Ill-Timed Illness

November 30, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Sickness has played a fairly major role in this semester.  My own bout of bronchitis caused me to lose the thread of my online tech/soc/ethics/whateverthehellthisis class (more about this in future, I suspect), and just as it ended my history prof went down with a suspiciously similar illness and missed nearly two weeks of lectures.  Fortunately, what we need to know for the final in that class will be pretty well-documented, and I should be able to catch up.

Then my physics instructor experienced a sinus/ear infection that at one point caused him to cough so violently that, though recovered from the actual illness now, he has lost his voice.  This is particularly a problem for him, as his usual approach is to teach the lecture as if it’s a late-night TV commercial for that exciting new retail product, introductory college physics.  Seriously, it’s like spending three hours in a room with Science Billy Mays.  He even kind of looks like the late Mr. Mays.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean that losing his voice is a particularly troublesome kind of disaster for this particular teacher.  When we arrived two Thursdays ago for lab, which was a demonstration of gas pressure phenomena (the balloon in the bell jar, siphon principles, etc.), he had to show us a video of a previous year’s version that someone had shot with a Flip camera.  Which is fine, except that the student he had doing the recording didn’t know that Flip cameras will not record indefinitely, so we didn’t actually have the part of the lab involving siphons.

This was smooth sailing compared to the following Tuesday (the day before Thanksgiving break began), when I arrived in the classroom (after, I just want to point out, a 75-mile drive from my house to where it is) to be handed a pair of DVDs by an unspeaking instructor and waved back out the door.  On the plus side, that makes reviewing bits of the lectures on temperature, thermal expansion, and the general gas law easier.   On the minus side, that was a lot of gas burned to pick up a couple of DVDs.  If I had known, I could have done it Monday, when I was already down there anyway.

Yesterday I got in and discovered that his voice still hasn’t returned, but he doesn’t have movies of the ideal gas law and calorimetry lectures, so… well, let’s just say it was painful to listen to.

On the other hand, it was the last of the lectures for my division of the class; our last test is next week, and then we have the option of coming back the following week (finals week) at the usual time to retake any or all of the four tests we have time for.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must be off and write an essay about my preferred world future.  This should be interesting, particularly as it largely involves a wish that humanity will finally outgrow superstition.

  1. December 1, 2011 at 00:53

    Whoog, I sympathize with your Physics prof. My style also verges on the Billy Mays harangue at times, but my voice is not naturally loud…I trained it up, but that means I’m always forcing it to maximum when talking loudly. So I try to arrange my lectures so I don’t have to talk more than ten minutes at a time, breaking it up with students working on things. The past couple weeks have been rough, though, because we’ve gotten into a section where there’s not much the students can do in the classroom, so I’m talking a lot more. It’s kinda scary when you try to talk and nothing comes out…especially if there’s no pain or other obvious signs. Just no voice.

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