They Didn't Ask Me (dr_phil_physics) wrote,
They Didn't Ask Me

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School Starts

Road Traffic Up

Tuesday was the first day of public schools in Michigan -- they set up a law the other year to help out the tourist industry over Labor Day -- and also the first day of classes at WMU. Though I missed driving through any of the School Zones with their restricted speed limits, definitely the case that there was a lot of traffic on the roads today.

On the news last night was a story about a horrific fiery crash on I-196 over Chicago Drive in Grandville, right in the construction zone. Semi-truck filled with pies versus a Chevy Tahoe. People with fire extinguishers managed to save one of the two in the Tahoe. Most of the damage on I-196 was at the road's edge and they'd put up some concrete barriers to patch where the guardrails had been. Scary. Actual Michigan Labor Day weekend death toll down two from 2008.


Sometimes you're driving along and you can see a spray engulfing a vehicle and you realize that it's running its windshield washers. So this morning, there's this silver Honda sedan which had passed me -- 70mph not being sufficient apparently -- and there was a huge spray on just the right side. About half a minute later it happened again. And again.

And I realized that there was a hand coming out of the right passenger window. And though they were ahead of me by quite a bit, I was getting a bit of spray on my windshield... and the unmistakeable smell of coffee. The bastards were dumping coffee -- a lot of coffee -- out the damned window in traffic at 70+mph.

What the hell is wrong with people? I don't even drink coffee!

Damn, The Students Are Back

Yeah, I know, that's a terrible attitude. But look at it from my perspective. It's tough coming back to the full regular semester after the summer. The Everett-Rood parking lot was FULL. Stuffed. No spaces left. There are not that many faculty with "R" stickers for those spaces. But the students know that they don't crack down and start towing for a week or two. So rather than park in the student places, they fill in the faculty spaces like mad. Eventually it will settle down, but it's stupid season right now.

Talked with a Parking Services Public Safety officer, who was busy writing tickets. He says that student infamously get indignant when told they can't park there and write letters to the President. "'Cause we paid our money!" Well, actually, you paid part of the cost of your classes. You didn't actually pay to park in those spaces, because they aren't for sale. "But can't you old fuddyduds (probably not the word in vogue today) just park elsewhere?" Sure, but we're old fuddyduds. And we're bringing stuff back and forth from home, because our workday doesn't end when we leave campus. And part of your money is paying me to teach your classes. So what good is all that if I can't get to my office and to our classroom? It's the difference between inconveniencing one person (you) from parking closer to the buildings and inconveniencing 128 people -- me and all my students.

Yay, The Students Are Back

Well, that's a better attitude. It was really quiet last week. And you never know how the first class is going to go, but I thought it went quite well. I have a few diversionary tactics to get everyone's attention in the first five minutes -- get the heart rates going and clear the cobwebs.

The problem with killing the lights in the lecture hall these days is that there's too much ambient light from laptops and cellphones being used. (grin) But my TITANIC model Acme Thunderer whistle wakes everyone up.

Did have some troubles making my syllabus. Twelve pages, a little short for me, but printed as 2-ups and copied double-sided, so I'm not really killing all the trees in North America. But the humidity was running so high that (a) my office LaserJet output got "eaten" by the document feeder on the copier, and I had to peel two pages off its rollers, make one copy of the six pages to get flatter masters. By then I'd lost most of my allotted copying time, so (b) I only had 65 of 130 sets made. Then (c) we ran out in the classroom after the secretary had brought the rest in because (d) the copier had actually jammed up and so the last 20-30 sets weren't actually in the pile. But it worked out in the end.

Ah, the joys of teaching. (double-trouble-grin)

Dr. Phil
Tags: astronomy, classes, construction, physics, rants, school, teaching, vehicles, wmu

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