Wednesday, November 30, 2005

I feel like I have been on a dry spell about what to write here for the past six months.

Every so often I check my referrer logs, and it seems that the four most popular queries that land people here are "Bungalow Houses," "Battle of Saratoga," "Handmade Soap," and "Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg." Bungalow searches are definitely the most common. If I was market savvy, I would figure out something to sell related to that (apparently my booklet isn't that appealing, since all these hits don't translate to sales. Not that I am complaining about that, it is barely worth the effort to produce one for the price I charge).

Only just over a week and my classes are done. Then it will be time to tackle a mountain of evaluations. I am going to be teaching a lot next semester - five courses! I am really going to need January to get ready for Spring.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

It snowed here, and this morning looks more like Christmas than Thanksgiving. We arrived in Samsonville about 1 a.m. just as the first flakes were falling. I hope it snowed in heaven too, just for Mr. Wuj.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

I've been thinking lately about whether keeping an ejournal is worthwhile. I've been at this 3 1/2 years now, and in terms of writing something occasionally (my original goal was once per week) it definitely has kept me at it, so that is good. When I kept a paper (or word processored) journal, I often had very long gaps where I abandoned it. But sometimes when I look back on the types of things I wrote before I posted entries on the Internet, I think that I used to write much more creatively. I don't know whether increased education makes for a more competent, but less inventive and passionate writer, or if the public nature of posting here is smothering.

Then, this has nothing to do with my personal posting, but when I surf around in the "blogosphere" (how I hate all the jargon associated with blogging), aside from my small handful of regular reads, I am so turned off. Too many people are nasty, petty, ignorant, clueless...I could go on and on. Sometimes some truly stupid thing that someone has shared, on a blog or in the comments of a blog bothers me afterwards. What is it about electronic communication that makes some people so ugly? I've written this before here, but it always makes me think of the movie Peggy Sue Got Married, where she says to the high school beatnik, "try to write something beautiful."

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I've been meaning to share a little story here about the holiday. When I was a kid - I'm not sure how old I was, I'd say in one of the upper grades of elementary school, my father was in Florida visiting family and the rest of us were going to spend the day at my grandmother's. I would say grandparents', but I am not sure whether it was before or after 1971, when my grandfather died. My mother was doing a lot of the cooking, but we were going to eat at Mimmie's.

There was a huge snowstorm, and although it was only a few miles away, we couldn't drive there. I'll never forget what Ma said to us; it was "get your boots on." So we did, and then we loaded everything into a sled, and walked from our house to Mimmie's, pulling the sled full of food behind us. When I returned to school, nearly everyone besides me who was eating elsewhere for Thanksgiving shared stories of meals consisting of hotdogs, and whatever else was handy in the freezer because they couldn't go out.

Tonight it is going to snow; it will be the first significant snowfall of the season (and I will be thinking of Rudy, and his love for the white stuff). I wonder if there will be a repeat of that long ago Thanksgiving for a lot of folks? But I guess not, the abundance of four-wheel drive vehicles makes it unlikely.

I should be doing something else right now - and I am off to do it. (That's make apple pie!)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Last night, I watched the Donner Party on American Experience. It seriously creeped me out. I always vaguely knew about the tragedy, but not that much. I could barely sleep last night! I looked on the web to try to answer some questions it raised, but didn't find much to satisfy me, in spite of a couple of good (and strangely sympathetic) websites on the topic. I guess it is too long ago to have really concrete information. Anyway, despite the ick factor, I do think that subjects such as this should be covered more in school. Instead, time is wasted memorizing Greek and Roman gods, because supposedly, kids love that material. I know I didn't, if anything, I had zero interest in it. Then there was the metric system. Not that it is useless or anything - I remember the elaborate justifications about how we would all have to know it - oh, I forgot. It did turn to out be useless for all us non-natural scientists. Today, I have a feeling Harry Potter is one of those waste of time subjects that kids are supposed to love.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Friday, November 18, 2005

I haven't had much inspiration about what to write here lately. I've been sad about Rudy, and busy with the semester's demands. I could write about Sam, I suppose, but I haven't had much to say about him, either. He's very cute. He's growing, but not that much. He is well-behaved, except when it comes to food (he is brutal). He now has free run of the house when we are not at home, and the "girls" are surviving.

But then the Albany Student Press hands me a topic, complete with whipped cream and a cherry. Yesterday, I was killing a little time as my class worked on a group discussion, and so I picked up the student newspaper. It is only the second time I have read it this semester. It is not a lot different than our paper was when I was an undergraduate, mostly poorly edited, with many articles about doing shots of booze, obscure music, events on campus, student government, and a sprinkling of not well-informed local, state and national politics. Anyway, it struck me as a little strange that there were a few copies of the prior week's edition in the rack, so I picked up both issues.

In last week's issue, I read this story and this editorial. Then, in this week's issue, I noticed this. (In the print edition, there were three other related things: a letter to the editor from the group criticized in the original editorial that pointed out the plagiarism, a brief, front page box that mentioned the mistake, and another more generic editorial, but none of these are online.) Here is the story in the Capital District Business Review from which it is plagiarized. (Sorry, you may have to register to read it, but it is a free site.)

I don't know what happened to the student who pulled this stunt - they don't say in the paper, and I guess it would be a violation of his privacy to reveal the outcome, but there are no stories by that author in the new issue. (I hope he was kicked out of school. Imagine! Not just a student, but a would-be journalist. And we wonder why the New York Times has been embroiled in scandals? Now about the editor - shouldn't he be removed from that position? I mean, did he even bother to review a front page story?) The response from the ASP seems rather weak to me. There isn't even a note on the electronic version of the original story. And there is nothing at all offered in terms of an apology (I realize that there is no way to explain) from the author in the most recent edition.

During class, I was shaking my head. Several of the students were aware of the scandal. I remarked, "and students wonder why I am so stern on this subject every semester?" What an embarrassment this incident was for the university!!

Monday, November 14, 2005

After not doing enough work during September and half of October, I have been insanely busy, trying to catch up. I still have a lot of things to grade, but the amount doesn't seem overwhelming and I will have some time off for Thanksgiving, so I am taking a bit of a breather today. I find I have nothing to say here, though.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

We had 28 trick-or-treaters last night, from about 5 until 8:30. That's the fewest ever, but seems to be many more than most people get. I guess kids don't go out for Halloween as much any more. It could be that people are so health conscious, candy is a no-no (although what seems to be a huge number of fat kids flies in the face of that logic), or all the attention on the dangers of going out diminish the activity. There are a lot of alternatives that are encouraged instead, such as going to the mall or a party. Then, Bob says people buy kids whatever they want now so maybe getting candy isn't a big deal any more. Our local Halloween party at the firehouse was on Saturday this year, so that probably cut down on going out for the actual day. Usually that party brings out a ton of kids, and since we live close to the firehouse, they all go to the nearby houses before and after the party.

Sam was neutered yesterday. I have never seen a dog carry on so bad from that procedure. When Bob picked him up, he ran over, crying, and wrapped his little paws around Bob's leg. He had to pet him for the entire drive home. Once Sam was home, he climbed on my lap, whimpering. When I tried to get up after a while, he started to cry again. He had to be touching one of us for the whole evening. It made answering the door for the trick-or-treaters quite a challenge! His little ears were back, and he didn't wag his tail. We both felt like crying. He is better this morning. Not quite as active as usual, and occasionally he whines but overall he is on the mend. Poor puppy. I am not sure if he is a super sensitive dog, or if getting surgery at the shelter is rough treatment.