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2004-01-30 - 1:59 p.m.

**The First Day**

Indeed, yesterday was the first day of classes, and I am still alive. Tuesday will be the second day classes,and I hope to remain amongst the living.

The day began with a wakeup call from K - I decided that I required an extra headstart, and so I joined the alert portion of the population at 6:15am (anyone who knows me knows that I feel like a hero). Well, to say that I "joined the alert" is perhaps a bit of a stretch. First coffee was consumed some 15-20 minutes later. That's probably when it happened.

I did, indeed, feel like a hero as I conscientiously went out to meet my bus at 7:50am. By all of last week's careful planning, this would get me to the college by 8:20am. My first class is at 9am. Plenty of time to deposit my things, relax, set up the beamer. And feel rather righteous and proud about being so prompt at such an early hour.

I have learned a new lesson, that of the unpredictability of NY Mass Transit. My normal 30-minute commute turned into more than an hour. I was 10 minutes late to class.

In New York there is a radio station dedicated to reporting traffic conditions around this huge city every 20 minutes. Usually you hear about hour-long delays at the Lincoln Tunnel. 35 minutes at the Whitestone Bridge, 4-mile backup at the George Washington Bridge....And the report usually ends with this short and comforting thought: "And the New York Transit Desk reports that all mass transit is on or close to schedule." This little report is intended to make you feel really lousy about sitting in your current traffic jam, because you *could* be cruising along in the comfort of mass transit, and be there on time.

Or so I thought. Evidently, the New York transit desk hired a geologist. Because to a geologist, "on or close to schedule" could be anywhere from 0 seconds to tens of thousands of years. The fact that my bus that is supposed to come every five minutes arrived 30 minutes late and in a row with three other buses, the fact that the 40 of us stood on a street corner in two-feet of piled-up snow lost all feeling in our extremities...this is nothing to a geologist who knows of ice ages, mass extinctions, and the fact that numerical dating is basically inaccurate anyway. This must be the root of the problem.

Anyway, I was wholly embarrassed to show up 10 minutes late for my first-ever lecture. But the sleeping pack of undergraduates who lumbered into the classroom didn't seem to mind. They sat looking bored for the remaining 40 minutes, occasionally mumbling answers to my questions. But at least they were looking, and one young gentleman came up afterwards and said that he was really excited about the course. A small victory in a class of 12 people.

My evening class was a different story. More than 35 high school teachers enrolled to get a science teaching certification at Queens College. Adults, TEACHERS with opinions, and no fear of speaking up. This means that they were very ..."inspiring." And also pains in the neck. One of them corrected my mistakes (but to give him credit, he did it AFTER the class so as not to show me up on my first day).

The most common question: "will this be on the test?" "How will you format the test?" "could you talk a little bit more about the test, please?" argh. In the next class, I think that I will threaten to deduct points from any student who mentions tests.

They are a very tough audience, and they *do* *not* *like* *uncertainty.* So this weekend I am struggling to give them a little bit more certainty to which they can grasp. In the meantime, I am trying to develop tactics for handling,"You're going way to fast! We can't write everything down!" (err, people, you're getting a copy of the notes on monday!).

All in all, it's not so bad. It's a new challenge. Many of my kind have gone through this before and they know what I'm now I will practice my rebuttals quietly to myself..

"That's a very good question.. now how would you go about finding the answer?"

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