Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Texas Tidbits 2

Ongoing observations in Texas.
  • We have started to refer to them as the glorious highways of the great state of Texas. Texas, apparently, cannot have a road that it doesn't soar hundreds of feet into the air at some point. We want highways! We want them high!

    I haven't taken any good pictures myself yet, but this gives you an idea.
  • Will it rain this weekend? Who knows?

    In Bloomington, you could pretty much rely on weather predictions. Is St. Louis getting weather right now? Well, then we will probably have it in a couple of hours. You just had to look at the radar and watch the green sweep from west to east. It was pretty straight forward in Florida too. 2-4 pm? Hot? Probably going to rain for an hour. Done. In Samoa, other than the cyclones, I never paid too close attention to the weather. I don't even know if there was weather forecasting there. I paid way more attention to the USGS seismological website. I didn't care if it was going to rain; I wanted to know if it was going to tsunami. Even in Samoa there was some predictability. Weather moved from the south to the north. It never seemed to make it over the mountain. Was it raining at our house? Probably not. Would it rain when we went to the beach. Definitely. But here in Austin, the weather just makes no sense. The predictions are never accurate. When you look at the radar any green just sort of hovers around changing shape and size with out moving. I NEED TO KNOW IF I NEED AN UMBRELLA DAMMIT!
  • So the elections are coming up. I need to educate myself about the candidates on the ballot so I can make an informed decision. But what do I encounter in the very first race?

    Really? Spicybrown? Things are not looking good here. 
More later.


Rookie Mistake

It took more than a month for me to make my first in the job mistake. Given that I made the same mistake at IU just a month before I left, I suppose it's not that rookie of a mistake

Frequently rooms that you have reserved in campus buildings are locked when not in use, and you have to remember to get the key. When your event is during business hours, this is not such a big deal. You can just run down and get the key. However when it's 5:45 pm and it's just dawned on you that the room your 6:00 pm event is in is locked, you're a little bit screwed. 

I tried the door of the of the events room with a sinking sensation in my stomach and immediately rushed back to the office to ask my colleague (just three days back from paternity leave) what my options were. 

Tommy immediately went in search of custodial staff who may have a key to the room. Lucky for me Tommy is fluent in Spanish, as the first person we found was a Spanish speaker. She and Tommy had a engaging exchange, the only think I was able to takeaway from it was that there was a room downstairs. We all headed down stairs to find the manager's office locked and empty. Tommy translated for me that we needed to find Doug, the manager. The only clue we had was that he was somewhere in the building and Vietnamese. And so began the great sprint up and down stairs and up and down hallways in three-inch wedges. Each time I was on the third (I consider it the second) floor, I would poke my head down the hallway with the events room and tell the presenter I was still working on finding a key. Each time, the crowd of students waiting to get in grew.

We never did find Doug, but Tommy did find Sean. And Sean had a key. However, Sean was a little incredulous. He didn't seem like he wanted to let us into the room. Tommy was convincing him that we really did work here and weren't shady characters trying to break into a nearly empty auditorium space. At one point, Tommy even had his drivers license out of his wallet, I suppose to prove he was himself?

Luckily, Sean decided we were trustworthy and let us into the room and the presentation only began about 15 minutes late.

When I did the same thing at IU in late June, it was a Sunday and luckily the dean was attending the brunch we were hosting. I was able to get her to open the classroom we planned to have the students in after the brunch. Though it was embarrassing to ask the dean herself to open a room for you.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Texas Tidbits

Typically, when we (I) travel, I will post tidbit posts. They are just a random collection of observations that don't really lend themselves to a post of their own.

I feel like I have gathered enough to warrant one for our time in Texas so far.
  • Texas really loves "Texas." I have come across many things in the state that don't necessarily need to be labeled as Texas, yet they are. The most prevalent ones for me are at work. So the MBA program here at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas isn't just an MBA or a McCombs MBA or a UT MBA, it is — officially — the Texas MBA Program - McCombs School of Business. And the evening MBA program is is the Texas Evening MBA Program. And the executive MBA is the Texas Executive MBA Program (though since the acronym for both cannot be TEMBA, this one is just EMBA). Because Texas.
  • I am in room 3.204 on the second floor of one building that is in fact in a second building connected to that first building which may or not be on the second or third floor of the second building. Make sense? The McCombs building is confusing enough itself, as it is actually two undergraduate buildings and a rhombus-shaped graduate building that have all been combined into a single building. However, even if the McCombs building itself wasn't so strangely shaped, the floor numbering system across the campus is confusing enough. Walk into any building on the UT campus at ground level and you are more than likely to find yourself on a floor labeled as the second floor. Add to that the fact that all rooms are numbered through a strange decimal system, hence the 3.204 for my office (the 3 supposedly referring to the floor, despite this being the second floor according to my math). I was baffled by this and the explanation has done nothing to alleviate that bafflement. Apparently, the entire UT campus in Austin uses the Acree Carlisle Room Numbering System, a room-numbering system so arcane or little-used that the only references to it also reference UT-Austin. Let me give you a little explanation: "'The main goal is a perfectly logical system of numbering, whose purpose is ultimately to help students get around the campus.'...Upon entering a building, a student walks past a door numbered 2.102 on her right, next past one on the left numbered 2.106...Levels are numbered beginning with the lowest level in the structure, without reference to ground or entry level...after the designated floor level, is a number indicating a hallway..." and so forth. Perfectly logical right? Confusing as all get out. Read more about this insane system here. And see a snippet of its implementation at UT here. And, bask in the wonder of literally everything in a building (from the corridors to the stairs) having a number in the system.

More tidbits to come!