Friday, February 29, 2008

and I thought I had a bad week...

I had a very raw week this week, lots of students who are slowly learning about what it means to be responsible, take care of what matters, etc. Monday was particualerly overwhelming, just listening to the morass of doom and despair. I speak of this casually, but these were all kids with real problems, the kind that put my annoying student to shame. Sure, you hate my class, but you don't have a dying family member, a child in intensive care, or a recent diagnosis of bi-polarism. (Is that a verb? Person diagnosed as bi-polar.)

Anyway, here's another "bummer desk" story. I at least am able to work in my chosen field. I could wish for better pay, more respectful students, a corner office... but I am able to do it. Now, I know, Prince Harry has all sorts of advantages and options comletely unavailable to us mere mortals. It's still got to be rough to carry the DNA of the Diana legacy. By all accounts he desperately wanted to be sent to the war, to do what he has been trained to do, serve as a citizen, and prove his mettle. Instead, an American new source has outed him (that will be on the cover of People next week, I'm sure) and he's back to playing polo or whatever it is that he can do... Makes my life look easy, so I'll stop complaining, at least for now.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

soap opera update

OK, now this is getting out of hand. Student mentioned in the previous posts e-mailed me last night at 10:45. AsI am an old person (tm) I was asleep. The question was perfectly valid, but I do not have any sort of alert system for e-mails hooked up. damnit, I've acrued enough debt to qualify for this job (jobs) that I deserve at least seven hours each night.

Said student then e-mailed at 7:00 AM to complain that I had not yet amswered the message from last night. At 7:00 AM, as best I recall, I was indulging in a healthy breakfast of leftovers, and e-mail was not the first (or even fourth) thing on my mind at that moment. "Am I really awake?" definitely took up the first fifteen or sixteen priority slots. "Why aren't you answering me? This is your job!"

A good friend of mine left grad school, despite having a GPA off the charts and all sorts of innovative ideas, because dealing with such situations really did not appeal. Wise choice.

(except that I love my job most of the time... addiction?)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

a follow-up

Mariah raised an excellent point in her comments to me, and I wanted to respond.

I am all in favor of students who speak up. I get a huge kick out of the folks who raise the unusual points, or who leap in with a wild guess when no one else is speaking. That makes class more interesting, I hope, for everyone. Hey, I'm human, sometimes I'll have a topic that I've carefully planned out, but the definition and accompanying questions just don't work. Hey, if someone doesn't tell me, I won't know.

It's when a student has obviously not cracked open the textbook in, oh, say, six weeks, not bothered to get the notes for the classes they missed, and expects to be able to jump in... well, then I get annoyed. When the rest of the class gets annoyed with another student, I take that as proof that I'm not truly evil.

Meanwhile, I would just like to report that I have exercised great self-restraint and not eaten all of my Tag-Alongs... yet.

Friday, February 15, 2008

teaching thought

I have a student who really really doesn't like me. Everything in every class is to be questioned and found less than adequate. At bottom, the student is uncomfortable with my approach and the questions I raise. I have a sneaky suspicion that this student wold be uncomfortable with any thing different, be it me, be it William Faulkner, be it DNA evidence.

What's fascinating is that this student hasn't yet grasped that their questioning is really starting to annoy the rest of the class. I could care less (really, I mean it) but I do care about the impact the questions have upon the tone of the discussion. At the same time, I love it that the class can debate.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

seasonal musings

So a couple years ago I was thumbing through the Encyclopaedia Britannica because I wanted to know the origins of this Cupid chap who is supposed to be flying around this week. He's Roman, in case you didn't know (I didn't at the time, which is why I was looking him up in the first place). He apparently enjoys archery and he's a menace to our society. Britannica says that his "wounds inspired love or passion in his every victim."

"WOUNDS???" "VICTIM???" He's hunting human prey, for crying out loud! Clearly this guy is a terrorist and needs to be stopped at all costs! We need to ship his wing-ed little ass off to Guantanamo and find out what his real agenda is!

As you may have guessed (if you didn't already know), I find Valentine's Day a disgusting and crass holiday. Even in the days when I had a girlfriend, I still wasn't that fond of it (although I will admit that it was a lot more fun). I don't understand the concept of it, personally. Some poor schlub gets his head lobbed off and I'm supposed to be romantic about it?

"Y'know, honey, we can go out to dinner and a movie anytime. Tonight, why don't we watch someone get martyred?" I don't know about the rest of you, but I certainly get hot just thinking about someone's decapitation. Valentine's Day -- Bah! Humbug!

Which brings me to love itself. Can there be anything as screwed up as this emotion? I find it thoroughly fascinating that while love is the antithesis of hate, it can be just as destructive -- just ask Helen of Troy. Or Shakespeare. Or Leonard Cohen...

The only good thing to come out of it (aside from the continuation of the species, I suppose--which is a diatribe for another time) is what it does to us creatively. Just ask Shakespeare. Or Leonard Cohen...

Our species has created plays, paintings, movies, stories, and, yes, literally thousands of songs according to Rob Fleming (or Rob Gordon if you're a fan of the movie), devoted to love. One could make the argument that the entire entertainment industry was built upon the ideas of love and romance. Hugh Grant alone owes his entire career to it!

This was written by my friend Hagrid - Hagrid is the honorary little brother whom I wish I saw far more often but whom I know I could call at 3 AM for a place to sleep or for bail money. We've been chatting about the holiday season of late and I (with permission) now blatantly post his words, as I thought them most apt to the motivations behind the festivities.

I think that one of the areas where we fall down most readily is in the simple act of telling people whom we love that we love them. Purchasing a box of chocolates or a dozen roses or a three foot long snake with sewn on "be mine" heart (available at my local Kroger) once a year is just not the same.

Apparently teachers get more Valentines each year than spouses get from each other. What does this say about the commercialization of romance?

I hereby call for this to be a week of simply saying,"I love you" - be it to spouses, SOs, siblings, parents, children, pets or even laser printers and coffeepots. Skip the profits and just say it. Then say it again when this week is over.

Friday, February 08, 2008

dietary query

Whta is it about Fridays in Lent that makes me so crave red meat? I'm a Protestant, for pete's sake.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

post-mortem on Super Tuesday

I am fascinated by all of the conservative talking heads who have announced that if John McCain is the nominee that they will work for Hillary's election. Aren't these the same folks who villified her ten years ago? Accused her of theft, murder, avarice, deceit, cover-up, conspiracy and any number of other foul acts?

This to me smacks of the same tone adopted four years ago by another end of the spectrum - "ohmigod, if Bush wins this election I am moving to Canada." Yeah, and all of you did just that.

Right now I'm just holding my breath for an actual honest to goodness primary election among the Democrats. It would be terrific if my primary vote, cast in May, carried more than symbolic value.