Things I have Done This Week

1. Brought the hammer down. I had a student who did not, as he wrote in a very sharply worded email a few weeks ago, appreciate my “grading tactics.” He did not like his grade. He tried demands, and when that didn’t work attempted to plead and cajole. I got a final email this week from him asking me to give him a better grade because he “needed” one for such and such reasons. I looked at his exam again, just to make sure I hadn’t made a mistake. I had not. No dice, dude. (Also, “tactics”? It’s a U.S.-to-1877 survey, young man, not the Battle of Austerlitz.)

2. Wondered why I am in this racket in the first place. Have you ever wondered that about your choice of profession? I live in the middle of nowhere (it’s a nice middle of nowhere – when I open my front door I smell pine trees, and you have never seen so many bright stars at night) but it remains the middle of nowhere. But I have drunk enough of the Kool-Aid to think – but wait, this is such a good job! Lots of people wanted this job! Yes, but all those people are nuts.

3. Been reminded why I am in this racket in the first place by an email that began, “Dear Dr. S—–, I really liked your class last semester, and I think I want to be a history major, so can I come talk to you . . . ” (I am such a sucker. I really am.)

4. Listened to Joyce DiDonato sing “Da torbida procella” from the “Drama Queens” CD like four times in order to jolt self out of writer’s block. I’m not sure it worked, but I sure felt better afterward.

5. Had a bit of a Hilary Hahn bender. In addition to the Mozart CD I was absorbing last week, I’ve also been enjoying her “Bach: Violin and Voice” with Christine Schaefer and Matthias Goerne. Next up are the Mendelssohn and Shostakovich violin concertos.

5 thoughts on “Things I have Done This Week

  1. Choice of profession? I have a little shrine to Samuel Beckett in my cube, because he is the Patron Saint of what I do for a, ahem, living. I would have that nowhere else.

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    1. The last stint I had at current employer I had a picture of a weasel and a ferret in my cube because most of what I did involved ferreting out the truth then weasel wording it for senior management.

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      1. I’m not sure what I would have a shrine to – possibly a creeping sense of futility. (I enjoy my job most of the time, and I can’t complain about the working conditions at all, but some days I do wonder what the ultimate usefulness of some of it is. Then again, I suppose this is true of human activity in general. It’s never going to be exciting all the time.)

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        1. Quite! My favourite is trying to business case improvements in care delivery. Say I want to spend a $1 million and it will mean 10% more colorectal cancer patients go into remission. A good thing you might think. Try business casing it. That 10% live and thereby cost the system more than if they’d died!

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