End of semester

Sorry for the long silence. No excuse for it either, except a prolonged end-of-semester accumulation of jobs that needed to be done. I just finished grading the final pile of essays for the year, only a last week of catch-up seminars and question hours to go,and then a week of oral exams. I have never done a full day of oral exams, let alone four days in succession, so I am a little worried, but I look forward to talking to all the students on their own. 

As for grading, Gloria Monday at the Times Higher Education writes that she used to read every essay in detail, but now she just “whip[s] through the first page and a bit, read[s] the conclusion, skim[s] the odd section in the middle.” The recklessness of it. I am still young and idealistic enough to be a little shocked by this confession, even if it is pseudonymously made. I do read every paper, often twice, and use elaborate assessment sheets to provide feedback. I am beginning to develop some sort of routine, however. I find myself writing the same comments more and more often, especially on subjects such as structure and argument. If I’m not tempted to sit outside in the sun and fill out the sheets by hand, I can just copy paste them into the sheets. And I now use the timer on my mobile phone to remind myself not to spend too much time on an essay. It really works, and it is almost fun to beat the buzzer on an essay. The life I lead…

More nerdy news: I discovered last.fm the other week. It’s a site where you can tell the interface that you like Keith Jarrett, and then it will present you with a streaming radio station filled with music that is similar to Jarrett’s – based on the preferences of other users. Unlike some book recommendation sites that I just like because they are so serendipitous, this site has so many users that it really works. It’s how I discovered the Tord Gustavsen Trio and Arild Andersen, for example. 

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