Dec. 25th, 2014

The semester has ended, the buildings on campus are closed until Jan 5. I've been at home all week; so far didn't get a lot done other than update the syllabus for next semester and start picking at my updated CV for the March submission. I have a countably infinite set of deadlines hanging, including an internal seed grant and CS conference paper due Jan 12. I'll get on that tomorrow. ;)

The students all did well; I had 14 finish the semester, one of whom actually disappeared after the midterm and turned in not much after that. I had emailed her when she didn't turn in the rough draft of the paper, reminding her that without it she would get a zero on that and on the final version of the paper, and I didn't hear back. After all the assignments were in for the semester and she didn't turn in either the paper or the final exam essay, I emailed the senior lecturer who is in charge of undergrads in the department and said hey am I supposed to do anything about this? He actually passed the info on to some Dean of undergrads, who wrote back that yes, they've been in touch with the student in question and are discussing various ways of managing the family emergencies that made her disappear. I am glad to know there is someone else looking after such things, I must say. I wasn't aware of that back at UCI so many years ago. More of a safety net, here.

I skyped with my family back in VA yesterday for Christmas Eve--my sis had her tablet so we ran skype on both hers and mine, and it worked out surprisingly well. The video was blurry and choppy, of course, since she was on Dad's DSL and I was on wireless myself. But I could hear most of what was being said and they could hear me, which worked just fine! Not quite like being there, but close. My brother and his family went with Dad to the early Christmas service, but mom wasn't feeling up to it, and my sis's work didn't give anyone Christmas Eve off! Bunch of scrooges--she got her birthday off on Monday but she had to work until about 3:30 yesterday. So she didn't make it to the 4 pm service either, but everyone was there at 6:15 and we had a great call, I got to see her open her birthday presents since she hadn't done that earlier. We will be up to see them in person in early January, and that will be good.

I went to the morning service this morning--after not having gone all year, it was good to get to a Mass. ;) I really need to be there at 8 am on Sunday mornings again. I guess that is one of my New Year's resolutions!

It's tricky, listening to the passage from Luke about the census and the shepherds etc., and thinking back to all the arguments that not only did it not happen in winter, it didn't happen that way at all--the Roman census didn't happen any time around then, they didn't require everyone to move in order to be counted but counted them in place, etc. I had to think about what to do with it if the familiar story isn't true, which led to thinking about what it relates, what the values are, what makes it meaningful--which then opens up a can of worms about what makes it any more "meaningful" than all the special Christmas episodes on TV this time of year, that are full of good will and Christmas miracles and all that. Except that it's the Bible, it's multivocal, it's rich in ideas and lessons and not just a feel-good special episode. That helped. The sermon was actually about the role of asking for stuff, since everyone in the audience could identify with making lists as kids of what they wanted for Christmas, and how getting past the stuff to what you deeply want and need and where you are in life and communicating with God about THAT is what is important, what helps you grow etc. Not bad.

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jaipur

August 2015

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