I trust that you are all staying safe and well during this time. It’s been difficult for us all, especially for small business owners. It’s also been a difficult time for students and teachers at all levels, who came back to an unpleasant surprise after spring break. But I wanted at least to check in and write a brief note to let everyone know that I’m still alive and kicking. Another two weeks or so, and the semester will be over at The Enemy Campus (TM).
In some ways the online portion of this semester has spurred some creativity in me. I had to put the remainder of my lecture material online for both my classes, one of which I had never taught before and was (and am) still making up as I go along. That being said, I was hoping to make videos something like these at some point, to put online some certain parts of the content that I repeat again and again and again year after year. So at least the circumstances have forced me to learn how to do just that. Now I might be able to free up some class time for working problems or exam practice or something like that.
In other ways, of course, the semester has been a downright horror show. I’m convinced there is no perfect way to do online exams, and with so many students being so emotional about their grades, I am getting the brunt of that heat and light. Worse yet, there is talk about doing this again for the fall semester, though I certainly hope it doesn’t pan out that way.
That being said, I’ve heard that restaurants and other small businesses are opening by Friday of this week in my part of Texas. I never knew how much I took for granted going to a restaurant, or getting my hair (such as it is) cut, or buying a hundred different everyday household items. I’d never have foreseen myself driving back from the supermarket, self-satisfied nose in the air and a grin on my face, because I bought toilet paper.
So there is reason to be hopeful, although my summer travel plans are largely on hold. I had been planning to go to an academic conference in Hiroshima, which of course got cancelled. Japan may not happen this year, unless they start allowing Americans in without requiring a two-week quarantine as I last heard was the case. I have no taste for sitting on a plane for 12-13 hours, only to be obliged to wait around in an airport for two weeks. And yet, if there’s one thing I learned over the last two months or so, “not being able to go to Japan this year” is the utmost of first-world problems.
I do hope the rest of you are continuing to stay healthy, and that your lives go back to normal as soon as possible. Maybe I’m being overly optimistic even to hope for going back to normal, but I tend to be unreasonable in that way at times.