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Monday, August 24, 2015

A good plan gan agly

After driving myself bananas trying to fix the various messes that Bruce and I had left in our wake last week (and making yet another error along the way), I actually got to sit down and start chipping through my own prep at about 2 p.m. My brilliant plan was to bring my laptop with me--because I can translate Word files into PDF files on the laptop but not on the office computer--and simply swap things back and forth between the two computers using my thumb drive.

Which is sitting on my desk at home, it seems.

All day yesterday, as I looked at the damned thumb drive, I thought, "I'd better remember to put that in my purse." If I did, I don't know where in my purse I put it: I sure as hell can't find it now.

This seems to be the motif of the last few weeks: "Where the fuck did I put the..." sleeve for my water bottle, thumb drive, pencil case, class folder, latest printout of X, travel cup for iced coffee ... and I could go on.

It's awfully damned early for that strand of pearls to have broken. And I am seriously losing track of what I have and have not accomplished. I did finally nail down a reading list for SF, and made the error of posting it on Facebook, where a friend immediately started in with "What, no Bradbury? No Octavia Butler? What about Carl Sagan? Have you considered Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land? Oh, you're thinking about films, too: what about ET? What about..." I finally said, "I think you should teach the class"--and she stopped. So far. I know it was all motivated out of her own excitement about the material and enthusiasm to share her ideas, but I my first reaction was defensive panic.

Calm. Calm. I have reasons. They're good enough. I'm not thinking through it again.

The students may not like the list as well as I do: I did decide to go with the first two of Atwood's Maddaddam trilogy and with two Le Guin short stories ("Vaster Than Empires and More Slow" and "Newton's Sleep") and two of her novellas (The Word for World Is Forest and Paradises Lost). The objection may be that there's an awful lot by those two authors, at the expense of a lot of other authors we could read instead--but thematically, I'm happy with the progression.

Of course, now I have to work on essay topics, and at the moment, that's a kind of thinking I just cannot do. Things downstairs in the main office will have to calm down significantly first, and I'll need a little time to finish basic maintenance on class handouts first.

Speaking of which, I found yet one more thing on the 101 syllabus that needed to be changed/fixed--and five pages of the syllabus for Mystery and Detective that needed the same. It really is endless: somewhere along the line, I'm sure to find something I meant to change/should have changed and didn't--or an idiotic typo, or something.

But speaking of syllabi, one of my colleagues sent us a link to blogger Sonya Huber's "Shadow Syllabus"--and it's brilliant. I've got links to it on all three of my course pages in Blackboard: http://sonyahuber.com/2014/08/20/shadow-syllabus/. Beautifully put: I couldn't have said it even close to as well, but she captures how many of us feel. Utterly great.

In any event, I'm about to fold my work tents (tense) for now. I have a collection of the documents I need to get copied this week, another collection of documents I can send off to the printing department; I've made sure to have AV equipment reserved when I need it for all three classes (or I hope I do: there's always the chance that I may wish I had access to the laptop and overhead projector for 101 on a day when I didn't reserve it, but my experience last semester was that usually all the equipment was unlocked and I could just fire it up when I needed it). Tomorrow or the next day, I can pick up copies of the books for SF from the bookstore (so I have the same editions my students are likely to have) and I may be able to drop in to one of the Blackboard help sessions, just so I know why the "Welcome" page isn't the first thing students see when they click on the class. I may even get to an orientation session on Wednesday (unlikely tomorrow), which would be fun. (And every time I think about that, I wonder where things are with seminar hours--and then I think, "Not my problem. Scott will let us know when anything is sorted out. If anything is sorted out, at all, ever.")

So, I'm going to noodle around a bit on the computer, then gently steal away into the night.

Possibly more tomorrow....

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