The Dragon's Awakening

The Wakening ?

Today, my inner Dragon woke up. By Dragon, I don't mean Tolkien's Dragon, hoarder of gold and burninator of peasants, but Gardner's Dragon, Keeper of Knowledge.

In other less exotic terms, today's back to school day. I can feel a flame coming to my eye.


One could think the Dragon spends his summer sleeping while waiting for the sheep to come back, before moving out of his lair, but one would be mistaken. The Dragon, while not one to shy away from indolence, really sharpens his claws and his immense intellect (prepares his classes and material), organizes the herd (dispatches the students into groups), and polishes his gold (prepares the opening lecture and all the documents to be handed out) to welcome the little lambs that don't know yet on what skewer they will end up being cooked.

While it may not look like much, this is actually time consuming. Before that, some software was developed (this Dragon has a preference for Python) so that the students could ask to be paired with another student, while not relying on Google Alphabet. A significant amount of time (the whole month of July) was given to give them a chance to make their wish.

Of course, some of them went away on holidays immediately and happily ignored mails and came bleating today to try and change paddocks. Quousque tandem, quousque tandem?

Class groups had to be made, with the funny constraint of fitting 163 students into 10 groups of 13. I'll let you do the math, for giggles. To add a little twist, among the students, some have to be paired, some have to be in a predetermined group, some that may leave in a week or month for apprenticeship, some that are taking the internship defense in September and who may or may not fail their year and have to retake it, and some in failing situation who may well not show up or leave in the next x weeks.

The welcome lecture had to be prepared, so it meant running after other dragons to know if such and such is still in charge of this or that, sometimes without success. We're also readying a nice skewer for a special long duration roasting: a multi-course project (advanced object-oriented analysis, advanced object-oriented programming, server-side web programming, advanced databases). My colleagues have prepared other skewers too: one in mathematical modeling, just as long but thinner, and a shorter one in management. And an apple to top it off in January.

Let's not forget various parchments to be handed out, the list of the victims, and of course, face the dreadful moment: the morning welcome lecture (at 9am).


It's the third time I'm doing this, but third time's not the charm and I think this was the worst. It's amazing how much noise a herd can make... It could have been over in 45 minutes, including roll calling them all, but between the noise and having to ask for more quiet, it took a whole hour. Roll call was (of course) the worst part.

I expect most of what I said went though one ear and out the other, but, as someone cynical might say, it's a fact that air passes right through when there's only empty air between two holes. since I am not that someone cynical, I'll put it on their excitement to be back to school, with their friends and baa-baa-baa my vacation stories.

Silence is Gold(en)

An hour of hellcome lecture, as I was saying. After that it's back to the usual building and to serious activities: internship defenses. Woooooooo.

So it's back to back defenses until 12:30, then an express flight to my lair for an equally express lunch, then back on the plateau for more defenses from 1:30pm till 6:30pm, without break.

The trouble with defenses is that quality is so random, you can see some barely average presentations (reading from their notes) and some that are great. We even have some remote defenses using Skype. It's exhausting and shuts your brain off. Then we have to agree on grades, but the colleagues doing that with me are nice and we do that efficiently.

But wait, there's more

Needless to say, it doesn't stop there, you naive readers. I had to run after more grades, because I am one of the Great Dragons in our department, and so I have the privilege of managing the second year herd and it's report cards and their results (or lack thereof). Thankfully, the grades were quickly found on a colleague's desk, colleague who left early and doesn't answer his phone.

In the end: I left the plateau at 7:30pm. Not too bad, 9am->7:30pm with barely one hour for lunch on the first day.

See you soon for more adventures of this Great Dragon.

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