President (Monday, 2012 February 20)

February 22, 2012

Sometimes, when I don’t put the date in the corner of the board, my students get upset. This year I’ve been cultivating something of a Mad-Hatter Willy-Wonka style persona (Last year I started from the assumption that I was their friend. You’re not their friend. You can never be their friend. You are an authority. They are your children. You are therefore their parent.) so I’ve been putting all kinds of things up in that corner when they complain that I forgot. They’re used to the French style of dates (20 fevrier 2012) or the English style (February 20th, 2012), but they don’t like informatique style (2012-02-20 or 2012 fev 20). To tweak them I’ve started putting all kinds of other crap up there, my personal favorite being "42 Septober 2088", but also a simple "aujourd’hui" ("today"). My 4es go utterly apeshit when I do things like this. They’ll beg and plead with me that they be allowed to go up to the board and correct it. When they didn’t like "aujourd’hui" I decided to correct it myself to "demain" ("tomorrow"). Personally I was hoping to provoke a riot, but not quite. (They’re just 4es.) The lesson being that: I don’t fucking care what the board says. You already know what the date is. And more to the point, I don’t care whether you write it correctly in your notebooks or not.

I’m telling you this because it’s the first thing I came up with when I wrote the date at the top of this entry. I had a hard time writing it at first because I’ve been drinking. I’ve been drinking because it’s President’s Day, or at least says it’s president’s day and that’s good enough for me.

A real man rides a bear!

I’m ACTUALLY drinking because every day is a 10-hour day, with today’s hours being attributable to:

  • class (4 "hours")
  • faire-ing the marché (1.5 hours including a much-needed beans-and-beignet breakfast)
  • lab time (5.5 hours, including 7 minutes of standing around and watching M. Diffo play Spider Solitaire badly while insisting that he finish the game he just started)

I got the chance to repose a little bit after yesterday (what we call "Sunday"), which was only a 6 hour day in terms of time spent in the lab, but an 8 hour day when you count the amount of time people spent standing outside my door and playing music while waiting for me to grace them with my presence.

Things I have not yet worked on today include: grading my 3es (or any other class), cooking anything, becoming a better person, etc. I’m probably going to starve while pleuring my eyes out, clutching this awful bottle of "Djindja" (i.e. "Ginger") whiskey, 1500 CFA, which is actually the worst thing I’ve drank in country, even worse than the other thing that I said was the worst thing I’ve drank in country ("Samurai Rum-Cafe", also 1500 CFA).

Things I hate: people knocking on my door after 19h, by which time I become increasingly undressed, especially after I drink.

The lab was a little bit bad today because (my fault!) Domche asked some questions: "How does one go about writing a program?" and then "How does one make that program enter into the menu of programs that I see if I click in this corner of the screen?" Both of which are legitimate questions but I think I made his brain catch fire by breaking out the terminal emulator and doing a bunch of tab-completion (which made him so angry that he explicitly asked me about it) and making things happen that, even to a Tle C student, might resemble magic. Domche, if you ever read this, I’m sorry. I’ll be honest, I’m not really good at teaching. I just watch where the first student stumbles and then I remember that, oh, right, actually, none of the things I took for granted make sense to you yet. I still need to explain what a terminal emulator is, why I used it, tab-completion, etc. whereas students tend to think of files as things you see in a window.

You know why else I’m drinking? Because I had been planning (always a bad idea in Cameroon) to wake up, go to the school, photocopy my exams, and interroge my class of 4e. Instead what happened was that I went to the secretary’s office, printed out my exam, and then there was no paper to photocopy it, so I was like "Whatever, going to the market", and then when I got back to the school, someone had taken the secretary’s keys so even the single exams I’d printed out before photocopying were lost to me. End result: 4m2 didn’t take a test today. Whatever! It wasn’t even a very good test! We’ll try to give it to them again on Wednesday. Otherwise, bottoms up!

When Boris came to visit this weekend (oh, did I mention? This is why I drink) we went to a bar (naturally) and the first drink I offered a toast along the lines of "à la santé" ("to our health"). Boris responded, "To Jenny". (Who is probably in Ethiopia or something. Did you know Ethiopia was never colonized, even by Egypt? History is fascinating.) This was of course before I started insulting the drunk who had hit me up for a beer by saying that everyone from this village is a drunkard.

You know what I wish I’d had before I started writing this blog post? Pictures of the students that were in the lab today. I’m gonna film the shit out of them, just you wait. I even kept my camera in my bag but I just haven’t had circumstances line up just yet. Soon. Soon.

Look what I picked up two or three market days ago! They definitely do not fit me.

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