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Thursday, June 8, 2017

Actually, the thought doesn't count for much

If the time I spent thinking about work actually accomplished anything much--or counted toward financial remuneration--that would be one thing, but in fact, I think about work a lot, sometimes not even fully aware that that's what I'm thinking about, and generally speaking, it doesn't do much apart from 1. keeping my hyperactive brain busy and 2. occasionally causing some little rushes of anxiety.

Today, I sat down at the computer with the full intention to continue work on revising--and at least ostensibly improving--the 101 handouts, but in fact I did nothing of the sort. I rationalized the avoidance of work with the idea that I was waiting for a call from the mechanics that my car was ready to pick up, and I didn't want to be in the middle of something and have to interrupt it to go get the car.

Well, yeah, nice excuse, Prof. P. Let's be honest: you were perfectly content to simply noodle around on Facebook and playing dopey, mindless computer games. You didn't even do your biweekly finances.

I did, however, engage in a little student behavior. I have signed up for a master class on conservation "taught" by Jane Goodall. It doesn't actually start until fall, and the "teaching" will consist of video lectures with "homework" assignments that encourage the students in the class to think about, respond to, discuss whatever Goodall brings up. The pre-class activity was to go over the timeline of Dr. Goodall's professional life and add to it (if you could think of something important to add), then take credit for what you added. I added the fact that she was a visiting professor of psychiatry at Stanford from 1970 to 1975, and was appointed a visiting professors of zoology at Dar es Salaam university in 1973, a position she still holds. (I'm fascinated about the professorship in psychiatry: I wonder what that was about.) Then we were invited to "take action"--which mostly seemed to mean telling others about groups to which one belongs or suggesting activities others could take. I was surprised that no one had already suggested the importance of either Greenpeace or the Nature Conservancy--and, just because I am so proud of us, I also added ASLE. I probably could have added about a half dozen other organizations I belong to or have had dealings with, but I figured I had sunk enough time into that for one day. I can see, however, that once the class starts, on the days when I check in to see what's going on, I will get drawn into the vortex and will have a difficult time coming back out again. Get a keyboard under my fingers and watch out...

The other studenty thing I did today was to practice the violin. I'm working on a very very simple tune--much easier than the stuff I was working on with my old teacher--but I'm learning to play it correctly, which is a whole different ball of wax. I'm also trying to learn to play it to an appropriate tempo: I start at 54 BPM (beats per minute) just to work on bow position, but I'm supposed to work up to 92 BPM, and I can tell you, at about 82 BPM, the wheels start coming off... Well, this is what practice is for, and all I can do is keep working on it (my instructor did say I should "work up to" 92 BPM--and in our lesson I'll just have to explain that I'm still in the process of getting there).

In an interesting congruence between my experience with conferencing with students and my experience as a fiddle student, I realized today that there will be many, many, many lessons in which she corrects the angle and position of the bow--because I can't "feel" it without her help right now. It took me years upon years to begin to feel what my riding instructor was talking about 99.9% of the time ("Feel that?" "No; what was I supposed to feel?"), so I anticipate it will take an equally long while before I can feel whether my hands/arms are in the right positions with the violin.

But that's what learning is about, that transition from "I don't get it" to "Oh! Now I see!" It's brilliant to watch in my students, and fun to experience in myself.

And that's all the blather I have for today. Again, I'm not taking bets either way about my likelihood of working tomorrow. Could happen, or not. All together now: "we'll see."

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