October 12th, 2006

Ashes to Ashes

My institution has taken to saving money by sharply curtailing janitorial services. It hasn't been a big issue in the building my Department uses, since the crew assigned to it does a nice job of making do. As long as I remember to empty my own trash can, I don't notice the change. But the building I teach my undergrad course in is another matter.

It's a terrible room to begin with, so wide and shallow that I can't see everyone at the same time. It lacks most of the technology I like to deploy in the classroom. As the semester progresses, however, those faults are coming to seem minor in contrast to the state of the whiteboard. The ledge at the bottom, where the eraser and markers can rest, is so thick with particulate matter that I end every class with my hands, face, and book looking like props from Mary Poppins. That's deeply annoying.

What really concerns me, though, are the clouds of dry-erase marker soot that I inhale every session. Given my proclivity for respiratory trouble -- no, it's not in my head flw -- absorbing all that chemical residue through my lung tissue can't be a good thing. Sure, I could spend five minutes washing the board before class, but then I'd still be inhaling the stuff. And besides, I don't have that time to spare these days.