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2005-03-09 - 6:05 p.m.

...Will she make it to summer?...

Last Friday I reached a threshold. I could not spend another day in New York City. And so, I took a cab to Port Authority and bused myself up to a friend's house in the middle of New York State. He is a dear friend from my days back in graduate school. A few years ago, he left the City and moved upstate to start a wool mill. I visited the mill, played with his cats and chickens, took a tour of the wool mill and pet the sheep. I slept a lot, sat in front of the wood stove, talked a lot about farming, and, to quote Whitman, "look'd up in perfect silence at the stars."

In spite of the memorable 6-hour return busride (during which a baby threw up and left us to smell his stench for one full hour), I came back with a remote sense of relaxation, mixed ever-so-slightly with the sense that I needed another week and a half to truly recover. (that is quite a sentence there). Sadly, I spent every night dreaming about student assignments and final exams. I am not enjoying myself. It is no pleasure to teach when I feel as though my efforts are bestowed most unwillingly. These feelings are further complicated by the low morale of the colleagues surrounding me, but then this is an entry for another place.

So far today I have already worked 9 straight hours on grading essays and setting up the next homework. I still have another five hours to devote to tomorrow morning's lecture. The most disturbing discovery is that at least five of my students have committed plagiarism, directly (and indirectly) copying text from one of the required articles. I am not certain what to do at this point - I handed out a 3-page description of plagiarism. I have reiterated that materials must be put "in your own words." The university penalty for this behavior is expulsion. I still have a suspicion that they know not what they do. I have reduced their grades to half-credit and have asked each of them to make an appointment to meet with me. This meeting will serve as a stern warning.

Yesterday a Nor'easter plowed through the city of New York, and as an atmospheric scientist I feel compelled to teach something about it tomorrow. Now that my students understand about wind motions, I think that they are quite ready for this excitement.

Okay, I am hoping to be somewhat recovered by tomorrow evening when I will call up Elgan, who arrives in metropolis this week. I cannot remember the plans we made, except that I think we did not make any plans...

Okay, this has been a lovely break. Back to the grind.

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