Thursday, December 28, 2006

From my button collection.

Yesterday the phone was dead. (It may have been out before yesterday, but we weren't here.) The DSL continued to work until yesterday afternoon, but then it went out too. I did everything possible in the house, disconnecting and reconnecting phones, and Bob checked the box outside, but we had no luck. So Verizon arrived today at 9 am and they restored the service at about 12:30. There was a problem in the wire a few streets away. After the phone was working, I had to spend another hour talking to a representative from Verizon DSL to get that running again, and then about another half hour on my own, getting the router figured out (although I didn't have to call Netgear). But now I am back in business.

What to do without the Internet? Yesterday I made a pot of homemade tomato sauce, and eggplant parmesan. I suppose I used to accomplish a lot more things like that in the pre-wired days. Speaking of wires, my nephew's roommate is throwing out a perfectly good computer - so my nephew has taken it for my mother. It will be a big improvement over what she has now, and I am hoping that it will help me to get the wireless working there. Goodbye Windows ME!

Christmas was good, if tiring. We went to Samsonville on Saturday, made a round trip to Long Island on Christmas Eve, got back just in time to go to midnight mass, had dinner at my sister's on Christmas, and came back to Castleton on Tuesday evening.

Anyway, the computer glitches prevented me from posting what I wanted yesterday; so they appear on the post above this one.
Thursday Threesome
::Happy New Year!::

Onesome: Happy--New Year to you and yours! ...any plans for this weekend? Dick Clark? Guy Lombardo? Early to bed?

Going to Samsonville Saturday/Sunday (more computer tinkering); then coming back to Castleton. New Year's Eve will be spent at my nephew's.

Twosome: New--year, old year. Is this the year you take up skiing? ...or knitting? ...or vacuuming every other day ? Do you have any major project you'd like to tackle? (Sure, 'resolutions' count...)

Hoeing out the third floor and working on my Mimmie book top the list. Maybe taking up the treadmill, again! We'll see how far I get.

Threesome: Year--end chores? Do the lights and decorations come down this weekend? ...or are you already "done with Christmas"?

What? No way. The tree goes up shortly before Christmas (much later than most people's), and stays up until it is just a stick with no needles.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Thursday Threesome
::Plenty of time::

Onesome: Plenty-- of time, take a deep breath. Overnight/Saturday delivery could work for you... So could a trip a few hundred miles away if you're into shopping on Sunday! How are you doing? Do you have it together?

As far as the holidays go, yes, I have it together. But my focus is really on 12/26 at 11:59 pm...that's the deadline for grades.

Twosome: of-- all the states, I'm hearing the worst reports from Ohio! It has no snow! No snow, no Christmas! What's to be done? Is it looking like the normal Christmas weather there for you?

It is colder than it was a few days ago, but it isn't normal Christmas weather. No snow (though what's normal is a real question; some years there is a lot, some a little, some none at all) and it is warmer than usual. I wish it would get cold! Not sub-zero, but colder than it is. Some snow would be nice too, but not on the days when I have to travel.

Threesome: Time--Time? Good grief, the 24th is days away, and most men haven't even awakened a sense of urgency as yet . Is anyone done, finished, wrapped and resting?

Done and finished: pretty much, but not completely. The joy of online shopping! I have to go to a little gift shop and pick up a few things on Friday or Saturday. Wrapped: no, aside from the things that were wrapped by the store employees. Resting: yeah, right! See the grading deadline. I have made good progress, and with five days to go that should be plenty of time, but since two of them are Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, I am a little nervous. Then, there is the wireless dilemma competing for attention. Decorating is done in Castleton, and another waiting project in Samsonville. Baking is out of the question again this year. Now, remind me again why it is I like to live my life on the academic schedule?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Too tired on Friday, and we got back too late on Sunday, so we put up our tree in Castleton last night. It is quite big, too big for this tiny house really, but it is a nice tree. We didn't put up a tree in Samsonville over the weekend, so that is the plan for Friday or Saturday.

The reason we didn't put up a tree in Samsonville, and also why we got back to Castleton so late, was that I spent nearly all weekend working on the computer situation there. First, I had to get the cable modem working. I don't think the Time Warner technician had it hooked up right. So after wasting some time tinkering, I gave up and installed an ethernet card in the machine. The technician had it connected via USB, and that was no good. With ethernet, it worked fine right away.

Then, I hooked up the wireless router. That was a breeze. I took my laptop over the my parents' house to see if the signal went that far, but it didn't. So I threw in the towel, went back home, called Staples, said I wanted to return the wireless adapter and get an ethernet card for my mother's machine instead. Then I did some surfing, read on the Internet that wire only works for a maximum of 328 feet.

The next morning, I reconsidered, moved the router around, and while I was at church, Bob discovered that the wireless signal was within about 75 feet of my parents' house. So we went to Staples and bought a range extender, as well as two very long ethernet cables, so I could move the router to the end of our house that is closest to my parents' house.

When we got home, I moved the router and hooked up the signal extender. With those changes, my laptop could see the signal from my mother's computer room. However, something about the range extender isn't working right since I couldn't get on the Internet with my laptop. I installed the wireless adapter in my mother's machine anyway, thinking that maybe it would work better than the laptop (since the laptop is "G" and the router and adapter are "N"). But I ran into another snag, since her machine has Windows ME and it seems the adapter is for Windows XP and 2000.

I gave up at that point, because it was getting very late, my patience was thin, and we had to make the drive back to Castleton. Yesterday morning I called Staples, canceled the return on the adapter (but kept the ethernet card order just in case), and called Netgear to see whether the problems with the signal extender and adapter can be corrected, or if wire will be the better solution (though I am still concerned about the distance).

The good news is that the Netgear technician gave me a link to software to download so that the adapter will work with ME, and said that he can walk me though configuring the signal extender. And Staples said that they will take everything back if necessary, even though I have opened all the boxes. So on Friday and Saturday, in addition to putting up the tree there, I will be back at the computers.

This week's regular (and priority) focus is end of semester grading, and it is going OK.

Friday, December 15, 2006

I spent a few minutes and figured out what was wrong with the archives. I was forced to change the template (something I haven't done since establishing a blog). I didn't want to do it, but gave in. I have no time to tinker at the moment, and I'm not crazy about this template...but it will have to do for now.
Thursday Threesome
::Holly Jolly Christmas::

Onesome: Holly-- Hmmm... Do you have holly where you are? Is it used for decorating? ...and if not, what types of greenery are used to show off the season? Inquiring minds and all that...

Yes, it grows here and I have a holly bush in my yard. I don't use it for decorating, though. Evergreen is the most common greenery used. I think we will put up our tree here in Castleton tonight, and one in Samsonville this weekend. Both will be real. We already have wreaths on the doors of both houses.

Twosome: Jolly-- Jolly Elf or The Grinch? How is your Christmas experience going so far?

It's OK. The end of semester complicates things. But I have the majority of shopping done, the Internet is a lifesaver. I even sent five Christmas cards out today. That is a real accomplishment for me - for the past couple of years I just haven't had time to send any. I would love to decorate and bake more, but the grading deadline is looming.

Threesome: Christmas-- Hey, I miss ol' Burl Ives singing the song in this header: who does your favorite Christmas song? ...and which song is that? Yes, yes, you're allowed more than one ...

I like Christmas music. I have quite a few CDs by various artists. My favorites are Bare Naked Ladies and Willie Nelson. I also love the religious music that we sing in church. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer always makes me smile, and remember the past.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Today is my last day on campus until January 18. Fall grades have to be done by 11:59 pm on December 26. Naturally I will be working nonstop until then to make the deadline. Oh, I guess I will have to take a break of a couple of days to celebrate Christmas, but otherwise...

I have several changes in mind for next semester. I have to cut down my end of semester workload to a more reasonable level. And, I am getting tired of the assignments. I am going to make students write a lesson plan and present it to class with their groups, instead of just writing a book review individually. Change is good.

I don't like having to sign into google to use blogger. That's my only criticism so far, and it is fairly minor, but when I wrote a comment and used my blogger sign-in, it vanished. How irritating. Oh, I forgot. I do have one other concern. My archives aren't appearing, and I don't see where to re-publish them. I'm sure it is somewhere, but I haven't spent the time looking.

We didn't go to Samsonville this weekend (Bob was working on a group project that wasn't going well - although it turned out OK) so I will have to wait until Saturday to see if I can get the wireless running. Now there's another day that I won't be working on grades. So I better not procrastinate otherwise!

Friday, December 08, 2006

I'm psyched; today I switched my wired router for a wireless one, and got wireless DSL up and running on my new laptop. Tomorrow's project involves getting it to work with the new cable modem in Samsonville. I hope it goes as smoothly. I just upgraded blogger - not sure what I think of that yet. Tonight we are going to see The Producers at Proctor's.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Time Warner came and we are hooked up! My mother reports that the technician said the machine is old and so the broadband is slower than it could be. I knew that. I may upgrade there eventually, but first I have to get wireless up and running in both houses. I ordered all the necessary components from Staples and this weekend I'll give it a try in Samsonville. I will probably do Castleton on Friday, if I have time.

Last week I was (attempting) to show a DVD to class. There were numerous technical snafus and so I had to call AV Services. While the technician was working on the problem, he said that they often find that people change the settings on the TVs, VCRs and DVD players and screw them up. Last year, I heard the same thing about the smart rooms - that people unplug the computers and projection equipment so they can't be used easily by the next instructor. The AV guy speculated that it is Luddite instructors (he didn't use the word Luddite though) although I think it could also be disgruntled students looking to waste time and get out of class (though not for the smart rooms, since students can't access the cables). Anyway, after the AV guy left, one of the students said, "I think it is the ghost. Did you know there is a ghost in the education building?" I said I didn't, and she proceeded to tell me the story, which I later located on the Internet here. See "Albany - Education Building."

I was thinking of this today as I was coming back from the cafeteria. This building connects to the campus center at the basement level, and I take the elevator up from there. Seems I always work somewhere where there are reputed to be ghosts! (When I worked downtown at the former D&H building there were so many stories, although none are listed on the website with the School of Education ghost.) I always think, maybe I can put them to work? How do you think Jason is at grading end of semester essays?
It snowed! Only enough to coat the ground, but still it looked pretty this morning with the flurries coming down. The air is cold and crisp and wintery. Yay! I am completely sick of the strangely unseasonable weather. Goodbye fleas and ticks!!

It did make me a little sad, though. It reminded me of Rudy. He would dash out the door every time it snowed, delighted. Even with a mere dusting like today's, as the first snow of the season, he would do his best to roll in it.

Monday, December 04, 2006

I found out today that Time Warner is coming tomorrow afternoon to install Road Runner! Hopefully it will go without a snag this time. They are charging me $20 less for installation because of the screw up.

I am all set for the end of the semester. Today I finally finished grading everything I had from earlier in the semester! The back of my head is a little numb but overall I am happy. Tomorrow the final papers start to come in so the respite will be brief.

Friday, December 01, 2006

I guess the 21st Century is on hold. When the installer came on Tuesday, he discovered that the cable still needs to be connected at the pole on the road. So far, my calls to Time Warner have gone unanswered. Oh well. At least the CD Rom drive is up and running.

End of semester work has arrived. Classes end December 12, and then I have until December 26 to get the grades submitted.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Long time no post! I have been busy with evaluating papers, and finally finished the journals yesterday. Today I baked pies (the last two come out of the oven in about 15 minutes). Sophie loves raw fruit and vegetables, and her favorites are asparagus, zucchini and apples. So today, while I was peeling apples, I had to give her two. After she finished eating them, I turned and saw her with her head in the bag of apples - she took a third apple herself! I was reminded of Howie. He never took one himself, and I don't think would have eaten a whole apple, but he would sit nearby as I made pie, demanding the apple peels.

And I found out that high speed internet will be installed in Samsonville on Tuesday (provided I manage to replace the broken CD Rom drive in the machine there in time). Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Monday, November 13, 2006

I found out today that the Samsonville house is only 156 feet from where cable Time Warner will hook us up for free! Yay!

Friday, November 10, 2006

My mother's cat Tabby died yesterday. Tabby was a barn cat, and spent her time with horses. She was at least 14 1/2 years old. Someone dropped her over 13 years ago, during a blizzard in 1993. She was cared for (and named Tabby) by an elderly woman who lived next door to my parents.

Tabby was pregnant when she was dropped, and after she had kittens, my mother took her and had her spayed, earning her the knickname "52," because that's how much it cost. One of the kittens, now old and somewhat wild, is still hanging around there. When the woman couldn't take care of herself, much less Tabby, any more, my mother started feeding her, and it wasn't long before Tabby migrated from the empty house to the barn. That was about 10 years ago.

She was a good cat, and I liked her. Although a small cat, she scared many a dog, and in her day, she more than scared many a rodent. A funny Tabby story is that once when my parents took her to the rabies shot clinic, Tabby managed to squirm away, and their dog Hobo chased her. She ran right up a tree, and a neighbor had to climb up and retrieve her. Several people at the clinic didn't know that Hobo and Tabby were with the same people - they watched Tabby and my mother sympathetically, clucking disapprovingly at Hobo and my father. They were probably thinking, "How could that man allow that bad dog to terrorize that woman and that poor cat!" Tabby was generally in control of all dog interactions, driving canines away from the barn, and Hobo was afraid of her. I guess chasing her that day was his revenge.

Last night, when we went out to dinner, it seemed to me that I saw stray cats everywhere, looking at me, perhaps auditioning to be the next barn cat. One was a half-grown kitten, very cute. But my mother doesn't need any help in that department.

Here's a story from the Freeman, updating the status of the Game Farm animals.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I voted this morning. Since I have a night class to teach, that seemed like the best strategy. I really don't understand why people don't vote. It isn't difficult or that inconvenient. I also don't understand why people don't read the newspaper. I read two daily papers (that are delivered), one daily paper online, one twice weekly paper that I buy in the store, and an every other week paper that I read either online, or in paper. If I go away and my morning papers build up - almost the first thing I do when I get home is sit down and read them.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Today during the sermon, the priest asked us "what would you want on your tombstone?" He explained that in recent years people only put names and dates on there (he didn't say this, but I wonder if it is because headstones are so expensive now) but years ago having poems, prayers, sayings, etc. carved in the stone was very common. So he wanted to know how we would want our lives summed up, what we would want future generations to know about us. So I gave it some thought and found it easy to decide: She loved animals.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Sigh. Now I am getting bombarded with spam from a petition organization that I visited over an animal rights issue. Are they asking me to support something to do with animal welfare? No. They are asking me to sign up to telephone people in my area to get out the vote for "progressive" candidates (whatever that means). But the effort is really's, not the petition website's. So, I responded with this:

Why are you sending me this email? I do not support I am very offended to receive emails like this from that organization, I have zero interest in their agenda and consider their tactics disgusting. I do vote, but I am not an overly political person and I am an Independent. I have no interest in telephoning anyone. I can't stand telemarketers myself.

I have visited your site in the past because I am a big champion of animal rights. Recently I was thrilled when the House of Representatives passed the horse anti-slaughter legislation. Although he is not my representative, this was sponsored by Congressman Sweeney and I do live in a nearby district in upstate NY. His advocacy on this issue has earned him the endorsement of the Humane Society in his re-election campaign.

I know is supporting his challenger, because they are running advertisements slamming Sweeney. I'm sure they do not care about animal rights, and define his opposition as "progressive." So the fact that you would let send me this spam when they are supporting a candidate whose winning would be contrary to animal welfare, which is the only reason I visited the petition site, is an outrage.


I have also been the recipient of numerous emails recently that are not spam, but they are partisan in nature and are being sent via a supposedly non-partisan list that I joined. After about the 100th message (I'm exaggerating, it is a small list and the number of emails was probably about 20) I couldn't take it any more. So I wrote an email to the list protesting. Two members responded to me (off-list), and the list quieted down for a while. What a relief. But then today, it started up again. HELLO?!

I forgot to mention this since the article gives me short shrift, but my historical society presentation got about a one sentence (future tense? What is up with that?) mention in this rag of a paper. Scroll down to "Heralding Our Own History." I'm wondering if maybe the reporter was snoozing - or in the bathroom - or maybe in the next room, browsing the books in the library during half the presentations.
I agree with PETA.

Amazing Edna.

When we got home yesterday, we discovered that she had gotten a mouse. She is still proud today, puffed up to twice her size - and she is a big cat already. I was very surprised, since we have had her 13 years, making her at least 14 - and I thought her mousing days were over long ago.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

I am busy grading midterms. I am about one-third of the way done, and although I know students would love to have them back tomorrow, I am burnt out on reading at the moment, so they may have to wait a few more days.

I couldn't be home for Halloween, so we put an "honor" bowl of candy on the porch. I don't think any kids came while we were gone, though. Bob said four trick-or-treaters came while he was here. That is the fewest ever, some years we get 100 kids, more recently we get at least 35, but I think darkened houses are not very inviting, and I am not sure the neighbors were home either. So trudging up the Green Avenue hill didn't seem worth the effort. There were a lot of kids out, and when I got home, I heard teenagers making a racket in the cemetery. Hopefully they didn't do any vandalism, and were just having fun scaring each other.

We have decided to get high speed internet access for Samsonville. After years of struggling with dial-up, we are both fed up. I already know my preference (and what I have in Castleton), DSL won't be coming until the distant future - and even then, it may not come because digital will be a better option (Verizon says they may bring digital in a year, but it will probably be more). A cell phone provider is also not an option. There is currently no cell phone service there.

So I emailed Time Warner (a company I hate, but oh well) and the response was that there are no active customers on Jomar Lane. I had been under the impression that Jomar was wired, but that other nearby roads were not, and I had heard horror stories of TW offering to bring the cable - but the homeowner pays, to the tune of $1300. I was very disappointed - who knows how far away the cable is and how much it would cost to run it - so I asked if that meant I couldn't have Road Runner at all? The response gave me a number to call. Which resulted in a voice mail, and (of course) it wasn't returned.

So yesterday I called again. This time I spoke with a very helpful young man who explained that it may be that the problem is not that Jomar Lane isn't wired for cable, but that the house is more than 250 feet from the road. He wasn't sure, but he said they have to send a survey team out to assess it. I believe that is the limit they are willing to absorb the costs for, and that we would have to pay to have it brought from the road if it is too far. We already have a pole so I can't see why it would be a big deal even if we have to pay.

The woman responsible did call me back and a survey team is being sent, so I should know next week. She said, "is your driveway long?" I really didn't know how to respond. I said, "well, I don't think it is for a rural area - but compared to a suburban area or a city - yes!"

While I was waiting to hear from TW - anticipating a "no" or at least an answer that is cost prohibitive - I have been researching satellite. I did this once years ago, and the answer was disappointing in terms of speed and cost. Things have improved a lot. Satellite still is more expensive (at least assuming the connection charges to TW are not exhorbitant), and not as fast as either cable or DSL, but it is a lot better than dial-up. I have found 4 providers, so if TW doesn't work out, I will do some more legwork and go with one of them.

Either way, we are going to get Road Runner or satellite internet. I'm psyched. Once it is hooked up, I think I will install a wireless network there. Of course I will have to keep it a secret or I will have all of Samsonville driving up Jomar Lane to hitch a ride on the signal! Luckily my traffic to this site from the town is not all that high!!

As my sister says, "this is the 21st Century, it shouldn't take $1300 and and Act of Congress to get high speed internet." A cousin adds, "yes, I thought all the taxes and surcharges that us city folk have to pay were going toward rural access."

Now I am getting political spam in my university email. This isn't the first time; last time it was from the Albany County DA (odd, since I do not live in Albany County), and after receiving several messages, I reported it to IT Services and they stopped it. This time it is from some group calling themselves the "RFK Democrats." The message I received today said:

Are you as appalled as we are at the ongoing debates about Alan Hevesi’s "ethical lapse"? It almost makes us ashamed to be Democrats----not because of Mr. Hevesi, but because other Democrats including Mr. Spitzer have allowed the "wuss factor" to override their good judgment. We are not saying that Mr. Hevesi did no wrong. He did--and he deserves to be fined, sanctioned, or whatever is decided. An ethical lapse is a far cry from criminal behavior. Ask Bill Clinton. There is every reason to vote for Alan Hevesi this coming Tuesday. Consider the following:

Where were/are we in our moral outrage when we have had to spend hundreds of thousands of our tax dollars to provide "safety and security" on 3 (three!) houses (Garrison, Essex Co. and the Mansion) for a governor who has spent more time in Hungary, Iowa, New Hampshire and other states than he has here in the Capital of NY. He has never lived in the Mansion. We still have to pay to maintain and guard it. The Governor did not give a knee jerk reaction to all of this--and neither should we.

Where is our moral outrage on the fact that we cannot get legislation passed where mental illness is treated in the same way as physical illness by our insurance companies. Mr. Hevesi should be supported for trying to provide safety, security and privacy to his wife in very difficult circumstances and not abandoning her. If we did not have biased attitudes toward mental illness, maybe he could have been more open and dealt with the security issue in a more appropriate way. Where were his political friends then--especially those who are abandoning him now? And where are the mental health advocates weighing in on this?

Do you really think that Mr. Callahan is a competent, credible state comptroller? We do not. His fiscal ideas are about as passe as his bowtie. As Saratoga County Comptroller, he was cited on issues. He made serious errors in his mortgage application? And he is going to run the state pension fund and audit others' books?
Keep in mind fellow Democrats--and others. Not voting for Hevesi is a vote for an extremely incompetent candidate: Callahan. Let the Legislature decide what his penalty should be. He is a good man. He is not a criminal. And he deserves better from us. He has done his job well; he has served the people of NY well. A vote for Alan Hevesi is a vote for the future fiscal health of New York State.

So I went to the unsubscribe link, and it appeared to be a place where you enter your email address for more information! So naturally, I didn't.


Usually when I write a long post like this one, blogger freezes up, sends it off to the parallel universe, and I remind myself once more that I should have copied it elsewhere. (But of course I never do.) So here goes.

Monday, October 30, 2006

I have been getting a ton of spam from the several related email addresses, with the "reply to" listing the address "" Apparently they are legitimate emails, soliciting support and donations for one the candidates in the New Jersey U.S. Senate race. I have no idea how my email address was collected, or why. I have never visited the candidate's website, I have never signed up to receive election emails from anyone - even in my own State, and before this, Menendez wasn't even on my radar screen.

First, I flagged it as spam. It didn't stop (I assume because the senders were various names, so I tried the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the message. That didn't work either. So I responded with the following message:


Well, surprise, surprise. That didn't work either. So today I sent this as a response:

This is my second response to the spam you keep sending to me. The online unsubscribe link does not work. I do not send donations to political candidates and believe there are many more worthwhile places for contributions - how about actual charities? Also I am not a New Jersey resident and I couldn't care less about Bob Menendez. I have no idea how you got my email address but after receiving all these messages I fervently hope his opponent wins in a landslide solely because of this unwanted spam. STOP SENDING ME THESE EMAILS.

But I am not holding my breath.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Today we took the dogs to the vet, stopped at the orchard (again) to get apples, cider, cider donuts, etc., and I did a quick grocery shopping (a much disliked chore that always gets put off). I picked up several bags on Halloween candy in preparation for Tuesday. Tonight we fall behind! Yay! I am never right until we go back to real time. Not that I mind the extra hour of daylight in the evening over the summer, but once the days start getting shorter and it is cooler outside - I find myself oversleeping every morning and can't wait to turn the clocks back.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Two awful stories in today's Freeman. First, this one, about the slap on the wrist given to Frankie's abusers. So people look at you as if you are a monster? Well that's about right, because that's what you are. Second, this one, about the fate of the Catskill Game Farm animals. And the comments on the article make me very sad. People can be just awful. (Also very stupid sounding.)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Our round trip wound up being on Tuesday. I finally finished my book review on Friday night, then I had to get ready for a presentation I was making on Saturday. We were supposed to go to Samsonville that night, but both of us were zombies from our long, tiring week and we were afraid of crashing on the Thruway - so we did something I hate, got up at 5:30 am and left by 6:40 (an hour I rarely see). Although I was flying by the seat of my pants (and exhausted), my presentation went well. On Sunday, after church I went to the NYS Sheep and Wool Festival at the Rhinebeck Fairgrounds with my mother and sister. We got back to Castleton at 11:15 pm on Sunday, and by then I could have slept standing up. Lucky for me, today was a holiday on campus so I got to sleep in. I am now trying to catch up on various work, and get the house into some kind of order.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Still too busy for blogging, but what the heck. I made good progress on the manuscript this weekend, but I have quite a bit to go and as a result the week will be hectic. Yesterday I snuck away for a while and went to get apples, pumpkins, cider donuts, cider and some other wonderful fall-related things at Golden Harvest. On the way back we took the dogs to the town park. Tomorrow or Wednesday we are making a round trip to Samsonville for a brief visit with relatives from Florida. The timing isn't great, but I'll manage somehow.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Busy week of evaluating essays. I have them all done except for the online class. The website is down today because of the snowstorm and power outages in Buffalo! I also had to write the midterm for my Thursday class.

This will be a working weekend - I have a book review due on the 20th, and naturally, I haven't even opened the box with the manuscript yet.

On the 21st, I have to give a presentation on one room schools. That is mostly ready, but I will have to spend a bit of time between now and then on the details.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Thursday Threesome: Fall Harvest Festival

Onesome: Fall-- (ing) into "The Decorating Season"? How about it: do you have your Halloween Tree up and decorated yet? ...or maybe just a plastic pumpkin sitting on the table ? ...something in between? Inquiring minds and all that...

I do have some Halloween decorations that I put on the porch. I don't do it until Halloween, or no more than a few days before. I live in a village where we get quite a few trick or treaters so I like it to be festive for the little kids. But it is only a couple of things, I don't go crazy. I always get a pumpkin.

Twosome: Harvest-- time? What crops are grown in your area (call it fifty miles) that are coming out of the fields this Fall?

This is apple country! In fact, New York State is the second largest producer of apples in the country. (Washington is #1 and Michigan is #3). It is supposed to be a huge crop this year, and the trees are loaded. New York is the #3 producer of grapes, cauliflower, pumpkins, milk, cheese, and maple syrup, and #1 in cabbage and cottage cheese production.

Threesome: Festival-- Do you have a County Fair or Harvest Fest happening in Autumn? ...or do you wait until the sap flows?

The county fairs are in July and August. It has been a couple of years since I have gone, which is a shame, since I really like them. In October there are a lot of harvest festivals. This weekend will be the Goold Farm Apple Festival. It's a fun time, but I probably won't go this year.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Blogger acts up a lot, I think. It often doesn't show my last post, which is what it is doing now. So this post is only to post that post through.
Our trip to NYC yesterday was great! The show was better than expected, dinner was nice, and after we arrived on the train we had a couple of hours to kill, so we decided to visit MOMA. Neither of us had been to MOMA for years, and when we got there, there was a sign that said "closed today and every Tuesday." So we went to the Museum of Arts and Design instead, and saw this exhibit on Droog. We took a tour, and the guide was fantastic. We took the latest train home (10:45) which got into the station at 1:15. Both of us said we felt we had been teleported - we dozed sitting up for the entire ride and it seemed as if the trip only took 5 minutes!

My letter is in the Times Union today! They cut the last two paragraphs - I know space is tight and my letter was long, but I think it was either because I slam horse racing (a big no-no in the Capital District) or praise John Sweeney (it is very clear they are rooting for Gillibrand).

Friday, September 29, 2006

I haven't mentioned my garden much lately, and I do like to keep a yearly chronicle. Overall, it has been a good year, and the plants still looks great. We have not yet had a frost. The green beans are pretty much over, the cucumbers are still producing although not at a high volume any longer, but I am just beginning to pick tomatoes! Unreal, there are a ton of green ones out there, but it is taking forever for them to ripen. They are not as sweet and tasty as usual, either. (Still they are better than ones shipped here from across the country.) I guess it must be the rainy weather this year. Funny, since it is supposed to be a bumper crop of apples. I have gorgeous basil plants, too and my other spices are still growing. So every night I watch the weather, to find out if a killing frost is coming. I will pick all the green tomatoes, and the basil at the last minute. The tomatoes will (I hope) ripen in a paper bag, and the basil will become pesto that I will freeze (keeping my fingers crossed the the frost comes on a day when I am home so the basil doesn't wilt before it is blended). So far, so frost in sight. It is going to get close tonight, but then it gets warmer for several days. The tomatoes may vine ripen yet!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

On Tuesday, we're going to see The Wedding Singer on Broadway! I can hardly believe it. Adam Sandler movies are a guilty pleasure, and I have probably seen it 100 times. I knew it had been turned into a show, but since it is new, going to see it is not likely until far in the future, if ever. But then Bob's brother invited us! He isn't really into musicals, but he won four tickets in a raffle that was a fundraiser in honor of a 9/11 victim. He knows we love shows, and the movie! I tortured myself for about an hour after the invitation - what to do about my Tuesday classes. Be a martyr and decline the invitation? Try to find someone else to cover (no easy task)? Cancel? I decided on canceling. My students didn't mind a bit (no surprise there). Actually, the day class seemed happy - Monday is a holiday so for those with a light class schedule, this gives them an extra long weekend - but my evening class seemed neither thrilled, nor disturbed. Maybe because I told them about the raffle, and they found the 9/11 connection upsetting. The anniversary has been a topic of discussion in their online board. Anyway, we'll take the train down. Dinner out is included too. Bob bought the CD and we are learning the songs. I'm psyched!

PS The TU is going to print my letter. Not sure when.

Monday, September 25, 2006

My Wuj died one year ago today. It is a hard anniversary. Even though the passing of time makes grief a lot easier to handle, I guess I don't like the idea of his lifetime moving farther back in my life.

Friday, September 22, 2006

This letter appeared in yesterday's Times Union and really annoyed me. So I wrote this response. Not sure if it will be published (the TU likes letters to be 250 words or less) but I felt better writing it.

Whenever something good happens for animals, it seems there are always people who are irritated. I remember this was true with the Buster Law, and now the same whining can be heard from opponents to the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act.

First John Dansereau writes in his September 21 letter "Saving horses shouldn't come before children" that the number of horses affected by the bill's passage was omitted from news articles. Apparently, he considers the U.S. Humane Society's estimate (about 100,000 annually) to be an insignificant number, and he believes failing to include the statistic is an effort by news organizations to promote H.R. 503. What he does not mention is that all sorts of information from the U.S. Humane Society about horse slaughter routinely was not published in newspaper articles, including that horses bound for slaughter are frequently not humanely transported, that many are young horses in good health, and that some are stolen horses that have been purchased by killer buyers at auction.

Next, Mr. Dansereau writes about the importance of turkeys in U.S. history, and their sad fate. As someone who is concerned not just about horses but about the welfare of all animals, I found this interesting, but I'm not sure why the fact that cruelty to turkeys exists means that we should abandon horses.

Finally, he closes with a favorite claim of those who demean the efforts of advocates for animals. He suggests that those who champion animal protection legislation are hurting children. At first I wondered whether he was suggesting that horsemeat be used to feed the hungry, which might be a logical argument, but is a strange one, considering there is no market in the U.S. Again according to the U.S. Humane Society, the largest markets are France, Belgium, Holland, Japan, and Italy, and all the horse slaughter plants in the United States are foreign-owned. But no, instead he is asserting that the time spent on passing horse protection legislation is coming at the expense of starving children, as if caring about children and horses are somehow mutually exclusive!

Mr. Dansereau believes he "neither hates horses nor loves turkeys" since he "gambles on the former and eats the latter." I hesitate to write this, considering the August obsession of most Capital District residents, but leaving aside the poor turkeys, there are a few of us who believe collecting umbrellas and wearing showy hats while betting on horses is not quite the same thing as loving animals.

I say, bravo to the 263 members of the House of Representatives who voted in favor or H.R. 503, and to John Sweeney for co-sponsoring the legislation. And by the way, I am not a resident of the 20th Congressional District.

Monday, September 18, 2006

OK, here it is: I Remember Rudy. Be sure you have a hanky handy. I made it the virtual museum for Fall 2006. The only reason it qualifies is because there are a lot of pictures. (Well, that and the fact that I haven't had a new one since Winter 2005). I also updated the "zoo," catalogue, bio, and home page. I just didn't feel like making the changes before this.
Happy birthday to me.

Today I'm 45. Strange, it isn't a number with which I feel at all connected. That's someone else's number. It isn't that I mind aging - it is surely better than the alternative - but looking back, it really hits me that time goes so fast. It may have been a lifetime ago in some ways, but at other times it seems as if only yesterday I was a kid, riding my bicycle to the general store, or a 20-year-old, chatting with my grandmother about what it was like to be in her 70s. If time continues to breeze by (and by all indications, my perception is that it seems to go faster with aging), in no time at all I will be a senior citizen. Now how can that be?

Bob has a class tonight, so we celebrated on Friday, by having dinner at Villa Valenti, a cozy restaurant that I love, with a great salad bar and homemade pasta. Then yesterday my mother cooked dinner, and made a cake for me. She sent me home with a pan of stuffed shells for tonight, since I am on my own. "Sweet." There! Does that make me young? Or maybe dated?

Later today, over at GPB, I hope to find the time to post my tribute to Rudy (first I have to do a bit of work on my classes), since yesterday he would have been 11, and on September 25, he will be gone for one year already. Yes, time flies, but it has been a long year without him to brighten my days.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

It seems that the district always pursues the stupidest option. In this case, all three options listed are bad ideas. But why bother consulting educational research from the past 30 years? Might just as well get out a dartboard.

Monday, September 11, 2006

I've mentioned before that September isn't my favorite month. It should be, because my birthday is in the middle of it, and it is a beautiful month weather-wise. Plus, there are a lot of other happy events in September. But for some reason, I've experienced a lot of bad things in September, and as a result, my birthday makes me apprehensive. It isn't aging. That's a minor concern.

There was a time when I could list off a bunch of reasons why September has been terrible, but over they years the minor irritations have been outnumbered by, and pale in comparison to, the really, really bad things that have happened. Then there are the good things in the month that have now changed to melancholy memories, including Mimmie's birthday, Aunt Jean's birthday, Rudy's birthday.

So I won't bother with the mundane and trivial September annoyances. And this isn't a comprehensive list, just some random thoughts. In 1982 a friend, Don, died the day before my birthday. Well, that's true to a point, but it wasn't an accident or an illness; he committed suicide. It took about five years for that to sink in and make any kind of sense. Now five years have passed since "the" 9/11. I still clearly remember that day; I suppose almost everyone does. At the time I was commuting to work and sometimes I worked from home. I was at home that day and still asleep when the planes hit. My mother called me after the second plane and said "terrorists have attacked New York City." I tried to get more information from her, but she said, "turn on your TV" and hung up.

I never watch daytime television, but I did turn it on, sat down on my coffee table directly in front of the TV and stayed there for hours, watching in shock. I think the TV was on CBS, and I didn't channel surf. I don't remember going downstairs to make coffee, go to the bathroom or let the dogs out. I know I did, but I came right back upstairs and sat down - again on the coffee table. I didn't move to a chair or couch for hours. I mention that because I never sit on the coffee table, we don't use it that way. Bob was in DC and I was unable to get though to him on the phone. He eventually called, much later in the day. It took him several days to get home because he couldn't find transportation back. I also remember my mother-in-law calling at some point that day to say that someone we knew who worked high up in one of the towers was missing. I thought at the time that of course he would be fine. That wound up not being true.

A week later was my 40th birthday. We went to Villa Valente for dinner and the place was like a morgue. It wasn't busy at all (usually it is packed, regardless of the day of the week) and everyone who was there was talking in whispers. Later, I asked my parents how long it would take to feel normal again?

I didn't have this ejournal at the time (I started it in March 2002) but I was writing in a notebook, and I did write something; true to form, it was a tribute to Sirius, the only dog to die in the WTC. It is posted here and I still get quite a few hits from the Port Authority Memorial Site.

Yesterday, I was thinking of another dog. My Howie. He died eleven years ago, September 10, 1995. He was 15. He died between 8 and 9 pm and that year it was a Sunday, just like in 2006. Murder, She Wrote was on television. Funny the things you remember. Here is the tribute I wrote about him, and there is a picture of Howie (and Penny, "his" poodle) there. He was Howzerdo, if you are wondering.

Next Sunday, Rudy would have been eleven years old. Rudy's birth date - at least the month and day - were the same as Don's death date. The following Monday, it will be a year since Mr. Wuj has been gone. I miss him terribly. In his honor, I have a tribute written to post on the main website. It will be my first update to the main GBP site in a long time.

And now for something unrelated and trite...tomorrow is primary day and the phone has been ringing nonstop with recorded pitches!!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Three posts in one day, I'm on a roll. This must be the year of the automated political phone call. Is that really effective, I wonder? I get them every day, they fill the answering machine when I am not here. At first I listened patiently, because somehow it seemed rude to hang up on Andrew Cuomo even if it was only a recording of his voice! But now I slam the phone down immediately. My lunch was interrupted just now by some guy running for the Assembly - I didn't wait long enough to have the name sink in. Primary day is Tuesday, I'll bet the phone will be ringing off the hook.
I got us tickets to see the Producers at Proctor's on December 8. The tickets went on sale today, and the best choices were either Row R of the Orchestra Center Right, or the front/right of the balcony. So I went with the balcony.
Thank you, John Sweeney! This makes my day, and Ma's too.

Update: Sigh. The Capital District speaks. Between the snark at this site, and the arrogant commenters applauding the snark here, it's no wonder animal advocates have to fight so hard and the victories are so sweet.

On another subject, my classes are awesome so far! Very interactive without too much prompting from me. I'm hoping it keeps up for the entire semester, it will be a pleasure. My Thursday night class is in the Humanities building, in a room with theatre style seating and a stage! It isn't huge - holds maybe 40-50 students (my class is 32). It was a little intimidating at first, but there are interesting and fun possibilities with such a room design.

I remembered something from the book My Freshman Year (written about in this post; Sya responds here) as I was standing in line at the campus coffee shop. The author mentions that there must be a common understanding among young students of what type of backpack is preferred; she didn't know how this was communicated, because clearly all had not purchased them in the same store. She bought one at a big box (her first mistake, in my opinion) and she noticed once she arrived on campus that almost all other students had backpacks that were smaller, with less pockets and zippers, they were Jansport brand, and made out of a different material than hers. So yesterday, I decided to take note. It took my mind off the culture shock I feel when I am in the cafeteria at the beginning of the semester (I am just not used to seeing so many people; the crowds and organized chaos take some time to feel normal). Backpacks are definitely smaller and made from a different material than in "my" day, and Jansport is a popular brand (but there were others, mostly athletic brands such as Puma). However, I saw an equal number of students with briefcase type bags (probably containing a notebook computer?), quite a few women who had large fabric over the shoulder "satchels," and a sprinkling of granola-ish students with tattered canvas bags.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Thursday Threesome: How High is Up?

Onesome: How-- many Apples in your orchard? Didn't we just ask this one? Are you a Mac-o-phile, a Windows user, or one of those penguin people (Linux users)?

I use Windows. I hate Microsoft, but I've always used an IBM compatible computer - currently I have two IBMs (one with XP, one with 98) and one HP (with ME). I also have a retired Thinkpad with OS/2 and 3.1! At work I have a Dell with XP. The majority of people I deal with use Windows.

Twosome: High is-- what in height for your family? Are you a tall group? ...a short stack? ...or a mixed lot?

Bob is tall - 6'2", but his brother is quite a bit taller. On my side, we are average to short. My father is the tallest at 5'10", and I am the shortest (5'4"), though I have a nephew who I think is somewhat taller than my father, and niece who is a lot shorter than me.

Threesome: Up-- ...and down and all around: Labor Day marked the end of Summer for those of us in the US (regardless of how the plants felt what with the temperatures out West and hurricanes in the East). How about you: what signals the change of seasons this time of year for you?

Closing the pool, returning to campus, a leaf turning color here and there.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Yesterday's classes went well. I have a good feeling, especially, about the evening class. With all the anxiety over the start of the semester, I almost forget the many things that are great about teaching. Every semester is a chance to start fresh. It is so new, and full of promise. Then there is the campus environment. (I could do without the crowds in the cafeteria, though. Quite a culture shock after spending four months in solitude.) And students! I really do like (almost all) students, and I love teaching.

Looking over the rosters, there are 3-5 students in every class that have taken a class with me in the past. I always feel good knowing that some students like my classes enough to sign up for another one with me. This is especially true after getting the results of the course evaluations from last semester. They agreed with my own perceptions. The day class and online class were very satisfied, the toleration class and evening class less so. That description is a little overly sensitive on my part; the majority of students in all classes were satisfied, it's just that in toleration, and especially in the evening class, there were a few students who were not impressed (and clearly one student in the evening class who hated it. I'm sure it was this student).

I didn't "score" a smart room for either class. That's a first, and it will be a hassle. Not sure why that happened this semester, usually I get a smart room for at least one class. I'm going to have to order a portable computer and desktop projector for about half the classes. The one bonus is that both are in rooms that are very close to my office, so no schlepping across campus. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that toleration is in a smart room, because I need a computer almost every week for that class.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The pool is closed. It would be sad, if it wasn't so cold already.

I'm back on campus. Now that I am here, I am liking it again. It isn't quite as hectic as the first day of the semester is usually.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Just in time to begin the semester, today I finished reading My Freshman Year: What a Professor Learned by Becoming a Student. I learned about the book from this post. She asks "how would you feel if that older woman in your classes turned out to be an anthropology professor, studying you...?" I'm not sure. Now, of course, I would like to say that I wouldn't have minded, or that I would have felt it was pretty cool. I don't share a lot of the attitudes of many commenters at the site towards the so-called soft sciences. I think social science methods and studies are valuable, and I find the idea of returning to freshman year through the lens of anthropology fascinating. But to be honest, as an undergraduate, I might have felt violated by the professor, if I had thought she was a friend or classmate rather than a researcher. An area of concern in the comments was about the ethics of the research. I couldn't tell from the article in the New York Times whether she had followed appropriate protocols. There is an entire chapter in the book devoted to the subject, and she did follow the university's guidelines, and get approval for her study (which must have been tricky).

The book reminded me a bit of Nickel and Dimed, in that both authors immerse themselves in unfamiliar situations. In the case of Nickel and Dimed, however, the author admits that she never before in her life had to work at the low level jobs she tries out for the study. So that is one reason why some of her observations seemed to be in the "duh" category to me. In My Freshman Year, the main thing that frustrated me was that the author never shares anything about her own past experiences as an undergraduate (I mean the real ones, from when she was 18). She writes as if the study was actually her first time as a freshman, and her only college experience is as a professor. I found myself wondering why the cramped nature of the dorms surprised her. She comments that most professors have no idea what students go through in terms of housing, or meal plans, or juggling schedules. That may be true, and certainly times have changed. But haven't all professors been undergraduates at one time? And probably very few were commuters or attended a community college. I certainly remember freshman year orientation week and living on campus, and it happened 28 years ago. Is it because she, and perhaps most other faculty, have attended small, elite, private institutions that were very different from a big public university? Then again, aren't dorm rooms too small there too?

Some of her remarks are about things that I have noticed, and wondered about. Students rarely volunteer to speak in class, and when they do, it is about housekeeping (how long should the paper be? How many sources do we need?). Other types of comments earn disapproving glares from their peers. Doing the reading is not a high priority. Most students have part-time jobs in addition to a full-time college schedule and that cuts into time for both academic pursuits, and for social activities. Students don't seem to sit around talking about the interesting things they are learning. Clubs, activities and volunteer work are selected as resume enhancers. Technology has replaced some forms of socializing. Kids of the same race, ethnicity, religion, even gender sit together in the cafeteria; mixed tables are rare. She has written a lot of interesting things about these topics, and the reasons for them, but the book is rather brief, and I would have liked to read even more.

Anyway, I liked the book enough that I have added it to the list for the book analysis in one of my classes. I'm eager to hear what students have to say, assuming any choose it this semester.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Labor Day weekend forecast is for rain, aside from (maybe) Monday. Last weekend was rainy too, and fall temperatures are already in the air, so it looks like we will be closing the pool. That's the earliest ever, but we probably pushed it in the past and then the water was freezing. I have started to investigate pool heaters, but that would be for next season. I think we may be able to extend swimming for a month on either end of the summer with a heater.

As I browse websites for pool heaters, I can't resist looking at the hot tubs and spas. There is an area of the yard in C'ton that is full of weeds because of last year's foundation work, and we haven't done anything with it yet. We dream of a deck there, complete with an outdoor hot tub. It would take the sting out of closing the pool. We'll see.

So aside from the weekend (which will be in S'ville) this is my last day at home before the semester starts. I hate to admit that I am not looking forward to it. It's only two days per week on campus, but still. The agorophobia set in a long time ago. I haven't been on campus since May 8! And, my owl tendencies - sleeping in and staying up late have taken over, too. Oh, I know once I am back into the schedule it will be fine. Good for me, in fact. But even though I love fall as a season (and the fireplace beckons, that is a comfort), the end of summer, of the garden, of swimming, of the flowers, the return to the grind of school...always make me a little blue. And September is always a challenging month for me.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Thursday Threesome: Fluffy Bunny Rabbits

Onesome: Fluffy-- is as fluffy does! It's almost lemon meringue season at that pie shop. Do you do fluffy pies? ...or is it fruit all the way for you? (Okay, Southerners: go ahead and expound on rhubarb...)

I like ice cream pie, chocolate pie, peach pie, strawberry pie, and party cheese pie (that was Mimmie's specialty) but my favorite is apple pie. I make a mean apple pie, and with fall approaching, I'll be getting out the rolling pin.

Twosome: Bunny-- slippers? Yes? No? Barefoot? Shoes? What do you schlep around the house in when it's cold outside?

I wear my shoes at all times, unless I am sleeping. With my orthopedic problems, I have no choice. Before they became serious (a long time ago), I wore LL Bean Wicked Good Slippers in the winter.

Threesome: Rabbits-- Have you ever had little furry pets? What varieties? Are there any in your future?

My sister had a rabbit. He was a rescue, and quite mean! You had to wear gloves to handle him. I've always had pets; most have been our family dogs, but as a kid, I had a goat Heidi and a sheep Buffy (and fish, but they aren't furry), my mother had and still has horses, and as an adult I have had dogs (the dearly departed and still missed Howie, Penny and Rudy). Now I have two dogs and a cat. Sam and Edna are quite furry, but Sophie has hair issues. None of them are little, though; Edna is a big 14 pound cat (and that's not from being fat), and Sophie and Sam are 50 pound dogs. Yes, there will always be pets in my life, I can't imagine it any other way!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I finished my Fall syllabi and various other updates for classes. That's a relief. Next on the agenda is getting this house into better shape before my semester schedule starts next week.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Two things he conveniently omits in this article (I assume because they don't fit with his anti-goose theme): only a few of the geese at the airport are from Collins Park, and the airport staff reports that they have always had a lot of geese there, even before some came over from Collins Lake.

And, continuing on with the animal mistreatment theme, here is a story about what all too often is the outcome of the annual abuse fest which in a just world would be illegal.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Thursday Threesome: Name that Tune

Onesome: Name-- Ah, what about names? How did your blog name come to be? Is there a story there?

The Gully Brook is a little stream at the farm in Samsonville. It runs behind my house.

Twosome: that-- and this. We've all thought about a change of locations from time to time: is there any place you'd like to try living for a while? (You can go back home when you're done with the tryout .)

Not really. I have lived in Boiceville, West Shokan (both in the Town of Olive), Oneonta (in Otsego County), New York City, Brewster (in Putnam County), Waterford (when we first moved to the Capital Distict), and now in Castleton (in Rensselaer County) and Samsonville (in the Town of Olive in Ulster County); they are all in New York State, and with the exception of those months in New York City, they are all in upstate New York. I spent the first 17 years of my life in the Town of Olive, five years in Oneonta, about 18 months downstate, another ~18 months in Waterford, for the past 20 years I've been in Castleton, and for six years I've also had a house in Samsonville. I was born in (upstate) New York, I have (nearly) always lived here, someday I will be planted here, and that's the way I want it.

Threesome: Tune-- us into what you're listening to lately. ...anything on your radar we should be aware of?

I like music, and have a lot of CDs, but I really haven't been listening to much of anything lately. I mostly prefer silence. In the car, sometimes I listen to CDs...lately what comes to mind are Bare Naked Ladies, the Prarie Home Companion soundtrack, and Dolly Parton.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

More great news! This time, for horses.
This Freeman article is a somewhat unfair report, but the good news is that the large parcel goes down in flames again! Hooray!

The phone just was an automated message from Andrew Cuomo about the primary for Attorney General.
This article in today's TU doesn't exactly show the university in the best light!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Had a lovely weekend, the weather was supposed to be rainy and overcast, but Friday night and Sunday were warm, and so I was able to swim. The pool is still hovering around 80 degrees. Precious last weeks of summer. Today I went with my niece who has taken a new job nearby, looking at neighborhoods and a house.

Last week I noticed that some of the cucumber vines were wilting. I feared the dreaded bacterial wilt, caused by the dreaded cucumber beetle. There is no good organic control. Cucumbers are one of my best garden crops, and they are just starting to produce. I searched desperately on the Internet for answers. Through observation, I determined that it isn't cucumber beetles after all, but squash bugs! Ugh. They are destructive, but luckily, unlike bacterial wilt, the damage can be controlled. So I became a predator. I sat in the tomatoes and cucumbers, silently stalking those horrible bugs. It will probably take me several days, but I think I can win this battle.

Too bad I cannot say the same thing for the flea infestation. I am now on round three of laundering everything, flea combing, bathing. Sophie alternates between tolerating it, and being vicious. Sam is terrified of the baths, and a bit too playful and wild for the combing. Edna is, as in everything, a good patient.

Friday, August 18, 2006

As I was watering the plants today, I noticed that someone ran over a squirrel right in front of the house. It is definitely dead (it is totally flat) but it is really bothering me. I think I should bury it. No doubt the culprit was not observing the village speed limit (so many drivers use this steep one-way street as a highway that I always get out of the way when I am on the passenger side of the car and I see a vehicle coming). Honestly, it's amazing I don't see more smashed animals in front of the house, considering the large number of squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits and groundhogs in the yard, and the speed demons who think 30 mph is just a suggestion.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Thursday Threesome: Free Amazon Prime

Onesome: Free-- isn't always free! What "freebie" have you discovered over the years that really isn't?

I can't think of anything. In my experience, freebies usually aren't. Amazon Prime is "free" for me for the next three months, but then I will have to pay $79 per year to keep it. But I knew that when I signed up.

Twosome: Amazon-- It's been a bit since we've done our Amazon Survey: do you use Amazon? Good? Bad? Indifferent?

Funny, since the subject of yesterday's post was Amazon Prime. Yes, I use Amazon a lot and have for years. It's very convenient and I have never been disappointed. It's wonderful for sending gifts. I'm expecting my grocery order today, in fact.

Threesome: Prime--Time! Are there any shows you are looking forward to seeing in the Fall lineup on TV? (okay, football counts ).

I don't know what's in the fall lineup and it would be an understatement to say I also don't care.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Recently, I was offered free Amazon Prime for three months - so I signed up, and yesterday, after receiving a $10 email coupon, I placed my first grocery order. It was tough to find items where it is worthwile to have a dozen huge boxes to I selected Poptarts, tea, and biscotti. There were some others that seem promising, but I couldn't remember how much they cost in the market, so I'll have to do some research to figure out what are the bargains before making a commitment.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Two posts in one day! My summer session grades are done, yippee!

Here are two pictures I took this weekend:

The day lily in S'ville

The hay is cut!
Thursday Threesome: Disc Golf Season

Onesome: Disc--overy channel madness: did you catch the Mythbusters show with the bit about the Mentos and Diet Coke (episode 57)? Have you tried it at home yet? What am I talking about? Psst: it's a fun project with the kids...

I don't have cable and have never heard of this before. And I'm not into cola, any type, at all.

Twosome: Golf-- Do you play? Do you watch? Do you care? Even the Opens? Just wondering...

No, no, no, no. Enough said.

Threesome: Season----ing salt? What spices do you routinely use when you're cooking up a little something for yourself? A little tarragon? Cinnamon? White pepper? What perks up a meal for you

I love spices, and I grow basil, oregano, parsley, chives, dill, and rosemary. Some years my mother and I grow garlic. I like other spices too, but garlic is my favorite, I use it in almost everything.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Back in Castleton since last night after a very busy few days in Samsonville. It is not as hot now, but last week was boiling - humid too - and yesterday was also very warm. The pool got a lot of use, Thursday's water temperature was 86! I don't think it ever got near that last summer. Went to my brother's birthday party on Thursday, friends from Buffalo visited for several days, went hiking and walking and site seeing, went to the casual mixer night for the high school class of '71 reunion on Friday, got in hay on Sunday, went for ice cream, visited with an endless stream of people and hosted many BBQs on our deck. The animals are tuckered out (and so are we). Now I am facing my grading deadline for the summer class...Thursday, 11:59 p.m. I should make it without a problem if I don't procrastinate much more. I am going to pick my first green beans from the garden this afternoon! Yum!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Thursday Threesome: Time to Fill

Onesome: Time-- wasters in your life... Just a brief jump onto your soapbox: What is the biggest bother you have in this department? I mean, something you can post without incurring familial or job related problems ...

Phone calls from telemarketers. They always come when I am doing something that should not be interrupted, such as cooking, or showering, or eating dinner, or gardening, or concentrating on work. So the pan gets burned, or I get water all over the floor, or the dogs try to get my plate, or I practically break my leg running to the house, or I lose my place. Whenever I remember to bring the phone with me (outside, or in the bathroom, or near the stove) it doesn't ring, but I always does otherwise. Must be Murphy's Law. I am on the Do Not Call Registry, and it has worked well, but charities and companies that you have done business with in the past can still call.

Twosome: to-- beat the heat! It seems like it's all sort of hot all over the Northern Hemisphere this Summer! What are you doing to handle the heat? ...and for those Down Under? Well, your turn may come in just a few months; do you have any plans for then?

When in Castleton, use the A/C. When in Samsonville, swim!

Threesome: Fill-- your cup with a cold something! What are you drinking this summer to keep cool? ...and if you're a tea drinker: is it "ice tea" or "iced tea"? Just curious...

Bottled water or Polar old-fashioned ginger ale. And I say "iced."

My class ends tomorrow, and I am off to S'ville this afternoon until Monday night. Lots of fun activities planned!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I was interrupted twice by the phone while I was eating dinner. The first was a recorded message from Tom Suozzi, asking for support in the primary. That's the third time I have been called. But I guess it was intended for Bob, since I can't vote in that primary.

The next call was from a fundraiser for the Shriners. He asked if I knew all the great things the Shriners do for handicapped children, and I said "no." So then he delivered the pitch. They are looking for donations so they can take kids to see the circus. I patiently listened, and when he got to asking me to contribute, I said, "I am against the circus and I would never pay for anyone to see it." Which is true, even as a kid I detested the circus. So he said, "would you be willing to donate a small amount, how about $10?" I thought, hello! Did you listen to what I said, or are you just reading off a list of responses when someone says no? But I replied, "the amount is not the issue. I think the circus is animal abuse." And then he hung up on me!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Ha. An amusing end to a story that is personal for me. (Did I mention I emailed the congressman's office the day after my failed attept to educate the campaign workers and let him know that the petitions would include a lot of bogus signatures? No? Well, I did.)

Something interesting that is mentioned in the linked post is that Long, who is Gillibrand's attorney, is considering challenging the challenge, to see if he can get some of the thrown off signatures reinstated, because of "the part of New York’s arcane Election Law that requires signers to write the town or city in which they live, NOT the hamlet or village."

When the two men asked me to sign the petition, I noticed that the column for town next to names of my neighbors was blank. They told me not to fill it in, acting like it was to save time; they would do if for me. I wasn't really comfortable with that, but since my signature was no good anyway, I didn't argue. And remember, there were those bloodthirsty mosquitos. Now I wonder...was it because they had been instructed to fill it in since people do it incorrectly (listing village instead of town), and that gets the names invalidated, or was it because they wrote in town names from the 20th district? (I'm generally not a suspicious type, so I'll go with the former.) Too bad that wasn't the reason the names were thrown out! And too bad they didn't spend some time learning more about which towns are in the district! Oh I forgot, Kirsten's local.

Monday, July 31, 2006

This sympathetic front page article in yesterday's Middletown Record really irritated me. Hey, I am more compassionate than a lot of people about those less fortunate, but this pair has been collecting disability (for back injuries! Yeah, right) for 14 years (starting when they were 50!), they have four grown kids, live in a subsidized apartment, collect food stamps, and get the Cadillac of insurace, Medicaid, and they are complaining because they haven't been to the movies since 1998? Why doesn't the Record focus on some people with real problems? As my brother said, why not ask the homeless guy who is living under a sheet of plywood whether he would like to watch TV all day in their comfy apartment? If I was the betting type (which I am not), I'd wager that this couple both worked under the table for many of those years, and collected disability in addition to their unrecorded earnings. Now they probably are too ill to do it any longer and so they somehow managed to get the ear of a journalist to complain.

Friday, July 28, 2006

My book came today! They changed the title slightly from the previous two editions I worked on, now it's called Education: Meeting America's Needs? It looks good overall.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Two posts in one day! I thought I would try this again.

Thursday Threesome

You Can't Always Get What You Want

Onesome: You can't always get what you want- Have you ever wanted something really badly and had it fall through, only to look back later and realize that things ended up better for it?

I had a hard time thinking of something! I must lead a charmed life. Either that, or I don't want very many things. But then it hit me; my story being published in Chicken Soup. I can't say that I wanted it badly - I didn't, until they accepted it, and then I couldn't wait to see it in print. But they blew me off without even a courtesy email. I was very upset. Later I didn't care as much because I am glad I didn't sell them all rights. I would never sell all rights to my work at this point. And now it was published by the Freeman, which I much prefer! So things wound up better all around.

While I was writing this, I realized that there was something else. It was the promotion at my job as an administrator in 1998. I didn't even get an interview, even though I had worked there almost a decade, was the best qualified candidate, and had done the job on an interim basis for no extra salary for a year! And I was asked to interview one of the candidates! Wow! I guess I don't lead a charmed life after all. But since that awful experience wound up shoving me out the door (with a near "F you" to my nemesis-boss who will remain anonymous) and into school full-time; two short years later I had the PhD in hand; eight years later I have published more than I could have imagined, and have six years experience as a faculty member under my belt...well, I guess you could say, yes, things ended up better for it that time too.

Twosome: But if you try sometimes- Is there anything you you've ever wanted so badly that you were willing to give up on other things while you tried to get/save up for the one big thing?

Sure, but it wasn't a material possession. I wanted to be published, so I gave up a lot of wasted TV watching time to pursue that goal. I wanted my education, so I gave up all sorts of things: literally years of social events, TV, pleasure reading, sleep, money...

Threesome: Well you just might find you get what you need- Most of us have been at spots in our lives where what we want and what we need are not always the same thing. Money's tight and that new toy you want isn't going to happen because you need to get the brakes on the car repaired or you need textbooks for school. What have you really, really wanted, but you had to give up because of practicality? And did you ever figure out how to have both the want and the need?

You know, I really can't think of anything. I just don't have a lot of interest in material things; I am able to get pretty much anything I want. And other things I want, say an achievement of some sort, I go after and don't give up. Sure, there are things that I have really wanted that didn't happen, but it wasn't in my control, and that's the way life is. For instance, I really wanted Rudy to live longer. I did everything I could - but it was not meant to be. "If love could have saved him, he would still be alive." Sniff.
Blogger seems to be cooperationg, at least so far, so here are the pictures I wanted to post:

Here's Sam, with Sophie on the stairs.

A better than usual one of Sam-Sam, who is so much cuter in person. (I mean, in canine.)

"The chair matches me perfectly, and don't I look lovely?"

Not bad for 14, with her pretty green eyes! But Edna isn't crazy about having her picture taken.

This doesn't change much from one year to the next - but we went with red geraniums this year with petunias and traditional vinca, rather than the fancy stuff that was a disappointment last year.

My garden, shortly after planting (it has grown a lot, I'll have to take some more shots of it).

Ever wonder what happens the next year, if you plant one of those bulbs from the supermarket Easter Lillies?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Opening day of the Saratoga Race Track. For the next month, all the media will be focused on that disgusting spectacle, pretending it is important, and everyone around will babble nonstop about going to the track. "When are you going to track? Have you gone to the track yet? Wha-??? You've got to be kidding. You don't like horse racing? Huh? Why?"

Ugh. Spare me.

I finally downloaded my recent pictures. I thought I was going to post some here...but blogger isn't cooperating. Oh well, maybe another time.

Monday, July 24, 2006

The weekend was quiet. We stayed in Castleton. The weather was rainy, and we had a vet appointment for the dogs that took about half of Saturday, so it was easier to not go to Samsonville. Friday night I washed every blanket, throw rug, linen and pet bed in the house, because I noticed a few fleas on the animals. We also gave both dogs baths, I flea combed Edna, and vacuumed the livingroom and kitchen. We never have a major flea infestation, I think because of the homemade diet, combined with beneficial nematode broadcasting in the yard. Rudy hadn't had them in years. In the Fall, Sam had fleas when we adopted him, and I eliminated them with about two months of diligent laundering, vacuuming, bathing, and combing. It is quite a task to beat them without chemicals, so I hope I am successful this time around, too, but I know I haven't won yet.

Good reports all around from the vet visit. Sophie was good about everything except inspecting her teeth, but Sam was terrified. He is such a baby, I have never seen a dog be so scared over the Friday night bath, or at the vet. He had to be muzzled for the blood test, since she had the vibe he might bite out of fear. Still, she thought he was good, smart, and nice-looking. And now we know he is healthy too, both dogs' blood test came back negative for heartworm, lyme and erlichia. That's a relief, since who knows how much negative impact Rudy's positive lyme, and treatment for that, had on him.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

I have taught the same course online since Spring 2000, during summer session since 2001, on campus during the evening since 2002 and daytime since 2003.

The class is half over, and I just sent out feedback to all students to give them a pat on the back - or a wake up call. Honestly, the round of emailing that usually follows the feedback can be frustrating. Do students think they can do nothing and get a good grade? Or even pass the course? I just yelled at my screen, "how about this for an idea? Put in some (censored) effort!"

Online learning is not everyone's cup of tea. Independent, self-directed learners prefer it, it makes life easier for those with difficult schedules or who live a distance from campus, and students who are shy about speaking in front of others often find their voice via electronic discussion. Discussion is always very good in the online class; on campus, the quality varies. A lot. On the other hand, students who like the immediacy of the classroom, the nuances of body language, the reminders, pointers and reassurances about assignments, miss the classroom.

In my experience, the range of students in the online version of the class is very wide. During summer session, the students tend to be very strong, for the most part. I speculate that students who attend classes in the summer are among the best students in the university - whether on campus or online. However, during both the academic year and in the summer (when I always get a few students who are taking the class solely because they failed something in their college career, and need something, anything, to graduate - they are always either extremely motivated because they have learned a hard lesson, or more often just plain awful because they simply want to be done) it is in the online class where I have found both the strongest, and the weakest students. The strongest students make my job very easy, they bring so much insight and energy to every topic. I wonder about the weak students, if perhaps they expected the class to be a piece of cake, for some reason do not drop it when the unpleasant reality sets in, and instead are not making much effort, or if they are just in over their heads with the online format - or if they are weak students in general, and are aiming for a D-.

One other drawback that I have found over the years is that plagiarism has been more common in the online section. It isn't completely absent on campus either, sadly. Whether cheating is something that has always existed to the degree I have encountered it, or if it has been facilitated by the Internet, or a lack of absolutes in terms of morality and ethics in modern society, or the focus on getting a piece of paper and a job rather than learning, or careless professors who do not check or let offending students get away with a light penalty, I do not know. But in the 15 or so times I have discovered plagiarized essays, 75% of them have been in the online class. There was one incident in the online class last semester, in fact. Perhaps the anonymous nature makes it more tempting, perhaps the stern nature of my remarks to the class in the opening lecture on campus are taken more seriously, perhaps being online so much with the seductive and other such vendors just a few clicks away makes it easier?

I'll end with something positive. I have not detected any cheating during summer session this year (yet?).

Monday, July 17, 2006

Friday, July 14, 2006

I finally was able to mulch the garden and stake the tomato plants. I was quite a sight, wearing a filthy baseball cap to shield my face from the sun, long sweatpants to guard against mosquitos (which were pretty bad, but not as bad as they have been), and the 90 degree heat resulted in sweat running down from my scalp, down my face and into my eyes. But I got it done and it looks great. I had to use ribbon to tie the tomato plants because I couldn't find twine. Tonight we're off to Samsonville unless Bob is too exhausted for the drive. I'm hoping to get in a swim before bed!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

We spent vacation last week in Samsonville, and I had my first real swim of the season. This weekend it is supposed to be very hot and humid, definitely pool weather.

Here's an article from today's Times Union on the unveiling of a historical marker about Grace Brown's murder.

Last night, we were watching The Producers on DVD (it was great!) when the dogs jumped up and started barking because someone was knocking on the door. It really startled me since we don't get many unannounced visitors in Castleton. It was two men canvassing for the Independence Party. I am an Independent, so I went outside to talk to them. They were collecting signatures for Kirsten Gillibrand to appear on the ballot for Congress. So I told them that the incumbent, John Sweeney is not my representative. A few years ago, we were redistricted, and now I live in Mike McNulty's district. They insisted I was wrong, Castleton is in the 20th district, not the 21st. I was rather shocked that her campaign wouldn't know that is incorrect. I was sure I was right, so I tried to explain about redistricting and that their list must be out of date, but they were very forceful.

It has been a nightmare outside here lately because of the mosquitos (so much so that I haven't even been able to mulch my vegetable garden), The Producers was on pause, I had a glass of wine waiting, the dogs were still barking, and I didn't feel like continuing the conversation (even though they were perfectly nice), so I signed the petition. They gave me some literature, and remarked, "I guess you must not like John Sweeney." I responded, "actually that's not true. I have great respect for him over one issue - animal welfare. He sponsored an anti-slaughter bill for horses that is very important to me." They were surprised, and said that Kirsten would call me to assure me that she also supports horses. So I said, "well, I can't promise my vote (which is a major understatement since I don't live in the 20th district, although I didn't bother to add that at this point), but I am not necessarily opposed to anyone trying to get on the ballot, this is a democracy after all," and they left with the petition and a bunch of mosquito bites for their troubles.

After the DVD was finished, I checked the website of Congress, and discovered that I was, in fact, correct - I live in the 21st district. They were the uninformed ones. So they wasted their time last night, not exactly a salve for all those mosquito bites (and they were foolishly wearing shorts, a big no-no in the evening in Castleton unless you are saturated with 'Off.' [Note: I prefer long pants over chemicals.] But somehow I doubt they had any Deet handy).

Friday, June 30, 2006

Today the deluge stopped, so I ventured out and took some photos of my flowers and garden. Maybe I will post a couple here eventually. All the rain didn't seem to hurt the plants. But the same can't be said for many places; the Oneonta area took a big hit, in the Capital District, Schenectady's stockade is under water, and although not on the same scale, our driveway in Samsonville got washed out again.

Tomorrow, we are off to Lenox, MA. This time, we'll see Prairie Home Companion at Tanglewood. No link, because Tanglewood doesn't seem to have a website. Strange. Anyway, it seemed so far off when Bob bought the tickets in January, and now it is here already.

Next week we'll be in Samsonville. My connection is dial-up there, so the swimming pool always wins out over the computer.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Update on the geese.

I thought with the start of summer, I'd be posting here more often - and considering the nonstop rain that prevents doing my favorite summer activity, working in the garden, this should be an alternative, but I really haven't been writing much. My summer session class started Monday. But so far, there isn't much work to do, so that's not it. Just don't have much to say, I guess.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Two posts on one day! I love historic stories. The Times Union has been doing a lot of them lately, since it is their anniversary.
I got the garden in yesterday, so now the only thing left is to plant zukes in Samsonville. It is supposed to rain today (so far it is just overcast) so my plan for the afternoon is reading Teacher Man, by Frank McCourt.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Last week, I got all the flowers planted in Castleton, and over the weekend, we opened the pool in Samsonville. Now all that's left is to plant the garden. I did the digging yesterday. I am itching to get the plants and seeds in today, and put up the fence, but it is kind of overcast, so I'm afraid I will be eaten alive by mosquitos. The forecast looks more clear for tomorrow, so I may resist the urge to brave the bugs and wait until then to finish the vegetables. I've got my summer session online class all ready, so what is there to do today? Clean the house. Ugh. But it would be productive.

Here's a story for anyone who wonders why I love beagles. Belle is one cool dog. I just know Wuj could have been this heroic, too.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

I can finally say that I am done with the spring semester! Today I finished emailing students the breakdown of their grades, and a memo of my thoughts on the class. I don't know why it took me so long to get finished. Actually, I do. In my four classes, I had 119 students this spring. For some reason, there were more than usual that I felt the need to send more than the generic merge memo with grade details; I wanted to write some specific comments. That was kind of hard, and a few weeks distance was a good idea in terms of gaining perspective. Most of the remarks were complimentary, but I had one student that I really disliked. That's odd for me. I usually like all students, even the slackers and ones who cheat. But this student really rubbed me the wrong way. That smirking face in every class. The obnoxious, nearly insane comments in journal entries. The student had a major impact on the atmosphere of the class. Amazing that one person can have such an impact. I tried hard not to let it influence the grades I gave, but I had to address it in some way in the end of semester memo.

Finally it stopped raining and the weather is nice - time for pool opening and planting! (My summer class starts June 26.)