Thursday, September 08, 2005

Meet Ooga-Booga

We math people on the fourth floor of this building are unusual, in that we have our own personal god. (Well, OK, we are unusual in a number of other ways, but the existence of a personal god is the one I wish to address at this time.) I would like you meet Ooga-Booga, a giant, amorphous, ghost-like being who dispenses wrath on the deserving. He says hello. He is pleased to meet you.

Ooga-booga is the original creation of my office-neighbor, who drew on our white board a picture of Ooga-Booga attacking a college which had turned me down for a job about a year and a half ago. (We are a loyal group up here.) Ooga-booga is an angry god, who rains down green, lightning-bolt shaped "zotting rays." (They make the sound "zot!") We have determined that zotting rays make things burn and shrink at the same time. This makes clean up after Ooga-booga's rampage so much easier--everything (and everyone) destroyed can be dropped into a relatively small hole and buried. The theological origins of the shrinking power of zots involve problems in getting appropriate scales for drawings on the white board.

When I encountered job hunting problems, Ooga-Booga has appeared on the white board to take vengeance for me, as if by magic. When someone else encountered hiring problems, Ooga-Booga zotted the offending parties on the white board. Paper sketches have started filling the common-room door. Ooga-Booga now has a family, including a son (little Oogie), who he apparently goes skeet shooting with (using zots, of course). Ooga-Booga enjoys listening to his iZot shuffle ("total chaos made even more random, starting at $99.") When my office-neighbor had his nearby apartment building bought out and had to move, we learned that "Ooga-Booga hates moving." (He zotted the old apartment building. We engaged in a theological debate for a while as to whether the shrinking nature of zots were an aid in packing.) When my neighbor (who shortly became a regular neighbor when he moved across the street from me) had to also buy a car, Ooga-Booga was seen wrecking local car dealerships. (Caption: "Guess what else Ooga-Booga hates?")

Recently, I've been avoiding meetings. The department is a little meeting happy sometimes; they have meetings for the sake of having meetings. There is a weekly "course meeting" for one class I teach. It may be helpful to TAs who have never taught before, but I'm already familiar with this class. The content of the meetings could be handled by an e-mail message, but they meet every week anyway. Since they picked a time which is fairly inconvenient for me, I've not been going. I found out the course coordinators are miffed with me. My condensed response: Bite me.

I did come in early this Thursday for a different committee meeting. (I volunteered to be part of this committee, so it could be worse.) But since one of the agenda items for the meeting was to find a more convenient time to meet, I suggested that we stop physically meeting, since everything we were doing could be accomplished by e-mail and an online message board. In fact, we have course management software which could provide us with everything we need with an easy-to-use Web-based interface. I even offered to set this up and manage it. After all, the school prides itself on its high-tech approach to everything. Every student and faculty member has a computer, and students are expected to use a variety of systems (including e-mail and the web, but also including specialized course software and technical programs). But we couldn't switch to asynchronous meetings; it would require learning "all that." And besides, no one would be able to "see people's faces". (I resisted the urge to point out the department web page has faculty pictures on it.) So we will continue to have these meetings, which are convenient for almost no one, so that we can see each others faces. And I'll continue to avoid course meetings and be frowned at.

There's a new picture on the door of the common room: "Ooga-Booga hates meetings."

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