What fraction of the reception did you miss by arriving late?
Would you rather have been ironing?
Linen tablecloths, yes.
What was the worst moment you'd anticipated?
"So, as practical man, I'm wondering what you think of the underwater basketweaving program in Uzbekistan that Junior's heading off to* next year."
"Underwater basketweaving crystallizes the key theoretical problems in ergonomics, Mr. Smith, and the environmental challenges of the Aral Sea offer a particularly problematized nexus. John will be joining the best group in the world in his field."
What was the worst moment you hadn't anticipated?
Learning from an alum that there was a small workshop on coincidental ergonomics (my subfield) a few weeks ago, organized by one of my advisor's collaborators.
The alum, who is studying intelligible design, was simply complaining about the overrepresentation of coincidentalists in his current department, but I felt stabbed through the heart. No one told me about it beforehand? Not like my teaching schedule would have allowed me to attend, but still.
What fraction of the reception did you miss by hiding in your office?
Thirty percent. Mostly spent Googling that workshop. I knew all but one of the speakers. Half the talks were on work I'd heard about (including the guy who scooped me, talking about the scooped work). Half the talks were on work new to me, and of those two were very close to my NERDI proposal.
How many of the alumni that you wanted to see did you miss?
Only one. The other knew me well enough to check my office.
What was the least surprising revelation from an alum?
That our department does an excellent job of preparing students for graduate study, but only in areas in which we have faculty under the age of fifty.
If the graduation reception was last weekend, shouldn't you be done grading already?
Leave me alone. Can't you see I'm ironing shirts?
*Yes, John got a good talking-to from me about how hard it will be to find a U.S. academic job with a Ph.D. in basketweaving from a just-barely-accredited school in a just-barely-accredited country. His other option was a giant public university that, as I had the misfortune to learn during this year's searches, does an awful job of supporting its students.