About crankyprofessor

I'm an associate professor of the history of art and architecture at a small liberal arts college in Upstate New York.

Where are all those polls of historians about presidential rankings?

Remember what an world-class awful president George W. Bush was? American historians and political scientists eagerly published polls that proved he ranks with Millard Fillmore and James Buchanan.

Somehow, I haven’t seen any recent rankings of Obama.  Cowards.

There are going to be some very interesting actual histories written of the first decades of the 21st century, but it will take a long while for honesty to set in.

The First Year students get here tomorrow –

. . . and as per usual, I’m more worried about their parents than about them. The little lambkins will be shell-shocked and ready for a nap by the time I see them at 2:45 p.m. In fact, I always think I might just as productively play soft music and let them snooze for an hour as try to talk to them about their college careers on the first day they arrive.

One week and counting…

The First Year Students get here Friday, but classes start a week from today. Syllabus time for almost everyone. Some of the architecture students who are back (I guess folks who are TAs or assistants) were cleaning out last year’s models. Construction was going ahead noisily for the Performing Arts Center on Pulteney – and I’m afraid Pulteney is going to be an awful mess all weekend.

I did a good bit of laundry this afternoon to try to get ahead of the curve!

New Faculty Orientation

I attended a reception yesterday evening for new faculty members and their families. For a good number, this will be their first year of a tenure track job. For the rest, it’s the start of a year of the temporary appointment system (I think all these folks were full time). At least at an event like this we make no distinction, but it’s just under the surface.

Of course I started here at these Colleges on a one year contract, which transmogrified into a 2 year contract by November (they had already figured out that I wasn’t an axe murderer). I didn’t get on the tenure track until year 5, and came up for tenure in year 8. In other words, I’m an unrealistic optimist about my own career, like many people who start Ph.d. programs. More depressing to think about than how closely we’ll stick to these syllabi this semester!

One down, two to go.

Syllabi, that is. I have European Studies 101 laid out – just need to add a new type of quiz and fiddle with the percentages.

further: Religious holidays! I forgot religious holidays. Our chaplain emails a list. I don’t think I’ve ever had a Jain student, but I know there has been a Sikh student (no classes from me). Zoroastrians? Not sure. Once again, she left John Henry Hobart’s day, September 12 in the Episcopal Calendar, off the list.

It’s a fallacy, but it’s one to which I fervently subscribe

I will do better work in a prettier library / better tricked-out study.

Not usually. But I live this way.

I got home from Rome to find my back bedroom/study a big ol’ mess. At least since mid-November I’d been stacking stuff everywhere and the desk and guest bed were entirely invisible.  I dumped a few more things and left it.

For the last 10 days or so I have been working to restore it to usefulness. I’ve shelved and re-shelved books. I’ve recycled a bunch of paper. I hung things in the appropriate seasonal closet.

I had already ordered my new laptop. The black MacBook I took to Germany in 2009 with the cracked LCD screen has been running the external monitor and speakers since that summer – and it was time to replace it with my retired 3 year old MacBook Pro (in between was a MacBook Pro I passed on to my mother as soon as I was eligible for another interest free computer loan on campus).

So I hook up the MacBook Pro to the monitor – and the monitor is dead. As in doornail. Well, it’s at least 10 years old itself, so I bought a remarkably inexpensive replacement (less than $100 at Staples). Then it turned out I didn’t have the right dongle! Well, I went to the office and dug through my electronica there and found a likely candidate – which worked!

So I replugged everything, sat down, and tried to configure the Bluetooth mouse and keyboard. The mouse paired up immediately. The keyboard was recalcitrant. I decided to change the batteries – only to find that they were corroded in place in the oh-so elegant battery-compartment cum keyboard angle-stand.

So, I had to order a new bluetooth keyboard. I’m ashamed of myself, but for once I paid for Amazon next-day delivery.

And here I am typing at my newly restored desk set-up. I’ll straighten more later. I promise I’ll do better work on a sharper screen and with a new keyboard!



One of my goals is to get my home office/back bedroom straightened out before classes start 8/29. Today I managed to break down three Amazon boxes before I started to hyperventilate at the enormity of my task and had to sit down.

further: I really did get more than that done! I’m not a hoarder…I’m not.

Argh – course prep

File under: Things I should have done online from Chattanooga in June.

I got so busy this mid-summer that I let something slide.

A book about the Elgin Marbles I wanted for my First Year Seminar is out of print (of course), but should be fairly easy to reconstruct with PDFs of articles. After all, it started as a Christopher Hitchens screed somewhere.

But there turns out to be an oversupply of good essays about the Elgin Marbles – and I can’t decide!