Friday, March 30, 2007

Here’s something that sparked my interest. Certainly the Ladies in White have a clever business idea. I dreamed up this business (although I’d never actually do it), so I understand seeing an opportunity to exploit the way our society handles death. But after reading the article, I am left wondering why this market even exists. Must we subcontract everything in our lives? As I mention in the linked post, I’ve heard from florists that on Mother’s Day, they get a lot of orders that are delivered to cemeteries. These customers don’t actually visit the cemetery. I’m not passing judgment on whether people should visit cemeteries, but why are they bothering to have flowers delivered?

I do know a few people whose ashes have been sprinkled in a wilderness area, scattered into a body of water, thrown out of a plane, or sadly, misplaced (to maybe wind up in a landfill). However, most people I know who choose to be cremated have friends or relatives who either 1) keep the ashes in a decorative container in a bookcase or on a fireplace mantle; 2) bury the ashes in the yard and plant a tree; or 3) buy a cemetery plot for the ashes (actually two cremains will fit in one standard grave) and put up a monument.

As it happens, I do visit cemeteries, including some where no family or friends are buried. I have always loved cemeteries. Many are so beautiful. I’m a trustee for Mt. Pleasant Rural Cemetery, and Mountain View Cemetery is behind my Castleton house and that was Rudy’s favorite place for a walk. My brother lives next door to Bushkill Cemetery, and a little section containing Ashokan Reservoir removals borders his house. As a history buff, I believe the cemetery plus monument route is the best, regardless of whether the grave contains cremains, or remains.

An aside, Ladies in White reminds me of this.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Here I mention the posters that are everywhere on campus. They put up new ones recently. The last ones were shades of electric blue. These are fuscia. They say something like "Did you know 65% of students report that they don't drink until they are impaired*" (at the bottom, it lists that the * means .08 BAC). What are they thinking? Obviously not about the 35% the rest of us are focused on!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Howie knew "speak" and other tricks. Penny never cared to learn any, since she always got a treat when Howie performed. I taught Rudy tricks as well. His favorite was "speak." Sophie would get her reward when Rudy did the requested act, but she too had no patience for formal learning - although she wasn't as nice about it as Penny was. Sophie let us know in no uncertain terms to stop that foolishness. So now we are trying to teach Sam the repertoire. He is still so babyish, even as he gets near to two years old, and so far we haven't had any luck. The other day, as Bob was trying to teach him "speak," Sophie was there, perched on the stairs, waiting for her treat. Finally, when Bob said "speak," she let out a little woof. Both of us were shocked! She learned just from watching Rudy all these years, but would never show us what she knew until now. I guess Sam's resistance has been frustrating, and so she decided it was time to step up. We've tested her several times at this point, and she does it every time. So precious.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

I know being 45 and childfree raises suspicion of being a kid hater, so I hesitate to write this! But this is one of those days when I am tempted to open a window and yell. A group of kids often rides downhill in the neighbor's yard after school when it is a nice day, and there is enough snow. The hill behind our houses is perfect for sleigh riding. Whatever dogs I have had, this results in nonstop watching out the window, while barking. Howie, Penny, Rudy, Sophie, Sam: two dogs barking at once, without missing a beat. It drives me insane. What compounds the irritation is that these kids don't even live in one of the houses on our hill. The neighbor does have a grandson, but it isn't him. These kids are much older. I know the kids are having fun; sledding was something I loved to do, also. But Daylight Savings Time means that there is another hour of daylight while there still is snow this year!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The day after we got the car back from the body shop (it came out beautiful), we are clobbered again with snow! But this time the car is safely tucked away in the church parking lot.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

On campus, recently there have been very attractive posters put up here and there. My reaction has been the same as many of the students quoted in this article. The one that says "Did you know 88% of students have never been involved in an alcohol-related fight" is prominent in my building. I couldn't help but think of the 12% who reported that they had!

Friday, March 09, 2007

When I wrote the post before this one, I copied and pasted it from a word processor. I usually type right in the blogger interface, but lately - either because of the blogger upgrade or because of some other change I have made recently in my computer (and there have been many), when I write a long post, all too often the machine crashes or freezes and everything is lost. I suppose one thing I've learned (but haven't consistently done) from blogging during the past five years is that it's safer to copy/paste. However, the line breaks are irritating. I fixed some of them, but I probably won't bother to spend the time correcting them all, even if it looks crummy, and my detail-ish-ness is peeved over it.

I'm so irritated that daylight savings time has been extended this year. Why did they do this? Who benefits? Certainly not me. I am just going to let the time be wrong on my computers. It isn't worth trying to patch.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

I've been meaning to write something related to this topic, but when I started yesterday, I got interrupted. Then today I had to write a midterm for one of my classes (and for some reason it was an agonizing experience this semester). After that I had papers to grade from my other class. It seems lately I mean to write about things here, but never get to it.

Actually, what I want to write was sparked by the linked topic, but really has nothing to do with it. The story reminded me of an incident when I was a doctoral student.

I was taking a required class one semester. As I recall, the class was rather large for the doctoral program (maybe 20 students?). I never had the professor before (or again), but he was nearing retirement, and although very nice, he was not very inspiring. One day he was reading out loud from a text - it was something on
organizational theory (or it may have been Weber), and he used a fake German accent. I was surprised; I thought it was a silly, tacky thing to do (and I also thought reading the text verbatim was a boring method) but what happened next was way worse.

Perhaps encouraged by the ridiculous reading, a student in the class raised his hand and made some disparaging remarks about southern Europeans, and people of southern European descent. It had something to do with how they don't care about educating their children. At a prior class, he had made some negative remarks about women. I'm sorry that it has been so many years that I can't remember exactly what he said.

This guy was always the fastest hand in the west, constantly participating. Today, as an instructor, I know how much that is appreciated, how you'd do anything to cause a ripple in the sea of blank faces, but my recollection as a student is that students who are loud mouths tend to stifle other, less glib students. That was the impact this guy had on the class atmosphere. I remember looking around at the few classmates I knew well (this was when I worked full-time and took one class per semester, so I was something of an outsider) and if they cared, or were even listening, it wasn't apparent. Now, or even then under the right circumstances, I would have taken him on, but having had this guy in several other classes I didn't want to mix it up with him. I believe I and maybe one other woman spoke up when he made the derogatory remarks
about women, but I think I let the southern European descent ones slide. Regardless, our protest was meaningless - he became very animated, angry and even louder when challenged.

I do remember suffering through the first three or four classes of the semester with
him always having something obnoxious to say, the professor allowing him to dominate, and leaving class when it ended, feeling offended. I also recall that I knew a woman who was not in the class, but was in another required class with him that semester (that I had already taken), and that we commiserated about how awful he was behaving. As I mentioned, I'd already been in a few classes with him before, and he always had something to say in those classes too, but if it was particularly offensive or inflammatory, I didn't notice.

After several classes, I concluded that the weekly aggravation wasn't worth it. My job was very demanding, and I was at a very low point in my interest in the doctoral program. I went to my advisor, and informed him that I intended to drop the class. During the conversation that followed, he tried to convince me not to do it and I explained that I just couldn't take sitting through the excruciating comments for the
rest of the semester. But he asked me to give it another chance, and so finally I agreed. (I now know how much risk there is when PhD students take a break...they may not come back.) And the offending student never made another remark like that again. I assume my advisor spoke with the instructor, who then counseled the student. Or maybe my advisor spoke directly with the student, but that wouldn't be the usual academic protocol. Regardless, I have always been grateful to my advisor for saving me from running out the door.

Monday, March 05, 2007

I wrote "more later" on my last post but then didn't bother writing anything more. What I was intending to do was write up some thoughts on five years of blogging. I guess I didn't find that inspiring enough.

The alumni event was great! It wasn't in Oneonta, it was at the Parker Inn and Proctor's in Schenectady. At the Parker Inn, we had a private room with appetizers and drinks, then we saw Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at Proctor's. It was a package deal, $50 for the whole thing and it even included wine. The seats were great and so was the show. It was way more enjoyable than our trip to NYC all around. Cheaper for one thing, and the show didn't leave us feeling depressed. Our seats were so much better, Bob had legroom, and the audience is more polite at Proctor's. In NYC, someone's cell phone went off for a long time during the performance and there were about 30 high school students sitting near us who were text messaging each other, fidgeting, and complaining how boring it was. Spoiled.

Anyway, about the Proctor's show, I read the part of Genesis that it is based on, and it actually follows it pretty close. Amazing they can do that and made it modern at the same time. It is one of those shows from the '60s/'70s, like Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell, kind of hippyish, a collaboration of Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice. I think Donny Osmond played Joseph when it was on Broadway, at least it is him singing on the CD I bought. The seats alone would have been more than $50 I think. An alumni was in the cast - he played Jacob, Joseph's father. He came to the reception and after the show, he came out and signed our programs. I think there were only a few alumni besides us though, the majority were Oneonta faculty and staff. All very nice people, we had met many of them at other events. But there were only 2 other men there besides Bob!

There are never any alumni who graduated with us. I guess most people don't care to go to alumni functions. Or it could be that only donors feel comfortable! (We have moved up from the lowest level "Red Dragon" club to the next one, the "Centennial Club.") Two professors from the speech/theatre department came to see the show too. One of them has recently retired, and he was there when we were students. Neither of us had him, but many of our friends did. I chatted with his wife for a while, very nice woman who reminded me a bit of Aunt Ital. They still live in Oneonta and mourn the loss of Bresee's. She says they now have to go to Albany to shop because even though there are more stores on Southside, there is nothing to compare to Bresee's. Bob ran into the weatherman on our CBS channel and talked to him. He was sitting right behind us, but he wasn't part of the alumni group.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

This is the fifth anniversary of Gully Brook Press. More later.