RWP was born in Manchester, in the north of England, in the late 1950s, so he is very old. He really liked the north of England, which by 1965 was hip and had three TV channels, and where he went to a coed school. His parents, for reasons best known to themselves, then yanked him away, to Belfast and then Dublin, which had one TV channel that started up at 6 pm with the Angelus (Catholic call to prayer). He also had to go to an all boys school, where he realized he really missed girls. This probably let him focus on schoolwork, though, and at age 19, after he had finished college, he set off for America, where he still resides. He has a bachelors degree in biochemistry and a Ph.D. from Harvard in biophysics, and has lived also in Mainz, Germany, Setauket NY, and Richland WA. He currently divides his time between Nebraska, Rosslyn VA, and Florida.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Moving the furniture at UNL

This semester one of the classes I'm teaching is overfull. It has 46 students registered; the limit is 45. The classroom is supposed to have 48 seats, but as of Monday, only had 44. So several students were sitting on the floor.

There's a plaque on the wall of Hamilton Hall 133, the classroom in question, giving a Facilities number to call if there are any problems. So on Wednesday, before class, I called Facilities. We don't do seats, said Facilities, call Inventory. We used to do seats, said Inventory, but now Classroom Assignment does seats. We don't do seats, said Classroom Assignment, call Facilities.

Oh no, you don't, I said, canny, after 25 years teaching, in the loops that bureaucrats create when they want to get rid of you. Facilities already sent me to Inventory, who sent me here. OK, said Classroom Assignment, we'll check it out, and get back to you. This is turning into a huge waste of time, I said, why don't I just move some seats from another classroom? Please don't, said Classroom Assignment, that's how problems like this are created. Maybe people move seats, I said, because when they try the official way, they get the bureaucratic run-around. I'll get back to you, said Classroom Assignment. She never did.

I just went downstairs and moved four seats from Hamilton Hall 135 to Hamilton Hall 133.


  1. This is when it is good to have Plastic Stacking Chairs. I used them as my furniture when I went to college and they did the trick. Easy to move, ok if it breaks, and very easy to clean. You can't beat that!

  2. In this concern, it will really help if you are going to use magiglide furniture gliders when transporting your appliances. Individuals can lessen their problem when they move to other place.

  3. This little story put a smile on my face as it reminded me of a time when I was given the run around for weeks at university in Sydney, being passed from one department to another until I got so angry steam was practically coming out of my ears! Needless to say there wasn’t any point getting all stressed about it, I suddenly realised that no-one would care if I went ahead and made the changes anyway, so I did and instantly calmed down!