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?