When I ran into the dean later at work, he showed me the briefing that the Regents had had, the briefing that he saw this morning when he emailed me.  His piece was breakthrough, both for the university and for all schools like ours -- and the agenda had highlighted it as a potential problem, essentially putting a bullseye on his back.  He was ready to be mauled.  He needed my data as a shield.

Instead, the zombies delayed things so much that, after taking the time to air their criticism of the university's diversity, the Regents approved the dean's request without discussion.  And there was much rejoicing on our parts.

And the dean thought my reframing was brilliant and wants to incorporate it into school strategy.  It might not have been the shield he would have needed, but I passed my first dean's fire drill.

I am quite grateful that we were all saved by the zombies.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

And in the shadows there was a cow.

I spent a lovely afternoon with my cousins, hanging around the pool, floating and socializing in multigenerational combinations, drinking gin and tonics (I don't drink gin, so I had a bourbon and ginger), reading, and soaking up the sun and each other's company.

And in the shadows there was a cow.

As I was leaving my house to head over there, I grabbed a bottle of wine to bring with me.  Since I hadn't had lunch, I grabbed some cheese and crackers.

This part of my family has had an infestation of veganism.  I believe it started with my cousin, Ruby, who is a published author of children's books on veganism.  With the various health issues of the older cousins, they seem to have become convinced that eating vegan would help them live longer.

I knew that bringing cheese into the house was treasonous.  (Let's not even go into the issue of rennet!) At the same time, I was hungry.  And I had a feeling that a couple of people there might secretly not be vegan and/or just be dying for something more substantial than salad and grains and nuts.  When I arrived, I proactively apologized profusely and reassured the group that I would not be leaving cheese in the house but would take "any leftovers" (i.e., all of it) with me.

My cousin, Daniel, was enormously grateful.  He actually took some of it to hide and eat later.  My cousin-in-law, Jeff, was not there: he is an opportunitarian, meaning he will eat what is provided.  I know he would have secretly taken the opportunity.  These vegans are harsh.

Daniel and I agreed that my bringing cheese to the house was as if I'd brought a freshly-slaughtered pig.    We were the real rebels today.

P.S.: As I began to select labels for this post from my label list, I am delighted to find that I already have a label for "cheese."

P.P.S.: The cheeses I brought were both indeed cow's milk cheeses.  Because I wouldn't have titled this post this way if it had been sheep cheese.  (See also below: the creature that makes all the noise when you visit this page.)