Monday, March 30, 2020

Learning bullets of sheltering in place

Nextdoor: We are all Gladys Kravitz now.
  • Although I am still distracted--aren't we all?--my brain has come back online for administrative and class work. I worked on that stuff all weekend. Those of you with kids at home (gwinne, I'm thinking of you) are heroes.
  • Social media 1: still not on Facebook, which I am thankful for.
  • Social media 2: Twitter has been surprisingly generous in tone. I try to post and retweet helpful items and haven't been dragged for it yet. Also, it's a learning space:
    • How to sew a mask and why a vacuum cleaner HEPA bag insert may be useful. 
    • What Instacart is, though we're encouraged to shop ourselves if we can to not overwhelm it for those who cannot get out. 
    • Online course resources for all ages. Virtual museum tours. Performances by musicians. 
    • Actual news, with links, about the pandemic.
  • Social media 3: Nextdoor. I joined this just recently, and while I had heard tales of its suspicious nature and complaining--the Gladys Kravitz syndrome of minding other people's business--what's mostly there are offerings of help or advice: which supermarkets might have some out-of-stock necessity, for example. I haven't been to the store for a couple of weeks, so it's helpful to know this. 
  • In work news: My awesome colleagues have stepped up with all of the changes and we're all working hard to make the rest of the semester as good as it can possibly be for the students.
  • However, if a faculty member who has not attended a faculty meeting for at least five years (apparently with impunity; yes, I'm petty and have kept track) floods everyone's mailboxes with questions and complaints about a university policy, is that sea-lioning? Sea-lioning:  "a type of trolling or harassment which consists of pursuing people with persistent requests for evidence or repeated questions, while maintaining a pretense of civility and sincerity." Or is that just what they call on The Good Place being an "ashhole"?
  •  Remember that phrase "I hope you are well" that we started seeing in emails about 10 years ago? These days we really, really mean it.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Well, that escalated quickly

There we are, thinking about academic life and its issues, and then--

hello, pandemic, is that you?

Concentrates the mind wonderfully, doesn't it?

Our house is pretty well stocked already because of my fervent devotion to the cult of Costco, and 
I'm already teaching online. Social distancing should be possible for us, and yes, I know that that is a privilege.

But like most other universities, we went to online instruction this week, and everyone is scrambling.

We're trying to make sense of university regulations that are both "you definitely should not be on campus" and "you absolutely have to be on campus" and to figure out how to best serve our students.

Some of the regulations seem to be of the vintage that warns students not to keep more than one cow on the campus commons, so that's fun.

Two observations that were not what I expected:

1. Even in the overstuffed Costco the other day, where the lines in the store were extremely long, most people were behaving with some generosity, humor, and helpfulness. Oh, sure, there were some people like the upper-class ladies in A Night to Remember about the Titanic--"young man, I insist that you do what I say. This is all too tiresome"--but most were not. I believe that their modern equivalents are called "Karens" and have "let me see your manager" smooth bobs rather than fussy flowered hats, but the attitude is the same.

2. I absolutely cannot concentrate on anything but the news, mostly via Twitter, NYTimes, & WaPo. I am starting to long for papers to grade, because those are concrete and predictable. When it comes to trying to do my own writing, though, my mind circles back to what's happening.

What have you noticed in this new reality we're facing?