A Philosopher's Blog

Summer Vacation

Posted in Business, Philosophy, Universities & Colleges by Michael LaBossiere on May 23, 2011

Image by blmiers2 via Flickr

When people first find out that I am a philosophy professor, they tend to make a remark about trees falling in the forest, followed by a question about God. A few ask if I can score them some weed. If the conversation progresses a bit, most folks will say “wow, it must be nice having the summer off.”

What folks who say this do not know is that this summer “vacation” is an unpaid break. True, I do get a check for the week after finals (of course, I am also expected to complete my grades, go in for meetings and such during this time). But, after that, it is a time free of paychecks until August. Amazingly, the bills keep on coming.

Fortunately, since 1994 I have always managed to have a summer class. It does not pay as well as the normal year, but any income is welcome during the summer paycheck desert. However, this year I have a true summer “vacation.” Thanks to the Republicans bravely cutting the education budget so that the wealthy can get a reprieve from the cruel lash of taxes, I am out of work for the summer. I am sure that this really helps the economy and no doubt creates several jobs somewhere. Plus, I am sure that the students are learning more important things by not being in my class. I am, after all, a philosophy professor. I am not at all bitter about this.

Since I am often cast as a liberal, it might be suspected that I am spending my summer on the couch, waiting for the USPS to bring me my fat entitlement checks. However, I’ll be back to teaching in the fall (I hope) and hence there is no sweet government largesse for me. Curses, foiled once again.

What I am doing, at least after running (and breakfast, of course), is writing. I’ve completed one book (30 More Fallacies), I have an actual book contract (complete with a non-disclosure requirement), and I have the groundwork laid for several more books. However, I will be glad to get back to my normal job. Writing eight hours a day and having the pay lurking out there in the distance is not quite how I would like to live year round.

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14 Responses

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  1. Ni Crowe said, on May 23, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    Shoot me an email please.
    i have a discussion prepared..
    at least one sentence of it.

  2. themadjewess said, on May 23, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    Thanks to the Republicans bravely cutting the education budget so that the wealthy can get a reprieve from the cruel lash of taxes….

    If you are against this, WHY did you take a vacation, sweetie?

  3. T. J. Babson said, on May 23, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    I’ll bet in hindsight this will be the impetus that drove your scholarship to the next level.

  4. magus71 said, on May 24, 2011 at 1:20 am

    Not trying to grind in any pain, but this post exemplifies the difference in my mindset compared to yours, Mike.

    Not saying that you should just like any bad thing that comes your way, and I won’t use one of my most hated platitudes: “It could always be worse”. But damn, Mike, are things really that bad because of one class this summer?

    The stuff about Republicans and entitlement checks is really (or should be) beneath you. If I thought you were joking, I’d let it go…. Noam Chomsky doesn’t wait for any entitlement checks but he says many of the exact same things you do.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on May 24, 2011 at 1:48 pm

      On the one hand, things are not so bad. I have enough cash saved up to get through the summer and then I can replenish most of it from the money that will be coming in from writing (bills are fast, payments for writing are slow). Of course, my HVAC system just exploded (literally), so that has to be replaced.

      On the other hand, three months without income is a bit challenging.

      I am, of course, joking about the entitlement checks.

      • magus71 said, on May 25, 2011 at 7:32 am

        I’m just saying that overall, I think you’re doing well. I won’t hit you with any platitudes, but I agree with what TJ said.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on May 25, 2011 at 4:12 pm

          Better than most of the world’s population. I live indoors (sans AC now) and do have a job to return to in August. Plus, I’m getting faster in the 5K.

    • themadjewess said, on May 24, 2011 at 7:22 pm

      Yuck… Who in the world would WANT to sound like Chomsky… I think Mike is a little more centrist..

  5. Rob said, on May 24, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    Mike, I’m returning to my ‘official’ philosophical studies next year hopefully to take on an MA, though have been studying philosophy for a number of years now. I’ve got a few dashingly exciting book ideas (for me) for popular philosophy, but am right now pretty clueless about the publishing industry.

    Do you think it’d be hard for a non-professor, non-PhD to get a publishing deal in this area?

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on May 25, 2011 at 4:10 pm

      A good question. While I have lots of published books, only one is in philosophy. Based on that experience and various conversations with authors, the big publishers usually look for established people (PhD other publications, etc) when offering book deals. In my case, I was already established with journal articles and my long association with The Philosophers Magazine (which played a major role). Having established credentials really helps in getting a company to take the time to really look at a proposal.
      That said, it is not impossible for a non-PhD to break in, especially in popular philosophy.

      One useful strategy might be to publish a book or three via Amazon and B&N to establish yourself. Another useful strategy is to build connections. As in all things, who you know goes a long way.

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