May 29, 2015

8.30 am. Some rainy days remind you of other rainy days. On this occasion, it’s through the evocation of a consoling melancholy (a sweet funereality), which I’d first cultivated under the dark and heavy skies of the South Wales valleys in my boyhood:

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9.00 am. The bomb doors are opened and the feedback forms drop from my ‘Drafts’ box:

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It’ll be for like opening presents on Christmas Day: some will receive what they expected, others will be delightfully surprised, and yet others, sorely disappointed. And, a few students will not remove the wrapping paper. (In the past, a significant number of hard-copy feedback forms remained unclaimed in the School office at the end of a semester.) One student told me, very honestly, that they were too scared to read the appraisal.

What should a student do on receipt of the form? Feedback — properly understood and acted upon — looks like this:

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Having squared up to the criticism (which is a judgement of not only the demerits but also the virtues of the work and the worker), the student (A) ought properly to relay to their tutor (B) a realistic plan for improvement. The tutor would, in turn, comment upon that proposal. But this rarely happens. Instead, the ‘postmortem’ sometimes revolves around the student’s remonstration with the tutor, namely that they weren’t given a higher grade. Their just cause is evinced by the hard work that they’d put in and the better mark for the same subject they’d received in the previous semester. My response to such an outburst is always curt and unapologetic: 1. Hard work alone is insufficient (it’s the least you can do); 2. The demands and expectations that modules place upon the you stiffen progressively, semester by semester. I now await the explosions and the fall out.

10.00 am. For the remainder of the morning, I return to research admin, a review of sound files related to the Image & Inscription project, computer desktop filing,  and real world desktop tidying. My return to a ‘full-on’ research mode is always incremental — like acclimatizing to a different atmospheric pressure. (Come up too quickly, and I suffer the bends.)

1.30 pm. With help from Mr Holland, I managed to apply for my summer’s annual leave on the university staff page. We are now obliged (by an EU directive) to take all of our 28-day a year entitlement. In this job, however, it’s very difficult to spend that much. Even without holidays, the work that needs to be done exceeds the time available in which to do it.

2.00 pm. A return to the sound studio for the afternoon. Computer updates and room readying concluded, I opened my latest acquisition:

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All parts accounted for. I’ll try and fit and test the deck over the weekend. (Perhaps I’ve a new career in the making: DJ Prof.) The device is central to the execution of two new sound projects. One of the handboards needed to be part reassembled before I could test the sound signal chain from the computer through the synthesisers to the mixing desk and beyond. Everything checked AOK. 4.00 pm. One last piece of marking arrived on a late submission ticket. A good one on which to end the marking season. I miss the third year students already. (I can just hear Dr Forster berating me: ‘You’re a sentimental old fool, John.’)

7.30 pm. Once my two studio MacBooks had finished upgrading their iOS (they do choose their time … largely because I neglect to), I was able to push faders, twiddle knobs, and interconnect filters in a bid to coax out a useable sound from my recordings of engraving:

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8.30 pm. The day closes as it opened. Like a Constable:

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