Saturday, October 24, 2020

Quarantine, Week 32: So Close, Yet So Far

The election is so close yet so far away.  My favorite tweet of the week put it into perspective:

The end of the pandemic?  Very far away.  I was trying to figure out where my one pandemic haircut fit within the 32 weeks, as I am getting awfully shaggy.  But Ottawa is spiking as is Ontario and Canada (our second wave seems to be worse than our first), so I am probably going to be on a teleconference on Monday with lots of senior officers and officials with a messy head.  Well, they already think of academics as sloppy, so nothing like reinforcing a stereotype.  It does remind me of my favorite prank of all time:

When I was on the Joint Staff, my boss, Colonel Jim Church would say on a regular basis: by the time you leave here, you will be clean-shaven, have short hair, shined shoes, and be fully squared away.  So, in my second to last month, I showed up at his retirement ceremony like this:

And, yes, I have Halloween on my mind.  I feel bad for the kids, as this is usually the funnest of times.  I don't know if kids will trick or treat with Ottawa authorities discouraging them, but, of all activities, this kind of thing is least problematic in a pandemic.  We know it is mostly aerosols and not fomites--breathing not touching.  So, we shall see.

Twas a week full of meetings with CDSN partners, marking inadvertently the two year anniversary of shipping out the final application to SSHRC.  I have learned a lot over the past two years, and I have greatly enjoyed the CDSN efforts.  It has changed my, yes, battle rhythm, as I have far more meetings with staff, with partners, with potential partners, with government folks than I did pre-network.  But that stuff has been mostly quite engaging and enlightening and fun.  As I head into the last third of my career, it has been nice to shake things up.  

Teaching an undergrad class online has been, well, another way to shake things up.  I hadn't taught undergrads here at Carleton until last year.  It was new in another way--team-taught with David Hornsby.  This year, we are quite lucky to have two phenomenal teaching assistants, who are doing a terrific job.  And we have added fun assignments (well, fun for me): meme of the week.  My favorite this week is probably:

A very smart way to depict the contrasts between the various approaches to International Relations Theory. The students are clearly quite stressed, and we are now having to figure out how to teach the winter term online without the luxury of having an entire summer to prepare.  I will be teaching a different kind of class--an MA seminar.  And the MA students have made it clear that they want synchronous classes--live classes--rather than taped.  I will do a mix--30 minutes or so of lecture that is taped and then 1.5-2 hours of zoomed conversations.  We shall see how it goes.  I guess I have to start prepping that before my video editor gets another job.

We are nearly at the election.  I am quite optimistic, which is driving everyone around me crazy.  They remember that I was optimistic, ruthlessly so, last time.  I will post in a few days why this time will be different.  I also think that being pessimistic makes it harder to get through this, but everyone has a different survival strategy.  All I know is that at least I don't have to fight off zombies to get there.  And, yes, we watched Alive, a Korean zombie flick this week.

So, there's that.  Be well!


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