Thursday, October 30, 2003

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

This is such a loss for the university. I'd comment, but I'd probably write something about no-good, low-down System that I'd regret.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Yippee! I worked most of the weekend, and I just met my second book deadline...

Friday, October 24, 2003

We went to see The Private Life of the Master Race at the university last night. It was the first time I'd been inside the Performing Arts Center since I worked there in 1988-89. The office where I worked is now Undergraduate Admissions. A new administration building is under construction, and most offices moved to some former state office buildings near campus. But I guess they wanted to keep admissions closer than that.

Anyway, it was a powerful performance; the student actors have a lot of talent. The story was disturbing, about the rise of the national socialist party in Germany during the 1930s. It focused on how it took place - the seeds in ordinary society that allowed such a thing to happen, not on the Holocaust, World War II, or its aftermath.

An elderly couple was sitting next to Bob. During one scene, "relief" workers/party members were delivering care packages to citizens, and a starving woman eagerly accepts it, goes through the box, eats an apple, encourages her very stoic sister to accept one too, and then chides her for expressing concerns about the government, food shortages, etc. The soldiers wind up taking the sister away for her beliefs. During that scene, the elderly man seated next to Bob started to cry.

This highlights my only objection to how the play was staged. There were two walls of chalked grafitti near the audience, and the actors wrote slogans there before the play and during the intermission. Most of the slogans were political or anti-war and had a much more contemporary flavor than the play. I suppose the point was to encourage activism on the part of the students, and to connect the theme of the play to today. I'm sure this wasn't the intention, but to me, the juxtaposition of messages of this nature (for example, "Yankees Go Home" or "Suck it up Governor") with the stark performance seemed to trivialize the serious script.

My blogger sweatshirt came yesterday. It is pretty nice, a navy blue Hanes with a hood. I think it will fit. I haven't tried it on because the dogs immediately wanted it, they were sniffing around when I opened the box. They believe all packages that are delivered are for them. I always order toys and treats for them from Drs. Foster and Smith, and from the livingroom window they can see the box get delivered on the front porch. So Sophie has been using the sweatshirt for a pillow since last night.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Saturday, October 18, 2003

It is a Samsonville weekend. Bob is bleaching the deck, in preparation of staining it tomorrow. It is a strange time to be doing this, I think the martini he had at dinner is making him late night ambitious...

We will spend an extra day here this weekend. My aunt died on Friday morning, and the services will be Sunday/Monday. She was 90. That's a long, full life for sure, but still, it is sad. That's the fundamental truth of life - it is often bittersweet, if not downright sad. Her husband is nearly 96; they were married for 67 years. My grandmother, who died long before I was born, was pregnant with my aunt when she immigrated from Italy. My father told me this morning that his mother had to lie about having a baby or they would have sent her back to the old country when she arrived at Ellis Island. So Aunt Clara was born in America, and thirty years ago she left downstate, and relocated to my hometown in the Catskills. It was a whole new chapter in her life, and I think a happy one. That is the other thing about life - it is often happy, too.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

I don't know how much of this new testing program is based on the same old ideas I once had to work on, but this is an unpleasant memory. I didn't have a public journal at that time, which is probably a good thing.

Before I left my job five years ago, one of the projects I was assigned, with a team of others, was to research the idea of a "rising junior" test for college students. We sharpened our pencils, surveyed the literature, chatted with folks from other states, listened to pitches from the big testing programs, and learned that it is mostly a terrible idea, costly to operate, and generally, a failure. We presented our findings, but it didn't matter. There was an agenda that included comparing campus performance, standardized testing of students for basic skills and Western canon, and what the research said, unless it was positive, was disregarded.

Anyway, I picked up my toys and went home - for this and a whole host of more important reasons, including finishing my PhD. But I figured the stupid testing idea had died out - killed by the faculty union or administrators from various campuses, or maybe because of lack of funding. I guess I was wrong; the idea seems to have been resurrected, and it sounds more powerful and just as insidious as before. Sometimes I must pause, and thank my lucky stars that I took a risk, and quit that job!

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

I met the book deadline - actually I was all ready on Friday, then I checked the contract, and discovered the date to be actually Monday, 10/13. So I was done early, but then my contact asked me to hold off on sending the files until Monday because she was leaving early on Friday, and was afraid the files would fill her account and cause other messages to bounce. So this created a new problem - that day I planned to be in Samsonville, with the dial-up connection, and without the files. So, I emailed them to myself - fingers crossed, hoping they would be there, and not too too slow to transmit. All's well that ends well - it went without a hitch.

Midsemester is almost here so I am still pretty swamped. But, I realize I am really enjoying teaching this semester. Yesterday, I was so tired - Tuesdays are long and draining anyway but this was worse because the weekend knocked me out. I didn't feel prepared or at my best - and yet both classes went beautifully, maybe the best ever. The students were active participants, which was great. I guess I am a better facilitator when I am practically brain dead.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

No, I have not met the deadline yet, but here are some of my sister's newest Halloween items on ebay, including this witch. An applehead, Mimmie would be proud!

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Busy busy busy time for me. I have the first deadline for the book project on Friday. I am trying to stay on top of evaluations - so far, successfully. And, last Friday, I picked everything that remained in the garden. I made pesto with the basil, and froze it in half-cup containers. We still have not had a killing frost, but it is coming, and it is cold enough that nothing much is growing anyway. (Except for the cucumbers.)

So, when I come up for air, I'll write more.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

There is a lot of material here in this piece from the Chronicle, but it will have to keep for now.

Unrelated, but I was just realizing -- blogger really is a whole lot more reliable, and just generally better since they upgraded it, or whatever it was they did, recently. Bravo.