Tuesday, December 16, 2008

We got cabin fe-ver!

I remember being a little kid and having snow days. They were the best ever. We would get bundled up and go outside, then have hot chocolate. Sometimes my mom would make it with milk and Hershey's syrup and whipped cream, so it tasted even better. Then we would watch movies. I particularly remember watching a Muppets movie where they were pirates on a ship and they sang, "We got cabin fe-ver! We got cabin fe-ver!"

I had a snow day today. Well, it didn't start out as a snow day. I had a meeting downtown, so I had to drive a half hour to get to it. They didn't send out an email cancelling it, so I figured, despite the inch or more of snow already on the ground and the snow still falling, I better get myself down there.

It took me an hour and ten minutes to get there. Fortunately the meeting was fairly brief at just about an hour. And then it took me about an hour to get home.

By the time I got to the exit for my house, my back and jaw were almost spasming in pain. So I pulled off, instead of continuing on to work. I came back home and declared a snow day.

And now I want to yell, "I got cabin fe-ver! I got cabin fe-ver!" I'm so bored. And cagey. It was a good day, I got to watch 2 episodes of What Not To Wear and I got all caught up on House, I read the textbook for one of my classes next semester. But it's just not fun like it used to be.

Final snow total: 3.5 inches. I'd take pictures, but it is 10 degrees outside. Way too cold to go out.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Baby it's cold outside.

Today I learned that my car is just as Southern as I am.

When I got up this morning, it was a frigid 2 degrees. That is not a typo. Literally 2 degrees. The kind of 2 degrees where you walk outside and any exposed limb immediately feels serious pain. The kind of 2 degrees where 2 pairs of gloves, layered over one another, don't keep your fingers from being frozen within 4 minutes.

And my poor car was suffering.

I started it this morning, and it groaned. Then moaned. Then started.

I said, "I know, it's too cold to go anywhere." But I went anyway.

This afternoon it got up to a comparatively balmy 9 degrees. (At least my nostrils didn't freeze the moment I took a breath).

And my poor car still moaned.

"I know, but we have errands to run."

It started. And my car ran just fine. But I'm a little worried about the toll this harsh winter is going to taken on us Southerners.

Guess I'm done with the book learning!

Woo hoo! I'm done grading!

I am divided right now. Part of me thinks, "Wow, you were kind of silly, because that really wasn't a big deal." And the other part of me thinks, "I hate final grades! That was horrible!"

The part of me that thinks it wasn't a big deal is taking a stand now, because grading really didn't take me all that long. The exams were fast to grade (when you are marking most of them wrong, it's not that hard). I said that the part I hated was entering the grades into Blackboard and then posting them online. But I came in this morning and finished that in 2 hours. (For 5 classes, that wasn't bad).

The other part of me is trying to remind the first part of me what I had to deal with last week. And what started early this morning. Crying. I really had a student come in last week and cry because her grade wasn't high enough. Huh, now I am wondering what her final grade wound up being. At any rate, I told her tough. She cried. I wanted to say, "Get out of my office. There's no crying!" Instead I said, "Work hard on the exam."

But I am still entirely stoked that I am done. Yay! Yay for the end of the first semester!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Now you wouldn't believe me if I told you, but I could run like the wind blows. From that day on, if I was ever going somewhere, I was running!

It is reading day, so most appropriately I am reading. And probably doing way more reading than any students are doing today. I collected portfolios from each of my students - a collection of their writing. The only part of this I actually read closely is the reflective essay at the beginning, where they have a chance to comment on their own writing and progress.

I bring you one student's beginning:
"Have you ever ran a mile around a track? A mile is four laps around the standard track. Starting the first lap you're running hard and steady. It's all or nothing. Endurance is high, enthusiasm is high. You're prepared. You're sailing. During the second lap you're still flying. There is pain and suffering now, but you are still looking forward. It'll be alright. You've got it. Not to worry. Then, during the third lap, everything just hits you. Even though your legs are on auto drive, still pumping, still pushing forward, you slow down a lot. The pain increases. There seems to be almost nothing left. There's no drive, no enthusiasm, just momentum - and there's not much of that. When the fourth lap opens, even though suffering, you find a little spark. You can see the end. You should have been able to get through the third lap better than that. So you give it every thing you have left just to cross that line."

All errors are his. Now I have to give him some credit. It's a good beginning. He uses short, choppy sentences which do a nice job of simulating a runner's breathing pattern or thought process. But I'm offended. Have you ever run a mile?! Seriously? I run more than 3 miles every day! And secretly, I will judge you as a wuss if you feel this bad after running one mile.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

They're so friendly. Don't you think daisies are the friendliest flower?

This day is moving slow. No one has emailed me, so I turn again to the procrastination of blogging. Yay for blogging.

My office mate and I have been struck with the same cold/flu. So we are sitting here together, sniffling away, breathing really loudly through our mouths, and sneezing. We keep comparing symptoms. I couldn't sleep last night because I couldn't breathe, and work up really really sore. He can't breathe at all and had a sneezing attack in class. Which can just get gross.

But here we are. Because hooray, it's the last day of class for our Tuesday/Thursday classes. I'm really excited. I have really enjoyed my classes this semester, and I like my students. But I am ready to do a few things differently, so I am glad the semester is ending.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Now in this class you can either call me Mr. Keating, or if you're slightly more daring, O Captain my Captain.

We are winding down the semester (I am just like my students and am procrastinating. They procrastinate assignments, and I procrastinate getting grades entered into the computer system. My most hated task). So I thought I could tell a few student stories.

My current fav comes from my office mate. A student asked, "Is the exam going to be comprehensive, or just on what we learned?"

I asked my students to write essay questions for their exams. One that they all really liked was "If you were given $1 million, what would you do with it?" One student seemed to have a particularly hard time thinking of what to do with that amount of money, so he asked me what I would do. I said, "Buy a house with a garage. I am tired of scraping my windshield!" Then all the students began giving me suggestions on how to not have to scrape the frost and snow off the windshield, including pouring a bucket of hot water on it. Brilliant plan.

I walked into class last night and saw that my students had kept the tables in rows and columns rather than arranging a circle as we always do. As I walked toward the front of the room I noticed several of them watching me rather defiantly. I smiled and said, "Are you rebelling against the circle today?" "Yes! We hate the circle! You can't make us move!"

But there were two ladies who had moved and wanted recognition. "We hate the circle too, but we were the good children." They can say that because they are both at least 20 years older than I am.

There was much rejoicing in one of my classes last night. I handed back the papers, and when I passed one student his, he jumped up and cheered. "I got an A!" The rest of the class was happy for him and he got a few high fives.