Liveblogging Exams

9:04 a.m.  At 8:30, I handed out my first exams of the morning, those belonging to my two junior-level English classes.  This winter they've focused primarily on Huckleberry Finn and The Great Gatsby, but the other material they've covered has been markedly different.   My Honors English 500 students, who rotated into my care at the start of the winter trimester and will be rotating out after this exam is over, filled in the time around the novels with short pieces by Twain and Cooper and poetry by Paul Laurence Dunbar and some of the Harlem Renaissance poets.  By contrast, my Honors 500 Language students, whom I've taught all year, spent the time between Thanksgiving and Xmas in "literature circles," groups of three or four, each focused on a particular nonfiction title chosen by the group.  (This year they picked Eric Schlosser's Reefer Madness, Gordon Grice's The Red Hourglass, and Gary Zukav's The Dancing Wu Li Masters.)  Both groups are now working in their respective exam rooms here on the third floor of Anderson Hall.  I've set up a desk in the hall, one which currently holds my laptop, my cup of watery work coffee, and my copy of The Best American Essays 2008, edited by The New Yorker's Adam Gopnik.

9:15 a.m.  I've checked in at, where one topic of interest is HBO's Monday-night broadcast of The Battle for Tobacco Road, a special on the UNC-Duke basketball rivalry.  I'm hoping I'll get to see it at some point, but I can't imagine that an hour-long show can go into the necessary depth one needs to understand this rivalry.  Even a book-length work like Will Blythe's wonderful To Hate Like This Is to Be Happy Forever had to compress a few areas down.

9:21 a.m.  By my count I've had four students ask to use the bathroom and five ask questions about the exam's content.  Since there are only 18 students taking these exams, I'd call that about 50% antsy.

9:27 a.m.  Harumph.  Looks like the new chairman of the GOP is not interested in making the tent bigger after all.  That might let some of those ho-mo-sexuals find a way in.  And that could lead to gays voting for Republicans and polluting their precious bodily fluids.

9:33 a.m.  OoooooooHOOOOOooooooo... Robyn Hitchcock's touring this spring!  And he's playing the Cat's Cradle on Wednesday, April 8th!  Probably too far off for me to reach.  But he's at the Black Cat in D.C. on Thursday the 9th...

9:41 a.m. As of last night, I'm about two-thirds of the way through the Best American Essays collection.  My favorites up to this point would be Gopnik's introduction (a wonderful essay on the writing of essays), Ander Monson's "Solipsism," (a playful examination of how ideas are presented in text), Bernard Cooper's "The Constant Gardener" (a hard-hitting autobiographical piece about coping with his longtime lover's AIDS), and Jonathan Lethem's tour de force of thievery, "The Ecstasy of Influence: A Plagiarism."  There's also "On Necklaces" by Emily Grosholz, which is alternately beautiful and exasperating; you don't know whether to commend her on her impressive powers of description or pound your forehead on your desk because she doesn't seem to appreciate that not everyone has the option of spending a month in a village in the Bourbonnais, sweet-talking the local artisans into supplying you with hand-blown glass beads for your hobby.

9:50 a.m.  At ten, the boys can leave their exams.  They're not permitted to leave until then.  I'm fairly sure I wrote an exam that should last about two hours, but I'm sure some will stretch it out a bit.  I hope not too long, though; I've got a meeting with the school newspaper editors at noon and a speech exam to give at 1:30.

9: 57 a.m.  Uh-oh.  Out of coffee.  This will not do...

10:01 a.m.  I've released my students, but so far none of them have handed in an exam.  Probably a good sign.

10:15 a.m.  I'm sorting through some plans for this spring's tour of the New Orleans area.  My hope is to log my first Reddish Egret, which would mean I'd seen every species (and one sub-species) of Ardeidae in North America.  And if I can get a Roseate Spoonbill and a White-faced Ibis while I'm at it, so much the better.  Oh, and eating cajun food with my brother's godfather--that should be good, too.

10:27 a.m.  If you're interested in comics and feminism--and who isn't?--you'll probably enjoy this piece from Fantastic Fangirls about the interestingly feminine role played by longtime X-Men member Warren Worthington III, a/k/a the Angel.  (FWIW, I've met Jennifer and Caroline of the FF, and they're thoughtful and entertaining commenters on pop culture, so do feel free to explore the site at some length.)

10:32 a.m.  The exodus has begun, but I've still got about half my guys working.  In the meantime, I've discovered that Woodberry's varsity baseball schedule has been released.  Greg Jacobs and I will once again be webcasting all home games live at, and here they are:

Tues. 3/24 vs. Trinity Episcopal (4:00)
Tues. 3/31 vs. Collegiate (4:00)
Sat. 4/4 vs. Benedictine (3:30)
Thur. 4/9 vs. Norfolk Academy (doubleheader) (1:30)
Sat. 4/18 vs. Episcopal  (2:00)
Tues. 4/21 vs. St. Christopher's (4:00)
Tues. 4/28 vs. Fork Union Military Academy (4:00)
Fri. 5/8 vs. St. Anne's-Belfield (4:00)

That Thursday doubleheader may be a bit of an issue for broadcast, as I have class that afternoon until 3:15.  We'll see what happens.

10:44 a.m.  We've hit 50%!  I've got two of my eight Honors 500 students and seven of my ten 500 Language students still working, but the end is in sight.

10:48 a.m.  A veritable rush to the exits.  The two and seven are now one and five, respectively.

10:50 a.m.
  That empty coffee mug isn't looking any better than it was...

11:04 a.m.  Down to one in each room.

11:08 a.m.  And then there was one...

11:22 a.m.  We're trying to catch up on our Netflix of House, M.D.  Last night we watched the one with Dave Matthews guest-starring as a savant pianist.  Cool stuff, though by far the best part of this season has been watching David Morse making Hugh Laurie's life miserable.

11:25 a.m.
  And we're outa here!

Now all I have to do is GRADE them all...

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This page contains a single entry by Peter Cashwell published on February 24, 2009 7:02 AM.

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