Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A thousand paws up! This says everything I have been thinking - minus the four-letter words.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Back in Castleton early due to the snowstorm! Here is a picture of the Samsonville tree, cut in the yard on 12/23, a big Charlie Brown:


And here's Castleton's, cut by the boyscouts on 12/18:

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

How sad.

Added: the unsuccessful lobbying effort.

Also: My earlier post. She is as much to blame for this as anyone or anything else.

In memory of April, who died yesterday. My mother had her since 1981. I took this picture in August. RIP beautiful horse.

Added: This Christmas, donate to the Catskill Animal Sanctuary, Ulster County SPCA, Mohawk and Hudson River Humane Society or Maine Coon Rescue.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I'm done with fall grades! Something alarming, ten students failed (out of the total 100 students), the highest number ever. There were also two incompletes, but that is not unusual. Now I am waiting to see if any student with outstanding issues responds to my emails (from last week) before I post them to the system. My deadline is midnight, but I don't plan to wait that long.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Only one assignment left to grade, and more than 24 hours to do it!! I think I am going to be done earlier than ever before, probably about lunch time tomorrow. YAY.

Yesterday, 15 members of my family met at Dinosaur BBQ in Troy - what fun!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I couldn't agree more. Difficult time explaining to the kids, eh? Oh boo hoo. That means he still isn't taking responsibility for his actions. No dogs for Vick, not now, not ever.
When I read this today, I remembered this post from a few days ago.

I'm not the sort of person who doesn't see the downsides of technology. I was very skeptical of computers thirty years ago. I was troubled by things like "efficiency" and "economies of scale." Certainly one can look back on how much television has changed life, and wonder about how bad the impact has been. In the last foundations class this semester, when we were discussing educational technology, I told students that in my grandfather's day, everyone knew how to play a musical instrument. The radio changed that.

It is possible to ask questions without being a detractor, or a supporter. For instance, was the invention of the car good or bad for people? Surely you can make a list that has both pros and cons.

I believe hysterics over the changes in communication - email, texting, and social networking are the equivalent of "if man were meant to fly he'd have wings." Now, I am not exactly an air travel enthusiast, and plan to never fly again unless absolutely necessary. But standing in the way of the march of "progress" was worthless in terms of planes, and is futile when it comes to e-communication.

It isn't just a fad. Sure, technology will zip on by, and a new innovation will come along. That doesn't change the fact that this is how it is now, and it is interesting to think about what that means.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I am happy to report that both the "unabashed fan" and I were wrong!
First line, eighth paragraph of this story (even worse, it is the lead line in the story under "breaking news" on the home page for some reason) "To find Bailey guilty of the first-degree charge -- which carries a possible sentence of life in prison without parole..." What a careless error!
He's known for his powers of prediction? Duh. I can predict it won't be murder in the first degree, and I am not a retired cop, lawyer, or crime novelist. I'm sure the DA knows it too. So this jerk is an "unabashed fan" of hers? (I think maybe the TU is also.) What would have to be wrong with you for you to be anything other than repelled by her, someone who is clearly a morally challenged individual? Ugly on the inside and out, the deal she made didn't even preserve her exterior, the way Dorian Grey managed to pull off. The best there is indeed; the best what is the question.

Don't believe me, watch the Frontline she appears in. What a refusal to take responsibility!! I don't write this because she is a defense attorney. (Although I wonder who is paying her fee for this case? But we don't have the right to know that.) How about having to resign as judge over the Halloween costume photo and her behavior at the TU Center (it was the Pepsi, formerly the Knick at the time)? Even that is spun as if it was her quirky (translation charming) personality. If any of those things had been done by someone the TU didn't like, they would throw it up in every recent article on this case where her name appears.

It better be at least murder in the second degree though, or I am going to lose all faith in humanity. Do you see how they are framing it? To make it appear that second degree will be a victory for her and her client. Just reading the articles about the case makes my blood boil. Why do I pay for a subscription when 90 percent of the paper is unreadable? My heart breaks for the young man's parents.

Added: the only other time I have written about this sad case.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

One of the recently highlighted blogs on the TU site has something to do with midlife. Seeing the link, I remembered that quite a while ago I read this post and was perplexed.

It says to answer "Yes" or "No" to the 16 questions.

Then it says that you score 1 point for each “yes” on 1, 3, 5, 9, 13, and 16 and 1 point for each “no” on 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 14, and 15.

So I went down the list. My score was twelve. I consulted the key, and it said:

"If your total is:
0 to 4. – You are in the flow, in the zone, on automatic MOJO! You should have your own blog about how to live a well-adjusted life. Or feel free to contribute to this one on a regular basis!
5 to 9. – You have a healthy outlook most of the time with the occasional self-questioning fest. Spend a little more time in the self-help section of the bookstore or library or get a life coach – shameless plug.
10 plus. – Welcome to Making the Most of Midlife! Boy! Are you at the right place. Be open and willing to be open and willing and know that you can change your life!"

What? I need to change my life? Why? The quiz is indicating I am in a crisis or something? I carefully went through every question, and checked the tally to be sure. OK, maybe there were a couple that could have gone the other way, but I'd still be in the least self-actualized category. Let's go through each question: 

1. I am more open minded today than I was 10 years ago.

I would say No to this one because I have always been open minded. That didn't get me a point, so didn't increase my score, so I guess no argument there. It is a weird question, since someone could say No to it because they were closed minded ten years ago and still are now, or they could answer it that way for the same reason I did - because they were always open minded. But why would someone who answered Yes to it get a point? Why would growth over your life result in a higher score on the "not living a well adjusted life" scale?

2. I haven’t been able to reduce my stress levels.

Well, I think I have never been a very high stress person, but I do remember having more money hassles and time conflicts in younger days, so I believe I have been able to reduce my stress levels. Leaving administration and finishing my doctorate ten years ago had that result.  It's a poorly worded question, but the No answer got me a point. Why? Why is being able to reduce one's stress levels an indictor of maladjustment? Because I never should have had stress in the first place?

3. I know who I am.

Yes, I think I do. I get a point for this? It is better adjusted to not know who you are?

4. I feel like I am running out of time to do all of the things I want.

No, I don't feel that way about life. I get another point? Why? Because it means I am in denial? I assure you, that is not true. It's just that I am an optimist, and I do the things I want.

5. My work life is no less satisfying than before.

It is true that my work life is no less satisfying than it was before. I earn another point for the Yes? Why? I have had quite a few jobs in my career. Many I have liked, a couple I haven't, and I love what I do now. I am supposed to hate my job and want out of there? Be dreaming of God's waiting room in Florida or something?

6. I often say to myself “How did I get to be this old?”

Funny, I do occasionally say that. It's more of a joke than anything else. But the Yes answer here is the one that doesn't get a point, so it's all good, I guess. Still, why does the No answer get a point? Someone who thinks of the years of there life differently, perhaps has reckoned with their age, is not well adjusted?

7. I now pay more attention to my self care than before.

Another one I didn't get a point for, this time with a Yes answer. I am not sure it is possible to not pay more attention to self care as we age. There's a reason they sell nose hair clippers, you know.

8. I resent the effort it takes to be fulfilled in my life.

No, I am generally not a resentful person. Why does that get me a point? Because it isn't an effort? In that case, it is a trick question. But frankly, I am beginning to suspect that this entire quiz is a sarcastic joke. If it is on the level, then maybe the scoring categories are backwards.

9. I feel good about my future.

Yes - another point. Huh? Feeling bad about the future translates to being more well-adjusted?

10. It’s hard to maintain a proper work-life balance.

No, it isn't hard...although sometimes there has to be juggling and that's OK (so maybe it could have gone the other way). Predictable, another point if I keep the No.

11. Just making ends meet wipes me out.

No, plus one again. This is getting old. This quiz was written by a life coach? Life where? The land of misfit toys?

12. I daydream more than I used to about all kinds of things.

I could go with No here, because I have always daydreamed and had a strong imagination. That gets me a point. Or I could go with Yes, which would have gotten me no point, because recently I have recaptured some creativity. I go through spells of very imaginative, and other times when I am focused elsewhere. Either way, this is a bad question.

13. My life so far has been great.

Yes - again, the satisfied optimist. You guessed it, score another point. So if you perceive that your life has sucked, you don't get a point? I guess because disatisfied pessimists are more well-adjusted.

14. Overall I consider security to be more important than I used to.

Yes, I think so. Again, with aging, it is almost a given. Whoa! Didn't get a point for that. Do people with low scores on this quiz have a disassociative personality disorder? Because the answers that do not yield points are wildly inconsistent.

15. Sometimes I feel I need more excitement in my life.

No, my excitement level is just fine. And guess what? I get another point.

16. I had more excitement in my life when I was young, but I’m okay with that.

Yes, that is true. Add on another point...I guess if my young life was boring, or if I was pining away for clubbing, I'd be more self-actualized?

So I wrote a comment on the blog. I didn't write this much, nor was I as critical as I am here. I just asked about a few questions, why a No or Yes would get a point, and for a better explanation of the categories.

My comment remained in moderation for a long time, and then was deleted. No surprise there, I guess. My high score means I shouldn't contribute to the blog, get it? I'm just too darn lacking in mojo.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Last day of classes! It was a good day teaching-wise. Not a good day otherwise...

Same dude that I described here is hassling me.

It's a harbinger. I have a feeling I am going to get attacked in tomorrow's meeting. But luckily I have already planned to not go.

Also good fortune,  I have already received my appointment letter for Spring. So I am safe until September 2012, whatever happens tomorrow.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Catching up on some things I wanted to comment on:

I clicked on this story link because I thought "B" stood for Bishop, and I wondered why anyone would send her a nasty letter. Then I read that "B" stood for Benjamin, and I thought, "well, duh."

Why the Record is worth every penny of its price. This actually made me LOL. 

I finally read this post and remembered that I had been meaning to write something sparked by this story.

On the tenure issue, I can only say that I don't have tenure, and won't ever have it in my current position. I am not complaining about that, I have plenty of protections and do not see all that much firing even of the nontenured (although in the current environment that is very likely going to change). I quit my job at System once I achieved tenure so you might say that it isn't an issue for which I would go to the mat.

About hassles with tranferring into different classes due to the teacher, I can sympathize. When I was in eighth grade, I was put in a class called Math 8E. It was basically honors math. I was also permitted to take high school level art classes instead of eighth grade art. My school was a centralized 7-12. (It still is, although now the junior high kids are somewhat more separated from the students in grades 9-12.) All of my other classes were regular eighth grade level, the upper track intended for students who would eventually be taking the Regents in high school.

There was not a big AP or honors program at my school, although I believe there were some courses. I did not take any AP or honors in high school, but I remember that a few social studies teachers were considered to be teaching classes that were not labeled that way, but I believe had kids in them who did eventually take the AP exam. I did not have any of those teachers. Even though the social studies classes I was placed in were not labeled any differently, the atmosphere was often bedlam, kids throwing stuff, swinging on the door and jumping out the windows of the classroom, and otherwise acting out. I didn't care or agitate to be moved, instead I just did my homework for other classes during social studies.

When I was in eleventh grade, I entered a contest that had to do with writing an essay on American history. I entered on my own, without direction from anyone in the school. It turned out that I was chosen as my high school's winner, and had to compete at the county level. I went to meet with the teacher who would be my mentor for the county competition. He was one of the social studies teachers who taught the kids who eventually took the AP exam. I recall his surprise at meeting me; although I knew who he was, he did not know me. He said, "why aren't you in my class?"

Back to the real reason for this anecdote, I'd always done well in and liked math, so the placement wasn't a surprise. Unfortunately the teacher was terrible, possibly the worst teacher I ever had in K-12.  I remember when we were learning pre-algebra, he would write an equation on the board (you know, of the 10x + 4y = ? or labeling triangles and other shapes variety), but the letters he chose were always drawn from his own initials and a boy's in the class. They were scrambled, so that the equation was not just a string of his and the boy's initials in order, but once we worked it out, the result was always his three initials plus the boy's.

He never used a girl's, not that any of us would have liked this better. Most of the boys targeted were extremely uncomfortable over it, too. He was a very strange guy, and had a reputation for having inappropriate relationships with the male students, that sometimes continued until they were alumni. The graduates would come to visit him during our class, and he would dismiss us immediately whenever that happened. But then questionable involvement with students was not uncommon, and it didn't result in headlines, jail terms and lawsuits as it does today.

I suffered through his class, making so-so grades, never failing, just not doing well for me. I think I wound up with a low B in the class, rather than my usual A. The weird initials in the equations wasn't the sole reason, the overall atmosphere was unpleasant, I just didn't "click" with the teacher or how he taught, did not do well on homework or exams in his class, and I started to dislike math.

Imagine my horror when the following year (which in those days meant Algebra), I landed the same teacher. I immediately made an appointment with my guidance counselor, asked to be switched to another class. You'd think she would have compared my math grade in seventh and eighth grades, been alarmed, and figured out that I had a point. Maybe she thought 8E was just too hard for me, and that was the source of my decline in grades, but she refused to change my placement and I was stuck with the creep for another year.

The result was essentially the same, I did not like math and did not do well in the class. At the end of the year, I believe I again had a B- or C+. Then I took the Algebra Regents exam, and scored a 96. Which I guess says either that the Regents wasn't very difficult, the teacher actually did teach me something although I did not demonstrate it in class, I taught myself Algebra, or someone at the school doctored the Regents results.

I had much more competent math teachers for the rest of high school, but it isn't a surprise that I did not pursue math in college. I drifted to the social sciences, and landed on history...guess the bedlam was better than the romantic strings in equations.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Toleration class ended last night. During the discussion, a student asked for my opinion on something. I try to be vanilla, but if directly asked I will share. He is a very good student, a bit older than traditional aged, works full-time and takes one or two classes per semester. He was in my foundations class last semester. He said he was discussing his courses with family, and some of his older male relatives (sounded like uncles) "went off" when they heard about toleration. He said he tried to explain and defend it (charmingly he said he was not as articulate as I am), but he wanted to know how I would respond.

So I said, "I'm assuming you mean that they thought it was ridiculous, a joke?" He said yes. I said I try to be thick skinned about criticism, but since people rarely say such things to my face, the only time I am confronted by that attitude is when I read blogs on the internet, where I quite commonly find people expressing all sorts of opinions about education programs at colleges, many of which are rather nasty and a good proportion are also uninformed. Things such as John Dewey being one of the most destructive influences in the 20th Century, that education courses are uniformly worthless, that education faculty should all be fired, that education students are morons, that schools of education should be burned down. I'm not exaggerating about that last one at all, I read that last week.

It seems people really have an axe to grind on this subject. I suppose because we all went through the system, and are familiar with it. Some, perhaps most, have had at least one negative experience. As a system it is compulsory, and it is expensive. There are frequently unflattering stories in the press, and there is no denying the mixed outcomes, whether you are a champion or a detractor.

I have to admit that when I read those things it does sort of upset me, but I do my best to ignore it, and I never, ever engage in the comments of blogs on that subject. There is no point. One time when I tried I was so viciously attacked that I gave up. I am not the type of person to get into a flame war.

I shared a personal anecdote, of one time when someone did say something along those lines to my face. I was at my local watering hole, and saw a woman whom I slightly knew, but had not seen in a while. She'd quit her job at a state agency, moved to California to find herself, then came back. People always want to ask me questions when they hear I teach college students. She asked me what I teach, so I told her, foundations and toleration. There was a pause, then she said "no offense" (ever notice when someone says that it is always followed by one of the most offensive things imaginable? And they seem to believe that prefacing their remarks in that way inoculates them from your being offended?) followed by "isn't that just bullshit?"

I laughed and wrote it off to her having one too many glasses of wine, and I asked about her background. She told me she had an undergraduate degree in English, and had taught high school for a few years in Pennsylvania before coming to Albany to work for the state. She hated teaching, and seemed bitter on the subject. I was itching to say "no offense, but you think I teach bullshit courses because you sucked as a teacher?" But of course I didn't.

I told him that I know my courses are not the most difficult in the university, but I also know that they aren't pieces of cake either, that portfolio assessment keeps students continuously working and gets the best results. It's structured so students can't procrastinate, and don't have to cram. I don't rely solely on theory, though there is a good dose of it in my classes, I also try to impart some skills, such as planning, making presentations, writing, research, assessment of yourself and others. I use a wide variety of measures to evaluate students, from multiple choice to essay to hands on projects. I know that many students look back on my classes and remember them, they really do learn. I lecture, I show video, students discuss material within small groups and with the entire class, blended between online and on campus. I get a lot of thank you notes after they graduate. I pour my heart and soul into my teaching, and I would hold up my credentials and achievements against anyone's.

I shared the reason the course was started, that what with ethical scandals such as Enron, Jayson Blair, etc., it seemed a good idea to expose freshman to the importance of academic honesty, and the perils of cheating and plagiarism. Yes, we cover moral education, and I discourage things like stereotyping. I don't hide my bias, that I am an objectivist on some issues, although I am more of a constructivist in my teaching style.

I said that I don't advocate for or against issues such as gay marriage, whatever my personal beliefs are on the subject, but in a world where a college freshman jumps off a bridge because his roommate has bullied him over his sexuality, I think there is a need for college students to understand toleration. It is just putting up with things that you don't like, in the social, political, or moral arena. I explained that many of them will someday be teachers, and have to deal with all sorts of situations in schools.

So I said that he should ask the critics "what is tolerance?" and "what do you think the course is about?" I told him that I doubted they would know the answer. They would say something about celebrating diversity, something drawn from a college's mission statement. They probably think I am pushing a political agenda, attempting to indoctorinate students, that I try to convince the women to burn their bras and that I want to castrate the men. I believe people of opposing views should have freedom...Democrats or Republicans or Libertarians or Greens should be able to debate and that makes me an extremist of some sort?

I asked if he thought they would say anything about political toleration? Would they know we cover free speech and freedom of assembly? That we read works by John Locke and Benjamin Franklin? Would they understand the history of toleration, and list religious toleration as a subject we study? That we learn about and discuss the Holocaust, character education, good samaritan laws, the Amish and compulsory education, Utah's outlawing Mormon polygamy to become a state, the legacy of Dutch toleration in New York, and the controversy over the Mohammed cartoons? Or do they suspect I have students hold hands and sing kumbaya?

I also told the students that it is funny to me that an outsider would have that perception of my classes, since my actual views are a mix of left and right. So much so that conservatives think I am liberal and liberals think I am conservative. Despite not favoring relativism, I am fond of Aristotle's idea of a golden mean, that virtue lies between the extremes. I clearly remember from my own school days, and observe right now many things about schools that are in need of reform, and I do not march lock step with any lobby group. I am really endeavoring to be one ingredient in a recipe that makes a great teacher, because that is more important than budgets, unions, class size, resources, privatization, etc. Yes, we read Dewey, Holt, Kohlberg, Piaget, Banks, Kohn, Macedo, etc. We also read Hutchins, Adler, Finn, Lickona, Famularo, Hess, Whittle and others. I don't stamp out dissent. One of my favorite messages is "ask questions."

Naturally this was resonating with students, and there was also a lot of laughter at some of my remarks. I am always pretty entertaining and funny in class. I closed by saying, "does that help? Did I answer your question?" He nodded affirmatively.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Sophie got her stitches out! Yay! She was such a good girl. She doesn't have to go back for another check up for 3-4 months.

Yesterday, my on campus PC was fried when I arrived in the AM. A widespread electrical problem happened on Monday. The woman who has the office on the other side of my wall heard a "pop," her machine shut down, and soot came out of the surge protector. A campus electrician checked it out but initially found nothing wrong, and her PC worked when she turned it on. 

There was an electrical burning smell in my office, but no other indications of a problem (aside from the broken PC). So the computer staff took away my CPU, and the electrician checked everything again, this time finding the problem. The GA office was the source - their computers were on and were fine but mine was off and was dead (go figure). So I used the student lab downstairs which was OK but I don't have access to the network and can't print from there. Productive day! (Not.) And right at the end of semester. If I was capable of it, I'd have been in a panic.

They swapped out a power supply from a computer in the student lab to my machine and I should have been back in business, but the woman who originally reported the problem on Monday turned on her desk lamp, the bulb burned out and soot came from the outlet again. So we unplugged everything while they re-checked. They also swapped out the power supply in her machine, just as a precaution. By 3:30 everything was back to normal, but I unplugged my computer before I went home last night, just to be on the safe side. I have to get to my last day of classes before losing the machine again! After that they will have until January 20 to sort it out. (I am just remembering my computer crashed right at the beginning of this semester and needed a new hard drive...)

It's amazing to think how dependent we are on these machines, to the point where it is a waste of time to be there without one! I had my blackberry, so although I could use email, it was not my work account.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving and weekend. It's so hard to get back into the swing after having several days off. I didn't check my work mail or course sites at all, I really needed a break, but resuming routine is harder than not taking days off, I think. Now there is only a week and a half left until classes are over! Where does the time go, and my usual end of semester question arises: how will I fit in everything I have to do?

We have a gas fireplace in Samsonville, and although Sophie is not crazy about that house (for two reasons, it is on a slab so the floor is cold, and we often have visitors, while she is Kathy Bates' character in Misery! She likes to have us all to herself), she loves the fireplace. She had a small setback as a result of being there, on Saturday night after we got home, the incision on her leg started to weep a little, where the drain used to be. She goes to the vet to have her stitches removed on Wednesday, so we'll have it checked out then. Maybe she needs another round of antibiotics, or some other treatment, or maybe it will heal eventually and just needs more time. I hope so.

Anyway, it looks OK today, but we broke down yesterday and bought her an electric fireplace. We aimed it at her futon in the livingroom. She loves it! Sam and Teddy seem to like it a lot too. What a life they have.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Baking apple pies for Thanksgiving! Bob will be traveling to see his folks, and I will be with my side, so one for each family.

Later: Let me add that I absolutely detest the recent trend of calling Thanksgiving "Turkey Day." Stop it.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Today is my first day of working back upstairs, in my office. Sophie still has stitches (she gets them out 12/1), we still have the stairs blocked with a baby gate, and yesterday when I had to be at my consulting site, she had to wear the elizabethan collar. But I am becoming so crippled up from using the laptop in the living room that I decided to come upstairs today. I have so much work to do at this point in the semester, can't cut productivity due to ergonomics! I don't have the collar on her, because she has been about 95% compliant when one of us are here. I heard some licking just now and ran downstairs (my ankle is doing so well at this point! Power walked a good distance yesterday) only to discover Sam was the one grooming (himself). So far, so good.

We let her go downstairs to the yard now when we are here and can watch her go up and down, she doesn't have to be leash walked, and she is doing great. Last day of antibiotics will be tomorrow. She hasn't taken a pain pill in several days, although I considered giving her one in the middle of last night. She was very restless. I think with more activity, comes a little more discomfort. Tomorrow night we head to Samsonville. That house is a ranch so it will be easier, but the ride and the yard there will be a challenge. I think I will have to put the e-collar on her so I can have Thanksgiving dinner, since she is always more anxious in Samsonville.

I had a Murphy's Law kind of day yesterday. There were more reasons than this, but I'll just detail a couple. I was exhausted Sunday night, went to bed a lot earlier than usual. Shortly before falling asleep I remembered I had a major deadline in my online class that I had completely forgotten. I'd been so distracted by consulting work that it completely slipped my mind, something I don't think has ever happened in the 10 years I've been teaching online. But I had to attend to a meeting in the morning and I was so tired. So I resolved to update the course site in the morning with a brief note saying there would be a delay of a couple of hours. I also had to print some documents for the meeting. I hadn't done it earlier in the weekend because I was waiting for feedback (which never came).

I planned to be at the site at 8:15 AM - really, really early for me. But I got up! Victory. Shortly before I had to leave I ran upstairs with my flash drive to print the documents and update the online class with that note. I hadn't used my printer in a while - since I started working downstairs. The light was blinking that said it needed paper and a print job of Bob's was partially done. (He said it was from three weeks ago.) I loaded paper and it started to print. After about a half page it stopped and started "thinking." Then all sorts of error messages started flashing - "carriage error" "paper jam" etc. getting worse each time I tried to correct it. Finally I gave up and turned off the machine. I took my flash drive and hoped that I could print on site, if the documents were needed. In the car as he was preparing to drive away, I asked Bob to email me the documents, so that I could review them on my smart phone before the meeting. Uh-oh. He deleted the email where I shared them (without reading them, I might add...). So I ran back inside with my flash drive, emailed them to myself. Going to be late! Never fails.

Once I was on site and observing, an assistant to one of the people I was meeting with found me and announced the meeting was canceled! So on the good side, I didn't need those documents, but on the bad side - I'd missed my online class deadline for no reason. Also, I thought it was pretty rude, some of the participants travel quite a distance and the meeting was on the books for a long time. Oh well. 

When I got home, the printer was still "shutting down." Uh-oh again. I killed the main power switch and forgot about it until today. When I turned it on this morning, it was fine. Or at least I think it is, I haven't tried to print anything yet. 

Lesson 1. Something I already knew. I can't really go into details on the situation, but afterwards I was thinking about today’s meeting being canceled, and how it was done – and it occurs to me that the conclusion I had in the program evaluation that was my dissertation (that the reason innovative programs do not succeed as well as they might has little to do with goal achievement and positive results, or even with enthusiasm of the participants - and more to do with lack of broad support from policy makers) is true for the object of the consulting project as well. Administrative leadership is not interested.

Lesson 2. Something I should have known already. Real job is higher priority than consulting.

Lesson 3. Something I didn't know, but should have suspected. Don't leave your printer flashing an error message for three weeks.
I clicked this blog title for what should be obvious reasons. I don't like people who don't like dogs. I like them even less when they get one and then give it away. Yes, I respect them more for finding a new home than people who dump pets at the pound, but in this sentence, respect doesn't imply "like" or even "approve of." Not just liking them, but having dogs is a dealbreaker issue for me. The kids couldn't talk about him for a decade indeed. I'm surprised they come home for the holidays at all, rather than just sending an edible arrangement with a "love ya" card while they dine with co-workers and their dogs.

I suppose this post is supposed to be all heartwarming because of the end sentiment and photos. Agreed, the dog is a cutie-pie. Sophie is a Basset so naturally I am especially partial to them. And I love cross-breed dogs. And hounds generally. But all that text that precedes the Hallmark moment just made me irritated. I'd be ashamed to write a post that is entitled "No Dogs." But I think among some of the TU lifestyle blogs that is considered a positive attribute.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Finally watched Julie and Julia. Or was it Julia and Julie? Doesn't matter, either way it gets two paws down. I'd heard the Julia Child part was good, but the Julie part was not that interesting, and that's the reason I hadn't bothered to watch it before this. But, the netflix queue was getting thin, so I added it. Shouldn't have bothered. The Julie part is so trite that it makes the Julia part trite as well, because there isn't enough time to really explore Julia's story. What was Julia's childhood and younger adult life like? What about when she was famous? In an effort to make the two stories parallel, only one segment of Julia's life is the focus. As always, Meryl Streep is awesome, but that isn't enough to balance out the tedious story of Julie. Really, who cares? Certainly not worthy of a biopic, which are difficult even when the person focused on is fascinating. The movie is too long because of the Julie segments, but long as the movie seems, Julia's portion is unsatisfying.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I am not sure if I've ever written on this subject here before, but I have a knack for detective work. Years ago, in my Oneonta days, I worked at a gift shop. It was a strange operation, run by a hippyish guy who made his living outside of the shop at flea markets. He spent little or no time in the store, basically I was there most hours it was open, and paid myself every week from the cash register. He had a "harem" and a teenage son who very occasionally worked with me, or relieved me when the shop was open late. One of them took whatever cash was in the drawer, less my pay, when they stopped in.

One day when I arrived to open up I found the door pried open, and several state BCI cops inside. Turns out the guy was running a major scam, and the police had been investigating him for years. He had several phony businesses and one real store. He made up fake wholesalers, and used them to vouch for the credit of the stores. He got deliveries on credit, sold the stuff below list price at flea markets, dumped the remainder at the shop, and never paid any invoices or sales taxes. Turns out he had members of his harem sign for everything, so they were on the hook. He hired an expensive private lawyer for himself, and they were stuck with the public defender.

I'd been suspicious for a very long time, but never dreamed how big a scam it was. I cooperated fully with the police, helped them box up the seized merchandise, and told them what I had observed.

Anyway, the point of this anecdote is that afterwards, the cops tried to convince me to take the state trooper exam. They even stopped at my apartment and dropped off an application. They felt I would make a great detective and assured me that the beat cop aspect of patrolling in a car would be short-term. But although I was flattered, I am the farthest thing from a jock, I don't drive, and I am afraid of guns, so I didn't go through with it. I could have aced the test and the academics, but I would never have gotten through the physical stresses of the academy.

Regardless, I do find detective work fascinating. So I've been doing some thinking about who the emailer from the prior post could be...and have arrived at six possibilities. I won't list them, since I don't write those sort of details here. But the translation of the French name and email address is "The Lord High Steward of the King's Household."
Why am I among the CCs of this "high importance" email that I received yesterday in my university account?

I've removed all the names, aside from the book's author:

From: (name of someone I don't know)@earthlink.net
To: (email address of reporter for Capital District Business Review)
Cc: (vp student success); (vp student development); (lowly me); (u prez); (u avp); (assoc prof biomedical science); (vp athletics); (vp nanoscience); (affirmative action officer)
Sent: Tuesday, November 16, 2010 5:04 PM
Subject: Beer & Circus - A Must Read for SUNY Albamy's President
Importance: High

Name of reporter:

Your article today on the vote of the Faculty Senate, has made me feel the need to highlight the devolution of SUNY Albany as an institution of higher education.

As SUNY Albany's President (deleted name, which was wrong!) prepares to cut programs like Foreign Languages and Classics to balance his budget and chart the growth of his institution, maybe he should tread carefully, and seriously contemplate the ramifications of directions previously taken by SUNY Albany to "promote" the institution, (and himself, and all the other testosterone-high, "Jock-Sniffer" Alum's and media), by jumping into expanding athletic programs, which now seem immune to the budget ax!!!

He, (and a lot of other Capital District college and university presidents) should read Dr. Sperber's book as a vaccine against this insidious disease! SUNY Albany once was acclaimed as an academic institution promoting higher education for the citizens of the Empire State. Now its a Jock Joke!

Sincerely,

Name of someone I don't know
The scene today. Really makes me feel like sleeping too! And what doesn't help is that I am working at the laptop, so that I can monitor Sophie. I am not used to typing lots of text on the keyboard, much prefer my desktop in the office upstairs. Very tempting to accomplish nothing! (But I can't give in - so much work to do at this point in the semester.)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

There was a cancellation, so Sophie had her follow up visit today, rather than Friday. She is doing great, walking almost normally. While she was in the car, she managed to lick it a little, which is something that she has not been doing at all. Dr. Tina said the incisions look great, she took the drain out, and Sophie was good! She will have the stitches out on December 1.

I had to leave her for the first time today to go to campus, so she is wearing the elizabethan collar while I am gone. Poor weenie :-(.

The lab report came back - they were trichoepitheliomas, cystic tumors of hair follicles, which are common in Basset Hounds. They are generally benign, or rarely, low-level cancer, of a type that does not spread to organs. She wasn't able to completely remove the one on her leg without compromising muscle, so it may grow back. However, she is so much improved already that I am not going to focus on that.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Overall Sophie is doing great - no fussing with the incisions, so no need for the elizabethan collar which is a relief since she hated it. We have not made her wear it since the first day. However, I am not sure what will happen when I can't be here to watch her tomorrow. Playing it by ear at this point.

She slept pretty much straight for about the first 24 hours. She peed, ate some chicken, drank water, took her pills, went outside very briefly on her leash. There has been an improvement every day, her appetite is almost normal and she is very interested in going outside, but starting on Saturday night, we noticed that something was making her pant and be anxious. We were concerned, called Dr. Tina, who said she could have up to 6 pain pills per day (she had prescribed 3 per day). So we gave her an extra pill. She didn't seem to need another one until after dinner yesterday, when she seemed to be in pain again, so we gave her one.

Then last night, we noticed the panting and anxiety again - and concluded that while the pain meds may take away the pain, they are giving her anxiety. She doesn't need more pills - she needs to be weaned off. In some ways the anxiety is worse than soreness, she gets really scared and does things that might cause her to hurt her incisions - jamming herself in tight spaces, won't lay down, etc. So I decided to try going without them. She had her last pain pill at about 2 am last night, and she was OK until about noon today.

At about 11, I fed her lunch, and then leashed her up and we went outside. She hadn't pooped yet. I guess that is nothing to be concerned about, it often takes 4-5 days after surgery for that to happen, and the pain meds are constipating, so that is another good reason to take her off of them. I mixed pumpkin in with her food at lunch to see if that would help, and it did. She went!

After we came inside, she was fairly restless all afternoon. I managed to get her to come in from the porch and lay on her futon by using a trail of cookie pieces, one at at time every few inches, to lead her to it. (Sam was so good, he did not take them.) That made her sleep for a while, and she even wrapped herself and covered her head, but after a while she got up, and was wandering around, anxious, going to the door, trying to go behind furniture, etc. So I fed her some cookie pieces and made the decision to give her a Tramadol, which she had at 3:30. She is now laying on the floor, sleeping, by a chair. I covered her. There is such a delicate balance between alleviating pain, and dealing with side effects.


Her incisions are huge, and with one on each side it can be a challenge for her to find a comfortable position. The one on her hindleg has a drain, which Dr. Tina will take out at her follow up on Friday. She walks mostly on three legs, although she can use it somewhat. When I first saw her on Friday, I got tears in my eyes. She is pitiful enough without having to go through surgery. Poor Sophalina Wegalicious Hotdog.


Sam and Teddy have been awesome. They both insist on staying in the same room as her - which means that I have to play door man since we have a baby gate in front of the stairs and Ted's catbox is downstairs in the utility room, plus Sam has to go to the yard through the kitchen. I'm working at Bob's convalescing space, on our laptop in the living room so I can be near her, but I am not used to the keyboard so may not be very productive. Will be very glad when she is more independent, I feel like I have been a nurse for the past two years!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Sophie came through her surgery fine.

We can pick her up tomorrow morning.


It's a relief...but I'm missing her tonight!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

So many things, so little time! Hard to pick just a few...

AOL mail had been taking forever to transmit mail. I know, because I get my mail in so many places, on so many devices. Sometimes it sends more than one copy of the mail. I wonder what is up?

The first unit I was observing as part of my consulting just ended. I spent all day at the school on Monday. It turned out the session was canceled due to the weather (we had our first snow storm of the season!) but I stayed at the school, observed classes, and had lunch with teachers to get feedback.

My afternoon class this semester is a challenge. Texting and chatter is constant. I've had to call out (not single out) students on more than one occasion. A couple of times I just lost it, and ranted for a while. Sometimes in a funny way, sometimes not. One time I had to scold them for the revolving door during a video, too. That  time it worked, and it hasn't happened again, but the texting and chatter continue unchecked. I am considering being disruptive during the worst offenders' presentations next week to teach them a lesson. I hate to do this, and I hate having to call them out and rant, but their antics interrupt my train of thought and annoy other students. I haven't had a class that was this rude in about five years.

Sophie is having surgery tomorrow. It isn't a life-threatening condition, but she is 11, nearly 12, which is pretty old for a Basset. I am going to be a nervous wreck. After all his surgeries, Bob is very optimistic. Me, not so much! I guess because of Ande this past summer, and Rudy five years ago. Not that they had surgeries, but they didn't get better no matter how much I hoped they would. (Edna's was what I consider a "good death.") I think I do believe the outcome will be good, her quality of life will improve, and I will be so happy that we had it done once it is over, but it is very hard for me to not worry and have flashes of pessimism anyway.  

She's having two of those awful cysts she gets removed, the ones that we had aspirated a couple of years ago to check for cancer (they weren't). The one on her leg is impacting her mobility, and the oldest one, on her side, also never heals up right. She gets around OK, although she can't jump up on furniture any longer, and all our stairs in Castleton are a challenge for her. Even in Samsonville, she was having trouble getting up from the ground to the deck walkway. With her short legs and long body, she doesn't need any other barrier to getting around. She is too heavy for me and now Bob to carry, and not all that cooperative even if we could.  

She will have to stay overnight at the vet's, and maybe wear an Elizabethan collar when she comes home. Not thrilled about those two things either! She had pre-op tests and we scheduled it a while ago, it was harder to nail down Dr. Tina than if it was being done at Albany Med! 

Please send a good thought and a prayer Sophie's way.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Something I didn't mention in my post about Waiting for Superman is that a big target is tenure. The documentary attacks it as being too easy to get and as a roadblock to getting rid of incompetent teachers. The unions are criticized primarily for these two issues: unwavering support for tenure, and knee-jerk opposition to merit pay.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Came to campus today. My cold is better, although not over. Bob and I have what we call feeling "home good" v. "work good." On Tuesday, I didn't even feel "home good." Today, I am feeling "home good" but not really "work good," yet I am here. I have an easy day teaching-wise, so I just have to hang in there until about 6.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

I've been meaning to write a bit about the documentary Waiting for Superman. It's very intense. It has a POV for sure. Avoids some issues, overemphasizes a few others, over simplifies to some degree, and it doesn't offer much hope. It was heartbreaking at times (and the emotional aspect was one thing that was maybe unfair), it was definitely thought-provoking, although there were not a lot of surprises to those of us familiar with the education scene. However, it hits more than a handful of issues like a bulls eye. It was painful at times. Definitely worth going to see.

Something that struck me in the very beginning was that one of the filmmakers was talking about education, about how he always was a big champion of public schooling. But that turned out to be "in theory." When he had to make the choice of where to send his own kids to school, he wound up sending them to private school. He passes three public schools on the way as he drives his kids to their school. He remarked about something that I was struck by several years ago. He didn't use these exact words, but this was the sentiment. When it's "one of your own" who is impacted, who is at risk, who may fail, who is bullied, overlooked, disengaged you don't have time to wait for policymakers, bureaucrats, politicians, "the system." Your idealistic theory kind of goes out the window, as you scramble to snatch "your own" from failure. The options of charter, private secular or religious schools or homeschooling don't seem like the province of the homogeneous, the elite, the brainwashingly religious, or the socially weird any longer. They seem like attractive choices you wish you, and other people, really could explore, without lotteries, income litmus tests, and second mortgages.


The other issue that came up in the documentary is the idea of merit pay. Students in my classes debate the two sides of this issue, whether it takes a dark view of motivation, whether it would harm morale. After doing this consulting work, the idea strikes me as worth trying. I know I am motivated by incentives, even though I am not a materialistic person. Why is it wrong to wonder if teachers would be too?

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Got dressed and dragged myself to vote, even though I felt like crap. I felt bad exposing the poll workers to my cold, but what can you do? There was a bakesale and we bought some cookies and brownies. I haven't been eating white flour much for years, but I am making an exception tonight. Can't feel any worse from eating gluten than I feel now, and the comfort food aspect may have the benefit of making me feel all cozy.

I am "NE" (meaning I am not enrolled in a party) so I didn't vote in the primary in September. I say I am independent, but since there is a party that calls itself that, I have reverted to NE, which is what my parents always called people who were neither Democrat nor Republican. They both worked at the polls over the years and that was the listing on the sheets of registered voters for those who were unenrolled...NE.

So this was the first time I used the new process. I don't like the new scantron paper ballots at all, they are confusing. I can see why so many people screw them up. They are not stupid, scantron forms just are not user friendly. I especially don't like that quasi-privacy has replaced privacy. I could see people being intimidated. It is sort of like using a dressing room with an inadequate curtain in a store that only has one or two and they open up into the store. You just know people can see your underwear.

I guess this change is so that they can have a paper trail because there are so many recounts, and so many lawsuits since Y2K? If that's not it, then why? Seemed like I was scanning a lotto ticket or something, so much less official than the click of the little metal lever and the noise of the curtains closing and opening. RIP old lever machines. I'll miss you.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Had a busy and productive weekend, saw Waiting for Superman yesterday. There were about 20 trick-or-treaters this year, up from last year (two? zero? can't remember) but down from a couple of years ago (40) and definitely from several years ago (over 100).

I started to come down with something last night (it's no wonder considering all the places I went yesterday), but didn't let go of denial until just a little while ago, when I accepted that I have cold. :-(. I'm a bad patient.

So I planned to write more here today - and to accomplish a lot more than I have so far today, but oh well. Waiting for Superman will have to keep waiting.

Friday, October 29, 2010

You go, girl! Woman, 88, says she hit 'vital spot' on intruder.
It was such a beautiful day yesterday. Walking across campus, I took a few pictures. The students are motivated more than usual to speak out against the planned program cuts in the humanities. It was too windy for them to display these cardboard tombstones the way they intended (too bad), but I decided to get a shot of them anyway.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Breathtaking, even on a grey day. I think I've heard it is past peak weekend - but if that is true, then post-peak is prettier.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

When are we going to fall behind and why did they make it so late for the past couple of years! I think I may be a minority opinion in this, and I can understand liking Daylight Savings Time during the summer, but at this point who cares if it is dark earlier in the evening? I can't stand getting up in the morning before it is light out, my system is completely out of whack. Owls unite and rebel! We want our hour back!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The governor's debate Monday night was funnier than any sitcom. I am not sure how they kept it together on stage, I would have had a hard time not laughing. I love this song! Gotta love NYS. Pluralism in action! Appreciated the madam too, challenged my stereotype - she seemed much brighter than I would have figured. But I had the image of Biff's Hill Valley in Back to the Future 2 in my mind with her vision of casinos as the solution to economic difficulties! 

It was sort of absurd with all the minor parties diluting things, but it was good TV and it actually changed my mind...I was planning to vote Cuomo (although I was also considering writing in John Nemjo of the "Green Tea Party" who has no platform and his campaign slogan is "I can't do any worse") - but then it hit me - Andrew is not his dad. I was so freaked out over how angry he is (a tag they have plastered on Palladino - who seemed almost calm by comparison. Also, he did not come off as prepared as I would have expected) and also by his remarks on consolidation and centralization of government (hands off my village, Andy) that I have now decided I am voting the Green Party (Howie Hawkes - what an accent! He can't really be from Syracuse). The other issue is hydrofracking - the NYC watershed is a no brainer, but I really do not want my beloved central NY destroyed either. 

I know he doesn't have a chance (and he may not be up to the task anyway) but I think it would be a very bad idea for Cuomo to be elected with the huge margin Spitzer saw back in '06. Look how that turned out! He certainly doesn't need to have an even bigger ego.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Them Cats

Just like everyone else in our family, Mimmie had many pets in her lifetime. In Mimmie’s case, most numerous were cats. “Numerous” is, perhaps, an understatement -- when she lived at the old house, at one time she may have had forty. Mimmie’s sister had a similar passion for dogs and my mother for horses (though in the horses’ case they have never numbered forty). Mimmie also cared for the cats that lived at the Watson Hollow Inn. In 1981 Mimmie recalled:
I remember I went down there all that summer and fed them cats, til Barnes bought the place, because the cats were there you know. I hated to go there, where I had gone so many times, every night and every morning, I fed the cats when they were there. It was an awful feeling, in that barn. I don’t think any place could get any more depressing than that was, after all that happiness that was there. I mean, even as old as they were then, all the ambition they had, and energy, and they never said we don’t feel like doing that this year, the Christmas tree out on the porch, or the Christmas lights, out there in the freezing cold fixing that at their age. And then in the spring, haul that out of there and get those Japanese lanterns up.

Often passersby would “drop” one cat or a whole bunch of kittens at the old house, in the field near the road. They would quickly become new members of the brood. A couple were indoor cats, but most lived outdoors. The outdoor cats were friendly to no-one but Mimmie. Getting large bags of dry food was an important part of shopping trips to Kingston. Conversations regarding what was to be done about “them cats” were frequent.

Daily, Mimmie would mix food and powdered milk with warm water in big pans and carry them outside; cats seemed to run from everywhere to greet her. A lasting image is of cats of every color and size, short- and long-haired, the beautiful and the not-so-lovely, swarming around her stockinged legs as she walked along, carefully balancing their supper, all the while warning them not to make her trip and fall.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Here's another subject I've been wanting to address.

It's not exactly a secret that I am into my animals and animals generally, and was so happy when this resulted in arrest, conviction, jail time, and life changing career impacts.

The TU has not exactly been a shining example on this issue. Then last week, there was this. Apparently it is a re-post from July 2009. A month later, I wrote this. (I had not read the original post.)

The TU blogger decided a re-post was warranted, after watching the game and reading this. The blogger asks "Have we lost our sense of forgiveness? Can someone do something that is unforgivable? My point is that in our culture we are quick to judge and extremely slow to forgive. Our culture does not value forgiveness and that is a shame."

I think these are good questions - but I think the premise is wrong. Our culture loves screw ups followed by apologies. It is almost like there isn't an issue with truly heinous behavior, as long as an apology is offered. "I'm sorry" has become so empty. Does it mean the person is really contrite? I wonder if the blogger would apply this to anyone who is famous, perhaps someone who he does not appreciate for their athletic skills or political viewpoint? I have my doubts.

Regardless, I have asked myself questions like that many times. Not about this specific individual - honestly, if I never saw his name again I would be happier, I would like to never give him or anyone of his ilk a second thought - but about people who matter to me. A couple of years ago, someone I never write about publicly (except in a very secretive way) was attempting to reconnect with me. I soul searched this question: "is it possible for someone to change?" I prayed. Then, in church, the answer came. In the sermon, it was noted that Jesus believed people could.

I did act on that message - grabbed the olive branch. Am I glad I did? Yes. Had change really occurred? The jury's still out, maybe not. But it turns out that all the water under the bridge had eroded the foundation, and it is not really possible for me to cross that bridge any longer. (Funny when my last post had something about bridges, too.) Do I struggle with this? Yes, but sometimes it is necessary to move on. To forgive yourself.

Aside from the false equivalency issue (what difference does it make that people were more vocally outraged in this case? Animals have no voice of their own. And just because we care about animals, does not mean we don't care about people. They aren't mutually exclusive, why do people who are lukewarm about (or dislike) animals assume that they are? Concern (and outrage) are not proportions that must add to 100 percent. They can be limitless, get it? Anyway, his argument is so tired it should be retired), the linked post that sparked the TU blogger to re-post the forgiveness piece is far more annoying.

He describes himself as someone who should be "carrying around a 16-gallon jug of haterade" but I think what his wife says is true. He's a dog liker, not a dog lover. There's a big difference, sorry. I know he was trying to be cute, but his derision for his current two is not funny to a dog lover.

My reactions to his itemized list:

1) Yawn. I'm no sports enthusiast, especially not football, but even if the "talent" was something I really appreciated, I feel pretty zero-tolerance about some issues. This is one.

2) Relativism. Predictable, trite, wishy-washy, patronizing and offensive. Culture is no excuse. Some things are objective. This is one.

3) Troublesome. I am aware of the current relationship with the HSUS. I applaud the HSUS for taking leadership in 2007, and I can understand why they want to take advantage of the situation now. (Although I am free to donate my money to local rescue organizations instead.) However, despite what the president says, I feel very cynical about the motivation and the apology. The image needed to be rehabilitated if a future career was to be a possibility. Brilliant strategy, actually. Do I believe this means he has transformed from a dog abuser and murderer to a dog lover? No. Dog liker? No. Dog tolerator? Well, that is what the law requires. He's not acting on his feelings now. That's all.

4) See #1. Pathetic justification.
OK. Here's one of the things I have wanted to write.

In the August 26 issue, the Olive Press featured an article entitled "An Appeal to Readers." (Can't link to it because that archived issue returns an error message.) It was basically reaching out to readers to find something -- I couldn't really decipher exactly what. I think it was either investors / advertisers or volunteers to help with production, or maybe all three.

On September 8, I read a cryptic post on facebook that suggested "our hometown newspaper" was "fading away." I posted a comment about what that meant which did not elicit a response from the elusive FB group owner.

An issue or two later (can't check whether it was in the next issue because that archived issue also returns an error message) there was an announcement that the October 7 issue would be the last one.

Finally, in the October 7 issue, the demise of the paper, and its slightly older sister, is chronicled in many articles, the editorial, etc.

I take no joy in having newspapers fold, but I see the handwriting on the wall even for major dailies, so it isn't exactly a shock. The OP could be a fun read, the letters column in particular. I think over the years it did improve, particularly the web presence, when it added PDF of the full version.

But I would not be honest if I didn't mark the occasion by ruminating a bit on my feelings about the alleged "hometown newspaper." Frankly, it never could be described with those words by me or a lot of folks I know. I recall being disgusted by both the POV and incredibly sloppy errors when it debuted. It seemed to be just another snarky take on the town, but instead of the frame being a swanky cocktail party, it was in print, the assault sent directly to everyone's mailbox.

Until recently, the website was an abbreviated version (and there are many issues that return error messages sprinkled through the archives), so I can't link to this either, but I remember a photograph feature in the early issues labeled "Eyesores of Olive." The pictures were of falling down houses, barns, shed, stores - places some remembered before they started leaning, and others that had been piles of wood with nature returning for many years. It was so insulting. Those places are not eyesores, they are memories, graves, time marching on, our collective experience. That's something that the OP always insisted they were providing - the veiled suggestion being that we had not been an insightful community before their sage commentary.

Does that seem like a reckless assertion on my part? Take a look at this editorial, from the January 4, 2004 issue: "In our very first issue, we told you our agenda was about building community, and we think we’ve been pretty successful doing that. A community isn’t a bunch of people who happen to live near each other. It’s a place where people understand that part of their lives is a partnership with others who share all the positive things that give them reason to be where they are, and whatever problems are also their neighbor’s problems. We’ve frequently heard comments to the effect that many folks barely realized Olive was actually its own town before the paper came along. While there is a certain humor to that, it does tell us that something very much like what we’re doing was overdue."

I wonder who barely realized Olive was actually a town before the OP came along?

In the first issue (January 2, 2003), the editorial says: "Call us impatient, but we figure after 179 years of being a town, it's time Olive had a regular newspaper of its own." That irritated those of us who now don't mourn the OP. We had newspapers before. Granted, the Onteora Record wasn't exclusively Olive focused, but you could hardly call the OP exclusively about our town, either. It was essentially the Phoenicia Times with a different masthead, and a couple of unique articles. The majority of content was identical. The Ulster County Townsman was Shandaken based, but in many ways, it covered the spirit of the town better than the OP. Its demise was sadder. Then, in the "olden days," the Freeman had columnists that covered town highlights. Sure, it was mostly social happenings...but it reflected our character.

That same OP editorial lists a bunch of names that were unfamiliar (and a couple that were known from their association with the Woodstock Times) and then this incredible assertion: "Anyway, the point's only that while this may be the very first issue of The Olive Press, we're already up to speed, and hardly anyone knows the neighborhood or the territory better."

Really? They knew the neighborhood and territory better than people who actually lived in the town? Or were elected officials in town government? Or ran a general store for years? Or had every single family member graduate from the school district? Or had hiked every mountain? Or had been writing things about Olive for longer than any of the listed writers had even known the town existed? Huh.

Oh, I know! They knew the neighborhood and territory better than those people who barely knew Olive was a town before the OP graced us with its appearance.

The following year, in an article about the movie Wendigo, the filmmaker is quoted "I mean, in 1912 New York City phoned the mayor up here and said, 'We want to take over your towns.' The Ashokan deserves more attention than I gave it in the movie. It was incredible. They bought your house, but they gave so little to people for their homes, considering their families may have come over on the Mayflower."

Now I understand this is a quote, so maybe the reporter didn't feel the need to fact check it. I also understand the filmmaker thought he was being empathetic toward town residents. But it is so incredibly lacking in veracity that it jumps off the page in its ignorance. That isn't how the Reservoir construction played out, at all. First, Olive has never had a mayor, not now, not then, not ever. Second, in 1912, I doubt the NYC mayor could have phoned anyone in Olive, mayor or not. Third, in 1912 the Reservoir was already under construction. Negotiations had concluded years before. Fourth, I suppose there are some families who could trace ancestors back to the Mayflower, but it is such a simplistic myth; it neglects the Dutch and Palatine roots.

This article, from the April 10, 2008 issue, really left me shaking my head. In a story about the NYC-owned bridges in the town, there are numerous quotes from people recollecting when the Traver Hollow Bridge was suddenly declared unsafe and closed while a new one was built during the 1970s. From the article "Anyone who has gazed down into the rocky canyon below the Traver Hollow Bridge can readily appreciate the dimensions of the feat of racing down and back up that terrain, lugging a heavy oxygen tank. "John and I ran it from there, switching (the oxygen gear) back and forth up to the house..."

Now, I can only assume the quote was either incorrect (very likely) or was intended to pull the reporter's leg and see how gullible he was (in that case, very) - because there is no way anyone ran oxygen tanks down and up the Traver Hollow. It's true that the bridge was closed to motorized traffic, even emergency vehicles. Yes, we rode the school bus from West Shokan to Boiceville by going across the reservoir in Shokan, and yes, it was a long hassle. I remember it well, the bus turned around on 28A at the bridge. I fell asleep every day on the bus (always an owl) and missed it entirely probably 2-3 times per week. But you could walk or bicycle over the bridge. I did it many times. If oxygen was needed on the opposite side, I'm sorry - it was carried across the bridge on foot. Not as fast or easy as driving it - but certainly not a mountain hike.

You could open up any issue and be greeted by a dozen howlers just like the Reservoir make believe and the bridge revisionism. Spotting them was almost a game, sort of like the scavenger hunt in Highlights magazine.

This site has a longer version of the "It's Over..." piece from the October 7 edition. What has been edited out is interesting.

This: "(A rival independent Shandaken-based newspaper, the Ulster County Townsman, died last year after half a century of publication.)

This: "Throughout their short lifespans, the Phoenicia Times and Olive Press have earned a reputation for anti-establishment leanings and lefty politics. (In 2006, a cameo appearance by Powers in a cranky New York Times column about Phoenicia propelled the paper into a brief war with the right-leaning Ulster County Townsman.)"

I guess the OP was uncomfortable about reminding readers of their disdain at that time for the Townsman.

How about this: "The two newspapers have gotten in trouble for not taking stands, too. (As every reporter finds out sooner or later, you're damned if you do, damned if you don't.) 'They were angry about the way I kept describing [the Large Parcel debate] in these flat terms that didn't take sides."

Oh yeah? I call BS. This, from a January 20, 2005 editorial, sounds like taking sides to me: "It is fundamentally unreasonable that similar properties in adjacent towns pay wildly different taxes to support the same school system."

Or this, from November 11, 2004: "Even in Olive, some of the anger and the militancy surrounding the large parcel issue is beginning to soften, as, we think, it should."

This "memoir" would not be complete without mentioning my interactions with the letters column over the years. I've created a label for my posts about those occasions. The letters column was usually quite lively. There were some serial writers, unfortunately, and they came off as obsessed nutjobs - I was careful to not become one (although it was tempting at times).

In the last issue's editorial, it says: "For our occasionally imperfect coverage and whatever errors and omissions we're managed over nearly ten years, I apologize." Is this me wearing a red dress to a funeral? I guess so. I apologize.
Between my two major obligations (teaching/advising and consulting) ~ all of which are really revved up right now, I have zero time for writing (or drawing) anything significant here. Today there are several things I should be doing, but I promised myself that I would be able to spend some time today releasing pent-up posts, so here goes!

On the fun side, we went to Goold's apple festival on Sunday. It was great, as it was last year, but the weather was better this year, since it wasn't windy. We had a freeze warning on Saturday night, so I covered a few plants, brought some basil inside, and harvested the remaining basil, also the tomatoes, cucumbers and beans. It didn't freeze, though. I covered them again last night, but I think once again, it wasn't a killing frost. I still have to freeze the basil and beans I picked. Something I might have snuck in today, if I didn't want to release these pent-up posts.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I've been meaning to post this for a while - just great!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

So busy! We closed the pool on Saturday - it was long overdue since we had not been in it in a month. It was still crystal clear, though, and it is always bittersweet. But we had lots of help this year - before Bob's surgeries we did it with just the two of us and it was a nightmare. Then last year we hired a pool company, which was a breeze, although expensive. So this year, with a big crew, it was fun! We had a big dinner afterwards, that was our thank you. Maybe it will become an annual event, although I'd like it to be in September.

Yesterday, this struck me as mean-spirited (not the post as much as the comments, which are awful) and this struck me as creepy - downright "stalkerish" (the post itself, there were few comments). But seeing the recent comments and resulting explanation on the second linked post have somewhat rectified my concern.

Will write more about other stuff soon! Have to get my mind around all that is swirling in the professional arena.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I found out my research proposal is not considered exempt from the IRB, which means either an expedited (I hope) or full review is necessary. Bummer.

But what a wonderful day I had yesterday on campus! When we were brainstorming about philosophy of education, a student in my afternoon class and another in my evening class listed an assignment we had in another of my classes last spring as a time when they learned a lot and it was fun! Then at the end of the day, I ran into a former student, and he told me he misses my classes so much! Could there be a better job?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Working my you-know-what off, and I should be sleeping! I spent Friday and today doing elementary and middle school visits, with some college students. It's great to get off campus and witness practice. So much stuff to process. Tomorrow it is back to campus for my regular routine. Found out today that somehow the Registrar is unable to schedule two of my classes for next semester. Despite having the same schedule every Spring for years! How can this be?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Very busy but very very very exciting stuff. More to come.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

This semester I knew my other commitments would have an impact on my teaching. The nature of the outside project is that observing it is getting me back in touch with my creative side. That means more writing, but also drawing, as I have posted here. In terms of teaching, it has meant making extensive and small revisions in classroom practice. Every semester I tweak my materials and methods, but major changes don't happen all that often. That isn't true this Fall so far.

The other impact is that it is a real organizational juggle. The outside commitment is time consuming sometimes, but I have to be sure that everything to do with my teaching responsibilities is done first so I can focus. So far, so good.

For the past couple of days, I have been working on IRB approval documents for my research. I haven't submitted anything to IRB since I did my dissertation. It is even more involved now. It is a very exotic bureaucratic and paperwork process. The kind that gives me a numb head! So much so that "OMG" seems appropriate here.

But, "it's all good."

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I'm tired! These are very long days - trying to juggle priorities and catch up. Seems to be a nearly impossible task. Then, teaching can be very draining. It is a rush - thrilling, rewarding, fun - but it's exhausting, being "on."

So many things to do this week!

Inspired by Elwyn and his birthday month, my birthday weekend entailed dinner at Scarnato's on Friday, a visit to Goold's Orchard and a trip to Lee, MA to go to the Salmon Run Fish House on Saturday, then after church on Sunday, brunch at the Chatham House, and finally Brooks BBQ from the East Greenbush Reformed Church.

I bought myself sketch pads, pencils, an eraser, and a pencil sharpener! Come on, Nileston News...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Happy birthday to me! The good news, a friend sent me scratch off lottery tickets, and I won $50! Wow. That's the first time I've ever got more than $5 from one of those things. The bad news, I twisted my bad ankle again yesterday. Nothing like last year, but it has set me back. Luckily Bob is almost completely recovered, so he can fetch things for me this time around.

Friday, September 17, 2010


Rudy would be 15 today if he was still here, but on the 25th, he will have been gone five years. Still hard to believe.

Rudy is the only pet I've had where I knew the actual birth date. He was born at the shelter, his mother had been found as a pregnant stray. I always loved that his birthday was the day before mine.

In 1982 a dear friend committed suicide on this date. Having my birthday be the next day after that tragedy exacerbated the feeling for years. Rudy being born made the date stand out in a good way again. I always showered him with attention, gifts, treats. He was so special.

Needless to say, 9/17 has become melancholy again, or maybe that should be bittersweet. Enough time has passed in both cases that the memories have that golden glow, even if it is tinged with sadness.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Another link to remind me to share with class when we are covering gender and education.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

There will never be a Disney movie about this either. It's not pretty, but stories like these should never be censored. It's painful, but don't look away and do nothing.

It is just plain evil, and may this scum burn in h-ll after he finishes his worthless life. Once again, I can't think of something mean enough to write that would capture my feelings. (Oh, Kirsten Gillibrand won't do a freakin' thing about it either.)
Don't want to forget to make note: the garden is winding down (sniff), but it has been a fabulous year. Have not had to buy veggies since June. Almost makes up for last year's non-harvest.
I have had Lyme Disease, been bitten by a Brown Recluse Spider, and been attacked by fire ants. On Sunday, I got swarmed by ground bees. Thankfully, only one sting on the back of my head. It hurt all night, and yesterday and today it is so itchy! Why do bugs hate me so much?

Sam aggravates bees - he thinks snapping at them is a fun game. He gets stung all the time, although usually the bees don't bother retaliating against anyone else. But ground bees hardly need to be provoked to be aggressive! Bob was stung twice last week. Sam is such a baby about pain, carries on terribly when he is stung. Not that it stops him from playing his game! Luckily, unlike Sophie, he is not allergic. On Sunday, Sam ran to the house as I was being swarmed. I did my best to get them off me before opening the door to the kitchen so we could both run inside. The ones that were chasing us didn't get in, but I brought in one under my shirt. I was in a panic until I found it.

So this morning I checked around the yard to see where the nest is, since I am going to have to weed whack sometime this week, also I can't risk Sophie getting stung, because she will have a reaction. Bad news! It is under the composter.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Interesting piece. I link it so I can find it later, when I am covering educational technology in class.
Last night, Pay It Forward was on television. I own the DVD, and show three scenes of it in foundations class to illustrate Level 4, "the action approach" multiculturalism, but we watched it anyway. It's a tear jerker, but the cast is fabulous and it is a nice, heartfelt movie. It also doesn't assault your eardrums - something that I find to be particularly important as time goes by. Damaged my hearing enough when I was in my 20s, thank you. (So happy I wasn't part of the ear bud generation, they will be hearing impaired long before they hit my age.)

Watching the entire movie reminded me of a student who was in class a few years ago. The student I am remembering was in both of my classes. I appreciate it when students take one class with me and then later take another, but I try to discourage them from taking both of my classes at the same time. Sometimes they go ahead anyway. This is especially true for working students, who have to take night classes, since I teach two.

Without going into too many details, this guy was a bit older than traditional college-aged, and was something of an extremist politically. This was even more true of his beliefs several years ago than it is now - at this point some of the positions are more common. He had stickers all over his notebook and laptop, attesting to his various attitudes and affiliations. He also wrote for the college newspaper, espousing much the same message. But his beliefs were not what made him unusual - it was his aura.

In the two group activities he had to complete with peers, he created a lot of dysfunction. Not because of his viewpoints, it was just his rigid personality, I think. He was generally attentive and respectful, but not very vocal in the class, which is something that surprised me. On the first day I was sure he would have a lot to say, and that class was going to be lively. When he did weigh in, sometimes what he said conflicted with the proclamations of the stickers, and the things he wrote for the college newspaper. The guy was an enigma.

I'd say he was labeling me as the stereotypical stifling of dissent professor who relatiates when grading, so was just trying to spout the company line and spit back what he thought I wanted to hear, but that isn't me at all, and this guy did not strike me as the type to exhibit that sort of brown-nosing behavior.

Anyway, as I was preparing to show the clips from Pay It Forward, I asked whether anyone had seen it. Usually a few students have, since it is occasionally shown on TV, as it was yesterday. But often the majority of students have not seen it before. To students for the past several years, it is an "old" movie. (I think this is something faculty, even those younger than me, forget - when you are 20 years old, a cultural reference from more than 5 years ago is ancient.)

So this fringey guy yells out "It was the worst movie I've ever seen!" He did not raise his hand (out of character) and he did not seem to be joking. But I had a hard time reading him, his demeanor was never what I would characterize as open. I couldn't tell if he was hostile or having fun. He did not elaborate, so I just smiled at him, said lightheartedly, "the worst movie you've ever seen?," and moved on.

Later in the semester, other students confided to me how scandalized they were. Not that I think it is wrong to find a movie too sappy for your liking, but I think the students were upset that someone could be so rude and cynical. They found him strange and scary. Since he didn't elaborate, maybe the saccharine nature isn't what offended him. Maybe he thought the acting sucked. Or the direction and sound track were bad. Or he wanted the ending to be happy. Who knows.

Never can predict what is going to happen in the classroom!