Wednesday, September 29, 2021

The two-headed conference Cassandra and other stories

 I know I wrote about this last time, but about conferences: can we just not?

Conference 1. Recently, for a conference in a month or two, I had to tell people that despite being vaxxed I was just not comfortable sitting in a crowded plane/crowded airport/crowded hotel rooms/crowded restaurants just now. Virtual was an option, so why on earth wouldn't we choose that? I didn't mention the $2000 (I added it up) out of pocket cost of going to the conference because there is no departmental travel money.

They looked at me as if I had grown two heads.  Really? Why do virtual when we could be in person and see everyone?

Conference 2. Then, for another conference in a deep red state that's unvaxxed and proud, I decided not to submit a proposal. It would have been another $2000 out of pocket, incidentally, but that wasn't the main reason.

People I talked to: why on earth not? Don't you want to go? Everyone will be there!

Because we're in the midst of a pandemic, that's why. I didn't say this, because again: I didn't need to be looked at like I'd grown two heads.

Conference 3: With plenty of time to spare, I told the organizers of a small conference that I always attend that I wasn't going to be there for a roundtable. No problem, they said, but again: really, you're not going?

I don't know about where you are, but here, hospitals are full. People can't get needed surgery. Oh, and also: people are getting sick and some will never get well. Children under 12 can't get vaxxed yet. There's a large contingent of people doing their "research" about lizard people and microchips and whatever other ridiculous nonsense the right wing is cooking up and deciding not to get the vaccine. They're storming school board meetings and banging on doors and threatening teachers in addition to being general maskholes and behaving badly in public places.

Oh, wait--according to the Washington Post and the NY Times, this is everywhere in the U. S. 

So both of my two heads and I will stay home from at least these conferences for a while. I will hope that everyone is safe from the virus while traveling and that, unlike Cassandra, who predicted the future and wasn't believed, I will be wrong and that COVID will spare everyone.  And unless I have to, I'll keep my mouth shut, because I don't want to be judged for not believing in the COVID-free conference bubble that the rest of academe seems to think exists.


Other stories:

  • Teaching is going really well. It's great being with students again, and teaching and learning with all of us fully masked is not a problem at all. It was even okay that one day when (1) I forgot my whiteboard markers and handouts; (2) the overhead camera declined to work;  and (3) the computer didn't work, either.
  • I am spending so much time on teaching that very little else is getting done. All the work on teaching I do now is work I won't have to do in the future, although right now there aren't hours enough in the day. Everything seems to take twice as long as it used to. I've started keeping track even more closely in my little black book: how many hours to write up this lesson/lecture, this quiz, answer these emails, grade these papers.
  • A lot of the time is going into developing rubrics, which our LMS seems to like if not require; also, some students have written to me looking for them. As you know, I have had mixed--make that very little--success with rubrics, but I'm apparently willing to put 20+ hours into it to try to make it work. 
  • Is anyone else exhausted this fall?
  • On the plus side, our sweet elderly cat will stop braying at the door if we feed her canned food 3 times a day, so that is a win.