Field of Science

Sudden population shift

University towns are pretty nice places to live especially in the summer, then over the course of just a few days thousands of new residents move into town, and boy, do you notice the difference.  The traffic is much worse, and the driving is much worse, you see more accidents, and us poor pedestrians and bike riders fear for our lives at times.  The quite quiet, park-like quality of the quads change into swarms of activity and noise; one day the Gideons are handing out Bibles, the next day someone is handing our condoms.  The latter had more takers, but cookies or ice cream would have been an order of magnitude more popular.  Lots of fashion statements are being made, and very few of them are good.  Shorts are shorter than ever on women; men are still largely bumskies with no sense of style at all.  Some few break from the general trends to either over or under dress outrageously.  One such person almost caused an accident at an intersection by distracting the driver who veered toward the crowed sidewalk.  Gad.  Bicycles are more popular than ever, and too many fail to ride responsibly in terms of safety and rules of the road.  As a result some drivers get more aggressive producing a certain recipe for an accident.  50% of all students walk from place to place with their cell phone super glued to the palm of their hand and they nearly all are looking at it constantly oblivious to all else.  Maybe soon they'll have heads-up displays and the zombie effect won't be so strong.  The majority of students in my classes show up with good attitudes and great interest; a few don't.  Sad.  Students show up to tell you about their successes, new jobs, new experiences, new interests; wonderful.  Others stop by for help with their problems, their defeats.  Also sad.  The real sad ones don't seek our help.  Fortunately the former greatly out number the latter, but you do worry about the employment picture, and you hate to see so many bright, eager, young people seeking meaningful work, seeking work, wanting to make a difference and do something important.  At this age the Phactor was worried about integration and voting rights, atomic annihilation, and the Vietnam War.  Jobs were the least of our worries even though academic jobs were not plentiful or easy to get.  Have they ever been plentiful?  No.  And so this great population shift greatly alters all our lives, but something magical does still happen often enough that the job remains fulfilling. 

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