Archive for October 8th, 2009

Electro (-nic mail) static

October 8, 2009

A slice of Dr Aust’s working life rather than any bad science.

Today Dr Aust has been down in London for a meeting.

On returning to Aust Acres late this afternoon, I logged on to my email via the web to check what had shown up in the nine hours since I had last logged on early this morning (and sent a few urgent messages) prior to toddling off to catch the train.

(I opted not to pay Virgin Trains ten quid for the privilege of wireless internet access on the train so that I could actually get some reading done).

I found a delightful twenty-one (21) emails awaiting my perusal.

To be precise:

Three (3) pieces of junk e-mail from suppliers and biochemical and molecular biology reagents

One (1) junk e-mail offering to put me in a directory of important people

One (1) junk email from the Univ, sorry, one “In-house University communications circular”

One (1) depressed / depressing bulletin from the UCU staff union.

Two (2) inconsequential Faculty announcements

One (1) notice about a staff meeting (2 hrs minimum duration, judging from experience) that I will avoid if at all possible

One (1) email correcting incorrect date of said staff meeting

Two (2) emails about research seminars I probably won’t have time to go to.

One (1) email about a journal editorial meeting next year that I probably won’t go to as I will be teaching that day.

One (1) email telling me about Faculty quota PhD studentships that I won’t be able to recruit any students for – even if I were high enough up the priority ranking – as I don’t have enough research grant income to “cross-subsidise” a 3-yr project.

One (1) notice about a colleague’s retirement do – lucky b*stard. Unfortunately I am teaching when it starts and I suspect they will have drunk all the free booze by the time I get there.

One (1) email from the Senior Secretary explaining that we (a research group of about 20 academics and associated staff) will now have secretarial support from a single secretary for two hrs/wk (that’s for all of us – and before you tell me that is a bit thin, it was previously no hrs/wk, so things are looking up)

One (1) email from the Faculty Disability Support Officer telling me: (i) I have no students with severe disabilities that would mandate special educational provision; and (ii) I have one student in a tutorial group this year who has a disability, but not a disability that will require me to do anything beyond “normal academic practice”. So that looks like an email telling me at some length that I don’t have to do anything different from what I always do. On the whole that is a plus, though I’m not sure why it meant I needed to be sent the email.

One (1) email from a colleague reminding me to upload my lecture next month to the relevant E-Learning website (or is it a portal?) “assuming the Faculty who we do this teaching for have granted you all access to their site – we’re not sure yet”.

One (1) email with actual useful information from a colleague about an ex-student I am writing a reference for.

And last but not least:

Two (2) automated emails from the Faculty email server telling me I have too much stored email.


Sometimes you really have to wonder what Universities did in the days before email. How did anything ever get done…?