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Moving shenanigans

When the dust settles, well. I have stories.

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*****GROUP HUG********


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Lecture 2

Better day today. I sat in on the meeting for the corresponding lab course, which is being run by a wonderful coordinator and ace group of grad students. Then I went over to the lecture hall early, and found out I wasn't the only person having problems with PowerPoint. Thankfully, my pdf worked just fine. So did the new clicker remote, and that meant I could walk all over the place. Being able to walk all over the place is important for being able to hold student interest. It is very hard to focus on a person who is just standing still and talking. Amazingly, the microphone also seemed to work fine. Phew.

At the end, I checked in with the students about the pace of lecture (just fine for the majority), and how confident they felt about their knowledge of the material (familiar, but they knew they'd need to study). Phew, good feedback. I think this course might just work.

From lecture, I have headed straight to the airport. Back to California to load up my junkstuff and then drive on back.

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AZ Day 2 adventures

Another thing I'd forgotten: what it is like to NEED sunglasses.

Today has been slightly less crazy, mercifully.

Things successfully tackled:

1. Setting up the first online assignment run through the book publisher. I have VERY STRONG RESERVATIONS about handing over so much control to the publisher, but on the other hand, sure, out of the set of provided questions, there are a lot that should be useful study/practice questions. We'll see how much the students like/hate them.

2. Acquiring a laser pointer/slide advancer (I guess they're called "slide remotes" now). That involved a 2-mile walk over to Big Box Office Supply Shop #1, where it had been advertised by Big-Brand Search Engine as being available, only to discover that, to put it bluntly, 'twasn't. But then I discovered that Big Box Office Supply Shop #2 had a location basically across the street, and they had four kinds in stock, so, problem solved. Then another mile-long walk to campus. At least walking is nice exercise. I do wish I hadn't accidentally pummeled my feet last Thursday, though.

Originally, my PhD advisor had offered to loan me her slide pointer. She has her first class this afternoon, and this morning she discovered that her laser advancer's batteries had run out of juice. Oh noes! I loaned her my batteries.

3. Coming up with nice test questions for getting students going with their clickers.

4. Staying on top of the e-mails. I am hoping I can keep this compartmentalized as much as possible, but I have this huge fear of losing important things among all the student messages. I think I just have to keep that e-mail inbox as close to Inbox Zero as I can manage, and just schedule a set amount of time for e-mailing.

Things not so successfully tackled:

Getting the clicker software set up correctly. The tutorial video makes it sound simple, and perhaps it is, so long as somewhere via some back door my userinfo is correctly associated with the class I'm teaching.

Finishing up Lecture #2. Okay, this will get done soon.

Back at it. I am hoping to have enough time to maybe drink a beer by the end of the day, and maybe also make it to the hardware store. We shall see...

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Things I conveniently forgot

...how terrible it is to try and walk around in a place designed for automobiles.


Okay, mostly just that.

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Teaching, Day 1

Morning: Meet new landlord, get keys to new place. It's good and not-so-good. There are no screens on the windows, which are all the sideways-sliding kind, which means the cat can jump out and burglars and mosquitoes can jump in. This will need to be addressed. Have thoughts about needing to go shopping and get things like a toilet brush and toilet paper. The backyard is shared and full of dog poops. Hmm.

Speed-walk to campus because I'm worried about being late for a meeting. Turns out I was early because the time I'd seen was West Coast time and Arizona doesn't have Daylight Savings. The very kind textbook rep met early instead.

Try to hunker down and go over the materials for the first lecture one more time. Have to pause and say hello howr'ya doin' a few times, but it could be worse. Manage to realize I don't yet have a video from the textbook publisher's materials, so I quickly find it and get it in place. Phew.

I'm unsure about the A/V situation in the lecture hall, but my co-instructor magically appears an hour before class starts, and tells me that Classroom Support is close to the building where we'll be lecturing. She also notes that we have abundant exits from the lecture hall in the event of a mass shooting incident. Useful to know and think about.

I walk over to Classroom Support, and they are more than happy to send someone over to the lecture hall before class starts. Okay, good. Just in case, I have my laptop with its VGA dongle, and have a copy of the lecture on a USB drive. It's about 20 minutes before lecture, but I'm on that side of campus already, so I decide to go and wait outside the classroom.

And ohh, we're fortunate, no class directly ahead of us. So I go in to get set up, and I can't log in to the classroom computer system. Well, no problem, I'll just plug in my VGA adapt...urgh. All I see is an HDMI cable.

I think at that point, I randomly mashed futilely at some buttons on the projector remote for a bit, and pawed at cables on the underside of the table to see if maybe the VGI cable just fell down somewhere?

Eventually, after several excruciating minutes passed, the Classroom Support guy showed up. I demonstrated the problem, and he did some head-scratching, and eventually managed to get me set up with a temporary login.

Okay, good. It will be time to start soon. I frantically mash more buttons on the projector remote, and eventually arrive at the correct sequence and duration of mashings on the power button to get the thing turned on and using the correct display source.

But when I put up the first lecture slide, the computer has decided that I wish to show the "presenter view" on the big screen. FFFFFF. As someone who rarely uses Microsoft's awful display software on big screens, I then frantically mash buttons within the software, to no avail. Eventually this leads to some sort of internal problem where I can't show ANY kind of presentation format, just the open software program.

Well, okay, fine. The material's there, even if the presentation is less than slick.

So yeah. Of course, the microphone volume cut in and out the whole time in awkward ways. Highly vexing but at least it "worked"?

We finished early, so after chatting with the 10 or so students who needed to chat at the end of lecture, I tried to open up Wednesday's lecture, just to see whether *it* would work. Quick answer, no, with an even more resounding NO because of some sort of hilariously terrible MAC-PC font conversion problems in addition to the inability to slideshow.

Other than that, the day has only involved:

Why is it that the crucial administrative building one must visit ASAP upon arriving at a new campus, is always MILES AWAY from the main campus? (at least it wasn't the middle of summer and crazily hot) Also, it was clear that there are about eleventy hundred of us who need to get our extremely time-sensitive paperwork done. Phew, it's like the DMV. I had five forms of identification, but didn't have my old student ID card or student ID number, or a hard copy of my job offer letter, or filled-out new hire paperwork (no one ever sent it to me). I *almost* remembered my student ID number except I got it confused with my first Seattle Public Library card and added in too many zeroes. That's still really good when you consider how many other ID numbers I've had since then.

Student e-mails (thank you, dear students, for already learning good e-mail etiquette before reaching my class, and thank you, prior instructors, for teaching this aspect of professionalism). With practice I should be able to compartmentalize this activity, but it's great experience with the new faculty "the e-mails!!" stage of things.

Other administrative e-mails.

Todo, academic:
-Hope the chat with IT resolves login problems
-Get one of those laser pointers that also does slide advancing so I can walk to the back of the room as I keep talking (I REFUSE to stay bound to the stage! It's bad for everyone.)
-Convert future presentations to PDF and give that a try (wish me luck, oh joy)
-Set up and release first homework assignment tomorrow
-Get TurningPoint clicker stuff set up and write clicker questions for Wednesday's lecture; maybe bring in a clicker person to reassure the students

Todo, non-academic, mostly shopping:
-Buy milk, other groceries
-Introduce myself to front neighbors and chat about splitting internet
-Shop for window security bars, spare lightbulbs, etc

Whee! *grins maniacally*

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Two nights ago I dreamed that I was trying to coordinate activities in Phoenix in order to catch a bus up to a half marathon I wanted to run. I was especially nervous because I knew I hadn't done any training.


I am waiting for the BART to San Francisco, for a few more hours of conference. Then I will head to the airport to fly to Phoenix.

I am hoping I can just leave my suitcase there when I fly back on Wednesday.

These moments when stuff is all compressed for travel are difficult. I feel so unfocused. It will get better, I know. Head down, keep moving.

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Bay Area Rapid Transit

My brain is eaten by things.

Yesterday was a long day at the conference. I had to get there early enough to put up my student's poster, which meant leaving the house by 6:45 am to catch BART into the city. Then my postdoc mentor gave the evening plenary lecture because she received a prestigious award, so I stayed a bit late to have celebratory drinks with the lab on the top floor of the conference hotel.

I slept in this morning, then worked on my talk and started to work on some of the administrative aspects of teaching because I FINALLY have access to Blackboard.

Never mind that Blackboard is inducing some serious rage. It was fine back in 2011 when I used it for basic things as a TA, but now it looks like they've added around twelve billion new widgets, and ain't nobody got time for that, as they say. Meanwhile, it's interesting to watch specific needs requests roll in. Dear students, I hope we can do our best to support your educational efforts in light of your complex, multifaceted individual lives, because you deserve it!

It has continued to rain on and off.

Downtown San Francisco has an even worse homeless crisis than downtown Berkeley. The crisis seems to be exacerbated by the fact that everything is pavement. I never expected to see evidence of public defecation in the ways I've seen it over the last 2.5 days.

I stopped by the lab in the middle of the day to water the cricket eggs, then hung out at the conference for the afternoon.

Time to practice my talk.

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Even though I am feeling crazily stressed, the rain is making my heart so, so happy.

Biggest sources of stress of the now:

Trying to get some narrative flow for my conference talk on Saturday. It's happening, but slowly. I have to engage in a lot of positive self-talk to make progress.

Teaching. The wheels of bureaucracy turn slowly sometimes. The general organization for the course relies too heavily on online tools, which I cannot access because I am adjuncting. So there are limits to how much I can prepare in advance. Frustrating and nervous-making because next week is showtime.

I am overscheduled as of late this afternoon, so I will only have limited small chances to make progress on anything over the next couple of days.

I wish I had a knitting project lined up for the conference. Sigh.

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Mostly hopeful links

I think this article does some important work to continue advancing the conversation about climate change, particularly with respect to making the point that policy changes are necessary to address the most egregious personal contributions to the problem.

And here's a brief summary of how independent bookstores have survived and managed to thrive in the era of Amazon. I think it would be interesting to see a comparison between bookstores and independent coffeeshops because the supply structure differs between the two industries.

And now, a profile of a trailblazing neuroscientist who recently passed away. Before reading this, I hadn't realized that Barres was the author of work I'd read about gender issues in science. It's inspirational to read about someone whose life and work have clearly been a gift to so many people.

Finally, two articles written by an African-American woman who hiked the Appalachian Trail. Clearly not an easy experience, but I am grateful to hear her stories. I hope her words and effort provide comfort and encouragement to other minorities who seek to spend time in the outdoors.

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