Friday, March 7, 2014

Cultists of the asymmetrical and the photophobic

     I was at school this morning for my usual three-hour Friday “intro” class: philosophy on the fringe of a community and a week, I guess. Which is fine by me.
     Oddly, the lights were out in my office—and everyone else’s, near as I could tell.
     To my surprise, my computer worked. It bleeped to life in the stillness and darkness.
     “Typical IVC half-assery,” I said aloud and to no one.
     My colleague across the hall, Martial Law, chimed in with a snarky remark. He too was sitting in the dark, staring at his computer monitor, alone, deprived of his favorite photons.
     Soon, I walked toward my classroom, A202, noting the random darknesses and brightnesses that peppered the interior of our notoriously dilapidated building. I stopped at the duplicating room, which was locked, as usual. I entered the secret code on the door lock. I opened the door.
Screwed: window
     It was pitch dark inside, and so I fumbled a bit with the codes for the copier. I finally got the codes right (username, password). I managed to make thirty copies of the quiz, in the dark, which is almost amazing.
     I hoped that no one would enter just then, seeing me there, in the darkness, standing over this stupid machine.
     I headed to my 9:00 class.
     My room, A202, looks as though it were designed by Cultists of the Asymmetrical. In truth, A200 has been remodeled so many times, and under so many constraints, that some of its rooms are geometrical remainders, possessing no virtues beyond the capacity to house students, albeit in cockeyed trapezia (see A202 graphic below).
     I entered A202. Surprisingly, its florescent lights shone brightly.
     I wrote the necessary things on the board and then commenced lecturing. The lecture—about how best to regard reports of the paranormal and extraordinary—went quite well, though, at one point, the lights suddenly went out—for perhaps one second—then went back on again.
     “It is the Lord,” I said, “blinking at us. Extra credit to anyone who can interpret the Lord’s curious gesture.”
Alone in the dark
     There were several takers, but they all spoke at once, and so I had no idea what they said.
     Just then, just to my left, the metal keyboard tray of the hideous dark gray metal box that holds the class computer popped open and rolled out, menacingly. "Clunk." It does that.
     I cocked my head and stared at it. Students tittered, awaiting another reference to the Lord, which never came.
     In case you don’t know, lemme tell you: on Fridays, “they,” whoever they are, turn off the air conditioning at the college—or at least they do that wherever I am. Consequently, on Friday, starting at 9:00, room A202 embraces and slowly torments its dead air, made increasingly hot and wet by its 30+ youthful denizens (and me).
     No doubt it’s a cost-saving measure. They probably save a nickel a building.
     Today, after about an hour, the room started to stink and groan.
     –Not that anyone complained. The students were cheerful and stoical about the whole thing, really. I noted this.
     But it was warm today. Consequently, by 11:45, the air inside A202 felt decidedly humid and hot and toxic. I’m surprised no one said anything. They seem to readily accept discomfort, these students.
     Class was over. I soon emerged from A202, like a cracked chip from a newly-popped can of Pringles, whereupon I ran into a colleague, newly emergent, whose gesture made brief tacit reference to the building’s electrical prodigies, as though we worked at a place run by morons.
     More stoicism.
Codes, codes, codes
     As I walked past her room, I saw that it was dark inside. The overhead projected something literary upon the screen, into the void.
     Back in my still-benighted office, which sported its own shining Dell eyeball, I sought to grade and record my students’ quizzes.
     After a few minutes, there was a commotion down the hall. It was my dean, alerting everyone that “starting at noon, they’re gonna shut the power off for three hours in A200.”
     “OK,” I shouted, cheerfully. But then I thought better of it: “Well, no, that sucks,” I declared, hanging halfway out my doorway. I had plans. They were shot.
     “Yes,” said Martial’s voice, from his tiny hothouse, not five feet away. Martial counts on Fridays to get work done in the peace and quiet of his little gray incubator in the shitty wing of the shabby building in the little college in the orange groves.
     We hurried to get done whatever we were doing. I madly scribbled away beneath the nasty little screw that now holds my office window permanently shut.
     Yes, shut. Why shut? Well, not long ago, there were some thefts in the building. What to do? At IVC, the people in charge do what they do, what they always do—in this case, they judged that, naturally, faculty must be prevented from ever opening their windows again. Thirty-five years of blessed air-availability must end. So a guy showed up one day and screwed shut all the office windows.
     Just like that.
     I got most of the quizzes done while a student took a makeup quiz at the desk behind me. By about noon, I went over to Martial’s office and stood in his doorway. I stared down at him. He stared back.
     “I’m going home,” he said, resignedly.
     Darkness fell (I guess; I didn’t stick around to see).

"It is the Lord, blinking at us."



  1. You are obviously not working at the College of the Future. (Aren't there Friday afternoon classes in A-200?)

  2. Is this connected somehow with the delayed razing of A-400? I heard that even though they planned they were going to raze it in February, they have to delay it until May because Kaplan's electricity source is connected to A-400. Maybe there are hooking Kaplan up to A-200? (Just trying to stay positive.) What about the food people leave in their office refrigerators?

    1. What? You have questions and no answers? At IVC? How remarkable!

  3. What happened to the Friday classes scheduled in A-200?

    Why was the electricity shut off on a work day?

  4. Yesterday, at noon, the dean sent this message: "There will be no electricity from 12:00 until 3:00 p.m. in A200."
    --That's all that we've been told.


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