Friday, April 8, 2016

13 Hours in the Life of a Retirement-Age Community College Computer Science Lecturer

    10 pm, class 9 am tomorrow.  Told them to expect a test.  Haven't written it yet.  Another class yesterday, a different test.  Promised the grader I'd send her the template today.  Haven't done it yet.  A student said he'd sent me email about his medical condition, told him I'd read it and get back to him.  Haven't looked at it yet.

    Find the student's email.  He's in physical and mental pain.  He wants to graduate after this semester, but needs to pass this class.  Says he'll do whatever it takes.  Do I have any tips of him?

    On the radio, pundits dismiss Bernie's victory in Wisconsin, as in 7 of the last 8 primaries: Hillary will clinch the nomination soon, they say, though she hasn't done it quite yet.  Write back, tell the student terribly sorry to hear about his aliments, but have no tips specific to his condition.  Recommend focusing on homework and example problems.

   New email from my pen pal.  She's feeling glacial.  Hmmmm.  Feel glacial too, thinking of the slow slide from desk to bed I'll make later on tonight.

    11 pm, start on the grader's template.  Thought the biggest problem would be using the drawing software to create diagrams with circles and arrows.  Turns out it's staying awake while double-checking answers to the True/False questions -- 5 hours of sleep last night due to plumbing mishap.  Head snaps back, lose balance, startle myself awake.  Someday I'll fall off the chair in that state.  Hasn't happened yet.

    Trump talk on the radio.  Is the metaphor Hitler? If the Great American Mean Streak found an adroit, charismatic champion, it would sweep out in full cry, leveling all before it. Hasn't happened yet, Trump trounced in Wisconsin.

    Midnight.  Template done, but now too tired to work on test.  Too tired to think.  Will try again tomorrow morning when caffeine regains its effect.  No tap water to make tea due to the plumbing, but had the foresight to fill large containers.  Set alarm for 4:20.  Strategy is shallow sleep, lights on, fully dressed.

    Out of bed by 4:30, arguably refreshed.  At desk by 5, drinking a cup of tea steeped with 4 bags.  Is desperate is the wrong message to take from these circumstances? Offtimes may drown in dreams and not be dead,/Such weight is mother leaning on your bed.  Every week I'm afraid I'll come to class without the promised test.  Hasn't happened yet.   On a roll, more congenial message.

    Test ready by 6:30, actually leaving a little time to prepare for the lecture.  How little?  Enough in engage the students in a short adventure in software development?  Or not enough to prevent the prof from looking like a dazed, exhausted old man who can barely remember his own name?  One or the other I decide, these are mutually exclusive logical propositions covering all possibilities.

    8:30 am.  The walk from the Balboa Park BART Station to Batmale Hall took under 10 minutes, leaving another half hour to prepare for class.  It's a .55 mile hike, mostly uphill, part of it a steep climb on a path that ascends a hill alongside the 4 story library.  My previous best time was over 15 minutes. There's life in the old boy yet.

   9 am. Turns out that neither proposition is entirely true.  Of course.  Do some extemporaneous software development in front of the class, make dumb mistakes, but also get across important points.  This particular class is usually dead, most students resolutely silent even when I plead for questions.  Get a few this time, and some smiles.

   10:30 am.  Pass out tests and Scantron cards.

   11 am.  Test over. My short term career goal: SLEEP, in glorious profusion.  Beautiful word, sleep; how obtuse of me not to have appreciated that before!  Shimmering doorway to vibrant other reality.  Think of Blake, Tyger, Tyger burning bright/in the forests of the night …  Burning then burnt out, night creature I.  Make any sense?  My pen pal could tell me, if she writes back.  She hasn't disappeared yet.  Start new email.  

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