Some ideas for better office hours


Welcome back to a new semester! I don’t know about you, but I am often generally unpleased with how office hours go. Either there’s the crickets/deluge dynamic, or the students who really think would most benefit from coming in don’t. I don’t have any magical cures, but I have heard a variety of suggestions about switching up office hours to make them more accessible. Maybe some of these are new to you, eh?

-Don’t hold office hours in your office. Hold them in a more public location, such as a campus coffeeshop, or a non-quiet part of the library, or (when the weather improves), outside. Why do this? Because professors’ offices are intimidating and they’re our territory. Also, because some students have had bad experience interacting privately with professors, meeting in public is kinder to them.

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Dealing with caffeine addiction


large-shirt-you-want-some-coffee-spies-like-us-parodyScientists drink more coffee than anybody else. (At least, according to those dubious pop-culture listicles.)

I didn’t drink coffee until graduate school. But when you’ve been working for too long, and a friend comes by to ask “You want some coffee?” there is only one good answer.

Now, I have a straight-up physiological addition to coffee.

What’s this addiction like? If I have an anomalous day and I don’t get around to enjoying at least one biggish-sized cup of coffee, then I’m in for a heinous headache the next day. A headache that’s substantial enough to keep me from working effectively.

I’m able to deal with withdrawal symptoms and kick the habit. I did that a few years ago, and after a few days of withdrawal, I was fine with lower-caffeine beverages. Irish breakfast tea was my favorite (maybe because it had more caffeine?). I stayed with non-coffee for a few weeks.

But then I went back to coffee. Why? Because it’s just so good.

I knew that I’d be going back to a physiological requirement for daily caffeine, but I decided that it was preferable to not having coffee. I don’t claim enough personal detachment to say that the decision was rational, though it’d be nice to think that it was my choice. I just wanted to drink coffee.

Is there a cost to this addiction, aside from the money you need to spend on the coffee itself? Yes, but it seems minimal compared to some other addictive substances. But it’s an addiction that requires that, at least once a day, I make or buy coffee, even if it’s inconvenient.

Perhaps it’s not so bad to have a physiological dependence that requires you to take a break from work once in a while.