Saturday, November 12, 2005

When there's too much to do and not enough hours in the day

Earlier this week, I found myself nodding off at midnight over a student's midterm exam. Maybe that's how they feel when they're falling asleep in my class? No, it was just too much procrastinating and not enough grading the week before. One of my students had asked me before last weekend, "what are you *really* doing?" when I told them that the exams were going to be handed back the following week. What was I going to say, "Oh, I had a house-guest over Halloween weekend, so I spent a lot of time dancing, going to art shows, and eating." That sounds terrible, doesn't it? I told him I was working on my book.
So, it was the next weekend that got reserved for grading, and the weather was so beautiful that I just *had* to go strolling and exploring in Midwood and couldn't sit inside reading the same passages copied out of the textbook over and over again, not until late afternoon....and that's how it happened that the grading got pushed to Sunday and Monday, and how it was that everything else became so backed up that I have to go into the office today, even if my primary reason for going is to water the plants. As for school, despite their jubilation or despair over their midterm grades, my students said interesting things this week as they discussed Hiroshima, Gar Alperovitz, and in my early American history class, new things they understood about slavery.
From my personal annals...other than grading, delivering the news of the grades, and meeting with students about the grades, I saw the movie "Capote," which is an excellent portrait of narcissism. Yesterday, I planted several bulbs and am now worrying about whether I planted them at the right depth. According to some sources, planting them too deep will result in no flowers. If they're too shallow they might get killed by frost! I planted spring crocuses, hyacinths, grape hyacinths, some lilies, an iris, three different varieties of tulips and several daffodils. Today, I've still got more grape hyacinths to plant and two more irises. Given my general impatience, I don't know how I'll wait until Spring to see them come up. I'm already thinking about going out there with a ruler, digging them up and checking the depth. Planting these bulbs reminds me of putting a cake in the oven. I've always been bad about leaving things alone; the urge to check and check and check is tremendous. Maybe I can just stick the ruler in the soil and see if I got it right? Otherwise, I just buried a lot of money in the ground. The other plan for the garden, which really brings out the cooking metaphor, is to sprinkle cayenne pepper on the flower beds. According to the guy at the garden store, this is the way to keep squirrels from digging up your bulbs.
But that's only the personal news.
Nick Turse wrote a great description of NYC's "World Can't Wait" demonstration in Tom Englehardt's "Tom Dispatch." Doug Irelandhas a good discussion of the Paris riots on Alternet, and my hero, Robert Fisk, did a great interview on Wednesday's Democracy Now discussing the historical roots of French-Algerian relations, and the contemporary use of torture in the so-called war on terror. Although I've seen "The Battle of Algiers" about four times since the late 90s, DN's justaposition of the torture press-conference in that film with the torture press-conferences of our current administration made Pontecorvo's film into an excellent NEW comment on current events.
Finally, this week's Counterspin featured an interview with Joshua Holland about the final report on the "Oil for Food Scandal," which reveals multinational corporations bribing Saddam Hussein's government and no bribe money going to anyone in the UN. Unsurprisingly, the results of this report have received almost no mainstream press coverage.

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