Thursday, December 12, 2013

Almost done

I give one more final exam tomorrow, then I post grades, then I'm done.

Well, done, except we're expected to have syllabi for NEXT semester submitted by the 1st or so. Which is slightly ridiculous, as I don't know for sure which section of a class I'm teaching yet. At least I was able to set up my office hours so regardless of which section I teach, I have enough open office hours.

Luckily, I haven't had too many last-minute instances of snowflakery (at least until now). One person threw a fit at me when I refused to accept late work (after I had even e-mailed the entire class REMINDING them and telling them there was no way, no how, I would accept the work late).

I did have one person shake my hand and thank me after the final - and he wasn't even a top student.
I had another one, from my freshman class, come by and thank me and tell me that even though he didn't do that well in my class, it was "eye opening" for him and he now realizes how much you need to study to succeed in college. And he said that he learned a lot and enjoyed the class.

I take it as even more of a win when someone who didn't earn a top grade thanks me; I feel that sometimes when A students thank me it's partly jubilation over having earned a good grade. But when someone who earns a C thanks me, that means something. (It also means that that student has the maturity to recognize that their perhaps-not-stellar performance was not entirely or even largely MY fault, which is what some low performing students seem to assume).

It seems incomprehensible but in five days I head home for Christmas break.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Something that makes me sad

I suppose this is part of the lot of being an adult, but I realized it about me the other day and it makes me sad.

I watch a lot of Cartoon Network. (Yes, I know I SAID I was an adult...). They are running ads in heavy rotation for the "Skylanders" video game. One of the ads features video (I THINK it's home video shot and submitted, and not staged - if it's staged, it's done very well, it looks like home video) of kids receiving the game for Christmas or birthdays and going crazy with joy and excitement over it.

What makes me sad is that I can't think of a single gift - at least, not a physical item - that would make me feel that kind of over-the-top joy. I can just remember it from being a kid - the excitement, the this-is-the-best-thing-ever feeling.

I wonder if there's anything like that for an adult. I mean, if someone gave me a nice car, I'd certainly be grateful - but I'd almost be too embarrassed ("I can't believe they spent that much on me!") to be all over-the-top. (And I have a perfectly serviceable car. And I'm not a "car person"). Same with jewelry, and actually, some of the stuff I love most and wear most are some of the simple, less-expensive (like, rose quartz) stuff. The few nice pieces I have I don't wear as much.

The stuff that would make me go crazy with joy is not "stuff" - the one thing I can think of right now that would make me scream with happiness and squeal and jump around the room would be finding out that a friend diagnosed with terminal leukemia DIDN'T have it, after all, and was going to get better, or that she had some kind of miraculous recovery. (That's the one thing, if one of God's angels came to me, and said, "You get one wish, anything, anything you want for Christmas" that I'd say I wanted....).

Is this feeling common to adults - that the stuff that would make you really happy, like, beyond happy - isn't actual STUFF, or maybe even something you know isn't earthly possible? Or are there adults who are still blessed with the ability to go mad with happiness over a ring or a KitchenAid or some new gadget? Am I just jaded? I mean, all those things are nice and I'd be happy to get a KitchenAid or a new computer or something - but not happy like the kids in that ad are happy.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Thoughts on Black Friday

I generally avoid it. Well, many years I'm traveling home on that day, so I don't have any choice but to avoid it. But it makes me very sad to hear about what people do. One of the men at church today was saying he heard that one woman tasered another woman over a shopping cart at some store. And there's always the person who gets trampled, or pushed, or robbed of what they have bought.

I don't know but I can't imagine Jesus intended for our celebration of His birthday to include things like this.If I had to spend too much time around the craziness I suspect I'd become a no-gifts-for-Christmas advocate as at least one person I know has become. (Still - I like getting gifts and giving gifts. Even if it's something very simple. We did the "simplified Christmas" thing a couple years when I was a teenager, where as a family you set a strict budget for everything (gifts, decorations, the meal) and then donate the difference between your strict budget and what you would ordinarily spend. Oh, my brother and I still each got one "big" gift from our parents, and we didn't feel was actually kind of nice. I think each person got one "big" gift and everything else was either small (comic books, for example) or homemade (it helps to be able to sew. And also, I remember one year I was taking woods shop in junior high, and was able to make something for my parents in there)

I also found out that a couple of my more-distant relatives have suggested ending the annual exchange of gifts we used to do. At first I was a little sad about that but then again, I realized - I can take the money I had budgeted for gifts for them and give it to the Salvation Army or somewhere, and I think I am going to do that, rather than spending it on myself or just leaving it in my household budget to get eaten up by incidentals.

I am not big on electronics, and in my family we generally have more modest expectations and budgets for gifts - I will go as high as $50 on a person but that's the most you're "allowed" to spend. And I really prefer mail-ordering stuff, and getting stuff that relates to people's hobbies - my sister in law is getting a "gardener's gift basket" that features some tools and also a bunch of Amish-produced heirloom seeds, and my brother is getting a pizza-maker's kit with a pizza stone and such, because he enjoys cooking and especially making pizza. The bonus is I can mail-order both of these items and I don't have to brave the malls or the big-box stores. I usually "shop" for presents by looking at catalogs as they come in and flagging anything I think might be good for someone I am buying for, and then after a while of looking, deciding, and ordering that thing.

Often, also, I buy stuff from small businesses. It just seems like a nicer place to shop, and I know small businesspeople sometimes have a rough go of it these days, so I figure if they have what I want, I'm going to send my business their way.

I think I've been to the Target (of the big-box stores, the one I am most likely to go to) for the last time until after Christmas. It was a couple weeks ago (not even official shopping season yet) and people were crazy and awful to each other. And I don't need that. As much as I might like some of their house-brand food items, as much as I can get things like paper towels for a better price from them, it's not worth dealing with the bad behavior of my fellow shoppers.

I wonder what would happen if there were a genuine shortage of something needed to live. You hear of people getting shot over televisions, which, while they are a nice luxury to have, are not essential to life. But what if medications became hard to come by, or food? It's scary to contemplate. I want to believe that many people would help those weaker than they are and would try to get enough to share with them - but the way things are now, I don't know.

I enjoy all the trappings of Christmas, I enjoy picking out gifts for the people I love, I enjoy receiving gifts. But it makes me sad that some people can apparently let avarice or selfishness or - I don't know what - override the love they are feeling for that person, and turn into cruelty to other people in the store or working at the store.