September 7th, 2007

bujold teach

Apart from the computer labs almost burning down...

it's been a good week!

And I only slightly exaggerate about the computer labs. I was in for one of my online course orientation sessions on Wednesday night, and two of my colleagues had sessions in the hallway around the corner from mine. I went in early to assist one of them, because we have a new Learning Management System this year (no more WebCt, but that's another story...). Suddenly, half the computers went dead in his class. So I went to find the tech assistant, and we discovered that the same thing had happened to my other colleague's class. There was a strong smell of burning electronics. The tech assistant investigated the circuit breaker panel and found it scorching hot. None of the actual breakers had popped, so it was impossible to tell which of the circuits had failed, and testing them would involve knocking out the existing circuits and all the other working computers.

Meanwhile the original colleague had returned to his lecture and was almost completely oblivious to the crisis. The whole thing was almost farcical.

The techie person assured me that it was safe for them to continue, so we made the executive decision to let them carry on with the remaining half of the computers and then shut the labs down afterwards. His guess was that there'd been a power surge or something that had burnt out one circuit. As there was no smoke and the panel was beginning to cool, we were probably okay. hahaha.

My own orientation was unaffected and went well.

Otherwise, no major crises, and for a first week it was amazingly stress free. Although I've been working all through July and August, I find myself full of enthusiasm and energy for my classes, and I'm also looking forward to working in my 25% secondment to the computer-assisted learning office (DE) (have I mentioned this before in here? can't remember). All three of my courses look good and I have a nice and enthusiastic group of students, including a few "fans" - ones who have followed me from other courses. I have one who I believe will have taken four of my classes over the last couple of terms!

I've been blogging up a storm, and have four - count them - four new blogs set up on WordPress, two for my classes, one to function as a kind of homepage for my students and one called College English, which I want to be a place to display links and things of interest to - you guessed it - college English teachers and students.

It's all good, as they say. Wonder how long this cheerful energy will last?
cave canem

How much does a life cost?

I appeal to the collective knowledge of the flist.

Today, while teaching Beowulf, I pointed out the bit that always amuses me about Grendel, where they say that not only is he a horrible monster and eats our warriors but he doesn't even have the decency to pay weregild!

A hand popped up, and one student asked the very sensible question - what would weregild consist of? In other words, what was the going rate for a warrior's life in those days? I had to confess that I didn't have the foggiest but would endeavour to find out. If necessary, I'll do some research (or at least try Googling it), but I figured that one of my esteemed flist might just already know, so... any takers?
Mont St Michel

Friday Poem

For lidocafe, who has given birth twice, will soon be a grandmother, has been feeling down lately, but may be cheered by beauty.


Love set you going like a fat gold watch.
The midwife slapped your footsoles, and your bald cry
Took its place among the elements.

Our voices echo, magnifying your arrival. New statue.
In a drafty museum, your nakedness
Shadows our safety. We stand round blankly as walls.

I’m no more your mother
Than the cloud that distils a mirror to reflect its own slow
Effacement at the wind’s hand.

All night your moth-breath
Flickers among the flat pink roses. I wake to listen:
A far sea moves in my ear.

One cry, and I stumble from bed, cow-heavy and floral
In my Victorian nightgown.
Your mouth opens clean as a cat’s. The window square
Whitens and swallows its dull stars. And now you try
Your handful of notes;
The clear vowels rise like balloons.

Sylvia Plath (from Ariel)

RIP Madeleine L'Engle 1918-2007

Please read curtana's beautiful post, though it may make you cry, as it did me.

I loved Madeleine L'Engle's work. Strangely, the novels of hers I loved best were not the fantasy series, beginning with A Wrinkle in Time, though that was the first of her books I read and of course the most famous. I thought her best books were the ones in a series of vaguely mystery suspense stories, starting with The Young Unicorns, and continuing through The Arm of the Starfish and Dragons in the Waters. Who can forget Canon Tallis, a marvellous character?

And A Ring of Endless Light is probably her best book of all. It's a lovely novel, less well known than it should be.

Her work was always thoughtful and filled with light. Her death is a sadness, but we have a great legacy in her books.

Music Meme

Courtesy of chickenfeet2003, my 10 favourite songs beginning with the letter "D" (perhaps, the best songs I could think of beginning with the letter D is a better title)

1. Dancing in the Dark, Bruce Springsteen
2. Drop the Pilot, Joan Armitrading
3. Diamonds on the Inside, Ben Harper
4. Daytripper (Nancy Sinatra cover)
5. Daydream Believer, The Monkees (yes, really, and I'm not ashamed of it!)
6. Don't Pay the Ferryman, Chris de Burgh
7. Don't Know Why, Norah Jones
8. Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes, Paul Simon
9. Don't Panic, Coldplay
10. Dirty World, Travelling Wilbury's

That's the best I could do!

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