This morning I was all prepared to polish off the last course prep tasks for my winter classes when I got derailed. Pet health issues again: trying to figure out what was wrong, booking an appointment with the vet and dealing with the logistics of how to get there on a carless day with much snow? That ate up a big chunk of the morning.
Now it’s afternoon and I’ve just gotten back on track with compiling the last course materials. I couldn’t do it right away after dealing with all of the above. I was too flustered and high on adrenaline. Instead, I substituted a few low-stakes tasks into the rest of the morning. My range and kitchen counters sparkle, there’s laundry on the go and I’ve virtually filed away some teaching materials I won’t need in the new year.
When I’m derailed, I’ve learned to accept that this task, whatever it is!, has taken over my life for a short term. I throw myself into doing what has to be done to deal with it, deal with the issue as far as I can at that point (which may, in the case of a semi-distant crisis only be an acknowledgement of the problem), calm down and, only once I’m calm, get myself back on track. Which is where I’ve been for the last hour and where I’m heading back to as soon as I hit post!
2012 has been a pretty good year hereabouts. We’ve weathered our storms (some quite literal while others were more figurative). There’s a beautiful new book to treasure in Star Wars and History and many other projects underway. Pet health crises have been weathered.
Marks are in, cookies have been baked and family members will soon arrive for a holiday visit. What more could we want?
Here’s hoping that your year ends as happily as ours.
I opened up my email this evening to see yet another student email with the familiar attachment icon. Oh, joy: another unwanted emailed assignment.
You’d think I wouldn’t receive those since I have an across-the-board policy in all of my undergraduate classes that I do not accept assignments via email. Students may hand in a hard-copy at any time (there’s a late penalty that starts to accrue after the due date) or submit an electronic copy through our university’s online dropbox up to the due date. I will even, if there are special circumstances, open the dropbox to a later date for a student. I don’t want emailed assignments. I have a policy that clearly says that and, yet, every term, every year? I get emailed assignments.
Emailed assignments are the hangnails of my academic life. They disrupt my well-oiled system to track and respond to assignments. They irk me enormously.
I can’t integrate emailed assignments into our dropbox. It only permits feedback for assignments submitted through the system. In fact, recent upgrades present me only those students who submitted online when I go into the grading mode for any given group of papers. That’s efficient but not adaptable to these emailed drop-ins.
I can’t integrate emailed assignments into my hard-copy marking unless I print them out. So now I have to track the student email until I’m able to print the paper. Considering how much I work on the road, that could be a good day or two. It’s really annoying to think at 11pm “Oh, yeah, now I have that paper to print that I didn’t ask to get via email” and go traipsing down the stairs to fire up the old printer.
How about I do it all on email? Now you’re asking me to set up a third system that I’ll have to manage. I have to make sure to save the emails, download the assignments, unzip the files, track them until I have time to mark them, mark them up as well as recording my additional comments, then save the lot. After that, I have to log back into email (let’s hope it’s up!), make sure I’m emailing the right student (which is a challenge in and of itself), and finally send them their marked-up assignment and the additional comments.
Worst of all is that these emailed assignments only come because the student missed the deadline. That’s the deadline they’ve had on the syllabus since the very first day of the term. These emails almost never are accompanied by an acknowledgement of that except a comment to the effect that “the dropbox was closed so here’s my assignment”. A student who emails me with an honest query “I tried to submit my paper online but the dropbox closed” will get a chance at sympathy and a link to the newly reopened dropbox. A student who emails the assignment? Gets my eternal irk. And is that what anyone wants at marking time? I think not.
This past month has been an exciting time professionally. Helping to get the news out about Star Wars and History has been great fun. But real life has a way of intruding. In this case, it came in the form of our aging but much-loved Staffie, Ozzie, seen here sacked out on the family room couch with our cat, Sisu.
Ozzie has health problems, which we’ve finally nailed down with a diagnosis of Cushing’s disease. (Sadly, nothing to do with the awesome Peter Cushing who artfully terrorized us all as Grand Moff Tarkin.) Now that we know what’s wrong, we can begin the course of treatment, medication, which should improve his quality of life. The diagnosis also comes with the news that he’s likely to only be with us for another year and a half or two. We live with pets on borrowed time but we’re hoping to squeeze as much as we can out in the next few years. There will be more indulgent naps on the couch and snuggle time, have no doubt!
Filed under personal, pets
a fan of Chewbacca, the heroic Wookiee we all love, Jennelle Holland wins the Star Wars and History giveaway. Thanks to everyone who entered and, of course, may the Force be with you, always!
In the meantime, look for the book in stores near you. It’s out across North America now with a UK release next week. Let me know if you see it in the wild!
Look what’s finally in my hands! Although the official release date is still a few days away, lots of people are reporting finding Star Wars and History in the bookstores or receiving it from an online retailer.
If you haven’t got your copy yet, now’s your time to score a copy of this awesome collection. I’m hosting a giveaway for a copy of Star Wars and History right here on this blog. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this post telling me who your favourite Star Wars character is and why. Contest is open worldwide. The deadline to enter is November 16, 2012, at noon EST (What time is that for me?).
It’s the end of reading week and, surprise, surprise, I’m doing some non-work reading. Specifically, I’m finally digging into a colleague’s recent book The Black & Tans: British Police and Auxiliaries in the Irish War of Independence.
It’s quite a good read, even for someone whose knowledge of modern Irish history comes and goes after the Gladstonian era. In many ways, it reminds me of Christopher Browning’s Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland, not that the types of sources or particular situations are much the same, but insofar as both Browning and Leeson write with particular interest in how the situations put unique stress upon the men involved.
Black & Tans takes the conventional wisdom that the Royal Irish Constabulary was a motley group of thuggish WWI vets just looking to spill some blood and cause maximum mayhem (or, conversely, that they were the tools of thuggish English politicians determined to brutally oppress the Irish through terror tactics carried out by the police). His argument, is that it wasn’t a fatal flaw in the people but that the situation of trying to enforce impossible police directives in what was constantly hostile territory where the Black & Tans found themselves virtually under siege (and their challengers vice versa).
You come to see this argument emerging early on. Dr. Leeson’s not in any way an apologist for the forces, but he’s a dab hand with archival sources and elegant argumentation. I’m just over 100 pages into the book now and have a hard time putting it down as I’m encouraged to read just one more section as I learn about the Auxiliaries and their somewhat chequered as well as occasionally inglorious pasts.
I’m proud to call him a colleague and recommend the book which comes out in paperback next month.
Filed under history, review