Let there be light


Regularly appearing on TV

At the place of instruction where I instruct on a daily basis, we have motion detector lights in most of the classrooms and offices. Some of them work better than others.In the classroom I use the most, you have to walk around a bit, wave your arms, jump up and down, and do all kinds of crazy things to get the lights to turn on.  I’m sure I look strange to all of the random people walking the halls. (I use random in the informal sense of  “odd and unpredictable in an amusing way.” This adequately describes both my colleagues and most of the students.)


My instructing place this semester is at a smaller campus that is a satellite of the bigger campus, so when we have staff meetings, I attend via interactive TV. While everyone else gathers in a room 30 miles away, I sit in an office staring at a TV, doodling listening and recording my thoughts pictorially. I can see all of  the instructors on my screen, so they look rather small. I’m the only one on my side, so they get a close up of me and can see every move I make.


Device used to mute me

The microphone is a small device that looks like the triangular-shaped weapon (shuriken) used by ninjas. It sits on the table and includes a speaker button and a mute button. Sadly, I can only mute myself; there is no “mute them” button. If I leave the speaker on and at a level my colleagues can hear me, every sound I make is amplified. They tell me that when I yawn, I sound like a very bored moose. So I mute myself and do a lot of staring during the meetings.


When the director of our program joins us, I try to stare intelligently, stifle my moose impressions, and write copious notes that include “blah, blah, blah” a copious number of times. Thankfully, no one ever sees this copiosity.


Two weeks ago, the director joined us and brought papers full of numbers and charts to share. The ITV is set up so that items can be put on a document reader and then shown on my TV screen. As you can imagine, it was mesmerizing. So fascinating that I was not only struck dumb, but struck still. Caught up in the drama and suspense of all those numbers, counting on them to come through, worried they wouldn’t, I was paralyzed with interest. (By the look in your eyes as I watch you through your computer camera, I can see you are equally mesmerized just thinking about it.*)


Page after page the plot unfolded. Could Test Results ever satisfy Big Government? Was he cheating on her with Client Reporting? And who was Demographics really?  Just before the exciting denouement, the lights in my room went out. I did the only thing I knew to do; I began to wave my arms wildly.


All I could see on my TV was the document. I couldn’t see the staff or director, so I forgot that they could see me. The director stopped in mid-sentence, it became very quiet, and and then she said to staff, “What is she doing?”


Did I mention that I was sort of doing jazz hands as I waved my arms around?


It’s one of the ways I get the lights on in my classroom. The other way is to bend at the waist and make a bowing motion like you do before a potentate. Thank goodness, I didn’t do that in the meeting.



*I am totally kidding about seeing you through your computer camera. That’s ridiculous. You don’t look mesmerized. But I must say, that hairstyle suits you.

18 thoughts on “Let there be light

  1. Thanks for the memories–at the long meetings, at not being able and/or not remembering to mute during interactivie meeitngs, and especially of those perverse motion detector lights. They do produce behaviors that makes others look askance–I think that is part of their deisgn. Much like how I know god has a sense of humor, I figure their is some intentionality behind when those lights go out, not just the lack of motion.

  2. I did one of those meetings once without the picture. You sometimes forget that “THEY” can hear you and utter explitives! That was before I found the mute button. Thank God we didn’t have pictures — no picking or rubbing or napping!

    • When I don’t see them, I truly forget they can see me. I must remember to write a note to myself before every meeting to avoid eye rolling, unseemly scratching, and all those other involuntary behaviors I indulge in.

  3. The motion detector lights in our work bathroom is like that, and it has a very short attention span. So it turns off the lights at least 3 times in as many minutes. Jazz potty hands. But I have no audience, so that’s something!

  4. Now you have me wishing for a mute button for staff meetings! But you’re right — muting myself would not really solve the problem. I’ve often wished for a pill that would allow me to enter an alternate state of consciousness while still appearing to be present….. Thanks for the very funny post! I’ll replay it in my mind at the next deadly meeting.

  5. Why are these meetings always that way? If everyone only spoke when necessary and did their homework before the meeting, our one and a half hour meetings could be finished in less than 30 minutes. And next semester I may have to attend meetings in person. Sound of sobbing.

  6. Oh, good gravy– you’ve cracked me up. I finally started laughing out loud when I got to the telenovela version of the visual report: “And who was Demographics really?” — and couldn’t stop until I got past motion-sensor jazz hands.

    This short essay/post really, really made my week. I laughed so loud I startled one of the dogs.

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