Thursday, August 26, 2004

I read Educating Esme last week, and I recommend it. It is an easy read - it can be done in a day.

Friday, August 20, 2004

I am steamed. The incompetent jerks on the school board screwed us. It isn't really a surprise, I guess. I hoped some elected official would be smart enough to do something to help, but I should have known better.

Interesting, just yesterday this article was in the paper. What a Loser! (Yes, with a capital L.) These two unrelated incidents really capture the outrage I feel.

I am working away on syllabi for next semester, but I'll get back to this issue very soon. I'm simply not going to let this happen without doing something. How unjust, if Olive residents lost land once because of NYC's eminent domain for the Ashokan Reservoir, and then lose it again, because enormous tax hikes force land sales.

Tax bills arrive in September. They shouldn't be surprised if they get less money than expected from Olive residents in the return mail. I propose we pay the amount that was billed last year, and reject the absurd 53% increase. Although the board probably will continue in their clueless state, sniffling, "I don't know what they think they are accomplishing, it's the children who suffer" as the crumbling edifice goes down in flames. (Feuled by the gym teacher from hell you think?) I am going to organize this revolt. The email address is

Update: We are on our way. Bob contacted the Albany television stations to let them know of the story. I am designing an ad for the Olive Press. We plan to do a webpage, with sample letters to officials, that other residents can copy, informing them of our intention to revolt.

Update 2: the "draft" webpage is up: Olive School Tax Revolt '04.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

SUNY Albany has been named top party school by Princeton Review. According to the article in the Chronicle of Higher Education (it is a subscription site, so I won't bother to link), "the party-school list is based on the answers students give to questions about the number of hours they spend studying per week, how much beer and hard alcohol they drink, and the popularity of fraternities and sororities on their campuses."

Great. And I wonder why I had my hands full last semester...(not that I buy into these stupid rankings or anything).

Update: Here's the story in the Times Union. The story reports,

"UAlbany, the New York City-based company declared Monday, ranks as the nation's top party school when compared with 356 others. The school last had that ranking in 1998.

It also placed first when it came to inaccessible professors and the fewest hours spent studying by students, and took top-20 notices on a host of other dubious distinctions, including least-happy students."

Tonight I am going to represent Oneonta alumni, at a gathering for new students this fall, and their parents. (Maybe I'll keep quiet about where I teach!) I recall when I was an undergraduate that the rumor was that Oneonta had more bars per capita than any other place east of the Mississippi. A dubious distinction, and I'm not even sure if it is true, UAlbany is the top party school. (I think this was fueled by the out-of-control Fountain Day last spring.) Yikes, I hope the common factor isn't me!

Monday, August 16, 2004

Two weeks until the Fall semester starts. I am hoping to finish getting ready, and have at least a few days to spare so I can re-focus on the Mimmie book. Once again - it has been languishing under consideration at a publisher for too long. So I must write, and prompt a decision (which is likely to be one more "we really really -- almost -- want to take it...but no thanks.")

The weekend was low-key, and productive. Did some much-needed grocery shopping. In the relaxation arena, we watched two DVDs. The first, Kill Bill (1), just about ruined Saturday night. Ebert gave it a four star rave review. I think that guy is too influenced by the big bucket of popcorn. About halfway through I retreated to the computer (Bob had already been put to sleep by the story-absent, violent monotony) but after a few minutes even the sound coming from the TV became overwhelming and so I turned it off. Ugh. What resources were wasted making that movie, and the hour I invested watching it was wasted too.

The second, Pinocchio, was better. Unlike Kill Bill, I recall the reviews for this movie were not that good overall (and it seems Ebert didn't bother reviewing it at all?), but Pinocchio has always been beloved to me, and I found this interpretation fairly true to the story.

Something else I hope to accomplish before the semester starts is more pleasure reading. I read a couple of Margaret Atwood books this summer, including Oryx and Crake. It was great, as are all of Atwood's novels. Currently I am reading Extravagance, by Gary Krist. It is well-written, but it is taking me a while to get though it. Not that it is long, but every chapter switches between perspectives, but with the same characters, and parallel story lines - going from London in the 1690s to New York in the 1990s. That's an interesting device, but it is interfering with the story being a page-turner. At the end of each chapter, it is really easy to put the book aside for a while.

Next on my list is Educating Esme. (Actually, it may wind up filling the space after this chapter of Extravagance.) It is a journal of a first-year teacher that I have wanted to read for a while, and now I have no choice. As I struggle with revising the syllabi and my courses, it is inevitable that last-minute inspirations overtake the need to plan. I want to add in some accessible books, and change one assignment so that it is based on this new reading, but book orders had to be in months ago. I could add another to the list, and hope the bookstore gets it in a few weeks, but students are already overburdened from buying books, and I am not positive which of the current reading I will pare down anyway. So, I bought multiple copies of Educating Esme (Codell), Up the Down Staircase (Kaufman), Hard Times in Paradise (Colfax), How Children Fail (Holt), Savage Inequalities (Kozol), and Keeping Track (Oakes) on, and I will put them on 48 hour reserve in the library.

(If you're wondering whether I'll get reimbursed for the outlay?...No.)

Friday, August 13, 2004

Yesterday, I spent the morning on campus, then Bob took the afternoon off and we went to the Albany Institute of History and Art, because we wanted to see the temporary exhibit of Don Nice artwork, and also the Hudson River School paintings that AIHA has in its collection. Afterwards, we went to the NYS Museum, to see the Barbizon School paintings. On the way out we quickly looked at the suitcase exhibit.

A half day was not nearly enough, and I have to get back to the State Museum at least, to look at the suitcases very carefully. Also, to see the Woodstock exhibit. We wrapped the day up by going to the I Love NY Food Festival at Empire State Plaza. All in all, a great mini-vacation close to home (though my legs were killing me by the time we got home).

So, we had a quiet night today to compensate (and delayed much-hated grocery shopping), watched a DVD and had take-out food. I don't recommend the movie, which was a very unrealistic story called "My Life Without Me." Netflix is great, but after a while who knows what's in the queue?

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Here's a picture from the reunion...Anne, Bob, me. Can you tell it was fun?

Friday, August 06, 2004

Yesterday, when I saw the headline of the articles reporting on the CDC study (here is a prime example: Animals Cause 26,000 Roadway Injuries Each Year) I was so irritated. Typical "today-logic;" always in a hurry, tail gating, F-you, middle finger, pass on a double yellow, get off the road slow poke, kind of logic. Allow me to set the record straight: Animals do not cause roadway injuries -- people (make that jerks) driving cars do.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

The reunion was great! What a surprise. Maybe it takes 25 years of adulthood before almost everyone is "grown up." It is bittersweet to return to routine. I think there are some cucumbers in my garden that grew to be the size of zucchinis! I also need to pick green beans, but it is so hot, and now I hear thunder.

Grades are due Thursday, and I really don't feel like getting busy...