Today’s agenda

I slept in until 8:30. I have now lingered over my coffee for a whole hour. Time to get to work!

  • Get my shoes on. (this is a major thermodynamic hurdle — I’m hoping the coffee provided enough activation energy to get the process started.)
  • Walk out the door to the lab. Usually by this point the reaction is mildly exothermic so it should go smoothly.
  • Say hello to the grass spiders living in the shrubbery outside my lab.
  • Feed all the spiders inside my lab.
  • Walk home.
  • Stretch. Crack my knuckles. Open up all the lab reports my students submitted to Canvas last night. Stare at them, mildly stupefied.
  • Start grading them, eventually. Do that all afternoon.
  • Return to awareness. Eat dinner. Wonder where the day went.

Tomorrow they turn in a homework assignment, and I’ll do exactly the same routine on Monday.

The bee don’t care about deadlines either, she’s just doing her thing.

There’s one thing my students haven’t quite figured out yet. I do set deadlines on all the assignments, because the software requires it, but…I don’t care. I just want them to do the work so they know how to do the work, and so I can see where maybe they’re going down the wrong path, but deadlines are an invention of The Man (or maybe Satan). Try to turn things in on time so they don’t pile up on you, but if it’s a few days late, I’m OK with that.

But these are all conscientious Midwestern kids, many of them first generation college students, so I get an amazing flood of email the day of, full of apologies and reasons why they didn’t meet the deadline, which I have to read, too. I get all these panicky messages sent just before midnight, “oh no I couldn’t solve this problem, I’m struggling with it, I can’t get it done on time” followed by a 3am follow-up, “I figured it out, I submitted it a little late, I hope that’s OK”.

I just want to say…Dudes. It’s fine. The software sets this specific 11:59pm deadline minute, but I’m sleeping then. I’m not hovering over the computer, ready to dock points from anyone who turns it in at 12:01am. Or even noon the next day. The only real deadline is when I go over the answers in class a few days later, because I want you to think them through yourself, rather than getting handed them. If you turn something in a little late, well, that’s a time-management issue you should work on, but I’m going to pretend it was turned in precisely on time and give you full credit, because I don’t care. All I care about is whether you learned the subject matter.

I guess I’d have to worry if every student procrastinated and I couldn’t get the bulk of the grading done at the time I set aside for it, but that hasn’t happened yet in 40 years, and the Midwestern work ethic means it’s not going to happen in the near future. Chill. Go for a walk. Enjoy the flowers and the spiders while you can. Biology isn’t a punishment drill, it’s supposed to be something that makes you happy.


  1. birgerjohansson says

    Do you ever get an opportunity to relax, apart from the 4-5 hours you manage to grab some sleep?
    I feel especially bad for you because of the machinery borking your intended gaming session.

  2. brucegee1962 says

    I tell my students that the actual purpose of deadlines in school is to help them develop work habits that will enable them to meet deadlines later in life where meeting deadlines really is a big deal.

    “Developing good habits” is one of those phrases that you hear your elders say all the time during your teens and twenties, and it always sounds like a bunch of hot air. Then you reach your thirties and forties and fifties, some of your friends are successful and some crash and burn, and you finally realize the enormous benefit that people who have developed good habits at an early age have got.

  3. Pierce R. Butler says

    brucegee1962 @ # 2: “Developing good habits” is one of those phrases …

    The way that stuck with me, eons ago in my 20s, came from observing an (older) friend congratulating himself on finding his keys and wallet right where he’d left them:

    “Good habits will get you further than good looks or good sense!”

    Knowing already I had a deficit in the latter two domains, I had to agree I needed to cultivate the first.

  4. says

    My plans have already gotten screwed up. Mary marched in with a craving and demanded I make a tuna melt for an early lunch, and I live to serve.

  5. birgerjohansson says

    New Scientist: “harvestman genome helps explain how arachnids got grasping legs ” (the interesting stuff is behind a paywall)
    I have too much time on my hands, so I channeled the spirit of Roger Ailes.
    “I figured out, I submitted it a little late, I hope this is OK”

    (sark) By accepting the excuses you are betraying the neoliberal ideology of the Christian Founding Fathers (TM) namely, that life is a social darwinist* struggle and only the fittest have a right to thrive, the rest can go work in the asbestos mines.
    (Of course, if the students are ‘legacy students’ [coughTrumpcough] it is a different story)
    * the textbooks claim Herbert Spencer lived much later, but they have been doctored by “Them”**.
    **I am not sure who “Them” are, but they are either giant ants, or people with big noses.

  6. birgerjohansson says

    Oh shit. I just saw a video from England about a bloke caught on camera randomly punching a jew. Now I feel bad about joking about wing nuts.

  7. blf says

    I slept in until 8:30. I have now lingered over my coffee for a whole hour.

    Very similar to me, albeit I didn’t bother getting up until around 10h00, and only then mostly due to the need to pee. The coffee (espresso), after quick shower (water), was at the local café (French), along with a croissant (burp!).

    Time to get to work!

    Indeed. Wandered off around the village centre (properly masked, of course), said « bonjour » to various friends and acquaintances, and wound up at another café to idle away until lunch-time (no croissants). Tried a highly-regarded Italian restaurant for lunch, burp! Then wonder off to a bar to marinate whilst following the cricket — interrupted to yell (masked) at the goosestepping heil covid blithering anti-(French-)Health Pass protestors — before returning for a nap and now, the most important decision of all, where(? what’s) for dinner?

    No spiders knowingly fed, albeit if anyone has a supply of some model which hunts down and chomps on Covid- / vaccine-deniers (biting nazis in half a bonus), please get in contact with the mildly deranged penguin (or just point them (the spiders, that is, both the mildly deranged one and the completely deluded too-many are already here) towards S.France).

  8. davidc1 says

    Off topic ,but just joined a faceache site called Real Christians Against Dinosaur’s .
    Can’t decide if it s a real wackaloon site ,or meant as a piss take .All jolly fun either way .

  9. davidc1 says

    @8 Just had a look at that .For feck sake ,no one tell the Doc there s a link in the story about a guy in New York
    who found 19 Tarantulas in an apartment .

  10. Reginald Selkirk says

    @10 “Real Christians Against Dinosaurs”

    I am tempted to bet on the dinosaurs, but first I want to find out what weapons they are allowed.

  11. unclefrogy says

    I was wondering about eating and drinking stuff besides coffee. Good thing there is a Mary to poke you out of your ruts to do the important things.
    I like your take it easy just learn the subject and enjoy biology because it is fun. It is a big part of why national parks exist and it is all around us all the time!

  12. birgerjohansson says

    The pig ringleader was a spider…
    Don’t let the administrators know biology is fun. They might take that as a challenge.

  13. says

    @#2, brucegee1962:

    So, in other words, “developing good habits” is yet another synonym for “becoming an uncomplaining little cog in the economic machine which is deliberately gradually killing us all, except the very rich, which will keep you too tired and too poor to do the things you want to do or enjoy until you are very old, assuming you don’t die first”.

  14. birgerjohansson says

    I had to search very hard to find good news, but being about medicine it is rather OT.
    “Drug cocktail reduces aging-associated disc degeneration” – the senolytic drugs dasatinib and quercetin have a protective effect (might be useful for professors that are no longer in their thirties).
    Also “Serendipity opens new path toward osteoporosis treatment”
    The protein SLITRK5 is a negative regulator of bone formation. There is hope that inhibiting it will help bone formation without causing skeletal defects.
    Osteoporosis is the bane of the elderly who often fall and crush their hips, which usually will cause death on a couple of weeks (Freeman Dyson was one such victim).
    I certainly don’t want PZ (or anyone else) suffer that fate, so this is great.

  15. birgerjohansson says

    If PZ runs into any more denialists, there is now a very thorough study in Bangladesh that shows face masks really slow the spread of covid.

  16. hemidactylus says

    @15- Vicar
    Good habits or virtues can help. Vices such as binge drinking and procrastination can hinder success. But in pursuing “the dream” it often comes to parental affluence (genealogy), where you were born (circumstances), or who you know (brown-nosing). Bootstraps are for hanging when it goes sour.

  17. davidc1 says

    Got banned from the faceache site ,that didn’t take long .
    @6 ,There has been a few attacks on Jewish people ,I think all carried out by the same guy.