Wednesday, July 30, 2003

I was reminded by a photo on the front page of the Independent (the picture is not online) that last weekend, the new Target store opened nearby. The caption said that there was no fallout at the grand opening from the loss of the Defreest-Church House, and in fact the mascot, "Bullseye," was greeting entering throngs from about the former house's location. So I thought this might be a good time to once again tell everyone not to shop there.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

From the Daily Freeman, a story about animal cruelty with a happy ending, finally. (Except that 60 days in jail hardly seems enough.)

Monday, July 28, 2003

It was a nice weekend, and I did swim a little, but I was too busy to swim as much as I would have liked.

Today I picked three zucchinis, a cucumber, and some yellow beans, the first of the season. The tomatoes are still a long way off.

Class is over on Friday.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Today was opening day at the Saratoga race track. I am already tired of hearing about it on our local news and in the paper, adding to my irritation is all the publicity about the movie Seabiscuit. It seems that every year the media starts gushing about the season earlier and earlier, sort of like the way Christmas shopping has evolved. This year is worse because of Funny Cides. Horse racing is the most unpleasant thing about the Capital District. The phony society people and their stupid hats, pretending to be classy while they "wager" on this so-called sport. I could barf.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Here's a piece from the Chronicle, refuting the idea that adjunct faculty don't make the same time commitment to students that full-time faculty do. I know I spend enormous amounts of time on students (but then I only teach two classes).

Monday, July 21, 2003

We had a really bad thunderstorm here at about 8:45 tonight. We were right in the tornado warning area, so we heeded the advice and went down to the kitchen and even spent a little time in the utility room, at the most scary point of the storm. According to TV, the storm has now passed into western Vermont. I haven't gone outside yet, but I don't think we had any major damage. The folks a little southwest of here were not as lucky. My poor garden probably got hammered. I hope all is well in Samsonville, trees sometimes get uprooted there which could put the sheds, the pool or the fence at risk.

Chad emailed me to let me know that something was wrong with the comments, so I checked the YACCS website - something I probably should do on occasion but never do - and it said that the updated blogger doesn't like YACCS code that was installed before Septemeber 2002. So I did what was suggested, and the final step was to make a new post - here's hoping it worked.
Distance education is growing! Here is a report from the NCES (via the Chronicle of Higher Education).

Sunday, July 20, 2003

Yesterday my nephew got married. It was a beautiful day, and a beautiful ceremony, followed by a fun reception.

We had some more pictures developed, and here is a photo of Hobo, taken on July 4. Please keep him in your thoughts!

Here is link to a prayer to St. Francis for healing.

Friday, July 18, 2003

We dropped off a couple of rolls of film, and I scanned a few of the pictures. Here is a photo from this year, of the pink roses near the garden.

And here's one from the past winter, of Sophie watching Rudy roll in the deep snow.

The second roll will include photos on a CD, and it wasn't ready yet. I'll post a few more when that arrives, including one of Hobo, who is doing pretty well!

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

I finished essay evaluations. During summer session, I have the opposite problem from the academic year -- many of the summer students are overachievers, and cannot handle getting "A-." So there is always a little explaining to do once the grades are reviewed, but this is preferable to the email volleys about cheating.

This story, from the Daily Freeman, has a happy ending, but the cruelty makes my blood boil.
I'm not much in the mood, but I am trying to evaluate essays, and complete mid-semester evaluations. It rained this morning so yardwork is out of the question.

Here are two interesting articles, from AltVetMed and b-naturals, respectively, on cancer fighting diets for dogs.

And, this is a comforting website, with beautiful images.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

This was not a good day. It turns out that Hobo does not have a pulled ligament, but bone cancer. We all love him, and we are devastated.

Please keep him in your thoughts.
My parents' doberman, Hobo, a very good dog, hurt his leg and has been very lame recently. He is having surgery to repair a ruptured cruciate ligament, so please have a good thought for Hobo today.

Monday, July 14, 2003

I am having one more computer problem, this time on the new machine. It's a minor irritant, but an irritant nonetheless. The mouse is acting up, you know, being jerky. I've tried adjusting the various speeds but that doesn't seem to help.

Anyway, here's an insightful paper on leadership and distance education (via the Chronicle of Higher Education.)

The author writes, "Distance education advocates who, in the past, put their energy into debating the virtues of out-of-classroom learning, must now play a more valuable role in facilitating discussions and decisions of much wider scope and more profound consequences for the future of their institutions. There must now be a shift in leaders’ focus from the micro issues around technology and its impact on learners to a more macro view of institutions and the impact of technology in this larger context. Thoughtful attention to issues in this wider arena will contribute to appropriate action that will ultimately impact the teaching-learning process, regardless of what technology is utilized."

I have sensed this too. Although alternatives to "chalk and talk" still are cutting-edge and new to some, as technological delivery methods are become mainstream, the larger context must be the focus, which is not different than in any teaching-learning process.

Friday, July 11, 2003

Well, I followed most of the instructions I found here (I left out one or two that I was afraid to try), and along with everything I tried yesterday (running four different spyware cleaning/blocking programs), I think (hope) the problem is fixed.

The high security due to changed Internet options is a little bit of a hassle (I had to exit and add blogger to the list of trusted sites), but it is better than not being able to use this machine, or having it freeze every two minutes, or getting a constant stream of ads that could care less about those lame pop-up controls.

Spammers, (paper) junk mailers, telemarketers, virus, trojan horse and parasite spreaders - screw you! Take that with a virtual rolled-up Biography Magazine!
Aaaaahhhhhh! The downstairs machine has a parasite.

Maybe I wished it upon myself by writing so much about (real) bugs.

I didn't know computer parasites existed, until now. What a hassle! It has just about ruined the machine. I tried everything - removing it with uninstall, removing it by deleting the folders, removing it from Startup. What with plug and play, and the complexities of networks, I don't know as much about tinkering with computers as I did in the old DOS or Windows 3.1 days, and I was getting frustrated. I tried several different programs that remove "spyware," most free and one commercial. I got better results, but still not 100%.

I think I'm going to have to learn some new things. Go through the various suggestions and remove the traces manually, as I would have in the DOS/3.1 days. Either that, or format the machine, which I really, really, really don't want to do. On the bright side, while I am trying this and that - and the hours slip away - I have been been doing a low priority but overdue task, which is cleaning up that machine, removing files that are outdated and not needed.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

This article from the Boston Globe, He and she: what's the real difference? (via the Chronicle's Arts and Letters Daily) made me think. I remember learning at some point in the past that women more often write, and say, tentative, qualified sentences such as "it seems warm" rather than "it is warm" or "he seems to like it" instead of "he likes it." I started to watch myself, and it seemed true!
Here's an interesting piece from the New York Times, Where have all the Lisas gone? (via Syaffolee).

I visited the Social Security website listed in the article, and what a wealth of information! It is fascinating to see the trends over time. I rarely meet someone with the same name as me, although in the media I notice it gets used, and of course related names such as Jeanne were never uncommon. I encounter not that similar variants (Gianna, Jenna) more often. I think my name is more popular now than it was when I was a kid, but since 1990, according to the Social Security database, it is on the decline, from 162 to 410. I wonder when it peaked?

In my classes, most of the students were born in the 1970s and '80s, and it's true, I get a lot of Jessicas and Jennifers, Michaels and Christophers. Also lots of Amandas and Jasons, and some Alyssas/Elisas/Alicias. But this summer, there are more "nontraditional" students, and so I have two Marys!
I don't like to kill things. Let me revise that, I don't feel all that bad about pulling up bamboo grass and weeds that invade the garden, but I prefer to leave other things alone, if possible. Edna takes care of rodents - and with an old house they can be a significant issue - and I chalk it up to nature and feel relieved. Rudy usually will nail all annoying flies (Sophie watches bugs with a wrinkly forehead as if she isn't quite sure what is required) but lately he has allowed the problem to get out of control. This could be because I have scolded him to prevent him from going after bees, since I don't want him to get stung, so maybe he sees no difference and is just being obedient.

Anyway, there were numerous of those metallic blue/green flies in the kitchen windows, and since they weren't buzzing around much, I ignored them (Bob said he thought I was keeping them as pets). But the population was growing rapidly, and finally, on Tuesday, I couldn't stand it another moment, so I dispatched them with a rolled up Biography Magazine (I subscribed because of a kid's fundraiser, and it was the only publication of interest that I didn't already's OK, not great, kind of like a slightly elavated version of Entertainment Weekly. It has a few historical biographies thrown in with the Hollywood fawning, and those are the only worthwhile content). Once they were gone, I found the Webster, and knocked down a few webs, just to eliminate the competition. Since then, any time I even just suspect a fly is nearby, I grab the nearest paper, roll it up, and swing wildly. I'm hooked, and I'm good at it.

I like to work in the garden in the morning, because it is cool, shady, and unlike the evening, the mosquitoes aren't out. Today I put up more strings for the pole beans to climb. Slugs are always a problem, especially when there is a lot of rain in the spring, and seedlings are vulnerable. Using organic methods often requires more hands-on intervention than the chemical model's approach of simply whipping out the sprayer, but in the case of slugs, it isn't all that up close and personal. Pans of beer do the trick; the slugs drown themselves, and at arm's length I dump the contents in the weeds across the road. This morning, I checked the cucumbers and zucchini, since both have blossoms, and discovered that nemesis of curcurbits, cucumber beetles! Despite the name, they weren't on the cukes, but on the zukes. I even rotated my planting this year to avoid them, sprinkled beneficial nematodes, and still they are infesting the zucchini. I do have row covers, but at this stage, they would keep the bees from pollinating, also. Often, handpicking bugs is the only solution.

Earlier this year, the tomatoes had flea beetles - a challenge to capture, since they jump, as the name implies. But I put some water in a coffee can, held it under the leaves, and got the beetles to go for a swim. Within a few days, the infestation was gone - and the seedlings had grown enough for it not to matter as much, anyway.

So, I retrieved my handy coffee can, filled it with water and a touch of dishwashing liquid, and got my special tweezers (a pair I use only to remove ticks from the animals), hiked down to one patch of zucchini - and discovered the cucumber beetles had retreated. I'm sure it's temporary, and they'll be back.

So will I.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Finished another round of evaluations, I am keeping pace with the course schedule this time around. I have vowed that I am not going to have a ton of work to do when the course is over, and also I am trying to intervene the first moment I notice a problem with a student. The first goal is working out nicely - the module is not even halfway done, and I can turn my attention to other things. However, a couple of the problem students do not seem to be listening to my suggestions for improving their work. Hmmm.

My old Pentium II computer, which since January has been moved to the livingroom, was top of the line. That was necessary because when I got it in 1998 I was starting on my dissertation and I had a lot of statistics to grind. This time around, I went for a more middle of the road Pentium IV. It's a lot faster on the Internet, which is great, the monitor is better, and otherwise it is OK, but one thing I really miss is the superior sound system. If I have on a fan, I can barely hear the speakers. Also, the drives are SO loud, that when the machine accesses the CD, the whirring sound drives me nuts. I investigated upgrades to fix the problem, and decided that it isn't worth $300+. I should have upgraded at the time of purchase, when it would not have been as pricey.

A lot of the time I don't care that much because I prefer silence, but as I was slogging though all those essays, I really wanted some background music. So I decided to stop being frustrated, and to try something, but the real stereo is downstairs, and I didn't feel like resorting to one of my burnt-out boom boxes. Yesterday, I checked out the radio on AOL, and problem solved! I am playing the "bluegrass" choice, and couldn't be happier! WDST, the Woodstock station, is a choice too.

Monday, July 07, 2003

I'm so accustomed to hearing SUNY "dissed" (it is sometimes subtle and other times less so, and yes, despite my (1) having three degrees from two campuses and (2) working for the system or a campus in some capacity since 1988) that I sort of tune it out, I simply don't have the energy to take on the myth and defend public universities any longer. Still, here's a great letter from Saturday's Times Union, way to go President Hitchcock!
Long weekends, BBQs, swimming, and dial-up conspire to keep me from posting here.

Last month on the Mohonk garden tour, I envied the roses. Now, my two rose bushes are in bloom. They are beautiful, an old pink on a trellis next to the garden that was here when we moved in, and a red one that we planted under the kitchen window. Sometimes I wish I had a decent digital camera.

Thursday, July 03, 2003

Finished both the essays and the yardwork. My class roster has dwindled somewhat from way too many to just about enough, I guess when students see the syllabus they realize that online and summer session do not translate to no work at all, they will actually have to read and write to earn three credits. Sure is hot today, and the forecast says it will be even warmer tomorrow. We are having a BBQ for Independence Day.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

I did a little yard work, and also a little essay grading. I really want to put down some landscape fabric in a few places, in an effort to smother bamboo grass (good luck), and I may procrastinate on the essays a bit and do it.

We finally got the pool to be clear, and there were a few hot days for swimming. The yard in Samsonville is badly in need of a weed wacking, though.

On Thursday, my sister and I went to a garden tour and luncheon that was sponsored by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County. It is part of the "Master Gardener Program," but to be honest I'm not sure how "master" is defined. I'm not very good at remembering the name of exotic perennials, but I do like to grow things. It was held at Lake Mohonk. What a fabulous place!

I am feeling so melancholy today, because also on Thursday, my uncle died. It wasn't unexpected, but it sure was sad. The services were Sunday and Monday. At the cemetery yesterday, a small boy was playing Taps when the scanners went off and the fire department sounded the alarm in Uncle Bob's honor, since he was a long-time volunteer. It was such a beautiful and poignant tribute.

My brother mentioned at the service that Uncle Bob was the master of nicknames. I remembered that when I was a teenager, he called my friend and me the "cemetery sisters" because we would walk around in the cemetery after school and in the summer.

I don't like the idea of death but I still like cemeteries. The Bushkill Cemetery, where Uncle Bob was buried, and its environs, the towns, the mountains and the Reservoir, are naturally breathtaking. Sometimes I think the landscape becomes almost invisible when you see it on a daily basis, but there are times when the panorama is undeniable. Six years ago when Aunt Jean, his wife, died, those moments at the cemetery were etched in my mind, whispering to be committed to paper, and a short story was the result. Now I have this journal.

They were both such a big part of the community, my hometown, that special place. I have been thinking that people who have never had the privilege to live in a small town, or have never been inclined to stay in one place for any length of time and put down roots, may never find that kind of fellowship. It is traded off for other things, for convenience and change and opportunity and excitement.

I am transcribing an old diary from 1915, that was written by a man who kept a journal every day of his life, from 1906 when he was 16 until 1975, the year before he died. (I hope to do them all, which is a very ambitious project.) He lived in the same community as Uncle Bob, and he wrote a booklet that I have reissued on my website. The title is West Shokan: Eden of the Catskills, and I guess that about says it all.
I spent from Wednesday afternoon until last night in Samsonville. I kept up with my university email and the online course correspondence, but that's it. Dial-up is too much of a challenge, and the pool was calling. The plants here in Castleton look good, but there's weeding and watering to do, plus essays to evaluate. More later.