Thursday, June 30, 2005

I (finally) received a job offer for the position I interviewed for back in May. I thought about it overnight, and today I called and declined. It was a very good job, and turning it down was bittersweet. But I love the challenge and autonomy of teaching, and couldn't see myself joining the 9-5 administrative bureaucracy again. Still, it was nice to be asked.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Friday, June 24, 2005

More thoughts about yesterday's post.

It validates to me, one more time, that "legal" does not mean "moral," does not mean "ethical," does not mean "right." Ugh. What an outrage! Something about land really makes me crazy, makes me want to get a pitchfork and chase trespassers away.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Eminent domain always reminds me of Star Trek, and the stupid insistence that the good of the many outweighs the good of the few, or the one, stated as if it was a fact, and not debatable. I wasn't alive to see 10 small hamlets gobbled up but the lives of those small town folks being erased for the good of a distant city still resonates. I guess that isn't a surprise, as the visual reminder is there, and the struggle continues. So this decision comes as no surprise to me. After all - why should the concerns of little people get in the way of sprawl?

On a sort of related note, I started to read Tin Horns and Calico. Maybe the offended folks in Connecticut should study a copy!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

I am done reviewing that awful book! I laughed as I was filling in the reviewer's sheet, it asked "is it OK to quote you on the book jacket?" Of course. But I'm not sure it will be good for sales.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

I am almost done with the five chapters of a book manuscript I agreed to review for a publisher. It is on economic and social history of education, and it is terrible. I mean, there are some good things in it, but it is mixed around with so much crap that although it is written in an accessible format, I have been tempted many times to forfeit the honorarium, and throw it into my recycle bin, where it belongs. Then, the editior in me is itching to correct all the grammatical errors and typos, but that is not my job so I am resisting. I should be finished tomorrow, and then I can get started on my other projects. My summer class starts Monday (luckily it is ready) and I have my own manuscript to edit.

On a happy note, my plants look great! Even the seeds are sprouted. They love the heat, even as I wilt. For veggies, I planted tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, basil and other spices in Castleton, and zucchini and muskmelon in Samsonville.

And I took my first swim of the season on Sunday! The pool is still kind of greenish, but the water is already warmer than it was in August last year.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Great news for horses and animal lovers! Thank you, John Sweeney. For this reason alone, if I could vote for you, I would. (But I can't, as Castleton was gerrymandered into Mike McNulty's district.)
This is a great idea. Good for Williams. I know I prize my golden apple, and despair when I get even one negative evaluation. Every semester, occasionally in an essay, and most recently in discussion, I ask students to think about a role model or mentor they have had in education, and to share what made them special. Some choose a teacher, some a coach, a few choose a family member, or more rarely, a college faculty member. I also ask whether it is a reasonable expectation of schools, and if so, whether not being able to identify someone means the system failed.

Sometimes students have wonderful stories to tell, and I encourage students who feel this way to let the source of inspiration know about his or her impact. My purpose is not so much to get students to give thanks (although that is a worthy outcome), but to spark students to model this behavior when they become teachers. I'm not saying that teachers deserve to be undercompensated, but teaching isn't about making money, or going through the motions, putting in time and doing the countdown to retirement, or at least it shouldn't be. Teaching is as important a profession as there can be, and when it is your vocation, you are truly blessed.

Not really the same subject, but in the same realm. As a member of my union, UUP (an organization for which I have nothing but respect), I receive numerous publications from educational organizations. One is New York Teacher, which is produced by NYSUT (an organization I don't hold in the same high regard as UUP). In the recent issue, there was a letter to the editor entitled "Wal-Mart not a good investment for retirees." The writer refers to this article in American Teacher, which details how bad Wal-Mart is for communities, then notes that in the Spring 2005 issue of Your Source (from the NYS Teacher's Retirement System), investments in Wal-Mart stock total $688,011,504. Bravo to the letter writer for pointing this out! (Full disclosure: I am not fond of big box stores.) Following the letter is a comment from a member of the TRS board, which says, in part: "Divesting from investments that benefit the members for their future retirement earnings, due to social reasons, would be a breach of fiduciary responsibility on the part of the TRS and the trustees."

Turn the page, after the letter and the TRS board response, and there is this: "Avoid Wal-Mart in Back to School Shopping." Truly amazing! Now, I wonder how advocating for a boycott can "benefit the members for their future retirement earnings?"

All I can say is that few things annoy me more than such stunning hypocrisy.

On a completely different subject, in the crushing heat, we cleaned up the remnants of the foundation job, moved the shed, put the dogs' fence back up, planted the window boxes, hanging baskets, containers, and vegetable garden, and put up the garden fence. I never drank so much water in my life. But it is done, and it was worth it. The pool awaits this weekend!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Hurray for Saugerties! It will be interesting to see how the county legislature votes. Now, how about some home rule for Olive over the large parcel issue?

Monday, June 06, 2005

This (from the Chronicle, but for a change it is free) doesn't seem like much of a revelation.

And now for some recent pictures...

First, the foundation is done!

We also had the main house's repaired.

And some of the flowers.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Here is the progress on the bathroom foundation as of noon yesterday:

And here is the trailer filled with the old foundation:

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

A Book Meme

(Via Sya.)

1. Estimate the total number of books you've owned in your life.

I have no idea -- at least a thousand, I guess. I have book cases everywhere, in both houses, and a bunch in my office at work.

2. What's the last book you bought?

Tin Horns and Calico, by Henry Christman. I'm not sure it is the last book I bought -- I also purchased several from at about the same time, but Tin Horns is the last one that arrived -- yesterday. It is about the Rent Wars in the Hilltowns of Albany County, NY. The current large parcel controversy in the Town of Olive reminds me of the Rent Wars, and a friend suggested I read it. It is out of print (from the 1940s) and finding it was no easy task, but the marvel of the Internet didn't disappoint. My first edition came all the way from a library in Nevada. The last reprint was in the 1970s, and what's interesting is that the '70s paperback edition is more expensive than the first edition.

3. What's the last book you read?

I am currently reading another book from the 1940s, My Home is Far Away, by Dawn Powell. My sister lent it to me over the weekend.

4. List 5 books that mean a lot to you.

Wow, only 5? I'll give it a try, although some authors mean a lot to me, so for a couple of these I am narrowing it down to an author and then choosing one book he or she wrote.

The Autobiography of Mark Twain, by who else? He's my favorite author, and I especially love this book. I can read it over and over. Whenever I feel sad, I pick it up and he makes me laugh. I could have filled this favorite five list with titles that he wrote, but I'll resist.

Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood. She is my favorite contemporary author, and again, this list could have been filled, or at least dominated, by her books.

The Adventures of Pinocchio, by Carlo Collodi. This would have topped the list when I was a kid, but not the crummy, dumbed-down Disney-fied version.

The Winter of Our Discontent, by John Steinbeck. My favorite of his books, this really resonated with me when I read it years ago.

The Scarlet Pimpernel, by Baroness Orczy. A favorite from my teenage years, the language and absurdity of the situations are very funny. I have read three other books in the series (I think there are over a dozen? Something like that) which aren't quite as good. But one serious caveat, there is some anti-Semitism toward the end of the first book in the series, which has always bothered me. It was sanitized from modern adaptations of the story.

5. Tag 5 people!

No, I don't forward junk mail, or tag people with memes.