August 16th, 2005

krazy koati

The more I know, the less I understand

One of my classes, we hope to move from noon to 6 pm to avoid a conflict some students have. I went to the old classroom at noon today, to redirect any students who hadn't heard. They'd all heard, no confusion. Usually you only see that sort of behavior in students hearing about snow days.

To move the class, I need a letter signed by all the students confirming that's fine with them. The official roster of students has dwindled each day the past week. Today, I had as many students as last Monday. I assume this is connected to the online registration system, which works by some bidding method I've never understood because nobody explains how it works to mere faculty. Just every now and then students come for help, and all we can do is that pleasant, vacant nod normal people have when a Trekkie talks about Star Trek: Generations, and agree something out to be possible.

Case in point: A student this morning wanted to add my class. But its scheduled time conflicts with a lecture she needs, so she can't sign up online. If we sign a waiver she could sign up manually, if the Dean's Office approves, but the Deanery traditionally rejects permission to be in two lectures at once. But if the class moves there's no conflict, so if she signs the note to move the class she can sign up for it because they'll be asked about permission to sign up for a class they're expected to give permission to re-schedule. However she has to sign up for another course to take in case she can't drop that and take this one instead.

I asked her, and a secretary, why she can't sign up for four courses and then add this one when it gets moved, which got a detailed explanation that my class currently conflicts with another she has to take. Well, yes, but why not sign up for all her classes except mine and the backup, and sign for whichever is needed later? Because if didn't get into either, she'd be short a class.

I think the problem may be my grad student life trained me to ignore deadlines and rules, since the department secretaries always straightened things out. Case in point, I submitted my first Plan of Study -- the semester-by-semester roster of courses I planned to take -- on the very last day of my last term, a month after my thesis defense. I still don't get why it's so terrifying to add a class after the second day of the second week of the term, though, and the more they explained the more I felt helpless and despairing.

Trivia: The propellant tanks for Gemini Launch Vehicle 9 were the first carried from Martin-Denver's fabricating plants to Martin-Baltimore by rail; previous tanks had travelled by air. They arrived 16 August 1965. Source: Project Gemini Technology and Operations: A Chronology, James M Grimwood, Barton C. Hacker, Peter J Vorzimmer. NASA SP-4002.

Currently Reading: Codebreakers: The Inside Story of Bletchley Park, F H Hinsley, Alan Stripp, Editors.