April 18, 2005

Flunk Day II: Flunk Day Bites Back

My 142 exam was scheduled to go out today and be due Thursday. That seemed a little short, and so I'd thought of switching it to a Friday due date; but I wasn't sure, because this is totally Flunk Day season, and if Flunk Day were Thursday or Friday that would push my Friday due date to Monday, and midterm grades are due that day. So I put off changing it, and worked late into the night to put together the exam, graded homeworks, and so on, and when I finally went to sleep for a few hours I still hadn't prepped today's lectures. This is not unusual, actually, and it's the reason why I tend to spend 3rd and 4th hour sequestered in my office, feverishly writing out notes for lecture.

So I got up, took my shower, and was walking my dog---running late as usual, but hoping to get to my 9:20 Music Theory class close to on time---when Judy leans out her back door and says: "Ok, I have to ask, is today Flunk Day?" And I thought: "!" Because in all my figurings on how this is Flunk Day season, it never occurred to me that today might be the day. And despite not going to bed until after 6, I hadn't checked my email, and so I just didn't know. I rushed inside to find the dean's email: "YES-IT'S FLUNK DAY"

Well, that sure took a load off. At a somewhat more leisurely pace, I packed up a bag of dog stuff (including water bottle and bowl as well as plastic bags and toys), grabbed my dorky Bermuda hat, and loaded Nutmeg into the car to go to his, and my, second Flunk Day.

In all honesty, I simply cannot imagine a more perfect Flunk Day. The weather was the warmest it's been since September, the day clear with just a hint of clouds to accentuate the blue sky. As I arrived, about 9:30, the mud and foam pits were wrapping up, although I got gotten by one of my former students with a supersoaker first thing. Nutmeg was a hit (of course), and we wandered around the campus for about an hour and a half, chatting with people and watching the fun. Walking a dog, by the way, is a great excuse to be just wandering around aimlessly.

I ate lunch a little after 11 and then wandered some more (gotten again, this time by Erin, a ballroomer, who debarked from the slip-and-slide and gave me a great big hug), eventually landing in a circle of math and CS faculty for about a half an hour. At this point, Nutmeg was starting to get a little antsy, so I took him home. Lacking anything resembling a full night's sleep, I decided to take a nap for an hour and a half. This got me up at 3pm, and I thought about going back to sleep, but then I figured, hey, Flunk Day's just once a year, right? So I headed back in for another round.

I arrived at 3:30, just in time to catch the last of the Sno-Cones, and then head over to the Faculty-Friars softball game at 4, to kick the students' asses again this year. It was at this point that I received the first notice that I made the front page of the Register Mail---apparently I'm the photogenic face (or at least the photogenic crouched profile) of the Knox County Peace and Justice Coalition, which dedicated their Peace Tree yesterday.

We did, in fact, kick the asses of the students (well, by "we" I mean "other members of the faculty team", although I at least managed to achieve my goal of not embarrassing myself). Afterwards, I grabbed dinner on the Gizmo patio with Nathan, who was feeling a bit guilty about not granting a Flunk Day extension for a paper due tomorrow---it had already been extended once, but then, it's Flunk Day. I think the thing that tipped the balance was when I pointed out that if he didn't extend it, he'd just get a lot of crappy papers tomorrow. So he went off to send that email, and I returned to my car to trade my hat for a long-sleeved shirt and a blanket to sit on, for the concert.

I think I skipped the concert last year, but this year's was an a cappella group from Minneapolis named Marcoux Corner. The concert was great, hitting a variety of genres and (in true a cappella style) a bunch of songs that you wouldn't have expected to work without accompaniment. After being spoiled by the rich a cappella tradition at Brown, with groups of a dozen or so that rotate as various members graduate, it was fun to see a group of just four guys give such an awesome show. A highlight of the show was when they launched into a song and after just three words, a whole section of students started laughing and cheering. The opening verse didn't seem to warrant such attention, but the payoff was when they hit the refrain: they... well, why don't you just listen? (SO not work-safe. Seriously, don't click that link if there's anyone judgemental around.) If you can't listen to that where you are, I suppose the lyrics will do. (More, though not entirely, work-safe. Caveat lector.) Possibly the funniest part about the whole affair was when Terry Jackson, a Knox administrator who was sitting next to me, kept going on about it, and trying to remember where she'd heard it before---it's a Da Vinci's Notebook song, as she eventually managed to remember.

A few of us hung around and talked to the bass from the group for a while, but eventually they had to pack up, and it was dark and time for the movie to start anyway. The movie, Spider-Man II, was to be projected on an enormous (heh) inflatable (heh) screen, probably forty feet tall, erected (...) in front of Old Main. A much more efficient way to have a temporary outdoor movie screen than the heavy scaffolding I've seen some other places, although you do have to contend with the occasional wrinkle in the projection surface. The movie was great---I'm at least sympathetic to the idea that it was better than the original, though I haven't decided for sure myself. Nathan (who I ended up sitting next to again for the movie) claimed it was, and that it would be even better if the first 75 minutes of angst had been cut to about 45 minutes of angst, which is probably about right. On the other hand, they were certainly getting a lot of mileage out of dumping on Peter Parker every which way they could.

After the movie, the crowds dispersed fairly quickly, leaving surprisingly little mess behind them. I folded Nathan into the passenger seat of my Mini and gave him a ride home, and then arrived back here at about 10:30.

It almost feels like it should be an intercalary day. That tomorrow will be the real Monday, the real 18th of April. (As an aside, wouldn't it be nice if you could engineer that every once in a while?) I shouldn't have to put my garbage out tonight, because I didn't do any of the other usual Monday things. I should be prepping for my Monday classes, not my Tuesday free day.

The experience was fantastic. The vast majority of the college was there for at least one event, and probably most of the college---students, staff, and faculty---went to several. Hundreds of us went to the concert. Hundreds went through the inflatable obstacle course and slip-and-slide. Forty or so people played in the softball game, but at least a hundred people were watching. It's these shared experiences that help the College to bond as a community, and it's these memories that we will reminisce about a decade from now. Flunk Day is a fabulous event that it's too bad more colleges don't have.

"Whatever visceral appeal the "Life Begins When Sperm and Egg Walk Into a Bar" position may hold, it remains factually inaccurate; only a fringe of the medical community accepts the notion that emergency contraception is an abortifacient." --Dahlia Lithwick

Posted by blahedo at 11:38pm on 18 Apr 2005
Comments
Unfortunately, I couldn't disagree more when it comes to Flunk Day, but it would be darned rude to rant here. So if you're interested in a counterpoint to Don's pleasant day, I encourage you to read my own account. Posted by Brian at 3:21pm on 19 Apr 2005
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