05 July 2010

Daddy's Angry

Introducing a new character: Dr. PI, my brilliant-but-busy boss here at my (not quite so) new school. Dr. PI seems to have it all---a smart wife, three gifted children, a house in the suburbs, an active research group, reporters from prestigious newspapers banging down his door to get interviews. All this fame and good fortune comes with a price, however. Dr. PI is outrageously busy---he's away on travel just as much as he's around, taking its toll on his grad students' productivity. In particular, though he's very kind and generous with his time, getting meetings with him can be a real hassle involving a lot of email and flexibility with plans. I don't mind this so much, becase honestly, I have nothing better to do, but I can see that it's grating on some of my peers.

Today, Dr. PI came back from a weeklong trip evaluating some other group's research with the bad news that a major (and I mean *major*) grant was not funded. He and about two dozen others put hundreds of (wo)man hours into this grant, and it all came to naught. Sure, they received some constructive criticism, but it doesn't seem nearly worth the time. Today in group meeting, Dr. PI was pissed.

You know the feeling when Daddy (or Mommy, but Daddy is appropriate here for the breadwinning, aloof connotations) gets angry and all the kids know to stay out of his way? That's what group meeting felt like. We all reported what we had to and then retreated into our own work. No one bugged him for meetings. No one tried to engage him in our usual banter. Daddy's angry and today's the day to stay out of his way.

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