Saturday, January 30, 2010

I wasn't assigned Catcher in the Rye in high school, and didn't read it until I was an adult. Maybe that influenced my perception, but I don't think so. I didn't like the book at all, and I hated Holden. I've never been able to understand why Salinger received such praise for writing it. If he wasn't so eccentric, would the book have been forgotten instead of becoming a modern classic?

How ridiculous. They are objecting to Mother Teresa getting a stamp? Other religious figures are on stamps. Be consistent, or get lost.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Very interesting site, this is a post about removing the Bresee's facade in Oneonta.

Update: I'm happy the building is being renovated, I believe in restoration, but still sad to see the facade's no more.
Late in the afternoon on Monday came the sounds of emergency vehicles and sirens. I knew something bad must have happened, something different than a fire. Shortly afterwards at the TU website I saw that someone had jumped from the Castleton bridge. The latest story is here.

That she was exactly my age freaks me out, but more than that, the whole concept of suicide freaks me out. I haven't written much on the subject here (surprising since I started GBP in 2002), but here is a post that mentions the topic and here is another.

I've known too many people who have committed suicide. I've never really understood it among the young either, but always thought in youth we don't understand that things will look a lot different in two weeks or two months or two years. I wonder what desperation, what heart break would drive someone my age to do it. Such a scary way to choose also, that bridge is so high up over the Hudson. Bob says maybe she was on one of those drugs that lists suicidal thoughts as a side effect?

Added: I should have remembered to link this too, another recent, horrible suicide tragedy.

Friday, January 22, 2010

I was so tired last night! But I will get used to my routine again. The two classes I had went well.

I was inundated with emails this past week or so from students asking to get permission numbers, since all my classes have been closed for a long time. That happens every semester, but it seemed even more so this Spring. I was worried there would be 25 people at each class asking to get in. I was prepared to take names and decide who would get in later, after prioritizing them.

I can't handle classes of more than 35, and I don't want all four of my classes to be even that big, I prefer around 30, maximum. It's too much work for me, and also the dynamics of the class suffer when enrollment is too large. This semester, with Bob's upcoming surgery, I am sure to fall behind in February, so I have to be especially careful not to over burden myself.

Luckily only a few showed up at each class, so I could let them all in. I guess students send mass spam emails to many professors and see what the responses are, they just want to get into any class and don't want to put in the effort to go to each one.

In the toleration class, I was a little concerned to see that there are only two freshmen. It is supposed to be a freshman class, and in the fall, 75 percent of the seats are reserved for new students. In the Spring, it is first come, first served, so the seats go quickly to seniors, juniors and sophomores, because they register first.

There are four or five students in the class who have taken classes with me before, and one student in my afternoon class - which always helps the class atmosphere.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My first day on campus is Thursday. It's always nerve-wracking, coming off a very peaceful and isolated month. The chaotic atmosphere and crush of people...

After a day or two it all becomes normal, though.

Friday, January 15, 2010

You can donate for Haiti at the Catholic Relief Services website. I can vouch for this organization, I have sponsored a girl in the Philippines for years through them.
My Kaatskill Life story is in final! Watch for the Spring issue.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A couple of stories in today's TU that really upset me:

1) Murder someone with your vehicle, get a "traffic ticket."

2) Diddle around with kids, get the case "adjourned in contemplation of dismissal" (and then sealed). Move on to become a repeat offender!
Spent yesterday afternoon on campus. Got into a hassle with a student - nothing serious, but it was still irritating.

In the morning Bob had a doctor appointment. The news isn't good. He's be having another surgery within the month.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Noted. Why does the "paper" constantly lament what we are interested in, and sniff about what we should be reading instead? And when the subject is animals - the horror! The economy! Healthcare! Climate Change! Needy people! So much more important!!

The irony - why do you suppose the linked post (and the two links within it) were written? To grab a bit of the traffic generated by Luna. "I love animals but..." don't you just love that? Why is it necessary? The writer knows what they are writing is pure evidence of just the opposite. But it shouldn't have been covered so much! But other things were neglected! And who cares anyway, wink-snark?

I haven't jumped into writing on this subject before today, but I was delighted when she was found, wondered what the h-ll was going on at the vet's office, and I say good for the owners that they were able to get the media and the community involved. The folks who blog for the TU must have to avoid the subject of pets to keep the workplace civil, you think?
I'm starting to get ready for the Spring semester. I'll be spending 1/2 day on campus tomorrow (where it will likely be very cold, as they turn the thermostat way down during intercession). First step: hoed out a lot of paper and assorted crap from the (home) office. Tomorrow is recycling pick-up day so it is a good time to get rid of old paper.

Happy birthday, Ma!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

I'm very excited - today I am getting the new (well, released in September) Margaret Atwood book. That's the one pleasure read I wanted to do over the break.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Whenever I have these downtimes between semesters, I get to thinking that I wish I was a writer, rather than an instructor. I traded administration for teaching, but I really was dreaming of writing. Sigh. Writing just won't pay the bills, and there isn't enough time to change that.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Over the past couple of semesters, I have been seeking ways to make assessing students easier. I use a complex (and at times convoluted) portfolio model. It works great for the most part, but it is A LOT of work. With 110 students per semester, it can drive me to the breaking point three times per year...and when the year is like the last one, that isn't a good point to be.

I managed to chop peer assessment by half; usually I require students to evaluate peers twice, for the past two semesters, I made them do it only once. That one change really cut down on the time needed for data import, checking, etc., and I found that replacing one peer assessment with other measures I already collect that don't require input worked just as well.

Then today, I learned something new! (I'm excited because that doesn't often happen.) I have been struggling with how to share grade breakdowns with students. I always did merge letters and emailed them individually. That was so time consuming. Once the university switched to blackboard, I have been trying to find effective ways to share final grade breakdowns with students. The new thing I learned today: I got my final spreadsheet tallies into blackboard. It took a little playing around to accomplish it, but nothing extreme!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Today is Bob's 50th birthday. Hard to believe! Yesterday it was confirmed that he will need another surgery. Great present!