Re: Ask The Mineshaft: Talk Amongst Yourselves Edition

1

Ahhh two nations divided by a common language. What you call an "honors course" is I think known in UK educational jargon as a "book club".

Other faculty members are reading Harry Potter, Blink, etc.

ooouch. look, I know someone is probably at this very minute getting an honours degree in economics by reading "Freakonomics" or "Airmiles". just don't rub my face in it, that's all I ask.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:02 AM
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I don't think this sounds like a "course" either.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:04 AM
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Also, Airmiles is not the book, but the author.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:06 AM
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Hang on, no, this one course does not constitute an honors degree. The honors curriculum is very intense. But in its course, the students get an opportunity to do silly things like this book club-esque mini-course with different professors, outside of their discipline.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:06 AM
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The Brits are fiercely proud of their quaintly archaic culture.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:07 AM
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With the quarter just starting here, I've been thinking about similar issues. In my experience, I find that opening with a lightning round of public humiliation really gets things off to a good start. Mock one of the students for walking funny or for wearing a kippah. Or demand that they all account for Israel's settlement policy. Then, as soon as they begin to answer, cut them off with a sneering rebuttal. Finally, ask, of the book, "what did you think"? Regardless of what the first response is, reply: "you can't be serious about that. Jackass." Then march out.

Or, if you want to keep your job, have them write a very short piece, perhaps only a paragraph, about some aspect of the reading. In an ideal world, have them post their writing to a shared website a day or two before you meet so they can all see what others are thinking. And then, on the day of the meeting, lead with questions about their writing. It also works to ask them to post three or four good questions about the reading, though I recommend giving them some sense of the kinds of questions you want.

All of that said, if they're young -- first years without much experince in a discussion-based setting -- start with really easy questions about the book and then move into more substantive, and, in this case, controversial material.

Good luck.


Posted by: anmik | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:07 AM
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But keep the condecsension coming.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:07 AM
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Hey wait, did I go to Heebie U? This wouldn't happen to be the second-plan honors course, would it?


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:09 AM
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Course, schmourse. Something honors students are expected to do to build relationships with faculty, is what I assume it is. Heebie teaches math, so obviously this isn't meant to be a rigorously academic experience in literary analysis.

I'd go in with a bunch of openended questions -- things that are puzzling you, or whatever, and get the students talking about those. About stuff in the book, in the historical background, if you wanted to tie into current events with the war-crimes aspect, there are a million directions to go in.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:09 AM
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Nope. You went to Heebie Grad School. Now I'm at a bitty school about an hour outside of Austin.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:10 AM
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Hook 'em Heebie Grad School woo!

Are you north or south of our alma mater?


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:13 AM
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7: Where would dsquared's inimitable charm be without the condescension?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:13 AM
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I do not encourage Heebie to build relationships with students. Look what happened to Mary Beth LeTourneau.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:14 AM
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well if it is just a book club type thing, the usual icebreaker is "well so did anybody read the book then". followed by "No" and an hour's gossip about who's shagging who.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:14 AM
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South. I found out yesterday that the joke used to be that our old acronym stood for The Last Choice. (We since changed the name, but you might have heard that joke.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:14 AM
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Perhaps you could posy on it here and invite your students to join in.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:14 AM
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Hey, check out the Slaughterhouse Five movie! It was excellent. Or I thought so anyway. Did you see it?


Posted by: marcus | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:17 AM
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Mary Kay. I was thinking of Mary Beth Cahill, whose problems are entirely different.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:17 AM
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17 - Is it? I haven't seen it.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:18 AM
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I need all my charm for my clients. I have had 14 hours sleep this week (audited figures; units of 2,2,5,3,2) and written an 18,000 word research report so fuck everyone. ps, dear clients, it just turned six o clock and I am all charmed out so fuck you lot too. pps: except for my US clients where it is still business hours, I still like you lot, have you lost weight? that's a funny remark.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:19 AM
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My personal favorite trajectory for leading this particular kind of discussion goes about like so:

Beforehand: I prepare a list of conversation points (that is, topics that I think are discussion-worthy) and also PAGE NUMBERS for notable/provocative/confusing passages.

At the start: Do not begin by asking students whether they liked the book. This can come up in the sort of pre-discussion discussion, in the same part where you ask them how their weekends went, but is not a great way to begin a productive discussion with undergrads, in most cases.

I then like to begin with discussion of things that are confusing or ambiguous sheerly in terms of what is being conveyed, or "what really happened" in a given section: basically, questions of fact.

From there, I like to proceed to questions of what the *point* is of putting various elements together in the work -- how different bits of the novel combine, whether one bit makes you see a different bit in a different light, whether certain parts seem to be comments on other parts, stuff like that.

From there, it's about the right time to move on to talking more about topics that get closer to their personal aesthetic response: what parts were powerful, moving, boring, funny, MEMORABLE (that's a good one), and then working together to try to figure out what created that effect.

Discussion of the political-historical context of the book -- its rhetorical objectives, what it's a response to, how it was received, and stuff like that, can either come at the beginning or at the end, or just as questions come up. It is helpful if you, as the authority figure, do a little bit of background reading to help the students answer questions of that sort.

Unfortunately, it's been a long time since I've read S5, so I don't have any specific suggestions for topics of conversation.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:21 AM
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It's all good -- Americans expect anyone from the UK to be concealing a secret belief that we're all undereducated classless morons, so having you come right out and say it confirms our prejudices.

The bombing starts in 15 minutes.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:22 AM
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Let them live in their fairy-tale world, LB.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:24 AM
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So I'm thinking first thing, first class, heebie: "who here thinks the Nazis got a bad rap?"


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:25 AM
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Americans expect anyone from the UK to be concealing a secret belief that we're all undereducated classless morons

Secret?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:25 AM
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It's that characteristic UK understatement, ttaM. We're mostly too slow to pick up on it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:29 AM
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I have to disagree with 21: don't start by asking them if they liked the book. That's a sure-fire way to kill the conversation. Go in with specific questions, but make sure they're open-ended, not yes-or-no.

Also, I want to teach here, because it's such a cool, fake-sounding university name.


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:30 AM
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Americans expect anyone from the UK to be concealing a secret belief that we're all undereducated classless morons

We feel this as something of a projection, of our own feelings about the culture around us, that we're caught up in no matter who we are, and what it must look like to others.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:31 AM
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20: And oh, that sounds brutal. I've been spending too much time at work lately too, but in my case it's that I've gotten to a point where I hate this job so much I'm almost entirely non-functional. If I were reasonably capable of actually focusing on what I'm supposed to, I wouldn't need to be here all that much.

Anyone know any good NY area meth dealers?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:31 AM
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given the book how about:

"*sighhh* .... Well what the fuck was that all about?"


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:31 AM
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27: Technically, that would be agreeing, rather than disagreeing, with 21.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:32 AM
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Americans expect anyone from the UK to be concealing a secret belief that we're all undereducated classless morons

As opposed to concealing an open belief?


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:33 AM
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31: Just so. What do you take me for, young man?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:33 AM
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It contradicts rfts but I was going to say you should pose two questions: have each name their favorite character or scene and have each name their least favorite. Tell them not to say why. Tell them they cannot say why they feel this way. You want names, places, not reasons. Make them go around the circle. If there is any room for disagreement in those assessments they will be clawing at the air to say why someone else is wrong by the time everyone is done.

Caveat: I originally trained to be a middle school teacher. One hopes honors students are less easily manipulated.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:34 AM
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I sort of get what dsquared is saying in 1, in that nothing like that sort of course would get anywhere near inclusion in an honours level curriculum at most British universities. I can see how it might serve a useful ice-breaking function, though, as per 9.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:36 AM
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In's SEK's culture it's considered to be intrusive and rude to agree with anyone. It's as if you're trying to appropriate their opinions -- sort of like hitting on a guy's wife.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:36 AM
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29: you have to leave when it gets to that point. It's just not worth it. Even sitting around reminding yourself that you could be digging latrines, dipping sheep, or discussing Vonnegut with undergraduates no longer works? Nah, it's CV time. Remember that it takes three months, minimum. From the financial point of view, remember that it is in fact not "the whole line of work" - most likely it is one or two specific bastards (or an entire culture of them) and you will be able to more clearly identify in retrospect who they were. Head for the exit, starting nowish; now is the best time to be looking, as everyone wants to hire people who will resign in December (and thus have no accrued bonus to buy out). go, go, go.

right, I am off for an ice cold pint of lager. US clients, I am afraid that my Blackberry doesn't get a signal in the pub. Because it isn't switched on in the pub.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:37 AM
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Budweiser, we hope.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:38 AM
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Even sitting around reminding yourself that you could be digging latrines, dipping sheep, or discussing Vonnegut with undergraduates no longer works? Nah, it's CV time.

I'm in the process, but it takes a while. And my guess is that it's not specific bastards (oh, there's one or two, but they aren't the problem.), nor lawyering itself, but law firms, which seems to be a pretty conventional problem. The move-from-law-firm-to-gov't-or-inhouse-and-get-much-happier pattern is pretty common, and it's what I'm hoping for. Finding a home, though, is slow.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:41 AM
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35: I think this is the same sort of "ice-breaker" program that would also exist in a UK college honors track. Just that in the US you have to take things like this as a "course" for which everyone receives a "grade", or else students see it as optional and it becomes the mark of a weirdo to actually show up more than 30% of the time.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:42 AM
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40--
i'm puzzled.
you mean the income stream from being a name poster on this blog won't support you on the upper east side?


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:43 AM
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I've actually kind of semi-retired from posting. Not that I spend any less time commenting, of course.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:44 AM
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40 seems like it makes sense, certainly from our side. What would it be called and how would it work over there?


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:45 AM
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42--
well, no wonder the dollars aren't rolling in as fast.
quit your job, post a lot more, and buck can retire, too.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:45 AM
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Hey, it worked for Dooce.


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:48 AM
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RFTS is correct: don't say "did you like the book?" Students get anxious about that.

Couple good discussing-books tricks I really like:

A. Prepare a few binary questions, one for each week, and make them come to class with a one-page "response" to that week's question. You can make the questions about Major Critical Issues in that text, or Important Themes, or whatever--but it's important that they are (1) binary and (2) have a "why?" or "how?"-type component.

Example: "Blake famously said that in Paradise Lost, Milton was of the devil's party but didn't know it. Do you sympathize with the character of Satan in PL? Why or why not?"

Then you start off the class by having them take out their one-page responses, repeating the question, and asking for volunteers to read or summarize their answers. Because the question is binary, you'll immediately get other students who disagreed, and you're off to the races. Because the response questions are TURNED IN FOR CREDIT (all you gotta do is check 'em off and spot-check/comment on a few--warn the kids that if the responses are lame or seem like they're just bullshitting and haven't done the reading, they won't get credit) they'll do the reading. If you want, you can have the different week questions build on each other, or they can just bring up completely different issues in the book, either way is fine.

Plus, preparing the questions will give you a frame for what you want to talk about, and you won't need to do any further prep; you can just glance at the questions as you walk into class and you'll remember what it was you were thinking and wanted to say.

B. A good general discussion trick that I've shared before: it seems lamely highschoolish, but it works, dammit. Bring two colors of sticky notes to class, and make each kid take, say, 2-3 yellows and 1 orange. The yellows are for comments/answers, and the oranges are for questions. Each kid has to spend *all* their stickies by the end of class, and no student can talk *after* they've spent them (when they talk, they stick the sticky they're spending to the front of the desk--which makes it easy to keep track of who's participating). You can even limit yourself to the same # of stickies, which can be scary but I swear it works. Then you start by spending your one orange sticky on hopefully a good question (it could even be the response question, if you combine this with the other thing), and you sit and wait.

All you gotta do during discussion is let the silence last long enough for someone to get uncomfortable and say something. Usually that's the teacher, so you have to just let yourself squirm while you sit there looking calm. The only time this doesn't work is if they genuinely haven't done the reading (or if you use lame questions like "so, did you like the book?" long silence. eventually, "yes." Wow, you're really cranking now--not.)--which once that becomes clear and you force them to fess up, you scold them in your best Stern Mom voice and then give them a five-minute pop quiz, and when it's over you tell them they're all dismissed in a really disgusted voice. They won't do it again.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:52 AM
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Link it to the Iraq War. Lay it on thick. In Texas that will be fun.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:54 AM
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40/43

It wouldn't, they don't exist. Or at least, I've never heard of anything approximating one.



Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 11:57 AM
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Follow on to my 46A: If you're really really good (i.e., if you pick your questions well), what happens from a discussion is that the students automatically land on some of the major stuff you want them to learn, seemingly all on their own. A bunch of kids will talk about how Satan's "better to rule in hell than serve in heaven" seems sympathetic, and god seems awfully mean, and then someone will say "but he's SATAN!111!!!!!" and you get to say "aha! Really good point! Do you think that maybe that's part of what Milton's trying to get you to realize?" and then suddenly they've discovered that the poet is leading them to realize their own Sinful Natures and How the Devil Works and they'll be all impressed an shit and suddenly Milton's much cooler than they thought.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 12:05 PM
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29: dude, get out of there.

I don't know if this is a good fit for you, or if non-profit work is financially feasible at all (but so fun!), but I'm linking it anyway.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 12:07 PM
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b. was really of jehovah's party, but didn't know it.

sounds to me like you should get back in a classroom soon--
you clearly enjoy it. and that's lamentably rare.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 12:07 PM
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5. The Brits are fiercely proud of their quaintly archaic culture.

No Brit-bashing please. One of my degrees came from LSE (just don't eat the bangers and mash).


Posted by: swampcracker | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 12:07 PM
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Sorry, Brits, Germans, Scandinavians and Canadians are my specialties. And also dark ethnic types.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 12:22 PM
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heebie, from my perspective this seems like a giant waste of time education-wise. But I imagine it's one of those things that costs the university practically nothing and makes the students feel in-groupy, so try to enjoy it.

I don't do literature, but I've found in philosophical discussions (when I'm not in full-on analysis mode) the most important thing is to make the class a safe space where the students can feel free to offer a half-thought out criticism (or just 'That's bullshit!') without feeling like they haven't given the right answer or feeling like what they're supposed to be doing is agreeing with you.

Since all you've got is the month of October... a couple suggestions.
1) Have some sort of frame for the discussion. Maybe you do a little quick reading on the actual history and find some interesting tidbit. All my examples are philosophy, but people are much more interested in Spinoza on substance monism if you begin the discussion by reading the announcement that declared him a heretic and formally exiled him from Amsterdam. They want to know when Nietzsche went insane and did he really hug a horse. It breaks the ice a little and then allows you to bring up a question. No more than five minutes out of the hour, though.

2) They might not always do the reading, especially if the 'class' is basically 'write one-page response papers for a non-literature professor and Harry Potter is okay material', meaning it probably gets dropped in priority somewhere below the calc midterm and the poli sci paper and taking a nap. It is probably advisable to take this as a working assumption and have a list of interesting/contradictory passages that you can pull out, make them re-read (or read, who are we kidding) and jumpstart the discussion that way.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 12:24 PM
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b. was really of jehovah's party, but didn't know it.

hey! I get that reference!

oh.......we're not playing that game anymore, are we?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 12:27 PM
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OK peep, if it's references, what neighborhood do you live in?


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 12:29 PM
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I've found in philosophical discussions (when I'm not in full-on analysis mode) the most important thing is to make the class a safe space where the students can feel free to offer a half-thought out criticism (or just 'That's bullshit!') without feeling like they haven't given the right answer or feeling like what they're supposed to be doing is agreeing with you.

Yeah, although I try to discourage people from overly personal responses to papers or books and sort of inculcate the notion that no-one really cares whether or not they liked something. Not in a dismissive way, but to get them to think not in terms of their personal response to a piece of work but in terms what they can say about it qua philosophy.

2 is excellent advice.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 12:32 PM
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56: Clintonville.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 12:34 PM
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Nobody cares that I think that Analytic Philosophy sux? Damn.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 12:36 PM
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Anyone know any good NY area meth dealers?

What you want is Adderall, which you could probably find with a minimum of effort. This comment is 100% serious.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 12:37 PM
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57: Encouraging them to work out an idea isn't the same as saying 'tell me whether you liked it.' 'Half-thought out criticism' shouldn't be taken as saying 'we have no standards', just that I don't want them to wait until they've worked out whether I think Descartes was a coherence or correspondence theorist before they say 'wait a second, how is this supposed to work?'


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 12:38 PM
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58: It's were I would live if. We can't stop playing that game, at least I can't.

My dad once showed me around his hometown, Amherst N.S., and couldn't help remembering where he expected to end up, what exactly his parallel lives were like, and so on.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 12:39 PM
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where


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 12:39 PM
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31, 33: Need more coffee. Yes, meant "agree," obviously.


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 12:41 PM
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Divide and instruct: part the class down the middle, and ask one side to assemble debaters' points justifying the bombing of Dresden, and the other side condemning it. There are good books covering it. Fred Taylor, Dresden, seems reputable to me, though I'm sure Anderson will pop up to denounce it.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 12:42 PM
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60: Yeah, I've thought about it, but whenever I look at ADD self-diagnoses, they seem to describe people who are worse off than I am. I make myself miserable, but I very rarely actually fail to get anything important done. I think I mostly just dislike my job.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 12:44 PM
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I'm not saying you're ADD. Neither are most of the kids on college campuses taking it.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 12:48 PM
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62: Did you live in Upper Arlington the whole time you lived in Columbus?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 12:49 PM
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Say "so it goes" every once in awhile.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 12:51 PM
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makes the students feel in-groupy

There's not zero value to this, especially at Big State U's.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 12:52 PM
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Sure, 61 is right. I definitely didn't mean, 'shut up unless you can produce a fully reasoned argument'.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 12:53 PM
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Say "so it goes"

I knew John was secretly a Billy Joel fan after all.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 12:53 PM
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I don't think the Apostropher was suggesting you actually have ADD, LB; I think he was suggesting that if you're seriously looking for a chemical stimulant to help you better perform your job, you should be looking at Adderall, not street meth. And I'm not sure, but he might secondarily have been suggesting that if you aren't seriously looking for such a chemical stimulant, maybe you should be.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 12:53 PM
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67: Ah. You mean find a Dr. Feelgood. Yeah, I've thought about that too.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 12:54 PM
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66:You might want to look into having a professional assessment--as far as I know the self-diagnosis checklists aren't very useful, especially if it's not that severe a case.


Posted by: the Other Paul | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 12:54 PM
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I lived in upper arlington for three years and clintonville for 1. Being able to walk to the movies in upper arlington was really nice.

LB might consider scopolamine.

Blake is OK, but Wordsworth is a windbag pastiche of fishbones and candied cubeb.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 12:56 PM
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68: No, when we immigrated we lived off Briggs road, in what was then the far southwestern edge of the city. Right up against the woods and cultivated fields. One of the ironies is that I lived far closer to nature and had many more rural experiences in the US than in Canada.

And I lived in apartments in the campus area, and knew many other areas intimately from pizza delivery and other truck-driving jobs. I have a grip on the geography of central Ohio I've never gotten in Chicago in 30 years.

An example: I played Pop Warner football at the school where Jamie Galbraith had his voting-line adventures as a volunteer in the 2004 election, that I think he described at Salon.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 12:58 PM
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I recommend good old fashioned whiskey, LB. It may not actually help you focus on your job, granted.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 12:58 PM
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Slightly OT, but I just got through representing my company at a booth at the career fair at Big Important University. A few booths "upstream" from us was the Ame/rican Enterpr/se Inst/tute, recruiting research analysts with with a loud and proud display of their public policy work on Iraq.

More than a few of the candidates that stopped by my booth had A//E//I brochures in their hands.

Would it be wrong to throw their resumes in the trash? Actually, they didn't hand in resumes, because recruiting at BIU is fully electronic. But would it be wrong to subtley blackball them? Mind you, I have interviewed and offered jobs to people who interned for Mike DeWi/ne and Lisa Murk/owski, and one who turned us down to work for the Natio//nal Re/view, but the A//E///I is kind of over the line, isn't it?


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 12:58 PM
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I live in cbus, and amd still trying to figure out that game.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 12:59 PM
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scopolamine is like the worst drug ever.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:00 PM
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79: for having brochures in their hands? No, don't count that against them. They could have been just making the rounds. If they were talking enthusiastically about the A//E//I (are the slashes really necessary?) booth, that's another matter.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:00 PM
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79: (a) It would be wrong because that sort of thing is just wrong, and (b) it would be instrumentally wrong because picking up a brochure doesn't mean anything. A candidate could be ignorant, or could be picking up the brochure to laugh at it, or anything.

And yes, whiskey is an excellent thing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:01 PM
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St. John's College, IIRC, conducted its seminars by having students say what they didn't understand or found puzzling/abhorrent in the book, and that seemed to work well. So ditto the above comment on those lines.


Posted by: Anderson | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:01 PM
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Wait, you lived in UA, lw? Yet you know the Nort' West side of Chicago too? You've got unexpected affinities with me.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:01 PM
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Say "so it goes"

I knew John was secretly a Billy Joel fan after all.

Nick Lowe


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:02 PM
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So where do you live, yoyo? And where does lw live most of the time now?


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:04 PM
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57: You can also deal with "personal" responses by asking them to try to say what about them explains their response (what experiences of theirs; what beliefs they were raised with; etc.) You have to make this not sound like a hostile question, which takes some care. It helps to establish at the beginning of the course that you'll be asking this question, so the first person you do it to doesn't flip out. This basically amounts to asking about *reasons* for their personal responses, but I find that it gets a more productive reaction. Obviously, YMMV.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:06 PM
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If anyone in NYC wants the name of a psychiatrist who'll see you quickly and isn't stingy with the scrips, I've got one.


Posted by: Tia | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:06 PM
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Grew up mostly in Evanston, grad school in Col's. Is there a recreational market? I thought that mentioning a zombie chemical would be an ever-so-subtle way of suggesting that self-medication for situational problems is usually suboptimal. Bourbon excepted.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:07 PM
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79: Don't listen to LB. If someone had a brochure from NAMBLA in hand, you'd reject them out of hand. Would that be "wrong"? Probably, but you'd still do it. Are we really arguing that AEI material is less problematic than NAMBLA material?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:07 PM
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Wait...those are different? I've got to stop watching the Daily Show.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:08 PM
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90: Generally my philosophy, which is why I was asking for a meth dealer rather than a shrink with a relaxed attitude. But it is an idea I keep toying with -- if I don't find another job soon, Tia, I may be asking you for Dr. Feelgood's name.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:09 PM
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You mean find a Dr. Feelgood

I'd be shocked if there wasn't somebody in your firm taking Adderall off-prescription.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:11 PM
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Jesus, LB, I hope you're not serious. Find another job already.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:11 PM
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DC burbs now for me. The hardest thing for me about worklife disharmonies is that my problems have faces and personalities; exercise helps me, especially if I can do something outdoors.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:12 PM
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Are the slashes really necessary?

It's not worth the risk. The acretion of biographical detail I have posted under this pseud is more than enough to identify me.

I'm already scared I'm going to be detained as a material witness in the McManus trial.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:13 PM
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97--
there will be no trial.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:14 PM
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I'm north of OSU and south of clintonville


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:14 PM
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95: I'm not serious. Getting organized enough to get to a shrink for a not-medically-indicated prescription for anything is exactly the sort of idea I can not get around to for years at a time (which is about how long I've been not getting around to it.) I'm just expressing general dissatisfaction with my general character and work ethic.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:15 PM
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I'm just expressing general dissatisfaction with my general character and work ethic.

Juvenal had it worse, and his gripes are still funny. Actually, Procopius too; he didn't know it at the time, but he got the last laugh; he has great material to work with, but doesn't make the most of it for laughs.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:18 PM
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99--
i pretty much just said that because it's what mcmanus would say.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:18 PM
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Coffee, luckily, is non-prescription.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:19 PM
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That Columbus landscape is so freighted with significance for me it's astounding. Probably the fact that I was young there accounts for most of that intensity, plus the peculiarity I've mentioned before here and there that thoughts and ideas are mapped onto visual memories for me, so that I see places when ideas occur and vice versa.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:20 PM
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a) It would be wrong because that sort of thing is just wrong, and (b) it would be instrumentally wrong because picking up a brochure doesn't mean anything.

In truth, I never seriously considered anything of the sort. Most of these were just drive-by's who will probably never apply to us anyway. And in the past I have been scrupulously fair to those whose resumes revealed a conservative tilt (though perhaps unconciously a little more than fair to those whose resumes revealed the opposite bias).

Really, what struck me was the fact that a non-trivial number of elite university students in 2007 could still walk past that booth and think, "oh, interesting, I'll read up on that". It helps to remind onesself that not everyone is so obsessive about politics, and that most of these kids have probably never heard of the Aye Eeee Eye.

Side note: Some staffer at BIU must have gotten some jollies out of putting the Carter Center booth right next to them.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:21 PM
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Never underestimate the power of a bland acronym -- American Enterprise Institute is an organization name you could see over and over again and still have it not stick. It just sounds vague and worthy.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:25 PM
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exactly the sort of idea I can not get around to for years at a time

Hmm. Maybe you are ADD. (That was 0% serious.)

Coffee, luckily, is non-prescription.

Caffeine is really not a great drug for enhancing concentration, even leaving aside the fact that most adults have developed superjunkie levels of tolerance to it. I'm not advocating anybody use drugs (...laydeez officers), but if you go the better-living-through-chemistry route, some are better suited to certain tasks than others.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:28 PM
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Assuming these things are genetic, nicotine would probably work great for me -- my parents and sister all swear by it as a study/focus aide. But I'm too old to start smoking.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:30 PM
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If anyone in NYC wants the name of a psychiatrist who'll see you quickly and isn't stingy with the scrips, I've got one.

Dr. Leo Spaceman?


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:30 PM
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98: Where do draw the line? Hudson Avenue?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:31 PM
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But I'm too old to start smoking.

You're too smart to start smoking. I wish I'd never started.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:32 PM
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It just sounds vague and worthy

This is generally true of think tanks. The more bland the name, the more insidious the organization. Like the Council for National Policy for example.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:32 PM
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111: what? Apart from the potential health-effects, and the cost, smoking is fantastic. I've tried time and again to pick up the habit but I just lack the willpower to follow through on it.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:34 PM
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I don't know how people handle the cost these days. I'm wildly cheap, but isn't it getting up to ten bucks a pack? Maybe no one smokes as much as people used to -- from growing up around my parents, I think of 2, 2 1/2 packs a day as pretty normal, but it's probably way high.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:36 PM
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They're about $3 a pack in NC. I only smoke 6-7 cigarettes a day, but the expense isn't really the problem. It's the cancer.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:38 PM
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I smoke 1-2 cigarettes a day.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:39 PM
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I've never smoked cigarettes but I occasionally have dreams in which I'm happily puffing away. The best I can come up with is that there's something deep in my subconscious that associates cigarettes with my grandmother (the one who died of lung cancer a whole lot younger than the one who didn't smoke) and pleasant memories.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:39 PM
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If you do end up trying Adderall, let us know how it goes. A particularly bad two-week period in which I got very nearly literally nothing done at work kicked off a pretty lengthy and ultimately pathetic chain of events that ended up with an appointment to see some guy who specializes in this stuff. It's not for a couple of weeks, and I'm still pretty conflicted about the whole thing.

I'm not sure what apo considers superjunkie levels of tolerance to caffeine, but in my case nearly two liters of coffee a day isn't cutting it.


Posted by: John Tyler | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:39 PM
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Also, in 107 "officers" s/b "NCProsecutor".


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:40 PM
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At something like $7 a pack.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:40 PM
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I have a GREAT attention span, just a tendency for it to focus on something other than the thing I'm supposed to be doing.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:41 PM
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Right, you're in Tobacco World, of course it's much cheaper.

While it's just crossed my mind, are you at all a useful person to ask about job opportunities for molecular biology postdocs in NC? I have this vague recollection that you're somehow involved in drug development, but not specifically how.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:42 PM
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smoking is fantastic

Jesus, but it is. I quit for about four months at the beginning of this year, and when I broke down, it was like smelling your first lover's perfume again.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:43 PM
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are you at all a useful person to ask about job opportunities for molecular biology postdocs in NC

No, but I could put you in touch with people who are.

you're somehow involved in drug development

Computer systems validation and medical writing. I'm a paperwork guy, not a scientist.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:44 PM
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One of the saddest things is hearing my dad, who quit more than ten years ago, talk about it. He gets all wistful, and says he's felt slightly but depressingly stupider ever since he quit -- that the nicotine really made him a cleverer person.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:45 PM
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124: I'll email you. I knew you weren't a research person yourself, but didn't know how close you were to people who are.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:45 PM
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98: Where do draw the line? Hudson Avenue?

Where I would draw it, but I'm years out of date and I'm not pushing real estate.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:48 PM
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that the nicotine really made him a cleverer person

I know I saw something were a doctor was saying that the elderly should take up smoking since it helped with mental function and the downsides probably wouldn't catch you before you died of something else.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:50 PM
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I'll concur with President Tyler's request that you let us know how it goes.

I felt pretty much the same thing: can't concentrate, can't get excited about the job, etc. Ironically, they went ahead and promoted me anyway, so I'm evidently I'm doing a little more than the bare minimum not to get fired, though sometimes I wonder.

Anyway, I tried Wellbutrin for with the same intent in mind, and it didn't do a damn think, though me sweetheart says it made me easier to live with, so there's something.


Posted by: James Garfield | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:51 PM
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like smelling your first lover's perfume again.

Old English?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:51 PM
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I'll concur with President Tyler's request that you let us know how it goes.

I felt pretty much the same thing: can't concentrate, can't get excited about the job, etc. Ironically, they went ahead and promoted me anyway, so I'm evidently I'm doing a little more than the bare minimum not to get fired, though sometimes I wonder.

Anyway, I tried Wellbutrin with the same intent, and it didn't do a damn thing, though my sweetheart says it made me easier to live with, so there's something.


Posted by: James Garfield | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:51 PM
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Old English?

Jovan Musk.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:52 PM
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I'm not actually planning to try any drugs, barring sweet sweet whiskey.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:53 PM
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133: We tried some of this stuff last night and both loved it, despite usually having different tastes in Scotch.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 1:57 PM
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apo's smoking comments remind me that it's been almost nine months since I quit--long enough to have a baby!

Incidentally, the last cigarette I had was at UnfoggeDCon. I will never have a cigarette again, unless maybe something really really horrible happens to me in which case I'll say "fuck it." For now, if I really really want some nicotine (which is once every few weeks), I fire up my hookah pipe, or smoke out of my friend's (tobacco) pipe. I'm convinced that if I put an actual cigarette to my lips, it's all over.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 2:01 PM
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I love to smoke. I feel like I should quit for health reasons and there have been enough deaths and health scares amongst my friends and family that I have finally begun to develop a sense of my own mortality but I'm just tortured by the thought of not letting myself have that one vice.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 2:07 PM
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If you do end up trying Adderall, let us know how it goes. A particularly bad two-week period in which I got very nearly literally nothing done at work kicked off a pretty lengthy and ultimately pathetic chain of events that ended up with an appointment to see some guy who specializes in this stuff. It's not for a couple of weeks, and I'm still pretty conflicted about the whole thing.

I've taken 15 mg Dexedrine spansules for the better part of the past 15 years, and let me tell you: it's far better than coffee, since you can accurately dose yourself (whereas the amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee varies wildly, even within the same pot); but it also helps organize my days, since I know I have six hours of attention ahead of me, so if I take it in the morning, then again in the afternoon, I guarantee myself 12 productive hours. I think this has helped me get where I am today -- from a student who graduated HS with a 1.7 GPA to being mere months away from finishing my Ph.D.

I'll also note that anytime the government needs people to pay attention, they always dose them with Dexedrine: the astronauts inject themselves (if I remember correctly) twice a day with a frightening high dose, but they can only stay in space so long; the military doses fighter pilots; &c.

I highly recommend it to anyone who, you know, wants to get things done. Also, much better than Adderall, which, um, left me feeling, how to say it, unsettled when I tried it all those years ago. Not so with Dexedrine.


Posted by: Abraham Lincoln | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 2:08 PM
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I think if I'd developed a real smoking habit, I'd have managed to write a dissertation. As it is, I smoke socially just enough to gross myself out.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 2:09 PM
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Abe? Your URL is hanging out. You may not mind that (I think you've said most of the same under your real name) but should I redact?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 2:09 PM
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Yes, redact please.


Posted by: Abraham Lincoln | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 2:11 PM
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32 minutes until we raise a glass in honor of g-biker.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 2:11 PM
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You're too smart to start smoking. I wish I'd never started.

Seriously. Quitting was one of the most miserable experiences -- not as painful as childbirth, of course, but labor didn't drag on for two weeks either. I'm just glad it didn't make me irritable like it does some people [[cough]].


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 2:17 PM
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141: Hey that reminds me: do lawyers really drink in their office late in the day, à la Law & Order.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 2:18 PM
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I actually have a bottle of whiskey in my desk drawer right now. Unopened, and I don't have any glassware, and I've never actually had a drink in my office. But I could if I wanted to.

I hear tell that up into the eighties, Mi/lba/nk Twe/ed had a cocktail cart that came around every evening at six, just like interoffice mail. But not any longer.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 2:20 PM
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It is not uncommon for us to have a beer or a glass of wine at the end of a friday.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 2:22 PM
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143: Some do. My wife's Scotch habit came from her first mentor, and in that office it was pretty common for a bunch of the lawyers to have a beer or two around 5:30 or 6:00 and then work for another couple of hours.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 2:22 PM
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Hey that reminds me: do lawyers really drink in their office late in the day, à la Law & Order

Many do, yes. My first employer did, particularly after difficult calls. I never have, for fear I wouldn't be able to do without it.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 2:23 PM
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hey, the g-biker toast comes at just the right time. everyone else is gone now, so I can steal myself a beer from the department fridge.

also, my Doktormutter keeps red wine in her desk. she's not the scotch-drinking type, a bit too loopy.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 2:32 PM
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143: I dunno, but restaurant workers sure do.


Posted by: neil | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 2:33 PM
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I tried 1/2 a Modafinil a day for a few days. It was magical. No more daytime sleepiness. Concentration to burn.


Posted by: Thomas Jefferson | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 2:35 PM
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Y'all are a bad influence. I'mabout to go buy some Scotch now.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 2:41 PM
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Congratulations to Gajjin Biker and his bride!!! Cheers!


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 2:56 PM
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Blake is OK, but Wordsworth is a windbag pastiche of fishbones and candied cubeb.

Hey now.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 2:57 PM
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Prost!


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 2:59 PM
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God, you are all making me wish for an amphetamine source for the next two weeks, I tell you what.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 3:00 PM
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91
If someone had a brochure from NAMBLA in hand, you'd reject them out of hand. Would that be "wrong"? Probably, but you'd still do it. Are we really arguing that AEI material is less problematic than NAMBLA material?

Well, that's not an accurate comparison. Everyone with a wide variety of interests has heard of NAMBLA, and NAMBLA brochures don't get given out at job fairs. As far as I know. The AE/I, by contrast, is only well-known to people who follow politics, and even if someone does know what it is, there are lots of reasons someone might pick up a brochure at a job fair other than agreeing with the goals of the company: they want a job and can't afford to be picky, an AE/I rep started a conversation with them and they wanted to be polite, or maybe they just needed to scribble down a note and that was the first piece of paper handy. So even if AE/I material is more problematic than NAMBLA, and it's not clear-cut, it doesn't necessarily follow that carrying a brochure for AE/I is more problematic than for NAMBLA.

As for smoking, some people don't get addicted as easily or as strongly as others. I've smoked off and on for about seven years. I've ranged from no cigarettes at all for several months, and when I'm smoking I range from a cigarette every other day to three or four cigarettes a day, depending on the weather and which group of friends I'm hanging out with and stuff. When I'm in a not-smoking phase I have no problem at all sticking to it, unless it's a really, really stressful day. I guess it's genetic. Both my parents smoked until they decided to have kids, and I'm told that quitting was much easier for my dad than for my mother.

I've always thought it was sort of cool that I don't form a nicotine addiction easily, if at all. I get to have the feel of it with less risk (not no risk, obviously, but less), I can stop for a while if I have a reason to with no withdrawal pangs, etc. It sort of made me feel special that I had that resistance, so that at one point during a not-smoking period, when I was at a party and someone asked me why I quit, I said it was because I had been smoking for the wrong reasons.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 3:01 PM
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I tried 1/2 a Modafinil a day for a few days. It was magical. No more daytime sleepiness. Concentration to burn.

How was stopping?


Posted by: John Tyler | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 3:03 PM
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And yes, whiskey is an excellent thing.

tried that, every which way. works a bit but not systematically and not in a way that is consistent with either long term health or maintaining a decent palate for the stuff.

in related news, also tried moving to a smaller firm, lower status, lower stress job. Also works, but not systematically and etc etc. If you're fundamentally quite an up tight person, apparently trying to embrace your inner slacker actually doesn't work as well as one might hope.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 3:07 PM
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Heebie, I haven't seen it mentioned, but someone at Lawyers Guns and Money said they demanded people right a very brief response paper -- five minutes, one or two paragraphs -- to a given question at the start of every class so that everyone could be called on and have at least something to say. I had history classes that worked the same way (response papers for discussion section), but it was never done at the start of class. It might be something to use as an icebreaker, esp. because S5 has some pretty open-ended things you can talk about -- is it "science fiction" as such; Vonnegut's idea about war contrasted with the Tralfamadorian idea that it's inevitable; Billy Pilgrim and Kilgore Trout as dueling author standins; yadda yadda. Or you can just ask them if any parts of it struck them as funny.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 3:12 PM
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Luckily, that's not my problem. Pride in my work, I can come up with occasionally. Inner need for stress and tension? Not so much.

I could live quite happily for decades in a hammock if someone would consistently bring me sandwiches, lemonade, and new fiction.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 3:13 PM
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Righting some papers is difficult no matter how brief they are, as LB has found.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 3:19 PM
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160: christ I envy you. I have actually had a screaming, food-throwing row with my missus in the middle of a Greek island paradise, over my casual intention to buy the Financial Times. I get really fucking unbearable (no really fucking unbearable) after about four days away from the office. Around the time of my son's first birthday I kind of admitted to myself that I actually quite liked my job. I think tess is in one of those Gam-Anon support groups these days.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 3:21 PM
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Eh, I occasionally think that with a little more drive I might actually get something done. In theory I motivate myself with loyalty to serving the needs of my clients, which actually works fairly well for me personality-wise, except that the particular clients firms like mine end up with couldn't inspire loyalty in a spaniel. Which gets me down to being motivated by pure fear, and I'm just not afraid enough of anyone around here. Trying to impress people whose judgment I respect also works for me generally, but not so many people in that class paying attention.

Definitely, new job time.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 3:28 PM
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163: It remains true that working for a living fundamentally sucks. But working someplace other than a law firm sucks a whole lot less.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 3:31 PM
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clients firms like mine end up with couldn't inspire loyalty in a spaniel.

I hated doing insurance defense work. Hated it.

So I changed to representing real, actual people going through difficult times. It can be very stressful, but the benefit of helpful someone through their lowest point in their life is very rewarding.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 3:38 PM
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157: Wasn't a problem. Supposed to be a really good drug along that axis, though.


Posted by: Thomas Jefferson | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 3:40 PM
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What's the difference between a divorce lawyer and a setting hen?

The hen clucks defiance....


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 3:41 PM
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Eh, I occasionally think that with a little more drive I might actually get something done.

I really wonder if drugs could do anything about this. Most of my coworkers who are highly productive seem to be that way due to serious emotional problems or an inability to be happy when not working rather than a proactive desire to accomplish things.

On the other hand, the best way to temporarily increase my productivity has historically been to get laid, and I don't think that doctors can prescribe you that.


Posted by: John Tyler | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 3:42 PM
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167: I've never been able to look at the name of Becks' blog without thinking of that joke.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 3:43 PM
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168: On the other hand, the best way to temporarily increase my productivity has historically been to get laid, and I don't think that doctors can prescribe you that.

This suggests the frightening possibility that I could be less productive than I am now. Yow.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 3:43 PM
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I worry that I'm like d2 personality-wise, in this instance (only with saner working hours).

My job beats me up more than I would like (sometimes a lot more than I would like) but, obviously I seek out work challenges as much as they seek me out.

I may be outgrowing this. I realized recently that if I won the lottery I would stop doing this job, and that is a shift for me. Two years ago, if I won the lottery, I would have gone into work the next day and not done anything differently.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 3:44 PM
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On the other hand, the best way to temporarily increase my productivity has historically been to get laid, and I don't think that doctors can prescribe you that.

Biglaw needs to hire some fluffers.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 3:46 PM
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I worry that I'm like d2 personality-wise, in this instance (only with saner working hours).

If you enjoy it, what's the problem? Having a crazed, burning, irrational desire to do whatever it is you get paid for, while it may involve the occasional screaming argument over a copy of the Financial Times, is at least convenient.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 3:46 PM
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172: There's a story somewhere in the archives about an associate in our NJ office who unexpectedly made partner with the aid of two paralegals (a partner walked in on the trio, and was impressed by the associate's initiative and verve). I don't know if it's true -- I got it second-hand, with no names. But people are apparently trying.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 3:48 PM
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This suggests the frightening possibility that I could be less productive than I am now. Yow.

It might have been more the validation than the actual sex, as this only holds when I'm single.

When I'm in unhappy relationships, I have a disturbing tendency to stay in the office even though I'm not getting work done as a means of avoiding the girlfriend without admitting that I don't want to see her.


Posted by: John Tyler | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 3:49 PM
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I'm in my second hour of a conference call with a client, and boy do I need that drink.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 3:50 PM
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I really wonder if drugs could do anything about this.

They can. I'm trying to think of an apt metaphor, but nothing's coming, so this will have to do:

If a task is the equivalent of standing at the top of a paved hill, unmedicated me stands there with his shoes untied -- nay, tied together -- whereas medicated me's wearing roller skates, such that if I even peer down a wee bit, I'm off.


Posted by: Abraham Lincoln | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 3:52 PM
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If you enjoy it, what's the problem? Having a crazed, burning, irrational desire to do whatever it is you get paid for

Okay, maybe I'm not like d2 in this case. I certainly don't have a "crazed, burning, irrational desire to do whatever it is you get paid for" it's more that I like having a consistent source of problems to solve in my life and, while the problems that work comes up with aren't particularly enjoyable, it is a steady source of both problems to solve and motivation to solve them.

I think I would be a better and happier person if I could apply more of that to my own life/acting in the world.

Work is, essentially, a hedge against feeling unproductive which is even less fun than work.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 3:52 PM
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If D^2 likes his job I think that we shouldn't let him play with us. He can find his own sandbox. He has happiness cooties.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 4:04 PM
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180: But he's mean and snarly, so while he may be happy himself, he's at least not the cause of happiness in others. Fits right in.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 4:12 PM
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Those drugs do work like gangbusters.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 4:17 PM
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I grant him that.

I have had many low-pressure jobs, and some that were sort of interesting, but never one I "liked", whatever that word means in that context to some people.

I mean, labor, sweat of thy brow, Adam's curse. D^2 is a heathen motherfucker.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 4:37 PM
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My motivational problem isn't a lack of good things about my job--it's that the amount of work I have to do, for practical purposes, isn't finite: there's simply no way I can possibly do all the assignments that are pending, & the one I'm supposed to prioritize changes quite unpredictably. If I finish one assignment, five more will rise to replace it; if I put it off, my boss could easily change her mind & decide it's not a priority anyway. There's deadlines, & we don't miss them, but there is never a time when we're caught up & out of crisis mode & never will be. And it's all completely unpredictable & impossible to pace myself: I could stay up really late to finish an assignment so I don't have to work Saturday, & then get a completely new request Saturday morning. Or, not.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 4:59 PM
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Dreading leading discussions about readings is a huge part of why I decided I'm not cut out to be an academic/teacher.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 5:02 PM
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183: Ah, yes, law firms. Take an inherently changeable and crisis-driven profession, and insert a layer of whimsical management. Fun for the whole family.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 5:02 PM
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185: Right. Plus, it's simply not possible to bring in extra people in my case--4 full time lawyers including me, 0 other associates assigned to my big case, and ludicrous turnover rate for a firm our size, particularly among paralegals & administrative support staff.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 5:07 PM
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Have we mentioned Scotch?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 5:09 PM
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183: somebody needs to read that damn productivity book all the kids are on about. You know, when you have the time.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 5:13 PM
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Something that I still have trouble with sometimes, and had more with when I was junior, was losing track, or never being quite sure of, which of the five things that absolutely needed to be done were really my problem. When you're feeling overwhelmed, checking in with your partner along the lines of "My understanding is that my highest priority is Task A, and you need Workproduct A by time X. Then I'm going to turn to Task B, right?"* and making them either correct your understanding or accept it, helps. You can then feel like Tasks C-E aren't your problem until you're done with A, or the partner changes your orders, and it's all less overwhelming.

Doing this by email is good, because it's hard to be as confusing in writing as it is in person.

*I did once have this immortal conversation with a partner: "I'll turn to this as soon as I get Task A on Case X done."

"No! This is your highest priority!"

"But yesterday you said Task A should be my highest priority -- I should do this first now?"

"No! Do them both first!"

He was a complete loon, though, and eventually recognized that he was being ridiculous.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 5:19 PM
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Kartherine, if you're in a do-good non-profit, as I suspect, I think that it's important for you to find a groove and gain control of your schedule. I've seena lot of people burn out, and it seems to take over a year to realize that it's happening. I haven't tracked anyone, but I suspect that a lot leave and never come back.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 5:27 PM
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189: ^not^ ?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 5:28 PM
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People would make fun of me if I were giving appallingly simpleminded advice, right? In retrospect, 189 looks awfully basic.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 5:38 PM
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"not a loon"


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 5:43 PM
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Oh, I got you. No, he was a complete loon, but did sort of recognize that he wasn't in contact with the same reality as the rest of us sometimes, and would accept blank incomprehension as a sign that what he was saying didn't work somehow.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 5:51 PM
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Emerson, Katherine's not in a do-good non-profit. She's working for a law firm, but she has a human rights pro bono case that she's workign on, and she wishes that she could work on it full time.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 6:10 PM
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Not quite right, AFAIK -- it's a do-good lawfirm, and the human rights stuff is the whole job.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 6:11 PM
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I actually have a bottle of whiskey in my desk drawer right now.

This is pretty much a job requirement, right? Min'es on my shelf, and is scotch, but same ifferenced.


Posted by: Broch Landerss | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 8:39 PM
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Brock! Looks it's been off the shelf a time or two recently.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 8:44 PM
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The firm is a weird hybrid--not non-profit, but it exists for the sake of a particular pro bono case (well--contigency. But long shot contigency brought for do good-y reasons.) In theory we are supposed split 50-50 between billable & pro bono work & use the former to pay for the latter--in practice that's hard & going to get harder if this case goes forward (they filed in 2004 & we're not even into merits discovery yet). I make noticeably less than the going rate for associates at big firms, but more than I would at a non-profit.

I do worry about burn out--actually, when I started, I didn't think there was any way I'd make it a year, because the upsides to the job kicked in a bit later than the downside. I don't really know what to do about it. It's a great case; my coworkers are great; I want to see it through. But it feels physically impossible that we are going to actually bring this case to trial at our current size. On the other hand, there are literally no jobs in human rights that I could even apply for in Chicago (this isn't even a Chicago based firm--I am the one-person Chicago office), and the immigration jobs I'm interested in won't even read my resume because I don't speak Spanish, my environmental experience has gotten stale & there are few groups here, & outside those fields I have no experience & it wouldn't be easy finding a public interest job at all. And I have to be in Chicago for family reasons. So.

I never imagined having these kinds of opportunities (it's not just the one case) 2 years out of law school, but I also never imagined I'd be at a firm at all. I did all non profit summers, clinicals, I didn't do on campus interviewing once--I knew the lifestyle was a bad fit for me. So, while it's a function of being incredibly lucky on both the personal & professional front, I am getting burned out & I don't really know what to do about it. A personality transplant to make me a calmer, more productive person would help, as would coworkers who actually live in the same city as me, but those don't seem like they're in the cards.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 8:57 PM
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I believe that there are brain implants which make you constantly happy and tremendously productive too.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 09-28-07 9:24 PM
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@137 (whereas the amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee varies wildly, even within the same pot)

Just drink the whole pot, it evens out.
Alas, a French press is too messy for my desk.



Posted by: Econolicious aka Anonymous D | Link to this comment | 09-29-07 12:24 AM
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177: hey, Abe Lincoln, care to describe what drugs you're on?


Posted by: Andrew Johnson | Link to this comment | 09-29-07 4:21 PM
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Oh, OK, I saw the info in 137. Thanks!


Posted by: Andrew Johnson | Link to this comment | 09-29-07 4:26 PM
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A number of people at my office keep a bottle of scotch around. It's rare that they're touched before 8pm on Mon-Thurs or before 5pm on Fridays.

Besides scotch, I've also got vermouth, amaretto, gin, and Maker's Mark in my office. Because variety is the spice of life, y'all.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 09-29-07 4:37 PM
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Hey all,

Thanks for the help. There's a lot of great suggestions in here, and I plan on using this thread carefully to plan out what to do. Much appreciated. As soon as I finish reading the book.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 09-30-07 8:56 AM
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142: Quitting was one of the most miserable experiences
I have to say I found giving up not nearly as bad as I expected. And A MILLION FUCKING TIMES EASIER THAN LOSING WEIGHT , especially trying to lose it as a non-smoker. Ahem.


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 10- 1-07 4:56 AM
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Shit, that was meant to link http://www.unfogged.com/archives/comments_7553.html#645205


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 10- 1-07 4:57 AM
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Besides scotch, I've also got vermouth, amaretto, gin, and Maker's Mark in my office. Because variety is the spice of life, y'all.

I hate you. I don't even have an office, nor even a cubicle. And all the Friday afternoon drinking sessions are long gone.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 10- 1-07 6:09 AM
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We just met for the first time. It was .


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10- 8-07 4:57 PM
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Oops. I meant to say, it was horrible.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10- 8-07 4:57 PM
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I just read the story on your blog. Yow. But it sounds like you recovered nicely.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10- 8-07 4:58 PM
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The word "horrible" is a link in 210. I don't know why it's not a different color. Goddamnit.

horrible


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10- 8-07 4:58 PM
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Thanks. I feel all feeble. But I'm pretty sure it's gotta be better next time.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10- 8-07 5:03 PM
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Yikes, heebie. Oncet upon a time, when that happened to me, I walked out of class early, told 'em next time I better not have to.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 10- 8-07 5:07 PM
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