Another Weird Week at Work -- 01/26/01
My previous entry listed some of the problems I faced in getttingready for the class I taught this week... from struggling with ambiguous configuration andinstallation set-up instructions to being sent the wrong set of books.

This week brought the actual class. It was weird. It was rough. And I am totally exhausted.

I had to come in on Sunday to finish ghosting the system image onto the remaining computers in the classroom (I had done about half of them before leaving on Friday). Naturally Saturdayhad brought freezing rain, later changing to snow with windy conditions that lead to consideratble drifting. Sunday was bright and sunny but also cold and windy. When I got to work the parking lot was just beginning to be plowed, so I drove to a Subway to buy asandwich and by the time I returned the driveway past the entrance had been cleared.

I was not teaching this class by myself. I had been told to expect a co-teacher, Alain,who was employed by a business partner. He was training to become an instructor for thisclass and had just participated in three different presentations of the course. This waswelcome new to me because the last time I had taught it was with the previous release ofthe software and I had not seen the revised material. Then, a few days before the classbegan, I got an email telling me to expect Darren (employed by a different business partner)who was also training to become an instructor for this class. I was told that he would function as an apprentice lab assistant.

I told the class on Monday morning that although this was listed as a five day course (actually, some of the material claimed it was a 4.5 day class!) but that there was morematerial to be covered than that. The last class I took as a student (the one in Cambridgeearlier this month) was a 4.5 day class that began at nine a.m. and finished at five eachafternoon and on Friday went from nine to noon. This week's course, however, would beginat 8:30 each morning and would push on well past five. I promised to attempt to finishbefore three p.m. on Friday. As it turned out, the class went past six p.m. each day (oncepast 6:30)... which meant that I didn't get to leave until an hour or more later. We hadsome problems with the configuration of the token-ring cards on seven of the computers. (Themachines were not connected to a network -- all of the internet work would be done as local_host -- but the configuration for the card had to set it to function as a loopback adapter... for some reason placing the same system image on twelve identicalmachines worked for five machines, but not for the other seven... finally got that fixedby our tech support on Tuesday.)

The correct editions of the course books (three booksper student) finally arrived on Tuesday morning. There were some glitches (okay, "bugs")in some of the exercises, etc. So these were long days but life was made much easier byhaving Alain and Darren in the classroom. I started things off on Monday, but then turnedit over to Alain and he presented much of the first day's material as well as some of Tuesday's. (He had wanted to present that material as he had not gotten the chance to lecture on those topics until now.) Darren introduced the lab exercises but he wanted topresent some of the lectures. He took on a couple of topics and did a great job. (Alain,also, was first rate.) So I had the luxury of working with two very capable co-instructors;nevertheless, I was getting to work a bit after eight a.m. and not leaving until well pastseven p.m. and that is a long day. At night, after fixing dinner and cleaning up, etc., Iwould be studying the next day's lectures that I was going to be presenting; there had beenfar more changes to the course material than I had been lead to believe.

Despite the long days, the technical problems had slowed things on Monday and things seemedto slip more as the week progressed. We had been taking the usual one hour lunches as thereis no cafeteria in our building, nor any restaurants at all within walking distance. Soon Thursday I passed around a menu and we ordered sandwiches and pizza to be delivered so that they could eat quickly and then continue working. (On my AmEx card, but I'll be submitting an expense account claim for reimbursement. I might buy donuts for a class butnot $123.95 lunches.) On Friday we just worked right through lunch and finished around twoo'clock. We had pulled all of the Friday lectures together and moved the lab exercise tothe end. I offered to order sandwiches for anyone who wanted to stay and work on the labbut everyone headed for the airport.

It was a few minutes past four by the time I escaped (having grabbed a candybar for "lunch"because I was suddenly feeling very fatigued)... When I got home from putting in what was somewhere between a 53 and a 55 hour work week (not counting reading and studying at home) I went upstairs and tooka nap before getting up to fix dinner... which was easy to fix since the kids ordered pizzaand Nancy and I just did soup and salad.

I still feel exhausted and have an assortment of aches and pains that makes me feel as ifI'm on the verge of coming down with something or other... Hope not because Adam and Leahare coming up from New York for the weekend. The train they had planned to catch was full.Yeah, sold out... they got to Penn Station and Amtrak told them that the train was sold out.Adam phoned me and, having a schedule handy (from my recent trip to Boston) I was able tosee that there was a train that the ticket agent in New York hadn't told them about becausethey had asked about trains to Kingston and this was an express that bypassed Kingston butit does stop in Providence... so they are taking that train and I will be driving up toProvidence to pick them up. It's supposed to reach there at 11:10 but according to Amtrakit's running 44 minutes late.

Written Friday night on (offline) laptop -- moved to Geocities Sunday night -- linked into journal listings on Monday

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