Thursday, September 01, 2016

of course i'm not afraid of putting my entire course online, in a blackboard shell, where you might have some advantages, like the students can doodle on the class board while you yap or text over to the grad assistant to ask what the heck you say, and of course this could offend you but it also opens up a whole new world, if you can just get used to it, because blackboard can record it, and some of these things are worth recording especially when we talk linguistics which we will probably not. most of my students of course are better at blackboard than i am, and i found out tonight it's all a matter of perception: what you think they see is not necessarily what they see, and what they say they see it seems to me, is not always all they see. it's all very virtual but we were stuck there for a while, couldn't do a thing.

then i'm also in this situation where once a week i go across west texas, through the rangeland, the oil fields, the vast empty quarter and up the mountain to the clouds here where, in my comfort, i will get on blackboard tomorrow. i have done all this, moved my family to the mountain, in order to save my wife's sanity, but i kept my job, which means i have to go back once in a while to check in back at the west texas headquarters. back there, if they though everyone could simply move to the high mountains and do their job, they'd have mass exodus, but a little nobody like me can apparently do it and still have my job, if only because i do it well and very few others can. so i teach my two classes, yesterday, and load up the van with a shed full of junk, and then go play the fiddle for a while, and about eight-thirty i take off heading west on a four and a half hour drive uphill and into the mountain time zone.

but it's pouring down rain and it seems to be getting worse, as i snake through the cottonfields of west texas, the peanut farms and occasional oil derricks, it's coming down like crazy. the roads are ok, but it is really pounding the car and when i come to those 'watch for water' signs i get real nervous but they've mastered the art, in texas, of raising the road just enough that the roads seem to be ok. you have this very flat countryside, nowhere for the water to go, bad and non-porous dirt, but apparently if the road is just six, eight inches up, that's enough. and that's what they have. i snaked across the new mexico line just as the rain was letting up.

but alas, the rain had come from the west, had been in lovington earlier, days earlier, and in new mexico, even though that road was fairly new, it was perhaps not six to eight inches above the ground. now, when i encountered a 'watch for water' sign i actually flew through a couple of feet of water, a puddle maybe thirty feet long and two or three feet deep. ouch! fortunately i was going about sixty five, and, though the car slid a little, it made it to the other side. just in time for another one, about the same length, same depth. you wonder if that water's going to get into your engine. it's hard for it not to.

high in the mountains i kind of got into a zone and pretty soon i'd passed some landmarks and hadn't even noticed. where the empty quarter road comes around this major bend at an elementary school, i didn't even see it. all of a sudden i was in the mountains, with rock coming up right at the road there, and the possibility of course of landslides, and more commonly, deer all over the place. they like the road. they like the late night. they don't always even think about making room for the cars.

and what do they think about the rain? here it is, still drizzling out in the mountains, and it still is, by the way, and those deer, mark my words, are still out there not worrying too much about the drizzle. lots of weeds growing on all sides, plenty to eat. they don't like the cars, but, in the end, there aren't a whole lot of them. you stop out there, for any reason, and there are millions of stars, more than i've ever seen in one place.

and it's back to the online class; i teach it tomorrow; i hope everyone will be there. i have students who will have trouble; i'll have trouble; that's the way it goes, but eventually we'll see it, we'll get together in a virtual environment, every thursday except thanksgiving. i look forward to it. thanksgiving, i'll be up here in the mountains, eating turkey, or maybe elk, and not getting online. and that, i'll figure, will be life as it's supposed to be lived.


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