Let me first say that I am in total AWE of the amount of things which are done for me here, as a lecturer in geology, at UCT. For example: When I finish marking the practicals (US: labs) from today, and the tests I gave this morning, I will turn those marks over to Shirley Whitmore, who will tally the students' marks for the whole semester (my "module" is one of four, the others are ig pet, met pet, and sed). When I write my questions to give on the final exam, I will give them to the department head, who will evaluate them, send them back for corrections, put them together with the other 3 modules' questions, and then send the whole exam to external evaluators who will give comments on the questions. When they approve, we will give the exam, and all 4 instructors will mark it. Then, and get this, the graded exams will go to the external evaluators who will comment whether the grading is fair, even, and appropriately rigorous. We will then alter the grading appropriately and then the students will get their grades. Holy. Crap.
On the analytical front, David Wilson is making my thin sections for about $2.50 apiece(also a very large number of samples!!!). Given that these take me about 5 hrs/dozen, I could not be more grateful for this ridiculous bounty of help. Ernest (aka Uncle Ernie as Ronel calls him) Stout just ground up 77 vials of rock chips into xrd powders for me. Just like that. OK, wow. Now I am running these powders in a beautiful lab with windows with a pretty much brand new XRD. Yay! Unfortunately it is 9:20 at night so a) there is nothing out the windows and b) I will call security in a little while to walk me home. Because a) everyone says I must and b) I want to talk to a real African that's not a geologist. For a few minutes anyway.
Sorry if there's an undertone of fatigue - lecturing every day is getting tiring! Saturday is a day off, then Sunday we head out to the field station. Better yet - Saturday is a SAILING DAY on PELAGIC AUSTRALIS!!!! So sorry Sila, you are sooooo jealous.
This means however that all samples must be run (at 27.5minutes each this is going to take a while), laundry must be done, tests (given today) must be marked, etc., in the next two evenings. And I have to scan and reformat the maps for the field areas. This is confusing for me because they have been mapping in the same area for many many years (20?) and they don't have a ready set of topos to give the students (either in hard or digital copy) which correspond to the various mapping areas. So I grabbed control. I think I'm getting away with being kind of bossy just by smiling sweetly most of the time and then striking when they least expect it. (ooooh yes, i agree, i agree, oooh fascinating, i agree, AND NOW WE'LL DO IT MY WAY, ok? yes, i agree, i agree...).
We'll see how long i can keep it up! Until somebody here finds this blog I suppose.
Anyway, I got to drive on the left hand side of the road today. kind of scary! My new best friend Bruce (in charge of support staff and facilities and instruments and not sure what else) arranged for me to test drive this awesome car, a Toyota Venture, which one of the other lecturers is planning to sell. It's like a small SUV sort of, but really no-frills and practical, efficient, reliable, toyota, etc. It wasn't ever sold in the US, designed for Africa and Asian markets. I love it. He wants maybe R40K for it - less than $6K! I haven't got a hold of sila yet but I'm real close to committing to buy it some day if I ever have $6K. People think a "rich American" must have cash on hand. Guess it's better than being thought of as a grad student! Anyway I can shift with my left hand now, but I can't for the life of me turn on the turn signals with my right.