12 December, 2009

Game Over, Man - Game Over

It seems that my DPhil examiners were careless in my viva, because they've passed me! Thanks to all those who sent comments and e-mails of support / comfort over the last week.

See you all in the New Year!

Dr. Hobbes circa 4 p.m. yesterday

07 December, 2009

The End of Term

Phew. That was a heavy term. Here in Blighty, we'd say "Gorblimey".

I feel exactly like this:

"Hobbes at the end of term"

I hope that your autumn has been a little easier on the nerves.

Term is very short here - just eight weeks.  The university is a catalyst; the reaction is performed quickly, and at high temperature.  It is a high-energy, exothermic process, and, while it's pleasant to bathe in the heat for a while, it can't be endured for too long.

We have a strange system here.  The senior academics are responsible for lecturing in the central departments, where lecturing is famously described as being "the transferral of course material from the notes of the lecturer to the notes of the student without passing through the brain of either".  It is the task of the junior academics (such as your exhausted correspondent) to provide actual teaching to the students, in the colleges of the university.  As one of my students recently put it, "I don't know why I attend lectures - I just sit there, look vacant, and then leave."

Dragging a small cohort of students up to a standard where they can pass (and, less commonly, excel in) final examinations is quite a heavy task.  My tactic is to be overwhelming enthusiastic, which seems to work, but gets tiring after three hours.  "O, heavy deed!" a Hamlet-loving colleague recently sighed as he slumped into his common-room chair at the end of the day.  He looked much like the above bloodhound, too, I was pleased to observe.

Despite the teaching, I amuse my students my revealing that teaching is supposed to form 20% of our workload, with the remaining 80% being research.

This hasn't left much time for drinking tea!  Add to that the fact that our house is, literally, an unheated building site, that the conservatory roof decided to collapse under the record-breaking rainfall of last month, and that the greenhouse and garden sheds were recently burgled, and you can understand the picture of the bloodhound.

And my DPhil viva (final examination / inquisition) takes place on Friday.

Thanks for the continued patience of those to whom I owe samples, and thanks also for the care packages that have been landing throughout the term - I look forward to trying them when I can unpack my tea-table, and enjoy tea again.

Half-Dipper updates will remain quiet / non-existent until mid-January, as my dear wife and I are flying to Beijing for a Christmas month with her family.

Be good, for goodness' sake!

Ding-dong merrily on high