Monday, April 18, 2022

How long is this semester? Groundhog Day long, that's what.

  • Like a good portion of the rest of the country, Northern Clime is getting snow. In April. Every day. Snow. What is it Bill Murray says? "It's going to be cold, and it's going to be gray, and it's going to last for the rest of your life." Yeah, what he said. 
  • Tulips are coming up, but they're saying "nuh-uh, not going to bloom when we're just going to freeze to death." 
  • I am playing whack-a-mole with our LMS. When I see that someone's turned in one of the minor full-credit assignments, I go in and give it comments immediately, just so I can see it disappear from the ever-lengthening sidebar list of things to grade. 
  • I gave a conference paper (the conference had sensibly moved online), and rediscovered (1) how stressful it is and (2) the feeling of giddy elation when it's over. It's the old story of hitting yourself in the head: it feels so good when it stops. 
  • The mask thing is going pretty well, though. Most places I go--that is, the grocery store--there's a good third of the people who are masked. If you think about it, how much attention did we pay to people's faces before the pandemic? Not a lot, and it's the same now; I barely look at them and vice versa. Nobody's said anything to me about it, and everyone seems pretty chill. 
  • I'm ready if someone does say something, though. Here's my projected response: "Merry Christmas!" Cheerful enough to be inoffensive, and strange enough to make them give me a wide berth in case I am unhinged, and, in this part of the country, armed. 
  • It's hard to get back to writing and thinking, although the conference paper proved that I could do it, so I guess it's time to get back to it. 
  • Updated to add: a Florida judge just voided the mask mandate on planes for bonkers reasons ("masks don't do anything"). This is bad for so many reasons (children, immunocompromised people, and, oh, by the way, the rest of us who don't want to get any flavor of COVID). From an academic perspective, people on Twitter are now fretting about flying to conferences. Not to harp on the same old idea, but you know how you can't get COVID if you're at a conference? Through a Zoom screen. We are all supposed to be throwing praise parades for the in-person conferences, but this is a risk that just got riskier, not that anyone is paying attention.
  • Another update: “who needs a mask? Covid is over completely, so definitely not me” from Megan McArdle ( ) conservative columnist and author of helpful advice like “if you’re not rich, perhaps you should consult your broker” and “old people get poor and die—get over it”

Friday, April 08, 2022

Random Bullets of April


  •  COVID, now with new and improved Omicron 2.0, is still flourishing here and elsewhere. British Airways had their flight crews take off masks, and oh, look, their COVID rates rose.  I'm still wearing a mask, and at least a third of the people I see at the grocery store are, too. 
  • I'm sure you all saw how UCLA posted a job offering with all the usual requirements, including 5 references, for a professorship for which you would be paid . . . nothing. This was in the sciences, and it probably had something to do with teaching for glory--er, faculty affiliation--when you already make lots of $ on grants, but still. Are we there yet at the English Department of the Future
  •  Speaking of fancy schools doing dubious things, if you haven't read Rachel Aviv's New Yorker investigation of how U Penn treated one of its students, Mackenzie Fierceton,  go read it; it's excellent. This follows a Chronicle of Higher Ed account that takes a skeptical view of her story; Aviv's account has a more complete and sympathetic version.
  • Twitter is doing its usual blend of genuinely useful information and theory and contemporary culture fight-fests over stuff where I have no idea what they're talking about. 
  • In other news, I now believe that people should be required to get signed permission slips from all their neighbors before they put up outdoor wind chimes. 
  • Friday night, and still grading--how about you? It's that time of year when grading is kind of like bailing out a leaky rowboat: just when you think you've got one hole plugged up and the water in the boat goes down, another one springs up. 

Now, I'm not complaining about the fact of having to grade. They're our students, and they deserve to have comments. I've never learned the trick of having them learn to love grades that are simply checks on a rubric, even though I've caved in and made some beautiful rubrics this semester. The comments help them, if they read them, and that's something I can't control. 

It's the time  that grading takes. I just don't understand how it can take so much time, even with all my little timer tricks. It just . . . does.