LFH: Day 3
Well, yesterday was a day. The big news came at the end: the university cancelled all commencement events. Commencement is in mid-May and it’s not just the ceremony on the day, it also features division- and school-specific degree and diploma ceremonies, awards events, class reunions, and a raft of other events, especially for seniors. When I was in college and grad school we didn’t treat the ceremony itself as such a big deal, although most people attended their BA graduations. But in recent years (decades?) the passage from one grade group to another has become more and more celebrated and signified. I don’t blame students for feeling like yet another major milestone has been ripped away from them through no fault of their own.
I’m worried about how this will affect my students’ attitudes to finishing classes, especially seniors. I have a lot of seniors in both classes, and I haven’t heard from them yet (I’ve sent emails but they’ve been uncharacteristically quiet). I spent yesterday collaborating with colleagues and grad students on the survey I mentioned, and we’re sending it out today. TheH and some other colleagues and staff have been testing out our various technological options. We have two video-recording and/or conferencing options, and it turns out the one no one talks much about is the one that works. We have been told to avoid synchronous class assignments and meetings, which makes sense given the way our students are dispersed and our lack of knowledge about their current situations.
On the other hand, we need to be there for them. So it makes sense to have some synchronous events where we can discuss issues in real time. Maybe have more than one session per class, so that students who miss one can join another. But we’ll make them text-based rather than audio- or video-dependent. We’re returning to the good old days of bulletin boards! Denizens of the old AAR boards, I think you’d recognize some of these options. 😉
What else … I spent a huge amount of time on email. I’m also reading so much on screens, I treasure my print ToDo lists. Emailing sometimes feels like typing into the void, especially when you send an email to 50 people and get five responses over the course of the day.
Oh yeah, the university also kicked everyone except absolutely essential personnel off the A&S/professional schools campus until April 6. Like commencement, it is not a surprise, and it’s especially good for staff, who were expected to come to work, but a side effect is more social isolation for everyone. The SF Bay Area is under a “shelter in place” order, which in my day we called a curfew, until April 7 or so. I need to check in with my friends and family there. My cousin’s son and his wife who live here in STL just had a baby (my only nearby family). I hope I’ll see them at some point before the kid is walking. STL has closed most public places. Restaurants are allowed food delivery and pickup only. We’re just eating at home, so I don’t know if my neighborhood family-run Thai place has completely closed. I should check. And the chicken-wings takeout joint. I hope they’re managing.
This is a bit rambling; apologies! I’m taking a short break between emails and video-conference and other work tasks to write this and catch my breath.
We continued our depletion of the freezer and pantry yesterday. Lunch was leftover homemade mulligatawny soup with Kawan parathas (the latter are highly recommended, we always have several packages in the freezer). Dinner was braised cabbage and sausage courtesy of my brother-in-law’s annual Christmas present, which always includes reindeer sausage along with the requisite Alaskan fish. Both meals were good. It’s interesting that at dinnertime approaches, no matter how tired I am I know I’m making dinner. No asking TheH to go get takeout, not for another ten days, anyway.
All the models suggest that we’re still quite a way from the peak of the infection. This Washington Post simulation of the impact of social distance is excellent, as is this NYT story on how the US and UK governments were forced to revise their strategies when bludgeoned with science. We’re going to need a bigger boat, aren’t we.
In a more cheerful vein, I finally started reading Elly Griffiths’ first Ruth Galloway mystery, The Crossing Places. Liz McC recommended it as an accompaniment to our Norfolk walk, and talk about spot on! Not only is it set in Norfolk, it takes place around a bird sanctuary and salt marsh that we walked through. It was just what I needed to sink in to at the end of a long, difficult day, and I can’t wait to get back to it. Thanks, Liz, and thanks to you as well, readers, for being here.
Our Governor is another who closed all restaurants and bars–limiting them to drive through/carry-out and delivery options. We have a favorite hole in the wall sandwich shop that I need to check on. They were already feeling the pinch last week, before all the mandatory closings.
Here’s a bit from WaPo that should bring a smile to your face. It’s about the unforeseen perils of working from home.
Good luck, pamper your eyeballs, stay safe.
@Barb: Thank you for that link, I needed it! Everything in it is SO TRUE. I like working in a room with white walls, but it looks so sterile and terrible on video, for example.
The dogs LOVE having us at home. They think it’s summer in CA, when we work from home I think.
Good luck to you too! We are all in uncharted territory here.
Oh, I LOVE the Galloways … my next one is #8. Enjoy!
Today has been my cancelling everything day, after the announcement yesterday in the UK that we are to stop all non-essential travel and gatherings, and some are to self-isolate. But I have done one of the best things I think I have ever done and created a no-virus Facebook group which has really taken off and is doing wonders for my mental health. I need to know the news, but I don’t need to be confronted with it all day every day. I need to be able to connect with people, but I need to do that in a safe, news-free space. And that’s what it has been.
If you’re in total lockdown, as we are, I recommend the new Hilary Mantel. Takes some concentration — at my age, my mind wanders — but it’s wonderful. Mantel manages to make modern English sound old. Also, Shtisel on Netflix (an unusual Israeli family drama, quite poignant) and The Cakemaker, an Israeli film also on Netflix. We watched the latter thinking that it would be an Israeli Great British Bake Off or some such, but it’s quite an affecting film for folks who don’t mind unresolved endings. We’re not particularly interested in Israeli series and films, but these two are both excellent. Recommendations welcome. of course: our geriatric, blind, early stage dementia doggo isn’t as good company as Sunita’s corgis probably are.
@Kay: I’m enjoying it so much! Also, I haven’t been able to get over and comment, but I wanted to tell you if you didn’t know that Andrea Penrose is also Andrea Pickens, who wrote Regency trads in the olden days. I liked them a lot.
@Ros: That is a wonderful idea! One of the benefits of my overloaded schedule is that I don’t have time to read much news. I actually have to catch up over cocktails like a normal person. 🙂 But seriously, it is so important to find ways to lessen the tension and stress. Go you!
@Dan: I have the previous two Cromwell books on my shelf and I keep looking at them. It sounds like the perfect series to sink into right now. And thanks for the Netflix recommendations, I hadn’t heard of these but they sound great. Stay safe!
I’m in the midst of critiquing Lady Sherlock #5 for Sherry (Thomas) so I don’t have much time to post. I’ll try to post in greater depth by late next week. Of course, the landscape will be so different between now and then that most of what I have to share now will be ancient news. I just wanted to say, quickly:
@Sunita: Thank you so much for this series of posts. This feels like an event that demands chronicling. I don’t have the bandwidth for it right now so I am grateful to see someone else doing it—and especially someone with a lucid, interesting and humane perspective.
@Barb: That WaPo article was so good. Filled with kindness and humor, two things much needed right now.
@Dan: Ooooh I loved The Cakemaker. So. Good. I heard that there was a plan to make an American version and that was a headdesk moment for me. How could this movie be set anywhere but Jerusalem?
I have not heard of Shtisel before and I do have an interest in Israeli movies and series. I have Netflix. Will check it out when I have time.
@Sunita again: Following recommendations from Barb and Liz, I read The Right Sort of Man, a mystery set in 1946 London. It was excellent and I think you might like it too. Then again,. I struck out with my last reading recommendation to you, so I may be incorrect.
@Janine: Your recommendations work for me more often than not, so thanks for this one! And keep ’em coming, everyone. We’ll all have either time on our hands or a need to veg out occasionally however busy we are.
I realized yesterday that the last time I kept a daily log like this was many years ago when I was curfewed in the 1992 riots in India and unable to go out, send mail, etc. We only used the telephone for emergencies, so I typed a daily log on my computer and then printed it and faxed it to my then-partner when I could. I don’t have those anymore, but I remember they helped me a lot. I’ll keep doing this as long as I can.
Glad you’re enjoying Ruth! I’m struggling to concentrate on anything and trying to set up a routine for myself. All the advice I gave my students about keeping engaged in your work in this difficult time is advice I need myself!
@Liz: I really am! And give yourself time. It’s a huge amount to undertake at once, to shift from offline to online and from work-and-out-and-about to all home, all the time. I’m trying to keep the bloodcurdling screams to myself, but it’s not always easy! Yesterday our internet, which is usually very reliable, glitched on us repeatedly.