Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Not quite done

I read through the "big" paper (for one of my classes) yesterday. (There are 22 people still attending class; I received 21 papers. Such is life.)

I still have to fill out the "grade sheets" that I use. This is one of those dreaded rubrics, that some educators consider to be the lazy way out. But. I've found giving a rubric cuts down on:

1. "You graded HER paper more generously than MINE. What do you have against me?"
2. "Why did I get so many points off for not including a literature cited section?"
3. "It's not fair"
4. "I'm gonna need a detailed accounting for every half-point I lost"
5. "I don't understand why I got the grade I did"

And so on, and so forth. Also, with the necessary anti-plagiarism measures in place, I tell students to either hand in two copies of the paper (or a paper copy and an electronic copy) if they want the paper with my comments back. Otherwise, they just get the grade sheet. It's....informative....to see who wants the comments and who doesn't seem to care. (And no, I grade exactly the same for both; I don't note down who has "file copies" until after grading)

But yeah, that was pretty much all yesterday from noon on. So I'm really burnt out. Coming in to a couple of freaked out e-mails from different people was the last thing I wanted this morning. Also the "You have one more scholarship application to evaluate!" even though the deadline for evaluating these was yesterday. (On campus, they've now gone to an online system which is frankly far more burdensome on the faculty than the old paper system was. Thankfully the AAUW scholarships still use paper applications and I was able to evaluate those in a couple hours.)

This is not the time of year for people to approach me with freaked-outedness that I am assumed to be able to fix. For one thing, I'm TIRED. (Not just from it being the end of the semester: it's allergy season part II here and I can tell it's affecting me. Also, my systolic bp has been a lot lower lately - why, I know not - and I'm sure that's affecting me. And, and, and). Ideally, if people approach me at all right now, it's with a plate of cookies and no additional work for me.


I received a letter from the company-that-allegedly-bought-out-my-cable-company. They are, in fact, dropping the Viacom channels, as of May 1. (They had been saying "March 31" and then I figured some kind of deal had been struck, because nothing happened). It's no real biggie to me, the only one I ever really watched, even occasionally, was Nickelodeon (or NickToons, though they seem to have morphed (hah, see what I did there) in to the Power Rangers channel of late)

They're promising GREAT NEW CHANNELS but when I looked at the list, most of them are ones I already get as part of the digital package. Oh well. I guess it means that my cable bill won't go up $30 a month? (I assume the fact that Hub and Cloo and some of the others are being touted as Great New Channels means they won't be digital-tier any more).

A quick glance at the list did reveal Nat Geo Wild (which I would watch if I got it) and Hallmark Movies (I get Hallmark channel, but not their movie channel). I'm just going to wait and see if I get those: the old cable company advertised the DIY channel for MONTHS and no package they offered had it. So that was kind of a fail.

Oh WAIT. I looked at the list again. Boomerang is listed. Huzzah! Another channel that shows cartoons, and this one shows some of the cartoons from the early 'glory days' of Cartoon Network. (THE AMOUNT OF CARTOON NETWORK HAS BEEN DOUBLED!) AND they list DIY. Either I was too tired to see that last night, or they've changed the list. (Now, I have to wait and see if I actually GET any of those.Because there's that tiny weasel-sentence "Program offerings will vary by market.")

They also claim we are going to get a "loyalty discount" on our June bill. Again, I'll believe that when I see it.

I don't know. I get that there are reasons why they can't do channels on the "cafeteria" plan, but I'd like to have that as an option: have ALL of the cartoon channels, ALL of the food channels, NONE of the music-video channels, NONE of the shouty news channels. And blow a big raspberry to TLC, which used to carry educational programming but now has gone down the freak-show path so far they have shows about how intercourse sent people to the ER. ("TLC turned into a hard-core porn channel so gradually I didn't even notice it").

I wish there were still a few educational channels. Oh, Nat Geo occasionally tosses up a good program. But by and large, the channels that used to show kind-of educational stuff mostly just show the drekkiest (IMHO) of reality programming now.

Maybe there's some kind of evolutionary arms-race thing in there: a channel starts out with high intentions, it's going to show smart programming. But then, to get ad-revenue dollars, they find they have to get eyeballs. And by and large in our culture, the way to get eyeballs is either to have really good programming (which is hard to do and expensive, and often really good programming doesn't capture audience) or to have something sensationalistic - either the aforementioned freak show, or a show with lots of people shouting at each other and barely-bleeped four-letter-words. And so, the channel goes, "Okay. We'll put on a show following this particular subculture and see how it does. Maybe we can even claim it's 'educational,' seeing as people mostly don't know about this subculture...." and so on. And then they decide they need a show about tattoo artists. And one about the Amish. And one involving either a pawn shop or antiques pickers. And a weird medical show. And a cooking competition show. And a show about the supernatural. And slowly, this channel that once planned on being different becomes oh, so much the same as the others.

I thought we got cable to have diversity of programming?

(I remember when Cartoon Network attempted reality programming. Thankfully, it largely flopped, and lots and lots of people were talking about how a channel with "Cartoon" in its name really should limit the live-action stuff. Still, they expanded Adult Swim into the 7 pm hour, so now the re-runs of King of the Hill and the various Seth Macfarland snark-fests start an hour earlier. I suppose it's cheaper than paying for more episodes of Steven Universe or something, but it disappoints me a lot. Though if I do start getting Boomerang, that would be excellent: funny cartoons after the workday, right when I need them most.)

Also, no sign of the new set-top box we are supposed to neeeeeeed after some future date in order to be able to get programming at all. I mentioned it to the repair dude when he was out and he laughed and said he never got his yet, and also, he hadn't heard anything more about a date for the changeover. So whatever.


Yesterday on the 6 pm news, they reported "Hazmat situation at the Bryan County Courthouse!" and immediately I started listening with worry, because:

a. I live about three blocks from the courthouse, and if it was BAD I figured it would behoove me to throw a few things in a suitcase in case the cops came knocking on doors to tell people to scram for their own safety


b. I am a friendly acquaintance of the DA. (She and her family belong to the same church as I do).

Turns out it was one of those "letter with white powder" incidents, which told me I could stand down on (a), and also told me, "It's probably gonna turn out to be baking soda, or whatever other thing jerks use when they want to scare a lot of people and bring stuff to a standstill."

Well, it worked. Apparently all the courthouse employees were stuck down there for "debriefing" (and also, I suppose, being kept on hand in case treatment was needed) for hours. This morning the sheriff was on television and he said they were "99% certain" the powder was harmless, but that they weren't giving out any other information, which tells me that they think they can catch and charge the person who did it. (Good.)

This is one of those short-sighted things people do: someone thinks that by shutting down the courthouse for a few days, maybe it will somehow change the outcome of a trial. Or it will buy them some time to pay their property tax late. Or whatever. But it cost a lot of money, I'm sure (they had to bring the National Guard in from Norman), and it caused a lot of worry for a lot of people (Can you imagine being the spouse or kid of someone who was "detained" there while they were trying to determine just what was in that envelope?).


purlewe said...

I am glad that the white powder was nothing major.

I personally would love a cafeteria plan that you could ONLY buy the channels you watched. I would come back to cable for that. PBS (which is about 4 channels here) and BBCa. THat was all I watched when I had Cable.

Lynn said...

-- "I get that there are reasons why they can't do channels on the "cafeteria" plan" --

I guess I am less tolerant of corporate nonsense (or "realities" or whatever you want to call it) If everyone decided that the 20 channels they like weren't worth the 200 they don't like and stopped paying for cable the cable companies would suddenly decide that they can offer cafeteria plans after all. But nobody's going to do that. I wouldn't and I kinda hate that I wouldn't because I want to punish and manipulate the cable companies (or in our case, satellite) but it won't work if only a few people do it. Besides, I have to admit that I am sort of addicted to the few shows I watch.