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I am transferring. I saw nothing but encouragement from my professors. They supported me and seemed to be happy that I am moving to a place that will be better for me and my research interests. YMMV, of course, but I don't think I am too far off from the mean to be an outlier. It is a delicate situation that should be handled with care, no doubt. However, it is far from being uncommon.   

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In at UPenn. I'm at a loss for words. I'm hoping everyone else who has been shut out so far receives some good news soon (hopefully a few more today who also get into Penn).

That was me.   I've applied for 4 rounds.   Finally.

Yeah, if you are transferring because a place is a better fit, your current institution doesn't have money, your SO wants to move, you want to be closer to family, etc. etc., no one has a legitimate grievance against you.

 

However, if you leave after your MA and never ended to progress past that point, after people funded you, trained you, befriended you, and advised you, all under the pretense that you wanted to be there and intended to stay,then yeah, I can see how people would be pissed.

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As it happens, I've been looking into this. If you measure Ph.D. placements per faculty member in political science (to control for size of dept.), a few departments do stand out, but mostly you see a big bulge in the top 25. Data are here.

 

I'm not sure I understand the value of this placement efficiency measure. As I understand it, we should really be concerned about placements/cohort-size not placements/faculty size, and it's not clear to me that faculty size is a good proxy for cohort size.

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Yeah, if you are transferring because a place is a better fit, your current institution doesn't have money, your SO wants to move, you want to be closer to family, etc. etc., no one has a legitimate grievance against you.

 

However, if you leave after your MA and never ended to progress past that point, after people funded you, trained you, befriended you, and advised you, all under the pretense that you wanted to be there and intended to stay,then yeah, I can see how people would be pissed.

 

When you put it that way, most of the other reasons to leave seem pretty feeble, too ;-).  I wouldn't have transferred to placate an SO.  Then again, I am equally unattractive everywhere.

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Does anyone have an inkling about what's up with American?  I thought by now basically all results would be out.

 

I have a buddy that was accepted there -- an Americanist. He has an upcoming visit scheduled but hasn't visited yet... I don't know if his visit is part of an admitted students day or if he is going on his own accord. I'd call them and see what's up. 

Edited by IR IR IR PhD
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I'm not sure I understand the value of this placement efficiency measure. As I understand it, we should really be concerned about placements/cohort-size not placements/faculty size, and it's not clear to me that faculty size is a good proxy for cohort size.

No viable data exists for that. Every program keeps/fails to keep records on cohorts differently. Many are very opaque about cohort size, be it a group of PhD students who graduate in a given term or students who enter in a given AY. I respect your criticism, but we stand by our variables and our operationalization of them. They are best for what is available.

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Yeah, if you are transferring because a place is a better fit, your current institution doesn't have money, your SO wants to move, you want to be closer to family, etc. etc., no one has a legitimate grievance against you.

 

However, if you leave after your MA and never ended to progress past that point, after people funded you, trained you, befriended you, and advised you, all under the pretense that you wanted to be there and intended to stay,then yeah, I can see how people would be pissed.

Act as you will. However, I will give advise based upon my experience and understanding of the realities of the current academic market in political science. Be upset. Be pretentious. You will learn soon enough that this is a business - a highly competitive business. The only person to support you 100% is you. Don't sacrifice your future because you bought into the indoctrination that academe is different. It's about money and prestige. Invest in yourself.

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Act as you will. However, I will give advise based upon my experience and understanding of the realities of the current academic market in political science. Be upset. Be pretentious. You will learn soon enough that this is a business - a highly competitive business. The only person to support you 100% is you. Don't sacrifice your future because you bought into the indoctrination that academe is different. It's about money and prestige. Invest in yourself.

 

Honestly, I just don't see the value in getting ahead by acting questionably. Of course, that doesn't mean not making the right decisions for you, but it does, IMO, mean making decisions that you can stand by. It doesn't have anything to do with academe not academe, at least for me. If the only way ahead is to act in a way that I cannot stand by, I guess I don't want to get ahead. In this context, I am quite a big fan of the Golden rule and variations, including the Kantian categorical imperative.

 

No it isn't.  Graduate School is an apprenticeship.  This is a business as well as an educational agreement and the students are entering with far less knowledge and power.  Again, I reiterate that students should apply for Ph.D. programs because they will be valued more by the professors, the program, and the university. Why in the world would you put yourself at a disadvantage vis-a-vis your peers?

 

More importantly, I don't think you have any understanding of ethics and norms in post-graduate studies.  If you haven't done it, you're talking out of ignorance.

 

Graduate school can be considered an apprenticeship, but one for which you signed a contract (even if implicitly). Signing a contract without ever planning to fulfill your contractual duties is, IMO, ethically questionable, and can also give you a bad rep. It's different if you go somewhere, and circumstances change, obviously. I do also believe that even if it works out for you, there might be negative repercussions in the long run, because PoliSci isn't such a huge field, and you might get a bad rep.

Edited by IRToni
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No viable data exists for that. Every program keeps/fails to keep records on cohorts differently. Many are very opaque about cohort size, be it a group of PhD students who graduate in a given term or students who enter in a given AY. I respect your criticism, but we stand by our variables and our operationalization of them. They are best for what is available.

I respect that the data limitations constrain your ability to get at what you want. Maybe you could do something with total graduate student enrollment, or number of students on the market; none of these are perfect, but they may be better than faculty size. The faculty size measure actively penalizes schools that have high faculty to student ratios; for instance, I know that Michigan has generally had relatively small cohorts as of late (averaging 12 students over the past five years [1]), while UCLA over a similar period of time has had substantially larger cohorts (averaging 21 students over the five year period data was collected [2]). But using faculty size, UCLA gets a big boost in the placement efficiency ratings because the Michigan faculty is 1.5 times as large as UCLA's, ending up with an assistant professor efficiency score of 0.775 versus 0.507 for Michigan. If we instead use average cohort size over five years and compute assistant prof. placements/avg. cohort size, we would get a score of 2.66 for Michigan and 1.47 for UCLA. 

Point is, I generally respect the do-the-best-with-the-data-you-have argument, but your data here may be more misleading than helpful.

[1]https://secure.rackham.umich.edu/academic_information/program_statistics/program.php?id=82

[2] https://www.gdnet.ucla.edu/asis/progprofile/result.asp?selectmajor=0699

 

Edit: Sorry for the perhaps self-serving comparison. These just happened to be two schools that I knew there was data for, which unfortunately was endogeneous to where I'm attending.

Edited by RWBG
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I'm not sure how many students enrol in a PhD program with the aim of jumping ship to a better ranked program, but can it really be that high a number? And to all that many even manage to move up to a substantially better ranked program?

 

If you're a DGS I could see it being bloody frustrating (if you lose funding/student place as a result), but for the rest of the faculty? At the end of the day if that person doesn't want to be there it's best that they leave. As was pointed out graduate school is a business relationship and with lower ranked programs you're more likely to be working 20 hrs a week for the privilege. You're on probation for the first several years and perhaps the department is too?

 

Everyone knows the job market is fiendishly difficult and I'm not sure how much I blame someone for trying to reach their goals this way. Especially if it could mean the difference between life as an adjunct or a TT position.

 

Although do bear in mind the Coach's mantra and don't be a jerk!

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Honestly, I just don't see the value in getting ahead by acting questionably. Of course, that doesn't mean not making the right decisions for you, but it does, IMO, mean making decisions that you can stand by. It doesn't have anything to do with academe not academe, at least for me. If the only way ahead is to act in a way that I cannot stand by, I guess I don't want to get ahead. In this context, I am quite a big fan of the Golden rule and variations, including the Kantian categorical imperative.

Graduate school can be considered an apprenticeship, but one for which you signed a contract (even if implicitly). Signing a contract without ever planning to fulfill your contractual duties is, IMO, ethically questionable, and can also give you a bad rep. It's different if you go somewhere, and circumstances change, obviously. I do also believe that even if it works out for you, there might be negative repercussions in the long run, because PoliSci isn't such a huge field, and you might get a bad rep.

Most of you are acting out of ignorance. (Not out of fault.) You don't know what the reality is because you can't - you haven't been a professional academic.

Maximizing your value and opportunity is common in academe. In many programs, substantial raises are given only when a faculty member presents an external offer in order to show their market value. Similarly, students should not diminish their value and potential by being unnecessarily loyal to a program. I say apply for a PhD program because it increases your value, opportunity, and likelihood of finishing any grad degree. It is common to test the waters to see if you can move up in institutional prestige from MA to PhD.

There is no contract. Limit your professional opportunity at your own risk. Listen to people who speak out of ignorance at your own risk.

Edited by roprisko
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I respect that the data limitations constrain your ability to get at what you want. Maybe you could do something with total graduate student enrollment, or number of students on the market; none of these are perfect, but they may be better than faculty size. The faculty size measure actively penalizes schools that have high faculty to student ratios; for instance, I know that Michigan has generally had relatively small cohorts as of late (averaging 12 students over the past five years [1]), while UCLA over a similar period of time has had substantially larger cohorts (averaging 21 students over the five year period data was collected [2]). But using faculty size, UCLA gets a big boost in the placement efficiency ratings because the Michigan faculty is 1.5 times as large as UCLA's, ending up with an assistant professor efficiency score of 0.775 versus 0.507 for Michigan. If we instead use average cohort size over five years and compute assistant prof. placements/avg. cohort size, we would get a score of 2.66 for Michigan and 1.47 for UCLA. 

Point is, I generally respect the do-the-best-with-the-data-you-have argument, but your data here may be more misleading than helpful.

[1]https://secure.rackham.umich.edu/academic_information/program_statistics/program.php?id=82

[2] https://www.gdnet.ucla.edu/asis/progprofile/result.asp?selectmajor=0699

 

Edit: Sorry for the perhaps self-serving comparison. These just happened to be two schools that I knew there was data for, which unfortunately was endogeneous to where I'm attending.

I value your input, but that shift only works if you can obtain data for ALL programs. In response to penalizing programs, I stand by holding the faculty accountable for placement (at least in aggregate). I suggest looking at the full write-up rather than focusing solely on Placement Efficiency.

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Most of you are acting out of ignorance. (Not out of fault.) You don't know what the reality is because you can't - you haven't been a professional academic.

Maximizing your value and opportunity is common in academe. In many programs, substantial raises are given only when a faculty member presents an external offer in order to show their market value. Similarly, students should not diminish their value and potential by being unnecessarily loyal to a program. I say apply for a PhD program because it increases your value, opportunity, and likelihood of finishing any grad degree. It is common to test the waters to see if you can move up in institutional prestige from MA to PhD.

There is no contract. Limit your professional opportunity at your own risk. Listen to people who speak out of ignorance at your own risk.

Having worked strongly with my administration, I can tell you for certain that when I professor tells their institution they're going to leave for another offer, and they receive a counter offer, it generates a lot of tension. Yes, I agree, if they leave for personal reasons, it's somewhat understood. And I say somewhat because the sudden decision for a faculty member at my own decision came because largely because of his wife's career aspirations, however his rapid departure is generating a lot of frustration amongst faculty and the revelation that apparently my own advisor was approached and nearly left for the same reasons. Yes, at the end of the day it gets you more money, but very quickly sours working relationships and it erodes the trust people have in each other. For the same reason, PhD students coming in virtually under the false pretenses you're prescribing - that is applying with the intention to leave - could generate the same tension. You might be fine professionally, but it loses you a lot of friends.

 

Having spoken to my own faculty and professors and advisors a lot on this issue, and having been concerned about job placement, at the end of the day what gets you a placement is not so much the people behind you, but also a shitton of luck. The name of the institution carries weight, but it does not sell you. The name of your advisor can be #1 or top twenty in the field but that may not mean anything. Your work does, to a degree matter where that work is. What you do with whatever placement you get, PhD or MA, is up to you. So I wouldn't say an MA opportunity limits professional opportunities. You get what you put into anything. Nothing in academia will ever fall into your lap.

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Having spoken to my own faculty and professors and advisors a lot on this issue, and having been concerned about job placement, at the end of the day what gets you a placement is not so much the people behind you, but also a shitton of luck. The name of the institution carries weight, but it does not sell you. The name of your advisor can be #1 or top twenty in the field but that may not mean anything. Your work does, to a degree matter where that work is. What you do with whatever placement you get, PhD or MA, is up to you.

 

I don't agree. In any given year, there are going to be hundreds of applicants for TT jobs who have just as good work and resumes as you do. You could write a bomb dissertation and publish two articles in AJPS during grad school, but at the end of the day, so did a bunch of other people.

 

It's a combination of where you studied, who you studied under, your work, and luck. But the first two are what really matters in the end.

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I like the parts where, like, somebody says "hey, I got into Harvard!" and then everybody else is like "oh, man, that's great that you got into Harvard!"  Or, like, the parts where somebody hasn't gotten in anywhere and has been depressed but then they get in somewhere and they're like "hey, I hadn't gotten in anywhere and had been depressed but now I got in somewhere!" and then everybody else is like "oh, man, that's great that you got in somewhere!"  Or, like, the parts where somebody is like "Hey, should I mention my mother's pasta e fagioli in my SoP?" and then somebody else is like "YMMV, but I mentioned my mom's pasta e fagioli in my SoP last year and didn't get in anywhere, but this year I didn't mention pasta e fagioli and got in places, so by Mill's method...."  Or like, I like the parts where people are like "Hey what books should I be reading next year?" and then other people are like "oh, you should probably be reading this book and that book" but then I'm like "you should probably be getting drunk with your old friends before you make new grad student friends that are bad drinkers." 

 

I really like this new thing where people are like "Don't be a jerk!"  And they're all like "hey, one reason to not be a jerk is that coach said not to be a jerk!"  As if they were going to be jerks if I hadn't said anything.  I get to be a treatment in a Rubin model.  It is very flattering, even if it is just pretend-mattering.  Hey, that rhymed.

 

Apparently I also like typing with the comedic timing of Mitch Hedberg.

 

I do not like the heavy.  This is probably related to the fact that I also am kind of sad that I won't get to be a dumb grad student next year; even though I will no more intelligent or accomplished or well-paid than I am now (which is nil on all dimensions), I will have to kind of pretend to be a grown up.  It's kind of making me sad.  I hope you guys will take advantage of getting to be dumb grad students.  You won't have to iron or tuck in your shirts.  You'll get to sit around and brainstorm and woodshop and spitball and mix it up and make it happen and stir the pot and take the time to really learn the deep, substantive meaning of the Lagrangian multiplier and reading Rousseau and saying "hey it would be cool to model the Lawgiver" because that's a fun idea that you get to have when you're a dumb grad student and maybe you'll even think you did something really novel and interesting only to find out that Abraham Wald did it a kajillion years ago or that Daron Acemoglu had six working papers on the topic when he was 12 and all of them turned into Econometricas and you don't know if that should make you feel good or bad or scared on a dimension so much deeper and more existential than regular fear that "scared" probably isn't the right word and next thing you know you'll be worried about your diction even though it is the least important part of any of this.  I will be working on not swearing and not making jokes about Father O'Malley or "the old bestiality days."  No longer will be I able to teach students about exogenous shocks by describing punching a guy in the stomach so hard that he poops himself.  Allofasudden, I will have to be the good cop, and all of you guys will get to be the bad cops, skillfully trained in breaking down every argument, every research design, every set of assumptions, every data set.  I already miss being a grad student.

 

It is also sad that the NIT games tonight were so bad that I found myself saying "hot damn!  I wonder if Property Brothers is on."  It was.

 

Not too many of you have met me, though I've been on here a long time.  I suspect I will continue to come on even though I am old and grizzled and constantly crippled and lacking in hair.  Some of the talk today was heavy and I didn't like it because I like thinking about rainbows and sunshine and whether the composition of an arbitrary set of correspondences is upper hemi-continuous.  But one thing did kind of make me sad for other reasons.  Those few of you that have met me could probably surmise that I think loyalty is cool or at least that I think effort put into my friends and colleagues and the department itself is not effort wasted.  It's cool with your friends and with your colleagues and with your professors and with the younger grad students and even with the Pleges [sik] and with the secretaries and with the janitor lady that really gets glad when you take the time to ask how she's doing and even with the undergrads that try so hard on a daily basis to suck your brain from your skull and your soul from your heart.  This is not a business that rewards loyalty, which is kind of a bummer.  I am not trying to say that it is such a business, or even that such a business exists.  It probably doesn't.  You must be your own advocate, from supporting your own ideas in contentious advising meetings to writing in a clear, confident prose to choosing the best situation for yourself to being willing to negotiate politely and humbly and unjerkily.  But in the course of your career you will make many decisions, and some will be good and some will be bad and some will not be entirely clear and I would like to think that some sense of community matters.

 

I should note that this ramble was written with an intentional style and was influenced only by the impeccable fixing-up skills of the aforementioned Property Brothers and perhaps also to the squawking of Mingus albums playing in the background.  To the best of my knowledge all of the numerous subject-verb dyads above feature correct conjugations which should serve as an indicator of sobriety and attention to detail and craftsmanship.  The aim here was to reduce the heavy, which to my eye has been done competently though inelegantly and self-indulgently.  You all seem like good enough people to be willing to take on those costs in the name of humoring an old man finding himself being put onto an iceberg floating away to the icy sea.  Did I say self-indulgently?  I meant megalomaniacally.

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I like the parts where, like, somebody says "hey, I got into Harvard!" and then everybody else is like "oh, man, that's great that you got into Harvard!"  Or, like, the parts where somebody hasn't gotten in anywhere and has been depressed but then they get in somewhere and they're like "hey, I hadn't gotten in anywhere and had been depressed but now I got in somewhere!" and then everybody else is like "oh, man, that's great that you got in somewhere!"  Or, like, the parts where somebody is like "Hey, should I mention my mother's pasta e fagioli in my SoP?" and then somebody else is like "YMMV, but I mentioned my mom's pasta e fagioli in my SoP last year and didn't get in anywhere, but this year I didn't mention pasta e fagioli and got in places, so by Mill's method...."  Or like, I like the parts where people are like "Hey what books should I be reading next year?" and then other people are like "oh, you should probably be reading this book and that book" but then I'm like "you should probably be getting drunk with your old friends before you make new grad student friends that are bad drinkers." 

 

I really like this new thing where people are like "Don't be a jerk!"  And they're all like "hey, one reason to not be a jerk is that coach said not to be a jerk!"  As if they were going to be jerks if I hadn't said anything.  I get to be a treatment in a Rubin model.  It is very flattering, even if it is just pretend-mattering.  Hey, that rhymed.

 

Apparently I also like typing with the comedic timing of Mitch Hedberg.

 

I do not like the heavy.  This is probably related to the fact that I also am kind of sad that I won't get to be a dumb grad student next year; even though I will no more intelligent or accomplished or well-paid than I am now (which is nil on all dimensions), I will have to kind of pretend to be a grown up.  It's kind of making me sad.  I hope you guys will take advantage of getting to be dumb grad students.  You won't have to iron or tuck in your shirts.  You'll get to sit around and brainstorm and woodshop and spitball and mix it up and make it happen and stir the pot and take the time to really learn the deep, substantive meaning of the Lagrangian multiplier and reading Rousseau and saying "hey it would be cool to model the Lawgiver" because that's a fun idea that you get to have when you're a dumb grad student and maybe you'll even think you did something really novel and interesting only to find out that Abraham Wald did it a kajillion years ago or that Daron Acemoglu had six working papers on the topic when he was 12 and all of them turned into Econometricas and you don't know if that should make you feel good or bad or scared on a dimension so much deeper and more existential than regular fear that "scared" probably isn't the right word and next thing you know you'll be worried about your diction even though it is the least important part of any of this.  I will be working on not swearing and not making jokes about Father O'Malley or "the old bestiality days."  No longer will be I able to teach students about exogenous shocks by describing punching a guy in the stomach so hard that he poops himself.  Allofasudden, I will have to be the good cop, and all of you guys will get to be the bad cops, skillfully trained in breaking down every argument, every research design, every set of assumptions, every data set.  I already miss being a grad student.

 

It is also sad that the NIT games tonight were so bad that I found myself saying "hot damn!  I wonder if Property Brothers is on."  It was.

 

Not too many of you have met me, though I've been on here a long time.  I suspect I will continue to come on even though I am old and grizzled and constantly crippled and lacking in hair.  Some of the talk today was heavy and I didn't like it because I like thinking about rainbows and sunshine and whether the composition of an arbitrary set of correspondences is upper hemi-continuous.  But one thing did kind of make me sad for other reasons.  Those few of you that have met me could probably surmise that I think loyalty is cool or at least that I think effort put into my friends and colleagues and the department itself is not effort wasted.  It's cool with your friends and with your colleagues and with your professors and with the younger grad students and even with the Pleges [sik] and with the secretaries and with the janitor lady that really gets glad when you take the time to ask how she's doing and even with the undergrads that try so hard on a daily basis to suck your brain from your skull and your soul from your heart.  This is not a business that rewards loyalty, which is kind of a bummer.  I am not trying to say that it is such a business, or even that such a business exists.  It probably doesn't.  You must be your own advocate, from supporting your own ideas in contentious advising meetings to writing in a clear, confident prose to choosing the best situation for yourself to being willing to negotiate politely and humbly and unjerkily.  But in the course of your career you will make many decisions, and some will be good and some will be bad and some will not be entirely clear and I would like to think that some sense of community matters.

 

I should note that this ramble was written with an intentional style and was influenced only by the impeccable fixing-up skills of the aforementioned Property Brothers and perhaps also to the squawking of Mingus albums playing in the background.  To the best of my knowledge all of the numerous subject-verb dyads above feature correct conjugations which should serve as an indicator of sobriety and attention to detail and craftsmanship.  The aim here was to reduce the heavy, which to my eye has been done competently though inelegantly and self-indulgently.  You all seem like good enough people to be willing to take on those costs in the name of humoring an old man finding himself being put onto an iceberg floating away to the icy sea.  Did I say self-indulgently?  I meant megalomaniacally.

I can't believe I just read all of that. Thanks. It was very good. 

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I don't agree. In any given year, there are going to be hundreds of applicants for TT jobs who have just as good work and resumes as you do. You could write a bomb dissertation and publish two articles in AJPS during grad school, but at the end of the day, so did a bunch of other people.

 

It's a combination of where you studied, who you studied under, your work, and luck. But the first two are what really matters in the end.

I have no idea where you are getting your data from, but most graduate students do not have 2 single authored published articles in AJPS. Maybe RRs at top journals, but what you are talking about is definitely not the norm. If you have shit work, the first two matter less. However, if you have shit work and you don't have the first two, you are screwed. 

I don't think you know what you are talking about at all. 

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I have no idea where you are getting your data from, but most graduate students do not have 2 single authored published articles in AJPS. Maybe RRs at top journals, but what you are talking about is definitely not the norm. If you have shit work, the first two matter less. However, if you have shit work and you don't have the first two, you are screwed. 

I don't think you know what you are talking about at all. 

 

It was a theoretical situation of ceteris paribus.

 

Most top graduate students (ie, the ones you are competing with to get placements) don't do 'shit work.' That was my point. Saying 'yeah well, it really only matters about YOU and your work for placement" is false hope. The reality of the situation is that no matter how good your work is, there are dozens of other graduate students hitting the same market who did just as well as you.

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...humoring an old man finding himself being put onto an iceberg floating away to the icy sea. 

 

South Bend isn't that bad, I hear ;)

Great post though. I'm glad this has become a venue for your sentimentality. I suspect things will change less than you think they have to. Who has time for ironing?

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Oh yeah.  I'm not gonna iron, and the only person less likely to iron my clothes would be my girlfriend.

 

I ironed twice this year this year, a crazy increase over the 0 times I ironed in the last 5 years. Once was for a new job/internship I started, the other time for a fellowship assessment center. Should be it for the next 10 years, don't you agree? I heard SoCal is a very casual place as well ;-).

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