Friday, February 03, 2006

What have I been doing?

It's been an odd week, passing by quickly, but most of what I've done is unrelated to research. One thing I did this week was our taxes. For some reason we got mailed a free copy of H&R Block's TaxCut software. We've been using TurboTax for years. In any case, the taxes were really good news. It looks like we'll be getting back a large sum, which will be nice. Because of the move, and so many uncertainties in life, we really didn't know.

Also, we've been dealing with our real estate troubles. We're renting a house now. We're in a very high cost market, and the alternative would be to buy a tiny place, or commute about 45 minutes-hour each way. Renting is perhaps 40% cheaper in monthly expenses. And, since we really don't know how long we will be here (since I continue to look for a "permanent" tenure-track faculty appointment), it doesn't make sense to even try.

But we own a house in our old locale, still. It's been on the market since JUNE! We fired the last agent... well, we let the contract lapse. Quick advice: when you want to sell a house, negotiate a short initial agreement with your agent. If you're satisfied that they are working for you, even if the place hasn't sold, you can always renew. We signed a six-month exclusivity clause. Never again.

Well, we have a new agent now, and will be listing in the next week or so, at a price nearly $30,000 less than initially. But, we just want to sell it. It's expensive enough to cover our rental here, but to have a mortgage on a vacant house! Okay, enough of that.

Next, I've been working on a new round of job applications. There are fewer postings these days, but I'm putting a great deal more effort into the applications. I'm excited by the prospect of this post in the UK. All I have left to work up today is a "list of publications," which I'll prepare as an annotated listing, with two or three sentences describing each article. I'll also include two "in preparation" articles, to show them what I'm working on at the moment. This place asked for a "one-page outline of research interests and future plans" and a list of publications, in addition to the CV and cover letter, and their school's application form.

I think it's a good sign. I am a researcher. I look like a researcher. I enjoy teaching, and I'm happy to do it. But I hate having to dumb down my work to pretend research is only a small part of what I do. I don't believe that research is in opposition to teaching. Quite the contrary, I believe that a good researcher is one who is able to make their work relevant to as broad an audience as possible, who is able to explain their work to a variety of audiences, and who is able to find the connections between their work and the interests of an undergraduate population, a graduate student body, and the general public. It looks like this school is interested in researcher/scholar/teachers, so it should be a good fit, assuming of course.

Today I received a letter from a nearby school (okay it's 2.5 hours from here) but anything that doesn't require a plane counts as nearby. They were requesting additional supporting materials, but the deadline was two days ago. (I called and they said I could email the materials in .pdf, so I did). The letter was dated 23 Jan, but only arrived today. Hmmm... So I look, and discover that they mailed it to my old address (1100 miles away). Why? This is the second or third time a school has used an old address of mine for correspondence, even though I did not include that address in my cover letter or CV. As best I can guess someone simply took the address off of a transcript or something that they had requested. What gives? Come on, folks, read the cover letter, look at the CV. Don't just pull random addresses out of the ether. What do they think, graduate students and post-docs don't ever move?

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