The Libation Council has been meeting more or less weekly during the semester since 2013 or so. Because some people can't be bothered to put "Libation Council, Thursdays, 4:30-6 pm" as a recurring event on their calendar, weekly reminder e-mails are sent out. Here is a collection of some of those e-mails. Most were written by me, some by Derek, some by Dianne. Everyone's contributions are appreciated.

I'll extend the archives back in time as I have time.

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Spring 2018

Feb 01: Not broad or deep enough

Happy Thursday! Your Libation Council will be meeting today at 4:30 pm at Postbellum (1323 W Main). I hope to see you there.

Folks, there is something I need to talk about with you. The pool of people at Libation Council meetings is not broad enough or deep enough to meet the arbitrary and undefined goals that we have set. Mind you, I am not in any way criticizing the people who already come to Libation Council. There are some really good people there. Maybe all of them are really good. I can’t say one way or the other for fear of violating their confidentiality. At this point, I can hear your virtual questions.

How many people already attend Libation Council meetings? I’m afraid I can’t answer that one. The whole confidentiality thing again. It’s usually more than one and less than, say, two dozen. It’s just not enough.

What would be the ideal number to attend Libation Council? Well, that’s hard to say. All I can tell you is that the number that currently sits between one and two dozen is not enough. Just a small number more would still be too few but we also don’t want a whole, whole lot more people either. Somewhere in the range of “the right number of people, plus or minus a little" would be perfect. You’re all scientists, this should be quantitative enough for you.

You said something about increasing diversity? Actually, I don’t think I said anything about that, but sure, that would be a worthy goal too. It would be fantastic if the diversity of attendees at Libation Council meetings reflected the diversity of the most diversity-ish place around. We’ll consider all types of diversity: racial, ethnic, sexual orientation, gender identity, intelligence, height, weight, hair color, left/right-handedness, and more. There’s no discrimination here.

Now I need you to think about whether you, personally, should come to Libation Council. If you meet any of the (non-existent) qualifications, the answer is “yes.” Also, think of inviting your friends and colleagues. If you’ve ever been at a faculty meeting and thought, “That person is really smart. I’d love to have a drink with them at Libation Council,” then both of you should come to the meeting this afternoon.

Thank you for your time.

- Scott

Jan 25: A week to forget

It’s Thursday, which can only mean one thing: it’s time for another night of Must See TV on NBC, featuring the hit shows Mad about You, Seinfeld, and Friends! [Editorial note: Scott must be thinking that it is 1998, not 2018. It is often safe to ignore him.] Now that I think about it, today is also the day for another Libation Council meeting! Let’s meet at the normal time (4:30 pm) and place (Postbellum, 1323 W Main) for some drinks, food, and good conversation. Everyone is invited.

If your week has been anything like mine, you are really going to enjoy having a drink tonight. Only some of these things are not true.

• Did you hear about Tuesday's big traffic jam on I-95 that was caused by a broken-down car on the Broad Street exit ramp? I really thought that my Honda Accord would last longer than 246,783 miles…but I’ve been wrong before.
• Only two weeks of classes gone by and I’m already behind. Darn snow day!
• The rats in my house are eating everything (e.g., loaves of bread, dish sponges) but they aren’t going after the peanut butter in the rat traps. C’mon, I don’t need rats!
• Found out that I should plan on going to a faculty meeting every single Wednesday this semester. Sure, faculty meetings are fun, but every week? Seriously?
• Yesterday was forecast to be a great day to be in the field, with the sunny skies we need for our measurements lasting from morning until evening. Well, Mother Nature didn’t read the forecast – we had only an hour of sunny skies, forcing us to leave early without getting a whole lot done. No problem, it’s sunny today…
• …except that our workhorse CO2 analyzer doesn’t work today because of a “minor” electrical fire yesterday that melted a bunch of wires, fried the analyzer’s circuit board, and burned a hole in the cooler that holds everything. Oops!
• My cell phone died - couldn’t get on the Internet unless I was on Wi-Fi. It took a long time, several restarts of the phone, resetting network settings, restoring the entire phone but it works now. Turns out that my data allowance had somehow gotten set to 0 GB. (Phone works now, so I guess this actually counts as good news.)

What are you trying to forget? What are you going to celebrate? Whatever it is, come out to tonight’s Libation Council. We’ll raise a glass (of water, cranberry juice, beer, wine) to celebrate your successes and acknowledge your sorrows. I hope to see you there!

- Scott

Jan 18: Excuses, excuses

Happy Thursday and welcome back from winter break! I hope you enjoyed the time off and got to spend it with friends, family, and loved ones. I also hope that you took delight in yesterday's snow day and had a relaxing morning due to today's late opening. Because of the inclement weather, today’s Libation Council meeting has been rescheduled to 4:30 pm at Postbellum (1323 W Main St.). I repeat, today at 4:30 pm at Postbellum.

What’s that? You say that is the same time and place that Libation Council always meets? Thursdays at 4:30 pm at Postbellum? Huh, I guess you’re right. Given that you are so familiar with the details of the when and where of Libation Council, then you have no excuse for not showing up. [As I type this, I am mentally preparing myself for the excuses: “I’d like to come but… ...tonight’s my turn to watch my spouse; can’t leave him/her alone for a second –or– …my Prius couldn’t handle the dusting of snow so I’m stuck at home –or– …I’m already behind on grading –or– …I promised my cat that we would make a snowman tonight.” I don’t know, you are generally more creative with your “real" excuses than I am with my fake ones.]

I look forward to seeing you at Postbellum this afternoon.

Also, the VCU Medical Center is open and fully operational.

- Scott

Fall 2017

Dec 14: Reliving the past

Happy Thursday! Libation Council meeting today at 4:30 pm at Postbellum (1323 W Main). I hope to see you there. Look for us in the main dining room. We’ll save the rooftop patio for the really nice and warm days of spring.

In the event that you have some free time or simply need a distraction, feel free to examine the ever-growing archive of Libation Council invitations. Some of the invitations are mildly humorous, if you have a certain sense of humor.

Today is the last Libation Council meeting of the semester. I hope to see you there!

- Scott

Dec 07: Life is all about choices

After a two week hiatus, your Libation Council will be meeting today. You already know the time (4:30 pm) and the place (Postbellum, 1323 W Main) but in the interests of trying to meet my word quota for this e-mail, I’m going to repeat myself and hope that you won’t notice. Libation Council, today at 4:30 at Postbellum (1323 W Main).

Life is all about choices. Good versus evil. Democrat versus Republican. Tastes great versus less filling. Union versus Confederate. Coke versus Pepsi. My way or the highway. Do or do not (there is no try). Beer versus wine versus hard liquor. These are all choices that I can’t help you with.

But, should you go to Libation Council or not? I can help you with that choice. Yes. Yes, you should go to Libation Council.

Ready to celebrate the end of the semester? Come to Libation Council.
Semester isn’t quite over for you and you need something to help you through the last couple days? Come to Libation Council.
Have a huge pile of things to grade? Take a break and come to Libation Council.
Done with classes, have everything graded, and aren’t sure what to do now? Come to Libation Council (but please keep your “I’m completely done” smugness to yourself. Thanks.)
Done with classes but are already tired of standing in front of an empty classroom and talking to yourself? Come to Libation Council and talk to us.
Sad that we didn’t have a Biology faculty meeting this week? Come to Libation Council. It will be just like a faculty meeting. Except less meeting-ish, more casual, and with alcohol.
Can’t wait until the Biology graduation ceremony on Saturday to sit down with some of your colleagues? Come to Libation Council and sit down with us.
Forgot that graduation is THIS Saturday and that you should show up at the Convention Center, Exhibit Hall B at 1 pm? Come to Libation Council and we’ll remind you.
Want to be social? Come to Libation Council.
Don't really want to be with a lot of people right now? Based on the attendance the past few weeks, you’ll probably be OK if you come to Libation Council.
Need a break from your kids/spouse/significant other/pets? Come to Libation Council.
Need to deal with kids/spouse/significant other/pets? Come to Libation Council. Seriously. They’ll be fine without you for a couple hours.
Parents are in town? Come to Libation Council. (Remember when you were younger and couldn’t wait to get away from your parents? Now’s your chance!)
Thirsty? Come to Libation Council.
Hungry? Come to Libation Council.
Thirsty and/or hungry and cheap? Come to Libation Council and take advantage of the Happy Hour prices.
Today is Thursday? Come to Libation Council.

The choice is easy.

- Scott

Nov 16: The sesquicentennial!

Happy Thursday! The Libation Council will be meeting this afternoon at the normal time (4:30 pm) and place (Postbellum, 1323 W Main).

The Libation Council has met 149 times since the inaugural meeting back in September 2013*. So why does this matter to you? Well, that means that today is the 150th** meeting of the Council and it is a universally accepted fact that the 150th meeting of any organization is one that should not be missed***. It’s the sesquicentennial, baby!**** Consider this e-mail as an invitation for you to attend this momentous occasion. It will be marked by music, balloons, and door prizes*****.

The Libation Council will meet today at 4:30 pm at Postbellum******. All are invited*******. I hope to see you there********.

- Scott

* None of the facts or dates in this sentence have been confirmed. You are more than welcome to wade through old invitations to confirm the exact number. I bet I’m within ±50.
** See previous footnote.
*** "universally accepted" meaning "something I just made up." Also, see previous footnote.
**** Here, ‘baby’ is used in enthusiasm. I am not calling you a very young person, nor am I using it as a pet name or form of endearment. Having said that, you do look younger than your actual age and, yes, I do like you.
***** This may be a lie.
****** Everything in this sentence is true.
******* Wow, seven asterisks is a lot! Maybe I should have used superscripted numbers for my footnotes. Also, see previous footnote.
******** Does anybody ever provide a footnote that contains no useful information? Just wondering.

Nov 09: The chairs are missing

Oh woe are we, both of the libation council "chairs" are out of town. Whatever shall we do??? And on the one Thursday I am out of class early. Now, I am not paranoid....or am I.....but I am starting to think that....nah.. couldn't possibly be that they are avoiding the rest of us? I am sure they have perfectly legitimate reasons for ditching us all. So, to celebrate the lack of our libation leaders I truly think that we should meet at 4:30 (or in my case 4:45) at Postbellum and hoist one...or two in their honor.

I know this is not up to the same standards as other people, but it is 3:30 and I have to give a test at four so I don't have time to mess around. I hope that some of will join me this afternoon....and no we won't be sitting outside this week (are you crazy).

See you shortly, hopefully


Nov 02: Dictation feature, editing required

Libation Council meeting this afternoon at 4:30 pm at Postbellum (1323 W Main).

Hello this is thing work question mark question mark I wonder how you get a punctuation here? Perez. No I said Barrett is. No! I said, where it is. Okay, so I noticed that there is a dictation menu item in Microsoft Word so I thought I would use that to dictate today’s invitation email. As you can see, this works well sometimes. But it doesn’t work very well other times. I hope that you will come out to libation counsel this afternoon. We would really like to see you there. Now, I know that you have other things to do. You probably have tests to write, for tests to grade, or Lexus to prepare, or assignments to grade, for research to do, for data to analyze, for manuscript to write, for proposals to review, proposals to write, for committee work to do. But those things are no fun. Instead you should come out to libation council tonight. If you come you might be able to figure out Weatherby errors in this email are due to Microsoft dictation feature for if I should be sticking to water during the day as my beverage of choice.

Remember, libation council today at 4:30 PM. It’s a beautiful day so we will be on the roof at postbellum. See you there!

- Scott

Oct 27: Libation Council drill

Fire drill today at ~1:30.

Libation Council drill today at 4:30. This is a drill. This is only a drill. Had this been an actual Libation Council, the attention signal you just heard (that is, the “ding” of a new e-mail) would have been followed by important details such as, “Libation Council today at 4:30 at Postbellum. Be there.”

For those of you who might have forgotten how Libation Council drills work, here it goes. There will be no audible alarm, unless you set one yourself (personally, I like the “cosmic” alarm chime on my phone). As in a fire drill, it is critical that we leave Trani or wherever we are working and head to a safe location. For Libation Council drills, the safe location is inside Postbellum (1323 W Main). This is far enough away from campus that we can start to forget about classes and unwritten manuscripts and faculty meetings and grading that still needs to be completed. Meet there and we will do a head count to make sure that everyone safely made it away from their work. After a suitable period of time, you will be allowed to leave Postbellum and return to work (why?) or head home.

It is vitally important that we “practice well” so we are prepared for the next time an actual Libation Council occurs. By my reckoning, that will be next Thursday afternoon.

Stay safe and I will see you this afternoon at Postbellum.

- Scott

Oct 19: Who, what, when, where

What: Libation Council
When: 4:30 pm today
Where: the rooftop patio at Postbellum (1323 W. Main)
Who: you
Why (should you attend): Today is a “reading day.” By the time 4:30 pm rolls around, you will deserve a break from all the reading that you’ve been doing.
Why (will we be meeting outside): It is a fantastically beautiful day!
Why (is this e-mail lame and uninspired): Your Libation Council e-mail writer has turned off his creativity in celebration of fall break. But stay tuned for next week’s announcement – it promises to be much better (or worse) than this one!

I hope to see you at Libation Council this afternoon!

- Scott

Oct 12: Career advancement

Happy Thursday! Your Libation Council will be meeting today at the normal time (4:30 pm) and location (Postbellum, 1323 W Main). Because the weather is a little iffy, let’s grab a table inside today. I hope to see you there.

I spent some time today looking through the attendance records for the past several years of Libation Council meetings. After a rigorous analysis, I have come to the conclusion that attending Libation Council is good for one’s career. In just the last year or so, a substantial fraction of the (semi)regular attendees have been promoted, either in academic rank or position title. To list a few examples (in no specific order):
Scott: promoted to Associate Professor
Derek, the elder and wise: promoted to Associate Professor
Sarah: promoted to Assistant Professor
Don: promoted to Associate Dean
Dianne: promoted to Associate Professor
Julie: hired to the tenure-track
Alaina: promoted in rank and position title
Bonnie: promoted to Interim Department Chair

In contrast, let’s look at the fate of a few of those who come to Libation Council rarely or (gasp!) not at all and see how their careers have fared in the last year.
Lesley: not promoted
Dan (Carr): not promoted, in the hospital (hope your recovery is going well!)
Paul: not promoted
Rob: no longer in the Department or the College
Leigh: not promoted

The evidence is clear.

[To be sure, there are some regular attendees who haven’t (yet) been promoted. Further, some who rarely/never attend Libation Council have somehow been promoted. These exceptions prove the rule.]

If you aren’t interested in being promoted, there’s no real reason for you to show up at today’s Libation Council meeting. To those of you who care about your careers, I look forward to seeing you at Postbellum this afternoon.

- Scott

Oct 05: Biology Inventory of Neighborhood Greatness Off-campus

Happy Thursday! After a one-week hiatus so you could attend the Biology Advising Open House, the Libation Council is back in business. We will meet today at 4:30 pm on the rooftop deck at Postbellum (1323 W Main).

By now, you surely have seen the Biology Neighborhood List where you can promote your specific work-related skills, with the idea that your colleagues can learn from you and you can learn from them. This central resource of who has skills in Blackboard, clickers, student engagement, field/lab techniques, and more will be very useful to us all.

You might feel that you aren’t an expert in anything here on campus. I hate to be the one to tell you, but I think you’re right. But don’t despair! Here I announce the Biology Inventory of Neighborhood Greatness Off-campus. Let your colleagues know of how awesome you are once you get away from the classroom and the lab. Brag about your ability to pump gas without spilling a drop, pay bills on time, and cook dinner without your neighbors calling the fire department. Please add your expertise to the list so we can learn from each other! If your mad skillz don’t fall into one of the existing categories, go ahead and add a new category.

Don’t forget to come to Libation Council this afternoon. I hope to see you there,

- Scott

Sep 28: Advising Open House

Happy Thursday! Normally at this point I would be telling you all about Libation Council and inviting you to head out to join your colleagues for some post-work liquid refreshment and camaraderie. But, there is no Libation Council today.

Now, I can’t stop you from going to the normal Libation Council location at the normal Libation Council time and doing the normal Libation Council things. After all, you are all mature adults people who are legally allowed to make decisions. However, I want to encourage you to attend the Biology Advising Center Open House this afternoon. The attached flyer for the Open House promises “fellowship - food - fun” and that’s really what Libation Council is all about anyway so you should totally go to the Open House (wait, is “fellowship - food - fun” actually a math problem? If so, I don’t know what the answer is. …Hmmm… Is it 7? Yes, I’m pretty sure the answer is 7.). The advising team would really like to see you at the Open House. They are even offering free food and drink as a bribe to get you to attend.

What: Biology Advising Center Open House
When: Today from 4-6 pm
Where: Trani Life Sciences Building, probably in the main lobby unless there is a party room within the Advising Center
Who: Biology advising team, some students, and you
Why: Free food and drink, supporting colleagues, interacting with students

Libation Council meetings will resume next week.

- Scott

Sep 21: Bylaws

Guess what? It’s Thursday, that’s what!

Time for another Libation Council meeting. We will be meeting at 4:30 pm on the rooftop patio of Postbellum (1323 W Main St.).

In addition to the ongoing process of revising the Departmental bylaws, we are also revising the Libation Council bylaws. I realize this may be news to you. Please fill out the following Bylaws-Mad Libs mashup and forward your suggested revisions to Jill and the Bylaws committee. They are certain to appreciate the input. Can I also suggest that we revise the Departmental bylaws using a Mad-Libs approach?

#1, verb ending in -ing __________________
#2, adjective __________________
#3, adjective __________________
#4, liquid __________________
#5, feeling __________________
#6, number __________________
#7, period of time __________________
#8, adjective __________________
#9, meat or meat-like product __________________
#10, adjective __________________
#11, number __________________
#12, name __________________
#13, number __________________
#14, body part, plural __________________
#15, adjective _______________

Libation Council, Department of Biology

[Selected excerpts]

Article I. Mission.

The Libation Council exists for the purpose of _________ (#1, verb ending in -ing) faculty and staff morale. The primary means of achieving this goal is through regular meetings where there is _________ (#2, adjective) conversation with colleagues, _________ (#3, adjective) consumption of drinks such as _________ (#4, liquid), and very affordable _________ (#5, feeling) Hour prices.

Article II. Executive Director(s). I. Responsibilities. The Executive Director(s) of the Libation Council shall be responsible for organizing regular meetings of the Council, to be held at least ________(#6, number) time(s) every _________ (#7, period of time). Before each meeting, a/an _________ (#8, adjective) e-mail shall be written and distributed to a random mailing list in order to motivate attendance and fill e-mail inboxes with __________ (#9, meat or meat-like product). II. Appointment. The Executive Directors shall consist of anyone who is __________ (#10, adjective) enough to volunteer to write weekly e-mails to the entire Department. To cover for each other in the case of unexpected absences, there should be at least _________ (#11, number) Executive Director(s). Once Directors have self-selected, there is, apparently, a lifetime term of appointment.

Article III. Libation Council meetings. I. Meetings will be called to order. Or not. II. The Executive Director(s) or anyone present at the meeting may introduce topics of discussion. III. Discussion of proposed amendments, resolutions, and policy revisions will follow _________’s (#12 , name) Rules of Order. Any resolutions receiving more than _________% (#13, number) of all votes will be considered to have been adopted. Votes shall be cast by a show of _________ (#14, body part, plural), or by _________ (#15, adjective) ballot, at the discretion of the Executive Director(s).

I hope to see you this afternoon at Postbellum,

- Scott

Sep 14: Meetings

Good afternoon and happy Thursday! This is your weekly Libation Council announcement; today’s meeting will be today at 4:30 pm on the rooftop patio of Postbellum (1323 W Main St.). Your presence at this meeting is requested and encouraged.

The semester is in full swing, with several weeks of classes and scholarly events behind us already. By now, you have probably been to several meetings (many meetings? an interminable number of meetings?) about various topics – faculty meetings, dealing with tenure/promotion issues, addressing curriculum questions, and more. These are all very important things to discuss. I’m sure that those meetings were well-run with structured agendas, they started and ended on time, order was maintained following Robert’s Rules, and you agreed to complete a set of action items before the next meeting. Well, the Libation Council meetings are run a bit differently. These meetings are incredibly important but there is no set agenda. We start promptly at 4:30 pm – unless you get there earlier or show up later – and end right at 6 pm, give or take 30 minutes or so. There are no rules of order (curiously, despite that, the meetings never devolve to a state of chaos). The only action item is that you have to pay your tab before you leave, but Postbellum has happy hour prices so even this isn’t too bad. In many ways, the Libation Council meetings are run just like the rest of my life (that is to say, with little-to-no advance planning; we just wing it!).

If you need a break from a life of well-run meetings or just to unwind after another long day in academia, come on out to Libation Council. It’s like no other departmental meeting…and that’s a good thing!

I hope to see you this afternoon,

- Scott

Sep 07: I am sorry to disappoint

Hi All,

Scott is in the field today so I have been left to announce this afternoon's Libation Council. I'm sure each of you have been anxiously awaiting Scott's clever little email that is always certain to bring a giggle. Oh does he brighten our Thursdays. Scott is so wonderful. Blah blah blah. Well I am sorry to disappoint, but I am not a clown for your amusement. Do you think it is easy to construct these emails? Listen, if you want to read something witty then write it yourself, but please DO NOT share it with the list because I will guarantee you that it will not be as clever as those written by the whimsical Dr. Neubauer. I suggest you just read it to yourself then delete it. I'm starting to wish I could do the same with this email, but I have a duty to do, so...

Come one come all to the Libation Council at 4:30 pm on Thursday, which is today. We will meet on the upstairs deck at Postbellum to enjoy the weather, good drink, and good company! (And by 'good company', I mean Scott. Everybody loves Scott.)

See you there,


Aug 31: Baseball

Happy Thursday! Welcome to Week 2 of the fall semester. Tonight’s Libation Council meeting will be at the usual place (rooftop patio at Postbellum, 1323 W Main St) and at the usual time (4:30 pm ’til ??). I hope that you will be able to join us.

Some of you may know that I am a baseball fan. It occurs to me that there are some interesting similarities and differences between the game of baseball and the “game” that we call academia. For example,

• At the end of summer, as the fall semester is winding up, baseball season is winding down. [This weekend is your last chance to see the Richmond Flying Squirrels].
• In 1901, Nap Lajoie had a 0.426 batting average. In 2015, one of Jonathan Moore’s students managed to get a final course grade of 42.6%. Both of these are considered exceptionally high marks that may never be surpassed.
• Some people consider baseball to be a very boring sport to watch. Please don’t ask my students what they think of my classes.
• The average Major League baseball player will be paid $4.47 million in 2017. The average VCU employee...also got paid in 2017.
• In Major League baseball, there is a competitive voting process for selection to the All Star game. Everyone has a vote - players, fans, managers. At VCU, there is a competitive voting process for selection to join the faculty. Everyone has a vote - search committee, other faculty members, department chair (updated to reflect 2017 policy changes).
• In 1919, Babe Ruth was traded from the Boston Red Sox to the New York Yankees, leading to the “Curse of the Bambino” and a 86-year championship drought for the Red Sox. In 2017, James Vonesh was “traded” from Biology to Life Sciences. No word yet on any curses.

Today’s Libation Council meeting promises to be a big hit! I know you have a lot on your plate, but please try to swing by. I hope to catch you there,

- Scott

Aug 24: Come to Libation Council!

Good morning Biology colleagues,

The start of the semester brings the resumption of Libation Council meetings and weekly e-mails from me or Libation Council co-chair Derek (wait, we have two Derek's now? My esteemed co-chair is Derek the Elder, also known as Basement Derek, Derek J, or “no, not that Derek, the other one"). For those who might be new to this mailing list and/or the Department, Libation Council meetings are a venue for improving communication and camaraderie and for discussing events and policies of interest to attendees, all done over your choice of refreshing beverage. There is no agenda. Just show up and we’ll talk about something, anything, and everything. If you are on this mailing list, you are invited. If you attend the meetings regularly, you can list it as “service to Department” on your annual report; I know that I do.

So what do you need to do to get ready for a Libation Council meeting? Just three things:
1) Clear your calendar;
2) Tell your spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend/significant other/kids/roommates/pets that you’re going to be home a little late on Thursdays; and
3) If necessary, line up a kid-sitter.

We will continue our pattern of holding Libation Council meetings at 4:30 pm on Thursdays at Postbellum (1323 West Main Street, just a short walk from campus). It’s convenient, they have a nice selection of food and beverages, and their happy hour specials are pretty good. With today’s mild temperatures and no rain, let’s convene at Postbellum's rooftop bar.

I hope to see you there this afternoon...and every Thursday. Welcome back!

- Scott

Spring 2017

May 11: Another semester is finished

Happy Thursday! Mercifully, the spring semester is over (!!)…not counting a few more finals and, perhaps, piles of grading. Oh, also some more faculty candidate interviews. I’m not sure of the count, but it’s something like 27 down, another 15 to go. And, we’ll probably have another two or three faculty meetings this month. But, except for those minor details, the semester is over. To celebrate, come to today’s Libation Council meeting (4:30 at Postbellum) and we can ponder the apparent paradox of the semester feeling very long at times and yet still passing by very quickly. Well, that was my impression of it; yours may differ. 

Also, don’t forget about graduation this weekend. All faculty are expected to attend both Libation Council (today, 4:30 pm, Postbellum) and graduation (Saturday, 6 pm, Convention Center Exhibit Hall A). When I’m department chair, we will revise the bylaws to require attendance at both of those things. It’s all part of my campaign to Make Biology Great Again. [But seriously… if there’s ever a Libation Council meeting or a faculty meeting when I have had too much to drink and volunteer to be on the ballot for department chair, DO NOT vote for me. Please. Don’t. Do. It.]

All are welcome at the meeting today. Yes, even you.

- Scott

PS: Bonnie - we missed you last week. If you can’t make it today, please send the departmental checkbook with someone else. We talked about this last week; see below.

May 04: Bring the checkbook

The first Thursday after the end of classes. What a day for celebrating! I have the perfect venue for doing that. Or maybe you’re a little rundown from end-of-semester stress and all the interviewing that is going on right now. Well, I know what can help with that, too. —  Come on out to today’s Libation Council meeting. It will be held at 4:30 today at Postbellum. It’s another beautiful day, so we’ll be up on the rooftop patio.

I wanted to remind you of something that I wrote in one of these Libation Council announcements back in December:

"I just checked the books and the Department spends exactly $0 on Libation Council. Never has there been a group in the Department that has done more with fewer resources. Just imagine how successful Libation Council would be if it had a budget of, say, $3600. That would be only ~$100 for each week of the spring and fall semesters. Yes, that would do quite nicely."

At yesterday’s faculty meeting, we were shown the balance in the index that can be used for parties, social functions, alcohol, and other things that can’t be charged to other University sources. Now, there wasn’t the $3600 I mentioned above, but there was plenty of money to get us through the end of the fiscal year. Bonnie - please come to Libation Council and bring the departmental checkbook. We’ve got some money to spend…

I hope to see you (that’s everyone, not just Bonnie) at Libation Council this afternoon!

- Scott

Apr 27: Glory and disappointment

Happy Thursday! Your Libation Council will be meeting this afternoon at the normal time (4:30 pm) and place (the rooftop patio at Postbellum). Among other things, we can celebrate the birth of Ulysses S. Grant, who was born on this date in 1822. As the Library of Congress tells us, Grant’s post-presidency years were a “mixture of glory and disappointment” ( You may be wondering why I’m telling you this. Well, it’s because today’s Libation Council e-mail is also a mixture of glory and disappointment. Glory because it’s a beautiful day and you have a reason to drink refreshing beverages on a rooftop patio with the best colleagues at VCU. Disappointment because, well, if you’ve read this far, you are surely disappointed that there is nothing remotely clever or humorous in this e-mail. 

I hope to see you at Libation Council this afternoon!

- Scott

Apr 21: It's time to march

Here we are again! It’s Thursday so it’s time for another Libation Council meeting. Today at 4:30 pm at Postbellum. It’s another beautiful day, so look for us on the rooftop patio.

As you surely know, this weekend is the March for Science, which will draw thousands (tens of thousands? hundreds of thousands?) of people to the streets of Washington DC and cities around the world to stand up in support of that thing that we have built our careers on. I think this is a big deal, but there have been other important marches. Here are a few.

Name •• When? •• Where? •• How big? •• Cause
• March for Science •• Saturday April 22, 2017 •• Washington DC with satellite locations throughout US and across world •• me, my kids, and tens of thousands more •• Truth, justice, and the scientific method!
• Woman’s March •• Saturday January 21, 2017 •• Washington DC with satellite locations throughout US and across world •• millions of people •• Typo at the hat factory led to the production of 4,000,000 pink pussyhats, instead of the intended order of 40. And thus a march was born.
• March of the Penguins •• 2005 •• Antarctica •• uncounted multitudes of emperor penguins •• Who doesn't want to hear Morgan Freeman’s deep, authoritative, and soothing voice talk about penguin love?
• Selma to Montgomery marches •• 1965 •• Alabama •• hundreds to thousands of people •• Civil rights (nope, no jokes here).
• March Madness •• annually •• on the road to the Final Four •• now, 68 basketball teams •• It’s the only known way to determine who wins the Neubauer family bracket challenge
• Million Mom March •• Mother’s Day, 2000 •• Washington DC with satellite events elsewhere ** see the number in the name? That’s how many. ** Earlier, there was a Million Man March (1995) and a Million Woman March (1997). Moms wanted in on the action. 
• March •• annually, between February and April •• everywhere that uses the Julian or Gregorian calendar •• 31 days •• Late winter break and the start of spring have to happen sometime.
• Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 in D •• at the start of every graduation ceremony •• since 1905, more or less •• 80-90 decibels •• It gives family and friends a cue that now (right now!!) is the time to stand up for the processional.
• Ides of March •• March 15, 44 BCE •• Rome •• Julius Caesar, Brutus, and Cassius •• Dictatorship, tyranny, politics, honor, a prophesy…and a sharp knife.
• March to Libation Council •• Thursdays during academic year, including today! •• 1000 West Cary to 1323 Main St. •• handfuls of VCU biologists •• Cold drink, tasty food, good conversation.

I hope you’ll be able to make it to Libation Council this afternoon! March on over and join us for a good time.

- Scott

Apr 13: Too busy

Happy Thursday! The Libation Council will be meeting today at the usual place (Postbellum) and time (4:30 pm). It is a gorgeous day out there, or at least it looks that way if I lean over a bit, look through my door, through the lab across the hall, and out the mostly-below-ground-level window. But, who really knows. Given the lovely weather, Libation Council will be meeting on Postbellum’s rooftop patio. So, come on up to the roof! You won’t regret it. As for me, it’s time right now to get out of the office and back into the lab [I’m using “too busy” as the excuse for this uninspired e-mail. I’ll try to do better next week.]

Hope to see you — on the roof! — this afternoon.

- Scott

Apr 06: Word association


Scott is out of town today so he has left it to me to come up with some clever little email to entice everyone to attend the Libation Council. So let's try some word association. I will write a word or phrase and then say the first word or phrase that comes to mind. 
See you there!

Derek...............................multiple beers

Mar 30: Libation Council pop charts

[Today’s Libation Council announcement contains the names of 23 songs that were year-end number one singles on the Billboard pop charts. Can you find them all? Answers below.]

What do you know? It’s Thursday again! Yeah! Hold on while I tell you a surprising bit of news: there’s a Libation Council meeting today at Postbellum. What time does the meeting start? As always, at 4:30 pm, which is roughly when doves cry, plus or minus a few minutes. How do you get to Postbellum? Just walk like an Egyptian west on Main Street. If you pass the Heartbreak Hotel or reach the end of the road, you’ve gone way too far. If you cross the bridge over troubled water, you made a wrong turn somewhere. Just look for the sign, open the door, and you’ll be in da club.

Who is going to show up at Libation Council? Well, it varies from week to week. Hey Jude was there once, so was my Sharona, and there was somebody that I used to know (if she comes again and I admit that I forgot her name, I’ll be rolling in the deep). You’ve got to believe and have faith that tonight’s the night, gonna be alright. The company of whomever is there is simply irreplaceable.  

Whether you are having a bad day or are happy, I hope you’ll come to Libation Council. Everything I do, I do it for you (that includes writing these increasingly tortured e-mails). That’s what friends are for. I would also tell you that I will always love you, but that’s getting outside the bounds of our professional relationship. 

If you can’t make it, call me.

- Scott

Songs listed in order of appearance and grouped by paragraph.

Yeah!, Usher featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris, 2004
Hold on, Wilson Phillips, 1990
When doves cry, Prince, 1984
Walk like an Egyptian, The Bangles, 1987
Heartbreak Hotel, Elvis, 1956
End of the road, Boyz II Men, 1992
Bridge over troubled water, Simon & Garfunkel, 1970
The sign, Ace of Base, 1994
In da club, 50 Cent, 2003

Hey Jude, The Beatles, 1968
My Sharona, The Knack, 1979
Somebody that I used to know, Gotye featuring Kimbra, 2012
Rolling in the deep, Adele, 2011
Believe, Cher, 1999
Faith, George Michael, 1988
Tonight’s the night (Gonna be alright), Rod Stewart, 1977
Irreplaceable, Beyoncé, 2007

Bad day, Daniel Powter, 2006
Happy, Pharrell Williams, 2014
(Everything I do) I do it for you, Bryan Adams, 1991
That’s what friends are for, Dionne and Friends, 1986
I will always love you, Whitney Houston, 1993

Call me, Blondie, 1980

Mar 23: Near Miss Day

There is a Libation Council meeting today at 4:30 pm at Postbellum. Of course, today is a Thursday so you already knew that I was going to tell you that.

But, did you know that exactly twenty-eight years ago, on 23 March 1989, a large asteroid came within 690,000 kilometers (that’s just 0.000000026 parsecs!) of hitting Earth? As a consequence, Congress directed NASA to study the threat that our planet could be hit by an asteroid, we got the movies Deep Impact and Armageddon, and Near Miss Day has been celebrated every March 23rd since then. If a large asteroid was actually going to hit the planet, what would you do on your last night?

1 Spend time with family. — Great idea, but they’re all staring at their phones and tablets. They say, “uh huh, got it Mom/Dad” but you can tell that they’re completely focused on watching videos of cute puppies because today is also Puppy Day! 
2 Finish grading exams, writing that proposal, and doing that manuscript review that is due tomorrow. — Now, I understand that you like to check things off of your to-do list, but I don’t think you heard me. An asteroid is going to hit the planet. There are better things to do than work. 
3 Enter your secret underground bunker that has enough food, water, and breathable air for you to survive for many, many years until the planet’s surface is once again habitable. — OK, fine, good for you. But, there’s no wi-fi down there so good luck watching Netflix.
4 Call up Bruce Willis to drill into the asteroid, implant a nuclear bomb, detonate it, and save the planet. — You know, maybe this should have been the first thing you tried but, spoiler alert, Bruce Willis died the last time he tried that. What’s your next option? 
5 Shine your classroom laser pointer on the asteroid so that the asteroid effectively acts as a Crookes radiometer (, spins away from the planet, and you are a hero for saving the human race. — Seriously? I realize that this is Plan #5, but that’s the best you can come up with? We're doomed!
6 Go to Libation Council. — By default, this is the only good choice. And, they have tasty food and drinks at Postbellum. 

I hope to see you in a couple hours at Libation Council! It’s the only thing that a reasonable person would do to celebrate Near Miss Day, or any Thursday.

- Scott

Mar 16: Bracketology

After a one-week hiatus for late winter break, Libation Council will resume its regularly scheduled Thursday afternoon meetings. It’s a beautiful Thursday but not nearly warm enough to sit on the rooftop at Postbellum. Don’t worry, we will still be meeting at Postbellum – promptly at 4:30 or whenever you show up – but we will be inside today. 

As you may have heard, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament starts today (the women’s tournament: tomorrow). In the spirit of the tournaments, I offer up the following VCU madness bracket (attached). Feel free to fill it out and bring to the Libation Council meeting.

Feel free to use Libation Council as your pre-game activity for tonight’s VCU game. The game doesn’t start until 7:20 pm, so there is plenty of time to come to Libation Council and then make it to wherever you will be watching the game. Our VCU Rams vs. the Gaels of St. Mary’s. Should be a good game.

And for those of you who somehow can’t get scores on your work computer, the games underway are as follows: 

At halftime: Princeton: 30, Notre Dame: 36 Nine minutes left in first half: UVA: 11, UNC Wilmington: 23 (yes, I double-checked this score)

If these scores hold, my bracket is already going to be a mess...

Hope to see you this afternoon!

- Scott

Mar 02: Late winter break

Happy, happy, happy Thursday! Today is the last Libation Council meeting before spring break. I hope you can make it to Postbellum (1323 West Main St.) at 4:30 pm. Now, I’m not one to spend too much time trying to figure out why VCU does all the odd things that it does – I don’t have the stamina – but why does spring break start a full two weeks before the season of spring even begins? Shouldn’t it be called something like, “late winter break?” What’s more, why do we even call the current semester the “spring" semester? Astronomically speaking, 60% of the semester occurs during winter! We’re all about educating our students to think critically and to realize that words have defined meanings, but we can’t even name things properly!? 

Don’t worry, at Libation Council meetings, there should be no confusion about our name. We are an (unofficial) council. We meet. Libations are involved. It’s that simple.

I hope to see you this afternoon at the meeting. And, happy late winter break!

- Scott

Feb 23: Darn auto-connect

(Message set from phone. Please excuse  brevity, auto-correct, and typos.)

Libations counsel today at 4:30 pm at Portobello (1323 West Main St.). It primroses to be a fun and exiting time. I Hope to see you and your fiends at the meeting this afternoon.

- Scott

Feb 16: Buzzword bingo

Another week, another Thursday, another Libation Council meeting. We will be meeting this afternoon at 4:30 pm at Postbellum (1323 West Main St.), as we always do. Do you know what else we always do? We have a faculty meeting on Wednesdays. Every Wednesday of the semester, until yesterday. Of course, the lack of a faculty meeting meant that we couldn’t continue the weekly “buzzword bingo” game. Generate your own bingo board and bring it to the next faculty meeting. It’s fun for all!

Or, if you prefer, you can look for longer phrases in e-mails, documents, websites, and mission statements. Heck, I’m sure I’ve written some of these phrases in research proposals. All of these phrases were generated by the Education Jargon Generator.

We (or VCU, or the research team, or the Department, or the College) will…
...mesh child-centered efficacies within the new paradigm.
...motivate technology-enhanced proficiencies for high-performing seats.
...benchmark classroom-based decision-making within the Zone of Proximity. subjective classification via self-reflection.
...facilitate student-centered classification to close the achievement gap.
...undefined innovative culminating products across spatial and temporal scales.
...expedite strengths-based curriculum compacting for our 21st Century learners.
...problematize hands-on systems through high impact practices.
...enable global experiences throughout multiple modalities.
...strategize authentic school-to-work programs for our 21st Century learners.
...deploy real-time explicit direct instruction within professional learning communities.
...enhance multidisciplinary opinions through the collaborative process.
...share out data driven stakeholders within professional learning communities. holistic content across content areas.
...motivate blended curriculum compacting through the Big Ideas.
...facilitate dynamic liaisons via thinking, learning and doing.
...cultivate problem-based proficiencies through high impact practices.
...agendize synergistic guiding coalitions in authentic, real-world scenarios.
...aggregate diverse school-to-work programs within the core curriculum.
...share out real-world culminating products through the Big Ideas.

To be fair, each of these individual words does have a meaning. Therefore, stringing them together should result in a row of words.

I’ll see you this afternoon at Libation Council. 

- Scott

Feb 09: That's so cliche

Happy Thursday! Somehow time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping into the future and it’s time for another Libation Council meeting. You know the drill: 4:30 pm today at Postbellum (1323 West Main St.). If you can’t make it tonight but show up tomorrow, you’ll be a day late and a dollar short.

You are invited, even if you’re a new kid on the block. In fact, your Libation Council enjoys welcoming new members to the group. The more, the merrier! is what we sometimes say when we are reaching for clichés that we haven’t used in a while. For those of you who haven’t been to a Libation Council meeting, just know that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy (and Jill a dull girl). Don’t sit in your office and work your fingers to the bone. You could go fly a kite but, instead, you should come to Libation Council tonight. Definitely show up before the cows come home, but don’t wait until pigs fly. You might be tempted to wait for your ship to come in, but that won’t be of much use since Postbellum is landlocked. You could drive the extra mile, but then you’ll just be farther away that you are now. You just need a take a walk on the wild side (of Main Street) and then you’ll be there. I realize that, baby, it’s cold outside but please don’t get cold feet or give me the cold shoulder. In Postbellum, it is hot enough to fry an egg, although they generally ask us to stay out kitchen if we can’t stand the heat. Do you need any more convincing or do I have you hook, line, and sinker? To coin a phrase, Libation Council is all fun and games until someone loses an eye (which hasn’t happened...yet). It’s definitely more fun than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. You can take that to the bank. There’s no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it.

Hope to see you this afternoon at Postbellum.

- Scott

Feb 02: Rules to live by

It’s a Thursday so Libation Council will be meeting this afternoon: 4:30 pm at Postbellum (1323 West Main St.). You never know who is going to show up. Last week, there were appearances by our Chair (interim version), an Associate Dean (current version), and the Grand Poobah of all science advising in the College (future version). It’s a star-studded, gala affair that you won’t want to miss! And in case you’re worried about hanging out with “the bosses,” know that the second rule of Libation Council is, what happens at Libation Council stays at Libation Council (also see rule #3, below). What are the rest of the rules? I’m glad you asked.

1) The first rule of Libation Council is: you do not talk about Libation Council (optional, never enforced).
2) What happens at Libation Council stays at Libation Council.
3) It never hurts to suck up to the boss.
4) Rules were made to be broken. Well, all rules except this one.
5) It is a good idea to obey all the rules when you're young just so you'll have the strength to break them when you're old (we stole this one from Mark Twain).
6) Happy hour pricing runs from 3:30-6 pm.
7) The Golden Rule is that there are no Golden Rules.
8) Every rule has an exception. 
9) There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception.
10) When all else fails, read the instructions (i.e., rules #1-10).

I hope to see you this afternoon at Postbellum,

- Scott

Jan 26: Ethics

Happy Thursday! As happens almost every Thursday during the semester, the Libation Council will be meeting this afternoon at 4:30 pm at Postbellum (1323 West Main St.). 

To be honest, Libation Council is a little bit less fun than a faculty meeting because we won’t have anybody come talk to us about ethics. And, it might be shorter than a faculty meeting too. After yesterday’s presentation, I am a bit worried about having our meetings at Postbellum. As we all know, we are not allowed to accept favors or gifts from a person, company, or corporation if we, as individuals, have power of actual or potential purchasing decisions that involve that person/company/corporation. We need to demonstrate absolute objectivity in representing the University - the existence (or even appearance) of an undue influence on purchasing decisions is verboten. From this perspective, happy hour pricing (50% off Virginia draft beers!) seems like nothing more than a simple bribe. They give us a deal (half a beer for free!), we spend money at their establishment. Quid. Pro. Quo. What’s that you say? They give happy hour pricing to everyone? Whoa, this scandal is bigger than I thought!

Come out to Libation Council and be scandalous with the rest of us. You won’t regret it!

- Scott

Jan 19: Apocalypse

Today is the first Thursday of the brand new semester so there is a Libation Council meeting this afternoon: 4:30 pm at Postbellum (1323 West Main St.). You’ve heard all the hype about Libation Council, now come and experience it for yourself! 

Also, on a slightly more somber note, today is the last Libation Council meeting before the Apocalypse. As you have undoubtedly heard, some interpretations of the Maya Long Count calendar had predicted that a bunch of bad things would happen on Dec 21, 2012. You know: planet hit by asteroid, life as we know it ceases to exist, Earth disappears in a puff of smoke, bad things. Well, obviously that didn’t happen. But, a comprehensive new accounting of time that includes the differences between the Maya Long Count calendar, Julian calendar, and the Gregorian calendar – not to mention that someone previously forgot to think about Daylight Saving Time and leap seconds! – has conclusively revealed that the Apocalypse is going to happen tomorrow. You are surely wondering why you haven’t heard of this before now but the mainstream media won’t tell you the truth about anything. Boy, won’t you feel dopey if when the world ends tomorrow and you missed your chance to go to Libation Council. Don’t let this happen to you!

The above paragraph is completely true, and is not a political statement. (<— Let’s see, that’s less than 140 characters so it would fit in a tweet. Therefore, it must not be a lie. Perfect!)

I hope to see you this afternoon at Postbellum,

- Scott

Fall 2016

Dec 15: Until next year…

Your Libation Council executive committee meet earlier this afternoon and decided that there will not be a Libation Council meeting today. We hope that you enjoyed the departmental party yesterday (thanks Bonnie!!!!) and will remind you that Libation Council meetings are just like that — lots of fun in the same location and with the same great colleagues. We also hope that all of your exams magically grade themselves, that your students (even more magically) don’t whine about their final grade, and that you have a fantastic winter break. 

Libation Council meetings will resume next year. Only 33 days until spring classes begin (hang in there, you can make it!).

- Scott

Dec 08: Attendance woes

Today is Thursday so there is a Libation Council meeting this afternoon: 4:30 pm at Postbellum (1323 West Main St.). I hope to see you there. If you are receiving this e-mail, you are invited to Libation Council. It doesn’t matter if you are faculty, associate dean, vice provost, postdoc, administrative staff, technical staff, real old-timer, pretend old-timer, emeritus professor, or someone that falls into another equally-important category that I neglected to include on this list because I really have no idea who actually get these e-mails. 

Today is also the last Libation Council meeting before graduation so this is your last time (**not counting the next two Thursdays) to attend a meeting before the end of the year. I will note that attendance at Libation Council meetings has been somewhat spotty this semester. Your Libation Council executive committee is concerned by this development and is exploring ways to encourage larger and more consistent attendance at these important meetings. One of the things found at ALL excellent Biology departments is a regular social gathering where faculty and staff can unwind, relax, and be refreshed. By engaging in the Libation Council meetings, we create the regular opportunity to be more than the just sum of our individual labs. The Libation Council meetings should be a high point in our week. Contrast  "I went to Libation Council and only two other people showed up" versus "I was surprised at all the engaged faculty and staff at the Libation Council meeting - there's really something something going on there!”. There’s a big difference!

So, what can we do to increase attendance at the Libation Council meetings? One possibility is to change the timing of the meetings. Based on extensive research when the Libation Council was first established in 2013, Thursday afternoons were selected. In the last week, there have been some interesting discussions about maybe rescheduling the Biology seminars and possibly the faculty meeting. Your Libation Council executive committee would like a part of the rescheduling madness and proposes: 1) The seminars are rescheduled to Thursday afternoons. Instead of actually having the speaker go through the trouble of standing and talking for 50 minutes, we'll just go to Libation Council instead. It’s a much more relaxed atmosphere for discussing science. 2) If the faculty meetings are moved to a new day/time, the Libation Council will take over the Wednesday noon slot. We’re all about inclusiveness at the Libation Council: If the standard Thursday afternoon meeting doesn’t work for you, go to Libation Council on Wednesdays. And if Wednesdays are no good for you, there’s still Thursday. And if you can make both, good for you! Your Libation Council executive committee is leaning strongly to keeping a start time that is sometime after noon, but we’re open to other options. After all, this is your Libation Council.  

Another option is to increase departmental support for these meetings. As Bonnie indicated in an e-mail a couple days ago, the Department spends ~$5600 per year on the seminar series. I just checked the books and the Department spends exactly $0 on Libation Council. Never has there been a group in the Department that has done more with fewer resources. Just imagine how successful Libation Council would be if it had a budget of, say, $3600. That would be only ~$100 for each week of the spring and fall semesters. Yes, that would do quite nicely.

I hope to see you this afternoon,

- Scott

Dec 01: Retirement

Today is Thursday so there is a Libation Council meeting this afternoon: 4:30 pm at Postbellum (1323 West Main St.). I hope to see you there.

Busy day today with the end of the semester rapidly approaching. As Will said, we should be jubilantly jubilating about this, although I find myself stressfully stressing about all the grading that still remains. Also, we are interviewing a candidate for the open Global Change Ecologist position today. Don’t forget about Dr. Hu’s seminar this afternoon at 3:30 in Hibbs 0427. Note that Derek cleverly scheduled the seminar so that you can attend it and then go directly to Libation Council. Smart guy, that Derek!

If you happen to be retiring in the near future, please note that there are only a small number of Libation Council meetings between now and the end of the semester. I would feel bad if you didn’t make it to at least one Libation Council meeting before the end of your long and distinguished career but I can’t imagine that I would feel nearly as bad as you will. Don’t let your retirement be plagued by thoughts of what could have been. Come to Libation Council today! [Note that this message of not missing opportunities also applies to those of us whose retirement is infinitely far in the future.]

I hope to see you this afternoon…at the seminar and then at Libation Council afterwards.

- Scott

Nov 17: My phone suggested this message

Today is Thursday so there is a Libation Council meeting this afternoon: 4:30 pm at Postbellum (1323 West Main St.). I hope to see you there.

I decided to let the auto-correct on my phone write the rest of today’s e-mail. Whenever I start typing, my phone gives me three words that it thinks I will type next. I started with the letter "A" and then accepted the phone’s first word suggestion over and over until I had something that resembled a sentence. Then, I started with "B” and accepted the phone’s second suggestion for a while, and then did the same with “C” and the third suggestion. Here is my phone’s inspirational “Come to Libation Council!” message:

A great day to be able to chat with you on the top of the page and the app is great. But the game was a good idea but it would have to have a good time when you can use it. Cannot believe how good it would work if you had the right one of those that would work for the other half. 

If that doesn’t convince you to come out for a drink, some fine conversation, and good times, I don’t know what will. Hope to see you this afternoon

- Scott

Nov 09: New (temporary) location!

Reminder that Libation Council tomorrow is at Julie and Don’s house. There will be at least a few beverages at their house, but it would be much appreciated if you brought your favorite drink to share. As for the other FAQs about this meeting: 

Can I bring my spouse and/or significant other? Yes
Can I bring my pet(s)? nope
Can I bring beverages and/or food? Please do!
Is 3 pm too early for me to show up? Yes, 3 pm is too early. But, 4 pm would be acceptable.
Where, exactly, do Don and Julie live? 4808 Riverside Drive - cedar shingled tri-level; parking across the street by rocks or on the side streets. Walk in yards!
Can I bring my gripes about the way the election turned out? [If you didn’t vote, the answer is “no.”] "Yes, but I may choose to not talk to you about this, or maybe I will only speak in German :)” [FYI: Julie wrote that response before the election…but I suspect it still applies. Maybe even doubly so.]

Don, Julie, and I hope to see you at Libation Council tomorrow afternoon.

- Scott

Nov 03: Bouncing around ideas

Today is Thursday so there is a Libation Council meeting this afternoon: 4:30 pm at Postbellum (1323 West Main St.). I hope to see you there.

I periodically get asked where I get my ideas for the Libation Council e-mails that I write. Most of you probably don’t care and others of you likely see “Libation Council” in the subject line and reach for the [delete] key so you won’t be reading this anyway. For those who are left: What I consider my best ideas usually just pop into my head while I’m doing random things like cooking dinner or traveling to/from work. Those are typically the easiest and most fun e-mails to write. Other times, it gets to be late morning or early afternoon on a Thursday and I realize that Derek is in Japan and *someone* needs to send out a Libation Council reminder. Then, I scramble to come up with something that I hope will be at least somewhat amusing to some of you. The process might look something like this:

My first thought today was to do something political, since this is the last Libation Council e-mail before the election. Less than one week until the election! (although this terrifying – and satirical – article from The Onion suggests an alternate election timeline: FEC Extends Election By 7 Months To Give Nation Chance To Better Get To Know Candidates). I think I’m just mentally done with the election and I already did an election-themed e-mail last week (if you missed it, scroll down). This idea went nowhere.

Next idea:

“As you may have heard, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series last night, the first time since 1908 that they were baseball’s champions. So, in the spirit of the Cubs ending their 107-year drought, I thought I’d see what else hasn’t happened for at least 107 years. Alternately, I suppose I could point you to this article about what America looked like the last time the Cubs won the World Series; what I get from the pictures in the article is that women were required to wear dresses and color hadn’t been invented yet.

What hasn’t happened for at least 107 years
• A woman is elected as US President (never)
• A man from New York who is not named Roosevelt is elected as US President (none since Grover Cleveland, 1885-1889)
• A college professor made it though an entire semester without at least one student asking a question that was clearly answered on the syllabus (never?)
• Atmospheric CO2 concentrations less than 300 ppm (today: ~400 ppm…and rising)
• The Egyptians haven’t built another Great Pyramid (last one: ~2500 BC. What are they waiting for!?)”

…but that idea fell flat in a hurry. Anyway, the point is that sometimes the ideas for these e-mails don’t come easily and are often quite lame (like this e-mail). But, please don’t let that stop you from coming to Libation Council today. And, if you ever have ideas for Libation Council e-mails or even want to write one yourself, please, please, please let Derek or I know. We’re more than happy to share this enjoyable burden.

Hope to see you this afternoon at 4:30.

- Scott

Oct 27: Wikileaks exclusive

Today is Thursday so there is a Libation Council meeting this afternoon: 4:30 pm at Postbellum (1323 West Main St.). I hope to see you there.

- Scott

PS: The following was a recently released by WikiLeaks. It’s a NNN (Neubauer News Network) exclusive.

On October 14, 2016 at 4:08 PM, Hillary Clinton wrote: 

Do you really want me to answer that? Let’s just go have that drink. I won’t even charge you the $250,000 that I would normally get for talking to wealthy New Yorkers.

On October 14, 2016 at 4:05 PM, Donald J. Trump wrote

It’s awful. Weak. Pathetic. So sad. How am I even losing to you?

On October 14, 2016 at 4:04 PM, Hillary Clinton wrote: 

Yea, maybe your only talent…

How about, “Make Libation Council Stronger Again, Together!” 

On October 14, 2016 at 4:03 PM, Donald J. Trump wrote:

It’s a talent I have. So what do you think of the slogan? “Make Libation Council Great Again!”

On October 14, 2016 at 4:02 PM, Hillary Clinton wrote: 

Wait, how are you interrupting my e-mail writing?

On October 14, 2016 at 4:01 PM, Donald J. Trump wrote:


On October 14, 2016 at 4:00 PM, Hillary Clinton wrote: 

Look Donald. I disagree with the premise that the Libation Council is no longer great. I mean, we just came up with the name yesterday but surely we can improve it. If you look on my website – – you’ll see that I have a detailed 8-point plan that will make Libation Council even greater than it already is. First, I will introduce legislation to ensure…

On October 14, 2016 at 03:46 AM, Donald J. Trump wrote:

As you know, I am a bigly successful and very rich businessman. There’s an opportunity here.

“Make Libation Council Great Again!”

We could put the slogan on hats and t-shirts. People will love it! Believe me.

On October 13, 2016 at 11:18 AM, Hillary Clinton wrote: 

Umm, those are weird things to say. Just order the drink that you like and drink it.

Anyway, this meeting between us needs a name that won’t look out of place on my calendar. Let’s see, I already have “FBI interview,” “Forum: Stopping the vast right-wing conspiracy,” “Benghazi committee hearing, round 27,” and a seminar called “Charity foundations for personal gain." 

How about “Libation Council?"

On October 13, 2016 at 03:05 AM, Donald J. Trump wrote:

When Postbellum serves beer, they're not serving their best. They're serving beers that have lots of problems. They're serving extra-hoppy IPAs. They're serving super-dark porters. And some, I assume, are good beers. 

You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful beers — I just start drinking them. It’s like a magnet. Just drink, I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the glass. You can do anything.

On October 12, 2016 at 8:45 AM, Hillary Clinton wrote: 

Dear Donald,

This is a pleasant surprise. Sorry for the delay in responding but I needed to do due diligence to make sure the last email actually came from you. It was very unexpected.

Don’t worry about the secrecy thing. These e-mails are going to my own secure server. If there’s one thing I know about, it’s about proper handling of sensitive e-mails…and yours isn’t even marked confidential, lol. I don’t think that either of us wants this conversation becoming public knowledge. I mean, to think that a nasty woman who belongs in jail (your words, not mine!) would sit down for drinks and conversation with the thuggish leader of a gang of deplorables (my words, not yours). This meeting must stay confidential. 

Let me suggest that we meet at Postbellum, on Main Street in Richmond, Virginia. It’s right in an important swing state and they have a nice selection of drinks to choose from. How about 4:30 pm on any Thursday? We’re both 1%-ers, but we can still take advantage of the happy hour pricing!


On October 10, 2016 at 03:12 AM, Donald J. Trump wrote:

Dear Hillary,

I am sending this e-mail against the advice of my campaign advisors, but as you have no doubt figured out, I don’t listen to those elites who try and tell me how to run a campaign. The end of the campaign is quickly approaching and we have both said some pretty harsh things to each other. I rocked the last debate though, don’t you think?

I would like to propose a meeting between the two of us. We could sit down together for a drink or two and just talk. I know it’s hard to believe, but I am serious and sincere about this. 

But, if word of this meeting leaks out, I will deny it, just as I have denied all of the other “lies” that have been reported by the mainstream media that is 100% biased against me. I do have a reputation to protect.


Oct 13: Frequency

Today is Thursday so there is a Libation Council meeting this afternoon: 4:30 pm at Postbellum (1323 West Main St.).

It’s just a part of the rhythm of life:
• Every second: Your heart beats.
• Every minute: Amazon sells roughly $205,000 worth of stuff. Apple sells roughly 300 iPhones.
• Every 94 minutes: Old Faithful erupts
• Every day: The sun rises. The sun sets.
• Every week: The Libation Council meets. Just put it on your calendar as a recurring event (and then come to the meeting!)
• Every few months: Another semester starts. 
• Every year: You have a birthday. 
• Once in a blue moon: A blue moon occurs.
• Every four years: A US President is elected...less than one month and this year’s circus will be over!
• Every decade: A triple-moon conjunction of Jupiter
• Every 75 years: Halley’s Comet returns. I hope you got to see it in 1986!
• Every millennium: A 1000-year flood. Fun fact: there have been three 1000-year floods in the US this year!

See you at Postbellum later today (and then again next week, and the week after, and… …)

- Scott

Oct 06: How's your week?

Hi All,

How has your week been thus far? Good? Great, lets celebrate at Libation Council. Rather poor? Sorry to hear that. We will sympathize at Libation Council. Where and When? Today at 4:30pm at Postbellum on Main St.

See you there!


Sep 29: Tidal wave of a semester

Hi All,

I understand that you had a successful Libation Council last Thursday without Scott and me. Who would've thought? While we will be absent again this week, I have confidence that all of you will make Libation Council Great Again! So I encourage all of you to take a break from this tidal wave of a semester, and join your colleagues for a relaxing bit of drink, food, and conversation. 

Libation Council will be today at 4:30 pm at Postbellum on Main St. 


Sep 22: We're not here

Hi all,

Sorry for the late Libation Council email. Scott is in China and I have family in town. However, I'm sure there are enough of you to make gathering worthwhile at 4:30pm today at Postbellum. Have fun!


Sep 15: Fanciful wordplay

Hello All,

Today is Thursday so there will be a Libation Council meeting this afternoon at 4:30 pm at Postbellum (1323 West Main St.). 

Scott is en route to China so unfortunately he will not be able to attend. However, in his absence, I will do my best to entice each of you to attend this afternoon's meeting using historical facts and fanciful wordplay. Here is a bit of both...

Did you know that 2016 is the 80 year anniversary of the first frontal lobotomy? Mind you, in no way am I suggesting that this is cause for celebration, but instead think you will agree when I say I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.

Hope to see you this afternoon with a bottle in front of you.


Sep 08: Get away (or is it getaway?)

Today is Thursday so there is a Libation Council meeting this afternoon: 4:30 pm at Postbellum (1323 West Main St.).

Did you happen to see this article from today’s Washington Post? The title alone gives a sense of the story: "Man chooses jail over wife — robs bank, sits in lobby until arrested, FBI says.” Unfortunately for his grand plan, he was later released on his own recognizance. If you need to get away from your wife (or husband, or significant other, or kids) for a little while, you don’t need to rob a bank. Just come out to the Libation Council meeting at Postbellum. Sure, you could bring your spouse and that would be great, but you could also use this as an excuse to get some time away. “Sorry dear, they scheduled a meeting for late afternoon. No, I don’t know why they picked that time but I don’t think I should miss this one.”

Hope to see you this afternoon. 4:30 pm at Postbellum.

- Scott

Sep 01: Requesting promotion letters

Dear Colleagues,

The Libation Council, which holds the rank of Informal Social Gathering, is currently being considered for promotion to Associate Informal Social Gathering. As you know, the Libation Council has been hard at work in the department for the last several years, meeting almost every Thursday during the semester. To aid in the evaluation process, the review committee requests your input regarding the Libation Council’s efforts, contributions, and achievements in the areas of socialization, comaraderie-development, refreshment, and general merriment. 

If you had the opportunity to interact with the Libation Council in any of these areas, please take a few minutes to show up at today’s meeting, which is today at 4:30 pm at our new location, Postbellum (1323 West Main St.). If you have not yet interacted with Libation Council, or if it has been a while, please think about coming out so that you can offer an informed perspective on the qualifications of this gathering. In lieu of e-mails to the committee, we request that you share your thoughts on Libation Council at today’s meeting: 4:30 pm at Postbellum.

The committee thanks you for participating in this important process.  


- Scott

Aug 25: And the new location is...

Postbellum, Postbellum, bo-bostbellum,
Banana-fana fo-fostbellum

…is the spot for tonight’s Libation Council meeting. 

Postbellum is at 1323 W Main Street. From Trani, go north on Harrison, turn left onto Main, and then walk 3-4 blocks to Postbellum. The restaurant is on the left.

Hope to see you there at 4:30 today!

- Scott

Aug 24: Welcome to the semester

I hope that everyone is ready for tomorrow. No, not because classes start tomorrow but because the start of the semester brings the resumption of Libation Council meetings. For those who might be new to this mailing list, Libation Council meetings are a venue for improving communication and camaraderie and for discussing events and policies of interest to attendees, all done over your choice of refreshing beverage. If you are on this mailing list, you are invited. So what do you need to do to get ready for a Libation Council meeting? Just three things: 

1) Clear your calendar;
2) Tell your spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend/significant other/kids/roommates/pets that you’re going to be home a little late on Thursdays; and 
3) If necessary, line up a kid-sitter.

We will continue our pattern of holding Libation Council meetings at 4:30 pm on Thursdays. Currently, we are looking for a new place to hold our meetings. For the last year or two, we’ve been meeting at Rancho T but that fine establishment is currently “closed for the summer.” If you have any suggestions for other places we could meet, please send them to me. Ideally, our new venue will be within easy walking distance from Trani and will have a good selection of refreshing beverages. Either my co-organizer (Derek) or I will send another e-mail tomorrow to let you know of the meeting location.

- Scott