The Thoughts of a Frumpy Professor

............................................ ............................................ A blog devoted to the ramblings of a small town, middle aged college professor as he experiences life and all its strange variances.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Memorial Day & 1/2 Marthon for May


With full Covid-19 safety precautions, I ventured out to one gardening shop yesterday afternoon and bought the traditional 10 different flowering plants that I always do, loaded them into my rusty, but trusty old pickup truck, and ventured on the longest trip I have made since the start of this pandemic.  I drove the ~1 hour distance to reach the cemetery where my closest relatives and friends are buried, and delivered a plant to each grave site and spoke to each of the 18 different relatives or friends who have passed.  While this year, I did this on Sunday, most years I would have done this on Friday or very early Saturday to have the flowers there for a longer period of time during the Memorial Day weekend.  But, with the current situation, it took me a bit longer to garner up the energy and fortitude  to be prepared for the shopping experience.

On Tuesday of this week, I will venture out again to the cemetery  to retrieve the plants that remain.  There are some folks who will scour through the cemetery and use their "five finger discount" to take planters off of graves for their own use.  Some years are worse than others in this regard.  Hopefully, come Tuesday, I will find all of the plants still present.  I then take them home with me and use them in various locations in the backyard area.  I have done ever since owning a home, and I think of each plant as a remembrance/reminder of the loved one.  It helps me to feel a sense of their presence in my home all Summer long.  

With today being the last Monday in May, I came to realize that today would also be my best chance to be able to keep my goal intact of running at least one 1/2 Marathon (13.1 miles (21km)) each month in 2020.  Mondays seem the easiest day for me to try to accomplish a run of this length. 

So, I got up and hit the trail this morning at 5:30am.... in order to have coolness, and lighter sun intensity... and ran 13.6 miles (22km).  My pace was slower than my pace with my normal running distance, of course... and ended up being 9 minutes, 14 seconds per mile.  (which I *think* calculates out to be 5 minutes, 30 seconds per kilometer... or at least pretty close). 

Not too damn shabby for a grey-haired, furry-faced old professor. 

PipeTobacco

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Communion

I miss so very much the receiving of communion at Mass. 

I know it is not possible at this time.  I know that I and other members of the Catholic Church have received dispensation for the time being due to the needs of Covid-19.  I know I and my family are very fortunate that we can view and hear Mass online. 

I miss the friends at Mass.  I miss the feel of family at Mass.  But, I especially miss receiving of communion. 

PipeTobacco

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Trying Just to Find "Normal"

It is very challenging during this time with emotions.  Obviously the Covid-19 situation is hard on a great many of us.  With there being so many deaths from this pandemic virus (approaching 100,000 in the U.S. alone at the moment, and so many more globally), it can feel selfish to talk about other difficulties, because they *do* pale in comparison to that very immense horror. 

But with that said, and with the fact that I also abundantly admit I am damn lucky to have a job at the moment (many do not), and I am also very fortunate that at this point my family appears to be safe.... I do have to say that it is also HARD even though I am currently fortunate. 

It is hard in having to work twice as many hours for the same job as before.  I keep anticipating it will settle down, and it does sometimes, but then it flares back up. 

It is hard having to have every damn thing about teaching have to be online.  It is hard to navigate the INCREDIBLE AMOUNT OF MINUTIA that must be linked, hyperlinked, uploaded, reuploaded, scheduled electronically, rescheduled electronically, and then double checked, and triple checked to make sure all the navigations work as intended and allow students access as intended. 

So much of my double time day is NOT about teaching about a SUBJECT.  It is so much NOT about actual content on a subject.  I would say that a good 60% of my time is spent at the computer, fixing, finessing, and fussing with the computery aspects of trying to GET teaching and content to students.  And another 30% of my time is spent trying to figure out ways to help STUDENTS figure out and understand how to get access to the teaching and content, or in fixing their mistakes.  Only about 10% of the double length workday I now have is actually about my teaching and content. 

That is the tiring, debilitating aspect of this that I feel.  I *WANT* to do this well for the students.  I *WANT* for them to have as content rich and inspiring a class as I can muster.  But, it is often, SO hard.  Again.... not from a content perspective, and NOT from a basic SET-UP perspective.  But it is so, SO very hard to deal with the INCREDIBLE AMOUNT OF MINUTIA that must be linked, hyperlinked, uploaded, reuploaded, scheduled electronically, rescheduled electronically, and then double checked, and triple checked.

PipeTobacco

Friday, May 22, 2020

Just

... a rough day.  Too much work.  Too much computer.  Too much.

PipeTobacco

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Rain to Sun

I still feel a bit "jangly" in the nerves from the extreme rush-job I had to do to convert and get my Summer course into an electronic format in a matter of days compared to the week and a 1/2 I had been envisioning.  It is strange how the "anxiety" that I felt remains to a degree even though the crisis of it has passed.  I am on pretty stable footing in the class now, but, my visceral response initially each morning still is more "anxious" and less stable than it should be given that things are now in an "ok" state of set-up.  It is almost feeling like a miniature sort of post-traumatic sort of "thing".  I know that is pretty damn foolish to feel, but.... it does have that sort of feel at the moment.  I have to fight against that.  It is a waste of time.

PipeTobacco

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Once or Twice

Once or twice during the time I was without Internet, I considered trying to post here via my phone.  But, with my "budget" (stingy) data plan, I was worried I might end up over consuming the small amount of data.

I still have been able to run through this headache of a time.  I do think it has been helpful for me in terms of shedding a lot of stress hormones.  I was keyed up and edgy like a hurt, caged lion much of the last week. 

It is so nice to also have television back.  My wife and I do not watch HUGE amounts of television, but we typically view an hour or a little bit more every evening. 

PipeTobacco

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Craziness

Well, the last almost dozen days have been crazy and hectic in ways I never expected:

1.  Just as I was wrapping up trying to work through compiling and computing final grades for the semester, Internet issues befell upon my abode.

2.  I had to make a decision to leave and go to the U (not supposed to unless an "essential" employee for maintenance due to Covid-19) so that I could have Internet to finish out things.

3.  While finishing out grading and grades, I also had bubble up into my consciousness that the time between the close of last semester and the start of Summer Semester did NOT have the typical, usual one week break that is the norm before Summer Semester starts.  Because of aspects of how this calendar year shook out by the administrative planners, this year was one of the fortunately infrequent years where Summer Session started IMMEDIATELY the next week. 

4.  This realization as it percolated up into my awareness, lead my mind to internally scream.... "Sh*t!!!"  I didn't have a damn thing planned or ready (in an electronic format... because of Covid-19).  I had much of the Summer Session mapped out in a general way back in early March when I had no idea of it being online.  But, I had paid scant attention to it since the onset of online became a necessity. 

5.  So, the unfortunate reality is.... without serviceable Internet at home, I had to keep "sneaking" to the U and hiding out in the back office in my Research Lab so that I could get Internet to play catch-up.  I had to work feverishly pretty much every day until around 8 or 9pm to just get things into an appropriate electronic form in the short time frame I had to the start of Summer Semester.  Remember, I *had* mistakenly been planning to use the whole week I THOUGHT I had off between last semester and Summer Semester to work through getting things situated.  And, fortunately due to my enormously rushed effort I was able to get the electronic version of my class started on time, but unfortunately due to the need for this rushed effort, I had to continue sneaking onto the U campus every day while my Internet was down just to stay tolerably in front of the student's needs in the class.  The late evenings continued all through the week and into the weekend just to stay a bit ahead. 

6.  And with Covid-19, repair of home Internet understandably was not a top priority, and it took until late yesterday evening before home Internet was again functional.  I have been sneaking to the U every day during this time wearing gloves and a mask and trying to not touch anything other than stuff in my office.  Fortunately I only saw one person (in another room on campus) the entire time. 

I felt guilty as hell about it, but I was truly between a rock and hard place.  I practiced as safe distancing tactics as I could, so I feel that *hopefully* was adequate too and I didn't bring Covid-19 home.  I showered mightily every evening when I came home. 

It is nice to be able to work again from home.  It feels much better.  And, I am feeling I am finally getting into a timing "workspace" that is again more typical.  I feel *almost* to the point where I am prepared with the essentials I need WITH adequate time to grow, adjust, and fix things as I work along at a NORMAL pace again. 

The lack of Internet also kept me away from here, and it resulted in my missing my goal of writing every day this year.  I AM back now.  I am not sure if I will count this lapse as a failure of my goal, or if I can accept the caveat of my lack of Internet as a reasonable "catastrophe" to allow me to pick up and continue with the internal notion that my goal is still intact.  I do not know if I will be able to decide one way or the other until I have reasoned through it for a few days. 

PipeTobacco