Highs and Lows

High:

Creating a structure for benefit of the students (for no reason other than it seems like something that can do some good) – a structure in which they can participate entirely voluntarily, and after almost two months of advertising it, and showing up in all sorts of classes to tell people about it, doing interviews about it, and so forth, and not knowing if anyone really will be bothered to get involved… getting lots (still counting) of teams of students registering. With lots of enthusiasm in various emails! Thanks everyone! It’s going to be great to see your projects develop. I hope you enjoy collaborating on making films about science – it will stay with you throughout your careers as a hugely valuable and fun thing to have done. Thanks to those faculty and staff who helped me spread the word by circulating emails, letting me show up to your classes, suggesting ideas, etc!

Low:

Dealing with faculty and staff who, despite the jobs they hold, really don’t have much interest in a new structure put in place for the benefit of the students especially if it means even slightly going out of their way to help out… some would rather come up with mountains of reasons and/or rules why they can’t or won’t help, or why I’m making their life hell for asking them if they might. They helped make this all far more stressful and difficult than it really should have been. Ugh… is all I can say. UGH!

High:

Meeting with a student today who is a freshman in physics. New to the city, new to the country, and new to this level of education. Enthusiastic about the subject and excited to chat about it with a member of the faculty. He’s excited also because he first encountered me years ago in class in school on TV shows they’d watch together. So we chatted about the many directions he could take to become a good physicist, and I got to recommend lots of books, and how to read those books. It all reminded me of myself at around the similar time for me, arriving in London at 18 years old all enthusiastic about physics and hopeful. What a wonderful time! I wish him well!

Low:

24 hours of increasingly rude emails from a student in my class who has decided that his misunderstanding of models of conductivity (the Drude model in particular) is in fact really not a misunderstanding, but a demonstration of my ignorance, and rather than carefully read my carefully written emails explaining (politely) point by point why what he is saying is incorrect, and citing sources where he can read more, has decided to send an onslaught of quick emails – increasingly rude and increasingly ridiculous in their physics content…. declaring everything he does not like (including various texts) to be wrong. His main style of argument seems to be to pick a fragment of something I said and then misapply it to something where it was never intended to apply, conclude something ridiculous and then email me about it laden with scorn. Then maybe find a sentence in Jackson that randomly seems to support what he wants to believe (never mind whether it is even relevant) and send me a picture of that sentence underlined, along with extra helpings of scorn. What did I do to deserve this? I like a discussion, but wouldn’t it be nice to afford me the same level of courtesy in emails that I do in return? Also, to read the emails properly before sending more wrong remarks that were already addressed? Do I give up the right to be treated with some respect because I’m one of those strange professors who during class is actually happy to admit when I make a mistake and try to correct it when I do? That’s what opens me up to this kind of treatment? Or is their soemthing else going on? I am confused. Thank goodness for the positive and rejuvenating interaction with the freshman today (see above) or I’d be really down this evening.

High:

It’s Autumn! Probably my favourite time of year, wherever I am. Something about the air, the light, and the feeling of decline combined with hidden hope for recovery to come.

Low:

Hmmmmm. I cannot think of any lows about Autumn. So… Ok. I’m done here.

-cvj

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