August 26th, 2010


A Busy End Of Summer Session Monday

Before You Can Even Start To Get Any Work Done

With only 41 students left in my summer session course, it looked pretty much like I might be able to finish up Grade-a-thon early on Monday, instead of the last minute before noon on Tuesday. I might've just had the grader send me the final exam and last two quiz grades, but I did have a student making up the Final at noon, and besides, it is so much easier to be able to look over the graded Finals and make sure everything's all right.

As a part-timer, I don't get a yearlong parking hang tag. Instead, every semester I have to go into the Parking Office and get a new sticker or card or tag -- they keep changing the procedures -- and register two of my three vehicles. I'm not sure I remember checking the summer tag, but typically the tags run out on the last day of finals/classes, which for Summer -II was Friday 20 August 2010. Okay, but as an instructor who has grades to do, why wouldn't this go until the Tuesday the grades are due? (grin) Now I wasn't actually expecting that they'd bother ticketing anyone during Break Week, but the real advantage to hitting the Parking Office on Monday was that there was no line. (happy grin)

Upon Arriving

Grader had put Q18/19 and the Final Exams in my mailbox at the office, so I now had that. Yay! Two more things to tick off the checklist. Quizzes -- done! Science Literacy Book Reports -- done! All exams -- done! (Save for the make-up Final) All exam and quizzes corrections -- done! Curve for the Final -- done! Time to implement the Bad Test Day Rule, the unwritten rule which adds points to the lowest of Exams 1-3 up to the average of the other two exams plus the final -- done!

All I Wanted Was Some Water

A pinched nerve or something has bugged me for a couple of days. I didn't fill a bottle of water or buy one on the way in, because I knew I had half a bottle of water left in the office. Don't you just hate it when you're sure you know something, only to find out it ain't necessarily so? (evil grin) Well, that bottle only had a swallow in it. But I didn't want to leave my office before my appointment person came, nor did I want to limp around unnecessarily if I had to. So I did something I thought was clever. When my make-up final person showed up, I gave them $1.25 and asked if they would be so kind as to go down to the Rood Hall lobby next door and get me a water. No problem. Except...

Student returns and says the vending machines now say water is $1.50 -- and they have no money. Well of course. They want to gouge the students more, so raise the rates as soon as break happens. Give student another quarter.

Student returns. The quarter slot is jammed full of quarters, which he found out by putting a quarter and having it get stuck and not dropping, nor will it give money back. But there is another vending machine in the lobby on the other side So I gave the student two dollar bills, hoping they'll scan as well as bypass the change slot.

Long delay. Student returns with bottle of water and a bunch of quarters. Seems the Coke guy was restocking the first machine and cleared the jam and gave him the right change and the bottle of water.

Interestingly, I was expecting the Coke machine to dispense Dasani, but instead I got a bottle of Smart Water. Actually GLACÉAU smart water, if you read the label. When I got home with the rest of the water, Mrs. Dr. Phil wanted to know why I bought "smart water", a marketing scam we both hate, and I said, truthfully, it was what the vending machine had.

Still, I would've been pretty mad to have not taken down enough money to hit more than one machine. Guess I was happy to have a younger man do the running on this one. But $1.50? (rolls eyes)

All Over Except For The Screaming

Student took Final Exam, I graded it, then cleaned up the last of the grading, adjusting a course curve so we get sufficient A's. Finally I could call up and log into GoWMU's faculty page and enter the grades. Yay! Grades done!

Of course there's done and there's done. When I got home, I took the grading spreadsheet, sorted the entries by the student's Personal ID number they assigned themselves, then converted a table to HTML pre-formatted text. Once I posted the grades online, I waited for the inevitable emails.

The hardest and worst part of my job is explaining to students, in detail, while their final course grade isn't as good as their last predicted grades. While many people did better on the Final Exam, some did worse. And I fear that some people give up towards the end and not turning in the last quizzes and tanking the Final Exam, somehow thinking that they've got their passing grade in the bag. Unfortunately, it doesn't work like that.

No, I don't do extra credit -- it's in the syllabus. Yes, I did apply the Bad Test Day rule, adding in the extra points to the total, not changing the exam scores. Several hopeful people thought they still had a chance, when in fact, they didn't. I hate it when people fail (most students have to get a C or better in their major, so DC, D and E don't work for them), especially when we've talked in my office about what they needed to do to get a C or a CB or whatever, and then they don't do it. Check the math if you like, but the spreadsheet doesn't lie -- it can add up rows quite well.

I tell people the first day I'd be happy to give everyone A's, if they deserved it. They get the points and even when the dean comes down hard on me and says What Gives, I'd be able to say "Look at these scores, look at these hard Dr. Phil problems -- and still they got all A's." Yeah, I'd love to be able to defend that to my bosses.

Alas, such is not to be.


I was driving around doing errands, and bypassed the intersection of Wilson & M-45 and took the back way, which eventually turns into Linden. At one point as the road finally straightens out, there is a very large tree which overhangs the road. Approaching it at 55 mph, I realized there was a very large bird sitting on the topmost branch, with a very distinctive white head. Yup - bald eagle looking around for its next meal. With traffic, it wasn't easy to pull of the road, turn around twice and hope to get a picture before the eagle flapped off, so I didn't.

Yes, there are bald eagles in Michigan, and not just the U.P. In fact:
Bald eagles can be found in every state except Hawaii. They are more prevalent in Florida, Wisconsin, Washington, Minnesota, Oregon, and Michigan; the largest concentration is in Alaska.

So we're in the Top 7 states for bald eagle sightings. (grin) Who knew? And what fun!

Dr. Phil