Coffee heat rising

What a Day!

Endless. It’s ten to eleven, and I’m finally coming in for a landing.

Up at 5:30: take the dog for an hour-long walk.
Feed dog.
Feed human, along the way cooking a bunch of sugary bratwursts to store in the freezer.
Water plants.
Write blog post.
Upload completed grade rubrics and comments to BlackBoard (online course software).
Enter grades for Eng. 101 portfolios in BlackBoard; mark attendance.
Figure out which Eng. 102 students’ grades will be changed if they score high on the final paper; prioritize these in rushed last-minute grading frenzy.
Realize this scheme will not work.
Write a blog post.
Calculate, record, and store 101 students’ grades, so they can be entered in the District’s online grading system quickly on Monday.
Start the laundry.
Read the client’s urgently needed copy.
Wash the dog after brain goes numb reading technical copy.
Read more of the client’s urgently needed copy.
Call the mechanic to make appointment for oil change; leave word on his machine.
Edit and reformat client’s complicated, highly technical table, the first of many to come.

Stopped around 5:30, truly brain-paralyzed after having sent the edited copy and table back to Author. At that point I decided I’d better wash the car before the sun goes down. This was a nice break—washing the van is easier than one would think, and now I’ll be able to see through the windshield again. It’s been a while since the road and I have caught sight of each other.

It occurred to me why it is that posting grades and all other activities that involve use of the Internet seem to take so damned long: one thing leads to another. No such task is ever straightforward and simple. Working with computers and the Net is a convoluted process.

Today, for example, two English 101 classmates, brothers who are both “A” students, dropped off the roster. Check the District’s system: they’ve been dropped for nonpayment of fees.

Say what? The college drops them for nonpayment of tuition three days before the final exam????

This eventuates a flurry of e-mails to the department, whose avatars know nothing, and then to the kids. Before long, a flurry of incoming e-mails hits: an outsourced contractor has screwed up an accounting update and accidentally expelled something over 400 students. They’re working on it. They promise they’re working on it!!! Please, please, please don’t send your students to Admissions and Records!

Dropping the brothers—plus a young woman from one of the 102 sections—causes BlackBoard to erase the entire semester’s grading record for the three students. It’s been a couple of weeks (mmmm…maybe more…) since I downloaded a BlackBoard backup, so if the morons don’t get this fixed by next Monday, and we do mean completely fixed, I am screwed.

At any rate…this is how entering 20 grades and 20 attendance points morphed into a two-hour adventure.

Moving on:

Wash car.
Discover dryer is dangerously hot. Haul blanket and towels to clothesline.
Squirt dryer with water from spray bottle to jump-start cool-down process.
Google “overheated electric dryer” to try to figure out what might be wrong with the thing.
Examine vents; see nothing wrong with them.
Brush and comb still damp dog.
Start dinner: set artichokes to cook.
Feed dog.
Figure out where on earth the money is going to come from to pay the $1,089.60 owed for Medigap insurance.
Calculate out a year and a half in advance to be sure removal of $1,089.60 from tax & insurance account will not break the bank.
Finish fixing dinner.
Write a blog post while food is cooking.
Eat dinner.
Clean up kitchen.
Finish, proofread, and publish blog post.
Take dog for walk.
Write this blog post.

And so, to bed… there to copyedit the other client’s latest crime novel before falling asleep.

3 thoughts on “What a Day!”

  1. Wow. Blackboard always kills me too. If the students didn’t complain so much I wouldn’t upload any grades until the end of the semester.

  2. @ Nicole: Blackboard is one of those computerized thingies that seems miraculous but that adds time-consuming hassle to our lives and leaves us with a gigantic hassle when it stops working.

    I love a lot of the communication options it provides, the grading system is convenient in many respects, and I’ll be using the program even more next fall. But I hate the way it operates over a DSL connection. Even with an allegedly ultrafast cable connect, Blackboard runs with the speed of a galloping snail. I abominate the clumsy and difficult “test” function, which forces you to spend half your lifetime building a true-false/multiple-guess quiz whose best and highest use is as a study guide. And I’m less than fond of its tendency to crash — once, I’m told by a full-time colleague at Paradise Valley, for a period of three or four days.

    Next fall I’m slated to teach a fully online course in eight weeks. I look forward to it with some lurking trepidation: if the system is that unstable — down for days?? — how am I supposed to deal with a short-term online course?

  3. The worst part of Blackboard is the end of the semester when everybody is trying to upload grades– something always breaks… and the beginning of the semester when they haven’t ironed all the kinks out and everybody is just starting to use it. It runs as fast as a snail directly from my university office too, so don’t be too hard on your DSL. I’ve had it down for several days too… horrible.

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