I went for a ride this morning, thinking that the cloudiness would clear up into a sunny autumn day. I took a new (for me on a bike) route, with some (for me) challenging hills. Challenging hills are good for clearing the mind, and making sure that things like legs, lungs, and heart are doing their thing.
As I was riding, I was thinking about ways of helping someone deal with a problem. Sometimes, people talk about a problem, and they really just want the other person in the conversation to confirm the difficulty, sympathize, and perhaps join in condemning the idiocy around us. Other times, people talk about a problem and they really want information or help solving it.
When I was about 8 miles out of town, it started to rain, proving my weather optimism wrong. Fortunately, it was a light drizzle, so not horrid for riding, though it did make me a bit tense. I turned around and headed back.
I've recently read some blogs by folks who are on the job market, or thinking about being on the job market, and I think back to my own misery on the market. Being on the market is about 10 orders of magnitude more miserable than being wet and 8 miles from town with hills to climb. And I wondered about writing a post to try to demystify the other side of the job market? I mean, there are some aspects of the market that just make no sense unless you've sat on the other side, and then they make at least some sense.
On the other hand, no blog post is going to actually do anything to solve the real economics of academic job searching, and maybe what's most helpful is to be supportive of those on the market without trying to explain stuff? Sometimes, after all, the explaining sounds like making excuses.
I'm home now, dry, wearing long johns (yes, already) and sweats, and sitting in front of a space heater with a warm laptop on my lap, about to go out and lube my bike (I cleaned it after I got back, and it's been air-drying for an hour or so). And I'm almost warm again, finally.
Would it help to try to demystify the job search process from the other side? Do people even have questions, or do folks feel well-informed?