Saturday, August 22, 2020

Quarantine, Week 23: Summer's End

Summer isn't over yet, but I can see its end from here.  Usually, this weekend is full of end of season ultimate tournaments, panic about getting ready for the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, and starting to think about teaching.  Instead, no ultimate (although I have signed up for a fall league), APSA is a couple of weeks later due to activism over improving its family friendliness and it does not really feel real since I am not flying to San Francisco, and I have been working on my teaching all summer long. 

I had fun making memes to instruct students
on a new assignment: memes of the week!
I have taped nearly every video segment with just two left for me to do and a couple for my co-teacher, David Hornsby to tape.  My daughter, Furloughed Filmmaker Spew, has cleaned up about 40% of the segments, so we should have the first half of the semester uploaded next week.  One of the challenges is that I like to pepper my lectures with examples from current events, and these videos will be watched (theoretically) weeks from now.  So, I keep referring the students back to the summer.'s events  The good news is that they will be engaging more current events via the discussion sections--those will be live.  I will attend more of those than usual to check in with the students.  The rest of the course is asynchronous since having live online classes puts a lot of pressure on the students and on their technology.  For smaller classes--my Phd seminar this fall and my MA civ-mil class in the winter, I will do more live stuff.  I expect those who have gone on to grad school to have their own computers, their own spaces, and more reliable access to the internet.  We shall see if that is fair or not.  The irony is that the person with the crappiest internet may be me--I could not upload those video files so I may be in search of a new router and maybe even a new connection (fiber optic rather than the current system).  I got a lot of help from the Teaching & Learning Services folks at Carleton--they are most patient and good spirited. 

One last thing on the teaching front: I can't express adequately how glad I am that Carleton made a decision late in the spring but early compared to most places to go online in the fall.  They have also signaled that the winter will be online.  It has meant far more work doing course prep, but it was the responsible decision.  As we see outbreaks across the US wherever universities opened up, I know that Carleton made the right call.  Perhaps it is easier to do so up here since the province owns the universities and so we don't fear losing tuition dollars quite as much.  But the institutions in the US really did not prioritize the students' and staff's health as much as they should have.  And so now many places are switching to online late, so that the profs will be repeating the crappy move they made last March instead of spending the time to do online as well as it can be done.  So that is very aggravating.  So much wasted time and endangered people.  Just like the rest of the country.

For the course prep, I interviewed a couple of scholars and will interview one more next week.  This will help give the students some different ways to think about the stuff.  It was good to meet some new folks and see some old friends.  I am currently trying to figure out whether to organize any hangouts for the APSA since we will not be meeting in person and all those great conversations and impromptu introductions aren't going to happen.  My guess is that I will organize one for the civ-mil community and perhaps another for folks from UCSD's grad program in poli sci.  Yes, I am still thirsty for interactions with people.  My introverted wife has not had quite the same compulsion to meet with folks, but this extrovert has been feeling mighty isolated. 

There was progress on the political front as well.  The Democrats pulled off a pandemic convention.  Folks had criticisms about who was featured and for how long, but there is no way anyone could have expected it to go off so well, to be fairly watchable, and for Biden to rock his acceptance speech.  That the main theme was ... decency ... was both smart and interesting.  The Dems pushed back on the arson committed against the US Postal Service.  It may not reverse the damage, but the political costs will be borne by the GOP.  And then we learned Melania destroyed the WH rose garden, indeed chopping down the cherry trees.  Can we impeach Melania? 

The CDSN news was very good this week.  First, we held our annual meetings of the Directors and then of the Advisory Board.  It was good to see those folks and discuss our various initiatives and adaptations.  I use those meetings to find out what the sub-units of the network are doing and to get advice.  I was seeking feedback on our efforts to improve the diversity of the network.  I cam e into the meeting with a proposal for an undergraduate scholarship and left the meeting with ideas for developing both a diversity plan and a diversity council.  More on that as we figure it out. 

The CDSN has another initiative coming this fall--a new podcast!  This one will be in French, co-produced with the new RSA-NSA network.  The two co-hosts are Sarah-Myriam Martin-Brûlé and Thomas Juneau.  It was fun to watch the ideas come in on multiple social media platforms for the name for the new podcast. 

No family baking challenge this week, but I was so frustrated by the computer problems that Mrs. Spew encouraged me to take two of the leftover chocolate chip cookie dough pots out of the freezer and heat them up for some stress-eating.  Earlier in the week, I made my first Bailey's milkshake.  They may become as addictive as the ccc dough pots. 

The weather is good today, so I am off to bike around the area.  Be well and keep your distance!

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