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It's about time! -- 11/05/00

My apologies for not updating for so long...

Last week was the week from hell...

I think the class I taught went okay... well, I survived it and nobody threw rotten fruit at me and I didn't have any major screwups... but the week was very painful and exhausting.

I was sick....

I spent much of last weekend in bed. I had a stuffed head and a sore throat and a scratchy cough and ached from head to toe, missed a really good Halloween party because I was too sick to go. I was not exactly looking forward to the week ahead of me.

On Monday morning I discovered that the computers were all in place in the classroom -- one of my colleagues had come in over the weekend and installed them all for me. (Have I mentioned that I work with the most wonderful group of people?) I had been expecting eleven students but it turned out that had been an error, there were only eight. It was a good group: intelligent, experienced people who already had some familiarity with the topic. (Some of them were in the midst of taking a series of courses, aiming toward certification exams.) It was also a very diverse group in terms of ethnic backgrounds; I had students who were originally from China, Lebanon, Pakistan, Egypt and India.

As with the other courses I teach, Monday is especially heavy on lecture and a few times during the day I thought my voice would give out. By mid-afternoon I could easily do a Bill Clinton scratchy voice imitation. I had left home just before seven-thirty, dropped Sean off at school, and arrived at work around eight o'clock. I started class at nine (the rest of the week we began at eight-thirty) and finished for the day a bit past five-thirty (the rest of the week would run longer than this). After the students left I had to work my way through some administrivia, work-related e-mails, etc., so it was after six-thirty before I could leave and thus I didn't get home until after seven. This is a long day at any time, but it seems endless when you are sick. At this point I could not possibly recall what I fixed for dinner that night.

My real problem came after I went to sleep that night. After finishing kitchen chores, etc., I had attempted to review material for the next day's lecture but was too tired and too sick to concentrate, so I gave up and went to bed around eleven. I woke up around 2:30 in the morning with a severe sinus headache. I got up, took aspirin, nasal spray, etc. Headache stayed with me, sleep stayed away. Needless to say, I was really dragging when I went to work... not much over three hours sleep and a bad headache. Somehow I got through class on Tuesday, a class that ran from 8:30 in the morning until past six o'clock in the evening.

That was Halloween. Having a house full of teenagers (both kids had friends over, preparing to go trick-or-treating), I ordered pizzas and picked them up on the way home. I fell asleep around eleven, only to wake up just past twelve-thirty. I still had a headache and, to top it off, my tooth was also hurting. (I have a root canal scheduled for early December, because it was not causing me any pain... but lately I have been experiencing some pain from time to time.) I was not able to return to sleep for the rest of the night. Eventually I gave up all attempts at sleep and spent my time reading about container-managed persistence in enterprise javabeans and similar topics. Wednesday was a very rough day. At one point I had to ask Hamid to deliver one particular presentation because I felt so overwhelmed with fatigue that I did not think I could manage to stand up and talk for the twenty minutes or so that would have been required. (Other than that one topic, I taught the entire week myself.) Class on Wednesday also lasted until almost six-thirty. I managed to get some sleep that night; although I woke up several times during the night I always managed to get back to sleep again, so I was not quite as fatigued when I went to work Thursday morning... and even better, after more than two days, my sinus headache finally went away!

We all went out to lunch together on Thursday and discovered a restaurant that I had never noticed before (even though it is in a building next to my endodontist's office!)... a Lebonese restaurant, sharing a small cinderblock building with a grocery store. Nabil, one of my students, immediately engaged the owner in a rapid fire conversation in Arabic. We pushed some tables together and were soon presented with an array of bowls of tabouleh, hummus, stuffed grape leaves, etc. Delicious. For various reasons we almost all ordered fallafel... (me because I really like fallafel... Tauqeer, a Pakistani and a devout Muslem, because he could not determine to his satisfaction that the meat truly met dietary law... one of the Chinese students because that was the only middle eastern food he knew, etc.) The fallafel was also quite good, served with hot sauce on the side. Personally, I prefer the fallafel served by a little shop near the U.R.I. main campus (the best I've ever had) but I will definitely return to this little restaurant for future lunches... also, I plan on picking up their marvelous stuffed grape leaves (stuffed with rice, not meat) to bring home as a nice side dish for dinner sometime. Yum. That night I left work about quarter to seven, leaving most of my class still working on lab exercises (Hamid had to leave "early" at six)... I had no energy left and had to leave (drove with my window open the last ten miles in order to keep awake)... Nancy was playing tennis, Jennifer was off somewhere and Sean was at a scout meeting when I got home. I relaxed for a few minutes then went off to pick Sean up. It was almost nine o'clock by the time we got around to having dinner. (Soup and salad, no energy left to fix anything more.) Began class at eight-thirty again on Friday, but did not stop for lunch, ran class straight through until one-thirty so that some students could leave to catch early flights. Some stayed around until almost three-thirty, doing additional exercises and playing with the system. I left work at four o'clock to head home without finding time for lunch... but at least the week was over. (Of course I ended up fixing dinner for six that night because each of the kids had a friend hanging around.)

So... that's why I've not updated in a week. The past three weeks have been quite intense with work, ever since I got back from my trip to Cleveland... so I've really neglected this site for these three weeks. At least I don't have to go anywhere this coming week... although the week after I may go to Minnesota (or maybe to Pittsburgh?).

The week of the 13th to 17th I was scheduled to co-teach this class in Pittsburgh but that same week Hamid will be teaching an advanced course on this topic here in Rhode Island and, since they would like me to eventually teach that course as well, it was suggested that maybe a newer instructor might be sent to Pittsburgh so that I could sit in on Hamid's advanced class. Later on Friday I was told that they would like me to learn about a new business object component product and develop a new course for it and that there might be a "knowledge transfer" session conducted in Rochester, Minnesota that week and so I might have to fly out there. I also received an email telling me that the course I just taught was scheduled to be taught in Europe (I don't know where, probably either France or Belgium) the week of Nov. 27th--Dec. 1st but that they had just lost the business partner instructor for that class and might have to send me. I replied that I was already scheduled to teach a different class here in Rhode Island that same week (although the minimum required enrollment had not yet been reached)... so they may send someone else unless my local class gets cancelled due to lack of enrollment. (I would have to fly out on Thanksgiving weekend... no thank you!) This class is also scheduled in San Diego twice in December with "???" listed for instructor and I'm hoping that the question marks don't get replaced with my name. Among other things, I do have that root canal appointment, plus I have some vacation days I've got to use before the end of the year (it's use or lose, can't carry them over to 2001), besides which, every trip means losing two weekends and I don't want to lose that many weekends as the end of the year approaches.

I guess I'm still feeling exhausted and a bit under the weather. I did go out for a short run yesterday and hope to get in another short run this afternoon. I've lost my fitness edge... I got out for two or three miles each morning while I was in Oslo, but since then I've only done weekend running and lost last weekend completely. I really need to find the time to finish painting the basement and get it organized and set up the fitness area I want to have there, get a good weight bench and some good weights, and set up a TV and VCR for exercise videos, etc. (I'm still not sure about a treadmill, I keep flip-flopping on that question.) Of course, if I am away on business trips I can't very well work on setting all that up...

Oh well, time to get another cup of coffee, check the supermarket ads, make my shopping list and then go buy some food...

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