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I welcome students readers to this blog. However, be aware that, although I do not use anyone's actual name, the descriptions of behaviors and conversations are not disguised. This is a space in which I may rant, vent, and otherwise express responses that I would do my best to mask or at least tone down in professional interactions with students. This is my personal, gloves off, no holds barred, direct from the gut expression of what it feels like to do my job. If you think you might be hurt or offended or upset by that, read no further. The person I'm ranting about could be you.

Hi! And you are...?

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Not you, Barry. You already told me--and thanks!

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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Funny how the mind works...

I have apparently given up on the 5:00 101 to the point that I almost forgot I had the class today, and very nearly went home at 4, instead of staying here long enough to at least collect essays. I got nine of them--which is two more than submitted the first version, but there you go. Now we see how many of them remember to upload to Turnitin.

I didn't remind them that they have to ask for comments; I figure, if they want the comments, they'd have remembered. Several students in the 2:00 class did ask for comments; a few just want the grade. As I said to them all, "You have to want it badly enough that you'll come to campus to get it; otherwise, don't ask for it." But again, we'll see. Every semester I have students who say, "Oh, yes, Professor! I want your comments so very much!" (eyelash bat-bat-bat, nose several shades of brown) and then ... the graded essay sits on my office door until some time in the next semester, when I toss it in my box of essays that I keep in case of grade grievances.

At any rate, while I was waiting for students to show up with essays, I did a little sketching out of the assignment schedules for spring. I have to back up and think carefully about what I'm assigning out of the Norton anthology for the Nature in Lit class. I know the pieces I liked well enough to star when I read them back in 2004, but I have no idea how I grouped them or what the essay assignments were: my files are woefully incomplete on that score. But it is fascinating to see how my pedagogy has changed: apparently I used to assign "process papers" that led to a "final research paper"--and now I have no idea what I meant by "process papers," and I can understand why my students struggle with my assignment sheets, as I did not have the patience to wade through my complicated instructions to figure out what the hell a process paper was. And I have some themes identified from back then, when I used the anthology, so I'm hoping I can figure out what readings might be used for those topics--or for the topics I created when I started using a photocopied reader, or for other topics I might come up with... or something.

Just thinking about that almost made my brain burst into flames. I definitely heard the "overload!" warning sirens...

And my brain just scattered to the winds. I have no idea what I was going to do, or say, or think, or anything. As a consequence, my strong hunch is I should get home before I forget where that is.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A need for many martinis

Well, not really. I don't drink martinis--or do so extremely rarely--but I am thinking about that Doonesbury cartoon, with the president of Walden College giving his commencement address.... And I certainly am tired. Very tired. So tired, in fact, that I'm having a hard time figuring out what I need to do, or remembering what happened, or being certain that I'm being coherent.

Class today was fine--even a bit better than they've been of late: more students managed to stay awake and more contributed to the class conversation, including two young women who are often too shy to speak, which I take as a triumph (even if it has nothing to do with me). We did talk a bit about the themes--especially the gender thing--and this time I remembered to focus on what we see in Gethenian society and to head off at the pass a few of the common errors students make (such as stating that all Gethenians are equal, when patently they are not). Some of them are latching on, some are hanging on by their fingernails, but I think the bunch that I have right now will make it across the finish line. Barely, in some cases, but they'll make it.

In P&B, there was more discussion of the fucked up state of the campus, with idiots wanting to rule by fiat, making decisions about things they know nothing about. I spent a lot of the meeting thinking, "I think I can retire soon. I think I can retire soon." It's  a whole different take on the "Little Engine That Could" theme: I'm becoming the Little Engine That Won't.

Right now, it's ridiculously early for me, but I'm tired enough--physically, emotionally, psychologically--that I'm going to pack up my toys and go home. I never got around to eating lunch, so I think I'm going to have dunch, or linner (why isn't there a word like "brunch" for that?) and snuggle down with Dickens. Tomorrow will be easy, teaching-wise, as all I'm doing is collecting essays. (Oh, yes, and I did offer an extension to the fragile student with the hysterical mother. I'm not giving him until Monday, and I am applying a penalty, but I'm being extremely lenient.) One more day of actual teaching is required--Thursday, with the SF students--but we're almost at the final calculations phase.

And not only is tomorrow another day, but January starts another semester. Here's hoping I am stronger.

Monday, December 11, 2017

That's not energy; that's piss-off

Paul was saying earlier today that I still have energy, and I corrected him. I only have energy because I am a dramatic person--and I'm systemically pissed off. Students are suddenly grubbing for points--having blown them off most of the semester--and whining about this and that. In a lovely twist, a student mom who contacted me earlier in the semester and who said she understood that I can't talk with her about her 21-year-old son in my class sent me a rather hysterical email: her son thought he had until Monday to do the final version of the essay; when I said I absolutely would not accept it late--and that it's due Wednesday--he fell apart, and called her from the parking lot, in tears. The final lines of her email to me were "I PAY FOR CLASSES AND THEN HAVE TO PAY AGAIN CAUSE HE TRIES SO HARD AND JUST CAN'T KEEP UP! HAVE A HEART- IT'S CHRISTMAS!!!! [student mother's name] ps: if he gets into an accident leaving school I don't know what I am going to do!!"

Give me a fucking break. If he gets into an accident leaving school, I'll send flowers: how's that.

It's a good thing that happened via email, as if she'd shown up on my doorstep with that sort of bullshit, I'd have had a hard time refraining from ripping her head off. As it is, I simply replied that, as she knows, I can't talk to her about her son but that she should encourage him to contact me. (He did. He's slightly less hysterical in his email than his mother--and I will consider granting him an extension, because, although he doesn't have specific accommodations granted, he is a student with "special needs," and I know that he is more fragile than most.)

Then I went to the 5:00 class--and six students were there. The amazing disappearing class. In a way, though, I found that easier to deal with: I can disinvest from their success or failure. Two students actually showed up to withdraw today. Most are simply AWOL. Ah well.

I've been fooling around with a headache all day, and it's getting worse. I know it's a tension headache, but somehow that makes it even harder to relax.

In other news, I'm up to 12 students in Science Fiction for next semester--and back at one in Nature in Lit; that one is a student I talked to in Advisement today. I put up a few more fliers after the 5:00 class--and if I get a chance, I'll put up a few more tomorrow. I should have had them up weeks ago, but I really didn't think an online class would have a hard time filling. Of course, it may fill at the last minute--or nearly. Hope springs eternal.

I'm absolutely certain there is something else I wanted to relate about today, but damned if I can remember what it was. I'm going to head home and do my damnedest to forget all about this place until morning. Early to rise and early to Advisement tomorrow, but it should be a relatively painless day--I hope....

Sunday, December 10, 2017

P.S. No shouting

I just checked my work email and there was a nice apology from the testy student who admitted that
her essay had not, in fact, been submitted on the 4th as she'd thought. So whatever shouting may occur, it won't come from that quarter. Apology accepted. And whew.

Astonishingly caught up

All check sheets for editing completed.

All discussion board posts read and points assigned.

I haven't looked in my tote bag to see if there's anything else I brought home to work on, but if there is, screw it. This is enough for a weekend.

During the week, I'll only have reading notes from the SF students to evaluate. (Those may be in my tote bag. I'm not looking to see.) I do have to look at promotion folders for the colleagues who are going up for assistant/tenure prior to Tuesday's meeting, but that won't be onerous.

It really is winding down. And even after I make a much needed run to the grocery store, I'll have enough time to practice fiddle for the first time in a week. Happy days indeed.

The only sour note is an adult student in the 5:00 section of 101, who keeps telling me that she has the digital receipt for having uploaded her essay to Turnitin on time, but she has yet to produce the receipt--and I have checked Turnitin every day, using several different methods to see her submissions, in case she accidentally uploaded it to the wrong place, but her essay appeared for the first time today. She tends to toss out emails and then not follow up, and I'm getting pretty testy that she says she doesn't "agree" that her essay was not uploaded on time. I sent her a screen shot of the page on Turnitin. If she can produce that digital receipt, I'll take back the penalty (though I sure as shit won't have time to give her any comments for revision before class tomorrow). However, my bet is she won't respond to my email saying I don't have the receipt, and I'll end up having to argue with her out in the hall tomorrow during class. I don't relish that. The phrase "all over but the shouting" is amusing until there actually is shouting, or at least evidence of tempers aflare.

Nevertheless. It's winding down, thank all the gods that may be. I might even go downstairs to join in the very loud party my neighbors are having. (OK, not really, but I'm almost feeling celebratory. Almost.)

More tomorrow.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Only marginally painful

Well, all the essays I got, I've marked and returned with comments. I still need to do the editing check-sheets for a bunch of them (eleven, to be precise), but I'm done with providing comments--at least until I have to comment on the final versions, as I'm sure, despite how much I don't want to do any more commenting, some students are going to want the comments--or say they want them, even though they probably won't pick them up.

And I got all that done even though I started later than I'd have liked. And it's not insanely late now.

So, all that's good.

Seven more days of classes. That's it. Seven. I have one more early morning (making up time in Advisement on Tuesday), but ... it's almost done.

I sort of feel like I should do some paperwork of some sort--grade calculation sheets, prep for spring classes, something--but I'm not going to do anything except feel the relief of having gotten through that push.

Breathing. Breathing.

Friday, December 8, 2017


Well, I sure didn't get much done today, so that's going to make for a hell of a day tomorrow. I have nine essays that need comments, and another eleven that just need the check-sheet for editing review--but like an idiot, I didn't send myself all the files I downloaded at the office, so I'm having to download everything again. Ah well. If that's the worst thing to happen, I can't complain too loudly. (Well, I can, but I'd feel pretty ungrateful.)

I don't have a lot more than that to report today. Tomorrow is supposed to be wonderfully wintery--our first snow of the season, and some actual accumulation if the forecast is to be believed--which means it will be a great day to hunker down with many cups of tea and the computer and just crank away at it.

After this, all I have to do is final grading. I hope like mad that no one wants comments, as I'm about commented out. If at all possible, I'd love to spend next weekend working on my spring syllabi and assignment schedules. I really don't think Nature in Lit is going to run, dammit, so I'll prep the other courses first, then do what I can with that one. If nothing else, maybe it will run in the fall...? Hope springs eternal.

I may check in at the end of the grading haul tomorrow. It always feels good to have a blog post to put a period on the day.