Friday, June 26, 2009

Still Mulling

Yesterday, for a brief period of time, it felt like my brain was working the way it used to. Those moments felt truly wonderful, and provided renewed hope that maybe things really are going to come together one of these days. It brought reminders of that near-forgotten goal of becoming more patient through this process and brought back thoughts of that slow hare thing. (OK, you were all right that the tortoise aspiration wasn’t realistic in the first place, and it slunk away into the underbrush a long time ago. Don’t you think it’s kinda sweet that was even in the picture, though?) The most recent cortisol tests from last week showed that my morning, fasting, levels are still way below standard (12 vs. 18-20), so the artificial boost will continue for another month or two. More testing in August to see if my system has started producing its own, or whether we move to Phase 2, in which we switch from synthetic cortisol to real cortisol. Need to read up a bit on why we do it this way and the costs/benefits. We're hoping my own system will come back from retirement and start working again; it's certainly had a nice long vacation, since last September 4, when I first started taking the heavy doses of steroids to knock down edema in my brain.

Yesterday's moments of clarity came in beginning the process of designing a new course for my new role in Business, and it was fun. For those few moments, it was possible to hold all the various pieces in my head and think of ways to interconnect them, weaving in various resources, activities and information all aimed at building to a coherent outcome. It felt great. Among other things, I want to explore creating an electronic community for the class, because after the students take this class in the spring semester, they’ll be discussion leaders in the fall, and having a way to stay connected seems desirable. Never forgetting, of course, that they’re Young (while I’m Old), so the on-line world seems baseline to them. I’ve used the university’s designated on-line course management system, Compass, for MBA classes, and am (way) less than wowed by it. That leaves as one of the summer’s tasks to explore whether there’s a plausible alternative. There’s a (maybe) a Moodle option that seems potentially promising, along with maybe running a class wiki for the following semester when the kids will be putting all their learning into practice. Anyone have any advice, pointers or suggestions? On the teaching front, I got copies of my spring course evaluations yesterday and they’re fine, which was nice. Given what we now know about what was going on last spring, it was nice to see the MBA evaluations improve over then, too. That provided another moment to try to stop and put all of this in perspective: I’ve come a long way and need to revert to counting my blessings and appreciating just how much true progress there’s been. Working on it...

We’ve gathered the odds and ends for travel, and to avoid a last-minute rush, the goal is to do a preliminary pack today. That will make this trip more real. We are very excited about going, and yesterday’s experience of actually being able to think on all cylinders provided serious hope that in addition to other wonderful things about being in that beautiful place, it will be possible to get some worthwhile writing done this summer, even if most days it’s still not possible to follow an extended narrative when reading. Please send good wishes. The biggest question in my mind is how my brain will be able to produce what it cannot always consume? It’s an interesting question about how different circuits up there work.

I’ve tried and tried to come up with anything meaningful to say in writing, in public, about other news in the world, both international and local. In the first case, words fail me and then I join so many in standing by helpless watching extraordinary events. In the latter, well, let’s just say that discretion is the better part of valor. For years, many of us have struggled with the cost of publicity to a beloved university for troubling practices. Guess we’ll find out now if the wisdom of Brandeis (electric light is the best policeman, sunshine is the best disinfectant) is still applicable in today’s world.

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