2 trees to Bergen

Original-Post (Das ist mein erster Blog-Eintrag auf Englisch. Eine Deutsche Übersetzung gibt es auch)

I am applying for a professor/assistant professor position in Bergen. So far, so good. After having crafted a nice letter to the committee, I found out that I have to apply via the Norwegian Government’s official Application system, which means I basically had to tear apart my whole CV, my letter and everything and upload it in pieces using some strange web form. Well, somehow I can understand how this might make the evaluation process easier, so I am willing to abide by that.

One of the requirements, though, read „Scholarly works, published or unpublished, should be sent in 5 copies, fully inventoried and sorted into 5 identical bundles, by ordinary mail to [address]“. Not being sure if I should take this seriously, and not knowing, which scholarly works they refer to, I talked to my former Bergen supervisor, who is visiting Frankfurt at the moment. He told that although, yes, indeed, they do usually still read on paper, they have printers and access to basically all publications on the web, so no need to send actual paper through the actual mail.

On Wednesday, I received a notification which read:

We note that the scholarly works we asked for in the announcement for the position are missing. Therefore, we have insufficient information to evaluate you as an applicant.

We ask that you no later than 8 days after you have received this message send us the missing documents, which are:

… and the previous specification. It seems, after all, that they do want trees to die. Well, treehugger that I am, I tried to make absolutely sure that is what they want, so I tried to figure out who to talk to in Bergen (the application system does not make it exactly easy to ask questions regarding the procedure) and also tried to ask some scientists who are native english speakers what exactly that meant:

Does „Your scholarly works, published or unpublished“ mean every paper&thesis I’ve ever written? #followerpower cc @DrMRFrancis @AstroKatie

DrMRFrancis is a guy I met at Quark Matter last year, and I’ve been following AstroKatie since shortly afterwards. Since I don’t usually tweet in english, I don’t think any english-native scientist follows me, therefore I mentioned these two explicitly to make them aware of my question. Long story short, AstroKatie answered that this seems to mean everything, including papers and theses. Thank you again, AstroKatie!

Now, I had to prepare and inventorise all my papers and theses. Not having been a researcher for all too long, they amount to 341 pages. Printing them two-pages-on-one and double sided, this still means 85×5 = 425 sheets of paper. Assuming a paper weight of 80 g/m² (and using A4-paper, which is 1/16 m²), this will make a package of 2.2 kg.

Not having decided exactly what to do (and still waiting for an answer from Bergen), I went home. In the evening, I got an e-mail from a friend researcher, saying that he applied to a job in Bergen, was asked for a copy of every… well, I think you can fill in the blanks. He went on:

I live in New York, if I send it today and make sure it arrives, it will be hundreds, thousands of dollars. [That Bergen professor] is away on a conference this week, so he cannot help me, I am looking around who I know in Bergen.

If you know anyone who can print these stupid files, and send them to [address] I will immediately refund you any expense anyone spends on this (printing as such) with a bank transfer.

Well, my answer was basically “me too, me too, me too, me too, no.” — I do not have any ties left to Bergen. But, I suggested, since I am going to print that stuff anyways and send it by mail, I would be willing to print his stuff right along, and send one big package.

Since he is older than me and has written a lot more papers than I have, his collected works amount to 891 pages. (One thing to mention, though: he prints the entirety of a paper with 185 pages, which both of us co-authored — contributing two pages each. I only include those pages. He, on the other hand, does not seem to include his theses.) He agreed to also print them small and two-paged, so we’re down to 223×5 = 1115 sheetd od paper on his account, adding another 5.6 kg to the package. Together, we will have 3240 pages and 7.7 kg. At home, I found the old box my ThinkPad came in, whose dimensions are roughly A4-sized.

While printing, I tried to figure out how to send the package. Basically, five options came to mind: DHL, UPS, FedEx, GLS, TNT. The parameters I need are: Arrival on or before Wednesday, March 20th, of a package 38×33×25 cm with a weight of 8 kg, from Frankfurt, Germany to Bergen, Norway. For GLS and UPS, I was unable to find out shipping costs online: UPS told me that there are three offers, the slowest of which (and I presume that will also be the cheapest) guarantees delivery by Wednesday. Prices, though, are only available for shipping to other EU-countries (which Norway isn’t). TNT has a completely disfunctional website, that neither Opera nor Firefox nor Chrome could display properly, and GLS don’t deliver to Norway at all.

DHL offers 35 € for a package that takes 7-8 days to deliver, but no guarantees. They also offer 47 € for a package that takes 4-5 days to deliver, but no guarantees either. And they offer 151.90 € for a guaranteed overnight delivery. FedEx offers 68.03 € for a package delivered on thursday (which is too late) and 203.51 € for a delivery on tuesday. On second try here (to show the ridiculous prices to a colleague), prices were different for the exact same thing. What. The. Fuck.

Anyways, DHL it is. Still, the question remains how I should bundle the printouts together. For my puny 85 sheets of paper, a File folder may be sufficient, but the other guy’s 223 sheets prove difficult, so I used small ring binders. Well, see for yourself:

The other guy’s papers in a file folder: Doesn’t fit!
My papers, on the other hand, do fit. Yay.
I would have sent this. The large ring binders are his‘, the small green file folders are mine.

After having punched wholes through four of the five bundles for each of us, I received an e-mail, with four applicants (including me) in CC (instead of putting us in BCC, thus preserving our privacy, but, well, that’s just the least of the problems):

Applicatons for professorship

Dear applicants,

Problems with sending papers by ordinary mail.

I have discussed the matter with our Head of Administration and we have concluded that you can send the requested documents (scientific papers) on CDs. You must then send 5 CDs instead of 5 stacks of scientific papers.


Boy, was I mad at that moment. The trees were dead and their remainders sullied with ink and now they tell me, all was in vain? I really had to restrain myself from actually sending a mail thanking the lady that I now know who else applied and making sure that they can handle such high-tech devices like CD-ROMs or if they didn’t maybe prefer 3.5” floppy disks. Well, I wrote it, but I didn’t send it. Why I cannot simply upload my stuff somewhere – or better still, send them a link to where it is anyway – I don’t know. But it made everything cheap from there.

In the end, I burned 5 CDs on friday morning, and sent them as a 250-gramms-letter for 8.57 Euros. Now I am waiting for them to invite me to give a talk.

This is what I sent in the end: Five f-ing CDs.
The complete letter I sent in the end. Format approximately A4, and the duct tape I used to close the letter is a left-over from the last (2009) German Parliament Election.

Autor: baeuchle

Baujahr 1984, Maikind. Geboren in Frankfurt, aufgewachsen in Frankfurt, bis ins Alter von 31 Jahren eigentlich immer Frankfurt. Jetzt Kassel. Ausführliche Vorstellung